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Saturday, August 20, 2022

Swagatham Krishna - Swathi Thirunal - 2022

pannagendrashayana shrIpadmanAbha mudA kAma-

sannamAnasaM mAmava sArasAyatalocana 

an exceptionally mellifluous song rendered by M. Balamuralikrishna, Neyyattinkara Vasudevan , K. J. Yesudas in Raagamaalika – in the movie  “  Swathi Thirunal”  based on the life of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, the Maharaja of the state of Travancore.  The song is a tribute to Lord Ananthapadmanabhaswamy .. …


Swāti Tirunā Rāma Varma (1813 – 1846)  was the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Travancore. He is also considered as a brilliant music composer and is credited with over 400 classical compositions in both Carnatic and Hindustani style. A well-formulated code of laws, courts of justice, introduction of English education, construction of an observatory, installation of the first Government printing press, establishment of the first manuscripts library were amongst the many initiatives taken by Svāti Tirunā, as a King, to modernise Travancore. 

Rama Varma was born as a savior of Travancore. There was no male heir in the Travancore Royal family and the threat of the infamous Doctrine of Lapse loomed over this tiny state. Nobody in Travancore, including the then British resident Col. Munroe wanted the kingdom to be annexed to British India. Then the Queen Regent, Rani Gouri Lakshmi Bayi conceived. Munroe informed his superiors that a heir is born to Travancore much before the baby was born. Garbhasriman, as he was popularly known, Swathi Thirunal was acclaimed a king even before his birth. 

The devout residents prayed to Lord Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy and made offerings at the temple seeking birth of a baby boy and Maharaja SWathi Thirunal was born in 1813.    The most famous lullaby in Malayalam, Omanathingal Kidavao... was written when Swathi was born. This poem by Erayiamman Thampi is still very popular in Kerala. Swathi Thirunal’s reputation as a patron of cultural activities attracted several musicians, dancers and writers from all parts of India to his court . Eraimman Thampi,  court poet, was also a great musical composer. Many of the songs of Thampi have become immensely popular on account of their pleasing melody as well as their sweet language. Among the musical celebrities who adorned his court were four brothers Vadivelu, .Sivanandam, Chinnaiah and Ponniah, all experts and exponents in several branches of music and dance.  Among the experts in instrumental music in SwathiThirunal’s court was Ananthapadmanabha Goaswami, popularly known as Meruswami.  The Maharaja had in his court, eminent poets like Kilimanur Vidwan Koyi Thampuran and Eraimman Thampi and great scholars like Simhadri sastri of Mysore, and Krishnappa Sastri of Hydrabad, Vasudeve Acharin of Kumbhakonam and Krishna Sastri of Tanjore. There were also great astrologers like sankaranantha, a native of North Malabar.  Dasini, a painter from Tanjore, was employed by the Maharaja for painting mural pictures in the Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple. 

Maharaja Swathi Thirunal’s reign was a period of transition. The state of Travancore was steadily losing its independence to the growing power of the British Empire. More and more of the administrative powers were abrogated by the British Resident. To the Maharaja who inherited the proud traditions of one of the oldest royal families in India, the British interference was almost intolerable.

Inspired by the highest ideals of the Dharma Sastra and motivated by the welfare of the people, his ambition was to build upon the foundations laid by his illustrious ancestors and enhance the prosperity of the State in a manner worthy of the traditions and suited to the conditions of his time. A great scholar and linguist endowed with rare artistic gifts, he was passionately devoted to arts and letters, but he always remembered that his first and foremost duty as Sri Padmanabha Dasa was to look after the affairs of the State and promote the well-being of his subjects.   

Here is a beautiful kriti of his sung by many famous Carnatic musicians : 


Krishna karuna kada nute krpanidhe krishna jaladhaba jayate 

trsnaya visaya mrga trsnaye mohite mayi 

kamadiri pujanataya ghora samskara karagriha vitataya

kamini kataksa rupaya shringhala rani kama samyatena hamaya


here is the song in the mellifluous voice of  K Jesudoss :  


Oh KRSHNA! When will I have your mercy? Oh the embodiment of compassion! Effulgent as the rain cloud! I am fascinated by the mirage of worldly tendencies. I am afflicted by enemies like lust. I am imprisoned in the SAMSARA; tied by the sight of the ladies around me. How can I fix my mind on Thee? Oh the supreme Lord who removes all the afflictions of the worldly life.  E xcept you who is my refuge? I am like the young chataka  bird which will drink only the rain water from the cloud.  May not my birth become purposeless, as you are the essence of every thing. Let me dedicate myself to thy service. Don't make it useless,  Oh, Krishna! When will I have your mercy on me ?    

Swathi Thirunal is a biographical film co-written and directed by Lenin Rajendran. The Malayalam film of 1987  is based on the life of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, the Maharaja of Travancore.   Anant Nag starred  in the title role, with Srividya, Nedumudi Venu and Murali in other important roles. The cinematographer was Madhu Ambat. The story begins with Gowri Lakshmi Bayi entrusting the four-month-old Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma to the care of the English East India Company whose representative was Col. Munro. Then it cuts to when Swathi Thirunal is sixteen and takes over the reins of Travancore from his aunt Gowri Parvati Bayi. Swathi Thirunal's biography is then shown against the backdrop of the music that he himself has composed. The movie ends with his death in 1846. 

10.8.2022  ஆடி  மாத உத்திராட நக்ஷத்திரம். சுப நாள். ஸ்ரீவைஷ்ணவர்களுக்கு சீரிய நாள். ஆச்சார்யன் ஆளவந்தார் சாற்றுமுறை**    For the past two years (2020 & 2021) there could nto be purappadu on this thiruvavathara uthsavam due to Corona.  This year we had the fortune of worshipping Acarya Alavandhar along with Sri Parthasarathi Emperuman at Thiruvallikkeni on 10.8.2022 – here are some photos of the purappadu. 

~ adiyen Srinivasa dhasan.
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasan Sampathkumar
posted on 20.8.2022 

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