Padmanabha Swamy temple wealth from regular donations and not taxes or loot

No tax or loot wealth in Padmanabha temple cellars, claims book
Nov 02, 2011 – K. Venugopal  | DC  | Thiruvananthapuram

The wealth found in the cellars of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple
was not accumulated through oppressive taxes or through looting during
wars, claims a new book which will be released this week.

Instead, as much as 95 per cent of the wealth comprised of regular
donations made by various branches of the Travancore royal family,
according to ‘Charithram Kuricha Sree Padmanabha Swamy Kshethram,’
written by noted historians M.G. Sasibhooshan and Dr R.P. Raja.

Dr Sasibhooshan termed as utterly false the contention that the wealth
consisted of funds garnered through harsh taxes such as ‘Mulakkaram’
(breast tax).

“This allegation is being made on the basis of a casual reference by
historian Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, who did not present any evidence to
prove it,” he said. “The records show that the tax revenue went to the
state coffers and not to the temple.”

Mr Sasibhooshan added that each contribution made to the temple was
meticulously entered in the Mathilakom records, including
contributions of Christians and Muslims. “Not a single paisa has come
in through taxes or through wars and conquests,” he said.

At the same time, there were regular contributions from the Kollam,
Kalakkad, Kottarakkara, Negumangad and Padmanabhapuram branches
(swaroopams) of the royal family. “The biggest contributions were made
during the time of Marthanda Varma in the 18th century and Swati
Tirunal in the 19th century,” said Dr Sasibhooshan.

The book also points out that the Mathilakom Records functioned as a
the de facto Constitution of Travancore.

“Whenever there was a crisis, the kings used to consult the temple
records to find out how their predecessors had handled such issues,”
he said.

The book narrates an interesting episode in this connection. After the
demise of Bala Rama Varma in 1810, one Kerala Varma had staked claim
for the throne. The ‘Yogathil Pottis’ of the temple ratified his
claim. Interestingly, they did not make this proclamation from the
Ottakkal Mandapam of the temple, from where only truth could be

However, a day later they retracted in repentance and said that they
had lied after being threatened with death. The records disproved
Kerala Varma’s claim, they said. Following this, Gouri Lakshmi Bai was
made the regent of Travancore.

“Such was the power of the temple,” said Dr Sasibhooshan. “Its role
was not just religious, but also political.”