On the Thiruvananthapuram treasure

Private property, national heritage and the state’s exchequer

I made these comments in an email exchange a few days ago, and thought they are worth sharing on this blog.

I do not agree with those who argue that the Thiruvananthapuram treasure must be used for ‘the social good’. The treasure is the property of the Temple or the royal family. Other than through normal taxation, government cannot claim it.

I’d qualify this: if it is so determined that it contains what can be considered as national and civilisational heritage, the State has grounds to intervene so that it is preserved for future generations. This need not mean acquisition, but can mean a set of rules that bind the owner to treat the property in certain ways.

Therefore, there is no case to monetise the wealth and treat it as a budgetary resource. The philosophical reason is that it is an inter-generational asset. We can’t break down the Taj Mahal and use the marble to construct low-cost housing for the poor.

What is being implicitly proposed by many people is that the wealth must be expropriated, or at least nominal compensation paid to acquire it. This will be a net gain for the State, which should then be converted into budgetary resources to be spent on various things. This amounts to the government breaking down the Taj Mahal and using the money from selling the marble to cover its fiscal deficit.

6 thoughts on “On the Thiruvananthapuram treasure”

  1. Use the treasure for a museum! India hasnt a single complex even half as good as the Vatican Museum, this can be a start..

  2. Every nation has its proud. We must be proud of our TaJ Mahal, Tirupati temple,
    Puri temple, great churches and mosques. The new addition is Shri Padmanabha Swamy Temple offerings by the then King.

    So we have to , through the proper channel, develop the structure of the temple richly and beautifully and lots of God fearing Hindu devotees, in general, should be allowed to visit this ancient temple and offer their prayers . Needless to mention, a completely secured museum should be erected showing the rich culture of Kerala in particular, South India in general and also of India widely.

    Then only people in the world would understand how great were Indian rulers .

  3. Here i wish to add one more thing. Few years back i had the opportunity of visiting Tiruvanantapuram with my wife Vijaya and son Anshuman. Immediately upon reaching T.Puram, light carnatic music was receiving us which was soothing our ears and souls.

    We were thankful to our distant relative, who took us to the temple mentioning many interesting things. The Praharam of the temple was very big and one round by the devotee will give him/her a brisk excersise. Neately arranged sculptures of many gods on the pillers were beautiful. The lady who took us showed us big sized urulis in which prasadams are prepared in the temple daily . On the opposite of Shri Padmanabhaswamy beautiful panchaloka murtis of Shri Ram, Lakshman , Sita and Hanuman were seated. A person from the temple interacted with us and told that all god fearing people, including Jains, Buddhists, etc. are welcome to have darshan of the Lord. While doing parikrama, the lady showed us the very part from where the treasure was unearthed and told that the temple’s golden treasures are preserved in secret rooms. After having darshan and coming out , she casually showed and told that all the big big puja materials in front of the Lord were made of pure gold. At that time, i could not believe it. I thought , she was bit exaggerating .

    The sannidhi street of the temple is small and people decorated the front side of their houses with kolam (rangoli). She also showed a small garden where the temples priests, and others are staying. We had coffee at her relative’s simple house and they were very much courteous.

    Her husband kindly took us to the nearby beach, the water of which is unique , giving some inexplicable bliss. She told, in fact , the Anantapadmanabha Swamy in the temple is just a miniature of the original Murti. Lord Vishnu took a very big form covering the entire locality of Tiruanantapuram. His feet is extended upto near the kovalam beach. I was thrilled to receive all these news from her.

    If im mistaken anywhere, some known people may kindly correct me.

  4. The most convincing example of how treasures and properties of ancient rulers can be
    preserved for posterity, as heritage and legacy of artisan skills, is France; They made
    their revolution ( with a lot of terror and massacres), dethroned their kings. But they had
    the sagacity and sense of history not to destroy royal palaces and treasures. How many of us know that the famous Louvre Museum in Paris was an enormous complex of the
    royal palace. And the famous Versailles Palace – same story. In fact French tourism (
    strongest in the world) thrives on such historical vestiges and monuments. Will we have the wisdom to envision such move in the case of TVM temple treasures?
    Say, we auction all those treasures to mobilize funds for building Kerala’s future, what
    guarantee is there those funds will not flow into the pockets of our corrupt politicians
    bureaucrats and their henchmen?
    inasu Thalak in Paris

  5. Who said anything about appropriating the temple treasures, monetizing and spending? Why these fools make such huge mockery about others opinions. But at the same time one should realize that these treasures belong to the entire nation as this temple belongs to the entire nation and not just to one family. These treasures are such precious that they should not belong to anyone particular family any more. they should be made into preserved national Museum belonging to the temple and should not just lie in secret closet so that these treasures could vanish in short time by group of so called custodians. I really salute the Royal family for preserving them safely for so many generations. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any corrupt generation from that family for ever. So it is only appropriate that the treasures should belong to a temple museum with utmost security arrangements so that everything is visible to the public account.

Comments are closed.