शान्ताकारं भुजगशयनं पद्मनाभं सुरेशं विश्वाकारं गगनसदृशं मेघवर्ण शुभाङ्गं
लक्ष्मीकान्तं कमलनयनं योगिहिर्ध्यानगम्यं वन्दे विष्णुं भवभयहरं सर्व्वलोकैकनाथं
Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram is one among the 108 Thirupathis, one among the 7 Mukthi Sthanams and one among the 6 Narayana Sthalams. It is equivalent to 1000 Mahakshethras because the Vigraha (idol) is made up of 12008 Salagramams (l2 Salagramas will make a Mahakshethra). One can say with absolute certainty that there is no other temple which had played such an intimate role in the political history of a Princely State, in the history of its Royal Family, in the history of certain very powerful lobhies, and in the history of the Victory of Dharma over Adharma. One does not know of any other temple where, the deity is the Supreme Sovereign, the Supreme King, the Ruler and the individual who is lauded as the king by the people is only a vassal, a servant, a Dasa of the deity, Sree Padmanabha, just an administrator of His kingdom.
Being the king, everything connected with the temple was Royal and luminous with regal splendour. Rituals and festivals were very elaborate and gorgeous. From around 1740 A.D. for about the next two and odd centuries, the temple had sustained millions of people with free food. There was nothing in Travancore State that was not connected with Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple directly or indirectly.
From time immemorial, the Temples formed the center of Hindu life. All his actions, material, social, cultural and spiritual had connections with the temples. The theories concerning the Purushaarthas, namely, Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha found its application in the day to day life of the common Hindu through the temples in the past. According to Thanthra Sasthra, the temples are considered as symbolising the human body, the Pindandam, (the microcosm), which in turn is a replica in a very small scale of the Brahmandam, (Macrocosm). Be it as it may, Temples are actually a manifestation of the innate, incarcerated quality of the human mind, the natural instinct to worship. Man wants to worship and he wants something to worship. The temples provide the satisfaction for this natural urge. For the majority of Hindus, Temples form a part of their existence, an inseparable part of their lives, giving it values, quality, meaning and hope and even enjoyment. It naturally follows that protection and maintenance of temples in as best a manner as possible is a part of Hindu Dharma. And according to our ancient Indian tradition and culture, any Abode of God is a place of respect and reverence.
When one reflects on Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, three periods come to the mind. The pre-fourteenth Century, then the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and then the sixteenth century till the fifth decade of twentieth century. The first period saw the gradual growth of sree Padmanabhaswamy temple into a grand temple with the patronage of the kings. The second period saw the weakening of the King’s power, chaotic conditions in the management and functioning of the temple, and lastly, with the reign of Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, a sunburst of glory till the Integration of States, following Independence.
There was a time when the whole of Travancore stood for the service of its True Sovereign Sree Padmanabhaswamy. For Sree Padmanabhaswamy was the King of Travancore and the Maharajas, His Dasas administering His country. So, money was not a criteria for the temple. It was there the for taking. But when Sree Padmanabha Swamy lost his State, the temple began, though gradually, to feel the pinch. And added on to this situation was the fact that, because the Royal Family wanted to preserve to the maximum extent possible, the pristine purity of a true Hindu temple, commercialisation was not encouraged, which in the present times adversely affects the income of a temple. Regular rites and rituals, festivals and maintenance are to continue without any break. Periodic renovation of any temple is a necessity, more so in a major temple. At the same time, escalation of costs have added another burden in taking progressive measures.
Courtesy: SURRENDER – Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple Renovation Souvenir 2002. This article is taken from the editorial note. More articles from the souvenir will be added soon.