16 May 2011

Maharaja Swathi Thirunal Compositions

Life of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal:

Sri Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma (April 16, 1813 - December 25, 1846) was the Maharaja of the state of Travancore , in India. He reigned under the regency of his mother Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi from 1813 till 1815 and henceforth under the regency of his aunt Maharani Gowri Parvati Bayi from 1815 till 1829. In 1829 he turned major and assumed full powers of ruler and ruled Travancore till his demise in 1846.

Besides being an able ruler, he was a patron of music and a musician himself. He encouraged both broad systems of Indian music, Hindustani and Carnatic music, though he was essentially a connoisseur of the Carnatic music tradition. He is credited with composing over 400 compositions in Carnatic music as well as Hindustani music. Some of his favorite compositions are Padmanabha Pahi, Deva Deva, Sarasijanabha and Sree Ramana Vibho. The king was fluent in a number of languages such as Malayalam, Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Tamil, Oriya and English.

The Astronomical Observatory in Thiruvananthapuram, the Museum & Zoo, the Government Press, Trivandrum Public Library (now State Central Library), the Oriental Manuscript Library, etc. were started by Swathi Thirunal. The Maharajah was also an honorary member of the Royal Asiatic Society from 1843.

Swathi Thirunal (as he is commonly known) was born into the Kulasekhara dynasty of the Royal family of Travancore state, which is now a part of Kerala State in India) on April 16, 1813. He was the second child of the Regent Queen Gowri Lakshmi Bayi who ruled Travancore during 1811 - 1815, and Rajaraja Varma Koyithampuran of Changanasseri Palace. The famous poet and composer and close relative Iraiyamman Tampi wrote the song Omanathinkalkkitavo nalla komalathamarappuvo perhaps the most famous lullaby in Malayalam, about Swathi Thirunal when he was born. He had an elder sister (Rukmini Bai) and a younger brother (Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma). Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi died about two months after the birth of her third child. After her death, her younger sister Gowri Parvati Bayi was in charge of the state and the children. Since Rama Varma was just seventeen months old when his mother died, Gowri Parvati Bayi ruled for fourteen years before Swathi Thirunal took over as the king. When he was just four months old, his mother invited Col. Munro (who was the representative of the British East India Company) and his officials and declared in the Durbar that she was entrusting the British East India Company with the care of her child and expected the Company to co-operate with him in future.

Both his aunt/foster mother, who was well-versed in music, and his father, a Sanskrit scholar. took special care about his education. Col. Munro also is said to have taken interest in his education. He started learning Malayalam and Sanskrit at the age of six and English at the age of seven. The young Prince studied several languages, including Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Hindustani, Telugu, Marathi, Sanskrit, English and Persian. He impressed all his teachers, and even guests from abroad, with his keen understanding of not only languages but also other subjects like geometry. P. Sankunni Menon (A History of Travancore from the Earliest Times, 1878) records an incident when Swathi Thirunal told Col. Welsh, a visiting British officer, that the word geometry and words like hexagon, septagon and so on were derived from Sanskrit.
As a Musical dynamic star

Swathi Thirunal was deeply interested in music right from childhood. He tried to learn the languages in which he found good music. His education in music started with the first lessons from Karamana Subrahmania Bhagavathar and Karamana Padmanabha Bhagavathar. Later, he studied music from his English teacher Subbarao. He continued to learn music by listening to accomplished musicians and practicing himself. This was a period when music and art were thriving in many parts of south India. The triumvirate of Carnatic music, Tyagaraja (1767–1847), Syama Sastri (1762–1827) and Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775–1835), lived and enriched music during this period. Swati Tirunal's palace also was home to many musicians and artistes of the period, including the famous Thanjavur Quartet brothers, Tyagaraja's disciple Kannayya Bhagavathar, Ananthapadmanabha Goswami (a Maharashtrian singer known as Kokilakanthameru swami), Shadkala Govinda Marar, and many others.
[edit] Swathi Sangeethotsavam

Prince Rama Varma, the South Indian Classical Musician, is a descendent of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal. He is the organiser for Swathi Sangeethotsavam, a week long music festival featuring exclusively the compositions of Swathi Thirunal. This unique musical event is conducted every year from 6 to 12 January at Kuthira Malika, Trivandrum.

Swathi Thirunal took over the reins of Travancore from his aunt (She was the regent in lieu Swathi Thirunal in his boyhood) at he age of sixteen. He appointed his teacher Subbarao as the chief minister (Diwan). One of his first moves was to shift the government secretariat from Kollam (about seventy five kilometres away) to Thiruvananthapuram. This enabled him to give personal attention to government affairs. He took steps to curb corruption in the government, and told even the Diwan to resign when he heard that the Diwan had acted to favour a particular party in a land dispute. He started an English school at Thiruvananthapuram in 1834, which came to be called the Raja's Government Free School and later became Maharaja's High School and then Maharaja's College. This is now the University College. Later, similar schools were started at many other places. He also implemented reforms in the legal sector, starting Munsif, District and Appellate Courts and modernising laws. He identified one Kandan Menon from Malabar and appointed him as Huzoor Diwan Peshkar to bring about legal reforms. Another of his achievements was to settle many land disputes by carrying out a resurvey of the land, in which also Menon helped him. He also conducted the first census of the state in 1836. As per the census, the population of Travancore was 1,28,068.

Swathi Thirunal was also instrumental in bringing modern medicine to the state. He appointed a European as the palace physician. He was also given the responsibility of providing medical assistance to local people, for which hospitals were started. It is this post that was known as Surgeon General till the formation of Kerala State. He also started an engineering department, which was placed under the command of one Lieutenant Horsley. The Karamana bridge was built at that time.

Another area where Swathi Thirunal took interest was in astronomy. He wished to compare Western findings with Indian knowledge. For this, he invited one Caldecott, an industrial representative who lived in Alapuzha, who used to fabricate instruments for astronomical observations. Finding that there was much common between western and Indian knowledge about the universe, Swathi Thirunal started an observatory and placed Caldecott in charge. Started in 1837, some of the equipment is still to be seen at the Thiruvananthapuram observatory (now under the Department of Physics, University of Kerala). He is also credited with starting the first government press (the only press at that time was CMS Press in Kottayam), and the museum and zoo in Thiruvananthapuram.


Maharajah Swathi Thirunal was only a child when his mother Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi died and he grew up under the maternal care of his childless aunt, who was the Regent of Travancore on his behalf, Maharani Gowri Parvati Bayi. He had a brother, Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma, who succeeded him in 1846 till his demise in 1860. The Maharajah also had a sister, Maharani Gowri Rukmini Bayi, whose children ascended the Travancore musnud consecutively. Her only daughter was the mother of Maharajah Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma.

Swathi Thirunal married Thiruvattar Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Narayani Pillai Kochamma of the Thiruvattar Ammaveedu family after the demise of his first wife. She was an expert carnatic singer and Veena player. She originally belonged to an ordinary Nair family in Quilon by the name of Aaikutty Veedu. Prior to her marriage with the king she was adopted into the Thiruvattar Ammaveedu along with her mother and siblings (her sister was married to the Maharajah's brother and successor Uthram Thirunal). From this marriage the Maharajah had a son, Thiruvattar Chithira Nal Anantha Padmanabhan Chempakaraman Thampi. In 1843 the Maharajah married Sundara Lakshmi Ammal, daughter of a Mudaliar who had migrated to Trivandrum. Lakshmi was a dancer, known better as Sugandhavalli. The Maharajah first adopted her into Vadasseri Ammaveedu, making her an Ammachi and bestowing the title of Thampi on her family members. In 1845 he constructed the Thanjavur Ammaveedu and Sugandhavalli, along with her family members resided here. The Maharajah's second wife, Thiruvattar Ammachi, whose sister was married to Uthram Thirunal did not approve of this marriage. Soon after in 1846 the Maharajah died. Legend and folklore has it that Sugandhavalli was banished from Travancore following which the Maharajah died broken hearted. However facts and records prove otherwise.

Sugandhavalli continued to live in Trivandrum at Thanjavur Ammaveedu until her own death in 1856, a full decade after the death of Swathi Thirunal, enjoying all the provisions and privileges she was entitled to as a royal consort. However soon after her death, her late husband's brother and successor, Maharajah Uthram Thirunal issued an order to attach the estate and properties that belonged to Thanjavur Ammaveedu on the ground that Sugandhavalli for whom they were made, had died. Sugandhavalli's sister Sundara Parvathi Pillai Thankachi, who had been married to Singaravelu Mudaliyar the former Alleppey District Judge, then filed a petition in Madras. The High Court of Madras in 1858 permitted the Travancore Government to attach the properties after compensating the family. Accordingly Rs. 10,000, a princely sum, was given to Sugandhavalli's family and the Thanjavur Ammaveedu taken over by the Travancore Government. The Ganapathi idol worshiped by Sugandhavalli was moved and consecrated at the Palkulangara Temple in Trivandrum. Her sister later died in 1883.

Download Links: 

1. Lyrics of Swathi thirunal compositions  in Malyalam and meanings in english .

 2. Lyrics of Swathi thirunal  krutis in  english.

3. Swathi Thirunal Kruti Malai by Dr. Semannagudi Srinivasa Iyer in Tamil

3.Click here and  Listen Swathi Thirunal Keertanas

4.  Download                Swathi Thirunal Keertanas MP3