illustrious sovereign was really the king of Travancore from the very
day of his birth, but His Highness having now attained his majority, was
formally installed on the musnud in his sixteenth year, and assumed charge
of affairs from the regent Ranee, on the 10th Madom 1004 M.E. (21st April
Notwithstanding his youth, His highness’ aptness for the right discharge of the functions devolving on him was something wonderful. Besides, His Highness was fortunate in receiving the kingdom from the hands of the Ranee in a most flourishing condition, the result of the judicious administration of the last eighteen years by two of his Highness’ predecessors, his mother Lekshmi Ranee and his aunt Parvathi Ranee. The financial state of the country was promising. The State contained a very contented population, and the machinery of the administration was worked by the best agencies.
The young Maha Rajah had also the advantage of the advice and counsel of his worthy father, the able tutor, the meritorious Dewan, as well as many old and experienced ministerial servants, both in the palace and in other departments. The Resident Colonel Morrison, C.B., a very able officer, was also a warm supporter of the Maha Rajah.
These auspicious circumstances and advantages, and His Highness’ talents, education, and the requisite qualifications and trained habits, gave prospects of a happy and glorious reign to which the people in general looked forward with feelings of pleasure.
Though a short biographical account of this remarkable young sovereign has already been given in the last chapter, yet a few words on the Maha Rajah’s scholastic attainments may not be out of place here. By the time His Highness attained his majority, he had completed his education and become a perfect master of Sanscrit, English, Persian, Hindustani, Mahratti, Telugu, Canarese, Tamil and Malayalam. The fact that His Highness was a good English scholar will have been seen from the passage quoted from Colonel welsh's 'Military Reminiscences', in the previous chapter. That account, however, was written some four years previous to His Highness completing his English education. The Maha rajah was also a remarkable Sanscrit author. He composed numerous poetical works on metaphysics, Religion, &c., &c. A Sanscrit poetical work called a 'Prabandham' containing historical collections, was also composed by him in addition to numerous songs and hymns in praise of the Almighty and the creation of the universe. He also composed similar songs in Telugu, Hindustani, Mahratta and other languages and these are even to the present day well known throughout India.
A specimen of the Maha Rajah's Sanscrit composition as translated by the Reverend Mr. Mateer and inserted in his 'Land of Charity' page 146, may be reproduced here as a proof of the Maha Rajah's skill in Sanscrit composition:-
"More special interest naturally attaches to a poem composed and published by His Highness the late Rajah Vunchee Pala Rama Vurmah, elder uncle of the present Maha Rajah, who died in 1846. It is considered by native scholars to be a good specimen of modern Sanscrit poetry, the compound poetical terms being formed according to standard, rules, the sentences skilfully constructed and the whole adapted to be sung to the most popular and melodious Hindu tunes. This work contains hymns in praise of Pultmanabhen, the tutelary deity of the 'Charitable Kingdom', but of course is thoroughly superstitious and, after a fashion, devout in sentiment and tone.
The first hymn commences thus:-
“O thou, lord of earth, husband of Sree (the goddess of prosperity) thou, O God who hast lotus-like-eyes save me: O holy Pultmanabhen, whose chariot is drawn by birds, save me! O thou, who art worshipped by the king of the Suras (celestials), thou, who art full of goodness, subduer of enemies, giver of blessings to thy servants, thou who hast arms admirably powerful, thou who art adored by the holy ones, save me; O thou upholder of mountains, thou enemy of Mura (a demon) thou seat of mercy, remover of the suffering arising from births and deaths.
Remove my manifold sins, O Souri, (a name of Vishnu), who walked in the most holy gardens of bliss and happiness. Remove my manifold sins, O thou destroyer of Kashipu, who was a terror to the three worlds, thou who shinest like gold, remove my manifold sins, thou purifier from sins, thou joy of the shepherdess, thou who art adorned with features, thou who art devoid of passions, whose lotus-like-foot measures the universe. Remove my manifold sins, O' my lord, who takes away sorrows, thou O' Souri who hast the sun and the moon for thine eyes.
The last hymn is an address to the soul as follows:-
O my mind, be thou always fixed upon God. Ah! tell me, art thou not incessantly fixed on self. O my mind, know that this thy body is fragile; be not over anxious, do not covet earth, delight in the history of Madhava (Vishnu) which is full of joy, holy and divine, on my mind, cherish not rude ignorance; let not dreadful sins have place in thy thought; avoid evil communications. O my mind, be kind to every one. Consider, all things as thou considerest thyself, put away thy sorrows, and with all thy strength, incessantly serve the azure tinted Padmanabhen. O my mind be thou always fixed upon God."
It should be borne in mind that this poem is the production of one well acquainted with many of the truths inculcated by the Christian religion.
Besides the above, this Maha Rajah had composed a most valuable set of hymns under the denomination of Navarathna Mala (garland of nine gems) the substance of which shall be added to the Revd. Mr. Mateer’s versions.
The Hindu religion lays down and describes nine kinds of divine devotions, viz., hearing, uttering, thinking, serving, adoring, worshipping, depending or enslaving, believing and committing, and the Maha Rajah had composed a hymn on each of these nine items:-
O Padmanabha! (such is the Sanscrit appellation of the creator of the universe) bless me that both of my ears may be filled with the heavenly nectar of thy prayers which is a safe vessel for the conveyance of life through the ocean of birth and death, which prayer is the continual utterance of even the heavenly bodies and which is the pioneer to break through the mountain of sin to approach thy presence.
O Padmanabha! bless me, that I may utter thy name always without interruption. Thy holy name is the sure way to salvation for human beings. Thy name, though uttered unintentionally, saves even sinners as in the case of Ajmilen. Thy name is the constant utterance of Siva, one of the three great deities of heaven.
O Padmanabha! bless my heart, that I may constantly think of thee alone during the tenure of my worldly life. Thy thought is the only light like the rays of the sun which drives away darkness from the world, and which thought alone is capable of affording eternal bliss, pleasure and comfort light like the rays of the sun which drives away darkness from the world, and which thought alone is capable of affording eternal bliss, pleasure and comfort without regard of poor or rich, O God! lord of the universe.
O God Sree Padmana! bless me, that I may serve thee in many ways, that I may be the bearer of thy shoes, that I may serve thee with a fan in hand, that I may shampoo thy holy feet, that I may hold an umbrella over thy holy person, and that I may with pleasure employ myself in collecting offerings to thee.
O God of the universe! bless me, that I may adore thee with my mind, word and deeds. Thou art the only holy ghost who removes sins, and who alone is capable of purifying the whole universe; bless me, “O God! that I may seat thee on a throne set with nine gems, and that I may wash thee with odoriferous water, clothe thee in the whitest garments, anoint thee with sandals and other scents, adorn thee with all kinds of fragrant flowers, and make thee my offerings, O Almighty God.
O God, lord of lords! I worship thy feet which is washed in heavenly water, and which is the only source of protection and salvation to the helpless.
Depending or enslaving.
O Providence! Sree Padmanabha! I entirely depend upon thy holiness which is the object constantly adored even by all the heavenly bodies, and which alone extends salvation or eternal happiness to all beings.
O God! bless me, that I may place my entire belief always in thee who art the destroyer of all sin, and suffering in the universe; numerous deities and gods are worshipped, but I may not be changeable or doubting in my mind in regard to such worship, and that thy mercy be upon me, that my mind may be steadily directed to thy true belief as thou art the only supreme being who is capable of affording salvation.
O God, lord of lords! bless me, for I commit unto thee my body, my soul, my habitation, my property and all other things of mine to thee, so that, thy protection may be constantly over these, like the owner of a thing purchased by him, and that thy mercy may be upon me; forgive me for all my sins and also my faults in my utterance of these hymns which are offerings of thy true devotee, and which I have directed as an offering unto thy holy feet, and I pray thee to accept these my humble and devoted prayers, as committed by thy pious servant."
His Highness had equally qualified himself in political matters by his assiduous study of various English and Sanscrit works, and he acquired a thorough knowledge of the Institutes of Manu. His Highness made it a point to discuss important questions on Logic and Rhetoric, both in English and in Sanscrit, and thus became capable of entering into the discussion of any subject, without fear of being defeated by other learned men.
Soon after the installation, His Highness’ attention was directed to the remodelling of the cabinet, and as His Highness had a very high opinion of his tutor, Suba Row, and of his ability and knowledge, he wanted to appoint him Dewan, but the idea of dispensing with the services of the able and popular Dewan Vencatta Row, was not approved of by His Highness’ father, by Her Highness the Ranee, and by the Resident, Colonel Morrison. The controversy on this subject lasted about six months, and in the interval the able Resident, Colonel Morrison, was removed, and Dewan Vencatta Row tendered his resignation. Two months afterwards, i.e., in the middle of the year 1005 M.E. (early part of 1830) Suba Row was appointed to the vacant office of Dewan, and Cochu Sankara Pillay, a native of Travancore who was then holding the appointment of a judge in the Huzzur Court, was made Dewan Peishcar. These two appointments were followed by several other changes among the ministers.
The Huzzoor Cutcherry and other public offices which had been held at Quilon for a long time were removed to Trivandrum, and located inside the fort, close to the Maha Rajah's palace.
As Suba Row wanted to to surpass his predecessor, he spared no pains to distinguish himself in his new sphere. He displayed all his experience and tact and commenced a career which fully justified His Highness' selection of him for the high post of prime minister.
The Dewan's conduct was quite in accordance with His Highness' urgent desire of bringing Travancore to such a state as to entile her to the appellation of 'model State'. Suba Row had, at the very outset, established a reputation far superior to that of his predecessor.
Every suggestion emanating from Dewan Suba Row received ready sanction from His Highness the Maharajah, and every subordinate from the Dewan Peishcar downwards, looked upon the Dewan with the greatest regard and respect.
Reformation and the maintenance of a rigid moral discipline were the chief aim and ambition of this young sovereign, and so the petty abuses which were overlooked during the late administration were totally checked by special enactments. Bribery and corruption were pointed out as crimes severely punishable, and those servants who gave cause even for suspicion were visited with the royal displeasure. The Maha Rajah was so minute in his inquiries, as his attention appears to have been directed even to the irregularity of attendance on the public servants, and such remissness they were informed would render them liable to dismissal from the service. Tahsildars and other local officials were warned against any oppressive treatment of the ryots. In short, several useful measures were introduced by royal proclamation in the course of a couple of years.
His Highness had set apart a few hours everyday to attend to public business, and days were appointed for receiving the Dawn, the Judges of the appeal court, the palace officers, &c., with their respective reports.
This measure of hearing reports directly from each department, facilitated the speedy conduct of public business by the several department officials.
Thus, the Maha Rajah by evincing particular interest in the conduct of public affairs encouraged men of talent and intelligence, and in the course of a few years after His Highness' ascent to the musnud the Maha Rajah's court and cutcherries had the benefit of several men of talent, learning and experience.
The Governor of Madras, Mr. Lushington, paid a visit to Travancore, and had an interview with the young Prince at Quilon, in the early part of August 1830.
His Excellency the Governor was highly delighted with the affability, intelligence, wisdom and gentlemanly disposition of His Highness. The object of this visit of the Governor-appears to have been to satisfy himself as to the qualifications of so young a Prince for ruling Travancore.
It is also said, that there had been a little misunderstanding between the Travancore court and the Resident, Colonel Morrison, concerning the then Dewan Vencatta Row’s proposed disconnection with Travancore, and that Colonel Morrison had made some reports unfavourable to the state of things in Travancore, which circumstances induced Mr. Lushington to visit the country and ascertain the exact state of affairs by a personal inspection, while he was on tour to the Malabar Coast.Mr. Lushington was the first Governor of Madras who visited Travancore.
On this occasion the Maha Rajah had an opportunity of witnessing the whole of the subsidiary force in full parade, and after His Highness' return from Quilon the improvement of the Nair brigade engaged his attention. New accoutrements were ordered, and the officer commanding was particularly requested to drill and train the sepoys and make them equal to the Company's troops.
The clothing of the mounted troops had also been improved, and new horses were supplied to the troopers. Old stables were repaired and made into three divisions, one for the troopers, one for the royal stud, and another for the horses to be supplied to the palace officials and attendants, as well as to the public officials who accompany the Maha Rajah during State processions, and also on other movements on urgent public duty.
The horse breeding establishment introduced and maintained at Thovalay during the former reigns and which supplied good horses to the Trivandrum stables, was improved. Some fine mares were procured, and all old and defective horses of different breeds were removed from the establishment.
The best elephants from the forest department and other places were selected and cantoned at Trivandrum for carrying howdahs, flags and other royal emblems.
To the Trivandrum stables was attached a menagerie where royal tigers panthers, cheetahs, deer, boars and all sorts of wild animals which abound in the Travancore forests were collected and caged. and latterly, a lioness which had been imported from Africa into the French settlement at Mahe, was purchased and added to the collection of animals.
A large and spacious cow-stall was constructed within the Trivandrum fort, near the palace, wherein the finest cows and bulls of the country were stalled in addition to a good number of Surat, Cuzerat and Nellore cows and bulls, and to complete the collection and breed, a beautiful English cow, with two calves, was procured direct from England.
Birds of all kinds, indigenous and foreign, were collected, and they had a place both in the managerie and the palace.
The wild and ferocious animals were not only kept for sight-seers, but for purposes of sham sport. For this purpose, strong nets of a circular form were hung on deeply driven stakes, within which, several sorts of wild and fierce animals were let in one by one, and the Maha Rajah and all the spectators were amused and interested by seeing the movements and the fighting of the animals, while a number of huntsmen and others, surrounded the circle, equipped with spears, lances, and fire arms, ready to fall upon any animal which might accidently escape out of the nets.
Three years after the Maha Rajah's accession to the musnud, Munsiff's courts were established for the first time in every district throughout Travancore, for the disposal of petty civil cases, and in the next year, the Huzzoor court was abolished, and a Zillah court established at Trivandrum in lieu of it. Appreciative of ability and talent, and desirous of improving the administration, this young Maha Rajah conceived the idea of inviting persons of acknowledged qualifications and probity from the British territories and even in the British Government's service, in order to assist Dewan Suba Row in his exertions to introduce reforms.
The then Resident Mr. Casamajor, brought to His Highness' notice the ability and intelligence of a Tahsildar personally known to himself in one of the talks under the Malabar collectorate, who accompanied the Commissariat during the Coorg campaign in the year 1834. The Maha Rajah, authorized the Resident to invite that officer to enter the service of the Travancore Government.
This Tahsildar's name was Itterarichen Cundappen, generally known as Cunden Menon. This person accepted the offer of a Dewan Peishcar’s post in the Huzzoor cutcherry, and was accordingly appointed in the middle of the year 1010 M.E. (early part of 1835 A.D.).
Dewan Peishcar Cunden Menon proved to be an excellent acquisition to the Travancore Service, and he afforded such great satisfaction to His Highness, and merited ere long his perfect confidence, that the Maha Rajah placed the details of the administration in the Peishcar’s hands, and directed Dewan Suba Row to place similar trust in the Peishcar, ordering further that if the Dewan should entertain doubts on any points of importance, he should report the same personally to His Highness.
Cunden Menon Peishcar began to manage business and to afford general satisfaction. In a short time, he merited the applause of the people who now began to talk of him as second only to ex-Dewan Vencatta Row.
The principal object of the Maha Rajah in inviting Cunden Menon, was to compile a code of laws for Travancore, founded upon the enactments then in force in the Honorable East India Company’s territories.
Cunden Menon undertook this most important and onerous task, and having formed a committee of experienced officers in the Travancore service, he consulted with them and examined all the rules then in force in Travancore. They then commenced the drafting and arranging of the regulations, which they finished in the course of a few months.
As the Peishcar had no knowledge of English, all his writings were translated by competent English scholars. The Maha Rajah and the Resident highly approved of the code, and it was printed at the Cottayam Mission Press (the Sircar having no press of their own at that time), and the new code was promulgated as the law of Travancore, and brought into force from the year 1011 M.E. (1836 A.D.)
This was the first code of regulations ever adopted and promulgated in Travancore. It consisted of eight chapters. The first five chapters, contain the civil code and procedure and the constitutions of Munsiffs, Zillah and appeal courts; the sixth regulation vests tahsildars with police authority, and Zillah courts with criminal powers; and the seventh and eighth authorise appeal court judges to perform the functions of session courts.
To carry out the provision laid out by the new code, it was necessary to have a staff of competent agents, and to place a qualified person on the bench of the appeal court, Cunden Menon Peishcar recommended His Highness to invite one of the Munsiffs in the Malabar Zillah. In accordance with this suggestion, the services of one Bagavuntha Row, a Munsiff, were availed of, he having been invited through the Resident. Bagavuntha Row was appointed first judge of the appeal court on his arrival in Trivandrum.
By Regulation VI, the power of supreme magistracy was vested in the Dewan, and by that measure Cunden Menon Peishcar became virtually the head magistrate, and he took in hand the organization of the police and magistracy, while Bagavuntha Row, judge, arranged every point connected with the civil and criminal departments. In the course of a few months, the powers of the judicial departments in Travancore were clearly established, and placed on a permanent footing, and the people became generally acquainted with the newly introduced system.
A couple of years subsequent to Suba Row's appointment as Dewan, he began to arrange for the conduct of a general garden survey, which was then over due in accordance with established rule, as no such survey had been held since the year 993 M.E., when one was commenced by the Dewan Daven Padmanabhen and concluded in 993, during the administration of Reddy Row. Dewan Peishcar Cunden Menon got the credit of carrying the measure into execution, during that officer’s time, and this survey was concluded in the year 1012 M.E. (1837 A.D.), subsequent to the said Peishcar's death.
Dewan Suba Row, whose powers had been virtually usurped by the intelligent and painstaking Dewan Peishcar, had nothing to do beyond affixing his signature to all communications prepared under the directions of Cunden Menon. The Dewan now grew jealous, and in consultation with his first assistant Dewan Peishcar Cochu Sankara Pillay, who was also highly envious of his junior colleagues' success in office, began to thwart the Peishcar in many of his really praise worthy undertakings. But Suba Row’s ill-devised endeavours against Cunden Menon were not successful, as the peishcar had the firm support of the Maha Rajah and the Resident in all really important measures. But the successful career of Cunden Menon was arrested by his sudden and serious illness.
After a distinguished service of two years, he died at Trivandrum. In him, Travancore lost a most able and promising officer, from who, the people expected still greater benefits if providence had spared him.
In the Malabar year 1011 (1836 A.D), the Maha Rajah sanctioned the abolition of duty on one hundred and sixtyfive articles of different descriptions on which inland, as well as export and import duty, had been levied. The advantages of English education being fully appreciated by the Maha Rajah from personal experience, His Highness now thought of placing the same within the reach of his subjects, by introducing an educational system in Travancore.
In 1009 M.E. (1834 A.D.), His Highness in consultation with the Dewan, sanctioned the opening of an English school at Trivandrum, and Mr. J. Roberts, who was then keeping a private school at Nagercoil, was invited to take charge of this institution, on a monthly grant of 100 Rupees. Subsequently, in the Malabar year 1012 (1836 A.D.) this institution was converted into a Sircar free school, and Mr. Roberts was admitted into the Sircar service, on a salary of 300 Rupees per mensem. The then Resident Colonel and afterwards General J.S. Fraser, a gentleman who delighted in the patronage of sciences and learning, also took a great interest in the spread of English education in Travancore. The establishment of the free school was followed by the opening of a few branch schools in the districts. Thus was English education introduced in Travancore by this illustrious sovereign, and thus was western knowledge offered to the Maha Rajah's subjects free of any charge.
The Maha Rajah, even when a student, used to compare the relative connection between Sanscrit and English science, a fact which is also mentioned by Colonel Welsh; and as His Highness had a good knowledge of the Hindu science of astronomy, he had often discussed the subject with the then commercial agent of Alleppey, Mr. Caldecott who being well versed in that science, used to make astronomical observation with several portable instruments of his own. Mr. Caldecott's descriptions of his observation of the various movements of the heavenly bodies, closely corresponding with the calculations and observation of the Hindu Astronomers, the Maha Rajah was most anxious for a through investigation of this science.
At about this time, the Maha Rajah being on a tour to the northern districts, visited Allepey, and had thus an opportunity of examining several interesting astronomical instruments, belonging to Mr. Caldecott, who suggested the construction of a small Observatory at Alleppey; but the Maha Rajah wished to have a good building erected at Trivandrum. His Highness therefore desired Mr. Caldecott to make an official proposal,for setting up an Observatory at Trivandrum. The measure was duly proposed, and it having been readily sanctioned by the Maha Rajah, Mr. Caldecott was appointed His Highness'astronomer.
The Observatory was built under the superintendence of Lieutenant (now Colonel) Horsley, of the Madras Engineers, and Mr. Caldecott, having placed his private astronomical instruments at the disposal of the Sircar, and having also obtained a few more from England, commenced operations in 1837. Subsequently, many valuable and choice instruments were purchased and the Trivandrum Observatory being thus placed on a fair footing, became a most important institution of the kind in India.
The Trivandrum Observatory owned its origin in 1836, to the enlightened views of His Highness Rama Vurmah, then reigning Rajah of Travancore, and to the encouragement given to them by the late General Stuart Fraser then representing the British Government at Trivandrum.
The advantages which might accrue to science by the establishment of an Observatory in the most southern part of the Indian peninsula were first brought to the Rajah's notice by Mr. J. Caldecott, then the commercial agent of the Travnancore Government at the port of Alleppey. His Highness, desirous that his country should partake with European nations in scientific investigations, sanctioned the construction of an Observatory, named Mr. Caldecott its director, and gave him power to furnish it with the best instruments to be obtained in Europe.
His Highness was celebrated throughout India for his leave of learning, for a cultivated mind, great poetical powers, and a through knowledge of many languages. His Highness is well known also for his decision of character, and took the whole subject at once under his special protection.
*** *** ***
The virtues of European medicines and the benefits to be derived from European medical treatment having been thoroughly appreciated from experience, ever since the appointment of a Doctor, as medical attendant upon the royal family, this benevolent Maha Rajah wished that his subject should also share in its advantages. He therefore sanctioned the establishment of a charity hospital at Trivandrum, under the superintendence of the palace physician.
The construction of the Sree Padam paalce, during the former reign, on a plan drawn by a European Engineer, had impressed His Highness, even when quite young with a favourable opinion of European engineering skill. The recent construction of the Observatory simply confirmed this impressions. The Maha Rajah, desirous of introducing a knowledge of European engineering art into Travancore, in consultation with the Resident Colonel Fraser, sanctioned the organisation of an experimental engineering department, and Lieutenant Horsley was offered, and accepted, the post of a Visiting Engineer and Superintendent of Irrigation and other important works at Nanjenaud and Trivandrum.
An irrigation maramuth department was established at Nanjenaud and a superintendent appointed. A few companies of pioneers were formed for irrigation works at Nanjenaud, under the general supervision of the visiting Engineer Lieutenant Horsely, who began to devote his unremitting attention to the improvement of all the maramuth works in Travancore.
This very able Engineer's literacy work Memories of Travancore written at the request of the Resident, Colonel Fraser, shows his knowledge of the country, and how he exerted himself to be closely acquainted with everything connected with Travancore.
The Maha Rajah commissioned His Highness' Astronomer, Mr. Caldecott to procure a small printing press, and employ the same in connection with the Observatory; but this gentleman at first introduced lithography, and subsequently, in consultation with the Resident, printing presses were ordered from England and a printing department established. Mr. Sperschneider (the father of the present Dr. Sperschneider of the Nair brigade), was appointed superintendent of the printing department. In the year 1839 the first Anglo-Vernacular Calendar of Travancore (for the Malabar year 1015) was issued from this press.
The maramuth department, for repairing and constructing palaces, pagodas, and similar works, was now reorganised on a larger scale, and a person of experience was appointed, with an adequate salary, as superintendent.
The sudden death of Cunden Menon Peishcar was the subject of general remark. Though he died a natural death from a carbuncle on the back, and though he was attended by the palace physician and the residency doctor, yet the popular voice had it that the Peishcar had fallen a victim to the arts of withcraft practised against him by some of the devil worshippers of the south, under the support and instigation of the Peishcar's enemies.
His Highness the Maha Rajah had reasons to be dissatisfied with Dewan Suba Row, and his assistant Cochu Sankara Pillay Peishcar. About this time some serious charges were preferred against these high officials by a number of petitioners. In 1012 M.E. (1837 A.D.), the Maha Rajah issued orders with the concurrence of the Resident, Colonel Fraser, for the suspension of the Dewan and the Peishcar. The first judge of the appeal court, Narayana Kasaven, was dismissed in 1010 M.E. (1835) on certain charges which were pending inquiry before the palace. A commission was now appointed, consisting of two European officers and as many natives, presided over by the then Conservator of Forests, Mr. Munro, a son of the late Resident, Colonel Munro, to inquire into the charges against the accused. After a prolonged inquiry of about two months, the impeachment was found to be unsustainable, and the commission closed their sitting, but the Maha Rajah being dissatisfied thought it proper not to re-instate the Judge, the Dewan and the Peishcar in their respective offices. After the suspension of Dewan Suba Row and Peischar Cochu Sankara Pillay, Mr. Runga Row, the then Dewan Peishcar, was authorised to assume the functions of Dewan. Runga Row was the younger brother of the former popular Dewan Vencatta Row, and the father of Rajah Sir T. Madhava Row, and being a very active and honest officer of the Sircar, he conducted the administration most satisfactorily.
The Maha Rajah, remembering the good qualities and ability of the ex-Dewan, Vencatta Row, entertained the idea of re-appointing him to the office of Dewan, and in consultation with His Highness' brother, the Elia Rajah, this wise measure was resolved upon. His Highness the Elia Rajah then wrote to Vencatta Row, who expressed his willingness to accept the kind offer. The Maha Rajah then deputed His Highness' favourite attendant, once Cunjen Thampan of Vycome, to Combaconum, to arrange personally with Vencatta Row regarding his return.
In the next year 1013 (1838 A.D.), Vencatta Row arrived at Trivandrum, and was at once appointed Dewan.
He began to display his characteristic energy in the administration, and his proceedings gave entire satisfaction to His Highness the Maha Rajah. As the new Dewan was progressing in his brilliant career, he had the misfortune to fall out with Captain Douglas, the then Acting Resident. Finding that they could not agree, Vencatta Row tendered his resignation, though much against His Highness' wish, in the month of Meenam 1014 (1839 A.D.), after a career of only twelve months.
Dewan Peishcar Runga Row, having resigned his office, when his brother Vencatta Row was appointed Dewan, there was no fit officer at the time in the Huzzoor establishment to conduct the administration, and consequently, the Maha Rajah, in consultation with the Resident, Captain Douglas, called in the other ex-Dewan Suba Row, in the year 1014 M.E. (1839 A.D.) to resume charge of the administration. His absence of a little more than two years from office, and even the inquiry before mentioned did not seem to weigh upon his mind in the least, and Dewan Suba Row resumed charge of the office in the gayest spirit as if he had been attending the cutcherry all the time.
Though the resignation of Vencatta Row was generally and deeply regretted by the people, yet Suba Row was also not wanting in popularity. Dewan Suba Row kept in his old groove. His administration was marked by great success, and the Maha Rajah considered the arrangements best suited to the times.
In the year 1015 M.E. (1840 A.D.), the Dewan's power was increased and his hands strengthened, for, the heads of the several departments of the Huzoor cutcherry were now prevented by a royal writ, from corresponding directly with the palace, and the Dewan was made the only the officer in the Huzoor cutcherry competent to issue orders and instructions to the various subordinate officers.
By this time, the Maha Rajah's reputation and renown were spread throughout India, and His Highess' court became the cynosure of attraction. It was always thronged by men of learning from all parts of India. Sastries from Bengal, Benares, Combaconum, and other places noted for learning, now resorted to the capital of Travancore partly to take service under so renowned a Maha Rajah, and partly to display their knowledge. A distinguish scholar, by name Sankara Jossiyer, who was one of the principal pundits of the court of His Highness Runjeet Sing, Maha Rajah of Lahore, and who had highly distinguished himself in northern India, was now entertained in the Maha Rajah's service, as the first judge of the appeal court. Native astronomers and astrologers from all parts of India, were also in the Maha Rajah's employment. The Maha Rajah was also a patron of music, and several distinguished musicians from Tanjore, Tinnevelly, Palghaut, Mysore, and Malabar were now taken into the service. Mussulman singers of renown were invited to the court. An East Indian was employed to practice English music. Portable organs, musical boxes of various sizes, and several other musical instruments, were purchased.
Many native medical practitioners of note visited the Maha Rajah's court. A Huckeem of some note from Delhi had been in the court for some time, and the renowened Huckeem of Tinnevelly Madar Hoossein, Tahsildar’s son Hayathally Khan, was employed, and that old man is still in the service.
A number of native boxers from Travancore and other parts of Malabar skilled in the art of fencing, single combat, sword, stick, and other exercises, were entertained for the amusement of the court. To witness the mode of champion-fighting in other countries, the Maha Rajah got from the court of Mysore a few sets of trained athletes called mullaga jetties, who fight in single combat, till the combatants bodies are bathed in blood. The Maha Rajah's curiosity was very peculiar, as His Highess used to take a great interest in seeing all kinds of wonderful feats and rarities. His Highness, who had already seen specimens of nearly all the European nations, now wished to see a Chinese, of whose skill in arts and manufactures His Highness had heard a good deal. Two Chinese jugglers were brought and were for a long time attached to the palace. As they had a very funny way of taking their meals by means of two small sticks, the Maha Rajah used to see them fed at the palace in his presence. They remained in the palace for a long time, and afterwards were allowed to return to their native land loaded with presents.
Arabs, Negroes, Turks, Malayas, Japanese, Nepaulese, and people of almost every nationality of India were brought to Trivandrum one by one at different times, to satisfy His Highness' curiosity. A set of pyalwans (Mussulman champions) from Hyderabad who perform wonderful feats and exhibit extraordinary powers of muscle, were entertained at the court for some time. The performances exhibited by these men would be considered exaggerated, even if correctly related. One of them, a young man of about thirty years of age, with a strong-built body, used to lie on his back and allow a thick granite stone slab to be placed on his breast, and have the same split into pieces by pounding it with a thick iron pestle. He used to throw large iron cannon balls into the air and receive them on his head, back and breast.
In short, there was no science in India which had not a representative of it in the Maha Rajah's court during this period. And this highly satisfactory state of affairs at the court and the proper administration of the country of Travancore excited the admiration of all the neighbouring countries, while the Madras Government expressed their unqualified satisfaction at the young Maha Rajah's conduct of the administration.
A very rich and influential native of Madras, Veeraswamy Naidu, repaired to Trivandrum, and after having had an interview with the Maha Rajah, resolved to stay at His Highness' court. A short time afterwards, the Maha Rajah appointed him as the fourth judge of the appeal court. This man had a good knowledge of horses, and so he was allowed to have the supervision of the Maha Rajah's stables. A richly gilt and splendid car was constructed for the Maha Rajah's conveyance on State occasions under Veeraswamy Naidu's superintendence, and on his own plan, and this beautiful carriage was admired by all who saw it, and even European Engineers have expressed their surprise at the native workmanship and the ingenuity displayed in its execution.
In the early part of the year 1016 M.E. (1840 A.D.) General (then Colonel) Cullen was appointed Resident of Travancore ; and a young Telugu Brahman by name Krishna Iyen, afterwards known as Krishna Row followed the Resident to Travancore. This Brahman appears to have been under General Cullen while he was in the Commissariat at Madras. Although he had only a limited knowledge of English, he wrote a good hand, and was a very fast writer and intelligent and active in his habits. General Cullen was struck with the eloquence, affability and knowledge of the Maha Rajah at their first interview, and as the General was a good scientific scholar, he applauded the Maha Rajah's learning, his poetical taste, as well as His Highness' patronage of the Western sciences and began to co-operate with His Highness in all his scientific improvements.
Krishna Row, was a great favourite of General Cullen, and he now began to be ambitious, and desirous of getting into the Travancore service. Though there was no opening at the time, the Maha Rajah thought it wise to do something for the young Brahman with the view of pleasing the Resident, and accordingly, a new office was created for him in the Huzzoor cutcherry under the denomination of deputy Peishcar on a monthly salary of 300 rupees. His duty was to manage the Dewaswam, Ootupurah and Sawyer departments. Matters went on satisfactorily and harmoniously for some time, but Krishna Row aspiring to a higher position began slowly to work with the view of overthrowing Dewan Suba Row.
The Maha Rajah was naturally very sensitive, and therefore would not submit to the least contradiction, or slight thrown on his authority, from any quarter whatever.
General Cullen, being a little defective in his sense of hearing, the Maha Rajah had to speak in a loud voiceduring his interview with him. This was not at all agreeable to His Highness. He was rather delicate in constitution, and the strain on His Highness lungs seemed to injure his health. His interviews with the Resident therefore were not very frequent and when a private meeting was sought, the Maha Rajah often tried to avoid seeming him under some excuse or other.
The Deputy Peishcar, Krishna Row was the principal person who used to furnish information to the Resident on all matters connected with the Government, and he took this opportunity of prejudicing General Cullen's mind against Dewan Subha Row, intimating that the excuse of the Maha Rajah and his unwillingness to receive visits from the Resident, proceeded from a personal disregard to the Resident; that the Dewan advised the Maha Rajah not to make himself too friendly with the Resident; and that His Highness was acting solely under the counsel of Suba Row. Thus the first seeds of misunderstanding were sown in General Cullen's mind, and he being a proud man, and of a somewhat resentful disposition, though kind and affable, as a rule, began to view things in Travancore with a prejudiced eye, and to weigh matters with a biased mind. Decisions on public questions of importance were altered, and objections to every measure proposed and suggested by the Dewan under the authority of the Maha Rajah, became the order of the day. The Resident commenced receiving petitions form parties concerned in police, revenue, and civil cases pending before the respective officers and tribunals, called for reports and records from the Dewan and the appeal court, and gave final opinions and decision on all questions brought to his notice. This as a matter of course, attracted the attention of grievance-mongers, who used to resort to the residency with their complaints, and thus the Resident's office became virtually a court for hearing, inquiring, and settling all questions brought before it, questions affecting the general internal administration of Travancore.
The Resident assumed almost sovereign authority. Every appointment of importance, such as tahsildars, munsiffs, superintendents, &c., were ordered to be made after official communication with the Resident and after obtaining his special sanction. In short, the Dewan's hands were tied up, and he was rendered incompetent to give even an increase of salary to the writers and others in his own office without the special sanction of the Resident.
This extraordinary interference of the Resident irritated the Maha Rajah, and the misunderstanding between His Highness' court and the residency became stronger and stronger. Meanwhile, General Cullen continued representing matters to the Madras Government so as to place the Maha Rajah's administration of the country in an unfavourable light. The Government though reluctant to deal with such questions upon ex-parte statements, yet naturally placing confidence in the statement of their representative, viewed matters prejudicially to the Maha Rajah.
The Maha Rajah also represented the state of matters to the Madras Government. But it was too late, and the Government did not give to his representation that attention which it deserved.
The Madras Government passed several Minutes wherein unfavourable opinions were recorded regarding Travancore affairs at this period, and these opinions were endorsed by even the Honorable Court of Directors.
The Deputy Peishcar, Krishna Row, who was anxiously waiting to obtain the coveted office of Dewan ever since he set foot in Travancore, now thought that the time for accomplishing his object had arrived, and he began to use his influence with re-doubled vigour.
The people of Travancore, both officials and non-officials who were quick in foreseeing things, anticipated the ultimate fate of Dewan Suba Row, and the advancement of the Deputy Peishcar Krishna Row. Krishna Row became the head of a strong party, and thus arose two factions in Travancore. Suba Row's influence gradually weakened and he became simply the nominal Dewan. Matters continued thus for some time. The Dewan now found the necessity of withdrawing from the conflict, and the Maha Rajah was constrained to accept his resignation. He was allowed to retire on a monthly pension of 500 rupees. After the retirement of Suba Row was promoted to the post of Head Dewan Peishcar, and was put in charge of the administration in 1017M.E.(1842A.D.). Thus did this protege of the Resident attain the object of his desire.
The Maha Rajah had become disheartened ever since he felt his authority interfered with by the Resident, and the administration of the State unfavourably commented on by the Madras Government.
This state of things hurt the Maha Rajah's feelings considerably, and one day His Highness calling in his father and his brother the Elia Rajah (heir apparent), observed to them that the Madras Government appeared to be solely guided by the partial reports of General Cullen, and were thus doing great injustice to His Highness. He said that it was surprising that Government should pretend to evince more interest in the welfare and prosperity of Travancore , than the Maha Rajah himself who was the owner and the sovereign of the country, while the Honorable East India Company was only an ally of His Highness; that the present conduct of the Madras Government and of other representative towards His Highness and General Cullen's constant interference with the internal administration of the kingdom, would seem to imply just the contrary ; that the Maha Rajah had at present, in his court, well informed persons from many parts of the Company's Indian territories, and also from the native kingdoms of Mysore, Tanjore, Hyderabad, Cochin&C., from whom His Highness had learnt that those countries were not better ruled than Travancore; that the Maha Rajah's rule in the earlier part of his reign had been highly approved of, not only by the Madras Government but also by the Government of India, that it was highly mortifying to find that fault had been now found with His Highness' rule after a career of about twelve years, and after His Highness had become experienced in the art of Government, and that if the destinies of Travancore were to remain in the hands of a Telgu Brahman (referring to Krishna Row), the Maha Rajah would rather relinquish his connection with the kingdom, than be subjected to such humiliations. After these observations His Highness produced a long address which he had prepared to be forwarded to the Supreme Government, and handed it over to his brother. This letter was strongly worded, and His Highness the Elia Rajah as well as his father were quite alarmed at the Maha Rajah's determination. They prayed His Highness to postpone his proceedings for further consideration and soothed his Highness' troubled mind. Subsequently, Her Highness Parwathi Ranee, His Highness' aunt, the ex-Dewan Suba Row, and several trusted officials and courtries, waited upon the Maha Rajah, and requested His Highness to refrain from writing either to the Government of Madras or to that of India, against General Cullen and his protege, Krishna Row. Though the Maha Rajah yielded to the earnest solicitations of His brother, father, tutor and officers, still he was so much offended, as to declare that His Highness would not retain Krishna Row in the service, but would send him away even at the expense of the country.
The Maha Rajah informed the Madras Government that His Highness had no confidence in the head Dewan Peishcar in charge, and that he would not be confirmed in the Dewan's office.
As there was no fit person in office whom the Maha Rajah could select for the office of prime minister His Highness sent for the old-ex-Dewan Vencatta Row, commonly known by the name of Reddy Row, who had come to Travancore along with Colonel Munro, and who was Dewan during the reign of Her Highness Parwathi Ranee. Reddy Row responded to the call and was appointed Dewan in the Malabar year 1018 (1843 A. D.) The Head Dewan Peishcar was however allowed to remain in office, but was only in charge of certain departments of the Huzoor. This was done at the earnest solicitation of the Maha Rajah's brother (the heir apparent), and His Highness' father, who feared an open rupture with General Cullen.
The Dewan Reddy Row, though nearly forgotten in the country from his long absence and from the material changes it had undergone during a period of above twenty years, began a career quite different from that of his predecessor Suba Row. No sooner had he once more come into office, than a host of relatives and followers surrounded him, and ere long two of his sons were employed in the Huzzoor cutcherry.
The head Dewan Peishcar, Krishna Row, and the Dewan Reddy Row could not agree, and the Huzzoor cutcherry became again the scene of divided partisanship. The Dewan had the support of the Maha Rajah, while Krishna Row was backed by General Cullen, who induced the Madras Government to believe that Krishna Row was the only Honest and able officer in the Travancore service, and who had the welfare of the country at heart. A few months previous to be appointment of Dewan Reddy Row, the two ex-Dewan Peishcar (both native Nairs of Travancore) were taken back into the service. One of them Kasava Pillay, was employed in the Huzzoor and the other, Cochu Sankara Pillay was appointed palace Peischar. These men had great experience in the service , both of them having risen gradually from the lowest grade to the high post of Dewan Peishcar. The appointment of a palace Peishcar was objected to by General Cullen, on the ground of its being a new office, but His Highness observed that the Resident need not extend his interference with the Maha Rajah's domestic affairs.
The proceedings of Krishna Row as head Dewan Peishcar were anything but satisfactory to His Highness. He always sought for an opportunity to make himself obnoxious to the Maha Rajah. Finding that the existence of Krishna Row in office was an obstacle to the Dewan in carrying on his business and that his party was growing powerful day by day, the Maha Rajah was determined to remove him from the service, and with all the support that General Cullen could give him, His Highness' resolution prevailed, the Madras Government agreed with His Highness and allowed him to act according to His Highness' own views in the matter.
In the commencement of the year 1019 M.E. (1843 A.D.) six months after the appointment of Dewan Reddy Row, Head Dewan Peishcar Krishna Row was dismissed from the service, and as the Maha Rajah prohibited his remaining at Trivandrum, the fallen statesman was obliged to take up his residence at Quilon.
General Cullen considered these proceedings of the Maha Rajah as a slight offered to him, and under this impression, began to work for the expulsion of the Maha Rajah's tutor, the ex-Dewan Suba Row, from Travancore. A good deal of correspondence passed between the Maha Rajah and the Resident, as well as the Madras Government, and at last, Suba Row's removal from Travancore was insisted upon by the Madras Government and the Maha Rajah yielded to the decision of the paramount power.
After some time, the Maha Rajah succeeded in recalling Suba Row to his capital from Tanjore, where he had proceeded in obedience to the orders of the Madras Government. But the Maha Rajah was greatly affected by the decision of Government which he looked upon as unnecessarily severe. The Maha Rajah thought that His Highness's authority and power in his own country had been set at nought. From this time His Highness became indifferent regarding the administration of the country and was dejected in mind. His health began to fail and a complaint which added to the uneasiness of his mind, began, to prey upon His Highness delicate constitution.
Being a learned monarch, His Highness now began to devote his time more to religious devotions than to anything else, and spent his time mostly in prayer ablutions, and in attending to the worship in the great pagoda at Trivandrum.
The Maha Rajah began to fulfil his vows by devoting large sums of money to His Highness' household deity Padmanabha Swami, ever since the commencement of his ailments. On days when His Highness went to offer or fulfil the vows, he used to fast and abstain from taking his usual food and from receiving visits from any one; so much so, that His Highness even denied an audience to his nearest relatives. Hence, the Dewan could not find time for submitting his reports as usual, nay, he could hardly get admittance into the royal presence more than once in a month.
In every month, several days were devoted for the fulfillment of the vows at the pagoda, and on each occasion a large sum of money was given to the shrine. On one occasion, the amount was one lac of Surat rupees, which was heaped in front of the idol of Sree Padmanabha Swamy, and the Maha Rajah took the numerous bags containing the rupees and poured the contents into the silver vessels which were kept there for the purpose. This work engaged His Highness about an hour, and had the determination of mind to go through the labour even in his delicate state of health.
During this period, money was apparently considered by the Maha Rajah as dust, and the palace expenditure became most extravagant and lavish. Purchases of sundry articles, such as silks, velvets, kincobs, neeralum (Gold cloth) and other descriptions of cloth, alone absorbed an annual sum of about three lacs of rupees, all valuable jewels brought for sale were at once purchased, and made over to the pagoda as votive offerings to the deity.
Costly buildings were constructed, such as the Karamannay stone bridge attached to the old palace, &c.
There was a total discontinuance of interviews with the Resident, General Cullen, against whom the hatred of the Maha Rajah seemed to increase day by day, so much so, that his servants were afraid to utter the Resident's name in the Maha Rajah's presence. His Highness would, in conversation with his attendants, when alluding to the Resident, speak of him as 'Shuvatha' in Sanskrit, 'Panddarah' in Mahratta, and 'Wallah' in Malayalam.
Latterly, the Maha Rajah would not see or receive visits from any European gentlemen, and even His Highness’ physician could not pay his visits to the ailing Maha Rajah, who totally refused to attend to any advice from the doctor or to allow himself to be treated by him.
During this interval, Lord Hay, the son of the Marquis of Tweedale, the then Governor of Madras, came to Trivandrum, and it was with the greatest difficulty and in deference to the entreaties of the Elia Rajah and His Highness’ father, that the Maha Rajah was persuaded to see that noblemen.
In the middle of Malabar year 1019 (1844 A.D.) the Maha Rajah proceeded to south Travancore, with the express purpose of performing certain religious ceremonies and to worship in the renowned pagodas of Sucheendram and Cape Coumarin and other shrines of note. This trip was attended with the very large amount of expenditure for the whole Huzoor and palace establishments had to follow the royal procession. Even on this occasion, the Maha Rajah abstained from showing himself to the people of Nanjenaud as is usual, for His Highness' time was always devoted to religious observances. Nanjenaud is considered from time immemorial as the country inhabited by the most loyal subjects of Travancore, and the people of the twelve villages forming Nanjenaud had precedent on all occasions over those of any other part of the country. Every new measure adopted during the former reigns connected with the administration of the kingdom, was first proposed to the people of Nanjenaud, and they had been invariably consulted as they had a voice and vote in other affairs of the Kingdom. Consequently, whenever the soverign visited Nanjenaud, the first thing he used to do was to give an audience to the chiefs of that district. On this occasion, however, the Maha Rajah did not do this, from an apprehension that some of the old loyal chiefs might moot the question of the present state of affairs in the country, and make some remarks regarding the unusual interference of the Resident with the Maha Rajah's sovereign authority, and of His Highness’ implicit submission.
After an absence of more than a month, His Highness returned to Trivandrum and resumed his usual devotional exercises. About this time, the Maha Rajah thought it proper to invest an amount of four lacs of rupees in the Government loans ; especially as the reserve fund in the palace treasury was being drained away day by day.
The numerous acts and proceedings of the Maha Rajah, fully attested His Highness' refined moral principles, and had also shown that the Maha Rajah was a bitter enemy to corruption and immorality. About this time, the career of Dewan Reddy Row gave room to His Highness to suppose that he was too much given up to his dependents and relatives, and that it was through them that the affairs were managed in an unsatisfactory manner.
At this interval, the Resident, General Cullen, reported to the Madras Government concerning the objectionable measure of the Dewan, in entertaining two of his sons in responsible offices in the Huzzoor cutcherry which was immediately under his charge, and the Government recommended the removal of those officers form their respective posts. The Maha Rajah was only too glad to attend to this advice of the Government.
In the Year 1020 M. E. (1845 A.D.) the Dewan proceeded on a circuit to the Northern districts while the Resident was at Balghauty. Reddy Row visited several of the districts north of Quilon, and remained at Paravoor for some time, inquiring into certain charges brought against the tahsildar of that district. While there, the Dewan with all the officers and servants of the Huzoor cutcherry accepted an invitation from Anantha Rama Iyen, the son of Nunjappiah, the late Dewan of Cochin, who had done some good service to Reddy Row during his former incumbency in the reign of Her Highness Parwathi Ranee.
The Dewan, on this occasion, not only received presents himself from Anantha Rama Iyen, but also allowed his followers, the officers and servants of the Huzzoor cutcherry, do the same. In conducting the inquiry against the tahsildar of Paravoor, great irregularities had been practised by the subordinate officials as well as by the Dewan's private agents, who had followed him thither for the express purpose of enriching themselves. The Dewan's settlements of a boundary dispute with a certain Dewaswam in the north called Nayathottum, was also open to suspicion.
By the time of the Dewan's return to Trivandrum, every detail connected with his visit to Anantha Rama Iyen's house, and his inquiry into the charges against the tahsildar, reached the Maha Rajah's ears. The Resident, General Cullen, too, was in possession of similar facts.
The Maha Rajah refused to give audience to the Dewan after his return, and, a few days afterwards, made the premier to understand that the disagreeable necessity of a public inquiry into his conduct might be avoided by his immediate resignation, Reddy Row wisely accepted the proposal, and sent in his resignation oath next day. Upon another occassion, Dewan Peishcar, a very able and experienced officer, who was in great favour with the Maha Rajah , was dismissed from the service on a charge of corruption. The following is an abstract translation of the short royal rescript issued to the Peishcar :-
'As we had reason to appreciate your ability and long experience on public business during the time you were holding minor appointments, we promoted you to the office of Dewan Peishcar, but, in course of time, you proved yourself to be extraordinarily avaricious like other mean persons, and various evils have resulted, in consequence, we therefore have dismissed you from your present office'.
Soon after Reddy Row's retirement, Sreenevasa Row, the then first Judge of the appeal court, was appointed Head Dewan Peishcar, in charge of the administration. This officer was a very honest and quiet man, but had not that administrative tact which characterised many of his predecessors. Being called upon to assume charge of the administration at a time when the ablest Dewan, would have found it difficult to manage affairs satisfactorily ; he experienced great trouble in coping with the emergency. Reddy Row had brought the administration in to a state which Sreenevasa Row's hand was too weak to rectify. The gradually growing illness of the Maha Rajah and his consequent indifference to the affairs of the State, the increasing misunderstanding between the court and the Resident; the general inactivity of the district officials, who had all a firm belief in the speedy return of Krishna Row to office, and above all the financial embarrassments of the country, were evils which Sreenevasa Row found too hard for him to surmount. People knew that his hands were tied; and that he had no power to act in any matter for himself. The Resident called for reports on every point connected with the administration, while he was utterly unable to get a reply from the palace to his references on important matters for months together. Revenue collections fell into arrears. The tobacco revenue, which was then the chief item among other branches, began to suffer owing to the prevalence of smuggling, while the daily expenses in the palace increased on account of ceremonies and other demands. The large sum of money amounting to upwards of thirty four lacs of Rupees which was the surplus in the treasury during the prosperous administration of Dewan Suba Row, and which had been transferred to the palace treasury on his retirement was all spent in vows and religious ceremonies at the pagodas, and the palace treasury also soon became empty. Thus, the financial difficulty became greater than all the other difficulties with which the acting premier had to deal. The Head Dewan, Peishcar, Sreenevasa Row, was often found in a pitiful state, especially when the time for paying the monthly subsidy to the Resident's treasury approached.
The allowance to the various establishments had been in arrears, and every day the Huzzoor cutcherry was invaded by crowds of people expecting and requesting payment.
Sreenevasa Row had some good qualities. He was quite amenable to reason. He used to seek advice from able and honest officials of his cutcherry, without regard to their rank and position. He never shrunk from retracing his steps when he found it was necessary to do so. By such a sensible line of conduct Sreenevasa Row was enabled to show improvement in the financial department and in the general administration.
In the next Malabar Year 1021 (A. D. 1845), the Maha Rajah wishing a change of air visited Quilon, and this entailed an enormous additional expenditure. Towards the close of the year, to aggravate the already existing difficulties, a great misfortune befell Travancore. An unusually heavy storm hit over the country destroying both life and property to a considerable extent.
The storm and the consequent floods destroyed many of the irrigation works in the South. Numbers of trees, houses,&c.,&c., in the north came down and many ryots had their houses washed away. By this event the improvement in the financial condition of the country was considerably retarded.
In this year, the Maha Rajah's father died. This was an irreparable and deeply felt loss to the State. From this date, the Maha Rajah's ailments began to increase. He loved seclusion and solitude, and as his malady increased, his habit became more sedentary. No person had access to His Highness, save his personal attendants, of whom one man waited at a suitable place to attend when summoned. Even the physician attached to the Maha Rajah could not get any correct information regarding the State of His Highness’ health. His Highness' brother, the Elia Rajah, who had a good knowledge of the medical science was his only medical attendant. Even the Elia Rajah himself could not go to see his brother without special permission. There were several native practitioners of some note and ability at hand, but they were of no use, as His highness refused to admit any of them to the royal presence. The Maha Rajah at this time was unable even to walk a few paces.
His Highness one day called his brother the Elia Rajah, and observed that Sreenevasa Row , being a quiet man, would not be able to cope with the opposition of the Resident, General Cullen, and do his duties satisfactorily, and as His Highness had already permitted Krishna Row to return to Trevandrum and reside there, His Highness intended giving him a fresh trial, as he wished to see what effect that measure would produce in General Cullen's mind . His Highness the Elia Rajah entirely agreed with the views of the Maha Rajah and went to bathe in the tank, His Highness sitting there called the palace Rayasom (writer), and dictated a Neet (commission ) of appointment to Krishna Row as Dewan Peishcar. After this, Krishna Row was summoned to the Royal presence. Not knowing for what purpose he was so suddenly called to the palace, Krishna Row was frightened, but no sooner was he ushered into the presence of the Maharajah, than His Highness in a very unusual way, smiled and said, Here , Krishna Row accept your re-appointment into my service. I forgive and forget all what is past; from this day you are my man and not General Cullen's . Go, work honestly for the advancement of my country and render every possible assistance to Sreenevasa Row.
Krishna Row became speechless, shed tears copiously, and all that he could say in his own Telugu tongue was, Maha Rajah! Maha Rajah! I am your Highness' slave and waiting boy, protect me, protect me. This was the last commission of appoinment signed by the Maha Raja and it took place on the 26th Vrichigum 1022 M.E ( 10th December 1846).
Though the Maha Rajah now began to sink day by day, he kept this fact concealed from the notice of every one of his attendants, nor did he confine himself to his bed- chamber for any number of days. On the morning of the 12th Dhanu 1022 M.E. ( 25th December 1846) His Highness did not go to his bathroom as usual, neither did he stir out of his bed till 9 P.M. This created some alarm, and the servants soon communicated the matter to His Highness the Elia Rajah, but his Highness would not venture to enter the chamber without being called in by his brother: such was the fear, even the heir apparent and immediate brother , had of the Maha Rajah. The alarm reached Her Highness Parvathi Ranee, the Maha Rajah’s aunt, and Her Highness together with His Highness' brother-in -law hastened to the palace and all the three stood near the door. But none attempted either to enter or to rouse the slumbering Maha Rajah. At about 1 A. M. , the Maha Rajah hearing a whisper at the door, and recognizing the voice of his Highness' aunt whom His Highness held in great regard, called out to the attendants, and inquired of them if Her Highness was there and what the time was. There were only two attendants privileged to enter into the bed-chamber, and one off whom informed the Maha Rajah that it was then 10 O' clock and that the Princess and the Elia Rajah were there, in consequence of the Maha Rajah's not stirring out of bed even at such a late hour. The Maha Rajah got up, but so weak had he become that his legs failed to support him and when about to fall back, the attendant approached to help him. His Highness turning, stared at his face, holding the wall by one of his hands, and said 'what ! are you trying to trifle with me? I am not going to fall, neither am I in such a state of health'. So saying, the Maha Rajah boldly walked out and seeing his sorrow-stricken relatives, asked Her Highness the Ranee with a respectful smile:- 'Ammachee amertha Kalinho?' i.e., “mother, have you taken your breakfast? Turning to the Elia Rajah, His Highness observed that he had slept a little longer than usual, and then gave them leave to depart. Her Highness took his breakfast. His Highness, though fast sinking, endeavoured to conceal his weakness, but being unable to reach the bathing place, he said that he would perform his ablutions in one of the adjoining rooms, and while seated there His Highness sent for the head cook and gave him instructions to prepare a very light meal which was served at about 11 O' clock, but His Highness partook of it very sparingly, and then again bidding the sad group of relations adieu, re- entered the chamber and laid himself on the bed.
His Highness the Elia Rajah returned to his palace, and sent for the palace doctor, and told him in what state his royal brother was. The doctor wished for an interview with the sovereign, but this was found impracticable. Dewan Peishcar Krishna Row was ordered by His Highness to initiate at once to General Cullen the state of his Highness' health. During the course of the day, the Elia Rajah went more than ten times to the palace, but did not venture to enter the room or enquire personally how his brother was, for fear of disturbing him. Towards evening, however, His Highness went again to the palace then taking courage,he approached the door and found the Maha Rajah still lying on his bed in the same state as in the morning. They exchanged a few words after which the Maha Rajah still lying on his bed,after which the Maha Rajah permitted his brother to retire. His Highness left after ordering the attendants to inform him of any change in the state of the Maha Rajah.
At about 10 P. M. the Maha Rajah called out to his attendants and ordered a little liquid food, which, being brought, His Highness sipped a little of it and then told them to leave the room. He reclined as usual on his bed, and apparently went to sleep. Towards morning, at about 3’O clock one of the attendants looking in observed that the Maha Rajah lay in his bed motionless and breathless. He called out to another attendant who was also watching there. They both attentively looked from the door, and then slowly entered and went close to the bed side, but alas! there were no symptoms of life discernibly. One of them ran to His Highness the Elia Rajah's palace and gave the alarm, when the heir apparent got up from his bed and ran to the palace, loudly lamenting the loss of his brother. But all had been over some few hours before. Even the attendants knew nothing as to the real state in which the sovereign was.
The scene at the palace on the occasion defies description. His Highness the Elia Rajah lamented and cried like a child, while Her Highness the Ranee, who had also hastened to the palace at once, tore her hair and wept most bitterly. Her Highness was followed by all the other members of the royal family. Before day-break, the palace was thronged and filled by people. Officials, as well as all the immediate attendants at the palace, the nobles and other principal men of the town of Trivandrum, crowded in. Nothing but cries and lamentations could be heard in the palace until 7 A. M., when funeral procession started. The four main streets of the fort were crowded by the mourning population, who followed with heart-rending cries and sorrowing ejaculations. His Highness the Elia Rajah walked bare-headed and bare footed, close to the State conveyance wherein the deceased Maha Rajah's remains were placed. All the other male members of the royal family walked behind the heir apparent.
Deep mourning was observed voluntarily by every class of people. The bazaars were all shut, so were the gates of all the houses where in weeping and cries could alone be heard. Groups of females, with dishevelled hair, were seen at different places in the streets and gardens, beating their bosoms and heads with loud cries of grief and lamentations.
His Highness the Elia Rajah, the chief mourner, performed all the ceremonies, and under took to perform the daily ceremonies called 'Deeksha' for one year; during which period, His Highness was to abstain from all luxurious living and lead the life of a hermit in grief and mourning in accordance with the customs of the Hindus.
Thus ended the worthy career of this Maha Rajah in the thirty-fourth year of his age and in the eighteenth year of his glorious reign. Compared with the majority of his predecessors His Highness had highly distinguished himself and eclipsed many of his contemporaries in India, and from whom his subjects and dependents had always reason to expect reforms and other benefits.
Besides the numerous rules and regulations introduced by this lamented sovereign for the proper government of the country,as described above, there were several useful enactments, amply illustrating the state of civilization to which Travancore had been brought under his reign.
It was during His Highness’ reign that the long established custom of disgracing female criminals, by shaving their heads and afterwards banishing them from Travancore with ignominy, was abolished.
The ghee ordeal at the pagoda at Sucheendaram, whereby Numboory Brahmans were required to immerse the fingers of their right hand in boiling ghee, to prove their innocence when charged with adultery, was prohibited.
A revenue law, for remitting one-fourth of the tax on coconut and other trees planted and reared by ryots, was introduced in order to encourage agricultural pursuits.
The Maha Rajah continued to encourage and patronize science and education even to his latter days. This will be evident from His Highness' handsome contribution to the Rev. Mr. Bailey's Malayalam and English Dictionary, for the publication of which the Maha Rajah had rendered considerably pecuniary assistance.
It may not be out of place to insert here a copy of Mr. Bailey's acknowledgment prefixed to his work, as corroboration of this fact.
REIGN OF SREE PADMANABHA DASA, &C.
The Rajah of Travancore
I beg to acknowledge my grateful obligations to Your Highness, not only for permitting me to dedicate the following work to you, and thus to present it to the public under the auspices of so great a name, but also for the very liberal aid you have so kindly offered me and the deep interest you have taken in the work. It exhibits another instance of Your Highness' readiness to encourage and patronize general education and the promotion of literature among your subjects.
The great difficulty and labour attending such an undertaking, and the attention which I have been necessarily obliged to pay to my other important duties, have contributed to retard the publication of the work much longer than I anticipated.
That the life of Your Highness my be long spared, and that you may be permitted to witness the beneficial results of the efforts now made to promote good and sound education in this country, based on the best principles is the sincere wish of
Your Highness' most obliged,
(Signed) B. BAILEY
Mr. Peet's Malayalam Grammar was also published under the auspices of His Highness. Many of the works composed by this royal author are now forgotten, though there are numerous hymns and songs at present well known all over India.
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