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Swathi Thirunal - Click for Enlargement
H.H. Maharaja Raja Ramaraja Sri Patmanabha Dasa Vanchi Pala Rama Varma III [Swathi Tirunal], Kulasekhara Kiritapati Manney Sultan Bahadur, Shamsher Jang,

Raja of Travancore.


From     :Friday, 16th  April, 1813   To   :27th December, 1846

Father   :M.R.Ry. Rajaraja Varma Avargal, Koil Tampuran of Changanasseri,

Mother  :H.H. Sri Patmanabha Sevini Vanchipala Dyumani Raj Rajeshwari Ayilliyam Thirunal

Rani Gouri Lakshmi Bayi, Senior Rani of Attingal.

Wet Nurse: Iswari Pillai of Kottukuzhi, Thiruvanathapuram.

Wife/s      : Thiruvattar Ammavittil Ayikutti Narayani Pillai.

              : Thanjavoor Sangeethavalli (Sugandhavalli) - Probably a second wife

Birth     :Born into the Royal family of TravancoreTravancore Insignia - Click to read Travancore History

Reign    :1813    To : 1846 AD

From    :29th July 1813, under the regency of his mother Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi. On her passing away, 

from 1814 under the regency of her sister Rani Gowri Parvathi Bayi - his aunt. 

Reigned Invested with full ruling powers from 1829 (10th Medam 1004 ME)

Predecessor :Interregnum, regency under 

H.H. Sri Patmanabha Sevini Vanchipala Dyumani Raj Rajeshwari Uthirittathi Thirunal Rani Gouri Parvathi Bayi,

Senior Rani of Attingal.

Successor    : Sri Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma (Younger brother of Swathi Thirunal)

View: Signature of Swathi Thirunal

        Manuscript Swathi Thirunal composition, palm leaf collection 

         Panchanga (Travancore Almanac - Official Gazette) announcing the death of Swathi Thirunal

         Emblem of Travancore Royal family

        Last days of Swathi Thirunal A write up 



His Compositions and My Renditions



Balarama Rama Varma  was born into the Royal family of  Travancore (southern part of present day Kerala State), then a princely state in South India. As per the prevailing practice in Travancore Royal family, he came to be known as Swathi Thirunal known after the star - Chothi in Malayalam, Swathi in Sanskrit - under which he was born. The Maharajas of Travancore had pledged their kingdom, Thiruvithamkoor (Travencore), to their Ishtadevata (deity) Sri Padmanabha, and  ruled the kingdom as the servants of the Lord, with the title Sri Padmanabha Dasa. Since the Royal family of Travancore had no male heirs at the time of his birth, he was born garbhashrimaan, a King right right from the beginning of his life.


He studied Sanskrit - grammar, poetry and drama, vedanta (philosophy), rajaneethi (statesmanship) etc. In addition, he learned  Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Hindustani, and Persian languages and his mother tongue Malayalam. English he learned from Tanjore Subba Rao.


He learned music  from  Karamana Subramaniya Bhagavathar and Subba Rao taught him swarabat a rare stringed instrument. Being a musician King, Swati Tirunal attracted many noted musicians - Kannayya Bhagavathar, a direct disciple of Tyagaraja, Vadivelu, Chinnayya, Ponnayya, and Sivanandam - known as the Tanjore Quartette, - disciples of Muthuswamy Dikshitar, are notable among them. Maratha saint-singer Meruswamy (Ananthapadmanabha Goswami) introduced him to the finer points of Carnatic and Hindustani music and harikatha style. Irayimman Thampi (1782--1862), a noted poet and composer of  Kathakali music, Kilimannoor Koil Tampuran (Karindran Tampuran), a Sanskrit scholar and poet, pallavi fame Shatkala Govinda Marar and Palakkad (Noorani) Parameswara Bhagavathar (1815--1891), are some prominent musicians associated with Swathi Thirunal. Parameswara Bhagavathar and his sishyaparampara, known as the Mullamoottil Bhagavatars, along with the nadaswara vidwans of Padmanabhaswami Temple, preserved Swathi Tirunal's music for a century till K. Chidambara Vadhyar, Harikeshanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar and others started documenting them. 


Swati Tirunal's literary contributions include Bhaktimanjari - 1000 stanzas on  bhakti,  Padmanabhashataka - 100 shlokas addressed to Lord Padmanabhaswamy, Anandyrapuravarnana prabandha -  a  verse and prose mix, written in the champu style, describing the legend of the Padmanabha Swamy Temple. His musical compositions consists of about 400 compositions in Sanskrit, Malayalam, Hindustani, Telugu, and Kannada. He has compositions cover - Tanavarnam, Padavarnam, Swarajati, Krti, Kirtanam, Ragamalika, Javali, Tillana, Bhajan and some Hindustani styles such as Drupad and Tappa. He modeled his compositions after the 17th century composer Margadarsi Seshayyangar, and even a treatise on the prosody of Sanskrit compositions, taking the kritis of Margadarsi Seshayyangar as examples for illustration. His compositions are all devotional. Most of them are addressed to Lord Padmanabha or Maha Vishnu. He has composed several addressed to Krishna, Siva, and Devi also. Some of his notable compositions are:

Popular compositions: Bhavayami (Ragamalika), Bogindra sayinam (Kuntalavarali), Deva deva (Mayamalavagowla), Kripaya palaya (Charukesi) and so on.



For some information and visuals on Swathi Thirunal and related topics, I acknowledge with thanks 

History of Travancore Kingdom