Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma

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Swathi Thirunal of Travancore.jpg

Swathi Tirunal Rama Varma was born in the princely state of Travancore in South India. He was the second child of the Queen Regent Gowri Lakshmi Bayi and Rajaraja Varma Koyithampuran of Changanasseri Palace. He had an elder sister Rukmini Bai and a younger brother Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma. His mother died two months after she gave birth to her third child. Since Rama Varma was just 17 months when his mother died, his mother's sister, Gowri Parvati Bayi took charge of the state until Rama Varma turned of age. When he became 16, Ram Varma ascended the throne and took over as king. Since both his aunt and father were scholars and taught people, Rama Varma's education was taken special care of. He began learning Sanskrit and Malayalam at the age of six and English at seven. By the time he attained maturity, he was well-versed with several languages, including Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Hindustani, Telugu, Marathi, English, Persian, and Sanskrit. Other then languages, Rama Varma took keen interest in grammar, poetry, and drama. As an excellent monarch, he facilitated art and music in his state.

Career[change | change source]

Swati Tirunal was given an impetus in singing by Karamana Subrahmanya Bhagavatar, a well known musician of the palace. Subba Rao didn't only have theoretical knowledge of music, but was also quite skillful in its practical applicability. He got engrossed with singing and started to enjoy it. He even learnt to play the instrument swarabat, which could be a rare skill and is understood by hardly anyone. His immense love for music brought an outsized number of eminent musicians to the court, who, in turn, gave Swati a valuable insight into the sphere of Indian genre. A Maratha singer named Meruswamy alias Anantapadmanabha Goswami gave Rama Varma an introduction to Carnatic and Hindusthani music. He also gave him a deep understanding about the 'harikatha' tradition. Some scholars and musicians who worked in close association with Rama Varma include Irayimman Thampi (poet), Shatkala Govinda Marar (musician), Parameswa Bhagavatar (singer), Kilimannoor Koil (Sanskrit scholar cum poet) etc.

Contribution to Music[change | change source]

Swati Tirunal made a fantastic contribution to the sector of Indian music. He composed near about 500 songs, that he's admired even today. He had composed variety of musical plays moreover. His notable works include Varnams, Javalis, Padams, Swarajatis, Kritis, and plenty of more. As far as Hindustani music is worried, his praiseworthy compositions comprise of Dhrupads, Thumris, Tappas, Bhajans, Khyal, etc. For the Navratri festivity, he composed numerous kritis within the praise of Goddess Devi.

Personal life[change | change source]

Swathi Thirunal had an early marriage but his wife died soon. Later, he was married a second time to Thiruvattar Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Narayani Pillai Kochamma of the Thiruvattar Ammaveedu family. His wife was a talented Carnatic singer and Veena player. The couple had a son named Thiruvattar Chithira Nal Anantha Padmanabhan Chempakaraman Thampi. In 1843, Swathi Thirunal had a 3rd marriage with Sundara Lakshmi Ammal, daughter of a Mudaliar, who migrated to Trivandrum. Sundara was better called Sugandhavalli, as she was a dancer. Legend has it that his second wife failed to approve the wedding and hence, Sugandhavalli was banished from Travancore. This proved traumatic for the Maharajah was believed to possess died thanks to broken heart in 1846.

Death[change | change source]

This great patron of art left for the heavenly abode at an early age of 33 in 1846, leaving his subjects in distress at the loss of this great man. His elder brother, Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma succeeded the throne and retained it until his death in 1860. Thereafter, his sister's children ascended the throne and ruled the dominion of Travancore.