He might have been accused of dragging the deity into a controversy, but for T P Sundararajan, it was a life mission to radiate the glory of Sree Padmanabha across the seas. Even after a year of the demise of the man who was instrumental in opening the treasure rich underground vaults of the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, the evaluation process is progressing as if by divine design.
“His major contribution was to give a message that the massive wealth of the temple could not be annihilated in a silent manner,” said M Balagovindan, his student, counsel and a close associate.
A close associate and a legal advisor to the last ruler of Travancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, Sundararajan’s legal battle with the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple authorities started in 2009 as a continuation of a petition filed by two devotees in 2007. He questioned the legal authority of the Executive Officer of the temple and the Travancore royal family approached the apex court against the High Court order in the case. This paved the way for opening the vaults to make an inventory under the supervision of the two committees appointed by the Supreme Court on June 22, 2011.
After joining the Police Service in 1964, Sundararajan served in the IB and also in the security team of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He gave up his career when his father, T K Padmanabha Iyengar, became blind. He returned to his ancestral home in Thiruvanathapuram to look after his father.
He set himself up as a lawyer in 1973 operating from a small office at the West Nada of the Temple, where he also stayed. The last quarter of his life was entirely dedicated to his deity. He would visit the temple five to six times daily and lived on a handful of ‘nivedyam’ once a day for nearly 25 years.