Friday, July 8, 2011

God’s gold

Everything has changed. In the space of a week, Thiruvananthapuram’s Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple has gone from being one of India’s important Vishnu temples, to arguably the world’s wealthiest religious institution. And Thiruvananthapuram has suddenly become the centre of global attention
For years, it’s been hinted that the temple was the repository of a vast trove. But there was little to substantiate this.
Now though all those tales of untold riches seemed to have come true. For the committee appointed by India’s Supreme Court to inspect the temple’s vaults and prepare an inventory of their contents, appears to have found a king’s ransom of gold, silver and precious stones. While estimates of the value of this trove are rising every day, it is important to remember that we can only speculate about its value at the moment because:
  • The details of the inventory are not in the public domain, yet. 
  • It’s not just the intrinsic value of the artefacts that counts. It’s also their value as antiques, and this may be more challenging to figure out. 
Time will, of course, bring greater clarity to the many questions that the discovery has raised. It is especially important though that great thought and care are applied to the decisions being taken on the future of the trove. For it is without doubt a national treasure.
For the moment though, let us marvel at the fact that even in the 21st Century, there are treasures hidden in the heart of urban India. What other treasures do India’s cities hide?
PS: A post on the temple's Painkuni festival and another on its Navarathri festival