A queen exiled from history5 min read 22 Nov 2019, 12:48 PM IST
Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, whose birth anniversary was this month, once ruled over Travancore with absolute authority
Mass adulation did not, however, protect the maharani from the insidious politics of the palace
In October 1949, M.K. Vellodi, who helped V.P. Menon in the integration of the princely states, submitted a report on Travancore in the south. The ex-ruler of the region, Balarama Varma, had acceded to the Indian union in return for a privy purse as well as allowances for members of his matrilineal family. Proposals were put forth by the maharaja with regard to his mother, i.e. the junior maharani, and his sister, but another branch of the royal house was, oddly, neglected. As Vellodi recorded, “During my discussions…with the Maharaja, he not once referred even to the existence of (his aunt) the Senior Maharani" and “completely omitted" her and her children from the table—a detail that was especially puzzling given that the latter was “regarded…with greater affection than either the Junior Maharani or her son" by the state’s six million subjects.