This book is token of my reverence to Lord Padmanabha Swamy, the reigning Deity of Ananthashyanam, at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. The Temple of Sree Padmanabha Swamy is a magnificent edifice built of thousands of stone blocks laid to shape over a period of several centuries. It is these stones-and the fascinating tales they unfold-that inspired me to write this book
I reading the book, I could Visualize in front of me the Temple of Lord Anantha Padmanabha Swamy evolving to its final shape as an architectural marvel coupled with its spiritual halo-even as thousands of stone blocks poured in to its precincts to take their final positions in the structure. The book also reveals the spiritual bent of mind of Sathya in the way he describes the evolving bent of mind of Sathya in the way he describes the evolving of the Temple. I believe Sathya has achieved a hundred percent success in this mission of his.
This book should be studied by research students, Scholars and archeologists just to gauge how a researcher's mind can unravel miracles from a thousand year old history.
An unquenchable curiosity and an inquisitive mind, propel C.R. Sathya on a quest to unravel the history of stones - and the men who shaped them - which forms the edifice of "Ananthashayanam", the Abode of Lord Vishnu at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. His engineering instincts and remarkable interactions he has with people who matter add life and colour to this wonderful narration that appeals every reader. Sathya, a consulting engineer now, served for decades in Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Tata Group as an advanced materials specialist. Known for his humorous Kannada writings, he is also an author of books in Kannada covering humour, biographies & personal experiences.
I am very happy to write a foreword for this book "Sentinels of Glory » written by my friend Sri.C.R. Sathya. C.R.Sathya is a well known Composite structural designer. Many of the ISRO rockets for space program have some of the Composite products developed by his team and are in use for many years. As I read this book, I could see how such a space scientist has taken extraordinary interest in a ~bject like Stones; the men who shaped them; the tools they used; the quarries where they came from and the history they created with a special impact on the society.
The seeds for the entire work were sown during Sathya's first visit to the Temple of Lord Anantha Padmanabha Swamy, situated in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. Sathya notices the stones - used as building blocks for this famous shrine-and is curious to know their origin. Of his specific interest is the Ottakkal - a single stone slab which is 7m square and 7m thick serving as an extension to the sanctum floor. How did the builders transport such a massive stone block to the construction site centuries ago? As I read the various chapters, I realized that this is a well researched book focusing on some key moments of the history of the Temple. I have known Sathya for a few decades. He is well known for his research oriented approach and he can bring great minds together. He does it in this case; The Maharaja and the Princess of the Travancore Royal Family, Scholars, Sculptors, and Scientists who all join in his endeavor. It is astonishing to learn how such diverse personalities worked for him. With such help, Sathya traces the quarries from where the stones came. The way he arrives at the identification of the quarries with the help of geological mapping, complement by references to palm leaf manuscripts and other historical references, is unique. He visits Tirumalai hill, identified as the source of the Ottakkal in particular - a surprise find since he was living so near to this hill. I was particularly impressed with his meeting Brahmasree Madhava Swamji at Tirumalai who happened to be the custodian of some ancient chisels that were apparently used by the early sculptors to shape the stones there. He then conducts model studies and then speculates, as an engineer, possible methods of transportation of the Ottakkal to the Temple site - considering its size, weight and technology then available. Finally, when I completed reading the book, I could visualize in front of me the Temple of Lord Anantha Padmanabha Swamy evolving to its final shape as an architectural marvel coupled with its spiritual halo- even as thousands of stone blocks poured in to its precincts to take their final positions in the structure. The book also reveals the spiritual bent of mind of Sa thy a in the way he describes the evolving of the Temple. I believe Sathya has achieved a hundred percent success in this mission of his; in fact, each chapter- generated by his curiosity and research- sounds like a doctoral thesis.
I congratulate C.R. Sathya and all his associates in this regard. This book should be studied by research students, scholars and archeologists just to gauge how a researcher's mind can unravel miracles from a thousand year old history.
I should have written this book long ago, in fact, around the year
1988, when I had on hand all the information that is contained in this book. I have, of course, several reasons to justify this procrastination on my part. Actually it was some type of mental inertia that bogged me down for no special reason. However, a few events that took place in recent times prompted me to action.
But before that, I must tell my esteemed readers what this book is about. It is a story of stones-and the men behind their shaping-which make up the edifice of Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, situated in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. But then this is not a book on geology, the science of rocks, either. The contents, as the reader will notice, are a strange mix of folklore, legends, events, palm leaf records; about the sculptors, the quarries, the Kings, the scholars; and very importantly, the stones. I had the good fortune to work in Kerala during 1965 to 1988 when I was employed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre under Department of Space, Government of India. I got drawn to this subject purely as a pastime but it soon turned out to be more than that. My involvement became so deep and exciting, that at the end of it all, I genuinely felt that here was something I could share with others.
I write articles in Kannada, my mother tongue and in recent times have written a few books too. In one of those books, titled "Sahyandrindaachege" (Beyond the Sahyadri Mountains), I had reminisced about my life in Kerala. In one part of this book, I had elaborated on the quest I undertook to look at the origins of the stones that were used for the famous shrine. The account contained many other interesting aspects as well, all woven around the stones. I had mentioned that I was in possession of a draft of a book I had penned on the subject titled "SENTINELS OF GLORY", which was with me for more than two decades without publication. Many friends who read this called me to come out of my slumber and bring out the book for a wider readership. This urged me to go through the draft once again and to my surprise found that the contents seemed as valid today as they were years ago.
I was, for reasons the reader will judge later, emotionally involved with the history and construction of Padmanabha Swamy Temple especially in the latter part of my stay atThiruvanathapuram. So, when I laid my hands recently on a magnificent book "Sree Padmanabha SwamyTemple,"(Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan 2000) by Smt. Aswathi Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bayi of the Royal Family of the erstwhile State of Travancore, my interest in the Temple got revived once again. Although the contents ofthis book have no direct relation to what I have written, there are many common links between the two. These are mainly the ancient and current records on the Temple history, which serve as basic sources of information. I felt that my book, on the other hand, high- lights a different aspect on the Temple's physical aspects, based on some scientific and engineering deductions I have made, coupled with many discussions I had with different experts in the field, including the members of the Royal Family too. This was another reason for me to dig out the draft from its long storage!
Although the publication of this book has brought me immense joy (1 hope the reader too will experience the same), I cannot brush aside the fact that there are many great individuals who figure in this book but are no more; a price I am paying for the long lapse of time.
I have no means to thank them, except to keep their memories alive. Many others too went out of their way to help me do the basic research. And then there are those who kindly wrote the Foreword, organized the photos and illustrations, printed and published the book in this splendid form. I have conveyed my gratitude to them in a separate chapter at the end of the book. Happy reading!
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