Ettara Yogam

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The Ettara Yogam or the King's Council of Eight has been the administrative setup of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple for centuries.


The Presiding Deity of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is the Kula Daivam (Tutelary Deity) of the Royal Family of Venad. In the 225th year of Kollavarsham, a six member Sabha was constituted to run the Temple. This Sabha was later known as Thiruvaananthapurathu Sabha. The Pushpanjali Swamiyar, though not a member of the Sabha, presides over all its meetings. The Secretary to the Sabha is known as the Sabhanjithan. The decision taken by the Sabha can be implemented only if the Ruler of Venad approves of it. This administrative setup consisting of the Arachan (Ruler) of Venad, Pushpanjali Swamiyar, six member Sabha and Sabhanjithan is called Ettara Yogam. [1]


A Sannyasin from Naduvil Madhom or Munchira Madhom presides over the meetings of the Sabha. He is called Pushpanjali Swamiyar as he performs floral worship to Lord Sri Padmanabha daily. The Swamiyar can hold office during the pleasure of the Crown. The members of Thiruvaananthapurathu Sabha are

  • 1. Koopakkara Potti
  • 2. Athiyara Potti of Vanchiyoor
  • 3. Athiyara Potti of Kollur
  • 4. Muttavila Potti
  • 5. Karuva Potti
  • 6. Neythasseri Potti

Srikaryathu Potti is the Sabhanjithan or Secretary to the Sabha.[2] Important decisions taken by the Sabha could be implemented only if the Raja of Venad approved of them.[3] The Karanatha Kurup though a special invitee is not a member of the Ettara Yogam.

According to another version, the Pushpanjali Swamiyar and the six main Potties had one vote each in deciding the matters of the Temple. Besides them, the Maharajah of Venad or Travancore, the Srikaryathu Potti and the Karanavar of the Palliyadi family (the only Nair representative) had half vote each. The Palliyadi Kurup was the security chief of the Temple.

The membership of the Ettara Yogam (other than the Pushpanjali Swamiyar) is passed hereditarily and the member families are represented by the senior most male member therein.

Ettuveetil Pillamar[edit]

The Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple possessed vast landed areas over which the ruler of Travancore had no control whatsoever. These lands were divided into eight adhikarems or districts and over each of these districts as a governor was placed a Nair noble family, all with the title of Pillai. Hence they came to be known as the Ettuveetil Pillamar or the Lords of the Eight Houses. The confederacy of these Pillamar was eventually destroyed in the 18th century by Maharajah Anizhom Thirunal Marthanda Varma after they were found guilty of murder and conspiracy against the Royal House. The Pillamar were organised into a confederacy in the 15th century.[4]

Erosion of authority[edit]

Owing to the large amount of power vested in their hands, the Ettuveetil Pillamar became highly arrogant. The Pillamar conspired against the royal house and several murders and other acts of atrocity were committed owing to the powerlessness of the Sovereign. Eventually Maharajah Anizhom Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1706–1758) decided to put an end to their power and destroyed the Pillamar. From the time of Marthanda Varma the authority of Yogathu Pottimar eroded and the Temple came under the direct control of the Maharajahs of Travancore.[5]

Ettara Yogam in modern times[edit]

According to the 1998 book, Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, written by Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, the Ettarayogam still exists in principle.

For the last few hundred years, seven Ettarayogam Potti families have continued to receive requests from the Padmanabhaswamy Temple authorities for anujna (permission) to conduct festivals–for example in 2011. When the Karuva Potty family was without an heir (the Karumadom colony land and nearby areas like Kuriathy belong to these Karuva potty families) the Muttala Potty got the title of Karuva potty also by Sarwaswadana Dattu. The request for giving permission to conduct rituals like Arattu to the Karuva Potty is still given to Muttavila Potty in addition to the one due to Muttavila Potty.

After the Alpashi and Painkuni festivals every year, the Dakshina is given to Tantri Tharananallur Nambuthiripad by these Potti families.

With the passing away of Sri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma in December 2013, his nephew Sri Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma became the titular Maharaja of Travancore in January 2014. Like his predecessors, Sri Moolam Thirunal also got concurrence from the Ettara Yogam before assuming the title 'Maharaja'. In the presence of the Maharaja designate, the Yogathil Pottimar and the Tantri, the Pushpanjali Swamiyar Maravanchery Thekkedathu Neelakanta Bharatikal signed on the Neettu (Order) of the Ettara Yogam giving recognition to Sri Moolam Thirunal as Chirava Mooppan (Maharaja of Travancore) and Thrippappoor Mooppan (Protector of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple). This ceremony took place at Kulasekhara Mandapam in Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Charithram Kuricha Sree Padmanabha Swamy Kshethram by Dr MG Sasibhooshan and Dr RP Raja
  2. ^ Sri Padmanabha Swamy Kshethram Charithra Rekhakalilude by S. Uma Maheswari
  3. ^ Charithram Kuricha Sree Padmanabha Swamy Kshethram by Dr MG Sasibhooshan and Dr RP Raja
  4. ^ Travancore State Manual by V. Nagam Aiya
  5. ^ History of Travancore by Shungunny Menon

The Travancore State Manual By T.K.Velupillai