EDUCATION AND THE COCHIN ROYAL FAMILY
The Gurukulam system of instruction and education has been the mainstay of imparting knowledge and wisdom in India until the British intrusion. This was applicable to the State of Cochin as well. No perceptible change occurred for 300 years even during the Portuguese and the Dutch domination in Cochin.
To educate is to give intellectual, moral, or social instruction. The Gurukulam system of instruction was well-suited for religious and spiritual betterment and had been practiced in India for centuries right from the Vedic period.
If systematic instruction and schooling is accepted as education, then an educated person is learned, well-informed, knowledgeable, cultural and enlightened. The art of governing is made easier if both the governing body and the governed are educated. In a changing political milieu, there is a period of transition, which is bound to be chaotic.
Since the passing of Sakthan Thampuran in 1805, the State of Cochin went through a period of significant instability. Ultimately, the Resident of Travancore and Cochin, who had become also the Diwan of Travancore, took over as the Diwan of the Cochin State as well. He was Colonel Munro. It can be said that prior to the administration of Col. Munro, (1810 – 1819), the Government of Cochin did not, at anytime, directly involve themselves in the education of the people. The State neither maintained nor aided any schools, but left people to make their own arrangements for the education of their children. What Munro started were vernacular schools and not English ones.
Education for the Public was at least thirty years ahead of the education for the royalty. By 1869, a few successfully cleared their Matriculation. By 1871, two Cochinites passed the B.A. of Madras University. By 1872-73, there were 20 matriculates from Cochin schools. Amongst some of these matriculates, were the future Diwans of Cochin.
During the 100 years from Sakthan Thampuran's time, the education of the Cochin Royal Family continued to be individualistic and tutorial. After Sakthan Thampuran, his cousins were learned scholars in Sanskrit and religious pursuits, but had no interest in ruling. They depended on their Diwans. The basic understanding and treaty obligations demanded that the Cochin King be advised by the British, but the consent of the King was essential in all decisions. The Diwan was answerable to the British Resident. But, the Diwan has to also get the consent of the Raja. Until the Resident, Diwan and the Raja understood the same lingo and all of them followed the same philosophy of ruling, there was bound to be incessant friction.
Sakthan Thampuran was a Statesman. He was not a scholar. He was known to comprehend Dutch and was well-versed in correspondence. History indicates that his cousins who succeeded him were composers of distinction. Kashiyil Theepetta Raja (1851- 52) was the first to be educated in English. He received tutorial instruction in languages and politics. His own diary, kept in English, gives testament to his views on various aspects of governing and politics, yet preserving to a large extent, the orthodox tradition of Cochin Royalty.
Robert White, who died in Cochin in 1882 after several years of service, was the first acclaimed English tutor to their Highnesses and the Princes of Cochin.
The report of the administration of Cochin, 1885-86 gives information about the Palace School in Tripunithura. Mr. P. Shankara Narayana Chettiar, M.A was the senior tutor. Mr. Achyutha Menon, B.A, was another teacher. There were three other teachers in the school. One of them also helped the first Prince, to teach elementary English in the latter’s Sanskrit School. The Sanskrit School in Tripunithura was started by the First Prince (Abdicated Highness). Fascinatingly, significant inspiration for such a project came from J. C. Hannyngton, the British Resident, who was in love with the classical language and its historical importance.
A photograph of a class at the Princess Branch School : send-off for Mr. Gopala Menon
The report further states that H.H. The Third Prince (Elaya Raja who died in Irinjalakuda in 1890) was a very advanced scholar. The senior tutor seems to have spent most of his time helping this Prince. The curriculum consisted of Dequincy’s 'Lives of Goethe and Schiller' , Arnold’s ' History of English Literature' , Freeman’s 'Growth of the English Constitution' , Mill’s 'Liberty'
and 'Political Economy'
and selected works of Shakespeare
. At this point in time, H.H. the Sixth Prince (Ravi Varma Kunjunni Thampuran) was preparing for his Matriculation examination. It is also mentioned that the Fourth, Eighth and Ninth were studying at the high school fifth class level. H.H. the Fifth and the Seventh Princes were pursuing slightly less-advanced subjects. It is noted that most Princes spoke English with sufficient fluency.
Sanskrit Palace School or S S Patasala was attended by 15 of the Junior Princes and 10 of the Princesses. This school was intended to impart elementary instruction in Sanskrit and English to the juniors. The cost of the school was Rs. 833-0-0. ( Rupees – annas –paise )
J.C. Hannyngton notes in his Resident’s report of 1890 that Elaya Raja and his brothers were taking an active interest in the education of junior members.
Ravi Varma Kunjunni Thampuran was the first to pass Matriculation from the Cochin Royal Family on 5/2/1889. Kerala Varma Thampuran, popularly known as Aikya Keralam Raja, was the first to take a B.A degree from the Madras University. During the next decade, several Princes completed F.A (First in Arts) and a few completed B.A.
Listed below are the Cochin Princes from 1880-1910 with their varied accomplishments in Education:
1. Raja Rama Varma (1895 – 1914) popularly known as 'Abdicated Highness' was a great Sanskrit scholar, who had authored a few books in Sanskrit, was well-versed in English and was a visionary Ruler.
2. Kerala Varma ( Died in Irinjalakuda in 1900 as Elaya Raja )
He was born in 1855. He was the immediate brother of the Abdicated Highness. He was highly intelligent and was well-versed in Sanskrit and English. He rebelled with tradition and turned more and more liberal and progressive with the passage of time. The Western liberalism of the Gladstone Era influenced him. His thoughts and actions irked his mother and elder brother greatly. But he had a following of English-educated Cochin Princes who were willing to embrace change. He was prolific in contributing articles to the news media under a pseudonym. He was truly ahead of his times and in that sense, was a visionary who saw the writing on the wall.
Excerpt from Sir Rama Varma Rajarshi by I.K.K Menon
Both brothers lived together during the formative years of education. The book, 'Mukthavali', took more than an year to study, but it was a satisfying experience. It took a long time to finish the study of 'Dinakaram' due of certain impediments. However, it was done well. While Rama Varma enjoyed the study of 'Vyulpathivadam', his brother preferred to study 'Anumanakhandam' from 'Gadhadhari'. Thereafter, they parted ways in their studies.
Cheruvathur was close to the then Raja of Cochin and was involved in corrupt practices. He developed an intense dislike of the brothers. Kerala Varma often wrote articles in newspapers critical of the activities instigated by Cheruvathur. Kerala Varma also started studying English seriously. In due course, he started preaching social and religious transformations, much to the consternation of the Royal crowd in Tripunithura. This resulted in a widening rift between the brothers.
(Detailed account is given in this book - pages 36 – 40)
Excerpt from The Days That Were by T.K.Krishna Menon
'While the Elaya Raja (later known as the Abdicated Highness) was proficient in Vyakarana, the First Prince, Kerala Varma was well-versed in logic and Vedanta. That the First Prince had no chance to rule over his subjects, because of his premature death, is one of the saddest misfortunes of our country. He was not only a scholar, but also a true patriot with a generous heart. He is the hero of my brother’s political drama, Firebrand. My brother was a devoted friend of his; so were Messer’s Narayana Marar, K.P. Padmanabha Menon and Nallanat Narayana Menon, all of whose names are security for plenty of honest independence. The brothers were not pulling on well, and so the First Prince had
taken up residence at
Poyya and then at Irinjalakuda. There was a Malayalam paper, called Kerala Mithram, published from Mattanchery, Cochin, by Sriman Devaji Bheemji, who was an admirer of this scholarly Prince.'
3. Rama Varma (H.H who died in Madras in 1932)
Studied Ayurveda and Visha Vaidyam.
Kerala Varma (H.H Midukkan Thampuran who died at Tripunithura in 1943)
Studied Visha Vaidyam and practiced it his entire life.
Ravi Varma Kunjunni Thampuran
He was the first to matriculate, get a B.A and work as an Educator. He was the undisputed force behind the Kalikotta School. He was particularly interested in educating the Princesses and spent several years in Kalikotta doing just that after he got his B.A. degree.
Kerala Varma Thampuran (H.H Aikya Keralam, who died at Tripunithura in 1948) was the first in the family to get a B.A.. He was also the first Prince to be employed as a translator at Madras University.
Rama Varma Appan Thampuran (Bhootharayar) did his B.A. in Madras and later became an author, editor and philanthropist.
Rama Varma Kunjunni Thampuran (H.H Parikshith Thampuran who died at Tripunithura in 1964) obtained his B.A. degree and received the covetous A.F. Sealy Award. He is known to have published enumerable books in Sanskrit, Malayalam and English.
Kochaniyan Thampuran (Guardian Prince) did his B.A. and followed in the footsteps of Kunjunni Thampuran by being as educator at the Kalikotta School. He took it as his responsibility to see to it that his grand niece, who was popularly known as Honors Ikkavu Thampuran, was well-educated. He kept a diary for 18 years in English. A few of them are preserved and give valuable insight and information on bygone days.
Ravi Varma Thampuran (Munsiff) did his Law degree and was employed in the Madras State.
Kerala Varma Ammaman Thampuran, after obtaining his degree, was employed as the Bhasha Professor in Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam.
Kochunny Thampuran(M.A. Prince) took over the charge of the Kalikotta School from 1920 to 1940.
In addition to the aforementioned degree holders, there were several who accomplished educational achievements in various fields during that period. Education being the key to opening up new vistas was the accepted convention by everybody at the time. However, travelling outside the Cochin State to further education was an issue. H.H. the Abdicated Highness was a stickler for tradition. His brother Kerala Varma disagreed with him and even employed a legal expert to try convince the Raja to forego tradition.
To paraphrase from T.K. Krishna Menon’s 'The Days that were':
'H.H., the First Prince, naturally took a prominent part in getting cancelled or at least in rendering inoperative, the rules passed by Diwan Tiruvenkitachariar for regulating the travelling of the Princes of Cochin Ruling Family outside the limits of that State. The Princes retained Mr. Eardly Norton to represent their case before H.H. the Maharaja.
"We, the undersigned members of your Highness’ family, venture in a spirit of filial reverence, to approach Your Highness with a loyal representation of a matter which, as it seriously affects our personal freedom of action, our feelings of self-respect and our incomes, we implore Your Highness to take into your benign consideration, in order, if it so please Your Highness, to the removal of the recently imposed burdensome restriction we now labour under,never, on pain of fine and other unspecified penalties, in any circumstances, to travel beyond the limits of the State of Cochin without previously obtaining the express permission in writing of either Your Highness or Your Highness’ Government. By so enlightened a ruler as Your Highness, it will, at once, be conceded that the experience of travel is essential to the attainment of this end.”'
Pages 151- 154 of Krishna Menon’s book further details this remarkable letter:
Entering into employment was another hurdle imposed on the entrepreneurial Princes at that time. Several interesting letters in the form of memoranda are available to substantiate this observation. Whether or not the Abdicated Highness was too conservative and detested change, during the reign of the Raja who died in Madras, all these restrictions were removed. During this period there were several Princes who attended colleges in Madras. This was the time, the first Doctor of Medicine Prince Ravi Varma studied in Madras. Unfortunately, he contracted leprosy, and died of a violent lepra-reaction in Chalakudy, were he was living. It was in the late Twenties, that the first Princess; Ikkavu Thampuran completed her B.A. Honors in Madras.'
In summary, 1890 – 1930 recorded a remarkable period in the educational accomplishments of the Cochin Royal Family. The family has never looked back since then. Commendable progress ensued during the following generations, as we will see later. It would be remiss if we do not reminisce some of the teachers of those days.
It was traditional to affiliate all who enrolled into the Maharaja’s College in Ernakulam, to the Hall of Sealy, Cruikshank, Barlow or Davis. These are the intramural divisions, a tradition followed in colleges of the West. The Competition between these divisions was encouraged to enhance the efforts and accomplishments of individual students.
Maharaja's College - 1950
Mr. Krishna Menon, in his book 'The Days That Were' talks a little about these pioneer teachers. About Sealy, he writes,
'I was in Ernakulam College, from 1889-90. Then ,Mr. Alfred Forbes Sealy, M.A., was the Principal of the College. To be more accurate, I should say the Head Master; for Mr. Sealy always liked to be called a Head Master, and was not favorably inclined, so the rumor ran, to the raising of the High School to the status of a college. Mr. Sealy belonged to an old Gloucestershire family. He was the third and youngest son of General William Dowden Sealy. His early days were spent near Clifton; and after his public school education, went up to Cambridge and entered Caius College from where he took his degree. Being the recipient of an independent income, he remained at Cambridge for some years and specialized in Entomology and some other branches of science. In the January of 1865, Mr. Sealy was appointed as the Head Master of the Ernakulam High School. When he retired in 1891, he was the Principal of the Ernakulam College and the Director of Public Instruction in the Cochin State. He laid foundation to a systematic English education format in Cochin. Mr. Sealy was a great man. There was nothing sneaky or snobbish about him. He had the patent of nobility about him, and to know him intimately well, that was a liberal education in itself. His dominant notes were earnestness, discipline and neatness. He was a man of high moral character, and of abstemious habits, and exceptionally thorough and neat in whatever he did. He was a God-fearing man and no matter what the theme might be, he infused into it the spirit of a religious preacher. He loved the High School, and it gave him back some of it's best years. He died at the close of June 1908.'
'Mr. Duncan Mearns Cruickshank, M.A., served as the Vice-Principal under Sealy and became the Principal when the latter retired. He went to Aberdeen Grammar School in Scotland and graduated from King’s College of the Aberdeen University. He distinguished himself in Mathematics, Classics and Moral Philosophy. He took up his post as the Head Master of the Municipal High School in British Cochin in 1873. He was instrumental in starting the First in Arts classes in Ernakulam. Subsequently, he taught at Pachaiyappa’s High School and College before returning to Maharaja’s College in 1884. He retired as it's Principal and Educational Secretary in January 1903.'
'F.S. Davis and Glyn Barlow followed as the Principals in the steps of their illustrious predecessors. Davis has written a small book describing his experiences.'
C.P. Achyutha Menon.
He is Best known for his authorship of the seminal work; The Cochin State Manual
started his long service in the Cochin State as a tutor in Kalikotta School. His most important student was H.H.,the Abdicated Highness. The latter
himself gives credit to Achyutha Menon in his autobiographical diary. His educative role was short-lived, but he was a remarkably gifted man. His biographical sketch, provided by Mr. V.K.Rama Menon, says :
He was born in 1862 to Vadakke Kurupath Kunjan Menon and Changaran Ponnath Parvathy Amma. (Kunjan Menon was the son of Paliath Valia Govindan Achan who was exiled after the Velu Thampi–Paliathachan Rebellion against the British.) He was educated in the old style until he was ten years old. Then, he joined the Trichur Sircar School to study English. He and his friends were known troublemakers in school. But then he lost his mother to small pox and was compelled to move to Ernakulam to pursue his studies under the supervision of his cousin. This resulted in him shaping up and obtaining high grades. However, he came down sick with intermittent fever and swellings and lost out on a few years. Later, he enrolled in the Kerala Vidyasala School in Calicut (Samorins College) and passed Matriculation and F.A. with First Class. He took his B.A.degree from the Presidency College in Madras. His first job was with Pachaiyappa’s College as a Malayalam tutor. He was soon recruited to teach the Princes of Cochin in Kalikotta. Within a few years he became the Superintendent of several newly formed Malayalam Schools in the State of Cochin. Though he deserved to be the Superintendent of schools, he was made the Assistant Superintendent, which caused him great distress.
The first census of the Cochin State was completed in 1911. Achyutha Menon was the Census Superintendent. The report was sent to the Government of India and Menon received accolades from several superior officers and his efforts and accomplishments were praised even in the House of Commons in England.
He was also entrusted the job of Epigraphy. He trained himself to be proficient enough to read 'Vattezhuthu
' and 'Kolezhuthu
' and deciphered the old inscriptions found in temples and other places of antiquity.
In 1895, he became the Secretary to the Diwan and continued on in that post with the succeeding Diwans. It appears that this hard-charging, multi-talented, great man wanted some rest and applied for early retirement in 1914. He was granted his request by H.H. the Abdicated Raja.
He was an exceptional genius. While he was writing the highly acclaimed 'Cochin State Manual
', he also authored Government Standing Orders, the Land Revenue Manual, the Village Officer’s Code, the Engineering Department Code, the Forest Department Code, the Tramway Code and organized the Cochin Co-operative Society.
After retirement he was busy writing the biographies of Diwan Sankara Variyar, Diwan Sankunni Menon, H.H.Rama Varma (Shashti Purthi Memorial) and numerous of articles for newspapers and magazines.
He was also the Savior of the Paliyam Estate, which was being poorly managed and reeling in the wake of the new Tenancy Bill. He died in 1937 at the age of 74.
Education Of the Cochin Princes and Princesses in the 1920s and 30s
Primary schooling for the Princes was similar to that of the Princesses and was done in the Kalikotta School in Tripunithura. Secondary schooling was in an annex of the Sircar Boy’s School, popularly known as the Princes' Branch School. The school teachers of the Sircar Boy's School were in charge of them. The prevailing caste system allowed only certain castes of the common people to attend this school. This was probably the first exposure the Princes had, to ordinary people. However, rigid rules were strictly maintained to demarcate the royalty from the commoners. This arrangement continued till the 1950s. Ninth and tenth Grade classes were held in the Sircar Boys High School situated outside the exclusive Fort territory. The Princes were transported by horse-drawn carriages. They had to wear a coat and initially, their hats. Students of all castes attended lessons with the Princes and it was customary to give preferential seating arrangements and extend due respect towards the Princes.
It is unclear as to whether anybody monitored their education on a day-to-day basis.But, there have been instances of private tuition being provided for some of the Princes to improve their performance.
Ninth Grade and Tenth Grade schooling was often complicated by the Upanayana
(sacred thread ceremony) that the Princes had to go through when the Public Matriculation examination was imminent. It was also compulsory to set aside a year of Bhajanam
(Intimate devotion) to the Lord Poornathrayeesa. Many Princes often took a year off after matriculation to complete those duties.
By 1910, the Princes who had completed their Matriculation and also finished their Bhajanam
were weaned from their respective parents and were sent to a boarding house called the 'Residential Palace' in Ernakulam that was managed exclusively for the stay of Princes and equipped with all kinds of conveniences. Most were to attend the Maharaja’s College in Ernakulam as privileged students. The ones who failed the Matriculate Examination were enrolled in the Sircar Boys High School in Ernakulam. This Residential Palace functioned for at least 45 years. For most Princes, who had come afer leaving behind a life of confined activities steeped in tradition and parental discipline, this facility opened up freedom and distraction but also demanded motivation and self-control, if one wanted to do succeed in their academics. Many thrived, but many did not.
The Princes were supervised by a Warden, usually one of the Senior Princes who settled in Ernakulam with his family. There were many facilities, including a well-run library and a very knowledgeable and helpful librarian who was also a graduate.
Residential Palace Picture of 1930's
Residential Palace Picture of 1950's
Extracurricular sporting activities were an enticement to some,sometimes even at the expense of their studies. The game of Cricket was introduced to the Residential Palace before the 1920s though the game was familiar even before that period, because of the British in British Cochin. Rama Varma Kuttappan Thampuran was one of the pioneers as he imported the Cricket kit from Madras on his return journey after visiting his cousins who were studying in Madras. Enthusiasm for Cricket spread like wildfire in the Residential Palace and spread to Ernakulam and Tripunithura by the 1930s. Too much cricket and too little coursework hurt many Princes for a couple of generations.
Highly motivated young Princes did well and many moved to Madras, Benares, Bombay and other cities for further studies. By the 1930s and 1940s there were engineers, lawyers, accountants and professors in the family. There was a Prince, Ravi Varma, who finished medical school in the 1920s, who died due to leprosy shortly after he graduated. There was another Ravi Varma who entered medical school but could not complete his coursworke due to depression and alcoholism. Prince Kerala Varma was the first in the family to complete his M.B.B.S. degree and practice medicine for a long time in Madras.
The Princesses continued their studies in Kalikotta School. By 1930, almost ninety percent of the ladies were matriculates. They were not allowed to further their education. Only in exceptional cases, like that of Ikkavu Thampuran, could one aspire to get a B.A.Honours in Madras.
It took another twelve years for Eswari Thampuran and Kavu Thampuran to take their B.A and Bharathy Thampuran to take an equivalent degree in Sanskrit. Within two years, they were employed in Kalikotta School to educate the younger Princesses.
School picture from Kalikotta Palace, the school for Princesses
Within a decade, the 1950s witnessed a majority of the Princesses taking their degrees and becoming employed. Batch after batch took their graduate degrees and took up teaching as their profession. Some took post graduate degrees and taught in colleges and Universities. Sumathi Thampuran was the first female doctor of medicine in the family. Ganga Thampuran became the Principal of Maharaja’s College (1996-98) following in the footsteps of Sealy and Cruickshank.
The generations that have followed, continue to excel.
After Independence and after the Cochin State joined the Indian Union, the subsequent generations have excelled in education. Engineers, doctors, professors and other career professionals have emerged. The enhanced economic status has brought in more freedom and changes in lifestyle. Nuclear family security has replaced the communitarian life style for better or for worse. The Cochin Royal Family Diaspora has spread to the United States, the U.K, Australia and various cities in the Gulf. Most are leading a highly successful and productive life.
The evolution of education in erstwhile Cochin Royal Family has been presented briefly with particular emphasis on the early period, during the unwinding of feudalism in the State of Cochin. Education was the only answer for the privileged Family who was left with meager riches when compared to various other Ruling Families of India. Senior Princes of the 1890s were far-sighted and were convinced of the need for education in the changing world. In 1860, there were only 23 members in the Cochin Royal Family enjoying almost ten percent of the revenues of the State of Cochin. By 1890, that number grew to over a hundred, but the revenue remained the same. How to manage the Family was the more vexatious problem. Education and gainful employment was the solution that was prescribed. When the State of Cochin joined the Indian Union during India’s Independence, the Maharaja’s greatest concern was how the Family will fare. The number of members had grown to over four hundred. The family motto has always been 'Honor is our Family Treasure'. For education to become the family treasure was the hope.
Today, more than ninety percent are degree holders and gainfully employed. Teachers, engineers, doctors and other career professionals abound. Each generation seems to do be doing better economically.
As critical analysis, certain factors need to be mentioned. In such a highly educated family like ours, there has been a dearth of independently creative leaders. Education in the liberal arts has been waning significantly. An occasional civil leader, a few writers with talent, a reputed editor and some artists of moderate success are what the Family can claim. We do not seem to do any general good. We seem to be satisfied with what we do for ourselves. Our Rajas, always maintained that doing what is good for the subjects is supposed to be the leading force in our life. We can't help but wonder about what has happened to that gene.
1. Report of Administration of Cochin, 1039 ME- 1864-1865, Shankunny Menon, Diwan
2. IBID 1867-1890 ( Available in India Office Library, London, V/10/985 to V/10/988)
3. The Cochin State Manual: C. Achyutha Menon- Government of Kerala 1995
4. The Days That Were – Memoirs: T.K.Krishna Menon– Industrial School Press 1949
5. C.P.Achyutha Menon – A Biography: V.K.Raman Menon B.A.,L.T, Keralodayam Press, Trichur 1939
6. Sir Sree Rama Varma Rajarshi : I.K.K.Menon
7. Personal communication with Easwari Thampuran.
Excerpts from the Symposium on Education in 2014
Annual Symposium of the Cochin Royal Family Historical and Heritage Society was devoted to the topic of Education. Several speakers participated.
1. Vanaja Varma, the Secretary of the Society, spoke on the education of the females in the family. Ikkavu Thampuran, in 1925, completed her B.A. Honors from the Madras University. It took another 15 years for three others to complete their B.A. degree. By then, it was clear that education and employment was the progressive thing to do.
2. Kocha Varma gave highlights on his Monograph,which has been presented above.
3. Kunjunny Thampuran gave a detailed account on his eighteen years of uninterrupted education. He covered the period from 1930 to 1950. He was enrolled in first grade at the age of six at the Kalikotta School. After his fourth grade, he went to the Princes’ Branch School for his secondary education and after four years, moved to the Sircar Boys High School for two years before his matriculation.
Even at at the age of ninety, he clearly remembers the names of all his teachers. Though their parents never supervised their education, there were private tuitions arranged for him and most of his cousins, in addition to the school experience. Horse-drawn royal carriages were the popular mode of transportation to the high school, he remembered.
The Upanayanam (Sacred Thread Ceremony) coincided with the matriculation year and afterwards more than a year of Bhajanam at the Poornathrayeesa Temple was a must, which, in his case collided with his intermediate education in the Maharaja’s College in Ernakulam.
In Ernakulam, he stayed at the Residential Palace with his fellow cousins. He recalls that the young Princes were transported in a Rolls Royce or a Cadillac to the college and that there was a special waiting room. The Princes entered the class with the lecturer and had special seating arrangements.
He gave a picture of the life at the boarding house, modelled years ago for the Princes to finish college education. A senior Prince acted as the warden and in addition, there were all kinds of support staff to serve the wards. Though most pursued education, some got distracted and wasted their time at the facility.
Kunjunny Thampuran completed his B.Sc. in Physics and went to the Pilani Engineering College where he graduated from in four years. He was gainfully employed until his retirement, outside of Tripunithura for decades. He, his wife Thankam and their children lived as a nuclear family with strong ties to his family. Many of his cousins had a similar course of life. However, there were accounts of failure, and the lack of employment and the social transformation of the time affected many of his cousins of the same age group.
4. A paper submitted by Kerala Varma Kochappan Thampuran detailed the education of the erstwhile Princes after the Princely States were abolished. Some privileges were continued on for a period. Most continued in the Maharaja’s College and after their graduation, went to colleges in the State or moved out of State for their graduate studies. Engineering, Medicine and Commerce were the main avenues that were pursued. More than eighty percent of the family were gainfully employed, though many had to locate to places outside the State to bring up their nuclear families. This generation, in rare instances, migrated to countries outside India, where they settled down and embraced the ethos of that particular country.
5. Ganga Thampuran,who retired as the Principal of the Maharaja's College, spoke about the education of her mother’s generation and the teaching careers of the female Thampurans, very briefly. From 1950-70, there were some privileges allowed for them and hence most of the females in the family attended colleges in Ernakulam. Free transportation to the colleges was another major attraction. She singled out the first female doctor, Sumathi Thampuran and the first female Engineer, Ashalatha Thampuran from her own generation.
Amongst the females from 1960-1990, 95% had either a B.A or a B.Sc., 25% had post graduate degrees, 2 had PhDs, numerous school teachers with B.Ed., 3 journalists, 9 doctors, and 6 engineers.
By 1996, the nuclear family setup has been a norm within the family and for education to be accounted as an erstwhile family achievement was no longer possible.
Ganga Thampuran feels very strongly that the underlying spirituality automatically imbibed in Tripunithura Family way of life upon their upbringing has been helpful in the overall educative success of the family.
6. The paper presented by Rajeswari Thampuran and read by Uma Varma gave an account of the women who became educators in colleges after their post graduate education. Prior to that, her predecessors were school teachers. Many of the female Thampurans, in their sixties and seventies, are retired college professors. The paper points out that, in 1925, Ikkavu Thampuran completed her B.A. Hons. By the 1930s, most women had completed their matriculation. By 1940, a few became school teachers and started educating the succeeding generation. In 1950, most did their B.A. or BSc in Maharaja's. Few went on to complete their post-graduate degrees. There were some who enrolled in colleges in Madras. When the Kalikotta School closed down in 1958, the teachers there were absorbed by the Public schools. The fifties and sixties produced 10 college professors, 20 school teachers, 3 doctors and 1 engineer.
7. Anujan S Varma spoke about the education and achievements of the family members from the seventies and eighties in his own inimitable style. They had no privileges left from their lifestyle as the Royal family. They had to study extremely hard and compete with the commoners who were also venturing seriously into education by then. Cricket, which had become an intrusion into their studies, had to be abandoned. It was also the time when English medium private schools started popping up, much to the neglect of the public school system that followed Malayalam medium of instruction. The educated parents of the family started insisting on excellence. He gave the statistics for a 20-year period of accomplishments by the members of the family. Out of 230 members,there were 10 graduates in medicine, 51 engineers, 86 graduates of science, 47 graduates in art, 27 graduates in commerce, 4 graduates in law and 5 ayurvedic practitioners. He unquestionably picked Anujan Varma, the grandson of Ikkavu Thampuran of old Kochammaman Thampuran Kovilakam, as the most accomplished member of the family. Anujan Varma, graduated from the College of Engineering,Thrissur and held the first rank from the Calicut University, he scored a perfect ten from the Institute of Science in Bangalore. Then, he joined IBM in the U.S.A, where he completed his doctorate, had several patents to his credit and won the prestigious Young Scientist Award from the U.S. President. He currently lives in California, U.S.A.