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With the Supreme Court being told that the vault 'B' of the historic Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, one of the richest shrines in the country, should be opened, a debate has taken flight in Kerala over the matter. While a member of the erstwhile Travancore royal family, Ashwati Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, said they were against the opening of the vault 'B' as it was "against the god's will", another member, Aditya Varma, today said the family would not blindly oppose it. Gowri Lakshmi Bayi maintained that the vault had never been opened and only its ante-chamber had been opened earlier. Varma though said the decision of the Thantri (the head priest) on the matter was final. "The final word rests with the Thantri.
We will not oppose," he told a television channel. Meanwhile, Devaswom Minister Kadakkampally Surendran said that as the matter was before the apex court, the royal family could inform it about its anxiety. He added that the report of the amicus curiae (an impartial adviser to a court of law in a particular case) that the vault 'B' was opened earlier, was unlikely to be wrong. The minister also said he did not know the reason for the royal family's opposition to the opening of the vault and added that the government was ready to hold discussions with them in this regard. Coming down heavily on the royal family, veteran CPI(M) leader V S Achutanandan said those who feared the opening of the vault were to be suspected. "The B vault should be opened and a stock taken of its belongings as per the recent observations of the Supreme Court," he said. When the matter had come up before the apex court last week, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, who is the amicus curiae in the matter, had told the court that the 'Kallara' (vault) B of the temple should be opened as it was closed "on the apprehension that there is some mystical energy". He had also said that experts too were of the opinion that the vault should be opened because it had been opened earlier as well. "Vault 'B' may have more than one chamber... Nothing but useless suspicion is being generated about what is there in the vault," Subramanium had told a division bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar. The sprawling temple, an architectural splendour in granite, was rebuilt in its present form in the 18th century by the Travancore royals, who had ruled southern Kerala and some adjoining parts of Tamil Nadu, before the integration of the princely state with the Indian Union in 1947. Even after India's independence, the temple continued to be governed by a trust controlled by the erstwhile royal family, for whom Lord Padmanabha (Vishnu) is the family deity.
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