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The Ettara Yogam can either mean the Council of Eight and a Half or the King's Council of Eight. For centuries it was the Administrative Committee that governed the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple which houses the Tutelary Deity (Kula Daivatham) of the Royal Family of Travancore.
The Ettara Yogam was formed in 1045 AD.
According to one 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 President of the Yogam is a Nambootiri sannyasi either from the Naduvil Madhom or Munchira Madhom. The Swamiyar can hold office during the pleasure of the Crown. The Palliyadi Kurup was the security chief of the Temple. The trusteeship of members 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. The members of the Yogam are
- 1. Pushpanjali Swamiyar of Naduvil Madhom / Munchira Madhom
- 2. Athiyara Potty of Kollur
- 3. Athiyara Potty of Vanchiyoor
- 4. Karuva Potty
- 5. Koopakkara Potty
- 6. Muttavila Potty
- 7. Neytasseri Potty
- 8. Srikaryathu Potty
- 9. Maharaja of Travancore who is also the Thrippappoor Mooppan
- 10. Palliyadi Karanatha Kurup or Azhakath Kurup, the Nair nobleman
According to another version, the Ettara Yogam comprises the eight member Kshethra Sabha and the Arachan (Maharajah) of Venad/ Travancore. The Sabha has the Pushpanjali Swamiyar as its President, the six Potties as members and the Srikaryathu Potty as the Sabhanjithan (Secretary). A decision taken by the Kshethra Sabha could be implemented only if the Maharajah ratified it. The Karanatha Kurup though a special invitee is not a member of the Ettara Yogam.
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.
Owing to the large amount of power vested in their hands, the Ettara Yogam and their associates the Ettuveetil Pillamar became highly arrogant towards the Royal family. When Maharajah Aditya Varma (1167–1173) wished to build himself a palace at Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), beyond the jurisdiction of the Ettuveetil Pillamar or the Ettara Yogam, he was not permitted to do so. The Yogam and 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. Two families of the Yogam were banished from Travancore while the rest were permitted nominal rights in the Temple. After Marthanda Varma the temple came under the control of the Maharajahs of Travancore and the power of the Yogam was ended.
Ettara Yogam in modern times
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 and not by the Maharaja of Travancore.
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 (Administrator of Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple). This ceremony took place at Kulasekhara Mandapam in Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple.
- History of Travancore by Shungunny Menon
- Charithram Kuricha Sree Padmanabha Swamy Kshethram by Dr MG Sasibhooshan and Dr RP Raja
- Travancore State Manual by V. Nagam Aiya
- History of Travancore by Shungunny Menon
The Travancore State Manual By T.K.Velupillai