The rulers of the erstwhile State of Travancore in the extreme South of India were, from time immemorial, well-known for their munificent patronage of art and letters; and many of the Maharajas themselves were eminent poets and artists. ilattur (इलत्तूर) rAmasvAmI shAstrI (रामस्वामी), author of the devotional poems now issued, adorned the vidvat-sadas (विद्वत्सदस्) of four successive sovereigns of Travancore after mahArAja svAti tirunAl (स्वाती तिरुनाल), the famous poet and composer (1813-47), and was regarded as the greatest poet of kerala (केरल) in the 19th century A.D.
This is an introduction to devIstotramAlA (देवीस्तोत्रमाला) of shrI gomatIdAsa rAmasvAmI shastrI (गोमतीदासः रामस्वामी शास्त्री) by G. Harihara Sastri (हरिहरशास्त्री). It was written in 1962. I’m posting it here for benefit of all.
न कुतूहलि कस्य मनश्चरितं च महात्मनां श्रोतुम् ।
– बाणः ।
Life of rAmasvAmI shAstrI (रामस्वामी शास्त्री)
rAmasvAmI (रामस्वामी) was born in November 1823 in the village of ilattur (इलत्तूर), four miles east of Shencotta where the Southern Railways crosses the Western Ghats. His father sha~NkaranArAyaNa (शङ्करनारायण) alias Andi shAstrI was of a very pious and religious disposition and his mother’s name was kR^iShNAmbA (कृष्णाम्बा). rAmasvAmI (रामस्वामी) received his preliminary saMskR^ita (संस्कृत) education from the paNDita-s (पण्डित) of his native village. Seeing the unusual precocity of the boy his father sent him to Panthalam for higher studies. Panthalam, a small principality west of the Ghats, was for centuries a center of saMskR^ita (संस्कृतम्) studies, and its rulers, known as pANDya rAjA-s (पाण्ड्यराज), had vestiges of political rights over ilattur (इलत्तूर) till three years before rAmasvAmI (रामस्वामी) was born. It was, therefore, in the fitness of things that the villagers regarded the rAjA-s of Panthalam with a sense of suzerain-ship. There was no cart-able road across the Ghat-s at that time and rAmasvAmI (रामस्वामी) is said to have trudged on foot the distance of sixty miles to reach his vidyApITha (विद्यापीठ).