Late Raja Bhaskara Sethupathy of Ramnad who helped Swami Vivekananda attend the World Congress of Religion (1893)

2004 issue. Raja of Ramnad, TN. Bhaskara Sethupathy
The estate of Ramnad was, in reality, a permanently settled zamindari estate established by Raghunatha Kilavan in the late 17th century. It was in the Ramnad subdivision of the Madura district and later Ramnad district of the erstwhile Madras Presidency in British India from 1801 to 1949.The seat of power being  the town of Ramanathapuram, in 1803 the Kingdom was converted to a Zamindari by the British. The male rulers of Ramnathapuram  carried the title of Sethupathi or "protector of the bridge", the bridge here referring to the legendary passage across the sea from Ramanathapuram to Sri Lanka called Rama's Bridge (also known as Adama's bridge), supposedly built by Lord Sri Rama. He also had a Linga (Ramalinga) built at Rameswaram; hence the rulers are also caretakers of this great temple, now an important pilgrimage center of the Hindus across India and also Rama's bridge, hence the appellation - Sethupathy). The  female rulers of Ramanad  carried the title "Nachiyar". During the colonial rule, the Zanmindary estate in the early 1900s used to pay an annual tribute of Rs. 3.75lakhs  to the British. In 1790, Ramnad came under the British rule (East India company) and the ruler was deposed in 1795 for misrule. The British then deprecated the kingdom to a Zamindari and the king's sister became the head in 1803 by a permanent Sanad (title). Since that time on until India's freedom in 1947, Ramnad had been ruled by the queen and her descendants. 

Raja of Ramnad, TN. Bhaskara Sethupathy  

Bhaskara Sethupathy (Hiranyagarbhayaji Ravikula Muthuvijaya Raghunatha Bhaskara) (3 November 1868 - 27 December 1903) was the  Raja of Ramnad. Shortly called Bhaskara Sethupathy was born in this illustrious dynasty on 3 November 1868 and his father was Muthuramalinga Sethupathy II and mother was Muthathal Nachiyar. Well-educated, on 3 April 1889, he became the head of Ramanathaparam state and being farsighted and visionary, he initiated several public welfare schemes for the benefit of his subjects, besides, he was a patron of fine arts. His Rajaguru was Sri Sringeri  Sankarachariar of Sarada Peetam (Karnataka) and with support from him, he not only stopped animal sacrifices at Rajarajeswari temple in his kingdom but also facilitated the entry of Harijans into the temple. Between 1890 and 1893, he executed countless public  welfare schemes in education, agriculture, health and religion worth more than Rs. 40 lakhs.

A historical fact that the present day Indians may not be aware is that it was Raja Bhaskara Sethupathy who helped Swami Vivekananda attend  the World  Congress of Religion  held in Chicago, USA on 11 September 1893. In 1892 Swami Vivekananda visited Madurai and stayed with Raja Bhaskara Sethupathy as his guest. On January 23 1897, he was instrumental in arranging for a rousing reception to the Swamiji upon his successful speech at the world conference. Not be content with this, he built a monument in the place where he landed and had the words inscribed  ''Satmameva jayathe'' on it in the same year.
Swami Vivekananda, on his part, conferred the tittle Rajarishi (Ascetic king) on Bhaskara Sethupathy for his services to the Hindu religion and for his selfless public services. 

Bhaskara Sethupathy  evinced keen interest in Tamil literary works and held the 4th Tamil Sangam during the later period. The unexpected demise of Swami Vivekananda, his mentor, made him grief-stricken and this forced him to lead a life of an ascetic in a Mutt on the banks of the river Tamiraparani in Kallidakuruchi
near Tirunelveli Town. He died on 27 Dec. 1903 at a young age of 35, but in that short period, being a pious and generous ruler of Ramnad, he made a niche for himself in the history of South Tamil Nadu.