Despite his royal heritage Rajasree Babaji Rajah Bhonsle, the Senior Prince of Thanjavur, looks like a symbol of humility in his white shirt and dhoti.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, he says he is happy that the public still recognise him and his family. “They say dharma saves the head, but I would say dharma saves entire generations. We are still reaping the benefits of all the good deeds our forefathers had done for the society and this is why people still recognise and respect us. It’s all inherited. It’s like the baton has been handed over to me and I have to carry it forward to give it to someone else. I have not created any of this, but I need to protect it. So, there are a lot of social responsibilities. We also want to be known in future as people who contributed to the society this way and by God’s grace, that is happening,” he says. When you say Prince or King, an image of bejewelled and ornately dressed people living exorbitant lives in palaces comes to mind. How far is this image true today? “Well, we do still live in the same palace and I still live in the same room where I was born,” says Bhonsle with a laugh.
He adds, “We also have the people who have been serving in the palace still with us. Most of them were born and brought up in that place for over 30 generations and they still work for us.” However, he adds that a lot has changed as well. “It is a paradigm shift. Back in the days, we were the decision makers. Now I have to act as a bridge between the public and the decision makers. I function as a connecting platform through which the public can bring forward their requirements and needs to the notice of those who can create results.”
Referring to the work that he does as a Senior Prince of the Thanjavur Royal family, he explains, “The Thanjavur Marathas were well known for their architecture, temples, art and culture. I am still able to continue this tradition. I am a trustee of 88 temples. So, I’m continuing what my forefathers did, just in a different way. We still maintain relations with the other royal families in the country and meet during weddings and other such social occasions. But more importantly, we work on social causes together. This is especially true of programs that protect the art and culture of the country, like the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage(INTACH). Apart from that, I am also involved in the upkeep and functioning of many art galleries and libraries. But we don’t want to be in the limelight for it. So, we want to do these things from a place of humility.”