CASTES AND TRIBES OF SOUTHERN INDIA
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Annotating the textual matter 1
Annotating the textual matter
This book is a sort of repository of structured information on the castes of the southern part of the South Asian subcontinent. As such, it is not expected that many readers would read it from one end to the other. Most of the readers would use the book to gather information on some particular caste or population group.
I have made a cursory reading of the full book. However, I do not remember most of the information. However, as I continued my reading as I worked upon the textual matter and digital book layout, I did take out certain passages or sentences for the purpose of annotating upon them.
I am going to do that here. It is expected that by just going through this part, a casual reader would get a cursory, and yet comprehensive outline of the book.
1. The Ambalakkarans and Muttiriyans of a village in Musiri taluk wrote a joint petition, protesting against their being classified as Kallans, but nevertheless it is said that the Kallans of Madura will not eat in Ambalakkaran's houses.
COMMENT: This issue seems similar to the issue of North Malabar Thiyyas reacting against their being branded as Ezhavas in the official records of the Zamorin of Calicut. As of now, the issue has become real cantankerous, with the Ezhava leadership in Travancore manipulating state government records to subordinate the Thiyyas as sub-caste of the Ezhavas. The major aim of such insidious actions is to enhance the domain of leadership over unconnected populations. There are many political gains in such actions.
2. They admit they are called Valaiyans, but repudiate any connection with the caste of that name,
COMMENT: This kind of repulsion to being connected to unacceptable others are there all over the subcontinent.
3. Like most of the temple servant classes, they are inferior to the lower Brahmans, such as the Mussads, and food will not be taken from the hands of most of them even by Nayars.
COMMENT: This is a social tragedy at a higher levels, where populations try to keep a distance from the populations below them, and yet are not able to enter into the domain of the classes above them.
4. If the Perithanakkaran cannot satisfactorily dispose of a case with the assistance of the usual panchayat (council), it is referred to the higher authority of the Kavarai or Desai Setti, or even to British Courts as a last resource.
COMMENT: Courts set up by the English rule had the issue of how to handle problems which were not understandable in pristine-English.
5. He often combines in himself the three useful vocations of hair-dresser, surgeon, and musician.
COMMENT: Doctoring was essentially a profession of the barbers even in Europe, I think. However, as of now, such an mention would create a cardiac arrest in the medical professions in India. In fact, I have heard qualified Homeopaths (BHMS) claiming that their profession lost is grandeur just because it had been practised by barbers and such other ‘despicable’ human beings a few decades back. However, the bitter truth is that these ‘uneducated’ Homeopaths had actually been quite good in treating diseases using Homoeopathic techniques.
6. It may be said without exaggeration that many of the uterine ailments which furnish patients to the maternity wards of the various hospitals in this country are attributable to the rude treatment of the village midwife."
COMMENT: It is quite surprising to find this statement in this book. This is a statement given out by current day gynaecologists.
7. The barber who shaves Europeans must not be a caste barber, but is either a Muhammadan or a non-caste man
COMMENT: No comments
8. Parasitic skin diseases are said to originate from the application of a razor, which has been used on a number of miscellaneous individuals. And well-to-do Hindus now keep their own razor, which the barber uses when he comes to shave them.
COMMENT: It is quite curious that when the AIDS scare spread, this was a much mentioned item to ward off the possibility of the disease spreading at the barber shop.
9. He is also known as Panditan or Pariyari (doctor), and Kudimaghan (son of the ryot).
COMMENT: No comment.
10. He must salute his superiors by prostrating himself on his stomach, folding his arms, and standing at a respectful distance.
COMMENT: It is about the barber who goes to the houses of the upper castes/class. However, the word ‘salute’s is not a correct usage, to define actions connected to feudal languages.
11. In North Travancore many families are in possession of royal edicts conferring upon them the title of Panikkar
COMMENT: The barber class in Travancore.
12. Others have the title of Vaidyan or doctor, from the secondary occupation of the caste
COMMENT: Again the barber caste in Travancore
13. In theory at least, the makkathayam and marumakkathayam Ambattans may be said to form two distinct endogamous groups, of which the former regard themselves as far superior to the latter in social position.
COMMENT: It is curious in that in many other castes, the Marumakkathayam classes act out to be superior to the Makkathayam caste. For instance, the Marumakkathaya Thiyya did view the Makkathaya Thiyyas (South Malabar) with disdain.
14. Sometimes the makkathayam Ambattans give their girls in marriage to the marumakkathayam Ambattans, though the converse can never hold good. But, in these cases, the girl is not permitted to re-enter the paternal home, and associate with the people therein.
COMMENT: It would certainly be interesting to know the origin of this issue. In most cases, it might be traced to two different populations arriving at the same profession and caste name. The later entrant would love to arrive at a higher caste address, while the group which traditionally holds the caste name would not condone the encroachment of their domain by others who they view as lowly.
15. The barbers not only worship the ordinary Hindu deities, but also adore such divinities as Murti, Maden, and Yakshi.
COMMENT: This has connection to a specific social phenomenon seen in many locations in the subcontinent. Among the non-Hindu castes/populations, there is a hue of disdain for their own traditional deities. For instance, the Ezhavas were mentioned as having had Madan and Marutha as their own traditional deities. However, as of now, the trend is to connect to the Brahmanical gods and rituals.
16. A niece and nephew are regarded as the most legitimate spouses of a son and daughter respectively.
COMMENT: No comment
17. Manu says ' a Brahman should constantly shun worldly honour, as he would shun poison, and rather constantly seek disrespect as he would seek nectar'; and every Brahman youth was required to spend part of his life as a beggar. The Jains and Buddhists held the same views. The Hindu Chattrams and Uttupuras, the Jain Pallis, and the Buddhist Viharas owe their origin to this attitude, they being originally intended for the support of the mendicant members of these religions. But persons of other than the priestly and religious classes were expected to work for their living, and were not entitled to relief in these institutions.
COMMENT: Some kind of undefined monasteries.
18. including (it is said) the burying alive of a goat, are enacted to show that they are dead to the community
COMMENT: When women who go astray with men of other castes are expelled from Anuppan caste. There is much connection to the modern usage of ‘honour killing’ to the feudal content in the native languages.
19. affairs (i.e., a woman, whose husband is too young to fulfil the duties of his position, is allowed to consort with his near relations, and the children so begotten are treated as his).
COMMENT: No comment, other than to say that there are many other kinds of similar weird content in the antiquity of the subcontinent.
20. In some places in the Telugu country, Tamil Paraiyans, employed as servants under Europeans, horsekeepers, etc., are known as Arava Malalu (Malas).
COMMENT: Even though, people think that the English officials during the colonial rule were making the native populations of the lands their servants, the truth was that it was a golden opportunity for the very low classes to escape from their slavery under the upper classes of the subcontinent. Serving the upper classes of the subcontinent had a very terrible content in the feudal languages.
21. When the guilt of a woman is proved, and the sanction of the Guru obtained, the husband performs the act of divorce by cutting a pumpkin in two at a place where three ways meet.
COMMENT: No comment
22. The Asari of Malabar is the Brahman of the Kammala castes. The Kammala castes generally pollute Nayars by approaching within twelve feet, and Brahmans by coming within thirty-six feet; but an Asari with his measuring rod in his hand has the privilege of approaching very near, and even entering the houses of higher castes without polluting them. This exception may have arisen out of necessity."
COMMENT: The asaris or traditional carpenters were extremely skilled persons in architecture. However, in the feudal languages of the location, they were more or less lowly in the eyes of the upper castes.
23. In a Government office, a short time ago, the head clerk, a Brahman named Rangachari, altered the spelling of the name of a Kammalan from Velayudachari to Velayudasari in the office books, on the ground that the former looked Brahmanical.
COMMENT: There is merit in what the Brahman clerk did. For people do use hints to connect to higher classes. As to the higher classes, the spreading of information that someone not from their ranks is connected to them, can despoil their own standards, which they strain to maintain.
24. On the other hand, a former Native official on the Nilgiris writes to me that "though the average Badaga is thrifty and hard-working, there is a tendency for him to be lazy when he is sure of his meal.
COMMENT: There is a hidden information in this. It is that in a feudal language social ambience, it is not always a happy moment to go for work. This is due to the stifling atmosphere under supervisors or even colleagues who may not accept one’s own level of ‘respect’. This is a feeling that spreads along with the spread of feudal languages. I fear that in native-English nations, where the native-English have to work under a feudal languages supervisor or boss or colleagues, he or she would feel the same repulsion for the work place. However, for the other side, working in a native-English nation is the stuff that dreams are made of.
25. On the other hand, the fact (pointed out by Dr. Rivers) that the Badagas are not mentioned in a single one of the Todas' legends about their gods, whereas the Kotas, Kurumbas, and Irulas, each play a part in one or more of these stories, raises the inference that the relations between the Badagas and the Todas are recent as compared with those between the other tribes.
COMMENT: Just a pointer that the non-Hindu castes do have traditions which have no connection with the Brahmanical antiquity. However, as of now, everyone is slowly edging into the Hindu antiquity, more or less pushing out the Brahmans from their traditional location.
26. A critical study of the Badaga dialect might perhaps serve to fix within closer limits the date of the migration. As now spoken, this tongue contains letters (two forms of r for instance) and numerous words, which are otherwise met with only in ancient books, and which strike most strangely upon the ear of the present generation of Canarese. The date when some of these letters and words became obsolete might possibly be traced, and thus aid in fixing the period when the Badagas left the low country.
COMMENT: It is quite curious. I had in one of my own books given a hint that words in a language can be used to trace the route by which a population arrived from any specific location. I am sure that is not some new information. However, in Thurston’s writings, he is seen to be mentioning it in very clear words.
27. In the old days, it is said, when he visited any village within his jurisdiction, the monegar had the privilege of having the best women or maids of the place to share his cot according to his choice.
COMMENT: Even though great patriotic academicians might disagree with this information and claim that it is part of a deliberate work to disparage ‘Indian’ antiquity, the fact is that this was more or less a norm than an exception. I have personally heard these kinds of stories many years ago in some locations.
28. A quarter of a century ago, a Badaga could be at once picked out from the other tribes of the Nilgiris by his wearing a turban. But, in the present advanced age, not only does the Toda sometimes appear in the national head-dress, but even Irulas and Kurumbas, who only a short time ago were buried in the jungles, living like pigs and bears on roots, honey and other forest produce, turn up on Sundays in the Kotagiri bazar, clad in turban and coat of English cut
COMMENT: The truth is the with the arrival of the English rule in around half of the subcontinent, the traditional dresses which were insisted upon as part of a caste hierarchy identification symbol was given the go by.
29. A person of the Badaga section gives the head, as it is called, to an Udaiyar, in token of the superiority of the latter.
COMMENT: It is possible that Thurston did not understand the event correctly. All conceding of superiority and inflicting of inferiority are encoded in the verbal dialogues that accompany the actions.
30. it is perhaps significant that no similar sign of respect is shown to Toda elders by the Badagas."
COMMENT: Feudal language codes would have encoded the total relative inferiority of the Todas.
31. The Badagas live in dread of the Kurumbas, and the Kurumba constantly comes under reference in their folk-stories. The Kurumba is the necromancer of the hills, and believed to be possessed of the power of outraging women, removing their livers, and so causing their death, while the wound heals by magic, so that no trace of the operation is left. He is supposed, too, to have the power of opening the bolts of doors by magic and affecting an entrance into a house at night for some nefarious purpose.
COMMENT: In Malabar areas, there was the phenomenon of Odiyans, who were reputed to have more or less the same capabilities as mentioned above. Read: Omens and Superstations of Southern India by Thurston.
32. If he fails, and if any suspicion is aroused in the mind of the Toda or Badaga that he is allowing the devil to play his pranks instead of loosing his hold on the supposed victim, woe betide him. The wrath of the entire village, or even the whole tribe, is raised against the unhappy Kurumba. His hut is surrounded at night, and the entire household massacred in cold blood, and their huts set on fire. This is very cleverly carried out, and the isolated position of the Kurumba settlements allows of very little clue for identification.
COMMENT: This again is mentioned by Thurston in his other book, Omens and Superstations of Southern India as being the experience of the Odiyans.
33. The following legend, relating to the fire-walking ceremony, is recorded by Bishop Whitehead. “When they first began to perform the ceremony fifty or sixty years ago, they were afraid to walk over the fire. Then the stone image of Mahalinga Swami turned into a snake, and made a hole through the temple wall. It came out, and crawled over the fire, and then went back to the temple. Then their fear vanished, and they walked over the embers. The hole is still to be seen in the temple."
COMMENT: Cannot say anything about the mentioned legend. However, fire-walking Shamanistic rituals are there in vogue in north Malabar. For instance, the Thee Kamundeshwari. As far as I know, it is not a casual walking over burning fire, but more or less a sort of gathering the kindling cinders and throwing them, along with some kind of fast gait over the burning cinders.
34. This same custom of annually killing a sambhar is also observed at other villages on the plateau, and in 1883 and 1S94 special orders were passed to permit of its being done during the close season.
COMMENT: I do not have much information about the forest rules of British-India, but then there is ample evidence that forest and wildlife were protected much.
35. It is not uncommon to find Badaga women changing husbands, so long as youth and vigour tempt them to do so, and confining themselves eventually to the last individual, after age and infirmity have made their mark, and render such frolics inexpedient."
COMMENT: Even though patriotic Indians would claim of an ancient ‘Indian’ antiquity of high moral standards, which promoted the stability and invincibility of the family system, most of the evidences are to the contrary. I personally feel that good quality family life prospered with the arrival of the English rule in the subcontinent. Apart from issues of moral ineptitude, there were other issues of social superiors more or less laying their claim upon a female, who is a subordinated person’s wife. This does not mean that the wife was unhappy at being violated by the social superior. In many cases, the social superior would be found to be more attractive and her own husband, totally despoiled by the degraded verbal codes.
36. A former Magistrate of the Nilgiris informs me that he tried more than one case, in which a married man filed a complaint against another man for kidnapping or enticing away his wife for immoral purposes. The father of the woman was always charged as an abetter, and pleaded that, as no pariyam (bride price) had been paid by the husband, though he and the woman lived together as man and wife, no criminal offence could be proved against either the father or the abductor.
COMMENT: As commented above, the lawful right of a husband over his wife was compromised in many locations. This was due to various reasons, including the fact the wife’s brothers, uncles, aunts, parents and their relatives all had a claim over the female. In fact, if the uncle found her husband not giving adequate ‘respect’ to them, they would even allow her to be in some other man’s hands. This has been very keenly mentioned with regard to the Nairs/Sudra caste of Travancore. However, the females from other castes below them also had somewhat similar experiences.
Beyond all this, was the issue of roaming marauders and other elements also taking possession of the females. The lower castes naturally had to depend upon the feudal classes such as the sudras to protect them, who had policing powers in their locality. This in turn gave the feudal classes the right to demand servitude from the lower castes.
37. Polygamy is permitted, and the plurality of wives is a gain to the husband, as each wife becomes a bread-winner, and supports her children, and the man makes each wife superintend one department of the day's work.
COMMENT: This again is about the Badaga caste.
38. Remarriage of widows is very common, and a widow may marry the brother of her deceased husband.
COMMENT: Badaga caste.
39. It is said to be etiquette among the Badagas that, when a woman's husband is away, she should be accessible to her brothers-in-law.
COMMENT: This seems to go beyond any moral or immoral standard that modernity can propose.
40. Instances occur, in which the husband is much younger than his wife, who, until he has reached maturity, cohabits with her paternal aunt's son, or someone whom she may have a fancy for.
COMMENT: This also seems to go beyond any moral or immoral standard that modernity can propose.
41. after its performance, divorce can only be obtained through the decree of the panchayat (tribal council).
COMMENT: No comment
42. The story goes that Lord Elphinstone, a former Governor of Madras, was anxious to build a residence at Kaiti. But the Badagas, who had on the desired site a sacred tree, would not part with the land. The Governor's steward succeeded in making the Badaga headman drunk, and secured, for a rental of thirty-five rupees annually, the site, whereon a villa was built, which now belongs to the Basel Mission.!
COMMENT: This seem to give a very negative hint about the British manner of getting things done. However, the word ‘steward’ has to be taken up. Was he a native man of the location? If so, it only reflects the manner in which things get done in the native social system. If the ‘steward’ was an Englishman, the information goes more or less against the reputation of the English, that they were quite fair in their dealings.
43. In a recent work,* Mr. A. H. Keane, in a note on the “Dravidian Aborigines," writes as follows. "All stand on the very lowest rung of the social ladder, being rude hillmen without any culture strictly so called, and often betraying marked negroid characters, as if they were originally Negroes or Negritos, later assimilated in some respects to their Dravidian conquerors. As they never had a collective racial name, they should now be called, not Dravidians or proto-Dravidians, but rather pre-Dravidians, as more collectively indicating their true ethnical relations. Such are the Kotas, Irulas, Badagas, and Kurumbas."
COMMENT: It has been found that even the so-called lowest castes have changed beyond recognition once they had broken out of their lowly strangled social status. Indeed, there is this mention in REV Samuel Mateer’s Native Life in Travancore, that when the Missionaries from London Missionary Society went ahead to improve the lower castes in the Travancore Kingdom, they were told these people were not fully human, and that full human intelligence was not possible in them. However, it was seen that when direct training was given by the English evangelists, these people improved beyond recognition.
COMMENT: Basically it is a matter of the hammering done by the feudal language word-codes, which gather the total weight of the overbearing social layers. Once this hammering is removed, the next generation of this people change in physical looks.
44. These are wonderfully tame, the bigger ones feeding fearlessly from one's hand, and even allowing their backs to be stroked. They are protected by the Madgole zamindars—who on several grounds venerate all fish—and by superstitious fears.
COMMENT: I have seen such tame fish, in my college days in a place called Aruvikkara near Trivandrum, in Kerala.
45. This Kshatriya descent is, however, not admitted by other castes, who say that Balijas are an offshoot of the Kammas or Kapus, or that they are a mixed community recruited from these and other Telugu castes.
COMMENT: Due to the fear of the hammering power of the feudal language word-codes, everyone is desperate to connect themselves to higher echelons of the caste system. In Travancore, Ezhavas very vehemently mention that the Nairs are Sudras. The Nair respond by mentioning the Ezhavas as Chovvvans. However, even though the Sudras address might be correct from an antique sense, the Nairs are not lower castes in any demeanour or mental stature. They refuse to accept that they are lower castes. There is a powerful daring in this stance, which more or less makes them devoid of claims for caste-based reservations in jobs and higher education.
By bloodline, Nairs are directly connected to some of the Brahmin class. This is due to the fact, that Brahmin males were allowed access to Nair females, as an accepted social practise.
This mental feature might be compared with what the Thiyyas did. When the fact that Ezhavas of Travancore-Cochin, were getting such reservations dawned upon them, there were powerful calls for such reservations to allocated to them also. This led to a funny situation in which the superior class Thiyyas of North Malabar areas refused to appeal for such reservations. At the same time, the lowly class Thiyyas’ leadership clamoured for reservation.
Once this reservation was given, there was a qualitative change in the standards of the Thiyya population that entered into the government service. In the earlier times, only persons of great acumen in English got in. Now, the opposite kind of people got in.
46. In a letter submitted, from Coimbatore, to Mr. Francis in connection with the census, 1901, it was stated that "the Balija people are Kshatriyas of the Lunar Race, as can be proved by a reference to the Bahgavatham, Vishnupuranam, and Brahmmandapuranam, etc.
COMMENT: The Nairs of Travancore do mention a similar claim that they are Kshatriyas. However, they are mentioned as Sudras in books such as Travancore State Manual, Native Life in Travancore, and in the writings of Edgar Thurston.
47. The caste is rather a mixed one, for they will admit, without much scruple, persons who have been expelled from their proper caste, or who are the result of irregular unions.
COMMENT: It is like the multiculture social system being promoted in Great Britain. Great Britain is not aware of the grave danger it is in. Within a matter of a single decade the nation will become a lowly nation, unless something quite drastic is done to revoke everything that multiculture has brought in.
48. Vessels made of red sanders wood carry no pollution, and can be used by women during the menstrual period, and taken back to the house without any purification ceremony
COMMENT: No comment.
49. For the same reason, Sanyasis (ascetics) use such vessels for doing puja
COMMENT: No comment.
50. Jakkulas, among whom it was, at Tenali in the Kistna district, formerly customary for each family to give up one girl for prostitution. Under the influence of social reform, a written agreement was a few years ago entered into to give up the practice.
COMMENT: There are ample evidence to show that the English rulers have taken much pain and effort to save the females from various kinds of tragic experiences, including that of devadasi system. However, it has become a fashion of the new entrants to such institutions as BBC etc. to write totally opposite themes about the British rule in around half of the subcontinent.
51. Adapapa. Female attendants on the ladies of the families of Zamindars, who, as they are not allowed to marry, lead a life of prostitution. Their sons call themselves Balijas. In some places, e.g., the Kistna and Godavari districts, this class is known as Khasa or Khasavandlu.
COMMENT: No comment
52. Into one of the marriage pots are put a pap-bowl, ring, and bracelet, which are picked out by the couple. If the pap-bowl is first got hold of by the bridegroom, the first-born child will be a boy ; if the ring, it will be a girl.
COMMENT: No comment.
53. In some places, the sister of the bridegroom extracts a promise that his coral (daughter) shall be given in marriage to her pearl (son).
COMMENT: No comment.
54. It may be noted, as a little matter of history, that, in 1677, the Court of Directors, in a letter to Fort St. George, offered “twenty pounds reward to any of our servants or soldiers as shall be able to speak, write, and translate the Banian language, and to learn their arithmetic."*
COMMENT: Quite interesting.
55. "The Nayars," he writes, "were, until the British occupied the country, the militia of the district. Originally they seem to have been organised into 'Six Hundreds,' and each six hundred seems to have had assigned to it the protection of all the people in a nad or country. The nad was in turn split up into taras, a Dravidian word signifying originally a foundation, the foundation of a house, hence applied collectively to a street, as in Tamil teru, in Telugu teruvu, and in Canarese and Tulu teravu. The tara was the Nayar territorial unit for civil purposes."
COMMENT: Even though it is quite possible that the above-mentioned information is correct, further summarisations from this should be done carefully. There have been hints to describe the Nair as some sort of supreme policing officer class. That is, something like the IPS of modern day India. However, that would not be correct in that there is no IPS officers in each and every village. The Nairs can be compared to the present day police constables. Police constables are quite powerful entities in their local areas and villages.
56. the Malabar Nair chieftain of old had his nad or barony, and his own military class ; and the relics of this powerful feudal system still survive in the names of some of the taluks (divisions) of modern Malabar, and in the official designations of certain Nair families, whose men still come out with quaint-looking swords and shields to guard the person of the Zamorin on the occasion of the rice-throwing ceremony, which formally constitutes him the ruler of the land.
COMMENT: It might be true that there would be Nair chiefs as one would define a present day police inspector. However, to give a higher stature than that would create a problem of finding a corresponding level for the Kshatriyas and the various levels of Ambalavasi and the Brahmin class, who are above all of them.
Even the mention of Nair soldiers coming as guards for the Zamorin does not hint that they are anything above than that of current-day police constables and inspectors.
57. It is necessary to explain that, in both ancient Keralam and Tulu, the functions of the great military and dominant classes were so distributed that only certain classes were bound to render military service to the ruling prince. The rest were lairds or squires, or gentleman farmers, or the labourers and artisans of their particular community, though all of them cultivated a love of manly sports."
COMMENT: There is a huge error in trying to compare the native social institutions of the subcontinent with what was there in England. For, there is nothing that can be compared. The English police constable cannot be compared to an Indian constable. There is no item which are in correspondence. Likewise, using such words as lairds, squires, gentlemen farmers etc. to define the social groups in the Subcontinent is utter nonsense. Even the word ‘gentlemen’ has no meaning. For, the feudal supervisor classes were not gentlemen as the words is understood in English. They were rude and crude to those who came under them, due to the use of the suppressive feudal language word-codes towards their subordinated classes.
58. I have often come across respectable women of the landed classes like the Bants, Shivallis, and Nairs, managing large landed estates as efficiently as men.
COMMENT: Here again, this reflects a mistaken notion that females are socially weak. It is not the truth. To those who happen to come under them, they were quite powerfully suppressive and rude and crude. This is very neatly facilitated by the feudal language word-codes, which is used with the power of a hammer.
59. That it is a recent forgery is certain .... The origin of the book in its present state is well-known ; it is satisfactorily traced to two notorious forgers and scoundrels about thirty years ago, and all copies have been made from the one they produced, I have enquired in vain for an old manuscript, and am informed, on the best authority, that not one exists. A number of recent manuscripts are to be found, but they all differ one from another.
COMMENT: No comment
60. As a custom similar to aliya santana prevails in Malabar, it no doubt originated before Tuluva and Kerala were separated.
COMMENT: It is slightly doubtful if the reason of the origin of this system is clearly mentioned here.
61. Now that the ideas regarding marriage among the Bants are in practice assimilated to a great extent to those of most other people, the national rule of inheritance is a cause of much heart-burning and quarrelling, fathers always endeavouring to benefit their own offspring at the cost of the estate.
COMMENT: It is true that with the advent of the English rule in the local areas, it became apparent to the parents that their landed property should rightfully go to their own children and not to that of their nephews and nieces. Maybe this was the reason that Marthanda Varma, who was the famous king of Travancore had to fight it out with the sons of his uncle (deceased king). As per the tradition, he was to be the next king, after taking up the inheritance from his uncle. However, in the newer social understandings, the king’s sons might have thought it quite correct that they could place their own claim to the throne.
62. At Hiriadaka, in October, 1907, more than a hundred birds were tethered by the leg to the scrub jungle composed of the evergreen shrub Ixora coccinea, or carried in the arms of their owners or youngsters. Only males, from the town and surrounding villages, were witnesses of the spectacle. The tethered birds, if within range of each other, excited by the constant crowing and turmoil, indulged in an impromptu fight.
Grains of rice and water were poured into the mouths and over the heads of the birds before the fight, and after each round. The birds were armed with cunningly devised steel spurs, constituting a battery of variously curved and sinuous weapons. It is believed that the Bhuta (demon) is appeased, if the blood from the wounds drops on the ground. The men, whose duty it is to separate the birds at the end of a round, sometimes receive nasty wounds from the spurs. The tail feathers of a wounded bird are lifted up, and a palm leaf fan or towel is waved to and fro over the cloacal orifice to revive it. The owner of a victorious bird becomes the possessor of the vanquished bird, dead or alive. At an exhibition of the products of South Canara, during a recent visit of the Governor of Madras to Mangalore, a collection of spurs was exhibited in the class “household implements."
COMMENT: Basically, this is just one of the terrible barbarities seen in the barbarous subcontinent by the English rulers.
63. Sometimes, in addition to the flag, there is a pakke or spear on the end of a bamboo covered with strips of cloth, or a makara torana, i.e., festooned cloths between two bamboos. The two last are permitted only if the buffaloes belong to a Bant or Brahman, not if they are the property of a Billava.
COMMENT: No comment
64. On one occasion, a dispute arose between two Bants in connection with the question of precedence. One of them brought his own pair of buffaloes, and the other a borrowed pair. If the latter had brought his own animals, he would have had precedence over the former. But, as his animals were borrowed, precedence was given to the man who brought his own buffaloes. This led to a dispute, and the races were not commenced until the delicate point at issue was decided.
COMMENT: Precedence is a powerful code in the feudal languages. Just a mere display of it, can create powerful changes in the word codes. The native-English people have no information about this.
65. Under the aliya santana system of inheritance, the High Court has ruled that there is no marriage within the meaning of the Penal Code
COMMENT: It took a long time for the English judiciary to make a sense of a lot of nonsense in the subcontinent. However, it is dawn upon the administrators that they was indeed something evil in the language codes. But then, with the withdrawal of the Empire from the subcontinent, England is bereft of all such information. Currently England is groping around blindly in the darkness, as its interiors are slowly getting filled with populations it cannot understand.
66. The fictitious marriage prevailing amongst the Nayars is unknown among the Bants, and a wife also usually leaves the family house, and resides at her husband's, unless she occupies so senior a position in her own family as to make it desirable that she should live on the family estate.
COMMENT: Even though from a modern day perspective, the Sambhandam cohabitation arrangement practised in the Nair families, to accommodate a Brahmin male consort for the Nair female, can be mentioned as a pretence, it had its own social value. The Nairs and the Brahmins existed beyond the purview of the lower castes to criticise or to demean.
67. Bauri.—There are found in the Madras Presidency nomad gangs of Bauris or Bawariyas, who are described* as "one of the worst criminal tribes of India. The sphere of their operations extends throughout the length and breadth of the country. They not only commit robberies, burglaries and thefts, but also practice the art of manufacturing and passing counterfeit coin.
COMMENT: The subcontinent consisted of a series of unconnected a low-class wild areas, habited by an immensity of mutually unconnected populations.
68. Some of these have given up eating beef, call themselves Dasa Khodalos, and claim descent from one Ballioa Doss, a famous Bavuri devotee, who is said to have worked wonders, analogous to those of Nandan of the Paraiyan community.
COMMENT: No comment
69. At Russelkonda, a woman, when asked if she was a Bavuri, replied that the caste is so called by others, but that its real name is Khodalo. Others, in reply to a question whether they belonged to the Khandi section, became angry, and said that the Khandis are inferior, because they eat frogs.
COMMENT: This is a sample of the mutual repulsion which is a fact of life in the subcontinent. People try to connect to presumed higher-ups. At the same time, the presumed higher-ups are desperate to shed such links or block such aspirations of connection from those who are lower to them.
70. A man, who is convicted of committing adultery, or eating with a member of a lower caste, is received back into the caste on payment of the fine.
COMMENT: Eating with a lower stature person in an uncontrolled ambience, can create a lot of havoc in the word-codes in the feudal language. It can be visualised as a young IPS officer sitting and eating with a lot of constables in a mood of equality, without mindful of the stature difference. Word codes of such indicant words as YOU, HE, HIM, HIS &c. will collapse. Along with this collapse, the whole structure of the police department would be made to wobble.
A formal distance is healthy in a feudal language setting.
People who comment on the dirtiness of the caste system do not think beyond. The basic evil thing is the feudal language. Correction has to be done at this level.
71. The Bavuris do not worship Jagannathaswami, or other of the higher deities, but reverence their ancestors and the village goddesses or Takuranis.
COMMENT: It is an example of the existence of caste populations which were not connected to the Brahmanical antiquity and their deities and gods.
72. Five years after this battle, when Hyder was rising to great eminence, he augmented his Beder peons, and used them as scouts for the purpose of ascertaining the whereabouts of his enemies, and for poisoning with the juice of the milk-hedge (Euphorbia Tirucalli) all wells in use by them, or in their line of march.
COMMENT: No comment
73. "In the Kurnool district, they have a bad name, and many are on the police records as habitual thieves and housebreakers. They seldom stoop to lesser offences.
COMMENT: No comment
74. Their community provides an instructive example of the growth of caste sub-divisions. Both the Telugu-speaking Boyas and the Canarese-speaking Bedars are split into the two main divisions of Uru or village men, and Myasa or grass-land men, and each of these divisions is again sub-divided into a number of exogamous Bedagas.
Four of the best known of these sub-divisions are Yemmalavaru or buffalo-men ; Mandalavaru or men of the herd ; Pulavaru or flowermen, and Minalavaru or fish-men. They are in no way totemistic. Curiously enough, each Bedagu has its own particular god, to which its members pay special reverence. But these Bedagas bear the same names among both the Boyas and the Bedars, and also among both the Uru and Myasa divisions of both Boyas and Bedars. It thus seems clear that, at some distant period, all the Boyas and all the Bedars must have belonged to one homogeneous caste.
COMMENT: Groups splintering into smaller groups under newer leadership is a code feature of the feudal languages of the subcontinent. However, the minute elements needs to be studied to understand how it works in each particular situation.
75. the Myasa Bedas are the only Hindu class among whom the rite of circumcision is performed,* on boys of ten or twelve years of age.
COMMENT: It is quite an interesting information. That there was indeed a group of non-Muslim population here in the subcontinent who did practise circumcision. Hindu or non-Hindu?
76. "We used to sleep out on the top of one of the hills on a moonlight night. On the top of every hill round, a Boya was watching for the bears to come home at dawn, and frantic signals showed when one had been spotted. We hurried off to the place, to try and cut the bear off from his residence among the boulders, but the country was terribly rough, and the hills were covered with a peculiarly persistent wait-a-bit-thorn. This, however, did not baulk the Boyas. Telling me to wait outside the jumble of rocks, each man took off his turban, wound it round his left forearm, to act as a shield against attacks from the bear, lit a rude torch, grasped his long iron-headed spear, and coolly walked into the inky blackness of the enemy's stronghold, to turn him out for me to shoot at. I used to feel ashamed of the minor part assigned to me in the entertainment, and asked to be allowed to go inside with them. But this suggestion was always respectfully, but very firmly put aside. One could not see to shoot in such darkness, they explained, and, if one fired, smoke hung so long in the still air of the caves that the bear obtained an unpleasant advantage, and, finally, bullets fired at close quarters into naked rock were apt to splash or re-bound in an uncanny manner. So I had to wait outside until the bear appeared with a crowd of cheering and yelling Boyas after him."
COMMENT: A very telling tale of hunting done.
77. The tame buck does not run away, as he probably would if he had been brought up from infancy to respect the authority of the buck of the herd.
COMMENT: It might be quite interesting to understand the language of the animals. Many of them do have the features of feudal hierarchy encoded in them.
78. Female Bedars who are branded become Basavis (dedicated prostitutes), and are dedicated to a male deity, and called Gandu Basavioru (male Basavis). They are thus dedicated when there happens to be no male child in a family ; or, if a girl falls ill, a vow is made to the effect that, if she recovers, she shall become a Basavi.
COMMENT: No comment.
79. Five Bedar men come near the vessel after removing their head-dress, surround the vessel, and place their left hands thereon. With their right hands they shovel the food into their mouths, and bolt it with all possible despatch. This ceremony is called bhuma idothu, or special eating, and is in some places performed by both men and women. All those present watch them eating, and, if any one chokes while devouring the food, or falls ill within a few months, it is believed to indicate that the bride has been guilty of irregular behaviour.
COMMENT: No comment.
80. It is said that a man may marry two sisters, provided that he marries the elder before the younger.
COMMENT: No comment.
81. The bride and bridegroom put their right hands into the pot, and search for the article. Whichever first finds it takes it out, and, showing it, declares that he or she has found it.
This farce is repeated three times, and the couple then take their seats on a cumbly in the centre of the pandal, and await the preparation of the great feast which closes the ceremony.
COMMENT: No comment.
82. A divorced woman is treated as a widow. The remarriage of widows is not permitted, but there is nothing to prevent a widow keeping house for a man, and begetting children by him. The couple would announce their intention of living together by giving a feast to the caste. If this formality was omitted, they would be regarded as outcastes till it was complied with. The offspring of such unions are considered illegitimate, and they are not taken or given in marriage to legitimate children.
83. —"The Bellaras, or Belleras," Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,* "are a somewhat higher caste of basket and mat-makers than the Parava umbrella-makers and devil-dancers.
COMMENT: There is competition for supremacy even at the lowest rungs of the caste system.
84. Beralakoduva (finger-giving).—A section of the Vakkaligas, among whom the custom of sacrificing some of the fingers used to prevail. (See Morasu.)
COMMENT: Sacrificing fingers. What could be their real emotion that makes them do this.
85. The Beri Chettis, or principal merchants, like other Chettis and Komatis, claim to Vaisyas, "but they will not admit that the Komatis are on a par with them, and declare that they alone represent the true Vaisya stock."
COMMENT: Again the desperation to occupy the heights alone. And to push out all those who want to share the heights. And also those who try to throw strings on to the heights.
86. The name Beri, as applied to a sub-division of the Komatis, is said to be a corruption of bedari, and to denote those who fled through fear, and did not enter the fire-pits with the caste goddess Kanyakamma.
COMMENT: No comment.
87. Most of the Beri Chettis are meat-eaters, but some profess to be vegetarians. It is said that there is much dispute between the Beri Chettis and the Komatis regarding their relative positions, and each caste delights to tell stories to the detriment of the other.
COMMENT: It is a very typical situation that describes the actual mental standards in many social interactions, in the subcontinent. However, this mentality is directly connected to the feudal languages, and the cunning placement of the competing entities by others.
88. The great body of the Komatis in the country were not parties to the agreement, and they do not now admit that their inferiority has ever been proved
COMMENT: In sync with the comment above.