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MalabarMAnchor
Malabar Manual Vol 1 Chapter 2. The PEOPLE
William Logan!
Section A.—Numbers, Density of Population, Civil Condition, Sex and Age



In 1802 the population was estimated at 465,594, in 1807 at 707,556, in 1821-22 at 907,575, in 1837- at 1,165,791, in 1851-52 at 1,514,909, in 1856-57 at 1,602,914, in 1861-62 at 1,709,081 and in 1866-67 at 1,856,378.


In 1871, when the first really trustworthy census was taken, the number was found to Be 2,261,250 living in 378,228 occupied houses, and in 1881, 2,365,035 living in 404,968 occupied houses.


The population is naturally densest on the seaboard, the number of persons (census, 1881) per square mile being –

Highest in Ponnani . . . . . . 974

Lowest in Wynad . . . . . . 92

and on the average . . . . . . 272


The average number of persons per occupied house (census, 1881) is found to be

Highest in Wynad . . . . . . 10.1

Lowest in Kurumbranad . . . . 5.3

and in the district generally . . . . 5.8


The civil condition of the people (census, 1881) is represented by the following figures:-




Of the ages of the people (census 1881) the following figures* give the chief facts:



NOTEs by VED: There can be errors in the digits given above, due to the fact that text in the scanned pdf file of the original book is not very clear. END of NOTEs by VED



 
Section B.—Towns, Villages, Dwellings and Rural Organisation.


The Hindu Malayali is not a lover of towns and villages. His austere habits of caste purity and impurity made him in former days flee from places where pollution in the shape of men and women of low caste met him at every corner ; and even now the feeling is strong upon him and he loves not to dwell in cities.

On the margin of a fertile valley or ravine, with bright green fields of rice in front of his door, he likes to select the site of his dwelling. The stream coming down the valley or ravine is skilfully turned aside to right and left high up in its course where the first of the rice-fields is terraced out of the steep hill-side.

This device serves several purposes, for first of all the divided stream is carried along the sides of the valley at a higher level than the middle of it and thus irrigation is easy ; then, again, the channels serve as catch-drains for the streamlets coming down at intervals along the lull sides ; and, finally the water serves many domestic purposes as it flows close past the outer gateway of the house.

This outer gateway is the first tiling that catches one’s eye as the dwelling is approached: it is quaintly placed, quaintly constructed, and quaintly neat and tidy in all its surroundings. It is essential that a stair or a ladder should lead up to it from the bank of the green level paddy flat, reminding one in its construction of the days when security of life and limb and property depended on one’s ability to laugh a siege to scorn ; when a Nayar’s house was his castle ; and when here, at the gateway, were posted the retainers to keep watch and ward against enemies. Seats for them to rest on, to right and left, both outside and in ; a quaintly and solidly carved door and lintel ; a room above approached by a ladder from inside, with a window or openings whence deadly shots are even now-a-days sometimes discharged on lawless intruders ; and, finally, a thatched roof, complete the characteristics of the gatehouse.




The Malayali is scrupulously particular about the tidiness and cleanliness of his house and its surroundings, and nowhere perhaps is this more conspicuous than at the gateway of his dwelling.


But a gate-house without flanking defences would be of little use, and the attention is next drawn to the massive bank of earth which hems in the spacious orchard in which the dwelling is placed. A neat interlaced and most serviceable fence of dry prickly bamboo thorns now generally tops the massive bank of earth and takes the place of the dense mass of living bamboo thorns which in former times used to be relied on for keeping out enemies. The house was evidently never meant to stand a long siege in former times, and the defences were intended merely to ward off a sudden raid and give time for the occupant’s friends and retainers to rally round him as was their wont.


On entering at the gateway the most prominent feature is the expanse of cool shade thrown by the umbrageous trees that surround the dwelling. The cocoanut, the jack with its dark glossy leaves and massive shade, the slender areca-nut and the broad-leafed plantain, all contribute to this effect. The earth around is cooled, and an agreeable freshness is perceptible even in the hottest and most scorching days in April and May.


A broad smooth path of hard baked clay, with raised banks a few inches high on either side, leads to a square, flat, open yard, where at midday the sun shines dazzlingly and scorchingly down on the stores of paddy and other grains laid out to dry. The floor of this yard is well rammed and made smooth by cow-dung mixed with charcoal dust, often renewed in the hot weather, and the same bank of smooth clay hems in this yard on the open side.




The house itself is called by different names according to the occupant’s caste. The house of a Pariah is a cheri, while the agrestic slave—the Cheraman—lives in a chala. The blacksmith, the goldsmith, the carpenter, the weaver, etc., and the toddy-drawer (Tiyan) inhabit houses styled pura or kudi ; the temple servant resides in a variyan or pisharam or pumatham, the ordinary Nayar in a vidu or bhavanam, while the man in authority of this caste dwells in an idam ; the Raja lives in a kovilakam or kottaram, the indigenous Brahman (Nambutiri) in an illam, while his fellow of higher rank calls his house a mana or manakhal.

Inferior castes, however, cannot thus speak of their houses in the presence of the autocratic Nambutiri. In lowliness and self-abasement they have, when talking to such an one, to style their houses “dungheaps,” and they and their doings can only be alluded to in phrases every one of which is an abasement and an insult.

The Nambutiri’s character for Hospitality stands high, but only among those of his own caste. Here is a graphic picture from the Travancore Census (1871) Report of the Nambutiri in his own home, related apparently from personal experience : —

“The Nambutiri’s hospitality and charity are proverbial. The Brahman guest in the family, especially if he combines with that character some little influence, is most kindly, treated, and in spite of the uncouth manners and queer conversation which he may meet with, he is certain to carry away the happiest recollections, of the illam. On entering the gate of the extensive property—in the midst of which is situated the palatial mansion with its suburban buildings severally dedicated for the household god, the younger members of the family, the cutcherry of the Pravritti officers, and for the wearied Brahman travellers- the visitor is received by the lord of the manor, who in his native simplicity inquires if he has bathed without any further ado about the health or other concerns of his guest. If the answer is in the negative, he himself leads the guest to the bathing-tank with its cool shod and refreshing waters, most politely inquiring if oil, enja (Acacia intsia) and thali are required, all the time innocently gaping at the dhowti, the walk, the arrangement of the hair, the moustaches on the face, the absence of the nanamundu and the conventional waist-string and undercloth, while the stranger, accustomed to more formal societies, smarts with shyness at the queer looks of his host.

The Nambutiri must be asked to leave the bath for a short time before he can be expected to go. The visitor is next led into the illam and asked to sit before the leaf spread out, not where the inmates generally eat, but in one of the outer rooms, respectable though ; but the inevitable thought occurs that you are treated like an outcasts. Even the ghi and dhal eating propensities of the visitor are attended to, though they are carefully eschewed and even disliked by the Nambutiri in his own meals.

Before serving rice, the Nambutiri inquires if the morning prayers are over, which he thinks improbable on account of the speed with which the visitor has returned from the tank, and feels a conscientious but unexpressed, hatred of the light manner in which religious observations are regarded by the Brahmans of the other coast. The feeding of Brahman travellers is not, however, such a rare or difficult business with the Nambutiri. It is a matter of course with him ; he makes it a rule of his life to treat the hungry Brahman : the traditions of his family am full of the proudest feats of charity and hospitality, and the number which he daily foods is limited only by the measure of his affluence.”

It may be gathered from the above descriptions that quiet and retirement are what the Malayali looks to in selecting a site for his dwelling, and that towns and town-life are not congenial to his tastes. And the fact is that the coast tracts are so densely populated that it is difficult to say where one of the municipal towns begins and where another ends. From end to end of the district on the low-lying lands near the sea there is an unbroken belt of coooanut-palm orchards, and the description which Shaikh Ibn Batuta gave of the country in the fourteenth century A.D, is equally applicable to it, now.

“We next”, said he “came into the country of Malabar which is the country of black pepper. Its length is a journey of two months along the shore from Sindabur to Kawlam. The whole of the way by land lies under the shade of trees. And in all this space of two months’ journey there is not a span free from cultivation. For everybody has here a garden and his house is placed in the middle of it ; and round the whole of this them is a fence of wood, up to which the ground of each inhabitant comes.”

The fact which on the coast of Malabar indicates the existence of a town is the occurrence of one or more streets of shops—bazaars — longer and busier than those to be met with elsewhere in the district. The foreign Brahmans, the Eurasian population, and, to a certain extent the Muhammadans also, live in streets of houses built in continuous rows.

The following statement shows at a glance the chief circumstances connected with the town population in Malabar:




NOTEs by VED: There can be minor errors in the digits copied and placed above, due to the fact that the text was not clear in the scanned pdf file of the book. END of NOTEs by VED

For administrative purposes the district is divided not into villages as in the eastern coast districts, but into amsams, that is to say, parishes, of which the following statement gives the numbers in the different taluks:-




NOTEs by VED: There can be minor errors in the digits copied and placed above, due to the fact that the text was not clear in the scanned pdf file of the book. END of NOTEs by VED

As the district has never been surveyed in detail, the areas of amsams are not wholly reliable, and in fact there are several obvious errors in the census (1881) statistics on this point, as, for example, the amsam of Arakurissi in Valluvanad taluk is said to embrace only 29,555 acres, whereas the whole of the Attapadi Valley, a very sparsely populated tract—probably 200 square miles in extent—ought to have been included, but is omitted from the statement of this amsam.

Subordinate to the amsam comes the desam or hamlet, which has often been mistaken for the village of the east coast. The fact, however, was that the desam was the territorial unit of the military organization in the ancient regime, and the true village, that is, the territorial unit of organization for civil purposes, was the tara. The amsams as at present defined are a modern and very recent creation for administrative purposes, but taras and desams, and the distinction that existed between them, take the enquirer back into ancient times and necessitate an investigation of the ancient system of government. This would, however, be out of place here, and it will more appropriately fall under the sections devoted to the history of the country.

It will suffice here to note that the earliest of the British administrators asserted repeatedly that the Hindu village did not exist in Malabar. Each State, said Mr. Warden, “was partitioned into gradations of military divisions from the Naduvali1 to the Desavali “Every division and subdivision was designated by the allotted quota of Nayars it was required to bring into the field.”

NOTEs: 1 Naduvali = the ruler, commandant of the nad or country ; Desavali = the ruler, commandant of the desam, or parish END of NOTEs

“The designations of the different military divisions remain to this day in every district in Malabar.”

The chieftains of the military divisions, large and small, held their dignities as hereditary in their respective families, and had appropriate titles of distinction. They were not always in attendance on the Raja’s person. If not required on particular State duties or religious services, they were only called out for defensive or offensive warfare. (Report to Board of Revenue, 12th September 1815, paragraphs 63, 64.

Sir Thomas Munro seems to have felt, and felt truly, that this could not have been the real state of things in a Hindu State, and in 1817 he paid Malabar a flying visit to satisfy himself on the point. The result of this visit was embodied in a very interesting report, dated the 4th July 1817, and the conclusion he arrived at was that for some purpose or other Malabar “was in the earliest times divided like the other provinces of India into districts and villages, the limits of which, but more especially of the villages, remain unchanged to this day.”

The districts and villages he found to be under hereditary chiefs, and the village was called the desam, the name by which it is still most commonly known.

Mr. Warden and Sir Thomas Munro were both in the right to a certain extent, but they both failed to recognize the importance of that most influential territorial unit of organisation - the Dravidan tara1. Sir Thomas Munro indeed mentions the word, but only as the name which the experienced Mysorean administrators of Haidar Ali and Tippu Sultan applied to the territorial units which they endeavoured to foster and keep alive as villages with hereditary heads, “an essential branch of their system” as Sir. Thomas Munro pointed out. This fact ought to, and probably would, have opened his eyes to the real state of the case had his stay in Malabar been prolonged. The influence of the tara organisation cannot be overrated in a political system tending always to despotism.

NOTEs: 1 Tara = foundation, mound, ground, village, quarter; similar to Tamil and Malayalam teru, Telugu teruvu, Cannarese and Tulu teravu END of NOTEs

The Nayar inhabitants of a tara formed a small republic, represented by their Karanavar or elders, and presented in that respect a striking resemblance to the “village republic” of the east coast districts as sketched by the Board of Revenue at the time when the village lease settlement system, as opposed to the ryotwari settlement system, was being discussed (Revenue Selections I, 487). The desam and the tara were not conterminous. If Sir Thomas Munro had enquired thoroughly into the matter he would, for instance, have found that the hundred and twenty-five desams which, according to information supplied him, formed the Calicut nad or county, embraced precisely the same lands as the seventy-two taras into which that nad was likewise divided. The nad or county was a congeries of taras or village republics, and the kuttam or assembly of the nad or county was a representative body of immense power which, when necessity existed, set at naught the authority of the Raja and punished his ministers when they did “unwarrantable acts.”

These are the very words used by the Honourable Company’s representative at Calicut when asked to explain the origin of certain civil commotions which had taken place there in 1746. His report deserves to be quoted in full, for it gives a vivid insight into the state of things as it then existed.

“These Nayars,” he wrote, “being heads of the Calicut people, resemble the parliament, and do not obey the king’s dictates in all things, but chastise his ministers when they do unwarrantable acts.” (Tellicherry Factory Diary of 28th May 1746).

The tara organisation instituted by the Mysoreans was unwisely changed into the hobali system or subordinate district establishments under the Honourable Company, the tarns being enlarged for this purpose. Sir Thomas Munro pointed out that the establishment thus organised was “so inadequate to the object of its institution that it required a complete revision.”

It was, in fact, not a village establishment at all, and instead of "bringing the Collector more immediately into contact with the people, it only served to lengthen the chain, already too long, of officials between them. The hobali system was abolished, and the existing amsam system was organised in its place by Special Commissioner H. S. Graeme in 1822-23. In doing this Mr. Graeme was at some pains to search out and instate as head of the amsam or adhikari, the most influential of the Desavalis under the ancient system, but many desams had to be rolled together to form one amsam.

There were formerly two thousand and odd desams ; there are now only four hundred and twenty-nine amsams. The Desavali selected was not always, or even generally, the Desavali of all the desams comprised in his amsam, and it was a new and unaccustomed role for him to be placed as headman in civil matters over people who had not previously acknowledged his authority. Indeed Mr. Graeme was careful in his sanads of appointment to preserve the rights of other Desavalis to the Sthana Mana avakasam (rights and privileges of office) in tracts which had previously been under other men.

But Mr. Graeme made the great mistake of thinking that the desam and the tara were synonymous, and so in his scheme of amsam establishments, the real civil organisation by the Karanavar or elders of the people was ignored, and in its place authority of various kinds was conferred on some only of the men who had been the local representatives of the ruling chieftains of Malabar. The mistake was of importance because it diverted attention away from, what had been the ancient organisation, and placed the real power in the hands of only one man out of several who had previously acted together in a body in the kuttam or assembly of the tara.

In these popular assemblies existed the nucleus of what might have been organised by judicious treatment into real local self-government, and it was a great misfortune that this important point escaped notice at the time. Each amsam or parish has now besides the Adhikari or man of authority, headman, an accountant or writer styled a Menon (literally, superior man), and two or more Kolkars (club men or peons), who between them manage the public affairs of the parish and are the local representatives of the Government.


 

Section C.—-The Language, Literature and State of Education

AMONG THE PEOPLE.

The vernacular of the district, popularly known as Malaylam, but more correctly written as Malayalma or Malayayma, “claims to be placed,” says Dr. Caldwell, “ next to Tamil in the list of Dravidian tongues, on account of the peculiarly close relationship to Tamil in which it stands.” Indeed the relationship is so close that Sanskrit writers class both tongues as Dravida, although from remote times a separate name has been applied by them to the Malayalam country.

Whether Malayalam is a “very ancient” and much-altered offshoot” of Tamil, as Dr, Caldwell holds, or whether, as Dr. Gundert holds, “the two languages of old differed rather as dialects of the same member of the Dravidian family than as separate languages,” is a point into which it is unnecessary to enter here in detail beyond remarking that Dr. Caldwell’s main argument from the words denoting east and west seems to be a fanciful though ingenious one. Because the Malayalam word for east, kilakku, means beneath, and because melku1 (west) means above, Dr. Caldwell argues that the Malayalis must have come from the Tamil country east of the ghats, since there they had the low level of the ocean on the east and the high level of the ghat mountains on the west.

NOTEs: 1.The more common word in Malayalam for west is padinynyaru, meaning the setting sun. END of NOTEs

But it is quite as reasonable to suppose that the Dravidians, in finding names for east and west, selected words denoting that east was where the sun appeared from below, as it would seem to them, and west as the place where he similarly disappeared from above. The languages were no doubt identical in ancient times, but with a high range of mountains intervening between the two countries rendering inter-communication difficult, and with further obstacles thrown in the way by differing political institutions, it is not to be wondered at that they split into two dialects, and as time advanced that they became two tongues.

The chief difference between them, and indeed between Malayalam and all the other Dravidian tongues, lies in the absence in Malayalam of the personal terminations of the verbs.

In treating of the Dravidian conjugational system Dr. Caldwell writes :

“The tenses are formed, not by means of the position of the pronouns, but by the particles or signs of present, past, and future time suffixed to the theme ; and the personal signs, as in the Turkish and Finnish families, are suffixed to the signs of tense. The only exception to this rule is that which forms the most characteristic feature of Malayalam—a language which appears to have been originally identical with Tamil, but which, in so far as its conjugational system is concerned, has fallen back from the inflexional development reached by both tongues whilst they were still one, to what appears to have been the primitive condition of both—a condition nearly resembling the Mongolian, the Manchu, and the other rude primitive tongue of High Asia.

“In ancient times, as may be gathered from the Malayalam poetry, and especially from the inscriptions1 preserved by the Syrian Christians and the Jews, the pronouns were suffixed to the Malayalam verb precisely as they still are in Tamil. At present the verb is entirely divested, at least in the colloquial dialect, of signs of personality ; . and with the pronouns the signs of number and gender have also necessarily disappeared : so that the pronoun or nominative must in every instance be separately prefixed to the verb to complete the signification ; and it is chiefly by means of this prefixed pronoun that a verb, properly so called, is distinguished from a verbal participle.

NOTEs: 1 Dates about A.D. 700 to A.D. 820. END of NOTEs

“Though the personal signs have been abandoned by the Malayalam verb, the signs of tense or time have been retained, and are annexed directly to the root as in the other dialects. Even in modern English some persons of the verb retain archaic fragments of the pronominal signs (e.g. lovest, loveth) ; but in modern Malayalam every trace of these signs has disappeared.

“Thus, whilst we should say in Tamil aditten , I beat ; adittay , thou didst beat ; adittan, he beat ; Malayalam uses in these and all similar cases the verbal participle adichu (for adittu), having beaten, with the prefixed pronouns I, thou, he, etc. (e.g., nyan adichu, I beat ; ni adichu, thou didst beat ; avan adichu he beat). Though the pronominal signs have been lost by the Malayalam verb, they have been retained even by the Tuda ; and notwithstanding the comparative barbarity of the Gonds and Kus, their conjugational system is peculiarly elaborate and complete.”

The complete disappearance of signs of personality in the Malayalam verb raises a doubt whether they were ever really adopted in the colloquial language. For the evidence in favour of pronouns being suffixed to the Malayalam tenses—it being admitted that verbs in all Dravidian languages were originally uninflected—is derived from ancient poetry and ancient inscriptions, and these did not necessarily correspond with the spoken language.

It is to be noted that the written tongue in ancient times always tended to become a speciality, the speciality of a class or caste who got a livelihood by it. Moreover, as will be seen further on, the precise time to which Dr. Caldwell alludes—the time of the Jews’ and Syrians’ deeds—was precisely at that epoch (about eighth century A.D.) in the history of the country when Vedic Brahmanism is believed to have finally supplanted Jainism as the religion of the Aryan immigrants.

The Jains, whose period of greatest literary activity in the Tamil country was subsequent—ninth or tenth to thirteenth century A.D.—to the dates of the Jews’ and Syrians’ deeds, seem to have encouraged the study of the vernaculars and to have developed the languages of the common people ; the Vedic Brahmans, on the other hand, encouraged—and that only among themselves—the study of nothing but Sanskrit, of which and of the religion and arts and sciences embodied in that tongue they held a practical monopoly for many centuries, beginning from probably the end of the seventh or commencement of the eighth century A.D. One would expect therefore to find—and such is the actual fact—that Malayalam is much fuller than any of the other Dravidian languages of pure Sanskrit words (tatsamam) and Sanskrit derivatives (tudbhavam) : this is, indeed, the only other chief difference between it and the other Dravidian tongues.

The most probable view is that the Vedic Brahman immigration into Malabar put a stop to the development of Malayalam as a language just at the time when the literary activity of the Jains in the Tamil country was commencing. It is admitted that this immigration took place at an earlier point of time into Malabar than into the other South Indian countries, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that at the time when this took place the use of verbal inflexions had not taken hold of the colloquial language.

The Vedic Brahmans (Nambutiris ) were, of and are still it may be added, the last persons in the world to approve of educating the commonalty, for that would have tended to take from themselves the monopoly of learning they so long possessed. It was no less than a revolution when in the seventeenth century one Tunjatta Eluttachchan, a man of the Sudra (Nayar) caste, boldly made an alphabet—the existing Malayalam one—-derived chiefly from the Grantha—the Sanskrit alphabet of the Tamils, which permitted of the free use of Sanskrit in writing—and boldly set to work to render the chief Sanskrit poems into Malayalam.

Regarding the obstacles which he had to meet and the opposition which was offered to him Mr. F. W. Ellis has the following remarks in a dissertation on the Malayalam language : “The difficulties with which he had in consequence to struggle gave him an energy of character which it is probable he would not have possessed had his caste been without blemish.1

NOTEs: 1 Mr. Ellis supposed him to be the illegitimate son of a Brahman woman, hut there is nothing to support, this, and, on the contrary, tradition says he was a Sudra (Nayar). Mr. Ellis may have confounded the tradition about the great Sankara Acharya with the tradition about him END of NOTEs

“The Brahmans envied his genius and learning, and are said to have seduced him by the arts of sorcery into the habit of ebriety, wishing to overshadow the mental powers which they feared. The poet, however, triumphed on his habits, though he could not abandon them, and, in revenge against those whom he considered the cause of his debasement he opposed himself openly to the prejudices and the intolerance of the Brahmans. The mode of vengeance he chose was the exaltation of the Malayalam tongue, declaring it his intention to raise this inferior dialect of the Tamil to an equality with the sacred language of the gods and rishis.

“In the prosecution of this purpose he enriched the Malayalam with the translations I have mentioned,1 all of which, it is said, he composed while under the immediate influence of intoxication. No original compositions are attributed to him.”

NOTEs: 1 Viz. “All the works of note in the original language” (Sanskrit). He is traditionally reported to have translated into Malayalam the following : Ramayanam, Mahabharatam, Bhagavatam, besides others. END of NOTEs

Tunjatta Eluttachchan’s success even in his own lifetime seems to have been great, and it was in consequence of his influence and success that Malayalam, as a written language, obtained its most recent development.

The site of his house is still pointed out at Trikkandiyur near Vellattpudiangadi in the Ponnani taluk, and, as usual among Malayalis when a man has risen a bit above his fellows in good or in bad qualities, something of superstitious awe attaches to the place of his dwelling. It is said that as Tunjatta Eluttachchan lay on his death-bed he told his daughter that at a particular hour, on a particular day, in a certain month and a certain year which he named, a youth would come to his house. His daughter was directed to have the house swept and garnished as for a distinguished guest, and his directions were that to this visitor his sandals and his books should be given.

On the appointed day and at the appointed hour came one Surya Narayanan Eluttachchan, then a youth of sixteen years and of the Taragan caste. He received the sandals and the books and went his way. This Surya Narayanan became Gurunadhan (tutor, teacher) to the Zamorin, and afterwards set out on pilgrimages to Benares and other places, wandering about leading a holy life till he was thirty-two years old. He then returned to Malabar, and was directed in a vision, thrice repeated, to settle on the river bank (then a jungly place) at what is now Chittur Tekke Gramam in Cochin territory, east of Palghat.

He there bought some ground and, helped by the Zamorin and others, built on one side of the street a row of houses for Brahmans and in the middle, on the opposite side, one for himself. He next invited some Brahman families to settle them, which they did, attracted by the holiness of Surya Narayanan Eluttachchan’s life and character. He never married but lived and died a sanyasi (ascetic), and Tunjatta Eluttachchan’s relics were, it is said, there sacredly preserved and worshipped till, with one exception, they were destroyed by fire some thirty or forty years ago.

The stool and staff mentioned by Dr. Burnell in his “South Indian Palæography” belonged, it is said, to the ascetic and not to the father of modern Malayalam. And another fire has, it is believed, destroyed these relies since Dr. Burnell’s visit, and also probably the Bhagavatam, the only thing saved from the previous conflagration. Tunjatta Eluttachchan’s memory, however, is not likely to die down, for relics thus lost are easily replaced and the sacred honours paid to them are easily shifted to the substitutes. On the development of Malayalam since Tunjatta Eluttachchan’s time Dr. Burnell has the following remarks in his “South Indian Palæography”: The Sanskrit literature was, after this, no longer a secret, and there was perhaps no part of South India where it was more studied by people of many castes during the eighteenth century.”

Of the Malayalam poetry which thus originated Mr. F. W. Ellis gives the following account :

"The language of Malayalam poetry is in fact a mixture of Sanskrit, generally pure, with Sen and Kodun Tamil ; ” but in Tamil “ declined or conjugated forms from the Sanskrit are not admissible.” “ They are not admissible, also, in Malayalam prose, but in verse they are often used with such profusion as to give it the appearance of that fanciful species of composition called in Sanskrit Mani-pravalam and in English ‘Maccaronic verse,’ rather than the sober dress of grammatical language : often, indeed, the whole verse is pure Sanskrit, connected or concluded by a few words of Malayalam.”

And “this profuse intermixture of the grammatical forms of the Sanskrit in the higher order of Malayalam composition would seem to have led certain recent Italian writers into strange misconceptions. Though one of them, Paulinus of St. Bartholomæo, has composed a grammar of the Sanskrit, he does not seem quite clear there is any radical distinction between what he calls the lingua Sanscredamico-Malabarica and the Samscredamica; and the author of the introduction to the Alphabetum grandonico-malabaricum sive samscrudonicum, by which he means the Arya character of the Malayalam, though he be sadly puzzled to discover whether the Samscrudonica lingua be the mother of the Grandonica or vice versa, expressly says : ‘Lingua igitur vulgaris Malabarica, ea nempe quoe usurpatior a Gentibus littoris Malabarici insolis, a Promotario Comorino usque ad monlem Deli prope Regnum Canara, nil nisi dialectus est Sanscrudonicae linguae.”

Mr. Ellis goes on to remark : “The Malayalam has never been cultivated as an independent literary language, nor does the Tamil literature, notwithstanding the length of time the country was subject to the Kings of Seram, appear to have been extensively known here, or at least has not survived that dynasty. This is the more extraordinary as some of the earliest and best of the Tamil works were composed in Seram. This remark, however, applies more to Keralam proper than to Mushikam or Travancore ; the residence of the Seram viceroys was in this province, and a knowledge of pure Tamil has always been more prevalent here than in the northern districts.”

Of the historical portion of these remarks this is not the place to speak, but it is necessary to observe that Tamil, as an independent literary language, flourished in the tenth to thirteenth centuries A.D., some considerable time after the last of the Perumals (to whom apparently Mr. Ellis refers in speaking of the viceroys) disappeared, an event which, for reasons to be assigned in the proper place, was probably contemporaneous with the commencement of the Kollam era, 25th August 825 A.D.

Mr. Ellis is right in saying that Malayalam has never been cultivated as an independent literary language, and he continues:

“There exists in Malayalam, as far as my information extends, no work or language, no grammar1, no dictionary, commentaries on the Sanskrit Amarakosha excepted. The principal work in prose is the Keralutpati2, which is also said to be translated from the Sanskrit, though the original is now nowhere to be found.”

NOTEs: This was written some time before 1819, the year in which Mr. Ellis died. These complaints exist no longer, thanks to the research of Dr. Gundert.

NOTEs: 2. Origin of Keralam END of NOTEs

This last-named work is an account chiefly from the Vedic Brahman point of view of the origin and history of Keralam. As a historical work it is of little use, but as a mine of half forgotten and wholly forgotten native usages and customs it is most valuable.

While, however, Malayalis have no literature to be compared to the Kural of Tiruvalluvar or to the polished3 verses of Sivavakkiyar , they have many folk songs, few of which have been reduced to writing, but which are extremely popular, being composed in the ordinary dialect of the people and treating of subjects in which they have an interest.

NOTEs: 3



Of these, perhaps the most popular are the ballads relating the deeds of Tachcholi Meppayil Kunhi Othenan. The original Tachcholi pat, describing one of Othenan’s exploits — whether the final exploit of his life or not is uncertain— is a great favourite, and several Tachcholi pats, as they are called, have since been composed in the same metre regarding the doings of other men. There is one commemorating the Palassi (Pychy) Raja’s rebellion (1797-1805 A.D.), another about Tippu Sultan, a third about the mythical feats of Veikeleri Kunhi Kelappan. A specimen of the metro (the first few lines) of the original Tachcholi pat is subjoined :

“Otayottidattile Kandasseri

Lokanar Kavile Kavuttana

Kavur vannum pulannu vello

Nammala Kavilum pova venam

Tachcholi Meppayile Kunynyi Otenan

Tanre chamayam chamayavum cheythu

Tanre idattatum valattatumayi

Munnile pokunna Kandasseri

Valiye madhakkaran Kunynyi Otenan

Iruvarum kudiyallo porunnata.”

The metro falls in the class of what are known as "Vishamavrittam ” or irregular metres. The lines contain generally ten or more syllables or fourteen matras (time required to utter u) and each couplet ought to have twenty-eight matras.

Of the hero of the original Tachcholi pat—the Robin Hood of North Malabar—many traditions are extant. He was apparently a man of fine physique and skilful in the use of arms, who attracted to himself a large and mixed following. It is not exactly said that, like his prototype, he robbed the rich to give to the poor, but he was evidently not too particular as to his means of taking what he wanted for himself or followers.

This, no doubt, brought him into collision with the authorities, and the well is still pointed out near Vadakkara in Kurumbranad Taluk which he is said to have cleared at one bound to prevent his capture by the followers of the Kadattanad Raja. The well is a fine masonry-built structure, still in excellent preservation, and at the spot where Tachcholi Otenan is said to have cleared it, it is twenty feet six inches between perpendiculars.

There is a massive conical-shaped block of laterite some three feet in height planted erect in the ground about fifteen paces from the well, and one mythical tradition says he jumped the well with this and a jack tree in his arms. In the popular ballad he is stated to have been treacherously shot, but whether mortally or not is uncertain, by a Mappilla on returning to search for a dagger he had accidently dropped in a duel in which he had discomfited his enemy. The following is a literal translation of the ballad, narrating with much quaintness the events of this duel, and shedding various interesting lights on native customs and habits.

Tachcholi Ballad

To his squire Odayottidattil Kandasseri (Chappan) Said Tachcholi Meppayil Kunhi Odenan, “For the Lokanar Kavil Kavut, “Which day of ceremony has come and dawned, “We to that temple must go.” Tachcholi Meppayil Kunhi Odenan His apparel he put on, His sword and shield he took in his right and left, In front walked Kandasseri, In the rear the nobleman Kunhi Odenan. Together proceeded in company. Said dear Kunhi Odenan To his wife Kavile Chathoth Kunhi Cliiru. "Till I go and come "Don’t you go down the gate steps “Do caress child Ambadi; “Give him milk when thirsty “And rice when hungry.” So Tachcholi Meppayil Kunhi Odenan . Took loave of Kavile Chathoth. Odayottidattil Kandesseri Took a lance made of the first-rate cocoanut tree; Armed with it, They proceeded together ; Walked (the whole distance) in one march. On arriving at the Lokanar Kavu It appeared as if it had been fenced with men on all four sides. All the Ten Thousand Nayars had assembled ; Also the Princes of the Four Palaces The reigning Raja of Kadattanad, The heir apparent of Purameri, And the Raja of Kuttipuram, Had put ill their royal prosence. Tahcholi Meppayil Kunhi Odonan Went and ascended the entrance steps. Walked straight up to the Tachcholi’s seat— The platform under the Banian tree— Where the good fellow sat and amused himself. Gazing at the comers and Looking all round about the temple. While thus sitting, The Mathilur Kurikkal with his disciples— The two and twenty youngsters— Arrive at the Lokanar Kavu, Went to the Goddess’ divine presence, Most devoutly worshipped with clasped hands, And, after worshipping, left the temple To occupy a seat on the Tachcholi’s platform, On the south part of which they went and sat. This with his own eyes Kunhi Odenan saw, And he thus exclaimed ; “Lo ! Odayottidattil Kandasseri “What (a) strange (thing is) all this ! “On the platform under our Banian tree What Nayar cometh to take a seat ? “Make haste and see who he is.” ; Thus said Meppayil Tachcholi Kunhi Odenan— A very jealous Odenan— “What Nayar art thou “That went to the Banian tree? Odenan seeing this with his own eyes Boiled his jet black eyes in burning rage, Shook his legs in excitement, Clenched his fists in anger, And spoke thus : “Odayottidattil Kandasseri! “Go home quick, and get “ My silver-handled gun ; “In our western chamber it stands “Full loaded with two bullets and two plugs. “Hasten thou and come soon. “One word more to you ! Kandasseri! “The Poratara Peacock “With its young brood “*Is perching upon our Banian tree “I’ll shoot them dead one by one.” This one word was said. At once Kurikkal said, “Hark ! My beloved youths ! “We must start at once ; We must go to our Poratara.’ So the Mathilur Kurikkal and pupils Proceeded back with their heads Covered and hungdown in disgrace. Again said the Kurikkal, “We should not wait to see the Kavut.” Thus the Kurikkal left at once With his two and twenty pupils. When descending the steps, The Kurikkal shouted loud and challenged “My good fellow, Tachcholi Kunhi Odena! “If the tenth and eleventh of Kumbham shall come, If God will spare my life, “I pledge my word to be at Ponniyat. “There under the Banian tree “In single combat could we test our supremacy. “That day let us meet again!” Thus the Kurikkal declared the war, In the midst of the Ten Thousand, And proceeded back on his way. The sight-seers trembled At this throwing down and taking up the gauntlet. A stillness prevailed like that after a heavy rain. A panic spread Over all assembled. Tachchoji Koma Kurup (older brother of Odonan), On this very news coming into his ears, Beat his breast and exclaimed in tears “Alas ! You saucy fellow ! “Is it at a mountain that you are throwing a pot ? “On Thursday in Kumbham next “ You have agreed to enter the lists.” The Kurup hastened on to interpose: The Kurikkal, on his way from the temple, Is accosted by the Kurup, Whom the Lord Kurikkal treats with contempt, Spits on his face with betel juice, And says to the Kurup : “Got thee gone ! What (an) unmanly thing! “What meanest thou by Untimely interposition? “ If God spares me “ I will make him atone for it.” Thus saying the Kurikkal went his way to Poratara. Tachacholi Koma Kurup Went however to the Lokanar Kavu. He was met by his brother, Who was returning having seen the Kavut. They walked home straight. On their way the Kurup wept, Beating his breast, shedding bloody tears, And thus addressed his brother :—- “My beloved brother ! how impudent you are! “You have engaged to fight on the 1Oth and 11th Kumbham ! “ What do you think of doing next ?” Immediately replied Kunhi Odenan, “ Brother ! Why do you weep ? “ Am I not a man like himself ? “Is it enough always to give ? “Can’t I receive it once ? “Let it happen as fate wills it! “Why cry for it !” “Hear me,” said the Kurup, “In whose charge do you leave me? “Am I not in my dotage ? “ If fate should call me away any moment, “To perform the funeral rites “No male exists in our family.” Thus saying they were going. The Kurup further observed : “My dear brother Odena “Your nice little face of ripe areoanut colour “How came it to be changed into a new pot’s colour?” By this time they reached the Tachcholi Meppayil house. Their sister Tachcholi Unnichira Seeing then come, Brought a gindy pot of water (to wash hands and feet, with) And asked her dear brother to partake of kanji; But Kunhi Odonan said he must bathe. So he bathed, dined, and spent that day there. The next morning dawned, And the Koma Kurup said :— “Brother Tachcholi Meppayil Kunhi Odenan ! “The fatal 10th and 11th of Kumbham “Are drawing closer and closer. “On Thursday week, in Kumbham next, “At Ponniyat Banian tree, you must “Go to fight the duel. “Your friends in all “You must go and call— “Kottakal Ahamad Marakkar, “Vadakkara Pidigayil Kunhi Pokkar— “To them you must go, and tell particularly “That they should accompany you personally. “Again, Etacheri Odenan Nambiyar “ And Panangatan Chandu Kurup “ Must also be requested “ To accompany you to Ponniyat, “ Hear me again, Kunhi Odonan ! “ There is Payyampalli of Katirur Tara, “ The Kunhi Chandu of that house “ You must also take along with you.” They were all accordingly invited. Chandu, on being asked, said :— “Odenan ! don’t you go this year to Ponniyat. “You have an evil time of it, “ And I shall not come with you.” At once returns Kunhi Odonan, Walking hastily through Ponniyat Kalam field, Crossing the Ponniyam and Puttalam rivers, And passing the Chambat Puncha land, Arrives at his Tachcholi Meppayil house, Bathes and takes his food, And spends the day there. Next morning he went to Lokanar Kavu; Bade the priest to open the shrine And light up lamps on each side of the idol, ! And caused the musicians to beat: tom-tom. The treasure-box was brought out, And the idol in procession marched out. At this juncture A Nambutiri youth received divine inspiration, And pronounced the oracle ;— “You should not go to Ponniyat this year ; “Your evil star is in the ascendant; “I can do nothing for you.” When this was heard Odenan prostrated himself before the Goddess And prayed :—“ 0 ! noble Goddess ! "When I go to Ponniyat “You must stand on my right. “I have no other help “But my mother Goddess !” The oracle then gave him leave To stay in the arena till noon, And not to remain there longer; And further assured him That if he looked up to the Banian tree He would see the Goddess herself in the disguise of a yellow bird. But afternoon she would not be there, And therefore he should not be there. Kunhi Odenan then from his waist cloth took Sixteen silver Panama, which in the sacred box he put. Thus worshipping, he returned With his attendant Odayottidattil Chappan To theTachcholi Meppayil house, And told his brother Koma Kurup All that the oracle had said. “Don’t you then go this year,” says Koma Kurup. But Odenan replies— ‘‘Should I die even, it matters not; “ I must go to Ponniyat to-day. Remonstrance had no effect— Either brothers or others’. “Let us go,” says Odenan to Kandasseri, “To Kavile Chathoth house.” Thither they went accordingly And saw his wife Chiru Talcing the child Ambadi in her arms, And looking at the husband she cried :— “ Oh ! my daring husband ! "You have engaged to fight "At the Banian tree in Ponniyat: To whose care will you entrust us ?” “Dear Chiru,” says Odenan in reply, "Am I going to die ? “Is not man equal to man ? Bathing and eating he spent that day there. Next day broke; Kinhi Odenan rose And proposed to go to Meppayil house Then Chiru prepared milk kanji, Which Odenan took and went home. In taking leave of his wife, lie told her; “My dear Kunhi Chiru, “ Till I come back “ Don’t you stir out of the house.” When words like these were heard, Beating her breast, she cried. “ Why do you cry, my dear” said Odenan, “I am not going to die ; “I shall come very soon.” Thus saying, he took leave of her. When descending the gate steps Her eyes were full of tears Which were flowing by the breast in bloody drops. He walked straight to his Tachcholi Meppayil house. Where, in the west room he found That his brother was still in his bed. He sat on the bed And placing his feet on his lap And rubbing thorn gently He waked his brother from sleep. , “Who is this at my feet ? ” asked the brother ; “l am, I am my brother,” was the answer. So and so he passed that day there. ’ The next day came, And the eventful Thursday came. There came then the Kottakkal Ahamad Marakka And his followers, Vadakkara Pidigayil Kunhi Pokkar And his followers, Edacheri Odenan Nambiyar And his followers, Kalleri Kunga Kurup And his followers, Panangatan Chandu Kurup And his followers, All in a body assembled Numbering about five hundred. Tachcholi Meppayil Kunhi Odenan Took an oil bath, and rubbed over his body A mixture of perfume, sandalwood and musk, And sat down for dinner. A Kadali plantain leaf was spread. His sister Tachcholi Unichira Served him the dinner— Fine lily-white rice, A large quantity of pure ghee, And eleven kinds of vegetable curries. He fed himself sumptuously on all those And washed his hands and mouth after it. He then sat in the south verandah. Kandasseri Chappan, his squire, Served him betel to chew. Chewing and chatting he sat there for a while; After which he rose and opened his west room, Where he stood in devotion to family Gods, And offered them vows if success he got, And beseeched them to stand on his right. He then prostrated himself before them, And went to dress-—a full dress. He wore God of-Serpent’s head ear-ring in ears, Combed down his hair, And wore a flower of gold over the crown, A silk cloth round the loins, A gold girdle over it, Gold rings in four lingers, A bracelet worked in with scenes From Ramayanam and Bharatam High up on his right arm, A gold-handled sword in his right hand, And a tiger-fighting shield in his left hand When coming out thus dressed, he looked Like melted gold of ten and a half touch ! Like the rising sun in the east! Liko the setting moon in the west! He took leave of his brother Koma Kurup By falling prostrate at his feet, Who then blessed him thus— , “May God help you ! “May you gain the victory ! Odayottidattii Kandasseri Took a spear—a tiger spear— And led the way on ; All in a body went on ; Numbering about five hundred. They proceeded on in one single march From Kadattanad to Ponniyat. They halted not on the road, They drank not when thirsty, They sat not to chew betel. Fatigued as they were by the march, They came to the Peringalam river And they crossed the river. Through the Chambat Punja field, And through the good village of Chambat, They made a rapid march. They reached the mango grove For tightening girdles above. From under the Ponniyat Banian tree The noise of the crowd assembled, The sound of swords clashing upon targets Were heard, and Odenan said To his brother and comrades That Kurikkal and his party had taken the field. Odenan, from his waist cloth, Took sixteen silver Fanams, And, presenting the same To Kottakkal Ahamad Marakkar, Prostrated himself at his feet, In the name of Allah he blessed him “The plot you stand in" said he To Odenan, “shall be the Kalari— “The seat of the God of war." In like manner did he receive blessings Of Kalleri Kunga Kurup and Of his brother Koma Kurup. With the latter’s permission, . Odenan tied his girdle One end to a mango tree The other to his loins. In one pull the tree’s leaves came down, A second pull brought down the branches. Then took he in his right and left The sword and shield, And ran off, crossing the new river. To the Ponniyat Banian tree, Where, in formidable array, people stood ; But to Odenan and his party they gave open way. On his glaring at them The Mathilur Kurikkal and pupils were startled. Leaving his waist dagger behind, Odenan jumped into the arena Like a cock running to fight And combat ensued. It was then about noon. Odenan took his enemy’s sword seven times On looking up to the tree at these times He saw the yellow bird— The Lokanar Kavu Goddess. On looking up again, It was in vain And Odenan retired from the arena instantly, And marched home triumphantly. But, as ill fate would have it, When Ponniyam new river was arrived at He found his dagger had been lost. At once sayeth he— “Hark ! my brother ! “I left my dagger in the arena “And I forgot to take it. “ What shall I do now ?” “If that is lost,” replies the brother, “I shall give you another like it.” “It’s all true, my brother, “But go and take my dagger I must.” The brother’s remonstrance had no effect. Odenan ran back to the arena; The Kurikkal seeing this said To Chundanga poyilil Mayan Pakki— The Tachcholi who went away, is coming again; “ Now he will not allow us to survive.” Hearing words to this effect, Pakki took up his gun, and Loaded it with two shots, And concealed himself behind a tree. On Odenan coming near, The Mappilla, taking good aim, shot At Odenan’s forehead. He fell down on his knees. But would not let his mean enemy escape. He threw his sword at him, Which cut not only the tree But Pakki himself into two. Tearing off his silk turband, Odenan dressed his wound on the forehead. Tho Kurup, his brother ,seeing this Burst into tears. But Odonan remained bold and said: “Brother! don’t you show your weakness “In the midst of these thousands of men. “How simple you are ! “Has anybody as yet died “From arrows on the neck ? “Or from bullets on the forehead?” They then began to retreat Through the Chambat field And reached home—Meppayil in Kadattanad—that day.


The common people still compose ballads in memory of passing events, and one of the most remarkable relates the circumstances attending one of the Mappilla outrages, and recalls with graphic power and a great deal of exaggeration of course, the chief incidents that occurred.


Translation of some Mappilla Gitans.


The first part relates the cause of the murder of a Hindu by a fanatic Mappilla and the circumstances attending the outrage down to the time when the fanatic, joined by six others, selected a place in which to make a stand against the troops. The song then proceeds as follows ; —

The news now spread, and a petition from the taluk reached the huzur cutcherry. Then the chiefs were angry and assembled officers, subedars at the huzur ; a company was got ready, the Feringees gave the order to go quickly ; there were many Mussulmen in the company ; the drums beat, and Pallakur Raman went with the company ; the Kafirs were all delighted at its going out, and many persons accompanied it to assist and see to the fun.

“The Mussulmen in the company said to one another, ‘The Feringee’s order is given to fight; if we do not fight we shall be brought to ‘ Kott-mashal ’ (court-martial) ; go along quickly ’ (sic). The sepoys with belts on and guns on their shoulders, Pallakar Raman Menon with his people marched away !

“The officers in palkis, etc., cried out, ‘ Clal ! chalol (sic Get on! get on !) “The Pallakar’s people said ‘Keep together, and do not separate.’ Kaasim, subadar of the company, said, ‘Do not fear ! we shall soon catch them !’

“On hearing Kaasim, all the men of the company were pleased and went on. The bugle went ‘Didi ! didi1’ and the drum ‘Dado dado do !’ All kept step with the music, but in their hearts they were afraid !

“The officers’ bearers called out ‘ Tukkadu dam tukkada dam dim, dim, dim’

“The sound of the bugle and the tramp of the sepoys’ foot were very stirring! Our Commanding Officer was on a horse ; he instructed the men and called out ‘Chal ! Chal !’ (Gel along, get along).

“The sepoys began to think, ‘ Here is trouble on our heads ; Kaasim Subadar is taking us, poor Mussulmen, along with him ! The Jemadar Mallikappen also told the men to go along rapidly, and they would be rewarded if they caught them ; he said, ‘Cannot we, a hundred men, seize seven ? There is nothing to be afraid of. My sword tells me we shall be victorious to-day ! '

“Going along altogether, about 2,000 persons may have joined,

“They reached Achali Pannjkar’s house and surrounded it nobody knew how many persons were inside.

“As a man in the jungle approaches a tiger’s lair cautiously, so did these men go up to the house. They were as wary as if they were walking into a lion’s mouth !

“Pallakar Raman (wearer of a ball of hair, i.e. a Nayar) called out ‘Are you afraid of seven half-starved wretches ? We know all about them ; they are not demons from another world. Here you have arms ! This is not a fort you have to take : these men must die if not taken by us alive

“All went close to the house. They wanted to take the Mappiilas alive, but on getting close their intention vanished as an image from a glass !

"Pallakar Raman called out, ‘Why do not you seven wine outside ? Your time is up ! ’ The men inside replied, ‘Wait a bit ; as soon as we finish a prayer or two we will came. Get ready for us. We have done this by Syed Aim's order, and with his blessing, to remove the slur from our religion’

Then saying ‘Praise to God the highest, etc., etc.’ the seven kissed each others hands and came out. It was a rainy day and the guns fired at them missed their marks ; the Mappillas got into the midst of the sepoys ; all bolted as a snake makes for its hole when men assemble and attack it. Of all the persons who had been standing outside not one remained. The number of men killed by tiger Hussein’s blows and the number who fell by Bookari’s strokes—heads down, feet up, broken necked (an immense number)—we know not, and the number of heads and arms separated by Ali Hussein’s blows we cannot tell, neither can we estimate the number who, on hearing Mussa Kutti’s voice, fell down, or the number destroyed by the lion-child Mohidin.

The Mappillas called out to the sepoys, ‘You have come to fight us ; why do not you stay ? ’ and to the company officers ‘Kum hir! Kott-mashal ! Koni loff ysholder! Kumpani ! Shut ! phayr ! ’ (sic- Come here ! Court-martial ! Company left shoulders ! Company Shoot ! Fire !)

“Then all stopped and loaded again, firing from different places. Kassim Subadar seized Bookari, who was pursuing the fugitives. Bookari released himself and stabbed Kassim, cutting him in half. An officer came in front ; he was cut into two also : after that Mussa Kutti killed eight persons and wounded nineteen. The sepoys formed up, all the cutcherry people with them, but the Mappillas broke them again. Then the Mappillas congratulated each other and said ‘We are now contented ; the disgrace to our religion is far removed.’

The Mappillas called out to the regiment, ‘Do not run away ; we are all badly Wounded and cannot fight any more ; you may now come and take our lives ! Then the Pultun people fired again and killed them.

“The seven died as martyrs, and houris of paradise comforted them and their bodies remained where they fell in a place pleasant for them.

“The names of the seven were notorious over the world, and I also write these praises on their behalf. All Mussulmen should remember these martyrs and should hold them in veneration over their nearest relatives. I have made this poem by order of certain Sahiban, viz., Kadir Sahib Markar, Kunji Mohidin, inhabitants of Vettatt Pudiangadi, and they highly approve of these verses.

May God give courage to all Mussulmen to remove disgrace from their religion, and let all persons pray that in similar cases the martyrs may be admitted into paradise1!”

NOTEs: 1. Most of the facts related are of course without foundation, but the sepoy troops were so often broken by the fanatics that the authorities decided at last not to employ them again in such expeditions. END of NOTEs

Malayalam is rich in proverbs, in “wise saws and modern instances,” and there is nothing the Malayali loves better than to give a turn to conversation by an apt saying. The proverbs depend as much on rhythm and alliterative and other affinities as on terseness of expression, and on sarcasm, wit, and humour as much as on common sense.

The second, for instance, of those that are to be found printed in Appendix X runs thus : Akattu kattiyum— purattu pattiyam” : literally “ knife inside, plaster outside,” reminding one of the Old Testament verse : “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart : his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.” Ps. 55, 21.

The fifty-fifth is also very terse in its expression, and though it is wholly Sanskrit it is in common use in Malabar : “Artham anartham” : literally, “riches (are) ruin.”

In the hundred and eighty-fourth the Malayali gives expression to his scorn of the sordidness of foreign Brahmans : “ Uttu ketta pattar—attu ketta panni,” meaning the Pattar runs as fast to a rice distribution as the wild pig runs from its pursuers. The Pattar is often the butt for a Malayans wit and sarcasm, and in one proverb he classes him with black beetles and bandicoots (a kind of large rat) as among the plagues of Keralam.

The proverbs translated in the appendix are only a few out of hundreds, and are taken from the beginning of a small pamphlet of them published in Malayalam at Mangalore in 1868 and containing nine hundred and ninety such phrases.

Malayalam is written in more than one alphabet, and that employed in the most ancient written documents extant—the Jews’ and Syrians’ copper-plate grants—is known as the Vatteluttu. Besides it there is its derived alphabet called Koleluttu, chiefly used in keeping the records in Rajas’ houses. And lastly, there is the modern Malayalam alphabet introduced by Tunjatta Eluttachchan.

Dr. Burnell styles the Vatteluttu “the original Tamil alphabet which was once used in all that part of the peninsula south of Tanjore, and also in South Malabar and Travancore.”

In a modern form it is still known, but if used at all its use is very limited. Its origin has not hitherto been traced. Dr. Burnell said of it : “The only possible conclusion, therefore, is that the S. Acoka and Vatteluttu alphabets are independent adaptations of some foreign character the first to a Sanskritic, the last to a Dravidian language.” And he thought that both had “a common Semitic origin.”

The Vattelultu alphabet “remained in use” in Malabar, Dr. Burnell wrote, “up to the end of the seventeenth century among the Hindus, and since then in the form of the Koleluttu (= sceptre writing), it is the character in which the Hindu sovereigns have their grants drawn up.”

The modern Malayalam alphabet introduced by Tunjatta Eluttachchan comes from the Grantha—the Tamil-Sanskrit character and Dr. Burnell says of the application by Tunjatta Eluttachchan of the Aryaeluttu (as it is sometimes called) to the vernacular Malayalam that “beyond adopting the Vatteluttu signs for r, l and l (റ, ല, and ള), he did nothing whatever to systematise the orthography, which till lately was most defective, or to supply signs for letters (e.g. u) which are wanting in most of the other Dravidian languages.”

It will be seen from the above account that there is but little of interest or of importance in Malayalam literature, and the scholars who have of late years studied the language have been attracted to it rather by the philological interest attached to it than by anything else. Mr. F. W. Ellis in his essay, from which numerous quotations have been taken, long ago saw the importance of comparative philology, and the following further quotation from his essay on Malayalam is very interesting from a historical point of view : — “He who shall conquer the difficulties which the absurd speculations of the idle or the ignorant have thrown in his way, and establish etymology on the firm basis of truth and reason, will suggest to the philosopher new and important speculations on mankind, and open to the historian views of the origin and connection of nations which he can derive from no other source.”

Commenting on this and the essay generally Dr. Burnell observes : “It was not till 1816 that Bopp published his ‘ Conjugation, system, which was the beginning of Comparative Philology in Europe,” so that Mr. F. W. Ellis had, probably by some years, anticipated in his Malayalam researches the importance to which this science would rise, and Dr. Burnell justly adds : “ His unfortunate end—he was poisoned by accident—prevented his doing much, for he was only forty when he died, but he cannot be robbed of his due fame by the success of others more lucky than he was.”

Among those who have followed in the path traced out for them by Mr. Ellis, not the least successful is the author of the standard Dictionary of Malayalam and English—Dr. K. Gundert. The lavish industry, research, and ability displayed in this work, which was published in 1872, are beyond all praise, and have opened up to the enquirer, as Mr. Ellis foresaw, new and truthful explanations of what was in former days all mystery and doubt. There is hardly a page in this present work which in one way or other does not derive authority or enlightenment from Dr. Gundert’s labours and scholarship.

Besides Malayalam there is one other territorial language in Malabar—Mahl to wit—the language of the Minicoy Islanders. Owing to the remoteness of the island, its small size, and the scanty means of communication with it, very little progress has been made in the knowledge of its language ; but in Appendix XL will be found a vocabulary taken down at odd times from the lips of Ali Malikhan, the late headman of the island, The vocabulary was taken down in Malayalam, and it has been transliterated in the method used in this volume. But it has not been carefully revised or even arranged, and any conclusions to be drawn from it should therefore be accepted with caution. There is no doubt, however, that their system of notation is the duodecimal modified by the introduction of various foreign terms.

There also seem to be, as in Malayalam, no personal suffixes to the verbal tenses. It is singular that living in an island, they have no word for such a thing except “country.” They have names for each day of the week, chiefly Sanskrit derivatives, but no word apparently for “week” itself. They use Dravidian words for quarter and three-quarters, while for “half” there seems to be an indigenous term.

It only remains to speak of the state of education among the people, and the chief facts are contained in the subjoined statement taken from the census (1881) figures:



NOTEs by VED: Typographical errors might be there in the above table. END of NOTEs by VED

Of those “under instruction” 59,264 were males and 9,550 were females ; of the “instructed ” 147,167 were males and 20,009 were females ; and of the “illiterate and not stated” 967,173 were males and 1,160,471 were females. To cope with this dense mass of ignorance a good deal of attention has been bestowed in the last twenty-five years on schools and education, and the progress obtained will be seen from the following figures:—



Of the pupils in 1882-83, 5,270 were girls. Many Malayali youths proceed to Madras and elsewhere to complete their education, and if the numbers of these were added, there would be a considerable increase in the numbers shown in the column headed “University pupils.”



The above includes only such pupils as attend schools brought under inspection and control by the Educational Department. There are, as a comparison of the two statements will show, numerous other scholars educated after a fashion in indigenous schools. Of the system of teaching adopted by the educational authorities it is unnecessary to say anything here, but of the Hindu system which it is gradually supplanting—the indigenous methods— the following notes may be of interest.

The first step in such schools is to teach the boys, and girls too—for the indigenous schools are freely attended by girls—the alphabet : some sand is spread on the floor and the letters are learnt by tracing them in the sand with the forefinger. The teacher next writes on a cadjan leaf some slogams (verses) relating to Ganapati and other gods. These are spelt out by the boys and girls and learnt by heart and sung.

The next stage is the reading (singing) of the Amaram, a collection of slogams (verses) telling the names of all things in heaven and on earth and under the earth—gods, and men and living animals, trees and stocks and stones. After this comes grammar, taught on cadjan leaves, and also by means of slogams (verses) which are sung. Finally, the pupils who have advanced thus far are set to read (sing) the Ramayanam, Bhagavatam, etc, written in the “maccaronic verse” described above by Mr. F. W. Ellis.

The Vyagaranam and other sastrams follow on this. A pupil who has advanced thus far is considered very far advanced in learning, but those who get so far as to be able to read and understand the Ramayanam and the other epics are usually considered quite learned enough, and the generality of people do not get further than spelling out the Amaram. It will be seen that reciting or singing plays a very important part in this system.

For indigenous Brahmans there are three Sanskrit colleges, two of which—Tirunavayi in Ponnani taluk and Pulayi in Kurumbranad taluk—are in Malabar, and the third is at Trichchur (Tirusivapperur) in the Cochin Native State.

Each college is presided over by a Vadhyan or teacher. The generality of the Brahmans educated in these places are taught to repeat their particular Veda without understanding it. It is only a very small number who can both read and interpret the Vedas, and the proportion in which these, are studied by the Nambutiri families is as follows:



But it must not be supposed that the teaching which the Nambutiri Brahmans receive is wholly religious. The study of the different sciences seems to have descended in particular families, and astronomy in particular has had great attention paid to it, and the knowledge of it is fairly exact. These Brahmans had a monopoly of learning for many centuries, and doubtless this was one of the ways in which they managed to secure such commanding influence in the country.

Muhammadan children are likewise taught to repeat, without understanding, the Koran, and in addition to this elementary Malayalam writing is taught. But at Ponnani there exists a Muhammadan college, founded, it is said, some six hundred years ago by an Arab named Zoyn-ud-din. Ho took or received the title of Mukhaddam, an Arabic word meaning the first or foremost in an assembly, etc. He married a Mappilla (indigenous Muhammadan) woman, and his descendants in the female line have retained the title. The present Mukhaddam at Ponnani is the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth in the line of succession.

The students at the college are supported by the Ponnani towns people, the custom being to quarter two students in each house. The students study in the public or Jammat or (as it is sometimes called) Friday Mosque, and in their undergraduate stage they are called Mullas. There is apparently very little system in their course of study up to the taking of the degree of Mutaliyar, i.e elder or priest. The word is sometimes pronounced Musaliyar, and very often by ignorant people as Moyaliyar.

There is no examination, but the most diligent and most able of the Mullas are sought out by the Mukhaddam and are invited by him to join in the public reading with him at the “big lamp” in the Jammat Mosque. This invitation is considered as a sign of their fitness for the degree, which they assume without further preliminaries.

Genuine Arabs, of whom many families of pure blood are settled on the coast, despise the learning thus imparted and are themselves highly educated in the Arab sense. Their knowledge of their own books of science and of history is very often profound, and to a sympathetic listener who knows Malayalam they love to discourse on such subjects. They have a great regard for the truth, and in their finer feelings they approach nearer to the standard of English gentlemen than any other class of persons in Malabar.



 

Section D.— Caste and Occupations.

In Chapter XI of the Madras Census (1871) Report, in treating of caste, Surgeon-General Cornish wrote as follows : “The subject of caste divisions among the Hindus is one that would take a lifetime of labour to elucidate. It is a subject on which no two divisions or subdivisions of the people themselves are agreed, and upon which European authorities who have paid any attention to it differ hopelessly. The operation of the caste system is to isolate completely the members of each caste or sub-caste; and whatever a native may know of his own peculiar branch, he is, as a rule, grossly ignorant of the habits and customs, or the origin, of those outside the pale of his own section of the community.”

To reduce the subject to something like order and method, the Madras Town Census Committee proposed, in 1869, a system of classification, which was adopted in the census 1871, and this system is thus described by Surgeon-General Cornish : “ The committee started with the assumption that the present Hindu castes must all have branched out from a few parent stems ; that from the first there must have been a primitive division of labour, and hence of caste, corresponding to the great divisions of labour now existing, i.e., Professional, Personal Service, Commercial, Agricultural, Industrial and Non-productive.”

They are probably correct in stating that in “early times the present almost innumerable sub-divisions of castes did not exist, and that a large number are mere repetitions of castes in another tribe and language. Long separation and infrequent communication have led to insulation so complete that former union is forgotten and intermarriage is prohibited.

Another very large aggregate of the population has sprung from a few root castes, simply because of local variations in the mode of labour. Length of time has fossilised minute changes, and new castes have grown up. These also, from an ethnic and social point of view, remain one and the same caste.”

The committee accepted, without question, the divisions of the Hindu community into (1) Brahmans, (2) Kshairiyas, (3) Vaisyas, (4) Sudras, and (5) Out-castes.

After examining, at some length, the Hindu sacred writings Dr. Cornish observed : “It is plain that in a critical inquiry regarding the origin of caste we can place no reliance upon the statements made in the Hindu sacred writings.” The tendency of these writings was too obviously the exaltation of the Brahman at the expense of the other castes. He concluded, moreover, that “the whole caste system, as it has come down to us, bears unmistakable evidence of Brahmanical origin ;” and finally arrived at a “ natural explanation ” of the origin of caste which he thus described ; “The later Aryan colonists evidently saw that if they were to preserve their individuality and supremacy, they must draw a hard-and-fast line between themselves, the earlier and partly degenerated Aryans, and the brown and black races of the country, and hence probably we get a natural explanation of the origin of caste.”

As bearing upon this important subject of the origin of the caste system the evidence of the early Syrian Christians’ deed, translated by Dr. Gundert in Madras Journal of Literature and Science, Vol. XIII, Part I, deserves, it would seem, a prominent place, but a few preliminary remarks are necessary before setting forth this evidence. If it were necessary to sum up in one word the law of the country as it stood before the Muhammadan invasion (1766 A.D.) and British occupation (1792 A.D.), that word would undoubtedly be the word “Custom.”

In Malayalam it would be “Maryada” “Manrgam” “Acharam” all signifying established rule and custom, and all of them Sanskrit words. There can hardly be a doubt that the high degree of civilisation to which the country had advanced at a comparatively early period was due to Aryan immigrants from the north, and these immigrants brought with them Aryan ideas of method and order in civil government which became the law of the land.

Among other things which they imported was “jati” (caste). There is no indigenous word either in Malayalam or in any other of the Dravidian languages to signify caste, Jati itself, like all other Malayalam words beginning with “j”, is a foreign word and expresses a foreign and not a Dravidian idea. The root of the word is the Sanskrit “jan” and it simply means “birth.”

As applied in the law of the land, it was the “custom” connected with “birth.” But of course Malayalis have an indigenous word for “birth,” and, in common with Tamil, Canarese and Tulu, they use a verb signifying to bring forth, and from it the Tamils and Malayalis form a verbal noun peru (birth). And this word peru occurs in the well-known compound word nir-atti-peru, signifying the “water-contact birthright” in land, equivalent to the later Sanskrit word janmam, (birthright) used for the same purpose.

The indigenous word for “birth” seems thus to have acquired at a very early period a peculiar signification of its own for it occurs in this sense in the Cochin Jews’ deed—of date about the beginning of the eighth century A.D.—and it was thus perhaps not available for the purpose of defining “caste.” The word Jati (caste) was not, however, the only Sanskrit word used in the development of tire caste system, and the words Karalar and Karanmei (modern Karayma ) —the former used twice and the latter once in the second (of date about the first quarter of the ninth century A.D.) of the Syrians’ deeds—deserve attention.

These are not pure Sanskrit words, but they come from a Sanskrit root with a Dravidian termination, and they originally implied a trust and correlative duty. Certain classes of citizens were, according to that deed, entrusted with certain functions, which functions it was their duty, as an organised community in the body politic, to fulfil . A certain class called the planters—that is to say, the caste now known as the Tiyar (Dwipar — islanders) or Iluvar (Simhalar , Sihalar, Ihalar Cingalese)—were entrusted with the duty of planting up the waste lands. They are specifically referred to elsewhere in the same deed as the Islanders with a headman of their guild. Two of their specific privileges are also mentioned in the deed, namely, the “Footrope right (for mounting trees)” and the "Ladder right (for a similar purpose)”.

NOTEs by VED: The contention that Ezhavas and Thiyyas (two separates castes in themselves) are same is not correct. Moreover the word Thiyya might not be a contortion of the word dweepar. END of NOTEs by VED

Curiously enough, although the word Karanmei (modern Karayma) has come in the course of ages ordinarily to signify something very different, yet the ancient meaning is still occasionally to bo met with by the diligent observer. He will find it, however, not in the mouths of the learned or the well-to-do, but in the mouths of the poor cultivators in out-of-theway parts of the country, where archaic forms of words and archaic ideas still survive. The Iluvar or planters in these parts still look upon it as their duly in the body politic to form gardens and to plant up the wastes with trees.

So it was with the “setters,” whoso duly it was to “set” the rice plants. This class or caste is also specifically named in the deed as the Vellalar (that is, irrigators), a caste which subsists to the present day, but which, for reasons to be presently alluded to, has not kept itself as distinct as the planters in the body politic.

Again it was declared to be the duty of the Jewish and Syrian guilds assembled in their respective corporate headquarters at Anjuvannam and Manigramam to protect the church peoples’ (Palliyar) town. This duty of “protection” was a most important function in the body politic. The Jews and Syrians were by other deeds incorporated in the Malayali nation, and in the second of the Syrians’ deeds it is clear that the position assigned to them was that of equality with the Six Hundred ” of the nad (that is, of the county).

The “Six Hundred” are both in this deed and in another ancient one referred to as the protectors, and in the latter they are also referred to as the supervisors (the Kanakkar), a word which has come down to modem days and which has been much misunderstood.

The Nayars (so styled from a Sanskrit word signifying leader, in the honorific plural lord, and in ordinary sense soldier) were the “protectors” of the country, and, as such, crystallised readily into the existing caste of Nayars, with numerous branches. Their other function of supervision (Kanam) still also remained with them almost unimpaired down to the time of the British occupation ; but of recent years, owing to the ignorance of the British courts of justice, the term has quite lost its proper signification. The Nayars were, if we may credit tradition, also Vellalar (that is, irrigators), but of course their most important, most consequential, and most acceptable function was the protection duty and trust, and so there are comparatively few of the original Vellalar (irrigator) caste in the district.

Then, again, it was the duty of the heads of the Syrian Church (Palliyar) to render to the powers above them—who were respectively the Kon or king, or Perumal or emperor*, and the Jewish and Syrian protector guilds in their corporate capacities—a trustworthy account of the shares of produce of the land which respectively fell to them. But it seems very doubtful if the shares which respectively fell to the powers above them were shares of the land produce alone : it would, of course, in an agricultural country be the chief source of their revenues, and probably as regards the protector guild the only one. The word Varakkol, used in the deed, means, however, simply “sharing staff of office,” and the wording of some of the clauses seems to point to a share, in all gains, however made, being paid to the central authority—the lion (that is, shepherd or king). As a matter of fact this system of sharing gains has not survived in Malabar in any other industry but agriculture, but the history is peculiar as will be seen further on, and fully accounts for this fact.

On the other hand, of course, the sharing system in a pure Hindu State is well known and exists to the present day, and extends to all classes of the community, no matter how humble or how despised their callings may be.

Finally, the Palliyar themselves were on the precise footing of members of the “protector guild” established in out-of-the-way parts of the country. Their “sharing staff” duty would ordinarily have constituted of them a distinct caste, but as members of the “protector guild” the protectors’ duty would overshadow their minor duty as “sharing staff” office holders. And this seems to have been what actually happened to the Nayars who were scattered over the place of the country not only as supervisors holding the “sharing staff” of office, but as local militia and “protectors.”

Down to recent times the Nayars were primarily the “protecting” caste, but as a matter of fact also they inherited the “sharing staff” office functions as Kanakkar. In this way, there came to be therefore no distinct caste of “sharing staff ” office holders, or at least none are traceable now.

If this reasoning and the facts on which it is founded are correct, then it follows that the origin of the caste system is to be sought, not so much in any ethnic circumstances of blood connection as Dr. Cornish suggests, as in the ordinary every-day system of civil government imported into the country by Aryan immigrants, and readily adopted by the alien peoples among whom the immigrants came, not as conquerors, but as peaceful citizens, able by their extensive influence elsewhere to assist the people among whom they settled.

The idea in fact embodied in the caste system of civil government was the idea which permeates Hindu society—the idea of the family household. The Aryans thought, and to a certain extent wisely thought, that they could not do better in organising their State than to copy the example continually before their eyes and to organise it on the model of a well-regulated household. There they saw each member of it told off to perform certain clear and distinct functions. The clearer and more distinct those functions were, the better were the household affairs managed. The cook must attend to the kitchen, the lady’s maid to her mistress’ attire; the sweeper must not interfere with the food, nor the water-man with the lady’s muslins. In no country under the sun has the efficient organisation by households—by families -been better understood or more extensively carried out than in India. And when questions of civil administration were under consideration it was the most natural thing to turn to the family as a model. The soldier was told off to his especial calling, the merchant to his accounts and trade, the cultivator to his plough.

Nothing strikes the fancy more strongly in the old Hindu world stories than the picture presented of fighting men killing each other in one field, while the husbandman peacefully tilled the one adjoining, and the Brahman sat silently contemplating creation under a neighbouring sacred tree. Busy each in their own spheres, it mattered very little to them how it fared with others having other and distinct functions.

Society organised on these lines was capable of easy and rapid development, and this no doubt accounts for the advanced state of the people in early times, on which it is unnecessary here to dwell.

A time came of course, and came quickly too, when development ceased, when custom became lord paramount, and when society, turned in (as it were) upon itself, began to waste its energies in multiplying distinctions of caste and in searching out hair-splitting differences. This followed, of necessity, for the bonds of caste being inherited at birth are as rigid as they are strong. Even criminals at last set up as civic corporations, as witness the powerful thief or robber caste in Southern India. Even now, when custom is no longer sole lord of the land, castes continue to multiply, nor will it be otherwise till British freedom evokes, as it is sure to do in good time, a national sentiment, and forms a nation out of the confusing congeries of tribal guilds at present composing it.

Looked at from this point of view, it is clear that questions of caste and questions of hereditary occupation ought to be considered together. The census figures unfortunately give insufficient data for an analysis of the extent to which castes have fallen away from their hereditary trades as professions, but something may be learnt from the returns. It is unfortunate, however, that such an essentially European classification of occupations has been adopted in the census returns, for it is only confusing to suppose (as the Madras Town Census Committee supposed) that castes naturally ranged themselves at first under the heads adopted in the census tables of Professional, Personal Service, Commercial, Agricultural, Industrial, and Non-productive.

Some of these divisions are right, but others are not merely wrong, but misleading. What ought to have been done was to have adopted the four great divisions into which the Hindus themselves say they were originally divided, viz :

(1) The sacrificers (God-compellers) and Men of Learning ;

(2) The protectors and governing classes ;

(3) The traders and agriculturists ;

(4) The servile classes ; and to have added to this a fifth class of apparently later origin— -

(5) The mechanics and handicraftsmen ; and all other classes now existing would have fallen under a separate class of—

(G) Miscellaneous.

It would have been interesting to have noted to what extent persons belonging to one or other of these great caste divisions had encroached upon the hereditary occupations of persons belonging to other divisions ; but occupations have boon treated in the census 1881 returns as something quite unconnected with caste.



Foreigners (such as the British and Parsis) and people of foreign religions (such as the Muhammadans) should thou have been separately treated in order to show to what extent they too had encroached upon the hereditary occupations of the Hindus. The census returns do not permit of such a comparison being made, nor are the returns even of castes so distinct as could be desired, so that the following is merely an attempt to classify the Hindu castes under the indigenous hereditary occupation or caste, guilds :


Division I

The sacrifice's (God-compellers) and Men of Learning

Totals

Brahman (Malayali and foreign) . . . . 47,683

Division II.

The Protectors and Governing Classes,

Maravan (Tamils—Watchers) . . 130

Mutratcha (Tamils—Watchers) . . 6

Nayars (Militia) .. .. 321,674

Rajput (Foreigners) . . . . 362

322,178

Division III.

. (a) The Traders.

Balija (Tolugus) . . . . . . 1,466

Komati (Tamils) . . . . . . 1,096

Shetti (Tamils) . . . . . . 20,945

Vaniyan and Gandlu .. . 42,781

Vanniyan (Tamils) . . . . . . 1,259

67,547

(b) The Agriculturists.

Agamudayan (Tamils) .. . . 184

Golla or Idaiyar (Herdsmen) . . 2,889

Gouda (Herdsmen) . . . . . . 1,062

Kurumbar (Shepherds, Junglemen) 2,062

Kuruba Golla (Herdsmen) . . . . 16

Padayachi (Tamils) . . . . . 1,008

Reddi (Telugus) . . . . . . 119

Shanan or Idiga & Tiyan or Ilavan (Planters) 559,7 17

Telugalu or Vadugar (North countrymen) 7,811

Vellalan (Irrigators) . . . . 7,525

Yadavulu (Telugus) . . . . 24

582,417

Division IV.

The Servile Classes

Palli (Ploughmen) . . . . . . 40,809

Parayan (Slaves) . . . . . . 93,612

Ambattan (Barbers—Serving all castes, but not indiscriminately). 8,347

Oddar (East Coast tank-diggers) . . 1,682

Upparavan (East Coast tank digger) 1

Vannan (Washerman—Serving all castes, but not indiscriminately). 37,556

182,007

Division V.

Mechanics and Handicraftsmen

Devangulu (Telugus) . . . . 10

Kaikalar (Weavers) . . . . 20,465

Kamsalar or Kammalar (Carpenters, Braziers, Stone-masons, Goldsmiths,

Blacksmiths) . . . . 51,553

Kummara or Kushavan (Potters) . . 11,770

Madiyu (Workers in leather ?) . . 181,614

Sale (Weavers) .. .. .. 21,589

Seniyan (Tamils—Weavers) 486

287,487

Division VI.

Miscellaneous

Ambalakaran (Tamils—Chiefs of the Kallar ?) .. .. .. .. 27

Besta or Valayan (Fishermen) 16,024

Lingadhari (Lingavites—No caste). 71

Kallan (Tamils—Thief, Robber caste) . . . . . . . . 47

Shembadavan (Fishmongers) . . 167

Others 162,175

Not stated . . , . . . . . 1,441

179,952

Grand total1,669,271




The names of the different castes in the above list have been adopted from the census tables but they are not strictly applicable to Malabar. It will of course be urged against this table that such castes as the planters—the Tiyar or Ilavar should not find a place in the division corresponding to the agriculturists of original Aryan organisation, but it must be remembered that the Aryans were, in dealing with the aboriginal population of Malabar, not dealing with their own people but with an alien race. They had no sufficient body of "protectors” of their own race to fall back upon, so they had perforce to acknowledge as “protectors” the aboriginal ruling race,- the Nayars — whom they designated as “Sudras” but in reality treated as Kshatriyas.

If their “protectors” were called Sudras (servile classes), then the castes below Sudras would not have any footing in the original Aryan organisation. This is so, and it is moreover, most strenuously maintained to the present day. Nevertheless it is perfectly clear from the wording of the Syrians’ deed that the planters—the islanders—who are still the most numerous body of Hindus in the district, were originally an organised agricultural caste with a distinct function in the body politic. The, real fact seems to have been that the Aryans who introduced the political system of caste into Malabar were unwilling to raise even the aboriginal ruling race to the dignity of the pure Kshatriya caste of Aryans.

Very possibly they were Kshatriyas1 themselves who introduced the system. And yet the State organisation required that there should be a protector or Kshatriya casts, so they solved the difficulty by inventing a term—-Nayan, plu. Nayar (Sans, leader, soldier)— and by applying it to the caste whom they constituted protectors and yet treated as “Sudras” (servile caste). In this way the real agriculturists except the Vellalar (irrigators) out of whom the caste of Nayars seems to have been originally formed, came to be treated as being outside the caste system altogether.

NOTEs*: 1 Conf. the Dutch Chaplain (but a Tamil by birth) P. de Melhe’s account of the tradition current in his time. He said that the Chera, Chola and Pandya rulers were all Kshatriyas and belonged respectively to the races of the fire, of the sun, and of the moon, Ind. Ant. X, 85 END of NOTEs

*NOTEs by VED: These notes by native observer can be suspect. They might usually write what found acceptable by the ruling classes. In many locations in the subcontinent, there was a powerful urge to be connected to the higher echelon of the brahminical caste layers. END of NOTEs by VED

To the present day the higher castes maintain most strenuously that the Tiyar—the islanders, the planters of the community—are outcastes.

The final organisation of castes in Malabar probably took place about the eighth century A.D., simultaneously with the rise of the Nambutiri Brahmans to power and influence. The Aryan Jains who had preceded the latter had probably already organised the community in the Aryan fashion into corporate guilds, and it only needed the idea of caste as a religious institution to be imported into the country by the Vedic Brahmans to bring about the crystallisation (so to speak) of the various caste elements.

In the census 1881 returns the population has been classed according to actual occupations as follows :




Of the different castes in Malabar much information has been collected and a great deal might be written, but it will probably suffice to notice here the chief peculiarities of the more noteworthy among the Malayali castes.

And first it may be noticed that the Malayalis distinguished two kinds of pollutions, viz,., by people whose very approach within certain defined distances causes atmospheric pollution to those of the higher castes, and by people who only pollute by actual contact.

Among the first class may be mentioned the following, and the prescribed distances at which they must stand, viz.

Feet.

The Nayadi (dog-catcher) 72

The Pulayan (agrostic slave) 64

The Kanisan (astrologer) 30

The Mukkuvan (fisherman), etc. 24

But women, even of equal caste-rank, pollute if at certain times they come within certain distances, and this custom seems to prevail even among the lowest castes. A newly confined woman has to stand at a distance of eighteen feet and a menstruating women at twelve feet ; hence the necessity in all respectable houses for special buildings set apart for special use by the women.

Among the second class are ranked Muhammadans, Christians and foreign Hindus, who defile only by touch. And it is a sufficiently remarkable fact that a corpse even may be defiled by touching it. This feeling on the part of the Hindus loads to various inconveniences, for it is only in the very last resort that a European or a low-caste medical man is permitted to touch a sick person.

Pollution, however acquired, by the near approach of a low-caste man or by touch, can only by washed out by complete immersion in water. Even to use hot water seems to be against the canon. And great are the perplexities of the strictly conservative, and noteworthy are some of the devices by which the better castes try to turn the flank (so to speak) of this law, now that greater freedom in moving about the country is necessitated by modern requirements. The water must be in a natural tank or stream : oven Ganges water if confined in a tub would perhaps fail to wash away pollution.

The strictly orthodox are sometimes driven to emptying big bottles of boiling water into the stream above the place of bathing in order that the health of the bather may not suffer when on a journey in a cold climate. The orthodox fashion is to hold the nose with finger and dip completely under the surface when nothing more loathsome has to be washed off than the polluting touch of a European’s friendly shake of the hand. This bath is necessary before food can be partaken, or a sacred place entered, or several other acts performed.

The highest castes are naturally the greatest sticklers for this observance, and although British freedom has made inroads on the Hindu custom in this respect, chiefly through the influence of education and extended knowledge, it is too soon yet to look forward to the final extinction of this anomalous custom.



Of the Malayali castes the most exclusive, and the most conservative, and in the European sense, nearly the most unenlightened is that of the indigenous Malayali Brahmans called Numbuthiris, If they did not introduce caste, as a political institution, into the country, they atleast seem to have given to it its most recent development, and they are its staunchest upholders now. They seem to have embodied in the Sanskrit language rules of life regulating their most trivial actions, and at every step their conduct is hampered and restrained by what, appear to European eyes absurd customs.


They shun publicity, and it is exceedingly difficult to obtain exact knowledge of what they do, or think, or feel. In ancient times their influence seems to have been supreme in the State councils, as indeed their caste name implies, for Dr. Gumlert derives the word from the Dravidian verb nambuka (= to confide, desire) and the common Sanskrit affix tiri1 (= office, dignity).

NOTEs: 1. Tiru, blessed, fortunate — sri, END of NOTEs

There are several other derivations, but all are more or less fanciful, and the above may be accepted as the correct one since it not only has the authority of so distinguished a Dravidian scholar as Dr. Gundert, but because the character of confidential adviser and trusty friend of Rajas and people of influence is even now the peculiar character which this caste bears.

The Nambutiris are Vedic Brahmans. It has been conjectured from the use of the phrase Aryya Brahmanar that they are of pure Aryan descent, but the fact requires proof, and is certainly not borne out by personal appearances. The bulk of them are followers either of the Rik or of the Yajur Veda, while a very few follow the Sama Veda, and some are excluded from studying the Vedas altogether. The existing actual distribution of the several schools is shown in the following tabic which was prepared a year or two ago:





It is asserted that the Panniyur (literally, pig village) Gramam is totally excluded from the Veda. In that case twenty-one of the families in Kurumbranad, shown as of the Rik Veda school, and one of the Yajur Veda school, should be transferred to the last column of the statement ; and similarly, in the returns for Ponnani, forty -five of the Rik Vedists and one of the Rama Vedists should be transferred to the last column.

In the early history of the caste there was a split into two factions, the Panniyur Gramam adopting the Vaishnavite faith with the Vaishnavite emblem, the pig or boar, and the Chovur Gramam that of Saiva. It will be noted in the historical chapter that a more or less successful resistance, probably with Brahman aid, was made by the Malayalis against the aggressions of the Western Chalukya dynasty, and as the boar was also the Chalukya emblem, it is probable that the decline of the Panniyur Gramam and the ascendancy of the Chovur Gramam was brought about at this time. At any rate, the Chovur Gramam had the best of the quarrel. The whole caste has, however, since adopted the Vedantist doctrines of Sankara Acharya, himself believed to have been a Nambutiri.

Their organisation is by Gramams (villages), just as the Nayars were organised by taras and nads, and Tiyars and other foreigners by cheris. The principal pure Nambuthiri Gramams now extant are

1. Sukapuram or Sivapuram (probably identical with the original Chovur or Chovaram = Sivapuram).

2. Peruvanam.

2. Irinyalalaula.

4. Panniyur (the other original village).

5. Karikkad.

6. Trissivaperur

7. Perinchellur

8. Venganad.

9. Alattur.

10. Edakkad.

The only two villages mentioned in the Syrians’ deed of A.D. 774 are Panniyur and Chovur (Chovaram, i.e., Sivapuram — Siva’s town) ; so it is difficult to resist the conclusion that there were but two organized villages of Brahmans in Malabar at that time, both Vedic, but of opposite religious views. The other Gramams, besides others now extinct, probably either branched off from the two original villages or settled in the country subsequently.

The mythical story of Parasu Raman reclaiming the land of Keralam from the sea, for the benefit of sixty-four Brahman villages, and in expiation of his sins in slaying twenty-one heroic dynasties of Kshatriyas (as the Malayali tradition runs) is not in accordance with such scraps of history as have come down, nor with facts as they exist, but this matter will be better dealt with in the subsequent chapters.

Besides these there are several classes of inferior Brahmans styled Nambidis, Elayads, and in one instance Embrantiri , who have succeeded in later times in securing, or being thought fit to assume, the name of Nambutiri, and there is yet another class, the Mussat, or more properly the Urilparisha Mussat, who are privileged to eat with Nambutiris, but who do not intermarry with them, nor are they entitled to perform yagams (sacrifices).

The hereditary Veidyan (physician) family is also styled Mussat, and tins family’s only disqualification for the rank of Nambutiri lies, it is said, in the fact that they were originally surgeons as well as physicians.

The conclusion seems to be that the original Brahman families divided among themselves the learned professions and the privilege of making sacrifices, and never lost an opportunity of protecting their monopolies by every art in their power, and in particular by forbidding the study of Sanskrit to other castes. There are hereditary magician or sorcerer families ; a few are well versed in astronomy ; some are preservers of the sacred fire (adittiri ) ; others are doctors or surgeons ; others again actors.

It is only the poorest of them who will consent to act as priests, and of these the highest functionary in a large temple is condemned to three years of celibacy while holding office ; some are celibates for one year of office, and allow their hair to grow.

It is traditionally alleged that some portion of the Brahmans did at one time arm themselves. The numbers who did so are said to have been thirty-six thousand, and they are known as Ayudhapani or weapon-bearers. The heads of this class were styled Nambiyattiri, and the Idappalli Nambiyattiri is still pointed out as the chief of them. There was therefore probably some foundation in fact for the tradition, but arms to a Brahman, under the old regime, was not a congenial employment.

The Gramams are presided over by six Smarthas, who are presidents of the assemblies at which caste offences are tried. Such assemblies in former times required the sanction of the ruling chieftain, who, on representation made that a caste offence had been committed, issued orders to the local Smartha to hold an enquiry. There seems to have been in former days no appeal from the decision of the Gramm assembly to any other authority, but within the last few years the decision of such an assembly was called in question, and the attempt that was subsequently made to overrule its decision greatly exercised the minds of the “twice born” in all the Malayali countries.

The episodes in the trial of a caste offence among Nambutiris are so curious, and throw such light on their ways of thinking and acting, that it is worthwhile to go into the matter in some detail. The local chieftain’s sanction for the trial of the offence was, as already said, first of all necessary. The Nambutiri family (Bhattattiri) which has the privilege of furnishing the president (Smartha), and the number of members (Mimamsukas) required to form a tribunal, are different in different parts of the country.

When a woman is suspected by her own kinsmen or by neighbouring Brahmans of having been guilty of light conduct, she is under pain of ex-communication of all her kinsmen, placed under restraint. The maid-servant (Dasi or Vrshali), who is indispensable to every Nambutiri family, if not to every individual female thereof, is then interrogated, and if she should eliminate her mistress, the latter is forthwith segregated and a watch set upon her. When the family can find a suitable house1 for the purpose, the sadhanam (the thing or article or subject, as the suspected person is called) is removed to it ; otherwise she is kept in the family house, the other members finding temporary accommodation elsewhere.

NOTEs: 1 It is called the “fifth house”, i.e., tbe building next to the usual "'4 four houses” or northern (Vadakkini), southern (Tekkini ), eastern (Kilakkini}, and western (Padinyyattini) rooms or houses. END of NOTEs

The examination of the servant-maid is conducted by the Nambutiris of the Gramam, who, in the event of the servant accusing her mistress, proceed without delay to the local chieftain who has the power to order a trial. And authority is granted in writing to the local Smartha, who in turn calls together the usual number of Mimamsakas (persons skilled in the law).

They assemble at some convenient spot, generally in a temple not far from the place where the accused may be. All who are interested in the proceedings are permitted to be present. Order is preserved by an officer deputed by the chief for the purpose, and he stands sword in hand near the Smartha and members of the tribunal.

The only other member of the court is a Nambutiri called the Agakkoyma, whose duties will be described presently. When all is ready the chief’s warrant is first read out and the accused’s whereabouts ascertained.

The Smartha, accompanied by the officer on guard and the Agakkoyma Nambutiri, next proceeds to the accused’s house : the officer on guard remains outside while the others enter. At the entrance, however, they are met by the maid-servant, who up to this time has never lost sight of the accused and who prevents the men from entering. In feigned ignorance of the cause for thus being stopped, the Smartha demands an explanation, and is told that a certain person is in the room.

The Smartha demands more information, and is told that the person is no other than such and such a lady, the daughter or sister or mother (as the case may be) of such and such a Nambutiri of such and such an illam. The Smartha professes profound surprise at the idea of the lady being where she is and again demands an explanation.

Here begins the trial proper. The accused, who is still strictly gosho., is questioned through the medium of the maid, and she is made to admit that there is a charge against her. This is the first point to ho gained, for nothing further can be done in the matter until the accused herself has made this admission. This point, however, is not very easily gained at times, and the Smartha has often to appeal to her own feelings and knowledge of the world and asks her to recollect how unlikely it would be that a Nambutiri female of her position should be turned out of her parent’s house and placed where she then was unless there was some cause for it.

In the majority of cases this preliminary stage is got over with little trouble, and is considered a fair day’s work for the first day. The Smartha and his colleagues then return to the assembly and the former relates in minute detail all that has happened since he left the conclave. The Agakkoyma's basic is to see that the version is faithful. He is not at liberty to speak, but whenever he thinks the Smartha has made a mistake as to what happened, he removes from his shoulders and lays on the ground a piece of cloth as a sign for the Smartha to brush up his memory. The latter takes the hint and tries to correct himself. If he succeeds, the Agaikkoyma's cloth is replaced on his shoulders, but if not the Smartha is obliged to go back to the accused and obtain what information is required.

When the day’s proceedings are finished, the members of the tribunal are sumptuously entertained by the accused’s kinsmen, and this continues to be done as long as the enquiry lasts. A trial sometimes lasts several years, the tribunal meeting occasionally and the accused’s kinsmen being obliged to entertain the members and any other Nambutiris present on each occasion, while the kinsmen themselves are temporarily cut off from intercourse with other Brahmans pending the result of the trial, and all sraddhas (sacrifices to benefit the souls of deceased ancestors) are stopped.

The reason for this is that, until the woman is found guilty or not, and until it is ascertained when the sin was committed, they cannot, owing to the probability that they have unwittingly associated with her after her disgrace, be admitted into society until they have performed the expiatory ceremony (Prayaschittam). The tribunal continues its sittings as long as may be necessary, that is, until either the accused confesses and is convicted, or her innocence is established. No verdict of guilty can be given against her except on her own confession. No amount of evidence is sufficient.

In former days, when the servant accused her mistress and there was other evidence forthcoming, but the accused did not confess, various modes of torture were had recourse to in order to extort a confession, such as roiling up the accused in a piece of matting and letting the bundle fall from the roof to the court-yard below. This was done by women, and the mat supplied the place of the purdah. At other times live rat-snakes and other vermin were turned into the room beside her, and even in certain cases cobras, and it is said that if after having been with the cobra a certain length of time and unhurt, the fact was accepted as conclusive evidence of her innocence.

In cases when the accused offers to confess, she is examined, cross-examined, and re-examined very minutely as to time, place, person, circumstances, etc., etc., but the name of the adulterer is withheld (though it may be known to all) to the very last. Sometimes a long list of persons is given and similarly treated. Innocent persons are sometimes named and have to purchase impunity at great expense.

In one case a woman who had indicated several persons was so nettled by the continual “who else ?” “who else ? ” of the zealous scribe who was taking down the details, that she at last, to his intense astonishment, pointed to himself as one of them, and backed it up by sundry alleged facts.

The persons accused by the woman are never permitted to disprove the charges against them, but the woman herself is closely cross-examined and the probabilities are carefully weighed. And every co-defendant, except the one who, according to the woman’s statement, was the first to lead her astray, has a right to be admitted to the boiling-oil ordeal as administered at the temple of Suchindram in Travancore. If his hand is burnt, he is guilty ; if it comes out clean he is judged as innocent.

The ordeal by weighment in scales is also at times resorted to. The order for submission to these ordeals is called a pampu and is granted by the president (Smartha) of the tribunal. Money goes a long way towards a favourable verdict or towards a favourable issue in the ordeals. The tribunal meets at the accused’s temporary house in the Pumukhan (drawing-room) after the accused has admitted that she is where she is because there is a charge against her. She remains in a room, or behind a big umbrella, unseen by the members of the tribunal and other inhabitants of the desam who are present, and the examination is conducted by the Smartha.

A profound silence is observed by all present except by the Smartha, and he alone puts such questions as have been arranged beforehand by the members of the tribunal. The solemnity of the proceedings is enhanced to the utmost degree by the demeanour of those present. If the accused is present in the room, she stands behind her maidservant and whispers her replies into her ear to be repeated to the assembly.

Sometimes the greatest difficulty is experienced in getting her to confess, but this is usually brought about by the novelty of the situation, the scanty food, the protracted and fatiguing examination, and the entreaties of her relatives, who are being ruined, and by the expostulations and promises of the Smartha, who tells her it is best to confess and repent, and promises to get the chief to take care of her and comfortably house her on the bank of some sacred stream where she may end her days in prayer and repentance.

The solemnity of the proceedings too has its effect. And the family often come forward, offering her a large share of the family property if she will only confess and allow the trial to end. When by these means the woman has once been induced to make a confession of her weakness everything becomes easy. Hitherto strictly gosha, she is now asked to come out of her room or lay aside her umbrella and to be seated before the Smartha and the tribunal.

She sometimes even takes betel and nut in their presence. When the trial is finished, a night (night-time seems to be essential for this part of the trial) is set apart for pronouncing sentence, or, as it is called, for “declaring the true figure, frame, or aspect” of the matter. It takes place in the presence of the local chieftain who ordered the trial. A faithful and most minutely detailed account of all the circumstances and of the trial is given by the Smartha, who winds up with the statement that his “child” or "boy” (a term1 applied by Nambutiris to their east coast Pattar servants) will name the adulterer or adulterers.

NOTEs: 1. Kutti — Child or boy. The phrase Kutti Pattar is sometimes used. END of NOTEs

Thereupon the servant comes forward, steps on to a low stool, and proclaims the name or names.

This duty is invariably performed by a man of the Pattar caste. It is essential that the man who does it should himself be a Brahman, and as no Nambutiri or Embrantiri (Canarese Brahman) would do it for love or money, a needy Pattar is found and paid handsomely for doing it. Directly he has performed the duty, he proceeds to the nearest piece of water, there to immerse his whole body and so wash away the sin he has contracted.

The next proceeding, which formally deprives the accused woman of all her caste privileges, is called the ‘Keikkottal ' or handclapping ceremony. The large palmyra leaf umbrella with which all Nambutiri females conceal themselves from prying eyes in their walks abroad is usually styled the “mask umbrella” and is with them the outward sign of chastity.

The sentence of ex-communication is passed by the Smartha in the woman’s presence, and thereupon the accused’s umbrella is formally taken from her hands by a Nayar of a certain caste, the pollution-remover of the desam, With much clapping of hands from the assembly the woman is then instantly driven forth from her temporary quarters and all her family ties are broken. Her kinsmen perform certain rites and formally cut her off from relationship. She becomes in future to them even less than if she had died. Indeed, if she happens to die in the course of the enquiry, the proceedings go on as if she were still alive, and they are formally brought to a conclusion in the usual mannor by a verdict of guilty or of acquittal against the man implicated.

The woman thus driven out goes where she likes. Some are recognized by their seducers ; some become prostitutes ; not a fow aro taken as wives by the Chettis of Calicnt. A few find homes in institutions specially endowod to receive them.

Those last-named institutions are of a peculiar character. Perhaps the best known, because it has formed the subject of judicial proceedings, is that of the Muttedatta Aramanakal in the Chirakkal Taluk with extensive jungly land endowments. The members of this institution are respectively styled as Mannanar or Machchiyar, according as they are men or women. They have baronial powers and keep up a sort of baronial state, for which purpose two hundred Nayars of the Edavakutti Kulum (or clan) were in former days bound to follow the Mannanars when out on active service.

The members of the institution are recognised as of the Tiyan (or toddydrawer) caste, and the sons of Machchiyars become in turn Mannanars (or barons). The women take husbands from the Tiyan community. The women who are sent to this institution are those convicted of illicit intercourse with men of the Tiyan or of superior castes. If the connection has been with men of lower caste than the Tiyan (toddy-drawer), the women are sent on to another institution called Kutira Mala, still deeper in the jungles of the Western Ghats.

Following on the Keikkottal (hand-clapping) ceremony comes the feast of purification (Prayaschittam) given by the accused’s people, at which for the first time since the trial commenced the relatives of the accused woman are permitted to eat in company with their caste follows, and with this feast, which is partaken of by every Nambutiri who cares to attend, the troubles of the family come to an end. Apart altogether from the scandals which are thus dragged into the light, it is a very serious matter to a family to have to incur the expenses of such an enquiry, for the cost rarely comes to less than one thousand rupees and has been known to amount to as much as twelve thousand rupees. Nothing but the dread of being deprived of their caste privileges by the general body of their community would induce a family to incur the odium and expense of such a trial, and this feeling prompts them unhesitatingly to cast out their erring members.

The caste may be divided into two classes : Nambutirippads and Nambutiris. The former, as their name implies1, are of superior rank. They are expected to be more strict than the latter in their religious duties, and among them the oldest son alone may marry, his brothers being expected to refrain even from concubinage with Nayar fomales. This latter practice is, however, now often set aside. The common Nambutiris are not expected to be so strict, and they, as a rule, form fugitive connections with Nayar women. Those Nambutiris who have performed a public sacrifice (yagam) are called Chomatirippads (i.e., persons who have sacrified with Soma juice).

NOTEs: 1. Nambutiri and pad - authority. END OF NOTEs

As a rule the people of this caste every simple lives ; and the simplicity of character of a Nambutiri is in some places proverbial. They rise very early in the morning, 3 a.m., and immediately bathe in the cold water of their tanks. They spread their cloths out to dry and proceed almost naked to their religious exercises in the temple. After this and till eleven o’clock the more religious of them read or recite their Vedas. At eleven o’clock they dine, and after that devote themselves to various employments including the keeping of a solemn silence.

In the evening they bathe in oil, and again resort to the temple till about 9 P.M., when they sup and retire for the night.

Their dress, too, is very simple, and consists of an under and of an upper cloth ; on extraordinary occasions the long upper cloth is twisted round the loins and each leg separately. They wear no ornaments except finger rings and waist-strings. They are very particular about their caste marks made with sandalwood saw dust and ashes. The women are styled antarjjananams, or agattummamar (in-doors people), appropriate names, as, after attaining majority, they are rarely seen abroad. They must not look on the face of a human being of the male sex except their husbands, and, when compelled to travel, they are invariably preceded by a crier in the person of a Nayar woman called a Vrshali who warns off male travellers by a long-drawn shout of Ahayi. Besides this they are protected -by their large cadjan umbrellas as already alluded to above.

Like the men they are very simply dressed in an under-cloth round the loins and passed between the legs and an upper cloth wrapped round the breasts under the arm pits and reaching as far as the thighs. Both cloths have coloured gold-embroidered borders. They have metal—generally silver—ear-rings, and they wear brass bracelets in profusion on their arms from the wrist to the elbow. They are not allowed to wear gold ones. On their foreheads they wear sandal paste marks after bathing.

The men exact great reverence from the low-caste people whom they address, and are most punctilious in this respect. They in everything endeavour to make it appear in their conduct and conversation that all the excellences are the birthright of the Nambutiris, and that whatever is low and mean is the portion of the lower orders of society. A Nayar speaking to a Nambutiri must not call his own food “rice”, but “stony or gritty rice”, his money he must call his “Copper cash,” and so on. In approaching a Nambutiri; low-caste people, male and female, must uncover to the waist as a token of respect. But with all this self-assertion, a Nambutiri who is true to the best traditions of his race in respect to unworldliness, gentleness, simplicity and benevolence, presents himself to the Hindu mind as a model of Hindu piety coupled with a charming innocence and a noble simplicity. “His person is holy ; his directions are commands ; his movements are processions ; his meal is nectar ; he is the holiest of human beings ; he is the representative of God on earth.” (Travancore Census Report, 1874-75, page 191.)

As the eldest son only of a family may marry into his own caste the younger brothers cohabit with Nayar females, and many Nambutiri women necessarily never get a chance of marriage. It is on this account that the caste rules against adultery are so stringent. But to make tardy retribution—if it deserves such a name—to women who die unmarried, the corpse, it is said, cannot be burnt till a tali string (the Hindu equivalent of the wedding ring of Europe) is tied round the neck of the corpse while lying on the funeral pile by a competent relative. Nambutiris are exceedingly reticent in regard to their funeral ceremonies and observances, and the Abbe Dubois’ account of what was related to him regarding other observances at this strange funeral pile marriage requires confirmation.

In order to get his daughters married at all, a Nambutiri must be rich, for with each of them he has to pay the bridegroom a heavy dowry and many an illam’s resources have been drained in this way. The details of the marriage ceremonies are too long for insertion here. The horoscopes of the pair must agree, then the dowry is settled, formal sanction to marry his daughter is asked by the bridegroom from the bride’s father, the bridegroom proceeds in state to the bride’s house, there is much feasting and ceremony, the bridegroom has a bamboo staff in his right hand and a string tied to his right arm, the bride’s emblems are an arrow and mirror and a sacred thread round her neck, the dowry and the daughter are handed over simultaneously to the bridegroom by the father, the pair then take seven steps forward and seat themselves, then follows a sacrifice, and the final act at the bride’s house is the father’s delivery of her to the groom with a solemn injunction to “treat her well”.

Then comes the procession back to the bridegroom's house, where again feasting and ceremonies occur, and finally the pair are escorted to the nuptial couch, a blanket spread on the floor with a white robe over it and hemmed in by ridges of rice and paddy. The priest leads in the pair and seats them on the couch, and then withdraws and locks the door and continues outside reciting appropriate passages, which are repeated and followed by the bridegroom from within. The wife then serves to the husband his first meal, and on the fifth day the ceremonies end by the husband laying aside his staff and untying the sacred thread on his right arm.

One remarkable proceeding in the marriage ceremonies is, it is said, that bride and bridegroom stand beside a tub of water in which several small live fishes are placed and by means of a cloth capture these fishes. The significance of this custom is uncertain; some allege that it is done in remembrance of the fisher origin of the caste, as sarcastically alleged by the Mahratta Brahmans ; another interpretation is that the fishes are captured as emblems of the fertility wished for by the parties to the union.

In the third month of the first pregnancy a solemn sacrifice is performed, emblematic of the offering of the first fruits of wedlock to the Supreme Being. In the fifth and ninth months other ceremonies take place: in the one the husband draws with a porcupine quill a straight line from the tip of his wife’s nose to the crown of her head, and in the other he pours into his wife’s nostrils a few drops of the essence extracted from the barks of the five sacred trees—Ficus Indica, Ficus racemosa, Tamarind, Spondias mangifera (Hog-plum) and Coorg tamarind?). Immediately after confinement both mother and babe are bathed in cold water.

On the eleventh day after birth the father names the child ; in the sixth month he is fed on sweet rice; in the third year tonsure takes place ; in the fifth year the boy is initiated by his father in the alphabet on the last day of the Dasara feast ; in the seventh year the boy is invested with the sacred thread (punnul) and his ears are bored. For three years he next leads a holy life and pays visits only to his teacher.

As already said, the Nambutiris are very reticent on the subject of their funeral ceremonies. The dead body having been laid on the pile, rice is scattered over the deceased’s face and mouth by all blood relations, and pieces of gold are placed in the nine openings of the body, apparently to provide the deceased’s soul with money for its journey by whatever exit it leaves the body, thus recalling the somewhat similar practice of the Roman world. After fire has been applied to the pile the company retires and bathes. They observe pollution for ten days, and during that time abstain from supper and the use of salt in curries. On the twelfth day a grand feast is given to all relatives, and on the recurrence of the fatal day two men are feasted in honour of the deceased.

Of the east coast or foreign Brahmans it is unnecessary to say much as they differ in no respect from ordinary east coast Brahmans. They are called Pattars, a corruption of the Sanskrit Bhatta. They engage in trade and agriculture and in domestic and other service. In former times they were used as confidential messengers and spies. One class of them are styled Choliya or Aryya Pattars, and instead of wearing the top knot of hair (kudumi) on the back of the head, as other east coast Brahmans do, these wear it on the top of the head like the Nambutiris and Nayars.

The great Pattar settlements in Malabar lie in the Palghat Taluk, a taluk which, if it ever was occupied by the Nambutiris, has for a very long time past been deserted by them. The Pattars live in ‘grammas or villages, the houses being arranged in rows and streets like those of east coast villages.

A class of Brahmans peculiar to Malabar are the Ilayavar or Ilayathu, the progenitor of whom is traditionally said to have been a Nambutiri and to have been turned out of caste for communicating to a Nayar the details of the funeral rites (sraddha) to be performed for the benefit of departed ancestors. These do not eat nor keep company with ordinary Brahmans, nor will they eat or associate with Nayars. They officiate as the family priests (purohit) of Nayar families. In customs they are still Brahmans and their women are strictly gosha.

Another very small class of Brahmans is to be found in North Malabar. They are called Pidaranmar. They drink liquor, sometimes exercise devils, and are worshippers of Bhadrakali or of Sakti. The name is also applied to snake-catchers, and it was probably conferred on the caste owing to the snake being an emblem of the human passion embodied in the deities they worship. This caste wears the sacred thread, but their women are not gosha.

Another class of pseudo-Brahmans derive their name from the ceremony of jumping through fire before temples. Those are the Tiyattunni or Tiyadi (Ti = fire, attam = play). They differ but little from the caste last named, except that they follow the Marumakkatayam system of inheritance.

The Pisharodi class do not wear the sacred thread. The legend of their extraction is that a Sanyasi had educated a Nambutiri pupil to fit him as a member of his holy order. But when the time came for him to receive the distinctive marks of asceticism, he fled from his preceptor and from the prospect of a life of penance and austerities.

His descendants were called those “who ran away,” and to commemorate the event their bodies are after death buried with salt, as in the case of Sanyasis. They are chiefly temple servants. Whether they and the Pidaran class above described were more closely connected originally it is not easy to say, but pisharan and pidaran appear to be identical, and pisharodi may well be those who deserted (“ran away from”) the worship of the sexual passion and became ascetics.

Besides the three classes last named there are several others whose distinctive function is temple service. As a class they are known as Ambalavasis (i.e. dwellers in ambalams or temples), and they form a sort of intermediate class between the Nambutiris and the Nayars.

Of these temple servants the following may be named.

One class of the Nambidis wears the sacred thread, another subdivision does not, and the class in general is said to have been originally Nambutiri. Their progenitor, it is said, was degraded for having murdered with a knife one of the Perumals or “Emperors of Keralam”. They follow the Marumakkatayam system of inheritance.

The Gurukkal class wears the sacred thread. The name seems to suggest that they were originally teachers, but their proper functions, as understood now-a-days, are to supply milk, ghee, and dowers to temples and to sweep and clean them. They are governed by the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance.

The Muttatu class ought perhaps to have been placed at the head of the Ambalavasis or temple servants. Their functions are to sweep the steps of the temples, to carry the idols in procession on their heads, and to do other temple services. They wear the sacred thread and do not follow the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance. Their women, too, are free from concubinage with the superior castes. They adopt the customs and rites of Brahmans, and it is said that Brahmans may cook their food in Muttatu houses, and in turn the food cooked by the Muttatus may, it is said, be eaten by other Ambalavasis. Some of them are styled Potuvals and do not wear the thread.

The Pushpakan class, as their name implies (pushpam = a flower), are employed in bringing flowers and garlands to the temples, and follow the Marumakkathayam law of inheritance.

The Chakkiyars sing and play in the temples, and sometimes, on occasions of festivals, improvise verses of their own and make the characteristics of the community “the butt of their sarcasm and satire” (Travancore Census 1874-75 Report). Their women are called Nangiyar. “Their wives are Illodammammar. The Nangiyar sounds the cymbal to the time of the Chakkiyar’s play, and is seated by his side while he is engaged in dramatic representations. Their law of succession is Marumakkathayam” (Ibid, pages 220, 221).

The Variyars perform the lower temple services and funeral ceremonies. In Malabar they follow the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance.

The Nambiyars are in some parts of the country a very influential body, as in the ancient Iruvalinad, of which they were the chieftains. They follow Marumakkathayam, and their functions in a temple are said to be helping the Chakkiyar in their play acting by beating the big drum (milavu).

The Marans or Marayans are the temple sweepers and musicians, and play on five different kinds of instruments, chiefly drums, viz., (1) Chenda = kettle-drum, (2) Kurunkulal = short flute or pipe, (3) Timilu = another kind of drum, (4) Idakka = a double drum, and (5) Dhamanam = another kind of kettle-drum. These do not eat with the other Ambalavasis, They follow Marumakkathayam. Ohe section of the class perform purification for Brahmans.

Of Rajputs, or foreign Kshatriyas, there are in Malabar (census 1881) only three hundred and sixty-two all told. The families of the Kottayam and Parappanad chieftains belong to this class, and the former of these chieftains used sometimes to be called the ’Puranatt’ (i.e., foreign) Raja. The Parappanad family supplies consorts to the Ranis of Travancore, and also forms similar connections with the families of other chieftains in Malabar. They follow the Marumakkathayam law of inheritance.

Something has already been said under this section of the next great division of the Hindu population—-the Nayars—who are 321,674 strong. The Nayars were, until the British occupied the country, the militia of the district. Their name itself implies, as already said, that they were the “leaders” of the people. 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 county. 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 Nayur territorial unit of organisation for civil purposes, and was governed by representatives of the caste, who were styled Karanavar or elders. The “Six hundred” was probably composed exclusively of those Karanavar or elders, who were in some parts called Mukhyaslans (= chief men), or Madhayastans (= Mediators), or Pramanis (= Chiefmen), and there seem to have been four families of them to each tara, so that the nad must originally have consisted of one hundred and fifty tara.

This tara organisation of the protector caste played a most important part in the political history of the country, for it was the great bulwark against the tyranny and oppression of the Rajas. Something has already been said about it in the section treating of towns, villages, etc.

The evidence of the Honourable East India Company’s linguist (interpreter, agent) at Calicut, which appears in the Diary of the Tellicherry Factory under date 28th May 1746, and which has already been quoted (ante p. 80), deserves to be here reproduced. He wrote as follows :

“These Nayars, being heads of the Calicut people, resemble the parliament, and do not obey the king’s dictates in all things, but chastise his ministers when they do unwarrantable acts.”

The “parliament” referred to must have been the “kuttam” (assembly) of the nad. The kuttam answered many purposes when combined action on the part of the community was necessary. The Nayars assembled in their kuttams whenever hunting, or war, or arbitration, or what not was in hand. And this organisation does not seem to have been confined to Malabar, for the koot organisation of the people of South Canara gave the British officers much trouble in 1832-33.

In so far as Malabar itself was concerned the system seems to have remained in an efficient state down to the time of the British occupation, and the power of the Rajas was strictly limited. Mr. Murdoch Brown of Anjarakandi, who know the country well, thus wrote to Dr. Francis Buchanan in the earliest years of the present century regarding the despotic action of the Rajas when constituted, after the Mysorean conquest, the revenue agents of the Government of Haidar Ali : “By this new order of things, these latter (the Rajas), were vested with despotic authority over the other inhabitants instead of the very limited prerogatives that they had enjoyed by the feudal system, under which they could neither exact revenue from the lands of their vassals nor exercise any direct authority in their districts.”

And again, “The Raja was no longer what he had been, the head of a feudal aristocracy with limited authority, but the all-powerful deputy of a despotic prince whose military force was always at his command to curb or chastise any of the chieftains who were inclined to dispute or disobey his mandates.” (Buch. Mysore, Canara and Malabar, II, pages 189-90).

From the earliest times therefore down to the end of the eighteenth century the Nayar tara and nad organisation kept the country from oppression and tyranny on the part of the rulers, and to this fact more than to any other is duo the comparative prosperity which the Malayali country so long enjoyed, and which made of Calicut at one time the great emporium of trade between the East and the West.

But besides protection the Nayars had originally another most important function in the body politic. Besides being protectors they were also supervisors or overseers, a duty which, as the very ancient deed (No. IV in Appendix XII) testifies, was styled kanam— a Dravidian word derived from the verb kanaka (= to see, etc.). The original meaning of this word kanam has been very greatly misunderstood by the British courts and British administrators, and this point will be dwelt on hereafter under land tenures.

Parasu Raman (so the tradition preserved in the Keralolpatti runs) “separated the Nayars into Taras and ordered that to them belonged the duty of supervision (lit. kan = the eye), the executive power (lit. kei = the hand, as the emblem of power), and the giving of orders (lit. kalpana — order, command) so as to prevent the rights from being curtailed or suffered to fall into disuse.”

The Nayars were originally the overseers or supervisors of the nad, and they seem to have been employed in this capacity as the collectors of the share of produce of the land originally reserved for Government purposes. As remuneration for this service, and for the other function as protectors, another share of the produce of the soil seems to have been reserved specially for them. It would be well worth the study of persons acquainted with other districts of the Presidency to ascertain whether somewhat similar functions to these (protection and supervision) did not originally appertain to the Kavalkars of Tamil districts and the Kapus in the Telugu country, for both of these words seem to have come from the same root as the Malayalam kanam.

And it is significant that the Tamil word now used for proprietorship in the soil is Kani-yatchi, to which word the late Mr. F. W. Ellis in his paper on “Mirasi rights” assigned a similar derivation.

There are, of course, numerous subdivisions among the Nayars. The distinctions between the customs of these subdivisions is often whimsical, but the more capricious they seem the more persistently are they observed. The chief distinction seems to be in the preparation and eating of food. Food cooked in one house will not be partaken of by the members of a different subdivision to that to which the house belongs, and different classes object to eating while seated in the same row with members of other subdivisions The following subdivisions may be mentioned :

1. Nayar (Leader, soldier, lord).

2. Menon or Menavan (mel — above, and avan — third personal pronoun; superior N., generally writers, accountants).

3. Menokki [mel— above, and nokki from nokkunnu — to look, look after ; supervisor, superintendent N.).

4. Muppil Nayar (Chief N.).

5. Pada Nayar (Fighting N.).

G. Kuruppu (? Fort N.).

7. Keimal (kei = hand as emblem of power ; hence powerful or chief N.).

8. Panikkar (Fencing master N.).

9. Kiriyatta Nayar (House N., stewards).

10. Muttar (Elder, chief N.).

11. Ore (for plural third personal pronoun avar, honorific title of N.).

12. Kidavu (child, young person, N. ; considered honour ideally as child of the king, Raja).

13. Kartavu (Lord).

14. Eradi (N. of Eradu or Ernad — taluk of that name, the bullock country).

15. Nedungadi (N. of Nedunganad in taluk of Valluvanad).

16. Vallodi (N. of Valluvanad).

17. Mannadiyar (N. of Palghat, originally from the Chola country).

18. Manavalan (? Cultivating N.)

The Nayars follow the Marumakkathayam system, of inheritance, with the solo exception of some of the Mannadiyars in Palghat taluk. These latter seem to have come into the country from the east coast at a later date than the great body of Nayars, and only some of them, having mixed with the Nayars, have adopted the distinctive Nayar system of inheritance.

The national dress of the Nayars is extremely scanty. The women clothe themselves in a single white cloth of fine texture reaching from the waist to the knees, and occasionally, while abroad, they throw over the shoulders and bosom another similar cloth. But by custom the Nayar women go uncovered from the waist; *upper garments indicate lower caste, or sometimes, by a strange reversal of western notions, immodesty.

NOTEs by VED: *This assertion seems to be quite wrong. END of NOTEs by VED

The men wear a white cloth in like fashion, and another cloth is also occasionally thrown over the shoulders. The ornaments of the women consist chiefly, of a huge cylinder, gold plated, finely worked, and inserted in the lobe of the oar, which is artificially enlarged for the purpose of receiving it. Several kinds of massive gold necklaces rest on the bosom, while bangles for the wrist, rings for the fingers and nose and a waist string of elaborate construction, complete the list of ornaments. The men content themselves with ordinary ear-rings, finger rings, and a waist string. In childhood they also wear bangles and one or two neck ornaments.

Both men and women are extremely neat, and scrupulously particular as to their cleanliness and personal appearance. The women in particular enjoy a large measure of liberty, and mix freely in public assemblies.

NOTEs by VED: *This kind of insertions should be understood with a clear bearing in mind that the word ‘public’ means only those who are of equal caste or above. In the case of being in the presences of or in the assemblages of lower castes, these female would be at pain to display a superior demeanour in dressing and facial expression. END of NOTEs by VED

The men wear their kudumi or tuft of hair on the top of the head. The women have long black locks which they keep neat and clean and tidy by constant bathing and combing. When returning from the bath the hair is coquettishly allowed to hang loose down the back to dry. When dry it is oiled and gathered up neatly into a knot on the left side of the head in front.

The most characteristic custom of the Nayars is connected with their marriages. Every Nayar girl is married in one sense at a very early age. The tali is tied round her neck before she attains puberty, and it is considered to be disgraceful in her relations not to have this ceremony performed before that event takes place. The tying of the tali is a great event in each household, and frequently several girls go through this ceremony simultaneously. When this can be managed it enables the family to make a greater display than they would probably be able to afford if there was a separate ceremony for each girl.

The marriage pavilion is in the case of influential families very often magnificent in its decorations—bright-coloured rows of columns supporting gothic arched or Saracenic roofs resplendent in tinsel and colours, with an extremely ingenious and pretty device of domes revolving slowly at intervals and showering down at appropriate moments sweet-smelling flowers on the guests and bridal party. The auspicious day and hour are carefully selected beforehand in consultation with the astrologers : friends, relations and neighbours all flock to the ceremony, and at the selected auspicious moment the tali is tied round the girl’s neck amid much tom-tomming and shrill music accompanied by deafening shouts from the assembled people.

Then follows the usual distribution of betel and areca nut, and the guests afterwards sit clown to a banquet. The ceremony is prolonged over four days in the case of well-to-do families. The strange thing about it all is that the girl is not really married to the man who performs the tali-tying ceremony. In the case of good families the man selected for this duty is usually either an llayattu or an east coast Brahman, and in the case of others a man of their own kindred. After the ceremony he receives a suitable present and departs. When the girl comes of age he cannot claim her as his wife, nor solicit her favours in after life.

After attainment of the age of puberty the girl chooses her real husband of her own free will, though in this she is often guided by the opinions of her elders. The man she selects is called the “Gunadoshakkaran”, gunam being good and dosham being bad and karan being the doer. This designation may be exactly reproduced by the phrase from the *English wedding service in which the mutual contract of the parties is “for better for worse, for richer for poorer.”

NOTEs by VED: *Logan is being utterly foolish and misled. There might not actually be any such area of correspondence. END of NOTEs by VED

The ceremony of instalment of her husband is exceedingly simple. All that is necessary is that the husband should give, and that the girl should receive, a cloth in the presence of relations and friends. If the pair are dissatisfied with each other the woman in like simple fashion returns the cloth and their connection thereupon ends. Sometimes a woman accepts the favours of many lovers, but this is generally now-a-days scouted by all respectable people, and the fashion is daily becoming more and more prevalent for the woman to leave her ancestral home for that of the husband of her choice, although, as matter of law, the husband occupies no recognised1 legal relation involving rights and responsibilities in regard either to his wife or his children.

NOTEs: 1 As this work is being passed through the Press (July 1884) a Committee (President—Raja Sir T. Madava Row, K.C.S.I., Members—Mossara. Logon, Wigram, P. Karunakara Menon, and C. Sankaran Nayar) is busy drafting a Rill to legalise marriage among people governed by the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance. END of NOTEs

The statement that the younger cadets of Nambutiri families live with Nayar women merely reproduces in English the Malayali mode of describing the married life of these people and of the Nayars. It is part of the theory that the women they live with are not wives, that they may part at will, and that they may form new connections. This part of the Malabar law has, in the hands of unenquiring commentators, brought much undeserved obloquy on the morality of the people. The fact, at any rate of recent years, is that, although the theory of the law sanctions freedom in these relations, conjugal fidelity is very general. Nowhere is the marriage tie—albeit informal—more rigidly observed or respected, nowhere is it more jealously guarded or its neglect more savagely avenged.

The very looseness of the law makes the individual observance closer; for people have more watchful care over the things they are most liable to lose. The absence of ceremonial has encouraged the popular impression ; but ceremonial, like other conventionalities, is an accident, and Nayar women are as chaste and faithful as their neighbours, just as they are as modest as their neighbours although their national costume does not include some of the details required by conventional notions of modesty.

In former times, however, there was perhaps a better foundation for the popular impression. One Sheikh Zin-ud-din, the author of a work which in a more or less abridged shape has a large circulation, chiefly in manuscript, in Malabar, noticed the Nayar custom of marriage as one which they possessed distinguishing them from other races. He wrote about the middle and latter half of the sixteenth century. He seems to have had exceptionally good opportunities for observing facts. He said that each woman had two or four men who cohabited with her, and the men, he said “seldom” quarrelled, the woman distributing her time among her husbands just as a Muhammadan distributes his time among his women.

NOTEs: 2. 2 Tahafat-ul-Mujahidin or “Hints for por.sons seeking the way to God,” as it is frequently translated, or more literally “An offering to warriors who shall fight in defence of religion against infidels :” Translated by Rowlandson : London, 1833. END of NOTEs

Hamilton, too, in his “New account of the East Indies” (Edinburgh, 1727) wrote : “ The husbands,” of whom, he said, there might be twelve, but no more at one time, “*agree very well, for they co-habit with her in their Turns, according to their Priority of Marriage, ten Days, more or less according as they can fix a Term among themselves, and he that co-habits with her maintains her in all things necessary for his Time, so that she is plentifully provided for by a constant Circulation.”

NOTEs by VED: *There will be verbal hierarchies, attached to the names, and also in the words for He, Him etc. that makes precedence correctly understood. Beyond that women in such sort of polyandry relationships, the so-called wife will be there to serve a specific purpose, just as a domestic help is understood as being there for that specific purpose. No individual ownership might not be aimed for, by anyone. END of NOTEs by VED

“When the Man that co-habits with her goes into her House, he leaves his Arms at the Door, and none dare remove them or enter the House on Pain of Death.” “ When she proves with Child she nominates its Father, who takes care of its Education, after she has suckled it, and brought it to walk or speak, but the Children are never Heirs to their Father’s Estate, but the Father’s Sisters’ Children are.”

Many fanciful reasons are assigned for this peculiar custom, but there can be little doubt that the custom was adopted to prevent alienation of property, as Shiekh Zin-ud-din, the earliest observer, himself specifically sets forth. The custom had also much to commend it in a society organised as it then was, when the Nayars were the “protectors” of the State and could seldom, except in old age, settle down to manage their family affairs.

In Johnston’s “Relations of the most famous Kingdom in the world” (1611 Edition) there occurs the following quaintly written account of this protector guild : “It is strange to see how ready the Souldiour of this Country is at his Weapons : they are all gentile men, and tearmed Naires. At seven Years of Age they are put to School to learn the Use of their Weapons, where, to make them nimble and active, their Sinnewes and Joints are stretched by skilful Fellows, and annointed with the Oyle Sesamus : By this annointing they become so light and nimble that they will winde and turn their Bodies as if they had no Bones, casting them forward, backward, high and low, even to the Astonishment of the Beholders. Their continual Delight is in their Weapon, persuading themselves that no Nation goeth beyond them in Skill and Dexterity.”

And Jonathan Duncan, who visited Malabar more than once as one of the Commissioners from Bengal in 1792-03, and afterwards as Governor of Bombay, after quoting the following lines from Mickle’s Camoens, Book VII-

“Poliar the labouring lower clans are named :

“By the proud Nayrs the noble rank is claimed ;

“The toils of culture and of art they scorn :

“The shining faulchion brandish’d in the right_

“Their left arm wields the target in the fight_

went on to observe :

“These lines, and especially the two last, contain a good description of a Nayar, who walks along, holding up his naked sword with the same kind of unconcern as travellers in other countries carry in their hands a cane or walking staff. I have observed others of them have it fastened to their back, the hilt being stuck in their waist band, and the blade rising up and glittering between their shoulders.” (Asiatic Researches, V, pages 10, 18.)

NOTEs by VED: These type of descriptions are due to not understanding the power which a police constable has in the Subcontinent. It is connected to the huge and eerie power that feudal language codes perch upon them, over populations forcefully made subordinate to them. END of NOTEs by VED.

M. Mahe de la Bourdonnais, who had some experience of their fighting qualities in the field, thus described them :

Les Nairs sont de grands hommes basanes, legers et vigoureux: Ils n'not pas d'ature profession que celle des armes, et seraient de fort bons soldats, s'ils otaient disciplines: mais ils combattent sans ordre, ils prennent la fruite des qu'on les serre de pres avee quelque superiorte; pourtant, s'ils se vioent presses avee vigueur et qu'ils se croient en danger, ils reviennent a la charge, et ne se rendent jamais." (E. Esquer, "Essai sur les Castes dans l'Inde" Page 181, quotation)

NOTEs by VED: The above text will contain enough and more typos. This is due to copying very illegible text from a language which I do not know. END of NOTEs by VED.

Finally the only British General of any note—Sir Hector Munro who had ever to face the Nayars in the hold thus wrote of their modes of fighting :- “One may as well look for a needle in a Bottle of Hay as any of them in the daytime, they being lurking behind sand-banks and bushes, except when we are marching towards the fort, and then they appear like bees out in the month of June.”

“Besides which,” he continued, “they point their guns well and fire them well also.” (Tellicherry Factory Diary, March, 1701.) They were, in short, brave light troops, excelling in skirmishing, but their organisation into small bodies with discordant interests unfitted them to repel any serious invasion by an enemy even moderately well organised.

Among other strange Malayali customs Sheikh Zin-ud-din also noticed the fact that if a chieftain was slain, his followers attacked and obstinately persevered in ravaging the slayer’s country and killing his people till their vengeance was satisfied. This custom is doubtless that which was described so long ago as in the ninth century A.D. by two Muhammadans whose work was translated by Renaudot (Lond., 17 33) ;

“There are kings who, upon their accession, observe the following ceremony.” A quantity of cooked rice was spread before the king, and some three or four hundred persons came of their own accord and received each a small quantity of rice from the king’s own hands after he himself had eaten some.

“By eating of this rice they all engage to burn themselves on the day the king dies, or is slain, and they punctually fulfil their promise.”

Men who devoted themselves to certain death on great occasions were termed “Amoucos” by the Portuguese ; and Barbosa, one of the Portuguese writers, alluded to the practice as a prevalent custom among the Nayars. Purchas (II, 1708) has also the following : “ The King of Cochin hath a great number of Gentlemen, which he calleth Amocchi, and some are called Nairi : these two sorts of men esteem not their lives anything, so that it may be for the honour of the king.” The proper Malayalam term for such men was Chaver, literally, those who took up, or devoted themselves to death. It was a custom of the Nayars which was readily adopted by the Mappillas, who also at times—as at the great Mahamakham, twelfth-year feast, at Tirunavayi— devoted themselves to death in the company of Nayars for the honour of the Valluvanad Raja. And probably the frantic fanatical rush of the Mappillas on British bayonets, which is not even yet a thing of the past, is the latest development of this ancient custom* of the Nayars.

NOTEs by VED: *These are all totally foolish claims, made either by Logan himself, who has not understood the power of the feudal hierarchical codes in the native languages; or it could be the insertions of someone who wanted to promote purported Nair heritage. Actually, the very opposite ideas about Nair fighting qualities are mentioned Travancore State Manual written by V. Nagam Iyya. Beyond that, there is actually no requirement to exault fighting qualities of semi-barbarian populations. If there is any evidence of quality social codes that they can promote, it is these things that might need to be praised. Actually the suicide bombers currently in active in many locations are more brave that the above-mentioned population/s. However, there is nothing to admire in their bravery unless it is towards some great aim. END of NOTEs by VED

The martial spirit of the Nayars in these piping times of peace has quite died out for want of exercise. The Nayar is more and more becoming a family man. Comparatively few of them nowadays even engage in hunting. With a large increase in their numbers, and with comparative poverty for the large body of them, the race is fast degenerating. A caste who are hardly to be distinguished from the Nayars except by their inheritance customs, is that of the Kadupallar or Eluttachchans, that is, professional village schoolmasters. They follow a modified Makkatayam system of inheritance in which the property descends from father to son but not from father to daughter. The girls are married before attaining puberty, and the bridegroom who is to be the girl’s real husband in after life arranges the dowry and other matters by means of mediators (Enangan).

The tali is tied round the girl’s neck by the bridegroom’s sister or female relative. At the funeral ceremonies of this class, the barber caste (Ambattan) performs priestly offices, giving directions and preparing oblation rice. A widow without male issue is removed on the twelfth day after her husband’s death from his house to that of her own parents. And this is done even if she have female issue.

But on the contrary, if she has borne sons to the deceased, she is not only entitled to remain at her husband’s house, but she continues to have, in virtue of her sons, a joint right over his property. When she goes to her parents’ house widowed, two other women bear her company as far as the gate of her destination and then retire. Loud lamentations are exchanged when the parents receive the poor widow. On her way home she is clad in a new cloth and veiled. But she can remarry.

The Astrologers, who come next in turn to be noticed, deserve a somewhat detailed description. The caste is styled Kaniyan, Kanisan and Kaniyar Panikkar, the last designation being the title of their office. They are a polluting caste, and have to stand at the distance already described. And yet their caste functions (astrology, and astrology coupled with teaching children to read and write) can be classed only among the learned professions. Native tradition is never at a loss to account for such a fact as this, and there is a traditional myth regarding the origin of the caste which may have some historical foundation in fact.

The tradition runs that astrology as a profession was once exclusively practised by the Nambudiri Brahmans, and this is most probably historically correct, for the Brahmans seem to have had originally a monopoly of all the learned professions. One Palur Bhattiri, one of the greatest of the Brahman astrologers, is said to have foreseen an evil conjunction of the planets which would certainly bring him into disgrace and prove calamitous, and to avoid this adverse fate he forsook his home and friends and set out on a journey.

In the course of this journey he had to cross the dry bed of a river, when sudden freshes came down and swept him off to an unknown region. He scrambled ashore in torrents of rain and in darkness, and, espying a light in a house near where he landed, he made for it, and in an exhausted state lay down in the verandah of the hut musing on the untoward events of the day and on his affectionate family whom he had left. The hut was the dwelling of a man of the Tityan caste, and as it happened this man had that day quarrelled with his wife and left the hut.

The wife anxiously, it is said, expecting his return, opened the door about midnight, and seeing a man lying in the verandah, mistook him for her husband, and the Brahman was so wrapt up in his thoughts of his home that he in turn mistook the Tiyatti for his own wife. In the morning the truth was revealed, and the Brahman then accepted his degradation and lived with the woman, who bore him a son. This son the Brahman in due course educated in all the lore of his profession, and by his influence obtained for him an important place in the Hindu constitution as Ganakan, that is, astrologer.

The name was subsequently corrupted into Kanikan or Kanisan. Stripped of its improbabilities the story just amounts to this, that a Brahman astrologer of good position and influence conceived an attachment for a woman of the Tiyan caste, and educated the son born of this mesalliance in all the secrets of his own profession and thus founded the caste of Kanisans. The probability of this story being in part at least true is that the most noteworthy family of Kanisans in the Malayali country is still known as the Palm Kanisans who are still reputed to be the most skilful of the caste in foretelling future events.

However this may be, it is certain that the Kanisans as a caste have spread over the face of the land and have in large measure superseded the Brahmans in this profession. This is easily accounted for by the store which is set upon their services as diviners of future events. They occupied in the ancient Hindu constitution a place of importance in every village, and along with the Asari or carpenter, the Tattan or goldsmith, the Malayan or musician, conjuror, the Vannan or washerman, the Velan or midwife, accoucheur, and the Vilakkattaravan or barber, they were styled Cherujanmakkar, that is, small birthright holders, and as such were entitled to hereditary rights and perquisites within certain well-defined local limits.

This organisation is to a certain extent still preserved, and most probably the Kanisan’s profession will survive all other relics of the ancient Hindu constitution as his services are still considered of essential importance in all matters of everyday life.

Indeed it would be difficult to describe a single important occasion in everyday life when the Kanisan is not at hand as a guiding spirit, foretelling lucky days and lucky hours, casting horoscopes, explaining the causes of calamities, prescribing remedies for untoward events, and physicians (not physic) for sick persons. Seed cannot be sown nor trees planted unless the Kanisan has been consulted beforehand.

He is even asked to consult his shastras to find lucky days and moments for setting out on a journey, commencing an enterprise, giving a loan, executing a deed, or shaving the head. For such important occasions as births, marriages, tonsure, investiture with the sacred thread, and beginning the A. B, C, the Kanisan is of course indispensable. His work in short mixes him up with the gravest as with the most trivial of the domestic events of the people, and his influence and position are correspondingly great.

The astrologer’s finding, as one will solemnly assert with all due reverence, is the oracle of God himself, with the justice of which every one ought to be satisfied, and the poorer classes follow his dictates unhesitatingly.

There is no prescribed scale of fees for his services, and in this respect he is like the native physician and teacher. Those who consult him, however, rarely come empty-handed, and the gift is proportioned to the means of the party and the time spent in serving him. If no fee is given, the Kanisan does not exact it, as it is one of his professional characteristics and a matter of professional etiquette that the astrologer should be unselfish and not greedy of gain. On public occasions, however, and on important domestic events, a fixed scale of fees is usually adhered to.

The astrologer’s busiest time is from January to July, the period of harvest and of marriages, but in the other six months of the year his is far from being an idle life. His most lucrative business lies in casting horoscopes, recording the events of a man’s life from birth to death, pointing out dangerous periods of life, and prescribing rules and ceremonies to be observed by individuals for the purpose of propitiating the gods and planets and so averting the calamities of dangerous times. He also shows favourable junctures for commencement of undertakings, and the Grantham or book written on palmyra leaf sets forth in considerable detail the person’s disposition and mental qualities as affected by the position of the planets in the Zodiac at the moment of birth.

All this is a work of labour, and of time; there are few members of respectable families who are not thus provided, and nobody grudges the five to twenty-five rupees usually paid for a horoscope according to the position and reputation of the astrologer.

Two things are essential to the astrologer, namely, a bag of cowries and an almanac, When any one comes to consult him he quietly sits down, facing the sun, on a plank seat or mat, murmuring some mantrams or sacred verses, opens his bag of cowries and pours them on the floor. With his right hand he moves them slowly round and round, solemnly inciting meanwhile a stanza or two in praise of his guru or teacher and of his deity, invoking their help.

He then stops and explains what he has been doing, at the same time taking a handful of cowries from the heap and placing them on one side. In front is a diagram drawn with chalk on the floor and consisting of twelve compartments. Before commencing operations with the diagram he selects three or five of the cowries highest up in the heap and places them in a line on the right-hand side. These represent Ganapati (the Belly God, the remover of difficulties), the sun, the planet Jupiter, Sarasvati (the Goddess of speech), and his own guru or preceptor.

To all of those the astrologer gives due obeisance, touching his ears and the ground three times with both hands. The cowries are next arranged in the compartments of the diagram and are moved about from compartment to compartment by the astrologer, who quotes meanwhile the authority on which he makes such moves. Finally he explains the result, and ends with again worshipping the deified cowries who were witnessing the operation as spectators.

Like the Pandava brothers, as they proudly point out, the Kanisans used formerly to have one wife in common among several brothers, and this custom is still observed by some of them. Their custom of inheritance is consequently from father to son, and the son performs the funeral ceremonies. But in all other respects their marriage and death ceremonies seem to have a Marumakkatayam origin.

The marriage and other important ceremonial expenses of the village (desam) astrologer and schoolmaster are always provided by the people of his village and the headman and others take a proper pride in celebrating the marriage and other ceremonies in good style. At his wedding he is decked out for the occasion in valuable ornaments conspicuous among which is the combined style (for writing on palmyra leaves) and knife, which is thrust into the girdle, and which is highly embellished with inlaid silver and gold work.

On setting out on his wedding journey lie is accompanied by a party of Nayars as escort who fire guns, blow horns and beat tom-toms as the procession sets forth from the bridegroom’s house, and the same proceeding is followed on arrival at the bride’s house. One of the bride’s female relatives, who is styled Enangatti, has a conspicuous part to play in the ceremony. She seats the bride on seven and a half measures of white rice spread on the floor. The bride is either carried or led in by her with her eyes closed, two betel loaves being hold firmly pressed by her against her eyelids.

The tali is placed round her neck by the Enangatti while the bride is seated on the rice, with her back to the bridegroom, and the bridegroom knots the string at the back of the bride’s nock at the precise moment when a neighbouring astrologer called in for the occasion declares that the moment is auspicious.

The phrase he uses is as follows : “The auspicious time is come and it greets you with offers of beauty long life, wealth, sweet wedlock, posterity, and happiness. Seize thou the occasion and marry the bride, and prosperity will attend you.”

The wedding guests here break in with a solemn twang of Aha ! Aha ! I” The tali string is thereupon promptly tied by the bridegroom. After reading of a portion of the Ramayanam the Enangatti seats the bride beside the groom and joins their hands.

The rice on which the bride was seated becomes the astrologer’s fee, with eight annas added in money. The Enangatti next feeds the youthful pair with sweets, and practices on the bridegroom various little jokes while so doing. Finally she comes behind the pair with rice in both hands and sprinkles it over their heads with prayers and good wishes, and this is done in turn by all the relations beginning with the parents. The wedding ceremony concludes with the pair making obeisance to their elders.

The festivities, however, last for four days, and on the third day the party adjourns to the bridegroom’s home, and on the fifth day it finally disperses. Without the consent of the people of the village the parties are not permitted to divorce each other. With this consent the parties have simply to pronounce the divorce in a caste assembly. The children, if any, in that case belong to the father.

Their other ceremonies are not of sufficient interest to merit detailed description.

The *Tiyar or Ilavar caste is the numerically strongest section of the Hindu population, numbering in ail 559,717. They were, as already noticed in this section, the planters of the ancient Hindu constitution, and this character they still to a very large extent retain, as they hold to the present day a practical monopoly of tree climbing and toddy drawing from palm trees.

NOTEs by VED: *This grouping of Thiyyas (two different castes in themselves) with Ezhavas, is seen to be done in a most vehement manner, suggesting some vested interests have interfered in this writing, with regard to this:

Moreover, to mention them as part of ancient Hindu constitution is also a very foolish item. END of NOTEs by VED

One of their caste names (Tiyan) denotes that they came originally from an *island, while the other caste name (Ilavan) denotes that that island was Ceylon. Tiyan is a corruption of the Sanskrit Dvipan passing through Tivan, a name which is even now sometimes applied to the caste. In the records of the Tellicherry Factory the caste is generally alluded to “Tivee.” Simhala was the ancient name for Ceylon, and the other caste name of the planters must have passed through Simhalam to Sihalan and Ihalan and finally to Ilavan.

NOTEs by VED: * The whole text above is just a lot nonsense, written very clearly by some of the SNDP or some other Ezhava activists who strived to set up a base in Malabar. They might have had the support of many Thiyya social leadership as well as Thiyya government officials. It is not possible to mention as who all must have collaborated in this scheme of events, which also included setting up Ezhava Temple in Tellicherry. Logan, very obviously was a dullard in many of his observations, if they are from his own insights. Or else he has been befooled.

There is no possibility of a migration of Ezhavas from Travancore to north Malabar. In fact, the very language of north Malabar was different from that of what the Ehavas might have spoken. Beyond that none of the north Malabar Thiyya traditional spiritual system, which are basically shamanistic, have any connection to Ezhava traditions.

All that is common is that both Ezhavas as well as the Thiyyas came under the same feudal caste masters. It is like the immigrants from various Asian locations arriving in England. After being under English systems for a few centuries, these immigrants would find it quite difficult to mention a difference.

However, in the case of Ezhavas and Thiyyas, especially north Malabar Thiyyas, there is absolutely anything common. In fact, the Ezhavas traditionally followed patriarchal family system, while the North Malabar Thiyyas followed matriarchal system of family inheritance.

It would be most interesting to get the information on who gave such information to Logan.

Edgar Thurston, in his Castes and Tribes of Southern India has actually given a very detailed information of this issue. END of NOTEs by VED

In their migration into Malabar they are traditionally stated to have brought with them the Tenkay-maram, that is, the southern fruit-tree, alias, the coconut1 palm, the coconut palm was perhaps grown in India at a very early period for in Photios’ abridgement of the Indika of Ktesias reference is made to “palm trees and their dates” which were said to be “thrice the size of those in Babylon,” and in another abridged passage of the same work by another writer the palm fruits are referred to as “the largest of nuts.”

NOTEs: 1 See ante, foot-note, p. 70. END OF NOTEs

Both passages however belong to times long subsequent to that of the original work. There is no doubt however that Kosmas Indiko pleustes described most accurately the coconut palm under the appellation of Argellia, an erroneous transliteration probably of the word narikelam or nalikeram usually applied to the fruit by the Malayali Brahmans. It is not at all improbable that Tiyans had arrived in Malabar before the time of Kosmas Indiko pleustes. (A.D. 522—547.)

The former caste name is used on the coast and in North Malabar generally, the latter is applied to them chiefly in the Palghat and Valluvanad taluks.

In North Malabar the caste generally follows the Marumakkaltayam system of inheritance, while in South Malabar the descent of property is generally from father to son. Not unfrequently, however, two brothers, or more even, marry one wife. If she have but one son the child is fathered on the elder brother.

Both men and women of the North Malabar caste are remarkably neat in appearance, although, like the Nayars, their clothing, both of men and women, is extremely scanty, and they are besides extremely careful as to personal cleanliness. The headquarters* of the caste may be said to lie at and round the ancient European settlements of the French at Mahe and of the English at Tellicherry. The women are not as a rule excommunicated if they live with Europeans, and the consequence is that there has been among them a large admixture of European blood, and the caste itself has been materially raised in the social scale.

In appearance some of the women** are almost as fair as Europeans, and it may be said in a general way that to a European eye the best favoured men and women to be found in the district are the inhabitants of ancient Kadattunad, Iruvalinad, and Kottayam, of whom a large proportion belong to the Tiyan or planting community.

NOTEs by VED: It is quite obvious that the above-mentioned items are about North Malabar Thiyyas, not about Ezhavas. END of NOTEs by VED

In the facility of their marriage relations they differ but little from the Nayars, but with them the real marriage ceremony is much more formal. It is usual for the girl to have her tali tied, as in the Nayars caste, before attaining the ago of puberty, but the system of having the tali tied by the man who is to be her future husband is always resorted to when a suitable husband can be found before the girl attains to that age. At the betrothal ceremony, which is managed by two relatives, and by a Tandan (headman or priest) on each side the bridegroom’s party tender payment of four fanams, apparently for the food they have partaken, and then five and a quarter rupees in cash and two now pieces of cloth as an adayalam or mark or sign of the conclusion of the bargain.

At the end of this part of the proceedings the groom’s Tandan gives to the bride’s Tandan two betal leaves with the remark, “We shall be coming for the marriage with a party of so many on such and such a date,” to which the bride’s Tandan replies, “If you satisfy our claims with (say) ten and a half rupees in cash and six pieces of new cloth and two fanams for uncle’s son, we shall hand over the girl to you.” The allusion here to “uncle’s son” will be explained presently.

Before the wedding day the bridegroom goes and visits all his relations accompanied by live women all well clad and bedecked. If he accepts food in any house it is a sign that the inmates are invited to the wedding

Thu bridegroom1 with his relations and friends sets out for the bride’s house on the wedding day on observing a favourable omen.

NOTEs: 1 As this work is being passed through the Press (July 1884) a Committee (President Raja Sir T. Madava Row, K.C.S.I., Members—Mossara. Logon, Wigram, P. Karunakara Menon, and C. Sankaran Nayar) is busy drafting a Rill to legalise marriage among people governed by the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance. END of NOTEs

He goes accompanied by two other youths dressed exactly like himself, and with others of his male relations and friends armed with swords and targets playing in front of him. On arrival at the wedding pavilion2 the bride’s Tandan wisely collects the swords and keeps them in his own charge. The three youths dressed exactly alike sit together and have rice strewn over them in common.

NOTEs: 2 Tahafat-ul-Mujahidin or “Hints for persons seeking the way to God,” as it is frequently translated, or more literally “An offering to warriors who shall fight in defence of religion against infidels.” Translated by Rowlandson : London, 1833. END of NOTEs

NOTEs by VED: The context of the above note is not clear. END of NOTEs by VED

The bridegroom’s sister brings in the bride and seats her behind the groom ; the other female relatives stand behind, and the bride’s mother is conspicuous in a special red cloth thrown over her shoulders. If the bride has not already had her tali tied, the groom now puts it round her neck, and his sister ties it at the auspicious moment pronounced by the astrologer present for that purpose. After this the bride moves back to her seat behind the groom, and the groom’s sister then asks permission of the assembly to pay the bride’s price (kanam), and the bride’s mother then, in similar fashion, seeks permission to receive at her hands the cloths and ton and a half rupees in cash.

The groom and his two groomsmen are then served with food, etc., which they in dumb show pretend to take, and at the conclusion of this they rise up and march straight home with the bride, who must be held by the groom’s sister all the way.

As they stop out of the wedding pavilion they are met by Machchun or “uncle’s son,” prepared to contest with them for the bride as prize, he having, according to Marumakkatayam ideas, a better claim to her than anyone else. It is on this account that the two groomsmen are dressed up like the groom himself in order to puzzle the Machchun at this juncture as to who’s who. The Machchun’s claims are bought off with the two fanams brought for the purpose, and he in turn presents betel leaf in token of conciliation.

On reaching the bridegroom’s house the bride and groom must enter the door placing their right foot simultaneously on the door step. The feasting is kept up for two days at the groom’s home and for two more days at the bride’s, the parties assisting each other and also making presents to the couple.

This caste is much given to devil-charming, or devil-driving as it is often called. The washer-men (Vannan) are the high-priests of this superstition, and with chants, ringing cymbals, magic figures, and waving lights they drive out evil spirits from their votaries of this caste at certain epochs in their married lives. One ceremony in particular, called Teyyattam—incorrupt form of Deva and Attam, that is, playing at gods—takes place occasionally in the fifth month of pregnancy.

A leafy arbour is constructed and in front of it is placed a terrible figure of Chamundi, the queen of the demons*, made of rice-flour, turmeric powder, and charcoal powder. A party of not less than eighteen washer-men is organised to represent the demons and furies—Kuttichattan (a mischievous imp) and many others. On being invoked, those demons bound on to the stage in pairs, dance, caper, jump, roar, fight, and drench each other with saffron-water. Their capers and exertions gradually work up their excitement, until they are veritably possessed of the devil. At this juncture fowls and animals are sometimes thrown to thorn to appease their fury. Those they attack with their teeth, and kill and tear as a tiger does his prey. After about twenty minutes the convulsions ease, the demon or spirit declares its pleasure, and much fatigued, retires to give place to others, and thus the whole night is spent with much tom-tomming and noise and shouting, making it impossible, for Europeans at least, to sleep within earshot of the din.

NOTEs by VED: *Logan is clearly being judgemental on items he is simply ignorant END of NOTEs by VED

Their funeral ceremonies are peculiar in certain respects. The diseased is furnished with money and food for his journey by each blood-relative holding in his right hand in turn a piece of gold and some white rice, and pouring over those some drops of water into deceased’s mouth as he lies at the grave side or on the funeral pyre as the case may be. Early too on the morning of the third day after death the Kurup or caste barber adopts measures to entice the spirit of the deceased out of the room in which he breathed his last. This is done by the nearest relative bringing into the room a steaming pot of savoury funeral rice. It is immediately again removed and the spirit after three days’ fasting is understood greedily to follow the odour of the tempting food.

The Kurup at once closes the door and shuts out the spirit. Boiled rice is thrown to the crows daily while the ceremony lasts. The barber or Kurup is fed most liberally for the duties which he has to perform, and which are looked on as entailing great sin. And it is a common saying that the Kurups never increase in numbers owing to these sinful earnings.

The Kurup just referred to belongs to Panan caste. He is the barber of the polluting castes above Cherumars, and by profession he is also an umbrella-maker. But curiously enough, though an umbrella -maker, he cannot make the whole of an umbrella. He may make only the framework ; the covering of it is the portion of the females of his caste. If he has no female relatives of his own capable of finishing off his umbrellas, he must seek the services of the females of other families in the neighbourhood to finish his for him.

In the ceremonies of this caste there is nothing particular worth mentioning except that the village astrologer is not expected to be present at their weddings, and the usual part played by him in such ceremonies among other castes is taken by an older of the caste itself.

The basket-makers of society are called Kavaras. Their origin is obscure, but it. is clearly Dravidian as they speak a corrupt kind of Tulu. Nothing will induce them to take hold of an umbrella, as they have a rule or motto ; “Do not take hold of a Panan's (umbrella-maker’s) leg.” They have no fashion about wearing their hair : some shave in the Hindu fashion, leaving a top knot, others shave their heads clean, others again wear their hair long and matted and not over clean.

Though the village astrologer will not work for the barbers (umbrella-makers) of polluting castes, yet he attends the wedding ceremonies of the basket-makers. The basket-makers in turn have barbers of their own. The polluting castes’ barber—the Panan—does not serve them.

The most remarkable custom of the basket-makers is that as soon as the pains of delivery come upon a pregnant woman she is taken to an outlying shed and left alone to live or die as the event may turn out. No help is given to her for twenty-eight days ; even medicines are thrown to her from a distance; and the only assistance rendered is to place a jar of warm water close by her just before her child is born. Pollution from birth is held as worse than that from death. At the end of the twenty-eight days the hut in which she was confined is burnt down. The father, too, is polluted for fourteen days, and at the end of that time he is purified, not like other castes by the barber, but by holy water obtained from Brahmans at temples or elsewhere, and on this point the Kavara is most particular.

The next caste to be noticed is formed of the Cherumar or agrestic slaves. These were in all probability the aborigines of the country when it passed under the rule of the Nayars. The name is now written as above Cherumar, and as such is supposed to be derived from cheru, small, an adjective which correctly describes the appearance of this caste now-a-days ; but size and stature depend more upon conditions of food than upon anything else, and a race which has for centuries on centuries continued to be fed by its masters on a minimum of what will keep body and soul together is pretty sure in the long run to degenerate in size.

NOTEs by VED: *There is more to what happened than what Logan could possibly understand. This unmentioned item is the feudal language of the natives. It has the capability of delivering hammerblows on the extremely lower-down positioned populations. In fact, if the Briton were to come under the immigrants from the South Asian subcontinent, and remain there for a few centuries, they themselves would have many of the facial and physical demeanours of the lower castes in the subcontinent. It is basically connected to being under feudal language speakers, at an extremely low level. And the native-English have many of the qualifications that can make them be pushed to the lowest levels. END of NOTEs by VED

The Hindu mind, moreover, seems to be peculiarly liable to adopt superficial views on historical matters, and the fact that the race of Cherumar is of small stature is just one of those superficial facts which would be accepted by a Hindu (with the clearest conscience) as proof positive that the name was given because the people were of small size and stature. On the other hand there is ample evidence that the Malabar coast constituted at one time the kingdom or empire of Chera, and the nad or country of Cheranad lying on the coast and Inland south-east of Calicut remains to the present day to give a local habitation to the ancient name. Moreover the name of the *great Emperor of Malabar who is known to every child on the coast as Cheraman Perumal, although the first of these names is now written with the dental instead of with the cerebral r—was undoubtedly the title and not the name of the emperor, and meant the chief (literally, big man) of the Chera people.

NOTEs by VED: *It is true that in the local feudal languages, there is a propensity to use large-scale words for anything that seems beyond one’s level. However, to use the word ‘Emporer about any king of the subcontinent, is being slightly farfetched. Simply overrunning locations with crude and brutal barbarian forces is simply not the hallmark of any Empire. Empire-building should consist of a capability of setting up great social and administrative systems that caters to at least a majority of the residents. END of NOTEs by VED

Finally, from a census taken in 1857 of the slave population it appears that they were then distributed as follows :

1. Chirakkal 13,380

2. Kottayam 2,859

3. Kurumbranad 10,500

4. Wynad 10,561

5. Calicut 14,082

G. Ernad 35,419

7. Valluvanad 34,902

8. Palghat 25,280

0. Ponnani 28,668

10. Cochin 71

Total 187,812

That is to say, the bulk of them were located in the ancient Cheranad (part of the Ernad taluk) and in the neighbourhood of it. Moreover Ernad and Valluvanad and Ponnani are the three great Mappilla taluks of the district, and the converts to Islam have in Malabar been drawn chiefly from the slave population, so that originally the slave population in those three taluks, which seem to have been about the heart of ancient Chera, was denser still. There is therefore a good deal to be said in favour of the view that the Cherumars were the aborigines of Malabar.

The Cherumar are of two sections, one of which, the Iraya Cherumar, are of slightly higher social standing than the Pulayar. As the names denote, the former are permitted to come as far as the eaves (ira) of their employers’ houses, while the latter name denotes that they convoy pollution (pula) to all whom they meet or approach, the former class belongs chiefly to Palghat taluk, and it is said that the only houses which they may approach as far as the eaves are the houses of the Ilavan caste.

The caste is very scantily clad; in many places the men do not wear cloth at all round their waists, but substitute for it a fringe of green loaves. Their women used at one time to go similarly clad, but this practice has fallen into disuse in Malabar at least, although it is still maintained in the Native States. In the latter also, in outlying parts, both men and women are still afraid to avail themselves of the privilege of using the public roads. In passing from one part of the country to another they tramp along through the marshes in mud, and wet often up to their waists, rather than risk the displeasure of their lords and masters by accidentally polluting them while using the public roads. They work very hard for the pittance they receive; in fact nearly all the rice-land cultivation used to be in former days carried on by them. The influx of European planters, who offer good wages, has had a marked effect in releasing this class from some of their bonds, and the hold which their masters had over them has been proportionately relaxed. It is said that the difficulty of providing for their woman is the chief obstacle to their complete release from their shackles. The women must have dwellings of some sort somewhere, and the masters provide the women with huts and allow their men to go to work on plantations on condition that they return in good time for the rice cultivation and hand over a considerable portion of their earnings.

Conversion to Muhammadanism has also had a most marked effect in freeing the slave caste from their former burthens. By conversion, a Cheruman obtains a distinct rise in the social scale, and if he is in consequence bullied or beaten the influence of the whole Muhammadan community comes to his aid. With fanaticism still rampant, the most powerful of landlords dares not to disregard the possible consequences of making a martyr of his slave.

The questions of slavery and the slave trade attracted the early attention of the Honourable Company’s Government. So early as 1702, the year in which British rule commenced, a proclamation was issued by the Commissioners against dealing in slaves. A person offering a slave for sale was to be considered as a thief. The slave was to be forfeited and the person offering him for sale was to be fined five times his value. The purchaser was to be similarly treated. The houses of suspected slave traders were to be well watched and entered and searched on the smallest suspicion, and the traders caught in flagrante delicto were to be handed over to the Rajas to be dealt with.

Fishermen and Mappillas convoying slaves were to be “severely flogged and fined at the rate of ten rupees each slave.” Vessels used in trade (except fisher-boats) were to be confiscated. But the proclamation was not to prevent the privileged superior castes from purchasing the children of famine-stricken parents, as had been customary, on condition that the parents might repurchase their children, as had also been customary, on the advent of better times. This proclamation was, however, directed chiefly against the practice, then prevalent, of bands of robbers carrying off by force from their houses the children of “the most useful inhabitants, the Tiyars and other cultivators.”

This practice was kept alive by the facility with which the slaves could be sold on the coast to the agents of vessels engaged in the trade sailing from the French settlement at Mahe and from the Dutch settlement at Cochin. These ships “in general carried them (the slaves) to the French Islands.”

The subject of agrestic slavery did not come forward for some years, but on 20th July 1819, Mr. Warden, the Principal Collector, wrote an interesting report on the condition of the Cherumar and on the 23rd December of that year the Principal Collector received orders desiring “that the practice of selling slaves for arrears of revenue may be immediately discontinued.”

The matter in this and other ways reached the ears of the Court of Directors, and in their despatch of 12th December 1821 they expressed considerable dissatisfaction at the lack of precise information which had been vouchsafed to them regarding the cultivators in general, and in particular said : We are told, indeed, that part of them (an article of very unwelcome intelligence) are held as slaves ; that they are attached to the soil and marketable property.”

A report was called for, and Mr. Vaughan in his letter of 24th August 1822 merely said that the slaves were under the protection of the laws. The general question of slavery was not, however, allowed to drop—as, indeed, at that time it was not likely to be—for the British public mind was in great excitement on a question of the kind nearer home. It was, perhaps, fortunate for Malabar that West Indian slavery was receiving so much notice at home as it served to divert attention away from the Indian question, and at any rate the solution of the difficulty was thus set about with greater regard for the individual interests both of the slave and of his master.

On 16th November 1836, the Government ordered the remission in the Collector’s accounts of Rs. 927-13-0, which was the “annual revenue” from slaves on the Government lands in Malabar, and the Government was at the same time “pleased to accede to the recommendation in favour of emancipating the slaves on the Government lands in Malabar.”

Their freedom was not, however, to be proclaimed, and the measure was to be carried out in such manner “as not to create any unnecessary alarm or aversion to it on the part of other proprietors, or premature hopes of emancipation on that of other slaves.”

This was a wise step on the part of Government, for it strengthened their hands in future years in recommending others to do as they themselves had already done. But at the same time they need not have been under any apprehensions as to the effects of such an emancipation on the minds of other slaves. It is only people with initial ideas of liberty who fret under a system of compulsory customary employments.

The Directors on learning what had been done "entirely approved” of the measures adopted, and requested the Government to consider how to extend similar measures to the slaves of private owners, and urged the necessity of carrying out the measures with "extreme caution”. This was contained in the Directors’ despatch of 17th August 1838, and in penning it they evidently had before their eyes the fear of being heavily mulcted after the West Indian fashion in compensation to owners if any overt act was taken towards publicly recognising a general emancipation of slaves.

The Collector on 7th January 1839 submitted his report, and noticed the fact that there were “few or no slaves” in North Malabar. Ho also stated that, their condition was ameliorated since 1822. On this, nothing more was done just then, except that the Government issued orders on 12th March 1839 “to watch the subject of the improvement of the condition of the Cherumar with that interest which it evidently merits, and leave no available means untried for effecting that object.”

Nothing more would likely have been done had not Mr. E. B, Thomas, the Judge at Calicut, written in strong terms on 24th November 1841 a letter to the Sadr Adalat, in which he pointed out a number of facts which had come judicially under his notice. Women in some taluks fetched higher prices in order to breed slaves. Tho average cost of a young male under ten years was about Rs. 3-8-0, of a female somewhat loss. An infant ten months old was sold in a court auction on 10th August 1841 for Rs. 1-10-6 independent of the price of its mother.

And in a recent suit, the right to twenty-seven slaves was the “sole matter of litigation, and it was disposed of on its merits.” In a second letter, dated 24th August 1842, Mr. E. B. Thomas pointed out that the slaves had increased in numbers from 144,000 in census 1835 to 159,000 in census 1842, and he observed that “no gradual extinction of slavery is really going on in Malabar.”

It was apparently these letters of Mr. E. B. Thomas which eventually decided the Board of Diroctors to send out orders to legislate in the matter, for in their despatch of 27th July 1842 they first sent orders “for the entire abolition of slavery”, and in a second despatch of 15th March 1843 they called the special attention of the Government of India to the question of slavery in Malabar where the evils, as described by Mr. E. B. Thomas, were so aggravated “as compared with other portions of India”.

The Government of India thereupon passed Act V of 1843. On the passing of the Act, its provisions were widely published throughout Malabar by Mr. Conolly, the Collector, and he explained to the Cherumar that it was their interest as well as their duty to remain with their masters if treated kindly.

He proclaimed “The Government will not order a slave who is in the employ of an individual to forsake him and go to the service of another claimant; nor will the Government interfere with the slave’s inclination as to where he wishes to work.” And again, “Any person claiming a slave as janmam, kanam or panayam, the right of such claim or claims will not be investigated into at any of the public offices or courts.”

In the other portions of the proclamation, he closely adhered to the language of the Act. These measures in due course received the cordial approval of the Court of Directors, who, in their despatch of 30th July 1845, wrote as follows : “It would defeat the very object in view to create any estrangement between them and their masters, and , moreover would be an act of injustice and bad faith of which the masters would be entitled to complain.”

The appointment of a Protector of the Cherumar was sanctioned but never carried out, and various industrial and educational schemes organised for their benefit failed because of their lack of industry in the one case, and their lack of application and adaptability in the other.

In 1852 and again in 1855 the fact that traffic in slaves still continued was brought incidentally on the first occasion, and specially on the second, to the notice of Government, but on full consideration no further measures for the emancipation of the Cherumar were deemed to be necessary. The Cherumar even yet have not realised what public opinion in England would probably have forced down their throats fifty years ago, and there is reason to think that they are still, even now, with their full consent, bought and sold and hired out, although, of course, the transaction must be kept secret for fear of the penalties of sections 370, 371, etc., of the Indian Penal Code, which came into force on 1st January 1802 and which was the real final blow at slavery in India.

The slaves, however, as a caste will never understand what real freedom means until measures are adopted to give them indefeasible rights in the small orchards occupied by them as house sites.

Like the Tiyar or Ilavar, the Cherumar purchase their wives, and the bridegroom’s sister is the chief performer in the wedding ceremony. It is she who pays the girl’s price and carries off the bride.

The consent of the parents on both sides to a marriage is signified by an interchange of visits at which sips of rice-water are partaken, the visitors in each case signifying assent by dropping a fanam coin into the rice-water before partaking of it. When the wedding party sets out, they form a large gang of people, and at intervals the men set to at stick-play, the women singing in chorus to encourage thej “Let us see—let us see - the stick-play (Paditallu), oh ! Cherumar”.

At their weddings too, men and women minglo indiscriminately in dancing. On the return to the bridegroom’s hut, the bride is expected to weep loudly and deplore her fate. On entering the bridegroom’s hut, the bride must tread on a pestle placed across the threshold. A divorce presents no difficulties beyond the necessity of returning half of the bride’s purchase value.

Like the other castes, the Cherumar observe pollution for a number of days when a relative dies. The number of days in this case is fourteen, but as they cannot at certain seasons afford to be idle for fourteen days together—for fourteen days’ idleness very often with them means fourteen days’ starvation—they resort to an artifice to attain this end. They mix cowdung and paddy and make it into a ball and place this ball in an earthen pot, the mouth of which they carefully close with clay. The pot is laid in a corner of the cottage, and as long as the pot remains unopened they remain free from pollution and can mix among their fellows. On a convenient day they open the pot and are instantly seized with pollution, - which continues for forty days. Otherwise fourteen days’ consecutive pollution is all that is required. On the forty-first or fifteenth day, as the case may be, rice is thrown to the ancestors and a feast follows.

The village astrologer is above being consulted by the Cherumar who therefore resort to a Pariah. The process of divination is performed by turning some paddy in a basket, and in this way the good and the bad times of a Cheruman are reckoned.

Of the Nayadis or lowest caste among the Hindus—the dog-eaters— nothing definite is known. They are most persistent in their clamour for charity, and will follow at a respectful distance for miles together any person walking, driving or boating. If anything is given to them it must be laid down, and after the person offering it has proceeded a sufficient distance the recipient comes timidly forward and removes it.