Malabar Manual Vol 1 Chapter 2. The PEOPLE (continued)
Section E— Manners, Customs etc.
The most important of the customs in which the people of Malabar differ from people elsewhere is that connected with the inheritance of property. It is a sufficiently perplexing thought to a person brought up in western modes of life and with western ideas that a father can stand in no recognised legal1 relation to his own children, and that a father’s property does not as a matter of course descend to his offspring. And yet that is how the law stands at present in regard to the vast majority of the inhabitants of the district.
NOTEs: 1 See foot-note to p. 136. END OF NOTEs
This law of inheritance, usually styled Marumakkattayam (literally, sister’s son’s inheritance), may be shortly described thus. A Malayali taravad corresponds pretty closely to what the Romans called a gens, with this important distinction, however, that whereas in Rome all members of the gens traced their descent in the male line from a common ancestor, in Malabar the members of a taravad trace their descent, in the female line only, from a common ancestress.
All Taravads of influence set apart property for the common use, and indeed it seems to have been for purposes of thrift that this system of inheritance was at first devised. So long as that common property exists any number of families may hang together and form one taravad. To explain what is here meant by a “family” as distinguished from a taravad, take the following example :
A (Common ancestress)B (Female) (has issue)X (Male)C (Female) (no issue)Y (Male)D (Female) (has issue)Z (Male)
X, Y and Z are A’s sons, and, as such, are members of A’s taravad, but however many children may be born to them, those children never come into A’s taravad nor stand in any recognised legal relation either to their fathers, or to the property of their fathers’ taravad. But the daughters B and D have each a family, and their daughters may in turn have further families, and so on. The word “family” was used in the sense of the issue (both male and female) of any female descendant in the female line only of A. Every member, whether male or female, and whether of age or not, has an equal interest in the common stock of the taravad ; but no member can claim his share of it. The taravad, however, as a body, can of course make any division, it pleases of the common stock, and among the more influential families it is customary to set aside certain portions of it, for the life enjoyment only, of members who attain to Sthanams or dignities hereditary in the family.
The portions so set apart are intended to help them in maintaining the dignity of their positions, and in respect to them they are to a great extent in the position of trustees. When a partition of the whole stock takes place, the taravad becomes disintegrated, and dissolves into so many fresh taravads as the members may have settled to form among themselves. This process of disintegration goes on continually except among the highest classes, who pride themselves on maintaining a large common stock. But even among them the taravad gets split up into subordinate divisions, known as tavalis or branches. One way in which this occurs is, that a member with perhaps some assistance from the common stock, but more usually with the assistance obtained from his father (who, as already said, stands in no recognised legal relation to his son), sets out from his taravad house and lives apart, taking with him one or more female relatives (usually a sister or sisters) and thus founds a separate branch (tavali ) of the taravad.
Or, more usually still now-a-days, a female of the taravad leaves the taravad house to live with the husband of her choice in a separate house prepared on purpose for her by her husband. This house is usually conveyed to her in free gift by her husband, and there she settles down to rear her family, who constitute a tavali of their taravad. The property acquired by such a tavali has been usually regarded as the separate property of the members who compose the tavali, and not as part of the common stock of the taravad, even when there has been no formal deed declaring what is, and what is not, common property ; but the High Court has of recent1 years held otherwise, and the tendency of the courts is now to regard all property as common property until a formal division thereof has taken place.
NOTEs: 1 I.L.R., Madras III, p. 212, and IV, p. 150, and Madras H.C. Reports, II, p. 162, and VI, pp. 401 to 415.END OF NOTEs
A man’s own acquisitions during his lifetime, therefore, descend at his death to his taravad and not to his own children. In the days when the Nayar male population were all soldiers and the marital tie was not much regarded this did not matter much, but things are changed now that a Nayar usually marries one wife, lives apart with her in their own home, and rears her children as his own also. His natural affections come into play, and there is a strong and most laudable desire for some legal mode, other than those at present recognised, for conveying to his children and to their mother all his self-acquired property.
At present he can only convey to them this property by stripping himself of it and making it over to them in free gift during his own lifetime. And this he is naturally reluctant to do for many and obvious reasons. He is in a thoroughly false position, for if he obeys his natural instincts and gives away his property during his lifetime to his wife and children, he becomes a beggar and is taken to task by his legal heirs; whereas, if he hesitates to do it, he incurs the displeasure of his own household. This false position is fatal to individual industry and thrift, and it is to be hoped that the law will soon1 be changed by permitting of the testamentary disposal of self-acquisitions.
NOTEs:1. See foot-note, p, 116 END OF NOTEs
Dr. Gundert gives the following list of the castes who follow this system of inheritance : (1) Seventeen Brahman illams in Payanur, Chirakkal taluk ; (2) Kshatriya ; (3) Tirumulpad ; (4) Nayar ; (5) Urali ; (G) Andor ; (7) Pallichan ; (8) Kuskavan ; (9) Vyabari ; (10) Kolayan ; (11) Chembotti ; (12) Pisharodi ; (13) V. Variyan ; (14) Nambi ; (15) Teyambadi ; (16) Maran ; (17) PoduvaL ; (18) Kuttunambi ; (19) Attikurichi ; (20) Unnitiri ; (21) Eradi ; (22) Vallodi ; (23) Nedungadi ; (24) Veluttedan ; (25) Chaliyan ; (26) Tiyan in north, and in Travancore.
NOTEs by VED: The observation that Tiyan in north and Travancore follow Matriarchal system of inheritance is again some kind of mischief, deliberately inserted for some political reason. Tiyans were not there by antiquity in Travancore. And the Ezhavas of Travancore, who are nowhere connected to Thiyyas of north Malabar, are not matriarchal people, even though there might have been some families there which might have followed this system due to some specific reasons, soley connected to them. END of NOTEs by VED
Of the other system of inheritance, usually styled Makkattayam (literally, son’s' inheritance), very little needs to be said, but many castes have peculiar customs in regard to it of which a few have already been noticed in the caste section. As a rule it may be said that these special customs have for foundation a desire to keep the property of the family together. It is this desire which prompts the Nambutiris to allow only their eldest sons' to marry wives of their own caste, and which prompts the Ilavar to have one wife in common among several brothers.
Dr. Gundert gives the following list of castes who follow this Makkattayam system of inheritance : (1) Nambutiri, (2) Pattar, (3) Embran, (4) Mussad, (5) Ilayad, (0) Tangal, (7) Nambidi, (8) Komatti, (9) Veishyan, (10) Nambiachan, (11) Chakyar, (12) Adigal, (13) Pidaran , (14) Poduval, (15) Vilakkattaravan , (16) Irankolli , (17) Mutta Chettiyan, (18) Kammalar, (19) Tavdan, (2) Ilavar, (21) Cherumar,—also some of the following castes : (22) Chaliyar, (23) Jedar, (24) Kaikolar, (25) Kaniyan, and (26) Tiyar in Kadattunad and Travancore.
Of other customs peculiar to Malabar there is a list of sixty-four, of which, however, there is more than one version. One version of the list will be found in the “ Indian Antiquary,” Vol. IV, p. 255, based, it is said, on precepts given by the great Samkara Acharya in twenty-six Sanskrit slogams. Another version, derived from personal communication with men learned in such matters, is subjoined. These sixty-four rules are called the KeralaAnacharam, that is, the irregular customs of Keralam and one tradition alleges that Samkara Acharya promulgated them at Kollam on 25th August 825 A.D., the first day of the first year of the Kollam era followed on the coast. There is some colour for this tradition in the well-known chronogram marking the commencement of the Kollam era, viz, :
0 Ach6 ar1 Ya4 va3 ka4 bhod1 ya
which means, Acharya’s (i.e., Samkaracharya’s) word or law is unalterable, or must not be changed. The syllables represent figures as shown above, and those written backwards give the ago in days of the Kali Yuga on the first day of the first Kollam year. It is perhaps unnecessary to observe that Samkaracharaya was, according to the most recent authorities, not alive on 25th August 825 A.D., so he could not have promulgated them as alleged. The sixty-four rules are evidently of Brahman origin, and are concerned chiefly with Brahman usages.
Customs for Malabar Brahmans, etc., not observed elsewhere.
1. You must not clean your teeth with sticks.
2. You must not bathe with clothes worn on your person.
3. You must not rub your body with the clothes worn on your person.
4. You must not bathe before sun-rise.
5. You must not cook your food before you bathe.
0. Avoid the water kept aside during the night.
7. You must not have one particular object in view while you bathe.
8. The remainder of water taken for one purpose must not be made use of for another ceremony.
9. You must bathe if you touch another.
10. You must bathe if you happen to be near another.
11. You must bathe if you touch polluted wells or tanks.
12. You must not tread over a place that has been cleaned with a broom, unless it is washed.
13. A particular mode of marking the forehead with ashes.
14. You must repeat charms yourself.
15. You must avoid cold-rice, etc.
16. You must avoid leavings of meals by children.
17. You must not taste anything that has been offered to Siva.
18. You must not serve out food with hands.
19. You must not make use of the ghee of buffalo-cows for burnt offerings, etc.
20. You must not make use of the ghee of buffalo-cows for anniversary, etc.
21. A particular mode of taking meals.
22. You must not chew betel while you are polluted.
23. You must observe the conclusion of Bramhachari (an unmarriedman).
24. You must give presents to your guru (preceptor)
25. You must not repeat Vedas at the road.
26. You must not sell women.
27. You must avoid any vow which you observe in anticipation of getting your desires fulfilled.
28. Bathing is all that a woman should observe if she touches another in her monthly course.
29. Brahmans should not spin cotton.
30. Brahmans should not wash clothes for themselves.
31. Kshatriyas should avoid worshipping in Siva Lingam.
32. Brahmans should not accept the anniversary of Sudras.
33. Perform the anniversaries of your fathers, etc.
34. Anniversaries should be performed oil the day of the new moon.
35. The funeral ceremony should be performed at the end of the year from the day of death.
36. The ceremony to be performed till the end of the year from the day of death.
37. Sraddha should be performed with regard to the stars.
38. The funeral ceremony should be performed after the pollution caused by a child-birth at that time has been removed.
39. A particular mode of performing Sraddha by an adopted son.
40. The corpse of a man should be burnt in his own compound.
41. Sanyasis (devotees) should not look at females,
42. You must always be seeking for the next world.
43. Sraddha should not be performed in honour of dead Sanyasis.
44. Brahman females must not look at any other persons besides their own husbands,
45. Brahman females must not go out unaccompanied by female servants.
46. Should wear only white clothes.
47. Noses should not be pierced.
48. Brahmans ought to be put out of their caste if they drink any liquor.
49. They ought to be put out of their caste if they have intercourse with other Brahman women besides their wives.
50. The consecration of evil spirits in temples should be avoided.
51. Sudras, etc., are prevented from touching an image.
52. Anything offered to one god should not be offered to another.
63. Marriages, etc., should not be done without a burnt- offering.
54. Brahmans should not pour blessings upon each other.
55. They should not bow down to another person.
56. Sacrifice with a cow should be avoided.
57. Do not cause distraction, some by observing the religious rite of Siva and others those of Vishnu.
58. Brahmans should wear only one sacred thread.
59. Eldest son only is entitled to legal marriage.
60. Ceremony in honour of the dead ancestors should be performed with boiled rice.
61. Ceremony to be performed in honour of an uncle.
62. The right of inheritance among Kshatriyas, etc., goes towards nephews.
63. Widows should lead the lives of Sanyasis.
64. Sati should be avoided.
The Malayalis compute1 their time, as observed above, by the Kollam era, which commenced on 25th August 8252 A.D., but it is not generally known that there are two Kollam years, just as it is not generally known that there are two well-known Kollams or Quilons, as already described in Chapter I, p. 72. The Northern Kollam year commences on the 1st of Kanni, the month (September) in which the sun enters the Zodiacal sign of Virgo. The Southern Kollam year, on the other hand, commences on the 1st of Chingam, the Zodiacal month of Leo (August-September).
NOTEs: 1. Another Era which is in use, but only to a very limited extent, near Cochin in the Vypeen Era. In Malayalam it is called Putuveppu (literally—new deposit) and it dates from A.D. 1341, the year in which a new inland (Vypeen) was formed by deposit of sand and silt between the mouths of the Cranganore and Cochin rivers—or in which perhaps this island was first inhabited.
2. The data for fixing this day may be thus stated : —
(a) Up to midnight of 14th September 1882 A.D. there had elapsed 687,280 days of the Christian era.
(b) On 15th September 1882, the first day of the Northern Kollam year 1058, the age of the Kali Yugam in days was 1,820,238.
(c) The age of the Kali Yugam on the first day of the first year of the Kollam era was as fixed by the chronogram "Acharya vakubhodya," 1,434,160 days.
(d) Therefore 301,202 days of the Christian ore had elapsed when the Kollam era began.
(e) And this corresponds with the 236th day of the 825th year.
(f) The 237th day of 825 A.D. was 25th August.
(g) The same date is assigned in the Ind. Ant., Vol. XI, 271, but the date in that case are not stated. END OF NOTEs
It is uncertain how this difference of a month was imported into the era. The most natural explanation seems to be that there are two eras, and not merely one, but here history is at fault, for it is certain that the dates could not have been fixed as those of the founding of the two Kollams, as very often supposed, one of the Kollams having already been in existence for two centuries at least at the date of the commencement of the era. (As. Res., X, 69 ; Caldwell’s Drav. Gram., p. 27.).
Another theory is that the two dates mark the acquisition of independence of the Perumal (emperor) by the two Kolattiri families. There is much to be urged in favour of this view, only it is unlikely that the dates of acquiring independence should have fallen precisely on the first days of two successive months. The matter is explained more fully in the historical Chapter, Section (a).
A third theory is that the dates denote respectively the epochs when Samkaracharya’s Vedantist doctrines were embraced respectively by the Brahmans of the south and the Brahmans of the north portions of Keralam. There is some colour for this in the chronogram already explained above (page 150) marking in the Kali Yugam era the commencement of the Kollam era. But there is no historical evidence so far as yet discovered in favour of this view.
The other two explanations proceed on the assumption that originally there was but one era, that it marked an event in the history of the country, and that as this event fell in the middle of a month the initial day of the Kollam year was arbitrarily transferred by the respective suzerains of the north and south (in a11 probability the two Kolattiri dynasties), the one to the beginning of the Zodiacal month next following (1st Kanni), and the other to that of the Zodiacal month next preceding (1st Chingam), the exact date of the event, and this is probably the true explanation of the difference.
The two historical events from which is supposed to date the commencement of the Kollam era are respectively the institution of the Onam festival, the great animal festival of the Malayali , and the departure of the last emperor (Perumal) of Keralam for Arabia, whence he never returned. The evidence in favour of this latter event having taken place at this time will come more appropriately hereafter. As regards the former, the facts on which the assumption, for it is nothing more, rests is that the Onam festival falls on varying days at or about this time of the year, and that in title-deeds, horoscopes and other writings in North Keralam the year is still sometimes written as having ended on the day preceding the Tiru Onam day.
This fact is quite reconcilable with the other explanation which alleges that the commencement of the era coincides with the day of the Perumal’s departure for Arabia if it is assumed that, as is not improbable, the day on which he sailed was the Tiru Onam day—the day on which acknowledgments of fealty should have been made.
As there are two initial days of the Kollam year, so there are two systems of astronomy and two calendars in use on the coast. The differences between the two systems are, however, of minor importance, and the chief difference will be presently set forth. The system in vogue both in the north and in the south is that founded on Arya Bhattacharya’s dictum ;—“All the heavenly bodies1 enter the sign Aries and rise above the horizon at one and the same moment on a certain day2, which moment is reckoned as the commencement of a Kalpam3 , of a Yugam4 , of a year, of a month, and of a day. Time is duration with no beginning nor end, but capable of being computed by means of the relative positions of the planets and stars.”
NOTEs: 1. Sun, moon and planets.
2. Here must be understood: at Lanka (Ceylon), supposed to be on the Equator :
3. The period commencing with this phenomenon and ending with its recurrence.
4. One seventy-second part of a Kalpam according to one school, and one seventy-first part according to another. END OF NOTEs
It is accordingly by the sun’s position in the heavens that the lengths of the Malayali months and years are determined. Hence the months correspond with the signs of the Zodiac :
Months in Mal.Signs of the Zodiac.Corresponding English month.MedhamAriesApril—May.IdavamTaurusMay—June.MidunamGeminiJune—July.KarkadagamCancerJuly—AugustChingamLeoAugust—September.KanniVirgo .September—October.TulamLibra .October—November.VrikshikamScorpioNovember—DecemberDhanuSagittariusDecember—January.MakaramCapricornusJanuary—February.KumbhamAquariusFebruary—March.MinamPiscesMarch—April.
The Malayali names, chiefly of Sanskrit origin, correspond precisely to the names of the Zodiacal signs used in European countries.
The Malayalis again divide their day into 60 naligas (— 24 minutes), and each naliga into 60 vinaligas ( — 24 seconds), and each vinaliga into 60, what they call, “long letter utterance times” (the time taken to pronounce a consonant and a long vowel = 2/5 of a second).
There are two other fanciful measures of time shorter than this, one of which (matra) is ¼ of a “long letter utterance time,” and another (noddi ) which is ⅛ of a matra ; but for practical purposes the day is divided into naligas, vinaligas, and "long letter utterance limes.”
The chief difference between the northern and southern systems of astronomy is that if the sun enters a sign of the Zodiac (Sankramam) during the day time, that day is reckoned in the northern calendars as the first day of the month corresponding to that sign ; whereas in the south, in order that a day may he reckoned as the first day of the month corresponding to any Zodiacal sign the sun must have entered that sign within the first three of the five parts into which they have divided the day. If the entry takes place in the latter two of the five parts of the day, the day next following is accepted as the first day of the month. According to both systems the months are of the following durations :
According to both systems the months are of the following durations :
MonthsDaysNaligasVinaligasLong letter utterance timesMedhom30553013Iddavam3124331Midhunam3136265Karkadagam3128430Chingam312459Kanni30272315Tulam20541155Vrikshikam2930316Dhanu2921213Makaram29272336Kumbham29483014Minara30201038Total365153115
These numbers are noted in the chronogram.
5 “Mu1 khyah1 Ka3 lo5 ma1 ya5 ma6 tu3 lah"
a phrase with a fanciful and apprently inappropriate meaning.
As the fractional parts of the day set forth above correspond to 6 hours 12 minutes and 30 seconds, it is clear that the Malayali year is too long by 23 minutes odd, and this is no doubt due to the omission in the above calculations, as in all other Hindu astronomical systems, of any compensation for the error caused by the precession of the equinoxes. The astronomers, it is understood, did recognise the fact of precession (ayanamgah), but they failed to utilise it to obtain a correct computation of the solar year.
The calendars are prepared by taking every fourth year as of 366 days and every hundred and sixteenth year as of 307 days in order to make up the fractional part of a day over and above 365 days. A great deal more might be said as to the infinity of uses to which those skilled in astronomical and astrological questions put the elaborate almanacs issued afresh every year, but enough has already been said about this matter in connection with the professional caste of astrologers.
Of the Malayali festivals only a very short account can be given.
It was usual in former days, and it is to some extent still prevalent, for superiors to be visited twice a year by their inferiors or dependents with gifts in hand—once at the time of the vernal equinox called Vishu, and once at the time of new moon in August—September, called Onam.
Vishu is the astronomical new year day. In 1883 it occurred on the 13th of April. It is supposed to be the vernal equinox, but as its position in the calendar has shifted about twenty-one days from the exact date of that event, it marks the time when Hindu astronomy attained its present development, for the Malayali year is too long by twenty-three minutes forty seconds, and an easy sum in compound division shows that the Malayali vernal equinox began to be diverted from its true position some thousand three hundred years ago, or (say) about the middle or end of the sixth century A.D. This is of course due, as already said above, to the error imported by failure to observe the effects of precession.
But however this may be, the Malayali is very superstitious about his conduct on this day of Vishu, and the first thing that comes under his observation on the morning of that day is believed to be significant of the luck that will attend him throughout the year then commencing. Hence the collection beforehand, sometimes in houses of temporary structure expressly built, of costly and auspicious objects, hence the annual presents to superiors, etc.
At Onam, which is perhaps the greatest national feast in Malabar, the houses are made gay with wild flowers, which are collected for the purpose by bands of children singing shrilly the appropriate Onam hymn. This is the day on which Parasu Raman or Vishnu is supposed to descend to earth to see his people happy.
To understand aright the significance of this feast to the people now-a-days it must be remembered that the good old days when perfect justice, perfect trust, and perfect truth prevailed upon the earth, are believed to have been during the reign of Mahabali . And the people attempt in a joyous way to reproduce, if only for one night, a vivid remembrance of the millennium, to which they look back with fond longings.
Next to these, perhaps the most popular feast in Malabar is that of the Bharani or cock feast in the month of Minam (March- April). It takes the people in great crowds away from their homes. The whole country near the lines of march rings with the shouts “Nada-a-Nada-a” of the pilgrims to the favourite shrines, chief of which is that at Cranganore (Kodungallur) in the Native State of Cochin. Of what takes place when the pilgrims reach this spot perhaps the less said the better. In their passage up to the shrine the cry of “Nada-a-Nada-a” (march, march away) is varied by terms of unmeasured abuse levelled at the goddess (a Bhagavati) of the shrine. This abusive language is supposed to be acceptable to her. On arrival at the shrine they desecrate it in every conceivable way, believing that this too is acceptable : they throw stones and filth, howling volleys of opprobrium at her house.
The chief of the fishermen caste, styled Kuli Mullalla Arayan, has the privilege of being the first to begin the work of polluting the Bhoot or shrine. Into other particulars it is unnecessary to enter. The cocks are slaughtered and sacrificed. The worshipper gets flowers only and no holy water after paying his vows. Instead of water he proceeds outside and drinks arrack or toddy, which an attendant Nayar serves out. All castes are free to go, including Tiyars and low caste-people.
The temple was originally only a Bhoot or holy tree with a platform. The image in the temple is said to have been introduced only of recent years. The object of the pilgrimage is to secure immunity from severe diseases during the succeeding year.
Of the Dasara it is unnecessary to say much. The feast is called in Malabar the Ayudhapuja (weapon or tool worship) or Sarasvatipuja- and sometimes Pujaveppu (the opening day) and Pujayeduppu (the closing day). On the opening day, tools, weapons, implements, etc., are or ought to be laid aside (veppu), and on the closing day they are resumed, taken up (eduppu). It is a ten days’ feast, and is called the feast of the autumnal equinox. The closing day has shifted, as in the case of Vishu, and for the same reason, about three weeks from the exact date of the equinox.
The other principal festivals are, Siva Ratri (Siva’s night-watch), Pongal (the cooking of the new season’s rice), Sri Rama Navami (Rama’s birthday), Vinyagachaturti (birthday of Ganesa, the god of wisdom and wealth, worshipped in the image of a rat), and Dipali or Dipavali (the feast of lamps at the new moon in the month Tulam, October-November).
There are also numerous local festivals which sometimes attract large crowds from long distances ; of these the Tiruchamaram festival, held at Taliparamba in Chirakkal taluk, in March ; the Kottiyur festival about May-June, held in the jungles of the Kottayam Taluk, at the foot of the mountains near the Periah Pass ; the Kilur Arat festivals, held in December in the Kurumbranad taluk ; the Car festival, held in November in Palghat Town ; the Konduvetti Takkujakal Nercha (a Mappilla feast), Ernad taluk in April ; the Guruvayyur Ekadesi feast, held in Ponnni taluk in April; and the Kurumandham Kunnu festival, held in April in Valluvanad taluk, are among the chief events.
Besides these, a festival which used formerly to be held every twelfth year at Tirunavayi temple in the Ponnani taluk deserves more than a passing reference although it has been discontinued for the past one hundred and forty years. This festival was called the Mamakham or Maha Makham* which means literally big sacrifice. It seems to have been originally the occasion for a kuttam or assembly of all Keralam, at which public affairs were discussed and settled.
NOTEs by VED: *This information might be wrong. END of NOTEs by VED
Hamilton thus alludes to the tradition current about it in his time (end of seventeenth anti beginning of eighteenth centuries) : — “It was an ancient custom for the Zamorin to reign but twelve Years and no longer. If he died before his Term was Expired it saved him a troublesome Ceremony of cutting his own Throat on a public Scaffold erected for that Purpose. He first made a Feast for all his Nobility and Gentry, who are very numerous. After the Feast he saluted his Guests and went on the Scaffold, and very decently cut his own Throat in the View of the Assembly, and his Body was a little While after burned with great Pomp and Ceremony, and the Grandees elected a new Zamorin. Whether that Custom was a religious or a civil Ceremony I know not, but it is now laid aside.
“And a new Custom is followed by the modern Zamorins, that a Jubilee is proclaimed throughout his Dominions at the End of twelve Years, and a Tent is pitched for him in a spacious Plain, and a great Feast is celebrated for ten or twelve days with Mirth and Jollity, Guns firing Night and Day, so at the End of the Feast any four of the Guests that have a Mind to gain a Crown by a desperate Action in fighting their Way through thirty or forty thousand of his Guards and kill the Samorin in his Tent, he that kills him, succeeds him in his Empire.
In Anno 1695 one of those Jubilees happened, and the Tent pitched near Pennany (Ponnani), a Sea Port of his, about fifteen Leagues to the Southward of Calicut. There were but three Men that would venture on that desperate Action, who fell in with Sword and Target among the Guards, and after they had killed and wounded many were themselves killed. One of the Desperadoes had a Nephew of fifteen or sixteen years of Age, that kept close by his Uncle in the Attack on the Guards, and when he saw him fall the Youth got through the Guards into the Tent and made a stroke at his Majesty’s Head, and had certainly despatched him if a large Brass Lamp which was burning over his Head had not marred the Blow : but before he could make another he was killed by the Guards : and I believe the same Zamorin reigns yet.
“I chanced to come that Time along the Coast, and heard the Guns for two or three Days and Nights successively.” (New Account, etc., Vol. 1, pages 306-8).”
The Kerala Mahatrnya so far corroborates Hamilton's story that it declares the king used to be deposed at this festival, but there is no mention of self-immolation, although it is quite possible the deposed kings may have occasionally adopted this mode of escape from the chagrin of not being re-elected by those who had hitherto been their adherents.
Mr. Jonathan Duncan, Governor of Bombay, wrote about this festival in the first volume of the Transactions of the Bombay Literary Society to the following effect.—The installation of the first Perumal took place on “Pushya (8th Lunar Asterism) in the month Magha1 in Karkadaga Vyalam2 (the period during which Jupiter remains in Cancer) and this day in every cycle of Jupiter thus became important in the history of Malabar” because the reign of each Perumal terminated on that day, he being elected only for 12 years. “This great feast and the coronation occurring in the month Magha that month in every Karkadaga Vyalam was known as the great Magha or Mahamagha which was afterwards corrected into Mamangam.”
NOTEs: 1* There is no such month as that —Magha—mentioned by Mr. Duncan and the title of the festival is properly that above given, namely, Maha (= great) and Makham ( = sacrifice). He evidently confounded makham with Makaram. END OF NOTEs
NOTEs by VED: *It seems that Logan also missed the idea. The festival seems to be connected to the Magham nakshatram (astrological star) and not to any ‘sacrifice’ meaning. END of NOTEs by VED
NOTEs: 2*. Vyalam is the Tamil-Malayalam word for Jupiter, and a cycle of Jupiter is roughly speaking 12 years, more accurately 4,332 days odd. END OF NOTEs
NOTEs by VED: *The correct pronunciation might be Vyazham. END of NOTEs by VED
“At the end of this feast all prior leases of land were considered to be at an end and fresh grants were to be obtained at the beginning of the next reign.”
“In all the principal deeds the position of Jupiter is to be mentioned.”
“This practice is continued oven up to the present day.”
Mr. Duncan seems to have obtained his information from the Keralopathi. The fact seems to have been that at each recurring festival all feudal ties were broken, and the parties, assembled in public conclave at Tirunavayi, readjusted at such times all existing relations among themselves. The tradition is that this festival was instituted in the days of the emperors (Perumals), that is, prior to the Kollam era, and that when the last emperor set out for Mecca and left the country without a head the duty of celebrating it devolved on the raja of the locality where the festival used to take place, that is, on the Valluvanad alias Vellatri alias Arangott Raja3. And this arrangement seems to have continued up to the twelfth or thirteenth century A.D., when the power of the Zamorins (chiefly through Muhammadan influence and arms and trade) became supreme in all Keralam. From that time down to the last celebration of the festival in 1743 the Zamorins were present at this festival as Suzerains of all Keralam, including Travancore, which as a Malayali State only attained to the first rank shortly after the date of the last Mahamakham festival in 1743.
NOTEs: 3. So called in the Jews’ deed of the eighth century A.D., on account of his territory lying beyond (angotla) the river (ar) from Cranganore, the emperor’s headquarters. END OF NOTEs
Those who acknowledged the Zamorin’s suzerainty sent flags in token of fealty, and the places where these flags used to be hoisted at festival time are still pointed out. The Valluvanad Raja, who is still represented in the management of the Tirunavayi temple by one out of the four Brahman Karalars, instead of sending a flag used to send men called Chavers (men who have elected to die), whose office it was to endeavour to cut their way through the Zamorin’s guards to his throne in a manner presently to be described. If they had succeeded in killing him - as on the occasion cited by Hamilton, whose statement, except as to the date, is moreover corroborated by tradition - it is uncertain what would have happened; but probably if a capable raja had been ruling in Valluvanad at such a time, popular opinion would have endowed him with the suzerainty, for the Nayar militia were very fickle, and flocked to the standard of the man who was fittest to command and who treated them the most considerately.
With the kind assistance of the present Zamorin, Maharaja Bahadur, the records of his family have been examined and a complete account obtained of the events attending the festival held in 1683 A.D., the festival next preceding that alluded to by Hamilton. The festival used to continue for twenty-eight days every twelfth year, when the planet Jupiter was in retrograde motion in the sign of Karkadagam or Cancer or the Crab, and at the time of the eighth lunar asterism in the month of Makaram the festival used to culminate. On the occasion in question the Zamorin some months beforehand sent orders for the preparation of the necessary timber and bamboos for the temporary buildings required at Tirunavayi, and the materials were floated downstream from the Aliparamba Chirakkal lands. Then exactly two months before the opening day he sent out a circular to his followers worded as follows :—
"Royal writing to the Akampati Janam (body-guards).
“On the 5th Makaram 858 is Mahamakha Talpuyam (time of the eighth lunar asterism in the festival season), and the Lokars (chief people of each locality) are required to attend at Tirunavayi as in olden times.
'"Mangatt Raman and Tinayancheri1 are sent to collect and bring you in regular order for the Mahamakham.
NOTEs: 1.Two of the hereditary ministers, the first being a Nayar, the second an Ilayatu. END OF NOTEs
“You must come to Tirunavayi on the 3rd of Makaram to fight and foil as usual. But all of you should come for the Mahamakham.”
The Zamorin timed himself to arrive at Tirunavayi on the day after that appointed for the arrival of his followers, and the lucky moment for setting out on this particular occasion on the last day’s stage of the journey was “at the rising of the constellation of Aquarius”.
The Tirunavayi temple stands on the north bank of the Ponnani river close to the present line of railway. Passengers by train can catch a glimpse of it by looking across the level expanse of paddy fields which lie south of the sixth telegraph post on the three hundred and eighty-second mile of the railway.
There is a modest clump of trees on the river bank hiding the temple, the western gateway of which faces a perfectly straight piece of road a little over half a mile in length stretching from the temple gateway westwards to the elevated ridge hemming the paddy-fields on the west. This road is but little raised above the level of the paddy flat. Directly facing this straight piece of road as the elevated ridge is reached there are three or perhaps four terraces, the outlines of which may still be traced in the face of the precipitous bank.
A little to one side of the upper terrace are the ruins of a strongly built powder magazine, and on the flat ground above and on both sides of the fine avenue shading the public road at this place is ample space for the erection of temporary houses.
In a neighbouring enclosure under cultivation is a disused well of fine proportions and of most solid construction.
From the upper terrace alluded to a commanding view is obtained facing eastwards of the level rice-plain at foot, of the broad placid river on the right backed by low hills, of higher flat-topped laterite plateaus on the left, their lower slopes bosomed in trees, and, in the far distance, of the great chain of Western Ghats with the Nilgris in the extreme left front hardly distinguishable in their proverbial colour from the sky above them.
It was on this spot, on a smooth plateau of hard laterite rock, raised some 30 to 40 feet above the plain, that the Zamorin used several times in the course of the festival to take his stand with the sword of Cheraman Perumal, the last emperor, in his hand.
The sword is, and has been for centuries, slowly rusting away in its scabbard, but it is not alone on it that the Zamorin depends for his safety, for the plain below him is covered with the thirty thousand Nayars of Ernad, the ten thousand of Polanad, and numberless petty dependent chieftains, each counting his fighting men by the hundred or the thousand, or by thousands. Away on the right, across the river are the camps of the second prince of the Zamorin’s family and of the dependent Punattur Raja ; the third, fourth, fifth and sixth princes’ camps too are close at hand in the left front behind the temple, and behind the terrace itself is the Zamorin’s own camp.
The whole scene is being made gay with flags as an elephant is being formally caparisoned with a drain of solid gold with “one hundred and fourteen small links and one clasp, making in all one hundred and fifteen”—as the record specifically testifies—and with golden bosses and other ornaments too numerous to be detailed. But this part of the festivities is not to be permitted to pass unchallenged, for it signifies in a formal manner the Zamorin’s intention to assume the role of Rakshapurashan, or protector of the festivities and of the people there assembled. On the instant, therefore, there is a stir among the crowd assembled near the western gate of the temple directly facing at a half mile distance the Zamorin’s standing-place on the upper-terrace.
From this post, running due east in a perfectly straight line to the western gate of the temple, is the straight piece of road already described, but the road itself is clear and the armed crowd on the plain, it is seen, are hemmed in by barred palisadings running the full length of the road on both sides. Two spears’ length apart the palisades are placed, and the armed crowd on either hand, consisting on this occasion of the thirty thousand Ernad Nayars, it is seen, are all carrying spears. The spearmen may not enter that narrow lane, and by the mere weight of their bodies present an impassable obstacle to the free passage of the freemen now bent on cutting down the Zamorin in his pride of place.
Amid much din and firing of guns the morituri, the Chaver Nayars, the elect of four Nayar houses in Valluvanad, step forth from the crowd and receive the last blessings and farewells of their friends and relatives. They have just partaken of the last meal they are to eat on earth at the house of the temple representative of their chieftain ; they are decked with garlands and smeared with ashes. On this particular occasion it is one of the house of Putumanna Panikkar who heads the fray. He is joined by seventeen of his friends—Nayar or Mappilla or other arms bearing caste men— for all who so wish may fall in with sword and target in support of the men who have elected to die.
Armed with swords and targets alone they rush at the spearmen thronging the palisades ; they “wind and turn their bodies as if they had no bones ; casting them forward, backward, high and low, even to the astonishment of the beholders” as worthy Master Johnson describes them in a passage already quoted (p. 137). But, notwithstanding the suppleness of their limbs notwithstanding their delight and skill and dexterity in their weapons, the result is inevitable, and is prosaically recorded in the chronicle thus: “The number of Chavers who came and died early morning the next day after the elephant began to be adorned with gold trappings—boi g Pulumanna Kattur Menon and followers - were 18.”
NOTEs: 1. *(l) Chandratt Panikkar, (2) Putamanna Panikkar, (3) Kolkot Panikkarand (4) Verkot Panikkar. END OF NOTES
At various times during the ten last days of the festival the same thing is repeated. Whenever the Zamorin takes his stand on the terrace, assumes the sword and shakes it, men rush forth from the crowd at the west temple gate only to be impaled on the spears of the guardsmen who relieve each other from day to day. The turns for this duty are specifically mentioned in the chronicle thus : “On the day the golden ornaments are begun to be used the body-guard consists of the Thirty Thousand ; of Ellaya Vakkayil Veltodi (and his men) the second clay, of Netiyiruppu1 Muttarati Tirumalpad (and his men) the third day, of Itatturnad2 Nambiyattiri Tirumalpad (and his men) the fourth day, of Ernad Munamkur3 Nambiyattiri Tirumalpad (and his men) the fifth day, of Ernad Elankur4 Nambiyattiri Tirumalpad (and his men) the sixth day, and of the Ten Thousand,5 the Calicut Talachanna Nayar ancl Ernad Menon the seventh day.”
NOTEs: 1 The Fifth Prince of the Zamorin’s family.
2 The Fourth Prince of the Zamorin’s family.
8 The Third Prince of the Zamorin's family.
4 The Second Prince and Heir Apparent of the Zamorin’s family.
5 The Ten Thousand of Polanad, the district round about Calicut, formed the Zamorin’s own immediate able body-guard— Cenf. the account contained in the Keralolpatti of how these men were originally selected—Chap. Ill, Sect. (a). END OF NOTEs
The chronicle is silent as to the turns for this duty on the eighth, ninth and tenth days. On the eleventh day, before the assembly broke up and after the final assault of the Chavers had been delivered, the Ernad Elankur Nambiyattiri Tirumalpad (the Zamorin next in succession) and the Tirumanisseri Nambutiri were convoyed in palanquins to the eastern end of the narrow palisaded lane, and thence they advanced on foot, prostrating themselves four times towards the Zamorin, once at the eastern end of the lane, twice in the middle, and once at the foot of the terraces.
And after due permission was sought and obtained they took their places on the Zamorin s right hand. After this, so the chronicle runs, it was the duty of the men who had formed the body-guard to march up with music and pomp to make obeisance. On this occasion, however, a large portion of the body-guard seems to have been displeased, for they left without fulfilling this duty, and this story corroborates in a marked way the fact already set forth (p. 132) regarding the independence and important political influence possessed by the Nayars as a body.
The Ernad Menon and the Calicut Talachanna Nayar with their followers were the only chiefs who made obeisance in due form to the Zamorin on this occasion, and possibly by the time of the next festival (1695 AD), of which Hamilton wrote, the dissatisfaction may have increased among his followers, and the Zamorin’s life even may have been endangered, as Hamilton alleges, probably through lack of men to guard him. Tradition asserts that the Chaver who manage on one occasion to get through the guards and up to the Zamorin’s seat belonged to the family of the Chandrattil Panikkar.
The chronicle winds up with a list of the Chavers slain on this occasion, viz.:-
When the Zamorin was taking his stand on the terrace apparently at the commencement of the festivities . . 5
On the day the elephant was adorned, as already related . . 18
“The next day of Chandratiil Panikkar and followers, the number who came and died .. .. .. .. 11
“Of Verkot Panikkar and followers, the number that came and died the third day . . . . . . . . . . 12
“The number who came up to Vakkayur and died in the four days . 4
“The number of Chavers who were arrested at the place where Kalattil Itti Karunakara Menon was and brought tied to Vakkayur and put to death . . . . . . 1
“The number of Chavers arrested on the day of the sacrifice, when all the persons together made the obeisance below Vakkayur at the time when the Zamorin was taking his stand, and left tied to the bars, and who were afterwards brought to Vakkayur and after the ceremony was over and the Zamorin had returned to the palace were put to the sword.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 4
The chronicle does not mention the fact, but a current tradition says that the corpses of the slain were customarily kicked by elephants as far as the brink of the fine well, of which mention has been made, and into which they were tumbled promiscuously. The well itself is nearly filled up with debris of sorts, and a search made at the spot would probably elicit conclusive evidence of the truth of this tradition.
The martial spirit of the Nayars was in former days kept alive by such desperate enterprises as the above, but in every day life the Nayar used to be prepared and ready to take vengeance on any who affronted him, for he invariably carried his weapons, and when a man was slain it was incumbent on his family to compass the death of a member of the slayer’s family. This custom was called Kudippaka (literally, house feud), or in an abbreviated form, Kuduppu.
One curious fact connected with this custom was that the chieftain of the district intervened when a man was slain and the body of the deceased was by him taken to his enemy’s house and the corpse and the house were burnt together. It is understood that an outhouse was usually selected for the purpose, but it was a common phrase to say “the slain rests in the yard of the slayer.”
Again, when mortal offence was given by one man to another, a solemn contract used to be entered into before the chieftain of the locality to fight a duel, the chief himself being umpire. Large sums (up to a thousand fanams or two hundred and fifty rupees) used to be deposited as the battle-wager, and these sums formed one source (ankam) of the chieftain’s revenue, and the right to levy them was sometimes transferred along with other privileges appertaining to the tenure of the soil.
A preparation and training (it is said) for twelve years preceded the battle in order to qualify the combatants in the use of their weapons. The men who fought were not necessarily the principals in the quarrel—they were generally their champions. It was essential that one should fall, and so both men settled all their worldly affairs before the day of combat.
Besides this custom, which brought revenue into the chieftain's coffers, a curious list of items also producing revenue has been preserved in Mr. Graeme, the Malabar Special Commissioner’s Report ( 1818- 1822), and it may be here given as it illustrates in many lights the customs of Malabar in ancient times. The chieftain levied customs duties on imports, exports, and transports.
He had a recognized right to usurp the estates of his decaying neighbouring chiefs: in fact the doctrine of the “survival of the fittest” was carried into practical politics in Malabar to a great extent.
And he had the right to force them, by violence if necessary, to contribute supplies on emergencies. Fines of sorts were of course levied from subjects, and when they died their successors, particularly those who held offices or rights over land, had to contribute something in order to ensure recognition of their right to succeed to the deceased’s estate or office. Leud, adulterous women were made over to the chiefs with a premium by the other members of their families in order that they might be taken care of, and the chiefs (at any rate the Zamorins) used in turn to sell the women to foreign merchants, thus making a double profit out of them.
No one might quest for gold without payment of a royalty, and in Mr. Dillon’s “East Indies” the way this was managed at Calicut is thus described : “Among the sands of the shore, there is good store of gold dust, which is very fine ; and everybody has the freedom to gather it at pleasure : the biggest piece that ere I saw was not worth above fifteen pence, and commonly they are not worth above four or five pence a piece ; abundance of people got a livelihood by it ; and with the consent of the Governor (which is to be purchased by a certain set price for the maintenance of a hundred poor people) you may have as much sand as you please carried to your dwelling-places in order to separate it with the more convenience.”
Again, when a man died without heirs, the chieftain took his property ; nor could a man adopt an heir without the chief’s consent. Under various designations fees for protection were levied from dependants and from strangers, and this latter was doubtless one of the obstacles which prevented the Chinese traveller Fah Hian from penetrating into South India, for he wrote : “ Those who desire to proceed thither should first pay a certain sum of money to the king of the country, who will then appoint people to accompany them and show them the way.”
Presents of congratulation or of condolence were always sent to the chieftains on the occasions of weddings, funerals, births, opening of row palaces, of ascension to the throne, and on the occurrence of numerous other domestic and public events.
Then, again; ships which came ashore were annexed by the chieftain of the locality. Moreover, a more piratical custom than this even was observed, in ancient times at least, for thus wrote Marco Polo respecting the kingdom of “Eli” (ante, p. 7) :
“And you must know that if any ship enters their estuary and anchors there, having been bound for some other port, they seize her and plunder the cargo. For they say, ‘you were bound for somewhere else, and ‘its God has sent you hither to us, so we have a right to all your goods.’
“And they think it no sin to act thus. And this naughty custom prevails all over these provinces of India, to wit, that if a ship be driven by stress of weather into some other port than that to which it was bound, it is sure to be plundered. But if a ship come bound originally to the place they receive it with all honour and give it due protection.” (Yule’s Marco Polo, II, 374.)
The custom of taking ships and cargoes wrecked on the coast continued down to recent times, for the English factors at Tellicherry entered into engagements with three of the country powers for exempting English vessels from such seizure. But it was a custom which the Malayali chieftains broke through with extreme reluctance. The kings of Bednur were the first to grant immunity in 1736-37, and thrice afterwards ratified it ; then followed the Kolattiri prince, on 8th May 1749, ratified in 1760; and finally the Kadattunad Raja granted similar immunity in 1761.
No others followed their examples. Finally the chieftains had a monopoly of various animals produced or captured in their domains, cows having an abnormal number of dugs, cattle that had killed a human being crany animal (they were called “red horns cattle born with a white speck near the corner of the eye, buffaloes with white tips to their tails, wild elephants caught in pitfalls, the hind quarter of any wild hog or deer slain in hunting, the tails and skins of all tigers similarly slain, and wild hogs that had fallen into wells —an occurrence which must have been frequent to judge by the wide area in which this right of the chieftains was recognized :—all of these were their perquisites of office.
A few words may be added regarding the right to appropriate a portion of each wild game animal slain in hunting. This right was, and it still is, known as the Urpalli right, ur being a village, and palli a place of reverence or importance. The village hunts, like everything else in the daily life of a Hindu community, were conducted precisely according to ancient corporate customs. The Urpalli was the place where, according to custom, the game must be broken up. The man even who alone could perform this office had a hereditary right to officiate. He was called the Keikkaran or attendant (perhaps originally an older of the village). As perquisite, he had the other hind quarter of the animal. The hunter who killed the animal had as perquisites the head and one forequarter. A share of the flesh was given to each of the hunters engaged in the hunt, and three pieces were distributed among those who came to the Urpalli to see it cut up. The animal was methodically out up into eighteen customary pieces.
The Urpalli was a place in the jungle duly consecrated to the hunting deity Ayyan or Ayyappan, and it was in front of his shrine that the formal ceremony took place. The hunting season opens on the 10th or 11th of Tulam തുലാം (October—November) of each year, and those days are still considered of importance in places where game is still to be found.
The permission of the chieftain to hunt on his territory was not required and was never sought, and the idea of an exclusive personal right to hunting privileges in certain limits is entirely foreign to the Malayali customary law. Such an idea was only imported into Malabar with English courts and English law and lawyers. There was a fundamental difference in the ideas from which originated the Malayali law of land tenure and the English law of land, and this will be considered in the chapter on the land tenures and land revenue.
This difference has never been properly understood in the courts, and the confusion and consequent strife among those interested has been very great and deplorable.
So strong indeed was the hold that old observances and customs had upon the people, that “when summary payment was demanded of a debtor, the custom was to draw a circle round him with a green branch and imprecate on him the name of the particular divinity whose curse was to fall upon him if he left the circle before satisfying the claim of his creditor.” (I. A. VIII, 2G7.)
Many writers have noticed the existence of this custom, and some have commented on and marvelled at the strictness of the arrest. But it must be remembered that of individual freedom there was very little as every person from his cradle to his grave was hemmed in by unyielding chains of customary observance.
In an interdict there were four kinds of twigs used for the four sides, viz., either the four tali plants—-probably consisting of 1, Convolvulus maximus ; 2, another kind of convolvulus called Tirumudittali; 3, a three-ribbed convolvulus (Tirupantittali) ; and 4, Ipomoea setosa;—or 1, a thorn with an edible fruit called Rhamnus circumcisus; 2, a medicinal tree called in Malayalam nyallu ; 3, Mussaenda frondosa with white bracts called in Malayalam Vellila ; and 4, the Malayalam tumba (Phlornis or Leucas Indica), a common weed.
A tuft of three green twigs tied to a doorway precluded persons from crossing the threshold of a house, and a similar tuft to the end of a staff stuck in the ground was, and still is, in some parts a sign, that there is an interdict on the crops there growing. The people must have been a very law-abiding and docile race if such simple formalities sufficed to govern them. But indeed custom, when once it has become law, arrays the whole community in arms against the law-breaker, and is perhaps the safest form of law for a semi-civilised State.
Another curious custom has come down from ancient times and is still flourishing, though the mutual confidence on which it relies for its proper effects shows signs of breaking down and is cited as a degeneracy of Malayali manners. Any one desirous of raising a considerable sum of money for some temporary purpose invites his friends to join him in what is called a kuri or lottery : chance enters very little, however, into the arrangement, and it would be a better term to call the members a mutual loan society. The organiser of the kuri gets a certain number of his friends to subscribe a certain amount of money, or of rice husked or unhusked, as the case may be. The friends bring their contributions to his house, where they are hospitably entertained, and by lot the person is selected to whom similar contributions from all present, including the organiser of the kuri, are to be made at a certain date then and there fixed.
This individual in turn hospitably entertains his friends when they come with their contributions. A third person is then selected, and the same thing comes off at his house. And so it goes on, until every one of the original members or his heir has in turn reaped the benefits of the contributions of his friends. The arrangement is of obvious benefit in several ways to those concerned.
Trials by ordeal were and still are very common, although some forms of them have necessarily disappeared. The Zamorin in 1710 entered into an engagement with the Honourable Company’s Factors at Tellicherry to subject to the oil ordeal people who disputed with them as to the value of articles agreed to be supplied for money received. This engagement is recorded in the Tellicherry Factory Diary of 6th May 1728 as: "A grant that any Mallabarr having accounts with us must put his hand in Oyio to prove the verity thereof, given Anno 1710.”
And in the engagement itself it was written: “If his hand comes out clean, he will be held innocent and you will have to pay him, as usual, the expenses he may incur (in taking the oath).” The form of taking the oath was to pick a coin out of a pot of boiling oil with the hand, which was immediately swathed in bandages and sealed up, and the state of the hand after a certain lapse of time (three days, it is understood) determined the matter.
The crocodile ordeal, in which a man swam across a piece of water swarming with saurians was also in vogue at some places to determine the guilt or innocence of criminals. The ordeal by weighment was, and still is, sometimes resorted to. A man who wishes to establish his innocence is weighed: he proceeds to a neighbouring tank and bathes, and if on returning to the scales he is lighter than when he went into the water, his innocence is established. This is used now-a-days in deciding caste offences.
But criminals did not in former days always escape, and were not always given the option of submitting the test of their innocence to an ordeal.
The five great crimes were—(1) murder of a Brahman ; (2) drinking spirits (probably a crime only among Brahmans, for the Nayars are not now, and never were an abstemious caste, nor were the other lower castes) ; (3) theft : “They put a thief to death”, wrote Sheikh Ibn Batuta regarding the Malayalis in the fourteenth century A.D., “for stealing a single nut, or even a grain of seed of any fruit : hence thieves are unknown among them, and should anything fall from a tree none except its proper owner would attempt to touch it.” (Ibn Batuta, Travels, Or. Transl. Committee, London, 1829, p. 167); (4) disobeying a teacher’s rules; (5) cowkilling, which is still a penal offence hi the Cochin State.
The manner of carrying out capital punishments was sometimes barbarous in the extreme. Criminals were cut in half and exposed on a cross-bar, in the manner still adopted with tigers and panthers slain in hunting expeditions and offered as a sacrifice to local deities. Thieves were similarly cut in two and impaled on a stake, which probably had a cross-bar, as the word for it and that for an eagle or vulture are identical. But impaling alive was also known, and in June 1795, by the orders of the Palassi (Pychy) rebel chief two Mappilias were thus treated after a pretended trial for alleged robbery in a Nayar’s house at Venkad in Kottayam Taluk.
Finally, great criminal were at times wrapped up in green palm leaves and tom asunder probably by elephants.
Whether cannibalism ever extensively prevailed is uncertain, but it is not improbable that it at times was perpetrated among the lower orders of the population, who even now take vengeance on the higher castes by stoning their houses at night and by various devices superstitiously set down to the action of evil spirits. In modem times only one authentic instance of cannibalism is on record, and it was vouched for by the late Dr. Burnell. Some of the agrestic slave caste had murdered a Nayar and mutilated the body, and on being asked why they had committed the murder, the details of which they freely confessed, they replied that if they ate of his flesh their sin would be removed. (Indian Antiquary, VIII, 88.)
Down to the present day the power of enchantments and spells is believed in implicitly by the lower and by the semi-educated among the upper classes ; and some individuals of the lower classes have a powerful superstitious influence over the higher castes owing to their supposed efficiency in creating enchantments and spoils and in bringing misfortunes.
The family of famous trackers, whose services in the jungles were retained for H.R.H. the Prince of Wales’ projected sporting tour in the Anamallai Mountains in 1875, dropped off most mysteriously one by one shortly afterwards, stricken down by an unseen hand, and all of them expressing beforehand their conviction that they were under a certain individual’s spell and were doomed to certain death at an early date. They were probably poisoned, but how it was managed remains to the present day a mystery, although the family was under the protection of a European gentleman who would have at once brought to light any ostensible foul play.
“Be it noted,” wrote Mr. Walhouse, late M.C.S., in the Indian Antiquary for January 1876, “that Malabar is the land par excellence of sorcery and magic ; the most powerful bhootas and demons reside there.” He further gives details of three of the forms raised in compassing the discomfiture of enemies.
“Make an image with wax in the form of your enemy, take it in your right hand at night and hold your chain of beads in your left hand ; then bum the imago with duo rites, and it shall slay your enemy in a fortnight. Another strong spell for evil is to take a human bone from a burial ground and recite over it a thousand times the powerful Malayali mantra namely, ‘Om ! Hram ! Hram ! Swine-faced goddess ! seize him ! seize him as a victim ! drink, drink his blood ! eat ! eat his flesh ! O image of imminent death ! Bhagavati of Malayala ! Glaum ! Glaum ! Om !’ The bone thrown into an enemy’s house will cause his ruin...........
Let a sorcerer obtain the corpse of a maiden, and on a Sunday night place it at the foot of a bhuta haunted tree on an altar, and repeat a hundred times ‘Om ! Hrim ! Hrom ! O goddess of Malayala, who possessest us in a moment ! come ! come ! !’ The corpse will then be inspired by a demon and rise up, and if the demon be appeased with flesh and arrack, will answer all questions put.”
The demons “can be bought, carried about, and transferred from one sorcerer to another.” It may be added that the best educated native gentlemen have even yet hardly got over their objections to photography on the ground that their enemies may obtain possession of their photographs, and may by piercing with needles the eyes and other organs, and by powerful incantations, work them serious mischief.
Keralam has twelve professional magicians, six of whom work to win the good gods, and six to coerce the evil ones.
Of belief in the potency of the “evil eye” evidence meets one at nearly every step throughout the land. A house or a shop is being built ; there surely is to be found exposed in some conspicuous position an image, sometimes of extreme indecency, a pot covered with cabalistic signs, a prickly branch of cactus or what not to catch the “evil eye” of passers-by and to divert their attention from the important work in hand.
A crop is being raised in a garden visible from the road : the vegetables will never reach maturity unless a bogey of some sort is set up in their midst. A cow will stop giving milk unless a shell is tied conspicuously about her horns.
The same idea enters into all domestic events and arrangements, and that not merely among Hindus, but among Muhammadans as well, to an extent that is with difficulty realised by Europeans.
When affliction comes the animal affected is served with grass, fruits, etc., on which charms have been whispered, or is bathed in charmed water, or has a talisman in the shape of a palm-leaf inscribed with charms rolled up and tied round its neck.
So too with human beings. In 1877 a poor Mappilla woman residing in one of the Laccadive Islands was put upon her trial for witchcraft for importing into the island a betel leaf with a certain cabalistic and magical inscription it, but it fortunately turned out for her that she had merely pounded it up and rubbed it over her daughter's body to cure her of fits.
Ibn Batuta wrote of a Malayali king who was converted to Islam by the leaf of “the tree of testimony,” a tree of which it was related to him that it does not generally drop its leaves, but, at the season of autumn in every year, one of them changes its colour, first to yellow, then to red ; and that upon this is written, with the pen of power, ‘There is no god but God : Muhammad is the Prophet of God,’ and that this leaf alone falls.” The falling of the leaf was an annual event anxiously looked for, and the leaf itself was efficacious in curing diseases.
Now-a-days the belief among Muhammadans still subsists that the leaves of a certain tree growing on Mount Deli possess similar virtues.
The incantation for the removal of spells and for avoiding future mischiefs is a long and somewhat complicated affair at times. The following account has been furnished from a trustworthy source : —
“Besides this, two other methods called Tolulika (a ceremony for removing different sins and punishments by throwing them with leaves into the fire), and Beliyulika (a ceremony performed by waving a basket of flowers round a possessed person), are also adopted in the case of human beings, and the mode of performing it is as follows : First, a lighted lamp and a nazhi (a wooden vessel containing half a seer) filled with rice are kept in the verandah or in the yard of a house. On the north-east corner of it a representation of KalaBhyravan (a demon) with its head towards the south and feet towards the north, is made in five colours, viz., white, yellow, green, red and black.
Rice cleaned and uncleaned, tender cocoanut, plantains, pounded rice, fried grain, betel leaf, arcca nut, etc., are placed on all the four sides of it. A Kypandi (a triangle made with plantain rind and young cocoanut leaves cut and stuck upon it in row's) having Kanikkali (saffron and chunam mixed with water and made after the fashion of a gruel) sprinkled over it, is placed on the east, red gurusi (water made red by mixing a little saffron and chunam with it) and a reddened cocoanut on the north, and black gurusi (water mixed with charcoal) and a blackened cocoanut on the south, of the said representation.
After modes of adoration have been done to these, Piniyal (the person on whom exorcism is being practised) proceeds with three betel leaves and three pieces of arcca nut, rice and wick in the right hand and with a knife in the other, and goes three times round the said representation, and then standing on the west of it facing towards the east, holds out the knife three times against the representation and cuts three times across it, and at last sticks the knife in its light eye, and then sits down. After this a wick is placed in the Kypandi, one in the red gurusi , and a third on the reddened cocoanut after singing hymns in praise of Kali, and wicks are similarly placed in black gurusi and on the blackened cocoanut after singing hymns in praise of Gulikan (son of Saturn, the ruler of the fatal hours). Then either the person who performs the ceremony or anybody else takes one handful of the leaves of Iranynyi (a tree) and one handful of those of nochchi (a shrub), and having caused Piniyal to keep a wick upon them for avoiding the evil eye, keeps them aside. Again one man takes one handful and a second another handful of the said leaves and stand on each aide of the Piniyal and rub with them from the head to the feet of the Piniyal, when Bharatam ought to be sung. This ought to be that portion of the Bharatam called Nilalkuttu which relates the story of the Pandus who were troubled by Curus by means of sorcery. At the end of each verse, the said leaves ought to be mixed with salt, chillies, mustard seed, gingelly seed, etc,., and burnt in fire prepared with jack wood ; a piece of iron is also placed in the fire.
At the end of the four verses in this manner Pandi and gurusi are thrown aside, having due hymns sung by the person who performs the ceremony. After this, the body of the Piniyal is anointed with the ground root of a medicinal plant called Panal mixed with gingelly oil. The said piece of iron is then taken out of the fire and placed in front of the Piniyal, and the performer takes in his hands the smoke that bursts out by pouring upon it water mixed with gingelly and lamp oil, and rubs the body of the Piniyal with it.
A cocoanut is then placed in the front of the Piniyal, having two wicks one across the other upon it. The Piniyal then crosses the cocoanut three times forward and backward, with a knife in the right hand and with a lighted wick in the other, and then sets fire to the wicks already placed on the cocoanut. The Piniyal then attempts three times to cut the cocoanut with the knife, and at the fourth time cuts it into two pieces, and then destroys the said representation with the hands and puts a mark on the forehead. Thus it ends.
“This is generally performed for males just before their first marriage, and also when they appear to be subject to such injuries as those already mentioned. This is done for females also on the day previous to the Pumsavana (a ceremony generally observed by them in the fifth, seventh, or ninth month of their first pregnancy). It is also performed for females who are afflicted with barrenness”.
There are no professional augurs among the population, but the events of their daily lives are supposed to be largely influenced by the signs presented to them by various birds and beasts and human beings and substances of sorts. The following list of good and bad omens has been prepared by a native gentleman.
Good omens.—The sight of such birds as crows and pigeons, etc., and beasts as deer, etc., moving from left to right, and dogs and jackals moving inversely, and other beasts found similarly and singly, wild crow, cock, ruddy goose, mongoose, goat and peacock seen singly, or in couples either at right or left ; the rainbow seen on right or left side or behind, prognosticates good, but the reverse if seen in front.
Butter-milk, raw rice, Puttalpira (Trichosanthes anguina), Priyanga flower, honey, ghee, red cotton juice, antimony, sulphurate, metallic mug, bell ringing, lamp, lotus, Koruka grass (Agrostis linearis), raw fish, flesh, flour, ripe fruits, sweetmeats, gems, sandalwood, elephant, pots filled with water, a virgin, a woman, a couple of Brahmans, Rajas, respectable men, white flower, white yak tail, white cloth and white horse.
Chank-shell, flagstaff, turband, triumphal arch. fruitful soil, burning fire, elegant eatables or drinkables, carts with men in, cows with their young, mares, bulls or cows with ropes tied to their necks, palanquin, swans, peacock and Indian crane warbling sweetly !
Bracelets, looking-glass, mustard, Bazoor, any substance of white colour, the bellowing of oxen, auspicious words, harmonious human voice, such sounds made by birds or beasts, the uplifting of umbrellas, flagstaffs and flags, bailing acclamations, sounds of harp, flute, timbrel, tabor, and other instruments of music, sounds of hymns of consecration and of Vedic recitations, gente breeze all round happening at the time of journey.
Bad omen.--The sight of men deprived of any of their limbs, such as the lame or blind, etc., of corpse, or wearer of cloth put on a corpse, coir pieces, broken vessels, bearing of words expressive of breaking, burning and destroying, etc., the alarming cry of "alas ! alas !” loud screams, cursing, tumbling, sneezing, the sight of a man in sorrow or one with a stick, a barber, or widow, pepper and other pungent substances.
The sight of a- serpent, cat, igu a, bloodsucker, or monkey passing across to road, or vociferous boasts or birds. Such as jackals, dogs and kites, crying loud from the eastern side, and of a buffalo, donkey, or temple bull, black grains, sail , liquor, hide, grass, dirt, faggots, iron, and flower used for funeral ceremonies, a eunuch, a ruffian, an outcaste, vomit, excrement, stench, any horrible figure, bamboo, cotton, lead, cots, stools or vehicles being carried with legs upwards, and dishes, cups, etc., with mouth downwards, vessels filled with live coals, and which are broken and not burning, broomstick, ashes, oil, winnow and a hatchet, etc.
SECTION F. RELIGIONS
The annexed table shows the respective members of the followers of the different religions in Malabar, and the ratio of each to every 100,000 of the population in 1871 and again in 1881.
Religion18711881 PopulationRation per 100,000PopulationRation per 100,000Hindus Muhammadans Christians Others1,037,914 581,609 40,268 1,45972,434 25,721 1,781 841,669,271 652,198 43,196 37070,581 27,677 1,826 16Total2,261,250100,0002,365,035100,000
Excluding the Laccadive Islands, which are wholly Muhammadan, the Hindus are most numerous in Palghat Taluk, where, of every 100,000 of the population, 80, 518 are Hindus, and fewest in numbers in Cochin Taluk, where the proportion is only 25,900. The Muhammadans similarly are most numerous in Ernad Taluk, proportion 50,649, and least numerous in Palghat, proportion 9,441.
The Christians again are most numerous in Cochin Taluk, proportion 50,354, and least numerous in Valluvanad Taluk, proportion only 46. Of people of other religions, the largest number is in Wynad Taluk, proportion 174, and the fewest in Palghat Taluk, proportion nil.
NOTEs by VED: There can be an error here. All throughout this book, there is a grey area, when mentioning two items. One is the word Malayali. And the other is the word Hindu. The word Malayali more or less is seen to mean only the Brahmans and the castes below upto the Nairs. For instance, see Chapter 2. The PEOPLE: Section B.—Towns, Villages, Dwellings and Rural Organisation.
Second item which is in the grey area is the definition of Hindu. It is more or less clear the Hindus are actually the Brahmin classes and their subordinates consisting of the Amabalavasi and their direct serving class, the Nairs. The nairs actually are in the peripheral region of the Hindu religion, with no rights to hear or recite Hindu scriptures. The Marumakkathaya Thiyyas of north Malabar as well as the Makkathaya Thiyyas of south Malabar are not allowed in the spiritual practises of the Hindu religion at all. Most of the castes that come below them also do not have any connection to Hindu religion, other than that they are the castes, which are kept at a distance from the Hindus. However, the distance always did lend enchantment. Some of these kept-at-a-distance castes did continually try to mention some historical connection to being connected to Brahmins or some other higher castes. Check: Castes and tribes of Southern India by Edgar Thurston
Logan is again quite flimsy and superficial here. END of NOTEs by VED
Of the strange medley of cults and religions which goes by the name of Hinduism, it is very difficult to give any adequate idea in a few pages.
The earliest aboriginal cult was probably that which is sometimes called animism—the propitiation of evil spirits, male and female—for in the earliest relics of religion still extant there seems to be embodied a belief in an existence after death. Persons who caused sorrow and trouble in life were after death supposed to be the cause of further unhappiness, and as such they had to be propitiated with gifts which they would have appreciated when alive. They had to be supplied with the weapons, the cooking pots, the oil receptacles, oil lamps, the ornaments, the water jars, and the implements which they used during life.
Periodically solemn festivals were held, and a portion of the viands was solemnly set apart for the, departed. In every garden on the southern side, even in the present day, a portion is set apart where the bones of those who are burned are buried in pots, and nightly lights are periodically kept blazing in memory of the day on which the deceased departed this life.
This custom prevails among Nayars, Tiyars, and the artisan castes, and it is no doubt the latest development of the cult, which dictated the making of the massive sepulchral urns and the erection of the massive cromlechs, and k stvacus with which the district abounds, but of which, tradition, in any reliable form, is wholly wanting.
A distinct advance in religious ideas may perhaps be gathered from those sepulchral relies, which, in Malabar am more varied in their forms, end in their associations perhaps more interesting than any similar relics in any land yet explored. And although the subject is archaeologically of historical interest, its chief importance seems to be in its religious aspect, and as such it may be fitly introduced here.
In so far as explorations have yet been conducted the sepulchral remains referred to may be separated into four classes, which, from internal evidence, may probably be correctly classified chronologically thus :-
I. Megalithic remains.probably synchronous.II. Excavated caves :.III. Caves with massive urns (kula-kallu) and massive sepulchral urns without caves.IV. Modern sepulchral urns of a small size.
There is a fifth class which has not- boon authoritatively connected with sepulchral uses. This class is known as the topikallu (hat stone), and evidently belongs to the megalithic period of Class I.
Illustrations Nos. I and II are of this uncertain class ; the hat stone represented in No. I was explored by Mr. Babington in November 1819 who thus summed up the result : “Though from its situation, size, and appearance I was led to expect my labour would not have been in vein, nothing was found in the hollow space between the stones which supported the topikallu and which were themselves placed on, the solid rock.”
Similar researches made since have so far as known proved as equally unsuccessful, and Mr. Babington’s conclusion either that these monuments are not sepulchral, or, if sepulchral, that their contents have crumbled into indistinguishable dust is fully justified.
Specimens of the first of the four undoubtedly sepulchral classes may be found scattered widely over the hilly country in the South of Malabar, and one characteristic group of them is to be found in a valley at the foot of the Kalladikod mountain peak in, the Kavalpat amsam of Palghat Taluk. They invariably contain the remains of iron implements and weapons and earthen pots. All covered up most carefully with fine earth which has in general been carefully sifted. Those remains correspond so closely with ordinary cromlechs elsewhere that it is unnecessary to illustrate them.
The stones composing the sides and ends of the place of sepulchre are sometimes fully exposed, sometimes half-buried, and sometimes only just showing above the surface. Occasionally the cromlech has a circle of stones placed round it at the distance of a yard or two. Of Class II, specimens (Illustrations Nos. Ill to VII) occasionally come to light, by accident, in quarrying blocks of stone, or in digging the foundations of buildings.
Such specimens are known to exist in the following places :—(1) in the Tallavil desam of Kuttiyori amsam in Chirakkal Taluk ; (2) in the Taliparamba and Trichumaram desam of Taliparamba amsam in the same taluk ; (3) in the Padinyattumurai amsam and desam of Calicut Taluk.
Their existence has been reported from many other places (Sewells "Lists of Antiquities, Madras,” p. 210, seq). The contents are, in all respects, similar to those from the megalithic class. Those caves are therefore probably of the same ago as the megalithic class, although in form they differ widely from the square megalithic cromlech, as will be seen from the following plans and sections. The caves are invariably cut out of soft laterite rock, and as gneiss is both more difficult to work and scarcer than laterite in the parts where these caves are to be found, it is probable that the architects adapted themselves to circumstances, and, instead of building their sepulchres or death-houses, set to work to excavate them.
The next illustration, No. VIII, convoys an accurate idea of the style of the earthernware vessels and iron weapons and implements found in those excavated “death-houses.”
It was probably a distinct advance in civilisation and in religious ideas (as will be presently explained) which led to the adoption of the next class (No. Ill) of sepulchral relies, for the kuta-kallu remains invariably' contain a largo sepulchral urn placed inside an excavated chamber, in addition to the usual earthenware pots and iron implements characteristic of the supposed earlier sepulchral relics. Moreover, in these kuta-kallu chambers are to be found earthenware pots of a more advanced type, evincing that meanwhile society had begun to pay attention to ornamenting the vessels in domestic use. Beads, too, are found in them, and the iron implements, weapons are more varied in form as if designed for more extended wants.
Illustrations (Nos. IX to XII) copied from a very interesting paper communicated by Mr. .J. Babington to the Literary Society of Bombay in December 1820 (Reprint, Bombay Literary Society's Transactions, 1877, p. 342), are representative of those kuta-kallu remains and of their contents.
The occurrence of these massive half-backed earthenware urns in the excavated chambers of the kuta-kallu seems to supply the necessary connecting link between society, ancient and modern ; for Malayalis, as already said, still adhere to the practice of using small sepulchral urns of the IV class. But now-a-days the charred bones of the deceased are placed in the urns as a temporary resting place only, and are, as soon as convenient, removed and cast into the fresh water of the holy rivers.
Formerly there was evidently no intention of ever disturbing the relics after they were put in their final resting place. The shape of some of the ancient urns perhaps affords a clue to the idea which originally suggested this mode of sepulchre; for in Malabar, as in the districts east of the ghats, their shape is at times peculiar. The urn shown in Mr. Babington’s illustration (No. IX) was evidently the final resting-place of a person of wealth and consideration—the extent of the excavation, the massive character of the capstone, and the articles found, all attest this.
Meaner individuals had to be content with less pretentious tombs, and, accordingly, it is found that in many localities in the district massive half-baked sepulchral urns, simply buried in the ground, are grouped together, generally on hill sides, in large numbers; occasionally, where the laterite rock occurs near the surface, the - rock is hollowed out a little to admit of receiving the urn, but no attempt is made at constructing a chamber round each urn. What is further peculiar about them is that, while some are plaintlv made like that shown in Mr. Babington's illustration (No, IX), in others of them, as in some of the specimens to be found at Vaniarnkulam in the Valluvanad taluk, the bottom of the ur thickens out in a circular -shape and through this protuberance a small hole is drilled.
It has been suggested that this peculiarity in construction is emblematic of the religious ideas connected with the Bhu-devi or earth goddess (Tellus), and that burial in this fashion was emblematic of the return of the individual to the womb of Mother Earth. The protuberance on the bottom of the urn under this supposition would signify that it was representative of the os uteri.
The worship of the earth goddess is a subject full of difficulty; it probably came in with the advance in civilisation, which taught men that the earth was fruitful if tilled, and possibly the transition from the megalithic and excavated tomb period to the period in which earthen sepulchral urns began to be used marks a change in Malayali civilisation from a pastoral life to one of agriculture, and from a belief in the powers for good and evil of departed human spirits to one in which the former belief began to be modified by the idea of an earth goddess, who became the refuge of the dead.
To the present day there is a native tradition, which of course is not in harmony with orthodox Sanskrit texts, and which runs follows :
"As long as the bones remain undestroyed and undefiled;”
“So long does the soul enjoy heaven."
And this tradition has still such a powerful hold on the people, that their superstitious fears are at ones aroused if such places of sepulchre are opened up. To this feeling chiefly is to be attributed the lead fact that so little is still known about these death relics. When a tomb is by accident discovered, it is generally for superstitious reasons closed up again at once and the fact of its existence is kept secret.
But even, according to orthodox Brahmanical idea, the corpse of a human being is, if the proper mantras are used, delivered at the burning ground to the care of Rudran, (one form of Siva), whose charge ceases when the burning is complete. The unburnt bones become pure and ought to be delivered in a pure form to Paramesvaran (another form of Siva) whose property they become. This is effected by casting them into the fresh water of holy streams, such as the Ganges, and into branches of the Kaveri as at Tirunelli in Wynad, and Periar in Coimbatore, and the like. But it in not always convenient to carry away the bones at once for this purpose, and frequently it is not done for years. Meanwhile, therefore, the bones are placed in a holy urn1 (Class IV) and preserved till a fitting opportunity occurs for their removal. The spirit of the deceased is meanwhile supposed to inhabit the western room—the honoured guest-chamber of the house-into which it is conveyed on the fortieth day after death in the holy urn before the latter is finally consigned to its temporary resting-place in the southern portion of the garden. The urn used must be of un burnt fresh earth, a fact which goes a long way to connect the ancient and modern practice on this point, for the massive urns of Class III above described are likewise constructed of only partially baked earth.
NOTEs: 1. The urns are not peculiar in shape, so it is unnecessary to give an illustration of class IV. END OF NOTEs
The native tradition still extant, that so long as the bones remained "undestroyed and undefiled” the deceased enjoyed heaven, is no doubt the original ancient idea, and the carrying out of the idea gave rise to the first three classes of these forms of sepulchre. Modern ideas have changed simply by making priestly intercessions necessary for the welfare of the deceased.
This is most conspicuous in the ideas now in vogue regarding the sraddha ceremonies, for priestly ingenuity has had a wide scope in following the course of a departed spirit and in inventing obstacles to its final attainment of bliss.
At every step of the preta, or departed spirit, obstacles are thrown in its way, and heavy toll is levied from the pockets of the deceased's descendants to purchase gati, or progress onward through purgatory— the “fourth mansion" as it is sometimes called by Malayalis—to other births and ultimate emancipation. Neglect to perform the necessary ceremonies leaves the departed spirit in the condition of a pisachu or foul wandering ghost, disposed to take revenge for its misery by a variety of malignant acts on living creatures.
While on the other hand, the due performances of the ceremonies converts the preta into a pitri with divine honours which are paid to it in the Sraddha ceremony. At this stage even priestly interference does not leave the departed soul, for the pitri has to progress through various other stages of bliss till admitted finally into heaven. Malayalis, like other Hindus, flock to Gaya for the performance of Sraddha ceremonies, because of the efficacy of the service conducted there in procuring direct admission into heaven of the pitris at whatever stage of gati, or progress, they had previously arrived.
The primary or foundational religious idea of the Malayali Hindu, then, consisted probably of a relief in the evil propensities of deceased persons (animism). When calamity attacked him he sought refuge in sacrifices to propitiate the evil wandering spirits of his ancestors, or of other men or women. When disease attacked a community an evil spirit, generally feminine, was supposed to be the author. And so it remains to the present day : astrologers are consulted when the calamity is a personal one : when the trouble is common to society it is the velichchappadu (the enlightener or oracle) of the local deity, who falls into a trance, becomes inspired, and points out the remedy to the assembled multitude.
The snakes, too, are supposed to exercise an evil influence on human beings if their shrines are not respected. A clump of wild jungle trees luxuriantly festooned with graceful creepers is usually to be found in the south-west corner of the gardens of all respectable Malayali Hindus. The spot is left free to nature to deal with as she likes. Every tree and bush, every branch and twig is sacred. This is the vishattum kavu (poison shrine) or naga kotta (snake shrine).
Usually there is a granite stone (chittra kuta-kallu) carved after the fashion of a cobra's hood set up and consecrated in this waste spot. Leprosy, itch, barrenness in women, deaths of children, the frequent appearance of snakes in the garden, and other diseases and calamities supposed to be brought about by poison, are all set down to the anger of the serpents. If there is a snake shrine in the garden, sacrifices and ceremonies are resorted to. If there is none, then the place is diligently dug up, and search made for a snake stone, and if one is found it is concluded that the calamities have occurred because of there having previously been a snake shrine at the spot, and because the shrine had been neglected. A shrine is then at once formed, and costly sacrifices and ceremonies serve to allay the serpent’s anger.
Allied with this worship of the serpent, there occur two other religious ideas about which it is difficult to come to correct or to satisfactory conclusions ; for phallic and sakti worship and tree worship are somehow inextricably mixed up with serpent1 worship in Malayali Hinduism. It is possible that the tree1 was at first simply an emblem of the phallus, and the serpent was, and still continues to be, an emblem of the sexual passion.
NOTEs: 1 These objects of adoration, borrowed apparently from the mosaic of Hindu cults, were imported through Manichaean influence into Christianity in one of its earlier and grosser forms. END OF NOTEs
Then again those are probably a development of the sun and earth goddess worship, for, contemporaneously with the change from a pastoral to an agricultural life, fertility of the soil seems to have been recognised and embodied in divine male and female forms.
It would be out of place here to consider those points in detail. It is sufficient to remark that the Malayali Hindus are still to a very great extant demon and ancestor worshippers; that this was probably their original religious idea and that, probably with the introduction of agriculture, their religious ideas, in which images2 of the divinities played no part, received fresh impressions tending towards the phallic cult which still holds them enchained.
NOTEs: 2. All the Malayali words for idols are of Sanskrit origin. END OF NOTEs
It remains to consider how their religion has been affected by the introduction of foreign ideas. It is certain that Jain missionaries penetrated as far as Malabar in Asoka’s time, for Asoka, in one of his Girnar edicts, says3 expressly ; “In the whole dominion of the king Devanampriya Priyadarsin, as also in the adjacent countries, as Chola, Pandya, Satyaputra, Keralaputra, as far as Tamaraparni, the kingdom of Antiochus, the Grecian king, and of his neighbour kings, the system of caring for the sick, both of men and of cattle, followed by king Devanampriya Priyadarsin, has been everywhere brought into practice ; and at all places where useful healing herbs for men and cattle were wanting, he has caused them to be brought and planted ; and at all places where roots and fruits were wanting, he has caused them to be brought and planted ; also he has caused wells to be dug and trees to be planted on the roads for the benefit of cattle.”
NOTEs: 3 Indian Antiquary, Vol. V, p, 272, and Thomas’ “Jainism, or the Early Faith of Asoka, etc.”, London, 1877, p. 42. END OF NOTEs
Here Keralaputra, or as sometimes transliterated Ketalaputra, refers undoubtedly to the king of ancient Chera, and the fact that Chera embraced the Malabar district and a good deal more is generally accepted as historically correct.
The Jains seem to have made very little impression on the religious beliefs of the people, for even a regard for animal life, the great characteristic of the Jains, had, until recent years, very little hold on the people; and even now the great bulk of the Hindu population feed on fish and flesh when they can get it, and it is only the unenlightened upper classes, who are under Brahmanieal influence, who observe the practice of abstaining from flesh. Under such circumstances, it may be regarded as having been introduced to this limited extent by the Brahmans rather than by the Jains.
The Jains do, however, seem to have left behind them one of their peculiar styles of temple architecture ; for the Hindu temples and even the Muhammadan mosques of Malabar are all built in the style peculiar to the Jains, as it is still to be seen in the Jain bastis at Mudbiddri and other places in the South Canara district. Regarding this style, Mr. Forgusson has the following suggestive remarks in his work on the “History of Indian and Eastern Architecture” : —
“When1 we descend the ghats into Canara, or the Tulava - country, we come on a totally different state of matters. Jainism is the religion of the country, and all, or nearly all, the temples belong to this soot, but their architecture is neither the Dravidian style of the South, nor that of Northern India, and indeed is not known to exist anywhere else in India proper, but recurs with all its peculiarities in Nepal.”
NOTEs: 1. Edition 1876, p. 270. END OF NOTEs
“They2 are much plainer than Hindu temples usually are. The pillars look like logs of wood with the angles partially chamfered off, so as to make them octagons, and the sloping roofs of the verandahs are so evidently wooden that the style itself cannot be far removed3 from a wooden original. In many places, indeed, below the ghats the temples are still wholly constructed in wood without any admixture of stone, and almost all the features of the Moodbidri temples may be found in wood at the present day. The blinds between the pillars, which are there executed in stone, are found in wood in every city in India, and, with very little variation, are used by Europeans in Calcutta to a greater extent, perhaps, than they were over used by the natives.
NOTEs: 2. Ibid., p.271.
3. Note.—The buildings in this style in Malabar are invariably built of wood in all their characteristic portions. END OF NOTEs
“The feature, however, which presents the greatest resemblance to the northern styles is the reverse slope of the caves above the verandah. I am not aware of its existence anywhere else south of Nepal, and it is so peculiar that it is much more likely to have been copied than reinvented.”
“I1 cannot offer even a plausible conjecture how, or at what time, a connection existed between Nepal and Tibet, and Canara, but I cannot doubt that such was the case.” Further on, after describing the architecture of Nepal, Mr. Forgusson continues2 : “It may be remembered that, in speaking of the architecture of Canara, I remarked on the similarity that existed between that of that remote province and the style that is found in this Himalayan valley ; and I do not think that any one can look at the illustrations quoted above and not perceive the similarity between them and the Nepalese examples, though it might require a familiarity with all the photographs to make it evident, without its being pointed out. This being the case, it is curious to find Colonel Kirkpatrick stating, more than seventy years ago, ‘that it is remarkable enough that the Newar women, like those among the Nayars, may, in fact, have as many husbands as they please, being at liberty to divorce them continually on the slightest pretence.’ (Nepal, p. 187.)
NOTEs: 1 Edition 1870, p. 278.
2. Ibid., p, 305. END OF NOTEs
Dr. Buchanan Hamilton also remarks that ; though a small portion of the Newars have forsaken the doctrine of Buddha and adopted the worship of Siva, it is without changing their manners, which are chiefly remarkable for their extraordinary carelessness about the conduct of their women ; ’ and he elsewhere remarks on their promiscuousness and licentiousness—(Account of Kingdom of Nepal, pp. 29 42, 51, etc.).
In fact, there are no two tribes in India, except the Nayars and Newars, who are known to have the same strange notions as to female chastity, and that coupled with the architecture and other peculiarities, seems to point to a similarity of race which is both curious and interesting ; but how and when the connection took place I must leave it to others to determine. I do not think there is anything in the likeness of the names, but I do place faith in the similarity of their architecture combined with that of their manners and customs.”
Regarding these extracts it may be remarked that this style of architecture marks out better than anything else the limits of the ancient kingdom of Chera, for the style prevails all through the West Coast country from the limits of Canara to Cape Comorin.
In Malabar proper the style is reserved almost, if not altogether, exclusively for religious edifices. In Travancore it is often to be seen in lay buildings.
How the Muhammadans came to adopt this same style for their mosques is perhaps to be accounted for by the tradition, which asserts that some at least of the nine original mosques were built on the sites of temples, and that the temple endowments in land were made over with the temples for the maintenance of the mosque. Before Muhammadanism became a power in the land it is not difficult to suppose that the temples1 themselves thus transferred were at first used for the new worship, and this may have set the fashion which has come down to the present day. So faithfully is the Hindu temple copied, that the Hindu trisul (or trident) is not unfrequently still placed over the open gable front of the mosque.
NOTEs: 1 In this connection it may be mentioned that on the margin of the bathing place in one of the original mosques, at Pantalayini-kolla, there still exists a fragment of granite stone inscription in ancient Vatteluttu characters, said to have, at one time, formed part of the temple which the mosque superseded ; another fragment is also to be seen there. And on a rock on the sea-shore, close to the site of this same mosque at Pantalayini-kollam, there is a foot-print deeply cut. A natural hollow in the rock has been chiselled into the shape of a foot, and this mark, which is 3' 3” long by 10” to 12” broad, is said by the local Mappillas to be foot print of Adam’s foot, as he landed from across the ocean ; his next step took him to Adam’s Peak in Ceylon. Both temple and foot-print were doubtless originally Jain. END OF NOTEs
The final Brahman irruption from the north into Malabar, which for reasons set out at some length in Chapter III, may be placed about A.D. 700, was destined to work a greater change in the religion of the land, for it was part of the policy of the new-comers to “enlarge their borders”, and to embrace in their all-enveloping Hinduism all minor creeds with which they came into contact.
Malayali Hinduism, therefore, in the present day is a strange mixture of all kinds of religious ideas. It embraces, chiefly as divers manifestations of Siva and his consort Kali, all the demoniac gods originally worshipped by the Malayalis. Brahma and Vishnu, too, are worshipped with Siva, the other member of the Hindu Trimurti or triad. It has borrowed from Christianity—with which, probably for the first time, Hinduism came into contact in Malabar —some of the loftiest ideas of pure theism.
And Buddhism and Jainism have each left their mark on the system as eventually elaborated.
It was at the hands of Samkaracharya, who is generally acknowledged to have been a Malayali Brahman living2 in the last quarter of the eighth and in the first quarter of the ninth, century A.D., that Hinduism attained its widest bounds under the form of Vedantism. The Malayali tradition regarding him, as embodied in the Keralolpatti and other works, is that he was the son of a Brahman widow, and as “the son of the widow” he is sometimes referred to in Malayalam. This slur upon the legitimacy of the “gracious teacher,” who summed up his philosophy and his religion in the Atma Bodha Prakasika, is not borne out by other stories of his life, one of which, however (and that an Eastern Coast one), makes him the miraculous son of a virgin, like the founder of Christianity.
NOTEs: 2. Born A.D, 788 ; died A.D. 820-21. Indian Antiquary Vol XI, pp, 175, 263. The accuracy of this date has since been questioned, and the matter is still subjudice. END OF NOTEs
Whether there was any truth in the story is likely ever to remain a matter of doubt, but the necessity of explaining how at a very early period of his life, he was rejected by his own people and adopted the habits of a saniyasi, or religious recluse, has led to the currency of another story regarding him, namely, that at eight years of ago he was seized by a crocodile while bathing in the Aluvayi river, and that, after obtaining the consent, of his mother, who witnessed the affair from the river bank, he adopted the life of a saniyasi , and at that very early age begun his religious career.
The Malayali traditions place his birth-place at Kaladi to the south1 of the Aluvayi river in the Nambutiri illam of the Keippalli taravad. At an early ago, it is said, he began to criticise the Vedic knowledge and studies generally of the Nambutiris, who resented his conduct, and, it is said, excommunicated the family. At sixteen years of ago, it is said, he became omniscient, and set out on his travels as a saniyasi. He composed largely, and one account says he met Vyasa, the great Rishi, who approved of his works, and resided with him for some years.
NOTEs: 1 One account says north, instead of south. END OF NOTEs
According to another account his treatment of the sage was very far from being polite at their first meeting, for, after having vanquished him in argument, he ordered his disciples to throw down the defeated and unmannerly old Brahman, and drag him away by his legs. This account goes on to say they eventually became reconciled and Vyasa approved of Samkaracharya's works. The most interesting and most, important part of the account of the life of the “gracious teacher”, as related by Anandagiri, in his Samkaravijaya (victories of Samkara), is that the great Vedantist had at last to respect the popular superstitions of the day, and to give his sanction even to those forms of idolatrous worship, which his philosophy repudiated.
All Malayali accounts agree that he returned to Kerala, and performed the religious obsequies of his mother, at which ceremony as those of his own caste held back, a Sudra had to perform the part usually undertaken by a junior member of the family, and it is said that from the time of this event began the custom in Kerala of “no ceremony for Brahmans without the assistance of a Sudra”, and vice versa.
All Malayali accounts, too, agree in stating that he eventually died at Badarikasramam2 in Northern India, and at a very early ago, thirty-two years, according to most accounts.
NOTEs: 2. He is said to have died, not at Badarikasramam, the place named in the Malayali stories of his life, but at Kedarnath in the Himalaya, to which place he proceeded from the former place— (Wilson, Asiatic Researches, XVII, 178-79 ; Moor's Hindu Pantheon, edition 1864, pp. 81. 353.) END OF NOTEs
Of his philosophical system of religion, which has in times past produced, and which still exercises, so wide and so beneficent an influence on native society, it may be said to be summed up in the "great saying” as Samkaracharya himself called it,, “Tat Tvam asti ” = (that i.e., Brahma,1 “the supreme deity, the causa materialis and causa efficiens, of the illusive world")—tu (thou, the individual living spirit) -—es (art)=;“ Thou art that.” “Having by the aid of the words ‘it is not so, it is not so’ removed all the upadhis (‘the illusive forms of Brahma within the world’) 'one will easily recognise, by the aid of the great saying, the oneness of the (individual) living spirit with the (Universal) Supreme Spirit.’” "(Atma Bodha Prakasika, translated by the Rev. J.F.Kearns, Strophe 29.)
NOTEs: 1. To be distinguished from Brahma., the chief god of the Hindu Trimurti or triad—Brahma, Siva and Vishnu. Samkaracharya's views regarding Brahma are stated in Strophe 57 of the Atma Bodha Prakasika :—
“Having access to a portion of the bliss of the being of all perfect bliss, Brahma and the other (popular deities) become, by degrees, partially happy beings.” (Kearns “Translation.”)END OF NOTEs
“Having crossed the sea of fascination, and having slain the giants, 'inclination’ ‘aversion’ etc., the wise shall go forth married to tranquillity, delighting in the spirit,” (Ibid., Strophe 49) ; “Extinguishing his inclination for external changeable pleasure, and securely reposing in spirit—pleasure, (such an one) shall always shine forth clearly therein, like the light which stands in a vessel secure,” (Ibid., Strophe 50).
To the question— “In what condition, then, is the freed-life-soul, until the guilt (accumulated during a prior existence) is completely expiated and incorporeal bliss succeeds the extinction of the threefold2 corporealness?"
“According to the Vedanta Philosophy, there are three sarira or corporeal forms;—(i) the karana sarira (corpus causans), (ii) the sukshma sarira, the fine material form, and (iii) the sthulada sarira, the gross body, made up of the limbs which we perceive. The latter two are the corpora causata. The sthulada sarira perishes at death, but the sukshma sarira, the immediate organ of the soul, is said to accompany it through all its transmigrations, and is capable of sensations of enjoyment and suffering. The corpus causans is the original type or embryo of the body as existing with the soul in its original state.” (Rev. J.F.Kearn's Note to Strophe 13.) END OF NOTEs
The “gracious teacher” replied, in Strophe 51: “Although still involved in the upadhi (i.e., corporeity) the muni (i.e., wisdom-perfected sage) may remain uncontaminated by its natural qualities (just like the æther, which, although it pervades the most unclean things, is nevertheless uncontaminated). And although hE knows all, yet like a (disinterested) imbecile will he stand aside, and clinging (to no sensual thing) (he) passes through (them) like the wind.”
In Strophe 52, he continued: “By the dissolution of the upadhi, the muni (wisdom-perfected sage) unites inseparably with the (All) Pervading One, just as water mixes inseparably with water, air with air and fire with fire.” In this description of what Brahma is, he said:
“That, which one having perceived, there is nothing else to perceive,
“That, which one having attained, there is nothing else to attain,
“That, which one knowing, there exists nothing else to be known,
“That is, Brahma—let this be believed." (Ibid., Strophe 54.)
And in the concluding Strophe (67), he observed: “ Whoever undertakes the pilgrimage of himself * * * obtains eternal happiness, and is free from all toil * * * and becomes, omniscient, all-pervading immortal.”
The Vedantists say, in short, that nothing exists but Brahma, that the “pilgrim of himself,” if he frees himself from the illusions of the flesh and the mind, will become a muni (a wisdom-perfected sage), and will in the final stage of existence at last-perceive that he himself is Brahma.
The religious ideal thus presented is in strange contrast to that which preaches:- “Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” and it is ill-adapted for a work-a-day world, where fields have to be ploughed to gain bread, where children have to be born to continue the human race, and whom the good and the evil things in this world meet the passer-by at every corner of his life journey. But it is an ideal always present to the mind of the devout Hindu, and its deep refining influence on the people cannot be exaggerated—an influence, which, in their inner life, is productive of many most admirable qualities.
There is a constant pining after a transcendental ideal, attainable perhaps, but only after much suffering, and after much, almost, impossible, self-denial
“O for those days when I shall dwell alone,
"Among the snowy hills by Ganga’s stream,
“In stony torpor stiffened on a stone,
"Inly conversing with the One Supreme,
“Rapt in devotion, dead to all beside,
"And deer shall fray their horns against my senseless hide.”
(Tawney’s Metrical Version of the Vairagya Satakam.)
Of places of resort, for Hindu devotees there are in Malabar, owing perhaps to the jealous exclusiveness of the Nambutiri Brahmans, singularly few, and such as do occur are resorted to almost exclusively by people of the coast. The most famous temple in the district is Tirunavayi in the Ponnani taluk, where the Maha Makham festival, already fully described at page 103 of this Chapter, used to take place every twelve years.
Next to it, perhaps, comes Guruvayur also in the Ponnani taluk, a shrine supposed to be effectual in the cure of rheumatism. Besides these the following may be named : the Taliparamba temple in Chirakkal taluk; the Kottiyur shrine in the jungles of the Manattana amsam of Kottayam taluk resorted to by great multitudes about the beginning of the south-west monsoon season ; the Kilur temple on the south bank of the Kotta river, where is held annually the largest cattle-market in the district ; the Tirunelli temple placed on a branch of the Kaveri river at the foot of the Bramagiri plateau in Wynad, to which the people of North Malabar used to resort for the performance of Sraddha ceremonies, until by the opening of the railway it became easier for them to visit Perur on the Noyal river in Coimbatore for this purpose; the Bhagavati shrine near Angadipuram in Valluvanad taluk, whence, after decorating the shrine, the largest band of Mappilla fanatics ever collected (66 in number) issued forth to be shot down or impaled on the bayonets of the Grenadier Company of Her Majesty's 94th Regiment. (August-September 1849); the Kalpati temple in Palghat town, where is held annually a car festival, the only ceremony of the kind that takes place in the district although very common in eastern districts, and in which the idol is carried in procession through the streets on a monster car.
There are many accounts extant in Malabar concerning the introduction of the religion of the prophet into the district. The indigenous manuscripts, however, differ from those belonging to Arab families settled in the district on one or two points, while in regard to all others the accounts are identical.
The points of difference relate to the time when the first convert was made, and as to some of the things that happened to him. The indigenous Muhammadans (Mappillas)1 are anxious, very naturally, to claim for their first convert the honour of having had an interview with the Prophet himself, and of having been instructed by the Prophet himself in the principles of the “Fourth Vedam,2” as the religion of Islam is commonly called in Malabar. The Mappilla accounts likewise give the text of a speech said to have been delivered by the Prophet to his followers on the occasion, and further assert that the Prophet changed the name of the convert to Thiaj-ud-din (Crown of the Faith).
NOTEs: 1. N.B .—The word Mappilla is a contraction of Maha (great) and pilla (child, honorary title, as among Nayars in Travancore), and it was probably a title of honour conferred on the early Muhammadan immigrants, or possibly on the still earlier Christian immigrants, who are also down to the present day, called Mappillas. The Muhammadans are usually called Jonaka or Chonaka Mappillas to distinguish them from the Christian Mappillas, who are called Nasrani Mappillas. Jonaka or Chonaka is believed to stand for Yavanaka = Ionian — Greek. In the Payyanur pat, or earliest Malayali poem, some of the sailors are called chonavar. Nasrani is of course Nazarene ; the term is applied to Syrian or Syrio-Roman Christians.
2. The three other Vedams (knowledge, revelation, religion) are according Muhammadans, (1) Heathen or Hindu, (2) Jewish and (3) Christian. END OF NOTEs
The Malayali Arabs do not credit these facts, because, in the first place, the convert’s name (he being so influential a person as king or emperor of Malabar) would certainly have come down to posterity in the works of the old commentators, or have appeared in the list of Assahabi, or persons who saw the Prophet.
Moreover, it is also a fact that no such names as those taken by the convert denoting attachment to Islam were given in the Prophet’s lifetime. In their rejection of those facts they follow the example set by Sheikh Zin-ud-din, a writer, who in the sixteenth century noticed the story as then current, but rejected it on the ground, among others, that the convert was said, in his time, to have died on the coast of the Red Sea, whereas it was well known that his tomb was at Zaphar (on the Arabian Coast north-east of Aden). The Mappillas now assert that he died at Shahr-Mokulla, not on the Red Sea Coast. This, too, is contrary to fact, as the evidence of the tomb stone itself, still existing at Zaphar, is understood to testify.
The Malayali Arabs assert, chiefly on Sheikh Zin-ud-din’s authority, that Islam was not introduced into Malabar until 200 years after the Hejira—And this, or a later date, seems to be correct, for the Arab merchant, Sulaiman, who wrote in A.H. 2371 (A.D 851- 52), and who wrote with knowledge as he had evidently visited the countries he wrote about, said expressly2 : “I know not that there is any one of either nation (Chinese or Indian) that has embraced Muhammadanism or speaks Arabic.”
NOTEs: 1. Malik-ibn-Dinar's expedition described further down is said to have reached Malabar about A.H. 224, by which time Sulaiman had probably returned from his wanderings.
2. Renaudot’s translation of “Ancient Accounts of India, etc." London, 1733, p. 37 (a). END OF NOTES
There is no reason to suppose3 with Rowlandson that Arab emigrants established themselves in Malabar (presumably as a conquering race) in the time of the Umayyide Caliph Walid I (A.D. 705-15), for it is by no means certain that the pirate Meds, alias Naukumara, alias Nagamara, alias Kurks, were in any way related to the Coorgs—an inland people—or to the Malayalis. The expeditions directed by the Muhammadan Governor of Persia against Sind, in revenge for the plundering by the pirates of Debal of the king of Ceylon’s ships convoying tribute, were directed, as was natural, against Debal itself, which appears to have been some place in Sind.
NOTEs: 1. Rowlandson’s foot-note to Tahafat-ul-Mujahidiv, p. 5. END OF NOTES
All Malayali accounts, however, are substantially in accord as to the following facts :—The last king or emperor of Malabar was one Cheraman Perumal, who reigned at Kodungallur (Cranganore, the Mouziris of the Greeks, the Muyiri-kodu of the Cochin Jews’ deed). Cheraman Perumal dreamed that the fullmoon appeared on the night of newmoon at Mecca in Arabia, and that, when at the meridian, she split into two, one half remaining and the other half descending to the foot of a hill called Abikubais, when the two halves joined together and then set.
Sometime afterwards a party of Muhammadan pilgrims on their way to the foot-print shrine at Adam’s Peak in Ceylon chanced to visit the Perumal’s capital, and were admitted to an audience and treated most hospitably. On being asked if there was any news in their country, one, by name Sheikh Sekke-ud-din4, it is said, related to the Perumal the apocryphal story of Muhammad having, by the miracle about which the Perumal had dreamt, converted a number of unbelievers. The Perumal, it is said, was much interested and secretly made known to the Sheikh his intention “to unite5 himself to them.” When the Sheikh returned from Ceylon the Perumal secretly directed him “to make ready a vessel and provide it with everything necessary for proceeding on a voyage."
NOTEs: 4. Or Seuj-ud-din.
5. Rowlandson's Tuhafat-ul-Mujahidin p. 59. END OF NOTEs
For the next, eight days the Perumal busied himself privately in arranging affairs of state, and, in particular, in assigning to the different chieftains under him their respective portions of territory. This was all embodied in a written deed which he left behind him. At the end of the eight days he embarked secretly in the vessel prepared for him along with the Sheikh and his companions, and they proceeded to Panthalayini-Kollam (Northern Kollam near Quilandy), to the place, where some six-and half centuries later the first Europeans, who successfully navigated their way to Indian soil, first landed.
At Pantalayini-Kollam they spent one day, or a day and a night, and thence proceeded to the island of Darmatam, or Darmapattanam, near Tellicherry. This island adjoins the Randattara Achanmars territory and to this day Randattara is commonly called the Poyanad (i.e. the country whence the Perumal “went” or “set out” on his journey to Arabia).
At Darmapattanam the party remained three days, and then embarking set sail for, and landed at, 8hahr on the Arabian Coast,. At this place the Perurnal remained, according to the Arab accounts, for a considerable time.
It is uncertain whether it was here (Shahr) that the Perumal came for the first time into contact with the persons, who were to be the pioneers of Islam in Malabar, or whether they, or some of them, had been of the party of pilgrims with whom he originally set out from Kodungallur. But, however this may be, the names of the persons have been handed down by tradition as (1) Malik-ibn-Dinar, (2) Habib-ibn-Malik, (3) Sherf-ibn-Malik1 (4) Malik-ibn-Habib and his wife, Kumarieth with their ten sons2 and five daughters3.
NOTEs: 1 Or Shiaff-ibn-Malik
2. (1) Habib, (2) Muhammad, (3) Ali, (4) Hussain, (ii) Thuki-ud-din ?, (6) Abdar Rahman, (7) Ibrahim, (8) Mussa, (9} Umrnar, (10) Hassan.
8 (l) Fatima, (2) Ayissa, (3} Zainab, (4) Thanirath, (6) Halima END OF NOTEs
From the names it may perhaps be gathered that the party consisted of Malik-ibn-Dinar, his two sons, one grandson, and his grandson's wife, and their family of fifteen children.
The Peruman apparently changed his name to that which is still said to appear on his tomb, namely Abdul Rahman Samiri, and married a wife, whose name has been variously handed down as Rahabieth or Gomariah. The Perurnul, it is said, after remaining a considerable time at Shahr, formed a resolution to return to Malabar for the purpose of establishing his new religion with suitable places of worship, and he set about for the purpose the building of a ship. Before, however, the ship was built the Perumal fell dangerously ill, and, being convinced there was no hope of his recovery, implored his companions not to desist from their design of proceeding to Malabar to propagate there the Fourth Vedam. To this they rejoined that they, foreigners, could not know his country and its extent and would have no influence therein ; whereupon, it is said, he prepared and gave them writings in the Malayalam language to all the chieftains whom he had appointed in his stead, requiring them to give land for mosques and to endow them.
He further instructed them not to tell of his sufferings and death1 ‘‘but tell ye not to any of my people of Malabar of the violence of my sufferings, or that I am no more.” And he finally enjoined on them not to land anywhere, save at Kodungallur (Cranganore), Darmapattanam, Pantalayini- Kollam, or Southern Kollam (Quilon). "And1 after this he surrendered his soul to the unbounded mercy of God."
NOTEs: 1 Rowlandson’s Tuhafat-ul-Mujahidin p. 53. END OF NOTES
Some years2 after his death Malik-ibn-Dinar and his family set-out for Malabar, bearing with them the Perumal’s letter, and, concealing his death, delivered them to those to whom they were addressed, beginning with the prince3 ruling at Kodungallur (Cranganore). They were received hospitably, and, in accordance with the Perumal’s instructions, land to build a mosque and a suitable endowment were given. Malik-ibn-Dinar himself became the first Kazi of this place.
NOTEs: 2. Eight years according to the Mappilla manuscripts.
3. Probably of the Cochin Raja’s family. END OF NOTES
After some time Malik-ibn-Dinar sent out to Southern Kollam4 (Quilon) Malik-ibn-Habib with his wife and some of their sons. There also they were received hospitably, apparently by the Southern Kolattiri (Travancore Raja), and a second mosque was founded, of which Hassan, one of the sons, became Kazi. Some of the remaining sons, accompanied by their father most probably, next set out for the dominion of the Northern Kolattiri (Chirakkal Raja’s family), and at Hubaee Murawee (Madayi) or Palyangadi in Chirakkal taluk, close to one of the palaces of the Kolattiris, a third mosque was founded and endowed.
NOTEs: 4. According to one manuscript the second mosque was erected at Northern Kollam (Pantalayini-Kollam) not at Southern Kollam (Quilon), and according to it, the last mosquo erected was at the latter place. END OF NOTES
At this mosque a tradition exists that the party brought over with them from Arabia three blocks of white marble, one of which was placed in this mosque, where it is still to be seen. The other two, the tradition says, were similarly placed in the mosques at Quilon and Cranganore. Abdar-Rahman remained there as Kazi.
Thence the party proceeded to Bakkanur (Barkur) and to Manjalur (Mangalore) and to Northern Kanyarode (Casargode), three places in Canara, founding mosques at each place and leaving as Kazis at them respectively Ibrahim, Mussa, and Muhammad, sons of Malik-ibn- Habib. The remainder of the party next returned to Madayi Palayangadi and remained there three months.
The locality of the next mosque founded has been the subject of some debate, but there seems no reason to doubt the correctness of the current Malayali accounts, which agree in placing it at Chirikandatam5 or Cherupattanam6 (literally small town). “Zaraftan” is the name which occurs in Rowlandson’s version of the Tahafat-ul-Mujahidin and Jarfattan, in two other versions of the same work in the hands of families at Ponnani and Calicut. The village now called Srikandapuram or Chirikandatam (the “Surrukundapuram” of the Indian Atlas) lies at the head of the navigable waters of one branch of the Valarpattanam river in the Chirakkal taluk, and its former importance as a entrepot of trade with Coorg and Mysore has already been alluded to. (Chapter I, Section C, p. 10.)
NOTEs: 5. Palayangadi mosque manuscripts.
6. Another manuscript in the hands of an Arab family in Calicut. END OF NOTEs
To this mosque, at Srikandapuram, the first Kazi appointed was Ummar, another of the ten sons.
After this the party visited, in succession, Darmapattanam in the Kottayam taluk, and Pantalayini-Kollam in the Kurumbranad taluk, (both already alluded to above), and lastly Chaliyam in the Ernad taluk, the present terminus of the Madras South-West Line of Railway. At those three places respectively Hussain, Muhammad1, and Thaki-ud-din, three more of the ten sons, were appointed as Kazis.
NOTEs: 1.There is a discrepancy here, for Muhammad was already Kazi of Cassargode mosque. END OF NOTES
Of the persons who were thus instrumental in introducing Muhammadanism into Malabar, it is related that Malik-ibn-Dinar subsequently visited each of the mosques in turn, and, after returning to Kodungallur, set out for Southern Quilon2 with Malik- ibn-Habib. Thence he went to Arabia and “travelling3 on to Khorassan there resigned his breath.” Malik-ibn-Habib and his wife came after Malik-ibn-Dinar’s departure from Quilon to Kodungallur and there both of them died.
NOTEs: 2. According to one manuscript the last of the nine mosques was erected here—See note above regarding Southern Kollam (Quilon)
3. Rowlandson’s Tahafat-ul-Mujahidin, p. 55. END OF NOTEs
And of the Kazis of the other mosques, Muhammad alone died elsewhere than at his post of duty ; he, it seems, died at Aden.
There is good reason for thinking that this account of the introduction of Muhammadanism into Malabar is reliable.
For first of all it is beyond doubt that Arabs had by the ninth century, about which time these events are said to have happened, penetrated beyond India and as far as China for purposes of trade, and it is notable that all the nine places where mosques were erected were either the headquarters of the petty potentates of the country, or places affording facilities for trade, and in some cases (as at Kodungallur, Kollum, Palayangadi, and perhaps Pantalayini Kollam) the places had the double advantage of being both well situated for trade and in close proximity to the chieftain’s strongholds. Arabs engaged in trade had no doubt settled in these places long previously, and indeed an inscription on a Muhammadan granite tombstone still standing at Pantalayini-Kollam recites, after the usual prayer, that “Ali-ibn-Udtherman was obliged to leave this world for over to the one which is everlasting, and which receives the spirits of all, in the year 1661 of Hejira, so called after Muhammad the Prophet left Mecca for Medina.’’
NOTEs: The date is a good deal weather-worn, but those figures are still fairly distinct. END OF NOTEs
Malik-ibn-Dinar and his party, even with the exceptional advantages they possessed, would hardly have been able in so short a time to found and establish mosques at these places, unless the ground had been prepared beforehand for them to some extent at least. And the fact that Arabs had settled for trading purposes carries with it the further probable assumption that some of them at least had contracted alliances with women of the country, and the beginnings of a mixed race, the Mappillas, had been laid.
Finally, it has recently come to notice, from the information of an Arab resident near the spot, that the tomb of the Perumal referred to still exists at Zaphar on the Arabian Coast, at some distance from the place (Shahr), where he is reported to have landed. The facts have still to be authoritatively verified, but it is stated that on this tomb the inscription runs: “Arrived at Zaphar A. H. 212. Died there A.H. 216.” These dates correspond with the years 827 -832 A.D., and as the Kollam era of the coast commenced in 825 A.D., and in the month of the year (25th August) just before the northeast monsoon sets in, when ships frequently sail for Arabia and the Persian Gulf, it is not at all improbable that the beginning of the Kollam era of the coast dates from the day on which Cheraman Perumal, the last of the kings of Malabar, set sail for Arabia in the manner described. It is said that he stayed a “considerable time” at Shahr, which perhaps accounts satisfactorily for the time elapsing between August-September 825 A.D. and A.D. 827 the year in which he went to Zaphar.
Moreover Sheikh Zin-ud-din2 stated in reference to this affair : “Touching the exact time when this event occurred there is no certain information ; but there appears good ground for the supposition that it happened about two hundred years after the flight of the Prophet.”
NOTEs: 2. Rowlandson’a Tahafat-ul-Mujahidin, p. 55. END OF NOTEs
And he continued : “It is a fact, moreover, now well known to all, that the king was buried at Zofar, instead of on the Arabian Coast of the Red Sea, at which place his tomb can be seen by every one, and is indeed now flocked to on account of its virtues. And the king, of whom this tale is told, is styled by the people of that part of the world As-Samira3, whilst the tradition of his disappearance is very common throughout the population generally of Malabar, whether Moslems or Pagans ; although the latter would believe that he has been taken up into heaven, and still continue to expect his descent, on which account they assemble at Cranganore and keep ready there wooden shoes and water, and on a certain night of the year burn lamp as a kind of festival in honour of his memory.”
NOTEs: 3. The name of the king is said to have been changed to Abdul Rahman Samiri, and the tomb, it is said, is till regarded with much veneration as that of a Hindu (Samiri-Samaritan-worshipper of the calf — Koran, S. 20) king of Malabar, who became a convert to Islam. From the fact that the king is called Samiri, some Mappillas assert that the king buried at Zaphar was really a Zamorin. The mukri of the mosque adjacent to the tomb came to Malabar some sixteen years ago, soliciting subscriptions for repairing the tomb and mosque. END OF NOTEs
The Mappillas, the mixed race, the beginnings of which have just been sketched, have played an important part in the political history of the District, which will be alluded to in its proper place in the historical chapter. And it is unnecessary to say more about that subject here than that the Arab element in the parentage of the vast majority of them is now very small indeed. The race is rapidly progressing in numbers, to some extent from natural causes, though they are apparently not so prolific as Hindus, and to a large extent from conversion from the lower (the servile) classes of Hindus - -a practice which was not only permitted but in some instances enjoined under the Zamorin Rajas of Calicut, who, in order to man their navies, directed that one or more male members of the families of Hindu fishermen should be brought up as Muhammadans, and this practice has continued down to modern times.
Regarding the increase in the Muhammadan population between 1871 and 1881, the following remarks occur in the Presidency Census (1881) Report, paragraph 151:—“Conspicuous for their degraded position and humiliating disabilities are the Cherumars. This caste numbered 99,009 in Malabar at the census of 1871, and in 1881, is returned at only 64,7251. This is a loss of 34.93 per cent, instead of the gain 5.71 per cent, observed generally in the district. There are, therefore, 40,000 fewer Cherumars than there would have been but for some disturbing cause, and the disturbing cause is very well known to the District Officer to be conversion to Muhammadanism.
NOTEs: 1. In the year 1856, the Government called for information as to the traffic in slaves, and from a careful enumeration then made, it seems that the caste numbered at that time 187,758 ; so that the decrease in 25 years has been over 65 per cent. END OF NOTEs
“The honour of Islam” once conferred on a Cheruman, or on one of the other low castes, he moves, at one spring, several places higher socially than that which he originally occupied, and the figures, corroborating what has been actually observed in the district show that nearly 50,000 Cherumars and other Hindus have availed themselves of the opening.”
The conversion of a Pariah, or low caste Hindu, to Muhammadanism raises him distinctly in the social scale, and he is treated with more respect by Hindus. “He is no longer a link in a chain which requires to be kept in its particular place. His new faith neutralises all his former bad qualities. He is no longer the degraded Pariah whose approach disgusted, and whose touch polluted the Hindu of caste, but belonging now to a different scale of being, contact with him docs not require the same ablutions to purify it.” (Special Commissioner Græme's Report, paragraph 21). This was written before the Mappilla outrages exalted this community so greatly in the district.
It may be doubted whether contact with a Hindu, even in Mr. Græme’s time, did not carry with it the necessity of Hindu ablutions afterwards, but however this may be, the Hindu is very strict about such matters now. At the same time the main fact remains that a low caste Hindu, obtains by conversion many substantial benefits, For Mappillas, as a class pull well together ; and he is a daring Hindu indeed who dares now-a-days to trample on their class prejudices or feelings.
Of the Mappilla, as a class, Mr. Græme expressed himself as follows :—“ On the coast, they are industrious, skilful in trade, crafty, avaricious, rigid observers of the in junction of the Prophet in abstaining from the use of spirituous liquors, particular in attending to the forms rather than the spirit of their religion, being regular in worship, but at the same time hypocritical rogues, and zealous in their attempts to gain proselytes.” (Report, paragraph 20.)
Of their fanaticism and courage in meeting death enough will be said further on. They are frugal and thrifty as well as industrious. They marry as a rule, but one wife, and live with her and their children on affectionate terms.
The women appear in public without veils, but among the better class it is usual to envelop the head and person but not the face in a long robe. They are very scrupulous about the chastity of their women, who, however, enjoy much freedom.
To those who treat the men with kindness and consideration they become much attached, and they are of all classes in the district by far the most serviceable on ordinary occasions, and the most reliable in emergencies. But the hand that controls them as a class must be firm, and punishment, when justly merited must be inflicted with severity; for leniency is an unknown word, and is interpreted as weakness, and not merely that, but as weakness, of which advantage is to be taken at the earliest possible moment.
They are moreover, as a class, nearly almost, if not altogether, illiterate. The only education received is a parrot-like recitation of portions of the Koran, which, being in Arabic, none of them understand. The scruples of the parents prevent them from permitting their children to attend the vernacular schools of the Hindus. A fairly successful attempt has however been made to reach them by giving grants to their own teachers on condition that they must show results. The teachers, being as illiterate as their pupils, except in knowledge of Koran recitations, usually employ Hindu youths to teach the pupils and so earn the results grants.
And some of the pupils are now being taught teaching as a profession in special normal schools. The number of Mappillas who have advanced so far as to learn to read and write English in the schools, could very probably be counted on the fingers of two hands. The people, as a class, being thus ignorant, are very easily misled by designing persons, and they are of course as bigoted as they are ignorant. Of their religion itself they obtain such knowledge as they possess of it from Malayalam tracts, for which, especially for those detailing the essential things to be attended to in pilgrimages to Mecca, there is a considerable demand. The ceremonial observance connected with bathing, the washing of the face and hands, worship by prostration, the appropriate prayers, the hours of worship, the Prophet’s commandments, acts vitiating the efficacy of worship, the giving of alms, the observances of Ramzan (the fasting-month), and many other similar subjects are treated of in these tracts. And the people obtain from them accurate ideas of the outward forms of their religion, in the observance of which they are very strict.
They are chiefly Sunnis, or followers of the Ponnani Tangal, the chief priest of the orthodox party, but some time in the eighteenth century a schism was created by the introduction of new forms of worship by a foreign (Persian) Muhammadan, who settled at Kandotti (Konduvetti) in the Ernad Taluk. His followers are called Shi’ahs by the orthodox party, but they themselves, when questioned, object to the use of the name and assert that they are as much Sunnis as the other party. This sect, though still numerous, does not seem to be increasing in numbers.
There are four chief sects of Christians in Malabar, namely—
3. Roman Catholics, following the ordinary Latin rite, and
4. Protestants of all denominations.
The Syrians and Romo-Syrians.—Malabar Christians of the first two of those classes are often called “the Christians of St. Thomas,” from the prevalence of a tradition that Christianity was introduced into Malabar by the Apostle himself, and the tradition is implicitly believed by the generality of the adherents of the first three classes.
But the evidence as yet available in support of the truth of the tradition is by no means perfect.
It is certain that, in the first century A.D., a very extensive trade and connection existed directly between India and the Western world, and a promise and expanding knowledge of the geography of the Indian coasts and markets, is manifest in the writings of the author of the “Periplus Maris Erythræi” and several others. Mouziris, in particular, which has already been alluded to, was one of the places best known to travellers and merchants from the West, and it was there and thereabouts that the original settlements of Christians were formed. The names of the traditionary places where the first seven churches were built sufficiently attest this viz., (1) Niranam, (2) Chayal, (3) Kollam, (4) Palur. (5) Kodungallur (Mouziris itself), (6) Gokkamangalam, (7) Kottakayal, localities which are all well known, and in all of which except Chayal and Kodungallur, churches still exist. Of those places only one, Palur1 lies in British Malabar.
NOTEs: 1. In Palayur amsum of the Ponnani taluk. END OF NOTEs
This direct trade connection seems to have been maintained though probably in a diminishing scale, for some centuries after the birth of Christ, and if the evidence of the Peutingerian Tables* (which are believed to have been constructed about 226 A.D.) is accepted, the Romans even at that date are said to have had a force of two cohorts (840 to 1,200 men) at Mouziris to protect their trade, and they had also erected a temple to Augustus at the same place. That Christians, among others, found their way to Malabar in the very early centuries after Christ is therefore highly probable.
NOTES added: *Tabula Peutingeriana is an illustrated ancient Roman road map showing the road network in the Roman Empire. The map is a 13th-century parchment copy of the Roman original, and includes Continental Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia (including the Middle-East and the South Asian Subcontinent). END OF NOTES added
There is consequently no inherent improbability in the tradition that the Apostle Thomas was one of the earliest immigrants from the West; but of direct contemporary proof that he did come to Mouziris and found the Christian churches in that neighbourhood there is absolutely none so far as researches have yet gone.
The probability of the tradition consequently depends on later evidence.
The first mention of St. Thomas’ mission to Ma'abar is probably to be found in the Acta Thomæ, or Acts of Judas Thomas, an apocryphal gospel, the date of which was probably not earlier than 200 A.D, and was certainly not later than the fourth century. A king, who has been satisfactorily identified with, king Gondophares mentioned in Indo-Skythian coins, and of whose reign a stone inscription, dated 40 A.D., has recently been deciphered is said to have sent to Christ for an architect, and St. Thomas was sent in consequence. But this king reigned in North-western India, whereas St. Thomas is understood to have preached his mission in Malabar and to have been killed at St. Thomas’ Mount near Madras.
The object of the author of this apocryphal gospel scorns to have been to promote the doctrine of celibacy, and ho possibly took, as his ground-work, the current traditionary story about St. Thomas, and possibly in entire ignorance of what he was writing about hauled in the name of a king, who could not possibly have had anything to do with the part of India, where St. Thomas was said to have preached and died.
However this may be, the next authentic notice of the story seems to be contained in the fragments of the writings of Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre, latter half of third and beginning of fourth centuries A.D. He wrote that St. Thomas, after preaching to the Parthians, Medes and Persians, died at Calamina1, a town in India.” And this name is considered by some to be the Syriac translation of "Maliapore" since Mala (Tam.) and Golomath2 (Syriac) both mean “hill,” and both names signify “City of the Mount.”
NOTEs: 1. This is the name which also occurs in the Roman Martyrology. END OF NOTES
NOTES added: A martyrology is a catalogue or list of martyrs and other saints and beati arranged in the calendar order of their anniversaries or feasts (Information taken from newadvent.org) END OF NOTES added
NOTEs: 2. It may be noted however in passing that it is very doubtful if the Syrian connection with the “Thomas Christians” was established for several centuries after this time.END OF NOTES
It was about the same time (A.D. 261) that Manes, the disciple of Terebinthus founded the sect of Manichæans in Persia. It seems that sometime in the second century A.D. one Scythianus, who had studied at Alexandria and had visited the anchorets of Thebais went, by sea to India and brought thence four books containing the most extravagant doctrines, but he died about the end of the second century before he could preach his new tenets.
On Terebinthus, his disciple, devolved the duty of spreading those new views, and he accordingly preached his doctrines in Palastine and Persia, declaring that he himself was another Buddha, and that he was born of a virgin. Meeting with strong opposition from the priesthood he had to conceal himself in the house of a rich widow, and there he met with his death by accident. The widow’s adopted son or servant was Manes, and he it was who is said to have “called on” Hind and Sin and the people of Khorasan, and ‘‘made a deputy of one of his companions in each province.” It seems doubtful whether he himself ever visited “Hind” which, among Arabs, was the name applied to Southern India exclusively.
He was put to death, by the king of Persia in 277 A.D.
“The Manichæaus1 said that Christ was the primæval serpent, who enlightened the minds of Adam and Eve, the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer, the original soul, the preserver of the soul, and the fabricator of the instrument with which the salvation of the soul is effected. He was born of the earth, and for the redemption of mankind suspended on every tree, for they saw him crucified on every tree among its branches.”
NOTEs: 1. Asiatic Rearches IX, 216-18. It is noteworthy that in the Keralolpatti or origin of Keralam, the pseudo-history of Malabar current among natives, the Brahmans are said to have displaced the Nagas or snakes. The final Brahman immigration seems to have occurred in or about the eighth century A.D. and Christian (?Manichcæn) colonies had arrived in the country long before that time. It is possible that the allusion in the Keralopatti refers to the Manichæane. END OF NOTEs
“The doctrine2 of Manos could not fail of meeting with many admirers in India when he appeared in the character of Buddha, and of Christ, or Salivahana. Transmigration was one of his tenets, and the rule of the life and manners of his disciples was very severe and rigorous. They abstained from flesh, fish, eggs, wine, etc., and the ruler of every district and president of their assemblies was considered as Christ.”
NOTEs: 2. Asiatic Researches IX, 221. END OF NOTEs
But whether it was Christianity in this shape, or Christianity in a more orthodox form that was at first imported into Malabar, it is difficult to say. The late Doctor Burnell’s3 views were that the earliest Christian settlements in India were Persian, and probably therefore Manichæan or Gnostic,” and that these were not supplanted by the more orthodox Nestorians “earlier than the eleventh or twelfth century A.D.”
NOTEs: 3. Indian Antiquary III, 311. END OF NOTEs
On the other hand it has been pointed out that Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, about 264-340 A.P. mentions that Pantænus of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, visited India and brought home with him a Hebrew copy of the Gospel by St. Mathew about the end of the second century A.D., and that one of the apostles (Bartholomew) did visit India.
India, however, in those days and long afterwards meant a very large portion of the globe, and which of the Indies it was that Pantænus visited it is impossible to say with certainty ; for, about the fourth century, there were two Indias, Major and Minor. India Minor adjoined Persia. Some time later there were three Indies — MajorMinor and Tertia. The first, India Major extended from Malabar indefinitely eastward. The second, India Minor embraced the Western Coast of India as far as, but not including, Malabar, and probably Sind, and possibly the Mekran Coast, India Tertia was Zanzibar in Africa.
It would seem that the Malabar Coast lay in India Major, but whether it was this India and this part of India Major that Pantænus visited cannot be decided. If he did come to India Major, it is extremely likely that it was on the Malabar Coast that he found the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew, for the Jews have according to tradition been settled in the country now comprising the Native State of Cochin since the beginning of the Christian era and perhaps before it. Moreover, if according to the Peutingerian Tables, the Romans had a force of two cohorts at Muoziris to protect their trade there in A.D. 210, it is certain that intercourse between Alexandria and the Malabar Coast must have been both direct and frequent, and the fact that Pantænus went to India Major and to Muoziris becomes highly probable.
The fact, however, that he found a Hebrew copy of St. Matthew’s Gospel points to the probability of the first colony of Christians having been Israelites, and not either Syrians or Persians. Eusebius likewise mentioned that St. Thomas was the Apostle of Edessa in Syria, and as the Apostle of the Syrians he has all along been accepted. The facts to be presently set forth go to show that in the Christian colonies Persian and not Syrian influences were prevalent from a comparatively early date.
The next item of history available is the presence of Johannes, Metropolitan of “Persian and the Great India” at the Council of Nice in 325 A.D. There can be little doubt that “India Major” as above explained, was here meant, and India Major included the Malabar Coast. If Johannes belonged to the Manichæan sect would he have been present at this Council?
Rufinus, who went to Syria in 371 A.D. and lived at Edessa for 25 years, attested that St. Thomas’ body was brought from India to Edessa and there interred ; but from which of the “Indies” was the body brought, presuming that the relics were still in existence ?
It was about this same time that the first authentic mention of the "Acts of Judas Thomas” was made by Epiphanius Bishop of Salamis, and Jerome, who died in 420 A.D., also alluded to St. Thomas’ mission to India.
The next important fact seems to be that Nestorius was consecrated Bishop of Constantinople in 428 or 429 A.D. His heretical doctrines were condemned by the first Council of Ephesus a year or two later, and in 435 he was banished by the Emperor and in 430 his followers were proscribed.
A year or two later the Manichæans were persecuted, their books burned at Rome, and their doctrines condemned by the Council of Rome in 444 A.D. There must have been considerable intercourse between Persia and India, for in the middle of the sixth century a learned Persian —perhaps a Christian—came to India to get a copy of the Panchatantram.
And about 522 A.D. Cosmas Indicopleustes, a Byzantine monk, visited Ceylon and the West Coast of India and wrote as follows :— “ In the Island of Taprobane (Ceylon) there * * * is a church of Christians, and clerks, and faithful. * * * Likewise at Male where the pepper grows; and in the town Kalliena there is also a bishop consecrated in Persia.” “Male” is clearly Malabar, and “Kalliena” is most probably a place near Udipi in South Canara.
“A letter1 in Assemani’s Bibliotheca from the Patriarch Jesajabus (died A.D. 660) to Simon, Metropolitan of Persia, blames his neglect of duty saying that, in consequence, not only is India 'which extends from the coast of the kingdom of Persia to Colon, a distance of 1,200 parasangs deprived of a regular ministry, but Persia itself is left in darkness.’ ” “Colon” can be none other than Quilon or Kollam, and it was the Metropolitan of Persia who was blamed, probably on insufficient grounds owing to the rapid rise and spread of Islam, for having shut the doors of episcopal imposition of hands and for interrupting the sacerdotal succession.
NOTEs: Caldwell’s Dravidian Grammar—Foot-note by Colonel Yule, p. 27. END OF NOTEs
It was in this century also (the seventh century A.D.) that the direct Red Sea trade between Egypt and India was finally stopped from the same cause—the rise of the Muhammadan religion and the spread of Arabian political power. The Persian metropolitan in the next, hundred years seems to have cast off, and again to have reverted to, the control of the Seleucian Patriarch. This was probably the beginning of Syrian influence in the church of Malabar. And indeed the tradition of the existing church is that a company of Christians from Baghdad, Nineveh, and Jerusalem, under orders from the Catholic Archpriest at Ural ai (Edessa), arrived in company with the merchant Thomas in 745 A.D.
But whether this date is correct or not it is certain that in A.D. 774 there is no trace of Syrian influence in the pseudo-Syrian copper-plate deed still1 extant, and the later pseudo-Syrian copper plate deed (also extant)2 contains (as the late Dr. Burnoll3 has shown) no trace of Syriac either ; but, on the contrary, several Sassanian-Pahlavi, and Hebrew or Chaldee-Pahlavi attestations —that is, attestations of Persian immigrants are appended to it.
NOTEs: 1. No. 2 in Appendix XII.
2. No. 3 in Appendix XII.
3. Probably fifty years later than the former—“ninth century” (Hang). Indian Antiquary III, 315. END OF NOTEs
Moreover the “Maruvan Sapir iso” the grantee of this latter deed can be no other than the ‘‘Mar Sapor” who with “Mar Purges” or “Peroz” proceeded from Babylon to “Couln” (Quilon) about A.D. 822, and they seem to have been Nestorian Persians. In both deeds the pseudo-Syrian chief settlement is called Manigramam, which the late Dr. Burnell took to mean the village of Manes or Manichæus, a suggestion first volunteered by Dr. Gundert, the translator of both deeds (M.J.L.S., Vol. X III, Part I).
In the ninth century the Muhammadan traveller, Sulaiman, mentioned, “Betuma” as being ten days’ sail from “Calabar” which latter he describes as the name of a place, and a kingdom on the coast to the right hand beyond India.”
“Betuma” has been taken by the Editor M. Reanudot to mean the “House of Thomas,” that is St. Thomas, and the same authority has—“There is a numerous colony of Jews in Sarandib (Ceylon) and people of other religions especially4 Manichæans. The king allows each sect to follow its own religion.”
NOTEs: Sir H. Elliot’s History of India, I. 10. M. Renaudot translated the passage somewhat differently : “In this same island (Sarandib, Ceylon) there is a very great multitude of Jews, as well as of many other sects, even Tannis or Manicheus, the king permitting the free exercise of every religion.” (Ancient Accounts of India, etc., translated by Renaudot, London, 1733, page 84 (a) ). END OF NOTEs
It would appear probable from the above facts that the Malabar church, whatever it may have been originally, was not latterly Manichæan as the late Dr. Burnell suggested5 on what seems to be barely sufficient evidence, but more orthodox Persian (Nestorian)6. After this time it is generally acknowledged that the Syrian church possessed the ascendancy. A tablet at Kottayam in the Travancore State has an inscription in Syriac as well as one in Pahlavi, and the latest inscriptions in Pahlavi to be found in India belong to the eleventh or twelfth centuries A.D., by which time Persian influence in the church had probably been completely superseded.
NOTEs: 5.Indian Antiquary III, 311.
6. The Syrians themselves say (v. infra) that the Jacobite doctrines did no prevail till so late as 1663, and it was then for the first time that the Patriarch of Antioch obtained control over the church. END OF NOTEs
But there is also a church tradition that the preaching of Manes did have some effect on the community. This and the subsequent history and the present position of the Syrian and Romo-Syrian churches will be best told in the language of the Syrians themselves, who in a large body headed by the venerable Bishop Mar Coorilos waited, by special request, on the Right Honourable Mr. Grant Duff, Governor of Madras, at Calicut, in January 1882, and presented to him a short account of themselves, from which the following extracts are taken:-
“Passing over this period we come to the third century remarkable for the arrival of a Persian heretic of the School of Manes, or, as is supposed1 by some, a heathen wizard. Through his teaching, many went over to him and are even to this day known as ‘Manigramakkar’ They cannot be distinguished from the Nayars, and are to be found at Quilon Kayencolam and other places. South Travancore is the seat of the descendants of those who stood steadfast in their faith during this apostacy and are known as Dhariyayikal2 meaning ‘nonwearers’ (of heathen symbols).
NOTEs: 1.There is probably some confusion here between the founder of the Manichæana and Manikavachaka , a Tamil reformer of a much later date.
2. Sometimes explained as the firm, courageous men, from theiryam= (bravery). END OF NOTEs
“Some years after this first split had taken place or in (350 A.D.3) was the arrival of Thomas of Cana, a Syrian merchant, whose large heartedness and sympathy for the neglected community was such that on his return to his native land, his story induced many to come out with him in his second visit, among whom was a bishop by the name of Mar Joseph. It was the first time a colony of Christians came to India. They were about four hundred in number. They landed at Cranganore then known as Mahadeverpattanam. They settled in the country with the permission of ‘Cheraman Perumal4 the ruler of Malabar, who, as a mark of distinction and favour, granted to the Christian community certain privileges (72 in number) which at once raised them to a position of equality5 with the Brahmans. One of the privileges was the supremacy over seventeen of the lower classes; a relic of which still exists in the adjudication by Syrian Christians of certain social questions belonging to them. The grant was made on copper-plates, which with some others, are in the custody of the Syrian Metran and are preserved in the Kottayam Seminary.
NOTEs: 3. Too early. A much later date (745 A.D.) is assigned by another tradition.v. supra.
4. For reasons already given (p. 195-196) and understanding (as is usual in Malabar) that Cheraman Perumul was the last king of Kerala, the date is obviously wrong.
5. The effect of this grant will be fully considered in the historical chapter. The assertion here made is not quite correct—See No. 2 in Appendix XII. END OF NOTEs
“Matters continued thus until the arrival of the second colony of Christians (who were Nestorians) from Persia, at Quilon ‘between the ninth and the tenth century. They were also received well and permitted to settle in the country. The first colony, incorporated with the northern portion of the community, had their headquarters at Cranganore and the southern6 portion ‘Kumk-keni-kollam’5 or Quilon. And in title-deeds this distinction had been preserved for centuries up to the time of the recent organisation of the Registration Department. The zenith of the prosperity of the community seems to have been between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, as then they were permitted to have a king of their own, the extent of whose authority cannot be stated with any historical precision. Their house of princes was known as the ‘Valiyarvattam’ or ‘Undiyamperur’ dynasty. It however afterwards became extinct and the community came under the subjection of Perumpatappu or Native Cochin. This part of the history of the Syrians leads us to the advent of the Portuguese.
“Immediately after the appearance of the Portuguese the Christians of Malabar went to them, making advances for support and protection, which were introduced by the presentation of the sceptre of their extinct royal1 house to Da Gama, whose efforts, as well as those of his successors, were directed to bring the native church under the authority of the Sec of Rome. Hence the details in the history of the connection with the Portuguese will be found to be a string of artful measures and violence which ended in the mission of Alexis Menezes, Archbishop of Goa.
NOTEs: 1. The peculiar organisation of the country at this time will be set forth In the historical chapter. In the exact words of the grant the Christian headman was created “grand merchant of the Cheraman world” (Kerala) “and lord of Manigramam." END OF NOTEs
He was deputed by the Pope in 1598 A.D. to complete the subjugation2 of the Syrian Church, and his arrival was remarkable as having been the occasion on which the third and most grievous split arose in the church into Romo-Syrians or ‘Old Party,’3 and Syrians or ‘New Party.’4 It was not however very long before the church had a cessation of its troubles. The presence of the Dutch staid the hand of persecution and reduced the pressure on the community. The capture of Cochin by the Dutch in 1663 was followed by an order requiring the Romish bishops, priests, and monks to quit the place which was not a little favourable to the Syrians.
NOTEs 2. In 1599, he held the memorable Synod of Diamper (Utayamper) in which the heresies of Nacstorius were condemned. There were at this time only 76 churches.
3. It would have been rather an inversion of the facts to have called the “Syrians” the “New Party." It is more probable that they were so called, because of their acceptance of the Jacobite doctrine and the Jacobite Bishops alluded to further on, they having up to this time been Nestorians. END OF NOTEs
“The thread of history cannot be complete without the mention of the Jacobite bishops, who began to make their appearance before the time of the Dutch. It was necessitated by the anarchy that reigned in the church at the close of the Portuguese connection. Things had been deliberately brought to such a crisis by thorn that the assimilation of the Syrian to the Roman Church was thought practicable only by the extermination of the bishops and clergy. Bold and stout hearts did however not want to declare their independence and a large number, at a public assembly, resolved upon applying to Babylon, Antioch, Alexandria, and Egypt for a bishop.
“This was done, and in 1653 Antioch promptly complied with the request by sending out Mar Ignatius, a Jacobite bishop. It was from this date that the Jacobite element began to leave the Malabar church. Mar Ignatius was mercilessly seized and thrown into the sea, as is believed by the Syrians, or sent to be tried before the Inquisition as is supposed by others. The fury of the community was roused and a numerous body went to Cochin to take revenge. But nothing more serious was done than swearing with one voice never more to have anything to do with the Portuguese, which was done by holding a thick rope to show that every one who held it joined m the oath.
“From 1665 to 1751, five Metrans, in succession, all bearing the name Mar Thoma, and belonging to the Pakalomattam1 family, at at the head of the church. The remaining period to the beginning of the present century may be passed over with the remark that it was also one of unrest, as the presence of foreign prelates was superfluous side by side with that of native metrans, and party spirit was fostered by the former to the distraction of the church.
NOTEs: 1. One of the two families from which it was customary to ordain the ministers of the church. The other was the Sankarapuri family. END OF NOTEs
“The year 1800 opens a fresh and glorious chapter in the history of this community, tormented, victimised, and disorganised by so many ceaseless troubles from friend and foe alike. We are here introduced to the figure of Rev. Claudius Buchanan, going from church to church, conversing freely with all and diligently seeking for information about them, as for two hundred years after the Portuguese nothing had been heard of them. On inquiring of a priest at Chenganur how the community had sunk so low, the pregnant answer was — ‘Three hundred years ago an enemy bearing the name of Christ came from the West and had us to seek shelter under the native princes, under whom, though we have not been stripped of our appendages of dignity, we have been reduced to slavery.’
Coming to Kandanad, he had an interview with the Metran, to whom he set forth the advisability of maintaining a friendly relation with the Anglican church, translating the Bible into Malayalam and establishing parochial schools. This being acquiesced Dr. Buehanan saw Colonel Macaulay, the British Resident, in company with whom he visited the northern parts of Travancore and Cochin.
At Ankamali, he was presented with an old copy of the Syriac Bible written on parchment, which had been in the possession of the Syrians for a thousand years. This book was taken by him to England, where it was printed, after his death, by the Bible Society and copies were distributed among the churches in Malabar. The Metran, after this time, was Mar Thoma, the seventh and last of the Pakalomattam family, whose consecration having been irregular the people became discontented and a division was the consequence. The fact attracted the attention of Colonel Munro, who, after making himself acquainted with the real position, set about getting a seminary built for them at Kottayam, of which the foundation stone was laid in 1813.
Mar Thoma having died in 1810, was succeeded by the liberal-minded Mar Dionysius. At the commencement of his government, Colonel Munro undertook to get out missionaries to train Syrian deacons and lads to carry on parochial schools.
Accordingly through the influence of this worthy Resident, the C. M. Society sent out the Rev. Thomas Norton, who arrived in May 1816 and to whom the services of the Rev. B. Baily were added in November of the same year. He was followed by the Rev. Messrs. Baker and Fen and the latter was placed in charge of the seminary. Travancore, the Dewan and Resident of which was Colonel Munro, endowed the institution with Rs. 20,000 and a large estate at Kallada called Munro Island.
More than this the native government helped the translation and distribution of the Bible with another gift of Rs. 8,000. And the Resident got the Honourable East India Company to invest 3,000 star pagodas in the name of the community for educational purposes. A new career had no sooner been opened than the liberal-minded Mar Dionysius died, and was succeeded by another Mar Dionysius belonging to a family at Kottayam.
“Colonel Munro, whose tenure of office extended from 1810 to 1819, must be regarded as having been the most, earnest promoter of Syrian Christian interests.
“The next and last, part of the history may be dismissed with a word or two. It discloses how the Syrian church wanted to break its friendly connection with the missionaries through the machinations of evil-minded persons ; how a special committee settled their respective chains on the endowments of the seminary; how the late Mar Athanasius, who had received his consecration for the first time in the annals of the country and community at Antioch, attempted a reformation in consonance with the teachings of the Bible ; how through the good offices of Mr. Bellard, the British Resident, the Travancore Sircar restored to them their portion of the endowments which was in their custody after the adjudication by the committee, how the church is disturbed by various internal feuds; and how the community is once more going through another cycle of trials and neglect.”
Church Government, Forms of Worship, etc.
“It will have been observed that there was a ministry ordained by the Apostle1 himself. Then came the government, new and then, by foreign prelates, who laid claim to nothing more than ministering to their spiritual wants. And with the second colony was introduced the Nestorian element from Babylon. But their influence seems to have left no permanent trace of their heretical views. No one appears to have cared for theological sub Jo tics or deep inquiries into the basis of their faith. A simple belief in the Lord’s work of redemption was all they had. From the earliest times and during all the time of foreign prelacy there was an archdeacon, always a native, looking after the temporal affairs of the church. This line of archdeacons continued up to the seventeenth century, and at the close of the Portuguese period began, as has already been observed, the commotion with the Jacobite bishops.
NOTEs: 1 From what has been set forth above, it will be seen that this fact is , to say the least, doubtful. END OF NOTEs
“Turning to the forms of worship, etc., it must be promised that there is a reforming party and a non-reforming one at the present day. The work of the reformation has been progressing for the last thirty years, widening the gulf between the two parties. The principle of the reformers is to bring the church to its primitive purity, while the others adhere to most of the practices which found their way during the unhappy connection with the Romish church. The reformers try to reject whatever is unscriptural, such as Mariolatry, invocation of the saints, and prayers for the dead, and the others look upon them as heterodox on this account.
The reforming party administers the Lord’s Supper in both kinds, in contradistinction to the administration in one kind by the others. The former have all their service in Malayalam, as opposed to the Syriac services of the latter. Both alike pray standing in churches and facing to the east. In the midst of the service, before reading the Gospel, the hands of fellowship (Kayyassuri) are offered to all.
Festivals are numerous and love feasts (Agapæ), such as were observed by the primitive church, are extant. In the baptism of infants tepid water is poured on the head followed by anointing with the holy oil (Sythe and Muron in Syriac). Bishops observe celibacy, while the priests are allowed to marry, though remarriage is not permitted by the non-reformers. The clergy too were celibates until very recently. Marriages are celebrated by the non-reforming party on Sundays, whilom one of the week days is chosen by the others. Cousins can marry only after the seventh generation. The customs and manners of this people are too numerous to mention, and are therefore omitted ; but it must be observed that many of them are duo to the influence of the classes around.
“The community numbering now about 300,000 has nearly 200 churches with nine Metrans, six of whom were consecrated by the Patriarch of Antioch when he visited Malabar in 1875. These newly consecrated bishops, though they had their dioceses assigned to them by the Patriarch, have not been accepted by the people in all cases. One of the remaining three in the person of Mar Coorilos enjoys undisputed authority in British Malabar. Mar Dionysius, the head of the non-reforming party, and Mar Athanasius that of the reforming party, have between them the whole of the Travancore and Cochin churches ; and now the contention for supremacy is at its climax though it does not seem likely that the adherents will change, sides oven after the battle is won by either, as both parties have been trained to think differently.
“The number of priests in the churches varies with the size of the parish—larger ones having 10 or 12, and smaller ones 2 or 3. Almost all churches have endowed property mostly mismanaged and in the hands of persons, who scarcely think of paying up the dues. The endowments and their possession have caused much litigation, and the large resource of rich churches have been drained to meet the costs of suits and counter-suits, terminating in heavy losses to the community in every way.
“They are mostly an agricultural people. Elementary education has never been neglected and every effort is made to secure the benefits1 of higher education. The number of graduates end under- graduates is annually increasing, and if judged by the success at examinations, the community must he said to be keeping pace with the times, and bids fair to take a good place in the rank of nations and classes making rapid progress in the cultivation of knowledge and intelligence. The learned professions have their proportion of votaries, and it is not too much to say that their loyalty coupled with their light and intelligence will do honour to the land of their birth.
“The clergy, too, are far in advance of these of the denomination in former days. Notwithstanding the utilisation of the educational advantages, there is a discouraging want of State patronage, which is so liberally dispensed to other classes. An analysis of the list of public servants of the Travancore Government1 will bear out this statement. Thus, internal! peacelessness, incessant litigation impoverishing the richest churches and individuals, the agitating influence of the recent heresy of the ‘Six Years’ sect, and the want of encouragement, are the forces which are acting upon this community, the extent of whose consequences cannot be pre-judged.”
NOTEs: 1. “The list for 1879-80 shows that out of 1,424 servants holding appointments worth Rs. 10 or above, there are only 25 Syrian Christians.” END OF NOTEs
The Romo-Syrians and Roman Catholics
As regards the Roman Catholics and their connection with the Romo-Syrians, the following extracts are taken from a short history of the Verapoly Catholic Mission kindly furnished in manuscript by the Rev. Father Camillas, D.C., Missionary Apostolic of Cochin. The southern-most portion of Malabar is, it will be seen, under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Carmolite Vicar-Apostolic at Verapoly. The rest of Malabar is spiritually under the Jesuit Vicar Apostolic of Mangalore.
“After the conversion of the Syrian to Catholicism, the Supreme Pontiff Clement VXIII (in 1605), appointed as their first Archbishop, Mgr. Francisco Roz, a Jesuit, who was afterwards transferred by Paul V to the Sec of Cranganore (1605) (the title of Angamale being suppressed), and the said prelate governed the Syrian congregation all his lifetime, till the 18th February 1624, in which he breathed his last at Pattana Paroor.
“Thus, the Syrians remained under the administration of Jesuit bishops till the year 1653, when they became disgusted with them and rejected the allegiance of Mgr. Francisco Garcia, who was then their legitimate bishop.
“And now we can understand the motive for which Pope Alexander VII, who was governing the church at that time, sent over the Carmelite missionaries to take charge of the Christians of Malabar and established a Vicar-Apostolic at Verapoly. The first superior of the Carmelite mission, Mgr. Joseph of St. Mary, a descendant of the noble Sebastiano family, was appointed by the afore said Pontiff in the year 1656, This prelate, with the help of his follow missionaries, worked with energy and perseverance to uproot the schism and recall the Syrians to their duty, their efforts bring rewarded by the conversion of many parishes that came back to the catholic unity.
“In the meantime, Mgr. Joseph of St. Mary having returned to Rome was there raised to the episcopal dignity, and sent again by the Pope to the Malabar mission, with a now batch of Carmelite missionaries ; after their arrival (1661) they hed the consolation to reconcile a large number of the schismatic Syrians to the catholic unity.
“But, on the 6th January 1663, the Dutch having defeated the Portuguese, took possession of Cochin, and refused to the Carmelite missionaries the permission of exercising their ministry in Malabar. In such a circumstance, Mgr. Joseph, seeing the necessity of providing the Syrian congregation with a lawful pastor, and using the extraordinary powers he had received ad hoc from the Popo, consecrated, as a bishop, Parambil Alexander, a catenar of Corrovalanghatt, on the 31st January of the same year, in the of Cadatturutti.
“However, after a short lapse of time, the Dutch Government being aware that the presence of the Carmelites in Malabar could produce no harm, cancelled the above-said prohibition and allowed them to dwell in this country as before ; from that time to the present day they have continued their apostolical work for the civilisation and religious instruction not only of the Syrians but also of the Latin Christians, whose care was entrusted to them by the Holy See.
“But a portion of the schismatics would not abandon their rebellious opposition, and remained without a spiritual loader till the end of the year 1665. Then appeared in Malabar a certain bishop named Mar Gregory, whe pretended to have been sent by the Patriarch of Jacobites at Antioch. To this, the aforesaid schismatics gave obedience, and till now are called Syrian Jacobites ; they readily acknowledge that they are indebted to him for their new creed, call him their patriarch, and venerate him as a saint.
“To enable the reader to understand how, in this country, we have also a Catholic Goanese jurisdiction, some previous remarks are necessary. It must be remembered that, in former times, the Popes desirous to promote the propagation of the catholic faith had granted to the Kings of Portugal a kind of religious patronage, called Jus Patronalis. This is a privilege, which the Catholic church sometimes grants to sovereigns or influential parsonages, and is connected with certain obligations and duties to be fulfilled by such patrons. Speaking of the Malabar country in particular, we may say that Pope Clement VIII granted the above-said privilege to King Philip, with a charge of providing with donations and supporting the catholic churches, the bishop and the canons of his cathedral, seminaries, etc., declaring at the same time that, in the case of a non-execution of the said clause by the king, the privilege and concession should of itself (ipso facto) become null and void (See the Poutifical Bull ‘In supremo militantis ecclesiae Solio' 4th August 1600).
After a certain lapse of time, Portugal ceased to provide for the support of the churches and government of the Christians, according to compact ; and in fact, having lost the supremacy in most parts of India, it became impossible for that nation to fulfil the above-said obligations. Besides after the Dutch took possession of Cochin, they would not allow any Portuguese bishop or missionary to remain in the country. The Goanese themselves, on their part, far from assisting, or supporting the clergy, were incessantly exciting troubles and vexations against, the missionaries sent by the Holy See. Such being the case, the Supreme Pontiffs, to whom it chiefly belongs to promote the spiritual interests of the Christians, were obliged to appoint Vicars-Apostolic, whom they exempted from the Goanese jurisdiction.
Thus on the 10th November 1673, Clement X forbade, ‘under severe punishment,’ that the Archbishop of Goa or his Canonical Chapter should exercise any act of jurisdiction beyond the ‘limits of the Portuguesa dominions, and exempted from the Goanese jurisdiction both the Vicars and Missionaries Apostolic.’ Moreover, on the 22nd December of the same year, and the 7th of June 1674, in two different briefs, the Pope declared ‘that the Portuguese had no jurisdiction whatever upon the Vicars or Missionaries Apostolic sent to India, chiefly in the territories where the King of Portugal had no authority.'
In spite of all these arrangements, the general progress of the mission was cramped by various causes. Finally, in the year 1837, Gregory XVI, whe then sat on St. Peter’s chair, published his famous bull ‘Multa Præclare’ by which he divided the whole of India, into a certain number of Vicariates Apostolic, and distinctly forbade the Goanese prelates and priests to interfere in any way with the management of the same.
“But the Goanese disregarded this authoritative decree, and began the schism, commonly called ‘Indo-Portuguese’ Indo-Lustrum Schisma. On the contrary, the great majority of the Catholics in India acknowledged the spiritual authority of the Apostolic Vicars and Missionaries, and put them in possession of their churches end establishments such was the state of things till the year 1861.
“At that time, the Supreme Pontiff Pius IX anxious to procure the eternal salvation of so many Christians, who were miserably adhering to the Goanese schism, first (in February 1857) had concluded a concordat with the King of Portugal, in which, among other dispositions, was inscribed the following, namely, that such churches and Christians as, in the day of the signature of the concordat, were presently under the obedience and jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicars, should continue to adhere to the same, and that churches and Christians, then acknowledging the authority of the Goaneso prelates should remain under their government.
“To put this decree into execution (in the year which had been fixed in the above concordat No. 17), that is, in 1861, two commissioners were sent to India, one Apostolic Commissioner acting in behalf of the Pope, and one Royal Commissioner acting in the name of the King of Portugal. Through their agency, His Holiness granted for some time (ad tempus) to the Archbishop of Goa, an extraordinary jurisdiction upon the few churches and Christians that were then governed by Goanese priests, either in Malabar, or in Madura, Coylon, Madras, Bombay, etc. Here is the reason of a double jurisdiction existing till now in the said places.
“From this statement, it is easy to conclude that all Catholics are under the obedience of the Pope, and that their allegiance to the Kings of Portugal is merely political and accidental. All spiritual jurisdiction is derived, even for the Archbishop of Goa and other Portuguese Prelates, from the visible Head of the Catholic Church, the Supreme Pontiff residing at Rome, and they would lose it entirely the very day they should throw away their obedience to him.
“In order to understand better the progress of the Catholic mission in this country, it must be remarked that the present Syrian community, now composed of Catholics and Jacobites, was, at the beginning, one and the same congregation, founded in the earliest times of the church, as the bishops, who subsequently came from Persia into Malabar, communicated to them their own liturgy (which was the Syrian rife), for that mason the above-said Christians were usually called Syrians ; they were also designated by the name of ‘St. Thomas’ Christians,’ according to the tradition handed down from their forefathers that they had really been converted from paganism by that holy Apostle.
“This Christian community subsisted and gradually increased, both by its intrinsic elements and by the admission of new converts, from the people living in the neighbourhood of Syrian churches. In some localities, these neophytes were very numerous, and having, from the day of their conversion, resided amongst Syrians, were considered as belonging to their race. Even now, amongst those who are baptised at Verapoly, the greater part, settles in Syrian parishes.
“But besides this catholic community, there is another one, equally catholic, that is called Latin on account of its following the Latin liturgy. This was formed from the Malabarese people of various castes, who had been converted to Catholicism before the year 1512 (namely, the date of St. Francis Xavier’s arrival in India), and from the others who have been converted subsequently down to the present-times. As these Christians had been baptised by Latin priests, and in places where generally there was no Syrian church, they began to follow, and even now are following, the Latin rite. At the present time, the Catholic Syrians have 160 parochial churches with a great number of chapels, depending from the greater ones, and number about 200,000 souls. The Christians, who follow the Latin rite, have about 40 principal churches with a proportionate number of annexed chapels ; their population is nearly 90,000. It is to be noted that in the above-stated numbers are not included all the churches with their attendant belonging to the Vicariate of Quilon, but only those of the Verapoly Vicariate, the limits of which are in the north Ponnani, in the south Poracaud, and in the east the Ghats.
“In fact, the Vicariate of Quilon extends from Poracaud in the north to Cape Comorin in the south, having its own churches and Christians, who all of them belong to the Latin rite, the Syrians who live within the said limits being Syrian Jacobites.”
Tippu Sultan in his proselytising zeal carried away many Christians from Canara to Mysore, and in 1793, and 1795, 87 families of these returned and were located by the Honourable Company in the district of Randatara in the Chirakkal taluk, where lands were assigned to them and money advances given to help them.
The only Protestant mission at work in Malabar is the Basel German Evangelical Missionary Society, of which the latest report, the 43rd, shows that on 1st January 1883, the society had in Malabar 2,632 church members, including children, distributed at the following mission stations : Cannanore in the Chirakkal taluk, Tellicherry in the Kottayam taluk, Chombala in the Kurumbranad taluk, Calicut in the Calicut taluk, Codacal in the Ponnani taluk and Palghat in the Palghat taluk.
The earliest of these stations was established at Tellicherry in 1839 and the latest at Palghat in I858.
Besides attending to the spiritual and educational wants of their congregations, the mission has very wisely organised various workshops and manufactories, the productions of which have acquired not merely local celebrity, for "mission’’ cotton cloths of infinites variety and “mission" tiles for roofing and other purposes are now to be met everywhere in India. Besides these, a mercantile branch has been organised, which gives very suitable employment in shops to other members of the congregations, And a printing press at the mission headquarters at Mangalore in South Canara turns out, both in English and the vernaculars, work of which any press in Europe might be proud.
Section G.—Famine, Diseases, Medicine
Malabar does not produce grain sufficient for the consumption of the home population, and this has been more especially the case since, by the introduction of European coffee cultivation into the Wynad taluk, the jungle tribes and other servile castes, who used to cultivate the rice-fields in that region have been attracted to the more profitable employments on coffee estates. Malabar pays for much of the grain consumed by the people out of the money obtained for its special products—coconuts, coir, coconut-oil, areca-nuts, coffee, pepper, ginger, cardamoms, timber, etc.
An artificial famine is therefore always possible in Malabar, and, as matter of fact, such famines used to occur pretty frequently in former times when the supply of grain came from only one or two foreign ports. Thus in October 1755, the King of Bednur, to whom the rice -exporting port of Mangalore belonged, laid an embargo on grain, because of the ravages committed in his country by a buccaneering expedition under the Mappilla chief of Cannanore. This placed the French at Mahe, the English at Tellicherry, the Dutch at Cannanore, and the Malabar Nayars and Mappillas—the whole community in fact -- in a state of comparative famine.
But of real famine in the land there are few records. During the long period in which the Honourable Company occupied the factory at Tellicherry, there is but one record of a real famine. It occurred in August— September of 1727. The factors’ diary record is as follows:
“The country about us of late have greatly feared an extraordinary scarcity of rice,” and it was accordingly resolved to impose the embargo, usual in those days, an exports of grain. Strict orders were issued “for not carrying any quantity out of our limits.” There, was none to be had at Mangalore ; the granary — and almost the sole one in those days --from which Malayalis drew their extra supplies of rice. The factors had information that parents were selling their children at Mangalore in order to obtain support for themselves.
On examination of the factory storehouses, there was found to be bare provision for the place for one month, so an urgent requisition was sent to the Anjengo factors for supplies. On the 8th September, there was famine in the land and the record runs that the factory gates were daily besieged by people begging for support. There is no further record in the diary, and doubtless the worst symptoms disappeared, as they did in 1877, with the garnering of the first (kanni) rice crop in September. The months of July, August and September are the months in which the poorest classes of Malayalis find it hardest to obtain sustenance.
The stores that may have been reserved from the previous season’s crops are always then at the lowest ebb. The rice-crops on the ground are usually sufficiently advanced at this season to require only the minimum of attention from out-of-door labourers. And the now harvest is not yet available. In every season the pinch of poverty is therefore felt in these months, more than in the others, and in seasons when famine is raging in neighbouring districts and when famine prices have for months reduced the slender stores of savings, it is in these months of the year, particularly, that organised assistance is required ; and the rich should come forward to help the poor. One meal of rice kanji distributed gratis to all comers daily during this season of the year at many places throughout the district sufficed to stave off actual famine in 1877; the number thus daily relieved aggregated at one time over 40,000.
Of remarkable outbreaks of disease the records also contain few notices. In October 1730, the Tellicherry factory diary records—
“The pestilence which has raged for some time among the people of this district being now come to such a pitch, as, with difficulty, people are found to bury the dead, and our garrison soldiers, Muckwas (fishermen, boatmen) and others under our protection being reduced to such extremity by this contagion, so as not to be able to subsist in this place any longer unless relieved by charity, it was agreed to build barracks for the sick and to entertain attendants” to bury the dead.
What the “pestilence” was the records do not give information, but it was probably cholera. A fortnight later requisitions were sent by the factors to Anjengo and to Madras lo raise soldiers to supply the vacancies, as the garrison was obliged to do double duty on account of the increasing of the contagion. Calicut also suffered severely, for, on 13th November, there is an entry that the “pestilence was again broke out in Calicut more violent than before.”
On 18th December, the “contagion” was “in no wise abated” and the factors organised charitable relief. The further history of the outbreak stops short here. The garrison at this time numbered about 270 men, including Nayars and Mappillas, in the service of the Honourable Company, and besides those the men of two other outposts, which cost; about Rs. 250 more per mensem.
It was not till July 1757 that the next severe visitation of disease occurred ; and on that occasion it was said to be due to the excessive monsoon rains. There was “terrible mortality” at Calicut, Mahe, and Cannanore, but by 20th July it had abated at Tellicherry. What the disease was was again not recorded. In August 1800 there was a scare, lest the plague then raging at Baghdad should be imported into India, and strict quarantine regulations were imposed.
In December 1801 very handsome rewards and encouragement were offered to natives who successfully practised inoculation1 for small-pox, and in 1803 the Sub- Collectors were directed to exert themselves “personally to the utmost in persuading the principal inhabitants of the country, who have not had the Small-pox to submit to vaccination.”
NOTEs: 1.This was probably the “vaccine inoculation,” then recently discovered. END OF NOTEs
Notwithstanding the measures then taken and the organisation subsequently of a special establishment to deal with this disease, it almost annually claims its thousands of victims, and, alternating with cholera, the two diseases carry off a large proportion of those who live insanitary lives.
The chief source of disease in the low country is the badness of the water-supply, and as there is hardly any water, however filthy in appearance, which the lower classes of the population refuse to utilise for domestic purposes, there is little to be wondered at in this.
The higher classes are much more particular in this respect than in East Coast Districts, but they, too, have yet failed to realise that a water source once tainted is not fit for use for some time. They, in futile fashion, bent drums and blow horns to drive away the devils, which bring, they think the disease, but never dream of taking exceptional care to keep their water-supply untainted. Recent experience has shown, however, that the mortality from cholera, can be lessened, if not prevented altogether, by judicious administrative measures. The closing of the. wells of the infected locality is not the least important of the steps to be adopted. And great good results from the mere presence in an infected locality of the officers specially charged to deal with the disease.
The District Medical and Sanitary officer (Surgeon-Major H. D. Cook. M.D) has furnished the following brief sketch of the principal diseases:
“The principal diseases that are especially prevalent in the Malabar district may be enumerated as follows:
1. Anæmia (general weakness). 5. Dysentery.2. General dropsy.6. Skin diseases3. Splenitis (or ague cake)7. Elephantiasis4. Ague.
“A few remarks on each is necessary. Anæmia, general dropsy, and splenitis, although put down as special diseases, are generally, if not always, the result of neglected or protracted attacks of ague. They occur in this way. People of Malabar of all classes reside for some time or other in Wynad. In the months of March, April and May ague abounds there and spares few, rich or poor. The poor, through neglect of seeking medical aid, have repeated attacks of it undermining their constitutions, the result being that they flock back to the coast, bloodless, dropsical, and with spleens occupying sometimes half the cavity of the abdomen instead of the area of a man's hand.
One has only to attend one of the dispensaries in Malabar, or walk through the bazaars of some of the principal towns, and see the great, amount of people with anæmia, dropsy, and enlarged spleens. These classes of diseases fill our dispensaries —all the result of neglected ague or from repeated attacks of it.
“Dysentery is very common indeed, and it is a common saying ‘if you are subject to dysentery avoid Malabar.’ In my experience I have not found dysentery so common among the rich, but the poor suffer fearfully from it, and generally the acute variety. The season for it is June, July and August, and the cause the climate. The hot and dry months of April and May are succeeded by the very wet ones of June and July. The houses of the poor are mere huts, thus exposing the inhabitants to damp and cold. Children suffer terribly from this. Dysentery, of course, is often the result of affections of the liver and of malaria. But what I refer to is acute dysentery, the result, as said, of damp and cold, or sometimes from eating bad fish.
“Skin diseases abound, the principal form being scabies, vulgarly called ‘ Malabar itch.’ Itch generally is the result of uncleanliness all over the world ; but the form of itch met with in Malabar is of an aggravated form, and I cannot give any particular reason for it. Some attribute it to eating a kind of fish called in Malayalam ‘Ayila.’
“Elephantiasis. - This is very common in Malabar, especially among Mappillas on the coast. It is called in Malayalam ‘Mantha kalu or ; Ana kalu’ 'The ordinary form is a hypertrophy of the skin and arcolar tissue of some part of the body, but generally attacking the legs and genital organs. The skin becomes enormously thickened with a quantity of albuminous fluid in the arcolar tissue. It is most common in males. Various causes are said to be assigned for this disease—air, water and food -and it generally occurs near the sea. Eating fish has been said to be a cause for it. I think that poor living has a good deal to do with it.
“Dr. Fayrer, in his book, attaches much importance to the presence of filariæ in nutritious fluids. This is too big a question to take up here ; but I may as well mention that acute researches are now being made to prove that mosquitoes have very much to do with the production of many diseases, by communicating filariæ to the human body which entering the blood becomes what is termed filariæ sanguinis hominis. Any one desirous of obtaining all information on this subject, I advise them to read Dr. Fayrer’s book on 'Tropical Diseases.’”
The native system of medicine and surgery is based upon the obsolete ideas, apparently borrowed from the Greeks, of the body being composed of fives elements -earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Physical health is supposed to be preserved by the preservation, in exact proportions, of the three general elements, viz. rheum, bile and phlegm, or air, fire, and water respectively.
“Their harmonious1 admixture, tends to constitutional nourishment, whilst anything that disturbs or destroys this harmony causes impaired health. Though in a sense pomading all (ho body, each of them is not without its allotted province, that is, air, or rheum , spreads itself below the navel ; lire, or bile., between it and the heart; and water, or phlegm above the heart and upwards. By the predominance of one of these humours over the others, the human health is deranged, whilst their proportionate evenness secures good health.”
NOTEs: 1 Translated from the Introduction to Mr. O. Cannan's “Malayalam Translation and Commentaries on the ‘Ashtanga Hridayam,' or Treatise on Manhood (Ayur Vedam)" Calicut, 1878. END OF NOTEs
“Tastes are six in number, viz., sweet, sour, saltish, bitter, pungent, and astringent, which are the atributes of substances, each preceding taste being superior to that immediately succeeding it. The first three-—sweet, sour, and saltish—appease rheum ; and the remaining three—bitter, pungent and astringent—appease phlegm, while bile is appeased by astringent, bitter and sweet.
According to another opinion, the three humours are said to be promoted by those tastes, viz., the rheum, by bitter, pungent and astringent : the phlegm by sweet, sour, and saltish ; and the bile by pungent, sour, and saltish. Substances have three forms of digestions, viz., the sweet and saltish will digest sweetly, the sour in its original taste, and the pungent and astringent mostly turn acrid.
“Medicines are of two classes known as clearing and subsidiary. The first effects the cure by purging out the irritated humours ; and the second by establishing the humours which have bum disturbed in their respective positions.
‘‘To secure health, we should try to purge out the bile and other humours according to season.
“Purgatives are essential, as otherwise the humours, augmented by their stagnancy, will endanger even life. The humours allayed by fasting, or by the use of medicines having digestive properties, will sometimes be irritated.
“If properly purged out, these humours are not liable to irritation.
“Oil bath, athletic exorcise, simple bath, and oil-syringing are also necessary, as those will restore health and establish the digestive powers, and likewise create intellectual brightness, personal beauty, acuteness of the senses, and prolongation of life. Refrain from doing anything disagreeable to the mind, feelings and thoughts, lest a deceitful conscience irritate all the humours ; govern the passions and senses in order that they may not be led astray ; remember the past, and conduct yourself with duo regard to the peculiarities of the time and place as well as of your own constitution, and pursue the well-trodden path of the righteous.
“He who wishes for happiness in this as well as in the next world should, in controlling the passions, successfully resist the blind rush of the thirteen mental vices known as (1) avarice, (2) envy, (3) malice, (4} enmity, (5) lust, (6) covetousness, (7) love or passion, (8) anger, (9) pride, (10) jealousy, (11) arrogance, (12) haughtiness and (13) self-conceit, inasmuch as man, imbued with any one of them, is apt to commit vicious acts of divers sorts, resulting in iniquities, which gaining ground in successive births, will force themselves out in the shape of diseases causing immense misery.
“Moreover when those evils take hold of the mind, their influence agitates it and destroys the mental ease and vitiates the vital air, which is wholly dependent on such mental ease ; and as the very life, vigour, memory, etc., are all sustained by this vital air, its loss entails hazard to them, and injuring respiration gives rise to various diseases. By treading the paths of virtue and possessing a truthful nature, a charitable disposition, compassion, sympathy, and continence, and by using such fare as is congenial to the mind, free motion to the vital air will be secured. For mental vices, spiritual knowledge, combined with prudence and courage, is the best remedy, by seeking which, the mind will be liberated from evil passions and left to pursue a virtuous course.”
After much wise discourse on the true means of attaining the "pith of all human endeavours,” happiness, by aid of virtue, he continues as follows : — “Speak but little, and that significantly and opportunely, so as to be agreeable to your hearers, and lot your speech be characterised by sweetness, voracity, and cheerfulness, and an open countenance graced with kindness and affability.
“Eat or enjoy nothing alone. Do not be overcredulous or suspicious. Be sagacious in guessing other minds ; treat them with kind and greeting expressions and do net over-vox or over-indulge the organs of taste with distasteful or delicious fare.
“Let your mental, vocal, or bodily exertion cease before actual fatigue commences.
“Do not deal in, or drink, spirituous liquors, nor expose yourself to the east wind, directly to the rays of the sun, or to the dust, show, and storm .
“Do not in a crooked position yawn, cough, sleep or eat., nor shelter under the shadow of trees on the margins of rivers.
“As the wise have the world for their preceptor in all doings, you ought to study the movements of the righteous, keeping yourself steadily to their virtuous path.
“A tender fooling and unaffected charity towards all creatures, and a self-restraint, physical as well as vocal and mental, combined with a duo regard to the interests of others, are moral virtues which complete the test of true uprightness.
“He that daily contemplates his own acts, as to whether and how he has actually realised the grand ends of his existence on the day, the lapse of which has brought him nearer to the grave than on the previous day, cannot be overtaken by grief, inasmuch as his deliberations, secure in divine grace, will ultimately conduct him to the attainment of true wisdom, regarding the mutability of this world and the eternity of God; and he will, thus, be freed from all sins and sorrows, and in the end gain everlasting happiness. Moreover as each day passes, life becomes shorter, and patent is the fact that the exercise of morality can be prosecuted only while it exists, and as the extrication from sorrow is the result of a strict pursuit of virtue and abstinence from vice, a daily reckoning of the nature and amount of our virtuous floods is a salutary remedy for all mental diseases.
“A strict adherence to the daily observances herein briefly summarised will lead to longevity, health, prosperity, imputation and eternity.”
The lofty tone of morality above sketched runs quaintly through the voluminous treatise, which follows consisting of six parts and containing 120 chapters. The treatise gives extremely explicit directions, first for the preventive and afterwards for the curative measures to be adopted in the multitudinous circumstances of life. A more detailed examination of the system of medicine in vogue would be beyond the scope of the present work.