Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’


QUOTE: The final Brahman irruption from the north into Malabar, 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 END OF QUOTE

The above quote can be absolute nonsense. This ‘Hinduism’ did not envelop all minor creeds in the manner one might easily understand. By some very clever use of verbal codes, various different populations were subordinated to the Brahmins. This Brahmanical Hinduism cannot embrace anyone other than itself.

Moreover, Hinduism never could come out of its cloistered features, due to the fact that the Brahmanical religion (Hinduism) was connected to an extremely feudal language, Sanskrit. Beyond that, it is possible that almost all the languages of the subcontinent were also terribly feudal. So much so that even the an ordinary conversation with a seafaring population who might not be ready to concede the expected levels of reverence in words, would have had the effect of degrading the Brahmins.

It is seen that the other ordinary Brahmins were averse to travelling by sea. However, with the arrival of the English rule, many of them did get to travel by sea and even to England, standing inside the cosy interiors of an English ambience.

The basic information to be had is that when the seafarers were Englishmen, the Brahmins had no problem of travelling across the seas. When the travelling was in the hands of the lower-castes of the subcontinent, it would be a terror to have a conversation with them. For, they might not really concede the ‘respect’ words.

QUOTE: 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 END OF QUOTE.

The above statement might be a pack of lies packaged in easily seducing ideas. The very word ‘Malayali Hinduism’ is a misnomer. In this book, Malabar, it is used to mean the Nayars and the Hindus (Brahmins) of Malabar, at the same time mixing up this word with the people of Travancore.

Even though it is possible that some of the higher castes of Malabar are same to the corresponding castes of Travancore, when it comes to the castes subordinated under the Nayars, there might not be much of a correspondence. Even though the Shamanistic deities of the populations kept subordinated under the Nayars have been entangled into Hinduism as some kind of lower version of the Brahmanical religion, actually there is no need for such a prop.

QUOTE: 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. END OF QUOTE.

This statement is again some kind of shallow scholarship. Christianity itself is not a European religion. Its roots are based outside Europe. As to Christianity having very lofty ideal, English Christianity is very high in quality. Whether the Continental European Christianity is that high is doubtful. And whether Hinduism has any lofty social ideals is also a debatable point. For, if the native-English rule had not come into the subcontinent, even now the social system would have been terribly structured and with a huge slave population.

QUOTE: It was at the hands of Samkaracharya, who is generally acknowledged to have been a Malayali Brahman living 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 END OF QUOTE.

I do not know what Shankaracharya’s ideas and information are. Since it has been highly praised, it is very much possible that there are great thoughts in them. However, to connect the high-grade thoughts, ideas and ideals of a solitary individual to that of an unorganised religion or with an unconnected series of populations, does seem quite unintelligent.

Again the word ‘Malayali Brahmin’ has a lot of issues. He is not from Malabar, but from Travancore area. At that time, it is seen mentioned that the language was more or less Tamil in Travancore. Simply running off with words without anything to substantiate them does look ludicrous. In fact, Kaladi, his home town is not very far from the Kottayam of Central Travancore, where the English evangelists such as Henry Baker &c. had to work for years to improve the lower castes from their hereditary state of being identified as very near to animals.

It does look quite odd that this great teacher in Vedic contents had no thoughts comparable to what the ordinary English evangelist had.

A book in Sanskrit is actually a book in Greek to the natives of both Malabar as well as Travancore, whichever group is identified as ‘Malayalis’. However, it might be possible that the newly created language, Travancore Malayalam, has literally downloaded almost all the words in Sanskrit into its own verbal repository. From this perspective, it is possible that Malayalam might be found in the ancient Sanskrit books.

QUOTE: There is a constant pining after a transcendental ideal, attainable perhaps, but only after much suffering, and after much, almost, impossible, self-denial END OF QUOTE.

The feudal content in the languages here do create a lot of very special kind of thoughts. For, individuals cannot converse with others as they can do in English. For, in each conversation, there is need to first establish and publish each person’s relative social status. Beyond that, the above claims of piety can be found in persons of all kinds of religious and spiritual persuasions.

QUOTE: the first Hindu embassy from King Porus, or, as others say, from the King of Pandya, proceeded to Europe and followed the Roman Emperor Augustus to Spain END OF QUOTE.

There is a question that can be asked about the above statement. Was it a religious embassy from King Porus? Why a ‘Hindu’ word? Even if the Continental Europeans may have used the word ‘Hindu’, from the local understanding the word ‘Hindu’ is superfluous. It can be mentioned as a delegation from King Porus, even though such technical words as ‘delegation’ etc. might give the travellers an English aura, which they might not have, other than in Hollywood, Bombay film world &c. movies.

But then there might have been so many others also, since there was some kind of trade going on globally. There is also the issue of technically relatively much better placed nations were also there in the world in various places. If that be so, there must have been more travellers of this kind.

At best, these kinds of claims might be there in plenty in the African continent also. For, it was also a place with numerous ports of call in ancient times.