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Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
India and Indians

It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!


Since I have mentioned the words ‘India’ and ‘Indians’, I think I will say a few things about these words:

There was indeed a mention of a land which was commonly identified by the maritime traders and others from other locations as Indic, Inder, Indus, Indies etc. May be more.

Even in the works of Herodotus the word Inder (Indus) is seen to come. It was some kind of remote location in the east from where certain merchandise like Pepper, spices, and many other things were bartered by the traders.

There was no historically known nation as 'India' inside the subcontinent. Even the joining

up of the various kingdoms (some 2000 of them, small and big) as subordinates of the Hindi-speaking populations took place only in 1947. Pakistan also took a part of the Indus area and captured the various locations to form Pakistan.

In fact, Indus is in Pakistan and has not much to do with the south, east, or north-eastern parts of the subcontinent.

I do not know if the word 'India' is used in the Puranas, or epics such as Mahabharatha or Ramayana, or if either Sri Rama or Yudhishtar have claimed to be Indian kings. Also, whether such kings as Marthanda Varma, Akbar, Krishna Deva Raya, Karikala or Ashoka have claimed to the Indian kings.

The word 'India' and the location 'India' could be a creation mainly of Continental Europeans. May be the Arab traders, and the Phoenicians also must have used it to denote a trade location.

I feel that Continental Europeans did create four ‘Indias’.

But actually it is Indies; not Indias.

QUOTE: 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. Sometime later there were three Indies — Major, Minor 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. END OF QUOTE.

I think the author is actually talking about ‘Indies’ and not about ‘India’.

‘Major’, ‘Minor’ and ‘Tertia’ Indies had some connection to the subcontinent in parts. As to the fourth one they created, it was in the American continent. In the US, till around 1990, the word 'Indian' was found to connected to the native Red Indians.

The word ‘India’ I feel is like the Jana Gana Mana. Not pointing or focusing on to native-subcontinent origin. [Jana Gana Mana actually points to the Monarch of England in the sense that it had been first used to felicitate the King and Queen of England by none other than the Congress party, when it had been a party of England lovers.]

However, the historical nation connected to the word India is 'British-India' (not any of the ‘Indias’ mentioned above), and is a creation of England and not of Continental Europeans.

However, it did not contain the whole subcontinent. At best only the three Presidencies (Madras, Bombay and Calcutta) and a few other locations were inside it. The rest of the locations which are currently inside India, such as Kashmir, Travancore &c. were taken over under military intimidation or occupation.

As to the word Bharat, Hindustan &c. I am not aware of it being mentioned in world history. Even if they are, well, they are what others use. The pertinent point is, did anyone inside the subcontinent, which includes current-day Pakistan, India and Bangladesh claim that they are Indians, Bharatiyans or Hindustanis in historic days?

I do not have any quarrel with anyone using such words.

However, the joining of the immense kingdoms into a quality nation was the deed of the English East India Company. Before that, there was no India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.

QUOTE: 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 ? END OF QUOTE.

So here there is an admission that word used was actually ‘Indies’ and not ‘India’.

QUOTE: It seems doubtful whether he himself ever visited “Hind” which, among Arabs, was the name applied to Southern India exclusively END OF QUOTE.

Oh, this seems to make a mess of the contention that the word ‘Hind’ was connected to River Indus which was called Sindhu and is currently in Pakistan. It does really look odd that the etymological origin of ‘Hind’ is ‘Sindhu’. But then, scholars know more, and should not be disputed.

QUOTE: About 600 B.C. Scylax, a Greek sent by Darius, had voyaged home by sea from the mouth of the Indus END OF QUOTE.

There would have been others.

QUOTE: Herodotus mentions that the Red Sea trade in frankincense and myrrh, and cinnamon and cassia (the two latter being Malabar products), was in the hands of the Egyptians and Phoenicians, but these traders do not appear to have proceeded beyond the port in Arabia Felix (Aden probably) where these goods were procurable. END OF QUOTE.

The problem in these kinds of understandings is the visualisation of maritime and other trade as one would visualise the English East India Company trade. In most cases, the traders who took goods from Malabar coast would be small traders who did the trader without maintaining any records. It is like the fact that the forest products of Wynad were available in far-off markets, many years ago. The forest dwellers collect them and come down the mountains and sell their wares in crowed oriental market places in Palghat and such other places. These presence of Malabar products in far-off locations should not used to make an understanding that Malabar was a place of high class living standards.

QUOTE: Of India proper Herodotus’ information is scanty, END OF QUOTE.

It should not be acceptable to the Indian academic history. For, there is resounding information in the sterile academic textbooks of ‘India’ being one of the greatest civilisations the world has ever seen. In fact, the students in the Indian schools know that when the people of Britain were monkeys, there were great cities in ‘India’!

QUOTE: In the end of the fourth century B.C. the Greek writer Ktesias probably alluded to cinnamon, a common product of Malabar, as karpion, a name which seems to have been derived from the Tam. Mai. karuppu or karppu END OF QUOTE.

Actually, this should not prove anything other than that some people did collect these things from their own forest dwelling areas and sell them to maritime traders. And they traders need not have the looks of the characters in the English movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. They can even have the looks of the local fishermen of South Asia. However, if the looks of the local fishermen are promoted, as the traditional looks of the ‘great’ maritime traders of ‘India’, the jingoist of India will not like it.

They have even changed the very looks of Ramanujam, the mathematical genius to something more comparable with the native-Englishman.

QUOTE: It was not till about 120 B.C. that an attempt was made to go direct from Egypt to India. A Hindu said to have been, wrecked in the Red Sea volunteered to take a ship to India. END OF QUOTE.

The above is a highly cantankerous writing. A Hindu? That means a ‘Brahmin’? But then, it is said that the Brahmins did not venture out into the sea, probably being afraid of having to converse with a lower caste person.

The non-Muslim and non-Christian fishermen of the coastal areas of the subcontinent are categorised as Hindus as of now. However, they were actually not Hindus, if Brahmins are ‘Hindus’. Then who could it be?

The errors commence from a jingoistic error. The subcontinent is a huge place with a lot of different populations. A very accurate way of mentioning the event would be as a Tamilians, a Malabari, a Gujarati, or any other word of more substance. I am not sure what the populations were, then living in the subcontinent. And much more precise record would be the name of the specific population, which currently is mentioned as ‘caste’. The name of hundreds of castes in the southern parts of the subcontinent are mentioned in Castes and Tribes of Southern India by Edgar Thurston.

QUOTE: Aden was probably the port in which the Arabian and Indian merchants met the Greeks and exchanged their goods END OF QUOTE.

There are so many statements of the same kind. It is like mentioning a Mayan ship as an American Ship, or a South American ship. There was no ‘India’ in the mentioned period. And the term ‘Indian merchant’ definitely has to be rephrased into something more meaningful.

There are a lot of passages in the book aiming to prove that there was indeed a Malabar or ‘Kerala’ and ‘India’ by mentioning the proof seen in the various trades.

I can only say that the existence of even the remote forest areas of Wynad can be thus proved by mentioning that a lot of trade in the forest commodities of Wynad were in vogue in an old time. However, the fact still remains that despite the huge trade, the place still remained a forest region with a huge percent of the population dwelling as forest people, more or less the slaves of the landlords.

This was also the state of Malabar as well as in Travancore, and also in the whole of the subcontinent, till the advent of the English colonialisms.

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.

This is another nonsensical statement. King Porus was not the king ruling the subcontinent at any time in history. He was a king of some kingdom in the north-western parts of the subcontinent. What is his relevance in a book on Malabar might be a moot point. The populations were different, the languages were different and everything was different.

As to naming the embassy as a Hindu embassy, well this also seems some kind of cheap writing. Any man from the subcontinent going out can be defined as a Hindu (Brahmin) traveller. It might be true or may be not true. However, that is not the way to define a traveller.

QUOTE: As regards Muhammadan progress in Malabar, writing in the middle of the ninth century A.D., a Muhammadan has left on record “I know not that there is any one of either nation” (Chinese and Indian) “that has embraced Muhammadanism or speaks Arabic.” (Renaudot’s “Ancient Accounts of India, etc” London, 1733). END OF QUOTE.

The point here is that one might be able to find quotes from other travellers of yore, who give a different assertion. It is all at best the individual impressions of travellers. The subcontinent was too huge a place for solitary travellers to give an all-encompassing description.

See this description by Mis’ar bin Muhalhil about ‘Kulam’ or Quilon: QUOTE: When their king dies the people of the place choose another from China. There is no physician in India except in this city. The buildings are curious, for the pillars are (covered with) shells from the backs of fishes. The inhabitants do not eat fish, nor do they slaughter animals, but they eat carrion”, END OF QUOTE.

These types of traveller’s impressions are limited by time and space to very narrow perspectives.

See Ibn Bututa description of the location:

QUOTE: No one travels in these parts upon beasts of burden ; nor is there any horse found, except with the king, who is therefore the only person who rides. END OF QUOTE .

This could give the impression of a very poor locality.

However, it might be quite unwise to gather a lot interpretations from unconnected information. The most fundamental thing to understanding a population is information on the codes in their language.

QUOTE: The true ancient history of Southern India, almost unrecorded by its own people in anything worthy of the name of history, appears as yet only as a faint outline on canvas. END OF QUOTE.

Well, everything has a history. Even ants will have a history. It is like the Chinese. China has a history. But outside world did not know. It was a very primitive nation till around 1990. Then the fools in England gave up Hong Kong to China, more or less giving the society there a platform to converse as equal to the English nations. Then the Chinese government used cunning and shrewd and organised a Tiananmen Square shooting. This event was used by the Chinese government to send Chinese students directly into the world of US technological secrets.

As of now, the varied components of Chinese history are emerging out. Likewise, a time will come when the ants and many other animals will get to learn English and to use modern gadgetry. Then their histories will come out.

QUOTE: In 500-504 A.D. it is recorded by Chinese writers that a king of India sent an ambassador as far as China, taking with him presents consisting of pepper, ginger, sugar, sandalwood, tortoise-shell, etc., and it was said that this Indian nation traded to the West with the Romans and Parthians, and to the east as far as Siam and Tonquin. END OF QUOTE.

The wording has an error. It is not a king of ‘India’. It should have been a ‘king from India’. The former is like saying ‘King of Britain’. There was no ‘king of India’. And no ‘India’. As to the record, there would be rulers inside the Wynad forests who might have sent ‘ambassadors’ to the various kingdoms with presents.

What is the contention trying to prove? That this subcontinent was in existence? That is not a point that require a historical proof. But then interjecting the words ‘India’, ‘king of India’, ‘ambassador’ etc. might need more scrutiny.

QUOTE: The produce sent as presents, the trade to East and West, and the manner of wearing the hair, are all so essentially Malayali, that it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the ambassador must have been sent from some place on the Malabar Coast. END OF QUOTE.

The word ‘Malayali’ is a problem, for it is an insertion that might have an aim to mislead.

Then comes the issue of having to depend upon the certification of others to prove one’s own worth. It is a terrible way to prove one’s worth.

As to persons going to China, where only the English traders refused to do the kowtow, the fact of the matter would be that the ‘ambassador’ would be acting like a mere servant to the Chinese king. The modern dignity of stature assigned to persons holding diplomatic assignments is something that came from English systems. It cannot be envisaged in the case of any Malabari or Chinese.


Commentary                MMVol 1               MMVol 2

Book Profile

1. My aim

2. The information divide

3. The layout of the book

4. My own insertions

5. The first impressions about the contents

6. India and Indians

7. An acute sense of not understanding

8. Entering a terrible social system

9. The doctoring and the manipulations

10. What was missed or unmentioned, or even fallaciously defined


12. Nairs / Nayars

13. A digression to Thiyyas

14. Designing the background

15. Content of current-day populations

16. Nairs / Nayars

17. The Thiyya quandary

18. The terror that perched upon the Nayars

19. The entry of the Ezhavas

20. Exertions of the converted Christian Church

21. Ezhava-side interests

22. The takeover of Malabar

23. Keralolpathi

24. About the language Malayalam

25. Superstitions

26. Misconnecting with English

27. Feudal language

28. Claims to great antiquity

29. Piracy


31. Slavery

32. The Portuguese

33. The DUTCH

34. The French


36. Kottayam

37. Mappillas

38. Mappilla outrages against the Nayars and the Hindus

39. Mappilla outrage list

40. What is repulsive about the Muslims?

41. Hyder Ali

42. Sultan Tippu

43. Women

44. Laccadive Islands

45. Ali Raja

46. Kolathiri

47. Kadathanad

48. The Zamorin and other apparitions

49. The Jews


51. Hinduism

52. Christianity

53. Pestilence, famine etc.

54. British Malabar versus Travancore kingdom

55. Judicial

56. Revenue and administrative changes

57. Rajas

58. Forests

59. Henry Valentine Conolly

60. Miscellaneous notes

61. Culture of the land

62. The English efforts in developing the subcontinent

63. Famines

64. Oft-mentioned objections

65. Photos and pictures of the Colonial times

66. Payment for the Colonial deeds

67. Calculating the compensation

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