William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
What was missed or unmentioned, or even fallaciously defined
There are very many population groups who came below the Nair caste which were more or less given a go-by. As per this book, the human populations of any significance or worth are from the Brahmins to the Nairs. Below the Nairs, all others are mere nonentities.
There might be some level of correctness in this. Especially if a Travancore kingdom perspective is made to be borne upon the Malabar location. For in Travancore, almost all castes below the Nairs were maintained at varying subhuman levels. Even the Ezhavas were terribly subordinated.
It is true that there is mention of the Ezhavas having their own deities such as Madan, Marutha &c. in the Native Life in Travancore written by Rev. Samuel Mateers. I do not personally have much information about this caste which is actually native to the Travancore kingdom. I do not know if they had a spiritual religion of their own in their own antiquity.
Beyond that I am not sure as to whether the Ezhavas did affix their loyalty to their traditional gods. Or whether they, in their desperation to get connected to the Brahmanical spiritual religions, ditched their traditional gods, and deities; and jumped the fence.
The actual fact that get diluted when reading this book, the Malabar, is that there was not much of a traditional connection between Malabar and Travancore, before the conjoining of the locations after the formation of India. The political connection that the English rule in Madras established with the Travancore kingdom also helped. But then, north of Cochin, socially there was not much of a connection or intermingling with Travancore. This much had been my personal observation from about 1975, when I first moved to Alleppy from Malabar.
I will speak more about the disconnection later.
Before moving ahead, let me make one more quite categorical statement. It is about the languages of Malabar and Travancore. Both were different. The language of Malabar was more different from the language of Travancore that current-day Malayalam is from Tamil.
This is also a theme that would have to be taken up for inspection in close proximity with the discussion on at least the latter two entities. That is, the Christian Church representing the lower castes from Travancore and the Ezhava leadership, also from Travancore.
The language issue could be quite confusing. The term ‘Malayalam’ has some issues. It is about which language this usage represented earlier, and what it represents now. Also there are items to be mentioned about the real traditional language of Travancore.
There is one specific item that has been oft taken up for substantiating very many curious assertion. That is the book, Keralolpathi. This book is suspect in many ways, in what it aims to assert. Who wrote it is not clearly known, I think. But then the reason why such a book has been written might be taken up for inspection, in close connection with the other items being discussed.
I will now take up each of the issues. Before commencing, I need to remind the reader that the social system functioned in terrible feudal languages. Every man was quite terrorised of being associated with an individual or institution, who or which, was a lower entity. Generally the whole idea is casually mentioned in a most wayward manner as ‘Caste system’. This is a very shallow way to see the issue. In fact, this wanton verbal usage, ‘caste system’ does not explain anything. It literally skims over the real tumultuous depth of the whirling social twirls.
Caste system is not actually based on social or mental indoctrination. There is indeed real positive and negative, non-tangible forces at work that creates the forces of repulsion and attraction. Attachment, association and proximity to lower-positioned man can induce powerful negative forces inside a human being. These forces can exert their power not only at an emotional level, but even at a physical level.
At the same time, the opposite is also true. Attachment, association and proximity to a higher positioned person or entity can induce positive forces.
In this book, I will try to explain this quite cantankerous issue which literally can move the discussion beyond the very periphery of the realm of physical sciences. However, readers can also read the earlier mentioned book, An Impressionistic History of the South Asian Subcontinent. Quite candid information on this issue has been delineated in that book.
It is this terror of the pull and push of an all encompassing and overpowering negativity that has literally defined the history and historical events of this location, which is positioned at the south-western edge of the South Asian Subcontinent; north of Travancore.
The English East India Company’s aims and urges and attitude were of the sublime levels. However, they did not really understand the society into which they were inducing powerful corrections. In fact, they were correcting errors without understanding what actually created the errors in the first place. They had literally no idea about feudal languages. In fact, way back in England, there was a feeling that all nations and populations were innately similar to English populations in human emotions. It was an understanding bereft of a very powerful knowledge. That of the existence of feudal languages.
There is another general idea which I would like place here. It is about the general quality of formal history on India. Most of the various inputs about the quality of the populations, peoples and social system which existed in this subcontinent are more or less half-truth, or carefully cherry-picked items. The total aim is to give an impression of very resoundingly high-quality population groups who were allegedly pushed into destitution by the English rulers. This idea is not only half-truth or half-lie, but total lies and fabricated information.
What is usually compared in these kinds of comparisons is imageries of fabulous looking native-Englishmen and women living in good quality houses in the midst of totally destitute lower-castes. The immediate impression that springs into the minds of easily deluded persons is that it is the Englishmen who have brought in this destitution and desultory looks in the lower castes of the subcontinent.
The actual fact would be the exact opposite. The lower castes and subordinated classes of the subcontinent were held in tight hold by their own upper classes and castes. It was the English rulers who brought in the light of liberty to these desolate human beings who had lived for centuries in miserable surroundings.
However, it is not easy to save or improve or pull out the lower classes from their
subordinated stature. For, the situation is like a multi-storey building that has collapsed in an earthquake. The human beings are alive in the lowest floor. But how to pull them out? Above them is the mountainous weight of several floors of the building, crushing down on their collapsed floor.
This was the exact issue in pulling up the lower castes and classes. They were tied to their upper classes in very tights knots of subordination in verbal and dress codes. Even their body postures cannot be changed into an English body posture. For, if they do such a thing, it would amount to the greatest of impertinence. Their upper classes would quite casually impale them with iron nails or do something worse.
In formal history writing of this subcontinent, carefully filtered items are arranged to give a very false impression of this subcontinent.
South Asia, which is currently occupied by Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, was never a single nation or a single population. It was never a nation. There was actually no sense of a nation even inside a miniscule kingdom here. Even inside a miniscule kingdom, it was a feverish struggle between competing populations to subdue others. And among the hundreds of kingdoms, it was a messy time of continual fights and overrunning and molesting and raiding into each other’s locality.