top of page
Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Nairs / Nayars

It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!


Now, that I have created the framework on which to work on, let me first start with the population group mentioned in the book as Nairs or Nayars.

I will be mentioning items about this population which might seem quite mean. However there is no antipathy that I bear upon this population. In fact, I can understand their urges and their terrors and claims and their aspirations. And also their desperation to create a corridor of distance, when a new entity called the English East India Company was slowly diffusing into the social system and literally erasing a lot of carefully placed social-fences. Beyond all this I am aware of a very resounding quality-feature expression from their side. Something not many other populations groups in this irascible nation would dare to do. What that is, I will mention later.

However as of now, I will go through items which definitely will sound dreary to the Nairs. But before commencing on this, I will make another quite drastic mention.

In a feudal language social ambience, the lower placed persons and populations naturally acquire a demeaning quality. Their very presence, touch, stare, seeing, commenting, association etc. convey a most debasing emotion. Why this is so, can be made clear only by explaining the whereabouts and the ways and manners of feudal language verbal codes. I cannot go into them here.

First let me give a description of the Nair caste as understood locally and from the various books such as the Travancore State Manual, Native Life in Travancore, Castes and Tribes of Southern India etc.

Nair caste in its pristine form was the Sudra caste. The word Sudra connects to the Aryan four Caste (Chaturvarnya system of division). It is the lower-most caste in that system. In which case, they should be of Sanskrit ancestry and antiquity. It is quite doubtful if they have any known Sanskrit ancestry of antiquity.

I have found this quote in Travancore State Manual: QUOTE: These Nagas became the Kiriathu Nayars of later Malabar claiming superiority in rank and status over the rest of the Malayali Sudras of the west coast. END OF QUOTE

I do not know how to understand this statement. It is presumably taken from Keralolpathi, which is a book with a lot unmentioned issues.

In the Malabar region, the dominating religious group was the Brahmin religion. This is what actually can be mentioned as the local version of the Hindu religion. But then, how much content of the Sanskrit antiquity and ancestry is there in the Brahmins of Malabar is not known to me. I presume it to be quite feeble. But then, they do have a religious heritage which is different from that of the others.

Then there are populations known as the Ambalavasis. They are an array of population groups who can be defined as those allowed entry into Brahmin places of worship, like the temples. They, by vocation, are those who can do the various kinds of work inside a temple. Such as sweeping, gathering flowers, cleaning, cooking etc. How much they belong to the Brahmin religion is not known to me. However, Brahmin religion is the religion of the Brahmins. This is what should be known as Hinduism.

Then comes the population group known as the Nairs or Sudras. Looking at the words Nairs and Sudras, it should be felt that there is some dichotomy in the sense they convey. For ‘Nair’ is a word that is understood to mean the ‘higher caste’, by the population groups who identify themselves as lower to them.

At the same time, the word ‘Sudra’ can mean that they themselves are the lowest population group among another set of population. Now, this is a point that has to be very clearly and delicately discussed with a razor sharp precision.

If the old caste-hierarchy of Malabar region is compared with the modern police hierarchy in Kerala, the corresponding layers are thus:

The various layers inside the Brahmin group can be compared to the IPS officers’ cadre (Indian Police Service cadre). This is the royalty of the police administration in India.

Below them come the Ambalavasi (Temple worker) population groups. They can be compared to the below-IPS officer cadre. This would include the DySp., Circle Inspectors and Sub Inspectors.

Below them would come the Nairs / Nayars. They would correspond with the Head Constables and the Constables.

This is one point for more inspection with regard to claims in the book.

It is quite easily understandable that the Nairs were quite comfortable with the extremely low-level populations of the social order. That is the lower castes such as the Pulaya, Pariah, Malayan, Kurichiyan, Kurumban, Cherumar etc. For, they were so lowly in every aspect that they would not pose any kind of immediate threat to the Nair layer.

However, the Thiyya group of population was a different proposition altogether. They came just below the Nair layer. They had to display a verbal and body posture subordination to the Nairs and above. However, they themselves acted superior and touch-me-not to the various population groups below them.

In a feudal-language social set-up, having some layers of people below is a great personality-enhancing experience. This was one querulous plus-point that the Thiyyas experienced in north Malabar.


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

bottom of page