Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
The Portuguese


Before looking at the events connected to the Portuguese attempts at consolidating their power in the subcontinent, there is need to understand what went wrong in the very beginning itself.

Calicut was a small kingdom with a harbour facility. What made it important for the Arabian merchants who came across the Arabian Sea from the Middle-east locations was pepper. This pepper they transported through the north African trade routes to the Mediterranean Sea. From there it was taken to the Venetian trade centres. The Venetian merchant took over the cargo from there and sold it in Continental European markets and those in Great Britain.

I am not sure if the Arab traders were allowed to directly sell their wares inside Europe. In most probability not. It is basically common sense. That if these traders are allowed inside, they would take-over the internal trade also. However, as of now, native-English nations seem to have lost all common sense. Their nations are in the direct hands of ingenious feudal-language speaking businessmen. It is only a matter of time before they takeover everything. For they come to posses both ends of the trade and commerce. The only hope for native-English nations is to suppress the democracies which have run totally amok and get rid of all feudal-language speakers from inside their nations.

Calicut more or less subsisted on the trade and support of the Arabian merchants. Calicut as a kingdom would be only a small place with a king who would be more or less a strongman who can keep at bay the various rebellions against him from various nook and corner of the place, including that from inside his own household.

QUOTE: indeed there exists a tradition that in 1489 or 1490 a rich Muhammadan came to Malabar, ingratiated, himself with the Zamorin, and obtained leave to build additional Muhammadan mosques. The country would no doubt have soon been converted to Islam either by force or by conviction, but the nations of Europe were in the meantime busy endeavouring to find a direct road to the pepper country of the East. The arrival of this Portuguese expedition aroused at once the greatest jealousy in the Moors or Muhammadans, who had the Red Sea and Persian Gulf trade with Europe in their hands, and they immediately began to intrigue with the authorities for the destruction of the expedition. END OF QUOTE.

It cannot be said for sure if a compulsory mass conversion to Islam would be conducted. It is possible that the local Muslims would not like to do that. For, if that is done, they would be more or less giving up their own advantage to the others, including to their own serving slave castes. But then it is possible that higher castes would have been taken down and made some kind of very lower castes, if such a thing were to happen. Luckily for them the Portuguese from Continental Europe arrived.

QUOTE: Accordingly, when Da Gama sent Nicholas Coelho on shore with a message to the Zamorin asking him to sanction trade, the authorities tried his temper by making him wait, thinking this to cause a break with the Portuguese; but being warned by a Castilian whom they found in the place, he exercised patience END OF QUOTE.

This was the culture and efficiency of the kingdom. More or less like the current-day Indian officialdom.

QUOTE: The king (of Calicut) was sitting in his chair which the factor” (who had preceded Da Grama with the presents) “had got him to sit upon: he was a very dark man, half-naked, and clothed with white cloths from the middle to the knees ; END OF QUOTE

It does seem that the ‘factor’ had compelled him to sit on a chair. Though the ‘very dark man, half-naked and clothed’ to the middle of his knees’ description would look quite a bit let-down description, the real power of the man would be in the terrific hammering content in the words in the native-language.

QUOTE: The interview would probably have had the desired result, but the Moors had meanwhile been busy bribing the Chief Officer of the Palace Guard, an official of great power, END OF QUOTE.

This is a typical behaviour pattern in the subcontinent. Things are worked from elsewhere. The direct approach actually hides a lot of hidden approaches. It might be good for native-English nations to know these things. When feudal language speakers arrive in native-English nations, this is the ways things are accomplished. Be they are from Italy or Germany or Japan, or Spain or India, or Pakistan or Sri Lanka or Bangladesh or Korea.

Beyond all this, the term ‘Chief Officer of the Palace Guard’ does not really reflect the semi-barbarian quality of the people. It is like mentioning an Indian government official as an ‘officer’.

QUOTE: the Chief Officer went before the king, charged Da Gama with breaking faith, and suggested that the Moors should be permitted to take the ships and appropriate the goods for the king’s use. The king agreed to this, but the jealousy of the king’s Brahman and of his Treasurer had been aroused at the Chief Officer’s having it all his own way. and first the one and then the other interfered and pointed out that the Portuguese had so far done no harm, and great discussions thereupon arose. END OF QUOTE.

This is the typical manner in which things work out, unless one comes in with power. Decent and logical level of conversing and getting things done is not possible with feudal language speakers. However, at the other end the Portuguese side also might be feudal language speakers.

QUOTE: The hostages demanded to be put to death by the king if Da Gama were to be slain, and their demands were backed up by both the Treasurer and the king’s Justice out of envy at the rich presents offered by the Moors to the Chief Officer of the Palace Guard. END OF QUOTE.

A trade negotiation becomes a mess of intrigues. However, for the Arabian side, who were supported by the local Mappilla traders, this was a life or death battle to retain their precious trade. They could foresee the disaster in the offing. A route to a very remote, semi-barbarian geographical location had been discovered by competing business entities.

QUOTE: Having thus revenged himself, Cabral sailed for Cochin, protesting that in Calicut the people could not be trusted, and that truth and honour were alike unknown, it appears, on the other hand, that Cabral was hasty and perfectly regardless of the sacrifice of human life, being quite ready to slaughter Moors and Nayars indiscriminately, with or without provocation, and with no expectation, of doing any good. END OF QUOTE

There is something to be said about the above claims. The people of Calicut cannot be trusted, but then the people of Cochin can be trusted? Well, the way the social machinery works inside feudal language societies is like this: If honoured and ‘respected’, (i.e. Adheham, Avar, Saar, Anugunnu &c. all highest He / Him) the others are generally quite truthful, trustworthy and honourable in commitments. If a person is placed in a location of no respect (i.e., Avan / Oan), he can expect no honesty, and no commitment from others. That is the truth.

QUOTE: Meanwhile extraordinary preparations were being made in Egypt to equip a fleet to drive away the P