Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’


There were a number of rajas in North Malabar and South Malabar.

See this QUOTE taken from Travancore State Manual, written by V Nagam Iyya:

Among the Princes that took shelter in Travancore at the time were the Zamorin of Calicut, the Rajahs of Chirakkal, Kottayam, Kurumbranad, Vettattnad, Beypore, Tanniore, Palghat and the Chiefs of Koulaparay, Corengotte, Chowghat, Edattara and Mannur. END OF QUOTE.

Raja of Valluvanad is not seen mentioned in the above list, I think. There would be others also.

Not one of these kings or rajas was a ruler of any kind of big location. Rajas of the northern-end parts of north Malabar are not mentioned above. And Ali raja, of an extremely miniscule Arakkal kingdom in Cannanore, is also not there. However, if the servile subordinates of these kings write any historical records, it would be about ‘great kings’ or ‘Maha rajas’. A mention of the Empire of Calicut was also found in one of the records.

None of them had any concern about the welfare of the people. They stood as the vanguards and rearguards of a terrible social system which was based on the terrible feudal languages of the location. Their aim was to see that the social upper classes were protected from being accosted by the lower classes. Nothing intelligent was proposed or desired. For instance, there was no aim to create an egalitarian social system, judiciary based on egalitarian principles, education for the lower castes, making the roadways safer and any other thing. There was no thoughts that the rude and insolent lower castes/classes could be improved.

Each of the kings or rajas was totally immersed in the daily insecurity of another competing entity trying to usurp his title. For, retaining or grabbing ‘respect’ was the most powerful of aims and ambitions.

Inside each miniscule raja family, there were others who tried to backstab or act treacherously on the title holder. Every kind of permutations and combinations were tried to settle or unsettle friends and adversaries. A single wrong indicant word code can trigger homicidal mania in these rajas. A very illustrative example is the oft-mentioned in modern times Pazhassiraja, who literally impaled Mappillas on the whim of the moment; his mental equilibrium terrible disturbed by some ‘respect’ issues.

Tax collection was not aimed at spending it for any people welfare purpose. Instead, it was only aimed as empowering the upper classes.

QUOTE: Writing of the chiefs of North Malabar — but the same thing held good for those in the South—the Joint Commissioners observed “they have (stimulated, perhaps, in some degree by the uncertainty as to their future situations) acted, in their avidity to amass ‘wealth, more as the scourgers and plunderers than as the protectors of their respective little States.” END OF QUOTE.

This change from protector to plunderers is a more complicated issue than is seen above. In the earlier times, it was a teamwork to maintain a huge section of the population as semi-slaves and total slaves. However, when the English rule came, this teamwork had no more meaning. For, it became an everyone-for-himself situation.

For instance, the Nayars used to show subservience to the Nambhodhiri Brahmans. The Nambhudhiri Brahmans would then bless them. It was a great experience to be near to a much-revered Nambhudhiri Brahman. Their entry into the Nayar household was treated as special occasion. Actually, the Brahmans were given access to the Nayar women folks through some special formalities and after some ceremonies, if need be. These kind of connections literally improved the social status of the Nayar household.

It may be noted that if a lower caste man were to even glance at without ‘respect’ or with a profane sense at a Nayar woman, it would be a most demeaning act. For the verbal codes connected to Nayar woman would literally fall down into the gutters.

QUOTE from Native Life in Travancore: Individuals of some castes are allowed to form connections with Sudra females which are to them irregular, but which they attempt to justify by pleading the Nayar usages; and many cases of prostitution occur, even among the respectable classes. END of QUOTE

Actually, the words mentioned-above could be the opinion of the lower castes. In that, they were avoided in manner of social contact, which the higher stature social classes seemed to have freedoms beyond anything they could imagine.

However, once the English officialdom literally created a new administrative system based on Civil Service officials, the ancient social structure collapsed in Malabar. The traditional systems were not a happy one. Even for the Nayar females. In that, they would find it quite difficult to attach a sense of loyalty and fidelity to anyone.

See these QUOTEs from Native Life in Travancore:

QUOTE: A good deal of controversy has taken place on the subject in the public prints, and a society for the reform of the Malabar laws of marriage (and inheritance) has been formed at Calicut by the leaders of the Nayar community, especially those educated in English. END of QUOTE

QUOTE: Some of the more enlightened and educated Nayars are now beginning to realise their degradation, and to rebel against the Brahmanical tyranny, and absurd and demoralising laws under which they are placed. END of QUOTE

The whole of the ancient traditions became ‘Brahmanical tyranny, and absurd and demoralising laws’ only when it was increasingly seen that the Brahmin were no more the top layers of the social set up and language codes.

QUOTE: The blessed rule having devolved from the earth-ruler Man-lord Chacravarti Vira Kerala (the first of the line), through regular succession, upon Sri Vira Raghava Chacravarti, now wielding the sceptre for many 100,000 years END OF QUOTE.

This is a quote from an ancient Deed (Deed No. 2, in this book, Malabar). This is the way the Raja claimed heritage and antiquity. The extraordinary claims do insert a great positive effect on the inner value of the verbal codes.

QUOTE: Attippettola Karyam (അട്ടിപ്പെറ്റൊലകാർയ്യം) executed in the month (മാസം) of Kanni, 281, Putuvaypa (പുതുവായ്പ). The Cochin Rajas (പെരുമ്പുടപ്പ) Gangadhara (ഗംഗാധര), Vira (വീര), Kerala (കേരള), Trikkovil (തൃക്കോവിൽ), Adhikarikal (അധികാരികൾ) = Sarvadhikaryakar), END OF QUOTE.

Even though, it might be seen that even the English do try to use high-sounding titles to acknowledge their monarchy (may be due to the English Monarchies Continental European ancestry), the heaviness of the words seen above is unmatchable in pristine-English words. Words like Attippettola Karyam, Gangadhara, Vira, Trikkovil, Adhikarikal, Sarvadhikaryakar &c. have a resounding heaviness that cannot be found in native-English.

Even the monarch of England who was literally in charges of an Empire was only a mere ‘queen’. At the same time, even the miniscule raja of a miniscule kingdom in the subcontinent will adorn himself with very high-sounding title and names. Words such as Veera, Varma &c. are assumed by the title holder, even if there the antique connection to these words is very slight and feeble. For, any verbal change applied would literally pull up the verbal codes across the social scene in all conversations.

Even English official names did get to bear heaviness in the subcontinent in those days. Queen Victoria was mentioned as Amma Maharani (Great Mother Queen) by the lower castes, who had seen and experienced social freedom for the first time in recorded history, with the advent of the English rule in Malabar.

QUOTE: means in Malabar the fifth or 20 per cent, of a fixed revenue of their former countries which the dispossessed Rajas of Malabar receive from the Company. END OF QUOTE.

This was a very magnanimous attitude on the part of the English East India Company. Over the years, there must have been changes. However, the former raja houses were given a pension by the English administration. This was to protect the raja families from falling into penury in a land where no one has any sense of gratitude to anyone. However, one Indian politician, when she came to power had the Privy Purse suddenly stopped as a political gimmickry. It is not certain whether this act did serve her anything good in the long run.

QUOTE: six miles from Perintalmanna is Mankata, the seat of the Walluvanad Raja, who enjoys a Malikhana of Rs. 13,400 from Government.