NATIVE LIFE IN TRAVANCORE
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
The word ‘European’
The next error in this book is with regard to the word European. In many places, it is used as a synonym for England, Britain, and Englishman or for the British. It is a very grievous error. England and Britain do not really belong to the Continental European landmass. Historically as well as in social quality, England cannot be equated with Europe.
In fact, it would be quite an error to equate any English historical endeavour with that of the Spanish, the Portuguese and such. In the American continent, it was the Spanish and Portuguese Conquistadors who created havoc on the local natives and suppressed them. Only in the areas currently called USA did the natives, after some 300 to 400 years of terrible suffering, get some respite, with the coming of the Englanders.
It is true that in English colonial areas other Europeans did enter. For example, it has been mentioned that in the African continent even the Germans had the habit of carrying a Union Jack, due to the powerful security it lend them everywhere. However, it was a mistake to identify the English with the Europeans to the extent that the difference in the experience went missing in the words. In fact England and Englanders were the exact antonym of the Continental Europe and Europeans.
See these quotes:
QUOTE The total population was then found to be 2,311,379; of whom 1,702,805 are Hindus, 139,905 Muhammadans, 261 Europeans, 1,383 Eurasians, 151 Jews, and 466,874 Native Christians of various denominations — more than a fifth of the entire population — constituting Travancore the most Christian country in India. END of QUOTE
QUOTE And one European missionary remarked, “There is a good deal of heart amongst Pariahs and Pulayars, such as we do not often see in the Shanars.” END of QUOTE
QUOTE The labour of the previously enslaved castes, which had hitherto been almost valueless, being remunerated only by a few measures of rice daily, became of as great money value as that of others; caste was nothing in the eyes of the European planter. Accordingly, Pulayars, Pariahs, Vedars, and other low- castes began to obtain employment and good pay; END of QUOTE
QUOTE The native Christians educated by the Mission proved themselves of great service to the new industry, became overseers, confidential clerks, and managers, to European planters; END of QUOTE
QUOTE “The first ardent adventurers,” says Sir T. Emerson Tennent, “pioneered the way through pathless woods, and lived for months in log huts, while felling the forest and making their preliminary nurseries preparatory to planting; but within a few years the tracks by which they came were converted into highways, and their cabins replaced by bungalows, which, though rough, were picturesque, and replete with European comforts. END of QUOTE
QUOTE European push and activity have moved and guided the inert natives. Shops and markets have been opened to supply the workers, contractors, and artificers on the estates, with the rice, tobacco, cloth, arrack, and salt, which they consume. END of QUOTE
QUOTE European goods are also in due proportion imported. Products are thus exchanged, and commerce promoted. END of QUOTE
QUOTE European merchants and native agents are prepared to give a price for this fibre, and the price is steadily advancing. END of QUOTE
QUOTE Within the present century the Indian music has been investigated by several European scholars, and explained in various essays END of QUOTE
QUOTE All singing and playing are in unison : harmony and part-singing seem to be almost unknown in India, which causes their music to be generally uninteresting, if not repellent, to European ears. END of QUOTE
QUOTE Unfortunately, however, they attempt to combine Hindu caste with Christian teaching, and most pertinaciously and bigotedly refuse to partake of any food, at any time, along with, or prepared by, other Christians, or Europeans, for which reason some missionaries feel unable to avail themselves of their professional services as freely as they otherwise might. END of QUOTE
QUOTE The first introduction of intemperance into India, it will be obvious, is not by any means to be laid to the charge of the European nations. The manufacture and use of such liquors is quite indigenous, and native stimulants are probably more injurious than European drinks. END of QUOTE
QUOTE European Missionaries have been instrumental in gradually awakening the liberated bondman to a sense of freedom and self-reliance.” END of QUOTE
QUOTE It is difficult for Europeans to form any adequate conception of the sway of caste and the power of its traditions over the minds of each class of native society END of QUOTE
QUOTE that the European writers referred to in the volume before us, who have no personal interest in the discussion, and who are usually best able to reason upon the interesting facts supplied by native witnesses, and to form a broad and unbiassed opinion ab extra, and have also paid more attention to Hindu literature and ethnology than most of the natives themselves, END of QUOTE
QUOTE They correspond with Europeans quite in the style and tone of Englishmen, though with, perhaps, a little more attention to politeness and form. END of QUOTE
QUOTE Educated Hindus are always delighted to converse with cultivated Europeans, and to form even intimate friendships with them, END of QUOTE
QUOTE Because, probably, the husband, in reality, no more reigns supreme in the house of a native than in that of the European. END of QUOTE
QUOTE Everywhere Europeans in Travancore are regarded with the utmost confidence and respect. END of QUOTE
QUOTE The state of transition through which the mission is now passing, from its former almost entire dependence on foreign aid to a measure of vigour and maturity — from looking solely for direction to their European instructors, to the formation of independent character and opinion END of QUOTE
In all these quotes, the same grievous error is seen repeated by Mateer. It is a fact that Englanders did go to various part of the globe, including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand &c. Every part of the globe where the Englanders created a nation, the place has been quite attractive. Others barge in. First the Europeans, and then the rest.
A feeling then comes that these fine nations are created by Europeans. It is a mistake. No European nation has created any good social system or nation in any place they arrived in. Good nations and social systems have been the creation of the English native-speakers. May be the Dutch also can make such a claim. However, other Europeans are just piggy riding on English endeavours.
The term ‘Hindu’
Another error about this book is the usage of the term ‘Hindu’. I should not say that this was a mistake made by Mateer alone. For many English writers of those times might have used the same term. It is not correct to identify everything in this landscape with a word which signifies a religious aspiration or a religious partition. Even the word ‘Hindu’ might be a new one for the majority of the lower castes who have now improved.
QUOTE A large amount of the jewels disappeared recently, when a Hindu quaintly remarked : “The Christian preachers have taken away from the hearts of the people the fear of their native gods. People now rob the gods of their gold and silver jewellery, and the gods are afraid of being stolen themselves !” END of QUOTE
QUOTE What a marvellous schedule this Hindu writer furnishes of gradations of hierarchy, nobility, gentry, artisans, cultivators, labourers, slaves, and outcasts! END of QUOTE
QUOTE It is sometimes difficult to make the young truthful and honest in small things; but this is a defect observable in many Hindus, and it may be expected to take two or three generations to improve and establish their moral stamina END of QUOTE
QUOTE As a rule, the names of individuals among this hill tribe are not Hindu; they severally signify some peculiarity, as Kannan — “the eyed one; “Pottan — “the deaf one; “Thadian — “the fat one,” for men : and for females, Madura — “the sweet one; “Shangam, and also Ponna, “the golden one; “Chakra — “the sugar one.” Where the people are under the influence of the Nayars, there only we meet with names from the Shastras. END of QUOTE
QUOTE It has been observed that in cases of sickness sometimes Arayans will make offerings to a Hindu god, and that they attend the great feasts occasionally; but in no case do they believe that they are under any obligation to do so, their own spirits being considered fully equal to the Hindu gods. END of QUOTE
There is an information in the quote above that the lower castes were not actually coming under the Hindu domain. Actually there is a wider issue connected to this. Ambedkar, who was the Chairman of the Indian constituent assembly called for a mass move of the lower castes to Buddhism. However, before he could go forward, he died (!). In the new nation India many persons have died in similar momentous moments.
QUOTE but though their fights are sometimes desperate, the filthy language commonly used by Hindus is never heard. END of QUOTE
This really connects to another issue. The totally rough and uncouth language usages of Travancore. Words such as Pundachimon, Thayoli, Purimol, Kuthichimol, Ammaye Panni Thayoli, Pariyan &c. are common expletives and profanity in Travancore. Malabar language does not generally have equivalents. However, in current day English the equivalents of such words are in plenty, due to the barging into English by such populations.
QUOTE Sir W. Ouseley, in his “Oriental Collections,” says:- “A considerable difficulty is found in setting to music the Hindu ragas as, as our system does not supply notes or signs sufficiently expressive of the almost imperceptible elevations and depressions of the voice in these melodies, of which the time is broken and irregular, and the modulations frequent and very wild. END of QUOTE
QUOTE Many of the Hindu melodies possess the plaintive simplicity of the Scotch and Irish, and others a wild originality pleasing beyond description. END of QUOTE
QUOTE “It should, however, be borne in mind that the term Hindu Music is very indefinite. Each nationality of India has its own peculiar style of music. There is little similarity between the tunes of Bengal and Madras, and those sung by the Marathas are still different. END of QUOTE
QUOTE The Ragas, or musical modes of the Hindus, are stated amongst the Tamils and Malayalis as thirty-two in number, and each is supposed to have a peculiar expression capable of moving some particular sentiment or affection END of QUOTE
In the above quotes, even Music seems to have been given a religious identification. However, among the natives here, I do not think anyone speaks of Music in terms of Hindu Music. However, there is this Quote also from this book:
QUOTE “It should, however, be borne in mind that the term Hindu Music is very indefinite. Each nationality of India has its own peculiar style of music. There is little similarity between the tunes of Bengal and Madras, and those sung by the Marathas are still different.” END of QUOTE
QUOTE No people, in fact, are more susceptible of the charms of music than the Hindus: it is most encouraging and cheering to hear the Christian converts singing at family worship in their houses or at their work in the fields, or the dear little children in the schools, with bright eyes and glowing countenances, singing their sweet hymns of praise. END of QUOTE
There might be a slight mistake in this summarisation. The fact is that due to the highly feudal quality of the local vernaculars, music does give a minor chance for the highly suppressed individuals to feel a soaring of their spirits in a domain of freedom, which give a feel of mental exhilaration. This phenomenon has been amply used by all sorts of political groups including the highly feudal Communist parties.
The cadre who are kept as sort of mental slaves by the use of such words as Inhi (nee), eda, edi,Oan (avan), Oal (aval) &c. feel an emotional high as they sing songs with powerful words strings. Yet, none care to understand that their very shackles are embedded in their language. And they are held of leash by their own leaders.
QUOTE Hindu writers may not, as yet, be generally capable of reasoning or commenting accurately upon facts, or displaying them with impartiality and independence of judgment, for history never has been their forte. END of QUOTE
QUOTE ..that the European writers referred to in the volume before us, who have no personal interest in the discussion, and who are usually best able to reason upon the interesting facts supplied by native witnesses, and to form a broad and unbiassed opinion ab extra, and have also paid more attention to Hindu literature and ethnology than most of the natives themselves, END of QUOTE
Here again the various literatures in the various languages that exist and might have existed within and without the Indian peninsular region is given a religious identification. There is actually no need to connect a book to a religion. For example, the book by Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana cannot be mentioned as a Hindu book. In all probability almost 99.9% of the population of British- India never had an occasion to read this book till it was properly searched out and translated by the officials of the English East India Company.
QUOTE The boasted tolerance of Christianity in Travancore took its rise from a long series of circumstances, rather than from any deliberate policy on the part of the Hindu rulers; END of QUOTE
This geographical region had no history of tolerance, to, the adjective given anything. That is the truth. However to the ruler as ‘Hindu’ need not be an appropriate one.
QUOTE Educated Hindus frequently indulge in fine talk about moral obligations — the importance of solid worth as compared with mere gold and social rank — the value of knowledge, and the grand mission which educated men have to perform in the world END of QUOTE
The appropriate usage for the term ‘educated Hindus’ should have been ‘educated natives’. However, Mateer might have tried to make obvious the difference between educated persons who were not the converted Christians or the Muslims.
QUOTE “I have found,” writes Rev. I. H. Hacker, “in Hindus who have been educated in the Government Colleges, much courtesy and kindly feeling, but a feeling of scepticism with respect to nearly all forms of religion. END of QUOTE
Basically organised religion is not a spiritual enterprise. Rather it is a regimentation of human beings under the command of some particular command centre, command location, leadership or leader. Religion is just a tool for organising people. Especially in non-English social system. Mateer does not know how the communication structure is built in feudal languages. His total innate experience is from a planar language called English.
QUOTE The self-same questions and mysteries puzzle inquiring Hindus, and similar difficulties retard from faith as operate amongst ourselves — the origin of evil, END of QUOTE
QUOTE Educated Hindus are always delighted to converse with cultivated Europeans, and to form even intimate friendships with them, as far as the unsociable system of caste will allow. END of QUOTE
Here again the Mateer misses a larger perspective. Not Hindus, almost everywhere in Asian and African nations and in most European nations, people do like to be connected to the socially superior person. It is a relationship that will raise them up from the lower position that they innately are positioned in, in their feudal language systems. As to an affinity for the native English individual, it would be because he is from a planar language social system. However, if he were to go down to the depths of the feudal language codes of the Indian peninsular region, then he also would become repulsive. See the history of James Scurry.
A definition of pro-Christian book
However the greatest defect this book has is none of the above. The book is great and contains information which it is quite difficult to find in the books of many native ‘scholars’ of the Indian peninsular area. Yet, the fact remains that this book is a writing of a Christian Missionary. This stands as a dark shadow over the resounding quality of the book. Everything good in English, the English, England, Englanders, Britain and the British are framed as the quality of Christianity.
QUOTE When Mr. Mault went out he “could not find four Shanars able to read;” now the Christians themselves own and edit a newspaper in Tamil and English, and publish vernacular books. END of QUOTE
This is a very silly statement. For, with the advent of the English rule, everywhere common man whose ancestors had been mere dirt under the dirty feudal classes of the Indian peninsular are were now showing signs of enterprise. In the areas around Tellichery and Cannanore in the Malabar district, under the English administration even the lower caste Thiyyas were showing signs of great intellectual and social progress. However, they lacked a powerful religious or social organisation behind them which was capable of aggregating information from all over the world and from all over the peninsula for their benefit.
In fact, in the ultimate count, Christian religion was slowly changing into a particular mutant form in the peninsula. A new group which was for promoting the interests of their own membership against the interests of the vast number of others who were not within its domain.
QUOTE Throughout Travancore, these Christian churches, emblems of true religion and instruments of vast moral and social improvement, frequently occur. END of QUOTE
Which religion is true is a debatable point. All religions, the moment they stretch beyond the realm of individual spiritual aspirations, turn into powerful regimentations. However, in the case of English Christianity, due to the planar nature of the language, this effect wouldn’t come about. However, the Christianity that was to emerge in the peninsula was not English Christianity, but a very regimented, feudal quality vernacular language Christianity. This point never dawned in the mind of Matteer.
QUOTE Nagercoil was not long since the merest hamlet, connected with the “Snake Temple,” which gives its name to the place ; but having been adopted as the head- quarters of the London Mission in these parts, it is now a clean, well built, and increasing Christian town. END of QUOTE
Almost every place designed and maintained by the English did have superb looks and feel. Even Bombay, which is now for the majority people there, quite a civic nightmare, was once a very clean city with superb cleanliness and standards. People who went there used to come back speaking good English. Now, the reverse is the effect. English Christianity had the cosiness of English. Feudal language Christianity is feudal. Feudal language areas can also be neat. See the insides of the Indian army officer’s quarters. Or the townships in Tamilnadu. The road can have a clean look, yet there are areas where stink can be unbearable.
QUOTE Christian women, once forbidden by caste law to cover the person, now dress handsomely and well, and manufacture valuable pillow-lace. There are two English missionaries, one in charge of the English Seminary, a busy Press, several schools, including some for female education, END of QUOTE
Two English Missionaries? Well, it was two English individuals. In leadership. It is a grand management in which everyone in the lower ranks feel the liberation. This great feeling has nothing to do with Christianity.
QUOTE Already some Pulayars, under the operation of Christian teaching and guidance, have become admirable characters — gentle, honourable, devout, and loving; and probably they will display a very beautiful type of character when fully Christianised. END of QUOTE
It was a false hope. The lower caste Christians were in the earlier times viewed with disdain by the Syrian Christians, who themselves are not described in glowing terms in this book. They, in the mood of a new-found social freedom and with a common focus of leadership, spread out into the forests of Malabar and totally destroyed the forest areas when the British rule came to an end.
Animals were killed and devoured. Such animals as elephants were trapped into big holes and left to rot to death. And the lower castes and the tribal people who lived in these areas bore the brunt of their brutal assault. Even their womenfolk were absolutely violated, to the extent of their pedigree going into hybridisation. The quality law and order system which was a hallmark of English rule was not there to protect the forest wealth, the forest people or the forest animals.
QUOTE But some who have been converted to Christianity show wonderful and rapid improvement in moral character, civilisation, and diligence. END of QUOTE
It is doubtful that they showed exemplary qualities. When the English leadership was there, they would have tried to emulate the Englishmen. However, when the leadership came into the natives of the peninsula, there was no way that they could be different. If Hindu, Muslim or lower caste bureaucrats have been suppressive, corrupt and cunning, there is nothing on record to suggest that Christian bureaucrat were any different. Christianity did not make any difference. However, English rule did make a difference.
QUOTE Some of the priests now declare that it is in vain to curse Christians, or, as they call them, ‘the people that have books.’ Another lesson they have learnt is that Christianity is a civilizing and an elevating religion, and a good religion for this life generally END of QUOTE
Christianity was also a religion that was born in Asia. When it reached Europe, it did transform into the social structure of Europe. However, European Christians were never known to have been benevolent anywhere. Not even in the American continent. It was only the Englanders who really created a difference. However, England threw out traditional Christianity and developed their own brand version of Christianity, called the English Church.
Yet, Mateer misses this great difference, when he is in the Indian peninsula. In fact, he should have stressed this great difference, and invoked an apartheid on European Christians. Otherwise, there is no way for the natives of Travancore to understand that English Christianity had a difference.
QUOTE The hillmen despise the Pariahs and Puliahs, but they see that our converts from these castes have wonderfully improved since becoming Christians — some of them even to become superior to themselves. END of QUOTE
Basically there is a social code in English to improve others. In feudal languages, the code is to sneer, ridicule and jeer at others, who show of attempts to improve. When such Englishmen stands behind and give support, any population would improve, much beyond anything that can be imagined.
QUOTE There are now about 2000 Arayan Christians in congregations, situated chiefly north of Puniattu and around Mundakayam, all within a radius of thirty-six miles from Cottayam — an imperishable memorial of Henry Baker and his indefatigable labours. END of QUOTE
Basically what Henry Baker gave was not Christianity, but an experience in being under native-English teachers and leadership to the very lowly placed persons of the area. Currently this type of experience is available only to the very rich in India. For example, see this fees chart of the British school in New Delhi. Before the advent of the Crown rule in British-rule, the East India Company did interact directly with the lower classes to the exclusion of the higher classes in the Indian Peninsular region.
At this period, a minute percentage of the lower castes as well as the lower classes did get to experience the fabulous quality of English educational ambience. In other places like current day USA, Canada, Australia etc. the continental European migrants, the black slaves as well as the natives did get this experience. They all developed fabulously. However not even one of their descendants seem willing to acknowledge this. I have seen White folks in the USA claiming that USA’s pedigree is Roman. Such is the kind of indoctrination that the newer generations like to savour.
QUOTE They fear also to go to the Sirkar hospitals, which, indeed, are scarcely for the low castes. Very few have learnt to read, and those only in Christian schools. END of QUOTE
Even in Tellicherry the famous English educational institutions were Christian. However, England was a Christian nation. So all English endeavours get a Christian aura. However, it is not Christianity that gives the glow, but English. Vernacular Christianity is as feudal as vernacular Hinduism as well as Vernacular Islam.
QUOTE What a fine child yours is, “for they think people must be envious of them, and that saying such things will bring bad luck — the very opposite of the Christian sentiment, “I am quite well, thank God.” END of QUOTE
Basically this claim is false. Even in Continental Europe, the fear of the evil eye was there . However, English had a different code, by which there is no personal danger in complimenting or spurring others to greatness. In feudal languages, improving another person, especially a lower person, is quite a dangerous action. The other individual can improve from Avan to Adheham . While the person who lends the support might remain an Avan or go down from Adheham or Ayaal to Avan.
QUOTE So in Cottayam, the venerable Mrs. Baker, Senior, has for over sixty years been spared and privileged to educate generation after generation of girls in her valuable schools, and other ladies have laboured for various periods. END of QUOTE
Free British education. That is the truth. It is a great experience. But the greatness in this is not understood in England at the moment. The immigrant population over there want to teach the English kids the feudal languages, and slowly make them change into dirt.
QUOTE The native Christians educated by the Mission proved themselves of great service to the new industry, became overseers, confidential clerks, and managers, to European planters; END of QUOTE
There is a great information in this, which can be positive. However, this statement has a side which has been misinterpreted by the politicians, bureaucrats and rank idiot teaching classes of India. The positive side is that not only Christians, but everyone who learnt English more or less improved and existed beyond the powerful domain limits of the caste and class levels. However, the statement given by Mateer can easily be misinterpreted to: “English was taught to ‘Indians’ to make them slaves and clerks for the English rulers”.
This is the way Indian historians and education policymakers indoctrinate the new generations. They very carefully avoid the information that people who had lived like dirt were being given English language speaking capability by the English rulers. In a nation where even the Nairs (Sudras)were not allowed to even to listen to Vedic text readings.
[This last sentence should bring to the fore the question of what antiquity connecting to the Vedas is there for the majority populations of current day India]
QUOTE The Pulayars and Pariahs who have been Christianised are being educated by the Missionary Societies, towards the secular instruction supplied by whom grants-in-aid are made by the Sirkar, rather than admit these low-castes into their schools. END of QUOTE
It might be correct to say that the extremely lowest castes of the society were given a chance to improve by the English Missionaries. In British-India, the East India Company went for educating the population in a general manner without focusing on the caste levels.
QUOTE In spite of opposition and persecution, open or concealed, in spite of natural defects of character and evil habits long cherished, Christianity has done much for those who have embraced it in Travancore. They have risen, not slowly, but with marvellous rapidity, as soon as the unnatural incubus of their superstitions was removed, and the light of intelligence and religion shed upon their hearts and upon their path in life. END of QUOTE
The fact is that development doesn’t have to take generations to accomplish, even though that is the way the modern Indian governing class wishes to define development. Any lower caste man given a chance to interact in pristine English will immediately show rapid improvement within minutes . However, persons who have experiences such mental development rarely admit what gave them the improvement.
People who go to England suddenly understand that they, who back home couldn’t even address a lowly constable by his name with or without a Mr. prefixed, can speak as an equal to even a high official or person in the English society. It is an experience that is quite divine. However, most people who get to establish their roots in England, next endeavours to show off their superior capacities in comparison to English society and plan to conquer the place and the local population. The native English populations do not know the terrible triggers that are there in feudal languages.
QUOTE I saw the newly built house of a Christian, who was fifteen years ago a slave, and the whole of his property then did not exceed three rupees. Now his house itself is worth Rs. 1,000, and he has besides landed property and cattle worth more than Rs. 500. END of QUOTE
There is a wealth of information and caution in this sentence. The higher positioned persons in the Indian peninsular region as well as of the Indian nation are aware that the lower placed person is quite capable. Mateer and his other English compatriots are being foolish to imagine that this information is a new one. Every Indian householder knows that his or her servants have to be mentioned as dirt and made to sit on the ground or kept in some kind of social shackles. They have to be addressed as Nee, and referred to as aval, aval, avattakal, ayittingal &c. And the lower placed persons have to words and usages of ‘respect’ and homage to the householder. And when they do it, they go down to levels of humiliation and self-depreciation.
Actually there is this QUOTE from this book: When the Valans converse with high caste people, they must use the old terms of humiliation and self-depreciation. END of QUOTE.
The fact is that it is not just the Valans who have to use terms of humiliation and self-depreciation, but everyone who is lower positioned in feudal language social set up.
Even in Indian schools, especially the vernacular ones, the students are made to act out poses and postures of humiliation and self-depreciation. The students are addressed as Nee, and referred to as Avan (Oan), Aval (Oal), Avattakal, Ayittingal &c.
However, the moment the lower positioned persons are given a platform of elevation, they simply use the platform to use the suppressive words on the other side. Only the English people do not know the dangers of improving the suppressed classes. By this mighty gullibility their own nation is in the danger of being overwhelmed and the English native-speakers can even go into positions of subordination, unless someone with some sense comes to authority in England.