NATIVE LIFE IN TRAVANCORE
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
See these QUOTES:
QUOTE: They imitate the Nayar custom of marriage, that is, a mere temporary union, technically called “presenting a cloth and living together.” END of QUOTE
QUOTE:............ by which relationship is traced obliquely, only through the female line, so that not one’s own but the sister’s children are regarded as the nearest heirs — can only be understood, and its origin investigated, by first examining the marriage and inheritance laws of the Malayalam Brahmans, or Namburis, and those of the Malayalam Sudras, or Nayars, both of which are inseparably connected and interdependent. END of QUOTE
QUOTE: The females of a wealthy Nayar family, especially where there is but one sister, are visited at their own homes by Brahman paramours, or by persons of their own caste; and their children are reared up in the same house, and inherit from their mothers’ brothers, as the fathers have nothing of their own to give them. END of QUOTE
QUOTE: Nayars, Ilavars, and others occasionally practise polyandry — that is, a woman will reside with two or more brothers who are unable or unwilling to support a wife for each, as concubine to all. END of QUOTE
QUOTE: But it is clear that they have endeavoured to make the Sudras not only in theory, but in fact, their social slaves, and wicked threats are used to some classes if they do not place their females at the disposal of the Brahmans. END of QUOTE
QUOTE: “Muttathus marry females of their own caste; but they only perform the customary ceremony, while Brahmans cohabit with them and beget children. Should men of their own caste dare to approach them, it is like incest with a mother — there is no atonement possible for them — and such progeny are sacrilegious !” END of QUOTE
QUOTE: Such loose customs respecting marriage are only suited to semicivilised races, whose ideas of the sacred bond have not risen much above that of the association of the lower animals. These usages are not far dissevered from promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, or free love. END of QUOTE
QUOTE: Friar Jordanus, who resided at Quilon, and wrote his description of the Wonders of the East some five centuries and a half ago, assigns as the reason for the nepotistic law the following : — “In this India, never do even the legitimate sons of great kings, or princes, or barons, inherit the goods of their parents, but only the sons of their sisters; for they say that they have no surety that those are their own sons; but ’tis not so with the sister, for whatever man may be the father, they are certain that the offspring is of their sister, and is consequently thus truly of their blood.” END of QUOTE
QUOTE: It will be evident, from the preceding remarks, that under the Marumakkathyam system of law there is a marked absence of the peculiar advantages and benefits of true marriage, and of family privileges which men highly and justly prize. Virtuous love and the noblest affections, parental rights and domestic order, the obligation to protect wife and children as the weakest party, the right of men and women to domestic felicity, all are more or less ignored; and this violation of the Divine law carries with it its own punishment, in the promotion of family dissension and of sensuality in various forms. END of QUOTE
QUOTE: The revolting system of polyandry is not rare among Sudras, Carpenters, Ilavars, and other Marumakkal castes,...........................Rarely is there ever felt such strong and elevated affection in these cases that the brothers quarrel, or are jealous about possession of the common partner;... END of QUOTE
QUOTE: I have known a fine Sudra youth bitterly lament that his own father, a Brahman, cared nothing for him; and, in fact, the father could not under any circumstances, eat with him, nor touch him without ceremonial pollution.
QUOTE: Indeed, there is no recognized form of marriage by which a Nayar man and woman could bind one another, even if they wished, for life. A poor man engaged as husband by a wealthy family may be sent off at a moment’s notice, without wife or child, beggared in the domestic charities as well as in purse : sometimes for failing to send a present on festival days, or on other trivial pretexts, he is discarded. END of QUOTE
QUOTE:.... the youngest sons of Brahmans being prohibited honourable marriage with persons of their own class, and forced to form illegitimate connections with strangers,... END of QUOTE
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
Now what is this great silver lining in this terribly dark information? The darkness is connected to fake claims of glorious family standards in Indian antiquity. It stands demolished. However the plus point for the Nair is quite obvious. That most of them do have solid Brahmin bloodline in them. If higher caste bloodline is what they aspire for, then what they have is the best.
However, there is a further extension to this. Just having a bloodline wouldn’t suffice. For, if a Brahmin child is brought up as a lower caste individual, in almost all cases, the child would be placed in the lower caste or class bracket and would have identifiable lower class inferiorities, on him or her, as imposed by the lower pejorative class indicant words. Chekkan ചെക്കൻ, Cherukkan ചെറുക്കൻ, Pennu പെണ്ണ്, Eda എടാ, Edi എടി and such words would do their intended despoiling and dehumanising effect on the Brahmin progeny born in lower caste circumstances.
The reverse would also be true. A lower caste child born and bred up as a higher caste or class individual would have divine aura of the higher class indicant words embedded in him or her.
There is the terrific tragedy of the higher caste females getting sold or given to lower caste males. As punishment for some seemingly great delinquency. There is the history the females in the household of the ettuvettill pillamar and the preceding king’s family being sold to the fishermen folks by Marthanda Varma. As punishment for their male folk conspiring against, and attacking him. See this QUOTE from Travancore State Manual:
QUOTE: Their women and children were to be sold to the fishermen of the coast as slaves. END of QUOTE.
To be slaves of Englishmen would have been like getting appointed as senior officials with ample freedom of articulation and rights. To be sold as slaves to lower positioned folks in the Indian subcontinent who would use the terrific lower indicant words would be equivalent to being pasted in stinking dirt.
When one thinks of such incidences, it would be quite apparent that among the socalled lowest castes of the place, there would be ample high caste bloodlines. See these quotes from this book:
QUOTE: Occasionally they do fall, and then are irrevocably expelled from family, friends, and society. In such case they must join the lower castes, to whom they were formerly sold as slaves and concubines, or go over to the Roman Catholic or Syrian Christians, uniting with some one in marriage. END of QUOTE
The history brahmanical bloodline entangling with lowest caste bloodline.
QUOTE: “The rajah might sell into slavery persons of various castes who had committed any crime “by which they lost caste, or were liable to capital punishment.” END of QUOTE
The lowest castes were slaves. Joining them, any caste individual turns into a lowest caste.
QUOTE: “If any woman of Nayar family should offend against the law of her sect, and the King know of it before her relations and brothers, he commands her to be taken and sold out of the kingdom to Moors or Christians, And if her male relations or sons know, of it first, they shut her up and kill her with dagger or spear wounds, saying that if they did not do so they would remain greatly dishonoured.” END of QUOTE
This is honour killing indeed. No English native will understand the powerful requirement to cut off all links to lower classes. The indicant words that connect uncles to nephews and nieces go into dirt level. No niece or nephew or their parents would be able to bear them being address as Nee, and referred to as Avan, Aval, eda, edi etc. by lower class persons who come into positions of uncles/aunts, by such links. It would be understood that it is better to kill the person who brings in such links.
QUOTE: The Pariahs in North Travancore formerly kidnapped females of high caste, whom they were said to treat afterwards in a brutal manner. Their custom was to turn robbers in the month of February, just after the ingathering of the harvest, when they were free from field work, and at the same time excited by demon worship, dancing, and drink.
They broke into the houses of Brahmans and Nayars, carrying away their children and property, in excuse for which they pretended motives of revenge rather than interest, urging a tradition that they were once a division of the Brahmans, but entrapped into a breach of caste rules by their enemies making them eat beef. These crimes were once committed almost with impunity in some parts, but have now disappeared. Once having lost caste, even by no fault of their own, restoration to home and friends is impossible to Hindus. END of QUOTE
This would stand as powerful testimony that the lower castes were not to be considered as hopelessly powerless persons. They had all the capacities that the higher castes had. But were kept in the lower positions due to the fear that if given a chance to outgrow their lower layers, they would overtake and takeover.
QUOTE: Only the other day, also, a bride was kidnapped on the way to Mundakayam by a strong party. END of QUOTE
Actually there was no law and order machinery in force anywhere in the subcontinent till the advent of the policing system set up by the East India Company. In fact, in the northern parts of the subcontinent, Thuggees ruled the main link roads.
QUOTE: The various castes met at fighting grounds at Pallam, Ochira, &c.; and at this season it was supposed that low-caste men were at liberty to seize high-caste women if they could manage it, and to retain them. ...........................A certain woman at Mundakayam, with fair Syrian features, is said to have been carried off thus. Hence arose a popular error that during the months of Kumbha and Meena (February and March), if a Pulayan meets a Sudra woman alone he may seize her, Unless she is accompanied by a Shanar boy. This time of year was called Pula pidi kalam, Gundert says that this time of terror was in “the month Karkadam (15th July to 15th August), during which high caste women may lose caste if a slave happen to throw a stone at them after sunset.” END of QUOTE
I have heard of a similar occurrence in the northern part of the Indian peninsula in the Muslim ruled areas. It was known as Nauroz. Nine days of festivity, during which it was mentioned that the lords would take off with any female they fancied with no repercussion. However, now I cant find any mention of this, online. I do not know if what I heard was without any historical mention.
Sexual morality and marriage
Now, we go into the sexual and marriage systems of the place. Generally the modern people here boast of a great and moral married life in this area, which got spoiled by the coming of the Westerners (meaning the Englanders). However, the fact is that England of those times had great moral standards. It was known as the Victorian Age.
However, English social standards have come down. One of the most prominent reasons was the embedding of the Black slaves into the US English society without framing any barriers to the entry of African native social systems. Categorising the negro slaves as equals without clearly codifying the areas where they do have shortcoming in terms of social standards, more or less eroded the total social moral standards.
Another attack on this very same social system in the USA came from the populations of Continental Europe who also entered the society. Even though they were the exact opposite of the English speaking race, their white colour skins more or less camouflaged the difference, and made the exact English standards lose its platform.
The entry of the Asian and South American feudal languages speakers also into America more or less added to the problem.
The disintegration of quality was to spread out to all English nations.
Now let us see the exact sexual codes of Travancore as mentioned in this book. Most of what Rev. Matteer mentioned is authenticated by other books like the Travancore State Manual. There is a lot of hype about the great social systems in ‘India’. Since this book deals only with Travancore, let us look at that area only.
Every higher caste had family sexual and sleeping-with-males codes, which if looked from modern day standards would seem quite unacceptable. In so much that the people are taught in the school and colleges, and also indoctrinated by the media, the place has an highly desirable antiquity. It is not the truth.
Brahmin females couldn’t be allowed to come out the agrahams and other residential areas. Even though it is mentioned that they were being protected from the profane glances of the lower castes, the larger issue is much more tragic. If the lower caste males get a chance to view them, look at them, glance at their body features, grip the eyes in their eyes etc., the Thamburatti, Oar/Avar etc. would simply go down to Oal Hmfv or Aval.
In the aval state, not only profane glances, but even profane thoughts would radiate quite fast. It would like a group of male police constables getting a chance to view the nudity of a female IPS officer. The whole hierarchy of command and discipline would melt in the drooling smiles of the constables.
In a way, the same is the case of nudity of native-English females being viewed and enjoyed by the various feudal language speaking populations of Asia, Africa, South America and even of certain European nations. There is an indignity that is enwrapping that cannot be explained in planar languages like English. Oar or Avar immediately metamorphosis into Oal or Aval. The tragedy is that the Brahmin females and their kinfolk are trying to save themselves from this. However, Rev. Matteer totally misses this reason.
As to the Brahmin males, only the elder can marry. The others have to encroach into the Nairs (Sudras) households, and sleep with the females there. Even though the system might look quite entertaining, the insecurity of not having a real base, and the need to continually seek newer pastures would be a tiresome botheration.
The Nair household would love the patronage of the higher castes. However, among the Brahmins also there would be competition to get entry into a particular household and have fornication with a particular female. She has to allow it. Naturally her uncles or grand uncle (Karanavar) would have to force her, if she doesn’t allow. There is also the issue of her being the love of someone else. Even though, she might like the sex with a superior caste person, who comes occasionally, her lover would have to bear the pangs of someone else getting the repast.
As to the lower castes such as the Shanars, Ezhava, Chovvan etc. mentioned in this book, it is only natural to believe that their females, who generally are workers for the higher castes, would be seduced by the higher castes. The feudal languages act as real aphrodisiacs. In that, feudal power and glow is in the hands of the superior castes males. The females would find their own males as mere ‘Cherukkan and such things, while the superior males as Thamburan &c. Naturally, the hallo is with the superior caste male. Seduction is easy. In fact, the Kama Sutra by Vatsayan does mention the means of seducing females who are employees, by their feudal master class.
The seduction of a superior castes female from the Sudra (Nair) caste by a lower caste man might have been difficult due to the dirt associated with lower castes, in language codes. In fact, the chance to fornicate a superior caste female attained by a lower caste person would despoil her, in more ways than can be imagined in English. She would go down to Aval and she might be addressed as Nee. Once this happens, there is no more ‘higher caste attributes’ in her. Once this become known, she has to be ousted from the household. It is like an IAS or IPS female officer have been fornicated by an office peon or police constable.
In the case of the Brahman females, most of them wouldn’t get to experience sex. And live lives which are more or less life imprisonment in their house or in their agraharam. Even though they are the adored and ‘respected’ personages in the social system, at an intimate level they are also just females with the same sexual desires. At times, in some secluded area or occasion, the lower caste, if not the higher caste, males would get to seduce the female, in some mood of sexual frenzy. That is the social death of the female.
For the lower castes (not all of them) are not of a very refined character, and might be very crude. They would publicise the fact of the sexual fact to their intimate circles. The reverence in the word codes would vaporise. I do not know what would be the exact Malayalam words used in those times. However, generally Malayalam (Travancore language) was much more crude at the profanity levels than Malabar language (Malabari).
During my college days, the broadcasting of the fornication would be such sentences:
Avale njan panni. Kuthichimole njan panni. Polayadi mole njan panni (അവളെ ഞാൻ പണ്ണി, കൂത്തിച്ചിമോളെ ഞാൻ പണ്ണി, പൊലയാടിമോളെ ഞാൻ പണ്ണി) &c. Other body feature descriptions like Avalude Kundi അവളുടെ കുണ്ടി, Avalude Mula അവളുടെ മുല, Avalude pooru അവളുടെ പൂറ് etc. would be the standard words.
These words do have a terrific pasting dirt effect when in combination with the feudal codes of Malayalam. The female’s total dignity vanishes and she stands denudes by the lowest of the social system. The words have a dehumanising effect. In current day times, the effect can be understood if the same is extrapolated to an IAS officer female and a peon relationship scenario. If the respect is lost, then the former is just an Aval, and her body features just like what I have mentioned.
Now see the various quotes from this book.
QUOTE They imitate the Nayar custom of marriage, that is, a mere temporary union, technically called “presenting a cloth and living together.” END of QUOTE
Nair marriage was a mere temporary union! The situation of the other castes were also not much better.
QUOTE Re-marriage of widows is conducted in the early morning before daylight, as a somewhat shameful thing. Hence the possibility of such a fraud as was committed by a priest about ten years ago, who substituted a niece of his own, a young widow with several children, instead of the bride promised to a certain man. END of QUOTE
This incident seems quite modern.
QUOTE They never intermarry with converts from inferior castes. END of QUOTE
It took a long time for the various lower castes Christians of various domains to accept each other as human beings. However, distance made by time to their real ancestral castes helped.
QUOTE Hindu marriage is monogamous; but Namburi Brahmans practise polygamy up to the number of seven wives; and Nayars, Ilavars, and others occasionally practise polyandry — that is, a woman will reside with two or more brothers who are unable or unwilling to support a wife for each, as concubine to all. END of QUOTE
Polyandry though quite rare, was also possible. The stability of polyandry relationship could point to the power in the hierarchical relationship inside the family. Polyandry might have a wider social canvas, as it is seen mentioned in the Mahabharatha, as practised by the Pandava Princes.
QUOTE Rev. J. Abbs, in his “Twenty-two Years in Travancore,” gives the following narrative, related to him by a Sudran, which well illustrates the subject in hand : — “Being a tall, handsome man of respectable family, although poor, I was engaged several years ago by two rich men of my own caste to be the husband of their sister. As they did not wish to give me a dowry, or to let their sister leave them, it was agreed that I should have a monthly allowance, go whenever I pleased to see my wife, and when at the house of her brothers, eat in common with the males of the family. This I expected would be permanent. But a few days ago, when I went to the house, I was told by the elder brother that I could not be admitted, as another husband had been chosen for his sister. Her brothers have taken the two children to train them up as the heirs of the family property.” END of QUOTE
The power of the wife’s brothers and uncles in matriarchal family system is great.
QUOTE The person who ‘married’ the mother is called by the children ‘appan’ the actual father ‘achan’ END of QUOTE
This might actually be news for most people now.
QUOTE It is not now usual for a woman to enter into such concubinage with several men at one time, except she resides with several who are brothers. Nor can she ever associate with a man of lower caste. In no case can an inferior male have intercourse with a female of superior class. END of QUOTE
Conceding to the superior personages is not a stigmatising experience in feudal languages. However, to be dominated by the lower castes can be equivalent to an officer being dominated by the office peon or menial worker. I did find a very strange naming system among the Nairs in the Travancore. That of adding the word Amma A½ to Nair girls’ names. Like ParuAmma, SarasAmma, SavitriAmma. In many ways, this might have been done to escape the issue of them being addressed by mere name by the emerging lower castes, starting from the Ezhava downwards.
I find it quite strange that the Nairs females of North Malabar do not seem to have used this cloak of protection. As to South Malabar, I have no information.
QUOTE The females of a wealthy Nayar family, especially where there is but one sister, are visited at their own homes by Brahman paramours, or by persons of their own caste; and their children are reared up in the same house, and inherit from their mothers’ brothers, as the fathers have nothing of their own to give them. Females of poorer and less fashionable families go to reside with partners of their own caste, so long as they agree together, or permanently : the average duration of such unions happily is increasing through the spread of civilisation and enlightenment. END of QUOTE
In spite of it seeming to be a free for all, the actual fact would be that sharing of females or partnering with males might have been routed through very strong pathways, that might include various social parameters, like linage on both family sides.
QUOTE But it is clear that they have endeavoured to make the Sudras not only in theory, but in fact, their social slaves, and wicked threats are used to some classes if they do not place their females at the disposal of the Brahmans. END of QUOTE
It might not be correct to understand that the whole social design of Brahmins having the right to over Nair females was a Brahmin conspiracy. Social systems are usually designed and created by the codes in the languages, along with the location of certain power centres inside the society. Even though it might look like a deliberate fraud, various social machineries work spontaneously and automatically to create powerful social codes. Most of the Brahmins had no means of getting sexual relationship otherwise. For their own family codes disallowed them from marrying. The Sudras (Nairs) depended on their proximity to the Brahmins to retain their superiority over the other castes. In most cases, it might have been a give and take system.
QUOTE “Muttathus marry females of their own caste; but they only perform the customary ceremony, while Brahmans cohabit with them and beget children. Should men of their own caste dare to approach them, it is like incest with a mother — there is no atonement possible for them — and such progeny are sacrilegious !” END of QUOTE
Incest had a more wider ambit then.
QUOTE Dr. W. W. Hunter remarks that the Brahmans throughout India are of two classes — more ancient settlers, and aboriginal superior natives raised, as tradition generally asserts, to this rank. The Namburis, for example, are said to originate from fishermen : they follow different customs from the orthodox caste, allow only the eldest male to marry, practise polygamy, and their ideas of marriage closely resemble those of the aboriginal Nayars. But in spite of their descent from a low caste fisher-tribe and semi-aboriginal customs, they make high claims, and despise other Brahmans. (“Orissa,” vol. i. p. 254.) END of QUOTE
Inside the superior castes also there would have been various kinds of repulsions, claims, refutations and such things. When one group claims some superior attributes, some other superior to them groups might be able to holes in their claims.
QUOTE Virtuous love and the noblest affections, parental rights and domestic order, the obligation to protect wife and children as the weakest party, the right of men and women to domestic felicity, all are more or less ignored; END of QUOTE
This summarisation stands in direct contrast to what Kerala and Indian jingoists claim about their antiquity. However, it is openly admitted that only during the times of King Mahabali did the people here speak honestly. After the periods, all claims were false, and all contentions, lies.
QUOTE Rarely is there ever felt such strong and elevated affection in these cases that the brothers quarrel, or are jealous about possession of the common partner; on the contrary, we have known an elder brother offended because the younger, on becoming a Christian, very properly took a wife to himself. END of QUOTE
It definitely was a far cry from the modern concept of married life, in which one reposes one’s faith in the loyalty of one devoted partner.
QUOTE I have known a fine Sudra youth bitterly lament that his own father, a Brahman, cared nothing for him; and, in fact, the father could not under any circumstances, eat with him, nor touch him without ceremonial pollution. END of QUOTE
The issue of ceremonial pollution has not been correctly understood by Rev. Matteer. Leave alone touching, just a mere calling by name, or addressing by name of a superior caste person by a lower caste person can reduce him to dirt and stink. In current day situations, it can be compared to an ordinary person going to a police station and addressing the police Inspector by his name with or without a ‘Mr.’ prefixed. In most probability, the common man who did this misdemeanour would be beaten to a pulp, either by the Inspector, or by the constables. Rev. Matteer had not much means to understand the tremulous codes that entangle and gnaw at the mind and mentality of the people who speak feudal languages.
Another example would be a peon addressing an IPS officer by his name, or a peon attempting to shake hands of an IAS officer. The latter would feel the distaste and repulsion, and a very much feel-able draining of energy. Especially if this scene is observed by others.