NATIVE LIFE IN TRAVANCORE
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
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
Relatives would use powerful word codes to insert a wedge into relationships. With no powerful statutory codes to enforce connubial rights, the relationship can falter fast.
QUOTE Much misery and heart-burning are caused to the victims of this social tyranny, the youngest sons of Brahmans being prohibited honourable marriage with persons of their own class, and forced to form illegitimate connections with strangers, and the larger proportion of Brahman women mercilessly doomed, notwithstanding the high estimation in which the Hindus hold marriage, to perpetual celibacy, with all its risks and privations.
Many of these females live and die unmarried : yet, strange to say, the corpse undergoes all the ceremonies of marriage. To prevent their falling into unchastity, they are closely shut up and guarded. 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
An evidence that the lower castes are not pure bred. They also have enough and more of higher castes bloodline. However, neither caste nor bloodline can give quality, other than superior positioning, in a feudal language social ambience. Otherwise the social ambience should be pristine English.
QUOTE 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
The word ‘prostitutions’ may be ill-fitting. It can damage the conceptualising of the social relationship. In the ultimate count, sex is an urge that is common. And to use acceptable social routes cannot be given dirty definitions. At that time, a comparison with Victorian age England would not be apt.
QUOTE Females who will not obey their karanavan and who apostatise to other religions, lose all right both to subsistence and inheritance from the family property END of QUOTE
This is ultimately the evidence that the Uncles (especially the Karanavar) can decide with whom the females can and should partner their bed. The power of the Karanavar has been heard mentioned in the case of the Thiyyas of North Malabar also. I do not think that this power centre was there among the Thiyyas of South Malabar, for they followed the Makkathaya system, similar to that of the Ezhavas of Travancore.
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
In the ultimate count it is like the police constables and peons revolting against the various privileges of the IPS officers. For what they concede to the higher ‘officers’, they demand and grab from the common man. They are part of a system. When the Brahmanical superiority vanished, along with that the various privileges of the Nair/Sudra classes also vanished.
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
This statement should not have been mentioned in this book. For, it is about the happening in Malabar district, which was under the direct rule of the English East India Company. All caste hierarchies and social repulsions which were the hallmark of Travancore had been wiped off the statutory codes by the English administrators. So, it was quite natural that the Nairs of Malabar did not see any logic in them conceding to the demands of the Brahmins, who had no more statutory social privilege. Sharing their wives with Brahmins in this new scenario would be like sharing them with nonentities. There is no thrill in this to anyone concerned. Not to the Uncles, or the husbands, and not at all to the females themselves.
QUOTE ...and introducing the blessings of marriage and family order into domestic life, where polyandry, concubinage, and immorality prevailed, and were recognised by caste law END of QUOTE Even though Rev. Matteer mentions this as a blessing brought by Christianity, the actual fact was that English education under East India Company administration had created much social change all over the subcontinent.
QUOTE The former salutation in Travancore was for a female to uncover the chest before a respectable man. END of QUOTE
Even though people think that this kind of ‘respecting’ is over, the fact is that it is still in vogue powerfully. When a common man is in the presence of such government officers like the peons, or other ‘officers’ like the police inspector or clerks, or tahsildars or IAS ‘officers’ &c., or rank idiots like the government schoolteachers, they have to unfold their mundu. If they are seated, they have to get up.
Otherwise, their inaction would be noted down and punishment meted out. If their file is being processed, it will move endlessly in a snail pace, till the common man’s patience wears out. There are other heavy action of ‘respect’ that are expected by the government officials, most of whom are actually fit only for menial work.
QUOTE Another serious evil arising out of the idea of caste pollution is that the covering of the bosom with clothing is forbidden, in order to the easy recognition and avoidance of the lower castes by their masters. This rule of going uncovered above the waist as a mark of respect to superiors is carried through all grades of society, except the Brahmans. The highest subject uncovers in the presence of the Sovereign, and His Highness also before his god Patmanabhan. This was also the form of salutation even from females to any respectable person. END of QUOTE
It is like that a police shipai (constable) has to be identified by the seniors. Apt words for You, He, Him, She, Her etc. has to be selected. In a feudal language social system, this kind of identifying ‘uniforms’ help. For instance, the thugges who are current day Motor Vehicle Department officials, want the commercial vehicle drivers to wear Khakhi, so that they can very easily designate them as the Avan, Nee, Eda group.
It helps the vehicle drivers also. For, it reserves their profession from being encroached by persons who may be of a mentality that cannot condone such addressing and social placement.
QUOTE ...if they hid themselves, as was natural, the women were caught, beaten, locked up, kept exposed to the sun and the pouring rain, and all sorts of indignities were inflicted. END of QUOTE
Even though there is no mention of women being unsafe in official custody, there is a hint of this issue mentioned in Travancore State Manual. See this quote from that book:
QUOTE: When a female petitioner comes before the district cutcherry, her complaint shall be heard and settled at once and on no account the road, while the lady moves all shrouded in cloth, with a mighty umbrella, which protects her from the gaze of profane eyes. At home they are simple in their habits, dressing, like Nair women, up to the waist. END of QUOTE
This is one of the terrible results of feudal languages. Females and others like younger persons have to move out of the proximity of their own base areas, if the lower placed persons are not ready to extend ‘respect’, their status would go to stinking levels. When the lower caste Ezhavas, and the converted to Christianity Pulayars, Parayans &c. feel that they are equals, what happens is that the upper castes persons do not arrive at equality, but literally below the lower castes.
Basically this is not a caste problem. In fact, I have had the occasion to understand that in Tellicherry area, where the English rule had emancipated a minor section of the lower caste Thiyya community to good quality English education, what really happened was that they were compelled to arrive in high official posts, or go down the feudal word codes to stink levels, under the uneducated in English others.
Even Thiyya females who had received good English education were quite fearful of being lowered by their own caste persons or lower castes or by the higher castes. This issue is currently creating problems in England also. In residential areas where people from feudal language nations like India cluster together for residential purposes, the native-English speaking populations flee the area. Even though they do not understand the feudal language of the others, the tremulous effect of lower indicant words is felt by them.
There is this quote also from this book QUOTE: Brahmans never attend these markets. When this liberty was given to the low castes, Sudra women and others refrained for a while from attending market, but they are now getting accustomed to the new state of things, though they hotly declare their dislike to it. “Since the Bible came here,”said one, “the slaves, and low-castes are allowed to walk near us on roads, and to approach us in the markets, and so pollute us. Better had a pestilence prevailed and swept those abominable people away.” END of QUOTE.
Basically the issue is something like this: Army “officers”’ wives are superior in indicant words in comparison to ordinary sepoy’s wife. The first is Aap, and the latter is Thoo. If equality is enforced, instead of the lower side improving to the higher levels, the officers’ wives are pulled down to Thoo levels by the Sepoy wives.
In fact, even the senior IAS and IPS officers stay inside the cabins, while the constables and peons roam around. If the ‘officers’ start roaming around and if the ordinary citizens cannot identify them, then they would be made equal to the peons. And it can even happen that the peons may use the lower indicant words to the ‘officers’.
Maintaining a cordon is a necessity in feudal language social systems. Neither Rev. Matter nor anyone else of the English administrators or writers seems to have understood the issue of feudal language codes present in the languages of the Indian peninsula.
QUOTE Sudra women commonly wear a large waist-cloth, and a thin muslin “upper-cloth” over the shoulders and chest; while most of the poor habitually go uncovered from the waist upwards, the upper-cloth being formerly, and, perhaps, by the letter of the law, still forbidden to them. END of QUOTE
Even the Nair females had to conform to subordination to the Brahmins. However, again it is only a part of the feudal language enforced uniform.
QUOTE If the customary presents be not given on those days, sometimes the women of the Sudra, barber, washerman, carpenter, and other concubinage castes, will forsake their men and go with others. END of QUOTE
This statement more or less denotes the utter frailty and fragility of the married life in this geographical area. This truth stands in direct contrast to the hyped claims of a very sacred marital relationship in this place. Most of the modern-day claims with regard to a great antiquity here is just figments of jingoistic imaginations.
QUOTE 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
There had been many stories of higher castes females being entrapped into the hands of lower caste males. There is no need to overemphasis that it would be quite a traumatic experience. Like a female IPS officer being kidnapped by constables and peons, and made to heed to the dictates in the lower indicant words like Nee, Edi, Aval, Avade, Kundi, Pooru etc. which are the words they use on the common people of this geographical area.
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
Every individual in this geographical are does indulge in boasting and in alluding to links to great houses in the past. That is required in feudal languages. It helps. And in the case of the lower castes, their claims can be true also. For, there is no more great individual qualities in the higher castes than what is there in the lower castes. All qualities in feudal languages is connected the status one gets in the word codes. It is easily seen that lower caste converted Christians were able to pass public service exams without any reservations. And many of them have become political leaders and ministers, even in the central government. Even though it is true that the Christian Church must have stood as a mighty pillar of backing for them.
QUOTE And what she most thinks of doing is to run to the house of some low people to hide herself, that her relations may not kill her as a remedy for what has happened, or sell her to some strangers, as they are accustomed to do.” END of QUOTE
Well, one needs to understand the emotions of ‘honour’ killing in feudal languages. An IAS officer’s daughter being seduced into marrying a peon in government service is a near example of this. Feudal language words cannot allow such a thing to happen. This incident would bring the peon’s son into the very dominate position of Uncle to many youngsters in the IAS officer’s household. They would react when a lowly guy addresses them as Nee, riding on his position as their uncle.
QUOTE ..the Wattacherry Syrian Christian family have four slave women, who had been married, but were compelled to separate from their husbands and to take others chosen for them by their masters.” END of QUOTE
Slavery that was there in the Indian subcontinent was the real slavery. The slavery in the US was just persons like this escaping into an English society and getting trained in English systems. Even now, Africans are trying hard to escape to English nations. Once they arrive there and get established, their next step would be to use the race card and to find fault with the native-English speakers. They have no remembrance of what was their real status and domain.
QUOTE Now we meet a group of women of all ages, followed by an attendant with towels, dry cloths, &c., evidently on their way to the large tank, where they will enjoy their morning bath in a corner by themselves, but quite in sight of men performing their ablutions. They are slightly clothed when in the water, and appear quite unconscious of any impropriety in choosing so public a place. It is sacred, near the great pagoda, and close to the holy stones, before which lights are burned every night. What place then could be better for holy women, they would argue. END of QUOTE
There would be much satiation that stands beyond the parameters of bathing and spiritual attributes, with both sides enjoying the irreverence that can be acted out in an affectation of coyness.
QUOTE Indeed, one of the first signs of having entered Travancore territory is the sight of half-nude Chogan females watering trees, or otherwise engaged on the banks of the backwaters. END of QUOTE
QUOTE Christian women, once forbidden by caste law to cover the person, now dress handsomely and well, END of QUOTE
QUOTE Polygamy is common, as men are not required to provide for the support of their wives. END of QUOTE
This is the truth about the antiquity of one lower caste that got converts into Christianity. Yet, even their present descendants claim a glorious and virtuous family system in this area.
Now let me speak about Slavery. It is generally believed that slavery was what took place in the USA. Actually what took place in the USA was not slavery, but a real liberation for populations that lived like stinking dirt under the various feudal lords of Africa. These lower classes were bought or snare or stolen by the Arab slave traders, who viewed them as mere higher level animals. They were sold to various geographical areas. Even people from the Indian Subcontinent may have been caught or bought and sold there. For there is this quote from this book:
QUOTE Even in later days instances of traffic in slaves have occurred. The Muhammadans found in large towns are ever ready to prey upon orphans and enslave them. Complaints are still made of slaves being taken from Northern India to Persia; and a Mussulman has quite recently been convicted of importing girls as slaves for Bhopal, and detaining them in Bombay against their will.
Some years ago, the Rev. H. Baker rescued a family of heathen Shinars from the hands of Muhammadan merchants, who would have carried them to Zanzibar, by paying Rs. 21 as their price. They had been sold by their parents; and after their rescue were educated and employed in various capacities. One girl of whom he knew was actually taken away to Zanzibar by a Muhammadan, who secured her in Travancore ostensibly as a wife, then sold her off in Zanzibar. Her release and return to her native country were procured by Dr. Kirk. END of QUOTE
‘Slaves’ in the US, speak English, and enjoy rights which they never would have even imagined in their own native places then. Yet, as they improve, their descendants would never have any gratitude to anyone. Now, what they want is compensation for the work their forefathers did as ‘slaves’. Their slavery is just a big joke.
Real slavery was in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere, where the lower castes were kept bound to the soil and made to work for generations. In the case of the US, within 75 years, the nation itself went to war to free the ‘slaves’ and let them loose, with no thoughts about what their cultural standards were. Naturally they improved.
However, one can really imagine the terror they must have created in a civilised society, which had given them the right to wear civilised clothing, sit on chairs, learn English, and address their master’s family members with a Mr., Mrs. or Miss. Prefixed. They were received into a society in which the language had no pejorative words for YOU, HE, SHE, HIS, HIM, HER, HERS &c. and not words like Chekkan, Cherkkan, Pennu, Avattakal, Oan, Avan, Oal, Aval, Avattakal, Aittingal etc. Yet, when the lower castes are let loose, they would have no qualms about using these same about the higher classes and castes. The despoiling effect and trauma would be more. Even to retort to a lower man who is disrespectful would be like touching abominable dirt, for the higher positioned man. That is how feudal languages are encoded.
See the quotes I am quotes pertaining to slaves from this book:
“Since the Bible came here,” said one, “the slaves, and low-castes are allowed to walk near us on roads, and to approach us in the markets, and so pollute us. Better had a pestilence prevailed and swept those abominable people away.”
There are two issues in this quote: The speaker is not aware that in the Malabar district of Madras Presidency, which was on the same seaside as Travancore, all statutory restrictions on the lower castes had automatically vanished with the advent of the English.
For, many of the restrictions had no written law that supported it. So the belief that it was the bible that has spurred this let-loosing of the lower castes was not actually correct. However that was the only way to understand it in Travancore where direct English supremacy had not been enforced.
Second was the issue of lower persons in a feudal language context being allowed to be free. It really had the affect of allowing the Indian constables, peons, clerks and such others the right to address the IAS, IPS and other seniors as equals. In a land where even the word Ningal \n§Ä was a profanity when used to such presumed ‘higher classes’, this type of let-loose had its own tragic sides. The softer higher classes would have to keep themselves in seclusion to avoid being connected powerfully to those who are maintained at the dirt level.
Actually in Tellicherry in North Malabar, when the English administrators allowed freedom for English education to all, it helped the Thiyyas. However, the higher castes generally kept away, to avoid the quality depreciation that would spread on to them when the Chekkan-Pennu ചെക്കൻ പെണ്ണ് classes became equals and thus superiors.
QUOTE: This opportunity was seized by some Muhammadans and others, to despoil the poor slavecastes of their fowls and other domestic animals, by telling them that the Sirkar was about to seize everything of the kind, and to exact a similar amount annually, so that they had better sell them off at once at any price than lose them altogether. The Sudras also sought to frighten them by the report that the Christians were to be carried off in ships to foreign parts, in which the missionaries and their native helpers would assist. END of QUOTE
Each higher class would stand as a bully of the classes lower to them, with snubbing, dirtying, numbing & dehumanising vernacular words. Using these, they would try to install fear and terror in those below them. And at the end of this endeavour, they would enjoy the hilarity of the scene in which the lower classes acted as fools and buffoons. This was the part of the actual culture of the place. It still continues, in a mutated form. And is being slowly exported to English nations also, wherein these people have established domicile.
QUOTE: What a marvellous schedule this Hindu writer furnishes of gradations of hierarchy, nobility, gentry, artisans, cultivators, labourers, slaves, and outcasts END of QUOTE
The term ‘Hindu writer’ may not be correct. And as to the hierarchy, in the geographical area mentioned, there were actually three different areas. The North Malabar, the South Malabar, and the Travancore (in close connection to the small principality Cochin), were totally disconnected culturally, geographically as well linguistically till the advent of the English rule. It is quite possible that if the English rulers had not made the mistake of thinking that the language of Malayalam was a common language throughout this place, the Malabar region would have developed as a separate state with a different language.
QUOTE: A few may be seen fairer and with well-formed features from some slight intermixture of Muhammadan, possibly even Sudra parentage, or high-caste females in former times condemned to slavery. END of QUOTE
Even among the Christian settler populations in Malabar most of whom are the descendents of the lower caste converts to Christianity, it is possible to see persons and families which are quite fair in skin complexion. It is quite possible that they do belong to the section mentioned in the quote above.
QUOTE: The work of the Pulayars lies almost exclusively in the rice fields — pumping them dry, making up the embankments, hedging, digging, manuring, ploughing, weeding, transplanting, and reaping.......................Men, women, and children work together at harvest and other times; but hard work does not continue throughout the year, only about six or eight months. Sometimes after a hard day’s work they have to cook their own food at night. Their master’s fields also must be guarded at night from the encroachments of cattle or the depredations of wild animals, when the slaves must remain in the fields and keep awake all night, shouting to frighten away the trespassing cattle, deer, wild boars, or elephants. END of QUOTE
People who have really being enslaved need to be imagined without the frill elements of indoctrinations. In the Indian subcontinent, slavery did not need any written codes. For the languages would hold them in slavery, along with the statutory supports it gets. In the US, even though slaves were brought, the moment the slaves learned English, there was no means to inform them that they were lower positioned persons.
QUOTE: Their enslaved condition also drove them to thievery. Serious crimes they have rarely committed, but are still addicted to petty robberies. Some kind masters were liberal, and permitted their slaves to take almost what they chose from their estates; but in general they were, no doubt, sorely tempted to theft by hunger and want. END of QUOTE
One need not come up with the idea that the lower positioned persons were better quality persons. They were just the same kind of people who populated this geographical area, but were suppressed by the others. When these lower positioned persons go up, they are just the same as their erstwhile suppressors. They suppress those who come under them. That is how the feudal language codes are encoded.
QUOTE: Even the degraded Pulayars have some excellent qualities. From lengthened and intimate acquaintance, we have found them just like other men — under the power of many evils engrained in them through longcontinued ignorance, superstition, and oppression, but simple hearted, grateful for kindness, deeply attached to those who show themselves their friends, and improving with marked rapidity under instruction. END of QUOTE
Here again Matteer is acting like a gullible person. In a feudal language society, even the master class knows that the lower positioned persons have intelligence and capacity. However to acknowledge it would be quite dangerous. For, if the lower classes go up, they would simply displace the earlier occupiers of the upper positions. In feudal languages, there is no position of equality. Either be up or go below.
As to them being kind, grateful and gracious, well, the fact is that in a feudal language, to acknowledged superiors, the persons who stand in the lower rungs are quite loyal and dedicated. It is an act of giving support, which gives them the right to occupy a lower position, which allows them to dominate others.
It is also a pose of pretension, in which they stand as loyal till the time comes when they feel that they can overtake their acknowledge superiors. In a feudal language, there is always the spur to overtake the upper classes. For everything is arranged in a ladder-like manner. The urge to climb, stepping over the higher class is over there.
These things are common knowledge to an upper class man in the Indian peninsular region. However, Rev. Matteer seems to have no knowledge of these rudimentary ideas. Actually it is this gullibility that has led to the gradual occupation of England by outsiders, who act simple and affable, but are programmed with a long-term aim of takeover of the nation.