top of page
NATIVE LIFE IN TRAVANCORE
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
Commentary by
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
VED.jpg
NativeAnchor

QUOTE: The inhabitants are chiefly Muhammadan and Christian, and low caste Hindus, the Brahmans always residing in separate and secluded hamlets called Agraharams. END of QUOTE


The Brahmin females, like the IAS officials, cannot come out unless there are people to ‘respect’ them. A mere reference as ‘Aval' by a dirt level person, can bring them down. In a way, the dress codes in the society were to identify the social levels, so that proper respect can be assured. For instance, if an IPS ‘officer’ female is mistaken for a female constable, it can be of grievous problems. The tragedy can even lead to the suicide of the ‘officer’. Feudal languages are of such terrible stuff.


During English rule times, IP officers (predecessors of current day IPS) used to go for inspections in various police establishments including constable quarters without pre-warning. Now, if an officer has to do such a thing, there should be a team of constables ready for a very resounding welcome salute. Otherwise, the entry of the ‘officer’ might not evoke the necessary ‘respect’.


QUOTE: Indeed, one of the first signs of having entered Travancore territory is the sight of half-nude Chogan females watering trees, END of QUOTE


What a wonderful landmark! QUOTE: The Brahman women are always nicely dressed. The inelegant but decent dress of the Roman Catholic fisher-women appears to be the result of a curious compromise between barbarous laws and female modesty-they cover the bosom straight across with a cloth which runs under each arm END of QUOTE


QUOTE: Christian women, once forbidden by caste law to cover the person, now dress handsomely and well, END of QUOTE


It is just because of their information that they do not have superiors in their hierarchy. However, that would not be perfectly true, for within a short time, the Christian Church also became totally vernacular. Qualitywise it slowly transformed into a Christian version of local feudal content.


QUOTE: To attempt to arrange the castes in the order of social precedence and respectability would, in the face of caste quarrels and jealousies, be as difficult as to draw up an exact lineal natural classification of all the species of plants ; and its accuracy would be disputed by all but those at the head of the list. END of QUOTE


There is truth in this. For, there are castes that do not allow the superiority of certain other caste. And there are instance of repulsion mentioned when certain castes claim sameness. For instance, the claim of the Ezhavas that the Thiyyas of Malabar are Ezhavas, was traditionally vehemently opposed by the Thiyyas of North Malabar. However, the other side wouldn’t let go.


QUOTE: The Ilayathus are said to have once been Namburis and degraded in caste for the crime of having informed a Sudra what rites should be performed in favour of his deceased ancestors END of QUOTE


Revealing or sharing knowledge with others and that to people of the lower grade competing for superiority is a foolish thing in feudal languages. However, in recent years it has become clear that England also was quite foolish in giving knowledge and English to everyone all around the world. For once they cut their connection with England and went under their own feudal native leaderships, their aim was for competing and defeating England. No one seems to remember their benefactors.


Even the Christains of Kerala have no such concern. In fact, books like this one which reveals who their forefathers were developed from dirt level slavishness to higher civic standards would be seen as totally unacceptable. In fact, there is not much mention of all this in the Christian websites of Kerala of these information. In Wikipedia, there is an active professional group whitewashing all information that are too are not to be revealed. This is not only for the Christian groups, but for the Hindu groups also.


QUOTE: “I consider the black, low caste races of Southern India not Turanians or immigrants of any sort, but aborigines like the negroid aborigines of the Eastern Islands and Australia.” END of QUOTE


Basically the language codes do have powerful effect on human being looks and physical design. In feudal languages, the level or location of the individual in the virtual arena as per the language codes has great effect on his looks and stature.


Native-English speakers have not been able to imagine languages which have powerful design affects on a human being. For English is a very planar languages, and its speakers cannot understand the effect of indicant codes. For instance, what is the effect on a human being, on being variously addressed as Nee, Ningal, Thaangal/ Saar by persons of varying social levels. That is, is there is an effect difference in being addressed as Nee by an IAS officer and then by his menial worker also? These are code level questions which cannot be even imagined by speakers of planar languages.


QUOTE: “The Pulayar Christians are earnest in learning to read, and in giving contributions for benevolent objects. Their desire to learn and repeat their lessons is remarkable, and they complain if instruction is not duly supplied to them. END of QUOTE


I have found that even a totally uneducated youngster can be made to be good in English if the right guidance is given. However, in local vernacular society, the natural tendency is to mislead a person from improving.


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


Basically the lowest persons are more loyal to those whom they perceive as superior. However to those they do not perceive as superior, they can be competitive.


QUOTE: The hillmen will not eat with Shanars or Ilavars, or still lower castes, but will take food cooked by Sudras. They do not eat the wild ox or buffalo, nor the grey or Hanuman monkey, but only the black species. END of QUOTE


There have been groups inside the forest areas who do have a pride of superiority. However, after the departure of the English rule, the state and central police shipai level constables and forest guards, enter the forests and use lower indicant words like Nee, Eda, Edi to them. They generally move inwards. There are places inside Kerala forests where the forest folks do not allow Indians to enter. More or less fearing degrading words and usages from the Indians, who would treat them like dirt.


QUOTE: Though reckoned amongst the low castes in the Census and in vernacular works, the Kanikars are somewhat superior in several respects, and are by no means regarded with the abhorrence felt towards the Pulayars and others.


When governmental records define a population as low castes, it becomes quite defining. Now, a huge section of the population are defined as BPL


QUOTE: Though rude, hardy, and courageous, they are inoffensive, and are regarded as somewhat truthful, honest, chaste, and hospitable. Men may stay in their villages as long as they like, but must be very reserved and careful respecting the women. END of QUOTE

In stable family life, what can disturb its stability is the use of lower indicant words of dominance by rank outsiders. It more or less means an encroachment inside the system and a route of control.


QUOTE: The people that live nearest the abodes of the Kanikars are Pariahs ]db·mcpw and Puliahs ]peb·mcpw, our converts from these castes, and their Sudra masters. The hillmen despise the Pariahs and Puliahs, but they see that our converts from these castes have wonderfully improved since becoming Christians END of QUOTE


It is possible that any united group of population under a focused leadership can be powerful and a threat to other unorganised populations.

QUOTE: Sudras do not deem themselves polluted by contact with these respectable and independent people, while they keep Chogans at a distance for fear of defilement The Chogans, however, consider themselves superior to the Arayans. The more degraded Malei Arasars in the south, who speak Tamil, are not allowed by them to be of the same race. END of QUOTE


Each group can find despicable elements in other groups, which in most cases might be true. However to mention these things in England would be ‘racist’.


QUOTE: Nayars often deprecate in no measured terms prognostics of evil uttered by a hill-man, without reference to his caste or tribe. Doubtless the defenceless low castes have found it tend to shield them from worse oppression to make pretensions to spiritual powers of this kind. END of QUOTE


To find some defences against degradation using lower indicant words is not usually possible. However some reputation of having possession of voodoo powers might help.


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


This quote more or less discredits the idea that all indigenous peoples of the subcontinent are from a religion called Hindu. In fact, it would be quite difficult find out what this religion is. For, there are so many religious practises here, which can be generally termed as Shamanism. Is Shamanism also a part of Hinduism? If so, Hinduism is not the religion of the Indian Subcontinent. Instead the Hinduism in the subcontinent is just a small part of a global religion, spreading across Central Asia, Africa, Australia and South America.

QUOTE: but though their fights are sometimes desperate, the filthy language commonly used by Hindus is never heard. END of QUOTE


It is not the Hindu language that is filthy, but the language of Travancore. Actually in terms of profanity, the Malabar languages come much behind Malayalam. In Malabar language (Malabari), the greatest profanity was Nayinte Mon നായിന്റെമോൻ. However, in Malayalam, there is a whole array of terrible sounding profanities. The Malabar language profanity Nayinte Mon is not there in Malayalam. It should have been Pattiyude Mon. But it is not there. Instead, the profanities in Malayalam are: Thayolimon തായോളിമോൻ, Pundachimon പുണ്ടച്ചിമോൻ, Kuthichimol കൂത്തിച്ചിമോൾ, Pariyan പറിയൻ, Kunnanakki കുണ്ണനക്കി, Oombatheda Thayoli ഊമ്പെടാ തായോളി etc. Most of these words cannot be understood in Malabari.


QUOTE: men being seized by the officials to carry cardamoms from the hills to the boats without pay; and 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


The officials would say that they have no other option. Just like the modern police officers in India. They say that beating up the suspects to a pulp is the only way to find out the truth. They have no other way.


QUOTE: The inquirers were beaten by some of the Rajah’s servants, made to stand in water up to their very necks “in order to wash Christianity out of them;” kept in stocks for days, chillies rubbed in their eyes, and their heads tied up in bags and in loosened head cloths filled with the large black ground-ants and red tree-ants. END of QUOTE


Basically it is not Christianity that was being removed. But the link to another leadership. There is no need to understand that the lower castes joined Christianity due to an spiritual reason. What prompted them to join was the freedom that had come their way, and the close proximity to English Missionaries.


QUOTE: The Christians still suffer persecution from rich Muhammadans and Nayars in the neighbourhood, who fear the loss of their gains if the hillmen are taught to read, and from the Sirkar’s underlings, who try to obtain money on false pretences. END of QUOTE


Again it is an issue of lower classes becoming intelligent, beyond their levels. Even in Indian schools, children who show too much individuality are terribly punished by the teacher folks. They want children who are ‘respectful’ and not children who seem to have a superiority beyond their age and stature levels.

QUOTE: or the caste-men decide what is fair for her support; and the husband’s heir takes the remainder END of QUOTE


This idea of caste-men deciding is actually a very regimenting code. They would not allow anything that would give her more independence than is absolutely necessary. For, they know that if she is allowed more capacities, she would become uncontrollable. It is basically the fear that runs top to bottom of a feudal language social system.


QUOTE: But Kumaraswami, they say, married one wife of the Kuravan, and another of the Pariah caste. He is, therefore, supposed to have lost caste, and is not allowed entrance into the pagoda of Patmanabhan, but made to reside in a temple outside the fort, called Ariya Chaley, and taken for the Puja Eduppu to a Mandapam, or Stone Pillared Hall at Pujapura, in the suburbs of Trevandrum. They also say that his two wives are on bad terms with one another, and ready to proceed to blows. Yet Kuravars, and other low castes, are driven out of the road on the procession day lest they should pollute the god who married into their castes END of QUOTE


Basically the reality that marrying into a lower group is like a millstone on the neck. It pulls a person down, by the weight of the indicant word equality with the lower groups. For instance, if an IPS officer marries a Indian constable’s daughter, her father can literally address the IPS officer as Nee നീ, and refer to him as Avan അവൻ. These are issues of which the English speakers do not have any idea about. Actually to speak to them about this problem is like speaking about something that does not exist in the world. Here, the god is being protected from the equalisation that leads to subordination to the Kuravans.

QUOTE: Even the poor Pulayars come out in clean or yellow-stained cloths, but have great difficulty in getting along without touching any others in the crowd, where the roads are narrow and enclosed with walls on either side. END of QUOTE


Naturally, in the melee they wouldn’t care to keep their hands of the other folks, male as well as female. It would be basically not a free social liberation that is being acted out.


QUOTE: The Mussulmans are divided into two classes, whom they call merchants and marakkans or Lubbays — the last inferior. These two do not intermarry, but they attend the mosque together, and are buried alike, close by the mosque..... They are probably pure native proselytes from the Mukkuvar and other castes. None however, have recently been converted to Islam here. END of QUOTE


Muslims also bear the same codes of the region. That of repulsion to others deemed inferior. Yet, it must be admitted that the codes of repulsion can be discerned if one can observe what it is that repulses. The mood of Rev. Matteer to see such emotions as mere traditional inputs might be wrong. Even now the same codes of repulsion are there in all classes in the local society.


QUOTE: They never intermarry with converts from inferior castes. END of QUOTE


In current days, this might not matter. However, I have heard of certain Christian Churches disallowing marriage into other Christian groups. Basically it is an issue of leadership loosing followers. Rev. Matter in the typical gullibility that has haunted the English races, ponders on social issue from an English mental framework. There are more complications in feudal language social systems, than what the English language can even define with its entire vocabulary.


QUOTE: Caste rules are observed by them towards their inferiors, and applied to them by Sudras and Brahmans. END of QUOTE


Basically Christanity was only a tool for their escape to a higher social platform. The spiritual passions were only secondary.


QUOTE: 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


It is part of the social hierarchy. A lower placed male cannot try to marry a higher placed female. Feudal language words would play the spoilsport, unless the male is able to redeem himself by cutting off from his social level and place himself at a higher platform. However, in recent times, in Kerala, with the national fraud called Currency exchange rate difference, being used by the foreign earners, many lower stature males who are in lowly jobs in the Middle East, get to find themselves quite rich back home in Kerala. They marry above their local levels. Some of them improve themselves much beyond their traditional stature. Due to the continuous use of the currency exchange value fraud, and by the local support of his wife’s family.


QUOTE: 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 semiaboriginal customs, they make high claims, and despise other Brahmans. (“Orissa,” vol. i. p. 254.) END of QUOTE


This bit of information would be disliked by Nambudhiris. In fact, in this land, everyone has to boast. Not just the Namabudhiris. It helps in finding a higher indicant word attached.


QUOTE: and only incessant training from infancy would enable one to understand the manners, mode of speech, and of acting in the most minute particulars, and on all occasions, great or small, appropriate to, and required of each caste. Even the most uncivilised and barbarous have their own code of etiquette to which they punctiliously and unswervingly adhere. END of QUOTE


It is not quite difficult. It is just like a student in a vernacular school. He or she would spontaneously learn who are teachers and who menial servants are. To be treated with snub words by the teachers is acceptable. To be treated with snub, degrading words by the menial workers may be distressing, depending on the student’s own family background. For instance, a senior government official’s son or daughter may not like being addressed as Nee or Inhi by a road cleaner or bus cleaner. In fact, if they can, they would use these words on the toilet and other menial workers.


QUOTE: In former times, caste regulations required lowcaste females to carry the waterpot only on the head, not on the hip or side, as in the illustration. Wells belonging to Brahmans and other high castes are not open to those of inferior caste. END of QUOTE

The reason for Indian female workers carrying heavy objects on their head seems to have a social code reason.


QUOTE: Very recently, at a school examination, a Bible woman who would have been classed as low-caste according to the Hindu system, brought with her about forty caste girls, whom she teaches in their houses, all respectable and well dressed, but diligently learning, and willing to sit down amongst Christian and low-caste children. Such a thing had never been seen there before. END of QUOTE


There is an actually a duplicity in the issue. Being a teacher is the shortest method to attain ‘respect’ in this land. Every one, even the persons with the lowest intellect aims to become a teacher. For, he or she immediately gets a suffix tag. That of Saar സാറ് in Malabar language, it is Mash മാഷ്, or a Teacher. This would improve everything about him or her.


Avan അവൻ and Aval അവൾ would change into Adheham അദ്ദേഹം and Avar അവർ. Yet, placing children under low social standard persons more or less brings them into the lower Nee, Ada, Edi, Aval, Avan levels below low class persons. It is for this very reason that the higher castes rarely allowed their children to learn carpentry, even though a traditional carpenters talent and skills may have been much higher than a formally educated engineer.


QUOTE: In Travancore and South India, the Vina is the instrument which is learnt by ladies of high caste in the seclusion of their zenanas, and some of them play very prettily on it, accompanying their voices in songs. END of QUOTE


There tragedy and pathos in this information. The higher caste females had not much area to go out other than their own ground. For allowing themselves to be in the profane eyesight of the lower castes would really bring their stature down, to lower indicant words and associated vulgar comments. Moving into locations where the lower castes held sway should only be with adequate ‘respect’ protection. This again is a tragedy created by the feudal language.


QUOTE: But, of course, the low castes were not taken into account in these matters; they had no rights, and could make no claims. END of QUOTE


Lower castes were generally seen as lower level humans who had no need for higher liberties. In fact, till the advent of the English rule, most of the lower castes’ intellectual domain was quite low. In the Malabar district where the English rule established good quality English schools, the low caste Thiyyas suddenly found themselves in possession of knowledge of the English classics.


QUOTE: The heads of the respective castes also paid an annual sum for their dignity. END of QUOTE


It is just like payment made by the businessmen to officials of the sales tax, police etc. departments. Pay a ritualistic bribe, and they would be extended a dignity above their staff members. Don’t pay it, and then they would be treated as equal to their subordinate staff. This can be dangerous, for if the staff members feel that their bosses are of their own levels, it can disturb staff discipline. In feudal languages, each level needs a distinguishing level for the proper selection of words. It is an idea which native-English speakers may find quite difficult to understand.


QUOTE: The caste difficulty also crops up here, as everywhere. Shanar Christians consider it degrading to play these instruments, and hire a lower caste to do it for them END of QUOTE


QUOTE: Some who have had much to do with these outcaste races testify that the converts are, as a rule, persons of excellent natural abilities, as I myself have frequently found them. They are quite capable of rapid improvement. END of QUOTE


QUOTE: Some may eat together, but individuals belonging to distinct castes never intermarry. People of any caste coming from a neighbouring country are usually treated as distinct by their fellows here, their customs and social consideration often being, in some respects, different. END of QUOTE


QUOTE: “Caste,” says Barth in his ‘Religions of India,’ “is the express badge of Hinduism. Caste is not merely the symbol of Hinduism; but, according to the testimony of all who have studied it on the spot, it is its stronghold. It is, therefore, a religious fact of the first order.” END of QUOTE


QUOTE: Pretences are sometimes made by individuals to higher than their real caste. END of QUOTE


QUOTE: A typical case occurred in Calicut. A Brahman had been confined in the jail there, and bathed in the common well; but after his release asserted that he had eaten no cooked food, only fruits, which do not convey pollution, and drank only the water of the cocoanut. The Ranee of Calicut charged him with polluting the temple, of which she is manager, by entering it, he being now impure and out-caste, and his daily prayers without efficacy. END of QUOTE


QUOTE: But the idea of ceremonial caste pollution sadly hinders the people from social intercourse with one another and from improving intimacy with other nations END of QUOTE


This is not the full truth. Even now, feudal content in the languages do hinder soical intercourse beyond certain specific paths.


QUOTE: Some intelligent natives, however, are beginning to feel weary of these absurd and tiresome regulations, and express the wish that they were rid of them. END of QUOTE

Only to the limit it effects them negatively. As to the others being suppressed, they are not bothered.


QUOTE: Brahman temples, therefore, are not for the use of all classes. The low castes have their own temples and deities of an inferior kind, and dare not touch even the outer walls of a Hindu temple. END of QUOTE


Again a slight hint from those times, that the lower castes might not be Hindus. All dread the raising of the lower classes and their admission to the common rights of humanity. “The very essence of caste lies in the degradation of others.”


QUOTE: All this superstitious punctiliousness is fraught with serious inconvenience to the unenlightened high castes themselves. They are unable to travel by sea unless they could land daily to cook and eat their food, that prepared with the water on board ship being ceremonially unclean. END of QUOTE


QUOTE: It is most painful to see a poor and inoffensive woman, with a load on her back, or burdened with an infant, compelled to scramble up the steep sides of the road and retire into the jungle, to allow a high-caste man to pass; or seeking for a favourable chance to cross the highway, or go along it. She waits till one party has gone on — then makes a dash — but perhaps is balked by meeting another party in the opposite direction. What discomfort, misery, and waste of time all over the country, and that for no rational purpose or appreciable advantage to any one ! END of QUOTE


‘Poor inoffensive’ woman can also degrade, if she refuses to use higher indicant words to her social superiors.


QUOTE: If the Pulayar did not speedily move out of the way, instant death was the penalty : the low- caste man in former times would be at once cut down by the sword of the Nair. Now-a-days respectable passengers, when polluted by accident or by the obstinacy of inferiors, sometimes, on the principle that they “may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb,” join in giving a good thrashing to the disrespectful low-caste passengers. END of QUOTE


These are things that do not come in modern Indian history. The mediocre Indian academic historian writes about British suppression, when actually it was the advent of the British rule that lend liberty here to the lower castes.


QUOTE: There are, again, cases in which high-caste people are glad, for the moment, quietly to ignore these rules, and a Chogan or Ilavan gets a good thrashing for his overanxiety to keep a Brahman pure by informing the latter that he was defiled by too near approach, when he would have passed on unconsciously and without further disturbance. END of QUOTE


To inform a person that he has not be ‘respected’ is a great crime.

QUOTE: At one period I was quite surprised to see all Pulayars get far out of my way when driving along the roads, as most of them should know that a missionary cared nothing for their approach. After being puzzled for some time as to the cause of this, I detected my horsekeeper, an Ilavan, behind me making threatening signs and gestures to Pulayars approaching, that they might run off, in order to save his caste dignity ! END of QUOTE


QUOTE: Yet Ilavars ഈഴവർ and Chogans ചൊവ്വന്മാർ were, and still are in most parts, similarly driven out of the way by Brahmans. Missionaries have pleaded the cause of all classes alike, and to a large extent succeeded in procuring the emancipation of Shanars and Ilavars from such bonds, but as soon as one caste has somewhat risen from their degradation they inflict similar indignities upon their inferiors, unless restrained by the fear of God, or a sense of justice to their fellow-men. A most cruel and selfish thing is Hindu caste ! END of QUOTE


The missionaries missed the issues of degrading hierarchy in the local vernaculars.