Commentary on Travancore State Manual
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Repulsion for the word ‘Sudra’
Before going ahead I must mention the issue of the confrontation between the Shanars and the higher castes Shudras. The communication standards of Travancore were rough in the years I was there. Profanities such as Pundachimon, Pundachimol, Poorimon, Poorimol, Thayooli, Thayoolimon, Ammayipanni thayoli, etc. were quite common words of usage, in rough as well as casual talk. This and the general mood of street violence that generally pervades the areas must have been acted out in the higher caste versus lower caste confrontations. It is seen in the book that it was the Shudras (Nairs) who were very much agitated about the freedom being demanded by the lower castes.
Here a few things may be taken out from the book. I have already mentioned these words of mine:
The second point that arises is that the current day people of this area cannot bear the mention of any link to their ancestors. Instead of claiming any link to their very evident ancestors, whom they view with repulsion, they spin dubious stories and fables connecting them to populations with which their real link is extremely fragmentary.
The first is connected to the word Shudra (Sudra/Soodra). It is mentioned as a synonym for Nair in this book and almost all books connected to the ancient periods of the Malabar and Travancore areas. Modern day Nairs go into a homicidal mood when this word Shudra is associated with them. The fact is that Shuras are the lowest of the four level Aryan caste system. In the Travancore and Malabar regions, they were the serving class of the Brahmins and the Varmas (Kshatriyas).[This statement does not mean that all nairs were household servants of the higher castes]. Due to the presence of a huge number of people and castes who were not from the Aryans fold, below them, they naturally became a supervisor caste here. Some of the lower castes also did jump into the Nair levels as they relocated to distant locations, to enjoy the better freedom a higher caste address lend.
See these quotes:
1. That (Brahmin) females when they get out of their houses should be protected from profane gaze by a big cadjan umbrella and accompanied by a Sudra maid-servant;
2. These Nagas became the (Kiriathu) Nayars of later Malabar claiming superiority in rank and status over the rest of the Malayali Sudras of the west coast
3. At the time of the Travancore invasion, the Ampalapuzha army was commanded by Mathu Panikkar, a Sudra knight of great valour.
4. He was the junior of the two Dewan Peishcars, but the Senior one Raman Menoven (Menon) was in the north of Travancore and being a Soodra could not have conducted the great religious festival then celebrating at Trivandrum.
5. the Shanar women, particularly those of converts to Christianity had, it appears, begun, though not prominently, to wear a dress similar to that worn by Soodra and Brahmin females, and this you are aware, occasionally gave rise to troubles ere this.
6. These pretensions of the Shanar convert women were resented by the high-caste Nayars and other Sudras who took the law into their own hands and used violence to those who infringed long-standing custom and caste distinctions.
7. One anecdote of Rama lyen’s self-abnegation still lingers in the public mind. Rama lyen, after his wife’s death, consorted with a Sudra girl at Mavelikara,
8. Another such interesting story was related to me by an old servant of the house of a Sudra Stanika of Padmanabha’s temple where some years ago I halted for a few days in one of my official circuits.
9. In 1842, the Committee of Europeans appointed to examine and report on the progress of the pupils of the school, certified to their excellent attainments and proposed a distribution of prizes and suggested to His Highness, “the holding out of some prospects of future employment in the public service to those boys who may distinguish themselves by their progress, especially to the Sudras who form so large a portion of the population of His Highness’ country”. [My Comment: Lower castes were not allowed employment in the public services at that time]
10.There was Raman Menon, the Senior Dewan Peishcar, a man of considerable revenue experience and energy, and there was T. Madava Row, a young officer of character and ability and possessed of high educational qualifications,........................................ but the Senior one Raman Menoven was in the north of Travancore and being a Soodra could not have conducted the great religious festival then celebrating at Trivandrum ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, . His Highness has since proposed to me that Madava Row should for the present be placed in chair of the administration as Acting Dewan
0. Book profile
12. Rama Varma
13. An antedating
17. Bala Rama Varma
24. Place names
27. What a fool did
28. The Royal Family