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Re: [Ind-Arch] Brahmans were in Tamil Nadu before Sangam Age

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  • Lakshmi
    Dear Ram, It wasn t a question of touching some nerve etc.. The below newspaper article does not prove or disprove anything. It is just a newspaper article. If
    Message 1 of 88 , Apr 29, 2013
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      Dear Ram,

      It wasn't a question of touching some nerve etc.. The below newspaper article does not prove or disprove anything. It is just a newspaper article.

      If your intention or that of my friend Radhakrishna Warrier was to show the high status enjoyed by the Nairs of old, you may as well stop as you are preaching to the converted. I was only interested in couple specific points about pattanmar and their sambandham with Nair women, and whether they were engaged as priests in local Kerala temples.


      My own brief response, to reiterate, is there is no reason for pattanmar to engage into sambandham with Nairs because they can marry their own, unlike Namboothiri younger sons. They also belonged to a variety of service professions, priestly service being one of them and that too, a least favored one.

      But re sambandham, you have to agree that if status was commensurate and if some political or economic advantage was to be gained, alliance would be effected. This is true of all marriage alliances, so why should sambandham be an exception to this?

      Again re professions practised by the pattanmar, it has been very varied. Again, Malayalees generally can not distinguish between newly arrived Iyer's and Iyer's who have been in Travancore or Malabar for a while. On the flip side, I myself know a traditional Nair-Varma couple from Ernakulam who completely mistook a Embranthiri family who were their long term neighbors for Namboothiri. I'm reminded of the Punjabi proverb - grow your hair long and speak Punjabi, that's all it takes to be a Sikh. No disrespect to Sikhs intended, of course :)

      Over the centuries, Tamil Iyers of various stripes have come to Kerala. Take Ramayyan, dalawa to Maharaja Marthanda Varma himself, not only came in his lifetime to Travancore and became Dalawa but also took a Nair woman in sambandham and that family continues to live in Mavelikkara. The last dewan of Travancore samasthanam was a member of this line.

      Half the carnatic music luminaries are Iyers from Kerala. Until 30 years back, all music teachers in Kerala were Tamil Iyers. Tamil Iyers took to English education certainly before Nairs in Travancore and partially so in Cochin and Malabar, but decidedly before Namboothiri's everywhere. So they were in white collar occupations for a long while. That's not to say that some were not in the employ of rich or landed Nairs. TV Sundaram Iyengar, the founder of TVS group, was born in Trichur, his father having been a lawyer for almost all his life there. This is 1870's. Incidentally both he and Ramayyan hailed from near Ervadi in Tirunelveli dt. Ulloor too hailed from Tirunelveli although his immediate family was settled near Thiruvananthapuram. LS Rajagopalan, the great art rasika who was instrumental in bringing koodiyattam to the outside world (today it's a UNESCO protected art form) was born in Trichur. His father was inspector of schools in Cochin at the turn of the century. He introduced Mani Madhava Chakyar to the Madras Music Academy. Still I'm sure there were many thousand Iyer's who were poor and/or were in the employ of Nairs.

      The point to note is that in Travancore and Cochin, Tamil Iyers were in all strata of society. To your other point, being priests in temples would have been the least favored occupation. The sub sect to which priests in Tamilnadu belong is represented only in very microscopic numbers among the Iyers in Kerala. Chembai is one of them but he went into music!

      I'll stop here.

      Regards,

      Lakshmi Srinivas



      --- In IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com, Ram Varmha <varmha@...> wrote:
      >
      >
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      >
      >
      >
      > Sorry if I touched a nerve! Didn't mean to.
      > I myself have had sufficient experience and knowledge of the situation described here. It is quite factual. But, I do not want to expand on it since it may cause unnecessary discomfort to the community of Palghat Pattars, as they were known.  
      > I am familiar with the family histories of a number of Nair Tharavads who were upgraded to Khsatriya status and became local minor Raja's, (with the holy thread and all), in the old days, as mentioned in the referenced article!  
      > That was the way it was.
      > Regards,
      > Ram
      >  
      >
      > --- On Sat, 4/20/13, Lakshmi <lsrinivas@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > From: Lakshmi <lsrinivas@...>
      > Subject: Re: [Ind-Arch] Brahmans were in Tamil Nadu before Sangam Age
      > To: IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com
      > Date: Saturday, April 20, 2013, 7:16 PM
      >
      >
      >
      >  
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > This is purely a newspaper report. Clearly, either your journalist or you need to qualify all references to Tamil brahmins in the below extract with 'all', 'some', 'few'.
      >
      > Lakshmi Srinivas
      > --- In IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com, Ram Varmha <varmha@> wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > G Babu Jayakumar | ENS
      > > Express News Service
      > > First Published : 28 Jun 2010 06:35:54 AM IST
      > > Last Updated : 28 Jun 2010 10:04:04 AM IST
      > >
      > >  
      > >  
      > >  
      > > General: Palakkad Iyers Lured By Malyali Nairs
      > >  COIMBATORE: Brahmins from Kumbakkonam were lured to Palakkad with promises of a prosperous life several generations ago by Nair chieftains who primarily needed their religious services for coronations. But soon, their life became pathetic when the Nairs lost their authority.
      > > A research paper, 'Plight of Palghat Iyers', presented by M Lakshman Singh, a sociology professor with Bharathiar University, at the Tamil meet on Sunday, traced the history of a successful community that has made rapid progress through education, hard work and endurance.
      > >  Singh said Nair chieftains, wanting to be crowned kings, needed the services of Brahmins as coronation without Brahmins would not have had divine sanction. But Namboothiris, the local Brahmins, refused to coronate Nairs as they were not Kshatriyas.
      > >  So Nair chieftains went Brahmin hunting and found some in Kumbakkonam in Tamil Nadu, who were willing to migrate. The Iyers were given separate housing facilities and they built their own agraharams (community centres) and even temples for their traditional deities based on agama sastras.
      > >  However, the Namboothiris did not acknowledge the Iyers as priests since they did not follow the tantric form of worship, which was practised in the temples of Kerala.
      > >  Anyway, the Nair chieftains took care of the Iyers till their own fall came about due to historic reasons. Left with no temple jobs, the Iyers, who were also called pattars and paradesi Brahmins in Kerala, endured hardship and took up menial jobs as cooks, cleaners in temples, farm workers, small time traders and anything they could do to eke out a living.
      > >  They also had a sambandham arrangement with Nair women and worked in the households of Namboothiris and at Nair tharavads.
      > >  Singh said the Palakkad Iyers, however, kept their families within the agraharams and ensured that their children studied.
      > >  Soon, the community saw steep vertical mobility and today, Palakkad Iyers have captured positions in the bureaucracy, services and industry.
      > >  
      > > Iyengars from Srirangam near Tiruchy too were taken by the Yadavs to Mysore when local Brahmins refused to crown them as kings. But, that community of Iyengars faced no problems because the Mysore kingdom was stable.
      > >  
      > > http://www.iofsbrotherhood.org/site/forum/messages.php?webtag=WEBTAG&msg=16417.1
      > >  
      > >  
      > > Needless to say these are events of the past which have absolutely no relevance to the present. There are no sambandhams among Kerala Nairs; the Namboothiri community has all but disappeared; most of the Palghat Brahmins are now in the Gulf States, working as Engineers, Accountants and others.  
      > >  
      > > Regards,
      > > Ram
      > >  
      > >  
      > >  
      > >  
      > >  
      > >  
      > > --- On Sun, 4/7/13, Lakshmi <lsrinivas@> wrote:
      > >
      > >
      > > From: Lakshmi <lsrinivas@>
      > > Subject: Re: [Ind-Arch] Brahmans were in Tamil Nadu before Sangam Age
      > > To: IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com
      > > Date: Sunday, April 7, 2013, 12:02 AM
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >  
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > During the height of the Chicago Bulls reign in the NBA in the mid 90's, an Indian kid addressed this question to me and her father, "Uncle, why aren't any of my Indian friends' fathers a basketball player?". Both of us were stumped at this question. I took the easy way out by responding that most of her friends' fathers came here to the US not on basketball scholarships but on other scholarships.
      > >
      > > Suffice it to say that - Tamil brahmins who are in Kerala didn't go there to become temple priests or to take part in the sambandham system. They went there to practise their regular professions viz., veda, astrologer, music teaching, accounts, record keeping, local admin.
      > >
      > > Besides, all Tamil brahmin males like men elsewhere in India have always had the right to take a bride from their own community, unlike Namboothiri younger sons. The class of temple priests or 'poojari' as you call them, even in Tamilnadu are sect-wise a people different from the Tamil brahmins you find in Kerala. This sect of temple priests in Tamilnadu is a relatively impoverished minority within the Tamil brahmin community - some of them are similar in gotra, veda-shakha and srauta affiliations to Namboothiri's.
      > >
      > > Hope this helps,
      > >
      > > Lakshmi Srinivas
      > >
      > > --- In IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com, Ram Varmha <varmha@> wrote:
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Agreed!
      > > > Also, the major, orthodox temples in Kerala do not avail of Tamil Brahmins as
      > > > "poojari"s. The Temple priests are from Namboothiri, Embranthiri and Potti families. This may be due to the popular form of tantric ritualism practiced in Kerala temples. The three local Brahmin communities mentioned above were well known practitioners of this mode of worship. 
      > > >
      > > > Regards,
      > > > Ram
      > > >
      > > > http://tinyurl.com/cnku2p7
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > --- On Tue, 4/2/13, radha_canada <radha_canada@> wrote:
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > From: radha_canada <radha_canada@>
      > > > Subject: Re: [Ind-Arch] Brahmans were in Tamil Nadu before Sangam Age
      > > > To: IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com
      > > > Date: Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 8:42 PM
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >  
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > --- In IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com, Ram Varmha <varmha@> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > ...
      > > > > This is not so with the other South Indian Tamil speaking Iyer Brahmins of the area, 
      > > > > primarily around Palghat. There were only few marital interactions between them and
      > > > > the higher caste Hindu families of Kerala.
      > > > >  
      > > > > ...
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > I think this was because no prestige was attached by the Malayali "high" castes in the past to an alliance of their women with the Tamil Brahmin.  Such an alliance would be considered in the past as something lowly and to be avoided.   Even the Nair, viewed by those "above" them in the caste hierarchy as "middle" or sometimes even as "lower" caste (with the monicker 'Shoodra') showed a clear disdain for any sambandham alliance with the Tamil Brahmin.  On the contrary, the same Nair would be eager for a sambandham alliance of their women with a Namboodiri or an Ambalavasi or a Kshatriya male, and willing to adopt vegetarian lifestyle at least for the period the sambandham lasted -- it may be mentioned that Nair sambandhams were often temporary in nature to be terminated at the whim of the woman or the man.  In many cases it resulted in serial polygamy and in some cases in true (not just serial) polygamy. 
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Thanks and regards,
      > > > Radhakrishna Warrier
      > > >
      > >
      >
    • Francesco Brighenti
      ... Puhar/Kaveripattinam is *principally* known to archaeology for its trade with the Roman Empire, although its merchants certainly traded with other
      Message 88 of 88 , Jun 23, 2013
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        Ravilochanan Iyengar wrote:

        > It has to be noted that Pattinappalai does not mention the
        > word 'Yavanar' anywhere as far as I can remember. So, why should it
        > be assumed that Karikala belonged to the period of trading with
        > Greek states or even the Roman empire? Should the presence of a
        > port necessary imply trade with Romans?

        Puhar/Kaveripattinam is *principally* known to archaeology for its trade with the Roman Empire, although its merchants certainly traded with other countries too.

        In this connection, let me introduce a new element of textual analysis which, though I am not claiming it to amount to "proof" that Roman (`Yavana') merchants -- i.e. ethnic Greeks, Egyptians, Arabs etc. -- are mentioned in the Pattinappalai, appears worth of discussion to me.

        The Pattinappalai (in J.V. Chelliah's English translation) refers to the "fair", "coral-like" complexion and the "pink" feet of the bejewelled women living in the harbour quarter of Puhar in the age of Karikala; the poet further compares the hands of those women to flowers of kAntaL (Malabar glory lyly, having orange or red-and-yellow flowers) and makes a simile between their (foreign?) tongue(s) and the screech of the parrot's call:

        In cloud-topped, lofty, storeyed halls
        Around which there are piers built
        Are numerous courts and doors, both large
        And small, and spacious cloisters reached [160]
        By long ladders with close-set steps.
        In them do gather fair women
        Whose feet are pink, whose thighs close-set.
        Adorned are they with gauds of gold.
        Their hips are broad, their dress is soft;
        Fair are their red coral-like skins.
        Arrayed are they like gay peacocks.
        Their eyes are deer-like, and their speech,
        Like the parrot's prattle; these enjoy
        The breeze that blows through the windows. [170]
        They worship with bejewelled hands
        Resembling clusters that do sprout
        From kAntaL's joints whose blooms do spread
        Their pollens sweet on mountain slopes.
        Wide is the street where people trade...

        As is well-known, the Pattinappalai also tells us that in the age of Karikala Puhar was a large port-town having colonies of foreign merchants:

        As those who are united close
        By various high cultures, at times
        Together come to ancient shrines,
        So people speaking diverse tongues
        That come from great and foreign homes
        Mix free in friendly terms with those
        Who occupy this glorious town. [260]

        (N.B. Of course, the Cilappatikaram [5. 1-10] *explicitly* refers to `Yavana' merchants living in their separate quarters in Puhar, but this is another matter as this Tamil epic dates from the 5th-6th centuries CE.)

        Could not the fair-complexioned women referred to in the Pattinappalai, whose tongue, seemingly unintelligible to the poet, is compared by him to the parrot's call, be `Yavana' women – that is, women hailing from the Roman Empire?

        Regards,
        Francesco
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