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From being auspicious to being untouchable

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  • panuval
    Dear List, Periodically, this list has discussed untouchability and caste in South Asia. For some time, I have been researching the history of untouchability
    Message 1 of 15 , Aug 31, 2008
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      Dear List,

      Periodically, this list has discussed untouchability and caste in South
      Asia. For some time, I have been researching the history of
      untouchability and caste system in Tamil society. Last year, there were
      some questions regarding my views on this issue. My findings have been
      published now in the online journal, International Journal of Jaina
      Studies (http://tinyurl.com/6a6pbk). The article can be accessed at
      http://www.soas.ac.uk/research/publications/journals/ijjs/46109.pdf .

      Regards,
      S. Palaniappan
    • Manjunatha
      Dear Palaniappan, Could you please help me with the following question? As far as I know, Holeyas (Pulaiyans) were slave farmers in Kannada, Kodava, Tulu and
      Message 2 of 15 , Sep 1 1:42 PM
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        Dear Palaniappan,
        Could you please help me with the following question?

        As far as I know, Holeyas (Pulaiyans) were slave farmers in Kannada,
        Kodava, Tulu and Malayalam societies. What was their occupation in
        classical Tamil society?

        Thanks,
        Manjunatha

        --------------------
        S. Palaniappan wrote:
        > Dear List,
        >
        > Periodically, this list has discussed untouchability and caste in South
        > Asia. For some time, I have been researching the history of
        > untouchability and caste system in Tamil society. Last year, there were
        > some questions regarding my views on this issue. My findings have been
        > published now in the online journal, International Journal of Jaina
        > Studies (http://tinyurl.com/6a6pbk). The article can be accessed at
        > http://www.soas.ac.uk/research/publications/journals/ijjs/46109.pdf .
        >
        > Regards,
        > S. Palaniappan
        >
      • naga_ganesan
        [Mod. Note: Can you please be a little more specific here by citing a few specific examples from the literature you reference more generally? A bit too vague
        Message 3 of 15 , Sep 1 5:03 PM
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          [Mod. Note: Can you please be a little more specific here by citing
          a few specific examples from the literature you reference more
          generally? A bit too vague to be of much help - BF]


          "Manjunatha" <manjunatha78@...> wrote:
          >
          > As far as I know, Holeyas (Pulaiyans) were slave farmers in
          > Kannada, Kodava, Tulu and Malayalam societies. What was their
          > occupation in classical Tamil society?
          >

          Among other services, pulaiyans in classical Tamil works also
          served in jobs in burial grounds to take care of dead bodies.
          As we see about these castes in the rest of India from
          Hindu Sanskrit texts.

          N. Ganesan
        • panuval
          See p. 2 of my paper. Regards, Palaniappan
          Message 4 of 15 , Sep 1 7:22 PM
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            See p. 2 of my paper.

            Regards,
            Palaniappan

            --- In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, "Manjunatha"
            <manjunatha78@...> wrote:
            >
            > Dear Palaniappan,
            > Could you please help me with the following question?
            >
            > As far as I know, Holeyas (Pulaiyans) were slave farmers in Kannada,
            > Kodava, Tulu and Malayalam societies. What was their occupation in
            > classical Tamil society?
            >
            > Thanks,
            > Manjunatha
          • Manjunatha
            [Mod. Note: I am not sure what the broader question being ask is here. Perhaps we can limit the discussion to the question of Jain influence on caste in south
            Message 5 of 15 , Sep 1 11:41 PM
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              [Mod. Note: I am not sure what the broader question being ask is
              here. Perhaps we can limit the discussion to the question of Jain
              influence on caste in south India, raised in Palaniappan's paper -
              BF]

              Thank you very much, Palaniappan and N. Ganesan. This is what I found
              in Wikipedia. I would like to know whether that is an unsubstantiated
              claim.

              The name of this caste is mentioned in the Sangam anthologies which
              were composed during a period of 500 years (est.) during the early
              Christian era. Pulaian (male) and Pulaitchi (female) are mentioned as
              a group of people who are attached to the households of village chiefs
              and were performing tasks that were menial or degraded.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holeya

              Holeyas in Kannada, Kodava and Malayalam societies were attached to
              landlords(who probably were village chiefs too). Along with working in
              fields they continued to work as spirit media, magicians, bards etc...
              But they weren't independent people.

              Who were the people that cultivated the rice fields of Classical Tamil
              age landlords?

              -Manjunatha

              In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, "panuval" <panuval@...> wrote:
              >
              > See p. 2 of my paper.
              >
              > Regards,
              > Palaniappan
            • Manjunatha
              ... If Pulaiyans were bonded to classical Tamil age landlords and worked in their paddy fields, would it not be significant in the whole discussion? Regarding
              Message 6 of 15 , Sep 2 3:55 AM
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                > [Mod. Note: I am not sure what the broader question being ask is
                > here. Perhaps we can limit the discussion to the question of Jain
                > influence on caste in south India, raised in Palaniappan's paper -
                > BF]

                If Pulaiyans were bonded to classical Tamil age landlords and worked
                in their paddy fields, would it not be significant in the whole
                discussion?

                Regarding Jain influence, I think it's too complex. In Kannada
                region many Jains(I know only poets) were of Brahmin origin. I
                wonder if the conversion of Brahmins to Jinaism might have brought
                purity-pollution outlook to that religion too. We can see parallels
                in Christianity in India.

                Recently, there was a message regarding untouchability in China. It
                appears nomadic/pastoral Chinese had embraced Buddhist ideology of
                equality but not the sedentary Chinese. I think purity-pollution is
                more of a sedentary phenomenon (Maybe nomads/pastorals had no use of
                the so-called menial skills and thus menial people).
                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/9809 I
                think new religions find it difficult to change sedentary converts.

                Also, Palaniappan does not deal with Kannada, Telugu, Gondi (which
                has a bard/minstrels section called Panal...I think it is cognate
                with Pana...and was considered below other Gondi clans. I think
                Stephen Fuchs finds parallels in other societies where wandering
                bards were considered 'low') societies. Can they be beyond the scope
                of this study? How would one explain 'Mala' or 'Malla' caste in
                Telugu region (equivalent to Holeya). Stephen Fuchs(At the bottom of
                Indian society) notes that an old Telugu dictionary derives that
                name from 'impure' (Skt:malina). Unfortunately, he doesn't mention
                who were responsible for that old Telugu dictionary or who were the
                reference people for that word(I think the later day agricultural
                labourers in Tamil region were called Pallan/Pallar. Arjun Appadurai
                in his paper "Right and Left Hand castes in South India" mentions
                that the original name was Mallar). When it comes to Kannada Holeya,
                it appears only Brahmins derive it from 'pollution' (hole/holasu in
                Kannada) but others derive it from field (hola in Kannada).

                Holeya;_the_same_as_Polea"> HULLIA, s. Canarese Holeya; the same as
                Polea (pulayan) (q.v.), equivalent to Pariah (q.v.). ["Holeyas
                field-labourers and agrestic serfs of S. Canara; Pulayan being the
                Malayālam and Paraiyan the Tamil form of the same word.
                Brahmans derive it from hole, 'pollution'; others from hola, 'land'
                or 'soil,' as being thought to be autochthones" (Sturrock, Man. of
                S. Canara, i. 173). The last derivation is accepted in the Madras
                Gloss. For an illustration of these people, see Richter, Man. of
                Coorg, 112.] http://tinyurl.com/68cjwh

                How significant are these observations? I think Kannada and Telugu
                societies must be taken into account before coming into conclusion
                on Tamil society. I suppose the lack of literary tradition doesn't
                mean there were no sedentary societies in Kannada and Telugu
                regions.

                Or may be instead of making it complicated for myself I was trying
                to understand whether Pulaiyans were serfs/slaves during Classical
                Tamil age. At least, I feel, that would explain why they became
                untouchables at a later time.

                Regards,
                Manjunatha
              • otperrin
                Dear Manjunatha, In your last post you mentioned: I think purity-pollution is more of a sedentary phenomenon (Maybe nomads/pastorals had no use of the
                Message 7 of 15 , Sep 2 6:27 AM
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                  Dear Manjunatha,

                  In your last post you mentioned:

                  "I think purity-pollution is more of a sedentary phenomenon (Maybe
                  nomads/pastorals had no use of the so-called menial skills and thus
                  menial people)."

                  It might be argued that the picture is more complicated than this.

                  'Gypsies' offer an illustrative example. While many of the various
                  groups often collectively referred to as "Gypsies" are now
                  sedentary, they were certainly emblematic of a loosely- defined
                  nomadic lifestyle in the past.

                  One related group of the many names given to them by others (German
                  Zigeuner, French Tsiganes, Italian Zingari, Hungarian Ciganyok,
                  etc.) is thought to derive from the Byzantine atsinganoi (Fraser
                  1995, p46).

                  One of the many competing explanations for this appellation (not
                  used by the Gypsies themselves) is that it derives directly from the
                  Gk. atsinganoi, meaning "untouchable" (Marushiakova, Popov, and
                  Kenrick 2001, p13).

                  Whether or not this derivation is accepted, many Roma groups have
                  strict rules, reflected in their laws, which govern contact with
                  others. Weyrauch (2001) notes:

                  "The Gypsies' determination not to assimilate into the dominant
                  society has been crucial to their survival as a separate population.
                  This drive stems in part from the Roma's belief that non-Gypsies are
                  in a state of defilement because of their ignorance about the rules
                  on purity and impurity. Gypsy society relies heavily on distinctions
                  between behavior that is pure and polluted." (p29)

                  Oliver Perrin
                • Manjunatha
                  ... But Roma were from India or at least half of them can trace their ancestry to India(rest appear to have West Asian and European ancestry. Well, West Asia
                  Message 8 of 15 , Sep 2 11:45 AM
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                    Oliver Perrin wrote:

                    > It might be argued that the picture is more complicated than this.
                    > 'Gypsies' offer an illustrative example. While many of the various
                    > groups often collectively referred to as "Gypsies" are now
                    > sedentary, they were certainly emblematic of a loosely- defined
                    > nomadic lifestyle in the past.

                    But Roma were from India or at least half of them can trace their
                    ancestry to India(rest appear to have West Asian and European
                    ancestry. Well, West Asia was another region with purity-pollution
                    concepts). And I don't think they were pastorals. Again pastorals on
                    their own without the influence of religions that preach equality (BTW,
                    I was discussing about influence of religion in that message) might or
                    might not have developed purity-pollution concepts as they become
                    sedentary (Stephen Fuchs...At the bottom of India Society...observes
                    how transition to sedentary lifestyle in Central Asia and Africa
                    resulted in development of menial classes. But I haven't come across
                    anything in European society).

                    Regards,
                    Manjunatha
                  • naga_ganesan
                    ... In the agricultural settled society of South India, the concepts of pollution, low birth were formed in the centuries first millennium BCE. These can be
                    Message 9 of 15 , Sep 3 9:22 AM
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                      "Manjunatha" <manjunatha78@...> wrote:

                      > Holeya;_the_same_as_Polea"> HULLIA, s. Canarese Holeya; the same as
                      > Polea (pulayan) (q.v.), equivalent to Pariah (q.v.). ["Holeyas
                      > field-labourers and agrestic serfs of S. Canara; Pulayan being the
                      > Malayālam and Paraiyan the Tamil form of the same word.
                      > Brahmans derive it from hole, 'pollution'; others from hola, 'land'
                      > or 'soil,' as being thought to be autochthones" (Sturrock, Man. of
                      > S. Canara, i. 173). The last derivation is accepted in the Madras
                      > Gloss. For an illustration of these people, see Richter, Man. of
                      > Coorg, 112.] http://tinyurl.com/68cjwh
                      >
                      > How significant are these observations? I think Kannada and Telugu
                      > societies must be taken into account before coming into conclusion
                      > on Tamil society. I suppose the lack of literary tradition doesn't
                      > mean there were no sedentary societies in Kannada and Telugu
                      > regions.
                      >

                      In the agricultural settled society of South India, the concepts of
                      pollution, low birth were formed in the centuries first millennium
                      BCE. These can be seen in the Prakrit poems written in Maharashtri
                      and in Sangam Tamil. They describe the low status of wandering
                      bards, barbers, washermen, and untouchables (pulaiyas).
                      Interestingly, washerwomen who brought girls to the village chiefs
                      are also called pulaitti (feminine pulaiya) in classical Tamil works.
                      Washerwoman is called pulaitti - exactly like Sanskrit rajakii -
                      because of her dealings with menstrual blood clothes.

                      The ancient Indian jAti system (now abolished by Indian government)
                      ranks castes based on an index of pollution:
                      "For lower castes, impurity is permanent. Lower caste members suffer
                      a kind of inherited defilement. The Barber deals with bodily
                      wastes-hair and nail clippings he washes the male corpses, and his
                      wife washes the female corpse of his higher caste jajmans (clients).
                      The Washerman washes dirty clothing, stained by bodily excretions.
                      The Sweeper removes human filth ... So, degrees of defilement relate
                      to the ranks in a caste hierarchy. The Barber is less defiled than
                      the Washerman, who, in turn, is less defiled than the Sweeper, and
                      so on.

                      [...]
                      The underlying principle of this hierarchy is purity-impurity.
                      Following Stevenson, Dumont defines impurity as
                      'the eruption of the biological into social life'.
                      .... Castes are separate, but interdependent hereditary
                      groups of occupational specialists. It is the principle
                      of purity-impurity which operates to keep the segments
                      separate from one another. Each jAti closes its boundaries
                      to lower jAtis, refusing them the privilege of intermarriage
                      and other contacts defined as polluting to the higher jAti.
                      Each jAti, in turn, is excluded by the jAtis ranking above
                      it in a local caste hierarchy. Thus, differences in degree
                      of pollution create closed segments, as each segment tries to
                      preserve its own degree of purity from contamination by
                      lower castes."
                      (p. 80-81, P. Kolenda, Purity and Pollution, 78-96, in
                      Religion in India, edited by T. N. Madan, OUP, 1991)

                      While many of the lower castes were tied to lands owned by
                      village chiefs, some were wandering folks from the mountains,
                      beggars, ... described in sangam works. Also, important are the
                      beef eating references with reference to low castes. The comparisons
                      between Prakrit and old Tamil verses are done by scholars such as
                      Martha A. Selby, H. Tieken, Hart, ... Tieken and before him, Tamil
                      scholars like Vaiyapuri Pillai have raised important issues with
                      dating sangam texts. G. L. Hart (Poems of Ancient Tamil,
                      pp. 162-280) has argued that many elements from Southern Deccani
                      cultures are shared, and ultimately entered Sanskrit poetry from the
                      south. Hart's 1987 paper on the low born castes is online:
                      http://tamil.berkeley.edu/Research/Articles/Caste2.pdf

                      It is interesting that bards (both men and their ladies) are
                      mentioned in sangam poetry in many situations involving procurement
                      of concubines for the village land lords and chiefs. The bards'
                      roles in these love poems need to be translated. Some can be read
                      in M. A. Selby, Grow long, Blessed night, OUP, 2000, p.105:
                      "PrAkrit gAthAs, which are perhaps from a slightly earlier
                      time period than the Tamil poems, also come from a
                      different, more heavily "Sanskritized" geographic area.
                      Public brawling over sexual matters is a popular theme
                      in the poems, but the language of indirect expression
                      is favored as the medium."

                      As you point out, these beliefs on pollution etc., are well formed
                      before any poems in Prakrit and Tamil anthologies were written.
                      Texts like Hindu upaishads and dharma shastras describe caste
                      centuries before
                      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/9817
                      The dates for settled agriculture in south India, Gujarat are far
                      deeper in time (e.g., cereal and pulse domestication outlined in
                      papers by D. Fuller). I think the need for serfs to do the hard and
                      menial tasks necessary in agriculture created the low castes.
                      2000 years ago, there were no machines using fossil or electric
                      energy. Most work needed low castes and at best, cattle power.

                      N. Ganesan
                    • Arvind Vyas
                      ... When Indian government follows jAti based reservations is it prude to conclude that the jAti system is now abolished by Indian government. As a matter of
                      Message 10 of 15 , Sep 4 3:00 AM
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                        --- In Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com, "naga_ganesan"
                        <naa.ganesan@...> wrote:
                        > The ancient Indian jAti system (now abolished by Indian government)
                        > ranks castes based on an index of pollution:

                        When Indian government follows jAti based reservations is it prude to
                        conclude that the jAti system is now abolished by Indian government. As
                        a matter of fact it would grow stronger with the time, as even non-
                        Hindus do now follow this system.

                        Best regards,
                        Arvind Vyas
                      • panuval
                        [Mod. Note: the message to which this is a response, can be read here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/10983 some editing for
                        Message 11 of 15 , Sep 5 11:27 PM
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                          [Mod. Note: the message to which this is a response, can be read here:
                          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/10983
                          some editing for clarification of voice; there are long quoted sections, so
                          you must read to the bottom to see all of Palaniappan's message - BF]

                          Dear Ganesan,

                          My comments are given below.

                          Naga Ganesan wrote in response to Manjunatha:
                          > In the agricultural settled society of South India, the concepts of
                          > pollution, low birth were formed in the centuries first millennium
                          > BCE. These can be seen in the Prakrit poems written in Maharashtri
                          > and in Sangam Tamil. They describe the low status of wandering
                          > bards, barbers, washermen, and untouchables (pulaiyas).

                          No. Indeed my IJJS paper refutes such views prevalent for more than a
                          millennium.

                          > Interestingly, washerwomen who brought girls to the village chiefs
                          > are also called pulaitti (feminine pulaiya) in classical Tamil works.
                          > Washerwoman is called pulaitti - exactly like Sanskrit rajakii -
                          > because of her dealings with menstrual blood clothes.

                          Where is the evidence for this equivalence between Classical Tamil
                          pulaitti and Sanskrit rajakii?

                          > The ancient Indian jAti system (now abolished by Indian government)
                          > ranks castes based on an index of pollution:
                          > "For lower castes, impurity is permanent. Lower caste members suffer
                          > a kind of inherited defilement. The Barber deals with bodily
                          > wastes-hair and nail clippings he washes the male corpses, and his
                          > wife washes the female corpse of his higher caste jajmans (clients).
                          [snip; see original message for extended quotation -BF]
                          > Each jAti, in turn, is excluded by the jAtis ranking above
                          > it in a local caste hierarchy. Thus, differences in degree
                          > of pollution create closed segments, as each segment tries to
                          > preserve its own degree of purity from contamination by
                          > lower castes."
                          > (p. 80-81, P. Kolenda, Purity and Pollution, 78-96, in
                          > Religion in India, edited by T. N. Madan, OUP, 1991)

                          Where is the evidence that all these statements applied to Classical
                          Tamil society?

                          > While many of the lower castes were tied to lands owned by
                          > village chiefs, some were wandering folks from the mountains,
                          > beggars, ... described in sangam works.

                          Where is the evidence for this assertion? Can you cite one instance
                          in Classical Tamil where pulaiyar (since those are the ones whom we
                          are discussing here) work as serves in a land owned by a landlord?

                          > Also, important are the
                          > beef eating references with reference to low castes.

                          Where is the evidence that those who ate beef were considered low
                          castes in Classical Tamil?

                          > The comparisons
                          > between Prakrit and old Tamil verses are done by scholars such as
                          > Martha A. Selby, H. Tieken, Hart, ... Tieken and before him, Tamil
                          > scholars like Vaiyapuri Pillai have raised important issues with
                          > dating sangam texts.

                          What is the point of these statements?

                          > G. L. Hart (Poems of Ancient Tamil,
                          > pp. 162-280) has argued that many elements from Southern Deccani
                          > cultures are shared, and ultimately entered Sanskrit poetry from the
                          > south. Hart's 1987 paper on the low born castes is online:
                          > http://tamil.berkeley.edu/Research/Articles/Caste2.pdf

                          You have been a booster for the published and unpublished versions of
                          this paper for several years and you have called it "one of the
                          seminal achievements in the study of Tamil in the West" (
                          http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/CTamil/message/627). You have been
                          providing the reference to these papers in several forums including
                          this one. (Some of these are, http://tinyurl.com/5rkh6j ,
                          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/3028 ,
                          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/6503 ,
                          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/agathiyar/message/14437
                          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/S_India/message/62
                          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/agathiyar/message/8142 ) In some of
                          these posts you also cite Hart as saying, "In my article, I give what
                          I feel (still) is irrefutable evidence that caste existed in ancient
                          Tamil Nadu."

                          In my recent IJJS paper I have refuted key evidences and
                          interpretations Hart offers in his 1987 article as well as other
                          works. The conclusions I reach are diametrically opposite to what
                          Hart says. So, if you can read my article and point to deficiencies
                          therein, that will be useful to the list members and serve the
                          objectives of the list. But without presenting any data or arguments
                          against what I have presented in my article, I do not see the value
                          in repeating the same 1987 article by Hart. It only serves to mislead
                          those who do not have a first-hand knowledge of Classical Tamil texts.

                          > It is interesting that bards (both men and their ladies) are
                          > mentioned in sangam poetry in many situations involving procurement
                          > of concubines for the village land lords and chiefs. The bards'
                          > roles in these love poems need to be translated. Some can be read
                          > in M. A. Selby, Grow long, Blessed night, OUP, 2000, p.105:
                          > "PrAkrit gAthAs, which are perhaps from a slightly earlier
                          > time period than the Tamil poems, also come from a
                          > different, more heavily "Sanskritized" geographic area.
                          > Public brawling over sexual matters is a popular theme
                          > in the poems, but the language of indirect expression
                          > is favored as the medium."

                          What is the point of this quote vis-a-vis the presence or absence of
                          caste in Classical Tamil society?

                          > As you point out, these beliefs on pollution etc., are well formed
                          > before any poems in Prakrit and Tamil anthologies were written.

                          Can you explain the relevance of this for the Classical Tamil society?

                          > Texts like Hindu upaishads and dharma shastras describe caste
                          > centuries before
                          > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/9817

                          Are you saying that the ancient Tamil society was basically the same
                          as the Vedic society with respect to social hierarchy? Does Michael
                          say that what he said in his post applied to Classical Tamil society?
                          If not, what is the point of this statement?

                          > The dates for settled agriculture in south India, Gujarat are far
                          > deeper in time (e.g., cereal and pulse domestication outlined in
                          > papers by D. Fuller). I think the need for serfs to do the hard and
                          > menial tasks necessary in agriculture created the low castes.
                          > 2000 years ago, there were no machines using fossil or electric
                          > energy. Most work needed low castes and at best, cattle power.

                          It will be useful if you read my article cited in the opening post of
                          this thread and then discuss any contrary data instead of repeating
                          obsolete viewpoints of 'authorities'. The flat earth theory might
                          have been believed for a long time. But once the view of curved earth
                          satisfactorily explained the data better than the flat earth theory,
                          what is the point in citing flat earth theories?

                          Regards,
                          Palaniappan
                        • naga_ganesan
                          Tamil sangam texts clearly mention low castes - pulaiyan, izhisinan, izhipiRappaaLan, etc., clearly mentioning their low birth status. Imaginative etymologies
                          Message 12 of 15 , Sep 6 7:10 AM
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                            Tamil sangam texts clearly mention low castes - pulaiyan,
                            izhisinan, izhipiRappaaLan, etc., clearly mentioning their
                            low birth status. Imaginative etymologies aside.

                            N. Ganesan
                          • Steve Farmer
                            ... No textual evidence of any sort from this region exists from the centuries first millennium BCE (sic), so the whole (grossly politicized) story is a List
                            Message 13 of 15 , Sep 6 7:50 AM
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                              Naga Ganesan writes:

                              > Naga Ganesan wrote in response to Manjunatha:

                              >> In the agricultural settled society of South India, the concepts of
                              >> pollution, low birth were formed in the centuries first millennium
                              >> BCE. These can be seen in the Prakrit poems written in Maharashtri
                              >> and in Sangam Tamil. They describe the low status of wandering
                              >> bards, barbers, washermen, and untouchables (pulaiyas).

                              No textual evidence of any sort from this region exists from "the
                              centuries first millennium BCE" (sic), so the whole (grossly
                              politicized) story is a List time waster. Drop the subject unless
                              you are willing to discuss the philological problems as well as
                              the heavy political 'subtext.'

                              If you can come up with hard arguments -- none of the "see Authority X in
                              such and such obscure journal", which is a method of argument disallowed
                              on the list -- that literary evidence from S. India exists that
                              for this early period, bring it forward.

                              What are our oldest
                              manuscripts? How far back can we trace their legitimacy? Assuming the
                              manuscripts are only a few hundred years at best, how could you
                              conceivably reconstruct on such evidence anything concrete on first
                              millennium BCE conditions in the first millennum BCE?

                              If you can't do this, end of discussion. This isn't a Tamil fantasy List.

                              Steve
                            • naga_ganesan
                              [Mod. note. This being the case, your claims that these manuscripts supposedly reflect social conditions in the first millennium BCE can t be taken seriously.
                              Message 14 of 15 , Sep 6 8:08 AM
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                                [Mod. note. This being the case, your claims that these manuscripts
                                supposedly reflect social conditions in the first millennium
                                BCE can't be taken seriously. Drop that line of argument on the
                                List or attempt to defend it philologically (i.e., not just by citing some
                                politicized "authority") - SF.]

                                > What are our oldest manuscripts? How far back can we trace
                                > their legitimacy?

                                All the Tamil manuscripts are only a maximum of 400 years old,
                                because of the heat and humidity, they have to be copied.
                                I heard that in Nepal, manuscripts last for some more centuries.
                                may be because of weather conditions.

                                N. Ganesan
                              • Manjunatha
                                [Mod. note. On this List, in particular in response to highly politicized opposing views on South Asian political issues, please don t pit one claimed
                                Message 15 of 15 , Oct 2, 2008
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                                  [Mod. note. On this List, in particular in response to highly politicized
                                  opposing views on South Asian political issues, please don't pit one
                                  claimed authority vs. another, since the discussions lead nowhere. Hard,
                                  testable, evidence only, where that exists. Otherwise, stick to the
                                  amateur Lists. - SF]

                                  In response to:
                                  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/10983%5d

                                  Dear N. Ganesan,

                                  > G. L. Hart (Poems of Ancient Tamil,
                                  > pp. 162-280) has argued that many elements from Southern Deccani
                                  > cultures are shared, and ultimately entered Sanskrit poetry from the
                                  > south.

                                  I don't think Indian edition of that book is available. Could you
                                  please help me with brief description of those Tamil elements? I mean
                                  I would like to understand in what way they were responsible for
                                  untouchability in north Indian society. Did Hart hint that aspect or
                                  something else? The whole discussion of George L Hart revolves around
                                  lower classes who mostly became untouchable castes.

                                  > Hart's 1987 paper on the low born castes is online:
                                  > http://tamil.berkeley.edu/Research/Articles/Caste2.pdf

                                  That appears to be rehash of Homo Hierarchicus Indian into Homo
                                  Hierarchicus Tamil. The purity-pollution making way to auspicious-
                                  inauspiciousness. Has Hart presented auspicious-inauspiciousness as a
                                  unique Tamil concept that he discovered by his study of Tamil texts?
                                  Susan Bayly (Caste, Society And Politics In India From The Eighteenth
                                  Century To The Modern Age) mentions exposition of this concept by
                                  anthropologists in a 1985 paper(the paper belongs to anthropologists
                                  and not to Susan Bayly).

                                  I don't see anything unique about this Tamil world view of
                                  auspiciousness-inauspiciousness. Dilip Menon(The Moral Community of
                                  the Teyyattam) mentions about untouchable agriculture labourers of
                                  Bihar(hope that is north enough) who were into spirit worship (like
                                  Holeyas). This practice was later forcefully suppressed by the
                                  landlords. In my opinion, the common attribute is slavehood and not
                                  the association with inauspiciousness.

                                  On a side note, Namboodiris(the Sangam Tamil Brahmins) have
                                  incorporated spirit worship concept in their deity worship. I have
                                  read that, while offering prayers, they first get possessed by Siva's
                                  spirit.

                                  Regards,
                                  Manjunatha
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