East India Company dubashis and the birth of anti-Brahminism – Vedam Gopal

East India Company official with his dubashi

East India Company Coat of Arms (1698)The Tamilian tradition of giving generous accommodation has been fully exploited by the foreigners, by trapping the greedy local groups who literally sold their own motherland to unscrupulous traders. – Vedam Gopal

Not to repeat the bad deeds of our ancestors which we come to know through true history and repeat their good deeds only are the priority duty of our younger generation.  This only will determine the true fate of our country’s future.

It is highly unfortunate that untruth and lies-galore are the basis of such false history. Culture, social justice, right without duties as a contagious disease, secularism, industrial development etc., are the false fabric of such historical mockeries. Net results are our own low self-esteem, slavish mentality, mischief-mongering, creating confusion, dis-integrating our national fervour by splitting it are the mindset of to-day’s conditions. If we refuse to digest true history, the aforesaid negative attitude will be very difficult to erase and change.

The Madras Presidency comprises of Tamilnadu, Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka, Lakshadweep Islands, Orissa and part of Maharashtra.  East India Company of Britain, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish, Austrian business interest colonized the Indian shores between 16th to 18th centuries. Principally Portuguese in Goa, French people in Pondicherry, and Madras, Calcutta, Mumbai were controlled by the British. The autocratic rule of the Portuguese and British overlords by spear-leading religion, killing the innocents, loot of the treasures is the true face of such plunderers.

The tabulation below was presented in an article, “Indic Mercantile Collaboration with Abraham Invaders” (Bharata Bharati, 6th April 2017). In the article selfish groups of merchants who collaborated with foreigners are only given. No mention had been made about the dubashis who brokered between the foreigners and local merchants.

Collaborators

In the 16th century Tamilnadu was the leading state in business across the oceans. The foreigners who were well aware of such back-drop began to plunder the country like the modern-day NGO’s, corporate camouflaged as global business and software giants. For both the sorry state of affairs is the product of our meek submissions. We never read that the travails of history are the sorry state of affairs. A little room given to such foreigners turned into an over looking situation of which tactics they are adept.

The Tamilian tradition of giving enormous accommodation has been fully exploited by the foreigners, by trapping the greedy local groups who literally sold their own motherland to unscrupulous traders. Yes, such are the open secrets of our weak history. One such avatar is the contribution of the dubashis. The word dubashi is Hindi or Sanskrit or Persian is still a controversy. Some says the Chennai term dubakoor (born liar) is the forerunner of dubashi.  The people who in the beginning doing the translator job between foreign and local traders slowly began to turn into brokers. Cheap local procurement and undue profits from foreign elements were chief ways of expanding their assets. With their British and French fervour, their dressing and cultural habits followed suit. Also did they undertake the cooking, washing, shaving ordeals of the alien households and proved their servitude? There were even dubashi who attended the personal requirements of the governor’s female clan. Also these suited servants arranged for wine parties and visit there with full suit crossing the board kept written as “Dogs And Indians Are Not Allowed”. This base attitude has been truly delineated by Vaithi of  Thillana Mohanambal fame.

Apart from this, assisting in land distribution, maximising the revenue, creating artificial shortage of essentials and engaging in food grain distribution with greedy profits, colluding with governors themselves in looting the treasury and getting caught and punished legally are the shameless traits of such selfish groups. Many enjoyed the grandeur of bungalows with huge gardens and revelled like anything. Building mansions like colonial officials, purchasing estates, spending the ill-gotten wealth in temple building activities as a social cover up, turning into trustees of the temples in Chennai Rajadani with the governor’s connivance. Celebrating the kumbhabishekams, marching on horse, elephant and palanquin with melam, nadasuram and band vadiyam. To have grandiose name patronage of musicians and dancers, as also devouring the temple properties in devious ways. Running lending banks and giving loan even to foreign traders. Initially procuring plots in their native village and becoming mirasdar.  Extending the plots further in the surrounding villages and becoming jamindar. Their greed did not stop here and they extended their plots in more villages and becoming inamdar (no need to pay any tax and permitted to collect tax from the villagers). Sometime in the absence of governors took acting governor job and collected undue taxes from the local merchants and not paid into the treasury. Also dubashis served the Nawabs as well and cunningly created rift between the British and Nawabs with selfish advancements.    

An English circular describes the dubashi as follows: Much has been said about these monsters, but it is impossible to say too much until the whole race of them both with the English jargon and without it, are entirely eradicated. They will correspond with your enemies, they will plunder you of your property and after they have enriched themselves at your expenses, they will throw you into jail. All currency is in their hands, hoarded up and lost to the state.” (C. G. Heyne in his tracts.)

A few among such people were of a philanthropist nature with benevolent attitude.  

After the fall of Vijayanagar Empire, Tamilnadu turned into a chaotic land. There were Mogul invaders, the European traders with long-grabbing greed, conversions taking their toll, the palaiakarars misbehaving like clan chieftains and becomes local mutineer’s order of the day. Thalavai Arianada Mudaliar served efficiently for three generations of Vijayanagar Empire.   

“Chola times Brahmins administered the sabahs of villages as autonomous socio-political units. The pre-Vijayanagar polity of the Tamils was permissive of such autonomy while the imperialist policy of all the governments from Vijayanagar downwards spelt the ruin of these semi-autonomous villages.”

Arianada Mudaliar created 72 pallayams after dissolving the grama sabah which was controlled by the Brahmins. Some of his own community people were appointed as palaiakarars. Because of utter disunity of these palaiakarars, Kattabomman was complicitly handed over to the British by Ettappan and Vijaya Raghunatha Thondaiman. Ramalinga Mudaliar – Dubashi – Major Banerman. This man only showed the secret passage of the Panchlankurichi Fort enabling the British to completely demolish it to the ground level. The internal clash of the Pandian kings, one brother went to north and approached Maalikhafur’s help. This paved the way for interference of Moguls’ in Tamilnadu’s ruling clan.  

One Maruda Nayagam Pillai converted to Islam alias Yusuf Khan was an ordinary sepoy who by his clever and powerful maneuvers was in the good books of the palaiakarars, Moguls and English alike to such an extent. Thus became the ruler of Madurai. But was discretely handed over to the British by the Moguls and was finally hanged to death. Like Tipu Sultan, Yusuf Khan is also hailed as a patriot (freedom fighter) who fought against the British. His life history was to be portrayed by our Kamal Hasan through silver screen and is yet to see the light of the day.

The invasion and colonization of the British was mainly in Madras, to-day’s Chennai sea front. The land was called Armagon probably called so because it was acquired from one Arumuga Mudaliar. Here they built a small fort. It can well be called a battery of godowns (Clive Battery).  It was also called Durgarayapattinam. What I presume is to-day Armenian street was Armagon and to-days Royapuram might be Durgarayapattinam.

Thaniappa Mudaliar, otherwise known as Lazurus Trimorthy, of the Agambadi Mudali (Vellala) caste who was a founder (?) of the French East India Company in Pondicherry, died on the twenty-first day of Chittrai (month) of Promodhuta (year) corresponding to the current year 1691 A.D. He lies interned in St. Andrew’s Church, Chennapatnam (Madras).

He was converted as Christian in Mylapore, thereafter was called Lazurus Motha, Francois Martin was the priest who recommended, thereby he went to Pondicherry. He was the enabler for the French settlers in the year 1673-74. He served there for 40 years and died at Madras. An epitaph has been written about him by Francois Martin. The descendent of Thaniappa Mudaliar also were dubashis for the French. His son Muthappa alias Antonio was helpful in bringing the Indian weavers to Pondicherry.  His son Kanakaraya Mudaliar (alias Peary) was helpful in mint facility. He was instrumental in acquiring and acceding Karaikal to French. Whether the Lazurus Church at Luz was built in memory of (Lazurus Trimorthy) is not yet corroborated.

The situation obtaining at Tamilnadu at that time: “The important cultivating class was Tamil Vellalars. They are not only important part of rural population but also they were employed in government service, particularly the village revenue collectors (karnams) and in trade and commerce. Districts like Tanjavur and Trinellvellai Vellalas were very orthodox in religious practice, some time even more than a Brahmin. The Vellalas were for the most part concentrated in the inland areas west of the city of Madras, particularly the districts of Coimbatore, Salem and North Arcot. They were also large numbers in south in Trinellvelli district. One description of the Vellalas position in Coimbatore characterized them as ‘truly the backbone of the district’ It is these who by their industry and frugality create and develop wealth, support the administration, and find the money for imperial and district demands.

“As their own proverb says ‘The Vellalar’s goad is the ruler’s scepter” Because the Vellalas were so widely diffused throughout Tamil area, they could not protect themselves against several of sub groups (jatis) who called themselves Vellalas but whose origin was among groups considerably inferior to the Vellalas in social position. Accounts of the emergence of Vellalas as important landholders in Madurai and other districts indicate that they achieved this position only under British rule, usually by ousting their Telugu counterparts the Kapu or Reddi cultivators, who had previously migrated into the area. At the start of the 20th century, the great landholding cast group in Madras was the Vellalas in the Tamil area.  (Politics and Social Conflict in South India by Eugene F. Irschick.)

Largest group of dubashis serving during 1650 to 1850 were the Mudaliars and Pillaimars is a historical fact. Later certain Telugu Brahmins and Komatti Chettiyars were also serving as dubashis.  The Vellalars were keenly inclined to be in the good books of the British and Christian lords, thereby getting enough influence and favors that were their sole aim. Several of them converted into Christianity. The bust of a converted Vellala Coho is still there in Pondicherry church complex. First time one Arumuga Navalar a Vellala of Sri Lanka wrote the Bible in Tamil. The Madras University and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was nicknamed the Mudaliar Munnetra Kazhagam. Here for a period of 27 years Dr. Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar was the vice-chancellor.  In the guise of literature and historical research Vellallas collaborating with Christian contaminating authenticated facts and written text books and propagating bogus information as facts. Their sole aim was to divide the Hindu religion, turn Tamil people mood against nationality, to separate the Brahmins against Tamilians, etc.   

Typical examples of some people who have contributed for adulterated history, culture and literature are Devaneya Paavaner, Aappa Duraiyar, and Deivanayakam Pillai (all converted Christian). This man Deivanayakam Pillai said in one of his research paper that saint Thiruvalluvar was a disciple of apostle Thomas and these Dravidian idiot’s are keeping mum. Others in the list are Manonmaniam Sundaranar, Venkata Challapathy, Kanakasabai Pillai, Aravanan, Marai Malai Adikal, Bharathidasan, Kundrakudi Adikalar — the list goes endlessly. This Vellalar muting is not only in Tamilnadu, the same muting in Sri Lanka is the root cause of countless number of innocent Tamils killed in the undeclared civil war recently. The main reason is changing faith and colluding with Christians.   

Why at all they served as dubashis? 1) Trading benefits; 2) The short route of brokering without investment; 3) The socially backward class were keen in getting converted and serve the British (slave mentality); 4) Joining the military of the foreign forces; 5) In the village administration cornering the karnam and other positions. The Tamil Brahmins never engaged such devious tactics. But later on, even the Brahmin joined the bandwagon and overtook the caste Hindus. But the race was won by the tortoise as the saying goes.  At that period, the group that was close to the British Madras Presidency was Ananda Rangam Pillai, Sunku Rama Chetty, Muthu Krishna Mudaliar, Narayana Pillai etc., of which Brahmins did not partake.   

1841 was the year the high school (Macaulay’s education) system was started. 1853 was the year of the first college. 1857 was the year of the first university reforms and regulations. 1857 to 2017 for 160 years, if three generation were involved, in the first generation the Brahmins were the lead group of literate in the city. They never interrupted anybody from learning. Legally they stood for social upliftment. The second generation saw the Brahmins were lagging behind. Reason being the Justice Party, Pachaiappa’s College, Christian College and Madras University were the fortress of the Mudaliars and a few caste Hindus. Their contribution just ruined the Tamil language, for two generations were doctored  about Tani Tamil, Tamizhan religion and Hindu religion are different, Dravida Nadu are the alibis for twisting the literary, cultural and historical facts. Anti-Brahmanism was the main aim fueling the hate and untouchability clashes, ruining the Tamil fabric is their only contribution. After Independence in the name of reservation, they have isolated the Brahmins from pillar to post and who are at the threshold of Tasmac.  In the capital city of Delhi one Brahmin Trust SULAB is operating public toilets and poor Brahmins are working there as scavengers, in the railway stations Brahmins are doing coolies job, a few Brahmin ladies driving auto rickshaw in Chennai and in the interior Tamilnadu one Brahmin girl took the job of burial in the cemetery. Now I hope that anti-Brahmin caste Hindus hearts may be cooled with joy.     

Only after the British expanded their trading activities, colonizing many areas and turned into ruling class, the Indian Civil Service enrolled the Brahmins as clerks, accountant, lawyers, advocates and judges etc., and not as dubashi.

Brahmins role as Dubash and their influence seems to have been disproportionate to their actual number in the company services. Mostly Telugu and Marati Brahmins who have former trading tie with Europeans and some had family ties with earlier Muslim rulers. Most of the Dubash are Tamil Vellalars, Pillai, Yadava and Chetty. Initially Tamil Brahmins are reluctant to have personal service with Europeans, instead accepted some bureaucratic or scholarly positions with the company.”

At that time backward caste and Brahmins were poor. The high caste Hindus were rich land lords, temple trustees, owners of many tenants in the city. They were not ready to take up the government jobs. The poor Brahmin took the lead. They were not jealous about the prosperous caste Hindus and never blamed them at all. This situation prevailed for a short span of time and the Britishers were also aware it. Also the Britishers were afraid of the high numbers of Brahmin involvement in the freedom fight. Hence they started issuing circulars to put hurdles in their advancement. Also they sowed the seeds of Arya/Dravida ethnic clashes.   

“During 1853, the British found the virtual monopoly of a single caste in public service. The revenue establishment in Nellore district was controlled by 49 Brahmins and all from the same family. Collectors should be careful to see that the subordinate appointments in their districts are not monopolized by members of a few influential families. Endeavour should always be made to divide the principal appointments in each district among several caste. (Proceedings of the Board of Revenue 9.3.1854. Similar type of notification was issued during the years 1857, 1907).

Lamentation of Sri Lankan Tamil (Pulambal): “During British rule the Jaffna Vellalas were favored by the British and the Vellalas became doctors, engineers, lawyers. Judges and civil servants throughout Ceylon. There was near total domination by the Vellalars in education and employment throughout Sri Lanka. Even in Sinhala areas the Vellalas dominated. The Sinhalese became angry and jealous but since they did not know the difference between Vellalas and non-Vellalas, they turned their ire on the entire Tamil community. The hapless non-Vellalas had incurred the wrath of the Sinhalese and had to suffer because of the misdeeds of the Vellalas. As a consequence of this the civil war erupted. So it is the Vellalas who are responsible for the plight of the Tamils.”

First of all this Mudali, Pillai and Vellala are not caste.  Mudali means: first rank in everything. During the Vijayanagar rule the king gave this Mudali title to army general Ariyanadan. Similarly Pillai title also given to certain people related to king’s families, some say it came from Kanaku Pillai (village clerk), in the web search lot of abuse information’s are available and the title’s origin not yet established. Likewise the word Vellala is derailed from the word vellanmai. During Sangam period vellanmai means: hosting and serving the guest. Thus the word vellanmai become Vellala caste of landlords and farmers. Like this it is very difficult to find out the base root of certain Tamil caste. There is a fight still going on in Tamilnadu to claim the ruling class status from almost all the communities except Brahmin. If we type Mudaliar Archives in Wiki, you will find one discussion panel comprising all the sub caste of Vellalas fighting each other with lot of evidence to establish who is ruling class, who is devadasi class, etc., and it runs countless number of pages.     

Puthiya Tamizhaham leader Mr. Krishnaswamy says in Vellalar group there are 153 sub castes and he suggests and recommends all sub caste groups to add Vellalar, Mudaliar title along with their group name at the end. He gives us examples also. Thuluva Vellalar to add Mudaliar in the bracket, Sengunther to add Mudaliar in the bracket, Senai Thalaiver to add Mudaliar in the bracket.  Likewise Pillaimar to add Vellalar in the bracket, Sozheya Vellalar to add Vellalar in the bracket, Karkatha Vellalar to add Vellalar in the bracket, Kodikal Vellalar to add Vellalar in the bracket. 

For a long duration in Tamil History the Vellalars were very close and had cordial relationship with Brahmins and treated them with respect. The same treatment was given to Brahmins by other Tamil caste people also. During the start of Vijayanagar Empire the rift between Brahmins and Vellalas started. Vellalas included Nayakers (Vanniyars) in the army and along with Vadugars they started distancing from Brahmins which took wild shape during British time and gave birth to separate Dravida Nadu excluding Brahmin. This Vellalas, Vadugars, Vaniyar combination strength in Tamilnadu is more than +15%. And minorities support them always. Without the mindset change of these Dravidian Donk…s, it is very difficult to bring the Tamil masses into the national stream. To know more about Vellalars twisting of history, culture and literature please visit website of South Indian Social History Research Institute by authors Mr. S. Ramachandran and Mr. Pravaahan. Here lot of articles with literary evidences denying the twisted theories of Vellalars and other Dravidian supporters, tearing them into gossip pieces.                                               

List of Dubashis

List of dubashis on record, their heirs and relations who for the last three generations were eking out a living and available names are as follows:

  1. Ananda Rangan Pillai – Dubashi & Trader – French Governor Joseph Francois Duplex – Pondicherry – 1726 – his diary is a worthwhile and important historical document – Thiruvenkadam Pillai’s son – his close associate was Naina Pillai – he was punished for colluding with Governor and lost his life in jail – a relative of this person is – Kuruva Pillai – in a  similar accusation of conceit with Governor – escaped and sought refuge in France and converted to Christianity – Bharathi and many other poets have eloquent praise about Ananda Rangan Pillai.
  2. Petro Kanakaraya Mudaliar – Broker & Dubashi – French East India Co. – for 24 years (1722 to 1746) – converted to Christianity – his bust is installed in Pondy St. Andrews Church – he was the builder of the church also – he has arranged common community feast many times – his coffin was imported from France and carried him in his last procession – the mansion built by him is now maintained by ASI – father Danappa Mudaliar – first dubashi of French – Christian convert – translated Thirukural in French
  3. Vallal Pachiappa Mudaliar – Dubashi & Trader – Philanthropies  – between the ages of 16 to 21 amassed huge fortunes in his profession – Henry Pony, Thomas Pony were Mayor Brothers for whom he had worked – first Indian to write a WILL for his property/wealth – he had two wives from different castes – his property was locked for 40 years in legal battle – then a trust was created for a value of approximately Rs. 4500 cores – so say Wiki: “As the 1990s dawned, it was reported that the Trust was worth over 4,500 cores, one of the biggest in that part of the world. Apart from administering religious charities from Kanyakumari to Varanasi, it ran six colleges, a polytechnic and 16 schools in Tamil Nadu, helped several medical facilities and owned several properties in the State.” Without any Christian influence started first Hindu college (Pachaiappa’s). ¶ Ramanuja Kavirayar has written a Panchatchara Maala about him – A simple man in life, he bathed in Cooum River and worshipped Komaleeswarar routinely – Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar Temple received enormous funds from him; his form etched in a pillar can be viewed even to-day – he was also trustee of several temples – a facsimile stamp was released by Indian Postal Department – donated Rs. 4.5 lacs for Hindu religious entities – Rs. 7.5 lakhs for Hindu student English education – every day free food distribution to poor people and Brahmins was one of his routine charity at Komaleeswarar Temple – he built choultry and agraharams – gave donation for the renovation of Chidambaram Temple – he helped Brahmins to visit religious places like Kasi, Rameswaram – in his WILL he mentioned about 30 charitable houses built by him – his friends Iyaa Pillai and Muniya Pillai were also dubashis – one of his student Narayana Pillai was the dubashi for Mayors Henry Bouni and Thomas Bouni.
  4. Avadanam Pappaia – Telugu Brahmin with knowledge of Persian and French – 1789 – worked under John Holland and Edward Holland the Governor’s brothers – his collusion with the Governor was exposed – lost his position along with Governor – a street in Choolai is named after him as “Pappa Theru” – Scotland’s one Walter wrote about his misdemeanors in a novel called The Surgeon’s Daughter – has worked for Thomas Parry as well – was in a good terms with Arcot Nawabs – the case went on but no record of punishment is there.
  5. For over 66 years a Telugu Brahmin Rayasum Pappaia, his brother and his son Vayasum Venkatachalam were chief dubashis of the St. George Fort.
  6.  Likewise Nal Vellala Manali Muthukrishna Mudaliar’s family were the dubashis from mid 1700 to the beginning of 1800 – he was assistant to Governor Picot – his son Venkatakrishna Mudali also continued to serve as dubash – the Britishers demolished a temple in the present high court complex – thereafter he brokered with British and earned a lot from it – then he bought a land and invested money and then built the Chennakesava Perumal Temple in Flower Bazar – also the Mallekeswarar Temple in nearby area. ¶ In 1785 Manali Muthukrishanan invited carnatic singer Ramaswamy Dikshadar to Madras – he patronized the family as well – his sons were Muthuswamy, Chinnaswamy & Baluswamy – of the three Muthuswamy Dikshadar later became famous as one of the three carnatic musical stalwarts – Muthuswamy Dikshadar has written 40 Sanskrit kirtans – because of his influence with British rulers, Venkatakrishna Mudaliar used to take Dikshadar along with him to the Fort – after watching the band performance the Dikshadar brought out the idea of including violin in Carnatic music – Muthuswamy Dikshadar beginning to observe keenly the violin music format – only thereafter he wrote the 40 Sanskrit kirtans – these Sanskrit kirtan are till date called the English Notes – Muthukrishan Mudaliar died in 1792 – however his son Venkatakrishnan continued the support to Dikshadar family and rendered all help.
  7. Raja – Sir – Chevalier – Rao Bahadur – S. Ramaswamy Mudaliar – Dubashi – Dymes & Co – amassed wealth within a short span of time – but his father was a building contractor gave yellow notice on insolvency and died – Ramaswamy Mudaliar was a member of Indian National Congress – went to England – he served as the 158th Madras Sheriff – he was also member of the facilitation committee of the 50th anniversary of King Edward (7) & Queen Alexandria – but he did not go to London – he established a choultry near Chennai Central – built health centers at Royapuram and Thirukazhukundram – built a children’s hospital at Cuddalore.
  8. Kovur Sundresa Mudalior – Dubashi – East India Co. – his mansion-house is in Black Town – he was an ardent lover of Thiga Iyer kirtanas – he invited him to his house – there he wrote 5 kirtanas – the starting stanza of Kovur Sundaresa song is very famous – this is the name of Lord Siva of Kovur – but still some controversy lies about whom for this song was sung.        
  9. Kumarappa Mudaliar – Dubashi – Governor Thomas Sanderson (1749).
  10. Poondamaali Thuluva Vellala – Dubashi Family – Subu Devanyaka Mudaliar was the trustee of Chennai Nunkambakkam Agasthiar Temple – a big framed portrait work of him is still in the temple hall – his grandfather has served as dubash under Iyarcoat an army officer (1720).
  11. Ramalinga Mudaliar – Dubashi – Major Bannerman – the one who sent Kattabomman to the gallows.
  12. Vandalur Venkatanarayana Pillai – Dubashi – Charles Bouchier (1767) and also George Strattaon (1776).
  13. Thuluva Vellala Kesava Mudaliar – Dubashi – Temple Trustee – 1700.
  14. Elam Babu Vellala – Dubash Family – acquired many villages and formed estate
  15. Thottikalai Kesava Mudaliar family – Dubashi & Jamindars
  16. Vayalur Kulantee Veera Perumal Pillai – Dubashi – Governors – Thomas Rumbolt (1778) – Lord George Macartny (1781) – Sir Archibold Cambel (1786) – in his WILL of 1793 has written about the Sri Hari Kota estate and Indamdar lands.
  17. Ponna Pillai – Dubashi – 1804 – lost his family in fire accident in cotton stock-up godown.
  18. Nota Vayal Narayana Pillai – Dubashi – Madras Council – Governor Charles Bouchier – also for some more time under George Powney (1750) – he was also called Powney Narayana Pillai.
  19. Venkatrangan Pillai – Dubashi – George Powney – was accused of corrupt practices – a grain godown at Black Town – a Garden House at Thondaiyarpet – a series of tenements at Muthaialpet & Triplicane.
  20. One Thuluva Vellala family man of Ponneri Taluq Mootia Mudaliar (probably Muthaiah Mudaliar) – he has served as dubashi in East India Company’s military secretariat for 40 years – his sons were also served as such for some more time – in the beginning of the 18th century one of his son was awarded the title of “Principal Native Manager & Record Keeper”.
  21. Vandalur Venkatachalam Pillai – Dubashi – (1687) – Governor Elhi Yale – his son dubashi – (1740) – Governor Morse – two of his uncles were dubashis at the time of Warren Hastings – Venkatachalam Pillai was also in the good terms with Nawab Mohamed Ali – there is a written family biography of their servitude.
  22. The first dubashi of Binny & Co. was Challappa Vekatachala Mudaliar.
  23. Paappa Pillai – Dubashi – Madam Duplex – French East India Co. – Kuruva Pillai – French Dubashi – Alakanada Pillai – First dubashi of East India Co. – has donated profusely to Mallikeswarar & Ekambareshwarar Temples.
  24. Some other dubashis are – Sunka Rama Cheey, Kalavai Chetty, Kalastri Chetty & Thibu Chetty.
  25. Beri Dimmappa – Dubashi – Governors – Francis Day – Andre Gogan – he has donated to Chenna Kesava Perumal Temple and Mallikeswarar Temple – his son Beri Venkatadri built the Guindy Lodge i.e. the present Raj Bhavan.
  26. Chinna Tambi Mudaliar – Dubashi & Trader – Madras Port – his three wives had each two children – all were dubashi & jamindar.
  27. Kupuswamy Mudaliar & Sons (1840 – 1911) – Dubashi & Traders.
  28. Devan Bahadur V.Shanmuga Mudaliar (1874) – Dubashi & Trader. 
  29. Muthu Mudaliar (1790) – Dubashi – Nawab Umarathullah.
  30. Chidambaram Ramaswamy Mudaliar -Purasawakkam – Dubashi & Liquor Trader – London Gazatte.
  31. Divan Bhadur C.Natesa Mudaliar – Doctor – served as dubashi at Gorden Woodroffe Co. for some time – fore runner of the Dravidian Movement.
  32. P. T. Lee Chengalvaraya Naicker – Sabedar Major in British Army – conferred the title of “Lee” – Dubashi – Chand & Co. – there are many schools and trusts in his name.
  33. Vempakkam Krishna Iyer (his nickname is Kabal Krishnan) – Dubashi – Grain Merchant – in 1820 engaged in salt business near Masulipatinam – his son Vempakkam Raghavachari (1834) – got high post in police as deputy superintendent. 
  34. Even C. N. Annadurai first joined as dubashi to support EVR – more details about the various dubashis is not readily available. If we get it it will be a very long list

Mudali Street Names in Chennai

Appu Mudali Street, Adanjan Mudali Street, Solaiappa Mudali Street, Sadiappa Mudali Street, Naattu Subbaraya Mudali Street (all in Mylapore). C. S. Mudali Street, Ayalur Muthaiah Mudali Street (Ch-79), Pachaiappa Mudali Street, Manar Mudali Street, Devaraja Mudali Street (Ch-1), Gangadara Mudali Street (Ambattur), Lakshmana Mudali Street, General Muthaiah Mudali Street, Mannarappa Mudali Street, Veeraragha Mudali Street, Damodara Mudali Street, Daanappa Mudali Street, Narayana Mudali Street (Ch-1), Ponnaappa Mudali Street, Bemasena Mudali Street, Vadivelu Mudali Street (Ambattur), Thoppai Mudali Street, Iya Mudali Street(Ch-1), Thambi Mudali Street (Ch-1), Perumal Mudali Street (Ch-2),  Ganapathy Mudali Street (Ambattur), Vinayaka Mudali Street, Strontton Muthaiah Mudali Street, Periannan Mudali Street (Seven Wells), Thaniappa Mudali Street (Parrys), Anantavelu Mudali Street (Perampur), Prakasham Mudali Street (Ch-17), Kandapa Mudali Street (Sowcarpet), V. S. Mudali Street (Saidapet), Kuppu Muthu Mudali Street (Triplicane), Mallan Ponnappa Mudali Street (Triplicane), Krishappa Mudali Street (Triplicane), Balakrishna Mudali Street (Mambalam), Talakulam Mudali East Street (Anna Nagar), Venkatachala Mudali Street (Mint), Babu Mudali Street, Elaia Mudali Street (Jafarkhanpet), Thulasinga Mudali Street (Perambur).

Thus among the street names in Chennai, I guess, there may be more than 25% named after Mudaliars. Why such caste names have been removed intently is bright and clear. Even English people’s street names have also being gradually changed. Other than Mudali street names, other caste people’s name also popular in Chennai streets. But rarely can you see more than one house owned by other castes notable figure name in such streets and yet they were called after them. A majority of Mudaliars were small traders yet they owned at least 5 to 10 houses in each street.  Their rental income was their main source of livelihood. How did they acquire such large number of houses? These were the groups started first constructing small hall in the front portion of their houses and renting it for petty shops in the residential area. Wearing dark bordered dhotis and moving about holding murasoli and viduttalai papers are symbols of their pedantry lifestyle.

Dravidianism and Anti-Brahmanism

From Sangam Age up to Vijayanagar Kingdom was establishment, there was no big caste rivalries, cultural clashes in Tamilnadu. Kalappirar’s suppression was possible only because of caste and cultural unity is an open truth seen by everyone. Nayanmars and Alwars constituted from all castes shows their literary prowess.  Among Nayanmars, 13 were Vellalars. Ramayana fame Kambar, Peria Puranam fame Sekkizhar and Ottakuthar were Vellalars. All the aforesaid dubashi should have been adequately literate to do as such popular jobs. The caste Hindus who fought along with Brahmins in the Independence Movement were they not literate?

Even Adi Shankara, the supreme realization propagator of Brahma Jnana who as confronted and asked a Puliya to clear his way, when he put out the question of asking him “to move aside with his body or soul”, was instantly enlightened and sang the Maneesha Pancha Ratna. Appothi Adigal was Brahmin, Thirunavukarasar was a Vellala. Even without seeing him he named his name for the following, cow and calf, utensils for cooking, annadanam service, and water pandals. Paada Puja without physically seen him when he visited his abode, his son went out to pluck plantain leaves for his feast and bitten by a snake, hiding the incident he served the food. All this reveal not an iota of caste or cultural differences. Likewise Ramanuja is a Brahmin and Thirukacha Nambi is a Vellala, did he not cleanse his feet and show his devotion. Brahmin Madura Kavi Alwar’s de facto guru was Vellala Nammalvar. Thirugnana Sambandar always kept along with him Thiruneelakanda Yazhpanar to accompanying him with Yazh music in spite of the latter being from untouchable caste. U. Ve. Sa. is a Brahmin, did he not devoutly study Tamil under Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai. And we can add many such queer combinations.

East India Co. was wound up and the official British Rule was functioning from 1858 only. Even prior to this, land ceiling, stoppage of money flow from the treasury, withdrawal of post and titles (Sir, Rao, Bahadur, Diwan, Jamindar, Mirasdar, Inamdar, Lee, Bethro and Chevalier). All who ruled the roost were affected enormously. Also these Dravidian hawks were as devout as Brahmins, wearing cross threads, tilaks, rudrakshas and panchakacha etc., but dramatically changed wearing trim black coat, wearing the foul-smelling jaree turban and angavastram to please the Britishers. Later Brahmins were also copying the same fashion is true. Brahmin’s who quickly mastered English were the much sought after.

After seizure of several government jobs, political influence and governing prowess got a beating. Freedom movement of the congress was widely supported by Brahmin strength and their resounding influence only created jealous cleaving of other Hindus. This was their greatest disappointment. Until yesterday, the Brahmins who eked out a living by seeking alums by writing poems about land lord’s hospitality and philanthropic acts (Bharati also wrote like this on several occasions due to his poor condition, half-heartedly), Brahmins clad the VIP with parivattam  and poornakumbham whenever they visit temple to felicitate. Now because of their English education sitting in all higher post of government as advocates, judges, and dictating terms to others’ lives. This ended up with unlimited jealousy and unscrupulous twisted tongues began to fuel the anti-Brahmin temper. (The learned caste Hindus abuses are given in later paragraphs below). They shamelessly began to wag their tails around the English lordship. The people who served under these upper caste Hindus also followed their master’s footprints pitiably.        

The Brahmins, the most wanted one for powerful governing services. As soon as he took the freedom flag in his hand, the British totally shaken and began to pull down his meritorious services by cunningly ruining his friendship circle, adopted the divide and rule weapon of Brahmin and non-Brahmin, Arya and Dravida dramatics. Also in the census before 1871 Britishers mentioned Vellalars as Chur Shudra and sowed the seeds of hatred, i.e. the tactics of British. Apart from this out of 30 core of India’s population, British brought 7 cores of people under the Criminal Tribes Act. In the 1911 population census they branded 1) Hindus, 2) Spirit Worshippers & Adivasis, 3) Outcastes (Untouchables). Yes? This was the portrayal of our country. First time the word “untouchable” was coined by the British administration in the census record. (Even from Purana period this type of separatism was there but all the time lot of Hindu monks and social leaders attempted to minimize the difference and to some extent they were successful also). To accuse the Brahmins of all such absurdity is clearly unreasonable.

The Brahmins sure did have an inherent class unity, to up-lift the poor and suffering lot the men in power did help adequately.  This was evident not only during their predominant period even when Mr. Baktavatsalam ruled started filling large government postings with Vellalars. Even Periyar was anti-Brahmin, anti-Mudaliar, and anti-Malyalee, and anti-minority stirs were frequently conducted.

The class/clan affinity of Brahmins was for superior to die-caste hatred stance of some Hindu caste mongers.  That is why even this day the Dalits are suppressed. Brahmins lived on isolation whereas some caste Hindus totally kept them away. The aforesaid two attitudes are basically and substantially different. With such isolation only can the Brahmins continue his ordained religious duties? As relationship and societal influence will alter one’s basic qualities, this he has always duty bound to insulate himself.   

“In Tamil Nadu the Brahmins represented in 1891 only 3% of the population and were concentrated in the Kaveri delta. Correlatively, Tamil society was more fragmented and fluid. If the Vellalas – a caste of Shudra cultivators claiming the statute of Kshatriya – represented 12.42% of the population, no caste, even not this one, extended its domination over more than one district. In fact, in most districts the Vellalas shared the dominance with warrior castes, migrated from Andhra Pradesh between the 15th and the 18th century and with castes of craftsmen and merchants.”

Vellalars should be called “vaishyas“, this was suggested in Varuna Chindamani, a literary piece published by Kanaka Sabai Pillai. For this Bharathiar wrote a poem as a preface or forward. He deeply supported such a stance of Vellalars. Professor Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai also stubbornly opposed the word “shudra”. The fragrant flower of the Dravidians is the Vellalars, he declared. Shankarachariyar called the Vellalars as shudra was a common accusation. That was why Brahmin’s also openly call them as such, that was another charge. Sekkizhar, the Vellala author of Periyapuranam, calls himself proudly as “Sar Shudra” caste. The rise and influence of Buddhism, Jainism and the long foreign domination of the soil was the backdrop of such discriminating practices of varnasrama which went out of sight of our culture several centuries ago. To rekindle such abhorrent practices with ulterior motives of dividing the peace of the society atmosphere is absurd. Whether a Brahmin or a Vellala, who ever does it is totally unjustified. The greatest folly and mockery of the situation is the Vellala, who accused the Brahmin for varnasrama system, sought the status of vaishya in that abhorrent varna steps.  To-day no one calls anyone as shudra.  Brahmins calls others as non-Brahmins. Even after the disappearance of these shudra castigations, parpan, parayan and parpana budhi, para budhi which are still alive and who are responsible for such mean stances. Where did the other caste mongers budhi run and hide?  

In 1917, Pitty Thiagaraja Chetty, in the Justice Party first conference said that “Brahmins who without following their ordained tradition of religious practices, were well learned in English and thereby usurped governing jobs, advocates and judges positions and mastering the art of inquiry and dictating terms for others was his basic grudge. They should revert back to their traditions of Veda adhyayana under a banyan tree or riverfront, performing homams & offering ahudis, receive and give alms, continue their spiritual inquiry and then would the other communities slowly learn the administration techniques in phased manner and come up in life.  If not the Brahmins are the real stumbling block in the latter’s advancement and livelihood.”

Apart from this, Vellalar Vedachalam alias Maraimalai Adigalar, once in a Nellore public speech (1923, March 22) openly stated that Brahmins influence in this area is alarming. “Oh when will the Brahmins go out of sight from India without a trace of their foot prints?”         

In 1917, Ra. Pi. Sethu Pillai repeated “Ozhukkam udaimai kudimai izhukkam  izhinda pirappay vidum”, and while explaining the meaning of this kural he poured venomous condemnation of Brahmins. At present day our people own earned money are not spent for the education of their children instead, spending the money for the welfare of vadiar parpan foolishly without any thought process. Caste, kula divisions and difference are the creation of Brahmins is a great drawback to our country’s advancement, these one and all should perceive. Can anyone continue to feed venomous snakes or dare to cure a tiger from diseases? Is there anyone like that in the world? Did anyone give weapons to the enemy whose sole aim is to kill us? The sermons go like this!

Such were the venomous outpouring of even the well-educated and elite groups who took staunch anti-Brahmin hegemony. Yes literates, prominent poet and adinamada heads were also included in the hate campaign.

In Vellala caste plenty of gems of people contributed to Tamil literature, culture and religion. Starting from Kamban, Ottakoothar, Sekkizhar, Va. U. Se, Thillaiadi Valliammai, Shanbhaharaman, 13 Nayanmars and the list goes endlessly. Once Tamilnadu was in the forefront for whole of India in guiding principles. Such people’s heirs now engaged in all false propagandas due to alien brain wash. People called Rajaji as the conscience of Gandhi but the Dravidian people call C. N. Annadurai who wrote Kambarasam and calling him as South Indian Gandhi. Why such countless literate and ill-literate filthy stuff always claiming Dravidian superiority and roaming still is my anguish. Such were the venomous outpouring of Dravidians who took staunch anti-Brahmin hegemony.  

Now anti-Brahmanism is a blunt-edged sword. So anti-Vadugars, Tani Tami Desiyam is the perpetrators of Dravidian hawks. Their basic claims are 1) “Achieve Dravidanadu or else Sudukadu” — yes this slogan only got buried and dropped the Dravidanadu; 2) “Duty, Dignity & Self Respect” — everything lost its charm and thrown to the winds like a kite now catches thread of power, positions and title are the dominant social fervor. Dravidians, whose object anti-Brahmanism was the feeding stock of the profounder, prostrated before a Brahmin lady. Even after her death, the Dravidians just to retain in power still shamelessly saluting the lady who got a jail number award in the court case for illegal wealth.

References

  1. The Dubashes of Madras, Susan Neiled Basu, CUP, Rochester;
  2. Politics and Social Conflicts of South India, Eugene F. Irschick;
  3. The Madura Country, J. H. Nelson, Madras Government (1868);
  4. Indigenous Society, Temples and the Early Colonial State in Tamilnadu (1700-1835), Kanakalatha;  
  5. Madras Pattinam, Narasaiah (Tamil);
  6. Dravida Iyakkam Punaivum Unmayum, Malarmannan (Tamil);
  7. Caste Politics in North, West and South India before Mandal: The Low Caste Movements between Sanskritization and Ethnicisation, Christophe Jaffrelot, Paris.

» Vedam Gopal is a retired company official with an interest in Tamil history, politics and society. His articles in Tamil appear on the Tamil Hindu website and Hindu Unity blog. This article was translated from Tamil to English by V. Ramachandran. 

Caste-based Reservations

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Where is the Brahmin, seeker of the highest truth? – Makarand Paranjape

Brahmin

Prof Makarand R. ParanjapeIndia is filled not only with Brahmin-baiters and Brahmin-haters, but also of brainwashed and de-brahminised Hindus. … The main strategy is to ascribe all the evils not only of the caste system but of Hinduism itself to “Brahminism.” – Prof Makarand Paranjape

No right-thinking Indian can justify the ancient régime of varna vyastha, whose injustices, inequalities, and indignities have survived into our own times. Yet, arguably, it is caste, not ideology, that is still the driving force in Indian society and politics. This contradiction of repudiation-reification makes us pose the moot question, “Has the Brahmin disappeared from India?”

Some 20 years ago, Saeed Naqvi, in The Last Brahmin Prime Minister of India, conferred that dubious distinction on P. V. Narasimha Rao. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ascension to the august office proved Naqvi wrong. Rani Sivasankara Sarma’s autobiographical account in Telugu, The Last Brahmin, published soon after Naqvi’s, also asks similar questions, though from a socio-religious, rather than political, standpoint.

I was startled to learn that on his last visit to India in 1985, the great philosopher and teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti raised the same question in his conversation with Professor P. Krishna at Rajghat, Varanasi (A Jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti by Padmanabhan Krishna). Krishnamurti is quick to clarify that “Brahmin” is “Not by birth, sir, that is so childish!” As the conversation unfolds, Krishnamurti narrates a story to illustrate.

After defeating Porus, Alexander is impressed by the efficiency of the former’s administration. Alexander hears that the person responsible, Porus’s Brahmin Prime Minister, has left the capital after the loss. Sending after him, Alexander is further surprised at the Brahmin’s refusal to call on him. Deciding to visit him instead, Alexander asks, “I am so impressed with your abilities. Will you work for me?” “Sorry,” says the Brahmin, “I must teach these children; I no longer wish to serve emperors.”

Krishnamurti’s tale is a variation of the story of Alexander the Great and the Stoic. The latter refuses to give up philosophy even in face of the monarch’s threats or blandishments; clearly, this story has both Greek and Indian versions. Krishnamurti concludes: “That’s a Brahmin—you can’t buy him. Now tell me, Sir, has the Brahmin disappeared from this country?”

In thus defining a Brahmin, Krishnamurti is following a tradition as old as the Buddha. In Canto 26 of the Dhammapada titled, “Who is a Brahmin,” the Tathagata says, “who is devoid of fear and free from fetters, him I call a Brahmin.” Verse after verse clarifies, enumerates, and explains the qualities: “He who is contemplative, lives without passions, is steadfast and has performed his duties, who is free from sensuous influxes and has attained the highest goal—him I call a Brahmin” (386). “Not by matted hair, by lineage, nor by birth (caste) does one become a Brahmin. But the one in whom there abide truth and righteousness, he is pure; he is a Brahmin” (393).

Traditionally, those born in the Brahmin jati were supposed to aspire to and espouse such high ideals, whether Vedic or Buddhist. But in these contentious times, the Buddha’s words themselves have been politicised. There are many “modern” translations of the Dhammapada where the word “Brahmin” has been removed completely. The Vedas, of course, are rejected altogether for being “Brahminical.” The object is clearly to attack, denigrate, and destroy the abstract category called “Brahmin.”

Often, the main strategy is to ascribe all the evils not only of the caste system but of Hinduism itself to “Brahminism.” Actually, the latter word was invented by Orientalists to refer to the worship of “Brahman” in contra-distinction to the Buddha, which was called Buddhism. The rule of Brahmins, though there was possibly never such a thing in actual Indian history, should more properly be termed “Brahminarchy”, a term no one uses. Much misinterpretation has also entered our own languages through the back translation of “Brahminism” as “Brahmanvad.” The latter is understood as the ideology of Brahmin domination promoting a hierarchical and exclusionary social system.

Maharaja NandakumarThe history of anti-Brahminism should not, however, be traced to Phule, Periyar, or even Ambedkar, who were all trying to reform rather than destroy Hindu society. The real culprit was more likely British imperialism. If the Muslim invaders tried to annihilate the Kshatriyas, the British attempted to finish off the Brahmins. After the East India Company assumed the overlordship of Bengal, their first execution was of “Maharaja” Nandakumar, a leading Brahmin opponent of the Governor-General, Warren Hastings. On 5 August 1775, Nandakumar was hanged for forgery, a capital crime under British law. But how was such a law applicable to India?

Macaulay, though an imperialist, called the execution a judicial murder. He accused Elijah Impey, the first Chief Justice of the Calcutta Supreme Court, of colluding with Hastings.

The hanging of Nandakumar took place near what is now the Vidyasagar Setu. The entire Hindu population shunned the British, moving to the other bank of the river, to protest against British injustice and to avoid the pollution caused by the act.

Today, India is filled not only with Brahmin-baiters and Brahmin-haters, but also of brainwashed and de-brahminised Hindus. My own university, JNU, is full of pamphlets and posters against Brahminism, one even blaming “Brahminical patriarchy” for the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed, who went missing on 15 October 2016. Anti-Brahminism, however, is never considered hate-crime or hate-speech. Why? Don’t Brahmins have human feelings or rights? Brahmins, moreover, are soft targets, scripturally and culturally enjoined not to retaliate. As the Dhammapada (389) puts it, “One should not strike a Brahmin; neither should a Brahmin give way to anger against him who strikes.”

Is it time intellectually to re-arm Brahmins so that they maintain both their own dignity and the veneration of their inherited calling? Does the ideal of the Brahmin continue to be relevant to India, whether we define a Brahmin as one who cannot be bought, a seeker of the highest truth, or a teacher and guide? Shouldn’t such a person, regardless of the jati she or he is born in, continue to be a beacon of light and leadership? As to those born into the community, they may well remember the Kanchi Paramacharya’s sage advice: Fulfill the responsibilities but do not expect the privileges of your birth. – Swarajya, 6 January 2017

» Prof Makarand Paranjape is an author and teaches English at JNU, New Delhi. 

Brahmin & Moghul

See also

Brahmins are the Jews of India – Jakob De Roover

Prof Dr Jakob De RooverThe contemporary stereotypes about Brahmins and the story about Brahminism … originate in Christian theology. They reproduce Protestant images of the priests of false religion. When European missionaries and merchants began to travel to India in great numbers, they held two certainties that came from Christian theology: false religion would exist in India; and false religion revolved around evil priests who had fabricated all kinds of laws, doctrines and rites in order to bully the innocent believers into submission. In this way, the priests of the devil abused religion for worldly goals. – Prof Dr Jakob De Roover

Namboothiri BrahminSocial science debate in India has been hijacked by the struggle between secularism and Hindutva for decades now. Usually the Sangh Parivar is blamed for this turn of events. However, it could well be argued that the Hindutva ideologues simply adopted the stance of the secularists.  Perhaps the best illustration is the case of anti-Brahminism.

To be against “Brahminism” is part and parcel of the political correctness of progressive scholars in twenty-first-century India, much like being against Muslims is part of the message of their Hindutva colleagues. This indicates that something is very wrong with the Indian academic debate. Promotion of animosity towards a religious tradition or its followers is not acceptable today, but it becomes truly perverse when the intelligentsia endorses it.

In Europe, it took horrendous events to put an end to the propaganda of anti-Semitism, which had penetrated the media and intelligentsia. It required decades of incessant campaigning before anti-Semitism was relegated to the realm of intellectual and political bankruptcy. In India, anti-Brahminism is still the proud slogan of many political parties and the credential of the radical intellectual.

Some may find this parallel between anti-Brahminism and anti-Semitism ill-advised. Nevertheless, it has strong grounds.

First, there are striking similarities between the stereotypes about Brahmins in India and those about Jews in the West. Jews have been described as devious connivers, who would do anything for personal gain. They were said to be secretive and untrustworthy, manipulating politics and the economy. In India, Brahmins are all too often characterised in the same way.

The Protocols of the Elders of ZionSecond, the stereotypes about the Jews were part of a larger story about a historical conspiracy in which they had supposedly exploited European societies. To this day, the stories about a Jewish conspiracy against humanity prevail. The anti-Brahminical stories sound much the same, but have the Brahmins plotting against the oppressed classes in Indian society.

In both cases, historians have claimed to produce “evidence” that cannot be considered so by any standard. Typical of the ideologues of anti-Brahminism is the addition of ad hoc ploys whenever their stories are challenged by facts. When it is pointed out that the Brahmins have not been all that powerful in most parts of the country, or that they were poor in many regions, one reverts to the image of the Brahmin manipulating kings and politicians behind the scene. We cannot find empirical evidence, it is said, because of the secretive way in which Brahminism works.

Third, both in anti-Semitic Europe and anti-Brahminical India, this goes together with the interpretation of contemporary events in terms of these stories. One does not really analyse social tragedies and injustices, but approaches them as confirmations of the ideological stories. All that goes wrong in society is blamed on the minority in question. Violence against Muslims? It must be the “Brahmins” of the Sangh Parivar. Opposition against Christian missionaries and the approval of anti-conversion laws? “Ah, the Brahmins fear that Christianity will empower the lower castes.” Members of a scheduled caste are killed? “The Brahmin wants to show the Dalit his true place in the caste hierarchy.” An OBC member loses his job; a lower caste girl is raped? “The upper castes must be behind it.” So the story goes.

Caricature of JewThis leads to a fourth parallel: in both cases, resentment against the minority in question is systematically created and reinforced among the majority. The Jews were accused of sucking all riches out of European societies. In the decades before the second World War, more and more people began to believe that it was time “to take back what was rightfully theirs.” In India also, movements have come into being that want to set right “the historical injustices of Brahminical oppression.” Some have even begun to call upon their followers to “exterminate the Brahmins.”

In Europe, state policies were implemented that expressed the discrimination against Jews. For a very long time, they could not hold certain jobs and participate in many social and economic activities. In India, one seems to be going this way with policies that claim to correct “the historical exploitation by the upper castes.” It is becoming increasingly difficult for Brahmins to get access to certain jobs. In both cases, these policies have been justified in terms of a flawed ideological story that passes for social science.

The fifth parallel is that both anti-Semitism and anti-Brahminism have deep roots in Christian theology. In the case of Judaism, its continuing vitality as a tradition was a threat to Christianity’s claim to be the fulfilment of the Jewish prophecies about the Messiah. The refusal of Jews to join the religion of Christ (the true Messiah, according to Christians) was seen as an unacceptable denial of the truth of Christianity. Saint Augustine even wrote that the Jews had to continue to exist, but only to show that Christians had St. Francis Xavier: The Scourge of the Coromandel Coast!not fabricated the prophesies about Christ and to confirm that some would not follow Christ and be damned for it.

The contemporary stereotypes about Brahmins and the story about Brahminism also originate in Christian theology. They reproduce Protestant images of the priests of false religion. When European missionaries and merchants began to travel to India in great numbers, they held two certainties that came from Christian theology: false religion would exist in India; and false religion revolved around evil priests who had fabricated all kinds of laws, doctrines and rites in order to bully the innocent believers into submission. In this way, the priests of the devil abused religion for worldly goals. The European story about Brahminism and the caste system simply reproduced this Protestant image of false religion. The colonials identified the Brahmins as the priests and Brahminism as the foundation of false religion in India. This is how the dominant image of “the Hindu religion” came into being.

The sixth parallel lies in the fact that Christian theology penetrated and shaped the “secular” discourse about Judaism and Brahminism. The theological criticism became part of common sense and was reproduced as scientific truth. In India, this continues unto this day. Social scientists still talk about “Brahminism” as the worst thing that ever happened to humanity.

Perhaps the most tragic similarity is that some members of the minority community have internalised these stories about themselves. Some Jews began to believe that they were to blame for what happened during the Holocaust; many educated Brahmins now feel that they are guilty of historical atrocities against other groups. In some cases, this has led to a kind of identity crisis in which they vilify “Brahminism” in English-language academic debate, but continue their traditions. In other cases, the desire to “defend” these same traditions has inspired Brahmins to aggressively support Hindutva.

Corpses in Buchenwald Concentration CampIn twentieth-century Europe, we have seen how dangerous anti-Semitism was and what consequences it could have in society. Tragically, unimaginable suffering was needed before it was relegated to the realm of unacceptable positions. In India, anti-Brahminism was adopted from Protestant missionaries by colonial scholars who then passed it on to the secularists and Dalit intellectuals. They created the climate which allowed the Sangh Parivar to continue hijacking the social sciences for petty political purposes.

The question that India has to raise in the twenty-first century is this: Do we need bloodshed, before we will realise that the reproduction of anti-Brahminism is as harmful as anti-Muslim propaganda? What is needed to realise that the Hindutva movement has simply taken its cue from the secularists? – Outlook, 20 June 2008

» Prof Dr Jakob De Roover is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation (FWO) Flanders at the Research Centre Vergelijkende Cultuurwetenschap, Ghent University, Belgium.

Brahmin

Alienated Indians: Denying their own roots – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“The British colonial masters had been successful in not only weaning away many of the elite from their ancient tradition but even making them despise it. It helped that the ‘educated’ class could no longer read the original Sanskrit texts and believed what the British told them. This lack of knowledge and the brainwashing by the British education may be the reason why many ‘modern’ Indians are against anything ‘Hindu’. They don’t realize the difference between western religions that have to be believed (or at least professed) blindly, and which discourage if not forbid their adherents to think on their own and the multi-layered Hindu Dharma which gives freedom and encourages using one’s intelligence.” – Maria Wirth

Nepal & India are Hindu countries.Though I live in India since long, there are still some points that I find hard to understand – for example why many educated Indians become agitated when India is considered as a Hindu country. The majority of Indians are Hindus. India is special because of its ancient Hindu tradition. Westerners are drawn to India because of it. Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country?

This attitude is strange for two reasons. First, those educated Indians seem to have a problem only with ‘Hindu’ India, but not with ‘Muslim’ or ‘Christian’ countries. In Germany for example, only 59 percent of the population are registered with the two big Christian Churches (Protestant and Catholic), however, the country is bracketed under ‘Christian countries’. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, stressed recently the Christian roots of Germany and urged the population ‘to go back to Christian values’. In 2012, she postponed her trip to the G-8 summit for a day to address the German Catholic Day. Two major political parties carry ‘Christian’ in their name, including Angela Merkel’s ruling party.

Germans are not agitated that Germany is called a Christian country, though I actually would understand if they were. After all, the history of the Church is appalling. The so-called success story of Christianity depended greatly on tyranny. “Convert or die”, were the options given not only to the indigenous population in America some five hundred years ago. In Germany, too, 1200 years ago, the emperor Karl the Great ordered the death sentence for refusal of baptism in his newly conquered realms. It provoked his advisor Alcuin to comment: ‘One can force them to baptism, but how to force them to believe?’

Those times, when one’s life was in danger if one dissented with the dogmas of the Church, are thankfully over. And nowadays many in the west do dissent and leave the Church in a steady stream – partly because they are disgusted with the less than holy behavior of Church officials and partly because they can’t believe in the dogmas, for example that ‘Jesus is the only way’ and that God sends all those who don’t accept this to hell.

The cosmos is concious, stupid scientist!And here comes the second reason why the resistance to associate India with Hinduism by Indians is difficult to understand. Hinduism is in a different category from the Abrahamic religions. Its history, compared to Christianity and Islam was undoubtedly the least violent as it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is not a belief system that demands blind belief in dogmas and the suspension of one’s intelligence. On the contrary, Hinduism encourages using one’s intelligence to the hilt. It is an enquiry into truth, based on a refined (methods are given) character and intellect. It comprises a huge body of ancient literature, not only regarding Dharma and philosophy, but also regarding music, architecture, dance, science, astronomy, economics, politics, etc.

If Germany or any other western country had this kind of literary treasure, it would be so proud and highlight its greatness on every occasion. When I discovered for example the Upanishads, I was stunned. Here was expressed in clear terms what I intuitively had felt to be true, but could not have expressed clearly. Brahman is not partial; it is the invisible, indivisible essence in everything. Everyone gets again and again a chance to discover the ultimate truth and is free to choose his way back to it. Helpful hints are given but not imposed.

In my early days in India, I thought that every Indian knew and valued his tradition. Slowly I realized that I was wrong. The British colonial masters had been successful in not only weaning away many of the elite from their ancient tradition but even making them despise it. It helped that the ‘educated’ class could no longer read the original Sanskrit texts and believed what the British told them. This lack of knowledge and the brainwashing by the British education may be the reason why many ‘modern’ Indians are against anything ‘Hindu’. They don’t realize the difference between western religions that have to be believed (or at least professed) blindly, and which discourage if not forbid their adherents to think on their own and the multi-layered Hindu Dharma which gives freedom and encourages using one’s intelligence.

Many of the educated class do not realize that on one hand, westerners, especially those who dream to impose their own religion on this vast country, will applaud them for denigrating Hindu Dharma, because this helps western universalism to spread in India. On the other hand, many westerners, including Church people, very well know the value and surreptitiously appropriate insights from the vast Indian knowledge system, drop the original source and present it either as their own or make it look as if these insights had been known in the west.

Decolonizing the Hindu Mind by Koenraad ElstRajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation has done painstaking research in this field and has documented many cases of “digestion” of Dharma civilization into western universalism. He chose the term digestion, as it implies that that which is being digested (a deer for example) is in the end no longer there, whereas the ‘digester’ (a tiger) becomes stronger. Similarly, Hindu civilization is gradually being depleted of its valuable, exclusive assets and what is left is called inferior.

If only missionaries denigrated Hindu Dharma, it would not be so bad, as they clearly have an agenda which discerning Indians would detect. But sadly, Indians with Hindu names assist them because they wrongly believe that Hinduism is inferior to western religions. They belittle everything Hindu instead of getting thorough knowledge. As a rule, they know little about their tradition except what the British told them, i.e. that the major features are caste system and idol worship. They don’t realize that India would gain, not lose, if it solidly backed its profound and all-inclusive Hindu tradition. The Dalai Lama said some time ago that already as a youth in Lhasa, he had been deeply impressed by the richness of Indian thought. “India has great potential to help the world,” he added. When will the westernized Indian elite realize it? – Jagobangla, 11 May 2013

» Maria Wirth is an author and has studied psychology at Hamburg University. She has lived in India 25 years. For more of her articles, go to the Life Positive website here.

Hurt and mediocrity in India – Gautam Sen

Mediocrity

Dr. Gautam Sen“Everyone in India today is in constant danger of being hurt both maliciously and inadvertently. Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, numerous disadvantaged minorities and the majority itself have all cast caution to the winds. Books are banned, priceless libraries ransacked and effigies burnt because hurt is stalking the land. And the Internet traffic buzzes with constant indignation. As the political reward for suffering hurt rises the desire to meet the parameters to qualify as a putative victim grows proportionately.” – Dr. Gautam Sen

HurtIf India ever implodes in self-destruction, which seems all too likely with its wobbly political fortunes, its epitaph must surely be ‘hurt feelings of the aspiring mediocre’. Along with the rise of its kaleidoscopic caste politics, insane motoring habits, software exports, the phenomenon of easily hurt feelings has come to occupy centre stage. In every nook and corner lurk potentially hurtful events and a people ever ready to proclaim their hurt to the world. Words have become dangerous weapons and people who boldly wield them minors in need of protection from their imponderable dangers.

And all the while the public sector in mediocrity grows by leaps and bounds to challenge a competitive globalisation in which only quality can survive. India has rediscovered its ancient heritage, which was being woefully challenged by two decades sleepwalking towards the awfulness of something akin to national success. But among the ancient civilisations, India alone has a millennia of experience snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Almost everyone in India today is in constant danger of being hurt both maliciously and inadvertently. Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, numerous disadvantaged minorities and the majority itself have all cast caution to the winds. Books are banned, priceless libraries ransacked and effigies burnt because hurt is stalking the land. And the Internet traffic buzzes with constant indignation. As the political reward for suffering hurt rises the desire to meet Mamata Banerjee on herself!the parameters to qualify as a putative victim grows proportionately.

Quasi-professional experts now scour word and deed daily to identify calumny. And as the mere anxiety at the thought of suffering unwarranted hurt grows exponentially the vehicular traffic that must carry it, those awfully dangerous creatures, ‘words’, become objects of unspoken loathing. Words are feared, best avoided, if at all possible, and surely handled with utmost care. But a suspicion nags that causing hurt is also the best strategy to obtain vast publicity at no cost. The circle is thereby closed in an unspoken conspiracy to cause alleged hurt, prompting a profitable outcry, while the free publicity also benefits the instigator that caused it in the first place.

In the land of Sukumar Ray its people have aptly embraced nonsense as their identity. Indeed, nonsense is a loaded term in India, treated by many as a hateful noun, just as relatives do not announce a death in the family, but solemnly ‘inform’ it has occurred. Tragic events are invested with a comedy of manners since the truly serious event in India needs to find expression in English. The vernacular will simply not do. Mr. Gupta’s sweetmeat shop is perfectly able to buy a whole page to advertise the seriousness of the death of his wife’s second cousin thrice removed. He has arrived and it is to inform that he has no compunction in spending his untaxed income.

Indian EnglishWords have lost their meaning from unrelenting misuse and a new language is required to re-charge communication, to give substance to dialogue. But destroying the language of the erstwhile coloniser will be India’s contribution to history: the cannibalistic destruction of words and language by mugging them non-stop. This grand corruption of language would possibly legitimise action in the International Court of Justice by the rest of the world’s English-speaking community for crimes against humanity. After all, licensed products cannot be misused on such a grand scale and someone out there must be feeling hurt.

Yet some minorities have proved resistant to this contagion of hurtfulness, almost engaged in hushed mockery of other ‘hurted’ communities by sanguine indifference to the centrality of hurtfulness in contemporary Indian culture. Parsees and Jews, who can admittedly ‘out-minority’ any minority in paucity of numbers, remain carefree. Are they proclaiming their ‘non-Indianness’ by this spectacle of high-mindedness? Is it a case that they are a cut above the rest simply because they are smarter, better educated and possibly richer? Surely, legislation is called for to curb this challenge to mediocre self-regard.

Mediocrity Is it not the case that mediocrity has been legislated by parliament itself as the defining feature of being an Indian? Has not parliament decreed the end to decent schooling that dares nurture relatively impecunious but gifted middle class children whose parents mortgage their entire lives to pay for their education? A state that has signally failed over 66 years to assure schooling, emphatically echoing the rural employment guarantee scheme, providing an income without the obligation to work, still has the temerity to rob them of educational opportunity. Have the IIMs and IITs, which could remit vast foreign earnings by going abroad, not been shunted back into a siding, insisting that students, who will become the highest paid in the land in no time, can only be charged ridiculously low fees? Is this not the illiterate mantra of both Hindutva and secularism?

A destitute national legislature, heaving with senseless rhetoric and guardian angel of the mediocre and the hurt, has set in motion an unstoppable downward spiral of reservations. The inevitable logic of the ugly politics of swinging educational reservations is the end to what remains of any pretence of academic excellence in India. Is the insane outcome of the certified, sans actual professional skill, not already wreaking havoc in medicine and other professions? The maligned upper castes, irrespective of actual socio-economic circumstance can go hang themselves or slog over international tests to escape their benighted land. The ineluctable logic of private sector Caste-based Reservationsjob reservations must follow since it is easier to re-locate to Sri Lanka, southern China, even Pakistan, than navigate India’s political morass.

A moment’s reflection will unravel the source of a dastardly challenge to this national purpose in cultivating mediocrity and identifying hurt. The freewheeling entrepreneurs of Bangalore constitute an ever-present danger to contemporary national culture by their very success, befuddling its noble purpose by their own contrary examples. In a world understood by Kafka and made flesh by Joseph Stalin the midnight knock and their unexplained disappearance is becoming an imperative. The Reddys, Murthys, Premjis and Shaws, who have succeeded internationally, unlike entrepreneurs who have merely carved a niche in the national market through political patronage, cannot be allowed to endure. Thankfully, sages of India’s politics, whose solitary memorable achievement was to get elected, have risen manfully to the challenge of silencing dreamers who dared to infuse hope and succeeded in showing it can be made real.

Public debate in India has entered the realm of impenetrable allusion. Nothing is quite what it seems and subterranean nuances course through utterances. Professional commentators alone can grasp the intended meanings and reportage confuses the uninitiated. Such lesser mortals are condemned to guesswork and engage in phantasmagoric speculation. Yet legislative provision makes it necessary to apprehend the potential meaning of words and deeds since innocent intention alone will not suffice to stave off arrest for causing offence. The victims of hurt are everywhere and Hurt Feelings Reportwatchful of infringement of rights bestowed by their Kafkaesque empowerment.

And yet there will have to be further legislation to institutionalise mediocrity because far too many Indians are surreptitious autodidacts, aided by determined parents who foolishly foresee upward mobility in the crass idolatry of Saraswati worship. The contradiction is too glaring to be resolved by reserving educational places and jobs alone. The elite scum will rise to the top, swotting beside roadside lamps, devouring dated textbooks and accomplishing prodigious feats of memory inherited from an ancestral tradition. In the end, like the Jews, they must be forced to wear identifying attire and if need be expelled or extinguished.

» Dr Gautam Sen has taught Political Economy at the London School of Economics.

WB CM Mamata Banerjee bans English papers and Karl Marx

 

Temple priests and preserving the Vedic heritage – Vijaya Rajiva

Professor Icon“Well intentioned Hindus must pause before they advocate the tinkering with Hindu temple rituals. There is no need also for craven scurrying around trying to prove to the Christian West or the monotheistic faiths that Hindus are not polytheists and idol worshippers, for both these have a profound reason for their origin and continued existence on the subcontinent.” – Vijaya Rajiva

Arundhati RoyIn a previous article ‘Prof. Monier Williams and his mighty fortress of Brahmanism‘ the present writer pointed out how the anti-Hindu lobby since the time of Monier Williams has tried to portray Hinduism as identical with something they conjured up as ‘Brahmanism’ identified as a primitive hierarchical world view, which must be rejected in favour of the modern (read Christian) ethos. Monier Williams, author of the Sanskrit-English Dictionary (1899) had said :

“When the walls of the mighty fortress of Brahmanism are encircled, undermined and finally stormed by the soldiers of the cross, the victory of Christianity must be signal and complete” (Modern India and Indians, p. 247).

In the twentieth century we have the likes of Arundhati Roy, under the unconvincing rubric of Leftism (during her globe-trotting tours) hold forth on the “Brahmanic Hindu State”! And we have similar echoes from deracinated Hindus and the motley crew of liberals, progressives and Macaulay’s children.

M. Karunanidhi & Catholic BishopsThis type of crafty anti-Hinduism should not stampede Hindus into making unwise moves such as the recent initiatives in Tamil Nadu (under the anti-Hindu DMK) to pass legislation that would adversely affect the Hindu temples priests, legislation even endorsed by some misguided Hindus. The writer Tamizhchelvan has pointed out that this legislation (now abandoned with the coming to power of the AIADMK) is in reality a Christian ploy. Temples in Tamil Nadu employ both Brahmin and non-Brahmin priests, depending where the temple is situated (for details of his criticism the reader is directed to ‘The Mighty Fortress of Brahmanism‘).

Brahmin studentWe now have a move by the Kerala government to ‘democratise’ Hindu temple activity. The Kerala government as it is now constituted is made up of Christians and deracinated Hindu Congresswallahs, and the Muslim MLAs. The Devaswom Boards are composed of government’s handpicked candidates. On the face of it , the project of training non-Brahmins to be temple priests appears to be a ‘democratic’ move. While any individual who genuinely wants to undergo the elaborate training to be a priest, should be given the opportunity to do so, a government sponsored project is most likely an effort to secure the vote banks and as well to undermine the Hindu structure in the nation. Government lackeys will be hired over other deserving candidates and from there on it will move to other aspects of tinkering with Hindu religious tradition, which in the end is the goal of such parties. Not social justice or social reform !

Hiring individuals from the non-Brahmin castes may be a laudable move at social engineering, but the way to go is to provide them with educational and employment opportunities in the non-religious sector, and not throw already impoverished Brahmin priests onto the streets. It is also a waste of existing talent and resources. Since neither the state governments nor the central government have any role in the Indian Constitution to meddle with Church or Mosque affairs, it is not clear why the fathers of the Indian Constitution allowed blatant interference with Hindu temple affairs. It would seem that the founding fathers were unwittingly looking through the prism of Monier Williams’ anti-Hinduism. Restoring the freedom of the Hindu majority to pursue their religion without government interference is a goal that contemporary Hindus should clearly agitate for.

Leela SamsonIn a similar context one recalls the effrontery of the famed Kalakshetra danseuse, a Christian, quietly moving away from the stage the murti of Ganesha, Lord of Beginnings (in the Hindu pantheon and worshipped prior to a dance performance), with the brazen argument that this is a secularisation / democratisation of the Hindu dance! Hindus should take back their dance from such misplaced ‘progress’ and such brazen Inculturationists! The Bharata Natyam dance has always been an invocation to Hindu deities.

The Sangh should also be careful in promoting governmental moves indiscriminately. The Sangh’s work with tribals, and minorities in bringing them back to the Hindu fold from where they had been alienated by Christian and Islamic attempts at conversion is praiseworthy. On the other hand, the governmental meddling in Hindu temples must be opposed. In Kerala the legislation to promote the hiring of non-Brahmin priests must be seen as part of a ploy to attack the Vedic heritage, rather than moves towards social justice. It is social engineering with a political motivation. The recent suggestion by a certain non-Hindu engineer that the wealth of the Padmnabhaswamy temple should be utilised in such and such fashion is laughable simply because he does not have similar ‘creative’ suggestions concerning the immense wealth of the Church! He even had a detailed plan ready for distributing the wealth of Lord Padmanabhaswamy!

In order to understand in context the significance of the role of the Brahmin temple priest one must go back to the Vedic period.

Here the Vedic ritual sacrifice (Yajna) is officiated by a layer of priests.

  1. hotr : reciter of the hymns
  2. adhvaryu : who looked after the physical details of the Yajna, such as the building of the altar.
  3. udgatr : chanter of the hymns set to melodies
  4. brahmin : superintendent of the entire performance

Needless to say, the Vedas were an oral tradition and the performance of rituals had to be followed meticulously in the chanting and the ritual itself. The Rg Veda mentions 7 hotrs. In time the entire body of officiants became 16 in number. The class of Brahmins then began to expand and was hereditary, so that the INTEGRITY of the rituals could be maintained in an unbroken tradition. This class therefore was not motivated by economic motives. The Vedic Yajna was performed under the open sky.  Subsequently, with the rise of temples (built according to Vastu Shastra) the Vedic rituals were moved into these structures.

Yagna in progress.Since the Vedic seers worshipped the terrestrial, atmospheric and cosmic deities, the legacy of Hindu polytheism and the ATTENDANT PRIESTLY STRUCTURE IS DERIVED FROM THIS RELIGIOUS FOUNDATION. The division of society into brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and sudra served the purpose of maintaining the rituals intact. In time, the evolution of the economy led to the sreni system (comparable to the Europeans guild system) and this system (mistakenly described as the caste system) was the basis of India’s material prosperity. Trade, commerce, and productivity were unparalleled. The scientific, philosophical and cultural achievements were also a wonder to the world. Hindu society flourished. Hence, the role of the priesthood was limited to the maintenance of religious norms. Scholars are yet to determine when and why Untouchability arose. The favoured date is approximately the third century before the Christian era. Dr. Ambedkar (the Dalit politician, lawyer and scholar) had suggested that sudras who defied the four-fold caste system became the Untouchables. Still others believe that the population was composed of peoples who were captured in war, very much like the helots of Sparta. At any rate, Untouchability is no longer condoned and both NGOs and the government of India have worked to eradicate it, through affirmative action and educational programs, though much more can be done. Much more needs to be done.

Ganpati ImageBut the central point to note here is that the Vedas do not mention an Untouchable population. There is no evidence of it in the four Vedas. The priests who performed the rituals were the upholders of the Vedic rites and this corpus is the foundation of Hinduism as it evolved and gathered innumerable beliefs and populations into this fold. The Gods and Goddesses of the Vedas continue to inhabit the land, as Hindus believe, and the temples house the consecrated deities who are worshipped and called by Hindus, murtis. The monotheists call them idols. That is their terminology and there is no need for Hindus to rush to apologise or to be embarrassed about it.

In the end, therefore, well intentioned Hindus must pause before they advocate the tinkering with Hindu temple rituals. There is no need also for craven scurrying around trying to prove to the Christian West or the monotheistic faiths that Hindus are not polytheists and idol worshippers, for both these have a profound reason for their origin and continued existence on the subcontinent. Temple priests are not to be installed and discarded at the will and whim of governments or the vagaries of the free market or globalisation. They are not only cultural icons either or merely historic relics. They are the ongoing solemn expression of the Hindu religious engagement with the cosmic, atmospheric, and terrestrial powers.

Editor’s Note: The notion that the term murti is equivalent to the English word ‘idol’ is a misconception. The scholar Steven Rosen notes that early European missionaries were largely responsible for conflating the two terms by informing local Hindus that ‘idol’ was the correct translation for ‘murti’. Furthermore, scholar Diana Eck explains that the term murti is defined in Sanskrit as “anything which has definite shape and limits; a form, body, figure; an embodiment, incarnation, or manifestation.” Thus, the murti is more than a likeness; it is the deity itself taken ‘form’. The uses of the word murti in the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita suggest that the form is its essence.” Thus, a murti is considered to be more than a mere likeness of a deity, but rather a manifestation of the deity itself. The murti is like a way to communicate with the abstract godhead (Brahman) which creates,  sustains and dissolves creation. Wikipedia

» The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university. Her academic training is in Literature, Philosophy, Political Science, Political Economy & History.

Prof. Monier Williams and his mighty fortress of Brahmanism – Vijaya Rajiva

Teacher Icon“The post colonial Hindus who have for so long been indoctrinated by the likes of Monier Williams, Max Mueller and Macaulay should revisit the Vedas and the entire Hindu tradition. What has held the country together is Hinduism, not the mighty fortress of Brahmanism of Monier Williams’ distorted imagination.” – Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

Monier-Williams‘The mighty fortress of Brahmanism’ is the phrase used by Monier Williams (author of the Sanskrit English Dictionary, 1899) to describe Hinduism. It is a mix of ignorance, hatred, fascination, racism and the desire to overcome this religion by an ignorant colonialist of the 19th century, but it sums up the general ignorance of the Christian West concerning Hinduism, very much like the seven blind men who tried to describe an elephant by touching one part of the animal and claiming that the particular part was indeed the elephant! The exact quote from Monier Williams is :

“When the walls of the mighty fortress of Brahmanism are encircled, undermined & finally stormed by the soldiers of the cross, the victory of Christianity must be signal and complete” (Modern India and Indians, p.247).

His compatriot Max Mueller the Indologist saw the Rig Veda as the root of all the problems that needed to be resolved (in a private letter to his wife). Macaulay destroyed Hindu education in 1835 by replacing it with English education. He had confidently predicted that the Indians would in 30 years abandon their ‘paganism.’ Alas, for him, this did not happen. As early as the 12th century the Pope had been setting up councils to learn Indian languages so that the ‘pagans’, the ‘infidels’ could be converted to the true faith, Christianity.

Indo-Greek king 2nd century BCEThe mission to destroy Hinduism would not / could not / will not succeed simply because of their lack of understanding of the religion. It was not ‘Brahmanism’. Even today, writers like Arundhati Roy mistakenly speak about the Brahmanic Hindu state. It is not Brahmanism, but the entire religious and social structure of Hinduism that originated with the Vedas and continued down the millenia. Its innate strengths could not be analysed or defeated. It was also held up by the aam admi Hindu and the traditional acharyas, gurus and maths. Thousands of Hindus lost their lives defending the sacred sites whether it was Somnath or the [Vishnu] temple at Ayodhya since 150 B.C. when the Greek king Menander I destroyed it. Hundreds of Hindus continue to lose their lives in Bangla Desh and Pakistan. Many brave the hostile atmosphere to continue to go to Amarnath and so on. As observed once by Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst there is a constant ongoing low level violence against Hindus throughout India, which is not reported by the liberal media, which, however jumps up and down if even a single member of the minority communities is affected. Even P.N. Benjamin of the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue (a confirmed Christian by his own statements) has stated that the violence against the Christian community in Karnataka is exaggerated. It is rare and on a very small-scale. Hindus have seldom initiated violence, it has in almost all instances been retaliatory. He was also talking about the incidents in Kandhamal when Swami Lakshmananda, the 80-year-old Hindu sant was killed for having resisted the conversion activity of the Church in that region.

Mar Thoma CroaaWe are not talking aboout the barbarian invasions. Those are in a category by themselves. Attempts have been made since the time of the Nestorian Christians (7th & 8th centuries) who destroyed Hindu temples [to build the infamous St. Thomas churches in Kerala] or the cruelty, murder and mayhem of the Goa Inquisition of the 17th century or the first Vatican Council in the 17th century which planned to destroy Hinduism. Journalist Kanchan Gupta has called for an apology from the Church, but none has been forthcoming and indeed the Church in India went ballistic when the topic was mentioned. Then came the Inculturationists (starting with Robert de Nobili in the 17th century) who tried to infiltrate the society by devious means and thus subvert the social and religious order, a process that still goes on under euphemistic titles such as interfaith dialogue (the present writer has written about this in previous articles). It has never been made clear as to why there should be an olive branch style dialogue from the Hindu side. There is lofty rhetoric such as ‘understanding,’ respect’ etc. but again it is not clear why a tradition that has tolerated, even welcomed religious / ethic groups into the country should tie themselves up in knots with such words and engage with a tradition that has been known for its conquest and violence. Then there is the covert and overt conversion activity by the Church and evangelists through force, fraud and bribery.Then there are the attempts by social groups and political groups to overcome Hinduism in various devious ways, but they too are not entirely successful.

AP late chief minister YSR taking communion from a Christian priest.The most recent assaults against the ‘mighty fortress’ (so-called) is the encroachment by the state on Hindu temples and their jurisdiction. This began noticeably with the ascent to power of an Italian Catholic at the Centre. This too is an ongoing process, with temple lands being brazenly stolen as happened under [Christian] Chief Minister Y.S. Reddy in Andhra Pradesh. Only the action by the Sadhu community stopped further incursions in Tirupati and so on. Last year witnessed the attempt to appropriate the wealth of the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum under the rubric of legalisms. The immense wealth generated by the Sabarimala pilgrimage goes into the pockets of bureaucrats. The allied forces of the Communist-Congress-Islamic-Christian forces in Kerala are now seeking to further use state power to remove the traditional priests in temples from their jobs and replace them with their candidates. The ploy is to claim that this is being done in the interests of social justice. This claim must be seriously investigated.

On this occasion Hindu politicians have alas assisted in the enterprise in the mistaken notion that training non-Brahmin priests is the right way to go. In principle this sounds good but extreme caution has to be exercised in proceeding with this project. This was first attempted in Tamil Nadu under the DMK regime and now is being experimented with in Kerala. The way to empower the non-Brahmanic community (in the opinion of the present writer) is to provide them with economic prosperity, not throw out the existing Brahmin priests onto the streets. Careless meddling with temples is fraught with danger. The writer Tamizhchelvan has provided an incisive commentary on what happened in Tamil Nadu with the priests (archakas). He has provided some interesting statistics also.

Non-Brahmin Tamil priest“This ‘All Caste Archakas’ concept is a Christian ploy. They did the same in Tamil Nadu during the previous DMK regime, which passed a bill framing the ‘All Caste Archakas Act‘. That was a well crafted political stunt by the DMK regime in the name of ‘social justice’ (whatever that means).

We have different types of temples in Tamil Nadu. They are the Agama temples, Non-Agama temples, community temples and village temples. The Agama Temples are the ancient ones which are built as per Agama Shastras and where the rituals are also conducted as per the Agama rules. Here the Sivacharyas (from Siva temples) and Bhattacharyas (from Vishnu temples) have been serving as traditional Archakas for centuries. The non-Agama temples are those which are not built as per Agama Shastras and the Agama Shastras are not so strictly followed. The community temples are the ones built and owned by the various communities (castes) who mostly employ their own people as pujaris. Some have opted for Brahmin pujaris. The village temples are mostly manned by pujaris from the SC, BC, and MBC categories.

“Barring the Agama temples, in all other temples we have archakas from all castes employed for ages.” (Comment on ‘Swargeeya Madhavji’s dream comes to reality’ Haindava Keralam, 14/03/2012)

Young BrahminIn that context, while social evils such as untouchability (which scholars have placed as originating around three hundred years before the Christian era) can and is being eradicated, the preservation of ancient Hindu rituals by groups that are trained in carrying them out must be protected, and not treated as part of ‘social reform’. MIXING UP the two enterprises is a sure recipe for disaster and will only please those elements in India who would like to see the end of Hinduism. Deracinated and secular Hindus must learn to distinguish between legitimate social reform and the endless ploys devised to destroy Hinduism.

Perhaps this requires that post colonial Hindus who have for so long been indoctrinated by the likes of Monier Williams, Max Mueller and Macaulay revisit the Vedas and the entire Hindu tradition. What has held the country together is Hinduism, not the mighty fortress of Brahmanism of Monier Williams’s distorted imagination.

» The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university. Her academic training has been in Philosophy, Literature, Political Science, Political Economy & History.