Reservations: Annihilation of caste vs perpetual quotas – Makarand R. Paranjape

Reservations

Prof Makarand R. ParanjapeIt would seem that we Indians, despite whatever we may claim, love caste. The only problem is that we want it to work in our favour rather than against us. – Prof Makarand R. Paranjape

Perhaps no facet of Indian society is so difficult to comprehend and, more recently, more contentious than caste, along with millennia-long attempts to reform or modify it. The euphemism for India’s reservation system, affirmative action, is actually a misapplication to India of US social justice and equal opportunity interventions. Our system of quotas is not only different but almost certainly far more complex, not to mention unique, with countless state and region-wise variations. It is, paradoxically, almost as complicated and fathomless as the caste system itself, which it ostensibly seeks to replace.

Not surprising if we get to the bottom of the problem, it would seem that we Indians, despite whatever we may claim, love caste. The only problem is that we want it to work in our favour rather than against us. Everyone understands this except the naïve few who want India to transit into a colourless equality of the sort that is only a modern ideal and perhaps nowhere in practice. In one form or another, privileges, whether monetary, cultural, or social, are zealously guarded and routinely reproduced in most parts of the world, though under different guises. Why should it surprise us if reservations create another type of caste, with special benefits to certain sections, entitled by birth and extended generation after generation? No wonder many not so badly off sections of our populace are seeking reservations regardless of any vestigial stigma that may be still attached to them.

On August 23, the Supreme Court, hearing debates on whether reservations for SC/ST candidates should extend to promotions or not, asked whether the presumption behind those arguing in favour was that SCs/STs will remain perpetually backward. This is a logical question for if that is indeed the case then, clearly, reservations, having failed to alleviate the condition of the beneficiaries, are therefore not the solution to the problem. On the other hand, if we believe that reservations are helpful, as much of the evidence shows, then they should be applied only until the beneficiary needs them, not forever. In other words, reservations without de-reservations are meaningless and self-defeating. Instead of destroying hereditary caste, they only create another category of a perpetual beneficiary or yet another type of caste.

De-reservation should, obviously, be based on verifiable criteria, just as caste benefits themselves are. There are “creamy layer” indicators in place applied to OBCs. Shouldn’t something similar also pertain to SCs/STs? This is the crux of the contention going on in the Supreme Court of India. The honourable bench upheld the salience and necessity of reservations at entry level but questioned whether they should be used for speedy or special promotion channels in addition to being extended generation after generation. Should promotions be given “to the grandson and great-grandson of an SC/ST person who had already availed the benefit?”, the Court reportedly asked.

There are, of course, many precedents and earlier judgements, for example, the M. Nagaraj case, where reservations in promotions had been allowed with some riders. K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General, maintained on the other hand, that the backwardness of a community is determined by its inclusion in the list of SC/STs by a presidential order and need not be ascertained again and again. The flaw in this position is the assumption that a community will remain static, frozen in the social order, or backwards forever. On the contrary, ethnic groups have moved up or down the ladder of social, financial, and political privilege with astonishing speed, sometimes within just a few decades. We need high-quality evidence and data to understand such transitions, which in turn will help us generate objective determinants. Yet, just caste will no longer suffice. It must be supplemented by other factors, including economic status and regional factors.

The problem is that the political investment in caste is an almost insurmountable obstacle not only to social transformation but also to legal reform. Let’s face it: if backwardness goes, so will its brokers and beneficiaries. And yet we must bite the bullet, sooner or later. We need a nation-wide debate on this issue, a debate that must not run on predictable caste and ideological lines. Shanti Bhushan, making a case for “general candidates” was quoted as saying that “reservation in promotions in bureaucratic posts would spell disaster for a democracy.” In fact, unless the entire question is taken up and a new way of supporting our disadvantaged citizens found, we are staring at a huge crisis down the line.

There is yet another side to this debate that is rarely considered. The advantages of reservation decline with time: entitled groups turn lazy or noncompetitive. It is only hard struggle that brings out the best in us. Thus, beneficiaries of reservation may themselves ask for de-reservation so that children remain competent. – DNA, 25 August 2018

» Prof Makarand R. Paranjape is a poet and teaches English literature at JNU.

Reservation


 

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The European contribution to the caste system in India – Sumit Guha

Caste segregated Christian graveyard in Tamil Nadu

Prof Sumit GuhaSociologist Joseph Elder listed seven errors in the popular Western understanding of caste. One of these was that “castes are uniquely Hindu”. He wrote that in India, “castes exist among Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Muslims.” – Prof Sumit Guha

Closed, normatively endogamous communities have a long history in Southern Asia. Over the past millennium, they have been labeled with the Sanskrit jati”, Arabic “qaum”, Persian “zat” and others. But we have long known that there is no equivalent word for “caste” in any Indian or Asian language. It came as a loan-word but is today firmly embedded in Indian public and policy discourse. We also know that the first users of the term (as casta) were Iberians—Portuguese and Spanish, first in the Iberian peninsula and then in Asia and the Americas. But how the term was used—descriptively, administratively, and sociologically—is less known. The connection of Asia and the Americas has not been made.

Two Iberian Empires initiated and, for more than a century, controlled all the trans-Oceanic ventures of modern Europeans. These were the Spanish in the Americas and the Portuguese in Asia. Several Iberian kingdoms had begun a campaign of religious persecution against Jews in the 1300s. Many converted under duress. But to the dismay of many “old Christian” churchmen in cushy sinecures, the educated and affluent among the Jewish converts then began to rise in Church and royal service.

Classification by descent

Furthermore, converts’ prominence among tax-collectors naturally made them unpopular with poorer Christians. The interests of clerics and plebeians thus coalesced first in pogroms and then in justifying their hostility via a doctrine of “purity of blood”—the idea that only “old Christians” were worthy of favour in Spanish and Portuguese society. Protagonists of the new idea had to contend against long-established Church doctrine of all humans are redeemable through Christ. Quite remarkably, they nonetheless succeeded in prioritising biological descent above spiritual redemption.

It followed that “New Christians”, “conversos” etc., especially those belonging to the “casta de judios, should be carefully watched and vigilantly excluded from offices of status. (The above is drawn largely from Albert Sicroff, Le Controverse de Statuts de Pureté de Sang 1960.) This grew into a settled prejudice that intensified into the 19th century. “Casta” before 1500 had tended to refer to type or breed of plant or animal: but it now came to mean a species of human marked by descent. It was thus verging on the emerging concept of race. Even today a standard dictionary illustrates its meaning with the phrase “eso me viene de casta” rendered as “it’s in my blood”.

It is not surprising that when the Iberians came to Asia and the Americas, they promptly began classifying people by descent. Even at the time, Indians did not marry outside a specific set of families, or “caste” defined as a “marriage-pool”. Iberians however promptly decided that this was motivated by a drive to preserve the purity of their “blood”. This was pointed out by the American anthropologist Morton Klass. At the same time, the Spanish and Portuguese also began creating a “sistema de castas”, a caste system in the Spanish Americas.

Language exchange

Spain and Portugal were united under one monarchy from 1580 to 1640. More importantly, they were also bound by the powerful racial ideology well embedded in the Iberian Catholic Church. The Portuguese introduced later-coming Europeans to the Indian subcontinent and Indians to a new kind of Westerner. Many Portuguese loanwords entered the languages of Asia. One of these was casta, anglicised to cast or caste. But while this etymology is well-known, most discourse has assumed that the loan-word was applied to a pre-existing and very old indigenous social institution, an institution that has remained unchanged until the present.

In the 20th century, with the mounting cultural power of the USA, proponents of this view have increasingly assimilated caste to the Western idea of race. They have also assumed it to be confined to the Hindu segment of the Indian population. This has been a powerful and persistent trope, even though many specialists, such as the veteran sociologist Joseph Elder, have listed seven errors in the popular Western understanding of caste.

One of these was that “castes are uniquely Hindu”. He wrote that in India, “castes exist among Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Muslims.” Frequently the rules about marrying within one’s caste and avoiding interactions with other castes are as strict among Christians or Jains, for instance. as they are among Hindus. Elder also puts his finger on a key element of its durability. This was that the British colonial regime—the most influential of South Asian empires—deployed it in its legal and political system.

The American anthropologist Morton Klass also attempted a historical account of the origin of caste as a concept and a practice. He pointed out that the Portuguese and Spanish were themselves just evolving a system of ethnic and social stratification by biological ancestry; it was for this reason that they immediately assumed that Indian jāti endogamous groups were aimed at maintaining “purity of blood”.

The early response was, however, not to attack caste but to reduce most features of it to a concern of civil society, external to the faith (adiaphora). Converts of different castes were thus permitted separate churches. According to the famous Jesuit missionary Nobili, this was an established practice by 1615. Indeed, Nobili approvingly quoted a Brahman convert who had responded to the criticism that Nobili’s colour was evidence to his being a despicable “prangui” (barbaric Westerner).

“You reproach the saniassi [ascetic, meaning Nobili] with being a vile Prangui and cite his color as proof … by that argument I prove that you are a paria [a Dalit caste-name]. You are black, parias are black so you are therefore a paria. What! Can you not conceive that in another country where all men, brahmans and parias alike are white, there will be among the whites the same distinction of castes, the same distinction between nobles and commoners? Everyone applauded this reply, which was as substantive as it was spirited.”

This use of casta to mean any kind of descent group entered other European languages. The Dutch, for example, were by 1640 describing the wives of some sailors as of “Portuguese casta”. It also traveled into English.

Early colonial governments recognised the administrative value of caste as a means to organise “civil society”. The Dutch conquered Sri Lanka from the Portuguese and enforced a strict caste system there. Different tax and labour dues were extracted from each caste in order to sustain Dutch colonial enterprise. To check evasion of the service requirement attached the land, subjects could not mortgage or sell their lands without leave, and the customs and distinctions of caste were rigorously enforced by Dutch penal regulations. This continued under the early British rule in Sri Lanka.

Similarly, in Bombay island, the first British colony in India, the early administration decided that the “severall nations at pres[ent] inhabiting or hereafter to inhabit on the Island of Bombay be reduced or modelled into so many orders or tribes & that each nation may have a Cheif (sic) or Consull of the same nation appointed over them by the Gover[nor] and Councell”. As late as 1900, the British government in India passed the Land Alienation Act, a major agrarian law regulating property transfers among two specified sets of “Tribes and Castes” described as “agriculturist” and “non-agriculturist”. Both sets included Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. A more complete exposition of the long history of state, caste and ethnicity is to be found in my book, whose European and Indian editions are linked below. – Journal of the History of Ideas, 30 May 2018

» Sumit Guha is Professor of History at The University of Texas at Austin.

  1. Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present (in India)
  2. Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present (in Europe)

 Caste system in Mexico by Ignacio María Barreda


Dalit Speak: Even in death we are apart, away and outcaste – Aleena

Christian priests and a Dalit priest

A Dalit ChristianAll Dalit Christians who came into the Christian fold in the whole of the 20th century were fooled by the fake promise of a spiritual Achha Din. – Aleena

For as long as I can remember, We and They were always different. “I knew I would lose my umbrella when these Pulaya women were standing here … what a bad omen they are,” exclaimed someone in church.

I was in Grade VIII when I heard this. It was all a pompous lie, the tale of the Holy Blood of Christ “healing” our discrimination. It was into deaf ears of the churches that the voice of Poykayil Yohannan made his point about this years ago. Our church has a striking majority of Dalits. The earnings of Protestant church priests are just a tenth of what their believers make in my church. But they can’t ever imagine a Syrian Christian priest living off the offerings of the majority Pulaya and Paraya members of this diocese. No way. That is how strong caste works within the community.

They are liars, as there is no text or manuscript that endorse or validates any racial or caste discrimination in the Bible [1] as in the Manusmriti or cultural history of Hinduism. They lie that they are free of such inhumane practices. They lie that their theological texts are epitomes of equality. All Dalit Christians who came into the fold in the whole of the 20th century were fooled by this fake promise of a spiritual Achha Din. Yes, the sense of caste or notion of caste was absent from the minds of the Dalits, but never had the Syrian Christians given up their pride over their Brahmin and Roman ancestry or their claim of purity of blood.

Just fact check how the Church shamed Dalits for their open support to the Dalit hartal that happened. They forgot that we were the same as how we were when we left the Hindu fold. We were always silenced from speaking up, all our rebellions inside the religion crushed. But not a pinch of this Church wrath was towards the pure blood theories and claims of pride of the Syrians, all that was perfectly Christian. Their pride in their Namboothiri (Hindu) origins were a thing of constant celebration, both for the Syrian Christians and for the Church. No theologist or good Samaritan would raise even a question against this pure blood and royal claims of these great families of the Syrian Christians.[2]

There is discrimination and exclusion right from the choir to the Holy Chairs of the Church. There are even separate prayer services and functions that would even put apartheid to shame. Even in death we are apart, away and outcast.

Very recently a reputed college in Kerala University, which was under the Christian management, rejected a thesis on Poykayil Appachan who was a great Dalit poet and philosopher reformist. They forced the student to edit out the attacks Appachan had launched on the Church. They were too weak to address the truth that he spoke out. The liberal ones who always spoke about caste in Hinduism were also rendered silent. Even Dalit organisations seldom addressed our needs as such.

Kerala government has included the Dalit Christians under Other Eligible Communities (OEC) category which excludes us from the direct benefits of the SC/ST reservation, rendering the whole community into social and economic backwardness. Dalits who constitute the majority of about 70 per cent of the Indian Christian population is given only less than seven per cent in the seats of power at the Church.[3] My mother always wanted to be a nun, but when someone who became one told her about the bad treatment and discrimination one would face, she backed off. But even now she says that she should have been a nun and she adds: “It will always be dreadful thing … aren’t our people already in a dreadful state anyway.” – The Indian Express, 1 June 2008

Notes

  1. For St. Paul on slavery see Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-25 & 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and PhilemonSee also 1 Peter 2:18-25, which begins: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.”
  2. The Syrian Christian claim of Namboodiri or Brahmin ancestry is fraudulent, an historical error at best. St Thomas did not come to Kerala and evangelise the Brahmins. He did not get further east that Parthia (Persia) where he established a church at Fars. The first record of Christian immigrants in Kerala is 345 CE, not earlier. And the first record of Namboodiris in Kerala is for Mezhathol Agnihothri,  born in 342 CE. Marxist historians place Namboodiri Brahmins in Kerala not earlier that 6th century CE (they apparently migrated south from the Himalayan foothills). That a Vedic Namboodiri would convert to the Syrian Thomas cult is an absurdity!
  3. Pope Gregory XV (1621-1623) sanctioned caste divisions within the Indian Church and his edict has never been rescinded. Earlier in 1599 the Council of Diamper and again in 1606 the Council of Goa had sanctioned the same. These edicts have governed Catholic practice ever since―though Christians piously maintain that caste is contrary to Christ’s teachings.

Dalits for Equal Rights in Churches

See also


 

Brahmin-bashing has an agenda – Maria Wirth

Brahmin boys in a Vedic school

Maria WirthWhy are the so-called atrocities of the caste system so hyped? The reason may well be to divert the attention from those who actually should feel guilty about what they did and still do to India. … The goal is to make Vedic knowledge disappear in India, because it poses a danger for Christianity and Islam. – Maria Wirth

Common people in the West know hardly anything about India. But one thing they all know: India has an “inhuman” caste system, which is an important feature of their religion, Hinduism. Most also “know” that Brahmins are the highest caste, which oppresses the lower castes, and worst off are the untouchables.

I learnt this already in primary school, but knew nothing at that time about the concentration camps of Nazi Germany only a few years earlier or about the atrocities of slavery or colonialism. Yet the Indian caste system with Brahmins as villains was part of the curriculum in Bavarian schools in the early 1960s, and it still is today: some time ago I asked three young Germans in Rishikesh what they associate with Hinduism. Their prompt reply was, “caste system”.  Surely, they also had learnt that it was most inhuman. In all likelihood, all over the world school children are taught about the “inhuman” caste system. Why?

There is likely an agenda behind it.

Yes, the caste system exists, and untouchables, too. And it exists all over the world. Curiously, “caste” (casta) is Portuguese for race. It is not even an Indian term. The ancient Vedas mention four varnas—Brahmins, Kshatryas, Vaishyas and Shudras, which form the body of society, like the head, arms, thighs and feet form the body of a human being. It is a beautiful analogy which implies that all parts are important. True, the head will be given more respect, but will you ignore your feet? Not everyone is made for intellectual work, fortunately, because a society without farmers, traders, workers won’t be possible. All have their role to play. And in future lives, there are likely to be role reversals.

Varna was not hereditary originally. It depended on one’s predominant guna (quality of character) and one’s profession. The job of Brahmins was specifically to memorise the Vedas and preserve them absolute correctly for future generations. They had to have predominately satwa (pure) guna and had to stick to many more rules for purity than any other caste.

Brahmins were the guardians of the purity of the Vedas. So it is understandable that they would not touch those who for example remove the dead bodies of animals or clean the sewers, though a society needs people who do these jobs too. In the West, people also wouldn’t shake hands with them. But no issue is made out of it.

Due to their satwa guna, Brahmins were least likely to be abusive to other groups in society. Usually it is the group which considers itself socially just above another group, which looks down on those lower. This trait is there in all societies, but it is true that in India, unfortunately over time, the four varnas were inherited by birth. There are today many Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras, who do not follow their dharma any longer and therefore should not consider themselves as belonging to their inherited varna.

But why is the structure of the society in India constantly decried, when nobody accuses for example the nobility, the highest “caste” in the West, that it does not mingle with workers and won’t live in their neighbourhood?

Why is nobody upset that the British allowed only “whites” into the club of Madikeri town in Karnataka and probably all over the country, as an old Indian gentleman told me? If I remember right, he said that the sign at the club read, “Dogs and Indians not allowed”.

Why is nobody upset that the agriculture policy of the British colonialists starved some 25 million Indians to death? 25 million men, women and children slowly dying because they had nothing to eat in a country that was one of the richest before the British took over…. There are terrible pictures on the net of Indians only being skin and bones, barely alive.

Why is nobody upset that the British, after slavery was abolished, sent indentured labour from India all over the world in cramped boats, where a big number died during the journey already (and were spared the torture in the sugar cane estates)?

Why nobody talks about what the Muslim invasions did to Hindus and especially to Brahmins? How cruel they were? How many Hindus were killed or made slaves? How many Hindu women committed mass suicide by jumping into fire so that they won’t fall into the hands of the Muslim troops?

Nowadays, due to ISIS we can well imagine what happened then, yet the Leftists and even “respectable” British parliamentarians are not concerned with all this. They are concerned with the “most inhuman caste system” of India. It can be safely assumed that the colonial masters tried to drive a wedge between the castes by “fixing” the former fluidity of varnas in their census from 1871 onwards. And today, their democratic successors, though without political power in India, try to drive a wedge with the help of manipulative media and even parliamentary legislation in their own country.

My point is: what Brahmins did by segregating themselves from others or even snubbing others is negligible in comparison what Christian colonialists and Muslim invaders did.

So why are the so-called atrocities of the caste system so hyped? The reason may well be to divert the attention from those who actually should feel guilty about what they did and still do to India. It’s not the Brahmins. Many of them suffer today, mainly due to reservation and, though poor in many cases, by being excluded from benefits which are given to religious minorities or lower castes.

But this is not the only reason why the caste system and Brahmins are being bashed worldwide. Another important agenda is to shame Brahmins, to make them feel guilty about their forefathers and to make them reluctant to follow their original dharma of learning and teaching the Vedas. The goal is to make Vedic knowledge disappear in India, because it poses a danger for Christianity and Islam. It can easily challenge their so-called “revealed truths”. Vedic knowledge makes sense and is therefore the greatest obstacles for Christianity and Islam to expand over the whole world.

Unfortunately, a lot of Vedic texts are already lost. The former Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, says in his book “The Vedas” that out of 1180 shakhas, into which Veda Vyasa divided the four Vedas some 5000 years ago, only eight are still in use. (Just wondering: would a search in England, Germany and other countries rediscover some of this treasure?)

It is about time to stop this Brahmin bashing and stop portraying the Indian caste system as the worst that has ever befallen humanity. It sounds so fake, especially when ISIS gets neutral treatment by just mentioning facts, like, “ISIL burns 19 Yazidi women to death in iron cages because they refused to have sex with fighters” without any emotional colour or condemnation.

Some time ago, I saw an old Brahmin couple in a temple in south India. They had dignity, but were very thin. When prasad (sacred food) was distributed, they were in the queue before me. Later I saw that they joined the queue again…. It was in all likelihood due to poverty.

Brahmins don’t need to feel guilty about their forefathers. They can be proud of them, because it is only thanks to them that India is the only country that has preserved its precious, ancient wisdom at least partly. Yet others should indeed feel guilty, but those others are brazen and won’t. They rather vitiate the atmosphere with unjustified hatred for Hinduism and anti-Brahmanism.

» Maria Wirth is a German author and psychologist who has lived in Uttarakhand for many years.

Caste-based Reservations

See also

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

BJP’s stunning volte face on appeasement politics – N.V. Krishnakumar

Ram Nath Kovind, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah

N. V. KrishnakumarIn choosing Mr Ram Nath Kovind as its nominee, what is the message of the BJP and its constituents in parliament to the electorate of India and in particular to the Dalit community? – N. V. Krishnakumar

As is their wont, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sprung a surprise on the nation with its presidential candidate choice—Mr Ram Nath Kovind—the low profile and non-controversial Governor of Bihar.

Reportedly, Mr Kovind’s foray into politics started as an aide to former Prime Minister Mr Morarji Desai and has represented the Central Government before the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court in a legal career that has spawned over sixteen years.

Entering full-time politics in 1991 by joining BJP, he served the party as Dalit Morcha president and spokesperson. After a couple of failures in electoral contests, he was made member of parliament in Rajya Sabha from his home state of Uttar Pradesh. After his twelve-year tenure in parliament, little of his activities are known to citizens, before resurfacing in 2015 with his appointment as Governor of Bihar. This is a career synopsis of the man who soon will be elected as fourteenth President of India on 17th of  July 2017.

In caste ridden Indian politics, his selection is considered a master stroke in political circles. It dented the opposition unity with Bihar Chief Minister Mr Nitish Kumar endorsing the BJP choice. It also sent opposition parties into a tizzy who then found their own Dalit mascot for the presidential contest. In choosing Mr Ram Nath Kovind as its nominee, what is the message of the BJP and its constituents in parliament to the electorate of India and in particular to the Dalit community? Unfortunately, it is certainly not of new and developed India which Prime Minister Mr Modi espouses quite often to the youth of this country. On the other hand, it is one of appeasement politics that he professes to shun and does not mince words in condemning it.

Below the veneer of caste, it is difficult to find much in the biography of Mr Ram Nath Kovind. He represents the era of old age politics where caste held primacy. That he fought for the downtrodden, gave legal representation to marginalized, and has been the voice of poor can be found in many Supreme Court lawyers.

Being a two-time Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha does not give his life history much cache. It is widely known that loyalty is rewarded in politics and this enabled him to become the Governor of Bihar. Neither the Dalit community nor the larger electorate can claim to be impressed with the credentials of this presidential nominee.

If the BJP wanted a Dalit to reap political rewards, it should have looked outside the realm of politics. In a post-liberalized India, it is not difficult to find many rags to riches stories of Dalit individuals who have truly broken the “untouchability and victimhood” storyline that often presages the political narrative of the Dalit community. In Mr Rajesh Saraiya, the Dalits have their first billionaire businessman, whose biography is an outstanding narrative of successful Dalit entrepreneur and source of pride for the community.

Mr Milind Kamble, a highly qualified civil engineer, is the Head of the Dalit Chamber of Commerce who fought against all odds of “Dalit Victimhood” and became a successful businessman. Ms Kalpana Saroj, Chairperson of Kamini Tubes, rose from the lowest strata of society to occupy the corner office of a company that has a turnover of more than Rs 1,000 crores.

Biographies of many of today’s Dalit entrepreneurs are a story of grit, determination, overcoming odds, courage and success. Their record of fighting for immiserizing strata of society, offering education scholarships to the marginalised, encouraging the downtrodden to become entrepreneurs and offering employment to the poor are unparalleled. Choosing one of them to be President of India would have indeed sent a positive message to the Dalit community about their prospects in the Indian economy, boosted Dalit pride and would have made the Prime Minister an icon in the community.

Prime Minister Modi and BJP’s numero uno strategist Party President Mr Amit Shah realise that Dalit community support is the sine qua non to achieve governing majority in future electoral contests. As a step towards that goal, the strategy of choosing a BJP loyalist who also happens to be a Dalit is no different from that of the Congress party’s appeasement of minority community. In a post-liberalized India, political parties must realise communities are no voting monoliths.

The BJP bombarded the electorate in 2014 with the message “Appeasement towards none, Justice for all”. In choosing Mr Ram Nath Kovind for president, the party has done a volte-face on its own slogan. The choice is indeed old style appeasement politics, not the new age politics that the Prime Minister often promises the youth of India and going by the experience of Mr K. R. Narayanan, the first Dalit leader to be President of India, unlikely to yield electoral dividends. – PGurus, 26 June 2017

» N. V. Krishnakumar is a money manager and columnist in Bangalore. Tweet him at @envyk_blr.

Milind Kambal

Milind Kamble never used quota to rise in life, but understands the need for affirmative action for a community set back by centuries of discrimination. The man who set up India’s first Dalit chamber of commerce dreams of an expo in Delhi that’ll showcase backward caste enterprise.

Avinash Jagtap

From the Dalit chawl in Pune to a sprawling bungalow in upmarket Salisbury Park, Avinash Jagtap‘s journey has been rapid and phenomenal. The pipe maker, who loves to travel abroad, and has a staff of 200, says being SC and BPL is the worst that can happen to anyone.

See HERE for more Dalit success stories.

Logic behind the perversion of caste – Ram Swarup

Caste

Ram SwarupThe self-styled social justice intellectuals and parties do not want an India without castes, they want castes without Dharma. This may be profitable to some in the short run but it is suicidal for all in the long run. – Ram Swarup

Today casteism is rampant. It is a new phenomenon. Old India had castes but no casteism. In its present form, casteism is a construct of colonial period, a product of imperial policies and colonial scholarship. It was strengthened by the breast-beating of our own “reformers”. Today, it has acquired its own momentum and vested interests.

In the old days, the Hindu caste-system was an integrating principle. It provided economic security. One had a vocation as soon as one was born—a dream for those threatened with chronic unemployment. The system combined security with freedom; it provided social space as well as closer identity; here the individual was not atomised and did not become rootless. There was also no dearth of social mobility; whole groups of people rose and fell in the social scale. Rigidity about the old Indian castes is a myth. Ziegenbalg (1682 – 1719) writing on the eve of the British advent saw that at least one-third of the people practised other than their traditional calling and that “official and political functions, such as those of teachers, councillors, governors, priests, poets and even kings were not considered the prerogative of any particular group, but are open to all”.

Nor did India ever have such a plethora of castes as became the order of the day under the British rule. Megasthenes (ca. 300 BCE) gives us seven-fold division of the Hindu society; Hsuan Tsang (ca. 650 CE) the Chinese pilgrim mentions four castes. Alberuni (973 – 1048) too mentions four main castes and some more groups which did not strictly belong to the caste system.

Even the list of greatly maligned Manu contained no more than 40 mixed castes, all related by blood. Even the Chandals were Brahmins on their father’s side. But under the British, Risley (1851 – 1911) gave us 2,378 main castes, and 43 races! There is no count of sub-castes. Earlier, the 1891 census had already given us 1,150 sub-castes of Chamars alone. To Risley, every caste was also ideally a race and had its own language.

Caste did not strike early European writers as something specially Indian. They knew it in their own countries and saw it that way. J. S. Mill (1806 – 1873) in his Political Economy said that occupational groups in Europe were “almost equivalent to an hereditary distinction of caste”.

To these observers, the word caste did not have the connotation it has today. Gita Dharampal-Frick, an orientalist and linguist [currently at Heidelberg University], tells us that the early European writers on the subject used the older Greek word meri which means “a portion”, “share”, or “contribution”. Sebastian Franck (1499 – ca. 1543) used the German word rott (rotte) meaning a “social group”, or “cluster”. These words suggest that socially and economically speaking they found castes closer to each other than ordo or estates in Europe.

The early writers also saw no Brahmin domination though they found much respect for them. Those like Jurgen Andersen (1669) who described castes in Gujarat found that Vaishyas and not the Brahmins were the most important people there.

They also saw no sanskritisation. One caste was not trying to be another; it was satisfied with being itself. Castes were not trying to imitate the Brahmins to improve social status; they were proud of being what they were. There is a Tamil poem by Kamban (ca. 1180 – 1250) in praise of the plough which says that “even being born a Brahmin does not by far endow one with the same excellence as when one is born into a Vellala family”.

There was sanskritisation though but of a very different kind. People tried to become not Brahmins but brahmavadins. Different castes produced great saints revered by all. Ravidas (ca. 1450) a great saint, says that though of the family of Chamars who still go through Benares removing dead cattle, yet even most revered Brahmins now hold their offspring, namely himself, in great esteem.

With the advent of Islam the Hindu came under great pressure; it faced the problem of survival. When the political power failed castes took over; they became defence shields and provided resistance passive and active. But in the process, the system also acquired undesirable traits like untouchability. Alberuni who came with Mahmud Ghaznavi (971 – 1030) mentions the four castes but no untouchability. He reports that “much, however, as these classes differ from each other, they live together in the same towns and villages, mixed together in the same houses and lodgings”.

Another acquired another’s trait; they became rigid and lost their mobility. All mobility was now downward. H. A. Rose (1867 – 1933), Superintendent of Ethnography, Punjab, from 1901 to 1906, author of A Glossary of Punjab Tribes and Castes, says that during Muslim period, many Rajputs were degraded and they became scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Many of them still retain Rajput gotra of Parihara and Parimara. Similarly, G. W. Briggs in his The Chamars, tells us that many Chamars still carry names and gotra of Rajput clans like Banaudhiya, Ujjaini, Chandhariya, Sarwariya, Kanaujiya, Chauhan, Chadel, Saksena, Sakarwar; Bhardarauiya, and Bundela, etc. Dr K. S. Lal (1920 – 2002) cites many similar instances in his recent Growth of Scheduled Tribes and Castes in Medieval India.

The same is true of Bhangis. William Crooke (1848 – 1923) of Bengal Civil Service tells us that the “rise of the present Bhangi caste seems, from the names applied to the castes and its subdivisions, to date from the early period of Mohammedan rule”. Old Hindu literature mentions no Bhangis of present function. In traditional Hindu rural society, he was a corn-measurer, a village policeman, a custodian of village boundaries. But scavenging came along with the Muslim and British rule. Their numbers also multiplied. According to 1901 Census, the Bhangis were most numerous in the Punjab and the United Provinces which were the heartland of Muslim domination.

Then came the British who treated all Hindus equally—all as an inferior race—and fuelled their internal differences. They attacked Hinduism but cultivated the caste principle, two sides of the same coin. Hinduism had to be attacked. It gave India the principles of unity and continuity; it was also India’s definition at its deepest. It held together castes as well as the country. Take away Hinduism and the country was easily subdued.

Caste in old India was a cooperative and cultural principle; but it is now being turned into a principle of social conflict. In the old dispensation, castes followed dharma and its restraints; they knew how far they could go. But now a caste is a law unto itself; it knows no self-restraint except the restraint put on it by another class engaged in similar self-aggrandisement. The new self-styled social justice intellectuals and parties do not want an India without castes, they want castes without Dharma. This may be profitable to some in the short run but it is suicidal for all in the long run.

In the old days, castes had leaders who represented the culture of the land, Who were natural leaders of their people and were organic to them. But now a different leadership is coming to the fore: rootless, demagogic and ambitious, which uses caste slogans for self-aggrandisement. – The Indian Express, 13 September 1996

» Ram Swarup (1920–1998) was a Sankhya philosopher, yogi, and colleague of historian Sita Ram Goel. Together they founded the publishing imprint Voice of India in New Delhi, to give Hindu intellectuals a voice when the mainstream media refused to give them any time or space .

Glossary of the Tribes and Castes