Monday, March 30, 2009

TALES FROM THE CAPITAL CITY - XI

THE TRAGIC STORY OF A RAJPUT PRINCESS

Yesterday (29-03-2009) V. George Mathew (para-phsycologist), Uma Maheshwari (freelance journalist), Anil Bhaskar (photographer- Rashtra Deepika) and I had the opportunity to visit Krishna Singh’s house. Krishna Singh, a resident of Thiruvananthapuram, as his name suggests claims to have Rajput ancestry, and interestingly he had a very different story to tell, a tragic story of a Rajput princess who came to Travancore.

Krishna Singh’s house is located in Manacaud, near the famed Manacaud Shasta temple. Earlier George sir had told us that Krishna Singh was a very old man, who was about 90 years old. However, later we found out that Krishna Singh was a man in his late seventies. There was a large wall, resembling a fortress, dotted with shops and small rooms surrounding the house. The huge wooden gates, painted in sky blue opened to reveal a large two-storied building, about 70 years old.

Krishna Singh - Photograph taken by the author.
According to Krishna Singh history and hearsay mentions the arrival of Rajpoots in Travancore during the reign of Rama Varma, the preceedor of Marthanda Varma. And their history is linked with the mysterious lady of Travancore, ‘Abhirami’, wife of Rama Varma.. According to Krishna Singh, Abhirami’s real name is not known, it is generally said (with in the family circles) that her name was ‘Sandhya’- derived from ‘Syndhya’, the title of a sect of Rajput royals. He said that this girl (let us call her Sandhya) was a princess, born in Ayodhya. It is said that the child had some problems with her horoscope and the royal pundit told her father to send her for 14 years pilgrimage. It is said that one of her brothers (for her protection), some of her close relatives and attendants accompanied her.

Sandhya reached Suchindram. During that period, Thiruvithamkodu was the capital of Travancore. The king, Rama Varma on a routine visit to the temple heard Sandhya singing a bhajan and fell in love with her. He married her and promised that her sons will be the next rulers. The relatives and attendants who came with her settled in ‘Madhava layam’, near Nagercoil. ‘Layam’ means stable- Rajputs were master horse riders, they had horses with them, and so the place got that name. He said that before that also there were Rajput settlements in Travancore, so the people had no problem in finding new partners here (of their own caste).

The conflict between Marthanda Varma and Thampi’s is famous, I am not going to it, but according to Ramayyan’s plans, Marthanda Varma imprisoned Sandhya and her daughter Ummini Thanka in a palace. Sandhya died and daughter had to guard her dead body for five days. It is said that unknowingly at the same time Marthanda Varma came there with all preparations to marry Ummini Thanka. On seeing the ‘thalam’ she lost her control and kicked it, she then committed suicide, pulling out her tongue. She also cursed that Travancore family will always be short of women. According to Krishna Singh that is the reason why, there are so many adoptions in the family. After conducting pujas, both mother and daughter were installed in a temple. It is said that the plot to marry Ummini Thanka was Marthanda Varma’s idea to calm down her brothers, Pappu (Padmanabhan) Thampi and Raman Thampi.

The relatives of Sandhya did not revolt against Marthanda Varma, so they were spared and brought to Trivandrum when the capital was shifted. For many years, the members of the family served as ‘Palliyara kaval’, and some in Travancore cavalry force.

Krishna Singh said that an old document of his ancestral property at Alappuzha mentions that his ancestors came from Ayodhya. He demands that his family has descendant from the royal Rajput clan, and still they have customs and rituals similar to their North Indian ancestors.

Sharat Sunder Rajeev
30-03-2009.

77 comments:

aniuu said...

I googled andf found out that ummini thankachi was killed by marthanda verma or committed suicide folloewing her brother's murders.Moreover A pic at the padmanaburam palace thuckalay demonstrates that She was martanda verma's wife who commited suicide pulling her tongue out since her 2 brothers were killed.Later she became melankode yakshi.

sharat sunder rajeev said...

dear aniuu,
as a matter of fact, our historians are still not sure whether thanka was the wife of marthanda varma, it is said that marthanda varma married a daughter or anantharaval of kazhakootathu pilla(?),later killed her etc.....but it seems less probable that the kunji thampimar would allow their enemy to marry their only sister.

even the death of this thankachi is shrouded in mystery, it may be true that she comitted suicide,and later became a yakshi, but the real situation is still unknown....all the history that we know abt the pillamar and thampimar were later written down during the reign of uthran tirunal,for kathakali plays.....these fabricated tales, unfortunately ,later became history

manoj said...

I heard this story from my grandpa.it is said that ummini thanka was married to marthanda varma and she killed herself because her family was killed

sharat sunder rajeev said...

hai manoj,
there are many stories saying that marthanda varma and ummini thanka were married, but there are no historic records to prove it true......however, it is sad that much of our history is shrouded in mystery and legends.

cheryl nicholson said...

Hi Sharat, I'm from Malaysia. I recently made a short trip with some family members to Trivandrum the birthplace of my parents who are since deceased. I was shown a sword by a relative who told me that my great grandfather was a guard to the Maharaja. I can't seem to find any information on this. Wonder if you can hlp in any way. Our family name is Netto. I'm assuming that my great grandfather has the same name. Thanks.
Rgds,
Cheryl

sharat sunder rajeev said...

Hi Cheryl,
The name 'Netto' seems quite familiar. Think I can help if you could provide me some more details about your family and ancestors…..from the name I presume that yours is a Christian family, from the time of Marthanda Varma there were some Christian families concentrated in coastal regions who were the protectors of the king (especially during the time of Aarat, when the king accompanies his family deity to Sangumugham beach). It’s possible that your ancestor, the member of the family would have acquired the hereditary title.

Sonu.S.Karanavar said...

My family surname is karanavar.i am a nair.can you please tell me the origin of our family with details.

Mukti said...

Hi Sharat,

It was a refreshing read... quite nostalgic also as marthanda verma, ettuveetil pillamar and the thampis were my mother's favourite topics while narrating stories when I was a kid. In her stories Marthanda Verma was always the righteous one. Puzzling though, as now historians have not been able to prove the atrocities of ettu veetil pillamar.

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Veera Marthanda Varma the Great was a Brahmachari till his 'naaduneengal' and would have never killed women. Please don't go by 'amar chithra kathas' and musings of people like Krishna Singh. It is also said that Aviraama (not Sandhya?)met Veera Rama Varma at Suchindram at the Pallitheradi Festival. So, History needs lot of facts and not speculations. The doubt that Marthanda Varma married the niece of Kazakoottam Pilla is absurd.

Mitra said...

If kunju thampimar were the sons of a Rajput princess, how did they get the surname 'Thampi'. In my understanding thampi denotes a person born to nair mother and kshetriya father .

Sharat Sunder Rajeev said...

Gautam Padmanabhan, first of all thanks for going through the post and for the comment. While reading you must have noticed that it is the musing of an old man (he passed away a couple of months back), yes, it is and I do not claim this story to be 100 % true. However, one cannot discard the oral traditions, it is often seen that the oral traditions that circulates amongst the local population also have some sparks of truth in it.
I do have respect for the Travancore royal family, but I won’t agree with your claims. It is well known that the women of the Ettuveettil Pillai families were sold / given to the fishermen community after the men were massacred. Unable to bear this fate, many of them committed suicide and Veera Marthanda Varma was responsible for this. If not directly, he was responsible for the deaths of innocent women and children.
And about history, the stuff written about royalty by many old historians are no better than the stories you come across in ‘Amar Chitrakatha’, so don’t believe all of it. And while mentioning about Pallitheradi Festival, you have written ‘It is also said that’, ….it is said that, it is believed that…….this explains all, sometimes we are not sure what exactly happened in history.

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Thanks for your response.
Let me add few points here.
Veera Bala Marthanda Varma did the right thing by killing the Pillamar.
He had two options before him, to kill or to get killed. Which one would one prefer?

Regarding your statement that the women and children were sold to fishermen requires a correction. They were de-promoted from Nair Caste to Fishermen community, because many of the ladies wanted to see the end of Bala Marthanda Varma, when he was 'Neyyantikara Rajakumaran' for many reasons. Even today the fisherwomen in Valyathura and Puthenthope who owe their origins to Nair Community are called 'Vella achies'.

Venadu was in a complete state of Anarchy and Choas at the time of VMV. Unlike Mughals and Nawabs, VMV was actually tolerant towards the women of his enemy familes.

Actually Subhadra who was the niece of Kudamon Pillai was linked to VMV and not the niece of Kazhakoottathu Pillai. But CV Raman Pillai said that Subhadra was in love with another person and not VMV.

One thing is clear VMV was solely responsible for the formation of united Travancore and was a great visionary of the time. He did the right thing by destroying his enemies. No tint of cruelty in that step at all. They deserved it.

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Actually Veera Ramah Varma, uncle of VMV met Aviraama at Suchindrom. When I said, 'it is said that' it means an event in Travancore History and not my doubt. Ofcoursethese are subject to interpretations by others.

It is sad to know that Krishna Singh passeed away. In this part of the State, many stories are said and retold as history, but the real history is different and those who had nothing to do with Royal Family had infact praised VMV for his vision of a modern state which became the land of Thrippada Swaroopam.

Ettuveetil Pillamar were no less than demons. They were directly linked to killing of small princes
(Kalipankulam event) and the attack on Attingal Thampuran (Budhanoor Incident) and were responsible for the plight of Padmanabha Swamy Temple. So, nothing wrong in eliminating them.

Actually they paved the way for their destruction and not in anycase the Great King, Anizhom Thirunal Ponnuthampuran Thirumanassu...

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

It's is so unfortunate that the then pagans who were anti VMV had erected a Temple some where in Naanchinnadu in respect of Kunju thampimar and their kin. Once I had received a sketch of this temple.

There was also one 'scripture' narrating the lives of kunju thampimar called 'Thampimar Kadai' which is still popular in southern Tamil Nadu.

So, let me humbly say that all these grandeur seen in Trivandrum including the great Padmanabha Swamy Temple are all due to VMV, the maker of modern Travancore.

Anuradha Warrier said...

Hi, found this blog while searching for information on Ummini Thanka. It was a very interesting read. I love collecting old legends (I'm originally from Trichur) of Kerala, and this is a part that is shrouded in much mystery.

Achu said...

Dear Gautam,

It seems you follow C.V Raman Pillai's so called historic novels, not the real history. The novel has the names of some of the individuals who lived then in Venad, but it is after all a love story. If you take these stories for true history, I pity you. (Please read Three Musketeers of Dumas and check in the history of England and France whether the Queen of France had any illicit relationship with Duke of Buckingham. Novels are just fantacies of the novelist not the history).

We have many such 'Veerpurushas' viz.Kunjali Marakkar and Pazhassi Raja who played virtually no role in the history but became immortal through the plays written by K. P. Kesavamenon.

History gets distorted/diluted or twisted in their favour by the rulers.An inquiry deep into the circumstances prevailed at that point of time in history would help you reveal the truth. 'veera aradhana' has nothing to do with history.

Do understand that ettuveetil pillamar were not responsible for managing the affairs of Sree Padmanabha Temple, but the ettara yogam. In the ettara yogam the ruler of Venad was also a party. It is evident from the history of Venad that the Thiruvattattu Adikesava Swamy temple was more prominent until the reconstruction of Sree Padmanabha Temple in the present form and Thripadi danam. History says that Marthanda Varma received his sword after pooja at the Adikesava Temple before marching with his troupes to Kolachal.

In every kingdom in kerala there existed a strong nair group guarding different provinces of the kingdom, which acted as a corrective force between the king and his subjects if the king does any injustice towads his subjects. The autocracy was thus curtailed to a certain extent and Ettuveettil Madambimar not pillamar were such a group of nair chieftains. And what was the cruelty they committed towards Marthanda Varma? They stood by the word given by Ravi Varma to his North indian wife. No wonder if Marthanda Varma had enmity with them.

Kalippan kulam event is shrouded by mistery. This also is like a folklore and people have Umakeralam of Ulloor in their hands to prove it which again is the fantacy of Ulloor not history. As sharat truely said 'these fabricated tales(/tails), unfortunately, later became history'.

maharana said...

hi sonu karnavar.....Marthandavarma”s nephew (later Karthikathirunal “dharmaraja) sister and her husband (koyi thapuran)were living under the protection of a Nair Chieftain known as Vattaparampil unnithan near Keerikattu (later became “valiyathan” and current decedents lives in pandalam, thiruvala(“Thotathil” family)etc, related to the royal houses of these areas,Dr.Marthandavarma shankaran valiyathan(ms valiyathan)and artist Valiyathan belongs to this family )once they were passing though the Budanoor paddy field near Mannar were attacked by Nairs loyal to the Kayamkulam Raja and Ettuvittil Pillamar.so the clever old lady of Vattaparampil posed as the rani and tried to save the prince and his mother, that time one old nair (karanavar) arranged some nairs and informed the incidents to “Vakkavanjipuzha pandarathil of Chenganoor (chief of vanjipuzha) and saved the prince. later Marthandavarma became king and assimilated kayamkulam and destroyed the Ettuvittil pillamar and he divided and diverted the Achankovil river to destroy the budhanoor paddy field near “vettiyar”(the name comes b’cose of tht) and nairs of Ennakadu,Budhnoor areas were called “palakkel vettikal”(one who attack “pallak”)all their properties were became “Pandaram vaka” and later gave to the related royals settled after the attack of Tippu .the nephews, decedents of the “karanavar” got the title of same.

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Dear A----?

I think this Achu is a fake person.

I never tried to legalize fables as facts...

The father of kunju thampimar was Veera Rama Varma and not Ravi Varma.

I never said that Ettuveetil Pillamar were managing the Temple of Sri Padmanabha. I only said they were tax collectors who had acquired power and influence through their illegal activities.

I sincerely believe that we all r students of history.

Achus's? comments were really childish and funny.
They were no arguments at all........

sonukaranavar said...

Thanks maharana...do you know about the main family today..?

georges said...

I am going off-topic and I hope you guys are not inconvenienced much...
I was interested in knowing which suburbs of present-day Kochi area, in olden days (i.e., before 1949), fell in Travancore state? e.g.,I know for certain that the Edapally Railway Station was situated within erstwhile Travancore state. I wanted to know about Vyttila, Kaloor and other prominent Kochi suburbs. All help/infrmation would be most graciously received and well appreciated.

Soheb Vahab said...

Dear Sir,
As far as I know, the State extended from Kanya Kumari in the south to North Paravoor. There is a wrong idea that it extended till Kodangallur. I happened to read the same in a booklet and enquired the authorities from where they acquired this information. Their response was that as Kodangallur was socially and culturally important, it was written thus.
Soheb Vahab

Renjith Leen said...

Can anyone shed light on the descendants of the Ettuveetil Pillamar, who are said to be living in the coastal villages of TVM. Almost all of them are Catholics. I once happened to see a documentary in Doordarshan where one Mr Pereira confessed that he was descended from one of the ladies of Ramanamadom who were sold to the Catholic fishermen. He said that he visited Vettadi Temple of Changanasseri every year to pray at the spot where the spirits of his slain ancestors are said to be enshrined.

Arockiaraj said...

Dear All, Do you have any information on the children of the Padmanabhan Thampi and Raman Thampi and also their sister. Listening to stories from my grandmother (she is from Colachel/Trivandrum)she is a descendant of Kosala princess, Neela-ma-arasi(-ma- means great; -arasi- means queeen). I doubt she is none other than Princess Abhirami/Sandhya. One of my ancestor name is King Vira Thoma Marthanda. Do you have any information on them?

Thanks,
Arockiaraj.

Arya said...

Dear all,ma ancestral temple is the melancode temple at Thukkalay and my grandmother hails from the Kochikkal thampi family.Could you please help me with the family history?

vennu said...

hello,
i like to say some words.cv raman pilla is not a historian,but a novelist.but he had read many folk stories and songs of previous centuries and knows many things at that time.
in his novel marthanda varma ,a hero like character is there ,anantha padmanabhan and also the mangoikkal tharavadu.we align ourself behind them while reading the novel.they are actually channar or nadar and not and never can be a nair or pillai as stated in the novel.anantha padmanabhans tomb is still in kanyakumari district.mankoikkal family is also there.anatha padmanabhan later became the army cheif of travancore.he also served as the body guard of marthanda varma.marthanda varma lived in his house secretly for some time due to madampimars attempts to kill him.
more over the army formed by marthanda varma to defeat ettuveetil pillmar were many consists of channars and parayar.a particular division which helped him and saved in crucial battle consists of parayars only.
later when he became king and removed the ettuveetil pillamars and started campaign ,his army was formed with marvars brought from thirunelveli.i dont think there was a nair army at that time.

joceee said...

there was some one asking about the boundaries of erst while kochin in vaikom side travancore extended till kureekad near chottanikara a place hardly 3 km from hillpalace the palace of king , main other cities perumbavoor aluva , paravur was in travancore kodungaloor trichur shornur was in kochin rule. part of kochin fort kochi and partof vypin where under direct britsh rule called British Kochi. i remember my grand fathers sisters talking about restriction they had to suffer because although
they where living near by they where living in different ountries

LKNAIR said...

Hi All,
Just came across this thread. Renjith Leen was asking about the descendants of Ettuveettil Pillamar. This is what I have heard from my grand mother. She told me that our family is of the same family of Chempazhanthi Pillai and while other Pillamars where exiled , only he was freed, since a woman from Chempazhanthi Pillai family had safe guarded Marthanda Varma during a war. Not only he was freed but also given 2000 'para' Nilam. This is told by my father's mom. However, my mom's mom also told the same and they are from two different branches of the same family.
Now, my mom vaguely remembers that an 'Ettu Kettu' (called Padipurra Veedu)was also part of family property and due to some internal fights , a receiver was also appointed to rule that. These indicate the wealth of the family accumulated over years. So I believe that Chempazhanthi Pillai was indeed exempted from any kind of punishment.
Another fact is, since we had received such a large amount of land, during every Ekadashi my mom's mom used to visit Padmanabha Swami temple and provide offering from the land to Padmanabha Swami.Have you come across any such facts/tales during your research ? Just curious to know.

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Hi Mr Nair,
Even I had heard from my father that Chempazhanthi Pillai and his family were excused by the King.
Can you please tell me where exactly this Chempazhanthi tharavadu is located? We can find a huge pond at the site of the households of all the other pillamar as their ancestral homes were destroyed and the King had ordered to dig a huge pond there. "Kulam thondi kullam kuzhikkuka"
We can find such ponds at Kazhakootam, Kudaman which is now called Kudavoor near Thonnakkal etc. Lets also not forget the 'vella achies' who were the descendants of the ettuveetar.....

LKNAIR said...

HI Gautham,

Thanks for your response. I am Laxmy . My mom's house is in Edathara , Chempazhanthi. Mom told that this Ettukettu tharavadu was at this place itself and she said no remains of that house exists, and people moved to diffrent places.However, this didnt happen as part of any enemity with the KIng, bue due to internal family fights ! This may have happened in 1970s - 1980s time period.

A branch of Chempazhanthi pillai (my dad's family) has the family temple Alyavoor(same as family name) temple (Siva Temple) is at a place called Pothencode, near Chempazhanthi in Trivandrum.

Also,my mom's grand mom's grand mom :) was adopted from 'Chittalloor' family in Trivandrum(Muttada), as there were no girl child to continue the family thread !

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Ok Laxmy..so sorry for my wrong addressing..The Chittalloor House you told is very near to my place in Kaudiar...even that tharavadu is no more and their family deity of Vanadurga is under renovation....
I'm very sad to hear the condition of Chempazhanthi tharavadu....You have old photographs of that house...?
I have gone to pothencode and is now very famous bcoz of Shantigiri......
Do you know that you great great great grandma's name who protected Marthanda Varma? any clues?

LKNAIR said...

Hey Gautham,

One correction, the temple is in Powdikonam and not Pothencode, my bad :D

I don't have any photographs right now. Let me check with my relatives.

I heard these stories from my grandparents in my childhood and never bothered to ask further questions at that time. My grandparents(maternal and paternal) are no more and now I understand the importance of understanding our history.

Let me see ,if I can get some more info.

I am not sure if the Chittalloor House near Kaudiar is the one. My mom told that it is near Muttada.

Sharat Sunder Rajeev said...

LKNAIR, Laxmy and Gautham Padmanabhan for visiting the blog and for following up the discussion. It seems that the stories and mysteries of the Ettuvettil Pillamar will captivate us in the following centuries also. I hope that the historical research will shed more light on their origins.
I have seen the old Chittaloor Tharawad and had once sneaked inside the compound to take some pictures. We had a submission on traditional buildings and took Chittaloor Elankam as my case study. I still have some splendid photographs of the house, taken by my friend. Unfortunately, the house was demolished some years back. Two years back when I visited Ulloor Subramanya temple, I was surprised to see a house that was being built adjacent to the temple pond, the house looked just like the old Chittaloor Tharawad. I asked the contractor who was there and he told me that the architectural elements from the old structure and had reused it. I was happy to see the old Tharawad, in its new avatar.

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Chittaloor house is just one example of the plight of the old nair houses...its near Muttada only..infact its between amabalamukku n muttada....happy to know from Sarath that chittaloor house has anew avtar.....well this can be a good convention.....Kuttikalude kottaram, a venture like Balbhavan was there in the old Chittaloor house for some years b4 it was demolished...it was superb structure.....well i wana find kundamon pillas house near kudavar in thonnakkal....its beleived that thekke kottaram was kudaman pilla's house and was destroyed and every part of it was brought to PAdmanabhapuram for re-construction.....

LKNAIR said...

Awesome news Sharat!!! If you don't mind would you please send some of the snaps of the tharavadu to lknairnair@gmail.com.
Next time I am in TVM, will try to visit that house near Ulloor Temple.

Did you study in CET by any chance, as you have mentioned that your case study was in TVM? I studied Civil Engg: from CET, though working as a Sr Consultant in an IT firm now.

Gautham - I have observed that most of the old tharavads in TVM have this plight. However, one can see many old Tharavads in areas like Alappuzha, Thrissur,etc; In TVM rather than Naalukettu or Ettukettu, i have seen many old bungalows.

LKNAIR said...

Thanks Sharat for sharing the pics and Thanks to Gautham for giving important info.

prem kurien said...

are there any direct descendants of the ettuveetil pillmar right now in this present day?

prem kurien said...

muttada is just 1/2 km from my house in analachira

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

Mr Pereira who is descandent of Kazhakootathu Pillai is in valiyathura now.

Sridevi Aiyar said...

Thnx 4 de in4mation abt Melankottu Yakshi... Have u heard abt Kanjirottu Yakshi doing upasana of Lord Narasimha residing in Bharatakkon Kallara (B Kallara) of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple?

Ram Govind said...

Old timers say that there are many divine beings including gods, mahatmas and a yakshi in the B Vault... That is the reason why the Royal Family is deadly against opening this Vault... I dont know why people like Ms Aiyar call Vault B Bharata Konathu Kallara... Is it not Mahabhaarata Konathu Kallara?

Renjith Leen said...

Thank you Gautham Padmanabhan for the valuable bit of info on Mr Pereira, who is supposed to be a descendant of Kazhakootathu Pillai.

Renjith Leen said...

In a souvenir published by the village of Mayyanadu in Kollam a few years ago, it is mentioned that a certain Catholic family used to have the surname of Pillai till the middle of the twentieth century. Legend has it that certain male relatives of one of the Ettuveetil Pillais, while fleeing the soldiers of Marthanda Varma, landed in the fishing hamlet of Mayyanadu and embraced Catholicism from the Portuguese Padres there and settled down. Apparently, they came via Chirayenkeezhu and Paravur. This particular family used to practice marumakkathayam, pointing to their Nair ancestry.

Unknown said...

Hi All,
I am Anoop; a christian. My grandfather ( maternal ) used to tell us that they were descendants of ettuveetil pillamar. Actually, there's something that makes me curious about Mr.Renjith's info. Grandpa used to tell us that his great grandpa ( don't exactly know like how many 'greats' should be there )was baptised & became a christian. He/they had stolen some materials from church & were cursed. My grandpa was the 7 th genereation from then. I have just heard all these stories & i don't have any evidences. My Grandparents are no more.
Just want to know if this story has any base. Also would like to know where can I get some info on the same as I have no idea where to get these details.

Hope somebody can help me....

Anoop

Arjun Krishnan said...

I am Arjun Krishnan .. My dad's family hails from Colachel(kanyakumari distrct now)..I cme from Nair community..Do they have any relation with the erswhile Travancore guards or know anything ??Could you please help me out??

Adarsh Gireesh said...

I think i heard a stry about umminithanka...she committed suicide and her soul is rested in the southmost room in padmanabhapuram palace...During the shoot of manichitrathazhu the authorities refused to open that room for them due to this reason...is this true,..is her soul present in that room..

iyermr2007 said...

Thank you very much Sharath for the historic details of the Travancore Royal family. I belong to Trivandrum now settled in Mumbai and has been a close follower of the developments in the Padmabhaswamy temple. The serial of Amrita TV Sri Padmanabham aroused my curiosity further about the life and time of Veera Marthanda Varma the founder of the modern Travancore and Shri Padmanbahswamy temple. I was curious about the personal details of the King in the serial and was looking around for the details which were not available in standard historical books. That is when I goggled and stumbled upon your blog. I wish somebody write a historical account of the details. Do you think the famous mural of yakshi at the Padmanbaswamy temple has anything to do with Yakshi of Ummani Thankachi?

K E said...

I am just curious. I understand there was once a coup where the royal family was overthrown by their cousins. The cousins then took over the royal family and the original royal family were saved by some Portuguese fisherman. I also understand that they were then made to adopt Catholicism. Could you please give me some information if any of this happened?

ram kumar said...

i would say something about new researches done about the kerala history.the social side of it is very interest and at the same time unbelievable. one such thing is nairs were soldiers of kerala.or nairs were the only soldiers of kerala. there were no community or sect of people now termed as nairs existed in the entire state of kerala.many families now belive to be nairs doesnot bear the surname nair nor considered were in the same caste.this was long been known for namboothiri families and ambalavsi families.there were a lot of subsects amoung these castes.and marriages were generally not allowed between these castes (now called as subcaste) sometimes even today.

ram kumar said...

the pillai surname was found in the old documents found from travancore. but the pillai was a title given to so some persons by the king.it was more prevelent during time before marthanda varma.marthanda varma introduced new tilte called chempaka raman pillai to specially selected persons.there were many persons in tranvancore from many castes including channar,ezhava,muslim and parayar and christian familes entitled to held this title.there is a caste of tamil orgin called vellala pillai ,living in trivandrum south side.they are very few in trivandrum.they uses this pillai as caste name.authorities used to give caste certificate as vellala pilla.the truth is they dont have a martial history.secondly there is a caste in tamil nadu called illathu pillais ,they sometimes use pillai as caste name.but they consider themselves a ezhavas and even now marriages are occuring between these castes. channars were earlier considered as ezhavars but channar and nadars castes were united in 1925 and its a single caste now.nadar families were given properties and land by marthanda varma and rama varma raja for their services in military.their status were degraded after dharma raja and during establishment of british rule.this caused a problems and a series of revolts occurred during 19th century till the abdication of kingship in travancore.this also happened to ezhavar and other castes.its impossible to deny a vast population rights they possess for a long time.

venu said...

nadars , channars and many ezhavars converted to christianity as a protest due to denial of many rights.if temple entry proclaimation was not given and if there were't activities of the sri narayana guru travancore would have become a christian dominated region. some christians here said that their grandfathers told them of stories of army persons ,it can have a truth as ,upto the time of british rule in travancore ,the main body of the army of travancore consisted of nadar,ezhavar,maravar (some contigencies of parayar were also there)

sarada devi said...

i agree with ram kumar and venu.its also now surfaced that all the ettuveetil pillai mar were not nairs .the term using the documents was ettuveetil madampimar.the ramana madom is not a nair but a bhrahmin.kulathoor and chempazhanthi were not nairs (some hints points they were ezhavars) and venganoor was channar family.ramana madom is now considered were the ministers of attingal swaroopam.pillais were small lords of feudal system,appointed by the king and entrusted the authority to collect tax.local acceptance and influence were major factor for this.and not he caste which he belonged.

Unknown said...

Actually I came here through google search, I want to know who is ummini thanka and what is her relation with Marthanda varma, but still I am not clear about. There is a 'serial' showing in Amrita TV named pathmanabham. As a history lover I started to watch the same and eager to know more about Travancore. Please share more and more about Veera Marthanda Varma and Ummini Thanka. Here some are saying Ummini Thanka, wife of Marthanda varma but some places Marthanda varma imprisoned Ummini Thanka. In TV serial it showing they were lovers from young and their parents knows about. But due to brothers eveil eye her parents forced to give ummini thanka to thalasseri raja. What realy happend? Any one knows? Murder or suicide?
Thanks for this blog. Keep it up

Pandia said...

I would be glad to get the details about ettuveettu pillamar. My native is panicka nadar kudiyiruppu near trichendur in Thamizh Nadu. My father used to tell me that our ancestors escaped from travancore during marthanda varman’s period and settled here by solving some disputes among the locals. He says that some of other ettuveettu pillamars ran away to kuttam, Shencottah, Keezha Eeral, and Siruthondanallur.

Dr.M.R.Iyer said...

Historians are silent about the the details of Ummani Thankachi possibly deliberately. From Sharaths information she had a tragic end. How and why we do not know. The Amrita TV serial Sri Padmanabham has made the Ummani thankachi as the central theme at least for the time being. It seems to be taking a course which does not seem to be in line with the other tales. I would like to know Sharaths remarks on this.

Dr.M.R.Iyer

Gautham Padmanabhan said...

It is very sad to see Ettuveettil Pillamar are being potrayed as Brahmins and Kshatriyas...They were aristocrats undoubtedly...infact many historians like Shivashankaran Nair had said that there were aruveettil pillamar and not 8...anyway one should understand there was no major difference between Nairs and Kshatriyas in Kerala till 15th Century. Ramanaa Madhom and Marthanda Madhom were Ilathu Nairs with Brahmin relation through marriage, but were never Brahmins. Yes, they were ministers also and controlled Monarchy of Venadu..

Anonymous said...

Hi I am Arunpradhap from Tamilnadu I am interested in histories of Tamilnadu especially history of kerala which was part of ancient Tamilakam.I have read that during the period of arrival of dutch it is stated that the language spoken was said to be malabar tamil or malayamma tamil can any one explain when the separate language was formed as malayalam.How the caste system in kerala got deep rooted by suppressing lower community people as untouchables?

GOPIKRISHNAN KOTTOOR said...

sharat, i hope you read this. i need some info about MV with neelakantan pillai. And when it was that Ramaiyyan enterede the scene
would you write to me at gopikottoor@gmail.com . I am also on facebook. Hope I can contact you. This is urgent.
gopikottoor@gmail.com

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visu said...

Hi sharat, my name is Visakh Mohan Thampy.my father is a native of thiruvarampu, marthandam.our family is called as puthenveedu and we were the ruling family of that place.recently my aunt said me that ummini thanka is my great grant mother and raja kesavadas is a close relation of ours.my family members holds the title thampy and thankachi.could you please help me in clarifying abt the ancestral details of mine regarding ummini thanka and raja kesavadas?

Arjun Jagadeesh said...

hi arya... im also member of kochikkal thampi family.im staying at Kochikkal ,Mavelikara at the ancestral house. I have tried obtaining information about kochikkal tampi family upto an extent..im stillworking on it..wi;; upload the details as soon as i det the information..

Anonymous said...

Dear Sharat, Firstly my heartfelt well wishes for maintaining a blog of excellant standard. I admire ur writing style, & appreciate ur efforts behind ur writings. I think the mere mention of Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma sparks a raging debate among history buffs... that itself says a lot about the man. The one positive aspect about the unveiling of Sree Padmanabhaswami wealth, is creating an interest, atleast in the minds of youngsters, about the illustrious history of Travancore & its modern "Maker". I am from central Travancore, & remember that as a small child staring at the pic of Sree Chithira Thiruanl placed in the hallway of my ancestral home. His turban had caught my curious eyes!!! None of us can categorically comment on the morality/character of MV; i believe he did whatever he had to, inorder to secure the future of his kingdom. And Achu's comment caught my eyes. I feel, that if Veera Ravi Varma/Rama Vrma, was serious about the word given to his north indian wife, he would have made that public thru some kind of vilambaram. Correct me if im wrong, i believe he did no such thing. May be he gave his word inorder to get the lovely lady into his bed!!! I am not being disrespectful to her/her descendants, but the Monarchs of the old (most of them, not all) were notorious when it came down to women. And it was MV's same uncle who asked his 14 yr old nephew to intervine, in his stead, regarding the matter of Madurai Nayiks & crowned him as the heir apparent/Neyyattinkara Rajakumaran. Y didn't he asked his sons to do the same/trained them in administration of the kingdom??? Besides, it was against the custom of Travancore as well. The Ettuveettil pillamar/madambimar/aaruveedar, whoever it was, seemed to have had some vested interest to support Thampimars !!! I am not trying to villify them, but wen foreigners were already trying to get a stronghold in the kingdom, revolting against the heir apparent wasn't a wise or right thing to do. MV was the rightful heir to the throne, according to the prevalent Marumakkathayam system of the time. Besides exacting a promise like that from the Monarch by Abhirami/Sandhya's family seems to be a bit manipulative. As far as i have read, the Thampimar also tried to get the enemy king's help to secure their position(kayamkulam raja under the dutch dominance, i think) which is very wrong. That is akin to our modern day politicians improving their positions by means of corruption & favouritism. I do believe that MV's treatment of women was a bit harsh. But if they had been let off, there wud have been more internal strifes. In the long run, MV's actions benefitted the Kingdom. Without his seemingly ruthless actions, we would hav ended up in a worse condition than Bihar due to extreme exploitation. The popular culture (especially old malayalam movies) mostly made a villain out of MV, but we shud show some appreciation to the man for his foresight & statesmanship. Anyways, none of us can make a precise argument due to the lack of historical evidence. Once again, keep on writing Sharat. Have a gud day.

rajendra ganau said...

hello,friends .history of kerala is not fully correct as many who had commented here. large distortions had been done and many had tried to pull up their pride by false history.

many times the traditional occupation is discussed but explanations are not correct.if we check the records to find the occupation of nairs.its generally tried to popularize as military.but from numerous records now its clear that nairs were not in military service as a general rule.list of army persons are available who were in service with the foreigners forts ,factories,go downs etc and also in the armies of local kings.we got the names ,family names etc from them its clear majority were not nairs ,but generally from many castes and mainly from ezhavars and thiyyars bhrahmins,christians and even pulayas and other sc st castes.
what we got from records ,we have tell in plain english that nairs were generally practicing a prostitution as an occupation.word nair itself was not considered a good word ,not even be written in official records. as some friends had written earlier, nairs were employeed generally as house maids and servants who were not even allowed to touch water. from our research the nair surname began to be used only after 1870s

Anonymous said...

During last decade of 19th century ie during 1890's a man called C.V.raman pillai who was living kerala wrote a novel,a historical romance.it was one of the first novels in Malayalam.the novels name is marthanda varma-the famous king of travancore who enlarged travancore to a bigger country and made it strong with new revenue administration .he also weakened the feudal system there which was slowly emerged and formed from 14th century.C.V.Raman was very high caste spirited person (as was like many at the time.even now its said that nairs are the most caste spirited persons in kerala ).so he named all the important characters of the novel with surname pillai, some of the characters were real historical figures .they too were christian-ed with pillai surname.this novel was very popular and was taught in schools and colleges(even now) .many thought foolishly that it was the real history.but actually many characters were his creation which he thought needed for a love story.he knew many folk songs and from that he formed his own story.some parts of these songs are including at the start of each chapter.

balendra raju said...

Ananadha padmanabhan is the central or hero of the novel mathanda varma written by C.V.Ramana.this character again appears in another novel by the same author.the marthanda varma novel is also love story between anadha padmanabhn and a nair girl.anantha padmanabhan is a trusted friend and companion of marthanda varma.he is very good in arms and is a good warrior.he saves the king many times from the hands of ettuveetil pillamar.another family is also comes into importance in the novel .it is the mangoikkal family.marthanda varma was saved by that family and in that act the family house was burned down.they helped marthanda varma escape from the enimies and he stays in their family.but the enemies suspecting this attacked the house ,but they were stopped by the paraya (another caste now in scheduled list) soldiers and others of the mankoyikkal family.enemies tried to kill marthanda varma by setting fire to the house but bharathan channan or anantha padmanabhan saves the marthanda varma.in the novel ananthapadmanabhan is made nair by making him the son a thirumukkathu pillai.mankoyikkal family is also made nair by using the word kurup and pillai surnames to its family members some of whom also appears in his another novel dharma rajah.

in reality the anantha padmanabhan is a historic figure and belonged to channar community.his house still exists in kanyakumari district which was constructed by him during the period of marthanda varma king.he was the caprtain of the body guard battallion which included 36 warriors who were all channars selected personnaly by marthanda varma.he was a great friend of marthanda varma and served the king as his minister and army commander.actually he helped marthanda varma is securing the support of channar and nadar community to fight against the madampis of travancore who helped the thampis in their claim to thrown.these powerful feudal lords were trying to kill the marthanda varma.anantha padmanabhan died in the year 1953 after the establishment of travancore kingdom.

the mankoyikkal family also existed and their house too is in kanyakumari district of tamilnadu.kanyakumari was part of the travancore kingdom till 1956.they belonged to channar caste.now the channar caste name is not used.the channar caste and nadar caste combined together in 1925 and is now a single caste.they too held high posts in the period of marthanda varma and rama varma.its likely that they were given the title kurup as they trained soldiers.king marthanda varma also formed a title called chempaka raman pillai which was given to the most eminent personnalities who helped in the government.this title was given to these two families.

anitha said...

the word ettuveetil pillamar too was coined by C.V.Raman pillai and got popular in such a way that all, even historians use the same word.but they were not all pillais or anyone of them belonged to caste vellala pillai who now use the surname pillai.these eight houses were very powerful feudal lords and they held influencial posts .ramana madam and pallichal were ministers of attingal soverign of which ramana madom was a bhrahmin family.kulathoor and chempazhanthi were ezhava families.the arms trainer or kalarippayattu teacher of kazhakuttom was an ezhava man named kesava panikker.later he left from kazhakuttom with his diety whom he worshiped to another place called thozhuvancode where he established a temple now known as thozhvancode devi temple.its priests are even today members of his family and those families related to him and also they belonged to ezhava family.there is no bhrahmin priests in that temple.the word used in the old documents for mentioning these people are ettuveetil madampimar and not ettuveetil pillamar.in the document which mention the punishment of these madampis only 4 houses are stated.the reason is that all were not supporters for the eliminations of marthanda varma.because of the popularity of the word ettuveetil pillamar ,through the novel many people thought that all the pillais or nairs were against marthanda varma and it was a fight against nairs and the ruling family and in the fight nairs lost.

the novel was so influencing that many not only historians but also the intellectuals of communist party too were misguided so much that in the books written by them , they mention this as the mass or people revolt against the ruling class or marthanda varma.it also made people to think that nairs were the controlling the state affairs and all the powerful land lords or atleast all the powerful lords were nairs who used to keep a sur name as pillai.this also created a new story that nairs of travncore were against marthanda varma and as ruler he crushed them.this was really not the actual case.nor the nairs were anywhere near to be called powerful for they were so few in number in kerala and travncore.only after the formation nss many castes which were not actually considered nairs were included and thus the number of nairs have increased.earlier these castes were having (still now) seperate caste names and considered nairs to be so much lower to them that even touching them was not allowed.but they used to appoint nairs for their house hold works,but still they were kept aside.the water touched by a nair was not considered good to drink by them (because of the untouchablity practised at the time) doing so was punishable with bhrasht meaning throwing out from their caste and denying all the rights,which included social out casting.even today many castes which joined with nss(nair service society) consider themselves higher than nairs and dont like to got together with so called nairs, eventhough many times they dont use their old sub caste title but generally considered as nairs by others.marriages are not encouraged amoung them or they dont prefer to make an aliance from the nairs.pillais of trivandrum also are part of the nss ,they too are considered as nairs generally.but they use the surname as pillai and not nair.the caste name is vellala pillai.marriages doesnot occur between these castes.in southern districts nairs castes itself is considered as two types.one higher and other lower.generally speaking higher traditionally possess more lands.they generally distance away from the lower nairs.higher nairs generally doesnot support rss or hindu fundalmentalist organisations and movements.

anitha said...

Additions and method of changing caste of characters,and alloting caste historical person done by C.V.Raman was later criticized by many others later.but generally that critics literature is not popular among the masses.any way many persons before and after C.V.Raman had done the same thing .alloting castes to 18 siddhars of tamilnadu is one such example ,done by those who transilated their works to malyalayam.this has happened in recent past ,from 70's to till date.many who reads these works only were easily fall to belive that they belonged to that caste or at time of these historic perosns caste system existed and was strong as in later years.even now some new papers knowingly or unknowingly put caste names to persons when they write a feature about historic events.examples can be seen even now in 2012.

ganesh mr said...


there are some works such as kerala mahathmyam,kerala charitham,kerala pazhama etc which claim to be history books.but actually these were written by bhrahmins of kerala during the second half of 19th century or after 1850s.in it many forged stories were written with characters taken from puranas ,ramayana and mahabharatha.the stories of parasurama one purana character throwing axe to sea,story of mahabali and vamana etc are wrtten in these books.no facts or actual history is dealt in these works.but it was claimed that it was written very very early.but it contains reference of british rule,cannons,rifles etc which shows that ,it was written after 19th century.the aim and claim of these works is that kerala is for bhrahmins or bhrahmins are only rigthful owners of kerala.for that parasurama story was forged ,donating of kerala by him to bhrahmins etc were written.ofcourse it was written by bhrahmins of kerala who were leading lasy or easy living in kerala during that period.so in that books they claimed kerala was for them only.

INFLUENCE OF CHATTAMPI SWAMIKAL

saint sri chatampi swamikal during the first half of 20th century wrote a book named prachena malayalam.in that he claims that he had found some reference in tamil books about nair caste orgin.but that books were not mentioned by him.he goes at length claiming that nairs were desecenders of snake worshipers or naga aradhars lived in kerala long ago.he also argued that these people were called nagas because of their method of worshiping snakes.the main claim of the book is that nairs were there in kerala from time immorial and from the date on which earth was formed and that the nairs were the only authorised owners of kerala or kerala belongs to nairs.its so sad thing that a person who was revered as an acomplished saint could't even rise from the caste thoughts accumulated in him from his childhood.

ganesh mr said...

but snake worshiping exists in many parts of india and tamilnadu.the people who do this does have relation to nairs nor do they belong to same caste status.many adivasis and aborgins worship snakes ,so do many other people in india.it have no relation a particular caste.moreover snake worship in kerala have some unique features.rituals ,songs,other performance arts associated with this worship was done some particular caste called pulluvar and not nairs.in any part of the worships of snakes at temples or outside nairs had (and have) no role.in some temples bhrahmins do the worship other rituals being done by other castes such as pulluvars,velans ,parayas etc.but this book had great influence and many persons tried hard to put forward a false theory, that nagas ruled india and the nagas of nagaland are related nairs.but nagas of nagaland are people or mangol orgin came there and settled during the 16th century after the fall of mongol empire in china.they dont even have snake worshiping culture. the reality is that there is no race called nagas who had their mainly worshipers of snake.snake worship has many explainations and is a common feature which can be seen in different parts of india.the snake worship is not every where done with same intention or meaning.in kerala it is related rahu and ketu two imaginary planets included in the hindu solar system.it said that rahu eats moon and when it happens solar eclipse occur.to avoid the evil effects of rahu people in kerala perform snake worship.only out of fear and to eliminate bad or difficult experiences in life that people do snake worship and because of any love and respect to snakes.

that book stired confidence in nairs and helped to feel pride.the reasons are many.nairs were called as malayala sudras or the most downward caste in the varna system ,by the bhrahmins of kerala .ealier it was like a pride for the nairs as they were considered in side the varna system and some what part of hindus as they were allowed to enter the temple eventhough with some restrictions.these restriction include denial of ringing bell which was considered sacred,were never allowed to touch or come near the priest,nor were allowed to touch the offerings ,not allowed to enter the place were cooking of dishes meant for offerings.they were also had to move away when the priest come with things for worship.still it was considered as good as many other castes who forms now the majority of hindu religion now were not allowed even to enter the temple.also the bhrahims considered nairs as their servents who were obliged work for them sometimes even without wages.anything given to them were mere the great kindness of the bhrahmins.nair womens were the main maid servents doing house hold works in bhrahmin familes.the nair women were also had to submit to bhrahmins for sex if he desired so.if a bhrahmin comes to a nair house ,he can mate with any women he desires.it was the custom and considered as sacred and blessing.nairs also practiced polygamy ie having more number of husbands(i dont know the correct word in english .the word used popularly with somewhat nicely is sumbandakar meaning men in relation).anyone from bhrahims to nairs can have relation with a nair woman if he desires so.even an order of proclaimation from a travancore king declairing that those nair women who does not submit to wishes (sextual) of men from bharahmins to nairs shall be considered leading an unholy life which is punishable.it is difficult for a nair lady to live alone or with her lover or single husband.

ganesh mr said...

if an influencial person desires ,there is nothing she can do.out of the childrens born ladies will get more importance as the children of that girls shall be the next rightful heir of the family.this was because with this system no nair man can declaire strongly that he is the father of a kid for the kids mother had many men mating with her.but the mother of a kid can be identified much more easily as she delivers a kid which have witnesses and there by proof .because of this practise ,which was practiced mainly by nairs,the childrens doesnot know who their father was.it was not a problem till the 20th century.but after that due to reform movements and spread of education this custome began considering to be a shame to them.many great reformers fought against this system .this system does not exists now and is even unlawful.

suraj varma said...

The savarnas( the term was mainly used by namboothiris to denote themselves earlier) were much interested in creating castes and new subcastes.this created a lot of subcastes amoung the so called upperclass.bhrahmins of kerala was also divided by different subcastes.the top most is the wealthy namboothiris called as addyians and poor was called aasiyans. As found every where poor did't got much respect and their situation did't improved much. They were given jobs to assist wealthy namboothiris as servants.in the 20th century there were many namoothiri hotels which served food for money.but at first they were mainly intented for the bhrahmins,some permitted upto nairs but for them seperated place and plates were used.but avarnas were not served there.at that time all the workers in these hotels were namboothiri. Later it these namboothiri hotels meant reduced to the hotel name ,that means the workers were taken from all castes even from other religion too. All were allowed to dine there.

Even with highest social status the customs of bhrahmins of kerala was too pathetic. Only the first son of the family was allowed to marry.other sons have no right to marry.but they can mate with any women upto nairs. Not all but some kshatriya families of kerala were ready to allow their ladies to enter in relation with these namboothiris . the most infamous amoung these family was the cochin rulers or thrippunithura kovilakam.these practice created a lot of branches headed with seperated women. The namoothiris which entered in relation with these royal families were like in service or like given job.they were treated well money was given to them and to their familes. Ofcourse these money came from the state treasury and to the treasury from the working people.the income generating people were the farmers , traders and few industrialists.they made the majority of kerala population and consists mainly of so called avarnas which included ezhavar,pulayar and others.but they were not given recognition and rights. Ezhavars which forms the largest community of kerala is belived to be the Buddhist followers earlier.learning institutes were maintained by them which offered studying sanskrit and tamil languages. Medical treatment was one of their main occupation.anyone who is brilliant enough to learn sanskrit and medicine was allowed to learn in these institutes and can become a doctor. They were revered by the royal families and the namboothiris even during the period of untouchabilities. But the rules for untouchability was always relaxed when question of survival and workability comes.numerous stories and court case records shows these practices. Trade and factories were mainly run by the members belonged to this caste.

santhi warrior said...

the ambalavasi caste in kerala is that caste consists of people who were living doing jobs related to temples.this caste consists numerous subcastes.they doesn't were the owners or authorities of the temples but were doing the jobs such as cleaning,sweeping,singing,using drums and other instruments etc.they were not allowed to do the poojas which was done mainly by the bhrahmins.the bhrahmins many times were the authorities of these temples and they were the people who handle the income to the temple.at that time the temple income was mainly from the state treasury,given by the kings.this helped the owners or namboothiris to live well without necessary for doing any useful work.those persons living with jobs related to temples or ambalavasis were actually were dependentant on bharhmins as they can be denied job at any stage by these bhrahmins.so naturally they tried to keep the bhrahmins satisfied.they too practised the sambandam or were ready to entertain namboothiris with their women lot.bhrahmins entered into sambandan or a concubineship with these familes.it was not considered or accepted as marriage by the bhrahmin comunity.still the ambalavasis prefered to get a bhrahmin relation for their woman. this was way they have found to keep their job secure and income intact.so they prefer to have bhrahmin relative.if the namboothiri was a learned man and have income it was an added advantage for them.but generally if not all ,the members of ambalavasi castes are very poor and lagged behind in kerala.this was not because of any social backwardness but because of their way living superstitions.many tend to pursue their traditional occupation which have less income.their reluctance to modern education was also another reason.still they are not too poor to live as they can live by finding job and food from the temples even now.

santhi warrior said...


it should also be noted that the sambandam by namboothiris with kshathriyas and ambalavasis were different than with the nairs.the bhrahmins used to live in the houses of these kshathriyas and ambalavasi familes with whom they have started sambandam.usually the ladies doesnot have other males in relation to her.that is kshtriyas and ambalavasis used to make sambandam with only one namboothiri at a time if not for the life time.it was like a marriage as the man and lady live together in the same house just like husband and wife.even though the namboothiris doesnot consider this as a marriage and children born in this relation had no right on the father and also on the property and wealth he ever possessed.this was not the case with the nairs.not only namboothirs but anyone from bhrahmin to nairs can have relations with any nair women.she can have any number of males as she desires at the same time.these men does not stay at these nair houses nor they drink water or take food from these houses as it was considered an act punishable with bhrasht under social laws.the namoothiris or bhrahmins doesnot enter in relation or mate with a nair lady if she is a virgin.its said that they were not ready to pull a lady to prostitution as it was a sin which would fall on them.so the nairs practiced a custom or ritual just after a lady attains puberty or mensuration.a ceremony was conducted in which the girl was declaired to attain womanhood.then her mother invites a man from a sub caste of nairs who would mate with lady accepting presence or money.this subcaste does't exists now.but they were held in high esteem till the end of 19th century.they would only accept the invitation only when satisfied by the money and presents given to them.in some places a ritual marriage was also arranged which would last only for few days.when this phase is over the family can invite namboothiris and others to enter sambandam with the girl.the namboothirs and others were now come to have relation with her.these men come only at night and if there is no one he can sleep with the woman he choosed.but he would not stay there after the sun rise and never take food or drink even water.it may sound unbelivable now but it was the social custome practiced by the nairs till 20th century.it seized to exists only with the modern education and social reform movements.after independance this practise was declaired unlawful by framing new laws.

usha kumari said...


but why the caste name nair got so famous and became known to all keralites despite kerala was divided in different countries ruled by many kings.why was the caste name nair be selected and claimed as all same from kshtriyas to bottom most caste of savarnas as nair.its one of the classic examples which shows how the mind set of people can be changed with education which was far distanced or have no corelation to the actual facts.it has been shown earlier that the word nair itself was not considered as a good word and it contained a bad meaning attached to it and how untiringly many have tried to give new meaning to it.the word was not mentioned in any official records such as stone inscriptions,land records ,orders from the king etc.one other reason for this may be it denoted a very small subcaste mainly employed as house hold servents.even no good literature in the medivial kerala used that word.but there were some reference to this caste indirectly in some literatures such as chambu set of literature which uses a mixture language of malayalam and sanskrit ,which was more popular amoung the bhrahmins of kerala.but from the second quarter of 19th century this word nair became popular slowly.this was because of the modern english education.some how when portughese came to kerala they some how got the idea that the soldiers of kerala were all nairs.may be they called the soldiers as nairs.in the books and writings they wrote they used the word nair to denote the soldiers of kerala.they being came from a thick and last era of fedualism,where class division of society was strong ,they were easy pray to the misunderstanding that nairs where the soldiers or nairs alone where the soldiers of kerala.this misconcept was passed on to others and was continued by other europeans such as detch ,english and french.these other later europeans learned about kerala from the writings of portughese.they too absorbed the prejudice that nairs were all soldiers or the kerala soldiers were all nairs.this passed unchecked so mcuh that in almost all the writings the word nair was used to denote the army of kerala.when the english education was introduced in kerala in the second decade of 19th century ,this same misconcept was later taught to the kerala children in schools and thus the misconcept and prejudices were taught to the actual people itself.and above all even today many learned persons and even historians thinks that nairs are the only soldiers of kerala.But in reality many nairs were not soldiers or have nothing to do with warfare.

nagambareswary said...

it quite possible that portughese used the word nair knowing its bad meaning to denote the soilders of kerala armies to which they had frequent querrel and fights.they hated keralites and soildiers of kerala to whom they have to fight.word nair being used to harase or mention a down troden man whose only task he was permitted to do was to serve the bhrahmins with atmost loyality and who were used to be called the sudras of kerala by the bhrahmins.in manusmrithi the sudra word is defined as that person who should do all types of labour to a bhrahmin with atmost loyality without expecting anything in return like that of a dog.the malayalam word of dog is naya.in malaylam lexicon the word nair is said to orgin from this word naya.kanippayoor sangarn namboothiri says sudras loyality is compared to dog in manusmrithi and other sanskrit texts.bhrahmins who were aware of this may have coined the word nair from the malayalam word naya and have give to these servants and made them belive it to be honoroble name.

portughese knowing this may have used the nair to satisfy their hatred towards kerala people.eventhough they were aware that nairs were not military people and portughese too were used to appoint soilders in their service for guarding their factory and into their armies.these people who they were accoustomed with, majority of whom were not nairs.for nairs were generally considered as slaves of bhrahmins.it should be noted in particular that even the british who conqured and ruled india did not considered indian soildiers as equal to british soildiers.they called indian soilders as sipoyees meaning peons or chowkidars or servants.these sepayees were made to do the house hold works of british soildiers and other petty services to them.if the british have kept such an attitute then what shall be the attitude of portughese towards indians and keralaites for the mutual hatred was the sole connection between them and keralaites.

valli ammal said...

in many books written in malayalam and english the word orgin is discussed.from the social history of kerala some
excerpts are quoted here."
In Brahminic Hinduism dog and hound have come to occupy an important position.
Even in the English language, phrases like watch-dog, dog-like loyalty and dogged
resistance are expressions of high literary acceptability. Kampil Ananthan in his open
letter (1952) addressed to R. Narayana Panicker, a Malayalam lexicographer pointed out
that the domestic services in Sanskrit were swavrithy (suna- eva-vrithy) which is given as
"sevaswa vritl ralthyata" in Manusmruti and sevaswa vrithy in Amarakosa and, therefore
he comes to the conclusion like Kanippayyoor that the term Nayar means one who serves
the Nampootiri with dog-like loyalty (for further meaning refer to pp. 53-54 of the Open
Letter). Even otherwise Manusmriti loudly proclaims that the Sudras' occupation is to
render services at the foot of the Brahmin and the other two varnas. At the time when the
Kerala Sudras fully trusted the Nampootiri and hailed him god, he had cleverly coined
the term Nayar concealing the meaning of it but making them believe that it was an
honorific."

but the unbelivable thing is that those who followed them used the word nair to denote the soilders of kerala.many never seen kerala and those who visited were not aware of the social setup of kerala.many who visited kerala have already read books about kerala written by their forecomers and were driven by the prejudices.this continued and in 400 years that word gradually got accepatance and today many keep that word in their surname thinking it has great meaning.what shall a person,who have lived 400 years ago think when he hears such names.he may have laughed and says what pitty.

savithri devi said...

it have been shown earlier that the army commander of marthanda varma was anantha pathmanabhan who was a channan or nadar and not a nair.he was also the commander of the personal body guard battalion of the king.it consists of 36 warriors selected by the king personnaly.they were all channars.in many victorious battles conducted by marthanda varma the commander was ramayyan who was not a nair.his caste is not known clearly.he was born in tamilnadu and came into the serice of the travancore king at a very young age.for many years he was considered as a bhrahmin,but some have pointed out that he belonged to the maravar community of tamilnadu.what it is clear is that he is not a nair .kanakku ,pillai,chempaka raman etc were given as titles to the courters or to those who were in service or to those who have done service to the king. it was not given on community basis nor to a particular caste.it cant be competetant persons are to be taken to service and it cannot be found from a particular caste,not always from upper caste .

in kerala the largest about one third population is ezhavars another caste.many ezhavars were in military service in olden days.not only they were soilders but also were commanders and officers in the armies.varnapalli family was the army chiefs and ministers of kayamkulam kingdom, so was ambanattu panikkar in service of ambalapuzha kingdom,ambantttu family of kollam was another ezhava family in service of kollam or desinganadu principality.Akathayyadi panicker was the cheif army commander of elaidatthu soroopam or kottarakkara kingdom.(Ref: Pathonmpatham noottandile keralam by Bhaskaranunni),Renakeerthy and dharmakeerthi chekavars - Commandor of Marthandavarma. (Ref: Travancore state manual.).ezhavars were largely in the service of cochin kingdom ,sankthan thampuran specialy appointed a ezhava military betallion in the guard of vadakkum nathan temple , commanded by a ezhava officer.in malabar area ezhavar were largely addressed by the name thiyyar and chekavar.chevam means military service in malayalam.those who were soldiers were known as chekavar.as thiyyars were so much in military service that ,it became another caste name of ezhavars.the word chaver pada or suicidal squad was actually derived from the word chekavar.whether it actually existed a question still not answered.

savithri devi said...


in modern age too majority of the martial arts school of kalarippayattu or kalaris are run by ezhava caste.all the ancient kalaries still existed are owned and run by them.in trivandrum where southern style is more popular its run by another caste ,nadars.nairs are not much in the kalari training or teaching.but the famous cvn kalari was started by c v narayan nair was a nair.but his teacher was a thiyya guru.kannur is famous for gymnastics and circus.the circus companies of kerala were founded and owned by thiyyas.it was because they had the practise of learinging kalarippayattu which gives very importance to acrobatics again due to the martial history of that community.keeleri kuzhikannan was the first to start circus company in india.

it is also a common misconcept that bhrahmins were the sole keepers of sanskrit language.but actually many books in sanskrit was written by bhuddhist and jains.in kerala during mediveal period sanskrit was actually taught by medical practitioners ,astrologers etc.these schools were mainly run by buddhist familes or ezhava familes.until the 20th century majority of these schools were run by them also it should be noted that many other castes were also used to run such schools.ayurvedic phisicians were ezhava and nadar familes ,also it was practised by some bhrahmin families and other castes which are now in obc list.