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VED


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I have recently found that my writings on the Ezhava Talk pages on Wikipedia (posted here on this Veds Writings Pages) is getting a lot of unexplainable hits. There are a lot of things in my mind that I would have liked to write and make a record of, but then time is a limiting factor. Using the small intermission from my work that I have just got now as I await a Malayalam proof-reader, I will do some writings on Thiyyas.

A very casual search on the Internet brought me to many WebPages on this theme. Generally they all seem to have a very Thiyya eulogizing mood. I am not an expert on this theme, but then there are quite deep impressions that I had absorbed over the years, in a most coincidental manner.

I was born in Tellicherry in a Thiyya family. Yet, I did not live much in that area. My life did move me to quite a lot of places. So, there was a chance to get very different kinds of perspectives on many things. It may be mentioned here that this type of experience is not uncommon and there are a lot of people who undergo such varied life experiences.

My immediate impressions about the Thiyyas of Tellicherry were that they were quite fair in complexion and more or less did not have any semblance of an inferior caste. Yet, it must be admitted here itself that it was an erroneous impression. Tellicherry is a very small area. Even though some 30 to 40 years back, it must have been a far off place from so many locations in Malabar, currently it is just a wayside place on the route to so many places.

As I grew up in a family wherein English was quite good and one of my parents was a senior government officer, the general mood was of an upper class social system. However, as I occasioned to meet and interact with the Thiyyas of the nearby locations that are just kilometres away from Tellicherry, I was amazed at the difference in demeanour, intellectual content and also social hierarchy in them.

Generally speaking Thiyyas are a lower caste community and in many places just the labourer caste that propped up the higher castes above them. At first I couldnt understand why the thiyyas of Tellicherry had such a different demeanour. For, many of them had a look and feel as if they were not from the local Indian society. It took me time to understand that one of the major reasons for the development of the Thiyyas of Tellicherry was the English rule in force in the erstwhile Madras state, and also due to the English schools of fantastic quality that prevailed over there in those times. For, I had the occasion to meet many persons from this area, not just Thiyyas, who were quite at home in English classics.

The English rule did lend many frill benefits. For example, generally the Thiyyas women were not allowed to wear blouses or any other upper garments as a more or less statutory law in place. However, the English rule removed this statutory requirement. Even though the social requirement did endure in many places.

The Thiyyas were to work as servants to the higher classes who were landlords. Even though both the Nairs as well as the Thiyyas were below the higher classes, the Nairs stoutly kept their levels above the Thiyyas.

One of the means of social suppression was the use of the feudal Malabar language. The Thiyyas were just Inhi, oal, oan, aittingal etc. And Chekkan, Pennu etc.

In a way this hierarchy of pejorative words and usages were directed to the Nairs also to a limited extent. However, the Nairs, in their desperation to keep above the Thiyyas were, I think, more conscious about the despoiling affect of words. However, the Thiyyas were not that much concerned, and more or less inflicted the sharpness of the despoiling words on to their Thiyya subordinates. The despoiling done on the subordinate Thiyyas by their senior Thiyyas had a more disastrous affect in that the despoiling was done by socially lowly persons. {The effect is akin to being addressed as Nee by an IAS officer verses to that being addressed thus by the IAS officer's servant}.

The English rule had the tremendous affect of removing the native upper castes from domination over the Thiyyas in Tellicherry and to a limited extent all over Malabar. There was no statutory suppression of Thiyyas during the English rule, but then in almost all areas of Malabar where English education had not entered, the same social lowliness continued to be imposed by the feudal local vernacular. However, in many places, especially in the Valluvanaad area, Mathathaya Thiyyas did make use of the lack of statutory control over them to jump over to Islam. This was to suddenly give the socially low level South Malabar Thiyya labourer class a sudden social elevation. Naturally this can create terrible problems in the local vernacular. For, persons who were addressed as Ijj and Oan, in a pejorative manner would suddenly get the freedom to use such words back, with callous impertinence. This was to create a lot of social violence all of them generally called the Mappila Lahala.

It may be mentioned that in most of these communal riots, the handiwork of the newly converted-to-Islam persons cannot be ignored. Moreover, on the Hindu side, the lowly kept persons would feel a double despoiling when they see persons who were their equals in lowliness suddenly being free of social fetters. Their anger would be on the persons who had been their equals, but suddenly in a higher echelon.

Basically the Mappila Lahala was a terrible communal conflict that continued between the Hindus and Muslims for a few decades. Both Hindus as well as Muslims went on the rampage, and pillaged houses on either sides, and possibly molested the women also. If one were to go to Ponnani and such places and enquire of the elders of the stories they had heard about the incidences, they would narrate about how their senior relatives had run and hid under some underground spaces as Muslim raiders came swarming in, with bloodcurdling howls and cries. See this on Wikipedia

At the same time, the Hindus also wouldn't have been far behind. For the lower castes including the Thiyyas would have stood by their upper castes, in a ferocious loyalty that usually comes when one can make suppressed persons to use terms of respect to the suppressors. They would have equally raided the Muslim houses and other premises, and done similar misdemeanours 

Even though in their desperation to reclaim all historical incidences as part of a greater India, the Indian low-standard historians do say that Mappila lahala was an anti-English uprising, such talks are all only figments of self-seeking imagination.

To bring in control over the communal riots, the English brought in the Malabar Special Police. I think a permanent battalion was formed in the Malappuram area {I have seen it in Malappuram, but do not know about its antiquity}. This police force, almost all of them native policemen, did suppress the communal riots, but then in typical Indian police manner, they also would have been equally crude to the common person.

Now coming back to the quality improvement seen in Tellicherry-Marumakkathaya Thiyyas, I have to say this: Later in life I noted that this quality improvement was not a general theme in all Thiyya households. Many still struggled with their native lower level social positioning. Moreover, the Thiyyas who had improved from the liberation received by the English rule were not quite liberal to the other Thiyyas who came under them. For, they also came to have thiyyans and thiyyathis under them as servant and labourers.

As to the higher castes, I think it was the Nairs who suffered most due to the liberation given to the lower castes by the English. For, the liberal English education made possible to the Thiyyas was just the equalising of the servant class persons' children to the Nair children. In fact, if Nair children had to learn English, they would have to sit with their servant class persons' children. So to a limited extent, it would spoil their children's demeanour. It is an issue of an IAS officer being posted as a clerk and a peon also being posted as a clerk. The peon would really feel and enjoy the elevation to the post of clerk, while the IAS officer, though also a clerk, would feel the fetters falling on him from all sides.

Before going ahead with this theme, I need to mention another thing that I had noticed about the liberated Thiyyas of Tellicherry. These persons did have a different physical posture: less bent at the neck region, no attitude of holding the wall and door frames or leaning on the wall or keeping their legs on the wall, involuntary shaking of the legs when seated etc. all of which were the common physical postures of the labour class Thiyyas; and of almost all Keralites who have not had an English experience.

I should have taken on the idea that these different kinds of Thiyyas were from some different social class. However, later in life I have come across other lower caste persons who had been born or bred in English nations. They also seemed to show similar personality differences.

Now, when the higher castes children are to mingle with the lower caste children, there would be rapid quality depreciation in terms of refinement. However, if they held on, the total English environment would benefit them in the long run. I am not sure as to how many higher caste families were willing to take this risk.

Here I would like to interject and mention that in the areas to the side of Koothuparamb, I have heard that there were people who were Ezhava settlers from south Kerala. They had a demeanour quite different from the local Thiyyas.

During the English rule times, there were no special reservations for the Thiyyas for the public services. However, many of them from the Tellicherry region were quite good in English and well educated. So getting a government officer job was not a great problem. However, the majority Thiyyas had no inkling of what was English or about education. (Later something called Communal Rotation was there after independence and before the formation of Kerala, but I do not what it really meant).

I have been told that when one (Congress?) minister from the Madras Presidency came to Tellicherry in the 1030s (name I think was: Mr. Sriprakasam), there were some demands to classify the Thiyyas as a backward caste. However, on seeing the extremely well-dressed and English speaking crowd, he simply asked, it seems, as to what kind of a lower caste this was.

Now talking about the Thiyyas ancestry, it has been mentioned that the North Malabar Thiyyas were a matriarchal caste. This is generally mentioned in a tone to stress that there is some kind of social superiority in the Thiyyas, as the higher castes also followed the matriarchal system. Moreover, this is one feature that is generally mentioned to show that the Thiyyas are different from the Ezhavas of South Kerala. The fact that Thiyyas do not have any caste link with Ezhavas is correct. Yet South Malabar Thiyyas might have been different. For, they followed the Makkathaya family system.

However matriarchal system was and is a stupid social system. To a limited extent it may be said that the females are liberated. Yet, this is only a very stupid understanding. It is true that the husbands had limited control over their wives. To that level the wives would be more truculent to their husbands. Yet, what controlled them was the grand uncle (Karanavar) of their family (female's family). In fact, he could even see to it that she goes around with whoever he likes. But then in most labourer class families, the immediate landowner (janmi) would also have a vast right over the Thiyya male and female under him. For, both would be Inji, Oan or Oal etc. The power of these words is terrible in that both the husband as well as the wife can be made to be just two different appendages under him. He can address the wife independently and without any concurrence from the husband, and more or less have her when and where he wanted. But then, it wouldnt be an issue of the landlord having a private affair with one of his servant class. For, he would have an immense number of other females. Moreover, there would many masters in the hierarchy over the lower class labourer. Before the advent of the English rule, the feeling of any superior law and order code or machinery to enforce the conjugal rights of the husband wasnt available for the lower caste man.

I have heard other stories also from village Thiyyas families many years ago. Thiyyas labourer class females would be sexually used by some of the male members of the landlord's family. If she shows any signs of pregnancy, she would be married off some other Thiyya labourer, who would be quite happy with the arrangement. So, to the extent these stories are true, the exact genetic lineage of the Thiyyas need not be from any particular class or sect.

Also, it must be admitted that there would in most cases not be an issue of the female being forced to give conjugal pleasures to an outsider. For even her husband would be an outsider, and a part of her family only to the extent her uncles allow it. Moreover, getting sensually entertained by an outside entity who was a social superior was not really disliked. For the feudal language codes would ennoble the superior social entity and at the same time despoil her own husband. So, being allowed to feel the aura of a superior personage was more welcome. {To make this clear: her husband would be an Oan or chekkan to her uncle, while a social superior would be an Oar. It is a very powerful difference}.

Now, there is another affect of this stupid matriarchal system, that is still continuing. Even though the matriarchal system was abolished by law in the late 60s, the codes still run deep in the joint family mood of most Thiyya families. I did experience this when I married from an interior place in Calicut district. My wife's uncles seemed to feel that everything that happened in my house, meaning my wife, children and I, were for their issue to consider, discuss, decide upon, and to interfere. Being from the formally educated, but informally-speaking quite uneducated class, they staked their claims at many times. They did even go to the extent of saying that 'we gave her' (njala thannathu). The understanding that I married a woman who liked to marry me is not acceptable in this matriarchal system. They would even come to my house, and enter the bedroom even at midnight and demand my wife to go off with them {Inhingu erangu}. Why? Because someone gave them the input that I was not respectful enough to them. This happened in the last years of the 20th century.

Well then, one can then imagine the power the uncles had in the earlier centuries over the household. If the husband is not obsequious enough, his wife is more or less lost.

Before moving ahead, I would like to input something about Kalaripayattu. Currently Thiyyas claim it to be from their ancestry. The Nairs of Malabar also have similar claims. Moreover the Mappilas, the Malabar Muslims also have similar claims. The Ezahavas of South Kerala also claim it as from their ancestry, claiming that they are Thiyyas in Malabar! Now, even if the Thiyyas did have certain families that did practise kalaripayattu, the question of whether this gave them any social elevation is quite doubtful. For in the interior areas of Malabar, they would all just be the henchmen of the local small time landlords, and at that their beck and call.

When I moved to the Travancore area with my parent in the early 1970s, I did hear a new theme. At that time, Malabar was a far off location for the Travancore people. The new theme was that Thiyyas were a group of people who had inbred with the English rulers and were more or less a kind of Anglo-Indians. This was actually news to me. On enquiry and much discussion, I received a particular understanding: When Malabar was amalgamated with Travancore-Cochin regions in 1956 to form Kerala, Malabar officers were given the option to opt for either Kerala Service or Madras service. Many Thiyyas opted for the Kerala service. Now, in Travancore, there was no such thing as a direct recruitment to the officer cadre. Almost all persons joined as clerks and slowly moved up. At the same time, many higher officer posts had been given to family members of the Kings family or some other similar higher caste family.

So in most of the Kerala government departments, the higher officer class were new kind of officers who were direct recruit from the Madras service. These persons were all quite good in English and more or less bore an English demeanour. They addressed each other by name or with a Mr. or Mrs. prefixed. However, the lower grade clerks who waited for the retirement of the Malabar officer class, were of a lowly type, who addressed their superiors with a Saar, instead of Sir. For words such as He, She, His, Her etc. the word used was Saar. They were quite corrupt, and more or less quite demeaning to their attitude to the common man. In fact, I heard the usage The Public is an Ass (pothujam kazhuthayaanu) many times from them.

The incorruptible, English speaking, quite decent, rarely pejorative-using officer class who now came to dominate the southern districts included the Thiyyas also. Now, a new issue came. A new caste of which the then Thiyyas of Malabar had seldom heard of before started saying that the Thiyyas are ezhavas. This claim was heartily disliked by the Thiyya officers. For, I had even heard in my own family the disdain for this type of claims. It was not that the Ezhavas were inferior to the average Thiyyas of Malabar, but that the English speaking refined Thiyyas officers got a creep on being associated with the Ezhavas who had been kept out of all social bounds till the end of the king's rule in 1947. As for the Thiyyas, the English rule has more or less given them all social liberties.

Later when the Thiyyas also received the caste based reservation, the quality of the Thiyya official class went upside down. For, now a new breed of Thiyyas official appeared on the scene, who did not know what was English, English classics, egalitarian attitudes and communication. Their very looks were different. Quite easily most of them went for corruption as a fish would take to the waters.

It was when I was in Travancore that I came across the vibrant claims that Thiyyas are Ezhavas. It was more or less connected to the SNDP and associated political organisations which wanted to reap the benefits of having a huge population base under them. However, even though the Thiyyas also are a lower level caste, it is not a sub-caste of the Ezhavas. This is a very cunning change that has been brought into the government records now. In many government application forms, the word Thiyya is missing in the caste column. Even though I do not have any particular affinity for the Thiyyas as such, associating me or making me a part of some other entity with which I have no connection is not liked by me. It is like being a pawn in some other cunning guys political games and ambitions.

I would like to conclude with one more item. Maybe I will write more when I get time.

Even though some Thiyya families did improve during the English rule time, that personality elevation couldnt be maintained by them over the years. In many households it has totally vanished.

Beyond that, some Thiyyas did take part in the so-called freedom struggle. It was not connected to any lack of freedom that they did experience, but due to the general lack of amenities to utilise their new found freedom effectively. Many persons, including a few from my parent's family went for stone throwing, vandalism and such things. It was only a feel of adventure that they enjoyed. Moreover, it was not like the native king's rule time. For, if anyone had done such things during the native king's rule, they would literally have been roasted alive. Here, under the English rule, they would at the most be taken to a jail. But then there were many other hooligans who were in the field, and having a free time.

There was one Thiyya man who did get to join the Royal Air Force as a pilot. It was an astronomical elevation for a low caste Thiyya man, yet in his writings and talks he would go on ranting about the racism of the English. For someone from the other side had called him a Brownie. No mention would this man make about how the higher castes would have treated him if he had worked under them. He would have been quite coyly addressed as Inhi, Oan and he would have been just a chekkan. His wife would have been the local landlord's Oal. Definitely a thousand times worse than a brownie.

Moreover, what would be the manner in which he would treat his social inferiors in India? {Servants in India have to sit on the floor, sleep on the floor and have to bear the brunt of the pejorative words.}

Ingratitude is what people like him revel in.

Readers may need to read this also from this same WebPage



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I thought I will write a bit more about the theme.

After my marriage into a typical low quality Thiyya family from the interiors of Calicut district, I became intensely conscious of the clasping nature of the feudal words and their power to hold on to individuals in tight containers. More so, because I was a researcher on language codes. So, I would very well envisage the complete and extending powers of each and every word and usage, in the low quality communication system in the locality.

I shoved off its holding strings by simply maintaining a detached relationship with the various centres of power inside the low quality joint family system. However, when my daughter was born, the issue became one that I needed to deal with effectively.

I decided to teach my daughter only English, and that to with the quality of communication that is there in England, and which is quite rare in India. That is of using the words Mr., Mrs. etc towards seniors. The concept of respect and pejoratives under which Indian language communication moves was totally beyond this training. Moreover she couldnt understand that people could be differentiated as per their profession, family, financial status etc. by words. �

The cumulative effect inside the family was quite visible and more or less predictable. The claims over the youngster that many persons inside the joint family system as well in the local society had, was being simply cut off. For, they had the claim to use such pejoratives as Nee (inhi), Aval (oal), Edi, Pennu etc. and the connected strings of regimentation that these words bring in.

At first it was thought that it was just a passing fancy of mine which would quite fast get cured. However when I persisted with the project, there was a lot of acrimonious attack on my family life, to the extent that my wife was also called off from me, and made to act as per the dictates of the so-called family members, with whom I had no dealings with. Even though I did not go to their houses and disturb them, they would sit in a sort of committee, with certain persons from my family side also, and make decisions on what to do with me.

Since the local teaching class also more or less belonged to this type of low quality persons, with meagre English knowledge and spoke a terrible form of language which they called a dialect of Malayalam, it was quite foreseeable that I would be aiming to bring up my children by home education, till I was financially able to put them in good quality schools. This also gave rise to many issues, even that of police cases against me, saying that I was denying education to my daughters.

The issue here was that my daughter was quite good in swimming (at age four, she could swim in the sea), went for roller skating, played football, was good in English (at age seven she had started reading Enid Blyton, and by age 12 had started reading English classics), was quite good in computers (went to learn C++ at age eight), �was good in computer typing at age four, was good in Maths (at class four age, she had reached class six maths by home study), had seen an immensity of English movies on TV (count was more than 400 by age four), could run more than one and a half kilometre by age five (could defeat senior boys in long distance running), had travelled in most of the districts of Kerala with me by age four (both two-wheeler as well as four wheeler), had lived or travelled to many parts of India by age four, �and such things.

An average local teacher was someone who could be defined as a person who was more or less a zero in most of the things mentioned above. Persons who claimed to be my family members simply barged in and claimed to be my bandhu� (relative) and put up demands. Through the effective use of such feudal words as Nee (inhi), Aval (oal) etc. they could regiment my wife, but on me there was nothing they could do directly other than by sly conspiracy.

I was ultimately forced to concede to the putting of my daughter into a local English medium school which had been started by a menial worker in an Indian airport. He made money by later doing a business in gulf. The strange fact that the Indian government is leaving the local Indians unprotected and made to go down by allowing the foreign employed to make money by the sly technique of currency exchange rates. One single denominator currency in India remains one rupee, while a Dirham simply expands to 17 rupees.

See this video:


The schooling has erased much of her refinement, still the English mood remains in her. The video may also be an illustration of what pure English can do to a lower caste individual, when used without the local lower quality being allowed to enter inside. She still does not know any Malayalam. She had to learn Hindi in the school, but her knowledge is quite rudimentary. Yet, by some sly miracle, she got an A+ in Hindi also, as well as in all other subjects in the tenth class. Well, it is quite a terrible ranking. For, she is very good in Maths, for she was much above her fifth class maths, when she was put into the fifth class. Maths still remains a favourite subject of hers.

The question remains of how she got A+ in both Maths as well as in Hindi. In Maths she is much above many others, while in Hindi, she is more or less nothing. Isnt there something wrong in the schools way of giving marks?



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Wikipedia India pages, suffer from the innate problems of democracy run by low class people. That of quantity dominating over quality. This feature is very much evident in the case of the Indian pages connected to Wikipedia. It is my desire to do a study on the mediocrity taking over the leadership of Wikipedia India pages. It is not possible for me to speak about this on Wikipedia, as I have been effectively blocked from writing on Wikipedia. For, it is not possible to me to explain to mediocre person, and cannot concede to their expectations that I would don an apologetic pose to satiate their ego problems, for which they should try to get effective treatment elsewhere.

I really dislike being a bearer of Thiyya standards (flags). For, I do not really want to be identified within the narrow confines of a south Indian caste. However, what has consistently irked me is the fact that I understand that I am being forcefully identified with a caste with which I do not have the minutest of connection.

When I had been in the Travancore area from 1970 onwards, the caste spirit of the south Kerala (former native kingdoms of Travancore and Cochin, who lost their independence after being joined with the newly formed India, under the intimidation of military occupation) people. The Nairs and the Ezhavas looked upon each other with a lot of mutual hatred.

Both were quite militant in this regard. And to a great level this was due to the suppression and forceful subordination that the Ezhavas suffered during the King's rule period. As the new norm was democracy and mob rule, it was the new understanding that quantity was superior to quality. The Ezhava leaders were ready to pounce on anyone with some semblance of connection and subordinate them. This is the logic that made them crave to say that the Thiyyas are a sub caste of the Ezhavas. The question naturally that could come up, would be, Why not: Ezhavas are a sub caste of the Thiyyas?

However all such emotions are just nonsensical belligerences. Any intelligent person can understand that it is nothing to do with the ordinary people, but something connected with leadership. The leadership wants to subordinate a huge section of the population under its command. There is no other reason to strive to subordinate the Thiyyas under the Ezhavas.

Before the formation of Kerala, the majority people of Malabar had not even heard about the Ezhavas. Even in my family, which was quite educated and more or less spoke the official version of Malayalam, had not much information about this Ezhava caste. To suddenly inform a group of people that they are not themselves, but someone else, is really the stuff that I have seen dealt with in the book: Catch 22. Quite maddening.

The current generation of Kerala does not have much understanding about the history of the place currently called Kerala. During the British rule time, Malabar was a remote district of the Madras presidency, with not much people-connection with the Travancore-Cochin kingdoms. Maybe this could be the reason that the earlier time railway line from Malabar was heading on to Madras, via Palghat Pass. I think the link to the south Kerala railways came later. (When the south Kerala railway line was laid, it was very cunningly routed through Kottayam, simply by-passing Alleppey, which should have been the logical route. There was a terminus at Mattancherry, in Ernakulam).

Malabar was a quiet place with a major section under forests. Wynad was totally forest. However, I think Calicut district was huge and comprised of current day Wynad, Cannanore, Malappuram and possibly included parts of Kazhargode and Palghat districts. The language of erstwhile Malabar has been called a dialect of Malayalam. However, the fact is that the difference between Malabar Malayalam (if it be Malayalam) and that of Travancore Malayalam would a thousand times the difference that is said to be there between British and American English {Taken in this sense, the so-called American English is only an slightly un-educated version of British English and not much different}. For, there was a huge section of Malabar Malayalam words which would be totally incomprehensible to the southerners. See this post of mine on Wikipedia, which has been deleted by the certain vested interests who do want to express the claim that official version Malayalam encompassed the whole of modern Kerala, and has claims to classical status. 

When Malabar was joined with TC areas to form Kerala, the newer leaders from Malabar were not the kind who was the cream of educated Malabar persons, but persons who were more or less politicians, with very personal aims. The northerners were not so caste-conscious and did not have much mood of belligerence in this regard. In many ways, they had an easy going attitude even in financial attitudes. (For example, Dowry demands were not part of the marriage prospecting among the Thiyyas). Maybe the liberal feel of the British administrative supremacy could be the reason for this. However the south Kerala castes, mainly the Nairs and the Ezhavas were quite active in their mutual animosity. This was the reason for the various claims and counterclaims about caste rights that sprang up from that side. It is literally the case of a suppressed group suddenly give freedom from suppression. And also of another group seeing a group who they view as subordinates suddenly springing up from the depths to be their equals. It may be remembered that the local language is feudal, and there would be sharp inversion of direction of the feudal word codes of 'respect' versus 'pejoratives', when this happens.Both went on a spree of setting up sectarian educational institution of very low quality, and spread this low quality into the educational system.

However, in these quasi-modern times, the Ezhava leadership sees a huge gold mine in having the Thiyyas as their subordinates, which can be effected by a simple adding of defining words: Thiyyas are a subgroup of our caste!

This is where the dislike comes up. It creates an antipathy for the Ezhavas, where actually there is no need for such feelings. If the Ezhava leaders really want to expand the own numerical strength of their subordinates, their natural prey should be the Ezhavas who converted to Christianity. See this Wikipedia page about the huge number of Ezhavas who became Christians. The Ezhava leaders can define them as Ezhava Christians and demand them to join to their own command strings. However, there again I am sure such claims would be taken as totally offensive. (This Wikipedia has been deleted many times). No one likes such forceful defining. If Thiyyas want to be Ezhavas they will surely do in on their own. It is not correct that for Ezhava leaders to forcefully bring them into their fold.

The real reason, why during the British period there were not much sectarian pro-Thiyya writings in Malabar, was that during the British rule, there was no need for such emotional outbursts. It may be remembered that in the independent kingdom of Travancore, the lower caste women had no right to wear an upper garment. However, in Malabar, even though the social set up forced the lower caste women go around with no upper garment, it was not a rule that could be enforced statutorily as in the case of Travancore. May be this would explain why the educated Thiyyas had no need to write spiritedly about Thiyya achievements. During the British rule time, many Thiyyas were in good government jobs. However, right to public service was denied to the Ezhavas more or less till 1947. 

 

PS: Even though I may seem to have taken a pro-Thiyya stand, the truth is that I do not have any such feelings. The only factor that triggers a mood of belligerence is when some unknown entities claim that I belong to within their fold. It is my understanding that this is the same emotion that is triggering a Thiyya spiritedness. Why should anyone want to trigger sectarian emotions? As for me, I have not much emotional attachments to the Thiyyas. But it is a totally different proposition when someone defines me as belonging to another caste. I become forced to bring out testimonials that I am from a different caste and not from their fold



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Hi Good morning:

First of all I would like to tell you that I loved reading your articles. It's very informative and useful. But most of the time I'm wondering what makes you write like this.


There are some points I wanted to share with you ( actually since 2 years or more ie. from the time I first read your post regarding Thiyyas and Ezhavas).


The main thing is that I disagree with you when you say Thiyyas and Ezhavas are totally unrelated. I can't digest it and I don't think any sane person can.


For your information my caste is Thiyya in government records and register. Actually my father's family is Thiyya and mothers family Ezhava. My father is from Trichur dist. and mother from Todupuzha which is Ernakulam or Idukki dist. My mothers family acted like they have never heard the name thiyya. But not my fathers side, may be because in Trichur palakkad and Malappuram ezhavas and thiyyas coexist. Maybe even in calicut. They married some 30 years ago and there were no problems from elders. I mean it was not at all an intercaste marriage. I'm putting this example to show you a real life scenario. Could you explain me how the Karanavars agree for such a thing if the two communities were separate.

I'm confused when you say in 1970's none of your family or villagers heard about Ezhavas; yet in some places you mention Ezhavas settled in Koottuparambu. I know that many ezhavas had migrated to Vadakara centuries ago. Even in Vadakkan pattukal they mention Ezhavas (Ezhavas and Ezhuapada). I do have an old copy of vadakkan pattukal at home.

Our family is settled in Palakkad after my parents marriage. Both of them were government servants. In Palakkad there are a few Thiyyas and mostly Ezhavas, I mean the local population. Both are considered the same.

I agree with you in one aspect though that the northernmost Thiyyas and Southernmost Ezhavas look different. But my opinion is that it applies to Nairs, Nambudiris, Muslims and Christians. The northern keralites are generally Lighter skinned and better looking ( It's my personal opinion ) than the southerner in general, take any community. But no Nair or Christian or Muslim Or Nambudiri will say we have no connections with respective southern community. Why ? Even they will accept the differences though. If you look closely you will find so many similarities between ezhavas and thiyyas. Maybe both were Buddhists. (Like they were one religion but two castes). I have personal experiences with Palakkad, Trichur, Malappuram, Ernakulam and Idukki districts, as my relatives are in these places. Maybe in Northernmost malabar things are different.

I have gone through other webpages and posts by many so called Thiyya guys stating their opinion how Thiyyas and Ezhavas are different. There seems to be a political motivation. They don't have very strong arguments. I will give you an example of their kind of logic. In one such post one guy has said that the father of Manoj Nite Shyamalan tested his DNA and found that he is having indo-aryan roots or something like that and so thiyyas and Ezhavas are different. I felt like kicking his ass. Dude where is the proof that Ezhavas don't have indo-aryan DNA. But I couldn't convey this to him. These guys seem to be in a hurry to detach themselves from Ezhavas. From my point of view you are also writing like them. Still I'm hopeful of you. I feel like you are a good person.

I can tell you lot more. I'm ready to accept these communities are different, but you fail to convince me. May be I will be able to convince you that these are same ( not similiar).

I'm tired of typing. Maybe I'll post later. You can reach me at anoop116.leo@gmail.com . Thank you. Bye.



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VED


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First of all thank you for writing this on this webpage itself. Usually, I get replies on my email.

It is good that you have come in with a non-offensive stance. So, I am at liberty to speak in a easy manner.

As to your first question, about what makes me write these things, the answer is: 1. I am reasonably good in typing. The speed is an average of 60 words per minute. When I do write from my own mind, I do write at a speed of 30 to 40 words per minute; continuously, non-stop. So, generally writing long article directly from my mind doesn't take much time. 2. When I see ideas that seem to contradict my personal observations, I get the feeling to put a correction in words. 3. As a self-employed person, with no human boss over me for most of my previous living years, I do get time to write frequently.

Now taking up the points that you have raised, I can say that there are elements in it with which I can concur. First of all all about the issue of DNA. Well, the point you raised is pertinent. And it is my own observation that DNA codes are not the only codes that decide human looks, but other codes, including those in human languages. I have experimented with and also observed that human looks change according the language they speak. Moreover, in feudal languages, the very position of the person in the vertical step like social structure can affect his looks and mental calibre. Read this,this and this on this same webpage.

I think that I had mentioned earlier that many thiyya, ezhava and even lower classes have improved tremondously when they were brought up in an English ambience. This is true even in the case of the Blacks of Africa, who came as slaves to the US, and got unbelievable levels of liberations there within a matter of 75 years of the formation of US. See the their looks, fresh from the lower levels of the African feudal social systems (This photo is of a group of slaves saved from Arab slave traders by the British West African Squadron. Usually the word British is not used in modern histories, but some other nation name is given as the saviours. That is the current day political correctness.

ArabSlaveTrade.jpg

Now, speaking about looks, to a limited extent the ezhavas had the issue of social suppression that existed to the very end of the native kingdoms of Travancore and Cochin.

What you mentioned about the southerners (all of them) being slightly of a darker shade is true. But then, thiyyas also, those who worked in the open grounds were reasonably dark.

However, personally I do not find Black colour by itself having some crudeness. The fair complexion is also not quite attractive, unless it is refined by other cultural refinement. Asians do get darkened by sun tanning, while the White races might simply get a reddish or brownish hue.

However, there is this issue that has to be stressed. The vehement attitude of the Ezhavas in general to define Thiyyas as Ezhavas. In itself, this issue shouldn't distress majority of the Thiyyas. For, the newly emerging classes do not have much issue about this. The irkness was first felt by the earlier educated classes of Thiyyas, who had moved for professional reasons to the newly connected TC areas. For, they then came from a class which did not feel any of the fetters that the ezhavas had suffered during the king's rule time. Almost all the historical incidences that were mentioned with regard to ezhava antiquity, just before India's formation, had no relevence for the Thiyyas. The struggle by Sree Narayana Guru, the experiences of Dr. Palpu, the no-entry to government services to the ezhavas, the various Memorials etc. had not much connection to the Thiyya family histories. However, it may be mentioned that once we move to the southern areas of Malabar, the two different communities would neccessarily have to impact into each other. In that sense, it may be mentioned that the Thiyyas traditions were seen to be diluting in the south. Such things that the Thiyyas claim as Matriarchal famly system, language, facial demeanour, skin colour etc. do change to the south. But then, in the north Malabar areas, even some of the scheduled castes do have lighter complexion.

Your father and mother belong to the area, where the two communities are close to each other, but then may be it took the formation of India, to bring the two communities to close proximity, after the native state border was erased. It is quite possible that in this area, the Thiyyas traditions that are in north Malabar are not very much there. For example, I am not sure if the tradition of Muthappan worship was popular over there.

Even in the case of the Thiyyas coverting to Islam in the valluvanad area (between Calicut and Ponnani), which may have provoked the Mappilla Lahala, it is by Thiyyas far removed from the north Malabar Thiyyas. I am not sure if there is a strong history of Thiyyas converting to Islam in the north Malabar areas. However, in South Kerala, there has been significant events of Ezhavas converting to Christianity and possibly to Islam. In the case of Malabar, the Mappilas here, (Malabar Muslims) are not the product of conversion, but rather that of Arabian descents in various villages allowed for them. However, what is the real traditional and linguistic difference between these Malabar Muslims and those who converted to Islam from Thiyya caste is not known to me.

Now speaking about what irked the earlier Thiyyas who went to Travancore areas were not just the claims of the Ezhavas. There is a certain streak of marked crudeness in Travancore words, usages, verbal codes and even sound of speech. Even the explitives, swear words and profanities that are used there are of very crude levels (currently these words are seen in popular English, possibly brought in by other native langauge speakers into English). The highest profanity traditionally used in Malabar was a SOB and possibly a reference that one is a son of a very low caste person. I do not want to mention the very words, but then I feel for the sake of information and records, they should be mentioned.

This crudeness of the southerners of the newly formed Kerala is seen in police behaviour, police attrocities, student violence, street violence. However, it needs to be mentioned that in Cannanore areas and nearby places, the same level of violence is connected to a sort of clannish form, with very visible leadership in charge. It is not spontaneous as can be in South Kerala. These are general impressions of mine, and need not be taken as absolute truths.

Another feature that I did notice when I first came to South Kerala, was that the feudalism of the language was quite different from that of North Malabar. The year was around 1975, and I was a youngster. In Malabar, the usage of the word Inhi (Nee) was quite common and a southerner could get quite distressed by this word, and usage of Oan (Avan), Oal (Aval) with no sense that they were repulsive, when used to persons who were outside to the group. In this sense, southern version of language was more welcome to me, for even at a young age, I as an outside to the social group had the occassion to be addressed as Thaan or Ningal. This was not imaginable in Malabar. Even this word Thaan was not frequent.

However at the higher levels, the feudalism was inversed. In Malabar, the government officials including the officers could be addressed as NIngal, and referred to as Ayaal or Avar. In South Kerala, this was not allowed, and the word Sar was compulsory, and used even for referring. At the higher levels, including my own family, this was seen as a very subservient mental attitude. However, the proficiency in English allowed the earlier Thiyyas as well as other officers from the North to override this problem. But they did feel a repulsion for the local communities. Yet, with the total disappearance of this group of officers and also other persons from the north, the common usages of TC areas entered into North Malabar.

At present, it is not easy to detect much difference in the mental standards and aversions and likes and dislikes between the Southern and Northern youngersters. Everyone has been standardised by the print and visual media and by substandard common education.

Now talking about human quality, there is these things that I observed. The higher classes were not liking to give entry to the Ezhavas to public service. Well, when I was in the South in the 70's, I did notice that the bureaucracy was corrupt and quite crude. I am not sure if the entry of ezhavas had a direct link to this, or was a common feature of traditional Travancore bureaucracy. However at that time, Malabar bureaucracy was only slightly corrupt, and that too in the lower levels. What I would like to mention here is that the leadership of the various communities like the ezhavas, nairs, the varmas and the brahmins did not use their calibre to take into account what would emerge when a mixing of castes and communities take place, and a new liberty is given to historically suppressed groups. This is one issue that even such nations as the US has not done, for example, when they propounded the idea of Blacks being given unlimited access to traditional English speaking White arenas.

In the case of Malabar Thiyyas, the earlier official class from them were the English educated, possible with some idolation of the English officer class imprinted in their minds. It is quite understandable that the English race in India were quite reclusive and maintained a cordon around them, to isolate themselves from the local negative communications. To this extend, the Thiyya English educated groups had this advantage. But the newly emerged ezhavas did have this experience.

However, when speaking about a quality difference between the Thiyyas and Ezhavas, I could say the Thiyyas are a slightly softer people. But it would not be correct. The southern people have a very obvious roughness about them, comparitively. Yet, among the northern people also there are powerful slyness and treacheries that are encoded within their communication codes. But then, slowly everything is changing into the southern version, through standardised Malayalam. When speaking about intelluctual levels and information, I must admit that the averge southerner is more well-informed than the average northerner. However, the Malabar Mapillas (Malabar Muslims) could be an exception, for many of their families were quite dynamic businessmen at various social levels.

Now, let me come back to the original question of whether Thiyyas are a sub caste of the Ezhavas. Well, I think this very question is connected to the formation of Kerala, connecting Malabar with Travancore and Cochin. If the geography was differently designed, with Malabar connecting to Mysore or Madras states, or even becoming a seperate state, this question wouldn't have appeared.

It is just like the formation of India, connecting all places the British East India Company ruled. If they had ruled an area extending to the Russian side, Indian culture, pedigree, antiquity, traditional claims, and much more would have been different. Even the Vedic traditions would have come under claims from such nations on the northwest, with southern states not even getting a slender connection.

You referred to my mention about the Ezhavas living in the Koothuparamb areas. Well, this was not an information that I got from the family sources. I read this in a research article that came in the Indian Express many years ago, by an anthropoligist, who claimed that the political violence in the Cannanore areas can be explained as clannish fight over the years between the traditional thiyyas living there, and the Ezhavas settlers in the Koothuparamb area.

I think it is safe to leave the question of caste connection alone. If attempts to force it is done by the Ezhava leadership, it might be seen as a sign of aggression by the Thiyyas. However, the Thiyyas do not have any visible centres of leadership as in the case of the Ezhavas, for they had not much need to unite to achieve political and social liberty. As for me personally, I feel quite discomfited with the issues that the Ezhavas faced during their subjugation to the Travancore Kings was superimposed on my ancestral traditions and experiences. For, I do not think that those histories have any pertinence to me. I think this is also one of the issues that the upper class Thiyyas also have.

Before concluding, I should say that spoken language can change the demeanour of a people. Generally all Malayalees who speak the standard version Malayalam have a more or less similar looks. However, a change in spoken language does remove this Malayalee looks. So, a time may come when everyone may look as if of the same caste. In fact, after standardisation of schooling, children in government schools have lost their caste based looks and most of them have a lower caste facial expression, even if they are from the Brahmin caste. See this



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VED


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I was not able to connect to your question correctly, I myself do have this feeling.

The issue at hand is that there are two different castes, as you yourself have mentioned it, as seen in the description of your parent's caste. Earlier, there was something known as the Thiyya Merit, in education reservation. That is my impression, and if it is so, I do not know if this term is still there.

What causes the antipathy is the fact that one could see the slow erasing of the word 'Thiyya' from many government record. It gives a creepy feeling that some persons somewhere are deliberately doing this.

It is my feeling that there is no need for the Ezhava side to do this. For, it amounts to a sly tactic. If in the future, the Thiyyas feel that they are Ezhavas, they can themselves claim this. This means that it is not correct to make such contentions that Ezhavas are known as Thiyyas in Malabar. A sort of impertinent encroaching is the feeling that this sets in.

As to people quality, as you would have noticed, if you come to know anyone at a close level, basically most people are likable and almost of the same mentality. However, they all have a public personality which is connected to the group interaction codes. It is here that the Ezhavas and Thiyyas differ.

I cannot say that I do find the majority Thiyyas very attractive. Nor can I say the same about the Ezhavas. So, there is no meaning in me being a part of either crowd. However, I do feel irritated to see an organised group of people manipulating social records to suit their political ambitions. It is here again a distress comes. If Thiyyas are clubbed under the Ezhavas, a natural association to Ezhava and SNDP leaders come into effect. In feudal languages, such public feelings do have powerful affect. It is similar to identifying a person as one's father, mother, uncle, aunt etc. There is are powerful codes of regimentation and command routes that automatically comes into the mind. It is like being forcefully made to join a regiment. It is disliked.

One likes to associate with leadership of one's own choosing. It may be mentioned that even though it is possible that the SNDP leaders (I do not know anything about them) are liked and adored by the Ezhava people, as to the Thiyyas, their names do not hold much meaning. To be suddenly reminded that such unaccepted persons are one's leaders could be really disturbing.

As to Hindi and Urdu, your contentions are not correct, I must insist. They are both feudal to the core. However, the exact feelings that their codes makes on you would be understood only if you happen to be associated with the varying levels of the social structure. Again, typical Malayalam speaking people have not really understood the real connection codes between Malayalam words and seemingly similar Hindi words. Malayalee usage of Hindi does create deep hurt to certain levels of Hindi speakers, especially the higher class. The hurt is real.

May be I will write to you later.

Regards,

VED

PS: I did want to write about my impressions about other castes also. But I do not get enough time to write many things. However, I can imagine the furore that my writings would cause. For, I want to write without connecting to what people like to hear, but what would remain as dependable records.



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