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The Tamil Brahmin: Quo Vadis

tamil brahmin, history,colonists, late medieval,subversion, oppurtunism,corruption, mercantile,duplicity

The southern state of tamilnadu during the 20th century became a center of debate with regards to “brahminism” and “anti-brahminism”. There has not been a satisfactory definition for both the terms and there cannot be. It was during 20th century that a section of people observed that they were being discriminated against by “brahmins” and hence a social justice movement need be launched. Even in these days of internet and borderlessness, any writer who writes about TN and Chennai follows as though it were a prophecy, the rule of observing an “indigenous” “south Indian tamil” culture, “dravidian secularism” etc. The current few generations of writers both Indian and western while acknowledging the antiquity of India, have also chosen not to observe the marked change in culture, growth of new languages and dialects, change in demography and departure from ancient lifestyle right across the subcontinent. One reason for this could have been the fact that the writers themselves are a part of this changed demographic setting. Thus we have works that mainly discuss poverty, illiteracy, corruption, crime and fundamentalism in the north, whereas we have works on caste politics, music and movies of south. Such has been the impact of these writings that one is forced to think that things have been so from time immemorial. Holding out such a view is absolutely absurd.

Corruption is as old as man. The ancient literature notes that in the age of kali corruption dominates. It also states further that it is in this age that the cowards get praised for bravery while the really brave are condemned as cowards. It laments the erosion of values further by stating that in such an age whoever has enough of essential resources dominates irrespective of his character. Oppurtunists personify the above assertions more than any one else. Opportunism is evilest of evil. Whereas a criminal may be ignorant or incapable of certain activities and one’s enemy may miss out or chose to restrain himself from committing atrocities an oppurtunist seldom takes his eyes off his pre-meditated objectives. If an objective is not achieved by one means, it can certainly be achieved by another. To summarize, from an opportunistic point of view no activity is ruled out and no impedances in meeting goals are tolerated. Like a wily jackal he is always on prowl looking for the right time to pounce upon whether it is on the lion or it is on the elephant.

Certainly, late medieval age was a period of increasing selfishness, material worship, apathy, anarchy, duplicity, occultism, falsehood and evil. We cannot consider the organizations and set ups that came up during that period to be successors to the brilliant ones during the golden age that preceeded the same. We cannot consider the protagonists of that dark late medieval period to be the ones who actually and legitimately succeeded the ones of the golden age. They were different people.

"Iyers" as it is generally known, this group has a very vague and complex history.

The end of chola /pallava rule by the end of 13th century resulted in chaotic conditions. There were numerous wars . As a result what formed the demography during their rule had almost completely perished along with them.Very few of those who may have been brahmins survived that age.

The vijayanagar dynasty which came to colonize the peninsular region, did so only by default. Apart from the vijayanagar dynasty , the colonists also consisted of those sponsored by the muslim kingdoms of deccan. All these colonizations are held to be strictly illegal and certainly they would not have been tolerated in the previous periods. This insurgency was not without the help of local vested interests and rogues many of whom could be affiliated to pandyans. No ethnicity can be claimed by these migrants and also the fact that they were medieval colonists to south cannot be used as a distinguishing factor from others anywhere in the world. It is very much notable that in stark contrast to their claims and propoganda using fabricated and manufactured documents, the so called “brahmins” among these newcomers did not have worship rights in temples of ancient tamil country, most of which like its monarchy were independent priesthoods officiated previously by certain pre-appointed puranic ancient communities like nambudiris, which have now become almost extinct.

The literature of puranas do refer to these temples and the legendary origin of its servitors. The ones who are among the more orthodox and serious will certainly question the genuineness of the claimed ethnicity and caste affiliations of the new immigrants,though the latter in all probablity and in accordance with their duplicitous nature,will produce an imaginary lineage running to centuries in order to prove their claims.

The most striking example of such a duplicity is the entirely fictitious shrine of sree govindaraja(mahavishnu) at chidambaram which finds no mention in any relevent literature of previous period and which was created by probably misinterpreting and re-writing parts of divine hymns of alwar saints of yore. There are similar disputes surrounding temples at tirupati and sabarimala.

These colonists along with their pagan nayak chiefs are responsible for many acts of criminal solicitation like land grabbing , intimidation, terror tactics , cheating , subversion,etc. The brahmin identity of many of those in the group who call themselves so can be questioned. Those who came after the rule of crowned kings ended do not have worship rights in any of the temples of ancient tamil country. The forgery of available ancient grants is reported to be their work.

This apart the incoming new colonists were a very mean lot. They significantly weakened institutions by supporting activities like prostitution in the name of devadasis or temple dancers and bestiality. There were creatures who asked for it so there were creatures who provided it. By no means a complete military power who possessed wide range of weapons and skills like cholas and pallavas, the incoming migrants depended mainly on terror/guerilla tactics and also the use of artists and scholars to create and maintain domains of influence. This apart these merchant empires were also not legally justified to come in place of those great ancient dynasties, who were crowned kings of vedic times.

They also brought in some new customs like chariot festival in temples, celebration of festivals for an extended period with philanthropic practices etc., which many western analysts have noted as bazaar hinduism. During these days the festivals and temples were mainly used as commercial launchpads for performances of different artistes like dancers and musicians. All these activities should point to the mercantile nature of the incoming colonists and also attempts made by them to commercialize religious practices. Another important feature was forming cult focus around temples like that of tanjore, tiruvarur, srirangam etc by setting up mutts. There may be the ones who point to the infamous and dubious “kanchi sankara mutt” which was till very recently held in very high esteem, and the observances of whose pontiffs was considered by many to be the last word in matters of religion, as a glaring example for such insidious activities.Such was the impact of these changes that even the extraordinarily divine and puranic temples like srirangam now look just like mere extensions of shopping complex and malls. They have lost in entirety the spiritual effulgence and divinity that they were blessed with due to performing devotedly of innumerable yaagams or sacrifices by virtuous ancient sages.

It is also observed here that the worship procedures aand protocols followed nowadays are different from that of those days.The chariot procession in temples was some thing unknown during the previous chola/pallava period. The ” annadanam “ practice in temples that is seen even now was prevalent during 17th century and can be considered an adoption of a similar philanthrophic act in buddhist shrines(as can be witnessed in srilanka). This makes one think that some or all of the supposedely brahmin groups among the immigrants could also have been casteless sramanas(buddhists and jains) of the past. Buddists and jains come from various sections of society like brahmins, farmers, traders, professionals etc. The sramanas are known for their emphasis on education and many well known universities of past like nalanda were run by buddhist/jain clergy.

During the same period europeans were also dominant in India. Their industrialization led to large scale migration of working class. Even though the migrants came from many parts of India, the deccan people made the most of the oppurtunity. This affected and changed the demography by large. They introduced many western innovations. They brought to india western schooling system . The also brought products like chemicals, FMCGs, bakery, printing press etc. This further proves the mercantile nature of “immigrants”.The immigration from the Upper Deccan during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries is noted in the 'Malabarische Manual' and 'Conversations in Tranquebar' by the German missionary Zeigenblag who was stationed in the service of the Danish East India company at Tranquebar during the late 17th and early 18th centuries in his works. He observes that these immigrants were referred to as "Vadugas” a term still prevalent in srilanka(vaddugan, vadakkathayan, mahavaduge etc).

Duplicity, selfishness,deception, oppurtunism, half truths, forgery, subversion, identity theft and manipulation and what not. What these demonic hordes did not realize was that no crime can ever be committed without leaving traces and this is nature’s law.Victory of truth even though certain is very much aided by the exercise of dormant gut instinct by the virtuous.
Published: 2008-06-18
Author: K Sethu Madhavan

About the author or the publisher
A management professional with eight years experience in telecommunications industry, I have written a lot of articles in subjects related to management and strategic information analysis.

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