கடிதம் (ஆங்கிலம்)

This entry is part of 42 in the series 20060324_Issue

சதுரகிரி வேல்


Dear Editor,

I have been reading with interest the articles

published in Thinnai and kudos to you all!

Of late, it has become a habit for people like

Mr.Nellai Nedumaran to appropriate hindu customs,

hindutva icons and other historical figures for the

promotion of his Nadar caste that he belongs to. (He

might get angry with me that i am not mentioning that

he belongs to highest clan within Nadars.)

The recent one on Nammalvar is the extreme. He makes a

number of inappropriate assumptions:

1. He assumes that Velalars are only Saivites; In

reality, Velalars were both Saivites and Vaishnavites.

There is a subcaste called Namadhari Pillai and large

number of velala mudaliars in Thondaimandalam are

vaishnavites. In fact, there were Velalar Jains and

Buddhists too earlier like we have velalar christians

today.

2. He assumes that if one is called Nadan, then he

could have been from Nadar caste. Like kallar, maravar

and aghamudaiyar seem to think that Thevar denotes

their caste and appropriate Moovendars. This is quite

simplistic. Sekkilar was called as Arunmozhithevar in

his young age and recently Nanjil Nadan is a famous

son of Nanjil Velalar.

3. The last of Pandyas were ruling in Tenkasi and

around. If Nadars were descendants of Pandyas, then

there was no reason for any animosity between Maravars

and Nadars; Maravars were the backbone of Later Pandya

armies. Any one with some knowledge on Later Pandyas

would vouch for it. For example, the right for widows

to remarry among Maravars was allowed by Maravarman

Sundarapandian, looking at the plight of Maravar

widows.

4. Like all tamil castes, Nadars also would have had

an illustrious past. There is no requirement for

people like Nellai Nedumaran to justify Hindutva links

of Nadars or to misappropriate Nammalvar and the like

to upgrade themselves in the Hindu caste hierarcy. If

Nadars have tamil orgins, they do not have to worry

about their low rank in Varnashrama and invent

Shatriya origins. Tamil country did not have four fold

divisions. (The tolkappiyam reference itself is foud

only in later Urais and no direct reference is found

in any of the earlier urais). Anyway, Kuravars could

become kings in Nanjil Nadu; why not nadars or

velalars in other parts of Tamilnadu ?

5. He should respond to one aspect that there are no

clear cut references to Nadars in tamil literature

before 19th century though there are humpteen

references to Sanars or those who were involved in

tody distilling before. He might say we were Chera,

Chozha or Pandyas. If so, why was Ezhavas, nadars

counter parts in Chera country were ill treated by

Kerala varmas and nairs ? He might disown Ezhavas too.

6. One school of thought thinks that Nadars were late

immigrants into Kerala country from Sri Lanka or some

indian ocean islands. They took up toddy tapping to

survive. Then they spread from there to other parts of

tamil country; included other similar groups who were

into similar activities and have grown into a caste

conglomerate today.

5. It is worrying with the amount of misinformation

happening on the net and i do not whether it is

huamnly possible to respond.

I request this letter to be published in Thinnai to

forewarn others.

—-

Dear Editor,

Thanks for the prompt response. Though

it would have been very appropriate if I could have

written this letter in Tamil, I am sorry I am unable

to do the same due to usual culprits (lack of time,

laziness, etc.,). Hope to correct this mistake soon.

Coming to this previous mail of mine, that was in

response to the last few articles written by Mr.Nellai

Nedumaran, alone as well as with others. I have the

following observations:

1. His overall tone approach seems that he is out to

establish royal lineage (Pandya and Chera are

mentioend in two of his articles) for Nadars,

especially the sub-caste that he belongs to. Since it

is not clearly mentioned anywhere that what caste

Pandyas belonged to, i agree that anyone can claim

origin from them, be it Parathavar of Tuticorin or

Maravars of Tirunelveli or Nadars of Tirunelveli. Now

that he is tracing Nammalvar origin from Pandyas, I

guess even Velalar can claim Pandya lineage. But I am

sure all of us would agree that the caste equations

those days was not this simple and royalty had blood

streams from the powereful families of all hues.

2. He is also trying to establish that Shatriyas in

tamil country were Nadars and hence they ought to be

Pandyas. He has also tried giving them Chera lineage,

but it does not fly considering that the present

surviving Chera dynasties like Travancore claim

themselves different from Ezhavas and are more related

to Nambudhiris and Nairs. He does not give them any

CHozha lineage as Nadars are very few in number in

those areas. But any cursory understanding of Indian

history would prove that any caste group can form

kingdoms and become royal overnight in India. Right

from Nandas, Mauryas, Guptas, etc in the North to

Chalukyas, Kakatheyas, Vijayanagar, Marathas,

Sethupathis, Tondaimans, etc., in the south. I can go

on and on about the emergence of warriors and kigndoms

in Indian history from all castes and hues, including

Brahmins. My point is that the four fold varna did not

exist in South India to a large extent. It does not

even exist in North India to large extent. The famous

clan that ruled Varanasi belongs to Bhumihar caste and

Delhi was ruled by Jat rulers, who are definitely not

accepted as Shatriyas by known customs.

3. He thinks that he can get sanction for his

hypothesis by appealing to the Hindutva section of

Tamils, similar to when Nadars were in the forefront

of Hindu Munnani in Kanyakumari district earlier. He

conveniently forgets that Nadars were not permitted,

even in Madurai Meenakshi temple, patronised by

Pandyas.

4. The same approach is being used by him for

appropriating Nammalvar. Though the generally accepted

history and number of references abound for Nammalvar

belonging to Velalar clan(albeit some of them going to

define him as ‘lowly velalar ‘, simple Google search

would vouch for this ‘lowly ‘ reference), Nedumaran

tries vainly to prove that he belonged to Nadar caste.

He also wrongly assumes that Velalars are only Saivas.

He also assumes that velalars could have been only

farmers (uzhavar is the word used by him) where as

velalars grouping was much larger and had included

people of various professions, right from small kings

(I would not venture out to claim Chera, Chozha and

Pandya lineage, but they were marriages between them

and velalar clan. Right from Karikal Chozhan, Cheran

Senguttuvan, Nedunchezhiyan, etc., upto Rajarajan,

Cheraman Kulasekaran, Nedumara Pandian, etc., had

relatives with names ending in Vel or Velir.

5. Coming back to the point, my contention with his

writings is that his approach seems not to present

facts as they were and allow readers to come up with

their own hypothesis. Instead he comes up with

conclusions by twisting parts of tamil literature to

establish his caste ‘s royal linkage. Though i do not

know how it is going to benefit nadars of today, it

reminds me of the days when Zamindars of ordinary

background tried to establish lineage from Sun and

Moon. I am trying to sound net readers with alternate

view points so that they do not get misled by what

people like Nedumaran are writing.

6. I am protesting only because Thinnai allows

alternate viewpoints and has serious writers and

readers, even if i do not subscribe to their view

point. In other forums.magazines, i might have ignored

this as i ignore countless others.

I conclude here and shall write more in details when

time permits.

Thanking you,

Sathuragiri Vel

sathuragirivel@yahoo.com

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