Letter – Flourishing of Sanars and malaprop of Nadars

This entry is part [part not set] of 33 in the series 20061228_Issue

Mani Manik

Historically sanar has no specific roll in the tamil society except ‘toddy drawers’. Actually the landlords (generally warrior class) possessing some un-irrigated land with few palm trees, and a sanar has to come all the mornings and evenings to draw toddy from it (annual maintenance contract!), since toddy is one and only main drink during those days, where the coffee and tea are not yet brought by the british. This system will be analogous to the milking of konars in the house. That is, few cows being housed in homes and a konar used to come all the mornings and evenings for milking those cows.

Since, 13th century, the tamil ruling class lost their control over tamil speaking land and it is mainly because of the political anarchy from muslim invaders at first (13th century, then the vijayanagar telegu aggression (14th century) and finally Anglo-French colonial empowerment (16th century). This political unrest throughout several centuries cause the peoples (general public) to subdue to the rulers who were came to power time-to-time.

When the tamil warriors are fighting against the foreign invaders by hiding themselves in the forests and jungles, no one was in their farmland for cultivating. The British successfully implementing the ryotwari (ryot means farmer and wari means tax) system in which the ownership of the farmland will be assigned to the agriculrural workers who used to work in those land and they have to pay the tax directly to the british officer, which means the worker of the land become the owner and subdued to british while the original owners are fighting against the british. Because of the ryotwari system pallans (peasant in paddy field) are become the owner of wetlands and the sanans (toddy drawers of palm trees) were become the owner of dry land.

When the sanar become the landlords (dry land lords!) they develop themselves financially, under the guidance and cooperation with the brithish missionary. As the result, more and more numbers of sanars converted into Christianity for getting financial assistance. When money comes they have started palm development board, cultivating tobacco on their dry lands. Producing peedi (some cigarette like smoking sticks) through peedi companies (ITC!), marketing nose powders ( snuff – fine brown colour powder will makes you sneeze when you inhale through your nose). They have involved on cracker preparation (helping british army) and printing press as well (bible notice printing).

Despite all of the above said wealth from simple toddy drawer to multi facet businessman these sanans were still treated as a polluted caste by the rest of the ruling class. They were not allowed to enter the temples, deprived of chance to acquire education and were objected to participate in public function. This untouchability hurt the hearts of sanar barons and one such baron (Mr. Vellaisamy of Patti Veeran Patti) dare to open a community Nadar (not an orkut community!). The name NADAR is willingly coined to announce the rest of the world “we, the NADAR community, will not approach anybody for anything” and decided that, “If others are not allowing us inside the temple we will built our own temple, if others are not providing education we will have our own institution, if other are not allowing to their festival, let us celebrate our own festival”. Above all, they had enough money to do whatever they want to do, simply under the firm support of british colonians.

At this point we may think unavoidably, ‘why the british build-up sanar community, why not others’. Out of four main service classes Pallar, Paraiyar, Sanar and Sakiliar. Pallar are peaceful peasant they promptly paid the tax to british under ryotwari system. Pariyars are still associated with tamil warriors for drumming (some sort of communication media in battle filed) and especially sanar have possessing lot of uncultivatable dry lands in which palm trees were grown. So the british encourage those sanars to cultivate tobacco and its by products beedy, surutu and cigarette (smoking sticks), mooku poodi (nose powder), cracker (military use), printings (propagation of Christianity through printing notice).

This constructive support (rather destructive support to our homeland) of british administration continued even in post-independent India, by the courtesy Karmaveerar Kamaraj. So, we may gladly say, “one Pattiveerar Vellaisamy laid a seed for NADAR in british India and another Karmaveerar Kamaraj pour the water to the NADAR plant. The credit goes to these two peoples for the exponential ‘prosperity growth’ of sanars. Now the renowned historians emerged from this community are in the way to sanitize this community by malapropism (The unintentional misuse of a word by confusion with one that sounds similar).

Let me clear one thing first, there may be lot of references about the word saandror in tamil literature. But it doesn’t mean to represent the Sanar community. The saandror represents a group of ‘learned’ peoples or ‘Eminent Scholars’ from different communities those are engaged in administration. Similarly the word Nattar is also appearing in literature. Here, Nattar represents a group of peoples from different communities engaged themselves for village administration and it is not anyway means the community of Nadars. It is really unfair to equate the word saandror to sanar and nattar to Nadar.

In ancient tamil province, the Mudali community is engaged in village administration; the Pillai community is in village accounting; the Maravar community is in policing villages. The Bramin community is in education and the Chetty community is in trading. The individuals from the above said communities will be the member of Nattar or Saandror or whatsoever may be the terminology for the ‘Eminent Personalities’.

As a conclusion, the Sanars are nothing more than toddy droppers, Pallars are residents in the paddy fields for growing the agricultural products and the Paraiyars are in public announcement (broadcasting!) by beating drums. After the arrival of British some (most!) of the peoples in these communities were encouraged with an opportunity to service under British as they are habitual and successful in the doctrine of ‘Divide and Rule’. Thus the sanar community accommodated comfortably with British not only due to the capability of learning but more due to the flexibility in investing the hindu religion for Christianity towards their economical empowerment.

Since the links of bramins and chettys are extended outside the boundaries of tamil country we cannot consider themselves as tamil. The mudali, the pillai, the maravar, the sanar, the pallar and paraiar are belongs to tamil community by birth. The reddy, naidu, rajus are belongs to telugu origin and gounders (gouda) and tulu vellalas are from kannada origin. Basically Vanniars belong to tamil, however some of the vanniars speaking telugu as a mother tongue. The same controversy is also applicable to gounders who talks telugu and some others talk kannada.

So, it could be clearly understood as well as proved historically that Nadars were not having contribution in freedom fighting against the British (except a few) but in turn they enjoyed the privilege offered by the British by converting to Christianity and developing their own community mostly through this. Some of the standing evidences are the educational institutions are associated with Christian Nadars. It is a pity that they are ready to leave the religion but not the community or caste. If they are true Christians then there is no need to add the name ‘Nadar’ after the name that they receive after converting to Christianity. After establishing themselves today, now it seems that they want create a baseless history.


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