INDOLOGY digest 686

kharimot at kharimot at
Sun Jun 1 19:32:52 UTC 1997

According to Edgar Thurston, _Castes and Tribes of Southern India_,
Vol. 5, Madras 1909 , p. 154:

  The Keralolpatti relates the story of the exclusion of the
  Panniyuur Braahmans from the Vedas.  There were in the beginning two
  religious factions among the Nambuutiris, the Vaishnavas or
  worshippers of Vishunu in his icncarnation as a boar, and the
  Saivas; the former residing in Panniyuur (boar village), and the
  latter in Chovuur (Siva's village). The Siavas gained the upper
  hand, and, completely dominating the others, excluded them
  altogether from the Vedas.  So now the Nambuutirs of Panniyuur are
  said to be prohibited from studynig the Vedas.  It is said, however,
  that this prohibition is not observed, and that, as a matter of
  fact, the Panniyuur Nambuutiris perform all the Vedic ceremonies.

p.163, quoting from Cochin Census Report 1901:

  There are Aadhyans among this class (The issue is already Adhyans, a
  class among Nambudris.) also.  Having received weapons from Parasu
  Raama and practiced the art of war, the Sastrangakars are treated as
  somewhat degraded Braahmans.  They are prohibited from studying the
  Vedas, but are entitled to muthalmura, that is, reading the Vedas,
  or hearing them recited once.  Having had to devote their time and
  energy to the practice of the art of war, they could not possibly
  spend their time in the study of the Vedas.  the Vaidyans or
  physicians, known as Muussads, are to study the medical science, and
  to practice the same.  As the profession of a doctor necessitates
  the performance of surgical operations entailing the shedding of
  blood, the Muussads are also considered as slightly degraded.  They
  too are entitled only to muthalmura.  Of these, there are eight
  families, known as Ashta Vaidyans.  The Graamanis are alleged to
  have suffered degradation by reason of their having, at the command
  of Parasu Raama, undertaken the onerous duties of protecting the
  Braahman villages, and having had, as Rakshapurushas or protectors,
  to discharge the functions assigned to Kshatriyas.  Ooril Parisha
  Muussads are supposed to have undergone degradation on acocunt of
  their having accepted from Parasu Raama the accumulated sin of
  having killed the warrior Kshatriyas thrice seven times, along with
  immense gifts in the shape of landed estates.  They are not allowed
  to read the Vedas evne one.

Also, he continues to cite certain Subramani Aiyar on
``five-sub-divisions among the Nambuutiris'', in which a division
called Jaatimatras is mentioned.  They are said to be physicians,
slodiers, or landed kings who originally had no time to study Vedas
and came to be considered non-worthy of studying them because of their

Overall, the social structure of Nambudris seems to be, and have been
complicated.  Even in a single book, the divisions and sub-divisions
are not consistent.  Isn't this why anthropologists are interested in
them? :-)

-- Kengo

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