hair's colour in Sanskrit

zydenbos at zydenbos at
Sat May 10 01:59:18 UTC 1997

Replies to msg 08 May 97: indology at (vidya at

 vce> From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vidya at>

> >konkaNastha brAhmaNa classmates with an allegation of some unknown
> >European (particularly Portuguese) ancestry.
> Really - i hav never come across that one - and I should know. i am from
> Bambay, and a konkaNastha brAhmaNa too !!!!

 vce> This might be a recent development, but at a place like the
 vce> IIT Bombay
 vce> campus, such teasing normally targeted those konkaNasthas
 vce> who sincerely
 vce> believed in their superior Aryan descent, or towards those
 vce> who regretted
 vce> that they did not have the distinctive gAre DoLe - gore pAn
 vce> characteristics. The south Indians often resorted to this,
 vce> as an answer to
 vce> a remark about their darker skin color. One standard
 vce> retort: "At least,
 vce> I'm a pure Dravidian, the only Aryan in you is of European
 vce> descent". If
 vce> you were a south Indian brahmin yourself, you just hoped
 vce> that the Marathi
 vce> guy did not know enough of southern politics to catch you
 vce> on that one!

Among Smarta Brahmins in Karnataka there is a belief that the fair skin colour
of many Ayyangars is proof that they are not good, pure Brahmins. In this case,
the former French settlement of Pondicherry is pointed to as the source of the

There are SC/ST groups in northwestern coastal Karnataka who are quite
fair-skinned, and in this case too there is a wide-spread belief that the
Portuguese had something to do with it.

- Robert Zydenbos

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