Nambudris etc.

Peter J. Claus pclaus at
Sat May 31 15:47:44 UTC 1997

Date: May 31, 1997 
Indology List
indology at
Dear Members,
In the following exchange between Srini, Vidyasankar
and Jacob Baltuch there is an interesting use of the
notion of "correct" in terms of "history".  What seems
to be meant is something more like the Brahman
historical discourse(s).  Needless to say, another
interpretation of the "history" of why the particular
groups of Nambudris were not allowed to receive the
Vedas (whether THIS is true, I don't know), is that
they were not originally "Brahman", but "Sudra." 
Rights to any number of priveledges are claimed all the
time in India, and usually vehemently opposed, and
eventually settled (accepted, rejected or compromised)
by either the ruler, or a clientele, for whatever
benefit it might be to themselves.  The end result
eventually ends up as "historical" legend or text or
"social reality" within the subsequent discourse(s) of
the particular communities involved.  It is in this
sense, then, we might say, "Yes, that is correct" from
a historical perspective; in this case, it would seem,
"correct" means within the communities of Brahmans.  I
won't go into "what really happened ...", because in
"history" there is no such thing unless we we have
independent documents of it AT THE TIME.
What I meant is that there are groups of Nambudiris, on
the whole a minority, who were traditionally not
permitted to learn/recite the Vedas. The explanation
given is that these groups lost their "purity" at some
point in history... due to their involvement with
medicine and healing, martial arts etc.
Those who research the social reality understand how
complicated the power relationships within the castes
really are. 
ps. I was under the impression that the ottillAta
nambUdiris were supposed to be a result of a curse that
SankarAcArya is supposed to have laid on some relatives
of his, barring them from Vedic study. Is this correct? 
Peter J. Claus                        
fax: (510) 704-9636
pclaus at

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