George Hart ghart at SOCRATES.BERKELEY.EDU
Sun Feb 17 23:20:56 UTC 2002

According to the Tamil Lexicon, Tamil Nayanar (cf. Malayam Nairs, Telugu
Naidus, all from nii, "lead"), are "Title of certain castes such as Cainar
(Jains), KaikkooLar, UTaiyar, and a section of VeeLaaLar."  These are all
extremely high castes -- indeed, on the basis of privilege, power, wealth,
and influence (and, often, even education), one could make a persuasive
argument that they are (and always have been) significantly higher than most
Brahmins.  Consulting only Sanskrit texts and speaking only (I stress only)
with Brahmins are activities that are fraught with peril -- they give a very
strange and inaccurate picture of South India (and, I suspect, North India
as well).  It is good to remember that 2-3% of South Indians are Brahmins
and that over 90% of South Indians are non-vegetarians.  Chakravarti is also
a name found among Tamil Brahmins.  George Hart

On 2/17/02 12:47 PM, "Robert Zydenbos" <zydenbos at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE> wrote:

> Am 17 Feb 2002 um 12:21 schrieb Mahadevan, Thennilapuram:
>> The noted Gayatri Spivak Chakravarti regrets in a recent New York Times
>> profile that she was born a Brahmin: so Chakravartis must be all Brahmins.
> This generalisation is not correct. In Bengal and Assam there are many
> brahmins named Chakravarti / Chakrabarti / Chakraborti; but on the other
> hand there was a famous Jaina scholar from Tamilnadu a few decades ago
> named A. Chakravarti, and he belonged to the Nayanar caste, i.e., very 'low'
> according to brahmins.
> Robert Zydenbos
> Universität München

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