[INDOLOGY] Religious Literature with Political Purposes

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at aol.com
Tue Jul 7 21:33:08 UTC 2015

Regarding Tamil Nattukkottai Chettiars (aka Nagarathar community), they have been the most important supporters of Brahminical institutions like the Sankaracharya mathas and temples.

See http://www.kamakoti.org/kamakoti/stotra/acharyascall/bookview.php?chapnum=63 <http://www.kamakoti.org/kamakoti/stotra/acharyascall/bookview.php?chapnum=63>

See http://www.webxchange.com/koviloor/histext.html <http://www.webxchange.com/koviloor/histext.html>
The Veerasekara Gnana Desikar mentioned in the second link is the same as Veerappa Swamigal mentioned by Kanchi Sankaracharya in the in the first link.

Also see http://www.kovilur.com/university.htm <http://www.kovilur.com/university.htm>, an initiative of the institution founded and headed by a person belonging to the Chettiar community.

Also, see http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4233 <http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4233> 

One can judge from these links if Chettiars eschewed Sanskrit.

The level of Sanskritization among Tamils today may be gauged from the onamastics of Tamil proper names.


> On Jul 7, 2015, at 2:54 PM, George Hart <glhart at berkeley.edu> wrote:
> Dear Timothy,
> I’ll grant your point that “tribal” is not necessarily pejorative, though it has been used that way. The bigger problem with it is that it is nebulous. Were the people who composed the Rig Veda “tribal”? Is the Rig Veda a “cult” document? What would this mean? Certainly one could argue that the Rig Veda was both of these things. Instead of “tribal” would it not be germane to actually name the group (or “tribe”) involved? That would certainly make things clearer. “Folk” is another problematic term. Instead of “folk” it would be good to be more specific. (And let’s not get into “little” and “great” tradition….)
> The problem with the term “Sanskritization” in my view is that it’s a mask or calk put over a system that has an almost endless number of processes going on at once. If a South-Indian Brahmin goes into a village and asks people about their culture, they will tell him something they think will make him respect them. It may or may not reflect what they actually do or believe. If an upper-caste non-Brahmin does the same thing, they will probably say something quite different—and that may not be accurate either. In Tamil Nadu among some groups (e.g. Chettiars), the use of Tamil and the Tamil tradition is a sign of higher status. They eschew Sanskrit. And in the Tamil language, good formal writing, whether by Brahmins or others, scrupulously avoids Sanskrit words. Even in a language like Malayalam, which uses practically the entire Sanskrit lexicon (and, indeed, extends it), using indigenous Malayalam words does not lower the status of writing, as a glance at the Manipravalam works in the language shows. If you go among such many non-Brahmin groups in South India, you’ll find that the last thing they wish to do is emulate Brahmins. That, at least, is my experience, not only with Tamil groups but also with people from Andhra and Kerala. There is no doubt that the work of Srinivas has validity, but I think it’s important to realize that he brings out only one perspective on a very complex system. If Sanskritization were as thorough-going as you suggest, 90% or more of the Indian population would not be non-vegetarian. I am not against giving the Brahmins their due. Their influence has been pervasive and long-lasting. But at the same time, village India is full of worlds in which Brahmins and Brahmanical ideas scarcely enter. To see the entire culture in terms of Brahmins or Sanskritization is simply inaccurate, in my opinion. George

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