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A Few Glimpses from South Indian History

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[FONT=&quot]“It would pain me and, of course, it would pain others, if I should treat fully of all the makeshifts and devices whereby the Brahmanas of today attempt to preserve their totally undeserved claim for ‘spiritual superiority.’ Now that India is really awakening to a New Age, it will be well for my Brahmana countrymen if they voluntarily relinquish all their old pretensions together with the silly and anti-national customs based on such pretensions, and lead the way for the establishment of liberty, equality and fraternity among the Indians.”[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Subramania Bharati’s letter to the editor of New India, May 11, 1915.[/FONT]


[FONT=&quot]Ref: Politics and Social Conflict in South India, The Centre for South Asia and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]
[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]There have been repeated references to tabras’ zeal for social reform, eradication of caste prejudices, etc., and our (present day tabras’) moral duty to project these aspects as magnified as possible and thus blame the NBs of Tamil Nadu, for following EVR and his DK, and working the anti-brahmin sentiments to its zenith, thus exiling tabras from their ancestral homeland, etc. In one of those threads I wrote my view that there is not much tangible material evidence for projecting the role played by the tabra community in general – or even a sizeable section among them – as having had a reformist bent of mind and so it is better that we, today, rather not talk about our past but accept magnanimously, that there was some substance in the anti-brahmin sentiment rising to such powerful levels in Tamil Nadu, and that it cannot be attributed solely either to the ability of EVR to incite the masses, or to the utter gullibility of the masses and their conveniently forgetting the many good things which tabras did for them. [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]But that view of mine, somehow, got interpreted differently as pessimistic attitude, defeatist mentality, disdain for our community, etc., on my part. Conceding that my pov might not be the correct one perhaps, I asked the person who found me to be a pessimist, etc., to prepare a write-up which will be useful in letting the outside world know about the optimistic view of looking at tabra contributions to caste reforms and positive aspects about the community which will be convincing to an impartial reader. But such a write-up was not furnished and it was said that spreading an optimistic and positive view among tabras is the aim. [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]I believe that in whatever we do we have to be sincere and go by available evidence/s. None of us here may be able to vouchsafe for any incident beyond 50 or 60 or at the most 70 years in the past, and, again, we will not be eye-witnesses to each or any of the points stated by us; reliance has to be placed on indirect evidences such as trustworthy reports. [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Another opinion which has been repeatedly expressed here is about why the tabras of today should be blamed or punished (with the reservations system) for sins committed in the past by our ancestors long ago. It is my considered view that it is highly immoral on our part, as a community, to cling to the label “tamil brahmin” or “brahmin” or any of its synonyms, when it comes to enjoying the positive gains we have derived because of that label, till today, but to disown it (may be indirectly, by telling that we have nothing to do for the atrocities committed by our ancestors, but pride ourselves in calling “brahmins”) when the blame part comes up for consideration. I feel that if at all we have to adopt such an attitude, those who subscribe to this view should form a new label like “nava brahmana” and be rid of all casteist practices and prejudices, whatever. [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]With this background I am trying to give some evidences to show that the anti-brahmin movement in TN is a peculiar phenomenon, its roots going deeper into the past and that the tabras will not be able to convince the rest of the people of TN (or for that matter, the world at large) that their community has had a satisfactory track-record of anti-casteist reformist attitude.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]The quotation given above depicts the view of Mahakavi Bharatiar, whom it was proposed to project as one of the examples of tabra efforts at eradication of casteism. See for yourself what that great man himself has to talk about his community’s attitudes in the early twentieth century![/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]It may be relevant to note here that when Bharatiar died, hardly a handful of people were there for the funeral![/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Incidentally, I have heard in private conversations of some elderly tabras of my grandfather’s generation that Bharatiar was struck by the Tiruvallikkeni temple elephant because he harmed the brahmin society enormously and forgot his duties as brahmin. (Of course, I strongly disapprove of this, but this should serve to show how Bharatiar and his messages were received by the tabra community of the 1940’s or 1950’s, despite all the praise that may be showered upon him through various means and media by tabras themselves today.)[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]I will not engage in any discussion regarding the material/s which I provide. It is for the readers to form their own conclusions and discuss among themselves if they so desire.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]This post itself has become lengthy. So, I will continue in the next.[/FONT]
 
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Sri Sangom - Its not about the count of brahmins opposed to casteism, its about how history is presented and what we accept about our past.

Firstly, thank you for posting this and making your view clearer to me.

I am not contesting against the fact that brahmins in south India did practice casteism - I am saying casteism existed throughout TN (and still does) while EVR and DK made the issue into nothing but that of brahmin discrimination and temple entry. Its much more than that.

Reforms in any society are rare - and wherever it did happen, brahmins were present in many cases. Indian history says this, while its hard for many to acknowledge. In pointing that, I am not speaking about majority of TBs in one time; I am saying we should take inspiration from that - from men like Bharatiyar. We shouldn't "keep quiet" as you said, because silence is taken as tacit support.

To make my stance clear: While I agree there was/is a social problem in TN, I disagree with the method used in it by the DK.

For example: Should upper caste NBs be exiled from villages for ill-treating dalits? Or for violence against them? Would that be justified to you? It wouldn't to me. And the exact same thing I am saying with regard to the TB community. DK's rhetoric is viewing the TBs only on the basis of negativity, and that is what I am opposed to.

That is exactly why I can't understand the support it gets from you or many for that matter.

"It is my considered view that it is highly immoral on our part, as a community, to cling to the label “tamil brahmin” or “brahmin” or any of its synonyms, when it comes to enjoying the positive gains we have derived because of that label, till today, but to disown it (may be indirectly, by telling that we have nothing to do for the atrocities committed by our ancestors, but pride ourselves in calling “brahmins”)"

What benefits do you image TBs enjoyed for being brahmins? Brahmins payed attention to changes in recent times, and took strides along with changing times. I believe in EQUAL opportunity for all, not remaking a society with inequal opportunities on the basis of historical events.

"its roots going deeper into the past and that the tabras will not be able to convince the rest of the people of TN (or for that matter, the world at large) that their community has had a satisfactory track-record of anti-casteist reformist attitude."

And neither will any other upper caste community be able to convince that. Any society that has had influence or was in a previlaged position has its contributions as well as atrocities. The point is about what we choose to stick (be proud of) and what parties like the DK flash about that history.

Regards,
Vivek.
 
namaste.

Even as we read about shrI Sangom's narration of any reformist brahmins, let us have at least an academic glance at the brAhmaNa jAti as a whole throughout India, and know something about their culture and dharma as it existed until about sixty years ago.

Pages 267 to 393 of the following compilation by Thurston, Edgar, 1855-1935; Rangachari, K. describe the varNa and caste of brahmins in the geographical, social, culural and religious areas of life.
Castes and tribes of southern India (1909), vol.1
Castes and tribes of southern India : Thurston, Edgar, 1855-1935 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
http://www.archive.org/download/castestribesofso01thuriala/castestribesofso01thuriala.pdf
 
namaste.

Even as we read about shrI Sangom's narration of any reformist brahmins, let us have at least an academic glance at the brAhmaNa jAti as a whole throughout India, and know something about their culture and dharma as it existed until about sixty years ago.

Pages 267 to 393 of the following compilation by Thurston, Edgar, 1855-1935; Rangachari, K. describe the varNa and caste of brahmins in the geographical, social, culural and religious areas of life.
Castes and tribes of southern India (1909), vol.1
Castes and tribes of southern India : Thurston, Edgar, 1855-1935 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
http://www.archive.org/download/castestribesofso01thuriala/castestribesofso01thuriala.pdf

Shri Saidevo,

Firstly the book cannot be said to depict brahmins (or any of the other castes included in it) throughout India - because it clearly purports to confine itself to Southern India - nor can we take it to depict how they lived sixty years ago (emphasis made by me in the quote above), because it relies on the census of 1901 and has been published in 1909. Further the book does not make any claim of the type you attribute to it. So, it is safer to say that the remarks were on the basis of answers received to stereotyped questionnaires, supplemented by enquiries by men and by their (Superintendents of the ethnographic survey) own enquiries by "researches into the considerable mass of information which lies buried in official reports, in the journals of learned Societies, and in various books." Of this injunction full advantage has been taken, as will be evident from the abundant crop of references in foot-notes. " (Pl. see the Preface.)

Therefore, there is no surety to any claim as to whether the descriptions of the customs, manners and life-style detailed in the book was really being followed even at the time the survey was being conducted. These practices existed at some point of time, that is all we can state with definiteness.

An interesting feature of the book is in the details. See the number of pages devoted to a few sample castes:

(Tamil) Brahmin - 126 pages.
Chetti-07 pages
Vellala -30 pages
Nambutiri -91 pages
Nayar -132 pages

It is easy to understand this trend in coverage if we keep in mind the following excerpts from the preface.

"I gladly place on record my hearty appreciation
of the services rendered by Mr. K. Rangachari in the
preparation of the present volumes. During my tem-
porary absence in Europe, he was placed in charge
of the survey, and he has been throughout invaluable
in obtaining information concerning manners and cus-
toms, as interpreter and photographer, and in taking
phonograph records."

"For information relating to the tribes and castes
of Cochin and Travancore, I gratefully acknowledge
my indebtedness to Messrs. L. K. Anantha Krishna
Aiyer and N. Subramani Aiyer, the Superintendents of
Ethnography for their respective States. The notes
relating to the Cochin State have been independently
published at the Ernakulam Press, Cochin."



 
"During the second decade of the twentieth century, three other groups outside the orbit of south Indian Hindu society, and numerically small, gradually assumed an important part in the social and political life of Madras presidency. One of them, the Saurashtras (originally from Saurashtra in western India) was a group of weavers known in Madura, the city in which they were concentrated, as Patnulkarans or “silk-thread people.” They spoke a dialect of Gujarati called Patnuli or Khatri. Saurashtras often claimed Brahman status but neither the census enumerators nor the Tamil Brahmans ever conceded this position.17 The second group, the Indian Christians, were largely converts from untouchables in the Telugu area.18 In the Tamil districts, they (sic)also were untouchables, but some were former toddy-tappers (extractors of the juice of certain palm trees for fermentation) called Nadars, and some were Vellalas. On the whole, their position in society was much higher than that of their Telugu counterparts.19 The third group, the south Indian Muslims, were largely urban, concentrated in Madras city as well as in North Arcot district. Many Muslims owned imporant industrial properties and were beginning to take a significant part in the politics of the area.

In certain parts of the province, particularly the Tamil districts, this broad division of society into three large groups – Brahmans, non-Brahmans, and untouchables – was reinforced by two other elements. One of these was the existence of a series of Brahman and non-Brahman villages, a vestige of the time when medieval south Indian kings made grants of land to groups of Brahmans. The social division and tension which the proximity of these villages to one another could produce is illustrated by the remarks of an English observer in the last years of the eighteenth century concerning the area that later became Tinnevelly district:

The difference [between non-Brahman and Brahman villages] is characterized by nothing more, than that the influence of Brahmins and their property predominates in the agrahara vaidiky; the former rarely allowing soodras [non-Brahmans] to intermix in their villages, for fear their importance and estimation as a community of Brahmins, may be diminished by a connexion with such inferior parties; and on the other hand, the soodras as carefully and jealously avoiding the admission of Brahmins, however small, as their property would draw to them too much consideration, usurp all authority, and invade their rights.20

17 census of India, 1901: Madras, XV, Pt.1, 183. See also A.J. Saunders, “The Saurashtra Community in Madura, South India,” American Journal of Sociology, XXXII (1926), 787-799.

18 A.T. Fishman, Culture Change and the Underprivileged: A Study of Madigas in South India Under Christian Guidance (Madras, 1941).

19 B.S. baliga, Tanjore District Handbook (Madras, 1957), p. 156.

20 W.K. Firminger (ed.), The Fifth Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Affairs of the East India Company (Calcutta, 1916), III, 337."

Excerpts from: Politics and Social Conflict in South India (The Non-Brahman Movement and Tamil Separatism, 1916-1929) pp 9-10

Sponsored by the Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley.
 
[FONT=&quot]“It would pain me and, of course, it would pain others, if I should treat fully of all the makeshifts and devices whereby the Brahmanas of today attempt to preserve their totally undeserved claim for ‘spiritual superiority.’ Now that India is really awakening to a New Age, it will be well for my Brahmana countrymen if they voluntarily relinquish all their old pretensions together with the silly and anti-national customs based on such pretensions, and lead the way for the establishment of liberty, equality and fraternity among the Indians.”[/FONT]

For all that Bharati said, he could not shake off the brahmin legacy totally. He is reported to have had lengthy conversations with Harikesannalur Muthiah Bhagavatar, praised young Kanchi Acharya for the Navarathri pujas at the mutt, then based at Kumbakonam.

His descendant, greatgrandson Sri Rajkumar Bharati, a talented singer is quite a normal TB.

In fact the self-respect group even tried to marginalise him by promoting Bharatidasan, of course no-mean talented. For them he was another brahmin, a cunning one posing as an insider.

I see his fulminations as a father's fury at the prodigal son, nothing more...

Rgds.,
 
In government service, figures compiled by the Madras government in 1912 (Table 1) illustrate the consistently strong domination of the Brahmans in many upper levels of government service. The distribution of appointments among Deputy Collectors, Sub-Judges, and District Munsifs (all high positions so far as Indian employment was concerned) show that Brahmans in 1912 held 55, 82.3, and 72.6 percent of the posts then available to Indians. By contrast, non-Brahman Hindus (probably Vellalas, Balija Naidus, Nairs and a sprinkling of Kammas and Reddis) held only 21.5. 16.7. and 19.5 percent of the total appointments. The Indian Christians and Muslims were well behind.

An analysis of the caste distribution among those employed in the upper levels of the Revenue and Judicial departments of the Madras government reaffirms these proportions. Brahmans again held an important lead in the ranks of Tahsildar and Deputy Tahsildar, with 349 posts compared to 134 held by nan-Brahman Hindus. Among the English Head Clerks, Sheristadars of District Courts, and Sheristadars of Sub-Courts, Brahmans held 44 posts as against 16 held by non-Brahman Hindus. Table 2 shows that the total average appointments in the Revenue and Judicial departments in 1917 held by non-Brahman Hindus, Indian Christians, and Muslims was 33.3 percent.

The position of the Tamil Brahmans in administrative and professional life was unquestionably due to their unusually high literacy rate, in both Tamil and English. Telugu Brahmans, also, were highly literate (see Table 3), but no non-Brahman group ould even approach them.

Ref: Politics and Social Conflict in South India, The Centre for South Asia and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Pp13 & 14

A knowledge of English was essential for employment in government service, as well as in teaching and politics. In these areas, the Tamil Brahmans led all the other caste groups. In 1921, 28.2 percent of all Tamil Brahman males were literate in English; for Telugu Brahman males the figure was 17.3 percent. By 1921, six of the non-Brahman groups – Nairs, Chettis, Vellalas, Balija Naidus, Indian Christians, and Nadars – had achieved fairly high literacy rates. But they could not compete with the Tamil and Telugu Brahmans so far as English was concerned. Two Telugu non-Brahman caste groups, the Kammas and the Reddis, who also had relatively high male literacy rates by 1921 (13.6 and 10.2 percent, respectively), had an English literacy among males of less than one percent (see Table 4).

The steep rise in literacy – in English, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam – among the important non-Brahman caste Hindus between 1901 and 1921 suggests a central reason for their entrance into Madras politics during this period. Vellalas, Chettis, Nadars, and Nairs were all caste groups moving upward in the public life of Madras. There is also little doubt but that by the middle of the second decade, non-Brahmans, seeing that their literacy rate was rising and that the potential for advancement existed, were beginning to resent the almost exclusive control of government jobs and political life by Brahmans. Furthermore, province-wide communications among non-Brahmans through caste associations permitted quick transmission of the news of success in high school and college examinations. Both educational advance and a consciousness of this advance were essential ingredients in the growth of non-Brahman political awareness.

Pp 16 & 17 ibid

The Madras I.C.S., Brahmans, and Politics

From a very early period of British contact with south India, the Brahmans were suspect as the repository of religious and social power and literate skill. As priests at the head of the social order, the Brahmans were independent of the British. As the possessors of learning, they were more and more indispensable in the government bureaucracy. But their very usefulness and skill aroused mistrust, because they were increasingly in command of large areas of the British administration and therefore in a position to suit their own, rather than British, ends.27 Thus, long before the start of the non-Brahman movement in the twentieth century, British officials in Madras were more or less fearful of the educated Brahman, in whom they saw a potential threat to British supremacy in India. The Collector of Tanjore in 1879 commented frankly on this attitude toward the Brahmans, whom of all Indians in Madras he knew were “unquestionably the foremost, as being the most intellectual”:

The Brahmin intellect (like that of all Orientals) is acute, but I do not see any reason – in the past or present – to believe it is of a high order. They are quibblers with words, not scientific men; their powers of observation are very small, they have hardly any originality, and can see nothing but what immediately concerns them… But unfortunately, the Brahmin officials of the present day, with whom a foreigner must come into contact, are very inferior to the old-fashioned Brahmins. Their acuteness, however, in appropriating European Shibboleths has raised them into a position like what Mrs. Mill occupied in J. S. Mill’s thoughts … Though all his friends knew that she was not the wonderful woman he made her out to be. It will soon be seen that the so-called educated classes are doing and can do, nothing for progress; they are already the commonest weight in native society. There is no class that is so hostile to the English.

It is one great misfortune of our administration that we should have already made such men our masters to a great extent, and that we are going to go to a still farther extent in the same course. 28



27 See Frykenberg, Guntur District, passim.

28 Letter from A. Duvere, Collector of Tanjore, to Sir James Caird, member of the Famine Commission, dated July 8, 1879. Home Miscellaneous Series, 796.

Excerpts from: Politics and Social Conflict in South India (The Non-Brahman Movement and Tamil Separatism, 1916-1929) pp 19 & 20.

Sponsored by the Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Note: I could not get the pages containing some tables and I am not able to type tables. So, these have been omitted pl.
 
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In their hostility toward educated Brahmans, the British I.C.S. officers often mirrored the sentiments of newly organized untouchable groups and spokesmen for the non-Brahman caste Hindus in the presidency. As one non-Brahman writing under the pseudonym “Fair Play” declared, though the British were called the rulers of India, in reality “the Brahman rules it.”29 many non-Brahman caste Hindus as well as untouchables sharply criticized the Indian National Congress for being only the representative of Brahman interests.30 This coincidence of opinion between the two opposite extremes of the politically aware non-Brahmans and untouchables on the one hand and the British I.C.S. members on the other was to have important political ramifications between 1916 and 1929.

….


The Intellectual Background of Tamil Separatism

Today the term Dravidian usually refers to a family of languages in south India, the main ones of which are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam. In the first and second decades of the twentieth century, the term – in south India atleast – had both a racial and a linguistic meaning. For example, K.V. Reddi Naidu, a Telugu non-Brahman, speaking in support of the Andhra University Bill, appealed to Dravidians – that is, not simply to those who spoke a Dravidian language but to those who claimed to possess a common racial heritage to unite them against the so-called Aryan invaders from the north, the south Indian Brahmans. Reddi Naidu, however, was something of an exception, for the Telugus, even in the Justice Party, did not often speak in these racial terms. In its racial sense, Dravidianism, at a very early stage, was identified with Tamil-speakers, since Tamil was considered to be the most ancient of the Dravidian languages spoken in India. Telugus were seldom so eager to claim Dravidian status, because Telugu, unlike Tamil, contained a great many Sanskrit words, which tended to diminish claims that Telugu was a culture independent of so-called Aryan influence. Partly also, the Telugu area did not exhibit the same polarities between Brahman and non-Brahman, such as between the Kapus and the Kammas on one side and the Brahmans on the other, as compared with the feelings of competition and hostility between the Vellalas and the Tamil Brahmans. For these reasons, although non-Brahmans from all the main dravidian language groups of south India joined the non-Brahman movement, the use of Dravidianism as a political weapon was gradually confined to the non-Brahmans in Tamil Nad.



He singled out the non-Brahmans in the audience: “You are of pure Dravidian race,” he said, and “I should like to see the pre-Sanskrit element amongst you asserting itself rather more,” and a greater emphasis placed on Dravidian literature:

The constant putting forward of Sanskrit literature as if itwere pre-eminently Indian, should stir the national pride of some of you Tamil, telugu, Canarese. You have less to do with sanskrit than we English have. Ruffianly Europeans have sometimes been known to speak of natives of India as ‘Niggers,’ but they did not like the proud speakers or writers of Sanskrit, speak of the people of the South as legions of monkeys. It was these Sanskrit speakers, not Europeans, who lumped up the Southern races as Rakshusas –demons. It was they who deliberately grounded all social distinctions on Varna, Clour.18***



29 Fair Play, The non-Brahmin Races and the Indian Public Service (Madras, 1893), p.2. I owe this reference to Professor Stephen N. Hay. See also the editorial from Pariah, organ of the Paraiah [Untouchable] Mahajana Sabha, (founded 1894), cited in the Madras Mail, Oct.25, 1894; quoted inRamanathan Suntharalingam, “Politics and Change in the Madras Presidency, 1884-1894: A Regional Study of Indian Nationalism”, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 1966, pp. 356-357.

30 “Fair Play,” Non-Brahmin races and the Indian Public Service, p.1, and the Pariah for 1894 quoted in Suntharalingam, “Politics and Change,” p. 356. Also see “fair Play,” The ways and Means for the Amelioration of the Non-Brahmin Races (Madras, 1893), p.65, for a plea to establish a non-Brahman political association.

18 M.E. Grant-Duff, An Address Delivered to the Graduates of the University of Madras, 25th March, 1886 (Madras, 1886), pp. 29-30, 39, 40.
I owe this reference to Professor Stephen N. Hay.


Note:

I depend upon googlebooks for viewing this out-of-print publication. Since googlebooks does not allow all pages to be viewed, I am giving extracts from whatever portions I get to view. Hence continuity cannot be ensured, nor full details are available in the case of some points.

***I wonder whether it would have changed the course of history in favour of tabras if they had been shrewd enough of the direction in which the winds had started blowing, and if they had, in this period, publicly disowned Ramayana as a scriptural text and Rama as their god to demonstrate to the world at large that they were Tamils first and brahmins only after that. perhaps it was unthinkable for them - as it may be even today - but that reluctance itself can well provide enough grist to the mill for aryan dominance of the indigenous Tamil religion too. Pl. see the next post re. Saiva Siddhanta Sabhas' allegations against the tabras. --sangom
 
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[/COLOR]***I wonder whether it would have changed the course of history in favour of tabras if they had been shrewd enough of the direction in which the winds had started blowing, and if they had, in this period, publicly disowned Ramayana as a scriptural text and Rama as their god to demonstrate to the world at large that they were Tamils first and brahmins only after that. perhaps it was unthinkable for them - as it may be even today - but that reluctance itself can well provide enough grist to the mill for aryan dominance of the indigenous Tamil religion too. Pl. see the next post re. Saiva Siddhanta Sabhas' allegations against the tabras. --sangom

this, sangom, i have wondered loud many a times here and elsewhere.

i think, puffed up, as we were in our own arrogance, there was no chance of us, ever sensing the winds of change.

we have been moroniacally insensitive when it comes to sensing the pulse of the tamil society. once the concept of liberty, equality et al started catching afire, we, who on one hand took the lead against the british via the congress, were busy doing a rear guard fight to preserve and consolidate erstwhile privileges. atleast i think so.

also, our political leaders, while espousing changes, did not go far enough. while congress wanted purna swaraj NOW, the brahmin leadership, had only to offer gradual changes to the aspiration of the 97% NB tamildom. rajaji killed whatever remaining goodwill we had, with his kulakalvi thittam.

our religious heads were even further burroughing their head in the ground, when it came to the world around. the mutts would rather have a hindu fold of zero following, provided all the brahmins were considered the highest caste. the rest can convert to whatever faith they wanted.

identifying commonality and universality of faith, has never been the function of tambrams or brahminincal hinduism. it has always been us and THEM (which was the whole world of NBs).

there were critical times like indian independence, march 1967 or 2000 millenium, when brave and foresighted calls from the pulpits of the mutts towards a general amnesia for manusmriti, and pick out the best of elements of our scriptures as suitable for the next century.

no. sad to say, we did not have the imagination nor the willingness to give up our pyrrhic pedestal. the saddest word, in any language, is, 'what could have been'. it is so appropriate here, in the query that you have pondered. :(

best wishes...
 
this, sangom, i have wondered loud many a times here and elsewhere.

i think, puffed up, as we were in our own arrogance, there was no chance of us, ever sensing the winds of change.

we have been moroniacally insensitive when it comes to sensing the pulse of the tamil society. once the concept of liberty, equality et al started catching afire, we, who on one hand took the lead against the british via the congress, were busy doing a rear guard fight to preserve and consolidate erstwhile privileges. atleast i think so.

also, our political leaders, while espousing changes, did not go far enough. while congress wanted purna swaraj NOW, the brahmin leadership, had only to offer gradual changes to the aspiration of the 97% NB tamildom. rajaji killed whatever remaining goodwill we had, with his kulakalvi thittam.

our religious heads were even further burroughing their head in the ground, when it came to the world around. the mutts would rather have a hindu fold of zero following, provided all the brahmins were considered the highest caste. the rest can convert to whatever faith they wanted.

identifying commonality and universality of faith, has never been the function of tambrams or brahminincal hinduism. it has always been us and THEM (which was the whole world of NBs).

there were critical times like indian independence, march 1967 or 2000 millenium, when brave and foresighted calls from the pulpits of the mutts towards a general amnesia for manusmriti, and pick out the best of elements of our scriptures as suitable for the next century.

no. sad to say, we did not have the imagination nor the willingness to give up our pyrrhic pedestal. the saddest word, in any language, is, 'what could have been'. it is so appropriate here, in the query that you have pondered. :(

best wishes...

Shri Kunjuppu,

In 1967 did not Rajaji as Swatantra Party Chief, exhort tabras to vote for DMK and Annadurai, whereas DK under EVR acted against DMK in alliance with Congress?! So, having accepted our role in putting DMK to power initially, why cry now and why castigate DK or DMK? Was it like Lord Siva granting the boon to Bhasmaasura? If so, some Mohini should come along to rescue the whining tabras, I think!!
 
Shri Kunjuppu,

In 1967 did not Rajaji as Swatantra Party Chief, exhort tabras to vote for DMK and Annadurai, whereas DK under EVR acted against DMK in alliance with Congress?! So, having accepted our role in putting DMK to power initially, why cry now and why castigate DK or DMK? Was it like Lord Siva granting the boon to Bhasmaasura? If so, some Mohini should come along to rescue the whining tabras, I think!!

dear sangom,

i think, in the latter part of his political career, rajaji proved 100 hundred percent to be perfect meanness of a 'mocked' brahmin. is there not some proverb about the consequences of 'wronging' a brahmin?

it started when rajaji was bypassed to be the first president of india, in 1950, and forced back to tamil nadu politics. by this time, satyamurthi, rajaji's rival for congress leadership, had the upper hand, and was more in tune with tamil society and its aspirations. satyamurthi's candidate was kamaraj.

the returned rajaji found the local congress against him, bar some brahmins. fortunately for him satyamurthi died, and rajaji was able to have a somewhat precarious hold over the congress, until he passed his kula kalvi thittam, and thus was forced to resign, on pressure from the congress high command.

incidentally, rajaji, was the first chief minister, who got this c.m. post, by encouraging defections by munificiently rewarding the defectors. the first victim was dr. p subbaroyan of the erstwhile justice party, who immediately was rewarded a cabinet post in rajaji's minsitry, and who later went on to become a central cabinet minister.

in the late 1950s, the scorned rajaji, finding that his religious & scholastic writings did not quite satisfy his appetite for intrigue, started the swatantra party. all of the initial members, were ex socialists, ex congress and in political wilderness.

it did not take much common sense to realize that the congress never had majority vote in most part of india, and won seats in the legislature due to split opposition vote. by 1967, all the opposition parties had agreed, that the only way to throw out the congress was to band together. this would have, i think, happened with out without rajaji.

hence came the grand alliance of 1967. incidentally this alliance also gave legitimacy to the muslim league in tamil nadu where it was a non entity before.

i suspect that the muslim money power was instrumental in greasing the palms of the voters in 1967 on behalf of the dmk alliance. which probably explains that as soon as the dmk was voted in power, the first and only leader annadurai & MK went to pay homage was mohammed ismail of the league.

not rajaji. nobody went to him to thank. instead it was rajaji who went to congratulate anna. by then rajaji had morphed into a one track pro prohibition mind, and in it he found a willing listener in anna. so as long as anna was alive, there was an uneasy alliance, because the dmk's massive social restructuing went against the grain of the brahmin in rajaji. it was only a matter of time...

when MK came to power, he immediately revoked prohibition, inspite of rajaji's public, bleating and loud appeal, including visits to MK's house. that sealed rajaji's isolation from dmk. and he went back to making up with his old enemy kamaraj for the 1972 elections, where both were thoroughly defeated by the newly enegized dmk under MK. we were in for the most virulent antibrahmin period in tamilnadu - the 1970s..

to sum up, nobody except the tambrams, acknowledge rajaji as the architect of the 1967 coalation that brought down congress in tamil nadu. to DMK it was the work of annadurai. anna paid homage to the muslim league, and you will find, consistently that the DMK has a soft corner for the muslims, especially in all its financial shenanigans. even the newly constructed tamil nadu legislative assembly was done by a muslim fronted construction company, and an obscure dubai based one at that.

i can only imagine, that when MK came to power, the corruption was there for the taking. the tambram establishment (read TVS, Simpsons, Rane, Hindu, Dinamani, Vikatan) shunned MK. the muslims were willing to cooperate and help build MK's wealth.

which they have continued to do so. you find that two of the biggest naam-ke-vaas culprits of the 2G scam are muslim nobodys. the tambram rich and ambitious, learned fast as to which side of the bread was buttered, took advantage of their somewhat unique skills in money finnagling (loosely known as accounting) created several opportunities to hire themselves out and work together with the dravidian politicians. i think, it would be right to say, that the dmk/aidmk made more tambram millionaire accountants and lawyers than the congress ever did - in tamil nadu or in new delhi.

nowadays, every primary well connected tambram family in chennai/TN has a dravidian connection through marriage. willingly done too. personally, as all these marriages cut across caste lines, i have to confess, not only a soft corner, but encouragement, as the new generation born out of these wedlocks, do not display any anti brahminism ... take the maran brothers for instance ..or for now, alagiri's dil family. convenient and powerful alliances through marriage, as from the dawn of times, has proved once again, that the gears of rajathanthiram are greased by the shenanigans of the bedroom. n'est pas?

the people who got screwed absolutely were the lower tambram middle class, the most ardent devotees of brahministic hegemony, however not backed either by money or brain power. whose remnants we see in pockets of tamil nadu now. the famous sankarraman, comes out of this ilk - poor, angry, cheated and above all mocked by his very 'mentors'. i am not at all surprised by the residual anger among the poor tambrams, at their own wretched mental state and the resultant poverty, as they have huge mental handicaps to cross, in order to conduct themselves decently in a world shorn of 'respect' for brahmin spiritual and moral hegemony. only money rules.

most of us tambrams have prospered under the dmk, vivek's accusations not withstanding. broadly if we ask an average tambram family if they are better off today than 40 years ago, i suspect you would get a resounding YES. this is not the rhyme of an exiled, persecuted, pogrommed and abused community. i think we are yet to overcome our hurt egos!!

ours is a community which has used its wiles (nothing wrong with that) to survive and prosper at where and when opportunities arose. we should be proud. and not whine, like the way, i hear some voices here. or have any residual anger. everything that happened in the tamil socio political scene of the past 44 years in tamil nadu has been a blessing for our community in many many ways - it liberated us from the moribund government jobs, showed us the path to the west, mid east, singapore and australia. and above all, enabled us to be vanguards in new job creatiion and technology. :)

sangom, without prejudice, i am saying this, as i see it. the observations may be flawed, as i feel fit, to warn you :)

best wishes..

ps. one of the most confusing times for tambrams was the sixties, when many of them had to chose between rajaji or the congress. a simple minded congressman like my dad, used to rant and rave against rajaji, right to his last days, of rajaji's betrayal of the 'ideals'. ofcourse, to dad, the freedom and anyone associated with it was holy in itself, and like many here, periyar was the epitom of pure unadulterated evil, to be placed even ahead of the british :)

pps. my mother ignored my dad, and voted for dmk. consistently. since 1962.

ppps. yes in 1967 periyar supported the congress. but periyar was the architect of dravidian thinking, and anna, after ismail, went straight to periyar's house and did his namaskarams.
 
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....to sum up, nobody except the tambrams, acknowledge rajaji as the architect of the 1967 coalation that brought down congress in tamil nadu.

[...]

ps. one of the most confusing times for tambrams was the sixties, when many of them had to chose between rajaji or the congress..
K, I still remember the 1967 elections, when the roof came crumbling down. Nothing in Tamil Nadu politics was going to be the same anymore. BTW, Rajaji not withstanding, my parents wouldn't vote for DMK.

Memory is supposed to be the second thing to go, I can't remember what the first one is, but my fading memory of the times was DK and DMK had a love/hate relationship with Rajaji. He represented a liberal mindset because he acknowledged the horrific consequences of casteism -- he wrote passionately about the scourge of untouchablity -- but, like Gandhi, he could never break free of varna altogether.

The same is the case with Mahakavi, but much more understandable. Given the kind of firebrand he was in his time, I do believe he would have been much more forthright if he were alive today. The revolutionary spirit of Bharathi is exemplified by the fact that an avowed anti-brahmin Subburathinam Mudaliyar took the moniker Bharathidasan, and he is still celebrated as Bharathidasan by DMK and ADMK alike. Yet, as Rajaji, Bharathiyar couldn't go the extra mile and reject Varna outright. He probably underestimated the resolve of Brahmnist's conviction of superiority and innocently believed Varna system can be reformed.

Cheers!
 
Sri Sangom - Please don't give justifications for anti-brahminism.

"For all that Bharati said, he could not shake off the brahmin legacy totally. "

The brahmin legacy includes much more than just untouchability. He didn't hate being a brahmin, he only saw that those in his times tended to misinterpret. He didn't have ridiculous ideas of "aryans and dravidians", which btw, was a British India accepted through India at a point, not a brahmin idea.

"From a very early period of British contact with south India, the Brahmans were suspect as the repository of religious and social power and literate skill."

And that is merely because brahmins regarded literary traditions their culture, they regarded education and becoming educated important. Brahmins rose to prominance for their own reasons.

"The Brahmin intellect (like that of all Orientals) is acute, but I do not see any reason – in the past or present – to believe it is of a high order. They are quibblers with words, not scientific men; their powers of observation are very small, they have hardly any originality, and can see nothing but what immediately concerns them"

But brahmin tradition of the past did contribute to science in earlier days. That legacy is very much part of our tradition, and worth revival. Brahmins defined themselves as a varna, not a race with an inborn "Brahmin intellect" - it was the DK movement and the British who did define us as a race (erraneously).

"In their hostility toward educated Brahmans, the British I.C.S. officers often mirrored the sentiments of newly organized untouchable groups and spokesmen for the non-Brahman caste Hindus in the presidency. As one non-Brahman writing under the pseudonym “Fair Play” declared, though the British were called the rulers of India, in reality “the Brahman rules it"

That is a nice way of placing blames of even the British on brahmins. Your comments Sangom, lengthily justify anti-brahminism. Hatred towards no community in a unified nation becomes right, addressing differences, creating opportunities is the way ahead.

"Today the term Dravidian usually refers to a family of languages in south India ... twentieth century, the term – in south India atleast – had both a racial and a linguistic meaning. that is, not simply to those who spoke a Dravidian language but to those who claimed to possess a common racial heritage to unite them against the so-called Aryan invaders from the north, the south Indian Brahmans."

And this was again a british idea. If you can point to me of an "Aryan" invasion into south India, I would laud you. DK stupidly spoke of Ram's victory over Ravan as aryan invasion, when Ravan was a brahmin and Ram himself mentioned as dark skinned.

"Telugus were seldom so eager to claim Dravidian status, because Telugu, unlike Tamil, contained a great many Sanskrit words, which tended to diminish claims that Telugu was a culture independent of so-called Aryan influence."

And why do you think it was necessary of justified for Tamils to claim a "dravidian status"? Your post Sangom only reasons to justify the xenophobic attitude to brahmins - much like a Nazi speech against Jews.

"Partly also, the Telugu area did not exhibit the same polarities between Brahman and non-Brahman, such as between the Kapus and the Kammas on one side and the Brahmans on the other, as compared with the feelings of competition and hostility between the Vellalas and the Tamil Brahmans. For these reasons, although non-Brahmans from all the main dravidian language groups of south India joined the non-Brahman movement, the use of Dravidianism as a political weapon was gradually confined to the non-Brahmans in Tamil Nad."

And do you justify such a use of a political weapon against a community when we had come to establish a country?

"Ruffianly Europeans have sometimes been known to speak of natives of India as ‘Niggers,’ but they did not like the proud speakers or writers of Sanskrit, speak of the people of the South as legions of monkeys. It was these Sanskrit speakers, not Europeans, who lumped up the Southern races as Rakshusas –demons."

Are you joking? Tell me where is it mentioned that Rakshusas are from south. DK wanted to show that in its own erraneous classification "evil invading aryan brahmins" regarded dark skinned south Indians as rakshasas. At which place did brahmins write rakshasas come from "southern races"?

"It was they who deliberately grounded all social distinctions on Varna, Clour."

And everyone is aware this is not about skin colour. All these ideas of aryans and dravidians, were British ideas of division, which was once previalant and acception throughout India. What happened later was DK taking that idea to strengthen a polarized view of tamil society. Your posts here seem to do exactly that.

"I wonder whether it would have changed the course of history in favour of tabras if they had been shrewd enough of the direction in which the winds had started blowing, and if they had, in this period, publicly disowned Ramayana as a scriptural text and Rama as their god to demonstrate to the world at large that they were Tamils first and brahmins only after that."

And why does it take them to choose one identity first before the other? Changing the course of history would have happened if men of your generation or earlier took better steps. Instead, here you are, still feeling guilty and giving reasons for people to be anti-brahmin. While DK speaks about historical legacy of tamil nadu, be it Cholas or others - it has got in some part to do with brahmins being part of it too. Why all of a sudden, do you (or DK) for that matter create a dicotonomy for TBs to choose?

"So, having accepted our role in putting DMK to power initially, why cry now and why castigate DK or DMK?"

Another justification of anti-brahminism from Sangom's side.

Regards,
Vivek.
 
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Sri Nara

"I can't remember what the first one is, but my fading memory of the times was DK and DMK had a love/hate relationship with Rajaji. He represented a liberal mindset because he acknowledged the horrific consequences of casteism -- he wrote passionately about the scourge of untouchablity -- but, like Gandhi, he could never break free of varna altogether."

Nara, you and Sangom expect to see a whole effort from brahmins in eradicating casteism, but how much was done by other castes? For that matter how much did DK itself fight against casteism? This is not important for Sangom. As elderly as he is, he doesn't see the negative message he is spreading to the community, asking that TBs choose an identity between being tamil and being brahmin.

"Yet, as Rajaji, Bharathiyar couldn't go the extra mile and reject Varna outright. He probably underestimated the resolve of Brahmnist's conviction of superiority and innocently believed Varna system can be reformed."

It can be reformed. Do you see other upper castes not having a conviction of supremacy? They do, because lower castes depend on them, so their is arrogance. Neither Bharatiyar, nor Rajaji wanted to shake off the fact that they were brahmins. They were proud to be brahmins because, they saw the negative ethos of brahmins as unbrahmin. They didn't have as negative an idea of it as you seem to have, or Sangom seems to have of being brahmin. That is why they didn't want to shake that identity off.

They knew history and the nuances of casteism for what it was, not made up ideas about it being an equation of brahmins and NBs. The reason casteism won't end in society is because of this wrong perception of it - calling it "brahminism" etc. Or believing that brahmins are to blame for even NBs who practice casteism, because they are climbing up a ladder. Unless we come to understand the real nature of social discrimination, we can't come to solving it.

Regards,
Vivek
 
Sri Kunjuppu - The message to society is important.

"most of us tambrams have prospered under the dmk, vivek's accusations not withstanding. broadly if we ask an average tambram family if they are better off today than 40 years ago, i suspect you would get a resounding YES. this is not the rhyme of an exiled, persecuted, pogrommed and abused community. i think we are yet to overcome our hurt egos!!"

All of India has prospered compared to 40 years ago. That goes without saying. The idea of how your society is considered is also important though. The present DMK view is that against brahmins. To them brahmin history is nothing but that of oppressing NBs, and is filled with ideas of us being aryan invaders.

Is this image of TBs, in the eyes of Tamil society justified to you? That is my question. I am not disputing material progress, that has happened throughout India. The question is about divisive politics and not owing up to an actual history or role of brahmins - but only potrayal of the negative.

My "ego" isn't hurt if mutts get destroyed, or a (false) supremacist position of brahmin orthdoxy dies. Infact, I myself wish those happen, because they only become a platform to justify more anti-brahminism. But my "ego" is in some way unsettled because as a TB, we have a prevailant political view that a TB is not a tamilian, a TB has contributed nothing to tamil legacy, a TB is nothing but a social evil, a person is 100% justified in hating a TB. And as much as I know how wrong that perception is, it unfortunately seems to gain acceptance even among people like yourself or Sangom.

Regards,
Vivek.
 
Vivek, I hope you realize that the statements you are attributing to Sangom sir are not his statements at all.

.."For all that Bharati said, he could not shake off the brahmin legacy totally. "
From what I see, the above was said by SwamiTabra, not Sangom sir.

Your comments Sangom, lengthily justify anti-brahminism.
Vivek, as Shri Sangom has clearly indicated, the passages you highlight from what Shri Sangom has presented are quotations from a book he has cited. These are not Shri Sangom's own comments as you state.

"So, having accepted our role in putting DMK to power initially, why cry now and why castigate DK or DMK?"

Another justification of anti-brahminism from Sangom's side.
Vivek, pray tell what is factually wrong in what Sangom sir has said. Rajaji did side with DMK and among Brahmins it is somewhat of an axiom that Rajaji master-minded the victory of DMK in 1967.

I understand that in your opinion, what Sangom sir has presented amounts to justification of anti-Brahminism on his part. That is fine, but do you have anything to show that he got any of the facts wrong? If so do present them. Your opinion is well known now, but that is not very convincing or interesting. Put up some facts with authentic references. (Aside: IMO, to be against brahminsim is a good thing, there is nothing wrong about it.)

Also, please pay attention to who is saying what, to get such basics wrong hurts the credibility of one's arguments.

Cheers!
 
Sri Nara

Thanks for the correction. But the point remains that the way many are seeing this today (as justified) is not the vision of TN society Rajaji, nor Bharatiyar, nor any freedom fighters. Rajaji and Bharatiyar, were not apologetic of being brahmins, nor did they want to wipe away the fact that they are brahmins. They were proud as brahmins and tamilians and there was nothing asking them to choose between the two.

I am not disputing Sangom's fact that Rajaji brought the DMK to power. Its alright for DMK to have power, what is not alright IMO is having a divisive view and justifying it on basis of something.

And for many (like when you yourself use "brahminism"), the issue if just about brahmins. Period. The fact is that its much more than that, the sooner we all acknowledge that casteism will actually come to be tackled. I am not asking anyone to support casteism, or what the mutts do. I am just saying it was wrong to polarize society and to spread hate.

I don't even see EVR's movement as one that fought casteism, because it didn't. It attacked brahmins and put the blame of it on them. Today, when you call casteism "brahminism" you only echo that view - all the more reason casteism can't be solved because you see it as a TB against NB view. Brahmins didn't run a puppet show in history, the nature of social discrimination is what goes unspoken of in all of this.

Further, what DK spoke about brahmins needs no introduction. It deviates from my idea of morality to do that to a community that considered/considers itself very much tamil. DK presented a history of tamil people that was in part ficticious and in part only centered on the negative part of brahmin history - this is what I don't think was correct. Apparently, such a divisive ideology gets the kudos from many here. Its no wonder that EVR is perhaps respected in TN, but in rest of India he isn't considered a great leader.

Regards,
Vivek.
 
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Vivek, I hope you realize that the statements you are attributing to Sangom sir are not his statements at all.


From what I see, the above was said by SwamiTabra, not Sangom sir.

Vivek, as Shri Sangom has clearly indicated, the passages you highlight from what Shri Sangom has presented are quotations from a book he has cited. These are not Shri Sangom's own comments as you state.

Vivek, pray tell what is factually wrong in what Sangom sir has said. Rajaji did side with DMK and among Brahmins it is somewhat of an axiom that Rajaji master-minded the victory of DMK in 1967.

I understand that in your opinion, what Sangom sir has presented amounts to justification of anti-Brahminism on his part. That is fine, but do you have anything to show that he got any of the facts wrong? If so do present them. Your opinion is well known now, but that is not very convincing or interesting. Put up some facts with authentic references. (Aside: IMO, to be against brahminsim is a good thing, there is nothing wrong about it.)

Also, please pay attention to who is saying what, to get such basics wrong hurts the credibility of one's arguments.

Cheers!

Dear Shri Nara,

Thanks for pointing out the mistake on the part of Shri Vivek. I am only presenting here one pov as per the book. I have no data or credible info. against it. What i would appreciate is for members to present facts, data to counter the findings of that study. I have already stated clearly that I will not be discussing these.

But in respect of my own remarks I feel I gave a duty to clarify what I intended to say. So, when the British were telling (may be inciting also, but not clear) the undergraduates of Madras University towards the end of the 19th. century, that the real tamilians among them had been branded as monkeys and rakshasas by the aryans, should not tabras, as Tamils first or Tamils and Brahmins first - whatever one likes to say - either proven to the Tamil society in general that they do not have any aryan linkages and, to prove their words, should they not have discarded ramayana and rama? This is my question. The very fact that this was not done,(nor will it be possible to do so today), will appeal to any impartial observer that tabras have been aryan sympathisers or cohorts; the arguments about genetic structure etc., may not weigh when one group's scripture calls the other group monkeys and rakshasas. So, I feel there was nothing wrong essentially in EVR or DK or DMK subsequently taking up the racial angle to get out of the stranglehold of tabras on Madras society.

The question we have to address is not to have just an empty pride of being tabra with nothing to back up the tamil angle of it but much to substantiate the "brahman" part. We must now try to prove that we are part of the Tamil society and the first step in doing so is, in my view, to accept the course of history magnanimously, or at the least, without complaint and to find out how best each one can get assimilated into that society harmoniously. The rhetoric of tabra pride and so on is the least suitable for that purpose, especially considering that we tabras are a microscopic minority with no allies anywhere in the caste spectrum. (if only the tabras had accepted saiva Pillais or any such other groups as their equals and mingled with them in the past, we would have had a larger number of say, Saiva brahmin pillais, or something like that.)
 
dear sangom,

i think, in the latter part of his political career, rajaji proved 100 hundred percent to be perfect meanness of a 'mocked' brahmin. is there not some proverb about the consequences of 'wronging' a brahmin?

it started when rajaji was bypassed to be the first president of india, in 1950, and forced back to tamil nadu politics. by this time, satyamurthi, rajaji's rival for congress leadership, had the upper hand, and was more in tune with tamil society and its aspirations. satyamurthi's candidate was kamaraj.

the returned rajaji found the local congress against him, bar some brahmins. fortunately for him satyamurthi died, and rajaji was able to have a somewhat precarious hold over the congress, until he passed his kula kalvi thittam, and thus was forced to resign, on pressure from the congress high command.

incidentally, rajaji, was the first chief minister, who got this c.m. post, by encouraging defections by munificiently rewarding the defectors. the first victim was dr. p subbaroyan of the erstwhile justice party, who immediately was rewarded a cabinet post in rajaji's minsitry, and who later went on to become a central cabinet minister.

in the late 1950s, the scorned rajaji, finding that his religious & scholastic writings did not quite satisfy his appetite for intrigue, started the swatantra party. all of the initial members, were ex socialists, ex congress and in political wilderness.

it did not take much common sense to realize that the congress never had majority vote in most part of india, and won seats in the legislature due to split opposition vote. by 1967, all the opposition parties had agreed, that the only way to throw out the congress was to band together. this would have, i think, happened with out without rajaji.

hence came the grand alliance of 1967. incidentally this alliance also gave legitimacy to the muslim league in tamil nadu where it was a non entity before.

i suspect that the muslim money power was instrumental in greasing the palms of the voters in 1967 on behalf of the dmk alliance. which probably explains that as soon as the dmk was voted in power, the first and only leader annadurai & MK went to pay homage was mohammed ismail of the league.

not rajaji. nobody went to him to thank. instead it was rajaji who went to congratulate anna. by then rajaji had morphed into a one track pro prohibition mind, and in it he found a willing listener in anna. so as long as anna was alive, there was an uneasy alliance, because the dmk's massive social restructuing went against the grain of the brahmin in rajaji. it was only a matter of time...

when MK came to power, he immediately revoked prohibition, inspite of rajaji's public, bleating and loud appeal, including visits to MK's house. that sealed rajaji's isolation from dmk. and he went back to making up with his old enemy kamaraj for the 1972 elections, where both were thoroughly defeated by the newly enegized dmk under MK. we were in for the most virulent antibrahmin period in tamilnadu - the 1970s..

to sum up, nobody except the tambrams, acknowledge rajaji as the architect of the 1967 coalation that brought down congress in tamil nadu. to DMK it was the work of annadurai. anna paid homage to the muslim league, and you will find, consistently that the DMK has a soft corner for the muslims, especially in all its financial shenanigans. even the newly constructed tamil nadu legislative assembly was done by a muslim fronted construction company, and an obscure dubai based one at that.

i can only imagine, that when MK came to power, the corruption was there for the taking. the tambram establishment (read TVS, Simpsons, Rane, Hindu, Dinamani, Vikatan) shunned MK. the muslims were willing to cooperate and help build MK's wealth.

which they have continued to do so. you find that two of the biggest naam-ke-vaas culprits of the 2G scam are muslim nobodys. the tambram rich and ambitious, learned fast as to which side of the bread was buttered, took advantage of their somewhat unique skills in money finnagling (loosely known as accounting) created several opportunities to hire themselves out and work together with the dravidian politicians. i think, it would be right to say, that the dmk/aidmk made more tambram millionaire accountants and lawyers than the congress ever did - in tamil nadu or in new delhi.

nowadays, every primary well connected tambram family in chennai/TN has a dravidian connection through marriage. willingly done too. personally, as all these marriages cut across caste lines, i have to confess, not only a soft corner, but encouragement, as the new generation born out of these wedlocks, do not display any anti brahminism ... take the maran brothers for instance ..or for now, alagiri's dil family. convenient and powerful alliances through marriage, as from the dawn of times, has proved once again, that the gears of rajathanthiram are greased by the shenanigans of the bedroom. n'est pas?

the people who got screwed absolutely were the lower tambram middle class, the most ardent devotees of brahministic hegemony, however not backed either by money or brain power. whose remnants we see in pockets of tamil nadu now. the famous sankarraman, comes out of this ilk - poor, angry, cheated and above all mocked by his very 'mentors'. i am not at all surprised by the residual anger among the poor tambrams, at their own wretched mental state and the resultant poverty, as they have huge mental handicaps to cross, in order to conduct themselves decently in a world shorn of 'respect' for brahmin spiritual and moral hegemony. only money rules.

most of us tambrams have prospered under the dmk, vivek's accusations not withstanding. broadly if we ask an average tambram family if they are better off today than 40 years ago, i suspect you would get a resounding YES. this is not the rhyme of an exiled, persecuted, pogrommed and abused community. i think we are yet to overcome our hurt egos!!

ours is a community which has used its wiles (nothing wrong with that) to survive and prosper at where and when opportunities arose. we should be proud. and not whine, like the way, i hear some voices here. or have any residual anger. everything that happened in the tamil socio political scene of the past 44 years in tamil nadu has been a blessing for our community in many many ways - it liberated us from the moribund government jobs, showed us the path to the west, mid east, singapore and australia. and above all, enabled us to be vanguards in new job creatiion and technology. :)

sangom, without prejudice, i am saying this, as i see it. the observations may be flawed, as i feel fit, to warn you :)

best wishes..

ps. one of the most confusing times for tambrams was the sixties, when many of them had to chose between rajaji or the congress. a simple minded congressman like my dad, used to rant and rave against rajaji, right to his last days, of rajaji's betrayal of the 'ideals'. ofcourse, to dad, the freedom and anyone associated with it was holy in itself, and like many here, periyar was the epitom of pure unadulterated evil, to be placed even ahead of the british :)

pps. my mother ignored my dad, and voted for dmk. consistently. since 1962.

ppps. yes in 1967 periyar supported the congress. but periyar was the architect of dravidian thinking, and anna, after ismail, went straight to periyar's house and did his namaskarams.

Dear Shri Kunjuppu,

Thanks for the info. I have carefully noted the caveat.
 
Dear Shri Kunjuppu,

Thanks for the info. I have carefully noted the caveat.

Rajaji was asked to take over the chief ministership of Madras by none other than Nehru. He did not contest election and got in by the legislative council route, hence had to face the ridicule of gaining entry through "back door".

A careful reading of his writings in "SWARAJYA" now compiled, will dispel many a misconception about him.

Rajaji with IG or DGP Shenoy apprehended trouble from DK goons and pre-empted attacks on temples and brahmins in places like Tuticorin. There have been instances when "kudimi" and "poona" were severed.

Brahmins in TN prospered despite the DMK's highly discriminative policies against them. I can cite one classic instance:

My mama's sambandi's brother sometime in early 1970s was aiming for a seat in the medical college. As reservations were in force already, he was in the waiting list. His brother i.e my mama's sambandhi approached Mr. Anbalagan, then Education minister to see whether some influence can brought to see that his brother is through. Instead he was told to "donate" Rs.50000/-, (then a big sum) with a nonchalant remark that he will recover the sum quickly once he qualifies.
Meanwhile the brother sat for the all-medical entrance test and came out with flying colours and got into JIPMER, Pondicherry.

He has not looked back since then. He is now an eminent anaesthetist, FRCS practicing in U.K.

Around the same time my periamma's son-in-law who qualified in medicine from Kerala, has told that there wasn't any such repressive reservations prevailing in there.

It is to be noted that it is mainly Tamil Nadu which opposes all-India test for all medical college admissions that is being proposed by Medical Council of India.

In Tamil nadu reservations at 69% far exceed the maximum quota for reservation (50%) set by the Supreme Court.

Rgds.,
 
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Sri Sangom - Read "aryan and dravidian" to magnanimously accept the truth of its genesis.

"So, when the British were telling (may be inciting also, but not clear) the undergraduates of Madras University towards the end of the 19th. century, that the real tamilians among them had been branded as monkeys and rakshasas by the aryans, should not tabras, as Tamils first or Tamils and Brahmins first - whatever one likes to say - either proven to the Tamil society in general that they do not have any aryan linkages and, to prove their words, should they not have discarded ramayana and rama? "

You are still asking people to chose between their identity Sangom. People were tamils and brahmins for centuries, and were very much tamil too - part of its literary tradition, its music, its language too (even the non-Sanskritized tamil). Secondly, at no point where the terms for vanar, or rakshasa used for south indians or dark people. What have you read to say this accusation? Read the genesis of the ideas of "aryans and dravidians" for yourself.

"So, I feel there was nothing wrong essentially in EVR or DK or DMK subsequently taking up the racial angle to get out of the stranglehold of tabras on Madras society."

And such a message is very progressive for a nation, right? Stop justifying hatred by giving something to back it. What was the point of the "racial angle" tell me. Was DK's version the entire history of brahmins in tamil society or just a selected (negative) part of it?

"We must now try to prove that we are part of the Tamil society and the first step in doing so is, in my view, to accept the course of history magnanimously, or at the least, without complaint and to find out how best each one can get assimilated into that society harmoniously."

Accept which history? The ficticious history you just built up? Or the history of aryans and dravidians the British cooked up? Maybe you can point to one place where a rakshasas are described as people with dark skinned.

You believe it is necessary to revile brahmin past, to hate brahmins in order to respect others. I disagree to that. Brahmins had played more roles in tamil society, or for that matter in India. In accepting that you don't hate anyone, nor are you doing a crime to anyone.

Look at history for what it is, not as one of brahmin-demons and DK-demon-slayers as the anti-brahmin orgs would potray.

While we are tamilians, the ruling polity fails to acknowledge that. That apparently is acceptable to you. While we accept that casteism is wrong, what DK did was wrong too IMO. Instead you go to justify it by saying we were small in numbers, so it was okay; we (brahmins, through Rajaji) voted DMK to power, so its okay etc etc.

Casteism too has more facets than just denial into temples - that too neither you, nor much of the community can acknowledge.

Regards,
Vivek.
 
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swami,

swarajya was the mouthpiece of the swatantra party. rajaji was a regular contributor. one would expect only views which build up rajaji there.

in my opinion, rajaji was the epitome of honesty and simple living. he was an erudite scholar, who was able to write difficult topics in a simple manner in both english and tamil.

like all tambram educated, of those times, compared to rest of the society he was a liberal and reformist. however the society overtook him in its expectations. it was THIS inability to gauge the rising expectations that proved to be rajaji's achille's heel.

for example: let us say a person is entitled to 3 pieces of clothing. this is an example to prove a point. till now the society has deprived this man of the same. up rises one leader, who gives him one piece of clothing, and the entire leader's community praises him.

however, the poor man, on receving one cloth, realizes that his true entitlement is 3 pieces, and when he wants to ask for more, the erstwhile reformer tells him to wait and be patient till the time is ripe for the next step. i think rajaji was one such reformer.

periyar, btw, is much recognized and respected all over india, than rajaji, who is now a footnote in indian political history. periyar will be remembered by historians and socioligists for being instrumental in a peaceful and radical change, in so short a time, so complete, and above all by the rule of the law.

do i feel bad that i am also on the losing side. yes. we all like to be winners. but, in the bigger context of what is good for the society and country, the 'lossess' suffered by tambrams, to me, appears more loss of pride and dignity within the society. our ego, definitely hurts with the sting of periyar's words. still, it is but a small price to pay, compared to the inequalities that are in the process of being righted.

memories are ancient and seldom forgotten. in that context, i think, all over the world, the oppressed, when they have been relieved of the oppression, are found to be far more forgiving of their erstwhile oppressors. take it re british in india, whites in usa or south africa or our own dalits...
 
Here is my two cents worth.

Right or wrong, in Tamil Nadu the anti brahmin feeling exists. Looking at this problem objectively, one needs to find out what is causing this sentiment and work towards eliminating the root cause. If it is based on History then you create history by behaving in a different manner to the past and wipe out the root cause. This may take a decade, a century or many centuries. It doesn't matter. What is warranted is a change in behavior. By standing on a roof top and shouting that we have been wronged is not going to get us anywhere other than drawing attention to ourselves and reinforcing the existing sentiment. What we need is action, not more words. This action should begin with every individual brahmin.

K. Kumar.
 
Brahmins in TN prospered despite the DMK's highly discriminative policies against them. I can cite one classic instance:

My mama's sambandi's brother sometime in early 1970s was aiming for a seat in the medical college. As reservations were in force already, he was in the waiting list. His brother i.e my mama's sambandhi approached Mr. Anbalagan, then Education minister to see whether some influence can brought to see that his brother is through. Instead he was told to "donate" Rs.50000/-, (then a big sum) with a nonchalant remark that he will recover the sum quickly once he qualifies.
Meanwhile the brother sat for the all-medical entrance test and came out with flying colours and got into JIPMER, Pondicherry.

He has not looked back since then. He is now an eminent anaesthetist, FRCS practicing in U.K.

Around the same time my periamma's son-in-law who qualified in medicine from Kerala, has told that there wasn't any such repressive reservations prevailing in there.

It is to be noted that it is mainly Tamil Nadu which opposes all-India test for all medical college admissions that is being proposed by Medical Council of India.

In Tamil nadu reservations at 69% far exceed the maximum quota for reservation (50%) set by the Supreme Court.

Rgds.,

Dear Shri Swami,

I was so far restraining myself from getting into the discussions, but could not; so, now I give my views.

I think the Supreme Court has now approved the 69 percent reservation in TN and that means that the highest judiciary of the country has found it to be a necessary and desirable step, even though any reservation system can be considered theoretically as a discriminative policy in a perfectly egalitarian society. Unfortunately, India's caste system has made it a very highly warped, unequal society artificially, whereas in other societies inequality will arise on account of genetic and other causes - not man-made caste rules. That I feel is the reason for the SC also giving its stamp of approval to the 69 percent reservation of TN govt.

Now, the question is why we tabras should consider it as something aimed purely against us (tabras) only? I feel it will be a surprise, only if tabras are unable to excel, given their millennia of educational culture and their small percentage in population. But the prevailing view seems to be that the reservation system is solely an anti-tabra act; which makes me suspect whether it is the anger for the loss of the pre-eminence and the reverse reservation (If I may say so) which unduly benefitted the tabras till after Independence.

I quote below from the book, "Politics and Social Conflict in South India (The Non-Brahman Movement and Tamil Separatism, 1916-1929)"; Sponsored by the Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley:

"Brahman traditions for literacy and education can be seen most fully from an analysis of the students attending the constituent colleges of the University of Madras (Table 5). Between 1870 and 1918, some 67 to 71 percent of the students enrolled and of those granted Bachelor of Arts degrees by the university were Brahmans. During the same period the number of non-Brahman Hindus awarded B.A.s averaged between 18 and 22 percent of the totals; Indian Christians (in the decade 1901-1911) accounted for 5.3 percent of the B.A.s granted. The Brahmans also led in graduate work. For example, of the 3,651 candidtes for the Bachelor of Laws degree, the basic qualification for entry into the legal profession, if not the political world, 2,686 were Brahmans and 752 were non-Brahman Hindus. The proportion was similar for the Licentiate of Teaching degree: 1,094 Brahmans, 163 non-Brahman Hindus, and 207 Indian Christians out of a total of 1,498 degrees granted. Only in the Licentiate of Medical Science were the Brahman candidates exceeded in number by non-Brahman Hindus." - p. 19 ibid.

It will look as if the education system itself was then geared to cater to the Brahmans who formed less than 5 percent of the population. I do not think we can aspire to have such preference and pre-eminence in any aspect any longer. Nor is there any point in saying that one or two people excelled despite the reservations. The reservation is here to stay for the next two or three generations at least (unless the unexpected happens) and it may be quite possible that a few of our children do not succeed in getting admissions through merit (which they might lack) and do not excel in life. But we will have to take these in our stride.
 
Here is my two cents worth.

Right or wrong, in Tamil Nadu the anti brahmin feeling exists. Looking at this problem objectively, one needs to find out what is causing this sentiment and work towards eliminating the root cause. If it is based on History then you create history by behaving in a different manner to the past and wipe out the root cause. This may take a decade, a century or many centuries. It doesn't matter. What is warranted is a change in behavior. By standing on a roof top and shouting that we have been wronged is not going to get us anywhere other than drawing attention to ourselves and reinforcing the existing sentiment. What we need is action, not more words. This action should begin with every individual brahmin.

K. Kumar.

Shri Kumar,

You have said the profoundest truth in as few words as possible. I could not do that. I think there is no point in my continuing the excerpts from the book any more.

Hats off to you!
 
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