Monday, 30 December 2013

CMM & Character Assassination

I was dragged into controversy twice this year. The first one happened in August when someone created a fake ID under my profile name. They then spread false news that I was the admin of the infamous Facebook page The Comedy Machas & Machis a.k.a CMM.

This issue was then settled when I reported it to FB support. They removed the fake profile. But I don't know what they did with this fake Sharmalan Thevar. God knows who commented what with it.

I am not sure why I was framed as the admin of CMM. My blog was also highlighted. It was a time when the original CMM page was about to be closed down. Perhaps someone felt that it was better to put me in trouble and divert the attention of the public.

A relative of mine even called up to inform that people were looking for me as they want to take revenge on CMM admins. They then found out that it was a hoax and I am not involved with CMM.

So I escaped without harm. Vasuge was pregnant at that time. Imagine the fear she would have had in her.

As that issue was settled quickly, I continued with my blogging. As you all know, my blog contains many articles which focuses on Indian history particularly those concerning the various castes or clans we have.

Since it involves the various castes, I have always been careful with my choice of words. This is because caste is a very sensitive issue. Therefore, one has to be very cautious when writing about it. Furthermore, I have to write about castes because it is impossible to separate it from Indian history.

How does one explain the invasion of Thondaimandalam by Athondai Chola without mentioning about the massacre of Kurumba tribes and the resettlement of Vellalars which later created a new identity known as Thondaimandalam Vellalar a.k.a Mudaliars???

Most of you won't even understand what is mentioned above :)

On 27 December this year, while preparing for my daughter's fullmoon celebration, I was alerted by a friend that I was once again dragged into controversy. This time by the admin of CMM itself.

So what did they highlight this time? Well, they targeted my clan group, the Malaysian Mukkulathors and branded me as a caste fanatic.

Firstly, CMM admins or their supporters know nothing about my clan group. Because it is a closed group. I know that someday someone is going to create a baseless issue out of it. This is why the group never functioned as an open public group.

Many do not know that the 500 members of this group are actually related to each other. We come from various families comprising 38 family names. The 38 family names and 500 members are divided among three clans known as the Kallar, Maravar and Agamudayar people. Hence, the terminology Mukkulathor (people of the three clans) is used.

Most of us trace our origins to the districts of Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, Pudukottai, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur. Alot of us share common ancestors from the same village. This group has been active since 16 October 2009. 

So why should CMM or its supporters feel disturbed when 500 relatives decide to be in a Facebook group? 

The Chinese, Irish, Malays all have their own clan associations. You cannot simply join Persatuan Anak-Anak Bugis Selangor if you are not a Bugis. Similarly, you cannot walk into the Liew Clan Association if you are not one of them.

The same concept is applied for the Malaysian Mukkulathors group and all the other Indian clan association. It is formed purely with the intention of bringing our relatives closer and tracing our roots. 

There are dozens of Indian clan associations in Facebook. The Udayars, Vanniars, Nadars, Vellala Gounder, Pallars all have it. People of the same jathi (clan) are actually relatives. They share common ancestry and there is nothing wrong if they decide to bond with their kinsmen.

Of course, many will not understand this as they don't even know the basics of history.

I am sure many of you heard about Dato Haji Thasleem. He is a nice man who has done alot for the poor. But how many of you are aware that he is also the president of an association known as Malaysia Alagankulam Muslim Jamath?

I am merely showing an example of another organisation which has similar concept although it is non-Hindu and Muslim. Clan and ancestral village matters to some because it is all about their extended family.

One of my blog reader is from the Nagarathar clan. His family has a family office in Pillaiyarpatti. They have a record of their family tree up to 1000 years. One branch of the clan is currently 20,000 big.

Will CMM attack the other Indian clan associations just like how they attacked mine? 

So why did CMM selectively targeted me and my blog only? You ponder upon that by yourself.

The FB group Malaysian Mukkulathors never at any point of time involved itself in activities which could disrupt the harmony in Indian community. On other words, we never "cari pasal" with anyone. 

(Click to read what CMM said about me. View the comments)

It was CMM which started the fight. They claim that it is against humanity and that I was bribed extra 5kg of rice by BN and old clothes by Dato G for being a Thevar. 

Why such cheap statement??

Their followers then went on to pass personal remarks on me. All without reading my blog post properly.

(Click to read what CMM said about my wife. View the comments)

When one of them tagged my wife in their post, my wife responded by stating that people are just throwing their words without investigating.

Someone then took a screenshot of that and mocked my wife in CMM when most of them don't even know her personally. The verbal attacked continued. 

Is this how we foster harmony among Indians in Malaysia?

However, there were a few of them who cared to first check before commenting. Here is an example of a guy who disagreed with CMM on their wall post.

Most of them who commented in CMM and the admin of CMM itself do not understand the complexity of Indian demographics. Many are not even aware of the vast difference we have within our community. Speaking about it is not wrong at all. 

If Indians do not research on their own clan roots, who else will? We cannot expect Edgar Thurston to return from his grave and do another research for us.

How many of you even know that matrilineal system like the one practiced by the Minangkabaus still exist among 18 Tamil clans?

Of course most of you don't know and don't care about it. So why bother commenting about someone who does research on such topics especially when no caste was insulted?

As what one of my blog follower said:

"Indians in pathetic condition because all their judgments are made in emotional basis rather thn rational..without knowing head and tail simply go beserk and unleash hatred..very sad with this kind of chracter assasination."

This guy is actualy right. 

Just because I run a FB group for my relatives in the clan and write in blog about various clans, CMM decided to use this to their advantage and spoil my name. 

As usual, those who commented in CMM never bothered to think about this. They behaved like a herd of sheep which blindly follows the shepherd.

Interestingly, these people also failed to realize that just a few days ago, on 18 December, I wrote an article on inter caste marriage and how it can be practiced in the Indian diaspora. I doubt any caste fanatic will even think of writing an article that promotes inter caste marriage.

To all those CMM fans and admins, if you are unhappy with my blog or my affiliation with my clan, then it is just too bad that I can't do anything to please you. 

I don't see anything wrong to be affiliated with my clan, use my hereditary surname or blog about Indian history. This is my rights and it is actually none of your business.

You have over 17,000 fans. 
A dozen admins.
Yet you are afraid of a group of 500 clan members managed by 1 admin?
You must be a special kind of coward hiding behind Senthil's face.

CMM's decent reply to someone who tried explaining about my blog. This is how they promote unity among Indians.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Intercaste Marriage?

My blog attracted quite a number of people from outside Malaysia. Most of them are Tamils from India. I made a few good friends this way. 

An Indian friend of mine recently started a topic on inter caste marriage. Well we exchanged our views and he felt that although one of my idea was good, he doubt it can ever happen in the present era. 

A radical one which will surely be rejected by the Tamils in Tamil Nadu. Perhaps we can try it in the diaspora.

The usual war cry echoed by most Tamil political party (without sincerity!) is eradication of caste. But not many responded to it in the way they wanted. 

Their only victory was eradication of caste surname but people still marry among their own caste. Only 1.3% of weddings in 2011 (Tamil Nadu) were inter caste weddings. The caste sentiment is still strong there.

Of course it has many ups and downs. 

I am of the opinion that inter caste marriage is not wrong but it should not be at the expense of your own roots. On other words, not knowing your own roots should not be the consequences of inter caste marriages. 

This is because the Tamil society is in such way that we cannot separate the castes and clans from Tamil heritage. It is all inter linked and bonded by kinship. Once you forget your own roots, you will start loosing your own identity.

So you can marry someone of another caste if that is going to guarantee you a better life but never forget who you are. 

Unfortunately many people think that to marry someone of a different caste, you need to sacrifice and forget your own identity. A wrong concept.

So how does one maintain their identity and also not be against inter caste marriages?

My suggestion:

1. Use your caste surname as family names. Thevar, Mudaliar, Udayar, Pillai, Nadar, Konar, Chettiar, Kaunder, Moopanar, Naicker, Padayatchi etc. 80% of Tamils have caste surnames and there are over 2,000 Tamil caste surnames.

2. Since you now use it as family name, it is only natural that your children marry someone from a different family name. i.e Thevar-Servai, Pillai-Mudaliar, Udayar-Chettiar etc. Just like what the Chinese or those in the Western country do.

3. The inter caste marriage can happen without sacrificing your own identity. For as long as the surnames are passed down by the fathers, roots will be remembered. Every surname has a history of its own. 

But wait, we have problems.

Firstly, among the diaspora, we have dishonest people who may lie about their origins. Not all with the Pillai surname are actual Pillais. The diaspora have no caste certificates like in India to check on this unless their respective associations do something about it. This caused many people to be defensive about their own identity although they may not speak openly about it. They then tend to become hostile towards others.

Secondly, many orthodox minded people in the diaspora believe that if caste surnames are used as family names, their children will end up marrying someone with a different surname. For example, an orthodox Mudaliar may not like to see his daughter marrying a Pillai. He may want her to marry another Mudaliar. The orthodox minded people are very particular to the extend that marriage among different sub caste is not practiced although they are part of the same caste group.

For these reasons, my idea may never work in the present era. But I believe it will be a logical solution for the future. We get to encourage inter caste marriage and also maintain our identity.

Perhaps not today, 
Perhaps not in another 100 years, 
But some day the society may consider it.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Other Side of Caste Issue

We often hear or read about caste related issues especially the practice of untouchability. Although this is not common in Malaysia, it is still practiced in certain parts of India.

Although I am proud of my own clan roots, I am against the practice of untouchability. On other words, I am against hereditary Varna (class), not Jati (clan).

People of the same clan are often related to each other. I am still able to some how trace my blood ties with my own clansmen. 

Like in the case of a Kandiyar friend who is related to me on my maternal side, we managed to trace our roots going up to several generations. 

His great grandmother was in fact born in my maternal grandfather's house back in India. The maternal family of my mother share the same Indian ancestral village as his paternal family.

So it is not easy to just throw away these ties.

It will be a lie if someone especially in Malaysia tells us that they do not believe in caste. Actually, it is not a matter of believing. It is a matter how it is being practiced.

The Malaysian Indians may tell that they do not look at Jati when it comes to marriage, but they still look at Varna and they look at it from various angles.

A Senior Executive of a company does not date the Janitor. Status concerned parents who look for suitable groom for their Masters holding daughter will never consider a groom who works as an Office Clerk even if he has no financial problems and has the best character. 

This status concerned attitude is also a form of casteism. To be more specific, we can call it Varnaism.

Even the most hardcore chest thumping champions of equality will never consider the Bangladeshis or Nigerians as potential grooms for their Indian daughters. (assuming that they have money)

But I am not going to declare them as bad because I noticed that this is a common human trait. The rich and famous often go after those of similar class. They do not look for brides in the slums.

Perhaps we humans have evolved to be like this. To be attached with what we consider as a reflection of ourselves.

Coming back to the purpose of article......

Sometimes I feel that highlight is only being given to one side of the story. Probably the common story of caste discrimination attracts people more.

If I were to write an article condemning all these with the usual anti-caste theme, alot of them will be delighted. Probably hundreds will share my article making it a sensational one.

But that is not what I am going to write. I will write about the problems that comes from the other side. A very sensitive issue which most people prefer not to talk about.

But for how long?

In Malaysia, I have encountered many cases which involves cheating in weddings. 

The ones mostly affected are the girls. When the family finds a groom, the groom identifies himself as "Oh yes! I am a Kaunder too". So believing that everything is alright, the wedding goes on.

They then find out that the groom is not a Kaunder and he (and his family) cheated. All hell breaks loose. Of course, you cannot just untie the Thali and walk off but it causes many people to be upset about the whole thing. I have seen families breaking apart because of this.

What happens next? 

People start questioning the need to lie about your roots. Incidents like these are more than enough to stereotype an entire community.

"They are like that. They will lie about themselves and try to marry our girls. We must never trust them"

I have probably heard the same line (above) from almost every Mudaliar, Pillai, Kaunder, Thevar, Nadar, Nair whom I have met. Same story, different version, same conclusion.

Some people also went to the extend of inserting suffix like Pillai or Nair in their birth cert despite not being a real Pillai or Nair. This only increased the level of mistrust. 

"You know that fella calling himself a Nair? He is not a real Nair. I know him and his family. We came from the same hometown"

We also have an Indian political party known as Indian Progressive Front (IPF) which was formed solely to cater for the needs of the Dalit people. They split from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).

They never made it big, never really achieved anything despite having links with other Dalit organisations. 

Although it was obvious that they formed it for their own caste benefit, they have always claimed that it is a party for all Indians irrespective of castes. 

The irony is they tell others to do away with caste but they themselves have links with their own caste organisations. 

People often do not speak openly about these things be it in Malaysia or even India. 

Why the double standard? 

If we are sincere in respecting equality, we should give the same amount of attention to both sides of the story. The victims are not always the ones we think should be the victims.

You may think that I am talking rubbish.
You may even think that this is a useless piece of article.

But do your own survey and discuss this if you are interested.

(Avoid discussing if you are going to be emotional about it)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

God & The Messenger

I have always believed that religion and the existence of God should be questioned. However, questioning does not mean one has to loose faith in these two. 

People interpret the concept of God differently. Some choose to believe in God due to their own personal experience. Others believe in God because they are told to.

It was never a problem to believe or even to disbelieve in God. The crux of the matter has always been how you compare your way of believing with the believes of others. 

What causes problem between the different set of people is their view on others who have a different view from them. The very egoistic concept of 'Only we worship the real God' is the root cause of all religious wars. 

This egoistic concept is then emphasized by the need to be in certain religion in order to be accepted as true believers of the actual God.

The actual God who nobody has seen or interacted with. But again, the problem here is neither the existence nor the non-existence of God.

It usually starts with the concept of 'Messenger'. The messengers often describe themselves as people who were chosen by God to spread the true teachings of God. 

The messenger will then proclaim that those who do not believe in his words are doomed to be in hell. The ones who accept his teachings are to be guaranteed a place in paradise for they have accepted his view of God as the only true view.

This concept will then evolve into a series of teachings. As the crowd who believes in the teaching gets larger, it forms its own following. 

A name will then be given. It becomes a separate entity within the existing community. It will have its own rules to follow based on a particular source which we have decided to call as the scriptures.

The scriptures echoes the principles laid out by the messenger, which he claims as revealed by God. It becomes the de facto rule book which everyone in the group must follow in order to be accepted.

Along the way, the crowd gets bigger and bigger. Nobody questions if the messenger was speaking the truth or was it just a hoax to promote his own ideals. 

Even when questioned numerous time, nobody will be able to provide any evidence that the messenger actually interacted with divine forces because very often, the messenger was all alone when that happened.

If God wanted his message to be heard by everyone, then the best option will be to select a messenger from each clan all over the world at the same time, with the same message, from the same source.

Selecting one particular human thousands of miles away from a larger community does not seem to be the ideal way of spreading the good news from God.

Because if that is indeed the true message, what about those thousands of people who lives miles away that will most probably die without hearing the message?

Say for example, I as God chose Mr.A from Nigeria to spread the true teachings in an era where Internet or telephones does not exist. 

It then takes 500 years for that message to travel to China. In this 500 year period, millions of people died without even hearing the message. Because the message never reached them. So they don't know.

Can I as God then punish them because they never embraced the religion promoted by Mr.A? 

As I said earlier, if humans are supposed to be part of a particular religion in order to be accepted by God, then I as the God would have selected a messenger from every community in this planet. 

Selecting one guy from a far away land and punishing someone miles away for not being part of the team which they never knew existed seems to be very unfair.

The other thing to ponder will be this. What about those people who lived and died before the time of the messenger himself?

Once again, millions of people would have believed or disbelieved in me before I appointed Mr.A as the de facto messenger of my team. Sending them to hell is again very unfair.

Now assuming that those who died without knowing Mr.A's message or those who lived and died before his time will not be punished, then wouldn't that mean others have the right not to be part of the team and escape punishment?

These questions are actualy very important questions. But it is entirely up to you on how you wish to look upon it.

A friend once asked me "Do you Hindus still believe in Ramayana?".

I replied "Yes. Historically yes. But we cannot expect everyone to have the same interpretation. People will have their own views about it. This is why we do not force people to believe it in our way. The message inside Ramayana is more important than how you choose to believe in it"

My friend then went on to say how such myths do not exist in his religion and why he thinks his religion is the only true religion in this world.

I replied with a smile "If you can believe in a story told by a man from a different culture who claims that someone whispered to him when he was all alone in a cave, why can't I believe in something historical told by my own ancestors?"

There was no response and I was not expecting one too.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Bujang Valley & Malaysian Indians

Bujang Valley is an ancient archeological site in the northern Malaysian state of Kedah. It contains archeological evidence and structures that shows the ancient Hindu-Buddhist heritage of the state. The temples are known as chandi. 

Recently, a not so smart developer demolished a particular chandi believed to be 1200-1300 years old (8th century AD). Suddenly many self proclaimed Indian champions of Bujang Valley became very agitated. MIC and Hindu Sangam became very upset. Indians of Facebook were busy condemning the government for their inaction.

All because some Indians claimed that INDIAN HERITAGE was destroyed. Because these champions thought their grandfathers and great grandfathers built it.

The chandis were built even before the time of Rajaraja Chola or his son Rajendra Chola. Rajendra Chola attacked ancient Kedah in 11th century AD. That is a few hundred years after the chandis were built. Furthermore, he sent a military expedition but neither he nor his father personally participated in it. 

But our beloved hardcore Indians thinks that Rajendra Chola came here, ate Nasi Lemak bungkus and left.

I was hurt too when I read the news. Not because of any Indian taglines but simply because I love to dwell in history. Furthermore, Malaysian government should preserve the history of this land. Malaysia was after all a Hindu-Buddhist domain before the arrival of Islam. The Hindu-Buddhist past of this land must never be erased.

The ancient Malays, I mean the ancestors of the real Malays, not the Melayu Celup or Constitutional Malays, were the ones who built these chandis. They would have gained the knowledge from the Indians. After all, didn't they learn religion from the Indians? Didn't they use their language? Didn't they use their writing scripts?

You see, we Indians of Malaysia have a problem. We think that anything linked with Hinduism must have been created by our direct ancestors.  It is true that Hinduism was introduced to Southeast Asia by the people of India. But that does not mean every single chandi was built by them. 

Some of the ancient Indians who came here would have intermarried with some hot local Malay girls in wet sarong and lived happily ever after. Their descendants would have just remained here and became ancestors of some of the locals.

These ancient Indians who settled down here and their descendants are not the direct ancestors of the present day Malaysian Indians. 

We have been here for probably around 200 years only. Anything beyond that goes back to India. We can still trace our roots to some village in India but none of us can trace a continuous lineage that lived here for 2000 years.

The oldest community to live here among the present day Malaysian Indians are the Malacca Chetties. They are Tamils of the merchant Chetti caste. They came here during the Malacca empire era and lived here since then. They did not go back to India. Some would have intermarried the locals (again hot girl in wet sarong) but they didn't end up loosing their 'Chettiness' for the last 500 years.

But your grandfather and my grandfather settled down here during British rule. Although their ancestors would have traveled here earlier, they never stayed permanently. So how can we claim that our direct ancestors were the ones who built and lived along the chandis in Kedah??? 

Because if it was our ancestors who built it and lived here permanently, we would have been a 'rojak Malay' by now and not a Tamil speaking Hindu Malaysian Indian.

I am sorry to say this but it looks like most of you Malaysian Indians don't seem to know your own roots. You don't know which caste you belong to, you don't even know the name of your ancestral village in India, then why on earth simply say things which are not true?

A person who knows his roots very well will know the caste and village his taata and paati came from. He will not simply lay claims to a heritage which was built by another race.

To make the problem worst, the modern Malaysian Malays are not speaking up to defend what their ancestors built. This is because their ancestors were not Muslims like them. Their ancestors were Hindus and Buddhist. 

So the general Malay public which has been coated with Arabic culture does not seem to give a damn about their own Hindu-Buddhist heritage in this land. They keep speaking about heritage which is Islamic and forget about their pre-Islamic glorious past.

Again, I am only referring to the pure Malays, not any Malay wannabe like the not so honorable Ridhuan Tee Abdullah who has roots in China.

The Malays should learn from their cousins in Indonesia. Despite being the most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia accepts and preserves the Hindu-Buddhist past of the country. They don't live in denial.

And to my fellow Malaysian Indians, I think for as long as you don't know your own roots, you should not even bother opening your mouth about other ancient heritage.

You cannot take care of your own heritage, why make so much of noise for something which was never yours?

End of tantrum.....