Wednesday, 10 December 2014

MIC & Caste Politics - How Truth is Twisted by Media

Each year, we will see at least one article that talks about MIC and "caste system". Those who write about "caste system" in Malaysia fail to elaborate what this system is all about. How does the system even work?  

What existed in the past is the Varna system which is a Class system. The class system also exist in every country. Human society is divided into ruling class and commoners. 

What exist among the present day Indian castes in Malaysia is kinship ties based on clans. It is not Varna system. Different clans occupied different territories in Tamil Nadu. They have different customs and traditions. 

This year, I came across this particular article by The Rakyat Post. Please click below to read it.

"“Ever since Samy Vellu took helm of MIC, the party then was controlled by the supposedly ‘Thevar’ caste of which Samy Vellu comes from. Throughout the years, he had pitted himself against the late Tan Sri M.G. Pandithan and former deputy president Tan Sri S.S Subramaniam, mainly over personality differences as well as spurred by caste, and he eventually topped.”

Firstly, Thevar is not even a caste. Only in 1995 did the government of Tamil Nadu decided to call it a community. 

Thevar is actually a hereditary surname used by certain families from the Kallar, Maravar and Agamudayar clans. 

The clans are collectively called the Mukkulathor community which means "people of the three clans".  Hereditary surnames are passed down from father to son just like what Tengku is for the Malays or Wong is for the Chinese. 

Samy Vellu may be from the Mukkulathor community but he is not a Thevar. Tun Sambanthan was the first and last Thevar president of MIC.

As a Thevar myself, I can say for a fact that most of us are not even in MIC. The Thevars are more aligned towards Socialist parties. 

In fact, many Thevars were involved in the Malayan trade union movement even during the colonial days. Even back in Tamil Nadu, most Thevars were aligned to Netaji's Forward Bloc, a Socialist party. 

How come the media never talks about this larger group of Thevars? There seem to be a hidden agenda to always link us Thevars with any mess in MIC.

"The source said that while the main agenda was to topple Palanivel over his poor leadership of the party, caste politics was expected to play a certain role in the upcoming party re-elections.
This is because Palanivel is believed to be from the supposedly “Gounder” caste, the same caste as S.S Subramaniam, whom Samy Vellu had pitted against for many years."

It is true that Palanivel is not performing as expected by all Malaysians who voted him. You don't have to be an MIC member to know it. Just take a look at how the people reacted for the recent issue in Cameron Highlands. Even non-Indians would know it.

This has got nothing to do with caste and media should not turn it into a caste issue. 

Secondly, Palanivel is not even a Gounder as mentioned in the article here. Why did The Rakyat Post purposely label him as a Gounder when he is not one? 

Palanivel belongs to the largest Tamil caste known as the Vellalar community. His clan is known as the Kaikkolar. The surname used by them is Mudaliar. They are related to the Mukkulathor community and both communities are in good terms.

I wonder if The Rakyat Post knows all these.

Unlike what the media said, Gounder is not even a caste. Gounder (ka-vun-dar) is a hereditary surname used by landlords and chieftains in the western region of Tamil Nadu known as the Kongu region. 

Two person with the same Gounder surname are not necessarily from the same caste. They can be of different origins. Gounder surname is used by those from the Vellalar, Vokkaligar, Vanniar (Palli) and Vettuvar castes who lived in Kongu.

The “Gounder” caste is known as the “trader” caste under the same system.

There were many feudal lords and warriors in the Kongu region who used the Gounder surname. It does not necessarily have to be a trader caste. Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder was not a trader. He was a chieftain and a freedom fighter who fought the British. Many Gounders also practice the traditional martial art of Silambam.

The media often try to make it look like Thevars and Gounders are enemies in Malaysia. We are not enemies. They use the issues in MIC as an excuse for this false portrayal. Someone probably gains something if Thevars and Gounders fight each other.

Get the facts right. Stop spinning stories in media for the sake of making it a sensational news. Stop making it look like Thevar vs Gounder. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Pitchavaram Zamin Are Not Cholas, Rajaraja Chola Is Not Vanniyar

Zamindar of Pitchavaram
During the British rule, the traditional Tamil kings were no longer in power. They no longer had a say in governance. Unlike the previous dynasties which ruled Tamil Nadu, the British suppressed the native rulers and prevented them from rising. 

Those who were favored by the British seized the opportunity to make false claims about themselves. They changed their caste names and also claimed that they are descendants of ancient kings.

One such claim is made by the landlords of Pitchavaram. They claim that they are the real descendants of Cholas. They justify this by stating that they have the coronation right in the Chidambaram Nataraja Temple just like the Chola kings. 

The Pitchavaram zamin family claims that since the traditional priest of the temple, the Dikshitars, perform the coronation and also pass the temple key to them, then they must be the real Cholas under the title Cholanar or Cholanganar. 

Having coronation in Chidambaram with titles like Cholanar in the hands of Dikshitar during British era does not make one a Chola king. Temple management can always change when different rulers rule the land.  The former Chola country was ruled by the Pandyas, the Vijayanagars, the Nayaks, the Marathas and finally it fell into the hands of the British

When the Nayaks conquered Madurai, they crowned themselves in the Meenachi Temple. However, this does not make them Pandyan kings. 

Gettibommu Naicker, the Telugu Palayakarar of Panchalankurichi was called VeeraPandya Kattabomman. This does not make him a Pandyan king. 

The Cholas were defeated by the Pandyas in the 13th century. Some historian puts the year as 1280. The earliest record of Pitchavaram coronation in Chidambaram is only in 1908. 

So for 628 years, there were no news about any Chola kings. All of a sudden in 1908, somebody calls himself Chola king and that too only during the British era

The Pitchavaram family could not provide any record of coronation prior to 1908. If they were indeed the real Chola kings, then they should be able to provide a list of successors since 1280.

As we know, the Dikshitars pass the key to the Pitchavaram family after closing the temple each day. It is not the duty of a king to hold the key of the temple. 

That is actually the duty of the temple guardians who are appointed by rulers to manage and guard the temple. Such people will usually be given lands near the temple so that they can live nearby and help to manage it. 

Since they have the key, they will also need to rush to the temple if there is an emergency during wee hours. The priest will knock on their door each morning as early as 4am to retrieve the key. 

The priest will also pass it back to them late in the night once the prayers are over. Practically speaking, kings will not commit themselves to such responsibility. 

They will have to hold the key and stay in the palace daily if they commit to this. It is logical to just appoint someone and let him handle it.

Holding the key of a temple makes one important but that does not make him a king. There were also many communities such as Kaikolars who were made temple guardians. 

The Pitchavaram family belongs to a community which calls itself as AgniKulam (Fire Race). Lately, many cyber cadres from the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) waged an online crusade claiming that Rajaraja Chola belongs to the AgniKulam community which is also known as Palli or Vanniyar in Tamil Nadu.

This cannot be true because Rajaraja Chola belongs to SuryaVamsam (Solar Lineage). This is why he is also known as RaviKulaManikam and RaviVamsaSikamani. Ravi is the other word for Surya. So there is no chance of Rajaraja Chola being a Vanniyar because he is not from AgniVamsam.

To counter this, the PMK cadres claimed that SuryaVamsam descended from the AgniKulam or AgniVamsam (Fire Lineage). This is actually a baseless myth.

Let us examine some of the myths which is used by the PMK cadres to justify their claims....

Myth #1
They claimed that SuryaVamsam and ChandraVamsam (Lunar Lineage) came from AgniVamsam. Dushenthen was believed to be a descendant of Agni. Dushenthen's son was King Guryamen or Karendhamen: he had four sons called Pandyan, Keralen, Solen (Cholan) and Kolen. The kingdom was divided among the sons by their father who called the divisions after their names Pandya, Sola (Chola), Kerala and Kola.

If this myth is true, then the Pandyan and Chola dynasty will become brother dynasties. Their children will become panggali (parallel cousins). Therefore they cannot intermarry.

We know this is not true because Pandyas and Cholas are not panggali. They are muraipasangga (cross cousins) and they intermarry.  The Pandyas belong to ChandraVamsam and the Cholas are SuryaVamsam.

The actual origin of the royal lineages of India is written in the Puranas. 

According to the Puranas, Manu was the progenitor of mankind. He was the son of Surya (Sun). Manu had 9 sons and a daughter named Ila. Manu's son, Ishvaku, is the founder of the SuryaVamsam dynasty named after his grandfather, Surya.

Ishvaku's sister Ila married Budha, son of Chandra (Moon). Their union created the ChandraVamsam dynasty named after Chandra.

Both Rama of Ayodhya and Rajaraja Chola belong to the SuryaVamsam dynasty created by Ishvaku. The Pandyas belong to the ChandraVamsam created by Ila and Budha. 

That means, those of ChandraVamsam and SuryaVamsam are muraipasangga. They can intermarry.

The origin of the AgniVamsam is different. AgniVamsam was created later during the time of Sage Vasistha. Vasistha performs an AgniHoma (Fire Sacrifice) and from the burning fire, emerges a man. He is the founder of the AgniVamsam.

This is the real origin of the royal lineages as written in our Puranas. People of the same lineage cannot intermarry because they are SaGothra; of the same gothra.  

Myth #2
Vanniyars were born in opposition to two demons named Vatapi and Mahi. These demons received the boon of invincibility against everything except fire allowing them to swallow the wind and the sun. The first Vanniyar (known as Veera Vanniyan, Rudra Vanniyan, Vanni Raja or Banniraya) was born from the flames of the sacrificial fire with a host of armed horsemen to defeat the demons. He then sired 5 sons who later become the ancestors of the divisions in Vanniyar caste.

In this myth, it is said that the subdivisions of the Vanniyar caste was created by 5 brothers who were born to the first Vanniyar. That means all Vanniyars will become panggali as they are descendants of brothers from the same father. If this is true, the Vanniyars cannot even marry other Vanniyars. They will have to look for brides from other castes because this will make all of them panggali.

This is another myth which cannot be taken as true.

Myth #3
The Vanniyars claim to also descend from the Dvarapalakas or "gate guardians" who were created to guard a particular Vanni tree which the Pandava brothers used to hide their weapons upon entering the kingdom of Virata. The descendants of these gate guardians worshiped Draupadi, the shared wife of the Pandava brothers. For this reason, Draupadi cult is quite popular among present day Vanniyar community members.

Anyone who read Mahabaratha or Ramayana knows that both the Pandya and Chola dynasty existed even before the era of Draupadi or Pandavas. These dynasties were mentioned in our Itihasas.

That means the Vanniyars cannot be the founders of these dynasties because the Vanniyars were only born after the kingdoms were created.

The cadres are relying on mythology to justify their fire origins. Not only these myths contradict with one another, the myths also does not match the origins of royal lineages as written in our Puranas. Therefore, claims of fire origins based on unreliable mythology holds no water.

Based on this, the following can be established:

 1.The fire myth origin of the Vanniyars does not conform to the originaly mythology as written in our Puranas.
 2.SuryaVamsam and ChandraVamsam did not originate from AgniVamsam.
 3.SuryaVamsam, ChandraVamsam and AgniVamsam did not originate from the same father.
 4.AgniVamsam was created only after ChandraVamsam and SuryaVamsam were created.
 5.Vanniyar's claim of Agni origin and that they have Surya and Chandra lineages is questionable.
 6. Pandyas and Cholas existed even before the fire myth of Vanniyars happened.
 7. Rajaraja Chola is SuryaVamsam, therefore, he cannot be a Vanniyar.
 8.There is no record of Pitchavaram Zamin coronation prior to 1908.
 9.There is no historical proof to support claim that Pitchavaram Zamin are descendants of Cholas.
10.There is no mention of Pitchavaram Zamin as Cholas for 628 years.

The communal identity of Tamil kings can only be established by proper research. It cannot be established by making false assumption. Since we know that the real Pandyas belong to ChandraVamsam and the real Cholas belong to SuryaVamsam, we can use this information to research about them. 

The Tamil royal families also intermarried with other royalties irrespective of linguistic differences. They also have descendants living in Southeast Asia. 

All these needs to be considered when researching. One has to research genuinely by putting aside communal affiliation else the truth will never be out.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Confusion Over Vanni, Vannian and Vanniyar

There is a confusion among some researchers with the word Vanni. Today, there is a Tamil community which calls itself Vanniyar. In the past this community was known as Palle or Palli. 

They are numerous in the northern parts of Tamil Nadu and in the intersect between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra. The Palli of Andhra and Karnataka speak Telugu and Kannadam. They don't consider Tamil as their mother tongue.

During the British rule, many communities in the Madras Presidency used the opportunity to rebrand itself. Even today, we can see some of them doing it. 

Since 1833, the Palli community campaigned to change their name from Palli to Agnikula Kshatriya or Vannikula which later became Vanniyar. Even in the census of 1891, a big majority of 89% still identified themselves as Palli and not as Vannikula.

Only in 1931 was the word Palli dropped and replaced with Agnikula or Vannikula. It was a campaign which took almost 100 years to succeed. 

Unlike what many people assumed, Vanni or Vanniyar is not the name of a community. It has several meanings. Although it is assumed that it comes from Agni (Fire), the actual word for Agni is Vahni and not Vanni. 

How Vahni and Vanni are related needs to be established by linguistic experts. However, there is a tree called Vannimaram which the Pallis worship as a sacred tree. 

The word Vanni can also be used to refer to forest dwellers, region of forest or even as a title synonymous with the word king. So the word Vanni has been misunderstood as a caste identity.

There is a region in Sri Lanka known as Vanni. As per records such as in Culavamsa, there have been migration of people from India into this region during the Chola period. However, the word Vanniyar is not confined to the Pallis alone. 

Although some may assume this to be true considering that the title Padayatchi exists in the Vanni region and the Palli community of northern Tamil Nadu use it, one has to understand that the Padayatchi title is also used by members of the Paravar community who live in coastal regions of neighboring Tamil Nadu. There is a subsect known as Arumboli Paravars who are also known as Padayatchi.

There were also migration of Paravar people into Sri Lanka as they lived closer to the island compared with the Pallis of the north. Possibilities of a mixed Padayatchi presence in Vanni should not be over looked.

Furthermore, anyone from Vanni region irrespective of caste is also called Vanniyar. The chieftains from the Karayar and Mukkuvar caste are also called Vanniyar. The local Veddah tribe is called Vanniyalaeto meaning forest dwellers or even Vanniminisu. 

In the Vanni region's social hierarchy, those of upper class are called MahaVanni and those below them are called SiriVanni. This shows that the word Vanniyar was also a regional identity and not just mere caste identity.

Among the Kallars of Thanjavur, there exist families which use the word Vanniyar as titles. They live in villages and streets bearing the name Vanniyan Theru. According to their history, the title was given to them by the Chola kings for their military service in Vanni, Sri Lanka. 

Among the Maravars caste, there are subdivisions known as Vannitha Maravar, Vanniya Maravar, Vannikutti Maravar and Vanni Kottu Maravar. There were also many Maravar feudal lords who used Vannian as titles. Some even had Vanni as name. 

One example is the nephew of the Sethupathi of Ramnad, Sadaikka Thevar (1636 AD - 1645 AD) . His name was Vanni Thevar and he was nicknamed Vannian. Vanni Thevar served as the commander of his uncle's army. 

Some spread false information in the internet that the Sivagiri Palayakarars were Palli because of the word Vanniya Maravar. This is not true. The Sivagiri Palayakarars are Maravars and one of the descendant happened to be a friend of mine.

Caste certificate of Sivagiri Zamin's descendant shows that they are Maravar.
These are some of the examples of how the word Vanni, Vannian, Vanniyar is used by different sets of people. 

There could be some inscriptions referring to chieftains as Vannian, however, that does not mean every inscription with Vanni or Vannian is referring to people of the same caste. 

The fact that the Palli community changed their caste name to Vanniyar in the early 20th century creates confusion among present day Tamils as many wrongly think that inscriptions of the past is referring to Pallis.  

As students of history, we must remind ourselves that the word Vanni, Vannian or Vanniyar found in the various Tamil inscriptions or literature may not necessarily refer to one community.

I hope this explanation helps to clear the ongoing doubt.

"Skirting along the hills they halted one evening at the fort of the Poligar Vaniah of Shevagherry ["Vaniah" stands here for Vanniya, the caste name or title of a branch of the Marava caste, to which the Sivagiri Poligar belonged. The Elayiram pannei Poligar was also a Vanniya]"
Page 114 

History of Tinnevelly by Bishop R.Caldwell (1881)

"The Vannian caste, known in Tinnevelly as Maravars, are chiefly the agricultural servants or sub-tenants of the wealthier ryota under whom they cultivate, receiving a share of crop varying from one-ffth to half" Page 16 
A Manual of The Tinnevelly District in The Presidency of Madras by A.J Stuart (1879)
"The Maravar or Vannian caste peculiar to Southern India has a history of its own of considerable interest. To this class belonged most of the Poligars or feudal chieftains who disputed with the English the posession of Tinnevelly during the later half of the last and the first years of the present century; as feudal chiefs and at the same time heads of a numerous caste or class of the population, and one whose charateristics was eminently adapted for the roll of followers of a turbulent chieftain, bold, active, enterprising, cunning and capricious, this class constituted themselves or were constituted by the peaceful cultivators, their protectors in times of bloodshed and rapine, when no central authority capable of keeping the peace existed" 
Page 17 & 18 A Manual of The Tinnevelly District in The Presidency of Madras by A.J Stuart (1879)

"At this time there were thrity-two Poligars in Tinnevelly, each of whom had entrenched himself in a fort and surrounded himself with a large body of armed retainers. The constant endeavour of each was to enroach on the domains of this neighbours, and especially to swallow up any revenue or right that still remained in the posession of the central government. Their armed retainers were either Maravars or Nayakas, the latter chiefly in the eastern villages, the former in the western country. These are described by Orme as tall, well made and well featured" 
Page 50
A Manual of The Tinnevelly District in The Presidency of Madras by A.J Stuart (1879)

"The taluk contains 268 villages, of which 222 are Government, 17 Inam, and 29 Kattuguttakai or rented. The population  numbers 180,219 souls, of whom 160,607 are Hindus, 18,966 Mahomedans, and 650 Christians. The castes most numerously represented are Vellalars or Pillais, 33,975; Vannians or Maravars, 47,945; Shanars, 13,313; Shephers, 12,956; and Brahmins, 10,791. The Pariahs amount to 11,148." 
Page 89 
A Manual of The Tinnevelly District in The Presidency of Madras by A.J Stuart (1879)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Tamil Kinship

Unlike the Westerners, Tamil people have a very elaborate kinship system.

The Tamil people have a very elaborate and systematic kinship system. Families can be categorized into two main groups. Panggali (Parallel Cousins) and Muraipasangga (Cross Cousins). Panggalis are treated as siblings while Muraipasangga are those who we can marry. Therefore, the terminology used for the Panggali is the same as our siblings.

Parallel Cousins = Father's brother's children or Mother's sister's children

Cross Cousins = Father's sister's children or Mother's brother's children

The Panggali or Muraipasangga group is not only for immediate families but also for the extended families. Certain clans have family names which determines who is who in the entire clan. 

Therefore, members of such clans will avoid marriage with their Panggali families as they will carry the same surname. This is similar to the Gothra system.

Certain terminology in the Tamil kinship can be used for more than one relationship. For example, a person can call his sister’s husband as Machan, Attan or even Maaman depending on the relationship of the families prior to the marriage.

The terms used for in-laws are also used for the Muraipasangga. 

I have given some examples of the terminology which we have below. Each of these terminology represents a particular relationship. 

Father - Thanthai
Mother - Thaai
Grandfather - Paattan
Grandmother - Paati
Maternal Grandmother - Ammayee
Paternal Grandmother - Appayee
Great Grandfather - Poottan
Great Grandmother - Pootti
Great Great Grandfather - Ottan
Great Great Grandmother - Otti
Great Great Great Grandfather - Seyon
Great Great Great Grandmother - Seyol
Great Great Great Great Grandfather - Paran
Great Great Great Great Grandmother - Parai
Son - Magan
Daughter - Magal
Grandson - Peyaran
Grandaughter - Peyarti
Great Grandson - Kollu Peyaran
Great Granddaughter - Kollu Peyarti
Great Great Grandson - Ellu Peyaran
Great Great Grandaughter - Ellu Peyarti
Brother - Sagothar
Sister - Sagothari
Elder Brother - Annan
Elder Sister - Akka
Younger Brother - Thambi
Younger Sister - Thangachi
Father's Elder Brother - Periappa
Father's Younger Brother - Chithappa
Father's Sister - Athai
Mother's Brother - Maama
Mother's Elder Sister - Periamma
Mother's Younger Sister - Chinnamma
Athai's Son - Attan
Athai's Daughter - Athachi
Parallel Cousins - Panggali
Cross Cousin - Muraipasangga
Husband - Kanavan
Wife - Manaivi
Annan's Wife, Wife's Akka - Anni
Thambi's Wife, Wife's Thangachi - Kolunthiya
Kanavan's Annan - Muthaar
Kanavan's Thambi - Kolunthanar

Manaivi's brother, Sister's husband - Machan
Wife's Sister's Husband - Sagalai (Annan/Thambi)
Husband's Brother's Wife - Orupadi (Akka/Thangachi)
Machan's Son, Brother's Son (Female), Son-in-law - Marumagan
Machan's Daughter, Sister's Daughter (Male), Daughter-in-law - Marumagal

My wife’s younger sister becomes my Kolunthiya. I can call my Kolunthiya’s husband as Thambi. Our relationship is also known as Sagalai, brothers through marriage as our wives are sisters. Sagalais and their children become Panggalis. They are like siblings. 

The kinship of the Tamils was created to ensure that there is a proper system to define family relationships. It was also created to avoid incest among the people. 

The choice of words in Tamil kinship may vary depending on the region or clan a person originated from. But the family relationship in general, is the same for all Tamils. 

The earliest ancestor 7 generation ago is known as Paran (male) and Parai (female). This is how the term Paramparai is born for the Tamil family tree. The Tamil word for tradition, Parampariyam, is taken from Paramparai Niyayam. So our ancestors are not only the founders of our family tree but also the pioneers of our tradition.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Origin of Madurai Veeran

DISCLAIMER: You can debate the contents of this article as there is no real evidence on the origins of Madurai Veeran or we can also say that it is not fully proven. What I have written here is based on existing oral tradition and opinions. The origin of Veeran remains a mystery and time shall tell who he really was. If I find anything new about his origins that contradicts with what I have written here, I will write a sequel to this post and share it with everyone.

Madurai Veeran with Bommi and Valliyammal

Madurai Veeran is worshiped as a guardian deity by the Tamils. As what I know, there is no written record about him. 

According to certain oral tradition, he was the prince of a king in Kaasi (Varanasi). When he was born, the astrologer predicted that the baby will bring bad luck to the king. So the king decided to dispose him and requested his guards to do it.

The guards then threw him away. Some say he was left to die in the forest. Others say he was placed in a trunk and left to float away in the river. 

Veeran was then found by the Sakkiliyar community (presently known as Arunthathiyar). They were cobblers and leather workers. They raised him as their own son. He became a powerful warrior.

He fell in love and eloped with a local chieftain Bommana Naicker's daughter, Bommi. As he belonged to a different caste, Bommana Naicker became very angry and sent soldiers to kill him. The ruler of Trichy at that time was also a Naicker. He saw the military potential of Veeran. So he gave Veeran protection. 

At that time, Madurai was ruled by Tirumalai Naicker (1623-1659 AD). He got to know about Veeran and requested the ruler of Trichy to send him over to serve in Madurai. This is how Madurai Veeran became a commander in Tirumalai Naicker's army.

He then fell in love with a beautiful damsel named Valliyammal. He also subdued the Piranmalai Kallars and their leader, Sanggili Karupu. Later, Veeran was wrongly accused of treason and sentenced to death by amputation.

That is the summary of the folk legend. 

I believe that Veeran's origins is debatable. Let us look at some fine details which skipped the normal ears.

For a start, the legend claims that Veeran was the prince of a king who lived in Kaasi. He was then abandoned by the king but raised by the Sakkiliyar community. 

The Sakkiliyars are actually Telugus. The original name of the Sakkiliyar community is Madiga. They migrated to Tamil Nadu from Andhra when the Telugu Naickers were ruling South India. 

As they were leather workers, they usually lived close to the military camps. They were needed to prepare equipment such as boots, shields and guards for the soldiers. Some of the Madigas also served in the army of the Naickers. 

During the rule of the Palayakarar chieftains, Sakkiliyars also served in their army. One of the earliest Palayakarar to fight against the British, Pooli Thevar, had a Sakkiliyar warrior named Ondi Veeran Pagadai. The Sakkiliyar soldiers are known as Pagadai.

Veeran was probably never a prince of Kaasi. Kaasi is located in Uttar Pradesh. That is about 1700 km north of Tamil Nadu-Andhra region. It will not be possible for a new born baby to be abandoned in Kaasi and then found by a community which lives so far away in South India.

Furthermore, the royal guards would have not traveled that far to abandon the baby. Considering the obstacles such as hills and forest with no proper roads in the 17th century, it would have taken weeks for them to travel that far just to throw a baby away. The most impractical thing to do!

If at all Veeran was a prince, how did his adopted parents find out about it? Who told them he was a prince? 

Royal guards who were tasked to abandon a royal baby would have not dared to leave any mark of royalty such as garments, jewels on the baby as this can invite trouble for the king. If Veeran was a prince, Bommana Naicker would have not objected his love for Bommi.

Some claim that Madurai Veeran's image shows him wearing a Poonool (sacred thread). Therefore, they assume that he must be a royalty or an upper caste like Brahmins. 

Poonool was actually used by many castes in ancient times. It was not exclusively for the Brahmins or any upper castes alone. Today, many of the practices like wearing Poonool or keeping Kudumi (hair knot) is no longer done by us but our ancestors did it. 

Just because we don't wear Poonool today, it does not mean our ancestors never wore it.

It is only logical to assume that Veeran was indeed born in a Sakkiliyar community. Like other Sakkiliyars, he lived near the military camp and learned martial arts from there. He then became a great warrior. 

It is either this or he could have been an abandoned child found by the Sakkiliyars and raised as one of them. Meaning no one knows his actual caste or lineage.

I believe that his royal origin could be a myth created because some cannot accept the fact that someone either born into or raised by the cobbler community became one of the most successful warriors of all time. 

When you become too proud of your lineage to the extend of looking down on others, you will not bow down and pray to a deity who was from the cobbler community. Myths like this is created to elevate the deity's position so that others will worship him too.

Veeran will remain as an icon of bravery. A true warrior. May the Tamils of the villages continue to sing ballads on his name. May our descendants remember him for his service in upholding justice.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Breaking Tamil Nadu

The state of Tamil Nadu is 130,058 square km. It has 29 districts and a population of 72 million people. That is roughly the size of Peninsular Malaysia and more than triple the population here. 

Although Tamil Nadu is not the biggest state in India, it is still a large state with a large population. 

During the last decade, political organisations like Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Kongunadu Munnetra Kalagam (KMK) have called for the state to be divided into smaller states. 

The usual call is to either bifurcate or trifurcate the state by using the Kaveri river (and Amaravathi & Kollidam) as natural boundary(s).

If we were to refer back to ancient political geography of Tamil Nadu, the state can be also divided into the following 5 smaller states. This includes the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Thondai Naadu
Nadu Naadu
Kongu Naadu
Chola Naadu
Pandya Naadu

A rough sketch of possible new states in Tamil Nadu based on ancient political geography.
DISCLAIMER: This image is not 100% accurate.

There are pros and cons in breaking the state. 

Smaller states means better administration. With smaller states, the existing taluk divisions within each district can be upgraded into districts. It will be much more easier to manage smaller districts compared with bigger ones. 

Each state will have their own police force. That could be an effective way to tackle crime as their area of concentration is now smaller.

In North India, large states were split for economic growth. The state of Uttarakhand sees rapid growth after it was split from the larger Uttar Pradesh. Similarly the state of Chattisgarh is doing better after splitting from Madhya Pradesh.

In Tamil Nadu, new districts like Virudhunagar, Dindigul were carved out of larger districts to make administration easier.

Different castes dominate different regions in Tamil Nadu. Caste reservation policy is applied for university intakes and government jobs. 

If the states are split, dominant castes like Vanniyars, Kongu Vellalars and Mukkulathors will no longer need to compete with each other. This is because they are each concentrated in their own region.

Kongu Vellalars in Kongu Naadu
Vanniyars and Mudaliars in Thondai and Nadu Naadu
Mukkulathors in Chola and Pandya Naadu

The splitting of Tamil Nadu will also mean there will be 3-5 Tamil Chief Ministers. There will be more voice for the Tamil people in the Indian government.

However, there can be negative effects too. 

Major rivers of Tamil Nadu

If Tamil Nadu is split into smaller states, each state will have control over the culture of the state. 

They can even decide on matters like Tamil education. If Chola Naadu decides to revert back to Grantha script instead of Vatteluttu script, the other states cannot interfere. We will then have a segment of people who read Tamil using different scripts.

Although industrialised, Kongu or West Tamil Nadu is a landlocked area. That means they need to depend on other states including Kerala for sea products. They also need their permission to use their ports. This can impact the imports and exports. 

Furthermore, if you were to look at the river map of Tamil Nadu, you will notice that the rivers cut across the regions. 

Kaveri river which originates in Karnataka passes through Kongu Naadu before reaching Chola Naadu. If Kongu Naadu builds a dam, they can control the water level of Kaveri just like what Karnataka is doing to Tamil Nadu today. This can then lead to enmity between states.

All these needs to be considered before breaking the state. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Christian Inculturation

I was exposed to Christians and their religion at a very young age. I was born in Hospital Assunta which was started by the Christian missionaries. I grew up having many Christian friends around me. 

When I was 6, I was admitted in the same hospital I was born due to asthma. Since I was too young to walk outside the hospital in order to worship in the nearest temple, I decided to just worship in the hospital chapel. I saw no harm in doing that. I still feel the same way. 

Russian Church in Sofia. One of the few churches which I visited.
I did the same thing when I was in Bulgaria. Went into churches, light up candles, offered my prayers to the Holy Mother in silence. This will not make me less Hindu. I still chant the Kalabhairava Ashtakam and the Panchakshra during my daily prayers.

But despite the religious tolerance I have, I do have a different opinion about missionary activities. I never liked their style of work and many things which they do. This is because I do believe in respecting native culture.

Should someone intend to preach Christianity, then let it be based on the true teachings of Christ. Let is be based on the contents of the Holy Bible. 

Christianity should not be spread by lies and fraudulent methods. People should become Christians for what it really is than for what they think it was.

My 1st contact with missionaries happened at the age of 13. I lived in Kajang back then and I used to be active in football. So one fine Saturday, I attended a football clinic in town. It was organised by some local footballers. They had a Brazilian white guy as the coach for the day. 

So we were playing football and one of the guys committed a foul. We had an agreement that whoever commits a foul must do 10 push ups. Our team had a mix of races. One Malay guy committed the first foul.

As he was about to do his push ups, the Brazilian guy stopped him. He offered to do the push up for him.

"Jesus died for us in the cross. I will do push ups on your behalf"

I was happy when he did that. Because I played defence and I always end up committing lots of foul.  

During the end of the clinic, there was a briefing.

"Boys, we are very happy you participated today. We hope we helped you improve your football skills. If you are interested to participate again in the future, please join us for further explanation. It will be in the church tomorrow morning. We can probably talk about sending you boys to Brazil for further training. Breakfast is provided."

Only then I got the message. They are here not to only teach football but to also spread their religion.

My 2nd contact happened when I was in secondary school. This time I was in USJ. No more in Kajang.  My door bell rang on one evening. I went out and noticed there were two white guys on bicycles.

"Hi! I am XXX and this is YYY. We were cycling and noticed your house. It looks very pleasant. Ermm the picture on your entrance, is that the elephant God Ganesha?"

I responded with a Yes and asked him what they want.

"Oh nothing actually. We just wanted to meet your parents to talk about Lord Jesus. We would like you to know how life can be better, more peaceful with Jesus in your life. Can we come in?"

I just told them that I appreciate their presence but we are not interested. Shook hands and told them to just leave.

My 3rd contact happened when I was in college. I had this Chinese male lecturer for my Multimedia class. We once had a group discussion. My friend asked him for some assistance. He then replied,

"Son, things like this needs further explanation. Trust in Jesus and he will fix it for you"

Me and my friend were quite shocked but we didn't want to make an issue out of it. Is Jesus going to sit in exams for us? 

We thought he was joking but well he wasn't. Few days after the incident, he invited me over to his house for a Christmas party.

"Hey Sharmalan. Why don't you join us for the party? We will have grilled beef. You know, Indians should stop eating lamb. It is not good for the heart. Try beef. It is better. Your classmates XXX, YYY, ZZZ and KKK will also join us for the party. We can talk about life and also how Jesus helps us alot"

An invitation which I declined for obvious reasons.

But these people are not that bad. They never forced their religion on me and their attempt was quite mild. There is another group of people who do even worse things.

The former pastor of the St Barnabas church in Klang, Pastor Jambunathan, told me many things about the method used by the missionaries. 

He was kicked out from the church for disagreeing with them especially on things like conversion of orphans and the poor. You can still witness their conversion activities. Many Nepali and Myanmar workers were converted by them. Take a walk behind Jalan Tengku Kelana on any of the weekends. You will know what I mean.

Well, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The real issue is not the conversion but the method used to convert people.

I am not sure how many of you are aware of the term "Christian Inculturation". It is a covet method used by the missionaries. Basically they adopt local practice, modify it, re-brand it as Christian practice and sell it back to the people. 

Perhaps I should show you some pictures which I took from the internet on how this is being done in India:

The Upanishad is a Hindu scripture now it became Christian scripture. 

Images like this are now being circulated in the internet to bring Jesus into Hindu celebrations.

Hare Rama! Hare Krishna! Hare Yeshu??? 
Hindu Temple or Christian Church?

Hindu Yatra or Christian Yatra? Kumbham in Christianity??

Hindus or Christians?

Part of the ceremony in the Christian Yatra. They also conduct something called Christian Pooja by using coconuts and incense sticks like the Hindus.

The Saffron Christians

Christians dressed as Hindu monks going around to convert Hindus.

Krishna or Jesus? Jesus in blue and flute?

Baby Ganesha now a Christian?

Christ became Hindu god?

A new Hindu God?

Hindu God?

The new Buddha?

Bharathanatyam, a Hindu classical art dedicated to Shiva Nataraja now dedicated to Jesus?

Christian Bharathanatyam?

Christian Bharathanatyam?

The album Suprabatham is now a Tamil Christian song album. It has songs like Saranam Yesuve. Suprabatham is no longer Venkatesa Suprabatham which we all know.

Hindu slokas and mantras modified. OM SRI YESU BHAGAVATE NAMAHA. Is this from the Bible?

These pictures were taken from the internet. It was compiled by the people behind the following page which was formed in response to the missionary activities in India.

The page can be accessed at

There was another page in the past. It was known as Ban Christian Missionaries in India. They deactivated the page due to pressure from the Christians.  

Christian Inculturation is not something new in India. Back in the 17th century, there was an Italian missionary named Father Constanzo Beschi. 

Also known as Viramamunivar due to his contribution towards the Tamil script, Beschi was among the first to use inculturation in a very radical manner.

He dressed up in saffron robe like Hindu saints. He then claimed that the Bible is the 5th Veda. Therefore, all Hindus must now adhere to this Veda because it is the conclusion of the previous 4 Vedas. He claimed that this Veda was lost and he brought it back.

How cunning!

During the last decade, a new cult group emerged in India. They also have a branch in Malaysia. They are supported by Tamil film personalities like Snehan. 

According to them, their method of conducting weddings is the real Tamil way of doing it. So all Tamils must now follow this method.

The video below shows how their wedding is done:

This cult group known as Dynamic Puratchi Kalyanam (Revolutionary Dynamic Wedding) was started by a Tamil Christian man named Dr.Gabriel.

Need I explain more?

Hindus in general are not against the preaching of another religion. We have always welcomed other religions with open arms. In fact, Hindus were the only few people who gave the Jews protection in India when the rest of the world was busy chasing them out.

However, Hindus can't be blamed for speaking up against inculturation like this. This is definitely not the right way to spread Christianity.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Woman On Period & Hindu Rituals

This image is now being circulated in social media. I think the person who created this image has an unexplainable hatred towards religion. His/Her view on Hinduism is a misguided one. 

I remember one joker from Utusan once wrote an article on Manusmriti and tried to make fun of the Hindus. Looks like Utusan is not alone.

Manusmriti is a Smriti, meaning written by man. Therefore, it has no authority over modern Hindus. Vedas are Sruti, meaning non-human and divine origin. It is based on revelation received by Sages through their spiritual experience. 

Manusmriti was actually written by Manu, a king who ruled during ancient times. It was actually the constitution of his kingdom. As we all know, man made law can always contain flaws. Manusmriti has alot of good things in it and also loads of crap. 

It is not necessary for modern Hindus to follow Manusmriti. It was written for people of a different era. Hindus have the free will to use their own intelligence.

Women actually have a high position in the Hindu world. There are also many rituals which can only be done by them. Certain fast are only observed by women. So the joker who created this image need to do some homework. 

Hinduism is perhaps the only remaining religion which sees God in the form of woman, Shakti. What else is needed to explain this?

However, women are usually prevented from conducting rituals when they are on periods. The actual reason behind this is deep rooted in prehistoric times.

Those days, there were no sanitary pads. The women on periods used cloth. So there was odor and blood stain. 

Prehistoric people lived in jungles and women on periods had a higher tendency of attracting predatory animals like lions and tigers.

Religious rituals were not individual but done in groups. People lived in groups. So their rituals will always have some sort of gathering.

So segregating such woman during such ritual reduces the chances of danger for the others in the community/village. But of course, our good prehistoric ancestors would have assigned someone to guard the woman in the hut when the rest are busy with their ritual. 

This could be one reason. 

The other reason is women on periods usually have mood swings and many go through pain. Periods are also not hygienicThey may not feel comfortable to conduct a ritual. It is better for them to just take a break on such occasions.

Over the time, people forget the actual purpose and turn it into a tool to discriminate women. 

Logic eh?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Boycott Israel? Start with Facebook

I noticed that some of Facebook users have recently circulated pictures like the above in Facebook. They have been suggesting that the Malaysian Muslims boycott those companies. 

So no more buka puasa (break fast) in places like McD. No more Nestle products. Forget about Huggies diapers for your babies. 

The list of things to avoid goes on.

Well I respect your choice to criticize Israel but the call for a boycott of Israel/Jewish linked products in Malaysia is just a waste of time because there is no benefit in it.

To make it worse, some Muslims even asked if I am supporting Israel's action in Gaza because I eat McD. I mean like what the......

It is nothing but an emotional outburst with no outcome for our community in Malaysia.

Why do I say this?

Because those who are calling for a boycott are still using Facebook. They are still uploading selfies and enjoying the free service provided by Facebook. They are still giving Facebook the income it needs.

The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is a Jew. Zuckerberg appeared in Jerusalem post as the most influential Jew. I am sure he gives money to the state of Israel. Every single rich Jewish company does it. 

To add on, Zuckerberg is an active member of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi). This is a fraternity of Jewish people in America. They are hardcore supporters of Israel.

The younger Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg and former Israeli PM Shimon Perez.

Zuckerberg and current Israeli PM Netanyahu.

As long as you stay in Facebook, you are helping Israel make money. So if you really want to boycott Israel, why still use Facebook?