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.