On the origin of Nairs  

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Much has been said and written about the origins of Nairs of Malabar and to this date it still remains as murky and obscure as it was to the 15th century anthropologist or the curious foreign traveler who recorded his thoughts. It is certainly strange that no record stands or can be traced relating to the advent of this warrior class into Kerala and the reasons behind their special relationship with the Namboothiris or Brahmins of Kerala. But we could perhaps go over some of the conclusions made by leading historians and anthropologists and later summarize. Nairs did become a much studied group of people, not due to their origins, but because of their practices such as matriliny & marriage traditions, the ways they conducted war & those ‘special’ relationships with the Namboothiri.

The spelling has floated between nayar and nair over time and between writers. I have used both in the text below, signifying one and the same group. The Nair clan itself covers many other titles and groups like Menon, Panikkar, Nambiar etc, but those aspects are not discussed in this context. Today the nair’s constitute some 12-13% of the Kerala population, declining from about 18% in the 16th -17th century.

Were they hill people, were they from the North, were they Scythian in origin, were they from Tulunad, were they Chalukyar’s, and were they Nayakas? Were they perhaps Nagas or Newars from Nepal or Assam? Let us try to find out or at least understand the reasons behind all the confusion.

KVK Iyer – Zamorins of Calicut – he starts by saying that there was absolutely no hostility between the Tamil Chera rulers of Kerala and the Nayars who succeeded them as rulers of the land. In the Zamorin granthavari’s, they are called ‘Lokar’. They were somewhat equivalent to the Spartiate of Greece. In Sanskrit it means nayaka or leader. While it was originally a title, Portuguese writers extended it to cover the military followers. Today it covers everybody between the Ambalavasis on the upper end and the polluting castes at the lower end. KVK quotes Kanakasabhai that both the Tamils and Nairs came from Mongolia. However for some obscure reason the nairs followed a matriarchial system while the tamils followed a patriarchial system. Others like Kunhukuttan thampuran claim a naga lineage, but here again the nagas were patriarchial. Iyer concludes that in all probability, the nairs were a hill tribe living on the slopes of the Western Ghats. He attributes this reasoning to the consideration of Tirunelli in Wynad as their most sacred place, the title Kunnalakonatiri or ruler of the hills and waves (Zamorin) reminiscent of hill dwellings, the use of the plantain leaf for all auspicious activities, the manner of military strategy of nairs being more suited to hills & guerilla warfare than open fighting. Based on various copper plates he concludes that nairs rose to power around the 4th century AD. (Kanakasabhai also mentions that Malayalam language resembles Mongolian and that a Mongolian tribe called Marar conquered the Nagas of Malabar around 1st century AD)

KVK Iyer – History of Kerala – In this book Iyer is a little more forthright and explains the relationship between the Nampoothiris and nayars. He starts thus – The invasion of Kerala by Rajaraja 1 in 988 AD (to 1120) brought an end to the free intercourse between the Brahmins on both sides of the Ghats. Their customs diverged to create the Nampi sri or Nampoothiri. The needs for the wars brought the nayars to the forefront. The nampoothiris joined them to fight the aggressor. The camaraderie forged on the battle field was cemented by the free access of the former to the homes of the latter and this personal intimacy reinforced by the spiritual ascendancy of the former as priest gradually led to an establishment of theocracy more powerful and permanent than the Pope III of Europe. Based on this relationship the learning of Sanskrit continued in nayar homes.

He later provides a more detailed analysis; the Nairs are sometimes identified with the Satiyaputras of Ashoka’s rock edict II, Satiyaputra being held to be a variant of Striputra. They are also satisfactorily identified with the Atiyamans of the Sangham works.

Looking at the characteristics of the Nayars, the Aratta vahikas of the Mahabharata seem to provide the right comparison. They were ayudhajivans, their women had considerable freedom, the man’s heir was his sister’s son and these Aratta vahikas might themselves have been a branch of the Brahuis of baluchistan. They probably moved down south following the invasion of Darius (518-516). Some moved to Tulunad, some came through the Palakkad gap; some went to Laccadives & Ceylon. Some were stranded in pockets around North Arcot, Trichy and Salem.

C Achyuta Menon – Cochin State manual
– He states that the immigrants who subjugated the native Cherumars appear to have been the nayars. They evidentially had to struggle hard to conquer the country and even more to keep it. That they had to maintain themselves for a long time amidst hostile surroundings is evidenced by the peculiarity of the dwelling of the Nayar which by itself is like a small fort isolated from the dwellings of others and surrounded by such preparations for resistance as would be adequate against comparatively unarmed enemies. He believes that they are etymologically identical with the naik or naidu. But he confirms other opinions like Scythian origin and similarity with nagas and takshaks who entered India in the 6th century. He also believes that the naga theory is more appropriate and that this is conformed by the similarity of names, serpent worship & polyandry, and that as stated in Keralolpathi, the nagas had driven out the first Brahmin settlers. He believes this occurred about the time the naga king of Maghada conquered Ceylon in the 4th or 5th century BC.

Nagam Aiya – Travancore State manual – Quotes the Kerala mahatmyam in that nayars are the product or offspring of cohabitation between junior namboothiri offspring and women brought in by Parasurama from the groups viz rakshasas, ghandharvas & devas. The more rational Keralolpathi states that they came in together with the namboothriis from the North. By & far he states that this was a combination of Aryan and Dravidian races and after having created the group fiercely protected it from further pollution with the polluting groups below. He also mentions the similarity with the Singalas of Ceylon who are of naga stock and their matrilineal customs. He also alludes to a Tibetan origin, or that they are the same as the Newars of Nepal.

F Fawcett – Nayars of Malabar – opines that the resemblance between nayars and uriyas of Gumsoor is striking. Quoting him – ‘But the circumstance that inheritance through women was once, perhaps, the rule in Southern India cannot be accepted as of itself proof that the Nayars are identical with the Dravidians, as the people of Southern India are commonly called. It is not yet time to say whether they are or are not. To the ordinary visitor their outward appearance, customs, habitations, mode of life generally, are very different from what he sees in the Telugu or Tamil countries; for Malabar, " the west coast," is as unlike the rest of the Presidency as Burma. The only other district of the Madras Presidency which resembles Malabar, is Ganjam, more particularly the northern part of it, where the people are almost entirely Aryan. The resemblance between these, the Uriyas of Gumsoor and thereabouts, a fine fighting stock, and the Nayars of Malabar is very striking. It is not, perhaps, a mere coincidence that in these two furthest remote corners of the Presidency alone, the people at large are to be seen wearing umbrella hats to protect them from the sun.’

PCM Raja – Samoothirimaar – Looking tangentially at the origins of the Zamorins, one lands up at Nediyirippu, a place near Kondotty in Eranad -N Malabar. Raja opines that they moved there from Karnataka and originated from the shores of the River Sindhu in North India., moving towards Salem and Mysore. According to him they were Chalukyas and Agnivansha kings. He believes that the clan were part of the group that later split to become the Rajput Chauhans, malwan Parmars or Gujaratiu Solankis. According to another historian Dr Ayyathan Gopalan quoted, the originators of the clan were Manichand and Vikaram, two brothers who came from Punjab or Rajasthan, moving down through the Deccan plateau to Salem. Around the 3rd century, they moved through Coimbatore to Ernad and settled there creating the Eradi clan. They were the Manavedan and Vikraman of the Zamorin dynasty or the Puntura Konathiris. But a question remains, were the Nairs a group of people who came with them?

However it must be noted here that these two Puntura youths did utilize the existing Nayar forces, personally annexing the Polanad 10,000 in one fight on behalf of the Cheraman Perumal; fighting the Chola Rayar defeating him at Tirunavaya. So Nayars existed prior to the arrival of the Zamorin leaders.

KM Panikkar – Some aspects of Nayar Life – States that without a shadow of doubt is actually Nagar and was a totemic clan which has been living always in South India. Aryan invasion thrust one side to the west of the Ghats forming what we know as Nayars today and to the South into Ceylon as the Nagas of Ceylon. He also states based on other authority that Naga is Naya in Singalese. Buddha’s visit to Ceylon in the 2nd century BC apparently chronicles the presence of Naga people there. He sternly rebukes the supporters of the ‘Nair was Nayaka’ theory for if that were correct, they then would not have supported the Aryan superiority in spiritual & temporal matters. He also goes on to satisfactorily argue against the comparison f Tibetan polyandry with purported polyandry in Kerala that was reported entirely based on Buchanan’s totally unsatisfactory reporting on his travel in Malabar. The Nayars were not a caste, they were a race, he concludes.

Kathleen Gough – Matrilineal Kinship – At least in the first century AD, Kerala’s social structure was based upon plough agriculture with irrigation, specialized crafts and overseas trade. Productivity was sufficiently high so that more than one quarter of the population could be exempted from manual labor and set apart as specialist literate groups engaged in religion, government, warfare & wholesale trade. The nayars as the ruling and Military cases, formed the core of this aristocracy and probably comprised one quested and one fifth of the total population. But she does not get into the origins, per se.

Newar connection
There is a theory that they came from the Nepal Valley, adjacent to Tibet. Some consider them to be early descendants of the Newars of Nepal. Serpent worship is one of common custom between the Newars and Nairs. Dr. Zacharias Thundy’s theory is that groups of Newars who were partially Aryanized and would be later Dravidianized joined the Munda exodus and finally settled down in Kerala after a long period of sojourn in the eastern plains of Tamil Nadu. Newars of Nepal could be the relatives of Nairs as the Newar architecture closely resemble that of the Nalu kettu of Nairs. Nairs even now display the slightly mongoloid features, yellowish skin, sharper features and resemble Nepalese or the highlanders of Uttaranchal. Well, personally I do not see much resemblance, but maybe in the past, there was one!

Indo Scythian connections
NT Shetty’s blog and some comments there provide these clues - Bunts and Nairs are perhaps of Naga descent or perhaps with Scythians otherwise called in India as Saka. The Saka invaded India around 200 BC. The Nairi people of Central Asia with their Mittanian Aryan rulers were defeated and assimilated by the Scythians around 600 BC. Scythians were a martial people of central Asia who often went for long raiding trips against the cities of Persia and other Hindu nations of then Afghanistan. Scythians practiced Matriarchy, Polyandry and Slavery. Nairis were a sub group of Scythians. Nairi surname exists among many people from North India Nayyars, Nehrajats and Nepalese Newars. Nairs of Kerala also may have Nairi blood who had mixed with the Nagas of Ahichatra. Nairs were Nagas from Ahichatra, not ethnic Tamils. Nairs appeared in Kerala History very late only by the end of first Millennium after the repeated attacks and occupation of Kerala by Rashtrakuta forces. Nairs perhaps never talked Tamil but the Prakrit or some other Aryan tongue. Nairs did mix with few Dravidian clans including Vellalas. The arrival of Nairs led to the mixture of Tamil with Prakrit and Sanskrit words converting the language to Malayalam. In the early period of Dravidian History Nagas were regarded as the worst enemies of ancient Tamils and Nagas were not related to Dravidians.

Mythical versions
Kerala Mahatmyam - Nayars are the product or offspring of cohabitation between junior namboothiri offspring and women brought in by Parasurama from the groups viz rakshasas, ghandharvas & devas. Another mythical version says that Nairs being Kshatriyas belonging to the Nagavansham who removed their “Janivara” (sacred thread) and escaped to south to evade Parasurama..

The Vellala Link
The Vellalas were the protector class of the east coast. U B Nair states that tradition alludes to the advent of Vellalas into Malabar. It appears that 64 families of karakattu vellalars formed the Kiriyathil nayar group. They were the groups which won distinction from the pandya king for guarding the clouds and were apparently the ones brought in by Parasurama into Malabar. However it is also stated that they came in to Malabar even before parasurama, during Bhaskara ravi varma’s time 700AD. This is considered a very non plausible story due to the fact that nairs were in Malabar before 700AD.

Nairs and Bunts – Tulu research
According to Tulu legends Bunts came from aichatra madastana in “Uttaranchal” state today which is surrounded by Tibet in north and Nepal on east. The city is now called “Ram Nagar”. According to another legend ahikshetra was a place on the banks of Saraswati River. “ahi” means snake (chiefly serpent). It is believed that Bunts were “naga or serpent worshipers prior to being buta/boota or spirit worshipers. Of course, we worship our ancestors in spirits (kule) too and thus have various ways/rituals to pray and remember them (agel to kulekulu, new dress to kulekulu, marriage of kule etc.). So there is reason to believe that bunts were mainly serpent worshipers and many groups of Bunts might have come from north. Nairs or Nayars and bunts belong to same cast. Like Bunts and Nadavas (and other tuluva people) Nairs too follow their own form of inheritance called Marumakkathayam, which is “ali katt”. Bunts have “Nayaranna bali” (bali = matriarchal lineage). Last ruler/king of Kanajar (a village in Karkala Taluk) was Nayar Hegde. In this village it was prohibited to take name of the king. So Kanajar folks always called the plough equipment commonly known as nayer/naver in tulu as guddal (from kannada ‘guddali’). The royal house (oMjane ill) of Shetty’s village Kowdoor (adjacent to Kanajar) is “Naayara bettu”. Nayara is one of the 93 Bunts surname. Varma is a common surname of Nairs and Bunts.

Dopamine gene theory – Valeries Legrand (Dredged from an obscure internet link) – She has been on the subject of the Nairs of Kerala for the last one decade and hence claims to be an authority on the same. The origins of the Nairs are shrouded in mystery, but from most ancient accounts, cultures and customs, it can be safely inferred that the Nairs are Scythian of descent. The fact that recent tests indicate presence of the warrior gene 'dopamine' in them as in case of other Scythians attests to this fact. As a race they are distinct from the prevailing Aryan or Dravidian races of India. (Not yet studied or corroborated by others!)

Thomas R, Nair SB, Banerjee M -A crypto-Dravidian origin for the nontribal communities of South India based on human leukocyte antigen class I diversity. - The present study reveals that the HLA diversity of the Dravidian communities is very distinct from that in the other world populations. It is obvious that the non tribal communities of Kerala display a greater Dravidian influence, but traces of genetic admixture with the Mediterranean, western European, central Asian and East Asian populations can be observed. This article analyzes a set of South Indian non tribal and tribal groups to determine their similarity to other ethnic groups. In conclusion here, what was found was that according to the analysis of HLA Class I haplotypes, Nairs were most similar to Western European groups.

To summarize, the Nayars have been considered a derivative of local people with invading Aryans, have been wandering Scythins who settled down, the Nagas and so on. No one theory holds forte, though from all the above, the Scythian link seems to be the near fetched one. In any case, the world has forgotten the Nayars except this nayar who went on this wild goose chase. Lot more studies have to be completed before any one conclusion can be called final, but I leave that to anthropologists. Until then, it was an interesting but fruitless foray into this obscure and murky terrain.


Indo Scythians
A similar debate in Malayalam
The Kerala Story: by Dr. Zacharias Thundy
The origin of Malabar Nairs – U Balakrishnan Nair, Calcutta review
Tamils 1800 years ago – V Kanakasabhai
Malabar Manual – Logan
History of Kerala – KV Krishna Iyer
Zamorins of Calicut – Krishna Iyer
Travancore State Manual – Nagam Aiya
Cochin State Manual – C Achyutha Menon
Matrilineal Kinship – Kathleen Gough
Pic - I think is from the original Barbosa book with plates, will update with details in due course.

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 9, 2009 at Sunday, August 09, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


The 'special' relationship with the Namboothires, seems to have subserved their interests.This time the article has gone over my head. This is my second attempt. At the end I am back at square one. Is it because of information overflow.

August 11, 2009 at 9:40 AM

There is some evidence that Nayars practised Polyandry, a rare practice. Would it be possible to trace other groups or tribes that practised polyandy? not many, to my knowledge.

August 13, 2009 at 1:04 AM

That explains Shiv Shankar Menon's interest in Baluchistan. :) Great work.

August 13, 2009 at 4:28 AM

Thanks PNS - I agree it is a complex subject with many theories,I have no answers myself.

Thanks Cochinjew - This thing about polyandry is very much a fallout from Buchanan's exaggerated writing (and based on many other wild traveler's tales) as I mentioned. Both Gough and Panikkar and Fuller of recent have clarified / addressed this aspect. Unfortunately it was all a question of not understanding and coming to terms with matrilineal society coupled with linkage to the tales of Ramayana & Mahabharata. More on that, another day!!

Thanks Binu - Balochi's like Punjabi jats are said to be of Scythian descent. that much is clear, what SSM is doing is I guess current affairs, rather than history :)

August 13, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Very interesting

August 16, 2009 at 11:09 PM

Very interesting post.

I always thought Nairs were from Kerala, and Nayars were from elsewhere - I have a couple of telugu friends with the Nayar surname.

August 26, 2009 at 6:01 AM

i am an nair and for your information none of the aristrocratic nairs mix with the brahmins they have to marry that girl it is the lower class nairs who mix with brahmins and in kerala everybody boasts of being a nair and being a good aristrocrat

September 5, 2009 at 7:28 AM

Thanks winnowed & Surya.

yes, indeed Nayyar is a Punjabi surname, but then who knows, with some mentions of Nair Jat similarity of origins, it may even have been the same clan!!

Arya - thanks. Suggest you read about Illath nairs and Nair sambandham. Sambandhams spanned most Nair types, even Kiriyath!!

The aristocracy aspect is another matter altogether since Nairs were originally soldiers and not aristocrats. more on that another day..

September 5, 2009 at 8:22 PM

i can bet u that people of kerala no matter what caste or religion loving to tell they are an aristrocratic nairs can u tell about anthropology of nairs i am just curious to know

September 6, 2009 at 9:37 AM

for a general idea pls read the wiki entry

for detailed anthropological studies, check out books by Panikkar, Thurston, Fawcett amongst others.

September 6, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Good collection of origins. Though they vary and contradict each other, I think we can still strike a universal string across all versions of origins. They could be Scythians who mixed with Nagas (a prominent race which existed in India from time immemorial and even mentioned in Puranas). On reaching down south in the form of invaders or mercenaries, they formed their own kingdoms incorporating and mixing with the native Dravidian clans. This way, all the different versions can be attached to a common string of origin. Probably each historian might have emphasized on one or the other of these different aspects of origin.
So each of the versions are also true in its own way, in the sense, they were nagas and Scythians and also Dravidian. However, for the sake of genealogy, we can assume they are predominantly naga-scythians as they look different from most of the Dravidian sects.

September 12, 2009 at 10:19 PM

agree with arya

September 29, 2009 at 6:03 AM

A few corrections...Herodotus mentioned the Scythian tribe as 'Nueri' driven by an invasion of snakes in the northern steppes to Iran and India. The primary difference between Nairs and other South Indian communities is that of polyandry...of all the tribes of mainland India, was practiced only by the Indo-Scythians. The scythian origin is not far fetched at it is a known fact that the Rajputs descended from Hephaphalites (White Huns) and was given the Kshatriya status at Mount Abu and the Jats are descendants of Indianised Huns. In fact the uniqueness of the Nairs points to the fact that they have a different origin than the other communities of Kerala. The 'Kerolotpathi' or 'Kerala Mahatmyam' can be relegated to the trash can of history.

October 14, 2009 at 4:38 AM

Thanks Prashant for the clarification, though I am arriving at a conclusion that the so called 'polyandry' actually manifested in the latter parts of the medieval age, not when the Nairs appeared on the Kerala scene. More on that later

October 18, 2009 at 8:01 AM

Thanks Lakshmi...

October 18, 2009 at 8:02 AM

The genetic study [Thomas R, Nair SB, Banerjee M] you quoted actually shows the similarity between nairs and other fellow keralites.It does not show the west european connection as you said.

January 4, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Hi Manoj – Thanks for your comment, I would quote the following in response, from the said paper. I do not personally claim any further expertise in the subject of genetics.

The allele frequency distribution in the tribal and nontribal communities when compared with the other world populations suggests that Malabar Muslims and Syrian Christians have greater influence from the Mediterranean gene pool based on the prevalence of alleles B*35 and Cw*04 in these populations.On the other hand, Hindu Nairs have been influenced by the western European gene pool based on high prevalence of alleles B*07 and Cw*07 in populations such as Belgium, Germany and Scotland. Other Hindu communities such as Ezhava and Namboothiris have features of European, central Asian and East Asian gene pools. Mitochondrial DNA studies (31) also corroborate the presence of two distinct, eastern- and western-Eurasian specific lineage groups in India, suggesting that there were at least two separate migration events to India. It is evident from the HLA class I allelic and haplotypic frequencies that the Dravidian communities of Kerala have been influenced by the gene pools of different world populations during different time periods, giving rise to a unique and distinct population having crypto-Dravidian features.

Check this link for further details

January 5, 2010 at 4:18 PM

What a complex subject. But so many interesting theories. Very well and painstakingly researched.Congrats.

April 19, 2010 at 9:41 AM

quite an exhaustive research mate..kudos on that:) ...i myself hv been researching my roots [i belong to the Namadhari naik community of Western ghats, Karnataka] and more than often the info i've collected till now collates with the info available here. not to say that m linking the Naiks n Nairs here [ in my dist.its the Nadava Nayaks who are grouped with Bunts],but the mode of migrations discussed above could be similar. my info says that the Naga foot soldiers/Namadhari naiks [or Halepaiks ,ie Hale=old, Paik=foot soldier in Kannada] came down south from Ahichchatra alongwith the 33 brahmin families [Havyaks of W.Ghats] on the request of Kadamba king Mayuravarma in 4rth century A.D.[Talagunda inscription]. Incidentally the Scythian page on wikipedia talks about genetics connecting the Havyaks with other Scythian descendents in Iran n Eastern Europe. If we take the anthropological classification of Risley, he talks about a type of people, the Scytho-Dravidian, found all along the Western ghats from Gujarat to Coorg [which may extend to Nairs too], with typical features like broad head, medium nose, fair complexion,tall stature, prominent cheek bones, wavy to curly hair. Most of the members of my community match this description though there is a presence of a part of population [esp coastal] with reddish hair, n fair complexion similar to European stock.this may be explained as being due to the intermixture with European merchants/mercenaries [Greek/Roman] present all along the South Indian coast.
i hv been piecing all these info thro a wide variety of sources. its really heartening to see similar info here all in one place.but i need to mention here that my endeavours using my caste name 'Naik' as a basis of research hasnt yielded me proper results, instead misleading at times. just see that it isnt the case with 'Nair'...widening the ambit of research with whatever reference terms [ex Lokars] you have should help.
good luck.. expecting more:)

May 13, 2010 at 11:09 AM

thanks for the post! just came across it!I've always wanted to know how it all started and ur post has really helped!

October 24, 2010 at 12:19 PM

thanks Raji.. am back on this page after a long while

October 28, 2010 at 3:50 PM

thanks tej..

actually i continued on wit the research and will post another interesting linkage soon.. keep a look out..

October 28, 2010 at 3:52 PM

thanks dhanya - as i mentioned there is more on the way..

October 28, 2010 at 3:53 PM

This is a nice conglomeration of bits & pieces regarding the origin of Nairs. I am a Kiriyath Nair and have been researching Nairs for a few years now.

Recently, I perceived the whole origin bit from a different perspective, and saw to my surprise it sort of all fell into place. This is my basic understanding of our origins and other communities in the south that would be part of our same stock.

Apparently everyone believes we are of the indo-scythian group, which would also explain slightly mongloid looks we might have. I feel that originally, there were only the bunts of tulunadu. These bunts then broke off into two three branches, with two branches leaving tulunadu.

One sect ended up being the coorgs (way too many similarities with the nairs...have done enough research on them) and the other, the nairs. The third sect remained in tulunadu as the original bunts.

I would like your feedback on the above theory postulated. Hopefully I can back it up with the research I've done.

November 8, 2010 at 3:52 PM


thanks for your comment
there is some correctness in your theory, which actually goes a little further back before the bunts as well. i will cover it soon as i implied to Dhanya

November 10, 2010 at 1:56 PM

After reading this post i felt curious about the origin of chekavars of thiya community, they were also known as brave warriors who served Zamorin of calicut, can you research about it. I am curious because i belong to an aristocratic thiya family in calicut which had kalari tradition for centuries.

January 21, 2011 at 4:51 AM

hi sanjay - thanks - will get to the chekavers soon.. Their history is reasonably well covered in the vadakkan pattukal, so that is where the primary source is..

January 23, 2011 at 5:53 AM

Hi, Maddy,Your efferts to reach the origination of Nairs and other things related to Malabar is very intresting.I feel Nair's may have some link with olden society of "Nayeri" near todays Syria.I love to get some light on Kidav community of Pantalayani.Is "poliyandy" and Payyoli Koilandy is related?

February 2, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Hi AP..
I do not know, but i will try to find out and reply...

February 5, 2011 at 4:53 AM

Any how no doubt about the courage of nairs but not now. Therefore, we have to get up unite to keep it up.

May 26, 2011 at 7:46 AM

verymuch interesting. these nairs are lessthan 15% of total poulation of kerala which itself a tiny state in India. Then how come they can produce these much leaders. If you are taking Prime Minister Office,or other ministires nairs are holding the key posts. In PSUs also, same situation.If it is in corprate sector, you can see nairs at the helm of companies like infosys or microsoft indian wing etc. same in the case of science and technology. in arts and Literature also same. condition. NAIRS ARE EXCELLING IN ALL FIELDS, EXCEPT BUSINESS. ITS HIGH TIME TO GO FOR DETAILED RESERCH ON GENES OF NAIRS. If anything like that is there, pl inform us.

October 15, 2011 at 12:43 PM

hi every body.... well written article maddy.... for those interested in the genetic background of the nairs.... go to these 2 websites... family tree dna project on nairs and harappa dna project... according to family tree dna nairs have east european and mediterranean lineages, whereas harappa dna project(has only data on 3 nairs)... nairs have a unique south european component in their genes , unlike south indian brahmins ....also it states that our ancestry is 58% ancestral north indian( ANI)....seema nair of pandalam college of biotechnology, patthanamthitta and her colleagues are doing a project on the genetics of kerala..... they need funds... eager parties can contact her....their publication should be due shortly!

November 4, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Vivek, firstly can you give me more info on Seema Nair's project.

Here are the results (analysis) of two Nairs and two Namboothiris of the Harappa Ancestry Project.

Results at K=12

Me (Aditya)

South Indian - 52%
West Asian - 36%
North Euro - 3%
South Euro - 6%
Siberian - 2%
Northeast Asia - 1%

Kiriyath Nair

South Indian - 51%
West Asian - 37%
North Euro - 2%
South Euro - 5%
Southeast Asian - 1%
Northeast Asian - 2%
Amerindian - 2%

1/2 Nair 1/2 Namboothiri

South Indian - 52%
West Asian - 38%
North Euro - 4%
South Euro - 2%
Siberian - 1%
Southwest Asian - 1%
Northeast Asian - 2%

I will post at levels K=15 and K=17 at a later time.

The general observation and consensus is that Nayar individuals show similar admixture to that of the surrounding South Indian brahmins although the latter tends to have a tad more of the Northern European component.

As for my opinion on the "supposed" Scythic origins of the warrior Nayars, the possibilities seem distant or rather non existant. This is evident in the fact that the actual ethnic group claiming Scythian/Saka descent like the Jatts and the Rajputs of North India seem to display a moderate level of Northern/European ,Siberian admixture which seems to lack among the Southern Nayar clan.

However, the Siberian component is rather non existant or in minimal amounts in Northern India too.

The problem here is that matrilineality further skewed the chances of discerning, maybe a common thread of similarities among other populations, and as a result the genetic heterogeneity.

November 26, 2011 at 2:09 AM

hi, aditya .... good to see you here!...you were on dna forums earlier?.... well dr seema nair is the head of the dept of Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering at Sree Budha College of Engineering (SBCE) at Pattoor near Pandalam. .... recently she and her colleagues published an article in croatian med journal regarding the european lineage in the paternity of ezhavas....they have data on nairs too and are planning an all kerala project on dna profiling of all malayali communities throughout the state....of course hampered by lack of funds!
personally regarding dna and genes i am a bit confused , because the results are too broad and not very specific to finding one's origin!....as an amateur physical anthropologist i feel nairs display a wide range of phenoytpes...although the majority of them conform to a mediterranean phenotype...also subtsantiated by the south european component in the harappan dna study....a small minority are fairer maybe with light eyes and taller too/ or in combination with dark skin and light eyes( this combination is seen among malayalis) or simply tall statured..... i am just postulating this as the slight proto nordic element among nairs.
the great anthropologist hailing from kerala l ananthakrishna iyer mentioned in his personal communications with john beddoe , british anthropologist mentioned the occurence of auburn hair among namboothiris and nair children which did not significantly darken with age....chemban thalamudi! as we malaylis would put it!....i figure all this points to a minute presence of the proto nordic racial element among nairs.
about scythians your guess is as good as mine!....the scythians originated from central asia, and similarity with nairs are primarily based on snake worship and polyandry... also ealier british authors postuletad that nairs were" dravidianized scythians"....( wigram- malabar law and custom}...
there is an article by raman menon arguing for the scythian origin of the nairs.... malabar quartelry review 1902.... but i have been unsuccessfull in my attempts to procure it!... regards,
vivek pillai

December 4, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Hello again Vivek,

Yes, I am active on dnaforums.
Firstly, Thanks for the info on Dr.Seema Nair. Hope her project takes shape soon.
I too subscribe to the fact that the Nayars and the Namboothiris to a certain extent display a broad range of phenotypes, but are rather a Mediterranean majority. Therefore, I have found it virtually impossible to classify them according to one or maybe even 2, or even an admixture of two certain phenotypes.
Regarding the supposed proto-nordic phenotype. I would suppose I associate this with Dolicocephaly (long-headedness), a leptorrhine nose (aquiline nose),
high cranial vault. I have personally seen a few Namboothiri individuals with certain angular facial features which suggest this.

These are some personal observations I have made about the Nayar phenotype.

1. Almost all individuals seem to be Brachycephalic and most lack the "round" occiput behind the head
2. Some individuals tend to show dinariform. i.e again, flattening of the occiput, convex nose, and rather angular facial proportions.
3. High cranial vault in most individuals, a common mediterranean trait.
4. Most individuals tend to fall into the Indo-Brachid category although not as robust as other indobrachid populations of West and South-west India.

These are only observations and certainly does not apply for the population in general.

Chemban Thalamudi! Lol. You are right. I have seen certain individuals who fit the above description.

"The Nayars of Malabar" by Fred Fawcett would be a good read. I suggest you try and get a copy of it.

Ill try and post images of a diff Nayars and maybe Namboothiris just to showcase how different they can look.

December 9, 2011 at 12:19 AM

hi... aditya i have read fred fawcett's book.....a great effort by a british policeman!....but strangely he as well as other anthropologists like guha, thurston , risley....put nairs in the doichocephalic category....brachycephaly is absent among malayalis unless you take immigrant tamil and canarese groups , especially the brahmins among the lot....all said and done the above mentioned anthropologists had very meagre sample sizes such as 60 for guha's observations and 40 for thruston's...perhaps fawcetts was the one with max sample size....so if brachycephaly is present among nayars as you say, it may be due to admixture with the above groups or simply a lack of observation by previous authors due to small sample size.....i would expect nairs from kasargod and palakkad to be more brachycephalic as these were gateways for canarese and tamil populations who as i mentioned earlier are more broad headed than malayalis....

December 10, 2011 at 8:19 AM

also again accolades to maddy... for his other articles... royalty of palakkad, malabarese soldiers, etc....keep going maddy!

December 10, 2011 at 8:20 AM

hey again vivek!,

Firstly, I would like to agree with you on the fact that not all nairs are brachycephalic and that this may be attributed to canarese admixture. I guess it was an overestimation on my part. May be I should just stickk to Population Genetics instead.. :P

Just two days ago, we have got a great deal of information (autosomal results) of various ethnic groups from the South Asian cline, including mine and a fellow Nair. I've noticed how strikingly similar the Nairs are in comparison with surrounding groups like Tamil Brahmin's and Namboothiris.

Here are the results.

Me. at K=12

Mediterranean - 0%
Far Asian - 1.6%
Siberian - 0
North European - 5.2%
South Asian - 48.2%
Caucasus - 4.5%
Gedrosia - 39.3%
Southwest Asian - 1.1%
Southeast Asian - 0%

Nair 2

Mediterranean - 0.9% (peaks among Sardinians & Basques)
Far Asian - 1.8%
Siberian - 0
North European - 3.9% (peaks among Lithuanians)
South Asian - 48.5% (peaks among Pulliyar of T.N)
Caucasus - 4% (peaks among Abhkazians)
Gedrosia - 38.9% (peaks in Balochistan)
Southwest Asian - 1.6% (peaks among Saudis)
Southeast Asian - 0.3%

A rather interesting choice of labeling for the Balochistan centered component.

"Gedrosia here, seems to parallel the South-Central Asian component inferred in your ADMIXTURE analysis of Eurasian populations with K=15 and Harappa's North Indian component in Ref3 + Yunusbayev Caucasus Data Admixture @ K=15. The South Asian component, that peaks in the Tamil Pulayar, is more akin to an ASI-like component (but still with a West-Eurasian fraction subsumed under it), than the South Asian component generally inferred by Admixture."

It is interesting to note that this Balochistan/Gedrosia component seems to be "almost" uniform between the South Indian groups (T.N Brahmins, Nairs, one or two A.P participants) which reaches almost 40% and among a few Jatt and Punjabi Brahmin individuals and a Pathan), only having a diff of about 2 or 3 percent.

December 13, 2011 at 7:04 AM

Oh, and Kudos to Maddy for this blog! Job well done :)

December 13, 2011 at 7:08 AM

thanks vivek & aditya
for a lot of illuminating information on the research going on. I tried to get Raman nairs article as well, but have not been sucessful so far..
perhaps you should read a continuation of my studies in this article.
The one major aspect that needs further study is the origin of the linkage between namboothiris and nairs and secondly the origin of matrilineal kinship..

December 14, 2011 at 5:40 AM

and thanks
chantu and rohit...
keep reading..

December 14, 2011 at 5:40 AM

dear maddy,
could you throw some light on the origin of the maniyani, vaniyan nair , anthur nair and poduval.... esepcially the first two and last are from north malabar ( and the vaniyan is also found in other parts of kerala)....are these four originally nairs or migrants who became assimilated into nairs?... poduval in south kerala is ambalavasi, but in kannur and payyanur they are nair!... your thoughts( or anybody's) on this ....regards, vivek

January 30, 2012 at 1:39 AM

This site gives you some explanation - though it has been hotly argued at various times in history.
Poduval is an ambalvasi as far as I know..
I think nairs by professional classification got an acquired status, but I may be wrong..

February 1, 2012 at 1:41 PM

thanks ... maddy actually i am married to a poduval!....in payyanur their status is slightly different than in other parts of kerala...akin to nambiars, but perhaps marginally higher than nambiars!....also the vaniyan and maniyani are distributed more in north malabar than elsewhere in kerala,as for the anthru nair( potters) there is tradition of migration from andhra, although this bit of info is from journal of kerala studies, to which i do not have full access.

February 4, 2012 at 9:05 AM

yes, vivvek, there were some 'acquired status' nairs over time in the south, connected to professions like the potters etc, I will get to that another day

February 11, 2012 at 4:55 AM

thanks maddy....!

February 18, 2012 at 5:26 AM

Hi Maddy, its been ages huh ?

You might be interested to know that the name Menon exists as a pure Punjabi surname ! I didnt know this till I met someone recently, he has / had absolutely no connection with Kerala.

Cochinjew / Prashant - there is a theory that polyandry originated as a custom during and as a direct result of the Chera / Chola wars..

Aditya Lakshman and Vivek - chemban mudi was considered inauspicious among Indians, unfortunately I have a few blond hairs myself :-)

February 19, 2012 at 12:11 PM


From OpenSNP:

At the end of last year we announced that we’ve got some funding from the German WikiMedia foundation to get more people – who are willing to share their results – genotyped. We have now settled on a process that should allow us to perform the project without too many problems. Starting today, you can apply for one of the free genotypings. In the two weeks following the deadline, we will select as many participants as we can afford to get genotyped using the 5000 Euros we received from Wikimedia.

Other links:

Razib Khan/GNXP post on the same - "Free 23andMe genotyping"


Application form - "Application for a free genotyping"


It'd be awesome if you could get some Nair participants on the list for genotyping.! This will certainly allow us to start exploring our origins.!

Maddy and the others.. Whaddya think??

February 24, 2012 at 5:12 AM


From OpenSNP:

At the end of last year we announced that we’ve got some funding from the German WikiMedia foundation to get more people – who are willing to share their results – genotyped. We have now settled on a process that should allow us to perform the project without too many problems. Starting today, you can apply for one of the free genotypings. In the two weeks following the deadline, we will select as many participants as we can afford to get genotyped using the 5000 Euros we received from Wikimedia.

Other links:

Razib Khan/GNXP post on the same - "Free 23andMe genotyping"


Application form - "Application for a free genotyping"


It'd be awesome if you could get some Nair participants on the list for genotyping.! This will certainly allow us to start exploring our origins.!

Maddy and the others.. Whaddya think??

February 24, 2012 at 5:14 AM

i am fine with the idea, why not give it a try though i think some other groups have already done it..

February 25, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Here's the bar chart for Harappa Ancestry Project participants group averages. Remember you can click on the legend or the table headers to sort.

This is how Nairs compare with the general South Asian and its surrounding populace.


February 28, 2012 at 12:43 AM

the genetic make up of nairs appears to be very similar to kerala brahmins especially!.. and slightly less european component than iyers and iyengars but by and large similar to them too....but there were only one or two nairs in this project, right aditya?....so sample size is far too low....also the european component is very vague, from which part of europe exactly?...

February 29, 2012 at 9:40 AM

thanks vivek..
actually there is a good article you must all read which provides a serious analysis and an interesting conclusion
നായരീഴവ ക്രിസ്ത്യാനി പുലയ മുസ്ലീം നമ്പൂരി മഹാജന സഭ

March 4, 2012 at 9:31 AM

i would have loved to maddy.... but shamefully i am illiterate in malayalam.....it is something like nayarum, christiyani and muslim right?.... just learning the malayalam alphabet.... would be grateful if you could provide an english translation/ summary of the ethiran blogspot article....yours, vivek

March 9, 2012 at 7:38 AM

thanks vivek..
well that is tricky for it is a serious article and provides much analysis. Let me ask the author if he can do the english translation. If not I will give a synopsis.

March 10, 2012 at 4:36 AM

thanks .....i will try to decipher it slowly....just learing to read and write malayalam....if you could provide a synopsis that would be great!...thanks again!

March 10, 2012 at 6:05 AM

will do that, need a little more time as I was busy with something else..

March 17, 2012 at 6:44 AM

Now genome sequencing studies would unravel the secret rather than the guesses and believes.

April 29, 2012 at 5:52 AM

Hi friends. Seriously good to see that research is being done in lines of social history and genetics to delineate the origins. I would like to post a question. Am AGAMUDAYA PILLAI from Thanjavur. Have seen that PILLAI surname is used by Nairs commonly. Would like to know whether there is relation between people who use surname of " PILLAI ". Are agamudayar subsect and Nairs related ?

April 29, 2012 at 9:57 AM


Kidave is a military title given to nairs of Kurubranadu talook by zamorine. we have only a handful of Kidaves in and around here. kidave Young warrior chaps (just as Pillai)who subdued the valnambi, land/temple lords of the region for Zamorine. Kavutheri, Kodakkattu Parakkal are some of the ancestral ettukettu taravads of Kidaves which maintained Kalari and kathakali

June 1, 2012 at 4:37 AM

the word nair itself is very recent.actually the portugese were the ones who popularised that word.that word is totally unknown during the sangam period ie upto 10th century.during the decline of chola period,kerala too tried and freed from their rule.chaver pada was a word from that period.it was a part of the kerala army formed during that period to defeat chola army.kollam was the centre of the... military operation.i could not find any caste reference during that period.a lady recently said in an interview that even the military operation tactics were formulated by the brahmins.that is an utter nonsense.no such clues we got.its during the 12 th century or between 1150 to 1190.again for some 100 or so years after that social situation does't change.then we see numerous princely states forming .then comes the malik kafurs attack to south india.it did't reach kerala but almost to madura.after he gone one kerala king - tranvacore king doing some military campaign taking advantage of the chaos there.we have some reference about that king.we could not find links that caste system was very strong that period in his country.but in the cochin area brahmins were having greater influence in rule during that period.and in the northern region in kannur area too (from malappuram maybe) we see no influence of caste,samudiri rule has not established during that period.one thing also to remember.travancore king have deep relations with kannur ,but not with any other kingly families.

June 12, 2012 at 2:33 AM

earliest sasnan we got is thareesa palli cheppedu.it is in 11th century.next sasana we got is some 150 years back.all these are in tamil.taresa palli cheppedu is a proclaimation that some priviliges were granted to joseph reban a jew.given by ayyanadikal thiruvadikal.(look its not actually a name but prefixes used for a high positioned person.ayya means father or sometimes guru,adikal ,thiru all are used to present respect.)it says 5 familes of ezhavas ,given special privilages for bringing their goods to a particular market ,display there and sell it,without interference from officals,ie checking,measuring and collecting tax.pulays were mentioned as kings body gurads ,parayas as kings akampadikkar.no mention about nair(actually never it can be)mathil nayakan is mentioned.ie fort security cheif or city security cheif.the word used for it in later centuries was kottuwal ,same word adopted from hindi ,used during the sultanate rule in delhi.mathil is fort,still used in tamil.mathil nayakan was the word used in tamil region,and even in some parts of karnataka.but astonishingly and treacheously,some historians had tried to say that its a earlier form of nair.its utter stupidiy.nowhere other in kerala ,word nayakan converted to nair.actually it cannot be.all these nairs to be nayakan and whose nayakan??????????

June 12, 2012 at 2:35 AM

marthandavarma trusted ezhava soilders.its wrong that he as a whole mis trusted nairs.actually all pillais were not nairs.it was not a caste name but a title position granded by king.its like a lord or prabhu.bhrahimin,muslims and christian pillais were also given pillai position.in north i think its likely that entire army of kolathiri and majority of zamorins was thiyyas.there is no nair pada mentioned in the records of these kings.actually the word nair and nair pada was repeatedly used by portugese.due to many reasons our earlier historians studied and may be only read there writings ,records,letters etc.so the wide spread concept of nair pada imprinted in the minds of us.to be frank i never came across a firm evidenace of nair pada ever existed.only one was a battalion in madras regiment.and remember it was one of the first units disbanded or renamed just after independance.by then it was not actually a nair pada as many non nairs were in it.

Varanappallil Panickers were army chiefs of Kayamkulam King. Lokanatha Panicker and Patheenatha Panicker were famous among them. After Kayamkulam King's defeat before Travancore army in 1746, the King absconded and Patheenatha Panicker killed himself with a sword in such a way that his body was cut into 3 pieces and head was lying on the south side of Thurayil Tharawad. A small temple was constructed in his memory at that spot on the south side of Thurayil Tharawad, which is still there.

June 12, 2012 at 2:36 AM

The ancient Kalari at Cheerappanchira of old Karappuram or current Cherthala in Alapuzha district lying on the western banks of lake Vembanad to the west of Kumarakom and Pathiramanal  island is renowned for its legendary warriors and inclusive martial arts masters who even got the prestigious privilege of teaching their life saving arts to the mythical Ayyappan of Pandalam dynasty now enshrined in Sabarimala according to folklore and popular belief. It is interesting to note that Ayyappan also known as Dharma Sastha (a synonym of the Buddha) is also associated with the Buddhist past of south India.It is evident that the family heads called the Panickers of Cheerappanchira household traditionally practiced Kalari and were chiefs in the army of Karappuram kings from the early middle ages onwards.  It could be well assumed that their inheritance of letters, health care and martial arts is a lasting legacy of the shared Buddhist and Sramana heritage of Avarnas in Kerala who were treated as untouchables and out castes under the hegemony of Brahmanic Hinduism later as rebellious and resisting marginal people who never submitted to Brahmanism and refused to offer martial and sexual slavery to the ”twice born lords of the land” who could easily lure and convert kings and queens and some of the power hungry opportunistic sections who instantly served them to establish the regime of caste and untouchability.

Changampally Kalari in Thirunavaya in Malapuram district is associated with Mamankam, the martial carnival that settled the succession disputes in ancient Kerala once in every 12 years.the Changampally household was appointed in charge of the Kalari here by the Zamorin of Calicut in the middle ages according to local legends.  The family has converted to Islam in the 18thcentury during the Mysore occupation.  When I visited the Kalari in early February 2012, Mr Jaffar Gurukal who is running an Ayurvedic centre near the ancient Kalari told me that before conversion they were Tulu Brahmans.  This could be an elitist assimilation or fabrication done later under the hegemony of Brahmanical values; as Tulu Brahmans are never identified as traditionally having martial Kalari practice or institutions in Tulunadu or down south. Almost all Kalari households in Tulunadu and Malabar belonged to Sudra and Avarna communities.The Changam and Pally words in their house name are marked key words associated with Buddhism.  Changam or Chingam represent Chamana or Amana or Sramana culture as in Chinga Vanam or Changanassery (place names in Kottayam district).  As Sramana culture is inseparable from the month of Chingam and the great secular egalitarian festival of Onam in Kerala, the words Changam/Chingam and Pally/Pilly are also inextricably linked to the Buddhist past of Kerala

June 12, 2012 at 2:37 AM

the topic is really interesting and complex. gene mapping of our community would help in revealing the real story. i would love to volunteer with the samples. let me know if any @ kapstvm@gmail.com

August 21, 2012 at 7:23 PM

very interesting post.pl visit www.nairs.in also


August 30, 2012 at 8:51 PM

so nairs and brahmins are of same stock....good......maybe brahmins are inferior to nairs..........the dead brahmins and nairs of the ancient period will be turning in their graves on seeing the attempts by the younger generations to claim more higher status.............

September 1, 2012 at 1:23 AM

The whole research effort seems to be aimed at somehow finding an 'ARYAN' connection. Why this ineferiorty complex. Nairs are Dravidian period. Nair is a corrupted form of Tamil word Nagar-snake people. Karayalar is fishermen in Tamil. Malayalar is mountaineous people. Malayalam is Tamil with a dash of sanskrit.

September 12, 2012 at 6:37 PM

sagaya raj it seems you are a grand old man to have so much knowledge regarding everything around you...its not about aryan supremacy or anything but finding the orgins of the nair race which we represent...

September 13, 2012 at 7:50 AM

"dravidian"correctly means a group of languages, not a physical type of people....the culture of nairs may be of the original dravidian speakers( the indus valley inhabitants)- the snake cult, the matrilineal kinship- but the physical type has to considered separately- if the so called dravidian physical type is to be seen in the bulk of the tamil population , then the majority of nairs do not conform to it....this has been coroborrated by anthropologists like thurston, von eickstedt.guha...and many more...a recent study by balakrishnan et al on HLA showed that the nair nambuthiri population were distinct from the tamil populations....so calling oncelf aryan or dravidian does not make much sense, the aryan languages are spoken by people as diverse as bhils( predominantly proto australoid tribals) and the punjabi jatt and khatri(perhaps the most caucasoid looking people in india)!

September 16, 2012 at 9:45 AM

I wonder why we are discussing he issue of nair ancestry. If one observes carefully the physical features of nairs, we can see an admixture so many anthropological features. Colour, built, height, eyes, facial features, like that. My mother was very whitish while I am dark. My father was dark also and he was a Namboodiri too. Many of his cousins and relatives were ,of course whitish and they had very different facial and other physical features, which we can atribute to multiple ancestry. ( This is applicable to Namboodiris, Nairs and Ezhavas alike)
Any cultural groups those excel with good social survival techniques need not be of any single stock, race or cast. More over it is well estabilished that greater is the survival skills of any individual when he/she has a broader gene stock. It is simple and easy to think of prehistoric or historic people moving throughout the world spatially and temporally and making progeny of mixed origin. It is clearly established that modern humans have the genes of Denizovans or Neanderthals with whom they co-habited in pre historic caves ( The Altai caves and all)and had recieved genes from them through copulation. The same is applicable in the history of Kerala coast and it is unnecessary to debate on the origins of the culturally dominant groups of Kerala. No doubt , they were the off springs of the earlier migrations mixing with the then existing people in this hilly terrain. I feel this discussion is a sort of parochialism.

November 11, 2012 at 6:24 AM


November 30, 2012 at 6:24 PM

your article on nair cast are very interesting,also am vary curious about the origin of nair.where did they come from.

February 24, 2013 at 4:26 AM

after reading all these comments it seems an aryan origin and european origin subserved the interest of the author. why not go for gene mapping and social survival index,the more muti ancesteral origin the more survival. that holds good for animals too. is it that they havent migrated.

March 8, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Subdivisions Home

The Malayala Kshatriyas are divided in to more than 200 subdivisions. But In general, they can be categorized in to four main divisions – Nair Superior, Nair Proper, nair auxillary and Nair Inferior.

Nair Superior:

Nair Superior clans composed the Royal or ruling dynasties of Kerala. Out of the 161 Royal houses of Kerala, 157 were Nair, 3 were Nambudiri and One was Muslim.

Broadly, the ruling clans can be divided in to two – koil thampurans and samantan nairs.

Koil thampurans are very few in number, and major clans among them include the royal families of cochin and beypore. Current population is somewhere around 5,000.

Koil thampuran clans:

(1) Perumpadappu Swaroopam (Royal Family of Cochin)
(2) Koil Thampurans of Travancore (a total of 10 clans – Kilimanoor, Keerthipuram, Pallam, Paliyakkara, Nirazhi, Anantapuram, Chemprol, Cherukol, Karamma & Vatakkematham)
(3) Puranatt Swaroopam (Royal Family of Kottayam)
(4) Royal Family of Beypore
(5) Royal Family of Kondungalloor
(6) Royal Family of Vettatnad (Extinct)

Samantan nairs are slightly more numerous. Royal families of Travancore, chirakkal, Calicut.etc are samantan nairs. Currently they number more than 50,000 individuals, divided in to more than 150 clans.

Major samantannair clans:

(1) Nediyiruppu Swaroopam (Royal Family of Calicut or Zamorins)
(2) Venad Swaroopam (Royal Family of Travancore)
(3) Kola Swaroopam (Royal Family of Kolathunad / Chirakkal)
(4) Thirumukhom (Most notably Pillais of Ettuveedu and Naluveedu)
(5) Thampi (Clans in Aramana,Puthumana, Kallada, Mupidakka, Chavara, Pulimoodu, Vadasseri, Thiruvattar & Nagarcoil)
(6) Valiyathan (Clans in Vattaparambil,Thottathil, Medayil.etc)
(7) Unnithan (Clans in Edasseri,Kunnath, Manthiyath, Marangatt, Munjanatt, Pullelil, Manappallil.etc)
(8) Kartha / Karthavu (Royal Family of Meenachil, Clans in Ranni, Karimattath, Cheraneloor, Mannamparambath, Alangad.etc)
(9) Kaimal (Raja of Anjikaimalnadu, Clans in Vaikattillam, Niranampetti, Thachudaya.etc)
(10) Samantan Menon (Royal Family of Palghat)
(11) Samantan Nambiar (Royal Family of Kadathanad, Clans in Randuthara, Randillom, Mavila, Koodali, Kalliat.etc)
(12) Kavalappara Swaroopam
(13) Pulavayi Swaroopam
(14) Arangottu Swaroopam (Royal Family of Valluvanad)
(15) Nedunganad Swaroopam
(16) Nayanar (Clans in Edathil,Erambala, Varikara & Vengayil)
(17) Adiyodi (Clans in Tekkadi & Vadakkadi)
(18) Kurangott Swaroopam
(19) Kuthiravattath Swaroopam

Nair Proper:

Nair PROPER is the aristocratic and soldier class of Kerala. There are four subdivisions among them. Altogether the nair proper number somewhere around 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 people, concentrated in Kerala and neighbouring states.

The four nair subdivisions are:

1. Kiryathil Nair
2. Illathu Nair
3. Swaroopathil Nair
4. Charna Nair

April 25, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Nair not a caste that is only a umbrella of sevaral castes..nair naik nayaka are awarded by kings.

April 26, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Mudirajas are also known as bants (buntlu) in some parts of western Andhra Pradesh. But bunts are quite wide spread in Karnataka and they are quit dominant peasant community in tulanad. All Mudirajas must know about Tulu and kannada speaking Bunts as Mudirajas were also in the profession of soldiers just like bunts during mediveal times and both were closely associated with the great Vijayanagar Empire from the day of its foundation till the last day of its survival. It is quite apparent from the fact that Mudirajas are also known as Bunts in Western Andhra Pradesh clearly indicates that bunts of Karnataka and A.P are not different from each other and both belong to one single block of people. It is also a fact that the name and fame which the great Vijayanagar Empire earned not only in India but in the entire world was due to the great contribution of the great warrior soldiers of bunt-mudiraj people of South Indian Peninsula. If there is any difference between the Mudirajas (Muthurajas) and the Bunts, it is very minor due to their regional adaptation for survival. The people who spread to Tamil and telugu speaking eastern part of South Indian peninsula came to be known as Mudirajas (Muthurajas) and the people who spread to Tulu and Kannada speaking Western part of South Indian peninsula came to be known as Bunts. While some bunt-mudirajas in some regions switched over to agricultural farming and some others in some other regions taken over fishing and fish farming for survival after the collapse of kingdoms due to establishment of colonial rule by East India Company. Here is some information which is extracted from one of the web sites of Bunts for the benefit of Mudirajas of Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu.Bunts are known to be one of the ancient and aboriginal communities of Suth Asia. About the origin of Bunts, no definitive records are available. But in the earlier centuries, some Tuluva households ruled some smaller kingdoms or areas under the kings and in some instances they were the rulers under smaller kings (e.g. Pallavas, Kadambas, Chalukyas, Kalachuryas and Hoysalas). These smaller rulers had frequent clashes, with the kings, who gave birth to a group or community of warriors who were called BHATARU in Kannada,

April 26, 2013 at 2:31 PM

glad that such a lot of study has gone in about Nairs. it should be eqyally true of all human races that they have interminglede with may other races during he migrations across the globe over the millionsof yearsof humanity. we ead a story that the white man of England is actually a tuluva who migrated to England over the vast land stretch and got bleached on the way. It is also true that every conception produces a new unique entity incorporating all that were in the partners in copulation. plenty of marks are left in the new issue yet the new one is differrent. While considering their ancestry, thenpandits may also comment on the politco social situation of the people at the current times. Sqn Ldr G G Nair Bangalore.

May 24, 2013 at 12:47 AM

Certainly nairs are worth researching about. Such a wonderful cocktail of races, so heady like a strong wine, making waves wherever they go. Will some researcher review the present status of Nairs not only in Kerala, but all over the world. There is a study that shows that the the present Englishman walked over across the continents from Tulunad and got bleached over the distance and time . Yet he carried many tulu words and customs like market - maru kattai, aspatal - hospital etc. Nairs were also prolific travellers and voyagers. it may be that the hill tribe from Western ghats of Kerala traveled across and fathered many of the Scythians etc. Remember the Story of Caesar's son.India has been the cradle of civilisations too. Sqn ldr G G Nair Bangalore.

May 24, 2013 at 1:00 AM

Thanks GG Nair..
glad you enjoyed it. Another article based on genetic studies will be posted on..

May 27, 2013 at 4:22 AM

ohh i'm exhausted after reading this article. But i must say that it was very informative. i really wanted to know the meaning or being a Nair is all about. My friends in Mumbai always asks me..whats this blah blah being a Nair. You Know what Maddy, i can show them this blog & they will get a brief idea about being a Nair. and one more Question...are the Nair's of trivandrum, the Real Nair's of Kerala?? juss curious.
Proud to be a Nair.
Sujit Sukumaran Nair

July 19, 2013 at 3:49 PM

thanks sujit
that is a tricky question. yes there are all kinds of nairs and some of the nairs of Trivandrum acquired the nair caste because they joined the Travancore army or helped the kingdom. I will write more about this another day

July 20, 2013 at 8:45 AM

The one hundred and fifty years of independent movement ha made people intellectually sick and ninety percent ogre subcontinent indulge in blame gain of anti brahmin phobia. Just as HUF has lost its sheen and dissolved it is high time that India should be made confederation of Indian states where each state can define its own people and liberty to decide on Brahmins/Hinduism. Kerala and Tamilnadu will greatly benefit since they can wipe out Brahminism and their subjugation of five thousand years. Let Kerala and Tamilnadu intellectuals join and liberate from Namboodris and Brahminism and put an end to racial struggle. The advantage will be identification of the original Dravidians and intruder Aryanism and restore Dravidian glory. LONG LIVE STUPID INDIAN HISTORY AND CRAZY NAMBOODRI PHOBIA!

November 2, 2013 at 11:11 PM

I am confused much about what Tejaswini actaully wants.

Does she/he believe that we can put an end to the caste/race sysytem by simply subjugating/ annihilating only the brahmanic tradition and its people? If so that person is in a fool's paradise.

Unless the castes and tribes constitutionally defined in India are not abolished by law, no leaders of any movement can attain a caste/race less society.

Our constitution recognises the castes and is protecting them - upper or lower - and ensuring them their identity. In every instances of our records, from birth to death, we have to state our caste. Even the offsprings of the inter cast/inter religious marriages are supposed to be of a caste and the offsprings are classified by the authorities as of the caste of the father. No body in India can identify officially as a man of no caste/religion.

Till this anomaly prevails it will be impossible to get an escape from the caste/race inferno.

If you remove brahmins from the system, some other caste will take their position. That will be its only logical culmination.

For such a change in our society we have to adopt a new approach to history, from where we are to look into our anthropological origins rather than the cultural origins. We have to study and analyse the movement of humans right from the Africa, thousands of years ago. We have to scientifically understand how they spread all over the globe and acquired - through many struggles, calculated risks,head-on collisions with challenges etc - their skills over many generations to reach the present level of technological and scientific achievements, from where he is ready to invade even the distant stars.

Thinking and discussing caste /race/religion is actually accepting it in our innaards of the mind.

December 31, 2013 at 7:48 AM

I very much stand on my legs. The issue of caste appeared only after enactment of Hindu Law by Britishers. To understand how caste and community have been misunderstood one has to go through famous case of Ganapathi Iyer versus Maharaja of Kolhapur. In India there is no caste but only communities. If caste is the prerogative under what caste Jats, Gujjars, Kapus will fit? There are only communities comprising of industrial class, mercantile class, priestly class, labour class etc.,India is the only country where priestly class are at the disposal of local people and each community have their own priests. Then where is the question of casteism? The community set up in 1500AD is not as of today and that in 1000AD was not that of 1500AD and so on. Community set up is dynamic and not static. For example upto 1000AD South India was dominated by Brahmakshatriyas who cannot be identified now. One among the groups was VAIDHYAS/AMBASHTAS to which SIRUTHONDAR and VIGYAPATHI OF VELVIKUDI GRANT viz.,SATTAN GANAPATHI belonged. The Valluvars occupied a prominent place upto CHOLAS. The VALMIKIS AND VALLUARS have the right to don sacred threads. Even now in Tamilnadu Valluvars are excellent astrologers and priests for untouchables. If the dynamic nature of community set up was not understood properly, tomorrow there will be new class of Brahmins and outcastes i.e.,those in all communities including Brahmins who cannot cope up with Science and Technology will become irrelevant and take jobs considered as menial as per current standards and become outcastes and the blame game sill start after hundred years. The greatest misunderstanding of caste is not of Manu Law but due to the fact that it was standardised through prejuidised lense of history. The societal change can never be understood through the history of Aryan invasion and one conveniently shift the blame to casteism which can satisfy one's ego for contemporary times but not for long. Any passionate person will demand scrapping of Hindu Law which has created unnecessary prejudice against anteriority. Caste can be abolished but not community set up because caste can never provide hetrogenity while community provides hetrogenity within the limited space and fit into caste as per the changing times. If one likes or not Indian polity has to accept existence of community which can never become caste. What happens in Tamilnadu the land of Periyarism? The internicine quarrel is due to fear of survival and loss of identity of one's self mistitled as caste clash.Everybody can welcome abolishing of caste but what is the alternative to the customs of various communities from birth to death? Will this also be enacted by COMMON CIVIL LAW? A true historian can never blame anybody for societal changes but will try to provide level playing field for everybody without hatred and malice towards none. Blaming Casteism and Aryan invasion theory is not going to solve the problems.

December 31, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Great work

February 3, 2014 at 5:20 AM

Thanks a lot. I am very happy that at least some persons like to view history as dynamic one and not as a tool to have blame game on our deficiencies but to have equanimity towards all.

February 3, 2014 at 8:26 AM

Great reading. Enjoyed it. But, more confused than ever. Feels a bit shallow to compare ourselves with Caucasians alone. A more valuable and meaningful find would be to understand how we Malayalis are related genetically among ourselves. Is there any study on comparison of Nair genes to that of Ezhavas? That would be an interesting one.

May 31, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Is it Keralites only are CAUCAUSIANS? Even here there is problem because as per Greek Historians CACAUSIANS did not refer to Turkish surrounding CASPIAN SEA but people living in HINDU KUSH. Now the question is Are Keralites relate to Hindu Kush or CACAUSIANS of CASPIAN SEA. Here also the WESTERN HISTORIANS have different standards for India and rest of World. Only in India Indo Europeans are grouped under CACAUSIANS. In rest of the world CELTS/NORSE IONIANS are not considered as CACAUSIANS and CACAUSIANS are somewhat degraded as SLAVS embracing the entire EUROPE except GAUL(FRANCE AND GERMANY)IBERIA(SPAIN/BRITISH ISLES) AND SCANDINAVIA. Hence it is stupid to follow the WESTERN HISTORIANS notion of CACAUSINS referring to SLAVS only and thus we may pride themselves as RUSSIANS. WHAT A STUPIDITY OF TRUTH? It is unfortunate that Keralites are not interested in calling themselves as Indians moreso they dislike TAMIL and they want to shift blame for the social degradation to SANSKRIT.

May 31, 2014 at 8:17 PM

There is problem with identity of CACAUSIANS.While the Greek Historians identified it with Hindu Kush the Western Historians identity it with areas adjoining Caspian sea and Cacausian mountains The Western Historians have two sets of history one for India and another for Rest of the Word For Indians Cacausians barbaric nomadic Indo Europeans for Others Cacausians are differentiated from IONIANS/IBERAINS(SPAIN AND BRITISH ISES)NORSE(GAUL AND SCANDINAVIA). Cacausians are considered as inferior Slavs occupying Europe except IONIAN IBERIANS AND NORSE.Now the questions is whether Keralites are proud if they call themselves as Slavs.Why should they dislike any connection with Tamil and antagnostic towards Sanskrit?

May 31, 2014 at 10:50 PM

Thanks Tejaswininimburia

The idea was just to explore the origins..It has always been man's quest for his roots that has kept history moving..otherwise one can always forget it all and live in the present like the Yogis teach..
As there is a dearth of factual accounts relating to the history of nair's there is a lot of subjective writing around this. and the net result is that different people choose different myths to come to conclusions. Even DNA mapping will be somewhat subjective, i will cover it soon and then you will see why I say that. Tamil, Malayalam etc is all the same and also a bit different..Clan differences and customs differences will always exist and then again, everybody will agree that the Chera kingdom was Tamil speaking till the advent of namboothiris.

June 1, 2014 at 4:20 AM

thanks trend seeker,
as i said before, try reading this,
Mine is till work in progress and I will get to completing it soon

June 1, 2014 at 4:22 AM

It is futile to trace DNAs in India. So many Statistical Models have unequivocally prove that unlike in the rest of the world in India it is clustered. Hence tracing the origin through DNAs is Stupid. If anyone wants to really trace MIDDLE EAST ROOT one has to read prehistoric civilization as available in Western countries not in India. Nobody has yet analysed the mysteries of HITTITES/KASSITES/HURRITES civilization since though they are Indo European why did they adopt Egyptian/Sumerian culture w.r.t writing? Why did the Indo Europeans adopted a completely different culture in India/given up the long robes/wigs etc., It has been recorded that there has been dark age in Greece from 1100BC to 800BC. Though the Jews are considered to be Semitic yet Hebrew/Aramaic was entirely developed in Media which was related to Indo Iranians. Even Turanian/Turkish language are structured like Tamil and still there is dispute raging whether Cacausian languages fall under Indo Europeans.There cannot be two conflicting theories CACAUSIANS are Indo Aryans but their language cannot be correctly considered as Indo Europeans. It is futile attempt

June 1, 2014 at 9:38 AM

hi maddy.... when your study is ready please publish it...also what is the basis of your study is it historical? genetic?... regards, vivek

June 7, 2014 at 8:44 AM

hi maddy.... please publish your study when it is ready.....what is the basis of your study? genetics? history?....regards, vivek

June 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM

If really one wants to trace the correct history it should be commenced from the region Trichur to KALYAN. It is unfortunate that the megalithic sites are not studied holistically but by fits and starts. For example the burial/burnt urns with inbuilt chambers are found throughout
deccan upto ADHICHANALLUR yet our historians adopt localisation i.e., while ADICHANALLUR sites are studied by bias on DRAVIDIAN HYPOTHESES while in DECCCAN they adopt different sstandard. The latest discoveries at KODUMANAL and PALANI points to the same trend. Dr.R.Nagaswamy had already established that the circular/rectangular burn urns follow the death rituals of SATAPADA BRAHMANA. However our historians are bent on proving that it is NON ARYAN. Further the SOUTHERN BRAHMI UPTO ANURADHAPURA ARE ALL PRE MAURYAN but Scholars are not able to digest it. The problem is too much differentiation between JAIN/HINDU/ARYAN concepts. The Brahmi script was extensively used by JAINS. Further there was a period of lull for thousand years from 800BC to first century BC in Sanskrit during which only JAINISM flourished and there was no difference between JAINS and HINDUS except that Jains worshipped INDIRA/VARUNA etc., as elevated souls while HINDUS saw them as BOON GIVING DEITIES and offered animal sacrifice. But even here there were BRAHMINS who avoided worldly life and lived only on roots and leaves. While SRAMANAS guided ordinary people THE BRAHMANAS did not took up Purohits since even by that time it was considered low and those wo performed ISHTIS with animal sacrifice alone BRAHMIN PUROHITS. That is why we find the common hierarchy stretching upto SRILANKA. In the absence of a language after disappearance of VEDIC LANGUAGE a PROTO PRAKRIT developed which under the influence of PERSIAN INVASIONS gradually became PRAKRIT for which PANINI evolved grammar in order to absorb AVESTAN language and that is why Prakrit like TAMIL also adopted THATSAM/THATBHAV to absorb so called SANSKRIT words.It is puzzling to note that only in SANSKRIT DRAMA which evolved from BHASA in first century BC that Kings and upper class spoke SANSKRIT while even ladies of HAREM and all others spoke APABRAHMSA which was wrongly interpreted as COLLOQUIAL SANSKRIT. Even in Tamil HERO AND HEROINE wil always speak CHASTE TAMIL while others colloquial TAMIL. Why is it in SANSKRIT DRAMAS even ROYAL LADIES SPOKE APABRAHMASA. Is it Kings and Upper class were from Invading SAKAS/INDO-BACRTRIANS/PAHLAVAS considered themselves superior even to Brahmins of here?Why is it in SANSKRIT DRAMAS Brahmins were depicted as JESTERS? Is it to show neo-converts to Brahminism were superior to existing Brahmins. Was creation of URDU enacted one thousand years ago by creating SANSKRIT and converting APABRAHMSA into Prakrit and finally as colloquial SANSKRIT named as PRAKRIT. Was during the time of PERSIAN INVASION SEPARATION OF TAMIL WAS SIMULTANEOUS with emergence of PROTO PRAKRIT. Tamil can never be considered as different from APABRAHMSA since the grammar of Tamil follows KATAYANA SYSTEM - each word has meaning VAK AND ARTHA the origin of syllables with each identification etc.,The old Tamil Brahmi inscriptions always shows a mixture of APABRAHMSA AND TAMIL words and it is only after PANINI SANSKRIT emerged under DHATU system and isolation of TAMIL. Even now certain words like DASYU/DASA/SHUDRA have no roots in SANSKRIT i.e., adopted from different source. Just as Islamic invasion and Moghul invasion changed KHADIBOLI/VRAJBHASHA similarly ACCHEMENIAN EMPIRE changed the course of Indian languages. While APABRAHMSA was influenced by AVESTA Tamil was influenced by ELAMITE/CHALDEAN language. Hence it is futile to trace the history of Kerala by super imposing SAMUTHIRIS/KOLATHIRIS to to thousand years history

June 7, 2014 at 7:19 PM

Hi Maddy, Do we yet have the results of the genetic study yet?

I noticed that most studies dont take a large enough sample size.
In the case of the Nairs, there is quite a significant difference between the ones in Malabar and those in Travancore.Your thoughts?

July 23, 2014 at 4:27 AM

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