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Right and left handed castes

Posted by Maddy Labels: ,

I had not given much thought to this aspect, though I had heard brief mentions of it here & there. In Malabar & Kerala, we did not have it and medieval Tamil trade history had only recently started to catch my interest. Some time back, our friend Nick Balmer had mentioned about the confusion around these matters to me, but I had not the knowledge to provide him an explanation then. It was finally after the arrival and perusal of a fine book by Kanakalatha Mukund titled ‘The trading world of the Tamil merchant’ that I got a less cluttered picture of the segregation of the trading castes. For those who were a bit confused by all this, I hope the explanation would help in understanding some of the aspects covering the complexities in the Indian caste system with respect to this strange classification and the intense rivalry that resulted over many centuries. Many years ago, as I lived and worked in the Parry’s corner madras, I would see the roads Lingi Chetty Street, Thambu Chetty Street and wonder who these people were. Today I know about these fascinating characters and their connections to the trade in Madras, the immense wealth and power they controlled and their connections to the caste splits.

Unfortunately, much of Indian history has been tainted by the rigors of the caste system and the writings of Manu. It was even to affect very rational people like a well educated American who decided to convert, as I will explain another day. The caste system was put to test on many occasions before finally weakening to the clash of modernity and I had briefly mentioned some aspects in my article about Swami Vivekanada in Kerala.

While people are born into a caste (except in the rare case of a conversion into Hinduism) there existed a practice of certain lower castes changing their profession and in some cases deliberately raising themselves in the caste scale (WW Hunter – Indian gazetteer). For example, Hunter mentions the vaisya caste which were originally the tillers of the land, let go of this profession to the Sudras and raised themselves to the merchant and banking caste. Naturally, this occurred over many decades or eons to culminate in an orderly (or unruly as another would term it) system towards the late medieval times.

Anyway as Malabar continued the strong traditions of the caste system, but with local variations with the Namboothiri’s ruling the roost, a vertical split occurred in the Tamil regions. They created the ‘valangai’ and the ‘edangai’ split, i.e. the right and the left handed classes. The untouchables or Paraya’s and the agriculturist Sudra’s aligned themselves to RHC. The other group naturally became left handed, sponsoring the artisans and traders opposing the Brahmin supremacy. The landowners or the vellalars together with the ‘parayas’ were pitted against the landless artisans or the kanmalars. The vellalars which comprised the Mudaliar or Pillais and the Komati’s and Baljis formed the right handed group. The left handed groups were the Beri chetti’s together with the class of artisans such as blacksmiths, goldsmiths, masons, carpenters and so on. Such drifts occurred in Bengal, Andhra, Canara, Gujarat and other places as well, but not taking a form as above and are not covered here. Slowly the original caste discipline was weakening. As the group divide occurred, the places they lived in underwent the physical divide as well. The towns of Tamil nadu, especially the regions occupied by the above castes, then got segregated (eastern side to the left handed and the western to the right handed castes). Naturally, festivities & other activities like funerals got divided and confined to territories occupied by the respective castes. If one group or a procession of theirs strayed into another’s territory, the situation flared up into a major quarrel.



But let us try to go back a little bit to figure out how this originated. There are many stories. However, the biggest cause was the relative lack of clarity between the Kshatriya and Vaishya castes in South India. Brahmana’s and Sudra’s were well defined, however. While the Vedic system divided the body into four horizontal cuts forming the four castes of Brahmana, Khastriya, Vaishya and Sudra, the vertical split was a South Indian response to it. However, as the right hand in Hinduism takes superiority to the left, terming another left handed itself was sometimes the core of the problem and considered derogatory (note that the left hand is associated with faeces and the right with food).

Anyway it is accepted that this split and attempt at definition started during the Chola times, somewhere in the 10-11th century. It was primarily owing to the classification of centralized military forces at that time. One was a group of people constituting the right hand army and the other, the left. Eventually the artisan group’s claim of Brahminical status complicated the issue very much. As the temple building spree took root in the post war periods, the demand for artisans and their services increased and the claim’s for Brahmin status were pressed harder. It appears that they (Panchalar/Kammalar/Kamsalis) succeeded and the others led by the Vellalars rebelled since then. This also explains why this split never took place in neighboring Kerala, for a temple building spree never happened in the Chera country. In addition to all that the Brahmin Jain struggle eventually reached a compromise where all the Jain artisans were finally classified right by the Vira Bukka raya in the 14th century.

In the end, the struggle between the 9th and 14th century was broadly between landed castes on one side with the artisans on the other. Added to all these was the struggle for supremacy between Saivaite and Vaishnavite Brahmins who even associated differently (though they were not supposed to) between the two castes at certain times. The final aspect was the languages used as many of the traders spoke Telugu and others spoke Tamil, with the Brahmins indulging in Tamil and Sanskrit. So as you can see, the fragmented castes finally created a single divide for convenience in argument and representation and this remained the system that the English saw when the EIC came to power in madras. As the EIC cleverly manipulated the two, the result was not always satisfactory, for much of their time since then was spent trying to find compromises and settlements especially when one of the groups finally decided to abandon the city.

While this is the more practical and pragmatic explanation, the mythological explanations based on the Veda Vyasa story, the Kammala – Vellala story, the Saiva, Vasihnava story, the Kali Kancheepuram story, the Kancheppuram kings killing and division of body parts story, the Chola raja ‘muchilika’ story, Karikala chola’s division story, beef eating story etc are used by one or the other to press their claims and superiority. Some day, if readers are interested, I can provide a gist of each of these stories.

It is generally believed that the Brahmins themselves constituted the left-hand faction. Hence, initially, the left-hand faction was made mainly of Brahmins and castes claiming Brahmin-ness such as the Kammalan’s who are believed to have migrated to Tamil Nadu with the Brahmins. Though, Brahmins have been classified as a left-hand caste in ancient times, Tamil Brahmins as "Mahajanam" are regarded, along with foreign migrants, as outside the dual left and right-hand caste divisions of Tamil Nadu. Brahmins, during the later centuries, were regarded as outside the left and right-hand caste system, and due to their being neutral, Brahmins were regarded as the most suitable candidates to function as mediators.

During the Chola period, the left and right-hand factions comprised ninety-eight castes each, but by the 19th century, the right-hand faction was made of 60 castes, and the left-hand, only six. Various other reasons constituted the bitter rivalry. It is said that the valankai group had more privileges and standing, they could use palanquins, slippers and umbrellas. They could cast the sari pallu over the right shoulder. They had lower taxation than the left. Then came the issue with the EIC favoring the right handed castes originally resulting in a strong cartel which fixed prices. Finally in an effort to break the ring, the left were involved, resulting in even more acrimony and fights between the two factions. The whole story of the quarrel and the settlement is rather confusing and quite silly at time, so I will not get into further details. However, there may have been an ulterior motive at times of diverting British attention from the huge monies owed by the RH groups to them. Though the two groups were against the hierarchical Vedic system, there was caste hierarchy within each group. Despite posing a challenge, they did not overturn the Brahminical ideology.

In 1652, the first rioting started in Madras when the Sheshadri nayak & Koneri Chetti stated that they had been insulted by the Beri chetti. The RH group attached the LH group with weapons. The result was a formal segregation of the groups to Muttialpetta and Pedanaikapetta. Can you believe it, the RH Chetti can use the right side street only to go to a temple, if they used an LH street, it created uproar as it did when Tellaisinga Chetti used the right side street to go to a temple. These quarrels and sometimes violent fights continued on until 1712 or so…

And thus, as you study this subject, you will come across the great traders of Madras, people whose names grace roads like Lingi chetty, Thambu chetty and so on. The fight for their superiority is interwoven into the various conflicts between the two classes. Much of them relate to control of temples and physical properties situated on an ‘apparent’ wrong side. The various stories are very interesting, and it is also amusing to note how the British of madras were caught squarely between them, with one or the other threatening non cooperation if the British did not side with them. It must have been nerve racking for somebody from the quiet plains of Midlands in the UK, living in the hot humid and noisy madras, trying to figure out what on earth all this meant, in the first place. Compared to all this, the vacillations in Malabar were probably too sedate for an average Englishman.


Note: Vellalars are one who control the "Vellam" i.e floods in the river and grow crops and Karalars are one who control "Kar" i.e. Clouds in the form of Tanks and Lakes and grow crops. The Kammalan or Viswakarma caste members are artisans such as goldsmiths and stonemasons. Occupation was an important factor and guilds of craftsmen formed castes as the Kammalan caste did, while some occupations formed separate castes. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. Vaishnavism on the other hand, is distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu or his associated avatars, principally as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God. Chetti’s are the trading mercantile castes figuring in both the sides

Note 2 - I must also add here that the definition of 'karalar' seems a little out of place though that seems acceptable in the published domain. I think it is kara meaning bank or dry ground, hence karalar are tillers.

Black town – Formerly George Town in Madras, is a historical neighborhood of Fort St. George. Also known as Black Town in the British period, the settlement was formed after the British set up the fort. It is the first settlement of the city of Chennai soon after the completion of the fort. This is where the modern city of Chennai started expanding from since its formation in 1640. The Parry’s corner, Moore market, Pookada – flower market, the various chetti streets I mentioned are all located in Blacktown. Please visit this blog for more details.


References

The imperial gazetteer – WW Hunter
The life of Thomas Pitt - By Sir Cornelius Neale Dalton
The trading world of the Tamil merchant: By Kanakalatha Mukund
Right and Left Hand Castes in South India – Arjun Appadurai
The view from below - Kanakalatha Mukund

I am yet to read the major work by Thurston on these classes & castes, but it is a valuable reference for those interested.

The Astrologer and the Gama

Posted by Maddy Labels:

Why did the Kolathiri’s of Cannanore welcome the Portuguese with open arms? Was it because of the rivalry between the Kolathiri’s and the Zamorin? Or was it something else? This is yet another interesting story. Read on my friends. How an astrologer or an Arab may have been the cause of the change of fortunes of an entire region and later the country of India.

I got intrigued reading this account which said, ‘300 years before the arrival of the Portuguese, there lived a Kanian in Cannanore who was so famous that many of his predictions were documented for posterity. One of these related to the arrival of the Europeans from the West and their supremacy thereafter.’ (Padmanabhan Thampi narrates thus in an article - Calcutta Review 1901). Thampi actually derives this information from the Lendas da India written by Correa. This Kanian predicted that Europeans would arrive at the shores of Malabar and would reign supreme. According to Thampi, this was the reason why Gama and later captains received a favorable reception from the Kolathiri’s of Cannanore and this was probably the reason why the Portuguese got a strong base to continue their trade in Malabar even though Calicut was hostile. Now all this sounded somewhat vague, so I decided to check this out further. As I read the Correa rendition, I found the connections dubious & circumstantial, to state the least.

But then I found this corroborated somewhat by Nagam Aiya in his Travancore State Manual, Vol 1, Page 270. He says – Gaspar Correa the historian of Portuguese India, gives the story of a kanian or astrologer living at Cannanore three hundred or four hundred years before the arrival of the Portuguese, who had a great reputation for astrology that his predictions were committed to writing, one of which related to the arrival of Europeans from the West, who would attain superiority of India. Now, many historians debate the credibility of Gaspar, so what did he actually have to say?

I decided to check out the Book of three voyages (Correas book translated by Henry Stanley –Hakluyt Society) which indeed confirms that soothsayers have been trying to convince the King of Cannanore to accept Gama and they should be friendly with the Franks unlike the Zamorin of Calicut. At the bottom of the subject chapter, the book also refers to a possible reason for the input

Here is what Correa had to say, in Chapter XVIII

How the Portuguese went to the port of Cananor, and saw the King, and of what happened with him, and what they settled.

While the Portuguese were at Calecut, the King of Cananor always knew all that happened to them, because he had sent people for that purpose to write to him everything.


The Moors of Cananor, who received information from those of Calecut, in order to indispose the inclination of the King, used to tell him many lies about the Portuguese, that they used violence and arrogance in Calecut, and many other false tales with respect to which the King knew the truth.

For which reason, one day that the Moors were thus relating these things to him, he said that no one should tell him lies, because he would order his head to be cut off for it. The King said this because he had already settled in his heart that he would establish as much peace with the Portuguese as they might be willing, because he was always talking to his soothsayers, who continually repeated what they had said to the King, and they said to him that the evils done in Calecut caused by the Moors would doubtless grow, and that the Portuguese would always do much harm to Calecut, and would destroy the Moors throughout India, and would turn them out of India, and they would never again possess the navigation which they now had. The King said that if that came to pass, that he also would receive great losses to his kingdom. The soothsayers said to him and gave great assurances that so it would be, because the Portuguese would be masters of the sea, and that no one would be able to navigate upon it unless they were friends of the Portuguese, and that whoever were their enemies would be destroyed at sea and on the land, and that they were telling him the truth, and he should take counsel and do what appeared to him to be for the best. (Footnote)

The Portuguese, then, running along the coast with land and sea breezes, Avhich was in November of 1498, found themselves one morning in sight of Cananor, far out at sea, and the King had kept boats out at sea lest they should pass by night; the land breeze began to fall and the ships became becalmed until there sprung up a change of wind from the sea which brought them to land, and they came before the port of Cananor." When the ships were sighted, the King at once sent to them a large boat, which they call a parao, with a good crew, in which he sent a Nair of his with a message to the captains, begging them much and supplicating them by the life of the King their sovereign, not to pass by without going to his port to see him, because it was very necessary for a great good, and also for them to refit themselves, for he already knew the evil which had been done them in Calecut, which he regretted very much.

(Footnote) The following lines from a Persian Kasidah, or ode of Niamet Ullah Wely, written in the year 570 a.h. or 1174 A.D., may be given as an instance of the sayings of the soothsayers referred to in the text. The nation of the Christians shall seize upon the whole of Hindostan. Then, when tyranny and innovation shall have become a custom among them, The King of the West shall fight against them victoriously, Between them there shall be great wars, …………..


Now how did one become the other? Correa talks of soothsayers and astrologers advising the King. Thampi and later Nagam Aiya talk about the prophecy of a famous Kanain in the 1100 A.D. period. However, the Correa book’s translation by Stanley attributes all this to the prophecies of a Sufi saint. There was definitely no mention of a Kanain who said something 300-400 years ago. Where did Aiya and Thampi get this idea in the first place?

To get to their conclusions, one must check another source, the writings of Fr Jordanus, quoted by Thampi. Jordanus says in a letter written in 1323 ‘the people (of Malabar) are in continuous expectation of Latins here, which they say is clearly predicted in their books’. Naimatulla Shah Wali Bukhari incidentally is considered the Muslim Nostradamus, he was a Sufi saint who lived in the Kashmir Valley around 900 years ago and provided many such prophecies in his Qaseeda. However the question of whether the input was from Malabar astrologers or the pilot of Gama’s ship Ahmad Ibn Majid (based on the Sufi saint’s teachings perhaps), is not yet clear, for Fr Jordanus account is relatively independent of all this. Camoens says in his Luisids that the Gama was told by his escort (Ibn Majid, I assume) that the sages of Malabar had predicted a conquest against which ‘no human resistance shall prevail’.

KM Panikkar in his ‘Malabar & the Portuguese’ mentions that it was purely rivalry with the Zamorin that made the Kolathiri’s decide to shake hands with the Portuguese – ‘my enemy’s enemy is naturally my friend’ kind of situation. Logan provides a bit of mystery as he explains the event. The Kolathiri king decided to meet the Gama face to face and had a long wooden bridge constructed and clambered on to the ship Sao Gabriel. The Gama’s greeted him and gave him many gifts (he details the various gifts in Page 301). Now how is it that the Gama had so many gifts for the Kolathiri but had pleaded that he had none for the Zamorin? History tells us that he did not really have anything of importance to offer the Zamorin. Anyway the visit ended with the Kolathiri providing the Gama a golden leaf with a trade agreement.

Correa continues ‘Thus it was because the King of Cannanore thought that these pale-faced strangers were the people spoken of by the soothsayer, that he welcomed them so kindly’. But he was wrong for they would be succeeded later by the Dutch and later the English as real rulers, as history was to prove.

Anyway the real reasoning of the Cannanore king was probably self preservation & trade and his enmity with the Zamorin. It was to be emulated again by the Cochin king who did exactly the same to get his revenge on the Zamorin.

Nevertheless, in fairness to the repute of the Kanian, it is also true that in medieval times, astrological inputs were very important in Kerala (as it is now) when it comes to decision making, while it’s connection to the Gama event is at best tenuous.

Notes:

Kanian, kanisan is the Malayalam equivalent of Ganika (saskrit for astrologer) or Malayalam Kani. The caste is covered in detail in Edgar Thurston’s book

Funnily, the Portuguese themselves had based their entire trip on the blessings of a famous mathematician and astrologer named Abraham Zacuto. He explained to Gama how they could cross the Cape of Good Hope and avoid fierce storms. It was his convincing argument to King Manuel that got a nod to Gama’s voyage, in reality.

References

Christopher Columbus and the participation of the Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese discoveries. By Meyer Kayserling, Charles Gross
The three voyages of Vasco da Gama, and his viceroyalty Gaspar Correa – Translated by Baron Henry Edward John Stanley Stanley
Travancore state manual – Nagam Aiya
Calcutta review Calcutta review, Volumes 112-113, Pg 207
Mirabilia descripta: the wonders of the East By Jordanus

Pic – Ahmad Ibn majid – Saudi Aramco World, Gama ship – Wikimedia commons

The Cheraman sword

Posted by Maddy Labels: ,

As one reads books on Malabar history, especially focusing on Calicut and the Zamorin lineage, one come across mentions of a sword that was gifted to the Puntura brothers Manavedan and Manavikraman, by the erstwhile ruler Cheraman Peruymal with a violent blessing.



The picture of the sword and its sheath is attached as well as the inscription on the sheath – which stated ‘Ningal chattum konnum atakki kolka’ - loosely translated as 'die, kill and annex (seize)'. It obviously makes that piece of weaponry very symbolic and important, if it still exists. Let’s take a look at the sword, its implications, importance and present whereabouts. It was after all a symbolic sword that provided the Zamorin’s of the yesteryears the legal right to do what they did and the license to annex and conquer vast portions of Malabar and assert their claims to them.

Recently at the Calicut Heritage forum meeting, Advocate Suresh questioned – How could that blessing sound right? Can you die and still continue the conquest? Well, that was an interesting question indeed.

While some historian’s have stated that the original itself was handed over by the Perumal in a broken condition, other historians state that it was a proper sword until the Dutch attack of the Zamorin’s rest house in Tiruvanchikulam - Kodungallur in 1670, which they set fire to, in dastardly fashion.

The sword itself has been called ‘Udaval’ and Otimaval (Otinjaval?) by historians. The former means ‘A curved sword carried with the body along the waist’ whereas the latter means a broken sword. The present Zamorin mentioned in a discussion with the author that it was indeed in one piece, and had been remade from the broken part, after having been destroyed in a fire during a war with the Dutch. He also mentioned that the sword is now kept in the Tali temple and taken out only for ceremonious occasions.

The destruction of the sword

The time of the Zamorin 1668-71, who was the Thamburan assisted by the Portuguese Pacheo – The story is set during the time the Nayars had been defeated and the Dutch had destroyed the round fort erected their bastion in Tiruvanchikulam in 1669.

KV Krishna Iyer describes the event thus- In the following year, the Zamorin though sickly, was persuaded by the Eralpad to go to Cranganore to encourage the Nayars. The Dutch surprised the Zamorin camp on March 27th. By an inexplicable oversight, the Eralpad had allowed the bulk of the Nairs to go to the Cherpu for the Ashvathi festrival. The Dutch broke into the temple, smashed the idols, killed the priest and set fire to the house. In the confusion of the night, the nairs forgot to remove the Cheraman sword and it was burnt to cinders. The Zamorin retired to Papinivattom and the Eralpad recaptured the bastion.


Historian NM Nampoothiri opines as follows -When the Zamorin was a ruling chief, all public activities were suspended for fourteen days after the previous Zamorin’s death, and resumed only after the Ariyittu valcha, which immediately followed by Tiruvantali. The last ritualistic procedure conducted in this period is the Tirubali. The coronation function starts after Tirubali. The Zamorins proceeds to his private chapel to worship the Goddess and the Cheraman Sword. The original sword was reduced into splinters in AD. 1670, at Cranganore, where the Zamorins were camping, in the course of a surprise attack by the Dutch. The document, which describes this incident, has now been rediscovered.


Herman Gundert - Explains the dastardly night attack on March 23rd, 1670 when the Zamorin lost his wife and his son was injured while they came to attend the Bharani festival (see the difference between the Iyer & Gundert explanations). It was also the day when the original Perumal sword was destroyed. He also mentions in his Keralolpathi version thus - The traditions proudly recounted that they got only a broken sword (from the Perumal), to confuse the issue

In the Duarte Barbosa book by ML Dames, JA Thorne gives an account of the Val Puja done during the Ariyittuvazcha. He explains that the sword is worshipped daily by the Zamorin, and that the sword is lain at the feet of the Bhagavati when he dies. Until a new Zamorin is appointed, the priest does the daily chores of worship to the sword. The val puja is again carried out by the new Zamorin on his first day’. M A Thorne, who annotated the Longworth Dames version of Barbos;as book states that he had seen the sword, and that it is a quasi sacred relic to the Zamorin. It was brought out in a salvar decked with ‘jamanthi’ flowers. By the late 19th century it had already rusted to pieces, according to him.

J Heniger in his book (Pg 35) Hendrik Adriaan van Reede tot Drakenstein (1636-1691) and Hortus Malabaricus ... confirms the event stating that the Zamorin’s wife was mortally wounded and son shot in the leg that fateful night. The rains came soon after and van Rheede retreated to their base in Ceylon. Ironically, it was Henrich van Rheede’s first success as commander, marching in with 900 soldiers sent to him by Van Goens, but it was a cheap method adopted i.e. setting fire to a private house occupied by women & children, at night, well against the norms of war in those days.

However most other history books missed van Rheede’s presence in 1670, while many of them do account for his formal arrival to Cochin in 1676. J Heninger’s has to be right here, so it was indeed the revered van Rheede who was instrumental in destruction of the treasured Cheraman Sword. Nevertheless, many historians have since then mentioned that the rusted blade of the sword was covered with a protective covering of copper.


Picture below shows the present Zamorin PKS Raja holding the remains of the famous sword.

During the Mamankham too, the sword was used symbolically, as quoted below from Nayars of Malabar- F Fawcett

It was on this spot, on a smooth plateau of hard laterite rock, raised some 3oto4o feet above the plain, that the Zamorin used several times in the course of the festival to take his stand with the sword of Cheraman Perumal, the last emperor, in his hand.

" The sword is and has been for centuries, slowly rusting away in its scabbard, but it is not alone on it that the Zamorin depends for his safety, for the plain below him is covered with the 30,000 Nayars of Ernad, the 10,000 of Polanad and numberless petty dependent chieftains, each counting his fighting men by the hundred or the thousand or by thousands. Away on the right across the river are the camps of the second prince of the Zamorin's family and of the dependent Punnattur Raja ; the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth princes' camps too are close at hand in the left front behind the temple, and behind the terrace itself is the Zamorin's camp.

The Ullanat family website provides this interesting - According to the ancient history of Kerala narrated in the poetic work called “Keralam” by Kunhikuttan Thampuran, Cheraman Perumal, the last Chera king of Kerala, relinquished his kingdom and divided the land amongst the various smaller chieftains and gave them independence. This event is said to have given rise to various new kingdoms being formed within Kerala. The Zamorin (Samuthiri) who was absent during this event of partition later met Cheraman Perumal. Cheraman Perumal gave his last four possessions to the Samuthiri namely

1) his sword, which was bent inward,
2) a broken conch,
3) the last remaining portion of land (which was to evolve later as the city called Kozhikode)

and

4) his faithful servant - the Ullanat Panicker (who was known as the Palliyara Panicker of Cheraman Perumal). Perumal gave Samuthiri permission to conquer and keep all the land he could by his might.

The site also has a picture of a bent sword, and the Cherman sword could very well have looked like that in old times. The Malayalam poetry extract testifies to the above.

Another interesting observation turns up at the Ponmileri house website This sword, apparently had an inauspicious story attached to it, or auspicious depending on which religion analyses the story. Naveen posts a short account of Ponmileri Koroth House in North Malabar.

At the time of the famous Cheraman Perumal, a member of this family was serving them as a faithful karyasthan. One day when Cheruman Perumal was out for a walk, he forgot to take his sword, which was kept in his bedchamber. The young Nayar gentlemen when he entered the bedroom found that the wife of the Perumal occupied it. He asked this lady for the sword, and she, who was enamored of him, requested him to satisfy her longings. As he was very faithful to his lord he stoutly refused her request, whereupon she became angry made wounds on her person herself and began to raise a hue and cry. Cheruman Perumal on finding that his karyasthan had not returned even after a long time, returned to his house when he was told by his wife that this karyasthan had approached her with evil requests and that when he refused to comply with his desires he had made wounds on her person. Perumal on finding the marks on her body was satisfied with the story and without taking the trouble of knowing the truth of the affair sentenced this Nayar to death by the sword. As his head was being severed from the body by the sword a voice was heard to exclaim "the Perumal who easily believes a women's story go to Mecca and be a Mohemmadan" (Penncholu ketta perumaale makkathu poyi thopiyitto). The family of this Nayar was thereafter known as the family of Vaduvilla Nayar(Nayar without stain), which by corruption became Paduvillan Nayar.

The Cherman Perumal’s story which follows is covered in the blog

And that my friends, is the known history of the sword that started the reign of the Zamorin’s of Calicut and the involvement of Van Rheede who gave us the famed Hortus malabaricus with it.



Pic - Extracted from Logan's Malabar Manual