RSS Feed

The Mutts of Trichur and Tirunavaya – Seats of Vedic learning in Kerala

Posted by Maddy Labels:

 Bhrahmaswom Madhoms

Sometimes you despair at how the Englishman corrupted the transliteration of a Malayalam or Sanskrit word, in this case, Mutt which actually stands for Madhom or Matha, a monastic institution for spiritual studies, certainly has nothing to do with stupid persons or mongrels. I had come across mentions of these Vedic universities while reading accounts of missionaries such as the Arnos Pathiri as well as some others and more recently when Vinod who led the conservation and renovation efforts, was in conversation with Arun at Intach Palakkad. As the discussion related to the work at the Bhramaswom madhom at Trichur, it piqued my interest, what with the connections to the Nediyirippu and the Preumpadappu, and I decided to delve deeper into it. The result of that short study follows, but I must admit that while the history of these schools interested me, I have virtually no knowledge of the Vedas themselves or their teaching methodology!

So much of amalgamation occurred in what we know as todays Kerala, there was an initial admixture of Buddhism and Jainism with Hinduism overriding Vedic influences from an even earlier age in history, a lack of hard-core Saivism and Vaishnavism, then a mixture of Advaitam and Dvaitam, finally ending up with an osmosis with more modern religions such as Islam, Christianity and Judaism. You can see all of it in Kerala and in a Malayali (the osmosis occurred between all religions) and that makes a Malayali religious tradition quite different, unique and one which provides ample study scope for an avid researcher. But as you can imagine, it is a vast subject and the study which follows will be specific to the institutions in Trichur, touching upon the school at Tirunavaya and skimming over the Revati Pattathanam at Calicut.

Long long ago, Jainism and Buddhism had a considerable following among the peoples inhabiting the mid regions of Kerala. The area around today’s Kodungallur, i.e. ancient Cranganore, was home to a number of viharas and home to Buddhists and Jains. Around the 6th century or shortly after, Hinduism started to gain ground in the rest of the country, but in the geographical area we are interested in, changes were slow, perhaps impeded by the Sahyadri mountains or the Western Ghats. Two centuries later, a more concerted effort was made to hasten change, to stamp out the followers of Buddha and Mahavira, and bring about a revival of Hinduism.

As the legends tell us, six eminent scholars namely Bhattacharya, Bhattabana, Bhattavijaya, Bhattamayukha, Bhattagopala and Bhattanarayana arrived, defeated the Buddhist scholars in scholarly debates and convinced the people around to follow Hinduism. Take it with a pinch of salt, for I have not come across a more critical or cynical person than a Malayali and as you can imagine, it is simply not feasible to make such a huge change, just like that! But that is how our revered Keralolpatti describes it. The first two of the scholars remained in the area, while the others wandered off, and these two who stayed, established the first of the Sastric schools. An illustrious disciple Prabhakara led these scholarly studies and dissemination of knowledge, all through his singular efforts.

Prabhakara and his Gurumatha system of philosophy were taught in a well-endowed school, supported not only by the ruling class, but also by traders such as the Kulottunga Chetty! This incidentally is what is known as the Mimamsa school of philosophy. Others such as Nilakanta, Narayana and later Melpathur continued this tradition. According to some scholars, there was a Padhasala (perhaps the Mimamsa school) at Thrikkanamathilakam during the reign of Chera dynasty, which was the first of the Vedic Institutions. From the Sahitya Charitram, we can also glean that numerous temples across some 32 villages came under the large Trikannamathilakam temple.

Fast-forwarding two centuries, we get to the work of the well-known Jagat Guru - Adi Sankaracharya, hailing from nearby Kaladi. While he propounded his Advaita ideology and traveled extensively in the North of the country, he was also instrumental in founding the four institutions or sabha madhoms at Trichur, associated with the Sanketam of the popular Vadakkunathan temple, namely the Vadakke Madhom, Naduvil Madhom, Edayil Madhom and finally the Tekke Madhom. He appointed as heads of these colleges, his principal disciples Trotaka, Sureswara, Hastamalaka and Padmapada.

Others opine that the four scholars arrived during the mahasamadhi of the Sanakaracharya at Trichur and the ruling Perumal sponsored the building of the four Madhoms on the eastern side of the Padinchare Chira, later. On the northern side of the Madhoms, the "Kotta" of the Yogiyar of Vadakkumnatha Temple was situated. This Yogiyar was appointed by the eminent Aazhvaancheri Thampraakkal in the presence of Valluvakkonaathiri, the representative of the Perumbadappu.

As you would infer, after the increasing popularity of Sankara, these Madhoms which produced a number of great disciples, made valuable contributions to the revival of Hinduism and made Trichur a particularly famous center of Vedic and Vedantic studies. Though these schools aided scholars from the rich and influential class of Namboothiries in Kerala, the messages to the masses came from others through a widespread Bhakti movement. Thus, it seems, over time, the grip which Buddhism and Jainism had in the region declined. A large number of temples for Siva and Vishnu were constructed during this period, endowed by their rich patrons, the rulers and landlords of each region.

The Thekke Madham was instituted by Padmapadacharya, the Edayil Madham by Thodakacharya, the Naduvil Madham by Sureshwaracharya and finally the Vadakke Madham by Hasthamalakacharya. The four Madhoms flourished but eventually due to some issues (related to succession primarily) they reduced to two sanyasi madhoms namely the Tekke Madhom and the Naduvil Madhom. The Edayil merged with the Tekke Madhom while the Vadakke Madhom remained only madhom or institution for the continuation of higher Vedic studies.

From the student’s point of view, the reader should also note that in the Namboothiri way of life, usually the eldest son took care of the family properties and the Illam, while the other sons went on to study the Vedas and later earn a living as a Vaidikan, qualified for priestly duties, or ordained as a scholar (Bhattathiri or a learned one). A large number dropped out due to the rigors of the academic courses, as you can very well imagine, and snuck around their illams, whiling away time and making do with vedi parachil (aimlessly shooting the breeze i.e. gossiping, eating well and enjoying the arts).

Now let us get to the structure of a Madhom. In general, a Madhom is a monastery (this shows some connection to a Jainist past) that hosts and feeds students, sanyasis (monks, renouncers, ascetics), gurus etc. and are led by Acharyas. These monasteries are usually attached to large Hindu temples and have their own codes of conduct, initiation and election ceremonies. The madhoms are not limited to imparting only religious studies, and historical evidence suggest that many were centers for diverse studies including medieval medicine, grammar and music. A madhom, like a college, designates teaching, administrative and community interaction functions, with titles such as Guru, Acharya, Swami and others. A typical example has teachers who are Gurus, the administrative functions being the responsibilities of Acharyas, and the community relation in the Swami’s purview. While the madhoms which Sankara started elsewhere propounded the teachings of Sankara, the four madhoms built at Trichur were clearly for sanyasa, Vedic and Vedanta studies as well as their dissemination.

Though we talked about Sankara and his Advaita philosophy, there was also a third school called Dviata philosophy, which became very popular in Kerala, what with an elaborate code of tantric rituals, duly prescribed by the Udupi Madhom. The followers of this school are the priestly class namely the Embrantharies, established at Tripunithara and favored by a section of the Cochin Royals.

Thus, Mimamsa, Advaita and Dvaita schools continued to flourish in Kerala which was by now known as the karmabhumi (remember our discussion of Pardesi pattars or Tamil Brahmins coming to Kerala - their karmabhumi, but maintaining connections with Tamilakam, their janmabhumi?). These Trichur madhoms have all been in existence for well over 1,200 years by now, serving scholars in the field of Vedic and Vedantic studies, together with the original mimamsa as well as Advaita and Dvaita systems also existing healthily in these locales, side by side, all using Sanskrit as their medium of instruction.

Before we go further, let us see what an upper-class student, (only a Namboothiri in the olden days) did in order to become a literate member of his society. After he had his thread ceremony or Upanayana, he had to complete his samhita, i.e. the study of the whole Vedic text and simply memorize it, usually without any understanding. At first the Samhita chanting or Adhyaya is taught by the teacher in three swaras – Uddata(base), Anudatta (lower) and Swarita (upper). During this stage, the teacher holds the head of the student and moves it up and down, according to the rise and fall of the swara of each akshara in the Mantra. For example, while uttering in the udatta, the head is raised and when anudatta is intended it is lowered, and thirdly, tilted to the side during swarita. Hasta mudras ae also important and seen as a specific feature in Kerala chanting methods. So, while starting a particular section, the teacher does not utter any words, but he indicates the right Mudra and the keen student follows it without any mistakes.

While in most cases, the student completes his samhita at home and then joins the Bhramaswom, it was also possible for the younger student to join early, around the age of 7, right after their upanayanam. In this case, they study the samhita portion of Rig veda during the first five years. Those who want to continue education at a higher level, start to learn Pada, Krama, Jata and Ratha.

Note here that the Veda course is typically divided into four packages, the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Brahmanas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Aranyakas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge). Learning these can take anywhere from five to ten years, depending on the proficiency of the student. The system of teaching is completely oral and the student has to commit the entire Veda by heart.

The concept of learning using Padaptha, Karmapatha and Vikrtipatha, Jatha and Ratha is pretty complex and involves splitting the text, learning to utter it forwards and backwards, all done with the purpose of committing them to memory where it remains for ages so that it could be picked up without doubt as and when needed. The life in a Bhramaswom is very austere, full of rigors and on top of it, long vows and periods of abstinence have to be undergone, making it a tough regimen.

Once completed the Namboothiri spends a compulsory duration, usually one year at a large temple, then goes on to attend Veda recitals at various temple ceremonies and festivals and they also undergo or participate based on proficiency, for Varam kollal, Varam Irikkal, Murajapam etc. Trisandha and Anyonyam are two Vedic competitions, which are regarded as higher-level examinations, more on the latter will follow.

As you can imagine, the four Madhoms ran into some trouble of the other with their upkeep or management, succession or their support, as the Zamorin’s rule started to stretch south and arrived at Trichur. These institutions also got influenced by the age-old Panniyur – Sukapuram rivalry which festered for a long time, the one which split the region into two with one supporting the Cochin Raja while the other supported the Zamorin.  Over time, this resulted in the Namboothiri clan getting split into two. The Namboothiri cast his alliances between the two chiefs, namely the Zamorin (Nediyirippu) and the Cochin king (Perumbadappu) and belonged thus to either the Trichur Yogam or the Tirunavaya Yogam. The Trichur Yogam comprised the defunct Vadakke Madhom after succession issues, which had by this time became a mahavidyalaya, a Bhramaswom while the other two which remained - namely the Thekke Madhoim and Naduvil Madhom became sanyasi madhoms and merged with the Vadakke madhom. This is today’s Bhrahmaswom Madhom complex at Trichur. Whether the formation of Brahmaswom Madhom was before the division of Thirunavaya Yogam from the Thrichur Yogam or subsequent to the division, is still not clear.

Bhrahmaswom Madhom - Trichur

We do get firsthand information on how the Trichur school worked in the early 20th century from Kannipayur’s autobiography. He spent some years at the Trichur Bhrahmaswon, a period (1908-1913) when there were some 200 students enrolled. Food and accommodation were free, though life was quite spartan. The bathing pond was not very clean and the food was cooked partly by students, served twice a day - not very good. Most students had come in after their Samhita training. Kannipayur mentions that in the past, all nearby temples had been under the Trikannamathilakam temple at Kodungallur and he adds that the Vadakke madom issues started with the fact that the Swamiyar was an Embranthiri and this was not acceptable to the local Namboothiris who insisted they were higher placed in caste hierarchy, so could not be under a lower caste level teacher. This led to the Swamiyar relinquishing his post and the swamiyar madhom thus got converted to an educational institution after his departure (a legend is also in vogue that this was a result of his dispute with the Cochin Raja). The regimen of learning was strict and elaborate, the students even had to do 100-200 surya namaskar’s every day, to keep fit. The final aim was to participate in what is known as the Kadavallur Prayogam, an event which only a few qualified for.

Kannipayur mentions that the reason for the Tirunavaya yogam to be formed was a result of the Puthillathu Namboothiri leaving the Trichur yogam and creating at first a parallel college near the Mulankkunath temple. Later they moved to Tirunavaya with the Zamorin’s patronage and this Namboothiri also helped him set up and organize the Pattathanam at Calicut. Based on Ulloor’s analysis of the Zamorin poem Vikramiyam, he determines that it must have been prior to the 15th century. This institution also developed into a Mahavidyalaya or Bhrahmaswom in the course of time and acquired vast property as well as fame, going on to produce several Vedic Pundits. The Bhrahmaswom was situated in Tirunavaya, across the Northern side of the river and was presumably destroyed during the Mysorean marches.

The Namboothiri site provides more detail on the Tirunavaya Bhrahmaswom madhom - The Edayil madhom leaders moved their allegiance to the Zamorin. When the Samoothiri of Kozhikode was powerful, he wanted to have a Swaamiyaar in his territory. He dedicated the Thikkaikkattuu Mutt to the then Mooppil Swaamiyaar of Edayil Mutt and persuaded him to shift the Madhom to Thrikkaikkattu in Thavanur and thereafter that Mutt was known as Thrikkaikkattu Madhom. Fearing that it may again shift to Thrissur, its Mutt at Thrissur was given to Thekke Madhom and Thekke Mutt's Madhom at Trichambaram was given to Thrikkaikkattu Madhom.

The Kozhikode Gazetteer mentions that the Thirunavaya Vadhyar was the Zamorin’s hereditary family teacher. It also provides an interesting aside - that during the contests between the students, a practice of badgering the contestants was common, to try and distract them. Only those who held on to their chanting with a high level of concentration could pass.

The present Othanmar Bhramaswom Madhom is situated on the southern banks of Nila river (Bharatapuzha) at Tavanur. As time went by and the Zamorins lost their power and the Tirunavaya schools declined due to a lack of staff, perhaps financing as well as students.

Now we come to the Kadavallur Varam or Anyonyam (means each other – with respect to debate), a debating contest on the Rig Veda between selected graduates from the Trichur and the Tirunavaya yogams. In the past, it was only conducted at the Kadavallur Siva temple, NW of Trichur. Students should have passed various lesser varams before participating at Kadavallur. Only those who cleared the various exams at Kadavallur were entitled to a position of Bhattathirpad and were thus qualified to participate in princely Pattathanam (Bhatta Danam) ceremonies, the most superior of them being the one at the Thali temple in Calicut. The competing students at Kadavallur met yearly during the mandalam (41 days) to compete in the four paths – Pada, Karma, Jatha and Ratha. 16 of the 41 days are devoted to the final proficiency tests, with the students lodged at the two Moothathu houses. The entire recitation in three varams has to be error-free, in order to pass. Then the Ratha and Jatha style has to be demonstrated. The competition gives great importance to the purity of the text, its correct pronunciation and intonation as well as the correct breaking up of the words. The competition itself is called varamirikkal while Kadannirikkal and Valia Kadannirikkal are the titles conferred on the winners. The anyonyam was held regularly till about 1947 after which it was discontinued. It was revived in 1989 and is being held regularly these days.

A few words about the famous Revati Pattattanam at Calicut which was the aim and the final honor for the Vedic scholars pursuing excellence in the Bhrahmaswoms and beyond – It is a get together of scholars of different sastras, one which takes place in the Tali temple at Calicut under the tutelage of the reigning Zamorin. The main objective of this event or assembly was to felicitate various scholars and give a purse to eminent Bhatta’s - scholars. All eminent Namboothiri scholars traveled to Calicut to attend this event in the Thulam month of the Malayalam calendar, starting with the Revati asterism and stayed on for the seven-day event. In the past, the Zamorin awarded 46 purses of 100 panams (The amount of money stated in the Granthavari for one function was 109 panams and the total amount for the 42 purses prevalent at that time is 4578 panams) and was considered the most prestigious. The competitions were on Prabhakara mimansa, Bhatta mimamsa, Grammar (vyakarana) and Vedanta as the topics, with 12 awards each for the first two, 9 awards for the third and 13 for the fourth. Tarkam (debates) as well as other topics were added later. The competition was conducted under the watchful eyes of eminent judges who were chosen from recipients of awards in previous years, i.e. the 'Old Sabha'. The Zamorin was seated at the southern end of the long hall while the contestants were seated on either side of the Vathilmandapam. Bhatta Mimamsa, Prabhakara Mimamsa, Vyakarana and Vedanta were represented by lighted lamps on different parts of the platform. The debates were serious and were conducted with a high degree of merit and erudition. The Mangat Achan gave away the prizes. The event continues though not at the proficiency levels on the past.

In 1915, things went wrong at the Bhrahmaswom in Trichur when quarrels between the Vadhyan (headmaster) and the Yogakkar (trustee) resulted in a change of rules which the Vadhyan did not accept and this resulted in a government take over. The syllabus changed, and Samhita training was also formally included in the school syllabus, so also a way to integrate the students to general studies and curriculum. The Trichur Bhrahmaswom continues to struggle, trying various new methods such as correspondence courses, seminars, and so on, but sees hope and a brighter future ahead.

References

Indian Historical Quarterly-Vol-4, 1928 - Religion & Philosophy in Kerala – KR Pisharoti

Ente Smaranakal – Vol 1 – Kannipayur Sankaran Namboothirippad

Kerala Sahitya Charitram Vols 1 & 2 – Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer

PhD thesis 2004 - Sukhada commentary on kausitakibrahmana a critical study, Ravindran, K A

Cochin Tribes & Castes Vol 2 – LK Anathakrishna Iyer

Namboothiri site - Madhoms

Historic alleys - Arnos Pathiri

Bhramaswom Madhom conservation booklet – Intach Trissur

For pictures of students at the Trichur Bhramaswom visit this link and this

Video of training, Kadavalloor Anyonyam, Trichur Bhramaswom madhom

9 comments:

  1. jayan

    Maddy sir
    Very elaborative narration.

    Your quote was striking!


    (but I must admit that while the history of these schools interested me, I have virtually no knowledge of the Vedas themselves or their teaching methodology)

    I read gita, and upanishad , regarded as vedanta, (end of veda, ) means final and supreme, never mentions mundane activites like vedic rituals such as poojas and thantric like installing deity !!
    Nabbotris was hell bent on these rituals as it was their bread winner!!

    Any way the madhoms all excelled as vedic learning centers, the place where u learn one veda by heart, of course learning a science or text by heart good, boost your memory.

    Apart from that these bramin learning centres contributed nothing for evolvement of kerala as a civil society.


    Again a high intellectual adi shankrachra who gave comments on gita and upanishad, had to face severe resistance from his own relative naboortis and had tough time to do the cremation when his mother passed way.

    The reason shakaran, do away with usual nambootri,way of pooja and tantric rituals in temples to earn livelihood, instead went on elaborating, soul, supreme soul and brama, and gave best and apt elaboration of dasoupanishad ( 10 upanishads ) which shocked orthodox and highly suppressing bramin or nambootri psyche!!


    Mutt or madhoms , sent out poojaris who do daily poojas and some gained role as thantris who has sole power to install deity

    Where as open and sincere intellectual shankran went on lerning gita and upanishads and made it simple for common folks, which was one way a revolution , though many people may not admit it

    The other revolution was done by sreenarayana guru on untouchability


    Good your article, great, obvious your writing speaks














  1. Brahmanyan

    Excellent coverage on Vedic studies in Madhoms in Kerala. Nambhoothiri Brahmins sacrifice their life for the preservation of our Vedic studies, without expecting returns.
    Namaskarams and thanks.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Jayan..
    for your insight and details on Sanakar's thought.. it is a large topic by itself, Dvaita, advaita all these concepts are complex, I will get to it one day.

  1. Maddy

    thanks brahmanyan..
    Yes, that is true, it was a way of life, looking from another perspective..

  1. DKM

    Thank you for all the details. Two comments off the top of my head:

    1. In the Vedic belief and culture there was an assumption which we moderns have forgotten: At the level of the mantra (and to some extent poetry) the Sound and the Sense are inseparable. That is why we say we cannot fully translate poetry. And mantRa-s cannot be represented any other way without losing a substantial element. Often the metaphor used is: Siva-PaaRvatee samyOgam - words and meaning are as integrated as the Divine and His Sakti. The revered KaaLidaasa expresses that idea in KumArasambhavam -- vaagaRthaaviva sampr^ktau ...= I bow to Siva and PArvati, who are as united as Vaak and aRttham. So, if Sound is as important as Sense, there is good reason in preserving the sounds of the Vedic recitation with as much fidelity to the primeval form -- the Nambudiri-s must have thought. Perhaps that is why the KEraLa brAhamaNa-s gave so much importance to the mantRa recitational training. There is also the tAntRic (different from the VEdic) notion that the sound alone also is potent and often sounds like Kleem have no meaning other than their association with the deities in tantRa. Both these ideas have survived in KEraLa, whereas in the north a lot of sound differentiation has disappeared such as ശ- ഷ - സ, ര -- റ, വ - ബ, ല - ള. Once I heard a Vedic scholar say: "Let us be thankful to the Nambudiri-s; thanks to their rigid rules of pronunciation, a Yesudas can go north and sing in Bengali like a Bengali." How many north Indians can come to the south and become expert singers? Persian and other influences have forced out some of the original sounds in their languages.

    2. About the displacement of Jainism and Buddhism by VEdism: I would like to argue that the nihilism inherent in those philosophies clashed with the popular pantheistic spirituality of Malayali-s who were used to living in the lush abundance of fertile tropical river valleys. "Everything is sorrow, everything is momentary, death is around the corner, do not enjoy life, cover your mouth with a cloth so you do not harm microbes, do not use animals in agriculture," etc. etc. are ideas that go against the ecology and basic nature of the KEraLa landscape, I think. How can we fast as the Jains do in the midst of such abundance (except on EkAdaSi days?). We can see examples for this in the life of the so-called Tribal people. They are not into denying life's simple pleasures. So, to me, the absence of such negations and proscriptions in the Vedic variety of spiritual thought was more in harmony with the original MalayALi tropical way. Also, the Buddhists and Jains were not interested in developing agriculture which involves some cruelty to animals. The Jains and Buddhists wanted only the gathering type of economies (spices, timber) so that they could trade with countries abroad (Buddhists were going places with the caravans to Alexandria, etc.) The Vaidika folks were much more into settled agriculture and pastoralism, which agreed with the KEraLa ecology. So, my point is: it is not only the philosophical Meemaamsaka-s who defeated the anti-vedic ideologies through argumentation. I think the people in general viscerally militated against both Jainism and Buddhism at the level of the economies of production and consumption. And they welcomed the life-affirming elements in VEdism.

    These are just hypothetical thoughts. As I am not trained in history, I have the freedom to speculate without hard core evidence, don't I?

    Thanks again for the MaTTha histories. (By the way, I use two capital TT-s to show that മഠം is meant and not
    മതം or മദം or മാടം)

    DKM

  1. DKM

    Thank you for all the details. Two comments off the top of my head:

    1. In the Vedic belief and culture there was an assumption which we moderns have forgotten: At the level of the mantra (and to some extent poetry) the Sound and the Sense are inseparable. That is why we say we cannot fully translate poetry. And mantRa-s cannot be represented any other way without losing a substantial element. Often the metaphor used is: Siva-PaaRvatee samyOgam - words and meaning are as integrated as the Divine and His Sakti. The revered KaaLidaasa expresses that idea in KumArasambhavam -- vaagaRthaaviva sampr^ktau ...= I bow to Siva and PArvati, who are as united as Vaak and aRttham. So, if Sound is as important as Sense, there is good reason in preserving the sounds of the Vedic recitation with as much fidelity to the primeval form -- the Nambudiri-s must have thought. Perhaps that is why the KEraLa brAhamaNa-s gave so much importance to the mantRa recitational training. There is also the tAntRic (different from the VEdic) notion that the sound alone also is potent and often sounds like Kleem have no meaning other than their association with the deities in tantRa. Both these ideas have survived in KEraLa, whereas in the north a lot of sound differentiation has disappeared such as ശ- ഷ - സ, ര -- റ, വ - ബ, ല - ള. Once I heard a Vedic scholar say: "Let us be thankful to the Nambudiri-s; thanks to their rigid rules of pronunciation, a Yesudas can go north and sing in Bengali like a Bengali." How many north Indians can come to the south and become expert singers? Persian and other influences have forced out some of the original sounds in their languages.

    2. About the displacement of Jainism and Buddhism by VEdism: I would like to argue that the nihilism inherent in those philosophies clashed with the popular pantheistic spirituality of Malayali-s who were used to living in the lush abundance of fertile tropical river valleys. "Everything is sorrow, everything is momentary, death is around the corner, do not enjoy life, cover your mouth with a cloth so you do not harm microbes, do not use animals in agriculture," etc. etc. are ideas that go against the ecology and basic nature of the KEraLa landscape, I think. How can we fast as the Jains do in the midst of such abundance (except on EkAdaSi days?). We can see examples for this in the life of the so-called Tribal people. They are not into denying life's simple pleasures. So, to me, the absence of such negations and proscriptions in the Vedic variety of spiritual thought was more in harmony with the original MalayALi tropical way. Also, the Buddhists and Jains were not interested in developing agriculture which involves some cruelty to animals. The Jains and Buddhists wanted only the gathering type of economies (spices, timber) so that they could trade with countries abroad (Buddhists were going places with the caravans to Alexandria, etc.) The Vaidika folks were much more into settled agriculture and pastoralism, which agreed with the KEraLa ecology. So, my point is: it is not only the philosophical Meemaamsaka-s who defeated the anti-vedic ideologies through argumentation. I think the people in general viscerally militated against both Jainism and Buddhism at the level of the economies of production and consumption. And they welcomed the life-affirming elements in VEdism.

    These are just hypothetical thoughts. As I am not trained in history, I have the freedom to speculate without hard core evidence, don't I?

    Thanks again for the MaTTha histories. (By the way, I use two capital TT-s to show that മഠം is meant and not
    മതം or മദം or മാടം)

    DKM

  1. Maddy

    Thanks a lot DKM..
    1. I did not know about the importance of the intonation, that was so informative and makes sense, also why the Veda studies continue to be oral. I recall some mentions of how much our epic works have changed over time.
    2. Also makes sense to me. The cynical Malayali is more prone to accept life's pleasures over abstinence. That type of life never worked on the broader Malayali psyche. The talks about winning debates are all just that, nothing concrete.
    3. I tried matam, matham and madom, finally settled on madhom in this article, but I see your point.
    Thanks again DKM for your erudite comments...
    rgds

  1. jayan

    Dkm comments nice.

    But let me add few facts.

    Malayalam language is a mix of sanskrit, tamil and even some portugese words intrude into it

    Eg

    Like kasaera ( chair,) is portugese

    Chakka, ( jack fruit ) is portuguese

    Etc etc.
    So malayalam such a mix, so malayalees can pronounce any language better

    As for yesudas, as famous lyrist sreekumaran thampi observed, yesudas is good at pronounciation, which he developed, through practise or inborn we say


    Sreyaghosal our new gen singer, ( bengali) how accurate and beautiful she sings malayalam songs


    Madams of nambootris was so narrow in outlook, was catering to only nambbotris, never wide and open to people of all class and creed,that explains such centers worked for their class, creating some poojaris only

    Even vallathol narayana menon whose father an ellayatthu ( low bramin as per nambbotris) wrote rig veda translation, that irritated nambootris, as they belived they are the sole custodians of veda, remarked vallothol became dumb, as a result of transalation!!!


    So language like sanskrit belived to be devabasha, the sansanskrit learning centers should have been thrown open to all class,., Sadly it has not happened
    The narrow view of class of people sealed the fate of such a wonderful language!?

    But bloody maculay started english education in kerala though to create clerks, became boon for mallus, thrown wide window of opportunities for keralites

    Our own maddy sir could penned such vast and unknown history to all history lovers thanks to english education started by british






  1. Unknown

    I spent three of my growing up years in Thrissur and used to hear the names of the Madhoms, but mainly as landmarks in giving directions. Could never get satisfactory answers as to what they were, what they stood for and the activities that continue there. Until I read this. So thank you for throwing so much light on a part of our history and heritage.