The history of the Mallu Nairs
To understand the origin of the Mallu Nairs, we first have to understand the history of the Tamilians, the neighbours of the mallus.
Long Long Ago, only Brahmins lived in TamilNadu. They are nowadays popularly known as Tambrahms. When the English first landed on the shores of Tamil Nadu, much before they had explored other continents, they were surprised to see people who spoke a strange language , wore strange clothes , even had strange markings on their forehead and other parts of the body. So, when they enquired around (in English of course), there were few who ran away and there were few who answered “Naan Brahmin” and then ran away fearing that the English would spoil their orthodox holiness. “Naan Brahmin” in Tamil means “I am a brahmin”. The English were not expected to understand this and classified this group of people as non-Brahmins. Thus, Non-Brahmins came into being and the English exploited this to create the caste system in India. In fact, all south Indians were only vegetarians at that time. A similar misunderstanding led to few people being understood as non-vegetarians and thus forced to eat meat.
Now, Brahmins consisted only of Iyers in the olden days. But, there were two “different” classes of iyers. One, who worked for daily wages and the other, who had their own businesses. The second category prospered over the years and eventually made enough money to buy and import cars from England. This group wanted to differentiate itself from the daily wage group. So, whenever they had to introduce themselves, they always said “Iyer with car”.Over the next 132 years, this phrase “Iyer with car” slowly evolved to “Iyengar”. Thus started the quest for dominance between the Iyers and the Iyengars.Since the Iyengars had cars, they slowly moved towards the eastern part of Tamil Nadu near the coast, where they made broad roads like the modern ECR, while the Iyers moved onto the hills close to the borders of Kerala.
Now back to Mallu nairs. When the British reached Kerala and started moving inwards towards the Tamil nadu Border, they were shocked to see two similar group of people at war with each other. Both were dark, spoke unintelligible language (they learnt later that both the languages were different) and yet, were fighting each other for control of the coconuts. So, the British started enquiring. Of course, the locals didn’t know English, but were proud of their own culture and identity. Since the British (through Knowledge Transfer) from their counterparts who landed in Tamil nadu, already knew about Iyers, they assumed that all dark people in this people were Iyers. So, they started addressing even the Mallus as Iyers. This enraged the mallus a lot and they started adding “Not an Iyer” at the end of their names like Harish “Not an Iyer”, Anil “Not an Iyer”. Because of the accent of the Mallus and the evolving of language over time, the surname “Not an Iyer” stuck to the mallus and it eventually transformed to Nair. Thus, we have harish Nair and Anil Nair.
All you Nairs, be proud of your history and be proud of the fact that you are “not an Iyer”.
Note: Looking at the comments, it looks like people are taking this post seriously and have started defending mallus/nairs and offending everyone else! Guys (and Gals), this post is meant to be taken in a light note. I am a s/w engineer, not a genealogist, So please don’t start off advising me on the history of the various groups. If you even have an iota of thought that anything that is written makes sense, thank you!
Note 2: If your comment has not appeared here (after a day or two), it is a deliberate act of mine and not a technical glitch. I am not approving comments which are full of expletives/hate stuff directed towards any group of people, be it mallus, iyers, tamilians or even punjabis! This article was intended in good humour, but if you dont get it or dont want to interpret it so, i can’t help it. But, i can’t let morons (like the ones hanging around on the rediff.com forums) start a hate war between communities or groups on my blog!
Note 3: After spending the last 4 years (after writing the above) on intensive research, i am almost ready to publish the history of the Mallu Menons. So, keep watching this space 🙂
Remove it before people identify you in a public area and thrash you.
in modern age too majority of the martial arts school of kalarippayattu or kalaris are run by ezhava caste.all the ancient kalaries still existed are owned and run by them.in trivandrum where southern style is more popular its run by another caste ,nadars.nairs are not much in the kalari training or teaching.but the famous cvn kalari was started by c v narayan nair was a nair.but his teacher was a thiyya guru.kannur is famous for gymnastics and circus.the circus companies of kerala were founded and owned by thiyyas.it was because they had the practise of learinging kalarippayattu which gives very importance to acrobatics again due to the martial history of that community.keeleri kuzhikannan was the first to start circus company in india.
it is also a common misconcept that bhrahmins were the sole keepers of sanskrit language.but actually many books in sanskrit was written by bhuddhist and jains.in kerala during mediveal period sanskrit was actually taught by medical practitioners ,astrologers etc.these schools were mainly run by buddhist familes or ezhava familes.until the 20th century majority of these schools were run by them also it should be noted that many other castes were also used to run such schools.ayurvedic phisicians were ezhava and nadar familes ,also it was practised by some bhrahmin families and other castes which are now in obc list.
During last decade of 19th century ie during 1890’s a man called C.V.raman pillai who was living kerala wrote a novel,a historical romance.it was one of the first novels in Malayalam.the novels name is marthanda varma-the famous king of travancore who enlarged travancore to a bigger country and made it strong with new revenue administration .he also weakened the feudal system there which was slowly emerged and formed from 14th century.C.V.Raman was very high caste spirited person (as was like many at the time.even now its said that nairs are the most caste spirited persons in kerala ).so he named all the important characters of the novel with surname pillai, some of the characters were real historical figures .they too were christian-ed with pillai surname.this novel was very popular and was taught in schools and colleges(even now) .many thought foolishly that it was the real history.but actually many characters were his creation which he thought needed for a love story.he knew many folk songs and from that he formed his own story.some parts of these songs are including at the start of each chapter.
Many after reading this novel tried to read the history accordingly ,doing so they corrupted the real history.as all know kerala people is very caste spirited specially the upper castes and christians.the caste organizations of kerala also tried to make profit from this novel.and thus when the real social history surfaces many people find it difficult to believe and accept.
ï»¿ The author C.V.Raman was a learned man .but at his time travancore state government jobs were mainly given to tamil bhrahmins.new educated malayalees wanted to have jobs in government and they organised and started demanding this need.a memorandum was submitted to king which was signed by thousands demanding appointment of malayalees in administrative jobs of travancore.but it was rejected.later some relaxation was given.many ezhavars awere also signed in that memorandum including Doctor Pulpu ,one of the great reformation personalities of kerala,along with the nairs and others.when government began to accept malayalee youngsters to service,ezhavar and other castes were denied this right.it was like a 100% reservation for the upper class,mainly benefited by nairs.it aroused a new hate and separation between nairs and ezhavars who were now in obc list and were untouchables at the time. but ezhavars were already organised and actively taking part with the reform movements of sndp .nairs and bhrahmins lagged back and were clinging tight to the old customs.many learned persons from upper class including nairs and bhrahmins were actually part of the reform movements and were working even with sndp .eventually removements started in upper class and new organisations were formed.nairs were so few in number.so many small castes , sects and groups joined together and took the umbrella name nairs and formed the organistion named nair service society(nss).after the formation of nss many sects were included in it.eventhough it was a organization meant for the modernization or civilizisation as explained by its leaders at that time ,it eventually became involved in politics after independance and is the most benefited caste organization in kerala.
Ananadha padmanabhan is the central or hero of the novel mathanda varma written by C.V.Ramana.this character again appears in another novel by the same author.the marthanda varma novel is also love story between anadha padmanabhn and a nair girl.anantha padmanabhan is a trusted friend and companion of marthanda varma.he is very good in arms and is a good warrior.he saves the king many times from the hands of ettuveetil pillamar.another family is also comes into importance in the novel .it is the mangoikkal family.marthanda varma was saved by that family and in that act the family house was burned down.they helped marthanda varma escape from the enimies and he stays in their family.but the enemies suspecting this attacked the house ,but they were stopped by the paraya (another caste now in scheduled list) soldiers and others of the mankoyikkal family.enemies tried to kill marthanda varma by setting fire to the house but bharathan channan or anantha padmanabhan saves the marthanda varma.in the novel ananthapadmanabhan is made nair by making him the son a thirumukkathu pillai.mankoyikkal family is also made nair by using the word kurup and pillai surnames to its family members some of whom also appears in his another novel dharma rajah.
in reality the anantha padmanabhan is a historic figure and belonged to channar community.his house still exists in kanyakumari district which was constructed by him during the period of marthanda varma king.he was the caprtain of the body guard battallion which included 36 warriors who were all channars selected personnaly by marthanda varma.he was a great friend of marthanda varma and served the king as his minister and army commander.actually he helped marthanda varma is securing the support of channar and nadar community to fight against the madampis of travancore who helped the thampis in their claim to thrown.these powerful feudal lords were trying to kill the marthanda varma.anantha padmanabhan died in the year 1953 after the establishment of travancore kingdom.
the mankoyikkal family also existed and their house too is in kanyakumari district of tamilnadu.kanyakumari was part of the travancore kingdom till 1956.they belonged to channar caste.now the channar caste name is not used.the channar caste and nadar caste combined together in 1925 and is now a single caste.they too held high posts in the period of marthanda varma and rama varma.its likely that they were given the title kurup as they trained soldiers.king marthanda varma also formed a title called chempaka raman pillai which was given to the most eminent personnalities who helped in the government.this title was given to these two families.
the word ettuveetil pillamar too was coined by C.V.Raman pillai and got popular in such a way that all, even historians use the same word.but they were not all pillais or anyone of them belonged to caste vellala pillai who now use the surname pillai.these eight houses were very powerful feudal lords and they held influencial posts .ramana madam and pallichal were ministers of attingal soverign of which ramana madom was a bhrahmin family.kulathoor and chempazhanthi were ezhava families.the arms trainer or kalarippayattu teacher of kazhakuttom was an ezhava man named kesava panikker.later he left from kazhakuttom with his diety whom he worshiped to another place called thozhuvancode where he established a temple now known as thozhvancode devi temple.its priests are even today members of his family and those families related to him and also they belonged to ezhava family.there is no bhrahmin priests in that temple.the word used in the old documents for mentioning these people are ettuveetil madampimar and not ettuveetil pillamar.in the document which mention the punishment of these madampis only 4 houses are stated.the reason is that all were not supporters for the eliminations of marthanda varma.because of the popularity of the word ettuveetil pillamar ,through the novel many people thought that all the pillais or nairs were against marthanda varma and it was a fight against nairs and the ruling family and in the fight nairs lost.
that book stired confidence in nairs and helped to feel pride.the reasons are many.nairs were called as malayala sudras or the most downward caste in the varna system ,by the bhrahmins of kerala .ealier it was like a pride for the nairs as they were considered in side the varna system and some what part of hindus as they were allowed to enter the temple eventhough with some restrictions.these restriction include denial of ringing bell which was considered sacred,were never allowed to touch or come near the priest,nor were allowed to touch the offerings ,not allowed to enter the place were cooking of dishes meant for offerings.they were also had to move away when the priest come with things for worship.still it was considered as good as many other castes who forms now the majority of hindu religion now were not allowed even to enter the temple.also the bhrahims considered nairs as their servents who were obliged work for them sometimes even without wages.anything given to them were mere the great kindness of the bhrahmins.nair womens were the main maid servents doing house hold works in bhrahmin familes.the nair women were also had to submit to bhrahmins for sex if he desired so.if a bhrahmin comes to a nair house ,he can mate with any women he desires.it was the custom and considered as sacred and blessing.nairs also practiced polygamy ie having more number of husbands(i dont know the correct word in english .the word used popularly with somewhat nicely is sumbandakar meaning men in relation).anyone from bhrahims to nairs can have relation with a nair woman if he desires so.even an order of proclaimation from a travancore king declairing that those nair women who does not submit to wishes (sextual) of men from bharahmins to nairs shall be considered leading an unholy life which is punishable.it is difficult for a nair lady to live alone or with her lover or single husband.if an influencial person desires ,there is nothing she can do.out of the childrens born ladies will get more importance as the children of that girls shall be the next rightful heir of the family.this was because with this system no nair man can declaire strongly that he is the father of a kid for the kids mother had many men mating with her.but the mother of a kid can be identified much more easily as she delivers a kid which have witnesses and there by proof .because of this practise ,which was practiced mainly by nairs,the childrens doesnot know who their father was.it was not a problem till the 20th century.but after that due to reform movements and spread of education this custome began considering to be a shame to them.many great reformers fought against this system .this system does not exists now and is even unlawful.
the customs ,practices and even the houses were built according to these needs.those who were wealthy were able to built bigger houses.these big houses built by the nairs have some specialty.the steps leading to the second floor starts right from the veranda.this was to help those visitors or sambandakars.they dont have to enter the house ,they can easily go to the second floor and enter their favourite woman’s room.these type of houses can be seen still in many parts of kerala.the namboothiri houses too have some peculiarity.that part where homas are done doesnot have second floor that was to avoid filling of smoke into the second floor.nairs where the main servants of the namboothiri families without them it was difficult for the bhrahmins to maintain their houses.namoothiris called nairs valyakkar(servents),adiyars(slaved like servants) ,sudras(lowest in varna system) etc.this was also considered by the nairs as a great thing they have pride in telling others that they were the adiyars of that or this mana(house of naboothiri).
further the customs followed by the namboothiri families were so ridiculus and now it seems unbelivable and nowadays they too feel shame to tell all that.but it is the true past and nothing to gain from concealing and covering it.reformation movements which started in india has changed the most degraded society of india and also it has helped to better the lives of all ,also the indian independence too was the result of such movements.that all movements helped people to come together ,meet and discuss the problems in the society.open talking was the base thing for the progress.but there were practices of untouchability.if a bhrahmin touches a nair it was taught he gets poluted and have to do penance and bathing .there were others such as ezhavar,thiyyar,pulayas etc whom if the namboothiri come closer beyond some limit then the namboothiri had to bath before he enter his house or temple.these namboothiris were commonly the priests of the temples belonging to the ruling family and other savarnas.there were worshiping systems and places for the ezhavars and thiyyas ,it was some sort of small temples ,but there all the poojas and worships were conducted by the persons from amoung them.pulayar and parayar were also had some form of worshiping .their main worshipping figure was goddess nowadays considered as kali(kali was a common name amoung them from very early period).they too perfomed poojas themselves.it may be interesting to point out here that kali was the cheif goddess worshipped by the warriors of india.eventhough pulayar and parayar were considered to the most downward caste earlier,actually they had a golden past.the words pulayar and parayar were in use in early times of sangam age when these were the names associated people who were the main men nearer to the then kings.sangam literature depicts of pictures of possessions of kings accompanied by pulayar and parayar.also modern researches shows that many places in kerala had kingsor rulers belonging to this caste.even today in second decade of 21st century they are the ones who raise the pride of kerala by winning medals in athletics and other strenious sports.
My parents r from thrissur, but i hate kerala n needless to mention that when some1 call me mallu, i scream at them n say im a maharashtrian. love nagpur. aamchi nagpur. jai maharashtra
dude,,,u say u are a s/w engineer and not a genealogist..as if thats an excuse for your remarks!…if u aren’t a genealogist then why would you give the title “the history of mallu nairs” anyone who reads the tittle will think that its credible…so isnt it better to write about something you actually know/ are sure of?
if this is in good humour and u dont understand why you re getting hate mails/ abuses regarding this topic..then y don’t you try writing some things ( in lighter vein like the one above) about maharashtrians/rajputs..delhites/ etc… and let me know how many of those people feel its funny to read about them in such light.
Wow…2 weeks b4 i post a message…sanjay says that he hates kerala n he screams he is a maharashtrian..”amchi nagpur”..you have no prob in posting this..but when i question our article ..its awaiting moderation..hmm…doesnt that show u r biased??? i m thinking..well anyways…this will be my last post..have better things to do than wait for ur moderation or reply…(though i expected a more mature response from n educated guy like u..the least u could have replied or answered my qn)
have a nice day
learn true history please. Nairs are shudras, same as Bunts in costal Karnataka. they are brought from North by Kadambas. Nairs and are slaves who brought serve Brahmins. the scythina origin of nairs and bunts shows that they are not vedic origin. scythina came to indian arou nd 200 ad,the jats in Punjab are the same indeed. the slave class (nairs) adopted the tradition of kurubas when they were made to stay in mysore region. Kurubas are the indigenous Nagas. the naga worship is customs and tradition associated with mysore region and with canarese(kannadigas). the so called tambrahmis are nonthing to do with ur rubbis theory. please learn some true history and liberate ur self from lies.