Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tuluva-Malayali Matrilineal System - Part 2

Legends of matrilineal inheritance:
There is only one legend that talks about the beginning of the matrilineal system in this region. However, that is not part of celebrated and well known Malayali matrilineal system. The legend is about the beginning of Tuluva matrilineal system. I believe the legend in Kerala could be that like everything in their society even this system could have been established by Parashurama (or Brahmins). Unfortunately, I have not been able to  find the English translation of either Sanskrit work, Kerala Mahatmya, or the Malayalam work, Keralolpati.

But the story I read when I was small is entirely different from what I have read recently online. The story I knew somewhat goes like this. I'm leaving out all names as I'm bit confused about them at present.

A king was sending his merchant ships to the sea. But they were confiscated by a spirit called Kundodara. He asked for human sacrifice. The king asked his wife to give one of their sons. However, wife refused. But king's sister came forward and gave her son for the sacrifice. The spirit Kundodara spared the life of that boy and released king's ships. The king was so overwhelmed by the magnanimity of his sister and her son that he declared his nephew as his heir apparent. And implemented nephew lineage (Aliya Santana Kattu) in his region.

But the story I recently came across is bit different.
Deva Pandya, a wealthy merchant of the Pandya country, was sending new ships, richly laden, to a dark island covered with snow, but before launching them, Kundodara, a Bhuta raja, or king of the demons, an attendant on Siva, observing that the ships were new, demanded a human sacrifice. Deva consulted with his wife as to sacrificing one of his own seven sons, but the wife fled with them to her native town. On which Deva lay in deep distress, until his sister Satya-vati, hearing of the case, came and offered her own boy, saying to Deva, ' You should not care for this trifling matter. Do you give the boy Jaya Pandya, a son of mine, as a human sacrifice.' But Kundo-dara refused the boy, being aware that Jaya was the son of Vira Pandya, king of that dominion, who had been defeated by Chand Rangada raja, and that Jaya was a Mahapurusha, destined to be a great man ; he desired Jaya to assume his, the demon king's name, as Bhutala Pandya, and promised to restore him to the dominions of which Chand Rangada had deprived him. On this, the demon king entered Ujjain, subdued the eight demi-gods, Bhairava, etc., gave Bhutala a throne that Davendra had given to Vikramarka, and entered the town of Jayantika, accompanied by Bhutala. On the demise of the king Siddha Vira Prassiddha Raya, Jaya was elected king. Jaya ruled for six years, during which the Makkala Santana, i.e. the law of inheritance by direct descent of sons, was, for the following reasons, set aside, and that of Aliya Santana, i.e. inheritance on the line of nephews, substituted. The ships of Deva had during a mercantile voyage grounded on the miry bank of an island covered with snow and darkness, and the crew were in great distress, when the demon king appeared and bid them load the ships with the Siddha sile stone (a green stone, husuru sile galu) and Siddha-rasam, and pray to him. This being done, a fair wind brought the ships to the river mouth of Hangara katte at Kalianpur harbour. King Jaya on ascertaining that the ships belonged to his uncle Deva sent for him to receive them but the demon king again demanded one of Deva's sons as a sacrifice Deva consulted as to this with his wife who refused the goods(?) on that condition and the cargo of stone and liquid was then delivered to king Jaya who placed both the stone and the liquid in front of the idol Someswara changing its name to Sidheswara and erected a temple and image to Kundodara the demon king to which he gave the name of Maheswara. On the demon king's recommendation he framed a code of laws containing 30 rules introducing the Aliya Santan a rule (the descensus a matre). At this time king Jaya is styled master of the throne of king of kings, master of the masters of the four countries called Tulu, Malayala Haiga and Karnatika the first person in the era of Sativahana. In the sixth year of his reign the demon king ordered him to bury the green stone (emerald) and shut up the Siddha rasa well and the image of Naga set thereon. The castes enumerated in these rules are
Tuluvaru -> Tuluvas (Tulu)
Jainaru  -> Jain (Tulu)
Nayammavaru ->Nayars (Malayalis)
Masadika -> A subset of Bunt caste (Tulu)
Haricetti -> Cetti -Shetty (Trader) (Tulu?)
Pariyaru -> Parivara, A subset of Bunt (Tulu)
Kumbararu -> Potters
Devadiga -> Temple singers/drummers (Tulu)
Saliya -> Weavers (Malayalis or Tuluvas or both)
Mulekudeya -> Malekudiya (Tribe)
Panchala -> ?
Kshauraka -> Barbers (?)
Agasa -> washermen (Tulu)
Halepaika -> Tribe (?)
Mundala -> Tribe (Tulu)
Karinnara -> ?
Holeya -> bonded labourers (Tulu)
Andekoraga -> Tribe (Tulu)

King Jaya prohibited the Brahmnns ofliciating in death and birth ceremonials; prohibited the Maha-layam or inauspicious ceremony for the deceased; prohibited the giving of the Panchajavyani; prohibited the Punya-Homa sacrifice with dubh grass on births and deaths, and permitted only the Nirmalya or remains of idol offerings for the dead, and authorized the continuance of the Puja and Abhishekam to the deity for those who brought forth children or died. In the twelfth year of his reign, he invited Jains from the Balaghat, and they built Mangalore and other towns. King Jaya made the Aliya Santana rules applicable to the Kshatriya, the Vaisya, and the Sudras, but permitted Brahmins to continue the rule of direct descent.
The explanation of the above fable seems to be that in the time of king Jaya, all great works, such as shipbuilding, as is still the case in Polynesia, were inaugurated by human sacrifices in propitiation of demons ; that a woman of rank twice refused to part with any of her sons for such a purpose, and her husband's sister offered her son Jaya in their stead, but was refused ; from which king Jaya declared that descent of property should follow from the sister's side.
 Here we should note that the antiquity of this legend is highly disputed. Even thought it talks about Salivahana Era (Saka, 77 CE), the legend might have been constructed anywhere between 12th to 19th century according to the researchers. This should be inconsequential for my present post as I'm more interested in analysing the contents which would give clues to existing ideas.

 Few points from the story.
- Jaya Pandya/Bhutala Pandya was son of the king, Vira Pandya. His uncle Deva Pandya was not a king but a merchant. The central character for establishing the matrilineal system was not the king but a merchant.
- The region is mainly spirit worshipping which could be seen in the fact that the system was willed by a spirit ( and not by any gods or goddesses). But it should be noted that the present day region named after this spirit (Kundapura) is a Kannada speaking region and not Tulu speaking. However, matrilineal inheritance was practiced even in that Kannada speaking region.
- There is a clear sign of merging spirit worship with Saiva worship
- It appears as if Brahmin hegemony on religious life was removed. Until very recently, most of the matrilineal communities conducted religious activities with the help of washermen, barbers and castes/tribes outside the caste system. Probably, that passage was an explanation with a belief that Brahmins should have been conducting all those rituals in a normal caste society(which is the case now.. in the last 50 years or so, anyhow..washermen and barbers are no longer part of any rituals).
- It says Jains were invited from Balaghat. I believe that should be Palakkad (Palghat) in present day Kerala. It should be noted here that in Brahmin legends they were the ones invited by the kings. I would consider this is a proof of Jain connection with matrilineal system. Also, the presence Jains in Kerala(merchants) could be the reason behind the existence of matrilineal system there too.
- Interestingly, it also talks about four countries. Tulu (present day Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka), Haiga (I believe present day Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka), Malayala (present day Kerala) and Karnataka. But it should be noted that only the communities in Tulu and Malayala regions followed matrilineal system. But the ruling families of Haiga (Salva) and Kodagu (spoken language Kodava) district of Karnataka were believed to be matrilineal and Jain. But both these families were supposedly branches of Tulu royal families.

To be continued...

Tuluva-Malayali Matrilineal System - Part 1

I have argued before that matrilineal identity has been a non-conscious identity. It was a natural outgrowth in some old societies. I have been trying to understand its origin and its survival in non-tribal societies of Tulu and Malayala region. But its realization by the males has greatly eroded its relevance in these regions now. Its lack of strong foundation in the religious domain is driving it to extinction among some of the castes (mostly among Taravadu centric Malayali families). Though its survival in some other probably could be due to lineage system (in Tulu regions) whose origin itself is rather shrouded in mystery. It won't be surprising if the lineage system itself owes its existence to patrilineal ideas. Its influence in social and economic life were anyway superimposed by patrilineal caste ideas and acted subordinate to it. Thus the system itself has been devoid of philosophical ideas and unstable. But it's still intriguing how this system came about in the first place.

Origin from tribal past:
It has been argued that male were the sole hunters in the food scarcity regions. Both male and females hunted in food abundant regions. In my opinion, only in food abundance regions we can find matrilineal communities.

Influence of civilization and classes:
The primary civilizations were founded by sedentary populations and these were generally patrilineal. But there were chances that the secondary civilizations (new civilizations founded by tribes who came in contact with primary civilizations) could still be matrilineal. I would propose if that had to be the case then following two conditions need to be satisfied.
- Food abundance region thus both male and female were hunters
- The contact population from the primary civilization should be merchants and not priests or warriors.

Recorded history:
Megasthenes's Pandyas: Megasthenes' Pandyas were matriarchal people. However, the Pandyas were generally thought be from Tamil region. But I would assume the Pandyas that Megasthenes described were originally from Tulu region. Therefore the oldest mention is 3rd century BCE.

I would consider these Pandyas were influenced by Jinaism. The name is derived from Mahabharata hero Arjuna, one of the Pandavas. There is story in Mahabharata that mentions Arjuna marrying Manipura princess Chitrangada but their son growing as part of mother's family. This story has been used to give higher birth to the ruling matrilineal families. This story doesn't make much sense to patrilineal Pandyas of Tamil region therefore matrilineal Pandyas of Megasthenes only be from Tulu region who subsequently established their rule over Tamil region.

However, the problem with this theory is that;
- We don't have any idea about historical Tulu rulers prior to 5th century CE
- all the Tuluva kings with names like Chitravahana directly out of Arjuna story were found only from 7th century CE. This probably coincided with the establishment of Jain communities (of worldly people and not just monks) around this period in South India (the communitization of Jain identity later spread to north-west India by 8th century).

The Tulu dynasty was known as "Alupa". They claimed they belong to 'Pandya Vamsha' (Pandya clan) and the title was 'Sri Pandya Dhanjaya' (Sir Pandava Arjuna).

Here my mind runs wild. Now I believe even the name  AlUpa can have some kind of Mahabharata connection. Another story that is intricately connected to the story of Manipura queen Chitrangada is the story of ulUpa, a Naga(clan of Cobra) princess. According to Mahabharata she was married to Arjuna and brought up Arjuna and Chitrangada's son Babhruvahana. I think Alupa was actually mis-spelt Ulupa (the actual Sanskrit meaning is 'soft grass' also spelt Ulapa) or Alupa, also spelt Alapa Gana in an inscription, was an allusion to Naga clan(or Gana may indicate Jain identity as various Jain denominations were called Ganas). We have to observe the western ghats of India have the highest density of King Cobras (known as Naga) in the world. People are traditionally serpent worshipers*. I wonder if that could be the reason for the name Alupa.

The question is if we agree matriliarchal Pandyas were ruling Tulu region around 3 century BCE what has happened between 300BCE and 400 CE. Somehow, I feel Dravidian tribal matrilineal ruling classes and Prakrit merchant classes still not fully merged and ruling classes were still illiterate tribals.

To be continued...

* A particular region in west coastal Karnataka was known as Haiga which was derived from Haviga (where haavu in Kannada means snake). There is a Kannada Brahmin community which until 19th century identified themselves as Haviga>Haiga Brahmins but later Sanskritized the name to Havyaka.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Origins of Malayalis ?.3.0

Except for an exotic community, Malayali Jews, there are hardly any population genetics studies on Malayali population in general. Even though many tribes in South India have been studied extensively, non-tribes are yet to be considered. Recently there was a study on Indian Muslim population which takes into account Malayali Muslim community, Mappila.

If you read the introduction to Mappila by the authors of the study then you feel the Tamil propaganda in full flow. Therefore, it is necessary to revisit my model of Dravidian civilization and the formation of various communities in South India.

In my opinion, Dravidian languages survived in South India mainly because leadership was still Dravidian. As the Dravidian tribes in Central India made transition to sedentary life, the communities were still controlled by the Dravidian chieftains. Of course, not all. The exception you can find in the only lapsed Dravidian region, Maharashtra. In that region the Dravidian tribes were controlled by the Indo-Aryan chieftains.

Generally, ruling classes change the linguistic identity of the population they control. The examples could be found in South India too.

In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the ruling classes of Muslims were non-Dravidian Muslims for a long period. As a result all Dravidian converts had turned into Indo-Aryans. Even in Tamil Nadu, a short span of non-Dravidian Muslim rule was enough to shift nearly half of the Muslim population to Indo-Aryan identity. However, in Kerala, Muslims were always under either Dravidian non-Muslims or Dravidian Muslim rulers. And they have retained their linguistic identity.

That's about linguistic identity retention of Dravidians in general and Dravidian Muslims in particular. I have previously discussed about Dravidian civilization and have argued that it's a synthesis of Dravidians and Prakrits from the beginning. Malayali Muslim community is not an exception to this rule.

The earliest Prakrit entrants to the Dravidian region were herders and merchant-artisans. This is the basis for my another argument for some of the Dravidian tribes in food abundant regions to make transition to matrilineal sedentary society(Tuluvas and Malayalis). The important factor is artisan-merchants and also priests may impart cultural motifs but they would not be influential enough to change the linguistic identity of the native population. Maybe a language can get the prestigious position in a society if it's part of the power circles. Nevertheless, synthesis could be seen in the emergence of the caste system in the native Dravidian region and  in the Dravidization of the assimilated Prakrit speaking brahmins and merchant-artisans.

The earliest Prakrit migrants would be from northern and eastern Indian (present day UP and Bihar) region, the centre of the Indian civilization. One would expect a high percentage of haplogroup R1a1 among these population. This is indeed the case with Mappilas.

Many Malayali communities were formed around the artisan-merchant guilds. The guilds which were initially formed in Prakrit speaking regions continued the motifs \of the earliest guilds of North India in South India. The guilds in South India of mixed Prakrit and Dravidian speakers exhibited native linguistic identity as the time passed. The castes of guilds in Andhra spoke Telugu, in Karnataka spoke Kannada, in Tamil Nadu spoke Tamil, in Tulu Nadu spoke Tulu and of course in Kerala spoke Malayalam. The migration to coastal Tulu and Malayali regions can be from either from west coastal route (Karnataka) or from Tamil Nadu. Couple of merchant guilds, Anju Varnam and Manigramam were native to Kerala region. Whereas, Valanjiar was probably a pan-Indian guild and a proof of the Prakrit migrations. Kannada term Banajiga, Telugu term Balanja (Balija), Tamil/Malayalam term Valanji are cognates with Indo-Aryan term 'Baniya'. These Prakrit or Prakrit derived terms are cognate with Sanskrit term Vanijya(trade).

As I have discussed previously many Muslim and Christian communities were formed around these merchant guilds. Since linguistic identity of these guilds were already Malayali, the immigrant Jewish, Christian and Arab merchants who assimilated with locals did not change the linguistic identity but profoundly changed the cultural identity.

Of course, the cultural identity overwrites all other identities, therefore, the popular identity of Mappilas was Arab. We can gauge the extent of Arab influence if we check the Y-haplogroup frequencies of Mappila from that study:

H1a: 22.5% - Dravidian
H2:     5% - Dravidian
J2: 10% (Dravidian if J2b)
J*(J1): 10%  - Arab
L: 10% - Dravidian
K: 5% - Dravidian
R1a1: 32.5% - Indo-Aryan
R2: 5% - Dravidian

As you can see, the Arab ancestry accounts for 10% of the population. The rest are Indian. By my estimation, 40% of them descendants of Prakrit speaking merchant-artisans and the rest 50% are native Dravidian tribes.

Traces of sub-Saharan and Middle Eastern lineages in Indian Muslim populations -Muthukrishnan Eaaswarkhanth et al. 2009
European Journal of Human Genetics (2010) 18, 354–363; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.168; published online 7 October 2009 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Race and Medicine - ii

Came across an interesting paper on statistical methods at Maju's blog. Few points that caught my eye.

“Determining the best treatment for a particular patient is fundamentally different from determining which treatment is best on average,” physicians David Kent and Rodney Hayward wrote in American Scientist in 2007. “Reporting a single number gives the misleading impression that the treatment-effect is a property of the drug rather than of the interaction between the drug and the complex risk-benefit profile of a particular group of patients.”

“What does probability mean in real life?” the statistician David Salsburg asked in his 2001 book The Lady Tasting Tea. “This problem is still unsolved, and ... if it remains un­solved, the whole of the statistical approach to science may come crashing down from the weight of its own inconsistencies.”