Kerala Mahatmyam, a great treatise on the History of Kerala, which is in Sanskrit containing more than stanzas and hundred chapter states that Vishnu. The Keralolpathi is a Malayalam work that deals with the origin of the land of Kerala. Shungunny Menon ascribes the authorship of this work to Thunchaththu. “Keralotpathi and Kerala-mahatmyam” says C.A. Innes, “are late compilations of unknown origin and so full of inconsistencies, anachronisms and absurdities.
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Travancore, a dominion loyal to the British Raj, was relatively newer than the ancient houses that once warred over this slice of south-western India, set between the Arabian Sea and the tail-end of the Western Ghats. Yet a ruthless ancestor and generations mahqtmyam shrewd management ensured its endurance, as well as its political and cultural currency.
Keralolpathi – Wikipedia
As Kerala was ushered into the modern era, closer to democracy and republicanism, the women of Travancore came to occupy a central role in its fortunes. Some anthropologists regard Kerala’s system of matrilineal kinship as the continuation of a practice that at one time existed all over the world, while others contend that it was conceived due to some mysterious, compelling circumstances that replaced patriarchy at a historical point.
There are, however, two views mahatmya, this that have been passed down within the region.
One is mythological and based on a Malayalam treatise called Keralolpathi, as well as and a Sanskrit work called the Kerala Mahatmyam. These refer to the creation of Kerala by the legendary hero Parasurama, who is supposed to have hurled his battle-axe from Gokarna to Cape Comorin and claimed from the sea all the land in between.
He is then said to have awarded this new region conveniently to Brahmins, after which he summoned equally conveniently deva divinegandharva celestial minstreland rakshasa demon women for the pleasure of these men. The Nairs, the principal matrilineal caste, were the descendants of these nymphs and their Brahmin overlords, tracing their lineages in the maternal line.
The other theory relates to the ancient martial tradition of the Nairs. Boys were sent off to train in military gymnasiums from the age of eight, and their sole occupation thereafter was to master the art of kefala.
For them death by any other means than at the end of a sword on the battlefield was a mortifying ignominy and in their constant zeal for military excellence and glorious bloodshed, they had no time to husband women or economic resources.
Instead he would visit a lady in her natal home every now and then, solely for sexual purposes, and the offspring would be her responsibility entirely. Matriliny was, as per this theory, consequent upon the men purely being instruments of war mahatmya than householders. So the onus of family and succession was taken care of by women, who formed large establishments and managed their affairs independently in the absence of men.
While the military tradition of the Nairs, famous for its suicide bands called chavers, kerrala well known, this theory is also more circumstantial than absolute.
Kerala Mahatmyam @
But as the scholar K. Sexual freedom was also remarkable so that while polygamy was happily recognised in other parts of India, in Kerala women were allowed polyandry.
Nair women could, if they wished, entertain more than one husband and, in the event of difficulties, were free to divorce without any social stigma. Widowhood was no catastrophic disaster and they were effectively at par with men when it came to sexual rights, with complete autonomy over their bodies.
The marriage system itself was something that never ceased to fascinate visitors to Kerala.
Among Nambutiri Brahmins only the eldest son was permitted to take a Brahmin wife and all other men had to seek sambandhams from the high-caste matrilineal communities.
Manu Pillai Manu Pillai is a writer and researcher. The Ivory Throne is his lerala book.
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