18 June 2005

"Nanjil Vellalar Vazhkai" by Nanjil Nadan

Today I received a copy of "Nanjil Vellalar Vazhkai" by Nanjil Nadan

Thanks to a chance friend on net, Mr. Ramalingam, who kindly sent me the book.

I finished the book in just 4 hours.

It is a book on the life and times of the Unique Kanyakumari District Nanjil Vellalar Pillai who are Non vegetarians, landowners, panniyars around that area.

They had 3 distinct separate groups - Marumakkal Thayam, Makkal vazhi, and the Saiva Vellala Pillai.

I belong to the Saivaite group.

The marumakkal and makkal vazhi is broadly discussed in this book.

Eventhough the Vellalars life, culture is more or less same across all this small distinctions.

When I read through the lines, I was overtaken by the sad fact that today many of the Vellalars are not in good times.

They are economically weak, poor, landless, upper class people only on the paper.

Kavimani Desika Vinyagam Pillai [from Putheri in KK dt.] wrote in 1917 "Marumakkal Vazhi Manmiyam"

Today this Nanjil man from Veera Narayanam [KK Dt] wrote this second manmiyam.

He agrees about the bad deeds done by Landowners of those times, "the burning sambavar [parayar] kudisaigal", the sexual exploitation, the untouchability etc. etc.

Even in Tuticorin Vaditheru, till recent times [1970's] I saw an arch and a central stone and a black stone culvert telling people of untouchable caste should not enter this area. Vaditheru remained a domian of Forward caste people till recent times.

Total Vaditheru was full of Vellalakkudi.
Wherever a Vellala goes, he tries to live within his own communities. he tries to avoid other low castes, at the most he may mingle with the
brahmins or othe equal high castes.

Now the same vaditheru is full of mixed castes, notedly the Fernando christians, who gave large money to buy such beautful old time houses with its rich old history.

That brings out some animosity from other castes immediately like the brahmins who are also suffering from such exclusivity and isolation.

So, in this New Era of Post Independence and Caste Conglomeration, the Brahmins and the Vellalas are the worst affected economically socially and politically.

Now the Political Power is with the Majority MBC and OBCs.
The Reservation Policy affected the two upper castes badly.
There should be a Reservation Policy based on Economical freedom.

OK, that is a matter for life to debate.
What are the other points which attracted me in this book?.

The various unique culinary culture of the Vellalas.
Eriseri, Ulandansoru, Mundharikoththu, Susian, Kzhiyadaikai, Kokkatta, Poivizhangai, Poriurundai...

The various readymade medicines of the Vellala homes..
muttaippaththu, kurunai kanchi, thaippal for sore eyes, kaichiya nalla ennai with red chilli for ears, nallennai kuliyal ...

The various small gods of the Vellalas.
Avvayaramman,Muppidathi, Mutharamman, Soolai Pidari, Santhana mari, Sudalai madan, Sastha, Aiyappan, Shiva, Murugan...

The unique Vellala- Nanjil Nattu Vellala style of Tamil speech -mostly bordering Kerala.
Ela = to call amma
Asaththu poyi = forgot

KK dt. rice varietis
Vasarumindan, Veeramudan, Aanaikomban, aruvang kuruva, muttai kuruva, maikuruva, seeraka samba, punuhu samba, poombalai, thattravellai, seetha boham, panagkuruva, nenthirappalii, kattich samba, kalmanalvari, vallarakkan, kichili samba =18 types.

So these things are still followed, still remains..

OK, come to today's realities, i see the only emancipation for the Vellala community is by mixing with less socially fortunate people.

I saw lot of inter marriages going on in bramin caste to escape the FC stamp.

The same is a possibility and acceptable thing for Vellalas also.

In our large extended family there are many examples of inter marriages.. with SC, with Moopanar, with Nadar.

So I think it is a welcome change, if you are ready to change.

But if you are proud of your caste history, and casteist thinking, then i am sorry, the future is not so good.

Because in Tamilnadu there are lots of castes putting surname as "Pillais".

Within them lot of divisions, no unity.

As our site describes the various sects of Pillai, I suspect the PILLAI is not a caste name in OLD TAMILNADU.

The PILLAI is a common surname indicating most of the socially upgraded people, from the HARAPPAN times.

In Harappa they called Murugu Pillai [Lord Murugan], Anir Pillai [the squirrel] etc.

Even now in Kerala, a Post Man is called as "Anchal Pillai".

In Tamilnadu till recent times the Accountant is called "Kanakku Pillai"

So, any trade, if it becomes a respected trade, automatically emanicapated as a PILLAI sub caste.

Even there are VELALARs vs. VELLALARS.

The VELALARS are kuyavargal.

ILLATHU PILLAI are the house makers - the erstwhile building contractors -once upon a time the homes are made of Mansuvar - Sand.

So These many diiferent kinds of PILLAIs are all part of TAMILANDU, TAMILIANS and they never intermarry, they never accept them as one.

All have different types of Thali, different food styles, different cultures.

So it is by far impossible to unite them as a whole.

So if you are a FC Pillai, ready to inter marry with a Sozhiya Pillai or Illatthu Pillai or Koyil Pillai or Isai Vellala or Tuluva Pillai or any other Pillai....

Because only the PILLAI surname is same.
MODE OF LIVING is different.

Then it is equally same for you to marry with a NADAR or MOOPANAR or SC/ST.

I say all SAIVA PILLAIs and other FC PILLAIs, please change, accept the new life, accept other castes.

This is a very simple shortcut to your social stability.

Some people may ask what about Our Culture? what about our Tradition?... Ofcourse they have to change too.
They can change for the better.

DK party will be the happiest when the see such social change occur, because for this only Periar waited till this day.

But to follow Periar's Atheism and other Anti God theories will be bad for all the people of Tamilnadu.

Because in India is Spiritually rich nation.

Even other countries try to follow us. India has produced a lot of Spirtual Science products like YOGA.


So MISSING THOSE THINGS will be a costly affiar and we will lose our Identity.

So, my immediate concern is, leave the caste ideologies, accept all people as TAMILIANS, then we can do wonders.

Like VOC, Ma.Po.Se, Ki.Aa.Pe, N.S.K, Kundrakkudi, Namakkal Kavingyar, Dr. Jeevanandham did.

People may be there to pull down you, But if you are hardworking and earnestly helping the PEOPLE OF TAMILNADU, you can raise to the top.

The FC Vellalas are cribbng that they supported the DK Party from Kudi Arasu to Viduthalai times of Periar, Veeramani, but they got nothing in return.

I remember my father say, that my grandpa was an ATHEIST MAN in Periar times, he bought KUDI ARASU, he destroyed 400 COCONUT TREEs in his THOPPU when GANDHI and PERIAR told to demonstrate against alcoholism.

See the DMK is ruled by a Isai Vellala [Karunanidhi]. The ADMK ruled by again a VELLALA NAIR [MGR].

But they never helped the FC VELLALAs, not because of their IDEOLOGY, but because of their FEAR of the KNOWLEDGE of the FC VELLALAs and HATE of the FC people, who once ruled them, once isolated them as lower people.

Even Kalaingayr Karunanidhi once sarcastly told in Tanjore DMK Mahanadu, the FC Pillais are "Poonool Podatha Parpanargal"

The same Thamil Inath Thaliavar bowed to Indira Gandhi and accepted her verdict of making new dams in Karnataka thereby causuing lots of social degradation of the KAVERI FC VELLALA PILLAIs and KARKARTHARs and BRAHMINS who were the land owners across the KAVERI BELT.

So, the ways are TWO.
1. Intermarry heavily with other PILLAI OBC/MBC castes -not blindly but with caution and study reg. suitabilty economically.

2. Intermarry with SC/ST, NADAR, MOOPANAR etc.-not blindly but with caution and study reg. suitabilty economically.

3. Give full attention to studies of your children and become a decent knowledge worker. Today We see lots of SOFTWARE, HARDWARE fields are in control by PILLAI people. They can do better as academicians, scientists, bankers,lawyers.

4. Avoid Businesses. If you are so much interested, then follow the successful COLOMBO VELLALA models, follow the successful RMKV, DA texiles as exapmles.

5. Never boast of your past, work for today, laurels will reach you.

6. Future is still bright if you are ready to leave the old baggage.

Time to Time I will write to you more, I hope you are all ready to hear me.

With Best wishes,
Mr. & Mrs. Pasupathi K. Pillai
WebMaster & Owner,
for Pasco soft
Tata: 0562-5533531
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  1. HI pasuji,

    I read your notes on Pillai community to excel. As such the governement is not ready to support the FC people. So the best one is to form a trust and appoint some great devoted pillai to take care of the trust so that people would trust the Trust. Now, we are not given any financial help by the government for our education, Right? So collect funds from our people. Why should we pay income tax a lot. Rather income tax can be partially paid to our trust which would be used for our pillai peopel to educate their pupil. What i mean to say is rather than expecting the government to support our children why shouldn't we support ourself.

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  6. Ravishankar DhanabalanThu Dec 04, 08:50:00 AM 2008

    Pasu Ji,
    Your views on our community is mindblowing.Very nice.Is it ok to have surname as Karkathar

  7. Hi Pasu Ji,
    Well said, nicely written...In Malaysia, people are changing also, intermarriage based on economical background does happen..

  8. Hi Pasuji,

    Great knowledge base on Pillais.

    Good work should continue,

    Senthil Kumar.

  9. Pasu Ji,
    Your understanding of Illathu Pillai is totally wrong. House making(or contractors) was not their trade.
    The actual name was "Ezhathu Pillai" and that changed to Illathu Pillai in course of time.
    The pillai's migrated from Ceylon long long ago are called Ezhathu Pillai.

  10. I accept Ganesh statement of Illathu Pillaimar.

  11. Vanakam Pasu Ji,

    There seem to be approx 150 endogamous clans in the modern Vellalar fold. This includes non-Pillai Vellalar like Mudaliar and Kavundar.

    Perhaps it will be good to consolidate these 150 different groups as one community.

    Looking forward to read more about the Vellalars in your blog.


  12. Kerala has made proficiency in Malayalam is a must to get Government jobs.

    This move will adversely affect the communities like Nadar, Pillais, Nairs and Ezhavas who live in both side of the Border. It is customary for a Malayali living at Kanyakumari and Ooty to study in the Tamil Meedium. Now they cant get a job in Kerala. Similarly Sozhia Vellalars of Kerala though originally from Chola country might not know Tamil.
    The higher administrative Officers of Kerala mostly from Northern India normally need not have proficiency in Malayalam and need not write exam to prove it. The Higher administrative officers from Kerala working in Madras need not have Tamil proficiency. But poor job seeker who want to become a peon or watch man cant get a job in Kerala Government job unless he passe an exam.
    Nadar Pillais and Latin Christians who marry across borders will be the worst affected. Anti Dravidianism was practised by the British. The German Christian missionaries such as Arnos Padiri and Gundert glorified Sanskrit and Tulu writing system.
    Dravidians dont have linguistic borders either. Thus the Villavars who once ruled Kerala are scattered throughout Southern India (Villavar Bana) etc.
    The British made the Tulu Sanskrit language of Nambudiris, the Tulu Grantha Bhasa as Malayalam while banning the indigenous Malayanma (Malayalam-Tamil or Lingua Malabar Tamul) in the 19th century. The Portuguese admixture with Tamil Panickers had a new group of Christians called Mestizos in the 16th century. Portuguese and Dutch used to print Malayanma books with tamil Script from Ambazhakkad and Melur near Angamaly, Quilon and Thalassery. But British started the Tulu Grantha Bhasa of Nambudiris as Mallayalam in the 19th century.
    The Syrian Christians were taught Grantha Malayalam in 1815 AD when they opened the Kottayam seminary. Before the British arrival Sanskrit or Tulu Grantha Malayalam was never used by Keralas Christians. Most of the Kerala Christian books were printed with Tamil Types prior to 1800s. Iravikuttipilla Por a Malayanma book closely resembles Tamil.

    Until British came the word Malayalam (Malabar) itself meant Tamil. The Malabar English dictionary written in 1796 was a Tamil English Dictionary.
    Now Tulu/Tigalari script is used to write Malayalam. Nambudiris Arya Ezhuthu contains many Prakrit and Sanskrit brought from Ahichatra their home town in Uttarkhand.
    While promoting the Tulu Tigalari writing system in Kerala the British banned Tulu writing system in Mangalore where they promoted Kannada there.

  13. Malayalam made mandatory for government jobs in Kerala
    Candidates who had not studied Malayalam up to Class X, Class XII or graduation will have to pass the Senior Higher diploma course under the Malayalam Mission after they get appointment.
    The existing provisions of the Kerala Service Rules (KSR) would be applicable to persons belonging to the Tamil and Kannada minority groups. But The Rule X of the KSR has stipulated that members of the Kannada and Tamil minorities need to pass Malayalam exam within 10 years of their joining the service.
    Civil service officers hailing from other States but posted in Kerala are required to pass written and oral tests in Malayalam conducted by the PSC to be considered for increment and promotions.
    This will affect those communities who live in both Tamilnadu and Kerala. Nadars and Pillais will be the worst affected. Many Malayali Nadars have been studying Tamil when they reside in Tamil Nadu. Similarly Nairs and Ezhavas who reside in Kanyakumari Ooty and Neyveli study Tamil. Now they cant get jobs unless they pass the qualifying exam in Malayalam. At least eight percent of Tamil Nadus population have Kerala roots. Now they would find difficult to find Kerala Government jobs. Those with mixed origin cant become a forest guard unless he passes the qualifying exam in Kerala.

    There were two kinds of Languages in Kerala in the beginning of 19th century. One was Malayalam (Malayala Tamil) the majority language. The second one was the Sanskritised language of Nambudiris called Grantha Bhasa written with Tulu script.
    The British colonial rulers managed to ban Malayanma and all its books and started promoting the Grantha Malayalam written with Tulu script.

    The mother tongue of majority of Malyalis used to be a Tamil like language called Malanma (Malayalam-Tamil). Until 19th century most of the Malayalis were using Malanma (Malayalma) which was considered one of the three forms of Tamil Kodunthamil (Tamil, Senthamil and Kodunthamil). Portuguese called this native language of Malayalis Lingua Malabar Tamul. Or Malayala Tamil. This language was devoid of Sanskrit words.
    Malayanma used different writing systems.
    1)Malayanma script was used in southern Kerala which was a derivative of Tamil Vattezuthu
    2)Kolezhuthu or Crown language a system implemented by King Rajaraja Chola
    3)Modern Tamil Script was used by the Keralas Christians until 19th century. Not only Kerala Christians were using Tamil Script they never used Sanskrit or the Modern Tulu-Malayalam script until the British started teaching them in the 19th century.
    Francis White Ellis who studied Malayalma in 1815 considered it as Kodunthamil. Most of the Malayanma books written with Tamil script appear to be Tamil.


    Tulu (Tigalari) script was used by Nambudiris who make hardly 3 percent of Keralas population to write their highly Sanskritised works . This language was called Grantha Bhasha and the European Missionaries called it Lingua Samscrudonicam. Grantha Bhasa contained more than 80 percent Sanskrit and 20 percent Malayalam(Tamil). The Tulu script or Tigalari script was used by Nambudiris because they migrated from Ahichatram in Uttarkhand to Tulunadu and then to Kerala in the second millennium. Tigalari script was a variant of Pallava Grantha script. Tigala people were the Karnataka subgroup of Tamil Vanniars. Tigalari was used to write religious books in Karnataka.

    Portuguese in the 16th century initially used Portuguese or Latin Script to write Malayanma of Kerala Christians. Alternating lines of Malaynma and Portuguese language were written.
    This language was then called Lingua Malabar Tamul or Tamil of Malabar (Kerala).
    Then the Kerala Christian works were printed using Tamil Script. The Malayanma-Tamil books were printed from Quilon Angamaly and Thalassery until 19th century.
    Copenhagen copy of Flos Sanctorum was printed using Tamil Script at the Dutch printing press at Ambazhakadu (Ambalacatta) near Angamaly in 1680. Thus Keralas Christians were using a Tamil like language until 19th century. No Modern Malayalam Christian books can be found in Kerala before the British arrival. Kerala Christians were using Tamil predominantly and Suriyani law books and Portuguese books in the early periods until 19th century.

    European colonial rule strengthened the Nepalese tribes from Ahichatram who migrated from Kerala. Matriarchal clans of Kerala with Tulunadu and Nepal/Uttarkhand origin appeared after the attack of Delhi Sulthanate in 1310 AD under Malik Kafur. After this period many of the Tulunadus Bunts subgroups such as Nayara Menava Kuruba and Samantha appeared in Kerala as rulers and Matriarchy hitherto a custom of Nepal and Tulunadu came to Kerala. Samantha a Bunt subgroup became the Kings of Kerala after 1300s. Thus Bunt/Nairs of Kerala might have moved from Ahichatra in Uttarkhand as mentioned in the Keralolpathy. Many Bunt groups such as Nayara Hegde,Menava, Kuruba and Samanthas appeared in Kerala and Matriarchy appeared in the same time after 1300. The Tulu-Nepalese rulers called themselves Madambi or Madanambi after the Ahichatra Madasthana at Uttarkhand from where they migrated to Kerala.
    Samantha, a Bunt subgroup who became the Kerala rulers adopted the Villavar titles such as Kulasekhara. They were known as Samantha Kshatriyas they were not ethnically related to Tamils.

    The opportunistic European colonial rulers supported the Tulu-Nepalese tribesmen aganist the local Vellala,Villavar-Panicker people.

    Europeans supported the Tulu-Nepalese dynasty with the mixed blooded Mestizo Christians from 1500s. Thus gradually the language of native Dravidian Malayalis, the Malayanma declined as the Tamil rooted people declined in Kerala. European colonialism banned the native Dravidian Malayalam-Tamil and replaced it with Grantha Malayalam of Nambudiris.

    The discovery that Sanskrit was closely related to German language led many Europeans to study the Nambudiri language Grantha Bhasa then called Lingua Samscrudonicam. Or Lingua Sancriticum by Europeans.
    A Christian Meztizos (mixed Portuguese and Indian ) like Garneiro studied Grantha Bhasa who made the subtitles in Hortus Malabaricus a Botanical Encyclopedia compiled in 1675.
    Itti Achuthan the Ezhava author of Hortus Malabaricus was using Malayanma and was using Kolezuthu to write Hortus.
    Arnos Padiri a Dutch German missionary was the first European to write in the Grantha Bhasa. He wrote the grammer for the Grantha Bhasa called Grantha Bhasayude Vyakaranam (now often people mistake that he wrote the first Malayalam Grammer).

    In the 19th century the British missionaries started promoting Sanskrit language of Namubdiris The Grantha Bhasa written with Tigalari script. The British promoted the Grantha Bhasa as Malayalam while abandoning the Malayanma. In 1815 the British started teaching the Syrian Christian priests Grantha Bhasa of Nambudiris at Church Mission Society Kottayam. In 1844 the British started a Sanskrit college under Father Chavara Kuriakose Achan. No Kerala Christian books written with modern Malayalam script or language can be found prior to the British established their rule in the 19th century.

    However the Europeans did not succed in their efforts to replace Malayanma completely. In the latter period the Malayanma words got integrated to Grantha Bhasa and a Grantha Malayalam written with Tigalari (Tulu) script was made the standard in the 19th century.
    Destruction of Malayanma also destroyed most of the traditional Malayanma books in Kerala.
    Actually Kerala has only few books written by Nambudiris in the 17th century onwards which are basically Sanskrit books with eighty percent Sanskrit and 20 percent Malayalam.
    Some books from Malayanma era do exist.
    Many of the Palm leaf manuscripts of Kerala display a language which closely resemble Tamil. Ravikuttipilla Por a book written in 17th century at Travancore virtually indistinquishable from Tamil. Vadakkan Pattukal and few other Kerala folk songs don’t use Sanskrit as Malayanma used no Sanskrit.
    Now many of the Dravidian Malayalis never realize how the British duped them by teaching them Grantha Bhasa written with Tulu Script. But Nadan Malayalam hardly uses Sanskrit and its coming back once again. Strangely Malayalam is much more closer to Sangham Tamil than modern Tamil. Thus all the words in Thirukural can be found in Malayalam not in Tamil despite the fact it is Sancritised.


    Lingua Malabar Tamul
    Malayalma or Malaynma (Malabar Tamil)
    F.W. Ellis: A Dissertation on the Malayal̤ma Language
    COPEN HAGEN COPY OF FLOS SANCTORUM written in Tamil script from Angamaly


    Tulu script or Tigalari script


    GRANTHA BHASA or Lingua Samscritica

    Dissertation on the Sanskrit Language
    By Paulinus A.S. Bartholomaeo

    Malayalam Made Compulsory