Strange Caste Customs in Cochin and Travancore (Post No. 3091)


Compiled by London Swaminathan


Date: 25  August 2016


Time uploaded in London: 11-57 AM


Post No.3091


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks for the pictures.



From the book


By John P.Jones D.D.

The Macmillan Company, 1908


“The relation of the Maharajah of Travancore to his Prime Minister, who is a Brahman, is an interesting illustration. The Rajah is not a born Brahman; he is by many of his people regarded as a manufactured Brahman. But His Highness himself does not regard himself as equal to his Brahman Prime Minister; hence he will never be seated in his presence. Nor will the Brahman Dewan deign to sit in the presence of his royal master, the Maharajah. Hence all the business of the State (sometimes requiring conferences of three hours a day) is transacted by them while standing in each other’s presence.


Rajah of Cochin


The Rajah of Cochin, who lives temporarily near the writer, and who is evidently a sticker for caste observances, receives calls from European friends only before nine o’clock in the morning, for the obvious reason that is the hour of his daily ablution.


The Maharajah of Travancore bathes at 7 am daily; hence intending European guests find reception only before that early hour. In the state of Travancore, in which Brahmanical influence is great, even the high caste Nair cannot touch, though may approach a Nambudiri Brahmin. A member of the artisan casts will pollute his holiness 24 feet off; cultivators at 48 feet off; the beef eating Pariah at 64 feet. Like the Palestinian leper of old, the low caste man of that part of India was, until recently, expected to leave the road when he saw a Brahman come, and remove his polluting person to be required number of feet from his sacred presence.


Low caste witnesses were not allowed to approach a court of justice, but standing without, at the requisite distance, to yell their testimony to the Brahman judge who sat in uncontaminated purity within. The falling of the shadow of a low caste person upon any Brahman in India necessitates an ablution on the part of the latter.


Hinduism Digests and Absorbs Everything!

Page 71

“In this extended pilgrimage, during which we have sought ancient and modern expressions of the many faiths which have dominated, or which now dominate, the people of this land, we have come to touch not only with those tolerant faiths which have found their origin here, or which have found refuge and popularity in this peninsula, – such as Hinduism, Demonolatry, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Sikhism. We have also come into touch with the three most intolerant faiths of the world, — Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Judaism. There is no land where these religions have suffered less of opposition than in India. Indeed, it is not from persecution and opposition that they have stood in most danger, but from fraternal contact, growing appreciation, and ultimate absorption. The Hindu mind, like the Hindu faith, has a fatal facility for accepting, semi-assimilating, and finally absorbing, all of religious belief and conviction that may come into contact with it. And this never necessarily involves the abandoning of the old beliefs.”





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