Talk:Jāti system of Kerala

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The Caste system in Kerala article should be redirected to this one, for one main reason.....there are no concrete "castes" (Varna) in South India apart from Namboothiris, and it only serves to heighten the confusion. In Kerala the Jati system holds sway, so any reference to south indian and keralite social heirarchies should refer to Jati not Caste (Varna) Kshatriya knight 07:40, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Probably, we should be clear if the caste rules applied in the society by the Vedic Brahmins did not originate from Varna rules. It is incorrect to state that there were only Brahmins in South Indian society as the word "Shudra" was of course used. Also, some of the kings underwent Hiranya Garbha to become Kshatriyas. In my understanding the four fold Varna system was in fact North-West Indian phenomenon and East, Central and South it's two fold Varna system(along with untouchability which was common throughout the sub-continent). However, it does not negate fact that there was indeed Varna system in Kerala with rules taken from Vedic literature. It should be only mentioned that it is two fold Varna system. And we have evidences in the scriptures that say that South Indians are Shudras.
My only concern is that in the name of Jati system people should not be trying to create a pseudo-Varna system in South. I have seen somebody adding Upper Ezhavas were like Vaishyas and lower Ezhavas were like Shudras if taken to Varna system. Attempts like these might be bit embarrassing. Therefore, we should delete this (Jati system in Kerala) article and develop Caste system in Kerala in a very objective manner detailing all kinds of caste rules.

Manjunatha (30 Aug 2006)

As I have said, Jati is a better indicator in South India. People in Kerala who are land lords say that they are of the Nair jati, not from Kshatriya gotra. Only Namboothiris refer back to the Varna system to say that they are brahmins. Furthermore, by describing the sects of Kerala in terms of Jati will eradicate the confusion and heated debate regarding Nair status as Kshatriyas or Shudras. The paradox of being shudras and following kshatriya dharma can only arise in a land where a varna system has been imposed :upon a societal heirarchy that previously only incorporated "jatis". As I have said, people in Kerala, apart from Brahmins dont use varna terms like "kshatriya", "vaishya" and "shudra" to describe themselves, so why add to the confusion? The namboothiri brahmins called the nairs shudras, as they called the marathas and reddys shudras; which some see as a slanderous term, while the nairs called themselves (or sects of nairs) "Samantha Kshatriyas". Both terms are biased with connotations. Why should wikipedia perpetuate these narrow minded viewpoints on either side? Jati is as non-pov as possible, since it describes sects with accurate terms, like brahmin, nair, varma, ezhava....without adding to confusion by terms such as savarna sudras to describe nairs...which non-south indians would interpret as being those who performed menial tasks. As I have said, varna is a brahminical system that was imposed on south india, that fails to describe jatis without biased viewpoints (according to them anyone who was not a brahmin was a shudra). The Jati system of Kerala page must be moniterd to prevent "embarassment" that you take about, and clear explanations that justify a jati and its equivalent varna must be present. Kshatriya knight 22:14, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

And how do you suppose the so-called Jatis(which are endogamous units) are there if not for the Varna rules? Why we should bother what ignorant non-South Indians think? So you kshatriya knight,(I believe you must be a non-South Indian Kshatriya) want to turn the table and call Brahmin, a Jati. While it was the work of Brahmins in the old days to classify the castes based on Varna, now you want to classify the people based on the Jatis and equate it to Varna system. Very interesting.
You know what, in the old Tamil society priests' position was supposed to be low. You see in your Jati system the Brahmin is still the highest(as you intend to equate them to Varna system and that of course gives all the qualifications). Why? It's because the caste system is nothing but Varna system. And beyond North-West India, it's two fold Varna system. And don't forget none of the Jati rules of Kerala society were formed by non-Brahmins. It was the handiwork of Vedic Namboothiris and implemented by the rulers. The Jatis of Kerala have those attirubutes because they were defined by the brahmins in the past. So presently, you don't have any rights to re-define them.

Manjunatha (3 Sept 2006)

I see what you are saying Manjunatha, however, in Kerala, one who is not from the brahmin caste seldom refers to "varna". As keralites see it, there are namboothiris who are from the brahmin varna, and below them are varmas, nayanars, nambiars, unnithans, kurups, menons and nayars from the "naduvazhi" jati (a loose term-landlords, feudal lords) and so on... Before the arrival of namboothiris a strict "caste system" was obviously not present, but there where nonetheless sects in society such as nayars, ezhavas, pulayars; some asserting a superior status over the other due to their respective positions in society. After the arrival of brahmins, the social divisions were set into concrete and they disregarded every non-brahmin as "shudras". Manjunatha, as i have said, i am not re-defining anything...brahmin is not a jati but is still a varna...what i am proposing is that jati is an accurate term to describe the nuances in old keralite that reflects the pre-namboothiri system...instead of relegating all non-brahmins as "shudras". the varna system is at best a misnomer for keralite society and at worst a device used to denigrate all non-brahmins by labelling them as shudras..... Kshatriya knight 06:43, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

one who is not from the brahmin caste seldom refers to "varna".

Makes sense as hardly anybody apart from Brahmins were educated in Vedic scriptures.

but there where nonetheless sects in society such as nayars, ezhavas, pulayars; some asserting a superior status over the other due to their respective positions in society.

Incorrect. The match between Nairs and Ezhavas only started in 20th century. You are mixing up the present day community feuds and identity to a past where a toddy tapper could have become a Menon or Kurup and became a Nair.

Manjunatha (15 Sept 2006)

Manju I don't think you're right there, unlike many times when you were. The identity of occupation to caste was more iron clad in olden days. Now you could find a Nair carpenter or a Ezhava doing leather work today, but not in olden days. Similarly you would not have found a Pulaya owning lands. They could even face the threat of 'Brashtu' if they do so. The caste system became more solid in the early part of midle ages and continued in the more or less form now, although the caste system praxctices have thankfully been disappeared. Sujith

We are talking about Kerala before 12th century. Just check Sri Lankan history and you will come across mercenaries from fishermen/toddy tappers from South India, I think mostly migrated before 14th century. That's the reason (and also now taught in the history books of Kerala, I believe), the castes were artificial creation in the later period when the position of Namboothiris became strong in the society.This caste system became really strong by 17th century. Again, if you read Kerala history many of the occupational groups were never endogamous units. Many studies(Caste and Race in India by G S Ghurye) have taken note of it.

The caste system became more solid in the early part of midle ages

What are your sources for it? Which period will you attest for "early middle ages"? From my reading, 17th century is the period when feudal system became strong and caste rules were translated into Malayalam and strictly applied to the society.

Manjunatha (28 Sept 2006)

Note that there is additional discussion at Talk:Caste system in Kerala. Cnilep (talk) 23:50, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

About merging of this article[edit]

i personally think the "The caste system in Kerala" should be merged with this article, rather than the other way. For one, this article reflects the ground reality. It has been well documented that the Chaturvarnya does not apply sensu stricto to Kerala. One finds a lot of castes which has ambigious standing if put in the frame work of Chatur varnya. The absence of indegeious vaisyas is one case in point. We have Chettis, who emigrated from tamil nadu. But their social standing were lower than say, thiyyas. They belong to OBC category now.
You find amabalvasis who does not have counterparts in Chaturvarn-ic North India.
The dominance of nairs in the ruling nobility (in some case the royal houses themselves)and administrative setup of medievial kerala. Why they were given a lot of space in even the devaswam administration, The guardianship (Uralayar/raksha purushan) of important temples were shouldered by Nair familes. eg Koodalmanicyam, Kidangoor Subrahmanya temple etc. The marital ties with Nampoothiris and Royal houses is another case in point.
Sudras were not allowed to learn in the North and stringent punishments are advocated in manusmriti and other texts for those violating the strict caste rules. In Kerala, this did not seem to apply.
In some cases the untouchability were more strict than in North.
There are numerous other disparities between the theoritical chaturvarnya and the caste system practised in Kerala. i think nampoothiris were the only caste that would fit comfortably and fully in the Chatur varnya system. The rest of the castes are in a less sure and clear ground vis a vis chatur varnya. Many of the castes seems to have characters of different Chaturvarnya castes.

eg Ezhavas were strongly present in the commerce. nairs were dominant in adminstration, military and nobility. the reason for the ambiguity may be ascribed the late arrival of Brahmanism to Kerala when the caste system was imposed on a population leaving a blurred divisions, hotch potch definitions and potpurric characters that seemed to be tailor made for creating confusion.

I feel this article is more in line with the particular caste circumstances that existed in Kerala.


Article needs to be deleted[edit]

This article needs to be delete

Reasons -

  • The information is not correct (eg: Nair being classified as Kshatriya)
  • I don't like my caste to be called "Avarna"
  • Caste system was an evil in the past and we don;t need to dig it out again.

I will be deleting the contents soon. Pallathotath


Merge. I would have to say that calling it "Caste" rather than "Jati" is better. Even though it wasn't like the varna system. It was still a caste system. --vi5in[talk] 08:59, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Why use a comparison when you can describe the real thing? Jati is Jati. It may be similar to North Indian Caste System but ultimately its not. Why do we feel compelled to conform to Brahminical standards of heirarchy? Kshatriyan 10:43, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Avarna Jatis[edit]

This information is incorrect In Avarna Jatis you can see ( Aasari, Moosari, Karuvan, Thattan ) not out of caste system 1, ( Aasari, Moosari, Karuvan, Thattan ) real name is Vishwabrahmin

Aasari, Moosari, Karuvan, Thattan >> is only nick name , this name is not according to Veda

Manu (blacksmith)Rig-Veda Maya (carpenter)Yajur-Veda Thwastha (metalcraftsman)Sama-Veda Silpi (stone-carver)Atharva-Veda Vishvajnan (goldsmith) Pranav veda —Preceding unsigned comment added by Raghu chandran (talkcontribs) 11:46, 26 March 2008 (UTC)


Nair is a Shudra caste in Hindu , How Could they entered in temple and how they are called Savarna Jati ?

Rest assured, Nairs were always able to enter temples and were considered savarna along with Ambalavasis, Nambudiris, Tulu Brahmins, Maraans and Malayala Kshatriyas only. KBN (talk) 07:01, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Article should be merged[edit]

These two "systems" are very similar, and the only difference is the name of the article and system. It should be merged, because, well, they are the same except for area in India.Mountain Girl 77 (talk) 00:38, 13 March 2011 (UTC)