Talk:Pillai (surname)

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Factual Error[edit]

In the Pillai it has been stated that Vellalas in Kerala are considered part of the Nair community. This is a mischievous atatement and bending facts to suit somebody's selfish motives. Vellalas are very much an separate entity and do not need to survive in the identity of a separate caste. Stop this deplorable practise of absorption of communities. The Vellala community are very much thriving and doing very well, thank you. In the official records of all the community members including me, the caste name would be given as Vellala and NOT NAIR. Non-Brahmin Forward caste in Kerala does not mean Nair. Sujith

sir i want to add following useful links pls permit


—Preceding unsigned comment added by Pasug (talkcontribs) 04:27, 12 June 2007

The first is currently empty. I have added the second in Pillai#Some prominent Pillais. - Fayenatic (talk) 21:01, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
Nair-Pillais are Malayali Nairs. They belong to Illathu Nair community. Tamil Pillais(Vellala Pillai, Illathu Pillai, Chetti Pillai etc) are the people who migrated to Kerala from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. They are not Nairs. They belong to Tamil-Izhuva community which is similar to Malayali-Ezhava community. Name of their organization is Kerala Vellala Maha Sabha. (- Ashwati Nair)

Pillai and Menon[edit]

I have removed following content. Pillai of Travancore is a counterpart of the Cochin title of Menon.

I think pillai sect part of both Nairs and Vellalas there in Cochin.

Take the egs of PK Vasudevan nair. puthenpurakkal kesavan pillai vasudevan nair. Also Some CM of cochin was a nair pilla.. like discuss manu comment Tn pillai 07:54, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

That Pillai was a counterpart of Menon is fact mentioned in the Travancore State Manual. Before the late 19th century Pillais (Nair Pillais) were confined only to Travancore just as Menons were not then found in Travancore. Manu

addtion on 22/04/08. The 'pilla' called is one among the nair community in south kerala and northern talukes of kanyakumari distict. It is believed that 52 families were brought from malabar orgin to travancore by travancore kings,gave them responsibility to keep the "gajana".They were called KARUVELATHU NAIR and Raja gave them the pattom,"PILLA".In othe nair csates the lady names ends with amma and other,while here even the lady name end with pilla.ex:Narayani pilla,bhavathy pilla, chembakakuttty pilla etc.It noticed the names in old stamp papers and brass vessels. Harikumar-Thickurichy —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:08, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Groupism i.e., Caste origin[edit]

The origin of groupism i.e., caste seems to have started with people trying to refer to themselves as one group. There was no divisions and sub divisions until different people started competing for the same resources and had to organize themselves into groups to improve their chances in competing.

Subdivision origin[edit]

Another reason for groupism came from the profession followed by the differnt groups. As people changed professions, they also had to change names to reflect those professions. However they needed to differentiate themselves from people who were already using those professional names. So as people took up farming they had to call themselves Vellala. However since other groups were using Vellala as title, different groups with additional names were created. Thus were created the various groups of Vellala.

Lathead 16:05, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Reference given: Isai Vellala are a section of Sengunthar/ Kaikolar[edit]

Union Territory of Pondicherry By Francis Cyril Antony, Pondicherry (India : Union Territory) snippet view: [1]

Quoted from book:

Isai Vellalas are none other than that section of Sengunthar Mudaliars or Kaikolars who were associated with the system of Devadasis Youonlylivetwice (talk) 15:00, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

Famous Pillais[edit]

Need evidence that the following were Pillais before putting them back in this article. Their own articles do not mention the name/title.


- Fayenatic (talk) 21:41, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Pillai title[edit]

The Pillai surname is used by both Tamilians and Malayalis. So it cannot refer to a particular caste. It is not appropriate to use an infobox in Kerala usage alone.--Sureshmaran (talk) 12:11, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

It should be surname, as it isn't a title. And it is a surname used by a few castes too.-SpacemanSpiffCalvinHobbes 23:49, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

As I understand it, Pillai was originally a title, but has become widespread as a surname. The article includes a lot about its history as a title, although none of it cites WP:reliable sources.

Perhaps we should rewrite this article to be about Pillai as a surname, including of course its history as a title. Then there would be clear criteria for inclusion in the list of Notable Pillais. As it is, the justification for removing notable sons of Pillais who apparently did not use the surname themselves, but may nevertheless have carried that title by descent, e.g. here, is less clear-cut.

This site brings together a lot of Wikipedia references to Pillai and so may prove useful in tracing sources cited in other articles: - Fayenatic (talk) 19:53, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

@Sitush: you took out "named Pillai" from the heading of notable people, [2] which seems to invite addition of people identified as Pillai descent even if not carrying this name. Is that intentional?

Also, do you support the suggested page move from "title" to "surname"? – Fayenatic London 18:19, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

This should be a surname article. Even the template at the bottom of the page says that. In India it is incredibly common for people (even entire communities) to assume names in the expectation of social advancement. A part of that process is termed sanskritisation. There are very few genuine titles that haven't been appropriated in this manner and Pillai certainly isn't one of those few. In fact, even titles such as Maharajah have been appropriated, although in that case the process has been one of assumption by an individual which then becomes accepted by other people. There is also no such thing as a caste "surname": I've yet to see a caste that uses just one such name although, yes, some names do tend to be particularly common within one or more given castes. - Sitush (talk) 21:48, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks –  DoneFayenatic London 22:32, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

Nair title[edit]

is separate article for Pillai (Nair title) needed? Nair just a caste like any other, Y separate article? it can be included in Pillai (title) itself — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:52, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

I have tagged that as a proposed merge. – Fayenatic London 18:19, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
You might want to review Nair, which is likely to be a better target given that the only source in that article is Thurston. - Sitush (talk) 00:16, 27 March 2014 (UTC)


@Sitush: is Balfour worth nothing? [3]Fayenatic London 18:04, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

I can think of better uses for the paper that it was printed on! It is tertiary, it relies heavily on oft-recycled material created by gentlemen-amateurs and people with agendas such as scientific racism, and so on. Raj sources are generally considered to be useless and, indeed, their perpetuation of misunderstandings and Brahmin bias etc in the cause of flawed administrative necessity is one of the major causes of many of the social problems that still exist in India to this day. I've never seen an experienced contributor here accept them as reliable and they come in for huge criticism from modern academics. - Sitush (talk) 21:55, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, that helps more than the brief edit summary, especially as you deleted this one but had kept something from the source removed in the preceding edit that had a full summary.
Finding citations for articles on Indian names seems to be difficult. Thanks for your cleanup work. – Fayenatic London 22:54, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
The one thing a Raj source is always reliable for is the personal opinion expressed in it, which is pretty much a mantra for any source at WP:RSN. I toyed with removing the quote here from Edgar Thurston because he really is bad - he is one of those that didn't know the language, relied on biassed interpreters, was part of a project aimed at control of the population after the 1857 rebellion, and used things such as colour charts to classify people. There is no doubt that he got a lot wrong and there seems to be a good case for those mistakes to include completely misclassifying people of X group as being of Y group etc. James Tod was worse when it comes to incredibly off-kilter views, and H. H. Risley had more impact in his own lifetime, but I'm not sure that Thurston's opinion really merits a mention.
The Raj attitude/historiography etc is a fascinating subject in itself but - speaking as an intelligent Brit with degrees in history, no connections to India but a fairly wide reading around the issues - it seems to me that these people should usually only be cited in articles about those attitudes or about the writers themselves. These people were an odd bunch and, almost to a man, they were amateurs who "fell" into their writing careers as an adjunct to their day-to-day admin roles. - Sitush (talk) 00:10, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Compound names[edit]

Should compound names including Pillai be included here, e.g.

These have just been removed as "partial matches", but I thought they were valid entries. – Fayenatic London 08:14, 8 February 2015 (UTC)

Merging the Pillai pages[edit]

Dear all,

There needs to be a division between the title of Pillai as bestowed in Kerala and in other parts of Southern India. Although the origins of the title in ancient times may be from the same source, it has undergone much changes in the centuries that followed and is entirely understood differently this day. It is also well-documented in the case of Keralan Pillais(copper-plate grants can be seen at the archives of the Padmanabhaswami Temple, Trivandrum)and therefore much easier to trace the families. My own research has taken me to many interesting houses in Trivandrum and Southern Travancore (now in Tamil Nadu)

My research in south Indian languages and ethnography prompts me to suggest that it would be better if the Pillai (Nair title) page is changed to Pillai (Kerala title). This is because the title although primarily in existence among the Nairs, who formed the majority ethnic group in Kerala is also documented to have been bestowed to Keralan Vellalas, Keralan Brahmins of Tamil Origin and in one or two cases to Muslims. In the latter's case, their status with the award, was raised to that of a Nair.

For more information, read the works of Mark de Lannoy, K M Panikkar and research-works of Lena More. Primary sources are the copper plate grants which many families possess.

Jkl1805 (talk) 16:23, 18 October 2016 (UTC)