Monday February 26, 2018
Home India Tamil Brahmin...

Tamil Brahmin’s transformation to urban middle class

0
//
450
Republish
Reprint

By- M R Narayan Swamy

Title: Tamil Brahmans, The Making of a Middle Class Caste, Authors: CJ Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan, Publisher: Social Science Press.

This is a fascinating, scholarly work, yet eminently readable, on how Tamil Brahmans, who for centuries were a traditional, mainly rural, caste elite, occupying the throne of a caste order, transformed over time into a modern, urban, middle-class community.

In this clearly first exhaustive book on the subject, CJ Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan combine original research and extensive study to explain how Tamil Brahmans embraced education and job opportunities during the British Raj to become the middle class they are today, with a strong presence particularly in the booming private sector.

In this they were “an unusual social group” which knew how to remain in touch with the past even as it climbed the ladder of economic success – something that, the authors point out, the Telugu Brahmans or the Kerala Namboodiris failed to do. The Tamil Brahmans are a good example of “how and why privileged status within a hierarchical society can be perpetuated in the face of major social, cultural, economic, political, and ideological changes”.

The number of Brahmans in Tamil Nadu, according to the 2011 Census, is about 1.78 million, of whom Tamil Brahmans account for 1.40 million. Overall, in India and abroad, this must be 1.85 million. Today, the vast majority of them have been drawn into the urban middle class, leaving behind their once exclusive quarters in villages known as “agraharams”.

The Brahmans’ role as the custodian of Sanskritic Hinduism has always been salient for their caste status. This eventually pitted them against the Dravidian mass in Tamil Nadu, rapidly reducing the Tamil Brahmans’ once influential hold over politics into a virtual zero. But instead of going into a shell, the Tamil Brahmans adapted more easily to newer opportunities and saw modernity as less threatening to their social and cultural traditions. In the process, an old caste elite got transformed into a modern middle-class group.

Among the Tamil Brahmans who rose to prominence in both an early era and later included T Muthusamy Iyer, the first Indian judge in the Madras High Court, lawyers V Bhashyam Iyengar, S Subramania Iyer and CP Ramaswamy Aiyar, engineers SA Subrahmanyar Aiyar and V Ganesh Iyer, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, scientists and Nobel laureates CV.Raman (1930), his nephew Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1983) and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2009). That Tamil Brahmans bagged three Nobel prices should not be surprising because the community took to law, science and civil service in a big way – and then made its mark in many other professions.

The Tamil Brahmans have also changed in many other ways. Although they tend to marry within the community, Iyers (or Shaivites) are seen as less conservative than Iyengars (or Vaishnavites). Their family sizes have shrunk, and parents rarely worry if both their children are daughters. Young Tamil Brahman women have more control over their matrimonial affairs. And today, Tamil Brahmans are dispersed across India and abroad, mainly in urban centres, and rural Tamil Naduis no longer their homeland in any meaningful sense.

The majority of Tamil Brahmans see themselves as both fully modern and authentically traditional, the authors say. Dislocation and disorientation are actually remarkably absent from the Tamil Brahman’s certain sense of themselves as both modern and traditional. But, then, this book is mainly about the Tamil Brahman upper middle class.

(IANS) (pic courtesy: amazon.in)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

20 Facts About Tamil Nadu Tourism And Its Best Places

The existence of Tamil Nadu place dates back to 1000 of years back. It is one of the 29 states of India, Chennai is its capital

0
//
27
The brilliance of Tamil Nadu’s tourism can be understood by state topping the list of States with the most tourist arrivals. Wikimedia Commons
The brilliance of Tamil Nadu’s tourism can be understood by state topping the list of States with the most tourist arrivals. Wikimedia Commons
  • Tamil Nadu is also the second largest contributor to India’s GDP
  • Tamil Nadu inhibits many forms of classical arts, classical music, and classical literature
  • The enormous area of Tamil Nadu makes it the 11th largest state in India and in terms of population

The word Tamil Nadu literally means ‘The Land of Tamils’ or ‘Tamil Country’. The existence of this place dates back to 1000 of years back. It is one of the 29 states of India, Chennai is its capital. The state is also the second largest contributor to India’s GDP and second most industrialized state in India.

The state inhibits many forms of classical arts, classical music, and classical literature. The diversity can be seen in language, caste and many more things. Tamil Nadu is also home to a number of historic buildings and religious sites including historic hill stations and Hindu temples of Tamil architecture.

Take a tour of the mesmerising beauty of Tamil Nadu and its culture.

1. When the world is going super costly day by day, Tamil Nadu has something very unique in its Corporation restaurants in Chennai, where one can get Idlis for Re 1 and curd rice for Rs 3.

Also Read: Top 10 Famous Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu

2. One of the oldest known languages is said to be Latin. But as it’s not being in use anymore, Tamil language grabs the spot of oldest living language.

In 2016, Tiruchi received almost 1.21 crore tourists which were slightly more than 1.20 crore in 2015. Wikimediia Commons
In 2016, Tiruchi received almost 1.21 crore tourists which were slightly more than 1.20 crore in 2015. Wikimedia Commons

3. The great M.S. Subbalakshmi and Rukmini Devi Arundel have redefined the way the whole city buzzes with enthusiasm over art forms. But very few people know that Chennai’s Music and Dance festival is often counted as one of the major festivals of the city which goes side by side with other festivals like Pongal.

4. The trend of the banking sector in the country was initiated by the Tamilians. They started certain banking institutions like Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Bank, The United India Insurance etc for the smooth transaction of the money. Even the credit and debit system of banking was also introduced by them.

5. Myanmar owes Tamilians their one-third of the rice fields. As many years back, Tamil Nadu was in major trade with Burma and Ceylon to enhance their economy. Tamil Nadu was also involved in direct with some of the European nations.

Also Read: Top 10 must watch Tamil movies of 2017

6. The political scenario of the Tamil Nadu is quite blunt. There are only two parties who are the heavy weight of that region. One as DMK, headed by Karunanidhi family and other as AIADMK, which was headed by Lt. Jayalalithaa.

7. The enormous area of the state makes it the 11th largest state in India and in terms of population, its 7th most populous state in India.

8. Tamil Nadu has much of diversity in languages in its region. Interestingly, the language is spoken in Chennai and the interiors of Chennai are different.

The great M.S. Subbalakshmi and Rukmini Devi Arundel have redefined the way the whole city buzzes with enthusiasm over art forms. Wikimedia Commons
The great M.S. Subbalakshmi and Rukmini Devi Arundel have redefined the way the whole city buzzes with enthusiasm over art forms. Wikimedia Commons

9. Tamil Nadu holds the record of state with the highest literacy rate with 80.3%. All the schools and colleges in Tamil Nadu are only in Tamil Medium or English medium. Hindi is acknowledged as the third language in the private schools.

10. The brilliance of Tamil Nadu’s tourism can be understood by state topping the list of States with the most tourist arrivals, both domestic and international for the third consecutive year.

11. Tamilians prefer to grow rice in their filed rather than wheat and hence their staple food is rice and not chapattis.

Also Read: Top 10 Mani Ratnam Movies of All Time

12. Tamil Nadu has a spectacular reservation policy for its citizens. The Brahmins and the high castes are not covered under it, rest 90% of this state population comes under the reservation quota.

13. The state is home to some very ancient and splendid temples. Tamil Nadu has around 33,000 ancient temples and some even 1400 years old. The likes of Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai, Brihadeswara Temple in Thanjavur, Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram, Thillai Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram and Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Chennai among many others.

Tamilians prefer to grow rice in their filed rather than wheat and hence their staple food is rice and not chapattis. Wikimedia Commons
Tamilians prefer to grow rice in their filed rather than wheat and hence their staple food is rice and not chapattis. Wikimedia Commons

14. Tiruchi is a favourite destination for many of the tourist visiting the state. In 2016, Tiruchi received almost 1.21 crore tourists which were slightly more than 1.20 crore in 2015. The notable attractions of Tiruchi include Rock Fort, the Ranganathaswamy Temple and the Jambukeswarar Temple.

15. For many people, Hill stations are a synonym for states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir. But, in reality, Tamil Nadu also has the best and the most visited hill stations all over India. Places are Kodaikanal, Ooty, Coonoor, Ketti Valley, Valparai and Yelagiri Hills are a delight to watch. Some of the most prominent tourist spots include waterfalls, wildlife and bird sanctuaries, national parks and beaches. The state holds both hill stations and beaches in its territory.

16. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Department has come up with a unique way of absorbing the excess traffic on road and at the same time promoting state’s tourism. Tourism Department has identified 32 of new tourist destinations apart from the key destinations like Udhagamandalam, Kodaikanal, Madurai, Rameswaram, Mamallapuram, Kanniyakumari etc.

Also Read: 6 Lesser-Known Facts About Kamakhya Devi Temple

17. Tamil Nadu has tourism friendly policies with an aim to developing the high-priority tourism infrastructure. By this way, the state ought to promote environmentally and culturally sustainable tourism.

18. The state is bestowed with age-old temples and complex infrastructures. To honour such structures, UNESCO has marked eight World Heritage Sites in Tamil Nadu.

There are only two parties who are the heavy weight of that region. One as DMK and other as AIADMK, which was headed by Lt. Jayalalithaa. Wikimedia Commons
There are only two parties who are the heavy weight of that region. One as DMK and other as AIADMK, which was headed by Lt. Jayalalithaa. Wikimedia Commons

19. For any state, trade is a considerable source of tourism. As Tamil Nadu state is the largest producer of turmeric and banana. Also, the state is the second largest producer of Coconut, Mango and groundnut.

Also Read: All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

20. Chennai’s Marina Beach is the second longest urban beach in the world. It stretches for about 6 km, going along the shoreline of the city between the deltas of Cooum and Adyar.