unniNamboothiri3Isn’t it yet another religious lunacy that suppresses us as a group of uncivilized people in the name of demeaning rituals of shudhashudham and ayitham? Another madness is the forced learning of Vedas, which is in no way an absolutely essential knowledge in this materialistic world; nor has anyone been able to convincingly prove its use for us. Our saffron clad so-called sages allow the exploitation of our hermitages. It will be clear to anyone through a cursory use of their intelligence that the rigorously-maintained practice of vadhyar and vaidika duties along with many other unsavoury events that are occurring amongst our midst are the result of the same religious frenzy which has seeped into our bloods over generations.

Many of us believe that it is our economic difficulties and the aged patriarchs amongst us who are responsible for the destruction and obstruction of the concept of a new and effective education. But we should reckon with education’s meanest enemy, the forced brahmacharya amongst us, which sacrifices our youth’s energy and vitality for a contrived lifestyle. This forced celibacy is a decrepit ritual that has not yet released us from its grasp.

Those who lead a family life have nothing to be proud of either. We have all yelled ourselves hoarse on the subjects of kanyadan, kanishtavivaham and swajativivaham. It is not because of the absence of a Namboothiri Bill or the reproach of the patriarchs that these events have not yet become ubiquitous amongst us. When people all over the world are trying to modernize their lives according to their knowledge and capabilities, we alone think of it as a monstrous religious atrocity. Today’s family life is one that in no way subscribes to the luxury and ease of modern living. Unless we rip off at least some of the parasites of religious restrictions that suffocate it, I believe that we would never be able to make swajativivaham universal.

Notes

  1. Shudhashudham– In ultra-orthodox Brahminism, every object, person and event had a baggage of ritualistic beliefs attached to it. Based on contrived notions of cleanliness, everything was either pure or impure depending upon where it came from, who handled it, how it happened, what rituals have been performed for purification etc.
  2. Ayitham– Deriving from shudhashudham, ayitham is the practice of avoiding contact with lower castes, in some cases, even visual contact. It was the most common form of untouchability.
  3. Vadhyar and vaidika– The particular Brahmin families that were privileged to teach and perform rituals. They alone were considered to possess authoritative knowledge on rituals and hence were indispensable at every occasion.
  4. Brahmacharya– The period of life in a Brahmin male’s teenage, wherein he abstains from all worldly and materialistic pleasures and devotes his time entirely to the study of Vedas. For some, it lasted only up till marriage, and for others, a lifetime.
  5. Kanyadanam– A father’s act of giving away his daughter in marriage. The text suggests that there were some malpractices around this custom, but the exact problems surrounding this are not known.
  6. Kanishtavivaham– In the ultra-orthodox Brahmin families, only the eldest brother married from within the caste (swajativivaham). If the younger brothers wanted a family life, they had to marry from lower castes and the marriage was not recognized by other Brahmins. A probable reason for this custom was to prevent dilution of wealth through inheritance.
  7. Namboothiri Bill- A Bill that sought to improve the condition of Nambudiris in terms of education, rusty customs and tedious, unnecessary rituals. After many attempts at implementing the Bill, a diluted version was finally approved by the State of Kerala post-independence.

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