Sunday, October 25, 2009



Before 300 BC whole of the kerala area was under the Pandian Kingdom. The Chera Kingdom was founded by the Bana people at about 300 BC , who perhaps came to kerala from Karnataka. Chera means the people who came and joined. The king Cheraman Perumal was otherwise called Bana Perumal. The The formation of chera kingdom at Northern Kerala devided the Pandiyan kingdom in the middle.

Thus in the early years of Christ Kerala had three Pandian Principalities. 1)Southern Ay Nadu (the present day Travancore ) 2)Maranadu -area extending from Palaghat to Gudalur and Wayanad including Ezhimalai 3) Pulnadu Kasaragod and South Kanara

The arrival of new warrior casts from the north who were more related to Kurubas( a dravidian people who were living at the central India who mixed with the Scythian,Parthian and Aryan invaders in the early centuries after Christ), through the konkan coast along with their Sanskrit speaking Brahmin masters in 800 AD, radically transformed Northern kerala. The Thulu Nadu records mention that a tribe called Nayar who followed marmumakkathayam and fiercely protective of Brahmins came from north along the konkan coast,and residing at Thulunadu (South Kanara)around 800 AD. They suddenly disappeared from South Kanara around 800 AD. It is understood that Nayars came to kerala around 800 AD. The names Nair and Kuruppu suggest that they are more related to the Kurubas than ancient Tamils of the Chera kingdom. The ancient Pana and Valluvan tribes were either exterminated or assimilated by the Nair warriors. The Nairs who perhaps married among the indigenous Vellala,Valluvan and yadava tribes. The Nairs of Valluvanad preserved many ancient traditions including the Chaver tradition exhibited at the mamangam festival. The custom of Marumakkathayam a form of matrilineal lineage was brought inside kerala by the Nairs. They joined the second Chera Kingdom around 800 a.d. Gradually the ancient chera kingdom was broken and and shared by local princes .The last Chera King, Ravivarma Kulasekhara of Kodungalloor (Trichur) converted himself to Islam and went for a pilgrimage to Mecca in the 12the century. The Chera Kings were replaced by the Namboothiri brahmins around 1400s when they intermarried among the Royal dynasty. The Nairs migrated to Venad around 1100-1200s and succeeded in colonising it. The native yadava rulers of Venad(Travancore) were replaced by Chera rulers. Gradually all the traces of Pandiyan ancestory disappeared though some elements and Pandiya Sakhas existed as late as 18th century. Kollam, Pandalam, Mavelikkara had been the Pandian minor capitals. Nairs turned out to be quite antagonistic to Nadars though much less severe degree than the Muslims and Naickers. Some nairs especially Kurups were always friendly with Nadars and sided with them. The Nadar Kalaries and learning persisted in the southern districts Trivandrum, Quilon and Kanyakumari Districts. They talked either Tamil or a dialect of Manipravalam an ancient form of Malayalam.

The Nadars/Shanars though they assisted the Venad King Marhtanda Varma in 1725 to regain the throne. Brandan Chanan alias Ananda Padmanabhan Nadar who was a member of the Pagode Kalari/Family that time helped the king in the civil war in which the Ettuveetupillaimar tried to kill Marthanda Varma. In latter periods(1725-1800) the Nadars were tortured by the Nair/ Vellala combine. Often they were sold as slaves. Many of them got converted to Christianity. Many Nadars like Swampulingam Nadar, Kasi, Duraiappa Nadars became robbers, a kind of country Robinhoods who hid in the hils and harrassed the caravans. Swampulingam Nadar finally was killed by the British regiment at Maruthuvamalai. Before the British shot him he managed to throw his four year old daughter inside the compound of a British Misssionary who converted her and named her Dona, after whom the village Donavur was named in the later periods.

In a period when only Namboothiri women were allowed to cover the upper part of their body, Nadar women started covering their chest at 1859 leading to fierce protesting by the other communities especially Nairs. This lasted for more than five years. The British never understood Nadars history or their Pandiyan lineage.

Leaders like Soundara Pandiyan nadar were actively involved in the establishment of Dravidian movement.

Very few of the Nadars still have memory about their Pandiyan past. The people with family names Maran,Rayan,Sivanthi,Pandiyakula etc. perhaps were more related to the Pandiyan dynasty than others.

Even now the single majority community at Trivandrum is Nadars.

A kannada speaking sub group among Bunts called Nadavas who reside at South Kanara District of Karnataka also regard themselves as descendents of Pandiyan kings including Bootha Pandia and Deva pandiya. Like Nadars of kerala and Tamil Nadu they have titles like maran and rayan. At Karnataka the Pandiyan kingdom existed at the Mangalore and Kasaragod area. They are believed to have intermingled with the Hoysala dynasty of karnataka who were jains like early Pandiyas. The jain community as well as the Bunts of Karnataka could descend from the ancient Pandiyan kingdom. Some Billavas might have acquired Pandiyan blood by marriage as they have the Pandian title Alwar or Alwa.

The keralas Ezhavas and Edigas (Ezhiyas) are not related to Nadars ethnically and all the apparent similarity could be due to inter-mixing in the recent times. Ezha nadu in ancient Malayalam and Tamil means Srilanka. The Puthalam Nadu described by Ibn Pathutha at the North western Srilanka was a Pandiyan kingdom and could be the place of origin for these communities. The Puthalam kingdom perhaps collapsed around 1350s. The Pandiyan dynasty of Nadars who ruled in Sri Lanka in ancient times were also called Ezhavas and should not be confused with the modern Ezhavas.

The title Panikkan was given to people who were masters in martial arts by the Pandiyan kings. Like Nadars many Ezhava families have the Panikkan title indicating their link and perhaps the origins from the ancient Pandiyan kingdom. Like Nadars they were also saivites. The Thiyyas were fierce warriors and their Kalaries are said to resemble closely nadar Kalaries though technically superior than the Southern Kalaries.

In the Modern times the following communities have the ancient Pandiyan lineage. 1)Nadars 2)Nadavas (Bunts) of Karnataka 3)Some Muslims from Karnataka still have Nadar as family name.They claim to have converted before four hundred years