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Indian History Carnival – 49: Buddha, Danish Factory, Tiruvarur, Zamorin

  1. Jayarava investigates if there is any truth to the claim that Buddha’s family followed Dravidian marriage customs? Read the entire post to get the answer.
  2. A cross cousin marriage is one in which a boy would marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, or a girl would marry her father’s sister’s son. This is one of the preferred matches in South India amongst the Dravidian speaking peoples, and also practised in Sri Lanka. However Good (1996) has been critical of the idea that cross-cousin marriage is the only or most preferred kin relationship, and shows that other marriage matches are made. Be that as it may, cross-cousin marriage is a feature of South Indian kinship, and the Brahmanical law books (the Dharmasūtras) make it clear that cousin marriage is forbidden for Aryas. (Thapar 2010: 306). The perception, then is that if the Buddha’s family practised cross-cousin marriage, they cannot have been Aryas and were likely Dravidians.

  3. While we know about the English, Portuguese and Dutch factories in India, less known is the fact that there was a Danish factory in Calicut in the 18th century.
  4. The Calicut lodge was not very much in the scheme of things as far as the Danish were concerned and was just an outpost for pepper procurement. However it also served as a listening post to sound out the English overtures in the Malabar Coast. The Danish were wary of supplying arms and armaments to the Travancore kingdom and the Mysore rajas though they did quite a bit of that quietly under the British eyes and the response from the buyers were not too enthusiastic and the equipment was old, outdated and even unusable at times. But they continued on. Sometimes brown sugar and salt from the Calicut factory found their way to the ships headed back to Copenhagen. The ships came from Tranquebar in Jan/Feb and got back by April/May. During the incoming trip they brought in weapons offloaded at Colachel and later at Calicut for Hyder & Tipu. The principal items of trade were saltpeter, pepper, salt, soft brown sugar, textiles, rattan, indigo & tea (from China). For the Danish ships, the journey to Europe was direct from Tranquebar and not touching the Malabar coasts.

  5. Usually we don’t find elaborate descriptions of the Zamorin. But thanks to Italian traveller Pietro Della Valle who visited Calicut in December 1623, we have a bit more details.
  6. Pietro had no difficulty in walking into Zamorin’s Palace where he and his Captain were almost forced to have an audience with the Zamorin. His description of the Zamorin as he walked into the hall to meet the visitors is graphic: After a short space the King came in at the same door, accompanied by many others. He was a young Man of thirty, or five and thirty, years of age, to my thinking; of a large bulk of body, sufficiently fair for an Indian and of a handsome presence. … His beard was somewhat long and worn equally round about his Face; he was naked, having only a piece of fine changeable cotton cloth, blue and white, hanging from the girdle to the middle of the Leg.

  7. Do you know why Tiruvarur is famous for? Sriram writes:
  8. Tiruvarur town is also the birthplace of the Carnatic music trinity – Syama Sastry (1762-1827), Tyagaraja (1767-1847) and Muttuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835). The houses in which they were born were later acquired by a trust which built memorials for them at the spots. Though not aesthetically appealing, they serve to commemorate three geniuses who between them, revolutionized South Indian classical music, rather like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart in the world of Western Classical Music. Of the Trinity, Muttuswami Dikshitar is completely associated with Tiruvarur. Several of his compositions are in praise of the deities here.

    The Bhakti movement in Tamil Nadu is associated with the 63 devotees of Shiva, known as the Nayanmars, all of whom lived between the 2nd and 8th centuries. Of these, the last- Sundaramurthy has a shrine to himself here. It is believed that he first came up with the idea of the 63, including himself, at the Devashraya – a many-pillared hall that stands within this temple.

Just four posts for this month. The next carnival will be up on Feb 15th. Send your links to varnam dot blog @gmail before that.

2 Responses to Indian History Carnival – 49: Buddha, Danish Factory, Tiruvarur, Zamorin

  1. Arundhati January 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    Wasn’t Arjuna’s marriage to Subhadra a cross-cousin marriage? Ie, he married his mother’s brother’s daughter. That did not seem to be prohibited.

  2. Kedar January 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    I recently came across this information about a german named Kurt Schildmann who thinks that the “ancient inscriptions discovered in the caves of Peru and the United States shows that they are similar to ancient Indus Valley Sanskrit”.

    I googled the “Kurt Schildmann” and got a load of sites that say the same thing with almost exact phrasing.

    Can you determine the veracity of this claim?

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