finding soodrahood in telingana

It has also been noticed that in speaking the Teloogoo, the Soodras use very few Sanskrit words; among the superior classes of Vysyus, and pretenders to the Rajah cast, Sanskrit terms are used only in proportion to their greater intimacy with the Bramins, and their books; and when we find even such Sanskrit words as these classes do adopt, pronounced by them in so improper and rude a manner as to be a common jest to the Bramins, who, at the same time, never question their pronounciation of pure Teloogoo words, I think we may fairly infer to be probable at least that these Sanskrit terms were originally foreign to the great body of people. 
from  the 'Introduction' section of the 'A Grammar of the Teloogoo Language, Commonly termed the Gentoo...' by A.D.Campbell. published in 1816, around the same age as when the nizams of hyderabad were either gifting away or being made to 'cede' the coastal andhra and rayalaseema regions to their colonial overlords.

two centuries later, if campbell were still around, he'd probably notice again that the 'Soodras' still can't get a hold on any sanskrit word without taking little conscious preparatory pauses. and their pronunciation still causes much jest among both the 'bramins' and those 'pretender' classes who have developed a much 'greater intimacy' with the bramins.  

when the the srikrishna committee submits its report to the central government today, and when delhi acts on it: both actions should be seen as the 'bramins' exercising their suzerainty over the 'soodras' of 'Telingana' (as campbell calls the whole of telugu speaking lands, including what are now referred to as 'coastal andhra' and 'rayalaseema' and other regions which are now a part of other states) yet again. as implied in the short paragraph, forces 'foreign to the great body of people' have always played a great role in the life of the 'gentoos'. brahminism and sanskrit, holding sway for several centuries couldn't destroy the ethos of the soodras even until the nineteenth century. it remained 'pure teloogoo'. but that project is still on, because soodrahood, innate to such pre-hindu cultures as the telugu culture, still poses the greatest challenge to the brahminical idea of india. and will, always. but how long should the soodras remain tethered to the trenches, fending off one assault after another, never attempting to subdue the enemy? they have to realize that soodrahood can also be a weapon, not just a shield to ward off the bramin's attacks. 

i remember an excellent post by dr.p.keshava kumar, teacher of philosophy and occasional blogger, on how the dalit movement is trying to deal with brahminism in tamil nadu-- let me quote a passage from the post in which he tries to explain the political philosophy of thol thirumavalavan of the viduthalai chiruthaigal katchi:
Let me elobarate further, tamil identity is not just a linguistic identity. As an eminent philosopher Wittegenstein said language is the form of life. Life has to be understood as social life. Social life exists in our social relationships. The social relationships are much rooted in our cultural life. For Thirumavalavan, tamil identity means it is all. He believed that tamil society is much more democratic society. There is no trace of caste system and is different from Brahminism, Hinduism and Aryanism. This distinct identity is maintained for so many centuries. On contrary to this our existing relationships hierarchy prevails there exists one over the other. The caste system is responsible for this. The hindu religion had the sole responsibility for strengthening it. It is the characteristic of brahminism/Hinduism which is internalized into Indian nationalism. In the course of time even it influencing the tamilians. Again to revive tamil identity one has to necessarily annihilate this caste system.
the democratic roots of soodrahood in telingana (i mean campbell's telingana, of course) have to be found again. one needs to dig a little, but not very deep because an outsider like campbell could spot them quite easily a couple of centuries ago.


SS said...


Isn't the Justice Srikrishna Committee a far better exercise than the earlier ones on Telangana? At least it's not a political one like the Pranab Committee no? Shouldn't we support any attempt to use educational,scientific, legal expertise to solve the problem if only to prevent political interests hijacking the future of the state? What the Centre does with the report, yes, one can only hope that it will not be a politically self-serving choice.

kuffir said...


it was too little politics across the state which led to the current situation-- the facts that the 'experts' from delhi will talk about in the report are already well known to most politicians. it's the politics of the educated middle classes across the regions which have been irrational, showing scant interest in facts. their belief in the wisdom and objectivity of the indian nation and its state matches the cats' faith in the monkey. the announcement of the committee was a good opportunity for the telugus across regions to do some soul searching, to start looking at facts -- but they still seem to be focussing more on magic and messiahs..

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