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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hyder and Tipu - Part 2

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Tipu Sultan from outlookindia.com
We had, in the previous post, written about the invasion of Hyder and Tipu and the testimony of Vella Namboodiri. From the responses received we notice that many of our esteemed readers have accused Tipu for his various violent acts in Malabar. We realise that it was a mistake to club together  Hyder and Tipu  while discussing Vella's History  as the latter dealt with only the author's encounter with Hyder. 
We seek to remedy this by quoting another testament which has come to light only recently and sheds some new light on Tipu's acts in Calicut. Outlookindia.com has, in its issue dated 25 April, 2013, published an article by Francois Gautier ( the author of Rewriting Indian History) titled 'The Tyrant Diaries'.
According to the author, an old trunk kept in the attic of a flat in Paris contained the diary of Francois Fidele Ripaud de Montaudevert, who was part of Tipu's army which had invaded Calicut in 1797-99. The trunk belonged to a descendant of Ripaud and was discovered in December 1988 after her death. 
Ripaud had faithfully recorded his experience as an adventurer and of the times he served Tipu's army. He had enrolled as a sailor at age 11 and, after many adventures, had reached Mauritius where he got married and settled down.  When he heard of Tipu and his expeditions, he sailed from Mauritius to Mangalore and met the Mysore ruler to offer assistance. Tipu who had already been trained by French officers in the employ of his father, jumped at the idea and gave Ripaud credentials to recruit a French force to assist him.
 Following the return of Ripaud to Mauritius with the credentials, Malartic, who was the Governor of Mauritius  put up on 29 January 1798 a public proclamation asking for volunteers to join an expedition to travel to Mysore to assist Tipu in his resistance to British encroachment in South India. Approximately 100 men were recruited, and they left for India on the French frigate La Preneuseon 7 March 1798.
Although the French mercenaries were warmly welcomed by Tipu and were treated very well, disillusionment soon set in. As Ripaud wrote in his diary dated 14 January 1799,  “I’m disturbed by Tipu Sultan’s treatment of these most gentle souls, the Hindus. During the siege of Mangalore, Tipu’s soldiers daily exposed the heads of many innocent Brahmins within sight from the fort for the Zamorin and his Hindu followers to see.”
Ripaud was particularly shocked by the treatment meted out to the people of Calicut during Tipu's invasion. This was what he recorded in his diary: “Most of the Hindu men and women were hanged...first mothers were hanged with their children tied to their necks. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces.  Temples and churches were ordered to be burned down, desecrated and des­troyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Mohammedans, and similarly, their men (after conversion to Islam) were forced to marry Moha­mm­edan women. Christians who refused to be honoured with Islam were ordered to be killed by hanging immediately. "
Another entry of Ripaud relating to Calicut, reads: “To show his ardent devotion and steadfast faith in the Mohammedan religion, Tipu Sultan found Kozhikode to be the most suitable place. Kozhikode was then a centre of Brahmins and had over 7,000 Brahmin families living there. Over 2,000 Brahmin families perished as a result of Tipu Sultan’s Islamic cruelties. He did not spare even women and children.”
As noted by Gautier, these events had been corroborated by Father Bartholomew, the Portuguese traveller, in his Voyages to East Indies.( We concede that there is a serious problem with the dates of Gautier's narrative. Tipu had surrendered Malabar to the British after the treaty of 1792, and there was no way that he could persecute the Hindus of Calicut in 1798-99. However, we have left the dates as such, hoping that either Gautier will re-check the dates or someone may challenge the dates and maybe even the authenticity of the diary)
Disgusted by these barbaric acts, Ripaud left Srirangapatnam and left for France where he enrolled in the navy and fought the war against the British. He was killed on 23 rd February, 1814. According to Gautier, 'Even the British, his arch enemies, gave a 21-cannon salute to this brave adventurer, once Tipu Sultan’s ‘Great White Hope’.
Much of the narrative defending Tipu against charges of fanatic barbarism was that these stories were invented by the British historians to defame the patriotic Mysore ruler and to drive a wedge between two communities. But, here we have the testimony of an ally who has faithfully recorded his sense of revolt at the atrocities as these were being committed by forces he was fighting along with. There is apparently no reason to disbelieve this account. 


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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan: Tyrants or Heroes? A Testimony from Vella Namboodiri

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Courtesy: NDTV.com
It is customary for all states to participate in the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi with colourful floats and tableaux. The best float is awarded a prize by the President. Usually, this is a tame affair with babus  from the states supervising the making of the floats which cover such exciting themes like the Indira Awas Yojana, Rajiv Drinking Water Mission and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme!
However, this year the tableau presented by Karnataka Government drew flak. It showed Tipu Sultan with a drawn sword. There were strong protests from some who consider Tipu a communalist who tried to destroy Hinduism and Christianity in parts of Mysore and Malabar. There were equally strident voices describing Tipu as a patriot who dared to take on the might of the East India Company and had even struck up an alliance with the French government. 
The Mysore invasion had seen the beginning of the end of the Zamorins of Calicut. Arguably, the Zamorin was himself responsible for his plight, as Palghat Raja had to invite Haider Ali in 1756 to protect his kingdom from the expansionist ambitions of the Zamorin. The Zamorin had to retreat and promise to pay the Mysore army a sum of Rs.12 lakhs as reparation.
Hyder ascended the Mysore throne in 1761 and one of his first acts was to march to Malabar where he was assisted by the Ali Raja of Kannur to subjugate the local rulers of Neeleswaram and Kadathanad before marching to Calicut. The Zamorin who had promised the war reparation of Rs.12 lakhs had passed away and the new ruler was not a particularly strong person and enjoyed little local support among the royal family (as he had been adopted from Neeleswaram and was looked upon as an 'outsider'). Nevertheless, he tried to ward off Haider's invasion by negotiating peace in the Eralpad's palace at Ananthapuram (Panthalayini-Kollam). He even offered all his treasures and property, but Haider would not settle for less than a crore of Rupees as penalty for the default in payment of war reparation. When negotiations failed, the Zamorin had to set fire to his arsenal in Kottapparamba Palace and commit suicide, after sending off the family to Travancore.
 Haider felt cheated and decided to recover his ransom by looting temples in Malabar between Calicut and Ponnani. He then retreated to Mysore after appointing Madanna, one of his experienced revenue officers as the civil administrator with headquarters at Calicut. 
Many a Malabar temple was destroyed by Haider and his forces, ably supported by the forces of Arakkal Raja. Traditional accounts of this rampage attributes religious motives; in fact Tipu's campaigns would clearly show that he behaved as a religious fanatic in his mission of converting as many Hindus to Islam as his army could lay their hands on. But, was Haider Ali also a fanatic? 
Many historians of Malabar would affirm that all the temple destruction could only mean one thing - that he wanted to destroy Hinduism systematically.
The period between 1755 and 1780 was one of extreme disturbance and mayhem as far as Malabar was concerned. It had not seen peace ever since the Zamorin's ill-advised march against the Palghat Raja. It culminated in the suicide of the most powerful ruler of the region. While opinions - often coloured by caste/religious/ ideological prejudice - can differ, eye witness accounts seldom deviate from the facts.
Fortunately, we have such an eye witness account in the manuscript now known as 'Vella's History'. Vella Namboodiri was born in 1709 on the southern bank of the Bharathappuzha. His illam finds mention in the Keralolpathi and must have been one of the ancient Namboodiri families. He was one of the ooralars of the Panniyur Varahamoorthy Temple. He witnessed Hyder's first invasion when he was around 55  years, although he committed his story in writing later when he was around 70 or so. However, he records the events graphically and with the objectivity of a historian.
Zamorin had presided over the Mamankam which was held in 1765 Dec-1766 January. This was conducted under the shadow of foreign invasion, as the Calicut ruler and his advisers knew of the impending attack by Haider. Zamorin appointed one Kaalatt Gopala Pisharoti as the Thalachennavar  of Ponnani and got ready for the inevitable showdown with the Paradeshi.
We get a pen portrait of Hyder from Vella namboodiri who called on the 'Nabhav' (as he described Hyder) when the invader was camping at Trikkavu Temple. He gives a graphic account of his first meeting: the Nabhav was standing near the well inside the quadrangle of the Trikkav Temple facing east, his one leg resting on a stone. He was wearing a headdress, coat and trousers of superior cloth. A stone-studded ring shone on the little finger of his right hand. When Vella approaches him and salutes, he returns the greetings. Nabhav leads Vella to the southern courtyard of the temple where a place has been decorated with clothes and cushions. Nabhav asks Vella to be seated with him on the dais. Then they converse on various topics, with Hyder asking searching questions on how much wealth the neighbouring temples had and where the wealth was hidden.
After the conversation which lasted for more than an hour (three nazhikas, according to Vella), Hyder sends him off with a gift of clothes, a bundle of betel leaves and an arecanut. He also arranges for the escort of Vella to his illam in Thirunavaya.
According to Vella, what irked Hyder was the revolt which some Nairs and the young princes of the Zamorin palaces had engineered as soon as Hyder had departed from Ponnani. On Hyder's return trip, he was ruthless with the men who had led the revolt and their properties. He also pillaged the temples, including the Thirunavaya temple, although Panniyur temple was spared.
What is striking in Vella's account is that he clearly states that on his first visit, Hyder's objective was only to recover the amount of reparations that the Zamorin had promised him. He had been cheated out of this by the Zamorin ending his life. He was left with no alternative but to plunder the temple wealth to make good the promised amount.  But the foolish acts of Zamorin's descendants in attcking Mysore army when Hyder had left the territory in the care of Madanna, had incensed Hyder no end. His second trip was, thus, to wreak vengeance on the rebels. In a striking statement displaying the objectivity of a historian, Vella comments: One does not know who is to be blamed for all this disaster! He does not rush to judge events and people.
Vella's History is a landmark not only in Kerala's historical records but also of Malayalam prose. Traditionally, the origin of Malayalam prose is attributed to the Christian missionaries who had published extensive evangelical literature. However, all this was at least 70 years after Vella's History. The quality of the prose and directness of his style set apart Vella's work not only from the early evangelical literature with its strained translation of English into Malayalam, but of some of the later prose writings of Kerala writers.
We owe this discovery of Kerala's pioneering historian to Sri M.T. Narayanan Nair (the elder brother of writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair who had retained a manuscript copy of Vella's History. The credit for compiling and publishing this work goes to the eminent toponymist and Malayalam professor, Dr. N.M. Namboodiri. Regrettably, no English translation of the work has been attempted so far. We sincerely hope that the publishers (Vallathol Vidya Peetham) will make available an English translation for the benefit of wider national and international audience.


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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Saving the Comtrust from sharks!

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We had raised the issue of the deliberate destruction of one of the most beautiful heritage buildings in the heart of Calicut city ( see our post of March 2009). Although we had been lending our feeble voice to those who were opposed to the closure of the factory and the sale of the real estate, we noticed that it did not come to much, as the parties on the opposite side were not only more powerful but were smarter than us.
But as we had not lost hope in the rule of law, we petitioned the Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala requesting his intervention in preventing the demolition of this heritage structure which is a living monument to a unique experiment in social engineering through industrialization at a time when the Industrial Revolution was unfolding in England.
The Chief Secretary was extremely prompt in asking for a report from the Director Archaeology. We facilitated the Director's visit to the factory premises in September 2013. What we found inside was heart-rending. It is difficult to describe the deliberate neglect of machinery and facilities by those whose only aim is to see that the factory is closed down and the land sold for real estate development.
We thought our feelings would be best expressed in the following pictures which we took with the permission of the staff in the office. Where possible, we have juxtaposed these with pictures of how these looked when these were installed more than a century ago. We hope the State Government and the Archaeology Department will wake up to the heritage value of the factory and the building!
The building today




The building more than a 100 years ago
The new weaving hall at its inauguration in 1897

weaving hall today
weaving hall today



Reeling room in 1897

Embriodery hall in 1910


Embroidery hall as converted today



A poignant reminder of the day the factory was closed in 2008- a calendar in the weaving hall which shows the next instalment due for a chit with the KSFE!
Some workers protesting outside the main building. We heard stories that the majority of the workers (or their leaders, at least) have been bought over by the real estate lobby which has planned to grab the prized land!)


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Sunday, October 20, 2013

V.C. - Calicut's own Keats

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This blog usually tries to put at least one picture of its subject. But today we are breaking that tradition because, sadly, there is no photograph our subject, the young poet V.C. Balakrishna Panicker (1889 - 1912) who died this day, a hundred and one years ago at the very young age of 23. Yet during this brief life he produced numerous poems, slokas, plays, articles and translations, some of which like An Elegy and Viswaroopam have made him immortal among lovers of Malayalam poetry.

VC belonged to the erstwhile Calicut district, parts of which are now in Malappuram district. He was born on 1st March 1889 at Oorakam-Keezhmuri near Vengara. His family name was Vellaatt Chembalancheri. He would have lived (perhaps a little longer) and died incognito as a farmer or a school teacher but for the literary patronage provided by  a member of the Zamorin family of Calicut during those days - the legendary Vidwan Ettan Raja.

It was a fortuitous meeting during a train journey with the leading literary figure,  Kavikulaguru P.V. Krishna Warrier that led the 12 year old village boy to Calicut and to the patronage of Vidwan Ettan Raja. Krishna Warrier saw potential in the precocious child and advised his father to take the boy to Calicut and seek to get into the inner circle presided over by the Kerala Bhoja, as Vidwan Ettan Raja was described for his generous support and encouragement of men of letters. (More on Vidwan Ettan Raja and the literary world around him in another post.)

It was the period of four years spent in the heady company of literary giants in the Mankavu Palace in Calicut that moulded the young VC into a romantic poet and a self-confident person. He honed his skill in classical versifying with the  a translation of Ettan Thampuran's Sookhtimukhtamanimala and a hagiographical work entitled Manavikrameeyam. He also contributed articles to periodicals like Manorama (Calicut), Rasikaranjini and Bhashaposhini. He was introduced to the best of English pre-romantic and romantic poets and became an ardent admirer of Wordsworth and Thomas Gray.

V.C. is now remembered mainly for his two long poems, Oru Vilapam (A Lament) and Viswaroopam. The influence of Gray's Elegy is evident in V.C.'s Oru Vilapam. The description of nature in Viswaroopam is more mature and restrained.

 In his A Lament he draws heavily on Gray's Elegy as in the following stanza:
 Many are the priceless splendid jewels /that lie deep down in the dark caverns of the sea; /Many, the flowers too that waste/ Their fragrance in the whirlwind /arising in the intractable forests; /Of these, one and only one perchance /ever becomes known once on a blue moon.

 Similarly, his other famous poem, Viswaroopam is suffused with Wordworthian pantheism as when, standing on the seashore at dusk, the poet becomes one with the natural phenomena- the waves, the stars and the moon.

Mystery surrounds the sudden disappearance of V.C. from Mankavu Palace after a stay of four years. He just disappeared without any clue. The generally accepted explanation is that he fell for the charms of a young princess of the Palace and when the liaison was detected he was advised by an elderly well-wisher to flee to safety to avoid danger to his person. Unfortunately, there are no records in the Zamorin archives about the stay of V.C. or even the reasons for his flight. This is understandable as the episode happened long before Vidwan Ettan Raja had become the ruling Zamorin. It was not the usual practice to keep the chronicles of junior Princes, as the records were kept centrally at Thirvachira where the Zamorin's office was located.

There was no news of V.C. for the next one year. However, during this period he had written the long poem Meenakshi which is a conventional description of the heroine in the Venmani School style of soft eroticism. It is said that the poem was written by the 16 year old adolescent describing his love for the young princess which had led to his running away from Mankavu.

V.C. was also an accomplished prose writer. He was editor of journals such as Kerala Chinthamani (Trichur), Malabari (Tirur) and Chakravarthi (Kochi). He is today remembered for his bold editorial which he wrote on 26th October 1910 against the externment of Swadeshabhimani editor Sri K. Ramakrishna Pillai from Travancore. He accuses the courtiers of the Travancore palace, Saravana and Sankaran Thampi of having conspired to charge Pillai with treason after he had attacked their rapacity. The 21-something Editor makes a prophetic statement : ' Posterity will acclaim Mr. Pillai as a great hero of Travancore'. He argued convincingly that Travancore had externed not Mr. Pillai the individual, but the Editor of Swadeshabhimani. The Editor is a representative of the public and therefore, externing him without notice or a trial is against public interest.

V.C. showed remarkable understanding of the political undercurrents in Travancore and Cochin and expressed his views boldly through his editorial. He would have matured into a powerful political commentator at a time when India's freedom struggle was about to be unfolded with Gandhi's return to India from South Africa in 1915. But that was  not to be. V.C. who was 20 years junior to Gandhi passed away three years before the Gandhi era was to begin.

On the occasion of his 101st death anniversary (he died on 20th October 1912) Calicut Heritage salutes this great son of Calicut who died of tuberculosis at the age of 23.


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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Mysterious 'Soap Menon' of Calicut

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We have two posts on Calicut Soap Factory: the first one about how the Viceroy of India was being supplied with soaps made in Calicut and another one on Raja Ravi Varma and the soap factory.
While commenting on the second post, our friend and benefactor Jaypee wrote about the founder and managing Director of the Kerala Soaps Institute : MD Mr A K Menon was referred as "soap menon" by people of Calicut.
Ever since, we have been looking for information on this 'soap Menon'. At last, we found him almost hiding behind many illustrious names of the famous Chittoor Ambat family. The following information is from the blog http://manojambat.tripod.com/ambat.htm and we acknowledge our gratitude to the blogger:

A.K. Menon
from http://manojambat.tripod.com/ambat.htm

 A.K Menon  is the fifth child of Kurumba Amma and Thachat Chathappa Menon was born on December 16’th, 1889. After graduating from The Presidency College, Madras, he went to UK  in 1909 on Government Scholarship for higher studies in oil and soap manufacturing. While in UK, he along with K.P Kesava Menon ( who later became the editor of Mathrubhumi) were staying together. He worked with Lever Brothers ( Later Unilever Ltd) in UK and Dralle in Germany. After visiting many European countries, he returned to India in 1913 and started working for the fisheries department, Madras Government. Subsequently he was appointed as the oil chemist by the Madras Government and headed the research team on fish oil at Thanur. One of the products of the research is the shark liver oil now popularly used as a tonic for children. He moved to Calicut and established the Kerala Soap Institute as a Department of the Madras Government. The institute produced quality toilet and washing soap which was popular through out the country. The soap which was the favorite of the wife of the Viceroy, Lady Willington was named after her. He served a s a member of the Central Coconut Committee and oil and oil seeds committee where his contribution was significant. He was the president of the South India Soap manufacturers Association and has published many papers of great scientific significance. Most well known brands of soaps in India were made in the  companies run by the students of the Kerala Soap Institute. A.K Menon  is considered as the father of soap manufacturing in India . He was conferred the title of “Rao Bahadur” in recognition of his services to the country. He retired from services in 1948. He was married to Lakshmikutty Amma  daughter of Kottiazeth Puthiya Veetil Kavukutty Amma and Ambat Velukutty Menon. They have four daughters and two sons.

Can Calicut forget the contributions made by this great man? Apart from Kerala Soaps, he was apparently the brain behind the shark liver oil which was once being produced and exported from the KSI. The unit was then known as the Kerala Soaps and Oils. Those who grew up in the early 1950s would remember the tangy taste of the shark liver oil from KSOL which was a compulsory item for the growing kids, called (somewhat crudely in Malayalam) meenenna (fish oil). Subsequently, the company introduced sophistication by making capsules and even a tonic to compete with Alembic's Sharkoferrol. Apart from this, the factory also produced vanaspatis named Vimala  and Sudha. 
We do hope the new management of Kerala Soaps will honour the contributions of this self-effacing soul who gave so much not only for KSI but for the sandal based soap making which was his invention. They should join hands with companies like Wipro (who make sandal based soap and talc) to commemorate this pioneer who successfully showed that sandal wood oil can be used in soap manufacturing - a technology that Mysore learnt from Calicut. 

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Source book on early medieval Kerala History

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We are proud to announce the publishing of Calicut Heritage Forum's President, Prof. MGS Narayanan's classic work, Perumals of Kerala. This was originally his doctoral dissertation submitted almost 40 years ago. A few copies of this were published by his students and circulated among the researchers but no effort was made to reach this remarkable work to the general public all these years.
Remarkable because he virtually reconstructed the Chera history of the 9th-11th Century which was largely based on myths and legends, unsupported by historical evidence. He took off from where his mentor Professor Elamkulam Kunhan Pillai had left off. But he transformed current scholarship on Chera history in Kerala through his meticulous re-reading of available inscriptions and discovering new ones in the course of his investigations. How extensive was his investigation is evidenced by the fact that he has used inscriptions from Pullur in Kasaragod district in the north to Tirunandikkara beyond the extreme southern border of Kerala. 
Even as a thesis, his research was trail-blazing, as testified by the great Indologist Prof. A. L. Basham, author of the classic Wonder that was India, who was one of the external examiners. His comments on the dissertation by MGS are worth quoting: 
'...one of the ablest and most thorough Indian theses that I have examined,...the thesis forms a very thorough survey of the subject... All ... sections are excellent, but the candidate deserves special credit for his detailed study of the political history of the period, for which he has utilised all the available material including a great collection of inscriptions, many of them unpublished.
(This work) should certainly be published, and I look forward to seeing it in print. I would ask that the candidate be warmly congratulated on my behalf'. -A.L. Basham
He marshals arguments based on sound epigraphical evidence to disprove the existing accounts of a hundred years' war between Cheras and Cholas which led to the disintegration of the Chera dynasty and the rise of smaller principalities. He re-examines and re-interprets the Keralolpatti chronicle which was once accepted as history and then rejected as nonsense. He discovers sufficient epigraphical and other evidence to support "the Keralolpatti legend about the last Perumal's partition of Kerala and conversion to Islam. However, there is a vital change regarding the date of this event - the popularly accepted date was 825 AD but the new date is 1122-24 AD. The 'Partition of Kerala' is found to be the transformation of districts of the Chera kingdom into independent principalities". (page 20) 
This new finding explains the so-called dark age in Kerala's early medieval history between 9th and 11th Centuries. As MGS explains in this book, far from being a dark age, this period was one of vibrant social and cultural transformation brought about by the rising trend of Brahmin settlements which he finds to be a post-Sangam phenomenon. This gave rise to a unique system of governance which he describes as 'Brahmin oligarchy and ritual monarchy'.  
While most of what MGS argued in his work four decades ago stands unchallenged, more recent scholarship has added new details, particularly to the section 'West Asian colonists' (pages 277-284). The discovery and deciphering of the Genizah documents has revolutionized our knowledge about trade relations between the West Coast of India and West Asia/Middle East and the Levant. We had in one of our earlier posts referred to the vibrant community of Jewish traders in Malabar during the 11th-12th Centuries, and their networks based on evidence from Genizah fragments. We hope the next edition of this book will update the current research on this and other topics.
We wish to compliment the publishers Cosmo Books (email: cosmobooks@asianetindia.com) for the quality of the publication. (pages 512, price Rs. 1395)
The Hindu had covered the release of the book by Sri M.T. Vasudevan Nair at a function held on 15 July 2013 at Calicut. 

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Zamorin is dead; Long live the Zamorin!

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We announce with deep regret the passing away of Mr.P.K.S. Raja, the Zamorin of Calicut and the patron of Calicut Heritage Forum. He was 101 years old and breathed his last after a brief illness. 

He had his education in Calicut and Chennai from where he graduated with honours in Mathematics. He worked in the Telecommunications department as an engineer and served all over the country from Guwahati (Assam) to Sukkur (now in Pakistan) to Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). He retired as Deputy General Manager of the department in 1971 and preferred to stay on in Chennai till 2003 when he shifted to Calicut.

He was anointed the Zamorin of Calicut on August 17, 2003 and soon won the hearts and minds of the citizens of Calicut with his humility and his cosmopolitan outlook. He represented the composite culture of Calicut where people from all communities lived in peace and prospered. In a touching tribute, the Chief Qazi of Calicut, Imbichammad Haji, termed him an icon of communal harmony of Calicut. ‘He respected and stood for the welfare of Mishkal Mosque, Kuttichira with the same integrity with which he stood for the development and protection of Tali Temple’, he said.

He was a great scholar who carried his learning lightly. We recall our meeting with him at his residence a couple of years ago, in the company of Roy Moxham, the British author (http://www.roymoxham.com/) and a great friend of Malabar. The Zamorin narrated to us excitedly of his visit to the room in the Cambridge University where Hardy and Ramanujam had worked together for some years. He also referred to the unsolved equations of Ramanujam, and when Roy mentioned about some recent book which had unravelled the mystery, he was keen to get a copy. 

His knowledge of history of the world, as well as of Calicut was stupendous. He would recall minute details of the Second World War during which time he was involved in war-time communications. He was certain that Calicut prospered under the Zamorins only because of its open door policy which welcomed every visitor with open arms and never discriminated on grounds of race, religion or caste. Trade was the engine of growth for the port city and anyone who desired to trade and prosper in peace was welcome. It was only when the Portuguese wanted monopoly rights and when they tried to import the crusade spirit by demanding the expulsion of the Arab traders that the water was muddied. 

We also welcome the successor Zamorin, Mr. Sri Manavikraman Raja (P.K.S. Raja) who being the eldest male member of all the three palaces, will take over as the next Zamorin on the conclusion of the 12-day mourning. The new Zamorin is equally learned and cosmopolitan. He was in the Indian Foreign Service as a middle level officer and retired in 1980 as Third Secretary from the Indian Embassy in the erstwhile Czechoslovakia. We look forward to his patronage and guidance of the Calicut Heritage Forum. 

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