‘Caste’ing a Shadow on the Legacy of Ezhuthachan

Published: 09th September 2014 06:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th September 2014 06:15 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thunchathu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan, the father of Malayalam language, can only be compared to Kalidasa or Shakespeare as his contribution to his mother-tongue is so sublime and rich.

But, some narrow-minded people are trying to include him in a particular caste, forgetting his titanic stature in the world of language and spiritual literature.   Two prominent community organisations are locking horns over Ezhuthachan’s caste, with each claiming that Ezhuthachan belonged to the caste it represents.

The Nair Service Society (NSS) and the Akhila Kerala Ezhuthachan Samajam (AKES) are the organisations that have raised their hands with the claim that the sage-like figure is a member of their community.  According to website of the Nairs Academy of Information Research and Services, Thunchath Ezhuthachan was one of the prominent personalities who belonged to the Nair community. Meanwhile, the Akhila Kerala Ezhuthachan Samajam, the organisation that represents the Ezhuthachan community, has come forward with an objection, saying that Thunchath Ezhuthachan was not ‘Nair’, and that he belonged to the ‘Ezhuthachan’ community. According to Akhila Kerala Ezhuthachan Samajam State president K G Aravindakshan, the claim of the NSS is baseless.

“Thunchath Ezhuthachan was born in Ezhuthachan family. His name itself implies that he belonged to the Ezhuthachan Community.  According to history, the Ezhuthachan community was a group of highly qualified, cultured and civilized people. They were ousted from erstwhile Chola-Pallava-Vijayanagara kingdoms for unknown reasons, forcing them to move from Chikmaglur. Later, they moved to the banks of ‘Nila’ and started to live there,” he said.

This is the actual history of the Ezhuthachan community, whose members live in Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode. Ezhuhachans, including Ramanujan Ezhuthachan, were assigned to teach non-Brahmins by Zamorins after the ancestors of the community approached the Zamorins for shelter and job. They were assigned to teach as they were trained in Sanskrit,” said Aravindakshan.

Meanwhile, NSS treasurer M Sasikumar told ‘Express’ that the information given in their website was absolutely true.

“We have published the right information, which is ‘Thunchath Ezhuthachan was a Nair. There is nothing wrong in including him in our site,” he said.  According to language experts, who admire him as the man who gave Malayalam a new look, he should be respected for his contributions to the language.

“He was a legend who created standardised Malayalam through his works. There is no point in arguing over the caste of that great personality,” said K S Ravikumar, noted critic and Head of the Department of Malayalam at the Sree Sankara University, Kalady.

 “Accurate information about most of the ancient poets and writers is still not available. Thunchath Ezhuthachan also comes under that category. Details such as his actual name, and information about his family are still in uncertainty. The legend has it that he was born to a Chakalakkal Nair woman, and he was the younger brother of one ‘Raman’,” he said.  “The name Ramanujan was given to him as he was the brother of Raman. There is evidence to confirm that his brother’s name was Raman as it is mentioned in a sentence in the ‘Adhyathma Ramayana’, which was written by him,” he said.

“As per the information available with us Raman Ezhuthachan gave him primary education at his institution at Thirur, and later he was sent to Karnataka for higher studies. Later, Ezhuthachan came back to Thunchanparambu. It was at Thunchanparambu that he gave birth to his literary works,” he said.

According to Ravikumar, though Ramanujan Ezhuthachan is known for his contributions to the language, no sufficient studies were conducted to gather more information. “He should be respected for his contributions. The caste doesn’t matter,” he said.


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