Reformation in Namboodari’s as a Socio-Political Imperative

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Any writing which becomes a part of literature is surely a form of artistic expression. the point is that what kind of decoding does the encoder wishes? This is particularly known only to the author. but taking literary work as a cultural material, it tells or conveys more than what art requires. Thus, any work as a cultural material holds ideologies, imperatives, marginalisation, gender dynamics and much more emphasizing on the existence of socio-political imperatives in literature of all ages.

The selected writings are from two different languages kannada and Malayalam ensuring regional differences in experiences.

Vaidehi’s “Vasudeva’s family”, works with caste as a socio-political factor before 1950s and particularly 1950’s its ideologies, dynamics, power politics did take a different stature and the change which occurred is never overnight. And antharjanams writing reflect the journey of namboodaris towards a gender-neutral attitude and thinking in terms of traditions, marriage etc… both becoming women historiographies.

These works which are artistic expression of authors which speak about marginalization, power structures, gender dynamics emphasizing the influence of socio-political imperatives in literature of that particular era confronting the paradigm shifts specially after Indian independence.

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During 1920s radical youth wing started arguing for family reform and other things like marriage, female education, dress reforms, inheritance, partition of joint family holdings, state legislation reforming marriage etc.

The transformation of women’s lives was high on radical reformers agenda and antharjanams began not only to break traditional codes of conduct but also do the reformers mantle, becoming a marked presence in reformist meetings.

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Parvati Manezhi, Arya Pallom, Parvaty Nenminimangalam etc were women reformers. For instance, the mahila, a women’s magazine depicted parvaty Nenminimangalam who lead to brahmin reformism specially Antharjanams as “Joan of Arc of the namboodari”.

Breaking down traditional restrictions constituted just half the journey towards equality. For these women the issue of gender equality was not automatically resolved merely by moving into Nationalist Leftist politics. As Devaki Nilayamgode states- “it took years and there were many doors to be broken down before the ideal world of gender equality and gender peace could be attained.

1940’s showed up signs of antharjanams taking up the challenge through many writings and their first play written by “antharjanams for antharjanams.” “to the workplace”, even in ongallur meetings of antharjana samajams E M S namboodiripad urged malyala brahmins to give up traditional autocratic pride and enter the main stream of modern Malayali society. As labouring subjects: women too would join by finding employment and income.

As seen in agnisakshi Devaki manampalli gets married to unni etthan and has a fire in herself to read, be active and find equality which she has seen in her upbringing along with her brother who is a national activist and wishes to join him. The changes in terms of restrictions against education can be seen through Thankam “who gets permission for higher education” by the time Devaki finds hard to sustain marriage without husband’s attention and compassion as he is bound in traditions, their broken relationships, Devaki’s seclusion, her participation in Indian independence movement and changes in illam. As unni dies the orthodox traditions and restrictions in illam is completely changed by Acchan. where he sends his son abroad for studies remarks the imperatives of gender and caste equalities where reformation could be seen in society.

Caste reformation in literal sense means backward class movements which was a new humanistic idea as an awareness due to modern education against nature of Indian caste system. Dravidian movement, SNDPmovement, Mahar movement. Professional and political awareness, conflicts by 1914 between non-brahmin urban middleclass, brahmin middle class and upper class saw drastic change. The reformation in terms of caste did not directly affect the higher caste but upliftment of backward classes and its process of upliftment which included education and vocational opportunities through the gates of modern education indeed shadowed a new vision towards youth in terms of thinking towards society where equality can be imagined. And that imagination of equality did happen as a socio-political imperative in brahmin community especially in vaidehi’s “Vasudeva’s family.” Here the talk is on major sensitive issues which includes emotional and societal beliefs along with new changes due to reformations.

The major characters Vasudeva, Bhaskara, parthakka and kumudini make the readers to see the change in minds of youth which is an essential socio-political imperative towards a casteless society.

  •  Parthakkas orthodox sentiments
  •  Bhaskaras new vision and his liberal secularistic acceptance of low caste people where he serves and fights for SC ST rights, marries a koosa woman Tukri by naming her as kumudini, gets imprisoned for this social reformative activity.
  •  Parthakkas rejection of bhaskaras secular thoughts.
  •  Vasudeva being head of the family still looks everything in a humanistic way with acceptance of notion of equality shows how caste equality could be noticed after 1950s

Vaidehi unveils the politics of purity and pollution that works together with the politics of compassion each bouncing off the other. As vaidehi says “to break such a system, the daughter of a brahmin should be prepared to wash the glass from which the low caste officer had drunk coffee with her father in vasudevaraya’s family. It’s a new generation of children who think for themselves and question traditional beliefs, practices which can sense the influence of modernity and caste system was fading.”

Updated: Jan 27, 2022
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Reformation in Namboodari’s as a Socio-Political Imperative. (2022, Jan 27). Retrieved from

Reformation in Namboodari’s as a Socio-Political Imperative essay
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