The Self-Contained Republic of Kelambakam and its Women

The fourth part of the series on Kelambakam describes the constitution of the village and gives a glimpse into the lives of its women.
The Self-Contained Republic of Kelambakam and its Women

In this Series

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The Self-Contained Republic of Kelambakam and its Women
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Vignettes from Life in Kelambakam: How Well Do We Know our Purohitas?
The Self-Contained Republic of Kelambakam and its Women
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The Self-Contained Republic of Kelambakam and its Women

It will be seen that this village is a little world in itself, having a government of its own and preserving intact the traditions of the past in spite of the influences of a foreign government and a foreign civilization. Every member of the little state of Kelambakam regularly performs the duties allotted to him, and everything works like a machine. Those that render service for the upkeep of the village constitution are either paid in grain or have some lands allotted to them to be cultivated and enjoyed free of rent. Those that are paid in grain present themselves during the harvest time at the threshing-floor; and when the villager gathers his corn and is ready to remove it to his house, he distributes a portion to each of the village servants, according to the nature and importance of the service rendered to him throughout the whole year. And these simple, honest villagers earn their livelihood year after year by toiling hard from early morning till the close of day, leading a peaceful and contented life, living happily with their wives and children in their humble cottage homes and caring for nothing that goes on beyond their own little village. The doings of those who govern them and things political are nothing to them. It is enough for them if Providence blesses them with periodical rains, if their lands bring forth plenty to sustain them and their children and to preserve unruffled the quiet, even tenor of their lives. This policy of non-interference and indifference to what passes outside his own sphere has been the main characteristic and, in fact, the guiding principle of the Indian villager from time immemorial.

Life in Kelambakam, with its fifty or sixty dwellings inhabited by a few hundreds of people, is full of interest. The villagers devise various kinds of amusements, which bring them together. In western countries, public amusements are authorized on a very grand scale; they often cost a great deal, and the best talent available is secured to please the people. This harkens us to what Aldous Huxley predicted about eighty years ago that entertainment and amusements must not be defined or regulated by an external authority, and the worst of all, must not have a price tag attached to it.

Thus, the amusements indulged in by indian villagers entail little or no expense, though their enjoyment derived from them is nonetheless keen and intense.

Women of Kelambakam

The amount of damage caused by colonial bounty-hunters of the Hindu people masquerading as sociologists and anthropologists is perhaps permanent and irreversible. Apart from racist theories about “caste” as the sole cause for Hindu military defeats, downfall, etc., the narrative also extended to the Hindu family system itself. The ongoing woke insanity in which increasing number of young Hindu girls and women are voluntarily enlisting in this project for their own destruction is in large part enabled by these foundational narratives.

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The Self-Contained Republic of Kelambakam and its Women

A slice of such theories including women, specifically Hindu women. The destructive propaganda was so effective that by 1900 itself, a good chunk of university-educated Hindus had swallowed it. Here is a sample of a theory that eventually became a received truth and later, a generalisation. Commenting on this, this is what a Hindu writer says:

In eastern countries, women are said to hold a subordinate position. The charge has often been made that in India they are bartered as slaves, that they are useful to man only in so far as they minister to his comforts, and that they are simply child-bearing machines. But European countries owe their proud position to the fact that women are honoured and respected and are accorded a superior position. There, what is called love is not mere bestial passion, but something more. SUCH ARE THE VIEWS THRUST UPON US IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON BY CERTAIN WRITERS WHO PRETEND TO KNOW INTIMATELY THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE HINDUS.

Capitalisation Added

Perhaps Ananda Coomaraswamy has provided one of the finest and blunt rebuttals to such fact-free theories in his Status of Hindu Women, among other essays. After a century, the colonial theorists seem to have won.

But to return to the Hindu women of Kelambakam, this is the picture we get. The keen observer of the inner life of Hindu society will have no difficulty in discovering that the western picture is misleading and overdrawn, and that the poorest Indian villager loves his wife as tenderly and as affectionately as the most refined mortal on earth, and that in his obscure cottage,

unseen by man's disturbing eye, love shines,
Curtained from the sight
Of the gross world, illumining
One only mansion with her light.

The women of Kelambakam of that era did not freely mix with men but they met every day at public wells and tanks and lakes. There they enjoyed the pleasures of society as keenly as their sisters of the West.

This was their daily routine.

They rose very early in the morning, swept the whole house including the cattle-shed, sprinkled cow-dung water, ornamented the floor with Rangoli and then headed to the temple tank to bathe. This is where pretty much all women of Kelambakam met. The temple tank in Kelambakam was vast, and separate places for bathing were assigned to men and women. The women would come one after another and take their accustomed places, and wash their clothes, bathe, and attend to the usual toilette. They apply Kumkum and smear their body with turmeric, all the while engaging in lively banter and conversation. Even to a superficial observer, it would become immediately clear that their conversation was imbued with wit and intelligence, and that they are not as stupid as Westerners assume them to be.

In the next part, we will narrate one such conversation.

To be continued

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