A reader wanted me t know the Gotra details of the Nairs of Kerala.
This is a complex issue.
If one removes the Goggles of regionalism and linguistic chauvinism, one can understand Indian history in its splendor.
Though the people of Kerala formed a part of Tamil kingdom Chera, the Nairs of Kerala had a social system of their own.
Nair comes from the word Nayaka meaning chieftain or a leader.
They were the leaders of a group of army of the Cheras.
‘The Nambudiri Brahmins were at the top of the ritual caste hierarchy and in that system outranked even the kings. They regarded all Nairs as shudra. Below the Nambudiris came the Tamil Brahmins and other later immigrants of the Brahmin varna. Beyond this, the precise ranking is subject to some difference in opinion. Kodoth has placed the Samantan caste below the Kshatriya rank but above the Nairs, but Gough considers that the Pushpagans and Chakyars, both of which were the highest ranked in the group of temple servants known as Ambalavasis, were ranked between the Brahmins and the Nairs, as were several other members of the Ambalavasi group. She also believes that some Nairs adopted the title of Samantan in order to emphasise their superiority over others in their caste. The unwillingness of the higher varnas to engage in what they considered to be the polluting activities of industrial and commercial activity has been cited as a reason for the region’s relatively limited economic development’
‘A theory has been proposed for the origins of the caste system in the Kerala region based on the actions of the Aryan Jains introducing such distinctions prior to the 8th-century AD. This argues that the Jains needed protection when they arrived in the area and recruited sympathetic local people to provide it. These people were then distinguished from others in the local population by their occupation as protectors, with the others all being classed as out-caste. The cross-disciplinary historian Cyriac Pullapilly describes that this meant they “… were given kshatriya functions, but only shudra status. Thus originated the Nair
Taking into consideration the caste system of Sanatana Dharma was practiced by The Tamils , Cheras were Tamils,there was no discrimination in the Tamil land on the basis of caste , the views by western authors seem to be based on the Myth of Aryan dDravidian Theory which is now proved to be false and is a piece of disinformation to divide the people of India.
The fact that the Group who are currently called as Nairs were entrusted with Military duties , they were Kshatriyas.
The Nairs, Chera Period.
Some people think the name itself is derived from nayaka, an honorific meaning “leader of the people”, while others believe it stems from the community’s association with the Naga cult of serpent worship. Christopher Fuller, an anthropologist, has said that it is likely that the first reference to the Nair community was made by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, dating from 77 AD. That work describes what is probably the Malabar coast area wherein could be found the “Nareae, who are shut in by the Capitalis range, the highest of all the mountains in India”. Fuller believes it probable that the Nareae referred to the Nairs and the Capitalis range is the Western Ghats.’
Nairs operated a matrilineal (marumakkathayam) joint family structure called tharavad, whereby descendant families of one common ancestress lived under a single roof. Tharavads consisting of 50 to 80 members were not uncommon and some with membership as high as 200 have been reported. Only the women lived in the main house; men lived in separate rooms[clarification needed] and, on some occasions, lived in a separate house nearby. The families split on instances when they became unwieldy and during crisis among its members. When it split, the family property was separated along the female lines. The karnavan, the oldest male member in the tharavad, had the decision-making authority including the power to manage common property. Panikkar, a well-known writer from the Nair community, wrote in 1918 that,
Authority in the family is wielded by the eldest member, who is called karnavan. He has full control of the common property, and manages the income very much as he pleases. He arranges marriages (sambandhams) for the boys as well as the girls of the family. He had till lately full power (at least in practice) of alienating anything that belonged to them. His will was undisputed law. This is, perhaps, what is intended to be conveyed by the term Matri-potestas in communities of female descent. But it should be remembered that among the Nayars the autocrat of the family is not the mother, but the mother’s brother.
The husband visited the tharavad at night and left the following morning and he had no legal obligation to his children which lay entirely with the karnavan. In Nair families, young men and women about the same age were not allowed to talk to each other, unless the young man’s sister was considerably older than him. The wife of karnavan had an unusual relationship in his tharavad as she belonged to a different one and her interests lay there. Panikkar wrote that Karnavan loved his sister’s son more than his own and he believes it was due mainly to the instability of Nair marriages. Divorce rate was very high as both man and woman had equal right to terminate the marriage. Enangar was another family with which a tharavad remained closely related; a few such related families formed a social group whose members participated in all social activities. Nakane wrote in 1956 that tharavads as a functional unit had ceased to exist and large buildings that had once hosted large tharavads were occupied by just a few of its remnants.’
Being a matrilinear society, the Gotra system must have been following the Mother’s Gotra.
Information is not available.
People may contribute with authenric source
The Nairs of Kerala and Bunts of Karnataka claim descent from the naga Śeṣa; these regions include the Nagavanshi clans who migrated from North India associated with the events referred to as the Sarpasatram. The Nairs were organized into various martial clans like Nambiar, Kiryathil Nair, Illathu Nair and Swaroopathil Nairs. The Illathu, Swaroopathil and Kiryathil Nairs have been classified as Kshatriyas of the Nagavanshi lineage Also claims as Nagavamsam in North costal region of Andhra pradesh state, where central government referred them under serial number 81 in NCBC (National Commission for Backward classed)
However, Nairs believe them selves to Belong to Kasyapa Gotra.
‘Vansh/Dynasty : Nagavanshi
Gotra : Kashyapa
Caste : Kshatriya
The Nair Clans of Kerala and Bunts of tulu nadu are the indigenous descendants of Anantha also these regions include the Nagavanshi clans who migrated from North India associated with the events as Sarpasatram. The Nairs were organized into various martial clans like Nambiar and Kiryathil Nair. Currently, warrior Sections of the Nair (Malayala Kshatriya) caste and Bunts of Tulu nadu claim descent from the Nagvanshi dynasty. The Nagavanshi are the known as the Serpent Dynasty.
Nāgas originated from Kashyapa, father of Surya from whom clan of Suryawanshi kshatriyas evolved. The Nether World known as Pathala was the inhabitation of Nagas and Anantha as the Emperor of Naga, Sarpa, Uraga, and Pannaga. The Vedas do not mention Kshatriyas of either Suryavanshi, Chandravanshi, Nagavanshi, Agnivanshi or any such lineage. The Puranas constructed such genealogies. The Nāgvanshis acquired the status of Devas due to their excellent qualities, behavior and actions. Purānas mention Nāgas along with devas. Purānas mention of many Nāga Kingdoms. In ancient times Nāgas were the rulers of entire India. Mathura, Padmavati and Kantipur were capitals of Naga dynasty.
The worshipers of Nāga were supposedly known as Nāgā or Nāgil. Nair, Bunt and some Rajput and Jat clans claim to be of Nagvanshi origin.’
There are some interesting issues here.
1.People of north East India and some portions of central India belong to Nagavanshi.Now we find them in the deep south.
2.In ancient India, the landmass was different and the sea route from the North east of India to south of India was much shorter.
There are references that Ravana visited his In Laws place in central India frequently, his wife Mandodari was from India through this short route from Lanka.
So it needs some more research on this issue as to how the migration took place, whether the Nagavanshis, who were also credited with having been the people of Patala Loka,deep south moved to North during the Great flood, when Vaivaswatha Manu, ancestor of Rama moved to Ayodhya.
3.The issue of the location of the Chera Capital Vanchi.
Considering this and the fact that Lemuria was the location of the early Tamil Kingdoms, I feel that the present theory that Karur was the Capital of Chera needs a look into.My stand is that it might have been located some where down in the Indian Ocean.
3.The present date assigned to Nairs and Kerala needs revision.
Chera King Udiyan Cheralatha,n particpated in the Mahabharata war.
Poompuhar,Tamil Nadu which speaks of Chera Kingdom, the author of Cilapadikaram was the king’s brother, and Poompuhar is dated 20,000 years ago it is safe to postulate that the Nairs of Kerala, who were in the army of the Cheras date back to some 18000 years ago
Shall dig more and write.
References and citations.