Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Parava or Paravar (பரவர்), also known as Parathavar (Paradavar) (பரதவர்), Bharathar (பரதர்) [1], Bharatha Pandiyar (பரத பாண்டியர்) [2][3] or Bharathakula Kshathriyar (பரதகுல சத்ரியர்)[4][5]. Paravar is one of the ancient aristocratic[6][7], seafaring warrior [8][9]castes of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They are the heirs of ancient Pandya Kings[10].[11] They founded the Pandyan Empire and hoisted their Fish flag. They are the descendants Bharatha Vamsa of the Lunar Dynasty Chandravanshi[12] and also called as Nila Paravar. The Pandyan empire was dominated by the Paravars.Now Paravars are dwelling around the coastal belt extending from Kanyakumari to Ramanathapuram in the districts of Tuticorin,Ramanathapuram,Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari,having their headquarters at Tuticorin.Also,they are found amongst the Tamil diaspora around the world.



Etymology & Origin

There are various names for Paravar like Parathavar, Bharathar, Bharathavarma Pandiyar and Bharathakula Kshatriyar. The name Parathavar (பரதவர்) was the initial name and the later names of Paravar came because of their seafaring nature, In Tamil Paravai means sea and Bharathar because of their connection with the Bharathavamsa of Chandravanshi. The name Bharathavarma Pandiyar is given to them during the later Pandya regime, in order to distinguish from Maravarma Pandiyars ( Maravars),who are their akin and front line defenders of Pandian army. The name Bharathakula kshatriya is to distinguish them as Kshatriyas, the ruling caste.Also,Kurukula Karaiyars seem to be from the same stock ,who dwell along Cholamandalam (Coromandel)coast. Later after the conversion to Christianity, they are called with the surnames as Fernandos, Fernandez etc. Paravar refers not only the people living on the coast of the Indian states of Tamilnadu, Kerala and in parts of northern and western Sri Lanka (Ceylon), it denotes the chiefs of Madurai Country[13]. In Tamil language and literature, the coastal areas where they lived were called 'Neythal Thinai'. Also, Rev. Father Henry Heras S.J. gives the following description of the Paravars in his Mohenjo Daro, “The People and the Land”. Paravanad – the country of the Paravas (Sea– in Tamil “paravai”). They are still numerous in the Coromandel Coast in South India and in Ceylon.


They were Kings,Chieftains,Velirs[14],ferocious warriors and seafarers.[15] They controlled the entire Tamil navy at all times and their armed forces were called as Parathavar Padai (பரதவர் படை). Tuticorin city in Tamil Nadu, India which is still a stronghold of the Paravar community was the centre of the pearl trade. The Paravars later diversified to sea based professions including pearl diving, fishing, navigating, and salt making.For centuries the Paravars had been pearl divers. However in the 19th century pearl oysters in the Gulf of Mannar, between India and Sri Lanka, became scarce. They were excellent shipbuilders. Their catamarans were the first type of ship encountered by the English with two hulls; the Tamil word for it was adopted into the English language as a loanword. Additionally, the Paravars grew palms and other dry plantation crops. The Paravars have a long tradition of learning and are one of the earliest communities to have a high literacy rate. This is attributed to their traditional profession of navigator and the influence of Christian missionaries. The riches brought through sea trips were incorporated into houses, including expensive woods such as teak.

History of Paravars

Paravars are proud about their caste heritage. They are said to be the rulers of Pandiyan kingdom of Madurai[16][17] . Tuticorin the port city of the Pandiyan kingdom,has always been a stronghold of the Paravars. The Paravars were the cheifs of the coastal region and also they ruled as subordinates velirs of the Pandyas of the Sangam age.[18] The Paravars headquarters was Korkai harbour during the regime of Pandiyan Kingdom and they all spread into 22 fishing hamlets namely Muttom, Pillaithoppu, Rajakka Mangalam thurai, Periyakadu, Pozhikkarai, Kesavan Puthanthurai, Puthanthurai, Kovalam, Kanyakumari, Kumari muttam, Kootapuli, Perumanal, Idinthakarai, Kuthenkuly, Uvari, Periathalai, Pudukarai, Manapad, Alanthalai, Thiruchendur, Virapandianpatnam, Thalambuli, Punnaikayal, Palayakayal, Tuticorin, Vaippar, Chethupar, Vembar & Mookur in the pearl fishery coast of Gulf of Mannar and adjacent Comerin coast. The paravars once a very powerful people and no doubt derived much of their ascendancy over other tribes from their knowledge of navigation and pearl fishery. They had a succession of kings among them, distinguished by the title Adiarasen Some of these cheifs seem to have resided at Uttara Kosmangay near Ramnad.[19] The story of this city itself is clear evidence to this fact. Later, the leaders were called by names Thalaivan, Pattankattiyars, Araiyars and Adappannars. Paravars lived along with Maravar (Thevar) in harmony, since they were blood related and from the same stock [20]. Famous titles of "Rayar", has been shared by members of these two royal kshathriya clans of Pandya kingdom. As Muttom is the western boundary for the community. Villages Pillaithoppu and Muttom, there was a small settlements of Mukkuvar, which earlier multiplied and Parava community numbers at present are small. Apart from Tuticorin Manapadu and Pillaithoppu had the privilege of having the Vicariate of Jesuit Missionaries for sometime during the Dutch period

Religion and Paravars

The first well-documented history of the Tamil land is reflected in the literature of sangam which is found grouped in Ettuthogai and Pathupattu. These first three centuries sangam age works talk a lot about Paravar or Parathar community which extended from Rameswaram to Kanniyakumari. The main maritime profession of paravars is fishing in the sea. In olden days they were even involved in manufacturing salt. They were experts in pearl and chank fishing. Ahananooru of the Sangam literature depicts of Paravar profession. Korkai, the famous harbour town of Pandya kingdom was thickly populated and ruled by paravars. In olden days paravars were engaged in trading with Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, Java, Burma and Ceylon. Korkai pearl was the most famous item exported from Tamil land.

Paravars worshipped Varunan. Pattinappaalai (200 AD) gives a vivid picture of Varunan cult of Paravars. The fisherfolk call the sea as Mother Sea and revere her as Goddess. Ahananooru talks about sea Goddess. The records of the Travancore Census Report 1931 mentions about the inscription at the Cape Comorin temple. It talks about a Paravar King Villavaraya of Cape who ruled the coastal land for about 800 years. It is also believed that the temple at Cape was built by the Paravars for their Sea Goddess. The Paravars' natural attachment to Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple also can be attributed as a great sign of their reverence to their Mother Goddess.

When the southern people started changing their religion under the northern influence, paravars also followed the suit. During the Cholas and later Pandiya kings regime Paravars were believers of Saivisim. There were many highly learned and spiritually bolstered Saivites in Paravar Community.

From 1311 onward the Muslim rulers began to invade Pandiyan Empire and continued repeated onslaught on them. In 1323 they captured the Pandian Kingdom. The Muslims being very powerful at sea and having the support of local Kings started forcing the Paravars to embrace Islam. But they failed every time. In 1516 the Muslims captivated whole pearl fishery on lease from Udaya Marthanda Varma and Paravars were brinked to the state of slavery. And for the first time ever in the history the Paravars lost their right over the pearl fishery.

Day by day the Muslims and their dominance became more stronger and the paravar community was left helpless. Unaided by the neighbors and exposed to the danger of being wiped out by the Muslims, Paravars found timely help from an unexpected quarter. The Portuguese expressed their willingness to help if they consented to become Christians. After studying the suggestion Paravar community decided to embrace Christianity en masse. Thus, in 1533, nearly 30,000 Paravars got back their right over Pearl fishery. In 1542 Saint Francis Xavier came to Pearl Coasts to strengthen their Christian faith.

During the baptism of Paravars, the Portuguese happened to be God-fathers. So they had given their names to Paravars. Even after 460 years these surnames are still prevalent in the Paravar community. 68 such names are existing amongst which Fernando, Fernandes are mostly used. Few Paravars embraced Islam too.The Tamil Muslims called Maraikkayars (Marakkala Arayar) are Paravar converts to Islam,they dwell around Kayalpattinam coastal belt.

Paravan in Other States/Countries

In Kerala, Paravans are part of Hindus caste unlike Tamil Nadu. They are inland fishermen, mostly found in central and southern parts of the state. The President of India, K. R. Narayanan, served from 1997 until 2002 and was born to a Paravan family of Kottayam, Kerala.But, Paravan in Kerala are entirely different from paravan in Sri Lanka. Paravan in Sri Lanka are Aryan but, in Kerala they are scheduled caste. There are many place names derived from Paravan, like Paravoor in Kollam and Vadakkan Paravoor and Parur in Ernakulam.

In Sri Lanka, members of this caste are mostly known by the surnames Fernando, Coonghe, Poobalrayer, and Costa.

History of Conversion of Paravars to Christianity in Tamil Nadu

The Paravars were a Tamil fisher caste who inhabited the fishery coast extending from Cape Comorin Kanya Kumari to the isle of Mannar (Rameswaram) along the gulf that bears the name. The Paravars plied the trade of pearl fishing, diving for pearls to the bottom of the deep where they could stay for many hours. The season for pearl-fishing came round once in three years in the months of march and November when, in the absence of the strong winds, they were able to carry on their operations undisturbed- for pearls in March and for seed-pearls in November. They undertook these expeditions after elaborate preparations consisting of examination and sounding of the ocean. At the spots where they selected for beginning their operations- which generally in the vicinity of the Mannar and Tuticorin – there they would establish whole colonies of pearl-fishers which would be abandoned at the end of the season. (Silva Rego Documentação Vol.-II pp359–60)

The Paravars paid a small tax to the state for permission to scour the deep for pearls. In the first quarter of the 16th century, this contribution which was paid to the Pandyas (Tamils) till then, came to be shared by the two powers between whom the coast was divided – the king of Travancore, Chera Udaya Martanda, who annexed the southern half of the coastal territory and the Vanga Tumbichi Nayak, who possessed himself to the north. In 1516, however the state dues were farmed out by a Muslim who on account of the profits he has realized, became the virtual master of the coast Documentacao vol.- II p361).

According to Barbosa, he was so rich and powerful that the people of the land honored him as much as the king. He executed judgement and justice on the Muslims without interference from the constituted authority. The fishers (parathavars) toiled for him for a whole week at the close of the season, and for themselves for the rest of the time except on Fridays when they worked for the owners of the boats (Dames, The book of Duarte Barbosa Vol.-II pp123–24).

The Portuguese, who were the masters of the seas, coveted this business and soon wrested it from the Muslims. In 1523, João Froles, whom the Portuguese king appointed as Captain and Factor of the fishery coast, succeeded in farming out the dues of 1,500 cruzados a year (Corea oriente Portuguese vol.-II PP 778–79,786-87). The Muslims wouldn't yield to their rivals without a struggle. But the brunt of their attacks was visited upon the Paravas. For in their attempt to baulk the Portuguese of their gains, they constantly harassed the poor fishers. In consequence, the Portuguese had to maintain a flying squadron to beat off the attacks of the Muslim Corsairs-as they termed their enemies. Just at this juncture, Vijayanagar, which had earlier connived at the occupation of the coast by the King of Travancore and Tumbichi Nayak, vigorously intervened in support of the Pandya king. The Vijayanagar forces inflicted severe defeat on the Travancore army, and with the appearance of Vijayanagar on the fishery coast there was cessation of hostilities between the Portuguese and the Muslims (Silva Rego –Oriente Portuguese Vol.-II pp362–65). About the year 1536 an incident occurred which threatened to throw the coastal people into the throes of a violent internecine warfare. In a scuffle between a Muslim and a Parava at Tuticorin, the Paravar had his ear torn out by his adversary, who out of sheer greed for the ring it bore, carried with him. Now there was in the estimation of the Paravars no greater affront than to have one's ears boxed and much worse, to have the rings torn off. The incident sparked off a civil war between the Paravars and the Muslims, and it was soon apparent that the Paravas would be beaten in the struggle. A Muslim flotilla guarded the coast making it impossible for the Paravas to ply their trade, and offering five fanams (panam, the then currency, even today in Tamilnadu its common for the Tamil to term money as panam) for a Parava head (Luceana , Historia da Vida do padre S.Francisco Xavier , vol.-I liv II , cap .VII).

Happily for the Paravars, there happened to arrive at Cape Comorin (present day Kanya Kumari) at this time João da Cruz, a horse dealer who was high in Portuguese favour. He was a page of the Zamorin who had sent him to Portugal towards the end of 1512, when he was negotiating a treaty with Albuquerque. He was converted to Christianity while he was there and was admitted to the order of the Christ. He was now no longer in the service of the Zamorin, having incurred his displeasure for changing his religion. João da Cruz, who was waiting payment for his deal at the cape (Kanya Kumari), was approached by the Paravas for advice. Cruz could see no way of saving them from their predicament other than conversion to Christianity. For then they would be entitled to the protection of the Portuguese and could, as a matter of right, invoke the aid of the Portuguese Padroado. The Paravas had no alternative but to agree and Cruz led a deputation of twenty pattankattis (leaders) of the Paravas to cochin to wait on Pero Vaz, the Vedor da Fazenda (Reeve), and Miguel Vaz, the Vicar-General. These pleaded the case of the Paravas before Nuno da Cunha, the Governor, and it was decided that they be helped against their Muslim opponents. Accordingly a Portuguese squadron appeared before Cape Comorin (Kanya kumari).

The Muslim flotilla sought safety in flight and the Paravars freed from bondage could from now on ply their trade independently of the farmers, both Muslim and Portuguese. In the meanwhile, Cruz persuaded the King of Travancore not to object to the conversion of the Paravas in a body to the Christian religion, assuring him that if he was friendly with the Portuguese he could depend on his supply of war steeds, the mainstay of the army in those days.

The Paravars apart from getting converted also had to shell out 60,000 fanams to Portuguese as protection money. This was further used to induce more conversions. Miguel Vaz thereupon visited the Paravas accompanied by four priests and administered baptism to about twenty thousand people. In a few years, the number rose to eighty thousand men, women, and children and the Christianity spread among these people, settled both on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts (Documentação Vol.-II PP 257–59; Schurhammer ,art cit. pp304–07). The Paravas now had the protection of the Portuguese fleet and could follow their profession undisturbed.

Paravas were the first whole community in India to convert to Christianity in the mid 16th century. The name 'Fernando', a predominant surname and other surnames were acquired from the Portuguese, who influenced the Paravas. There are as many as 100 or more of these surnames - Fernando, Fernandez, Motha, Mel, Mascarenhas, Victoria, Miranda, Devotta, De Cruz, De Souza, Gomez, Dalmeida, Vaz, Desoyza, Poobalarayan,Rodrigo, Rodriguez,lobo, etc., which were given by St. Francis Xavier, other missionaries and Portuguese officers during the 16th century.The King of paravas at that point of time in history was Vikrama aditya Pandian [21] based out of Veerapandianpattinam later the ruling family and their office moved to tuticorin based on Dutch request.

The Portuguese called the area where the Paravas lived as "Costa da Pescaria" - or Land of the Pearls. Their spiritual, cultural and literary excellency brought out the first Tamil book to modern print media. The Tamil Bible, 'Cardila', was printed in 1554 and made Tamil the first language into print for any Indian language. This was even before the first printing machine arrived Goa, India in 1556. Cardila was printed at Lisbon by the command of the Portuguese government with the motivation by the visits of three Paravars Vincent Nasareth, Joj Kavalko and Thomas Cruz from Tuticorin, India to Portugal. The funding for the press came from the Parvar community of Tuticorin. Planting of the Roman Catholic Faith in Pearl Fishery Coast (India) Christianity in ancient India

It is admitted on all hands, that one of the greatest and most successful group conversion movements in India was that of the Paravars in the 16th century.

The first great effort of the Catholic Church in modern times to conquer India in the name of Christ, dates from the year 1498 when the adventurous caravels of the Portuguese Admiral Vasco da Gama sailed into the port of Calicut. Soon the flag of Portugal floated on the seaboard from Morocco, round South Africa to the Persian Gulf and round the Indian Peninsula. In 1534 there were Portuguese factories at trading centers at Bassein Goa, Cochin, Quilon and Colombo. On the fishery and Coromandel Coasts, in Malacca and beyond. And as Pope Leo XIII has written: “Everywhere the flag of Portugal was under the shadow of the cross: the conquests of Portugal were so many conquests of religion”. The conversion of the Paravars is an instance in point.

Conversion of the Paravars

The circumstances of the Paravars' conversion were recounted in a 1542 letter by Dom João da Cruz:

It was in these circumstances that Dom João da Cruz pointed out to the Paravars the way out of the difficulty. Conversion to Christianity would forever secure them the Portuguese protection. Who was Dom Jooã da Cruz? According to Rev. Father Schurhammers, the highest authority on St. Francis Xavier and his works he was a chetty born in Calicut. In 1513, hardly fifteen years old, he had been sent to Lisbon by the Zamorin, as his envoy, to King Manuel had been received there very honorable and baptized under the above-mentioned name. In 1515 he was raised to the Knighthood with the insignia and privileges of a Chevalier of the Order of Christ.
It was he who persuaded the Paravars to send fifteen leading men to Cochin. However, the Portuguese Captain Pero Vaz de Amaral, to make sure that the Whole Caste was ready to join the Faith, made seventy more of their people come to Cochin to endorse the decision. This was done.
Meanwhile, the Moors, getting wind of these negotiations and fearing that their prey and the pearl fishing would escape them, dispatched two envoys to Cochin in order to bribe Pero de Vaz, not to allow the baptism of the Paravas. But in vain. “Heaps of gold of my own size”, answered the captain, “will never make me desist from my purpose”.
He then had the eighty-five Paravars baptized by the Vicar General, Miguel Vaz who was just at the time in Cochin (Probably December, 1535), and he put at their disposal a fleet, which with the vicar of Cochin and four priests along with the neophytes, sailed to the rescuer. Within a short time the Moors got the deserved punishment and Paravars once more were put I possession of their pearl fishing rights. About Twenty Thousand of them in Thirty Villages were baptized. This is how, concludes humorously Teixeira, “Our Lord saved so many souls by means of one torn ear-lobe”.

The Paravars and the Saint: On May 6, 1542

St. Francis Xavier

St Francis Xavier arrived in Goa and after a stay of five months in Goa, he left for the Pearl Fishery Coast about six hundred miles from Goa, taking with him three Tamil Students from the college (One of them was in Deacon’s order the others were catechists to serve as interpreters). They arrived in Tuticorin in September 1542. Xavier living in and proselytized from a sea cave in Manapad.

St. Francis Xavier made the catechistical instruction interesting by his singing and by making the children sing. The instruction is ended by the Salva Regina, begging the aid and help of the "blessed lady".

Catechists and Teachers:

St. Francis Xavier appointed catechists and teachers in all the villages to continue the conversion work he had begun. It was his method to be liberal to the teachers and catechists, to pay them a part of their salary in advance and to encourage them in every way. At the same time he let them feel that they were carefully watched and must be on their guard not to fail in their duty. They were to baptize newborn infants, preside at the prayers and perform other offices of the kind.

To meet the heavy expenses of paying the teachers and catechists St. Francis Xavier had recourse to a stratagem.

Four hundred crowns a year had been set-aside for Queen Catherine of Portugal from revenue of the Pearl Fisheries and the sum was supposed to provide Her Majesty with slippers. St. Francis Xavier seems already to have persuaded the governor to pay it over to him, so sure were they both that the pious Queen would gladly let him have it for the salaries of the Kanakapillais (catechists are known even today by this name along the Fishery Coast – they are doing small works in Catholic churches). In asking her permission to consent to what had been done, he reminded her that she could have no better shoes or slippers to climb into Heaven than her charity towards the children of the Fishery Coast. For many years the Queen’s slipper money was donated by her to this mission.

It is true that the Paravars were baptized eight years before the arrival of St. Francis Xavier. But it was only after the arrival of Francis Xavier that the conversion and evangelical activity proceeded with all the gusto.

St. Francis Xavier understood the necessity and utility of employing zealous catechists and teachers to keep up the faith of the neophytes. To have zealous catechists and teachers, money is needed. He found ways and means to pay the teachers and catechists well. Little wonder that the catechists and teachers did their work more than willingly.

After four Centuries, it is not rare to find catechists paid only a pittance and that too not regularly for most people have been converted already.

(Issued on Panimaya Malar – Thanga ther (Golden Car) 2000).

Paravars in Indian freedom Struggle

The Tuticorin, also called as muthukulithurai (pearlharbour) was in the stronghold of the paravars, where first indigenous ship was set to sail by V.O. Chidhambaram during the British rule in India. This was an attempt to check the dominance of British in the export and imports by sea. Holding very strong Catholics tradition from Portuguese and later by Saint Xavier, paravars had to face to British as both as Indians and also as a Catholics. The British tried hard to impose their Anglican sect.

Family Names

Surnames in Tamil pronunciation Algungem (a Portuguese word) existing among Paravars (Bharathars). To mention a few among them:

{{[33] List of Paravar last names}}

The above are only family names and not Caste names. The above names are used not only by Paravars. The names are also used by those who were converted to Christianity by the Portuguese. Mainly people who live in Tamil Nadu (Paravars), Sri Lanka (Bharatakula and others), Kerala, Goa & Philippines.

Paravar, Parathavar, Parathar,paruvatharajakulam,Bharathar's, Literal Evidence for Pandyan Royal lineage

The famous Pandya king Thalayalanganathu seru vendra Pandiyan Nedunchezian was given an appraisal as Then Parathavar Pore Yerei ( தென் பரதவர் போரேறே ),which means,the royal war lion of southern Parathavar clan[22] and calls him Parathava thalaivan பரதவ தலைவன் .Also,Cholan Ilansetchenni after defeating the pandyas and vadugas was praised as தென் பரதவர் மிடல் சாய[23], Also,the chilapathikaram verses say,Arasar murayo Bharathar murayo ( அரசர் முறையோ பரதர் முறையோ),also the verses like

"மேவிய கொள்கை வீதியில் செறிந்துஆங்கு/On the aisle of the castle

ஐம்பெருங் குழுவும் எண்பேர் ஆயமும்/the Distinguished Five members crew and Eight major wings

அரச குமரரும் பரத குமரரும்/Along with Kings men and Bharathar men

கவர்ப்பரிப் புரவியர் களிற்றின் தொகுதியர்/The knights and Elite War Elephant force

இவர்ப்பரித் தேரினர் இயைந்துஒருங்கு ஈண்டி"/And the Chariots were marching to celebrate the "Indira Vila"

இந்திர விழவு ஊர் எடுத்த காதை -160 [24],[25] these verses of Chilapathikaram says the glory of Bharathar" and the glorification of Kovalan as பரதவ குமரன் gives a clear cut evidence that bharathar were in a highly esteemed noble position. Tamil dictionaries provide the same meaning for the word Parathavar பரதவர்-தென்திசைகள் குறுநில மன்னர் ie) Parathavar-Kings and Chieftains of South. Also evidences say that a sub clan of Paravars,called Chavalakarars were the spearmen of the Pandyan army and "Kazhakath tamil Agarathi" confirms the same (சவளக்காரர்-ஈட்டி ஏந்தி போர் புரியும் வீரர் ) ie)Chavalakarar-Spearmen of the army.

Arattipatti Inscription

MADURAI SEPT.14. A rare 3rd century B.C. Tamil Brahmi inscription found near Madurai recently has brought to light the fact that not only Pandyas and Cheras but the chiefs of the coastal region in the State also patronised Jainism in the early period. The discovery by a team of epigraphists, who undertook a survey at Arittapatti in Melur taluk, is a remarkable evidence of history of early Tamil politics, culture and language, State Archaeology department sources said here recently.

The inscription was found engraved in a cave of a hillock, where early Jain monks stayed and preached their faith. It is just four feet away from another Brahmi inscription discovered by some scholars in 1971. "Since this new inscription is carved with very thin strokes and illegible, it had not attracted the attention of the scholars so far in spite of their frequent visits to this cave," say the sources.

The inscription, engraved as a single line with 33 letters and running for 3.10 metres, reads as follows: ilanjiy vel mapparavan makan emayavan nalmuzhaukai kotupithavan. It means, "Emayavan, son of Mapparavan, cheif of Ilanji, has caused the carving of this auspicious cave." It has been written in the Bhattiprolu (Andhra Pradesh) casket inscription method and so all short consonants have long strokes. As the orthography of this inscription resembles that of Mangulam inscriptions (also in Madurai district), its date may be assigned to 3rd century B.C., say the sources.

`Ilanji' denotes the name of a place, while `Vel' means cheiftain. Ilanji Vel might have been a ruler of a small territory around Ilanji. There is also a village near Courtallam with the same name. Emayavan, cheif of Ilanji, was the son of Mapparavan. `Paravar' denotes the people of coastal region settled in southern districts of Tamil Nadu. `Muzhaukai' means the cave in which the inscription is found and the prefix, `nal' auspiciousness.

The same word, `Nalmuzhaukai' occurs in Varichiyur Brahmi inscription also. The previous inscription found at Arittapatti also bears the word `Muzhagai', which also means cave. One of the Sangam works, `Madurai Kanchi' refers to the battle among Paravars for the supremacy of Pandiyan Kingdom,where other Paravars and their Chera,Chola allies were defeated by Pandyan Nedunchezhian. Even the Velvikudi copper plate speaks of the defeat suffered by Tenparavar at the hands of a Pandya king, the sources point out.

All this evidence makes clear that the Paravars were the cheifs of the coastal region and they ruled their areas as subordinates of the Pandyas of the Sangam age. The previously discovered Brahmi inscription at Arittapatti also mentions about a chief from Nelveli (now Tirunelveli region). The inscription throws light on the proximity the chiefs of Nelveli to the Pandyas of Madurai in the Sangam age.

As many as 60 Tamil Brahmi inscriptions were found during the past over 100 years from 15 villages including, Mangualm, Anaimalai, Azhagarmalai, Tiruvadavur, Keezhavalavu, Tirupparankundram and Varichiyur.

The epigraphists, comprising P. Rajendran, V. Vedachalam, C. Santhalingam and R. Jayaraman, as per directions of the Commissioner of Archaeology, R. Kannan, undertook the survey.

Source: [34]

Who are the Paravars?

Rev. Father Henry Heras S.J. gives the following description of the Paravars in his Mohenjo Daro, “The People and the Land”. Paravanad – the country of the Paravas (Sea – in Tamil “paravai”). They are still numerous in the Coromandel Coast in South India and in Ceylon. The Paravars were a section of the Minas. In a footnote Father Heras says that they are Aryan descent, the Paravars are called as Bharathas (also Bharathars, Parathars, Parathavars) identifying with the Bharathas of the Vedic period. The Mohenjo Daro inscriptions clearly show that their ancient and real name was Paravar. They are also believed as the descendants of King Bharatha,who ruled the whole of India in the name of Bharatha varsha.Also some Sanskrit text says that kings of Bharatha vamsa were given the surname Paravaie)Pauravas viz.Karna Parava, Yudishthra Parava, Bhishma Parava etc... Also the Pandavas, final course of archery including the attack of Matsya Yantra speaks clearly about their fishing Background.Also Sahadeva Parava the younger among Pandavas made expeditions and explorations across the sea,abroad the Bharatha varsha,and its believed that his descendants live along the southern coast with the name of Bharathars.

There were two subdivisions in the Paravars. Pagal Paravas and Nila Paravas, i.e. Sun Paravas and Moon Paravas. The Paravas of South India and Ceylon are Moon Paravas. The Moon Paravas seem to have been the more important of the line. They constituted one fourth of the whole Mina stock. In the middle of their land, the exact location of which cannot be ascertained, the sign of the Moon was hoisted. The country where the Paravas lived was sometimes called Paravanad – once only in the inscriptions – on account of their political importance and their riches. Their main city was called Paravarpalli, the city of the Paravas. The king of the Paravas always received the title of Minavan and his banner had two fishes on it.

Famous Paravars







See also


  1. ^ [1] Castes and Tribes of Southern India,By Edgar Thurston
  2. ^ [2] History of the Tamils: from the earliest times to 600 A.D. By P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar,P-139 "Paradavar are Pandiyar and cheifs of madura country"
  3. ^ [3] Indian Hist (Opt)By Reddy "Proclamation of Pandian Nedunchezian as Parathavar Warlord is supported by the author"
  4. ^ [4][5] Martial races of undivided India By Vidya Prakash Tyagi"Maravar and Paravar constitute the Kshatriya Varna of Tamil Caste system"
  5. ^ [6] Śaṅgam polity: the administration and social life of the Śaṅgam Tamils by N.Subrahmaniam "Paradavar were ferocious warriors,who were in great demand.P-151"
  6. ^ [7]"Paravars are velir,Ilanji Vel is a Paravar"
  7. ^ [8] Census of India, 1971: A. General report India. Office of the Registrar General, K. Chockalingam,Caste, race and religion in India by Sarat Chandra Roy (Rai Bahadur)"They had series of vertical classification as Mannar,Velir....Noble man"
  8. ^ [9] Śaṅgam polity: the administration and social life of the Śaṅgam Tamils by N.Subrahmaniam "Paradavar were ferocious warriors,who were in great demand.P-151"
  9. ^ [10] South Indian studies by Harōgadde Mānappa Nāyaka, Balakrishnan Raja Gopal, T. V. Mahalingam "Once again confirms Pandian Nedunchezian as Parathavar Warlord"
  10. ^ [11] Martial races of undivided India By Vidya Prakash Tyagi "Paravars and Maravars are called as Meenavan and Pandyan"
  11. ^ [12] The cult of Draupadī By Alf Hiltebeitel
  12. ^ [13] Castes and Tribes of Southern India By Edgar Thurston
  13. ^ [14] History of the Tamils: from the earliest times to 600 A.D.By P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar
  14. ^ [15]"Paradavar are chiefs of Madurai Country",[16]"Paravars are velir-Chieftain, Ilanji Vel is a Paravar"
  15. ^ [17]"Sangam Polity:the administration and social life of sangam Tamils,P.No:151 says, Paradavar of southern region are ferocious soldiers, who were in great demand"
  16. ^ [18] History of the Tamils: from the earliest times to 600 A.D.By P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar P-139
  17. ^ [19](Verses of Mathurai kanji stating that Pandian Neduchezian and his subjects were Parathavar
  18. ^ [20] Arattipatti Inscriptions
  19. ^ [21],Oriental studies by Hugh Nevill,At Early periods the tinnevelly and ramnad belt was inhabited and ruled by their own kings P.No.62
  20. ^ [22] Oriental Studies by hugh Nevill,P.No.19 "Probably Marawar a tribe at present was a social grade among paravars who trade in long boats"
  21. ^ [23]"According to Bishop Caldwell's Research"
  22. ^ [24]"மணிப்பூ முண்டகத்து மணன்மலி கானற் // 96 // மணி பூ முண்டகத்து மணல் மலி கானல் பரதவர் மகளிர் குரவையொ டொலிப்ப..... யொன்றுமொழி யொலியிருப்பிற் // 143 // ஒன்று மொழி ஒலி இருப்பின் றென்பரதவர் போரேறே // 144 // தென் பரதவர் போர் ஏறே"
  23. ^ [25]"P.T.Srinivasa Iyengar says,Pandyas are paradavar and paradavar are not only boat men but also cheifs of madura country"
  24. ^ [26]"The Kings men,The Bharathar men"
  25. ^ [27]"Stating உரைசால் சிறப்பின் அரைசுவிழை திருவின் பரதர் மலிந்த பயம்கெழு மாநகர் முழங்குகடல் ஞாலம் முழுவதும் வரினும் வழங்கத் தவாஅ வளத்தது ஆகி அரும்பொருள் தருஉம் விருந்தின் தேஎம் ,
  26. ^ [28]
  • Iyengar, P. T. Srinivasa (1929). History of the Tamils from the Earliest Times to 600 A. D..
  • Sangam Polity:the administration and social life of sangam tamils. Ennes. 1996.
  • [1] Kaliththogai
  • [2] Mathurai Kanchi.
  • [3] Oriental studies by Hugh Nevil
  • [4] Silapathikaram
  • Paravar Puranam
  • Matsya Puranam
  • Mohenjadaro Inscriptions on Meenavan kingdom,the fisher kingdom.
  • Thiruvilayadal Puranam,Valai vesu puranam
  • Mahabharatha
  • History of Kurukula
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the world's heritage, Volume 1,Pattotmogar R. Ranganatha Punja

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  • Fishermen of the Coromandel:a social study of the Paravas of the Coromandel,Patrick A. Roch
  • The journal of the Anthropological Society of Bombay,Education Society's Press., 1953
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External links

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  4. ^ [32]