Tamil Studies Conference, University of Toronto, May 11-13, 2012
|Presenters (l-r) Gita Pai, Zoe Headley, and S. Ponnarasu|
respond to audience questions.
|Prof. Noboru Karashima|
Karasihma was also able to detect the loss of social power among both Vellalars and Brahmins from roughly the 13th century onward. From this point in time onward he was able to point to inscriptional traces that indicated the gradual rise in influence for various additional social groups. These were ambitious and vocal communities who slowly began to insist on their own status and rights. The groups Karashima particularly mentioned were the idangai and valangai (left hand and right hand groups, about whom Dr. Beck has written extensively). Karashima also suggested that several of these groups probably originated, at least in part, from the rising influence of various hill tribes. He also spoke of various merchant groups who began to hire ex-soldiers as guards (the Ainuruvar, Kaikolar and Vaniya Nagaram merchant guilds). Karashima linked this rise in additional social power clusters to a more general breakdown in the power of various great monarchs who had once held the area together. One could term Karashima’s paper a “tour de force.” It provided a fitting end to the scholarly day, and was of great interest to Brenda personally, since the hill tribes of the Kongu region play a vital role in bringing the heroes of the Ponnivala story to their knees toward the end of this legend (her favourite epic tale!).