If there is one English word that keeps hurting the feelings of a large community of aborigine Indian people , it is definitely the word ‘pariah’ which is used in the most insulting,swearing and derisive sense,throughout the world.
The word ‘pariah’refers to the so-called ‘untouchables ‘ the low-caste people of India, around 260 million strong,suffering for thousands of years under the bondage of the despicable Caste System.
British Role In Popularising The Word
While the origin of the use of this word, as a derisive word is from the Indian Caste System,it is the British who are responsible for including this word in the English dictionaries.Wikipedia says” The word ‘pariah ‘begins to appear in English in travelers’accounts of Indian society and at first refers specifically to the low-status paṟaiyar. One such occurrence of the word dates from as early as 1613. As British colonial power began to expand in India, however, the British began to use the word pariah in a general sense for any Indian person considered an outcaste or simply of low caste in the traditional Indian caste system. By the 1800s, pariah had come to be used of any person who is despised, reviled, or shunned”
Now the word ‘pariah’ has been popularized by media to such an extent ,US chose this word ,among all English words to attack the Libyan President Col. Muammar Ghaddafi after the Lockerbie bombings in 1988 .Yes, they chose to call Col.Gadaffi as ‘international pariah’. The English website Wordsmith.org records” “Gaddafi’s rule has seen him go from revolutionary hero to international pariah, to valued strategic partner, and back to pariah again.”
” Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides the definition” Simple Definition of pariah
: a person who is hated and rejected by other people” Oxford Dictionary appears a little kind in this and defies ‘pariah’ as” a person who is not acceptable to society and is avoided by everyone“
Global Misuse Of The Word
Search on the word ‘pariah’ in Google ,turns out as many as about 42,20,000 results .While it is impossible to go through all of them,it is certain that all of them are bound to be insulting or hurting this community of people ,who may not even be aware that the entire world is using their community name as ‘hate’ language against people, with out any reason.
A few significant results are:
- 1. Pariah state-a country whose behavior does not conform to norms
- 2. Outcast (person)
- 3. Pariah dog, a type of semi-feral dog
- 4. Pariah group, the six ( J1, J3, J4, O’N, Ru, Ly) of the 26 sporadic groups that are not contained in the monster group
- 5. Pariah (album), 2005 album by the black metal band Naglfar
- 6. Pariah, post-1987 name of the heavy metal band Satan
- 7. “Pariah” by Black Sabbath, bonus track on the 2013 album 13
- 8. “Pariah” by Danielle Dax, from the 1984 album Jesus Egg That Wept
- 9. “Pariah” by dredg, title track of the 2009 album The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion
- 10. “Pariah” by Lamb of God, from the 2000 album New American Gospel
- 11. “Pariah” by Scar Symmetry, bonus track on the 2009 album Dark Matter Dimensions
- 12. “Pariah” by Bullet For my Valentine from the 2015 album Venom
- 13. Pariah (2015 film), a film by Rob McElhenney
- 14. Pariah (2011 film), a film by Dee Rees
- 15. Pariah (1998 film), a film by Randolph Kret
- 16. Pariah (play), a one-act play by August Strindberg
- 17. Pariah (comics), DC Comics character
- 18. Pariah (video game), a video game for PC and Xbox
- The following instances of use of this word ‘Pariah’ in a derisive sense are also provided in Wiktionary .
“2014: Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Executive Presence, Prologue
I didn’t even need to finish the article to understand the damage it would do—which was swift and devastating. In a matter of weeks, Creating a Life was DOA—and, figuratively speaking, so was I. I went from being a much-feted author to a pariah, since one of the many problems of being trashed on the front page of the New York Times is that everyone is in the know.
1985 — Robert Holmes, The Two Doctors, p 14
‘I’m a pariah, outlawed from Time Lord society.’
1842 — William Makepeace Thackeray, The Fitz-Boodle Papers (Fitz-Boodle’s Confessions, preface )
What is this smoking that it should be considered a crime? I believe in my heart that women are jealous of it, as of a rival. They speak of it as of some secret, awful vice that seizes upon a man, and makes him a pariah from genteel society.”
Real Etymology Of the Word ‘Pariah’
The commonly believed etymology of the word ‘Pariah’ accepted by linguists is as under:
“[From Tamil paṟaiyan, member of a Dalit group of southern India traditionally performing as drummers and performing other tasks considered unclean (from paṛai, festival drum)
Word History: Pariah comes from Tamil paṟaiyan word that refer to a member of a Dalit group of southern India and SriLanka that had very low status in the traditional caste system of India. Because of their low status, the paṟaiyar found work performing undesirable tasks considered ritually impure by members of the higher castes, such as disposing of the corpses of dead cattle and performing music and carrying out other functions at funerals. The term paṟaiyar is derived from Tamil paṟai a name of a kind of drum played as part of certain festivals and ceremonies. Players of this drum have traditionally been drawn from the paṟaiyar group.”(Wikipedia)
Questionable Etymology !
The above etymology does not stand strict scrutiny.People who know the Indian Caste System in depth and how the priestly Brahmin Caste degraded communities that opposed their divisive social agenda ,would definitely take this etymology ,with a pinch of salt only.
Here are the reasons why this etymology CANNOT be correct:
1)Only some members of the community were drummers/Drummers were there in other communities also
2) The Word Appears to be afterthought
3) Parayars were Priests,Farmers and Weavers And Not Drummers Alone
4)The Great Tamil Poets Tiruvalluvar/Avvayar Were Parayars Which Proves Their Pre-Eminence during those days.
5)Parayars Were Honourable,Distinguished Caste,Apparently Degraded Later
6)Parayars Are Equal To High Caste Vellalas(Farmers)
7)Parayars are A Distict,Independent ,Ancient Caste Of India
8) ‘Paraiyar’Are Not The Lowest Of The Castes
9) ‘Paraiyar’lost their culture, religion, wealth and status in the society and become destitute after the invasion by Brahmanical conquerors,
10)Paraiyar and Brahmins Are Cousins:
11) ‘Paraiyar’ Were Priests To The Pallava Kings
12) ‘Paraiyar’Were Originally Brahmins
13) ‘Paraiyar’Were Degraded Because They Ate Beef
14) Some Brahmins Are ‘Paraiyar’ For Midday !
15) Brahmin Vararuchi Is The Father Of’ Parayar’
16) ‘Paraiyar’Were Into Agriculture And Manufacturing Also
17) ‘Paraiyar’Were The “disinherited sons of the earth”
18) Common Sayings On ‘Paraiyar’
19)Madras University Tamil Lexicon References
CONCLUSION ON ETYMOLOGY
Considering the fore-going factors into consideration,it may be safely concluded that the extant etymology of the word’ Paraiyar’ is not tenable at all.Then what could be the real etymology of the word ‘Paraiyar’ ?
The word ‘Paraiyar’ can be broken into ‘Para+Ayyar’ .The word ‘Para’ is the same’ para’ as in ‘Paramasivan’ and ‘paran’ which means ‘above,higher,lofty’.The Greek root word ‘para’ (paranormal) is related to this Tamil word ‘para’. The other word ‘Ayyar’ means ‘respectable’ derived from Tamil ‘Uyar’ and related to English word ‘higher’.So the word Paraiyar means ‘Highly Respected’ and not ‘Drummers’as claimed. In Tamil,the word would be ‘பரய்யர்’and not ‘பறையர்’
Ban The Word ‘Paraiyar’ ‘Pariah’ etc. As Racial Slur On Indians !
In the circumstances, considering the fore-going ,it is imperative that the British and the Americans need to
1. mark the word ‘pariah’ as ‘offensive’ in all English dictionaries immediately,
2. blacken earlier usage of the offensive term in Government papers
3.tender unconditional apology for hurting the sentiments of an eminent Indian aboriginal community .
4 This word ‘Paraiyar’’Pariah’ etc. should also be included in the ‘List of Racial Slur’ as this usage is worse than even the worst racial slur ever published.
Please also understand that calling a person belonging to this community of people , by their Caste name ‘Pariah’ derisively ,by any one not belonging to this community ,is a punishable offence under the Indian Protection Of Civil Rights Act 1955.
Note: The author of this article has taken up the matter with the British Prime Minister and the US President for suitable redressal of the grievance of this community of Indians..