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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal: Religious Rites, Colonial Migrations, National Rights
 9781350022614, 9781350022645, 9781350022638

Table of contents :
Cover
Half-title
Title
Copyright
Contents
List of Figures
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Dhows, Steamers, Lifeboats
Part 1: Sacred Itineraries, Indian Bodies
1. Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean: Trans-Regional Strategies and Affiliations
2. Borobudur in the Light of Asia: Scholars, Pilgrims, and Knowledge Networks of Greater India
3. Keramats Running Amuck: Islamic Parahistories of Travel, Belonging, Crimes, and Madness
4. The Second Sikh: Exile, Panic, and Memory in the Straits Settlements
Part 2: Merchants, Migrations, Rights
5. “Money-Making Is Their Prime Concern”: Markets, Mobility, and Matrimony among South Indian Muslims in Colonial Southeast Asia
6. Transcultural Intimacies in British Burma and the Straits Settlements: A History of Belonging, Difference, and Empire
7. Citizens, Aryans, and Indians in Colonial Lanka: Discourses on Belonging in the 1920s–1930s
Part 3: Cosmopolitan Hybridities
8. Calling the Other Shore: Tamil Studies and Decolonization
9. Hybridity and Indigeneity in Malaya, 1900–70
10. History in and of a Penal Colony in the Bay of Bengal: Two Convict Mazars in the Andaman Islands
11. Looking Back on the Bay of Bengal: An African Isolate Reoriented
Select Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Religious Rites, Colonial Migrations, National Rights Edited by Michael Laffan

BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published 2017 Paperback edition published 2019 Copyright © Michael Laffan and Contributors, 2017 Cover image © “Taipusam, Singapore,” from postcard, ca. 1930, possession of Michael Laffan. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: HB: 978-1-3500-2261-4 PB: 978-1-3501-0924-7 ePDF: 978-1-3500-2263-8 eBook: 978-1-3500-2262-1 Names: Laffan, Michael Francis, 1969- editor. | Container of (work): Blackburn, Anne M., 1967- Buddhist networks across the Indian Ocean. Title: Belonging across the Bay of Bengal : religious rites, colonial migrations, national rights / edited by Michael Laffan. Description: London : Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017012845| ISBN 9781350022614 (hb) | ISBN 9781350022638 (epdf) Subjects: LCSH: South Asia–History. | Southeast Asia–History. | South Asia–Civilization. | Southeast Asia–Civilization. Classification: LCC DS340 .B425 2017 | DDC 909/.09824–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017012845 Typeset by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd. To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com and sign up for our newsletters.

Contents List of Figures Acknowledgments List of Abbreviations Introduction: Dhows, Steamers, Lifeboats Michael Laffan

vii ix x 1

Part 1 Sacred Itineraries, Indian Bodies 1

2

3

4

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean: Trans-Regional Strategies and Affiliations Anne Blackburn

15

Borobudur in the Light of Asia: Scholars, Pilgrims, and Knowledge Networks of Greater India Marieke Bloembergen

35

Keramats Running Amuck: Islamic Parahistories of Travel, Belonging, Crimes, and Madness Teren Sevea

57

The Second Sikh: Exile, Panic, and Memory in the Straits Settlements Arjun Naidu

73

Part 2 Merchants, Migrations, Rights 5

6

7

“Money-Making Is Their Prime Concern”: Markets, Mobility, and Matrimony among South Indian Muslims in Colonial Southeast Asia Torsten Tschacher

99

Transcultural Intimacies in British Burma and the Straits Settlements: A History of Belonging, Difference, and Empire Chie Ikeya

117

Citizens, Aryans, and Indians in Colonial Lanka: Discourses on Belonging in the 1920s–1930s Nira Wickramasinghe

139

Part 3 Cosmopolitan Hybridities 8

Calling the Other Shore: Tamil Studies and Decolonization Bhavani Raman

161

vi 9

Contents Hybridity and Indigeneity in Malaya, 1900–70 David Henley

181

10 History in and of a Penal Colony in the Bay of Bengal: Two Convict Mazars in the Andaman Islands Clare Anderson

193

11 Looking Back on the Bay of Bengal: An African Isolate Reoriented Michael Laffan

207

Select Bibliography Index

223 244

List of Figures 0.1 1.1

1.2

2.1

2.2 3.1

4.1

5.1

6.1 7.1

8.1 8.2

9.1

“Southern Asia, ca. 1900.” With thanks to Tsering Wangyal Shawa, Geographic Information Systems Librarian, Princeton University “Map of the Parts of Râmaññadêsa Visited by Mr. Taw Sein Ko in January 1892 and by Major R.C. Temple in April 1892,” from Indian Antiquary 22 (1893), plate after p. 328 “Restored Portions of the Pâli Stones of the Kalyâṇî Inscriptions of Dhammachêtî, 1476 A.D.,” from Indian Antiquary 22 (1893), plate 1 after p. 274 “Bezoek van Chulalongkorn (Rama V), koning van Thailand, aan de Boroboedoer en Jogjakarta.” Photograph of Kassian or Sem Céphas, 1896. From the collection of the KITLV, item no. 9890 “A Dhy’âni Buddha (from Bôrôbudûr),” from E.B. Havell, Indian Sculpture and Painting (London: John Murray, 1908), at the right side of p. 28 Map of Singapore drawn by Tsering Wangyal Shawa and based on the Map of the Town and Environs of Singapore drawn by John F.A. McNair, 1878. Cf. National Archives of Singapore, Media-Image no. 20120001620-0011. Permission for usage gratefully acknowledged “General Monthly Muster of the Convicts, Singapore Jail,” from John Frederick Adolphus McNair, Prisoners Their Own Warders (Westminster: Constable, 1899), frontispiece “Kuli, Muham. Kling. Kling (Tjätti),” from Münchener Bilderbogen, Nro. 1034. Zur Geschichte der Kostüme. 80. Bogen. Asiaten. (Jetztzeit). Ostindien (Munich: Braun & Schneider ca. 1891/92). Image held at Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, permission for reproduction gratefully acknowledged “Crowded by other guests, such is the lot of the Burmese,” Thuriya, June 1938 “H. Dharmapala, from Ceylon,” from John Henry Barrows (ed.), The World’s Parliament of Religions, 2 vols. (Chicago: The Publishing Company, 1893), II, after p. 860 The Front Page of Tamil Culture, October 1955 “Prof. Jean Filliozat, President of the International Association of Tamil Research, speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference,” from Proceedings of the First Tamil Studies Conference, Xavier Thani Nayagam et. al., eds. (Kuala Lumpur: IATR, 1968), II, image 3 after p. 888 “Tamils,” from Ambrose B. Rathborne, Camping and Tramping in Malaya (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1898), p. 85

xi

17

20

38 42

60

82

101 131

142 170

174 183

viii

List of Figures

9.2

“Proto-Malays from Johor,” from R.O. Winstedt, A History of Malaya (London: Luzac, 1935), after p. 40 10.1 Liaquat Ali Mazar, South Point, Andaman Islands. Photograph by Clare Anderson, 2012 11.1 Four vignettes of Cape Malays, photographer unknown, from Anon. Album of South Africa: 60 Views of Cape Town, Simons Town, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and South African Goldfields (Cape Town: J.E., n.d.), plates 37–40, from the Library of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, item 25240. Permission for reproduction gratefully acknowledged 11.2 Simon’s Town grave detail showing Southeast Asian-style mosque. Photograph by Michael Laffan, 2008

186 197

211 215

Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their permission for the use of copyright material. The publisher apologizes for any errors or omissions and would be grateful if notified of any corrections that should be incorporated in future reprints or editions of this book.

Acknowledgments I would like to give warm thanks to the many friends and colleagues who have helped bring this book to fruition. Even if their papers are not included here, their contributions at our workshops were invaluable in charting its final shape and for seeing the issue of belonging as being so central. I am particularly grateful to my key coconspirators over these last years, Nira Wickramasinghe and Bhavani Raman, and to the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the International Institute for Asian Studies, and the Mellon Foundation for their invaluable support. Finally, I am very thankful for the cheerful and speedy work of Emma Goode at Bloomsbury, and the very generous reviewers who offered excellent suggestions for this book’s improvement. Needless to say, all remaining errors are very much my own.

List of Abbreviations ANRI

Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia

BLT

The Burma Law Times

CO

Colonial Office, National Archives, Great Britain

EFEO

École française d’Extrême-Orient

IA

The Law Reports, Indian Appeals

IOR

India Office Records and Private Papers, British Library

ISEAS

Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

JMBRAS

Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

KAB

Western Cape Provincial Archives and Records Service, Republic of South Africa

KITLV

Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, Leiden

LBR

Lower Burma Rulings

MAS

Modern Asian Studies

SLNA

Sri Lanka National Archives

SFP

The Singapore Free Press

SSLR

Straits Settlements Law Reports

SSR

Straits Settlements Records (Singapore National Archives)

ST

The Straits Times

Figure 0.1 “Southern Asia, ca. 1900.” With thanks to Tsering Wangyal Shawa, Geographic Information Systems Librarian, Princeton University.

Introduction: Dhows, Steamers, Lifeboats Michael Laffan Princeton University

The Bay of Bengal is recognized today as a crucial political arena, yet for many of the people found in its waters it is merely a great sea.1 To them, the great sweep of beaches, sandbars, and islets—running north and east from Sri Lanka to the many mouths of the Ganges and then south past the Irrawaddy Delta to the Malay Peninsula and the great island of Sumatra—has long been a space to venture into in search of fish, or perhaps to traverse in the hope of work and trade, and with an eye to a relatively swift return. For the majority of the latter travelers, this quest is usually undertaken at greater altitudes and speeds than could ever have been imagined by those buffeted below across previous eras. And their destinations are often well beyond its embrace, whether on the building sites of the Persian Gulf or in the kitchens, streets, and offices of Europe and America.2 Even so, the Bay of Bengal remains a space of danger and hope for those left in the wake of the vapor trails of so many migrants or outside the calculations of grand strategists charting the rise of India and China.3 This is most especially the case for those displaced by decades of conflict and the reluctance of the encircling states to recognize them as natural subjects. For if the history of the Indian Ocean has often been sketched in celebratory hues of movement, interaction, and hybridity both before and then deep into the colonial period, the postcolonial milieu has often become hostile to the “outsider.”4 To put it bluntly, the modern history of the region—a space that Sunil Amrith reminds us was first assigned to Bengal by Portuguese cartographers in the sixteenth century—is inexorably one of belonging.5 It is this history that our volume maps out. Linking with Amrith’s work that has rendered the Bay much less the “neglected sea” characterized by Rila Mukherjee a decade ago, this book brings greater attention to bear on a continuum of Buddhist connectivities and tales of Muslim sanctity alike that were intertwined with equally deep histories of families alternatively scattered and held in place by the rhythm of currents, winds, and—ultimately—modern timetables.6 It moreover weaves in the dreams of fin de siècle pan-Asianists and questions the colonial designations of so many sojourners as “Moors,” “Tamils,” or yet “Malays” before showing how such identities impacted political claims as empires ebbed and nations rose.

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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal

This volume furthermore investigates the long moment when oceanic history transitioned from one of cosmopolitan “Dhow Cultures,” to recall Abdul Sheriff ’s invoking of sail and circulation across the western half of the Indian Ocean, to that of postcolonial uncertainty about one’s natural place. Such uncertainty is made starker today by the images of so many lifeboats, like those being used by the Australian government which returns unreported numbers of asylum seekers to the coasts of Indonesia and Sri Lanka after their having traveled from as far afield as Sudan, Iraq, and Syria.7 Such treatment pales in comparison to the callous disregard shown to many Rohingya refugees by the Royal Thai Navy, whose ancestral capital of Ayutthaya was once known to Persian and Malay sailors alike as Shahr-i Nav, “the City of the Boat.”8 Viewed over the longue durée, there has been a profound shift in agency for Muslims across the Indian Ocean over the past centuries. This is ironic as, historically speaking, scholars have so often cast its reaches as having been shaped by Muslim trade and law, often citing the examples of Ibn Battuta (1304–68), a Moroccan traveler of the fourteenth century, or the navigational treatises of the Gulf-born Ahmad ibn Majid (1421–ca. 1500), who ranged as far as the court of Melaka, on the Malay Peninsula.9 Yet even if our knowledge of the premodern arena and its circulations has been inflected by the writings of Muslim geographers and further attested to by the richly engraved tombstones scattered from East Africa to Java, it is equally clear that the interactive primacy of Arabic and Persian alike would be slowly eroded once European commercial ventures gained footholds across the Ocean’s southern and central latitudes at the opening of the sixteenth century.10 This is not to say that the Indian Ocean was ever the exclusive domain of Islamic culture before the dawning of the “Vasco da Gama Epoch,” as the Travancore-born diplomat and historian K. M. Pannikar (1894–1963) once termed it.11 At Calicut in May of 1498, Vasco da Gama had found a king he called the Zamorin—a name derived from the claim to be the Samudra Raja (Ocean King)—presiding over a mixture of Hindus like himself, Muslims, and Thomasite Christians. Moreover, as Portuguese ships headed further east and entered the Palk Strait of Lanka after 1500, they encountered a world whose coasts had long sheltered Parsis and Jains, Shaivites and Vaishnavites, as well as Buddhists of varying lines of ordination. Nor yet would anyone claim that Indian Ocean Muslim networks would be vanquished by the Portuguese demand that all ships carry a pass issued in the name of their most Catholic Estado da India, headquartered at Goa on the Malabar Coast from 1510. Rather, Muslim merchants sought patronage from Egyptian and Gujarati rulers before turning to the successor Ottoman and Mughal overlords in the 1520s and 1580s, respectively, and as they shifted their bases of operation away from the sites captured by the “Franks.”12 By the same token, if early Portuguese competitors long decried hostile “Moors” found from Mozambique to the Moluccas—whether as rulers or influential traders—pragmatism would win out within a few decades.13 Indeed the Estado da India depended both on (often Parsi) Gujarati capital and even tactical alliances with Muslim polities, as when Malindi jousted with Mombasa in East Africa or Johor tussled with Aceh after Melaka’s capture by the Portuguese in 1511. Whether they were allied to the Portuguese or not, the rulers of the shores and hinterlands of the Bay of Bengal would demonstrate their commitments to one faith or

Introduction

3

other by sending missions to centers of sacred scholarship and the capitals of potential patrons. Long before the rise of Islam on the Bengal frontier and the islands of Southeast Asia in the thirteenth century, that role was often played by pilgrims traveling to the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, an ancient fig growing at Gaya in modern-day Bihar, India.14 Others made journeys to such complexes as the great monastery of Nalanda, which once accepted financial donations from the rulers of Srivijaya, based on Sumatra, before the medieval Chola dynasty of Southern India moved decisively from the port of Nagapattinam to have a greater say in trade linking Fatimid Egypt and Tang China in the eleventh century.15 While both Gaya and Nalanda are located in the modern-day Bihar, many travelers would once have deemed it merely part of Bengal or simply Bharat—as India is known in Hindi, much as the Malay word for “west” is barat. With the decline of Buddhism in India in the face of Brahmanic and Islamic competition alike, and then with the ebbing of Chola power at sea, Lanka, which boasted its own cutting of the Bodhi tree at the city of Anuradhapura, would become the most important site for a networked practice generally known, as Anne Blackburn reminds us in our opening chapter, as Southern Buddhism. Indeed, Lanka’s kingdoms—and most especially the upland polity of Kandy (1469–1815)—would see numerous visits from monastic delegates from Southeast Asia eager to return to their royal patrons with copies of sacred Pali-language texts. Equally Mecca, the site of the great annual pilgrimage, or hajj, would draw delegates from numerous courts in the island world anxious to return with an affirmation of Islamic authority already invoked by their cosmopolitan use of the Arabic script. Such affirmations were strengthened by marital linkages to prominent scholars.16 In the late 1630s, for instance, the rulers of the rival kingdoms of Banten and Mataram, both on Java, sent deputations to Mecca seeking the title of sultan from the clan of Sharifs, who claimed descent from the Prophet.17 The rise of Western power did nothing to affect the importance ascribed to such journeys in many imaginaries, even if, by the nineteenth century, many Asian rulers would be reduced to the status of pensioners in gilded palace cages or, worse, exile. The expansion of Western influence arguably affirmed the centrality of these itineraries and redefined who had the right to speak for religion, as European ships—often Dutch and then increasingly English—came to facilitate the long-distance transitions between South and Southeast Asia in the eighteenth century. Moreover, following the British takeover and development of so many coastal hubs in southern Asia—most notably Penang (1786), Colombo (1795), Singapore (1819), Melaka (1824), and Rangoon (1852)—one sees the emergence of lay-driven styles of religiosity with attendant definitions of belonging in flux across the region. Such definitions would become all the more contentious with the widespread deployment of southern Indian laborers and venture capitalists into the expanding fields of export agriculture. This was particularly so in British Ceylon from the 1830s, and then Malaya in the 1870s, which drew many officials from that island, together with sepoys recruited from the north of India.18 Such circumstances witnessed the embedding of new pan-ethnic categories in colonial files and metropolitan discourses. Perhaps the most generic coverall was that of the “Tamil” laborer, now female as well as male, who had seemingly displaced the older “Gujaratee” merchant, imagined as the

4

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original disseminator of Islam before the rise of a modern narrative that sees Arabs from the Hadramawt region of Yemen as the only possible source of inspiration and leadership for Tamil, Malay, and Javanese speakers alike.19 Yet as Torsten Tschacher emphasizes in this volume, the uncritical use of such terms as “Tamil” (like “Malabar” before it20) occludes the fact that many southern sojourners in the colonial period were hardly Tamil, even if that language came to dominate in the temples built in the Straits Settlements that resemble models found at once-Chola Nagore, or at such interethnic festivals as that of Thaiupusam, which honors a son of Shiva known as Murugan with mortifications that rival those of the Muslim celebration of Muharram.21 Moreover, one finds in the nineteenth century a whole host of identifications for southern Indians increasingly freighted with pejorative meanings. Consider the laboring “Klings” of Malaya, who perhaps owe their name to the ancestral kingdom of Kalinga in modern-day Orissa, or yet the “Chulias” and “Chettiar” bankers who, with their connections back to Nagore, became the primary financial intermediaries for Indian kin and “natives” alike (and the most prominent funders of Thaipusam in the Straits Settlements). Equally one can point, as Wickramasinghe does in her chapter, to the rising hostility among self-imagined “Aryan” Sinhalese in Lanka in the 1930s against migrants identified as “Malayalees” and “Cochins.” As this book shows, colonial officials and Asian nationalists alike obscured the specific provenance of so many Indians in South and Southeast Asia. In the process, they detached them from deep histories of familial and religious interconnection across the Bay, preferring to lionize the ancient role of more northerly ancestors involved in the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism as “world religions” to rival the monotheisms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.22 Such designations were affirmed at the World’s Parliament of Religions, an ancillary gathering of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. A key figure representing Buddhism at this event was Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933) who had been patronized by the Theosophists Helena Blavatsky (1831–91) and Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907) during their time in British Ceylon. And like so many members of the movement whose lives intersected, as Bloembergen explains in Chapter 2, with servants of colonial archaeology and museology, Dharmapala saw a world of Buddhist power to be reanimated across the Oceanic South with the reconstruction of Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha had first attained enlightenment. Colonial scholarship was always interested in a shared but resolutely classical past. Evidence abounds for such a world in the form of temples located across the plains of Pagan in Burma, at Angkor in Cambodia, or yet Central Java, many of which are far larger than those ever raised in the homeland of Indic religions.23 Yet, setting aside the fact that so many Sanskrit or Pali inscriptions were engraved in forms of the Pallava script, developed by the eastern Indian dynasty of that name, members of the Bengali Renaissance, inspired by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), saw an eternal India that reigned as a queen of the seas, making Java as much a satellite of Mother India as Lanka. With the arrival of Imperial Japanese Forces in this world in the year of Tagore’s death in 1941, in some cases bringing a twisted echo of his panAsianist thinking with them, collaborators like Gandhi’s rival Subhas Chandra Bose

Introduction

5

(1897–1945) would have to work hard in occupied Singapore and Rangoon to make a united nation from a mixture of troops recruited from the northern plains of India and rubber tappers brought from the south. To be sure, Bose and his Japanese sponsors had been well primed to see India from a maritime perspective, given that colonial archaeology and scholarly exchanges had inflected the interlinked salons of the Theosophical movement, the Bengal Renaissance, and the researches of Calcutta’s Greater India Society exemplified by R. C. Majumdar (1888–1980) and Kalidas Nag (1892–1966).24 This is not to say, though, that the southern Indians who labored in Malaya had been completely ignored by, or were yet ignorant of, their metropolitan fellows who consumed the ideas of ancestral nationhood. Such people had been the targets of the similarly inspired Arya Samaj society, and one of the few examples of Indic remains in peninsular Malaysia was discovered by plantation laborers in the 1930s.25 And even if elite Lankan Vellalas and Burma- and Malaya-based Chettiars paid little heed to oft-indebted workers of lower social standing, the growth of an international Marxist movement would serve as a vital conduit for unity in the face of coercive capitalism that had been dealt a body blow by the global crash of 1929. This seeded dangerous instability in Lanka and Burma in particular. Many southern Indians were forced to return to the subcontinent in the absence of work and in the face of violence launched by nationalist agitators such as Burma’s Saya San (1876–1931), a former monk and low-ranking colonial functionary who saw himself in messianic terms.26 Saya San had been defended at his 1931 trial by Ba Maw (1893–1977), once seen as a reliable servant of British Empire. His subsequent refusal to support the war effort would result in imprisonment followed by release and appointment by the Japanese, much as his rival Aung San would return from the island of Hainan as the head of a new national army. And while such figures would gain limited scope for political action under the Japanese flag—rather like Soekarno (1901–70) in Indonesia—the enthusiastically uniformed Aung San and Bose would also find military opportunity for their respective allied nations of Burma and Azad Hind (Free India), albeit briefly. Rightly judging the winds of fortune, Aung San would swap sides shortly before the Japanese defeat, much as, sometime before his death on Taiwan on August 18, 1945, Bose must have ruminated on what might have been after the flag of his Provisional Government had been raised over the Andamans in December of 1943. With or without Bose, Clare Anderson offers us an insight into how older Muslim tombs on the Andamans have emerged as a potent site for the imagining of a united (and irenic) Indian past, one that sees the national histories of Muslim activists from 1857 such as Liaquat Ali (1817–92) allied to that of subsequent prisoners and even proponents of (an exclusivist) Hindutva such as Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883– 1966). Even if such views are the hopeful alternative to the turmoil that has continued to play out on the caste-bound mainland, most notably in Gujarat, much like the histories of Indians interred in the Straits Settlements (treated here by Sevea and Naidu), we can see the ways in which histories of mobility, religion, and opposition are often retooled for present needs. To be sure, the Andamans played host to Burmese convicts and monastic rebels too, yet the archipelago has not loomed in any formerly Englishdominated Southeast Asian imagination in the way that the insular Côn Đảo Prison

6

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal

(Pulo Condore) has for Vietnamese or yet Boven Digul on the border with Papua has inflected that of Indonesians.27 Perhaps the larger matter to emerge once some of the nations of South and Southeast Asia began to be set free from British rule concerned just who belonged within their borders.28 Even with the fraternal hopes expressed at the great Afro-Asian Conference held at Bandung in April 1955,29 or the fellowship that may have been generated by the (remarkably understudied) Sixth Buddhist Council held in Rangoon that same year, it was clear that the borders drawn by Britain and the Netherlands had been locked in place, and that no internal opposition would be brooked. As Brad Simpson has pointed out, in the postwar era, independence would be enshrined as the “first,” and indeed transcendent, human right.30 In Burma, this became all too clear with the descent into Buddhist Socialism and martial rule under General Ne Win (1911–2002) by 1962. Labeled as “collaborators” once more, struggling Indians (or yet “persons of Indian origin”) commenced the last great exodus from a region now called Southeast Asia, much as their western fellows would begin to lose their places in East Africa.31 Beyond this, too, Muslims of many backgrounds were marked as “associate” citizens. The Rohingya in particular—whose lands in Arakan had been engulfed by the Burmese state in the late eighteenth century and then served as a conduit for migration from what was one part of British India to another before 1937—would be marked as Bengali intriguers to be stricken from census rolls.32 Equally, administrative partition, war, and independence had given birth not merely to discrete national divisions, but to divided Area Studies that would be further reaffirmed during the Cold War. London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (founded in 1916) would be reinvented as a training institute for new cohorts of South or Southeast Asian technocrats.33 Meanwhile, Leiden University’s former centers for Indological training would try, rather more halfheartedly, to reach out to Indonesians who had had to fight hard to have their independence accepted between 1945 and 1949.34 In the United States in 1958, the advent of Title VI funding, then under the National Defense Education Act of that year, spawned the rise of numerous centers, some boasting their own complement of British scholars, such as Cornell University’s Modern Indonesia Project and the East-West Center at Hawaii, not to mention the programs of Madison in Wisconsin soon thereafter, generating significant expertise on the now determined spaces of South and Southeast Asia.35 Of course, there were some who continued to look at “both” regions with great hope, much as Malaysian, Lankan, and Indian academics would explore opportunities for exchange and more cosmopolitan scholarship, as Bhavani Raman shows in her chapter examining the pioneering efforts of Fr. Xavier Thani Nayagam (1913–80). Indeed, the very haziness of Southeast Asia as a category aided many scholars in making it a test case for signal contributions to global history, whether with Anthony Reid’s vision of a Braudelian island world, Victor Liebermann’s integrated Eurasian landmass, or yet James C. Scott’s heroic vision of stateless Zomia straddling the highlands of Southeast Asia and pushing into the lower reaches of the Himalayas.36 Such contributions have been furthered today with other Southeast Asianists, such as Eric Tagliacozzo, pushing eastward with pilgrims on the hajj to meet scholars of

Introduction

7

the Hadrami Arab diaspora like Engseng Ho.37 Even so, despite such valuable work on connected histories of the Indian Ocean and the calls to escape Area Studies, the boundaries between South and Southeast Asia remain entrenched in politics and the academy. Even Lewis and Wigan reasserted it in their interrogation of the geographical myths underpinning so much scholarship.38 It was this divide, then, that we sought to address. First conceived around the theme of texts and textbook histories in South and Southeast Asia, discussions held under the aegis of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies in May of 2011 generated a project framed by three larger moments. These ranged from a long nineteenth century that had heralded the reconception of traditional Asian subjectivities, to the crisis from the late 1920s, in which the physical presence of putatively rival or foreign communities came to a head, to be capped off by the decisive writing of the allegedly natural postcolonial nation from the 1950s, when communities are assigned their definitive spaces based on the colonial/nationalist narrative accentuated by religious affiliation. As discussions percolated between Princeton and Leiden, our project found its moorings in the initiative to rethink Area Studies undertaken by the International Institute for Asian Studies and the Mellon Foundation, leading to the main gathering in October 2014 where the drafts of seven of these chapters were first presented. With the global refugee crisis that was then largely confined to Asia, it also became more apparent that there is a real need for historical studies that contextualize why so many people labeled as “Tamil” or “Rohingya” have risked the waves only to find themselves in legal limbo on Christmas or now Manus Island, in illegal camps on the Thai-Malaysian border, or yet indentured as little more than slaves on Taiwanese trawlers.39 Perhaps there is change afoot in present-day Myanmar under Aung San’s daughter Daw Suu Kyi. Still, the zealots opposed to Islam and Indians in the same breath remain a force to be reckoned with there as much as in Sri Lanka, as Chie Ikeya reminds us in her chapter on inter-Asian marriage in colonial Burma. There was a great irony in all this. While Burmese and Malay nationalists came to frown on interethnic and interreligious marriages, British scholars often celebrated the hybridities of Southeast Asian pasts even as they pushed for compartmentalized futures, as David Henley shows in a chapter tracing the intersection of colonial and eugenic thinking in Malaysia. Such thinking had a profound impact on its long-serving prime minister Mahathir Mohamad (b. 1925) for one, and in adopting a name used by the British to describe people as far afield as Ceylon and the Cape Colony, the “Malays” could obtain both patrimonial rights in the peninsula and a diaspora flung far to the west. For such reasons, too, Malaya’s first premier, Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903–90), had even offered asylum to the Malays of South Africa in 1961, despite the fact that their origins lie much more in what is now Indonesia, India, and southern Africa.40 Framed in three sections, our chapters follow discrete narratives of classification and rememoration with the overall history of the Bay of Bengal in mind. In “Sacred Itineraries, Indian Bodies,” the first four offerings—of Blackburn, Bloembergen, Sevea, and Naidu—consider how deep historical remains and archival traces have generated ideas about a shared Indic (and admittedly masculine) pasts, whether coalescing around the temple structures that generated itineraries of trans-Asian pilgrimage, or the graves of traders and exiles cast as saintly heroes of resistance. The next set of chapters

8

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal

“Merchants, Migrations, and Rights”—by Tschacher, Ikeya, and Wickramasinghe— then deal with the emergent colonial discourse on southern Indians and their locally born children that rendered them as temporary migrants and unnatural citizens in Lanka and Southeast Asia, even as they had long histories of trade and acculturation that were not so easily captured by imperial census takers. The final chapters—of Raman, Henley, Anderson, and myself—are gathered under the theme of “Cosmopolitan Hybridities,” taking up the question of immigration and belonging more squarely in the postcolonial moment, heralded by the end of the Second World War and capped off, in some sense, by the final incorporation of Malaysia in a world of nation-states. Even here, though, our chapters pay attention to the preceding histories of exile, migration, and saintly burial. Certainly, when viewed from Kuala Lumpur and even as far away as Cape Town, the development of ideas of Tamil and Malay cosmopolitanisms are more clearly seen, much as celebrations of ethnic hybridity seem to echo a much-lionised communalism in the Andaman Islands. Where such cosmopolitanisms differ, though, and most sharply with regard to the Indian Andamans, is in the absence of a claim to exclusive nationhood and all-encompassing unity. What all these chapters do then, is offer informed studies of region, interconnection, and diaspora, unmoored from the myths of nations but mindful of their creation. Each offering can be triangulated with others in the collection, and in ways that remind us of how the Bay has functioned in the past, or indeed of the inflections of the present. Read together, one can learn to make sense of rival Buddhist temples and memorials to exilic pioneers honored by Arabs and Indians in a secular and Sinified Singapore, or of Fr. Xavier Thani Nayagam’s dreams of a greater, borderless world linked to flows of faith and capital, and the sense of family that might yet bind individuals to Chennai, Yangon, Colombo, and Penang even as they support cousins far beyond the Indian Ocean.

Notes 1

2

3

4

This was the first remark made by David Ludden at our Princeton meeting of November 2014, drawing on the work of Sunil Amrith, who was also present. See the latter’s Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013). For contrasting perspectives on the motivations and agency of migrants to Dubai, see Syed Ali, Dubai: Gilded Cage (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010); and Laavanya Kathiravelu, Migrant Dubai: Low Wage Workers and the Construction of a Global City (Houndmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). On Bengalis in London, see Claire Alexander, “Making Bengali Brick Lane: Claiming and Contesting Space in East London,” The British Journal of Sociology 62 (2011): 201–20. See David Brewster, “Dividing Lines: Evolving Mental Maps of the Bay of Bengal,” Asian Security 10, no. 2 (2014): 151–67; Robert D. Kaplan, “Center Stage for the Twenty-First Century: Power Plays in the Indian Ocean,” Foreign Affairs 88, no. 2 (2009): 16–32. For much-consulted overviews of the arena before and under colonialism, see Abdul Sheriff, Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010); and Sugata Bose, A Hundred Horizons:

Introduction

5

6

7

8

9

10

11 12 13 14

15

9

The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006). On the vicissitudes of migrants before and after the declarations of independence, see Amrith, Crossing the Bay. The Portuguese first established a presence at Chittagong in the 1520s, aware of Bengal as a significant entrepot in the lead-up to their investiture in Goa (1510) and then Malacca (1511). See also Amrith, Crossing the Bay, 18. Rila Mukherjee, “The Neglected Sea: The Eastern Indian Ocean in History,” Journal of the Asiatic Society 49, no. 3 (2007): 1–48. For valuable work on inter-regional religious connectivities, see the contributions to R. Michael Feener and Terenjit Sevea (eds.), Islamic Connections: Muslim Societies in South and Southeast Asia (Singapore: ISEAS, 2009); and Anne M. Blackburn and R. Michael Feener (eds.), Buddhist and Islamic Networks in Southern Asia: Comparative Perspectives (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, forthcoming). See, for instance, Susanna Dechent, “Operation Sovereign Borders: The Very Real Risk of Refoulement of Refugees,” Alternative Law Journal 39, no. 2 (2014): 110–14; and Paul Hodge, “A Grievable Life? The Criminalisation and Securing of Asylum Seeker Bodies in the ‘Violent Frames’ of Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders,” Geoforum 58 (2015): 122–31. For an exposé of the Thai Navy and Malaysian state alike, see “Malaysia and Thailand Turn Away Hundreds on Migrant Boats,” The Guardian, Thursday, May 14, 2015. See also Thomas Fuller, “Reporting on Life, Death and Corruption in Southeast Asia,” The New York Times, February 21, 2016. On Shahr-i Nav in past Muslim imaginations, see C.C. Brown (trans.), Sĕjarah Mĕlayu or ‘Malay Annals’, Oxford in Asia Historical Reprints (London etc.: Oxford University Press, 1970), 35–37; and J. O’Kane (trans. and ed.), The Ship of Sulaimân (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972). See G. R. Tibbetts, A Study of the Arabic Texts Containing Material on South-East Asia (Leiden: Brill, 1979), 206. See also Eric Tagliacozzo (ed.), Southeast Asia and the Middle East: Islam, Movement, and the Longue Durée (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009). On the grave monuments of the Indian Ocean, see Elizabeth Lambourn, “Carving and Communities: Marble Carving for Muslim Communities at Khambhāt and around the Indian Ocean Rim, Late 13th-mid-15th Centuries,” Ars Orientalis 34 (2007): 99–133. K. M. Pannikar, Asia and Western Dominance: A Survey of the Vasco Da Gama Epoch of Asian History, 1498–1945, rev. edn (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1959). For the sixteenth-century turn to the Ottomans, see Giancarlo Casale, The Ottoman Age of Exploration (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). M.N. Pearson, Pious Passengers: The Hajj in Earlier Times (London: Hurst, 1994), 100–6. The classic treatment of Islamic expansion into Bengal, led by Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, said to have sacked Nalanda in 1193, remains Richard Eaton’s The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204–1760 (Berkeley etc.: University of California Press, 1993). On Srivijaya and its donations to Nalanda, in addition to its supplanting by the Cholas in 1025, see O. W. Wolters, The Fall of Śrīvijaya in Malay History (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1970), 90–93, 100, and 134. For this, and the movement of the Cholas onto Lanka, see Hermann Kulke, “Rivalry and Competition in the Bay of Bengal in the Eleventh Century and Its Bearing on Indian Ocean Studies,” in Commerce and Culture in the Bay of Bengal, 1500–1800, eds. Om Prakash and Denys Lombard (Delhi: Manohar, 1999), 19–20.

10 16

17

18

19 20

21

22

23

24

25 26 27

28

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Thomas Gibson has shown how important the lineage of the scholar Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar was for many courts in South Sulawesi. See his Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia from the 16th to the 21st Century (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). Hoesein Djajadiningrat, Critische beschouwing van de Sadjarah Banten (Haarlem: Joh. Enschedé en Zonen, 1913), 49–52, 174–77; M.C. Ricklefs, Mystic Synthesis in Java: A History of Islamization from the Fourteenth to the Early Nineteenth Centuries (Norwalk: EastBridge, 2006), 51. On the recruitment of Sikhs as the paragons of the Martial Races theory, see Thomas Metcalf, Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860–1920 (University of California Press, 2007), 102–35. An inauspicious start for such a pairing came when the first Resident to the Court of Perak was assassinated despite his Sikh bodyguards. See Cheah Boon Kheng, “Malay Politics and the Murder of J.W.W. Birch, the British Resident to Perak in 1875: The Humiliation and Revenge of the Maharaja Lela,” JMBRAS 71, no. 1 (1998): 75–106. For the genesis of the latter narrative, see Engseng Ho, The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006). For a discussion of this phenomenon on Lanka, see Sujit Sivasundaram, Islanded: Britain, Sri Lanka and the Bounds of an Indian Ocean Colony (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2013). Elizabeth Fuller Collins, Pierced by Murugan’s Lance: Ritual, Power, and Moral Redemption among Malaysian Hindus (De Kalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1997); Anoma Pieris, Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes: A Penal History of Singapore’s Plural Society (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009), 233–35. See Tomoko Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religions; or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2005). Sanjay Subrahmanyam has suggested that the size of Southeast Asian monuments must surely have had an impact on previous visitors from India and that we should seek out the impact of these experiences in the subcontinent. Comment made at Roundtable on Early Southeast Asian History: The Legacy of O. W. Wolters, Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Chicago, March 26–29, 2009. On the Greater India Society, see Susan Bayly, “Imagining ‘Greater India’: French and Indian Visions of Colonialism in the Indic Mode,” MAS 38, no. 3 (2004): 703–44. On Japanese enthusiasm for World Buddhism, see Richard Jaffe, “Buddhist Material Culture, ‘Indianism,’ and the Construction of Pan-Asian Buddhism in Prewar Japan,” Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief 2, no. 3 (2006): 266–92. Amrith, Crossing the Bay, 143. See Maitrii Aung-Thwin, The Return of the Galon King: History, Law, and Rebellion in Colonial Burma (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2011). On Pulo Condore, see Peter Zinoman, The Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment in Vietnam, 1862–1940 (Berkeley : University of California Press, 2001). For a treatment of Boven Digul, see Rudolf Mrázek, “Boven Digoel and Terezín: Camps at the Time of Triumphant Technology,” East Asian Science, Technology and Society 3, nos 2–3 (2009): 287–314. The date of Indian independence was hardly accidental as Mountbatten wanted to link it to the Japanese surrender. See Mountbatten and the Partition of India, interviews by Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre (New Delhi: Vikas, c. 1982), 49.

Introduction 29 30

31

32

33

34

35 36

37 38 39

40

11

See Naoko Shimazu, “Diplomacy as Theatre: Staging the Bandung Conference of 1955,” MAS 48, no. 1 (2013): 225–52. Bradley R. Simpson, “Denying the ‘First Right’: The United States, Indonesia, and the Ranking of Human Rights by the Carter Administration, 1976–1980,” International History Review 31, no. 4 (2009): 798–826. See Renaud Egreteau, “The Idealization of a Lost Paradise: Narratives of Nostalgia and Traumatic Return Migration among Indian Repatriates from Burma since the 1960s,” Journal of Burma Studies 18, no. 1 (2014): 137–80. Amrith (Crossing the Bay, 181–90) has argued that the oft-forgotten partition of 1937 marks the moment of rupture between South and Southeast Asian studies. Certainly, it has been lost between the early nationalistic furore caused by the proposed division of Bengal in 1905 and then the disasters of Partition in 1947 and the PakistanBangladesh War of 1971. At a meeting held at Princeton on November 14, 2015, Mandy Sadan pointed to the continuum of colonial and anthropological expertise on upland Burma at the School of Oriental and African Studies. One might even tie this to the emergence of Zomian studies proposed by Willem van Schendel and taken to a utopian extreme by James C. Scott. See Willem van Schendel, “Geographies of Knowing, Geographies of Ignorance: Jumping Scale in Southeast Asia,” in Locating Southeast Asia: Geographies of Knowledge and Politics of Space, eds. Paul Kratoska, Remco Raben and Henk Schulte Nordholt (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2005); and James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009). Leiden University struggled to shed its colonial garb, with officials reborn after Japanese or German internment as professors of Arabic and Javanese. Clifford Geertz (1926–2006), whose work depended on Dutch scholarship, really only felt welcomed by the Amsterdam-based sociologist Wim Wertheim (Clifford Geertz, personal communication, Princeton, Spring 2006). Wertheim was also the primary Dutch interlocutor for a fellow ex-detainee Harry Benda (1919–71) as he prepared his account of the Japanese occupation. See Harry J. Benda, The Cresent and Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation, 1942–1945 (The Hague etc.: Van Hoeve, 1958). Martin W. Lewis and Kären Wigan, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography (Berkeley etc.: University of California Press, 1997), 166. Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce 1450–1680, 2 vols (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988–93); Victor Liebermann, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c 800–1830, 2 vols (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003–9); Scott, Art of Not Being Governed. Ho, Graves of Tarim; Eric Tagliacozzo, The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Oxford etc.: Oxford University Press, 2013). Lewis and Wigan, Myth of Continents, 186–87. In 2015, The New York Times ran a series of articles by Ian Urbina on the “Outlaw Ocean,” concentrating on piracy, murder, illegal fishing, and slavery. Similarly disturbing are the revelations of shallow graves on the Malay-Thai border. See, for instance, Todd Pitman and Jocelyn Gecker, “Malaysia Migrant Graves Reveal 139 Human Skeletons at Site Where Rohingya Muslims ‘Kept by Traffickers’,” The Independent, Monday, May 25, 2015. Mohamed Muda, “Malaysia-South African Relations and the Commonwealth, 1960–1995,” in Going Forward: South Africa and Malaysia Cementing Relations, ed. Muhammed Haron (Kuala Lumpur: LKWUCT, n.d.).

Part One

Sacred Itineraries, Indian Bodies

1

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean: Trans-Regional Strategies and Affiliations Anne Blackburn Cornell University

Introduction In the nineteenth century, Buddhists in Lanka (now Sri Lanka), Siam (now Thailand), Burma (now also Myanmar), Cambodia, and Laos understood themselves to constitute a distinctive regional formation oriented toward authoritative texts composed in the scholastic-liturgical language of Pali and thus distinguished themselves from other Buddhist formations located further north and east that at times used Sanskrit, Classical Chinese, or Tibetan.1 The terms now used to distinguish these traditions (“Theravada,” “Mahayana,” and “Vajrayana/Tantrayana”) had not yet fully taken shape before 1900.2 If asked, Buddhists in Siam, Ceylon, and Burma might well have referred to themselves in English as followers of “Southern Buddhism,” and in other languages through a variety of terms including smaller-scale references to a particular monastic lineage or order/fraternity (nikāya).3 Although the idea of belonging to or within “Theravada Buddhism” was just beginning to emerge as a self-conception within these circles, including in some lay imaginaries, it was most strongly understood by the monks, whose training typically included instruction in the history of their lineages that stretched across the boundaries of modern nation-states. Certainly mutual recognition was shaped by—and expressed through—narratives that recounted deep historical connections among Southern Asian Buddhists of the Indian Ocean region.4 Indeed, most members of these orders placed themselves in a sacred geography they understood to have been constituted in the third century BCE when the Indic king Asoka (Ashoka, 304–232 BCE), following his conquest of the Kingdom of Kalinga in coastal Orissa, was said to have renounced violence and sent monks out from his capital at Pataliputra on the Ganges, now Patna in the modern-day Indian state of Bihar. Many monks possessed an even deeper and more powerfully charged understanding of their Southern Asian sphere as one created and authorized by Gotama Buddha himself. According to histories of the Buddhist intellectual and institutional space known as the sāsana, in addition to place-making narratives composed throughout the region, the Buddha had visited key sites within Southern Asia and predicted their Buddhist flourishing.5

16

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal

The evidence for such connections within the Southern Asian Indian Ocean sphere in the late centuries BCE or even the first millennium CE is scant. However, there are brief Pali-language epigraphs from the area that is now Burma and Thailand, plus the remains of sophisticated ritual objects and images, indicating that the Southeast Asian mainland was in communication with locations on the Indian subcontinent and/or Lanka that supported Buddhist and Brahmanic/theist practices and institutions.6 Such traces are consonant with archaeological studies revealing considerable traffic along the maritime and riverine routes of the Indian Ocean.7 Yet while early links among Buddhists in the Indian Ocean sphere are clear, it is far less obvious how first-millennium Buddhists in what is now Burma and Thailand conceptualized these links and any related sacred geography. Even so, the earliest non-“scriptural”8 Buddhist historical narratives composed within this region, the vaṃsas (in this case the Lankan Mahāvaṃsa and Cūlavaṃsa “chronicles” written in the early centuries of the Common Era), do clearly indicate that Lankan monastic authors were deeply invested in writing their Buddhist locations into a wider Indic history and geography, connecting their island to the biographies of Gotama Buddha and King Asoka alike.9 For the second millennium, there is far more evidence of Buddhist circulations in the Southern Asian Indian Ocean region. I therefore focus on that period, identifying shifts in how Buddhists made use of their trans-regional networks and the nature of the affiliations supported and/or created by such movement into the 1930s. These shifts occurred as the political ecology of the Indian Ocean altered, in part due to shifting relations between China and the Middle East, and then as new technologies took hold with the rise of European influence and because of the advent of new forms of knowledge and ways of conceptualizing social belonging. As the following pages indicate, the early years of the second millennium were characterized by increasingly close connections among Buddhist locations in the Southern Asian Indian Ocean sphere, owing in large part to changes in trade practices and polity formation. Denser ties between these locations made possible new transregional strategies for the management and expression of royal and monastic power. Reorganization of monastic institutions—and with it control over lands, labor, and revenue—was often achieved by “purifying” (i.e., selectively reorganizing) monastic fraternities by introducing and patronizing new ordination lineages. These were often introduced from sites well beyond a ruler’s immediate sphere of influence. During this era, Burmese, Mon, and Tai Buddhists understood both the Indian subcontinent and Lanka as prestigious and powerful locations, possessing a deeper history of institutions and textual production than their own lands. Histories of the sāsana composed in their territories certainly celebrated both Lanka and the northeast of the Indian subcontinent, which were characterized by great Buddhist establishments prior to the middle of the second millennium. However, despite the reverence accorded to the Indian northeast, such Southeast Asian institution-building strategies made more use of connections to Lanka than the Indian mainland, for reasons explored below. Indeed, by the late fifteenth century, large-scale embassies and monastic reordination projects involving travel to Lanka from Tai, Mon, and Burmese locations had become familiar within the space of Southern Asian Buddhism. By the same token, when Lankan Buddhist monastic institutions and royal polities became increasingly fragile and fissiparous in the sixteenth century, it was possible for Lankan Buddhists to adopt the strategies of their Southeast Asian coreligionists, making

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean

17

use of the same networks in reverse, seeking Buddhist texts and authoritative monastic ordination lineages from their erstwhile supplicants. However, by the early eighteenth century, the expansion of European colonial and imperial projects circumscribed such trans-regional Buddhist activities. Moreover, by the nineteenth century, and with the onset of high colonialism, the British removal of local Buddhist kings from the courts of Kandy in 1815 and, eventually, Mandalay in 1885 (compounded by French pressures on those of Phnom Penh and Bangkok in the 1860s) triggered decisive changes in transregional Buddhist activities. From the mid- to late 1800s, a larger cast of characters from each location within the region participated in this trans-regional Buddhist world. Their projects were often at odds with one another; some were characterized by a resolutely trans-regional sensibility, while others articulated an increasingly local, sometimes ethnicized, Buddhist vision.

Integrating an Indian Ocean Buddhist formation, 1000–150010 Lanka’s repeated turn in the eighteenth century to Southeast Asia, and to Siam in particular, to import Buddhist monastic lineages is well known. Less often recognized is the deep history of monastic mobility that provided precedent for these ventures. According to the Cūlavaṃsa, first composed in Lanka in the thirteenth century, in the 1070s, King Vijayabahu I (r. 1058–1114), having expelled the Cholas who had ruled the island from 1017, sought to restore the Buddhist monastic community (saṅgha). To do so, he invited fully ordained monks (bhikkhus) to his capital of Polonnaruva from the coastal state of Ramanna, in what is now southern Burma.11

Figure 1.1 “Map of the Parts of Râmaññadêsa Visited by Mr. Taw Sein Ko in January 1892 and by Major R.C. Temple in April 1892,” from Indian Antiquary 22 (1893), plate after p. 328.

18

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal

This importation of bhikkhus from Ramanna is especially notable as it appears to be the first case of non-Lankan monks being brought to the island for ordination purposes. At least, it is the first such instance reported within the MahāvaṃsaCūlavaṃsa traditions after the putative commencement of the Lankan monastic order at Anuradhapura in the era of King Asoka. And while there are many other earlier instances of monastic reorganization or renewal of royal favor to monks reported by these chronicles, there is no explicit reference to the use of foreign monks after the foundational acts of Asoka’s son and emissary Mahinda. While we cannot be sure that foreign monks did not arrive in earlier years for reordinations unrecorded by the vaṃsas, other features of Vijayabahu I’s era make it more likely that his importing bhikkhus from Ramanna marks the start of such traffic. His reign followed a lengthy period of foreign rule that impacted many social institutions on the island. Although there is insufficient evidence to write with absolute confidence about how the Chola dynasty had affected Lankan Buddhism, it is likely that their rule either removed royal support for monastic institutions altogether, leading to a confusion of monastic leadership and weakening the ritual systems of Buddhist monks (including their ordination rituals), or developed an alternate set of monastic institutions subservient to Chola control and their capital across the Palk Strait at Thanjavur (Tanjore).12 Following the Chola defeat in Lanka in the 1070s, either scenario would have required an intervention to secure a functioning monastic order under the new king’s authority. Ramanna appears to have figured centrally in Vijayabahu I’s understanding of transregional diplomacy and Buddhist geography. Indeed, it was a logical choice as, according to the vaṃsas, he had already sought support from the ruler of Ramanna in his wars against the Cholas.13 Vijayabahu’s actions thus mark the start of a deeper integration within the Indian Ocean Buddhist formation, a formation increasingly defined by a shared orientation to authoritative Pali-language “scripture,” modes of history writing, and a form of Buddhist political theory already consolidated in Lanka during the middle of the first millennium. Vijayabahu I’s overtures to Ramanna also make sense in the context of broader changes that occurred during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Ray and Kulke have both shown that, beginning in the eleventh century, there was a sharp rise in levels of regional trade related to the growing transoceanic trade running between Egypt and China.14 Competition for control of ports and goods resulted in rapidly shifting politico-military arrangements, including the original expansion of Chola power at the expense of Lanka and the older network of polities along the Melaka Strait, as well as the extension of trade guilds connected to southern India making use of Tamil language.15 Archaeological and inscriptional evidence shows that Chola Lanka then became an important location within Indian Ocean circuits.16 Indeed, the Chola relocation of the Lankan capital from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruva had changed the orientation from the west to the east of the island, via the port of Trincomalee. These changes substantially shifted the conditions for institution building and royal patronage regardless of Chola rule. The pace and ease with which Buddhist ideas (including understandings of regional Buddhist geography), persons, and practices moved between Lanka and locations on the mainland began to increase. One of the earliest testaments to such monastic movement is Sukhothai Inscription 2. Dated to the mid-fourteenth century, this records the activities of the Venerable Si

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean

19

Sattha, a high-placed monk from the Kingdom of Sukhothai (in what is now Thailand). Inscriptions 2 and 11 report his peregrinations within the wider region, and his meritmaking support for the construction and reconstruction of Buddhist monuments around Sukhothai and nearby Si Sajjanalai, as well as in Lanka. Si Sattha’s journey to the latter isle most likely occurred in the mid-1300s where he apparently spent ten years.17 Si Sattha was not alone in his fascination with Lanka, as we see from Sukhothai Inscription 3 (dated 1357). This reveals that the king himself, Maha Dhammaraja I (r. 1347–?), sought to make copies of a Lankan Buddha relic to be established publicly at key sites within his realm.18 These inscriptions draw our attention to the place of Lanka in Tai Buddhist imagination during the fourteenth century. Evidently the island was understood as a powerful Buddhist location with sites worthy of arduous transregional pilgrimage, and as a source for desirable ritual objects. Moreover, Buddhists of Sukothai had begun to make direct contact with Lankan Buddhist institutions rather than traveling by way of southern ports under non-Tai authority such as Nakhon Si Thammarat or yet Burmese-ruled Mottama (Martaban). Such contact was possible because of further changes in the Indian Ocean trading and political environment that saw the rise, in the 1350s, of the more southerly kingdom of Ayutthaya with its access to the Gulf of Siam. Despite ongoing tensions with the polities of Sukhothai and Chiang Mai to the north, Ayutthaya functioned as a key port for maritime Southeast Asia. It was linked to the coasts of Champa, in what is now Vietnam, and China to the east, as well as a vast riverine network stretching north and northwest from the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, lower Burma, and the Malay Peninsula.19 Thus, when Buddhist monks from Chiang Mai emulated their predecessors from Sukhothai and traveled to Lanka in the 1420s to secure a more authoritative ordination lineage and to learn the ritual chanting styles of Lankan monks, they did so via Ayutthaya. Indeed, the Wat Pa Dang monastic line that they introduced at Chiang Mai had also received royal support at Sukkhothai, and was eventually used to help consolidate the power at Chiangmai of the later King Tilokaraja (r. 1441/2–87).20 Lanka retained its prestige on the other side of the Tenasserim Range too. According to manuscript texts of the Kalyani Inscriptions—referencing a Lankan lineage and an associated temple now known to Sinhalese as the Kelaniya—in 1475, King Dhammazedi of Bago (Pegu), who was at that time controlling much of the Burma Delta, sent an embassy of twenty-two senior bhikkhus with younger monks and attendants to the Lankan court of Kotte.21 He did so in order to make devotional offerings at the island’s most celebrated pilgrimage locations, such as the Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura, the Buddha Footprint at Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak), and the Kandyan Tooth Relic, and to obtain a monastic lineage suitable for his own realm. This embassy arguably indicates the maturation of Buddhist connections and institutional linkages within the Indian Ocean region. Although limited available evidence demands cautious comparison, Dhammazedi’s project is remarkable in terms of the embassy’s size, not to mention his ambitious, and apparently successful, plan to use the mission to reorganize Buddhist monastic institutions at home. Indeed, Bago’s court would enjoy its greatest regional influence under Dhammazedi, who used the Kalyani lineage from Kotte to assert domestic control over the saṅgha, as monks ordained in earlier ordination lines lost seniority and control over Buddhist institutions and property (Figure 1.2).22

20

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal

Figure 1.2 “Restored Portions of the Pâli Stones of the Kalyâṇî Inscriptions of Dhammachêtî, 1476 A.D.,” from Indian Antiquary 22 (1893), plate 1 after p. 274.

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean

21

Dhammazedi’s venture would not have been possible without Bago’s already powerful role in Indian Ocean trade, and the contemporary links between lower Burma, the Indian peninsula, and Lanka. According to the Portuguese apothecary Tomé Pires, writing in the early 1510s from newly conquered Melaka, Bago and Ayutthaya controlled the Burma delta and northern Malay Peninsula, respectively. Melaka had meanwhile served as the key port of insular Southeast Asia and the entrepôt for trade moving between west India and China, with a significant proportion being in Muslim hands.23 Other evidence suggests that the northern division of power had already been in place during the last third of the fifteenth century, given that inscriptions from the isthmian port of Tenasserim suggest the influence of the Ayutthayan court there between 1462 and 1466, much as Bago had gradually consolidated control over the delta.24 While Melaka sourced its rice from Ayutthaya, Kotte and Bago were linked through a rice-based trading relationship of their own routed via the Coromandel Coast of India, once the domain of the Chola kings but now under the influence of the similarly Hindu rulers of Vijayanagara (1336–1646).25 The Kalyani Inscriptions show that rice-producing Bago operated with a robust sense of a regional Buddhist formation, conceiving of the Burma delta as historically linked to both the Indian subcontinent and Lanka. These inscriptions further compare King Dhammazedi to King Asoka and the Lankan King Parakramabahu I (r. 1153–1186), glorifying him as a ruler supportive of the sāsana and strong enough to control all the monks within his polity through a royally sponsored monastic “purification.”26 Such references suggest the Kalyani Inscriptions’ debt to the Lankan MahāvaṃsaCūlavaṃsa traditions, as well as other Buddhist histories more local to the Burma Delta. Moreover, the Kalyani Inscriptions explicitly claimed that Bago was part of Suvannabhumi—the “Land of Gold”—to which, according to the vaṃsas, Asokanera monks had carried Buddhist traditions and relics from Patna. The official royal account of Dhammazedi’s mission to Lanka thus contained a detailed account of Bago’s claimed past and present geographic connections to other Buddhist territories in the Indian Ocean sphere, and added value to Dhammazedi’s royal projects by linking them to celebrated precedents in Lanka and the Indian subcontinent alike. These cases from Polonnaruva, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, and Bago illustrate how the development of new Buddhist polities within the Indian Ocean region, as well as changes in the volume and routing of maritime (and linked riverine) trade, contributed to the emergence of a more densely networked Southern Asian Indian Ocean Buddhist formation prior to the advent of the Portuguese. Indeed, it would continue for some time thereafter, despite the increasing control exercised by the new European arrivals over the Lankan coasts, which they began to occupy from the mid-sixteenth century. For those participating within this formation, both Lankan and Indian sites still served as important points of authoritative reference. Yet Lanka, rather than the Indian subcontinent (where Buddhist institutions had lost ground to those supported by Brahmanic and Muslim patrons), was the primary focus for the movement of texts, monastics, and monastic practices. This is not surprising given the clear preference for the Pali scriptures compiled, composed, and transmitted by Lankan monastic centers and the attendant contraction of Indian Buddhist institutions. By the 1500s, however, Southern Asia faced new challenges related to growing European pressure.

22

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Early colonial pressure on the Indian Ocean Buddhist formation According to the Cūlavaṃsa (in chapters composed in the eighteenth century), sixteenth- and seventeenth-century upland kings near what is now Kandy continued to make use of the trans-regional Buddhist institution-building strategies. For example, King Vimaladharmasuriya I (r. 1592–1604) brought bhikkhus from Rakkhangha (Arakan) to establish a monastic lineage in highland Lanka when there were apparently no fully ordained monks on the island.27 Somewhat later, Vimaladharmasuriya II (r. 1684–1706) followed suit, bringing fully ordained monks from Arakan once more.28 These later efforts do not appear to have had lasting success, however, and we know little about the mechanisms through which they were attempted, although the Dutch (who had displaced the Portuguese coastal presence in the 1640s) seem to have supplied ships for the second embassy.29 According to the sources from the period, there were again no fully ordained monks within the highland Kandyan Kingdom by the 1730s. At least partly due to the pressure of one would-be monastic Buddhist faction there, the self-styled Silvat Samagama (Disciplined Community) of Valivita Saranamkara, the Kandyan King Sri Vijayarajasimha (r. 1739–1747) authorized an embassy to bring fully ordained monks from overseas.30 After his death, the returning mission was supported by his successor King Kirti Sri Rajasimha (r. 1747–1780). Such efforts in the Kandyan Kingdom, which boasted possession of one of the Buddha’s teeth, resulted in the establishment of a new monastic order paying service to its “Siamese” origins (the Siyam Nikaya) as mediated through a quorum of Buddhist monks brought from Ayutthaya.31 Such repeated attempts by Kandyan Buddhists to access the Buddhist trans-regional networks of the Indian Ocean during the eighteenth century reveal how the Dutch colonial presence, which had displaced the Portuguese, intersected with, and affected, the Buddhist formation. It is likely that royal support for importing new monastic lineages from abroad stemmed from many factors, including efforts to realign loyalties of leading Kandyan families with the court, royal interest in using the context of a new ordination lineage to redistribute land and resources within the realm, and perhaps even a wish to explore the littoral character of Dutch power by sending Kandyan emissaries on East India Company (VOC) vessels.32 It remains unclear, however, whether the overseas project of the mid-eighteenth century was intended to set the Kandyan kings apart from predecessor kingdoms on the island, or yet to project a distinguished and powerful image to the VOC and regional polities, much as the earlier sovereigns had so impressed the Dutch governors at Galle and Colombo in the sixteenth century.33 At any event, the successful establishment of the Siyam Nikaya in 1753 was a highly public royal act, and the Kandyan court was deeply involved in the development of a new monastic hierarchy, with grants of lands and titles to members of the new order.34 Such royal activities, as well as the ability of some local monks to benefit from the imported lineage at the expense of others, make the Kandyan case structurally similar to that of fifteenth-century Dhammazedi of Bago. However, as is clear, the Kandyan kings had much less control of the trans-regional communications infrastructure and transportation technology than had Dhammazedi 300 years earlier. Rather the

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean

23

Kandyan Kingdom was a highland realm, lacking ships and unfettered access to any ports. Indeed, at the time of Kandy’s overseas overtures, all seaborne goods and persons moved between the capital and the shoreline with either formal Dutch assent or via smugglers. The large-scale Buddhist embassy that the Kandyan court envisioned had even required Dutch agreement to convey the emissaries beyond the island. According to the eighteenth-century chapters of Cūlavaṃsa, composed by one of the Kandyan monks who attained a high position in the Siyam Nikaya, the court did not initially specify a particular location from which a new monastic lineage was to be imported. Indeed, Kandy had been open to contact with Bago, Arakan, or yet Siam, with all being equal possibilities by virtue of their orientation to Pali “scripture.”35 As Goonewardena has shown in considerable detail, the fact that the royal Kandyan embassy was ultimately sent to Ayutthaya owed as much to Batavia’s wish to use the mission as a point of access to this Tai court.36 The conjunction of royal Kandyan authority with VOC control of ports and shipping is a striking transitional episode in the history of the Indian Ocean Buddhist formation. Whereas royal and monastic hopes and strategies in Kandy still operated according to the principles developed in prior eras, by the eighteenth century, Lankan rulers could not access the sea routes of the Indian Ocean on a large and public scale, constrained as they were by a particularly expansive European colonial project. With the subsequent ascent of the British in Bengal in 1757 and then the advent of the Napoleonic Wars, in which the British acquired hegemony across the waters of the Bay of Bengal, Southern Buddhism would enter a new, yet more atomized, phase that empowered the laity as the last kings declined.

Absent kings During the course of the nineteenth century, the Dutch would be marginalized and the Indian Ocean Buddhist formation transformed by British colonial projects in the west and the French in the east. As we have seen, from the early years of the second millennium, kings in the Southern Asian Indian Ocean region, ruling in accordance with Buddhist political theory developed in Lanka, made strategic use of transregional networks. Monks sometimes utilized the same trans-regional networks more independently, in order to obtain new monastic lineages and texts, and to undertake devotionally meritorious pilgrimage. Beginning with the formal British takeover of the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815, Southern Asian Buddhist kingship suffered major setbacks. There was henceforth no royal patron of Buddhist institutions in Lanka. The royal house of Burma, too, came under threat through the Anglo-Burmese Wars that began in 1824, culminating in the removal of the last Burmese king from Mandalay in 1885. The French Protectorate of Cambodia meanwhile began in 1867 and, by the 1870s, greatly circumscribed the power of its royal family. Bangkok was thereafter the only capital to retain royal independence and clear control over its religious institutions.37 The impact of such changes on Lankan Buddhist institutions offers a valuable example from which to think about later colonial impacts in the wider Indian Ocean Buddhist sphere. Lanka’s loss of a royal house created both problems and opportunities

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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal

for local Buddhists. Ousting the Kandyan King removed the apex of a decision-making and patronage system that had governed dominant institutions in the island. This was good news in a sense for some on the island who had been restricted by caste status from achieving full ordination in the royally supported Siyam Nikaya. Lay believers and men seeking fully ordained status as bhikkhus made good use of the changing political conditions, traveling to leading monasteries in both Upper and Lower Burma, and returning with ordination lineages that became known as the Amarapura and Ramanna Nikayas.38 These trans-regional undertakings signalled a new moment in the Indian Ocean Buddhist formation. Independent monastic (and would-be monastic) groups could now use the linked maritime and riverine routes of Indian Ocean Buddhism to establish new institutions, and to communicate through smaller-scale embassies with their counterparts elsewhere.39 Despite the smaller size of such missions and the absence of a royal patron, these undertakings typically had ambitious goals. Early nineteenth-century embassies sought to ordain their participants within Burmese monastic lineages, exporting those lineages to Lanka. Later ones called upon Burma’s leading monks to resolve proliferating monastic disputes by handing down official rulings from across the Bay of Bengal.40 It is clear from such undertakings, and from Burmese responses to them, that all participants understood themselves as part of the same religio-cultural formation imbued with a deep history. Nineteenth-century monastic correspondence attests to earlier histories of monastic movement and textual exchange, sometimes teasing out the precise relationships among monastic fraternities within the wider region.41 One high-ranking Burmese monk, drawing on a Burmese compilation from the 1830s, even composed a new Pali-language Buddhist history in 1861, the Sāsanavaṃsa, apparently in response to Lankan monastic investigation of a regional Buddhist history.42 For members of the Lankan saṅgha (once synonymous with the Siyam Nikaya) the loss of local kingship was perceived as deeply threatening and destabilizing. From at least as early as the 1850s, and continuing into the late 1890s, members of the Siyam Nikaya—occasionally in concert with members of other fraternities—manifested a resilient royalism, reaching out toward the kings of Burma and Siam in the hope that a foreign king might offer financial and symbolic support, or yet adjudicate local monastic disputes.43 Monastic institutional regulatory mechanisms on the island still largely presumed a Buddhist king as the force of order, and monks had not yet fully adapted to the system of British courts. This helps to explain why monastic leaders of all three major Buddhist fraternities on the island were prepared to support the proposal of Jinavaravamsa (Prince Prisdang, 1851–1935), a former Siamese diplomat ordained within the Lankan Amarapura Nikaya, who in 1897 called for the “ecclesiastical sovereignty” over all Lankan Buddhists, as well as those in Burma and Siam, to be vested in the last remaining independent monarch of the Indian Ocean Buddhist world, Chulalongkorn of Bangkok (Rama V, r. 1868–1910).44 Such diverse uses of Buddhist networks highlight the complexity of changes in the Indian Ocean Buddhist formation at this time. The nineteenth century was an era of proliferating and competing monastic projects in the region, especially in Burma and Lanka, where weak or absent kings could no longer check the saṅgha’s tendency

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean

25

toward internal competition and institutional fragmentation. New transportation and communications technologies increased the speed and ease with which rival organizers could leverage trans-regional support in the form of funds, distant royal patronage, ordination rituals, and legal opinions. During the course of the century, the room for monastic movement within the Indian Ocean sphere separate from royally supported embassies expanded and the relationship between monastic institutions and political order became more fluid in parts of the region where local kingship did not survive.45

Changing Buddhist royal technologies Under pressure from Western colonial projects, royal patrons were obliged to engage with Indian Ocean Buddhist networks in new ways. As this chapter has shown, between the eleventh and nineteenth centuries, rulers within the Indian Ocean Buddhist sphere had made good use of trans-regional links as part of their technologies of rule. Claims to connection with the ancient Buddhist sites and communities of the Indian subcontinent and Lanka added lusture to local rulers and polities with their regal and Buddhist landscapes. The political ecology of the Indian Ocean Buddhist sphere had changed dramatically by the later nineteenth century, however. At Bangkok, King Chulalongkorn navigated the conjunction of French and British pressures, making strategic concessions over territories recently declared Siamese, while attempting to centralize sovereignty over the kingdom.46 His administration used monastic institutions to increase the reach of Bangkok’s authority in areas of the (rival) Tai and Lao north and northeast. However, there was no longer any need for Bangkok to acquire trans-regional Buddhist networks to locate a new monastic lineage to implement such projects since such a lineage had already been introduced earlier in the century and prospered. By the late eighteenth century, this lineage, the Thammayut Nikai, was integrated with the highest levels of royal power and available as an institutional mechanism through which to regulate provincial lands and authority.47 The centralizing royalist potential of the Thammayut Nikai was also recognized in Cambodia, being introduced from Bangkok to its disputed vassal Phnom Penh in the 1850s or 1860s.48 However, it was soon diverted by increasing French control so that, by the 1870s, King Norodom (r. 1860–1904) no longer possessed authority over land, labor, or yet agricultural revenue. In Burma, meanwhile, land controlled by the royal house at Mandalay shrank steadily through the Anglo-Burmese Wars of the nineteenth century, culminating in the 1885 exile of King Thibaw (r. 1878–1885). Conquered absolutely, Lanka and Burma were hardly attractive sources of political revival. Royal leaders no longer approached either as the source of monastic ordination lineages to be used within their local projects. Even so, Lanka retained a central place in the conceptual geography of the Indian Ocean Buddhist formation. Monarchs and other high-ranking royal Buddhists from various locations within the region still made visits (often repeated visits) to the major pilgrimage sites, and especially to the Tooth Relic housed in Kandy.

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High-level foreign pilgrimage to Lankan relic sites had a long history in the Indian Ocean sphere, as stories like Si Sattha’s as well as earlier pilgrim reports attest. Royally sponsored embassies, such as those from Bago and Chiang Mai discussed above, included pilgrimage to Lankan sites, where gifts from foreign royal patrons were offered to the Bodhi Tree, the Buddha Footprint, and the Tooth Relic. In the nineteenth century, it was natural for reigning or exiled Buddhist leaders to make devotional offerings to such relic sites, seeking merit-making and the physical and mental protection provided by ritual potency, in order to safeguard precarious futures. High-ranking embassies from the courts of Burma and Cambodia, for instance, had occurred in tandem with increasing British and French pressure on those realms.49 In addition, the new era of the telegraph and printed newspaper expanded the audience for whom Buddhist monarchs, or erstwhile monarchs, could enact publicly their royal position through Lankan pilgrimages made with pomp and circumstance. Space for Buddhist kingship may have been shrinking, but royal patrons of Buddhism (whether as rulers or as members of displaced courts) could still publicly affirm royal Buddhist traditions, status, and wealth through pilgrimage to Lanka. They sometimes also visited or financially supported ancient Buddhist sites on the Indian subcontinent, such as Bodh Gaya, and sought access to the relics and objects being unearthed by the Archaeological Survey of India. These were appreciated by Orientalists as evidence of India’s “classical” past even as they looked askance at living Buddhist traditions.50

Resolute localism among lay Buddhists in the Indian Ocean51 From the late nineteenth century, non-monastic Buddhists from different parts of the Indian Ocean Buddhist sphere interacted in Singapore as it became an increasingly important location within the British Empire. The religious activities of this diverse array of non-monastic Buddhists have received remarkably little attention. Much remains to be learned about how short-term and long-term migrants from Southern Asian Buddhist locations, as well as points further east, interacted with one another.52 Focusing on Lankan Buddhists in Singapore, and their engagement with Siamese, Burmese, and Chinese coreligionists reveals further aspects of the Indian Ocean Buddhist formation in the late colonial era. Lay Buddhists operated with considerable independence at first, since monastic institutions only emerged several decades after the first arrivals. Migrant port cities like Singapore thus experienced even more dramatically the wider regional trend toward new forms of association and leadership.53 The relatively small Buddhist populations of Singapore stimulated unprecedented forms of association and collaboration across boundaries of local language, culture, and ritual aesthetics. However, as we shall see, such collaborations were short-lived and a “resolute localism” rather than a homogenization of Indian Ocean Buddhism would characterize Singapore by the 1930s.54 This was abetted by the trend toward ethnic and national identification and separation that occurred in the later years of British colonial administration. In contrast to British Burma and Ceylon, colonies in which Buddhists were the religious and cultural majority, Sinhalese, Siamese, and Burmese Buddhists lived as

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean

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minorities in Singapore vis-à-vis practitioners of Chinese traditions, not to mention Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. As spaces for Buddhist ritual conducted according to the styles of the Pali-language formation developed, non-monastic Buddhists took the lead, collaborating to access rituals and sermons. For instance, the Shuang Lin Temple (and monastery) was founded in 1898 due to the cooperation of B.P. de Silva, a successful Lankan jeweller in the city (and later in Penang), and business leaders within Singapore’s Fujianese population, as well as Siamese and Burmese Buddhists residing in the city.55 However, it seems that De Silva and others soon found the practice of Buddhism at the Shuang Lin Temple unsatisfactory. In 1912, he would join a petition to Bangkok requesting that a royally sponsored temple be established in Singapore, linked to plans for a Buddhist cemetery.56 In subsequent decades, Lankan, Burmese, and Siamese Buddhists shared several spaces in the city distinct from those of the Chinese. Burmese took the lead with the establishment of a temple in Kinta Road in the early 1900s. Lankans developed their own in a house on Spottiswoode Road the following decade. Neither site had resident bhikkus, though, making both dependent on monks passing through Singapore. The 1922 arrival and ongoing residence of the Venerable Luang Phor Hong Dhammaratano, a former Bangkok resident of Khmer ancestry, was therefore an important addition to the local Buddhist milieu. Dhammaratano had spent seven years in Ceylon “on pilgrimage,” learned Sinhala language, and was proficient in Mandarin.57 Within three years, in 1925, the Wat Ananda Metyarama monastery was founded for his use, with support from Buddhists in Bangkok and Singapore alike. According to the Venerable Mahaweera (1913–2002), another Lankan monk who arrived from Malaya in 1934, some Singapore Lankans attended rituals at Wat Ananda during the 1920s too. Indeed, Wat Ananda was located close to Spottiswoode Park and Outram Park, both core residential areas for the city’s Lankan residents, and thus it was the preferred site for Lankan Buddhist funerals.58 Another space shared by Lankan, Siamese, and Burmese Buddhists in Singapore was the Tiger Sakyamuni Bodh Gaya temple, established not far from Kinta Road in 1927 by the Siamese monk Venerable Vutthisara, and subsequently supported by the Sino-Burmese Aw brothers associated with the Tiger Balm commercial empire.59 Despite the availability of Pali-language rituals at Kinta Road, Wat Ananda, and, ultimately, the Tiger Sakyamuni Temple, some Singaporean Lankans were determined to create a separate space for Sinhalese Buddhist devotees and monks in the city.60 In the early 1920s, they had founded the Singapore Buddhist Association, working from Spottiswoode Park Road, as well as the Sinhalese Association Hall.61 Similarly, the Aryan Sinhalese Fraternal Association had already begun its activities in 1913 or 1914, and helped to campaign for the official registration of Buddhist marriages and the establishment of a cremation ground. While such campaigns stood to benefit Siamese and Burmese Buddhists, the terms in which the Lankans organized are striking. The very nomenclature of the “Aryan Sinhalese Fraternal Association” bore the marks of sharper ethnic identification and separation that had begun to characterize Lankans at home and abroad, and which is the subject of Wickramasinghe’s chapter in this volume.62 By 1923, it appears to have been replaced by the more neutrally phrased Singapore Sinhalese Association.63 The

28

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rise of such ethnically marked “Sinhalese” associations also coincided with sharper differentiation in the public sphere. By 1924, what had earlier been referred to as “Buddhist New Year” (held in April at the time of new year holiday observed by both Tamils and Sinhalese), became the “National Day” of the “Sinhalese of Singapore.”64 Two years later, ethnic differentiation was even more sharply marked during the April holidays: “Sinhalese National Day” and the “all Ceylon, Tamils’ Day” were both held on April 13, and at separate locations.65 The strongest trend among Pali-language using Buddhists in Singapore during the 1920s and 1930s was a proliferation of Buddhist sites. It is not surprising that Siamese, Burmese, and Lankan Buddhist spaces developed more independently once devotees gained adequate capital and access to land. In past centuries, Buddhist trans-regional networks had not produced a homogenous ritual aesthetic or effaced local linguistic and cultural difference. Although Buddhists shared the ritual-liturgical use of Pali language, a devotional interest in Lankan sites of pilgrimage, and an inclination to import Buddhist monastic lines across the borders of their respective polities, they had always used trans-regional networks for local projects. Despite the closer integration of Indian Ocean Buddhists during the second millennium, then, Buddhists from each location had developed and preserved strong differences in temple aesthetics, ritual styles, vernacular preaching, textual compositions, and even the cadence and pronunciation of Pali ritual formulae. To such long-existing distinctions were added powerful new terms for the expression of difference in the early decades of the twentieth century, as Buddhists from French and British imperial space increasingly thought of themselves in the new terms of “nation,” “culture,” and “ethnicity.”66

Notes 1

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3

4

For the remainder of this essay I shall maintain Pali- rather than Sanskrit-derived orthography. Hence Gotama, rather than Gautama, and Asoka, not Ashoka. A notable exception will be the spelling of the Chola dynasty, to maintain continuity with other chapters in this volume. Furthermore, only italicized terms will maintain full diacritical notation unless they are freestanding toponyms. R.A.L.H. Gunawardana, “The World of Theravāda Buddhism in History,” in Dhamma-Vinaya, eds. Asanga Tilakaratne et al. (Colombo: Sri Lanka Association for Buddhist Studies, 2005); Todd LeRoy Perreira, “Whence Theravāda? The Modern Genealogy of an Ancient Term,” in How Theravāda is Theravāda?: Exploring Buddhist Identities, eds. Peter Skilling, Jason A. Carbine, Claudio Cicuzza, and Santi Pakdeeham (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Publications, 2012). Anne M. Blackburn, Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2010); and “Lineage, Inheritance, and Belonging: Expressions of Monastic Affiliation from Laṅkā,” in Skilling, How Theravāda. Given the mobile persons discussed in this chapter understood themselves to function within a broad trans-regional geography, I prefer the term “Southern Asia” to refer to the space encompassing Lanka, the southern Indian mainland, and locations typically referred to as falling within Southeast Asia.

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See Donald K. Swearer and Sommai Premchit, “A Translation of Tamnān Mūlasāsanā Wat Pā Daeng: The Chronicle of the Founding of Buddhism of the Wat Pā Daeng Tradition,” Journal of the Siam Society 65, no. 2 (1977): 73–110; Donald K. Swearer and Sommai Premchit, “The Relationship between the Religious and Political Orders in Northern Thailand (14th–16th Centuries),” in Religion and the Legitimation of Power in Thailand, Laos, and Burma, ed. Bardwell L. Smith (Chambersburg: Anima Books, 1978); Kanai Lal Hazra, History of Theravada Buddhism in South-East Asia (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1981). Prapod Assavavirulhakorn, The Ascendancy of Theravāda Buddhism in Southeast Asia (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Publications, 2010); Peter Skilling, “The Place of South-east Asia in Buddhist Studies,” Buddhist Studies (Bukkyō Kenkyū) 30, no. 1 (2001): 1–17; John Guy, Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014). Osmund Bopearachchi, “Seafaring in the Indian Ocean: Archaeological Evidence from Sri Lanka,” in Tradition and Archaeology: Early Maritime Contacts in the Indian Ocean, eds. H.P. Ray and J.F. Salles (Delhi: Manohar Publications, 1966); Senake Bandaranayake et al., Sri Lanka and the Silk Road of the Sea (Colombo: Sri Lanka National Committee for UNESCO and Central Cultural Fund, 1990), 61–84; Himanshu Prabha Ray, The Winds of Change: Buddhism and the Maritime Links of Early South Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994). Here “scriptures” and “scriptural” are terms used for brevity, referring to the authoritative Pali texts of the tipiṭaka (“canon”) and their commentaries. See Wilhelm Geiger, trans. and ed., The Mahāvaṃsa (Colombo: Ceylon Government Information Department, 1950); and Cūlavaṃsa: Being the More Recent Part of the Mahāvaṃsa, 2 vols (London: Milford, 1925–27). The main arguments of this section were first published in my “Buddhist Connections in the Indian Ocean: Changes in Monastic Mobility 1000–1500,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 58, no. 3 (2015): 237–66. Ramanna here refers to the southern maritime region of what is now Burma, since the same Cūlavaṃsa author refers to the port of Kusumi (Pathein) and Ukkama (Mottama) as lying within its territories. See Geiger, Cūlavaṃsa, ch. 76: lines 59–67; and S. Paranavitana, “Devanagala Rock-Inscription of Parākramabāhu I,” Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon 3, no. 34 (1933): 312–25, esp. 319–20, 325. On Chola influence, see Charles Hallisey, “Devotion in the Buddhist Literature of Medieval Sri Lanka” (PhD Diss., University of Chicago, 1988); H.C. Ray, ed., History of Ceylon, 3 vols. (Colombo: University of Ceylon, 1960), I, 344–51. Cūlavaṃsa, ch. 58: lines 8–10. Haraprasad Ray, “Trade between South India and China, 1368–1644”; and Hermann Kulke, “Rivalry and Competition in the Bay of Bengal in the Eleventh Century and Its Bearing on Indian Ocean Studies,” both in Commerce and Culture in the Bay of Bengal, 1500–1800, eds. Om Prakash and Denys Lombard (Delhi: Manohar, 1999). Meera Abraham, Two Medieval Merchant Guilds of South India (New Delhi: Manohar, 1988); E. Edwards McKinnon, “Continuity and Change in South Indian Involvement in Northern Sumatra: The Inferences of Archaeological Evidence from Kota Cina and Lamreh,” in Early Interactions between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange, eds. Pierre-Yves Manguin, A. Mani, and Geoff Wade (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011).

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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Martha Prickett-Fernando, “Durable Goods: The Archaeological Evidence of Sri Lanka’s Role in the Indian Ocean Trade,” in Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka and the Silk Road of the Sea; Kanazawa Yoh, “Chinese Trade Ceramics Discovered in Sri Lanka,” in In Search of Chinese Ceramic-Sherds in South India and Sri Lanka, ed. Karashima Noboru (Tokyo: Taisho University Press, 2004); Karashima Noboru, “Medieval Commercial Activities in the Indian Ocean,” in Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia, eds. Hermann Kulke, K. Kesavapany, and Vijay Sakhuja (Singapore: ISEAS, 2009). Blackburn, “Buddhist Connections in the Indian Ocean,” 244. A.B. Griswold and Prasert ṇa Nagara, Epigraphical and Historical Studies (Bangkok: Historical Society, 1992), 448–65. See also Georges Coèdes (trans. and ed.), Recueil des inscriptions du Siam, I (Bangkok: National Library of Thailand, 2007 [1924]), 84–90; Anne M. Blackburn, “Writing Histories from Landscape and Architecture: Sukhothai and Chiang Mai,” Buddhist Studies Review 24, no. 2 (2007): 192–225. By the 1460s, Ayutthaya is said to have “dominated the affairs of the upper Malay Peninsula,” annexing Tenasserim (1460s) and Dawai (1488). See Kenneth R. Hall, A History of Early Southeast Asia: Maritime Trade and Societal Development, 100–1500 (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2011). Swearer and Premchit, “Relationship between the Religious and Political Orders”; and Anne M. Blackburn, “Sīhaḷa Saṅgha and Laṅkā in Later Premodern Southeast Asia,” in Buddhist Dynamics in Premodern and Early Modern Southeast Asia, ed. D. Christian Lammerts (Singapore: ISEAS, 2015). The manuscripts used to prepare the existing print edition of the Kalyani Inscriptions are later and of uncertain date. See R.C. Temple, “A Preliminary Study of the Kalyani Inscriptions: Postscript,” Indian Antiquary 22 (1893): 274–75. No mention of Dhammazedi’s embassy has been found in the literary and inscriptional records of Lanka. Nonetheless, details about Lankan geography, monastic leadership, and the court at Kotte agree with other literary sources from the period. See P.B. Sannasgala, Siṃhala Sahitya Vaṃśaya (Colombo: Lake House, 1964); H.B.M. Ilangasinha, Buddhism in Medieval Sri Lanka (Delhi: Sri Satguru, 1992). See Michael Aung-Thwin, The Mists of Ramañña: The Legend That Was Lower Burma (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005), 311. Armando Cortesão (trans. and ed.), The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires: An Account of the East; From the Red Sea to Japan, Written in Malacca and India in 1512–1515 (London: Hakluyt, 1944), 97–105. See also: Henry E.J. Stanley, A Description of the Coasts of East Africa and Malabar in the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century, by Duarte Barbosa, a Portuguese (London: Haklyut, 1866), 188. Michael Vickery, “The Khmer Inscriptions of Tenasserim: A Reinterpretation,” Journal of the Siam Society 61, no. 1 (1973): 51–70; Georges Coedès, “Documents épigraphiques provenant de Tenasserim,” in Felicitation Volumes of South-East Asian Studies Presented to His Highness Prince Dhaninivat Kromamun Bidyalabh Bridhyakorn, ed. Prince Dhaninivat Sonakul et al. (Bangkok: Siam Society, 1965), 203–9. For the rise of Bago, see Jon Fernquest, “Crucible of War: Burma and the Ming in the Tai Frontier Zone (1382–1454),” SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research 4, no. 2 (2006): 27–81, at 50–51; and “The Ecology of Burman-Mon Warfare and the Premodern Agrarian State (1383–1425),” SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research 6, nos 1–2 (2008): 70–118, at 85–93. Cortesão, Suma Oriental, 84–86, 97–98. Pires’ depiction is supported by the Kalyani Inscriptions, which report that travel to Bago was made possible via Nagapattanam and other outlets on the southeastern Indian coast. See Taw Sein Ko (trans. and ed.),

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean

26 27 28 29

30 31

32

33

34

35 36 37

38

39

40 41 42

31

“A Preliminary Study of the Kalyani Inscriptions of Dhammacheti, 1476 A.D.,” Indian Antiquary 22 (1893): 11–17, 29–53, 85–89, 150–59, 206–13, 236–43; esp. 45. Ko, “A Preliminary Study of the Kalyani Inscriptions of Dhammacheti, 1476 A.D.,” 38–39, 159, 207. Cūlavaṃsa, ch. 94: lines 15–21. Ibid., ch. 97: lines 8–15. K.W. Goonewardena, “Ayutthia in the Twilight Years and its Triangular Relations with the V.O.C. and Sri Lanka,” Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities 6, no. 1 (1980): 1–47. Cūlavaṃsa, ch. 98: lines 87–93. Lorna Dewaraja, The Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Lanka, 1707–1782 (Colombo: Lake House, 1976); Anne M. Blackburn, Buddhist Learning and Textual Practice in Eighteenth-Century Lankan Monastic Culture (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001); Oscar von Hinüber, “Remarks on a List of Books Sent to Ceylon from Siam in the 18th Century,” Journal of the Pali Text Society 12 (1988): 175–83. Dewaraja, The Kandyan Kingdom; Blackburn, Buddhist Learning; S. Arasaratnam, Ceylon and the Dutch (Aldershot: Variorum, 1996); Goonewardena, “Ayutthia in the Twilight Years.” Kandy appears as an extremely powerful entity in the richly illustrated compilation of Philippus Baldaeus (1632–71). See his Naauwkeurige beschryvinge van Malabar en Choromandel, der zelver aangrenzende ryken, en het machtige eyland Ceylon… Nevens een omstandige en grondigh doorzochte ontdekking en wederlegginge van de afgoderye der Oost-Indische heydenen (Amsterdam: Van Waesberge en Van Someren, 1672). On Baldaeus’s sources, see Carolien Stolte, “Onbekend en Onbemind: Over de ‘anonimiteit’ van lokale medewerkers in zeventiende-eeuws India,” in Aan de Overkant: Ontmoetingen in Dienst van de VOC en WIC (1600–1800), ed. Lodewijk Wagenaar (Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2015), 217–36. That leading monks of the new order subsequently turned against the Kandyan King in an assassination attempt is an intriguing twist still not fully understood. See Dewaraja, The Kandyan Kingdom; Blackburn, Buddhist Learning. Cūlavaṃsa, ch. 98: lines 88–93. Goonewardena, “Ayutthia in the Twilight Years.” Chandra Richard de Silva, Sri Lanka: A History, 2nd edn. (Delhi: Vikas, 1997); David Chandler, A History of Cambodia, 4th edn. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2008); Alicia Marie Turner, Saving Buddhism: The Impermanence of Religion in Colonial Burma (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2014); David K. Wyatt, Thailand: A Short History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004). Michael Roberts, Caste Conflict and Elite Formation: The Rise of a Karāva Elite in Sri Lanka, 1500–1931 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982); Kitsiri Malalgoda, Buddhism in Sinhalese Society, 1750–1900: A Study of Religious Revival and Change (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1976). Burmese monks also seem to have profitted as royal power contracted. See Alexey Kirichenko, “New Spaces for Interaction: Contacts between Burmese and Sinhalese Monks in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Unpublished Paper. See further Malalgoda, Buddhism in Sinhalese Society; Roberts, Caste Conflict and Elite Formation; and Blackburn, Locations of Buddhism. Blackburn, Locations of Buddhism, ch. 5. Victor Lieberman, “A New Look at the Sāsanavaṃsa,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 39, no. 1 (1976): 137–49.

32 43 44 45

46 47

48 49 50

51

52

53

54 55 56

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal For further details, see Blackburn, Locations of Buddhism, ch. 5. On Prisdang, see Tamara Lynn Loos, Bones Around My Neck: The Life and Exile of a Prince Provocateur (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2016). An examination of Buddhists’ relationships to colonial political order and institutions is beyond the scope of this chapter but see, for instance, Juliane Schober, Modern Buddhist Conjunctures in Myanmar: Cultural Narratives, Colonial Legacies, and Civil Society (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011); Alicia Marie Turner, Saving Buddhism; Eric Braun, The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013); Tamara Lynn Loos, Subject Siam: Family, Law, and Colonial Modernity in Thailand (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006); and Anne R. Hansen, How to Behave: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia, 1860–1930 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007). See Thongchai Winichakul, Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1997). Wachirayānawarōrot, Autobiography: The Life of Prince-Patriarch Vajirañāṇa of Siam, 1860–1921, trans. Craig R. Reynolds (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1979); Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah, World Conqueror, World Renouncer: A Study of Buddhism and Polity in Thailand Against a Historical Background (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976). Hansen, How to Behave, ch. 3. See further: Blackburn, Locations of Buddhism, ch. 5. Alan Trevithick, The Revival of Buddhist Pilgrimage at Bodh Gaya (1811–1949): Anagarika Dharmapala and the Mahabodhi Temple (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006); Steven Kemper, Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015). This section draws substantially on my “Ceylonese Buddhism in Singapore: New Ritual Spaces and Specialists, 1895–1935,” Asia Research Institute Working Papers Series No. 184 (Singapore: Asia Research Institute, 2012). Vivienne Wee, “A Preliminary Account of ‘Buddhism’ in Singapore,” in Singapore: Society in Transition, ed. Riaz Hassan (Kuala Lumpur : Oxford University Press, 1976); Buddhist Trends in Singapore, ed. Trevor Ling (Singapore: ISEAS, 1993); Jack Meng-Tat Chia, “Buddhism in Singapore: A State of the Field Review,” Asian Culture 33 ( June 2009): 81–93; Hue Guan Thye, “Buddhism in Singapore: Propagation, Evolution and Practice,” [In Mandarin.] (M.A. Thesis, Centre for Chinese Language and Culture, Nanyang Technological University, 2010); Kenneth Dean, “Whose Orders? The Chinese Popular God Temple Networks in Southeast Asia and the Rise of Chinese Buddhist Mahāyāna Monasteries,” in Buddhist and Islamic Networks in Southern Asia: Comparative Perspectives, Anne M. Blackburn and R. Michael Feener (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, forthcoming). George Doherty Bond, The Buddhist Revival in Sri Lanka: Religious Tradition, Reinterpretation, and Response (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988); Kemper, Rescued From the Nation; Blackburn, Locations of Buddhism. This term is adapted from Engseng Ho, The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility Across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley : University of California Press, 2006), 63. See sources cited in Blackburn, “Ceylonese Buddhism,” 6–8. ST, December 12, 1912. For more on the petition, see Blackburn, “Ceylonese Buddhism,” 9–10.

Buddhist Networks across the Indian Ocean 57

58 59 60

61

62

63 64 65

66

33

Personal communication with Venerable Chao Kun Phra Tepsiddhivides, August 3, 2010. I am grateful to the late Pattana Kittiarsa for facilitating this visit and for translation assistance. 80th Birthday of Ven. Chao Khun Phra Tepsiddhivides (Singapore: Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple, 2009). Venerable Mahaweera Oral History, National Archives, Singapore, B000381/34, Reel 20. Y.D. Ong, Buddhism in Singapore: A Short Narrative History (Singapore: Skylark Publications, 2005), 57–58. Lankan monks would stay in Singapore en route to Siam for one to three months, offering opportunities for merit-making and preaching. On other occasions, a wealthy Singaporean Buddhist might invite such a monk for Vassa (“the rains retreat”), a period of intense study. Venerable Mahaweera Oral History, National Archives, Singapore, B000381/34, Reel 20. Nirmali Manukularatne, “The Sinhalese in Singapore: Facets of Change and Continuity in Ethnicity” (B.Sc. Honours Thesis, National University of Singapore, 1992–93), 53. See also ST and Malaya Tribune, May 4, 1928. In its wider usage among Lankans at this time, “Aryan Sinhalese” claimed an association with the northern Indian subcontinent against what they understood to be a distinctive “Dravidian” and Tamil south. K.N.O. Dharmadasa, Language, Religion, and Ethnic Assertiveness: The Growth of Sinhalese Nationalism in Sri Lanka (Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1992). All of the office bearers for Singapore Sinhalese Association in 1928 and 1930 bore Lankan names (Malaya Tribune, October 25, 1928, ST, March 12, 1930). Malaya Tribune, April 12, 1924. Ibid., April 12 and 16, 1926. Some Anglophones did collaborate. The International Buddhist Union was established in Singapore in 1929 for local English-educated Buddhists with its membership taking in Lankan and Singaporean Chinese Buddhists who were interested in Pali-language texts which were considered attractively “reformist” and preferable to “superstitious” forms of Chinese religion. See further: Blackburn, “Ceylonese Buddhism,” 18. See, for instance, Turner, Saving Buddhism; Schober, Modern Buddhist Conjunctures; Loos, Subject Siam; Thongchai, Siam Mapped; Penny Edwards, Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation, 1860–1945 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007); Jonathan Spencer (ed.), Sri Lanka: History and the Roots of Conflict (London: Routledge, 1990).

2

Borobudur in the Light of Asia: Scholars, Pilgrims, and Knowledge Networks of Greater India Marieke Bloembergen KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies)

Underneath the diversity of the civilizations in Farther India, underneath their apparent uniqueness … lies the imprint of the Indian genius. —Georges Coedès1

Having spent decades in Southeast Asia, India was palpable to the great French Indologist and epigrapher Georges Coedès (1886–1969), director of the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) until 1946, and author of the widely celebrated Indianized States of Southeast Asia, first published at Hanoi in 1944. Yet India had never been far away for members of the previous generation of Dutch Indologists living in Java either, or, for that matter, for the members of the Theosophical Society. This spiritual movement, established in New York in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky (1831– 91) and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907), and boasting Indian headquarters at Adyar from 1883, had gained its own peculiar forms in the Dutch East Indies, growing rapidly after 1900.2 In 1908, an event of vital importance took place for its Indies members, symbolizing the beginning of a new age and promising progress through spiritual development. On April 18 of that year, a mixed group of about seventy Theosophists—including Dutch- and Indies-born Europeans, Javanese of the elite priyayi social class, and wellto-do Chinese—ascended the terraces of the world’s largest Buddhist stupa, that of the Borobudur in Central Java. At that time, this eighth-century site was undergoing its first major government-supported restoration directed by the military engineer Theodor van Erp (1874–1958).3 Walking along its galleries, the visitors marveled at the reliefs depicting the lives of the Buddha. Their guide for the occasion consisted of the works of French and Dutch scholars, as well as Edwin Arnold’s (1832–1904) epic on the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha, The Light of Asia, which had popularized Buddhism in Europe following its publication in 1879.4 Still on sacred ground, the party then visited Van Erp’s exhibition of photographs, taken during his residence there over the previous year. By the light of the full moon, some of the Theosophists

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returned to the monument to feel its spirit more fully. There, an unnamed Javanese “brother” confessed to the general secretary of the Indies’ Theosophical Society, Dirk van Hinloopen Labberton (1864–1971), that Borobodur was “a symbol of the Divine: here in the upper stupa is His seat … the building itself is His universe.” Van Hinloopen Labberton, believing himself more knowledgeable by virtue of his studies and post at Batavia’s prestigious Willem III Gymnasium, condescended to agree that “this untrained man had got it right.”5 The meeting at Borobudur was the summit of the first congress of the Theosophical Society of the Dutch East Indies. Held in the pavilion (pendopo) of the Javanese nobleman Raden Toemenggoeng Sosronegoro in the nearby town of Yogyakarta, it brought the various local lodges together for the first time. While most lodges had European chairmen, the one in Yogyakarta was an exception as another nobleman, R. M. Toemenggoeng Djajen Irawan, headed it. The location of the congress, in addition to the statues and images of various religions supplied by the Chinese, Javanese, and Dutch members, suggested that this was an all-inclusive meeting.6 Indeed, the images were intended to symbolize the Society’s belief in the fundamental unity of all religions. Borobudur was visibly present at the congress too: in drawings decorating the pendopo, and on the official souvenir of the congress. But the trip to Borobudur— via the eighth-century Buddhist temple of Candi Mendut—was the icing on the cake. For, here, to quote one attendee, D. L. N. Vink, a lieutenant in the Dutch East Indies’ colonial army, “East and West connected and understood each other.”7 It is evident that historical sites played an important role in the Theosophical Society’s activities and engagement which fused the worlds of East and West: whether as symbolic paraphernalia of Theosophical ideas, as objects of new devotion and pilgrimage, or as settings for religious, societal, and moral rituals. The 1908 event moreover reveals how government-backed heritage politics and scholarly knowledge production were equally relevant in a specific instance of political resacralization. It also shows how sites like Borobudur connected global scholarly and religious knowledge networks that developed new moral knowledge, and how these helped shape new notions of belonging to an idealized world far beyond the Dutch colonial state.8 In 1908, Van Hinloopen Labberton, who knew his Blavatsky, appreciated Borobudur as a product of an Indian spirit with Indians as the “Fifth” Aryan race as the teachers of the Javanese. To him the meeting of the “Brotherhood of East and West” at this sacred site was a promise for the Society’s role in the mental and spiritual (geestelijke) development of “the Javanese race” in the future.9 Equally when, in 1927, the Bengali poet and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) visited Java and Borobudur, he too claimed to “recognize” India. Tagore’s visit formed part of a southeastern itinerary that included Singapore and Bali, which he described as “a pilgrimage to India beyond its modern political boundaries” and on which he hoped to find “what could be seen of the remains of ancient Indian culture.”10 Like Van Hinloopen Labberton before him, Tagore saw a lesson for the world, naming Borobudur “a sculptured hymn” that offered “peace” and “sacred silence” so needful to modern men in these hasty times of soulless materialism and war.11 Moreover, Tagore remarked that his guides on that occasion, Pieter Vincent van Stein Callenfels (1883–1938) and the South Africa-born Frederik David Kan Bosch (1867–1957)— respectively, the Adjunct-Head and Head of the Dutch East-Indies’ Archaeological

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37

Service—had “dedicated their lives to make the dumb figures speak” and that his listeners “must accept them as our Gurus, if we would understand India in its completeness.”12 What Van Hinloopen Labberton and Tagore shared was an idea that the monument symbolized a larger, better world, with Borobudur located in a geographical imagination stretching from India to Java, unified by a Hindu-Buddhist civilization. This was the superior moral geography of Greater India. Such ways of looking at a site and a region are not unique. Interventions at Borobudur (and other Hindu-Buddhist sites in Southern Asia), whether performed by scholars, pilgrims, or cultural diplomats, show a long continuity in such thinking, thinking that would be most clearly embodied by the Greater India Society, founded at Calcutta in 1926. As Susan Bayly has argued, this society of Bengali intellectuals, influenced by the diffusionist works of French Indologists, ostensibly celebrated a benign Indian civilization having once flowed over Asia, and called for its study and revival in the present. Yet this had all evolved out of increasingly nationalistic motives.13 At first sight, the various identifications with the region “as one” seem inclusive, given they emphasize selflessness and cross national borders. Yet if Van Hinloopen Labberton and Tagore understood Borobudur in the light of ancient India, they were most decidedly not in India. Moreover, the kind of civilization and spirituality they characterized as Indian did not necessarily mean much in the daily life of the predominantly Muslim population in the Indies. As a consequence, I refer to such ways of looking at a region as moral geographies: entailing the projection of moral ideas onto an object and a region as being quintessential without any reference to the perceptions of those inhabiting the once-sacred spaces.14 In what follows I will discuss some case studies of Greater Indian thinking followed by counter-reactions which reconnected the predominantly Muslim Indies with India. The first three decades of the twentieth century was, I argue, the formative period of Greater Indian ideals developing in the context of religious and scholarly network encounters. While the politics of Greater India thinking and Asianism have drawn much scholarly attention, this has been mainly studied from a Japanese or, more recently, India-centered perspective.15 Here, by contrast, I prefer to focus on the terrain of the “receiving side,” whose past and present nomenclature—whether Insulinde, the Dutch East Indies, and even Indonesia itself—refer to a past Indic, Hindu-Buddhist civilization. In the first part of this chapter, I will focus on the role of key figures and associations in the resacralization of Borobudur (and other Hindu-Buddhist sites in Indonesia), resulting in its being situated in the religious and moral geographies of Greater India. Thereafter, I discuss scholarly political reactions against Greater Indian ideals, which focused on local agency—then referred to as “local genius.” Sites, site-related objects, and the new scholarly and moral pilgrimage trails they created provide a historical itinerary in which the sacred was transformed into heritage. These sites, together with the related institutions of learning (whether learned societies, museums, universities, religious associations, or Theosophical lodges), are an analytical tool in my research, not only because histories of Greater Indian thinking emerged at such sites, but because they are a window to study the exchange of knowledge and objects between the networks they hosted.16 The Theosophical Society is not just one incidental example of the sites of learning pertinent to this chapter. As Anne Blackburn has pointed out, it served as a supra-

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local umbrella and facilitator for both local agendas and individual transnational traveling.17 I would add that the society served as an important mediator between spiritual and scholarly interests in Indonesia, and was steeped in an already existing, and concurrently developing, inter-Asian and intercolonial network of scholars and pilgrims, for whom Borobudur became a very modern site of pilgrimage.

Resacralizing Borobudur While, shortly after 1900, Borobudur became the object of a large state-supported conservation project under Van Erp, and as a legitimizing token of the avowedly “ethical” colonial state, this would not prevent other parties from taking interest in the temple. Among them were those who explored Indian civilizational influences in the history and cultures of the Indonesian archipelago. This quest was shared globally by loosely connected scholars, local elites, pilgrims, Theosophists, collectors, and intellectuals. They took a lively interest in Asia’s classic religious antiquities, and situated ancient Hindu and Buddhist sites on new (or reinvented) religious and scholarly maps.18 Certainly, the framework of thinking went beyond the borders of Western colonial states, drawing the attention of consciously reforming and colonizing rulers in the region, like Siam’s King Chulalongkorn (r. 1868–1910). Indeed, we may commence the story of Borobudur’s resacralizing with Chulalongkorn’s visit of 1896 (Figure 2.1).19

Figure 2.1 “Bezoek van Chulalongkorn (Rama V), koning van Thailand, aan de Boroboedoer en Jogjakarta.” Photograph of Kassian or Sem Céphas, 1896. From the collection of the KITLV, item no. 9890.

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Climbing the temple with his Dutch and Javanese hosts, Siam’s king exchanged Buddhist knowledge for material gifts. As the highest representative of the official Buddhist order in Siam, the Thammayut Nikai, Chulalongkorn prayed at Borobudur, bringing offerings to the so-called unfinished Buddha, then located in the highest stupa. By way of appreciation and appropriation, Chulalongkorn also engraved his signature on its inner wall. It is also curious to note that in praying at the stupa, Chulalongkorn followed a ritual determined by one of his Dutch hosts, Isaac Groneman (1832–1912), then the head of the (private) Archaeological Society, founded in Yogyakarta in 1885. Groneman had previously observed Buddhist prayers during his travels in Asia and at Ceylon’s Kelaniya temple in particular. Expecting a comparable ritual, he had arranged for the king to use frangipani flowers as an offering.20 Thus, a Siamese king would instantiate the first modern Buddhist practice at Borobudur by enacting a Western interpretation of a Sinhalese prayer. Yet, Chulalongkorn was also an agent of destruction. Not only did he inscribe his name on the monument, but he actively selected statues and reliefs from it as gifts that he took back with him to Bangkok over local objections. Indeed, Borobudur was sacred to local (Muslim) inhabitants in ways ignored by the archaeologists and their royal guest. When asked to remove a guardian-statue at the base of the Borobudur, they refused. To them, the statue not only contained magic power, but also was believed to portray the architect and keeper of Borobudur.21 Helped by his eager hosts, however, Chulalongkorn took it regardless. Such concern for the ancient guardian is just one example of how the monument functioned for local people. In the course of nineteenth-century heritage interventions, the temple gained new local meanings to Java’s Muslim inhabitants. Soon after its galleries had been cleaned and made accessible in the 1820s, and then after the devastating Java War (1825–1830), Borobudur became a popular site to celebrate the end of Ramadan, with thousands of Muslims flocking to the increasingly parklike surrounds, much as they still do today.22 The Theosophical Society and its archaeological enthusiasts had also played an important role in the calendrical resacralizing of Buddhist sites, even championing the modern celebration of Wesak, which commemorates the anniversary of the enlightenment and death of the Buddha in late April/early May. One of the most important Buddhist festivals today, Wesak had only emerged in Lanka at the initiative of Colonel Olcott in partnership with the local Buddhist reform movement. The British government soon recognized it as an official religious holiday in 1885.23 From there, it spread via the international Mahabodhi Society (founded by Anagarika Dharmapala and Edwin Arnold in Colombo in 1891, and then based in Calcutta from 1892), together with local associations in Asia such as the Java Buddhist Association of Batavia (founded ca. 1900). But while Hinloopen Labberton referred to Wesak at the 1908 Borobudur meeting, it would only be celebrated by the Theosophical Society on Java in the 1920s.24 Presumably, the first instance took place on May 23, 1929, when sixty Theosophists first gathered at Candi Mendut, which they circled three times, before moving on to Borobudur to meditate.25 Three years later, Buddhists were in charge. Then, in the

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ever-widening Asian framework, an intervention took place in 1934 with the arrival of a monk from Ceylon, Nerada Thera (1898–1983), who was then active in Malaya and Singapore. Nerada Thera had been attracted to the Borobudur for some time, and was able to travel at the invitation of the Bandung Lodge of the Indies’ Theosophical Society, with financial support from the Singapore Buddhist Association.26 During a lecture to a large audience at the Batavia Lodge, Nerada Thera declared the Dutch Colonial Archaeological Service deserving of “eternal fame” for taking such good care of Buddhist sacred sites. Indeed, drawing his own Greater Buddhist Asian moral geography, he argued that the Borobudur “won in meaning far more than Angkor Vat and other Buddhist monuments in South-Asia.”27 At Borobudur itself, and in the presence of local Buddhists, Theosophists, and Van Erp, Nerada Thera planted a sapling of the Lankan Bodhi tree, believed to come from a cutting of the original at Bodh Gaya, under which Buddha had attained enlightenment.28 Like Chulalongkorn, Dutch and Javanese scholars hosted Nerada Thera during his pilgrimage. And once again they exchanged knowledge against material and immaterial gifts alike. In Batavia, Nerada Thera met Bosch and the philologist Raden Mas Ngabehi Poerbatjaraka (1884–1964). As one of the few Javanese to have obtained a doctorate from Leiden University (in 1926), Poerbatjaraka worked as a curator at the Museum of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences, where he was assigned to make a catalogue of its Javanese manuscripts. He also happened to be a member of Java’s Buddhist Association.29 Together, the Lankan monk, the Dutch archaeologist, and the Javanese philologist consulted the museum’s collection of Indic material remains, and learned about related textual heritage, such as old Javanese manuscripts and copper inscriptions. By way of exchange, Nerada Thera serenely offered a monk’s robe and his begging bowl to the museum, transforming sacred objects into Asian art.30

In the museum of Greater India The new scholarly theorizing of Asian art was equally important for the reevaluation of Java’s Hindu-Buddhist heritage as Indian, sacred, and therefore art with a capital A. Theosophy provided a crucial link once more, for the new art theories found fertile ground in Asia and the West alike through the highly influential works and exhibition techniques pioneered by two Theosophists: Ernest Binfield Havell (1864–1937) and Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877–1947). Both were self-made art historians. The English-born Havell had been superintendent of the Madras School of Arts (1884–1895) and then the Government Art School in Calcutta (1896–1906) before he returned to England and wrote his most influential works on Indian art. By 1917, Coomaraswamy, born of Lankan and English parents, would become the first curator of the “Indian section” of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.31 According to Kathleen Taylor, both were “romantic orientalists.” Shaped in part by the “charmed circle” around Tagore in Calcutta, Havell and Coomaraswamy placed artistic expressions in Asia under the rubric of Indian art.32 Both further argued that Asian art should be appreciated in its own right, and not seen as derivative of Greek and Roman standards, as had become commonplace since the late nineteenth-century

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discovery of Gandharan sculpture.33 Partly influenced by Havell, Coomaraswamy first made this point in a lecture at the fifteenth International Oriental Congress in Copenhagen in 1908.34 Like Havell, too, he attributed the habit of seeing foreign influences in Indian sculpture to the blind eye of archaeologists. In his view, artists were “best qualified to judge of the significance of works of art,” for Asian art, with its capacity to conceptualize the Divine, was decidedly superior to European forms, where the gods were “but grand and beautiful men.”35 Similarly, Havell, in his standard work of that same year, reasoned that “Indian art” was “essentially idealistic, mystic, symbolic and transcendental.” And in describing a “great diffusion and outward flow” to China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia, he saw the creation of Borobudur, assumedly by Indian colonists, as the peak of India’s “ascending glory.”36 One of the Buddha statues from the north side of Borobudur (see Figure 2.2), which Havell selected for his chapter “The Divine Ideal in Indian Art,” served to illustrate his argument that the Indian artist, in an effort to conceptualize divine beauty, took the Yogi as model “aiming to free himself from worldly attachments and placing himself in communion with the Universal Self.” “How beautiful it is when the spiritual, rather than the physical becomes the type which the artist brings into view.” Even if his example was located in Java, the art was most assuredly “Indian,” concluded Havell.37 This is not to say that there was universal agreement, at least regarding artistic quality. Early 1910 witnessed a heated dispute at the Indian Section of the Royal Society of Arts, when the chair, Bombay-born naturalist Sir George Birdwood (1832–1917), a great defender of what was then referred to as Indian “applied arts,” condemned this same statue as an “uninspired brazen image.” Birdwood added that “A boiled suet pudding would serve equally well as a symbol of passionate purity and serenity of soul.” In reaction to this statement, made public in the Royal Society’s journal, a manifesto was published in The Times of February 28, signed by the prominent painter, art critic, and India aficionado William Rothenstein (1872–1945) and twelve other likeminded figures, who sealed its taxonomic fate. To them, and the new Greater Indian art movement they represented, the Buddha of Borobudur stood for the supreme embodiment of the central religious and divine inspiration of Indian art, and “one of the great artistic inspirations of the world.”38 Tellingly, there was never any questioning of the label “Indian,” either in the contemporary disputes over the appreciation of Asian Art or in the critical historiography about this twist. Indeed, the ideas of Havell and Coomaraswamy remain influential today in the ways that the material remains of the Hindu and Buddhist past of Asia are put on display. In their day, the new theories about, and indeed the mania for, Indian art not only dictated what to collect but also how to exhibit it. Coomaraswamy’s department in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has long served as a model for many exhibitions, where expressions of spiritual serenity are amplified by sparing placement and discrete lighting. Some examples, discussed below, will illustrate the momentum such theories created in the museum world. Moreover, they point to the connected nature of global scholarly and spiritual knowledge networks in the face of ever more fierce economic and political competition. These networks identified with supra-local, unified views on what came to be seen as the Indianized world, and to what was explicitly referred, well into the 1960s, to as “Greater India.”39 This will bring us back to Borobudur again.

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Figure 2.2 “A Dhy’âni Buddha (from Bôrôbudûr),” from E. B. Havell, Indian Sculpture and Painting (London: John Murray, 1908), at the right side of p. 28.

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In 1897, plaster casts were taken from Borobudur and other Javanese sites to be sent for display at the Dutch colonial pavilion at the Paris World Exhibition of 1900. From there they would travel still further. Some copies would eventually be sent to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London via the embryonic Colonial Institute in Amsterdam. Others would travel back to Java and the collection of Prince Mangkunegara VII of Solo (1885–1944).40 For the moment, let us follow those traveling from Amsterdam to London. The point is less about Anglo-Dutch imperial rivalry and more that, in his eagerness to have the Javanese plaster casts and fill “gaps” in his “Indian section,” the curator of the Victoria & Albert Museum had been directly inspired by Havell—both in his selection and in his argumentation to convince the board of directors of the urgency of the purchase. Quoting Havell in his request of 1914, this curator argued that Borobudur, built by “Indian Buddhist immigrants,” was to be regarded as “the Parthenon of Asia,” that would fill one of the Museum’s most pressing needs.41 The Borobudur casts from Amsterdam arrived in London in 1926, at the handsome price of 200 guilders apiece. Painted in a shade of red-gray, they were displayed in the Indian Section as examples of the peaceful diffusion to Southeast Asia of Indian Buddhist religion and temple art. In that story, and in this British context, they illustrated the greatness of the old Indian Buddhist civilization, and thus contributed to the idea of Greater India, the jewel in the British crown. Yet the story did not end there. In 1929, the ethnographer and photographer Tassilo Adam (1878–1955) left the Indies for New York, to become the curator of the Brooklyn Museum’s newly established Department of Eastern Asian Art.42 One of the advisors on Java, whom Adam occasionally consulted, was Prince Mangkunegara VII. A central figure in the Javanese cultural revival movement, Mangkunegara VII was an honorable member of the Java Institute (founded in Solo in 1919) and investigator, collector, and curator of texts and objects of ancient Java. In 1933, Adam wrote to him, explaining his plans for a new way of display in the Brooklyn Museum’s Asian Hall: I do not follow the European museum installations—which have the effect that after a short visit one believes a museum an extremely boring and tiring institute. For all installations I seek in the first place to do justice to the artistic moment …. There is a lot of talk and writing about this, for the American museums suffer enormously from a lack of good taste and expertise. The Boston Museum is the only exception, thanks to Dr. A. Coomaraswamy. Despite the fact that the collections from these regions are incomplete, Java and Bali will shine in the new Asiatic hall.43

Equally, Paris’s Musée Guimet followed parallel lines of thinking.44 In 1948, Philippe Stern (1895–1979), who had worked at the museum since 1929, explained the use of natural light in the museum for the display of the “Greater French” treasure of Bayon-style heads from Cambodia, asserting that “the mystical expression of silent contemplation and compassion of each … will be thus accentuated, while their repetition further augments the impression of religiosity that the public will experience in this hall.”45 These three examples are all indicative of how museums with Asian art departments across the world were built on very specific intercolonial and inter-Asian collecting traditions directed toward what was defined as “Indian” art. They thus came to display

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today’s South and Southeast Asia with an emphasis on artistic qualities (and expressions of spiritual serenity) of old Buddhist or Hindu sculpture evaluated for its Indian religious (and thus mystical) qualities. Moreover, in using anachronistic denominators of today’s state boundaries to indicate region or provenance, they came to display places like Indonesia as the passive and grateful recipients of high art and civilization, though not Islam, whose arrival in the thirteenth century certainly spelled an end to Georges Coedès’s magnum opus. By the same token, Indonesia is tellingly absent from many collections of the art of the Islamic world today. Whether in Amsterdam, Paris, or New York, the results are rather awkward for the world’s largest Muslim nation.46

Greater India on Java August 1924 saw the arrival on Java of the Bengali historian Kalidas Nag (1892–1966), soon to become one of the founders of the Greater India Society, and one of its most partisan. In getting there, he was profiting from his scholarly contacts in France, where he had written his dissertation under Sylvain Lévy (1863–1935) and Jean Przyluski (1885–1944). Soon after the establishment of the EFEO at Saigon in 1898, the French had established strong archaeological collaborations with scholars of the incipient Dutch East Indies Archaeological Service. Before he came to Java, Nag had accompanied Tagore on his journey to China where, as he explained to EFEO director Louis Finot (1864–1935), he had traveled to study “the problem of the migration of Indian art in the Far East.” Now, on the way back to Calcutta, he had stopped in Java, to extend this query.47 On his arrival, Nag—boasting that he was a student of Lévy and that he knew the Nobel laureate Romain Rolland (1866–1944)—explained to Dutch reporters that he was preparing the way for Tagore’s visit planned for the following year. Nag intended to spend three days in Bali to witness cremations and visit temples. Once back in Central Java, he would study Borobudur, Mendut, and “other Buddhist antiquities” together with J. Kruisheer (then general secretary of the Indies’ Theosophical Society), before a final stay in Batavia. This last phase would be to enlarge his archaeological knowledge under the guidance of Bosch, and to give lectures on Tagore, his works, and his university—the Visva Bharati at Shantiniketan in West Bengal.48 While the Dutch journalists were intrigued enough to note all of this down, the Javanese who attended one of Nag’s lectures, held, fittingly, in Batavia’s Blavatsky Park, were not so amused by his behavior and attitude. Anticipating Tagore’s visit, members of Javanese elite cultural organizations had prepared a performance of dance and music. Nag’s reaction was to regret the Western influences on their costumes. He furthermore promised that on his next visit he would read from the original Mahabharata, and he urged them to prepare a performance based on the fragments he had selected. Certainly, the performers were annoyed, remarking that Nag was “apparently unaware of the difficulties it takes to perform such a piece.”49 Although the dancers were annoyed, this is not to say that Nag was paid no heed in the Indies thereafter. A couple of years later, Timboel, the Solo-based journal founded by the Sumatran Sanusi Pane (1905–68)—trained at the Theosophical teacher’s training school in Batavia—published selections of Nag’s writings under the title “Voices from

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Elsewhere on Asian Unity.” Apparently Nag had admonished his readers to study Asia’s ancient history in the Bulletin of the Greater India Society, with Java’s Prambanan and Penataran temples, which visualized the Ramayana legend, serving as examples among other ancient Asian sites. Apparently in agreement, Pane quoted Nag at length (though via Dutch translation): Let this study take place in all humility and devotion to truth. If India, through her devoted participation in the life of humanity, once shaped her spiritual domain in the East, as [Arnold’s] “the Light of Asia” has proven, this exceptional privilege is now forgotten history. … India became Greater India through selfless giving to humanity. May Asia, the mother of all great religions of men, raise itself and once again, from the bottom of its heart, announce her blessing to the world.50

Pane gave no comment. But he was receptive, being inspired by ancient Javanese Buddhist monuments and texts, albeit more for nationalistic reasons of his own.51 In 1929, he went on a pilgrimage to India to explore spiritual and nationalist matters alike, though he would later imbibe Pan-Asianism in a rather different form as, during the Japanese occupation, he would propagate Tokyo’s conception of Greater Asian ideals.52 Against this background of the more and more nationalistic ideas of protagonists of the Greater India Society, Dutch archaeologists like Bosch and the slightly younger W. F. Stutterheim (1892–1942), who were active in the Indies from the 1920s and 1930s, came to take an explicit stance against what they saw as a mind-set that saw all Indies remains as Indian. Typical of that challenge is the 1924 remark of the Bengali art historian O. C. Gangoly, who argued with Bosch over the origin of Javanese temple art in Gangoly’s journal Rupam: Dr. Bosch ignores the significance of the undisputed facts—that the whole of the paraphernalia of a civilization with its priests, cults, polities, princes, artists, images, social and religious institutions were conveyed bag and baggage from India to Java. The volume and intensity of that current which poured on its primitive civilization nearly overran and assimilated the local culture almost beyond recognition.53

To provide insight into what Bosch may have done to annoy Gangoly, and indeed the ambiguous nature of reactions to the incipient Greater Indian thinking represented by men like Gangoly, who would become well known for his celebratory volume The Art of Java (1928), I will now turn to Stutterheim, whose life and work connected many of the knowledge networks discussed here.54 This also means that we move back once more, from texts revealing knowledge exchange, to site-related exchanges, and even to India where two views would collide.

Greater India and local genius It has been said of Stutterheim’s generation of Indies-based scholars that “as a rule” they preferred to stress the local features of ancient Indonesian cultures in reaction

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to an overemphasis on the Indian elements on the part of their Sanskrit teachers, and indeed of Indian and French scholars.55 This characterization makes sense if we look at some of their publications that defended—within the context of a contemporary boom in prehistorical queries—a pre-Indian “local genius” that could be seen as the catalyst for all that looked Hindu-Buddhist and therefore civilized.56 Certainly, Stutterheim’s views on Indian influences in Java differed markedly from those of his teachers in Leiden, J. Ph. Vogel (1871–1955) and N. J. Krom (1883–1945), and even more again from those of their teacher, the Sanskritist J. H. C. Kern (1833–1917). By virtue of his training and lack of knowledge of “living Javanese and Balinese culture,” Kern had, in Stutterheim’s view, been unable to see beyond the Sanskrit appearance of things that he preferred to regard as “typically Indonesian.”57 That said, if we also consider his practices and popularization of knowledge production, then Stutterheim seemed to have followed a more ambivalent path. Despite his public pleading for scholars to recognize the “local genius” of Indonesian antiquity, Stutterheim wrote a three-volume textbook for high school students—Leerboek der Indische cultuurgeschiedenis voor middelbare scholen (1932–35)—that had a decidedly Greater Indian framework. Indeed, the first volume was entitled The Hindus, started in India, and was entirely dedicated to the culture and arts of the subcontinent. This textbook (reprinted after Indonesian independence as Cultuurgeschiedenis van Indonesië) was intended as a teaching tool for the new Eastern Department of the Algemeene Middelbare School in Solo, an institution for the sons (and a few daughters) of the elite that produced some of the first members of the postcolonial Indonesian Archaeological Service and, among other famous intellectuals, Amir Hamzah (1911– 46), the author of the first Indonesian translation (from the Dutch) of the Bhagavad Gita (1933).58 Indeed, Stutterheim was its headmaster, and mastermind of the program on “Indies cultural history” which he defended against the prevalent Western-centered curriculum in the Indies. This three-year program moved from a concentration on India proper, then “Java in the time of the Hindus”, before finishing with a final year dedicated to Islam.59 It was in Solo, too, that Stutterheim met Tagore when the poet visited in 1927 and even came to his school. This may well have been at the suggestion of the Sanskritist and musicologist Arnold Bake (1899–1963). A contemporary of Stutterheim at Leiden, Bake had been studying with Tagore at Shantiniketan, and accompanied him to Java and Bali. Stutterheim also met one of Tagore’s other companions on this occasion, Sunit Kumar Chatterji (1890–1977), who showed interest in Stutterheim’s knowledge of ancient Bali, which he declared to be “a connected culture with us.” Chatterji and Stutterheim would continue an amicable correspondence thereafter. Indeed, on the face of it, Stutterheim seemed to be more open to Greater Indian ideas than one would expect, though perhaps he was being ironic when he confessed to Chatterji, in February of 1931, that he felt it “a big pity” that he had not been able to find “an opportunity to visit India and study the life in Bengal and Gujarat, the two most important regions from where your ancestors must have brought their high culture to the archipelago.”60 Six years later, though, Stutterheim could grab that chance when, as head of the Netherlands Indies Archaeological Service, he would be the guest of Sir Bala

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Rama Varma III (r.1924–49), ruler of the princely state of Travancore. This trip was preceded by the maharaja’s own visit to Java and Bali in May of 1937, accompanied by his governmental art advisor, the Irish Theosophist James Henry Cousins (1873–1956). Ostensibly, this visit had been “to study the ancient relationship between India and the Far East, and modern ways of improving village life.”61 Stutterheim was their guide, both to the archaeological collection of the Museum in Batavia, and to sites in Central Java. Cousins later claimed that the maharaja’s trip had resulted in “a large addition of knowledge concerning Greater India in the past,” and they returned with various Balinese and Javanese objects acquired for Travancore’s new art museum.62 In December 1937, then, Stutterheim arrived in Travancore to attend the ninth All-India Oriental Conference.63 As special guest of the maharaja, he would conduct archaeological explorations into Travancore-based cultural connections with Java. Equally en route Stutterheim had visited other heritage sites in Ceylon—including Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa—as well as the Colombo branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, where he gave a Lantern Lecture on “Indian art in Java.”64 It was rather to the loss of his Indian host then, and indeed of his public, that Stutterheim would refute the general hypothesis that Java’s ancient civilization had originated in Travancore. His lecture, a “Note on the cultural relations between South India and Java,” led to a lively discussion between scholars from North and South India, disputing the provenance of India’s great civilization. As at Colombo, Stutterheim also gave an informal talk on the development of Indian art in Java where, to a packed audience, he emphasized the role of Java and Bali’s “indigenous” and “Indonesian” worldviews in shaping Hindu-Buddhist civilization there, worldviews which, he argued, had developed out of “autochthonous megalithic culture.” While there had been influence, Java was not India, he emphasized.65 While, in the overall bargain, his Indian host seemed to have lost out on the question of the origins of Indian civilization, Stutterheim had only gained, for he returned with new information on “Greater Dutch” historical remains in Ceylon, and on Javanese antiquities present in India, not to mention with new alliances among Greater India scholars aimed at preventing “the danger of harmful and energy spoiling rivalry.” In his official report to the government, Stutterheim emphasized that while one of the Indian scholars (Dacca University’s Himansubhushan Sarkar) was preparing a Corpus Inscriptionum Javanicorum, such “of course” should only be conducted on Java, given it was “essentially a national task.” He added that this would not have happened if this kind of contact had existed before.66 In his report, Stutterheim also noted that the idea had arisen at the congress several times to send Indian scholars to Java and Bali with the aim of exploring “the remains of Indian influence” and “the corrupt Sanskrit language in Balinese manuscripts” with the aim of restoring it. Considering the obvious interest of Indian scholars and “the dominance of the Indian element in cultures in the archipelago” Stutterheim pleaded for collaboration.67 The collaboration that had been set up in the meantime was, however, ambiguous. The aforementioned Corpus Javanicorum may serve as an example. This was a PhD project supervised at Dacca University by R. C. Majumdar (1888–1980), author of Ancient Indian Colonies in the Far East (1927), whom Stutterheim also met at

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the congress, and who had toured both European centers for Indology and Southeast Asian Indic sites in 1928–29. While Stutterheim had previously agreed to join the examination committee, together with Poerbatjaraka and the Dutch philologist Rudolf Goris, two months after submitting his report to the governor-general, the Dutch and Javanese members adjudged a draft of the thesis “not yet eligible.” While praising the candidate’s awareness of the importance of the need for “better knowledge of the spread of Indian culture in South-East Asia,” they concluded that he had insufficient knowledge of Dutch, Old Javanese, and Indonesian linguistics.68 Sitting alongside his obvious pride in Dutch custodianship over the cultural heritage of Indonesia though, there are ambiguities detectable in Stutterheim’s thinking as a scholar. Apparently the famously plainspoken Stutterheim came to recognize an old and spiritual Asian worldview in the “Javanese mental attitude” which he even saw as having healing potential for the problems of “humanity in the West.” Writing to his friend Mangkunegara VII from the Netherlands in December of 1931, he described how he had been discussing this greater Asian spirit with Claire Holt, the ethnographer and dance expert, who had become his partner in all things: There is one thing that I am still trying to grasp … especially because I myself have so little of it …. It is the primal Javanese mental attitude. It is something that I not only seek, but which will one day or another appear to overlap with what the modern science of psychology is seeking now as a solution for humanity in the West. It is something that Old China had (not Japan), and that was sometimes found in the Indies. It is something that entails (and entailed) a huge difference between the oldIndian (Hindu) and Javanese worldview. Mrs. Holt and I are convinced that once it will prove of invaluable service to the world, but we are still not able to formulate it precisely. … It is, I believe, one of the very few things (maybe the only one) which will give back to humanity the balance it has lost …. People here dive from one conflict into another and there is no happiness for the individual.69

The reaction of Mangkunegara VII—indicated here by my use of italics and underline to match the markings he made on Stutterheim’s letter—is just as revealing of his apparent assent that Asian culture had a spiritual quality that was counter to that of a materialist and bellicose West. Stutterheim apparently sensed that there was a more meaningful substance in Java’s cultures and material remains than he could see. His sensitivity to ancient Javanese spirit may have been awakened by his research method, which combined the study of Hindu-Buddhist material remains with an anthropological search for traces in cultural practices.70 But it may also have to do with the silent wisdom and divine inspiration of stones that some scholars, Theosophists, and pilgrims claimed to appreciate when confronted by Hindu or Buddhist statues. So it was that, in the course of seeking local genius, Stutterheim came to appreciate a “greater Javanese” essence, spiritual in nature and akin to that of ancient China, which he perceived as being endowed with healing potential for the West, thereby creating his own, peculiar moral geography of a Greater India. This apparent paradox, which was not limited to Stutterheim, may help explain the forces that mobilized Greater Indian thinking.

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Concluding Remarks This chapter has had a double concern. It engages with the widely felt discomfort about the artificial boundaries between South and Southeast Asian studies, and seeks new ways to view and study the region. Simultaneously, it warns against pitfalls of the new transnational approaches that focus on cultural flows, as these may exaggerate the region’s cultural unity and reify the moral geographies of Greater India. Taking Indonesian heritage as a starting point, this chapter has shown how scholarly and religious imaginations of Greater India, unfolding most strongly in the 1920s and 1930s, filled in the space surrounding the Bay of Bengal, and enfolded the Dutch East Indies, and all without regard for a majority population of Muslims. When looking at site-interventions, we see a continuous framing of Indonesian heritage as something more sacred then regalia, something more aesthetic than the high art, something transcending the borders of the state, and something larger again in spatial and moral terms: with all evidence pointing to moral geographies of Greater India. Such continuities of framing show that the shifting influence of geopolitical conditions cannot be overestimated. Then again, we should not underestimate the power of museums and spiritual traditions worldwide. Today, their research agendas, collecting, and exhibition practices (next to a plethora of popular forms of Indic “spirituality”) make it hard for people to value Indonesian culture in ways other than in the light of its Indic qualities. At first sight, this seems strange to a historian, given notions of Greater India have fallen into discredit since the 1930s. Certainly, the study of this region as a unitary one has declined in the context of Area Studies. Even so, this conception has survived in the fields of Art and Archaeology and Religious Studies, which think transnationally and seek origins and influences, and thus hierarchies. Yet, in so doing, the problematic assumptions of such thinking, and the role of earlier scholars in generating such assumptions, has also become occluded. As this chapter has shown, the past India-centered approaches of scholarly and spiritual knowledge networks led to an overestimation of an assumed cultural unity, and indeed Indian hegemony. Whether scholars trace certain groups or their artifacts, and whether they do so in the framework of some Indic “cosmopolis,” they run the risk of creating a homogenizing view of the region and of downplaying conflict and (interaction with) other perspectives, for Southeast Asia is the locus of far more than a Hindu-Buddhist past.

Notes 1 2

G. Coedès, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia (Honolulu, HI: East West Center, 1968), 255–56. The Indies Theosophical Society, linked more closely to Adyar than its metropolitan sister, had a relatively large membership. Around 1930, 0.5 percent of the European population were members (1,006 of its 2,090 members). By 1939, according to its own journal (Theosofie in Ned.-Indië, April 1939), the society counted 28 lodges and 19 centers spread over Sumatra, Java, and Bali. On the

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4 5 6

7

8

9 10

11 12

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Theosophical Society in colonial Indonesia, see Herman A.O. de Tollenaere, The Politics of Wisdom: Theosophy and Labour, National and Women’s Movement in Indonesia and South Asia, 1875–1947 (Nijmegen: Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, 1996); Hans van Miert, Een koel hoofd en een warm hart: Nationalisme, javanisme en jeugdbeweging in Nederlands-Indië, 1918–1930 (Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1995), 92–128; Iskander P. Nugraha, Teosofi, Nationalisme & Elite Modern Indonesia (Jakarta: Komunitas Bambu, 2011); and Martin Ramstedt, “Colonial Encounters between India and Indonesia,” South Asian History and Culture 2, no. 4 (2011): 522–39. This chapter is a pilot for my project, “Indonesia and Greater India,” conducted at KITLV, 2016–2020. It builds on my collaboration with Martijn Eickhoff on archaeology and heritage politics in Indonesia supported by the Dutch Scientific Council (NWO), 2008–2012. See Marieke Bloembergen and Martijn Eickhoff, “Exchange and the Protection of Java’s Antiquities: A Transnational Approach to the Problem of Heritage in Colonial Java,” Journal of Asian Studies 72, no. 4 (2013): 1–24; and “Decolonizing Borobudur: Moral Engagements and the Fear of Loss: The Netherlands, Japan and (Post-)Colonial Heritage Politics in Indonesia,” in Sites, Bodies and Stories: Imagining Indonesian History, eds. S. Legêne, B. Purwanto, and H. Schulte Nordholt (Singapore: NUS, 2015). Philip Almond, The British Discovery of Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). D. van Hinloopen Labberton, “Tocht naar den Barabadoer,” Theosofisch Maandblad voor Nederlandsch-Indië 7 (1907–8): 503–13, at 510. D. van Hinloopen Labberton, “Officieel verslag van het Eerste Indisch Theosofisch Congres, gehouden te Jogjakarta op 18 en 19 April 1908,” Theosofisch Maandblad voor Nederlandsch-Indië 7 (1907–8): 493–513, esp. 495–500. D.L.N. Vink, in “De waarde der Nederlandsch-Indische Theosofische vereniging voor onze koloniën,” Nieuwe Soerabaische Courant, September 6, 1913, Archief Theosofische Vereniging Nederland, Entry 30006, Depot 6, Stelling 19, Stadsarchief Amsterdam. For sites in India, cf: Alan Trevithick, “British Archaeologists, Hindu Abbots, and Burmese Buddhists: The Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya, 1811–1877,” MAS 33, no. 3 (1999): 635–56; and his The Revival of Buddhist Pilgrimage at Bodh Gaya (1811–1949): Anagarika Dharmapala and the Mahabodhi temple (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006); Upinder Singh, “Exile and Return: The Reinvention of Buddhism and Buddhist Sites in Modern India,” Journal of South Asian Studies 26, no. 2 (2010): 193–217; David Geary, “Rebuilding the Navel of the Earth: Buddhist Pilgrimage and Transnational Religious Networks,” MAS 48, no. 3 (2013): 645–92. Van Hinloopen Labberton, “Officieel verslag,” 511–13. Arun Das Gupta, “Rabindranath Tagore in Indonesia: An Experience in BridgeBuilding,” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde 158 (2002): 451–77, at 456. On Tagore’s visit in the context of heritage dynamics in Indonesia: M. Bloembergen and M. Eickhoff, “Save Borobudur! The Moral Dynamics of Heritage Formation in Indonesia across Orders and Borders, 1930s–ca. 1990,” in Cultural Heritage as a Civilizing Mission: From Decay to Recovery, ed. Michael Falser (Springer Publishers, 2015), 96–97. Rabindranath Tagore, English Writings of Tagore, 8 vols (New Delhi: Atlantic, 2007 [1927]), II, 314–15. Das Gupta, “Bridge-Building,” 474.

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Susan Bayly, “Imagining ‘Greater India’: French and Indian Visions of Colonialism in the Indic Mode,” MAS 38, no. 3 (2004): 703–44. See also Carolien Stolte, “Orienting India: Interwar Internationalism in an Asian inflection, 1917–1937” (PhD Diss., University of Leiden, 2013), Chapter 3; Kwa Chong Guan, “Visions of early Southeast Asia as Greater India,” in Early Southeast Asia Viewed from India: An Anthology from the Journal of the Greater India Society (Singapore: Manohar, 2013). My usage thus differs from the fields of human geography, cultural history, and Asian studies, where it has been used to analyze how people perceive, use, and form space within particular states or communities, thereby affecting social relationships and excluding others. See David Smith, Moral Geographies: Ethics in a World of Difference (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000); Amy DeRogatis, Moral Geography: Maps, Missionaries, and the American Frontier (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003); Thongchai Winichakul, Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation (Honolulu: The University of Hawai’i Press, 1997). For an overview of both trends, see Carolien Stolte and Harald Fischer-Tiné, “Imagining Asia in India: Nationalism and Internationionalism (ca. 1905–1940),” Comparative Studies in Society and History 54, no. 1 (2012): 65–92; Sven Saaler and Victor J. Koschmann, Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History: Colonialism, Regionalism and Borders (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007); Bayly, “Imagining ‘Greater India’”; Mark Ravinder Frost, “‘That Great Ocean of Idealism’: Calcutta, the Tagore Circle, and the Idea of Asia, 1900–1920,” in Indian Ocean Studies: Cultural Social and Political Perspectives, eds. S. Moorthy and A. Jamal (New York & London: Routledge, 2010); Prasenjit Duara, “Asia Redux: Conceptualizing a Region for Our Times,” Journal of Asian Studies 69, no. 4 (2010): 963–83. Broadening the scope to the Ottoman world and East Asia, see Cemil Aydin, The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007); Marc Frey and Nicola Spakowski (eds.), Asianisms, Regionalist Interactions and Asian Integration (Singapore: NUS, 2015). On the notion of exchange as gifting, see Marcel Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies (London: Cohen & West Ltd, 1954). On the usefulness of Maus’s approach, see Bloembergen and Eickhoff, “Exchange”; and “Decolonizing Borobudur,” 33–36. Anne M. Blackburn, “Ceylonese Buddhism in Colonial Singapore: New Ritual Spaces and Specialists, 1895–1935,” Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series no. 184 (2012), 23. Bloembergen and Eickhoff, “Save Borobudur!” 92–97, 106. On this site intervention, see further: Bloembergen and Eickhoff, “Exchange.” Isaac Groneman, “Een Boeddhistischen-Koning op den Borobodoer,” Tijdschrift voor de Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 39 (1897): 367–78, at 376. Theodoor van Erp, Beschrijving van Barabudur. Deel 2: Bouwkundige Beschrijving (‘s-Gravenhage: Nijhoff, 1931), 18–19. W.F. Stutterheim, Schoolplaten voor de Javaansche cultuurgeschiedenis: Desa-leven voor duizend jaar, ten tijde van Baraboedoer (Groningen etc.: Wolters, [1930]), 5. Stutterheim asserted that this was an ancient, uninterrupted tradition yet the military topographer assigned to draw the reliefs between 1849 and 1853 had noted the relative novelty of this development: F.C. Wilsen, “Boro Boedoer,” Tijdschrift van het Bataviaasch genootschap voor Kunsten en Wetenschappen 1 (1853): 253–303, at 287. Rick Fields, How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America, 3rd ed. (Boston & London: Shambhala, 1992), 102.

52 24

25

26 27 28

29

30 31

32 33

34 35 36 37 38 39

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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Iem Brown, “The Revival of Buddhism in Modern Indonesia,” in Hinduism in Modern Indonesia: A Minority Religion between Local, National, and Global Interests, ed. Martin Ramstedt (London: Routledge, 2004): 47–48. On the revival of Wesak, see Blackburn, “Ceylonese Buddhism.” Preangerbode, May 29, 1929; J.L.G. Tichelaar, “Episoden uit de geschiedenis van de Vrij-Katholieke Kerk in het voormalige Nederlandsch-Indië. III,” De vrije Katholiek 53 (1977): 102–8, at 107. On Nerada Thera’s visit to Java, see Brown, “Buddhism in Modern Indonesia,” 49–51; Ramstedt, “Colonial Encounters”; and Blackburn, “Ceylonese Buddhism,” 5. “Narada Thera spreekt: Karakter en doeleinden in het Boeddhisme,” Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad, March 16, 1934. For this practice in mainland Southeast Asia, I rely on the unpublished paper: Padma Maitland, “The Making of Buddhist Ground: An Ecology of Place,” presented at the Conference “Cultural Heritage: Environment, Ecology and Inter-Asian Interactions,” Nalanda, January 5–7, 2014. Compare both Van Miert, who characterizes Poerbatjaraka as a “strictly” westernized interpreter of Javanese texts, and Benedict Anderson, who saw him as more “devoted to scholarship, not politics.” Van Miert, Een koel hoofd, 102; Benedict Anderson, “Sembah-sempuh: The Politics of Language and Javanese Culture,” in Language and Politics: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia, ed. Benedict Anderson (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990), 214. Brown, “Buddhism in Modern Indonesia,” 49–51; “Nerada Thera bezocht Java,” De Sumatra Post, March 15, 1934. See Partha Mitter, Much Maligned Monsters: A History of European Reactions to Indian Art (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 269–85; Ibid., Art and Nationalism in Colonial India, 1855–1922: Occidental Orientations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), Ch.8; Tapati Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New Indian Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, c. 1850–1920 (London: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 146–84; Kathleen Taylor, Sir John Woodroffe, Tantra and Bengal: “An Indian Soul in a European Body”? (Richmond, VA: Curzon, 2001), 61–76. Taylor, Sir John Woodroffe, 74. Stanley K. Abe, “Inside the Wonderhouse: Buddhist Art and the West,” in Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism, ed. Donald S. Lopez (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995). Mitter, Much Maligned Monsters, 309. Ananda Coomaraswamy, The Influence of Greek on Indian Art (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1908), 2–3. E.B. Havell, Indian Sculpture and Painting (London: John Murray, 1908), as quoted in Guha-Thakurta, Making of a New Indian Art, 180. Havell, Indian Sculpture and Painting, 24–26; Cf. Coomaraswamy, Influence of Greek on Indian Art, 1–2. Discussed in Thakurta, Making of a New Indian Art, 164–67; and Mitter, Much Maligned Monsters, 269–71. See, for example, The Art of Greater India, 3000 B.C.–1800 AD (Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum, 1950), being the catalogue of an exhibition of the same title, and Aschwin Lippe, “The Sculpture of Greater India,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (February 1960), 177–92. Discussed in Bloembergen and Eickhoff, “Exchange.”

Borobudur in the Light of Asia 41 42

43 44

45

46

47

48

49 50 51

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Clarke to the V&A Board, March 7, 1914, Victoria and Albert Museum, R & A, MA/1/A520, V&A minute paper. Evolving out of the “Oriental collections” of the Museum’s Department of Ethnology, the Department of Eastern and Near Eastern Art was officially named as such in 1931. In 1934 it became the Department of Oriental Art. In 1929 Tassilo Adam had the new dual role of associate curator at the department of ethnology, and assistant curator of eastern art. He organized a Dutch East Indies exhibition that ran from 14 March until late May 1930 and served as curator of Eastern and Near Eastern Art from 1931 to 1934. See Guide to the records of the Department of Asian Art, 1925–2003, Brooklyn Museum, New York, 5–9. Tassilo Adam to Mangkunegara VII, July 24, 1933. Reksopustaka, Solo, Archive Mangkunegaran VII, inv.nr. P. 835, English translation (from Dutch) MB. Alice Conklin, In the Museum of Man: Anthropology, Racial Science and Humanism in France and its Empire, 1850–1950 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013), 108. Philippe Stern, “Eclairage dans les Musées,” January 11, 1948, Musée Guimet, Paris, Stern files, M13-Présentations des objets-Muséography. English translation MB. See also Philippe Stern, “Muséographie au Musée Guimet,” and “La réorganization du Musée Guimet et les problèmes muséographiques,” Mousseion 33–34 (1936): 101–12. On the display of South and Southeast Asian Art in the Rijksmuseum, see M. Bloembergen and M. Eickhoff, “Een klein land dat de wereld bestormt: Het nieuwe Rijksmuseum en het Nederlandse koloniale verleden,” BMGN-Low Countries Historical Review 129, no. 1 (2014): 156–69. Cf. Mirjam Shatanawi, Islam at the Tropenmuseum (Arnhem: L.M. Publishers, 2014). Kalidas Nag to Louis Finot, May 28, 1924, EFEO, RELATIONS EXTERIEURES, 1920–1946, Carton 25, Dossier 36. On Nag, see Bayly, “Imagining Greater India”; Stolte “Orienting India,” ch. 3. “Een onderhoud met Prof. Nag,” De Indische Courant, August 16, 1924. On August 18, Nag had a meeting in Surabaya with teachers from Taman Siswa to establish contacts with Tagore’s Visva Bharati, in addition to giving a lecture at its Theosophical lodge. Four days later he lectured at the lodge in Solo, while on August 27 he gave another lecture at the Batavian lodge on “The international University of Tagore”; De Indische Courant, August 18, 1924; Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad, August 26, 1924; Sumatrapost, August 20, 2014; Theosofisch Maandblad voor Nederlandsch-Indië 23 (10), October 1924. “Javaansche cultuurvereniging Krido Djatmoko: Jaarverslag over 1924,” Djåwå 5 (1926): 267–70, at 269. “Stemmen van elders over aziatische eenheid,” Timboel, April 1927, 88–89. See the poems “Majapahit” and “Tjandi Mendoet” in Sanoesi Pané, Madah Kelana (Batavia: Balai Poestaka, 1931), 36, 41. See also his plays Kertadjaja (1932) and Sandakala ning Madjapahit (Twilight over Majapahit, 1933, first published in Timboel in 1932). On Pane’s Theosophical formation, his Asianism, and his journey to India: see Ethan Mark, “‘Asia’s’ Transwar Lineage; Nationalism, Marxism, and ‘Greater Asia’ in an Indonesian Inflection,” The Journal of Asian Studies 65, no. 3 (2006): 461–93. Like such intellectuals as Muhammed Yamin and Poerbatjaraka, Pane worked in the service of Japanese first as as writer and cultural commentator for the Japanese sponsored journal Asia Raya before becoming head of the Pusat Kesenian Indonesia (Center for Indonesian Arts) from October 1942 and then, from March 1943, of

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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal the Keimin bunka shidôsho (the Center for the Guidance of Popular Culture and Enlightenment/Kantor Besar Poesat Kebudajaan). O.C. Gangoly, “The Origin of Indo-Javanese Art,” Rupam 17 (1924): 54–57, at 55. W.F. Stutterheim, A Javanese Period in Sumatran History (Surakarta: De Bliksem, 1929); Ibid., Indian Influences in the Lands of the Pacific, trans. Claire Holt (Weltevreden: Kolff, 1929); Indian Influences in Old-Balinese Art (London: India Society, 1935). J.G. De Casparis, “Twintig jaar studie van de oudere geschiedenis van Indonesië: 1931–1951,” Oriëntatie: Cultureel Maandblad 46 (1954): 626–64, esp 629–33; and “Historical Writing on Indonesia (early period),” in Historians of South East Asia, ed. D.G.E. Hall (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 137. Aside from the works of Stutterheim, see A.J. Bernet Kempers, Cultural Relations between India and Java (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1937). See also: Robert Heine-Geldern, “Prehistoric Research in the Netherlands Indies,” in Science and Scientists in the Netherlands Indies, eds. Pieter Honig and Frans Verdoorn (New York: Board for the Netherlands Indies, Surinam and Curaçao, 1945). Stutterheim to J.Ph. Vogel, August 21, 1933, Archive Stutterheim, Leiden University Library, KITLV, H 1723, 41. Soekmono, the first head of Indonesia’s Archaeological Service, would rewrite Stutterheim’s history in the 1950s omitting the first “Indian” part, claiming that “the history of the Indonesian people does not begin with the arrival of the people and influences of India … Whether it has Hindu, Islamic or Western influences, from the beginning until the end Indonesian cultural history is after all Indonesian cultural history.” R. Soekmono, Pengantar Sedjarah Kebudajaan Indonesia; Djilid 1 (Djakarta: Penerbit Nasional Trikarya, 1955): 5. Hamzah’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita, from the Dutch translation of J.W. Boissevain (1903), was serialized in the nationalist cultural journal Poedjangga Baroe from 1933 to 1935. W.F. Stutterheim, Leerboek der Indische cultuurgeschiedenis voor middelbare scholen, 3 vols. (Groningen etc.: Wolters, 1932–35). On the new curriculum, see Stutterheim to Vogel, September 24, 1931, Archive Stutterheim, Leiden University Library, KITLV H 1723, 41. Stutterheim to Chatterji, February 24, 1931. Archive Stutterheim, 15. Travancore: A Souvenir: The Ninth All-India Oriental Conference Trivandrum: December 20,21,22, 1937 (Trivandrum: s.l. [1937]): 3, 6. On Cousins, see Dilip Kumar Chatterjee, James Henry Cousins: A Study of His Work in the Light of the Theosophical Movement in India and the West (Delhi: Sharada Publishing House, 1994). Travancore: A Souvenir, 3. The Ninth All-India Oriental Conference Trivandum, 20th, 21st, 22nd December 1937: Summaries of Papers with Supplement (Trivandum: Government Press, 1937). “Batavian Archaeologist’s Visit,” Ceylon Observer, December 8, 1937; “Royal ancestor cult in Java—Antiquities on the screen—‘Apt pupil’ of Indian art,” The Ceylon Daily News, December 10, 1937 in Archive Stutterheim, Leiden University Library, KITLV H 1723, 16; Report of Stutterheim to Governor-General, February 4, 1938, in Arsip Nasional Indonesia (ANRI), Algemene Secretarie (AS), Bt. March 21, 1938, 4. Stutterheim would publish his lecture as a “Note on Cultural relations between South-India and Java,” Tijdschrift voor Indische taal-, land-, en volkenkunde 79 (1939): 73–84. Local newspapers also reported his lecture: “Cultural relations between Kerala and Java,” The Madras Mail, December 30, 1937. Archive Stutterheim, 16.

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Stutterheim to Governor-General, February 4, 1938, ANRI, AS, Bt. 21-3-1938, 4. Sarkar often published in the Bulletin and Journal of The Greater India Society. See, for instance, “Two Notes on the Cultural Contact between Java and Bengal,” Journal of the Greater India Society 1 (1934): 51–57 (in which he argues that prototypes of Borobudur’s receding terrace architecture were to be found in Bengal, and that the Javanese builders of the temple learned the craft in Nalanda); and the rather free translation of N.J. Krom’s work: “Indo-Javanese History,” Journal of the Greater India Society 16, no. 1 (1957): 1–82. Stutterheim to Governor-General, February 4, 1938, ANRI, AS, Bt. 21-3-1938, 4. R.C. Majumdar, Ancient Indian Colonies in the Far East (Dacca: A.K. Majumdar, 1927); see also the English concept of the committee’s report of April 1938. In: Archive Stutterheim, 40. See also Sarkar, Corpus of the Inscriptions of Java (Corpus Inscriptionum Javanicarum), 2 vols. (Calcutta: Mukhopadhya, 1971–72). Stutterheim to Mangkunegara VII, December 10, 1931, Reksopustaka, Solo, Archive Mangkunegaran VII, Correspondence, M 281, 2. My translation. Emphasis that of Mangkunegara. This was characteristic for Indologists who studied at Leiden under the Dutch Philologist and Javanologist W.H. Rassers (1877–1973). See C.C. Berg, “Javaansche geschiedschrijving,” in Geschiedenis van Nederlandsch-Indië, ed. W.F. Stapel, 5 vols (Amsterdam: Van den Vondel, 1938), II, 9.

3

Keramats Running Amuck: Islamic Parahistories of Travel, Belonging, Crimes, and Madness Teren Sevea University of Pennsylvania

At that time [Raffles] gave the order that the corpse be brought forth, it having been put onto a buffalo cart, and paraded around the town, [with a note] saying: “Thus may all common men and nobles see the man who betrayed his raja, whose punishment is to lose his life and have his very corpse hanged.” This was proclaimed after the fast, upon which the body was taken around the town, and then conveyed to Tanjung Malang, at the end of Telok Ayer, where a wooden gallows was erected with the corpse placed in the iron cage [just made for the purpose]. It stayed there some ten to fifteen days until nothing but bones remained. Afterwards the sultan [Husein Shah, d. 1835] petitioned Raffles for the body, whereupon it was given to him, washed and buried.1

So it was that, in his now-famous autobiography, the part-Tamil part-Arab (yet resolutely Malay) scribe (munshi) and teacher Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir (1796–1854) recalled the exemplary punishment meted out in 1823 on the battered corpse of Sayyid Yasin. Yasin had been a similarly well-known part-Tamil merchant of noble Arab extraction, marked by his appellation as a sayyid, or descendant of the Prophet. He had regularly moved between Pahang and Singapore over previous years and had had the temerity, or bad fortune, to stab William Farquhar (1774–1839), the first British resident and commandant of Singapore appointed in 1819 by the town’s founder Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781–1826). Yasin’s troubles had begun with his brief and shameful incarceration for a debt owed to a rival merchant of similar extraction, Sharif Umar. After his release, Yasin had gone in an enraged search for his accuser on March 11, 1823, culminating with his stabbing of Farquhar while the latter was searching for him under Umar’s house.2 According to Abdullah, Yasin had been swiftly dealt with by Company sepoys to the extent that nobody was able to identify him. Indeed, he noted that, having been killed by the vengeful Indian sepoys, the body of Farquhar’s attacker had been pierced by

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their bayonets and subjected to the “stabbing and chopping” of “all the white men” in the vicinity who zealously “crushed” and disfigured the corpse.3 In his role as the Government Surveyor for the Straits Settlements, a former student of Abdullah, John T. Thomson (1821–84), would censure this account of what he deemed to have been Raffles’s proportionate punishment, claiming that Abdullah’s version was a “melee” replete with “a good deal of religious fanaticism” that demonstrated his “prejudices and proclivities as a Mahomedan.”4 Abdullah’s fanaticism was apparently most evident in the munshi’s baroque remembering of the mortification of Yasin’s body in a passage that diverged markedly from contemporaneous and relatively banal European depictions of Raffles’s “salutary lesson” of hanging the enraged assailant who had run amuck for three days.5 Indeed, European observers had rather more to say of the immediate “Mahomedan” reaction to Raffles’s exhibition of Yasin’s corpse than the violence witnessed on it. They included a visiting Dutch colonel, Nahuys, who remarked how “all the natives adopted a threatening attitude” and compelled the “garrison, civilians, settlers and traders, as well as the Chinese who took the side of the Europeans” to remain “night and day under arms.”6 On the other hand, following the sultan’s successful request for Yasin’s remains and their burial, the sayyid and his resting place alike were sanctified as keramat. Now his status as a miracle worker was confirmed and his grave became an object of pilgrimage for devout Malays who transformed his criminality into piety and generated historical traditions that, in the much later words of an editor of The Straits Times, made the “name of the nocturnal amok join those of many far more worthy.”7 The following sections of this chapter analyze stories concerning the later Nuh alHabshi (d. 1866), who was another such peripatetic, “mad”, and allegedly unworthy sayyid keramat. Transmitted in Malay and Tamil hagiographies and poems, his keramatic traditions furnish rich histories of Islamic circulation and belonging across the Bay of Bengal. Indeed, in employing what I call keramatic traditions, this chapter is inspired by a range of scholarly works pertaining to micro-historical investigations of, in Ginzburg’s words, “fairy-tale and absolutely exceptional” traditions and “anomalous” individuals.8 It proposes that records replete with accounts that Feierman claims “appear irrational in terms of the logic of academic historical narratives” can nonetheless serve as sources of social history.9 Moreover, this chapter is attentive to how twentieth-century authors have progressively written self-reflexive and didactic histories whereby keramatic travel pivots upon the western Indian Ocean rather than the Bay of Bengal, transforming once-Tamil or occasionally Malay saints into paragons of Arab virtue, and honoring cousins and ancestors interred in the Tarim Valley in Hadramawt, in modern Yemen. For instance, Sumit K. Mandal describes Nuh al-Habshi as a Hadrami whose prominent mausoleum “superseded” the tomb of his fellow Hadrami “Sayyid Yassin the trader” which had been venerated until the twentieth century.10 Indeed, it built very much on the fame of the former, with Sayyid Nuh’s alleged criminality and insanity being linked to remembrances of the mortification of Yasin’s body by select members of his cult and shaykh-historians seeking to tell both of their histories of circulation across the Bay of Bengal.

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Nor is this to say that Nuh al-Habshi is the only heir to Sayyid Yasin. An 1892 Malay epistle of Abdullah al-Aydarus—the Melakan imam and descendant of the Singaporean lady keramat Siti Maryam al-Aydarus (d. 1853)—mentioned Yasin as a fellow “keramat in the path of God” who possessed “feet” in Surat in Gujarat, Pahang on the Malay Peninsula, Pasai on Sumatra, and of course the island of Singapore itself. He was moreover endowed with faculties of teleportation to guide pilgrim vessels across the Bay of Bengal, and as member of a fraternity of itinerant Sufis (including Siti Maryam herself) who had sacralized Singapore through their interred bodies. And while Abdullah al-Aydarus berated a list of aspirant keramats and local miracle-men (pawang) of his day as sprouting “bastards” and “pests who multiplied but never died,” he stressed that Yasin’s erratic conduct (i.e. the stabbing of Farquhar) was, by contrast, attributable to the wrathful majesty of a majzub (Ar. majdhub) rendering him as an ecstatic in a state of intense attraction to the Divine (Ar. jadhb) as opposed to any “Christian” conceptions of his merely being amok.11 Beyond this too, a hagiography now being composed by the Qadiri-Naqshbandi shaykh, Ghouse Khan Surattee, together with the custodian of the disputed tomb of Sayyid Nuh’s granddaughter, Sharifah Ruqaiyah (d. 1891), has claimed Yasin as a member of a mystical fraternity. These men are presented as part-time merchants who had traveled directly from Hadramawt in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and contributed to the sanctification of the modern port cities of the Malay World with their propagation of their Sufi order among Muslim sojourners and settlers alike (including sympathetic European Christians).12 With their chains of transmission and licenses (ijaza) connecting written traditions to original memorizers and transmitters of Yasin’s history, the Tamil and Hadrami custodians of the sayyid’s shrine, along with the amok-keramat’s hagiographers, retell histories of his physiological death as bearing witness to the blessing (berkat) of Sayyid Yasin’s very body, which exuded the Qur’anic Surat Yasin to “instantaneously convert kafirs to Islam.”13 In spite of reputedly having the ability to teleport himself out of cells and cages, and even across the Indian Ocean, Yasin had apparently desired to be martyred by the keramat-hunting Farquhar, who had already endeavored to desanctify Singapore’s “Prohibited Hill” (Bukit Larangan), later known as Government Hill. Bukit Larangan was believed to be the burial site of the fourteenth-century ruler Iskandar Shah, over which Farquhar had commanded a company of sepoys from Malacca to fire twelve canon rounds and hoist the Union Jack before the native Malays in 1819.14 Now hanging “dead” in March of 1823, yet with an ineradicable “smile on his face,” Sayyid Yasin foretold that Farquhar would be forced to slip away from Singapore, disgraced and regretful for not begging him for pardon. Indeed, quite in contrast to the “falling flag” of Farquhar, who was dismissed by Raffles on May 1, 1823, after a series of disputes, Yasin’s remains would sacralize the port city, claiming Singapore for residents with the “flag of Islam.”15 Among those flag wavers would be a “Kling” (southern Indian) shoplifter called Nuh, who would ultimately be interred a few steps away from where Yasin had been displayed, and where an old Parsee graveyard has now made way for a new Mass Rapid Transit station.

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The “Kling” shoplifter-prophet An old Kling man, who has been reckoned as a prophet by the Mohammedans in this settlement for the last 50 years, died the other day … great obsequies were performed at his funeral … there were amongst the company the four Europeans, who … [had been] converted to Islamism … the deceased was in the habit of taking every thing he wished from money-changers, which he afterwards invariably distributed amongst the poorer of his countrymen. All the hack carriages were free to him, the syces being prevented by the awe with which he inspired them. —The Singapore Free Press, August 2, 1866 In his Graves of Tarim, Engseng Ho, mapping the Hadrami diaspora onto a skein of graves across the Indian Ocean, mentioned that of the alleged Kling extortionist, whom he knows as “Ḥabīb Nūḥ.” As Ho describes it, the grave lies in downtown Singapore, some ten minutes’ walk from the shore (given decades of land reclamation), surrounded by framed genealogies connecting this “Hadrami sayyid” with “siblings in Penang” and patrilineal “ascendants in Hadramawt.”16 Indeed, while Nuh is today attributed an ultimately Arab identity as Sayyid Nuh al-Habshi, which he was indeed called in a lithograph of 1891/2 showing his tomb still at the shoreline (much as it had been marked in a map drawn by McNair in 1878; see Figure 3.1), this claiming sits at odds both with its form, which resembles a Hindu temple (candi), and the first histories compiled about him, starting with Mukamuttu Aptul Katir’s 1896 lithographed compendium of poems the Kirttanattirattu, which

Figure 3.1 Map of Singapore drawn by Tsering Wangyal Shawa and based on the Map of the Town and Environs of Singapore drawn by John F.A. McNair, 1878. Cf. National Archives of Singapore, Media-Image no. 20120001620-0011. Permission for usage gratefully acknowledged.

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implies a Tamil identity.17 Certainly, his identity has shifted in a range of twentiethcentury Malay hagiographies. These include an untitled chapbook, found on nearby Penyengat Island in the library of Sayyid Nuh’s great-grandson, Nuh bin Abdullah bin Ahmad Salikin al-Habshi (1911–2007). This work was followed by the Kramat Sayyid Noh of 1956 and the Sepintas Lalu Mengenai Riwayat Habib Noh of 1964, both typed and printed by a Singaporean descendant, Abdullah bin Ahmad al-Attas. Nuh then became one of seven Malay exemplars of the Tujuh Wali Melayu, a collection penned in 1993 by Abdul Ghani Said, the shaykh of the now-banned Malaysian Sufi movement Darul Arqam. More recently again he has been the subject of a “primer of history” by Ghouse Khan Surattee in the form of his 1999 Lambang Terukhir, of which 6,000 copies have been printed since 2006.18 According to Surattee, his Lambang Terukhir is a compendium of “correct histories” brought down by attested chains connecting popular anecdotes and twentieth-century tellings to their “original” transmitters and memorizers. In introducing “students of Islamic history” to Sayyid Nuh’s origins, Surattee indicated that, ever since his death in 1866, hagiographers, descendants, and tomb custodians alike have regularly differed over the precise homeland of the sayyid keramat, with Kedah and Penang in Malaya or yet Hadramawt being the key sites proposed. That said, these transmitters were positive “due to historical detail” about Nuh’s routes across the Indian Ocean and his attested arrival as an infant in the nascent East India Company port city of Penang by 1788 and his eventual migration to Singapore for its founding by 1819.19 Indeed, Surattee prefers to document a “broadly acknowledged” tradition of Nuh’s birth occurring in AH 1202/3 (1788) in the midst of a perilous passage across the “lethally stormy” Indian Ocean that was facilitated by the miraculous intervention of his oceangoing namesake, Noah.20 This trope of keramatic life being peripatetically marked by oceanic routes and port cities that were in turn sites of miracles is not peculiar to the hagiographies of Sayyid Nuh. Those of another sayyid interred in north Jakarta, Husayn al-Aydarus (d. 1756), similarly emphasize that, in spite of considerable uncertainty about his origins, during his life the keramat had called at the Yemeni port of Mukalla (1733), the Indian hub of Surat (1734/1735), and finally Dutch Batavia (1736) given the attested “historical evidence” of the saint’s miracles in these cities.21 Indeed, in editing historical traditions of Sayyid Husayn preserved by his descendant Muznah al-Aydarus (d. 1954), the 1998 hagiography Sepintas Riwayat Shahibul Qutub Al-Habib Hussein bin Abubakar Alaydarus proposed that the sayyid once said to have been from Gujarat had actually been born “someplace in South Yemen, Hadhramaut” and that he had been subsequently impelled to the Islamically remote port cities of Surat and Batavia in order to propagate Islam.22 In a similar vein, the Lambang Terukhir Surattee relied upon a rendition of the “broadly acknowledged” tradition of Sayyid Nuh’s oceanic birth traceable to an early twentieth-century custodian of his tomb, Muhammad bin Ahmad Bilkhair, subsequently preserved and transmitted by his successor Hassan al-Khatib (d. 2005). This rendition tempered assertions of Sayyid Nuh’s “Kling” pedigree and Tamil Muslim kin networks traceable to the Malay Sultanate of Kedah before 1786 and then to the English settlement of Penang thereafter.23 Surattee preferred to state that the

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fetal keramat was conceived in Hadramaut and delivered en route to Penang and that Sayyid Nuh possessed an elaborate genealogy linking him via patrilineal descent to such sayyids of the Hadramawt as the “famous saint, the Master of Shi’b,” Ahmad alHabshi. Moreover, the Lambang Terukhir relied upon the memories of fellow QadiriNaqshbandi shaykhs to recount Sayyid Nuh’s migration to Singapore in 1819 as having been driven by his appointment by the allegedly Qadiri-Naqshbandi sheikh, Salim Ba Sumayr (d. 1853).24 This last account is highly problematic, given that their particular order only emerged in the city in the 1860s via the efforts of the Bornean shaykh Ahmad Khatib Sambas (d. 1872), who had merged the rites of the Naqshbandiyya with the pedigree of the Qadiriyya.25 Indeed, Surattee’s endeavor to write a sober Sufi history of Sayyid Nuh’s travels, settlement, and comportment was compromised by the overwhelming prevalence of, as he acknowledged, histories of Sayyid Nuh as keramat who was neither venerated for his Arab patrilineal genealogies nor yet served in either Penang or Singapore as a teacher who had bequeathed any physical inheritance, whether in the form of mosques, educational institutions, books, or even adepts.26 Indeed, the earlier traditions documented in the Tamil Kirttanattirattu and Malay accounts—transmitted by older custodians, descendants such as Abdullah al-Attas, or yet luminaries like Muhammad bin Abdur Rahman al-Aydarus (1817–1917)—were far more preoccupied with describing Sayyid Nuh’s career as one of performing in the most carnivalesque fashion. For it is in these sources that we see the same sayyid referred to in the European obituaries of 1866. Here is the miracle-working “alim of the street, devoid of robe, turban or yet rosary,” who was far more comfortable with subalterns.27 Such narrations unanimously celebrated his Islamic life as one of Yasinlike travel (via teleportation), eccentricity, nakedness, ecstasy, crime, madness, and even childishness, generating publicly “verifiable” miracles.28 Yet all these histories—whether compiled in Surattee’s compendium of admittedly problematic traditions, Abdullah al-Attas’s earlier chapbooks, or those collected by the Penang-based Imran Sayyid Ahmad—agree that Sayyid Nuh’s keramatic career commenced in his youth in Penang. Local Muslim associates there attested that the child regularly sported extracts of the Qur’anic text (Surat Yunus) upon his forehead. Later, from around 1803, and when the teenager was employed as a humble clerk at the port of Teluk Air Tawar, near Fort Butterworth, he gained a distinct reputation among sojourning merchants, coolies, and his Straits Chinese employers, as being endowed with fortune (tuah) for business.29 While conceding that the young sayyid probably “tolerated” the Penang Chinese community’s veneration of him as a Datuk Ong, making him the beneficiary of regular donations of cigars, Surattee stressed that the teenager’s smoking was purely driven by his self-sacrificial urge to appease his Chinese votaries.30 Anecdotal histories of Sayyid Nuh’s public miracles largely relate to the keramat’s subsequent period of residence in Singapore, from its foundation (and his not coincidental arrival) in 1819 to his passing in 1866. It was from here that the so-called alim of the street and docks protected itinerant South Indian and Arab merchants alike in the course of their travels, while also sheltering urban laborers, fishermen, and syces at a port plagued by poverty, crime, and the lack of basic services. Regarding the first

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set of beneficiaries of Nuh’s largesse, the hagiographies document a specific tradition of the keramat’s intercession on behalf of a South Indian merchant whose “unspoken” anxieties and pledges were expressed at junctures between the Coromandel Coast and Singapore. His plight was apparently “heard” by Sayyid Nuh, who guaranteed his survival by bestowing “secure travel” upon him, even plunging into the Ocean to “shoulder” vessels being swamped by storms. At the precise moment of his client’s safe arrival at the dock of Keppel Harbour (abutting the site of his eventual tomb), Sayyid Nuh would appear to collect Coromandel cloth which had been pledged to him, and which he would see redistributed to the poor.31 In similar fashion, the Lambang Terukhir contains a tradition transmitted by an early twentieth-century woman healer, Sharifah Lu’luk (Baba Lok), which related Sayyid Nuh’s protection of an anxious Yemeni merchant who beseeched the keramat for “safety,” through his famous power of insight which he had regularly revealed in public, and which was even reported in the pages of the Singapore Free Press.32 Foreseeing the capsize of a ship the Yemeni was about to board at Keppel Harbour, Sayyid Nuh playfully plopped himself upon his luggage and began the recitation of a protracted prayer that concluded well beyond the time of departure, saving the “confused” yet unflinchingly devoted traveler from boarding and death.33 Histories of Sayyid Nuh’s career outlined in the accounts of Nuh bin Abdallah alHabshi, al-Attas, and Surattee further described his Friday teleportations to the Ka’aba in Mecca where he immersed himself in the company of his fellow walis (friends of God)—including the aforementioned Ahmad Khatib Sambas. Alternatively, he was said to transport himself to ghost-infested junctures of the Bay of Bengal to aid captains, merchants, lascars, and fishermen alike, transmitting the esoteric sciences of the ocean and of “mastering vessels.”34 Such traditions are attested in the early twentieth century in the work of the then Director of Education for the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States, Richard O. Winstedt (1878–1966), whom we shall next meet in Henley’s chapter. In studies such as his 1925 work on “Malay” magic, Shaman, Saiva and Sufi, Winstedt told how Sayyid Nuh had been a “humble clerk” who had forsaken “the pride of the eye and the lusts of the flesh for religious asceticism until he could appear in several places at once.” He also indulged in exercises of “losing consciousness” in the manner of ecstatic shamans, Malay village mystics, or yet “Brahmin ascetics” who, in “hypnotic slumber,” gained “deliverance from the cycle of existence with power” and were able to transport themselves “anywhere at will.”35 While reporting such powers, more recent hagiographies such as the Lambang Terukhir place greater emphasis upon his intimate relationships with cosmopolitan merchants who were patrons of the architectural expansion of his tomb, and who had hierarchical positions in the cult by the turn of the century. These merchants included the Batavia-based merchant and associate of Nuh, Hajji Muhammad Salleh, and the Singapore-based Hadrami businessman Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Saqqaf.36 That said, most extant traditions still remain conscious of his particular intimacy with fellow “vagrant” fakir miskin or the urban poor. As the original articles in the Singapore Free Press attest, and which of course inflected the oral traditions around him, in life Sayyid Nuh had developed a notorious reputation as a shoplifter who

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helped himself to the coffers of shops and hawkers, who “sprinkled” the stolen cash upon the fakir miskin and a constant entourage of children. The hagiographer Surattee relies on traditions traceable to unspecified sayyids to normalize the fellow Hadrami’s shoplifting and propose that he was merely extracting “voluntary alms taxes and charity,” and that his extortionist touch was often welcomed by his Muslim targets for the blessing (berkat) it gave.37 Whereas, by the same token, the keramat’s hagiographers were careful to record episodes of non-Muslim businessmen suffering the commercial ramifications of thwarting Sayyid Nuh’s shoplifting, reports of a 1957 litigation over the distribution of the surplus from charities given to his descendants at his mausoleum are revelatory of the ongoing traditions that cultivated a logic of worshippers which associated even “extortionary” gift-giving to the keramat with the translation of berkat into everyday lives.38 In spite of being put in line with the Sharia by twentieth-century editors, as we shall see below, inherited traditions of Sayyid Nuh are compelling portrayals of an Islam that was preoccupied with basic questions of power and survival which the keramat possessed and his clients in turn accessed via devotion and donation.39 The 1896 Kirttanattirattu—which commences with eulogies in praise of the Prophet Muhammad, Abd al-Qadir Jilani (d. 1166), and the sixteenth-century Shah al-Hamid of Nagore (1490–1579), whose mosque-mausoleum was replicated in Singapore, Penang, and Rangoon by the late nineteenth century—concludes with a panegyric describing an Islam of itinerant Muslim laborers centered upon Sayyid Nukoliyulla (Nuh Waliyullah) of Tanjung Pagar. For here “the people who produced clothes” who were displaced over the “Bengal shore”—being the Muslim weavers and small-scale brokers who had migrated to the Straits Settlements with the decline of their industry in southern Tamilnad—are plagued by “suppressions,” “difficulties,” “torturous labours,” and “worries” which, if spoken of, “would require more than a crore of ages.” Yet their hearts would be “filled with happiness” at the accessible feet of Sayyid Nuh. Their keramat and axis of Islam on the Bengal shore is, in turn, lauded as empowering “immense wealth,” and one who “excels in the world in the fashion of nine pearls,” enjoying “unfading distinction” and possessing “entirety” in his hand that is bedecked with “golden bangles,” even if in life he had opted to reside in the spaces where the “humble people” made their homes or yet in the company of the “people who produced clothes.”40 Yet Nuh did not just belong to the Tamil Muslims. In a similar vein, Abdullah alAttas and Surattee trace the popular conception of Sayyid Nuh as the “pole of Islam in Malaya (tanah Melayu)” by recounting traditions pertaining to the 1848 blasting of Batu Belayer. This was a well-known mass that had hampered navigation of the Singapore River, whose nearby community of Malay Muslim settlers he ensured would be rehoused and rehabilitated with the destruction of the rock that had acted as their premodern shrine.41 Certainly, the Malay hagiographies of Sayyid Nuh compiled in Penang, Riau, and Singapore are replete with miracles of healing, rainmaking, and “crime busting” that serve as compelling portrayals of the social composition of the keramat’s cult, and the religious terms through which select urban audiences interpreted perils and for whom

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keramats provided an avenue for the articulation of remedies.42 These memorialized histories concern the omnipotent keramat who was impervious to epidemics and adverse climate alike, “popping up” in the homes of urban laborers to instantaneously heal malnourished, ill, or even dying children with poses, charms, and conversions of water into milk. As the 1866 obituaries in the Singapore Free Press attest, Sayyid Nuh was deemed especially dear to the carriage men and syces who would battle “real” muggers with his assistance.43 If the hagiographies of the eighteenth-century Husayn al-Aydarus celebrated his messianic powers of rainmaking that bestowed fertility upon Surat as the “city of death” plagued by the “disaster of drought and epidemic of cholera” in 1734/35, Sayyid Nuh’s hagiographies unanimously record a tradition of the keramat’s gift of rain to droughtstricken fishermen in Singapore. “Descending into a well, naked” and “stretching his hands in prayer,” Sayyid Nuh ascended only once the rain began falling to remind drenched listeners that “absolute devotion” translated into the manifestation of God’s power in their lives and “fulfilled desires.”44

Writing accurate histories of the untamable faqir Playing with the children … you were always seen with the crowd of small boys … Sayyid [Nuh] you excelled teasing the wrongdoer … teasing him in the settlement … you always excelled. —Mukamuttu Aptul Katir, Kirttanattirattu, 46–47 As is already clear, a range of twentieth-century hagiographers, from Hajji Muhammad Said Al-Linggi (d. 1926) of the Thariqah Ahmadiyah Idrisiyah in Rasah (Negri Sembilan), to Abdul Ghani Said and Suratee, have struggled to expurgate or rationalize what they deem to be apocryphal and inauthentic traditions pertaining to the Tamilness of Sayyid Nuh, the apparently underaged and mixed social composition of his contemporaneous cult, and the genesis of his nakedness, criminality, and/or madness. As Surattee averred, he had omitted numerous “apocryphal and inauthentic anecdotes transmitted by lay tellers [that] were not in line with the Sharia … making a friend of Satan out of the friend of God.”45 Indeed, his Lambang Terukhir, which was “edited and put in line with the Sharia” by the National Mufti of Singapore, refuses to record still-circulating traditions related to Sayyid Nuh’s intimate relationships with non-Muslim faqirs. Such holy men include Bhai Maharaj Singh (d. 1856), a Sikh exile whose miracles Surattee concedes “were seen by tens of thousands,” and whose garments were reputedly bequeathed to Sayyid Nuh upon Bhai Maharaj’s cell death in July 1856 (though as Naidu notes in the next chapter, there is another candidate for this boon). Then again, Surattee refuses to entertain the tradition that Sayyid Nuh was visited at the future site of his mausoleum by the Muslim “apostate” and time-traveling Sikh, Guru Nanak (d. 1539).46 Negating the veracity of traditions that were reflections of an earlier Sikh constituency of the keramat’s cult, Surattee further omits a discussion of Sayyid Nuh’s other local “friends,” such as the Chinese spirit mediums based in the Fook Tet Soo

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Hakka Temple (founded in 1844) that lay within meters of his eventual grave. He also rejects the need to incorporate claims that the saint had donated his few remaining possessions to the Hakka temple just prior to his physiological death. Having inherited a few direct sentences uttered by the lips of the keramat, including one wherein the Hakka-proficient Sayyid Nuh supposedly declared his appreciation for a Chinese opera performed in the vicinity of the temple which “left impressions” upon him and allowed him to “derive many moral lessons,” Surattee prefers to portray his “Hadrami” as a shaykh who supervised the Islamic observances and Qur’anic readings of his devotees and taught the faith to his entourage in the course of his carnivalesque public life.47 Yet the transition from Tamil to Arab was hardly linear. In a similar vein, though pushing in a different ethnic direction, Abdul Ghani Said’s chapter on Sayyid Nuh in the Tujuh Wali Melayu implies a historical tradition of Malayness transmitted by Muhammad Said al-Linggi and preserved by his disciple Muhammad Abu Bakar, who narrated it in 1991. Here we find Sayyid Nuh teleporting to Mount Qaf, the “highest peak of Sufi ascension,” together with al-Linggi to attend an “assembly of walis.” At this meeting, presided over by the Prophet Muhammad himself, Sayyid Nuh and al-Linggi served as agents of the Malay World phrased as the “community of this side” (umat sebelah sini), negotiating the protection of the Muslim community from a smallpox epidemic unleashed by God upon Western Malaya and claiming the lives of kafirs in the interior.48 While such stagings and contacts with the Prophet would clearly be contentious for many Muslims today, in writing histories of (Malay) keramats such as Sayyid Nuh, Abdul Ghani Said acknowledges that shaykh historians like himself are defending the Islamic nature of their Sufism today against “condemnation” and “insults” levied by their opponents.49 Indeed, the Darul Arqam shaykh warned his readers against saintbashing literature, stating that “condemning” and “insulting” keramats is tantamount to insulting God. Even if “modern sensibilities” might be susceptible to failure to understand the seemingly “aberrant” comportment of keramats and wali majzubs such as Sayyid Nuh, these ecstatics were unrivalled friends of God whose symptoms are to be interpreted as divine favor. Beyond this, they served as resources to access God’s power as they enjoyed His ear and powers to bring rain or increased livelihood, for the benefit of obedient believers. Certainly, critiques of such claims are hardly new either. Both the 1941 chapbook of Nuh bin Abdullah al-Habshi and many of the older elements reproduced in the Lambang Terukhir include sections cautioning readers against the ominous ramifications of insulting keramats and majzubs who appeared “errant” and “mad” to the veiled human eye. Such denial could even result in death as kafirs or yet deprivation from the intercession of Sayyid Nuh upon the Day of Judgment.50 Even so, ever since the efforts of Nuh bin Abdullah al-Habshi, hagiographers have been devoted toward normalizing the behavior of the keramat who roamed the streets naked with an entourage of beardless boys—an act once praised in the 1896 Kirttanattirattu, which celebrated his excellence in “teasing the wrongdoer.” Equally his colonial “crimes,” which led to periods of incarceration in prisons and asylums, have been presented as proof of his elevated state of ecstasy. In this area, we find broad agreement. For just as traditions transmitted by a range of Malayan Sufi elders, such as

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al-Linggi and Muhammad bin Abdullah Suhaimi (d. 1925), pertained to Sayyid Nuh’s intimacy with the Prophet Muhammad, Surattee and Abdul Ghani Said propose that a list of apparently “erratic” keramats throughout history, including the peripatetic Khidr, have confounded even the prophets, and that the stature of certain keramats and majdhubs (including, by implication, Sayyid Nuh) may even have surpassed the Prophet Muhammad in terms of their spectacular powers.51 Indeed, we have already seen the attribution of the state of divine attraction or jadhb to the aforementioned “amok” Sayyid Yasin. The Malay hagiographies of Sayyid Nuh, too, emphasize his state of jadhb rather than any alleged madness. But while the Kirttanattirattu celebrated Sayyid Nuh’s regular sessions of publicly “teasing” the “wrongdoer” without describing his physical state, those of Nuh bin Abdullah alHabshi, Abdul Ghani Said, and Surattee all take comfort from recounting how the half-naked, street-roaming, and seemingly mad ecstatic would have violent encounters with representatives of the East India Company, even outwitting them by escaping the bonds of prison or the asylum.52 This career of confronting, outwitting, and belittling European power in Singapore was portrayed in Nuh bin Abdullah al-Habshi’s chapbook through several anecdotes. In the first instance, we find Sayyid Nuh clashing with Farquhar’s successor, John Crawfurd (1783–1868, in office 1823–26), and when he was known to be living at Kampung Kaji with Hajji Abdullah Jalil (d. 1827): From the time of Sir Stamford Raffles, the Christian rulers of Singapore were never contented with allowing the ways of Sayyid Nuh to continue unhindered, and multiple efforts were undertaken to restrict Sayyid Nuh and arrest his movement … On one occasion, in proximity to the Sultan Mosque, Sir John Crawfurd was riding in his carriage in full pomposity when he caught sight of Sayyid Nuh who was sailing the street in a state of jazb without a robe … and with an entourage of children … The kafir looked upon Sayyid Nuh as a madman and a danger to Christian rule, so he halted his carriage to intimidate Sayyid Nuh into offering him a bow …. Yet Crawfurd was toppled from [his carriage] belittled … [Upon being counselled by his slaves] a hesitant and awe-struck Crawfurd chased after Sayyid Nuh to beg for forgiveness … [Time passed and] Sayyid Nuh remained undeterred in his engaged devotion to helping sectors of the society that were suffering … So the recidivist Governor Crawfurd ordered his slaves to arrest Sayyid Nuh and confine him with his legs and hands tied … [Yet to the astonishment of the] guards, Sayyid Nuh was outside of the cell … but inside at the same time. At other times, too, [the imprisoned] Sayyid Nuh would be spotted with an entourage of children on the street.

Equally one of Nuh’s former housemates after 1827, Faqih Umar (d. 1866), reported that while he was being sought by the authorities in the early 1850s, Sayyid Nuh “shocked the rule of the white man of Singapore by walking the street with a tiger” which he had apparently domesticated in the course of establishing a village (kampung) at Marang Road, in 1852. Later again, Shaykh Idris al-Qaurawani, who, like Nuh and Faqih Umar, is assigned the death year of 1866, reported that during his final year when

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confined on St. John’s Island for the not-so-masculine ailment of “hysteria,” Sayyid Nuh had joined him and walked back to Singapore over the water. He also reported that at Nuh’s own funeral the saint apparently refused to allow the shroud to be placed over his body until four white men (apparently the four converts mentioned in the Singapore Free Press obituary of August 2, 1866) bowed to kiss his feet.53 These memories of Sayyid Nuh’s toppling, outfoxing, and even domesticating of European power appear almost verbatim in the later texts of Abdul Ghani Said and Surattee, albeit mixing the names of representatives of the East India Company (confusing Raffles, Farquhar, and Crawfurd, for example) and the sites of incarceration. The Lambang Terukhir further adds an anecdote of the keramat’s confinement in the cell of an islet asylum in the 1850s, which was transmitted by the Singaporean QadiriNaqshbandi, Sayyid Abdullah al-Saqqaf (d. 1998). In this instance, set a decade prior to his 1866 escape, Sayyid Nuh sketched an image of a ship on the wall of the cell he shared with an actual madman oblivious to his state of jadhb, and miraculously escaped via the sketched vessel.54 The trope of keramatic life, marked by coercive encounters with European power and regular episodes of transforming penal institutions into sites of miracles, was not peculiar to the historical traditions of Sayyid Nuh. The hagiographies of a range of saints, including the aforementioned Sayyid Husayn, the cannabis-puffing, “mad” Aurangabadi Banne Miyan (d. 1921), and the founding master of the Muridiyya in Senegal, Amadu Bamba (d. 1927), are similarly replete with memorialized histories of their teleportations from European institutions.55 For instance, the traditions transmitted by Muznah al-Aydarus compiled in Sepintas Riwayat recount episodes of the sober Sayyid Husayn’s confrontations with Islamophobic representatives of the Dutch East India Company who accompanied him on his migration from Surat to Batavia in 1736.56 Equally, Sayyid Husayn’s hagiographers emphasize that after his arrival, “walls and steel trellis alike were incapable of impeding [him] in propagating Islam.”57 The religion of prophet and port was here to stay.

Conclusion This chapter has discussed traditions about Sayyid Nuh transmitted in Malay and Tamil hagiographies and poems that furnish histories of Islamic circulation and belonging across the Bay of Bengal in the nineteenth century, paying attention to diverse historical memories of the reputedly illiterate keramat and his sacralization of its new port cities, and above all cosmopolitan Singapore. To be sure, these accounts, now being sorted and straightened by Ghouse Suratee, grant us access to a world where “Malay,” “Tamil,” and “Arab” Muslims rubbed shoulders with sojourners of Chinese origin. Now, of course, it seems less fitting that Nuh may have patronized the Chinese opera, or yet that he wandered the streets naked and robbed the stalls of sellers in the local market, much as others claim he had a link to the Sikh exile Bhai Maharaj Singh, who is the subject in part of the next chapter. Whatever the truth of his behavior and associations, it is clear that his devotees believe that Islam has its place, and as a blessing for all, in what is now a very Chinese

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city replete with so many Western street names and the odd statue. Surattee’s Lambang Terukhir even concludes with a reflection upon a reference to the “flow of berkat” in the Qur’anic Surat al-Kahf, and proceeds to compare the “dead” statue of Raffles to the “perpetual living presence” of Sayyid Nuh. Certainly, it was already apparent in a transcript of the 1911 Pandangan Setengah Solihin Terhadap Habib Nuh Al-Habshi, preserved by Nuh bin Abdullah Al-Habshi, that the shrine had acquired a reputation as a key hub for accessing the living power of God’s transferrable berkat across the Indian Ocean.58 In one section, the Pandangan Setengah Solihin documents a tradition related to Muhammad bin Idrus al-Habshi (1848–1913). Muhammad bin Idrus had been in a despairing search for a shrine to cleanse the “haziness of [the] inner heart” that led him to the Ka’aba without success. Now he found himself following his shaykh’s earlier advice, visiting Singapore and the keramat of Sayyid Nuh. Arriving at the mausoleum and climbing up to the grave, the Arab seeker slipped and tumbled down the steep steps, only to arise from their base with the sensation of having at last had “the haziness of the inner heart unveiled and the esoteric eye beginning to sharpen.”59

Notes 1

2 3 4

5 6 7

8 9

10

Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, “Darihal Kornel Farquhar Kena Tikam,” in Teks Hikayat Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir Munsyi. Edisi Cap Batu 1849, ed. Amin Sweeney (Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, 2008), 391–96. Ibid., 392–93. Ibid., 393–94. J.T. Thomson, Translations from the Hakayit Abdullah (Bin Abdulkadar), Munshi (London: King, 1874), 316; Sanjay Krishnan, “Reading Globalization from the Margin: The Case of Munshi Abdullah,” Representations 99, no. 1 (2007): 40–73, at 62–64. Amin Sweeney, “Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir Munsyi: A Man of Bananas and Thorns,” Indonesia and the Malay World 34, no. 100 (2006): 223–45, at 235. H. Eric Miller, “Letters of Colonel Nahujis,” JMBRAS 19, no. 2 (1941): 169–209, at 195. “The Day the Holy Man ran Amok,” ST, August 15, 1954, 14; “Grave of Man Who Knifed British Resident Became a Shrine,” ST, March 19, 1955, 9; C.B. Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore: (with Portraits and Illustrations) From the Foundation of the Settlement under the Honourable East India Company, on February 6th, 1819, to the Transfer of the Colonial Office as Part of the Colonial Possessions of the Crown on April 1st, 1867 (Singapore: Fraser & Neave, 1902), 97–103. Carlo Ginzburg, Threads and Traces: True False Fictive, trans. Anne and John Tedeschi (Berkeley : University of California Press, 2012), 202, 213, 218, 222–23. Steven Feierman, “Scholars, Colonizers, and the Creation of Invisible Histories,” in Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture, eds. Victoria E. Bonnell, Lynn Avery Hunt, and Richard Biernacki (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1999), 187–88. Sumit K. Mandal, “Popular Sites of Prayer, Transoceanic Migration, and Cultural Diversity: Exploring the Significance of Keramat in Southeast Asia,” MAS 46, no. 2 (2012): 355–72, at 363.

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29 30 31 32

33

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal I am grateful to Muhammad Hashim for allowing me to read Abdullah Al-Aydarus’s 1892 epistles and a series of documents pertaining to Siti Maryam Al-Aydarus (d. 1853). For further details of the epistle, see my “Pawangs on the Malay Frontier: Miraculous Intermediaries of Rice, Ore, Beasts and Guns” (PhD Diss., UCLA, 2013). Ghouse Khan Surattee and Muhammad Ridhwan, custodian of the grave of Sharifah Ruqaiyah, have charitably spent various sessions with me between 2010 and 2015, narrating traditions compiled in this as yet unpublished hagiography. Cited from narration of Muhammad Ridhwan, Singapore, August 2011. Buckley, Anecdotal History, 53; Abdullah, Teks Hikayat Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir Munsyi, 366. Cited from narration of Muhammad Ridhwan, Singapore, August 2011. Engseng Ho, The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility Across the Indian Ocean (Berkeley : University of California Press, 2006), 195. For images of Nuh’s tomb, see Jérôme Samuel, “Iconographie de la présence turque dans le monde malais: ce que dit la peinture sous verre javanais,” Archipel 87 (2014): 103–42, at 140–41. Nuh bin Abdullah bin Ahmad Salikin Al-Habshi, Untitled [Hagiography] (Riau, 1941); Abdullah bin Ahmad al-Attas, Kramat Sayyid Noh (Singapore, 1956); Abdullah bin Ahmad al-Attas, Sepintas Lalu Mengenai Riwayat Habib Noh (Singapore, 1964); Abdul Ghani Said, Tujuh Wali Melayu (Kuala Lumpur: Penerbitan Hikmah, 1993); Ghouse Khan Surattee, Lambang Terukhir: Dalam mengisahkan Manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir (Singapore: Unit Dakwah Masjid Al-Firdaus, 2006). Henceforth I will cite the expanded edition of 2011. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 35, 42–43. Ibid., 34. See Muznah binti Husein Al-Aydarus’s unpublished compendium of 1951 and that of her nephew, Abdullah bin Abu Bakar Al-Aydarus: Sepintas Riwayat Shahibul Qutub Al-Habib Husein bin Abubakar Alaydarus: Memuat Karomah Kampung Luar Batang (Jakarta: Makam Keramat Luar Batang, 1998). See Muznah binti Husein Al-Aydarus, Sepintas Riwayat Shahibul Qutub. Abdullah Al-Aydarus, Inilah Surat Dato Imam Abdullah Al-Aydarus [2] (Singapore: Kampung Kallang, 1892). This was preserved in Muhammad Hashim’s private library in Kampung Kallang. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 42–43. Michael Laffan, The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), 54. Abdul Ghani Said, Tujuh Wali Melayu, 18. Abdullah Al-Attas, Kramat Sayyid Noh, 3. See, for instance, Abd Ghani Said, Tujuh Wali Melayu, 16–26; Abdullah Al-Attas, Kramat Sayyid Noh; Abdullah Al-Attas, Sepintas Lalu Mengenai Riwayat Habib Noh; Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 47–62. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 36–37. Ibid., 37. Abdul Ghani Said, Tujuh Wali Melayu, 22; Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 53. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 53–55. For an example of “Nabi Noah’s” power of insight being reported in the pages of The Singapore Free Press, there is the court testimony of the brother of the Temenggong, Inchi Wan Madjit, during manslaughter litigation associated with the sayyid’s funeral, “Criminal Session,” The SFP, October 10, 1866. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 54.

Keramats Running Amuck 34 35

36 37 38

39

40 41

42

43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

56 57 58 59

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Nuh bin Abdullah Al-Habshi, Untitled [Hagiography], 5, 8; Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 61–62. R.O. Winstedt, Shaman, Saiva and Sufi: A Study of the Evolution of Malay Magic (London: Constable, 1925), 14, 135; Winstedt, “More Notes on Malay Magic,” JMBRAS 5, No. 2 (100) (1927): 342–47, at 342–44. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 44–45, 58–59, 69. Ibid., 52. Ibid., 55; B.A. Mallal, “Re Shrine of Sayyid Noh,” The Malayan Law Journal 23 (1957): 140–41. Also see Buckley, Anecdotal History, 729; “An Old Kling Man,” SFP, August 2, 1866; “Criminal Session,” SFP, October 10, 1866. Also refer to Nile Green, “Making a ‘Muslim’ Saint: Writing Customary Religion in an Indian Princely State,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25, no. 3 (2005) 617–33, at 622; and “Jack Sepoy and the Dervishes: Islam and the Indian Soldier in Princely Hyderabad,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 18, no. 1 (2008): 31–46, at 36. Mukamuttu Aptulkatirup Pulavar, Na. Mu., Kirttanattirattu (Singapore, 1896), 46–48. Buckley, Anecdotal History, 489; C.A. Gibson-Hill, “Singapore Notes on the Old Strait 1580–1850,” JMBRAS 27, no. 1 (May 1954): 163–214, at 208; “Settlement Surveyor Blew Up Batu Belayer (Lot’s Wife),” Singapore Free Press, August 17, 1848. See Nuh bin Abdullah Al-Habshi, Untitled [Hagiography], 3–4; Abdullah Al-Attas, Kramat Sayyid Noh; Abdul Ghani Said, Tujuh Wali Melayu, 19–20; Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 51–55, 57. SFP, August 2, 1866. Nuh bin Abdullah Al-Habshi, Untitled [Hagiography], 8; cf. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 52. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 9–11, 18. Cited from narration of Surattee, Singapore, July 2013. Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 44–45, cited from narration of Surattee, Singapore, July 2013. Abdul Ghani Said (ed.), Tujuh Wali Melayu (Kuala Lumpur: Penerbitan Hikmah, 1993), 18–20. Ibid., 7–11. Nuh bin Abdullah Al-Habshi, Untitled [Hagiography], 1–2; Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 22–23. Abdul Ghani Said, Tujuh Wali Melayu, 17; Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 22–23, 48–49. Nuh bin Abdullah Al-Habshi, Untitled [Hagiography], 3–5; Abd Ghani Said, Tujuh Wali Melayu, 21–22; Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 50, 55–57. This tradition appears almost verbatim in Surattee, Lambang Terukhir, 50. Ibid., 56–57. C.A. Babou, Fighting the Greater Jihad: Amadu Bamba and the Founding of the Muridiyya of Senegal, 1853–1913 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007), 134–35, 140, 181; Green, “Jack Sepoy and the Dervishes,” 37. Abdullah Al-Aydarus, Sepintas Riwayat, 11–14. Ibid., 14. Nuh bin Abdullah Al-Habshi, Untitled [later Pandangan Setengah Solihin Terhadap Habib Nuh Al-Habshi ra’] (Riau: n.p., n.d.), 2. Ibid., 2; cf. Surattee’s reproduction of this tradition, in Lambang Terukhir, 47.

4

The Second Sikh: Exile, Panic, and Memory in the Straits Settlements Arjun Naidu Princeton University Class of 2015

Introduction In the middle of last century, when Singapore served as the Government of India’s penal settlement some prisoners sent here to serve long terms of imprisonment are believed to have been Sikhs. But there are no records available to verify their names, or their numbers: how many of them, who they were. There is, however, recorded evidence of a very important political prisoner by the name of Bhai Maharaj Singh, and his disciple, one Khurruck Singh, having been deported to Singapore by the British in 1850. —Retired Supreme Court Justice Choor Singh, Singapore, November 19911 Other than Bhai Maharaj Singh when he came there was also an assistant, who was also imprisoned together with him, Bhai Khurruck Singh, who you can say on paper became the second Sikh to arrive in Singapore, and he also died in prison. —Gurdip Singh Usma, Chairman, Sikh Centre, Singapore, 20152 Consensus has it that the Sikh community at Singapore traces its genesis to the arrival of two political prisoners in 1850: Bhai Maharaj Singh (also known as Nihal Singh) and his “disciple” Khurruck Singh. One and a half centuries after his death, Maharaj Singh’s place is celebrated in publications, his artifacts are displayed at the Indian Heritage Centre, and he is memorialized at the Gurdwara (Temple) on Silat Road. And if this memorialization so often establishes Maharaj Singh as the First Sikh, then Khurruck Singh must be the Second Sikh. The story of these two Sikhs begins in the Punjab. After the second Anglo-Sikh War of 1845–46, Maharaj Singh began leading resistance against the British. In turn, British officials mounted a counterinsurgency campaign. At some point, Khurruck Singh, reputedly a cavalry colonel in the former Sikh Empire, joined Maharaj Singh to become his chela or “disciple” (as British officials labeled him). Both were captured in December 1849, and then exiled to Singapore’s Pearl’s Hill Prison, where they were kept

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as State Prisoners from June 1850. There, Maharaj Singh’s health deteriorated seriously. He lost his eyesight and eventually died in July 1856. Six months later, Khurruck Singh was released. Freedom, however, was short-lived. In 1857, events in the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore raised fears among European residents about the thousands of Indian convicts there, which were then exacerbated by news of the Great Revolt in India itself. These fears turned on Khurruck Singh who had acquired a reputation as a “Rajah” among the convicts. When the authorities discovered news of a plot to kill all the Europeans, he was swiftly rearrested and transferred by boat to Penang in August 1857. He spent three more years incarcerated before his final release some time after March 1860. Thereafter, he disappears from the historical record, save for mention in a petition in 1866. As the above outline indicates, the broad contours of Khurruck Singh’s connection to Bhai Maharaj and his fate are widely known. Clare Anderson has described the pair as “unquestionably the best (or perhaps the only two) individually known Indian convicts transported overseas in the years before 1857.”3 Maharaj Singh has been celebrated as a Sikh pioneer in Singapore and Malaysia, and as a nationalist hero in India.4 For his part, Khurruck Singh appears in some of the narratives about Maharaj Singh, as well as in histories about Singapore in 1857.5 He is also cited as an example of the “global dimensions” of the Indian Rebellion.6 Although Khurruck Singh never features as the protagonist in such accounts, I want to challenge his representation as a mere “sidekick.” Certainly his story merits attention because of what it reveals about the lived experience of colonial exile and incarceration, the histories of connections across the Indian Ocean beyond the prison cell, and their resonance in historical memory. In what follows I trace the contours of his journey from the Punjab to Singapore to Penang, drawing inspiration from other rescues of subaltern individuals from the archive.7 Even if Khurruck Singh may have been a cavalry colonel and a leader of resistance with Maharaj Singh (and even a “Rajah” to the convicts on Singapore), his life after capture in 1849 was very much subject to the will of the colonial state. To be sure, as a project of recovery, this chapter is conscious of its limitations. As Gayatri Spivak reminds us, the subaltern cannot speak.8 Our knowledge of Khurruck Singh is limited to fragments compiled by individuals working for and with the colonial enterprise. Any attempt at restoring his agency is thus bound to fail. Yet the process of recovery yields rich possibilities.

The determined scoundrel Khurruck Singh’s captivity began on December 29, 1849, when, together with the “self-styled Seikh Gooroo” and “delinquent” Maharaj Singh (and some twenty other followers), he was arrested by Henry Vansittart, the Deputy Commissioner of Jalandhar in British Punjab.9 Vansittart also seized a number of articles belonging to Maharaj Singh.10 The next day, the group was brought to the British jail at Jalandhar.11 There, Vansittart quickly separated Maharaj Singh and Khurruck Singh from the

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rest of the group, whom he described as “ordinary criminals.”12 The pair was already inseparable in any case, and Vansittart observed that “the disciple, Kharrak Singh,” was “a determined scoundrel,” who would “of course … accompany the Gooroo.”13 Indeed, Vansittart’s superior, Donald F. McLeod, the Commissioner for the Trans-Sutlej States, approved that “the Gooroo Maharaj Singh, and a disciple or chela who accompanie[d] him,” would be “removed from the cantonments.”14 At this stage, the colonial bureaucracy was preoccupied by the threat that Maharaj Singh posed locally. Vansittart asserted that “the Gooroo” was “not an ordinary man,” and that he was “to the natives what Jesus Christ is to the most zealous of Christians.” Indeed, his popularity crossed communal lines. Even the Hindus in Jalandhar seemed unhappy at his capture.15 McLeod certainly concurred, noting that “all classes of the native population, not even excepting the greater portion of Mahomedans” viewed Maharaj Singh as “imbued with miraculous powers; rendering him an object of great reverence.”16 Maharaj Singh’s political and military maneuvers had indeed threatened British authority and made him a cause célèbre in the Punjab. A manhunt had begun after he was suspected of conspiring to murder the Resident at Lahore in 1847.17 Later, Maharaj Singh sought to rescue and restore Dalip Singh, the last maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who had been deposed in March 1849.18 He had even sought external aid in these ventures, writing to the emir of Kabul to ask for military support.19 In view of these threats—his appeal across communal lines, his linkages beyond the Punjab, and his status as defender of the fallen rulers—the British called for Maharaj Singh to be exiled.20 The Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie (1812–60), assented and ordered the removal of Maharaj Singh and of the “disciple who is stated to have been taken with him.”21 Perhaps Khurruck Singh’s loyalty bound him to Maharaj Singh’s fate; Vansittart certainly seemed to indicate that separation was out of the question.22 Or perhaps Khurruck Singh was seen as a stubborn enough threat in and of himself, with McLeod describing him at the time as “a man apparently of determined and vigorous character; and a depraved expression of a countenance.”23 The British would also have been acutely aware of the ramifications of Khurruck Singh’s status as chela to Maharaj Singh. Maharaj Singh had himself once been merely Nihal Singh, “a chela of the well-known Bhaee Beer Singh [Bir Singh],” whom he had served as cook.24 It was through such personal devotion to Bir Singh that he earned the title of “Maharaj” and the succession in the first place, being anointed as Bir Singh was dying in 1844.25 As one British source described this transition, “his powers had descended on his servant (now become his disciple) Maharaj Singh.”26 Knowing of Maharaj Singh’s transition from chela to guru, the British might well have imagined Khurruck Singh as having the same potential. Either way, his position as chela could have given him some influence had he remained in the Punjab.27 So it was that Maharaj Singh and Khurruck Singh were taken in irons to Calcutta.28 By the time of their arrival, they were obviously the focus of some attention. Dalhousie even arranged for a Calcutta artist to paint their portraits while they were awaiting their ship to Singapore in Fort William (unfortunately no copy appears to have survived). Apparently this artist, “G.,” was one of the few Europeans outside the bureaucracy

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to write about his experiences with both. In a letter of June 1850, he described Khurruck Singh thus: A very different being was his companion (commonly called his disciple) in confinement, namely, Khurruck Singh, a fine stout young fellow who, being unhappily found in the Gooroo’s society (and, perhaps, offering resistance), was arrested with him, and alike condemned to banishment—a stout opponent, no doubt, with a blade in his hand, but otherwise a peaceful, good-humoured, contented mortal. He alone knew Hindostanee, but, either influenced by the presence of his ghostly master or naturally taciturn, he spoke but little—the Gooroo never. Yes, during some seven visits I paid him, he opened his lips twice; once to ask (Khurruck Singh interpreting) whether I was taking all who had come down, and whether Moolraj also was to be sent over the “kala panee” (“black waters”— the sea); and on a second occasion, to complain by one brief monosyllable of pain or weariness of standing.29

Clearly, the stout and loyal Khurruck Singh had assumed the role of Maharaj Singh’s intermediary in all things, negotiating with the outside world on his guru’s behalf.30 He would retain this role until the end of his master’s life.

Incarceration in Singapore The two Sikhs arrived in Singapore on June 11, 1850, on board the Mahomed Shaw, and were immediately taken to an upstairs room in the civil prison at Pearl’s Hill, located near the sepoy lines and some two miles away from the much larger jail across the river at Bras Basah (see Figure 3.1).31 Their arrival was reported as the lead item in the next issue of The Straits Times, which proclaimed that “no other personages than the Gooroo and his disciple Kurruck Sing,” had arrived, though readers could be assured that the pair would be “closely watched, under a strict military guard.”32 So it was that the two warriors entered a highly stratified prison system classified by race, class, gender, labor potential, and type of offense, and maintained through spatial distribution, diet, and the extension of privileges.33 Pearl’s Hill civil prison also held European and some “native” prisoners, segregated by the offenses that they committed.34 The largest and most visible group of prisoners in Singapore at this time, by contrast, were the transmarine convicts who numbered around 1,300 and were kept at the much larger, and certainly more open, Bras Basah Jail, whose history was described in detail by John McNair in 1899 (see also Figure 4.1).35 As State Prisoners, Khurruck Singh and Maharaj Singh received additional privileges.36 Convicts were expected to subsist on rice, dhal, salt, and ghee, along with a supply of chillies, pepper, and turmeric (or a small allowance), which they had to cook themselves.37 One Senior Surgeon remarked that it was “coarse fare … of rice, doll [sic] and badly-concocted curry.”38 By contrast, State Prisoners were given flour, sugar, coffee, vegetables, and milk. When Khurruck Singh refused to cook for the both of them, a cook was hired at $4 per month.39

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On the other hand, there were refusals, as when their request for “a small quantity” of cannabis was rejected.40 And unlike many of the transmarine convicts who worked around the town, Khurruck Singh and Maharaj Singh were always confined, first in a section of the upper level of the jail building, and later to a single room, with access to a small yard for exercise.41 When the Singapore authorities sought to loosen these restrictions in August of 1851, requesting permission for them to ride in a palanquin outside the jail twice a week, Dalhousie refused, perhaps concerned that it would enhance their status.42 Hence, the yard and apartment remained the only parts of the jail that Khurruck Singh would see before Maharaj Singh’s death in 1856.43 Naturally, the experience of captivity frustrated Khurruck Singh. Apart from his initial refusal to cook, Governor Butterworth noted in January 1851 that he had “recently become most troublesome.” Among other things, he had become demanding, “requiring many things not procurable in the Straits,” and was “behaving in a most unseemly manner.” His offenses included “refusing his food,” “tearing the clothes off his own back”—and, perhaps most egregiously in the eyes of the Governor—“throwing things at the head of the keeper of the jail.” Nor was the jailer the only target of his ire. The Resident Councillor found Khurruck Singh’s “demeanour … so disrespectful and offensive” that he felt “lowered in the eyes of the sepoys by being obliged to submit to such conduct.”44 Khurruck Singh’s frustrations point to the mental and physiological strains shared by many. In 1858, the Senior Surgeon described the particular effects of transportation on the convicts from the Bengal Presidency: The love of their native country is very great with them, and the idea of never again seeing their homes, their old and sacred places, the monotony of their prison life, and loss of caste, act powerfully both on mind and body; they become careless and indifferent about themselves, their food in particular, and some obstinately refuse to eat at all, emaciation sets in, and death by inanition closes the scene.45

Beyond the mental strains, he also identified long periods of confinement on board ship as detrimental to a person’s health. Even if Maharaj Singh appeared—outwardly, at least—to evince little of the anger that Khurruck Singh did, his stay in the prison took a toll. By July 1853, Maharaj Singh’s feet and ankles were often painfully swollen, his eyes had turned almost milky white from cataracts, and he needed assistance from Khurruck Singh to move around.46

Reading and writing in prison By this time, Khurruck Singh’s anger at his incarceration had subsided somewhat and he began to take an interest in reading, requesting books.47 The Straits government reluctantly agreed to provide a copy of the Bible in Hindustani.48 Later, when Assistant Resident Samuel Garling (1793–1857) visited, he noticed that Khurruck Singh’s table had a number of books, two or three of which the latter had pointed

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to him as the Bible. On other occasions, Khurruck Singh would talk to his jailor about what he had read, claiming “his admiration of the doctrines and precepts” in the Bible.49 Khurruck Singh’s Bible reading culminated when he declared his desire to become a Christian at the end of August. He apparently held David and the Scriptures in high regard as “they were similar to the teaching of the Great Seikh Gooroo,” thought Moses “a wonderful man,” and “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as greater than [Moses].” The Straits governor seemed receptive, and the matter was forwarded to Calcutta.50 Once again, however, Dalhousie was more circumspect, adjudging Khurruck Singh’s pronouncements on Moses or Jesus worthless given “any Mahomedan … would in like manner do the same.” Rather, he saw Khurruck Singh’s desires as a “very shallow device” to enable his release. To that end, the Indian government reiterated that “it should be explained to [Khurruck Singh], that if he is playing a part and hopes to obtain liberty, by adopting Christianity, he is deluding himself and that Christian or Seikh, he will equally remain, in Singapore Gaol.”51 Just before Khurruck Singh declared his intent to convert to Christianity, the two State Prisoners had submitted letters to the Straits government, which they wished forwarded to Naurangabad “through the usual channel.”52 As they were written in Gurmukhi, these letters, one dated Friday March 26, were sent from to Calcutta in August, and then forwarded to the Punjab for translation.53 Despite Dalhousie’s aversion to the idea of Maharaj Singh sending letters, he allowed them to be delivered “if found to contain nothing objectionable.”54 Reading the contemporary translations of the letters today, one is struck, despite the clear struggles of the translator to make them comprehensible, by the richness of the textual allusions and the range of topics covered.55 Maharaj Singh’s letter contains a mixture of reportage of his condition and deteriorating health, along with a sense of abandonment, for “many were friends in prosperity, but no one befriends in adversity.” It also offers a glimpse of how the two prisoners understood their position, claiming that they were “near China,” yet “far far distant from Juggernath.”56 This was an allusion to the Jagannath temple in Puri, on the coast of Odisha (Orissa), and among the eastern-most points in the imagination of Maharaj Singh’s intended audience. Indeed, Jagannath Puri had been a place of pilgrimage for the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak (1469–1539). During the subsequent formation of the company of fully initiated Sikhs in 1699, one of the “five beloved” of the tenth and last Guru, Gobind Singh (1666– 1708), was said to have been a Brahmin from Jagannath Puri.57 As Anoma Pieris observes, the tone and tenor of Maharaj Singh’s letter suggest that he intended it to be read aloud or shared with the congregation (sadh sangat) at the cantonment (dera).58 A deeper analysis of the letters further reveals that they were doubly translated: first by an indigenous informant from Punjabi to Hindustani, and then into English by a colonial officer in Lahore, thus exposing their censorious readers to potentially erroneous interpretation. Certainly, they should make us mindful of the late Chris Bayly’s argument that colonial rule was most susceptible at “the point of intersection between political intelligence and indigenous knowledge,” and all the more so at the fringes of empire like the Punjab, where British intelligence only began to be established in the 1820s.59

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Certainly, colonial understandings were hampered by information gaps and failures when “complex translation” involved “verses or literary allusions.”60 Indeed, the translated letters in this instance, of texts first written in Gurmukhi that were filled with references to Sikh texts, offer wide scope for such misinterpretation. And regardless of what the British thought they said, hearing of his deteriorating health, his loneliness and his despair, Maharaj Singh’s congregation might well have felt impelled to send him a reply. Even so, there is no mention of such being sent to either Maharaj Singh or Khurruck Singh at any time. Indeed, while both letters contain requests for a “Mookummah” or “Hookummanah” (hukamnama), which the translator glossed simply as “a reply,” the term actually refers to a written order by a Sikh Guru to his followers (or the use of the writings of one of the ten Gurus as an order).61 Understood in this context then, Maharaj Singh’s letter, with its collection of verses from the Adi Granth, the sacred text of Sikhism, was itself a hukamnama. Another information gap is evident in an instance of awkward phraseology in Maharaj Singh’s letter, which the translator ultimately rendered as, “You had told me that a dog even will not befriend me, so not a Singh dog has been of my Service to me.” However the phrase “a dog even will not befriend me” is a common expression in modern Hindi and Urdu. Likewise, a speaker of those languages would say “so not” or “that is not” to negate the preceding statement. Thus, the letter might better be read: “You had told me that a dog even will not befriend me. Not so! A Singh dog has been of my Service to me.” Seen in this light, Maharaj Singh’s letter portrayed Khurruck Singh as his consummate servant, guarding the latter’s health as when he complained of his blindness for having consumed the analgesic medicinal plant neem against the constant imprecations of his devotee.62 Whatever the root cause of his blindness, the letters must have been dictated to Khurruck Singh, who could even have inserted this line himself. In any case, Khurruck Singh also sent a letter of his own with an additional request on the envelope that one Jool Singh should reply with a hukamnama and some medicine. Beyond this, Khurruck Singh appears to have made little reference to his situation. Rather, as the translator notes, Khurruck Singh merely offered “quotations from some books,” along with Guru Gobind Singh’s Gurmukh, before signing off with a request for information.63 Clearly, the British officials’ Punjabi interlocutor was familiar enough with the quotations to recognize they had come from various Sikh texts, but he was unable to name them. Setting such an instance of the information gap aside, Khurruck Singh’s liberal use of quotation suggests that he was a man of letters. Either he had read these books much earlier and committed them to his memory, just as Maharaj Singh must have done, or he was quoting from the books he had read in prison. Indeed, seen from this perspective, Khurruck Singh’s letters reveal a man burnishing his credentials as Maharaj Singh’s disciple, being careful to underline his service to Maharaj Singh, and even ending with the line “Petition written by Khurrug Sing dog,” and thus making reference to his master’s grateful attribution for him. Moreover, his own use of quotations, particularly from the Gurmukh, suggests that his letter could have been a hukamnama itself. With his use of that form, and the emphasis on his

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devotion to Maharaj Singh, Khurruck Singh was thus staking a claim to his succession, and perhaps paving the way for a future return. Either way the Punjab Authorities were oblivious to the fact that both prisoners were asserting their religious credentials. Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, John Lawrence, found the letters “unobjectionable,” and hoped to use them to close another information gap in India itself and “ascertain by the replies if any intrigues were going on in the Punjab.”64 By contrast, Dalhousie found them inflammatory. Not only was Maharaj Singh’s letter addressed to “Bhaee Beer Sing’s Dera … and to all the Sadh Sangat,” it apparently ended with two drawn figures: one of a ship, and the other of the island of Singapore, accompanied by the declaration, “we will come within one year.” Dalhousie also found the letters “an instructive commentary” on the sincerity of Khurruck Singh’s wish to convert, which he had deemed “so little worthy of trust” in the first place.65 There was no change of restrictions on the two prisoners in the wake of the letters and the request for baptism. In 1855, and at the personal request of Governor Butterworth, the Indian government allowed them five books—two volumes of “The Bible Hindoo, The New Testament, and three Hindustani stories at a cost of 14 Rupees.”66 They also received a 115-year-old copy of the Adi Granth, which had cost Rs. 30 8a and which was brought from Calcutta by ship after having been conveyed by bullock cart from Lahore at the cost of Rs. 2 7a 6p.67 Although an apparently sympathetic governor was prepared to track down an old and expensive copy of the Granth, perhaps even at their request, the prisoners also had to put up with well-meaning decisions made on their behalf.68 It is unlikely that either would have asked for the Hindustani books in question, given at least one of them (Bagho Bahar) was a textbook used to teach the language to East India Company recruits at Fort William College, assuming that Khurruck Singh was not intending to instruct his master in the language he used to mediate with the world beyond their cell.69

The making of a Rajah Maharaj Singh’s health declined steadily. By the last months of his life, a “cancerous sore” on his tongue had made eating difficult, save “a little canjee [porridge] or wine and water.”70 Maharaj Singh died in July 1856, prompting a reassessment of Khurruck Singh, who seemed to have become sad and listless.71 Unaware of Khurruck Singh’s attempts to position himself as a worthy disciple of Maharaj Singh, the Resident Councillor at Singapore believed that the former was now less dangerous and proposed repatriating him to India, or, failing that, allowing him to live outside the jail under police surveillance with an allowance of 60 rupees a month.72 The new Straits governor, Edmund Blundell, wrote to Calcutta for further instructions, noting that Khurruck Singh now comported himself in “the most quiet, inoffensive manner.”73 In India, however, Khurruck Singh’s relationship to Maharaj Singh forestalled any return. Chief Commissioner Lawrence strongly recommended against such in

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view of Khurruck Singh having been “the confidant of Bhai Maharaj Sing.” He also indicated that should Khurruck Singh return to India, it would not be “advisable to release him from Confinement.”74 Unwilling to bring Khurruck Singh back to India only to incarcerate him again, Calcutta decided to accede to the Straits government proposal to allow him to live at large with the suggested allowance.75 Khurruck Singh took his release with equanimity, although he expressed concern at being alone in a “strange country” without enough money. After his release in January of 1857, Khurruck Singh soon petitioned Blundell: Your Petitioner most humbly begs of your Lordship’s philanthropy, will be extended to him, to take into consideration his present circumstances; being in great distress in a strange country, not knowing any person; and a place like Singapore, where provisions are so dear Sixty Rupees are only allowed for your Petitioner’s Subsistence, Clothing, House Rent, and Servants wages. In your Petitioner’s Station of Life, your Lordship will perceive, that respectability entitled to him to assume, but the amount of Sixty Rupees, will not put him on that footing; and your Petitioner humbly prays that your Lordship will grant him an addition to the amount, which has been authorised for his subsistence.76

Khurruck Singh drew particular attention to his high status in Punjab prior to his capture, also describing the large amount of property, and an enormous sum of money he had possessed before hostilities in Multan had broken out, and requesting Governor Blundell’s assistance in recovering them.77 Blundell was apparently sympathetic to Khurruck Singh’s desire to maintain a lifestyle befitting of his status as a political exile (servants included it seems). He therefore wrote to India describing the high cost of living at Singapore, and argued for a doubling of his allowance to Rs. 120: “[I]f the Prisoner has no private means of his own he cannot live in this Settlement, as a Native Gentleman on 60 Rs. per mensem— House rent, clothing and servants are all accordingly expensive.” Yet again, the request met with considerably less sympathy from India and the new governor-general, Lord Canning (1812–62).78 As it happened too, Khurruck Singh was released at a time when the Europeans, a statistical minority at the settlement, were becoming increasingly uneasy. Indeed, there were even more convicts (now some 2,400) than Europeans.79 The early months of 1857 saw a number of clashes over public order and policing.80 The Straits government was criticized for pandering to non-Europeans when it failed to sanction a general strike by Chinese residents, and then sacked policemen who had fatally shot two Tamil Muslims. The Europeans became even more upset again when a clash between the police and residents in Penang ended up with “discontented mobs” of Chinese and Indians roaming the island requiring the deployment of sepoys to restore order.81 The ensuing outbreak of the Revolt in India would engulf the Straits with a yet greater sense of alarm. The Revolt, which began in May of 1857, would only be fully quelled by January 1859 and demonstrated the vulnerability of British power.82 When

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news first reached Singapore on May 31, The Straits Times issued a special filled with lurid details, announcing that several Sepoy regiments had mutinied and killed their European officers, that Delhi had been taken by rebels with all the Europeans there murdered, and that even Calcutta was in danger of falling.83 That said, many other parts of India remained tranquil; neither the armies of the Madras nor the Bombay presidencies rose up in revolt, and Khurruck Singh’s homeland of the Punjab remained a solid base of British strength. By the start of July, news of the uprisings in India began to intersect with more localized rumors that Khurruck Singh was regularly meeting with convicts behind Government Hill.84 At first, the Straits authorities appeared to be unconcerned by Khurruck Singh’s interactions with the convicts. For his part, Khurruck Singh immediately denied meeting with the convicts or “any of his countrymen.” In the middle of that month, he even assured the Resident Councillor H. Somerset Mackenzie that, like the Sikhs in India, he was a “staunch supporter” of British rule.85 Such protestations did not convince the local Europeans. Indeed, the rumor mill was in full swing. At the end of July, some of them approached Mackenzie to ask him “what steps were [being] taken to prevent the Seikh ‘Kurruck Sing’ from communicating with the Convicts,” claiming that “there was a report in the Station” that Khurruck Singh “had formed a plan in connection with the Seikh and Mahomedan Convicts to massacre all the Europeans on some Sunday, near at hand, while they were in Church.”86

Figure 4.1 “General Monthly Muster of the Convicts, Singapore Jail,” from John Frederick Adolphus McNair, Prisoners Their Own Warders (Westminster: Constable, 1899), frontispiece.

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It must have been about this time that (as the Superintendent of Convicts would later recall) “when in a state of liquor in the Company Bazar,” Khurruck Singh had “used very abuse [sic] language in speaking of the government and threatened to employ two Sikh Convicts, well known bad characters in the Lines but at present out at the Horsburgh Light house to keep them from evil, who would he said kill all the Europeans in the place.”87 Thus on August 4, M. F. Davidson and C. Spottiswoode petitioned Governor Blundell by describing a “formidable body of convicts … among whom are political offenders, who doubtless have influence among their fellows.”88 Given the risks with the “convicts and the Troops, in addition to the original danger from unruly Chinese,” they claimed that a European garrison was “indispensable for the effective preservation of order.”89 Capturing the Europeans’ sentiments at that very moment, George Mildmay Dare wrote in his diary how: Great fears have been lately entertained regarding the convicts, as a Sikh chief Ghurruk Singh [sic], who was a State prisoner some time ago, has been tampering with them, and formed a plan of rising whilst all the Europeans were in church and massacring all. There are from 1,000 to 2,000 convicts of the same class as those now rebels in Bengal, and of which some eighty are Sikhs; so we are all on the lookout for a riot soon, and I am heartily glad I am the only one of our family here.90

Dare’s account neatly encapsulates worries about the possibility of a revolt spilling over from India conducted by convicts and led by the “chief ” Khurruck Singh. Dare drew particular attention to the fact that some of the convicts at the settlement were from restive Bengal. As if that was not enough, the eighty Sikhs in the Convict Lines were all expected to rally behind their “chief ” into a “riot” and target the Christians in Church. Faced with these protestations and demands to know “what steps were taken to prevent the Seikh Kurruck Sing from communicating with the Convicts,” the authorities paid closer attention to Khurruck Singh and the specific claims about his murderous intent.91

“All the Sikh men, my men will attack in the evening and kill all in Church” On August 6, Khurruck Singh was said to have met three convicts, a Parsi called Dinishim Jumsetjee, a “Bengali” known as Budah, and an old Sikh, Omar Singh.92 The meeting took place at the two-storey dwelling of a Parsee former merchant and spice planter of some means, Cursetjee Muncherjee Moosh, with whom Khurruck Singh was by now living.93 The next day, Mackenzie interrogated the convicts, whose statements yield important clues about Khurruck Singh and his relationship with the convict world of 1857 Singapore. Their account was incendiary. Much as the Europeans had feared (or heard) Khurruck Singh had allegedly asked Omar about two other Sikh convicts who were at that point working on the Horsburgh Lighthouse, some 30 miles from the mainland,

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expressing his hope to see them soon. Omar Singh apparently assured him that “all the Seikhs were in his hands, and he could make it all right [and] he would make them ready.” Speaking to Budah, whom he had known from his time in the prison where he worked as a painter, Khurruck Singh was allegedly delighted to discover that he also worked as a punkah wallah (employed to operate a manual fan) at the church, because he said the church was the best place to “settle it.” Budah then claimed that Khurruck Singh had told him that “he must be ready as he would get people to come and fight the white men, and kill them.”94 Dinishim’s recollection, by contrast, was slightly different: The Rajah [Khurruck Singh] then said [to Budah], “very well trust you in your Koran, and all the Sikh men, my men will attack in the evening and kill all in Church and not let one out, you are fortunate, your prospects are bright, the Chinese also will help us.”

After that, Omar Singh supposedly patted Khurruck Singh on the shoulder, while Dinishim told him, “very well Sir—just as you please.”95 Even if so much of the testimony may have been invented or made to conform to European rumor to escape sanction, it is clear that, contrary to his petition of January 1857 in which he claimed he knew no one, Khurruck Singh had managed to build a network of contacts in Singapore that crossed numerous communal lines. Indeed, his fame had spread to the point where “all natives of Continental India” apparently referred to him as “Rajah.”96 This status doubtless reflected Khurruck Singh’s ability to construct a position for leadership for himself, whether out of his affiliation to Maharaj Singh, his special status as a State Prisoner, or some other factor that had previously led Governor Blundell to describe him as a “Native Gentleman” whose pretensions he had been willing to subsidize. For Mackenzie, though, the convicts’ testimony was sufficiently damning. Writing to Blundell, he wrote that there was now: No doubt that, Kurruck Sing [sic], against repeated orders, kept communication with the Convicts, and that in moments when he was unguarded in his speech under the influence of liquor, he used threatening language, and spoke with evil feelings towards the Government.97

He further argued that given the “very inadequate means at disposal for suppressing any outbreak,” the threat that this “Rajah” posed should be taken seriously, especially now that some similarly termed rulers in India had rebelled, ranging from those who launched their own campaigns to those who had leadership thrust upon them, like the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah II (1775–1862).98 Mackenzie therefore had Khurruck Singh transferred to HMS Racehorse on August 7 with Blundell’s approval.99 After having been taken aboard, however, it became clear that he posed no immediate threat. A search of Cursetjee’s house turned up nothing. Evaluating the evidence presented to him on August 25, Blundell wrote that he could “not gather …

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the existence of any evil design, nor … any ground for bringing the prisoner to Trial before the Court.” He was prepared, too, to forgive Khurruck Singh’s outbursts as delusions: Kurruck Sing [sic] is a great sensualist, and when the opportunity offers he places no restraint on his appetite either in eating or drinking. The consequence is that drunkenness is frequent with him and in that state he may have given utterance to abuse and have imagined scenes where the power has changed from our hands to his.100

In view of that, Blundell dismissed events in Singapore as “a very unseemly and unreasoning panic.”101 Another wrinkle in the claims of Khurruck Singh’s treachery lay in a petition he had delivered to Blundell just hours before his arrest. Here Khurruck Singh requested permission to fight the rebels in India, writing that he was willing to “lay down his life” in service of the British Empire.102 He had “eaten Government’s salt” and been maintained by the Indian government over the previous seven years, and was therefore hoping for Blundell to recommend him for “some employment in their Service, either here or elsewhere, against the Rebel Troops” to “test his allegiance and loyalty for the boon thus conferred.”103 Despite the general unease at the settlement, Khurruck Singh had seemingly been oblivious to the fact that he was about to be detained once more. Found guilty in the court of public opinion, Blundell was forced to act, writing to Calcutta that “so great was the uneasiness and apprehension relative to this man, that I deemed it advisable to transfer him to Penang.”104 Khurruck Singh was thus shipped northward on the EIC steamer Hooghly. Not everyone was assuaged by his move though. The Straits Times commented that Blundell was “merely ridding Singapore of a suspicious character and palming him upon the sister station.” In spite of the fact that Khurruck Singh was to be placed under a guard of the Madras Native Infantry at Penang, the editors were convinced that “the Chief ” might still be able to “exercise … practices quite as treasonable there as here.”105

Penang On August 15, Khurruck Singh arrived at a Penang already gripped by a febrile atmosphere.106 Certainly, his arrival at Fort Cornwallis occasioned “apprehension and angry feelings on the part of the community.”107 Resident Councillor W. J. Lewis blamed the Revolt as well as the letters “of the panic which existed at Singapore” for these worries.108 Now the Europeans at all three Straits Settlements were seeing Khurruck Singh as “a desperate and dangerous intriguer, bent on exciting insurrection and bloodshed.”109 Adding to their worries, too, was the impending celebration of Muharram, when Shiite Muslims (mostly convicts) would stage a procession through the town.110 The procession had already turned violent in Penang in 1855 and Singapore in 1856.111 If this was not bad enough, shortly after Khurruck Singh’s arrival, a rumor

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began to circulate that the 29th Madras Regiment would revolt and murder “every Christian.” Europeans went from door to door repeating this account. Some families fled the island.112 Regardless of the absence of any uprising the following week, angry European residents met with the Resident Councillor to express their concern over keeping Khurruck Singh in Fort Cornwallis “without sufficient garrison,” particularly given his “alleged dangerous character.”113 By this stage, too, even the local Chinese population was “in a state of alarm,” which Governor Blundell had not expected, having believed that the State Prisoner would be less threatening at Penang.114 At the end of August, Blundell even wrote to India proposing that Canning accept Khurruck Singh’s petition to be employed against the rebels in order to moderate public opinion: His removal from the Straits would be a great boon not to me, for I am personally indifferent about the matter, but to the Community of the three Stations, in whose eyes he is magnified into a desperate and dangerous intriguer, bent on exciting insurrection and bloodshed.115

Despite Khurruck Singh’s history at Singapore, Blundell further wrote that he knew “so little” of Khurruck Singh’s “character and antecedents” that he could not offer guidance to Calcutta on what to do with the prisoner.116 Canning, though, was in no mood to entertain Khurruck Singh’s petition. Accepting the allegations that the latter had planned to “organize an attack on the European population while in Church” (original emphasis), the Indian government found Blundell’s proposal “wholly inadvisable”: Kurruck Sing’s conduct since his release has not been free from suspicion, and if the depositions of the Parsee Prisoner and Badoo [sic] are to be trusted, he has been guilty of compassing the massacre of nearly the entire European population. To accept the services of a man thus tainted would be most unwise especially when it is borne in mind that, as the disciple of the Gooroo Maharaj, he may possible be able to exercise a considerable influence over the Seikh subjects of the government and that the object for which that influence might be exerted would probably be hostility to the British Government, towards which, setting aside the truculent intentions said to have been expressed by him, he cannot be considered well affected.117

Certainly, the alleged plan to murder all the Europeans at church resonated with rebel attacks on symbols of British authority in the subcontinent.118 Even if the Sikhs of the Punjab had remained loyal, admitting Khurruck Singh was deemed an unnecessary risk. It was only after the final suppression of the rebellion that the question of Khurruck Singh’s detention came up once again. In 1860, the new Straits governor, Orfeur Cavenagh (1820–91), wrote to India to request Khurruck Singh’s release. He pointed to his “conduct” as being worthy of “any mark of … clemency,” particularly in contrast to that of “his fellow Countrymen during the recent crisis.”119 In March 1860, then, Canning finally assented to his being allowed to “live at large at Penang under surveillance.”120

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Out of the prison, out of the archive Khurruck Singh’s second release passed more uneventfully than his first. Lacking the contacts he had built up at Singapore, he must have cut a lonely figure. Six years after his release, he submitted a petition in October 1866 requesting an advance of $300 to clear some “pressing debts.” According to Cavanagh, Khurruck Singh was in “pecuniary distress” and had been “for a long period under Medical treatment in the Convict Hospital at Penang,” having recently attempted to commit suicide.121 The application was summarily rejected by the new governor-general (and one-time chief commissioner of the Punjab) John Lawrence (1811–79).122 We don’t know how Khurruck Singh reacted, or what happened to him after that. His name no longer appears in the India Office Records or those of the Straits Settlements. Regardless of Khurruck Singh’s being connected to the fears of 1857, he is only recalled today for his original connection with Maharaj Singh. As Tan Li Jen has demonstrated, the latter continued to be a subject of interest for the Sikh faithful long after 1856.123 Oral legends about Maharaj Singh continued to circulate, while a number of hagiographical accounts were published and intersected with those of Muslim saints buried in Singapore, such as Sayyid Nuh, who had come in the opposite direction from Penang.124 In addition, there are stories that describe Khurruck Singh returning to Singapore after his release, and being cremated there.125 Added to this, and as Anoma Pieris has shown, there are community histories that circulate online.126 One of these narratives is Bhai Maharaj Singh Ji 150th Anniversary 2006, published by the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Maharaj Singh’s death.127 It builds upon the work of Choor Singh Sidhu, a former Supreme Court Justice, who published a number of pamphlets in the 1990s with the aim of relating and recentering narratives of Maharaj Singh for a Singaporean context.128 Unlike other published narratives, though, it describes the cremation of Maharaj Singh, and his burial, said to have been near the old Pearl’s Hill jail, before extending the narrative to the present day.129 Here Khurruck Singh is still described as Maharaj Singh’s chela exiled because Lord Dalhousie “was kind enough to allow a personal attendant” to accompany him to Singapore.130 When the authors attempt to connect Khurruck Singh to the gravesite, though, he is offered a vital, if fictive, role: Bhai Maharaj Singh was cremated on a plot of land outside Outram Road Prison. Most probably, Khurruck Singh, his disciple, must have been allowed to perform the last rites of his Guru, the Ardas and recitation of the Sohila, as Khurruck Singh was by now allowed to move about outside the prison.131

Even here, though, imagination has its limits. Lacking any information on Khurruck Singh himself, the authors conclude his story by writing that he “died in prison some time later but there is no record of the date of his death.”132 The Singaporean state, too, has lent its weight to efforts to commemorate Maharaj Singh, largely following the path trodden by Choor Singh. Such endorsement follows what Gerard McCann argues is a willingness to “co-opt Sikhs,” not just directly into

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politics, but also in articulating Sikh values and ideals as consistent with those of the Singaporean nation-state.133 In 1999, the National Heritage Board gazetted the Silat Road Gurdwara as a heritage site.134 Then, in July 2010, the Bhai Maharaj Singh Memorial was unveiled there, commemorating the “Saint-Soldier” on the 160th anniversary of his arrival. The memorial and anniversary was sufficiently important to the state that it was officially opened by the first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015), making a rare appearance in his own constituency.135 Lee’s speech on the occasion showed that Khurruck Singh’s importance (to the narrative) was only by association as an “orderly” with the anticolonial and religious figure of Maharaj Singh: Bhai Maharaj Singh, I understand, arrived in Singapore in 1850 as a prisoner of the British rulers from Punjab after the Third Anglo-Sikh War. He was a pious man who stood up against British colonialism in India, and his local popularity and influence forced the British to banish him to Singapore where he was imprisoned with an orderly at the former Outram Jail.136

By contrast, the Gurdwara Board preferred to focus on his piety: The reason for establishing a memorial in Singapore for Bhai Maharaj Singh is not because he was a great and admirable revolutionary who fought the British to save the Sikh Kingdom, but because he was a Saint of the Sikh faith and the Head of a great Religious Order which is directly connected with Guru Gobind Singh. It is the martyrdom in Singapore of this great Saint which warrants a memorial and in the Sikh tradition the most appropriate memorial to a Shaheed (Martyr) is a Gurdwara.137

Such a commemoration further restricts the space available for Khurruck Singh. He may well have been a loyal disciple who grappled with religious questions, and served Maharaj Singh in more ways than have hitherto been recognized. At the same time, though, there remain aspects of his experience that would be inconvenient for the Gurdwara Board (or, indeed, any Sikh religious organization). For one, his reading of the Bible and attempted conversion to Christianity would demand justification. Secondly, his own leadership as a “Rajah” to the mixed community of convicts in 1857 does not align with the image of Maharaj Singh as the preeminent “saint-soldier.” Unlike Maharaj Singh’s campaigns as a “great and admirable revolutionary,” the panic around Khurruck Singh does not carry with it the same aura of anti-imperialist struggle. A second, more practical, consideration is that the crucial artifact is missing. While Maharaj Singh’s position as a Sikh pioneer has been assured by the presence of his body, or at least by its symbolic representation in the form of a tombstone and shrine from which miracles might spring, Khurruck Singh’s memory can only be made by glancing reference to his guru.

Conclusion Seen in the company of, and comparison to, saints and national heroes, Kurruck Singh is an anomaly in many ways. As a seemingly dangerous Sikh exile who briefly found

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some sense of community on the convict lines as a “Rajah” to Parsees and Bengalis alike, he is rather the exception when compared to so many beturbaned servants of empire who stationed from East Africa to Hong Kong. Equally, he did not conform to older patterns of Indian integration in the Straits, whether as a merchant, laborer, or banker, the majority of whom came from the south, and who are the subject of Torsten Tschacher’s chapter below. Indeed, in many ways, Kurruck Singh is devoid of trace because, unlike so many others, he never seems to have had a family to cleave to, or yet one to return to. Robbed of such a possibility, he is made a figure of the archive, to be resurrected for claims of resistance or sanctity, and yet unable to supply any modern supplicant with blessings. Even so, in following his traces, we gain a sense of a changing Singapore, of a part-convict colony since transformed by fears of mutiny and constant arrivals from other parts of Asia who strengthened their links of family to stand the test of the coming decades when neighboring states would call for an end to their very presence in the region.

Notes 1 2 3 4

5

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7

Interview with Mr. Choor Singh, November 21, 1991, used with permission from Oral History Centre, National Archives of Singapore. “Bhai Maharaj Singh: First Sikh and Political Prisoner to Arrive in Singapore,” audiovisual exhibit, Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore. Clare Anderson, Subaltern Lives: Biographies of Colonialism in the Indian Ocean World, 1790–1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 110–11. Seva Singh Gandharab, Early Sikh Pioneers of Singapore (Singapore: n.p., 1986); Himanshu Bhatt, “A Sikh Journey from Punjab to Malaya,” New Straits Times (Malaysia) (May 6, 2007), 36; M.L. Ahluwalia, The Punjab’s Pioneer Freedom Fighters (Bombay : Orient Longmans, 1963), 44–57; Bhai Kirpal Singh and Bhai Nahar Singh (eds.), Rebels Against the British Raj; vol 2: Bhai Maharaj Singh (1810–1857), died in Singapore Jail July, 1857 (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 1990). Constance M. Turnbull, The Straits Settlements, 1826–67: Indian Presidency to Crown Colony, University of London. Historical Studies 32 (London: Athlone Press, 1972), 347–48; Rajesh Rai, “The 1857 Panic and the Fabrication of an Indian ‘Menace’ in Singapore,” MAS 47, no. 2 (2013): 365–405 at 393–95. Marina Carter and Crispin Bates, “Empire and Locality: A Global Dimension to the 1857 Indian Uprising,” Journal of Global History 5, no. 1 (March 2010): 51–73, at 60–62. See Amitav Ghosh, “The Slave of MS. H. 6,” in Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History and Society, eds. Partha Chatterjee and Gyanendra Pandey, 12 vols. (New Delhi etc.: Oxford University Press, 1992), VII, 159–220; Anderson, Subaltern Lives; Michael Laffan, “The Sayyid in the Slippers: An Indian Ocean Itinerary and Visions of Arab Sainthood, 1737–1929,” Archipel 86 (2013): 191–227. At the time of writing Anand Yang's essay on Maharaj Singh had not yet appeared, though it can certainly be read in close relation to this chapter. See Anand A. Yang, "'Near China beyond the Seas Far Distant from Juggernath': The Mid-Nineteenth-Century Exile of Bhai Maharaj Singh in Singapore," in Exile in Colonial Asia: Kings, Convicts, Commemoration, ed. Ronit Ricci (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press, 2016).

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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, eds. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988). Resident at Lahore to Secretary to Government of India, June 4, 1848, Inclosure 8 in No. 29 Great Britain. Parliament and East India Company, Papers Relating to the Punjab. 1847–1849. Presented to Both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty. May 1849 (London : Harrison and Son, 1849), 197–99. Anderson, Subaltern Lives, 112. They were two hymns, bangles, a kirpan (dagger), a finger ring, and a conch shell deposited at the British Library (IOR Shelfmarks F5009 to F5013) by a descendant of Vansittart. They are currently displayed at the Indian Heritage Centre in Singapore. Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 67–71. Ibid., 76. Ibid., 72. Ibid., 81–82. Ibid., 69–71. Ibid., 81–82. Ibid., 4–6; Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, 2nd ed., 2 vols (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004), II, 63 n 21. J.S. Grewal, The Sikhs of the Punjab (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 127; H.P. Burn, Officiating Secretary to Board of Administration to H.M. Elliot, February 12, 1850, in Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 103–4. McLeod to Major H.P. Burns, Deputy Secretary to Board of Administration, February 4, 1850, in Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 99; “Translation of a letter bearing the seal of Alah Ameer of All Ameers (Dost Mohamed)” to Maharaja Singh, November 1, 1849, in Rebels Against the British Raj, 100. Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 79–80. Ibid., 90–91. Ibid., 72. McLeod to Melvill, January 2, 1850, in Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 81–82. H.M. Lawrence to Secretary to Government of India, June 13, 1848, Inclosure 18 in No. 29, Great Britain. Parliament and East India Company, Papers Relating to the Punjab. 1847–1849, 210–13. Following a Sikh tradition of militant religiosity, Bir Singh was a soldier who had established a holy camp (dera) near the village of Naurangabad. See W.H. McLeod, Exploring Sikhism: Aspects of Sikh Identity, Culture and Thought (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000), 154–55; Grewal, The Sikhs of the Punjab, II, 3: xvii. M.L. Ahluwalia, Sant Nihal Singh, Alias Bhai Maharaj Singh: A Saint-Revolutionary of the 19th Century Punjab (Patiala: Punjabi University, 1972), 7–9; Grewal, The Sikhs of the Punjab, II, 3: 122. “The Gooroo, Maharaj Sing,” Allen’s Indian Mail and Register of Intelligence for British & Foreign India, China, & All Parts of the East 6, no. 108 (August 31, 1848), 521. Following Maharaj Singh’s capture, the authorities in the Punjab continued to pursue his followers, and a number of statements regarding his activities were taken from other prisoners. Khurruck Singh appears as a follower, though he is never explicitly termed a chela. For their parts, Vansittart and McLeod continued to refer to him as such or as a tahila/tahyla (servant). Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 172–73, 222–43.

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40 41

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Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 112. G., “Moolraj and the Gooroo in Prison,” The Indian News and Chronicle of Eastern Affaires, September 24, 1850, sec. Bengal, 398. On Hindustani/Urdu as a medium of control, see C.A. Bayly, An Empire of Information: Political Intelligence and Social Communication in North India, c. 1780– 1880, Cambridge Studies in Indian History and Society 1 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 287–88. Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 134. Anderson, Subaltern Lives, 96. Anoma Pieris, Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes: A Penal History of Singapore’s Plural Society (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2009), 76–88, 93. Ibid., 79. IOR/F/4/2520, 144695, Captain H. Man, Superintendent of Convicts to J. Church, Resident Councillor of Singapore, “Annual Report on the Transmarine Convicts,” August 1, 1851; Pieris, Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes, 74–76; John Frederick Adolphus McNair, Prisoners of Their Own Warders: A Record of the Convict Prison at Singapore in the Straits Settlements, Established 1825, Discontinued 1873, Together with a Cursory History of the Convict Establishments at Bencoolen, Penang and Malacca from the Year 1797 (Westminster: Constable, 1899), 84–89. The convicts came from the three Indian Presidencies (Bengal, Madras, and Bombay) and Hong Kong (until 1855), and were divided into six classes. About half a century earlier, the poligar rebels imprisoned at Penang received the same rations as the convicts. Anand A. Yang, “Bandits and Kings: Moral Authority and Resistance in Early Colonial India,” The Journal of Asian Studies 66, no. 4 (November 2007): 881–96. Pieris, Hidden Hands, 96; McNair, Prisoners of Their Own Warders, 93–94. Only fifth class convicts did not have to cook. IOR/P/188/44. IPC March 6, 1857, “Annual Report on the Jails and Jail Hospitals of Singapore for the Year 1855–56, by Senior Surgeon T. Oxley.” Oxley was commenting on the prevalence of dysentery and diarrhea among the convict population, and the resultant high mortality. Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 153–54. Perhaps the Straits administrators imagined that, as Maharaj Singh’s disciple/attendant, Khurruck Singh would be doing the cooking. Ibid., 153–54. It should be noted that cannabis is often consumed for religious purposes. Ibid., 155–56. See Maharaj Singh’s letter quoted below, where the writer (Khurruck Singh) describes being in Singapore “15 mid by 20 long.” Pieris interprets this as Khurruck Singh describing this room as being 15 by 20 feet in size: Anoma Pieris, “The ‘Other’ Side of Labor Reform: Accounts of Incarceration and Resistance in the Straits Settlements Penal System, 1825–1873,” Journal of Social History 45, no. 2 (2011): 453–79, 461. Kirpal Singh and Nahar Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 160, 162. IOR/P/201/65, IPFC August 29, 1856, J. Church, Resident Councillor at Singapore to Secy to Governor, No 115, July 1, 1856. Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 157–58. IOR/P/206/60, IJC November 12, 1858, “Report on the Jails and Jail Hospitals of the Straits Settlements for the Official Year 1857–58, by Senior Surgeon Rose.” Rose was commenting on the higher death rates of “high caste” convicts from Bengal, compared with those from the Madras and Bombay Presidencies.

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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj, 161. Ibid. In July 1853, the Resident Councillor observed that Khurruck Singh was “more contented than he generally is.” IOR/F/4/2520, 151.779, 2. Extract, Fort William Foreign Consultation, October 21, 1853, J. Church to Lieut. R. Church, Secy to Governor of Straits Settlements, September 1, 1853. Ibid., Samuel Garling, Assistant Resident, to J. Church, No. 35, August 31, 1853. Ibid., Officiating Governor of PWI, Singapore, Malacca (E.A. Blundell) to Secretary to Government of India, September 7, 1853. IOR/F/4/2520, 151.779, 8. Minute by the Most Noble the Governor General, October 14, 1853. This episode is also discussed in detail in Pieris, “The ‘Other’ Side of Labor Reform,” 463–65. She focuses on the letters as an account of the captivity experience within the Straits penal system. IOR/F/4/2570, 151.780. Extract Fort William Foreign Consultations, September 9, 1853, J. Church to R. Church, August 2, 1853. Ibid., J. Church to R. Church, August 2, 1853; E.A. Blundell to Secretary to Government of India, August 4, 1853; W Seton, Officiating Secretary to Government of India to J. Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, September 7, 1853. IOR/F/4/2570. 151.780, IFC October 28, 1853, “Translation of a Letter.” See also Pieris, “The ‘Other’ Side of Labor Reform,” 464. The quotation lent itself to the title of Anand Yang’s recent essay. See note 7 above. For all further references to the letters, see IOR/F/4/2570. 151.780, IFC October 28, 1853, “Translation of a Letter.” Singh, A History of the Sikhs, I, 31; Hardip Singh Syan, “Debating Revolution: Early Eighteenth Century Sikh Public Philosophy on the Formation of the Khalsa,” MAS 48, no. 4 (July 2014): 1096–133. Pieris, “The ‘Other’ Side of Labor Reform,” 465. Bayly, Empire of Information, 2, 131–32. Ibid., 144. Bayly argues that one of the motivations for EIC’s shift of the language administration from Persian to English and Hindustani in 1837 was dissatisfaction with the reliance on translators. Grewal, The Sikhs of the Punjab, II.3: xvii; Purnima Dhavan, When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699–1799 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 108. In addition to the cataracts that his letter refers to, Maharaj Singh might also have been taking it to relieve his foot and ankle pains. IOR/F/4/2570. 151.780, IFC October 28, 1853, “Translation of a Letter.” Ibid., P. Malvill to H. Seton, October 9, 1853; IOR/F/4/2570, 151.780, IFC December 21, 1853, P. Malvill to J.P. Grant, November 16, 1853. IOR/F/4/2570, 151.780, IFC October 21, 1853, Minute by the Most Noble the Governor General: “The Gooroo Bhaee Maharaj Singh,” October 21, 1853. The other two stories are referred to in a letter to the Resident Councillor as “Jota Kuhanee” (Collection of Stories) and “Hatien Jaie” (Move Away). IOR/F/4/2662, 176.391: Collection 1. Officiating Secretary to Governor, Straits Settlements, to Resident Councillor, Singapore, January 20, 1855. Butterworth’s trip to Calcutta came at the end of his tenure. By the time the books arrived, Edmund Blundell was the new Governor of the Straits Settlements. Singh and Singh, Rebels against the British Raj, 166.

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69 70 71 72 73 74

75

76

77 78 79

80

81 82

83

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We can only speculate that the New Testament was issued because Butterworth recalled Khurruck Singh’s Bible reading, while “the Bible Hindoo” was intended as a counterpart to the Christian Bible and the Adi Granth. Bayly, Empire of Information, 287–93; Shamsurraḥmān Fārūqī, Early Urdu Literary Culture and History (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001), 36. IOR/P/201/65, IPFC August 29, 1856, Medical Report. J. Cowper, Residing Asst Surgeon to J. Church, Resident Councillor, July 1, 1856. Ibid., J. Church to Secretary to Governor of Straits Settlements, No 123, Singapore July 7, 1856. Ibid. IOR/P/201/65, IPFC August 29, 1856, E.A. Blundell to Secy to Government of India, Fort William, No. 73, (General No. 500 of 1856), July 12, 1856. Ibid., Captain H.R. James, Officiating Secy to Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, No. 901, to G.F. Edmonstone, Secy to Gov of India in the Foreign Dept, Lahore, December 1, 1856 (Judicial). IOR/P/202/11, IPFC January 2, 1857, Secretary to the Gov of India (G.J. Edmonstone) to the Governor of the Straits Settlements (Foreign Dept), No. 301 of 1856, December 31, 1856. IOR/P/202/23, IPFC May 1, 1857, “The humble Petition of Khurruck Sing, a Seik, one of the State Prisoners, lately confined in Her Majesty’s Gaol at Singapore” to The Most Noble Lord Viscount Canning, Governor-General of British India, February 27, 1857. Emphasis original. Ibid. IOR/P/202/23, IPFC May 1, 1857, G.F. Edmonstone, to E.A. Blundell, No. 1935, April 28, 1857. Hayes Marriott, “The Peoples of Singapore: Inhabitants and Population,” in One Hundred Years of Singapore, Being Some Account of the Capital of the Straits Settlements from Its Foundation by Sir Stamford Raffles on the 6th February 1819 to the 6th February 1919, eds. Walter Makepeace, Gilbert E Brooke, and Roland St. John Braddell, 2 vols (London: John Murray, 1921), I, 341, 357–58. The 1860 police census counted the population of Singapore as 81,734, with 2,385 Europeans. The more systematic 1871 census counted 1946 Europeans out of a population of 97,111, including 856 convicts; IOR/P/188/50. IPC February 12, 1858, “Annual Report on the Jails and Jail Hospitals of the Straits Settlements, for the Official Year 1856–57,” by Senior Surgeon J. Rose. For far more detail on the climate of the time, see Constance M. Turnbull, “Communal Disturbances in the Straits Settlements in 1857,” JMBRAS 31, no. 1 (181) (May 1958): 94–144; Rai, “The 1857 Panic.” Turnbull, “Communal Disturbances,” 112. The literature on the 1857 Rebellion is vast. For a sampling, see Thomas R. Metcalf, Ideologies of the Raj (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 43–47; C.A. Bayly, Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire, New Cambridge History of India II.1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 179–84; Thomas R. Metcalf, The Aftermath of Revolt: India, 1857–1870 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964), 46–72. ST Extra, May 31, 1857. This sort of sensational reportage was not restricted to the Straits Times. Putnis has shown how similar themes were evident in London, Cape Town, and Melbourne. Peter Putnis, “International Press and the Indian Uprising,” in At the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857, eds. Andrea Major

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93

94 95 96 97 98

99

100 101 102 103 104 105

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal and Crispin Bates, 4 vols. (New Delhi and Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013), III, 1–17. IOR/P/202/35, IPFC, October 2, 1857, H. Somerset Mackenzie, Resident Councillor, Singapore to E.A. Blundell, August 8, 1857. Ibid., Mackenzie to E.A. Blundell, August 8, 1857. Ibid. Ibid. IOR/P/188/47. IPC October 2, 1857, Petition to E.A. Blundell, Governor of Prince of Wales’ Island, Singapore and Malacca, August 4, 1857. Ibid. Quoted in Mrs. G.P. Owen, “A Mid-Century Diary,” in Makepeace et al., One Hundred Years of Singapore, II, 542–59. IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1857, Mackenzie to E.A. Blundell, August 8, 1857. Ibid. The events in the following paragraphs are drawn from this same letter, as well as a series of statements given at the Convict Office. It should also be noted that Budah’s ethnicity referenced his originating in the Bengal Presidency rather than in the contemporary sense of being generically Indian. See Rajesh Rai, “‘Race’ and the Construction of the North–South Divide amongst Indians in Colonial Malaya and Singapore,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 27, no. 2 (2004): 245–64, esp. 251–54. Cursetjee was a Bombay merchant who had spent some years living in the former British colony of Bencoolen before moving to Kampong Bencoolen in Singapore, near the Convict Lines. On Kampong Bencolen and its connections, see Rajesh Rai, Indians in Singapore, 1819–1945: Diaspora in the Colonial Port-City (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014), 46; Makepeace et al., One Hundred Years of Singapore, II, 488; Victor R. Savage and Brenda S.A. Yeoh, Toponymics: A Study of Singapore Street Names (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003), 52; C.M. Turnbull, A History of Modern Singapore, 1819–2005 (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009), 33. IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1857, Mackenzie to E.A. Blundell, August 8, 1857. Ibid. Ibid., “Convict and Executive Office, Singapore,” August 7, 1857. Ibid., Mackenzie to E.A. Blundell, August 8, 1857. See Gautam Bhadra, “Four Rebels of Eighteen Fifty-Seven,” in Subaltern Studies: Writings on South Asian History and Society, ed. Ranajit Guha, 12 vols. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985), IV, 229–75; Metcalf, The Aftermath of Revolt, 49. IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1857, Mackenzie to E.A. Blundell, August 8, 1857; “Khurruck Singh, Formerly a Colonel in the Service of the Lahore Durbar,” ST, August 11, 1857. IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1857, E.A. Blundell to Secretary to Government of India, Fort William, August 25, 1857. IOR/P/188/47, IPC October 2, 1857, E.A. Blundell to C. Beadon, Secretary to Government of India, August 28, 1857. IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1857, to E.A. Blundell, “The Humble Petition of Kurruck Sing,” August 6, 1857. Ibid. IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1847, E.A. Blundell to Secretary to Government of India, Fort William, August 25, 1857. “Khurruck Singh, Formerly a Colonel in the Service of the Lahore Durbar,” ST August 11, 1857, 4.

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106 The Straits Times reported the departure of the Hooghly from Penang on August 15 and the news of the panic caused by Khurruck Singh’s arrival. See “Singapore Shipping Arrivals,” ST August 23, 1857. 107 IOR/P/202/35, IPFC, October 2, 1857. Governor Straits Settlements to Secretary to the Government of India, August 25, 1857. 108 IOR/L/PJ/3/1069, India Public Despatch No. 69 Collection 6: “Alarm Felt at Penang during the Mohurrum festival,” Resident Councillor Prince of Wales’ Island to E.A. Blundell, August 25, 1857. 109 IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1857. Governor Straits Settlements to Secretary to the Government of India, August 25, 1857. 110 Sunil S. Amrith, “Tamil Diasporas across the Bay of Bengal,” The American Historical Review 114, no. 3 (2009): 547–72, at 555; Sunil S. Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 97–98; Pieris, Hidden Hands, 165–66. 111 See further: Pieris, Hidden Hands, 156–87; Kernial Singh Sandhu, Indians in Malaya: Some Aspects of Their Immigration and Settlement (1786–1957) (London: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 139; Turnbull, The Straits Settlements, 1826–67, 105; Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore, from the Foundation of the Settlement under the Honourable East India Company on February 6th, 1819, to the Transfer to the Colonial Office as Part of the Colonial Possessions of the Crown on April 1st, 1867, 2 vols (Kuala Lumpur : University of Malaya Press, 1965), II, 631. 112 IOR/L/PJ/3/1069, India Public Despatch No. 69 Collection 6: “Alarm Felt at Penang during the Mohurrum festival,” Resident Councillor Prince of Wales’ Island to E.A. Blundell, August 25, 1857. 113 IOR/L/PJ/3/1069, India Public Despatch No. 69 Collection 6: “Alarm Felt at Penang during the Mohurrum festival,” “Resolution unanimously carried at a Meeting of above fifty of the European residents of Penang held at the Grand Jury Room,” August 24, 1857; IOR/L/PJ/3/1069, India Public Despatch No. 69 Collection 7: “General feeling of alarm when Kurruck Sing was removed to Penang,” P. Benson Maxwell to E.A. Blundell, August 25, 1857. 114 IOR/L/PJ/3/1069, India Public Despatch No. 69 Collection 6: “Alarm Felt at Penang during the Mohurrum festival,” Resident Councillor Prince of Wales’ Island to E.A. Blundell, August 25, 1857; ST, September 8, 1857, 3; IOR/L/PJ/3/1069, India Public Despatch No. 69 Collection 7: “General feeling of alarm when Kurruck Sing was removed to Penang,” E.A. Blundell to P. Benson Maxwell, September 3, 1857. 115 IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1857, E.A. Blundell to Secretary to Government of India, Fort William, August 25, 1857. 116 Ibid. 117 IOR/P/202/35, IPFC October 2, 1857. G.J. Edmonstone, Secretary to Government of India to E.A. Blundell, October 2, 1857. 118 These were all political acts, and not restricted to British symbols of authority. See the actions of the rebels Devi Singh and Shah Mal in Bhadra, “Four Rebels of Eighteen Fifty-Seven.” In Shahjahanpur, for example, a church was attacked, and two of the Europeans attending service were killed. See Sir John William Kaye, A History of the Sepoy War in India, 1857–58, 3 vols (Longmans: Green and Company, 1876), III, 278–81. 119 IOR/P/204/13, India Political Consultations February 17, 1860, Cavenagh to Secretary to Government of India, January 26, 1860.

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120 IOR/P/204/17, IPFC April 1860, Under Secretary to Government of India Foreign Department to Secretary to the Government of India, March 6, 1860. 121 NL078/R41, National Archives of Singapore: Governor’s Letters to Bengal (Financial), Secretary to Government of Straits Settlements to Secretary to Government of India, October 22, 1866. 122 NL95/S35: Governor’s Letters from Bengal 1866, Officiating Secretary to the Government of India to Governor of Prince of Wales’ Island, Singapore and Malacca, December 17, 1866. Lawrence had been the Chief Commissioner of the Punjab thirteen years earlier, when Khurruck Singh and Maharaj Singh had sent their letters. 123 Li Jen Tan, “Bhai Maharaj Singh and the Making of a ‘Model Minority’: Sikhs in Singapore,” in The South Asian Diaspora: Transnational Networks and Changing Identities, eds. Rajesh Rai and Peter Reeves (London and New York: Routledge, 2008). 124 Tan mentions one such published hagiography: Karam Singh’s Bhai Maharaj Singh Ji, 1780–1856: Some Glimpses of His Life (1998). See also her discussion on the circulation of “oral tradition” about Maharaj Singh in Ibid., 185–89. This paper also mentions two others: Ahluwalia, Sant Nihal Singh, Alias Bhai Maharaj Singh; and Singh and Singh, Rebels Against the British Raj. Personal communication with Teren Sevea, University of Pennsylvania. That said, other interlocutors do not recall encountering any reference to Khurruck Singh in these publications. 125 Personal communication with Rishpal Singh Sidhu, Central Sikh Gurdwara Board, Singapore, March 30, 2015. 126 Pieris, “The ‘Other’ Side of Labor Reform,” 469–71. 127 Bhai Maharaj Singh Ji 150th Anniversary 2006 (Singapore: Central Sikh Gurdwara Board, 2006). 128 Tan, “Bhai Maharaj Singh and the Making of a ‘Model Minority,’” 182–83. 129 Bhai Maharaj Singh Ji 150th Anniversary 2006, 65. 130 Ibid., 7, 18, 22–23, 22. 131 Ibid., 26. 132 Ibid. 133 Gerard McCann, “Sikhs and the City: Sikh History and Diasporic Practice in Singapore,” MAS 45, no. 6 (2011): 1465–98, at 1490. 134 Tan, “Bhai Maharaj Singh and the Making of a ‘Model Minority,’” 179–80. 135 See also Yen Feng. “Sikh Traditions Add to Our Country’s Cultural Richness: MM,” Straits Times, July 4, 2010. 136 Kuan Yew Lee, “Speech by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on the Occasion of the Opening of the Bhai Maharaj Singh Memorial, Saturday, July 3, 2010,” Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore, July 3, 2010. 137 Bhai Maharaj Singh Ji 150th Anniversary 2006, 54.

Part Two

Merchants, Migrations, Rights

5

“Money-Making Is Their Prime Concern”: Markets, Mobility, and Matrimony among South Indian Muslims in Colonial Southeast Asia Torsten Tschacher Freie Universität Berlin

Introduction1 In both the popular and academic imaginations, the development and persistence of the networks that connected South Indians across the Bay of Bengal are commonly understood through the prism of two socioeconomic categories: “trade” and “labour.” In precolonial times, the exchange of Indian for Southeast Asian commodities supposedly provided the main motivation for small numbers of South Indians to face the perils of crossing the Bay, with this commerce in turn undergirding both South and Southeast Asian participation in a wider political and cultural world. Over the ensuing period of colonization from the late eighteenth century, the general consensus has it that the out-migration of countless South Indian laborers in search of a living that they could not realize at home had far less glorious effects, albeit with a profound impact on the intersection of South Indian and Southeast Asian lifeworlds. Indeed, intertwined with notions of trade and labor is an explicit narrative of decline, rendering the rise of the latter over the former as symptomatic of the ascent of European imperialism across the Bay and the marginalization of Asian peoples in its commerce and politics. Whereas, in precolonial times, “trade” had supplied the master narrative for the circulation of people and commodities, the colonial period seemed to allow space for Asian trade only in the form of separate mercantile “communities.”2 There is no doubt that the violent integration of the Bay of Bengal into the world system of European imperialism caused far-reaching changes in local societies, and that the extension of a capitalist system of labor recruitment and extraction fundamentally transformed the composition of South Indian peoples participating in the circulatory regimes crisscrossing it. But the actual transformations undergone by societies on the ground are not always so easily integrated into this grand narrative.

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In this chapter, I trace the transformations and continuities between the precolonial “Age of Commerce” and the colonial-capitalist order in South Indian Muslim society, which formed one particular segment of the South Indian population in Southeast Asia. I do so by investigating the transformation, organization, and reproduction of the socioeconomic order that brought Muslims to Southeast Asia. Muslims from South India’s eastern seaboard form perhaps the most intriguing case for this endeavor, because they provide one of the rare cases of continuity in Southeast Asia, in marked contrast to other South Indians in the colonial period who have attracted greater attention, such as plantation laborers and the Nattukottai Chettiars, whose presence was predicated on colonial capitalism.3 Not surprisingly, the narrative of a successful precolonial mercantile order replaced by a colonial regime of labor left deep traces in the historiography of South Indian Muslims crossing the Bay of Bengal. Observers have at times painted a sharply contrasting image between the shrewd and somewhat “roguish” Chuliah merchants of precolonial Southeast Asia, valiantly competing with European trading companies, and those assumed to be their colonial descendants reduced to the ignominy of coolie labor and petty peddling.4 I will critique this narrative of the economic decline of “Chuliah” business activities in colonial Southeast Asia in the first part of the chapter. Thereafter, I reconstruct the practices surrounding the creation and reproduction of South Indian Muslim businesses, especially in British Malaya and the Straits Settlements, by focusing first on the porous boundaries between labor and business activity, and then the role played by kin and non-kin in the transfer of businesses and property. By investigating the organization of South Indian Muslim economic activity in Southeast Asia and its social reproduction, I hope to contribute not only to a better understanding of the way people crossed and, in more than one way, transcended the Bay of Bengal in the colonial period, but also to improve our understanding of precolonial socioeconomic orders, as colonial processes illuminate both continuities with and differences to precolonial times. I should offer a disclaimer at the outset regarding my terminology. In what follows, I have deliberately avoided some of the most common ethnic labels with which scholarship has traditionally labeled Muslims from South India’s eastern seaboard— whether as “Chuliah,” “Kling,” “Maraikkayar,” or, perhaps most contingently, “Labbai” (see below). Not only do these terms vary in meaning by geographical, temporal, and social location, they also perpetuate a false image of South Indian Muslims as a homogenous community composed of various subcommunities. This owes more to the Orientalist presuppositions of British colonial census ethnography than to social realities from the nineteenth century.5 I also avoid the formulation “Tamil Muslims” for similar reasons. While the vast majority of the individuals named in my sources undoubtedly grew up in households where Tamil was the main language of communication, many commonly employed Malay in their day-to-day interactions, while some hailed from Urdu-speaking households, so that their identification by language seems problematic. In any case, as late as 1941, the Singaporean publisher and social activist G. Sarangapany lamented that “it is the common opinion of Tamil Muslims that the designation ‘Tamils’ does not denote themselves.”6 In light of these problems, the somewhat vague “South Indian Muslims” seemed preferable.

Markets, Mobility, and Matrimony in Colonial Southeast Asia

Figure 5.1 “Kuli, Muham. Kling. Kling (Tjätti),” from Münchener Bilderbogen, Nro. 1034. Zur Geschichte der Kostüme. 80. Bogen. Asiaten. (Jetztzeit). Ostindien (Munich: Braun & Schneider ca. 1891/92). Image held at Staatsbibliothek, Berlin, permission for reproduction gratefully acknowledged.

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The narrative of decline If one were to trust the pronouncements of historians, South Indian Muslims living in colonial Southeast Asia were but a sorry remnant of a once-glorious trading community. According to the received view, in the seventeenth and especially the eighteenth centuries, South Indian Muslims established themselves as one of the few Asian commercial groups able to maintain a certain competitiveness with European trading companies and empires in the Bay of Bengal. The staple of their economic interaction was trade in cloth from southern India in exchange for Southeast Asian goods such as tin and areca nuts, shipped both on their own vessels as well as on European craft. Their competitiveness depended on their tapping into networks of trade and politics between native states outside the direct ambit of European settlement, forming a sort of link-community between South Asian, Southeast Asian, and European powers that could draw on the resources of each without becoming dependent on any one.7 However, toward the end of the eighteenth century, this situation is said to have changed dramatically. The production and shipping technologies employed by South Indian Muslims were no longer a match for their more advanced European rivals. The demarcation and establishment of colonial spheres of influence and the increased military and political pressure of European empires led to the demise of local states or their direct subjection to the imperial order, thereby putting an end to delicate political maneuvering that had allowed South Indian Muslims to rise to the status of “royal merchant” in Malay kingdoms. Moreover, the demands of a rapidly capitalizing economy supposedly overtaxed a community unwilling to change its traditional and religiously sanctioned ways of life. Henceforth, labor and retail trade, rather than transoceanic shipping, was to be the lot of the South Indian Muslim in colonial Southeast Asia.8 As persuasive as this narrative appears to be, there are several problems with it. The first is that much of the narrative depends on which sources are chosen and how they are read. The striking thing about this narrative is its rather meager source base. Lakshmi Subramanian quotes only six primary sources to justify the standard narrative, while Barbara Andaya and Kenneth McPherson limit themselves to quoting secondary literature positing the decline of Indian trade in the Bay.9 The only argument that is based on a thorough analysis of primary evidence is that of J. Raja Mohamad. But in this case, another problem presents itself. While Raja Mohamad is able to demonstrate the breakdown of maritime activities in the port towns of the Coromandel Coast quite convincingly, his exclusive dependence on Indian archives renders Southeast Asia invisible.10 Furthermore, some of the sources utilized to bolster the narrative of decline are actually far more ambiguous. Thus, Subramanian takes the occurrence of the title “Lebie” in a Singaporean document of 1822 as indication “that there was by this time a clear division based on occupational profile within the Tamil Muslim community and that the Labbais were relegated to the lower rungs of the trading system.”11 Not only does this interpretation ignore that the title “Lebie” is used in this document with reference to both merchants and laborers, it assumes that the Labbais formed a lowerclass South Indian Muslim “community,” even though this latter claim is an invention of early twentieth-century British census ethnography.12

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But that is not all that is problematic with the narrative of decline. As this is fundamentally a narrative of change, the question also arises as to whether it overlooks continuities. Furthermore, one might ask whether it takes sufficient stock of the actual changes that took place, or simply notes the decline of an earlier order without properly noticing new developments. Certainly, there are several continuities from the precolonial period. While independent cloth merchants largely vanished from the scene in the long run, Muslim cloth traders still formed the single largest occupational group (17.9 percent of 106 individuals) among those subscribing to the Singaporean Tamil weekly Ciṅkai Nēcaṉ between August and December 1887, indicating that their trade still formed an important element in the economic activities of South Indian Muslims in the city.13 Indeed, the retail trade was still able to generate considerable revenues in coming years, as with such enterprises as that of Ana Mohamed Hussain & Co. in Singapore, which was valued at $37,585.57 in September of 1904 and to which European creditors were ready to advance goods worth more than $30,000, signifying that its managers were trusted to be able to pay back such sums.14 While such a continuation of socioeconomic patterns has been overlooked by scholars, there are also cases where the opposite has taken place, that is, where scholars have assumed that socioeconomic patterns found in the colonial period had no antecedents in the precolonial period, when evidence actually proves the opposite. Thus, it has been claimed that, from the last decades of the eighteenth century, laborers displaced traders as the dominant class among South Indian Muslims in Southeast Asia, thereby highlighting the decline of the traditional maritime mercantile economy. But it is highly doubtful that the greater visibility of laborers among South Indian Muslims in Southeast Asia from the late eighteenth century represents an actual shift as opposed to a simple case of greater visibility in the sources. South Indian Muslim laborers were already a part of precolonial Southeast Asian society, as is evinced by the well-known statement of Francis Light in 1794, that the “greater part” of the “Chooliars” permanently settled in Penang, who were “all Shopkeepers and Coolies,” had “long been inhabitants of Queda [Kedah] and some of them born there,” in addition to the 1,500–2,000 individuals who came annually from the Coromandel Coast and “who by traffic and various kinds of labor obtain a few Dollars with which they return to their homes and are succeeded by others.”15 Obviously, laborers and petty traders were already a part of precolonial economic regimes and the establishment of the British port of Georgetown simply made some of them relocate permanently from the Kingdom of Kedah. Beyond this, the enduring fascination of historians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with named individuals who appear recurrently in European and Malay sources, due to their wealth and political importance as “royal merchants,” has often blinded them to the quotidian presence of South Indian Muslims of a more humble background. Yet Sinnappah Arasaratnam notes that occasionally up to 100 South Indian Muslim traders would be brought to Southeast Asia together with their cargo.16 These can hardly have been big merchants and obviously did not own and operate their own ships either. In all likelihood, such transoceanic peddlers formed the bulk of South Indian Muslim traders in precolonial Southeast Asia, much as they did in later centuries.

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Equally, scholars committed to the narrative of decline have often failed to note the development of alternative patterns. South Indian Muslims in Southeast Asia certainly expanded into a number of new business activities created during the colonial period. One of these was money-changing outside the formal banking sector, a trade that is still virtually monopolized by South Indian Muslims in Singapore and Malaysia. By the late nineteenth century, money changers made up the third-largest group of businessmen (10.4 percent) among the subscribers to the aforementioned Ciṅkai Nēcaṉ. An even more visible and influential sector was the trade in cattle. In 1887, Muslim cattle traders formed the second largest mercantile group among subscribers to the same paper (11.3 percent), and during the 1920s, South Indian Muslims monopolized the import of cattle into Singapore, making them not only exceedingly wealthy, but politically important as well. Indeed, the best-known among them was the “Cattle King” Kader Sultan (c. 1865–1937).17 Yet, perhaps the most intriguing shift in business activities is that from transoceanic shipping to the running of lighters and transport boats and working as harbor pilots, ship chandlers, and stevedores in the Penang and Singapore harbors and the Singapore River. During the nineteenth century, South Indian Muslims virtually controlled the lighterage industry on the Singapore River, and even though they were ousted from their dominant position by the Chinese around 1900, sources suggest that some South Indian lightermen still made substantial business. Legal action taken in Penang in 1926 involving South Indian Muslims described them as “wealthy landing contractors and lightermen.”18 A noteworthy element in these “new” business activities is that they were markedly local. Money-changing and lighterage, for instance, hardly involved any trade between India and Southeast Asia. Even the cattle trade largely imported cattle from Siam and Australia rather than India.19 Such activities are certainly invisible to a historiography geared toward evaluating the “success” of mercantile activities by studying direct exchange between South and Southeast Asia that relies largely on Indian archives. And even if some scholars have noted the rise of local business ventures such as lighterage or retail trade, this has usually been accompanied by disparaging remarks that construct these trades as “ancillary to English and Chinese enterprise,” locating them at the “lower levels of retail trade … and of port functions.”20 Such remarks not only ignore the fact that much of South Indian Muslim trade had previously been ancillary to the interests of Malay rulers and aristocracies, often with violent consequences for South Indians, but that these businesses offered high dividends to the business elites among South Indian Muslims without the dangers that precolonial transoceanic shipping had posed. The nineteenth-century lighterman was thus far less concerned with the threats of shipwreck, disease, and piracy than the eighteenth-century native crewman had had to endure. The Southeast Asian character of many of these new enterprises should also alert us to another aspect of change, namely, the exponential expansion of business networks on the Southeast Asian mainland over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the 1930s, South Indian Muslims had penetrated the hinterlands of Burma, Siam, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and established themselves as important mercantile communities, often with greater links to such European-ruled

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coastal centers as Rangoon or Singapore than South India.21 In other words, South Indian Muslims turned from a link-community between India and Southeast Asia to a Southeast Asian business community. Finally, it has to be noted that in the course of the nineteenth century, the actual area in South India from where Muslims moved to Southeast Asia increased to include many hinterland towns that had had only indirect links with maritime trade during the eighteenth century. It is further noteworthy that migrants from these towns are found in colonial Southeast Asia not only in occupations that seem to be in accordance with their hinterland background, for instance, shopkeeping, but also in maritime professions.22 In short, the narrative of decline is in need of rewriting. Let us now take a look at the organization of some of the seemingly new economic ventures that I have outlined above.

Making businesses: Trade and labor Unpacking the often-unclear relationship between mercantile activities and labor is of fundamental importance in understanding the way South Indian Muslims businesses operated in colonial Southeast Asia. As we have seen, labor is posited as an indicator of economic decline: the supposed increase of South Indian Muslim laborers in Southeast Asia in the colonial period is taken as an indicator of their lowered economic status. At the same time, we have also seen how historians of the precolonial era have systematically ignored the economic status of those nameless “Chuliahs” who came to Southeast Asia crammed with their few goods on the ships of European trading companies. Unfortunately, we know very little about the actual lifeworlds of these traders, but many of them would probably have engaged in activities we now classify as “labor” to augment their stay away from home during their seasonal sojourns. When the British founded Georgetown/Penang, they were able to tap a ready reservoir of South Indian Muslim labor in nearby Kedah. If the kind of seasonal trade in cloth that took hundreds, if not thousands, of South Indian Muslims to Southeast Asia and back every monsoon already created a pool of labor in areas like Kedah, then the establishment of colonial port cities such as Georgetown (Penang) or Singapore enhanced this process.23 This is not so much due to initiatives in recruitment by the British, who soon began to experiment with ways to obtain a more stable and controllable pool of workers by importing convicts from India.24 More important in this context is the fact that the localization of South Indian Muslim businesses produced a need for labor from within these businesses. Retail traders needed shop-hands and cattle traders needed herdsmen, for instance. The increased visibility of South Indian Muslim laborers was in many ways an aspect of the localization and extension of enterprises within colonial Southeast Asia. This is most obvious with regard to the lighterage industry.25 Owners of boats were in need of skilled pilots and crews. Waterways such as the Singapore River required considerable expertise to navigate, and the loading and unloading of cargo was a crucial process that, if carried out carelessly, could result in substantial losses and litigation for the operators.26 During the nineteenth century, European observers

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noted that “Klings” (i.e., South Indians) were the most skilled boatmen and operators of cargo boats on the Singapore River, much as they were dominant in the lighterage industry in other places such as Penang harbor.27 These boatmen formed a relatively tightknit group that joined together during religious festivals as well as government holidays in assigning parts of the income generated by their work to the organization of ritual feasts, processions such as Thaipusam, and public decorations.28 South Indian boatmen were also recognized by Europeans as a distinct category, though perceptions varied. Their alleged “impertinence” in exploiting their indispensability in the harbor economy to extort passengers and organize crippling strikes sometimes made them “vagabonds” in some British eyes, or even “universally detested,” even if their “handsome, statuesque” bodies apparently tickled the libido of traveling British gentlewomen such as Isabella Bird (1831–1904).29 But if the boatmen were most apparent in the lighterage business, the actual owners and operators of boats remained invisible in a hierarchy behind them. In fact, the lighterage industry supported a whole range of individuals behind the scenes, ranging from those once-lowly boatmen who might have ascended the ranks to become senior crewmembers and pilots, thence to operators who managed boats locally, if not actual owners, not all of whom resided in Southeast Asia. Participants in the lighterage industry were thus involved in a variegated set of activities involving different levels of labor and trade. While the case of the lighterage industry is probably the most obvious regarding the creation of a demand for labor by South Indian mercantile activities in colonial Southeast Asia, other businesses were similarly dependent on hiring subordinates. Apart from a few types of businesses such as money-changing, most enterprises were in need of employees to do basic tasks. These included shop-hands, workers in warehouses, porters, and peons. Based on interviews taken in the early 1970s, Syed Mohamed Baquir noted that a new employee would first be given the task of assisting the cook to provide meals for everyone working in the shop, since the owner of a business was typically responsible for feeding his employees.30 In this manner, even a simple cloth retail store included a hierarchy of employees, ranging from the assistant cook to salesmen and then managers employed to run the shop. Such employees could be relatives of the owner. According to Syed Mohamed’s information, it was common practice to send children to relatives to learn the basics of trade. Both primary sources and the information collected by Syed Mohamed make it clear that businesses also almost always included people who were not related to the owner.31 This last point hints at a more intimate connection between labor and business activity. Not only were South Indian Muslim business ventures in Southeast Asia as dependent on labor as European ones, the very boundary between “businessman” and “laborer” was much more porous. At the most basic level, many laborers tried to make additional money by engaging in small-scale informal activities such as hawking and peddling. Among one particular group of South Indian Muslim immigrants to Malaya, namely former weavers from towns such as Tenkasi and Kadayanallur, business activities were gendered as well. While men found employment as laborers in godowns and the harbor, young women prepared spice pastes in their homes that were then hawked by elderly women.

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Indeed, the majority of South Indian Muslim laborers, who had come to Southeast Asia without wives or families, often augmented their income by such activities as selling coffee during festivals.32 While matters would never progress beyond this stage for most laborers, these activities were nevertheless part of a societally approved means of becoming independent. In the 1970s, Syed Mohamed described a sort of ideal type of apprenticeship and social advancement among South Indian Muslims in Singapore. A young man would approach a potential employer. If his background proved satisfactory, he would be offered a position at the lowest level in the business. Over time, he would be given more and more responsible tasks. There would be no fixed salary. Rather, the employer would provide food, lodging, shelter, and basic medical care. In addition, he would remit money to the employee’s family in India on a monthly basis and provide for occasional additional expenses. When an employee indicated his desire to return to India, the employer would calculate and supply the wages due to him, in addition to providing for the return ticket and gifts. All the while, employees would be striving to save additional money with which to buy their own business once the opportunity arose. In this case, and if he had satisfied his employer and worked with him for some time, the employer would be expected to bless his former employee in his new endeavor, to provide him with some funds, and even introduce him to his own business contacts and wholesalers. In some cases, it was expected that a successful former employee would pay back his former master a certain sum with interest.33 That this blueprint for advancement from employee to businessman was not completely divorced from reality can be gleaned from a number of sources. An example is provided by the life story of an unfortunate shopkeeper named Nee Aya Abdul Karim, who was killed in a car accident in 1940: The deceased was a Tamil Mohammedan aged about twenty-eight years. He owned a small shop at 71–6 Woodlands Road, a rural district of Singapore, where he carried on business in piece-goods, provisions and general merchandise. He was born in India and was brought to Malaya in 1929 by his brother … who set him up in business in Seremban. That business failed in the depression of 1931 and for two years he was supported by his brother. Subsequently he assisted his brother who was then a contractor. In 1935 the deceased became a broker for food supplied to messes in the Naval Base Singapore and in 1936 he paid a visit to India. In 1937 he returned and set up in business on his own at Woodlands Road. He sold that business and another one and then opened the shop at No. 71–6. At the time of his death, he employed one salesman and a cook and … made a net profit from his business of about $120 a month. He had the notion of buying the premises he occupied and putting up his own shop. The deceased was not married but contemplating marriage. He regularly sent money to his sisters in India and from time to time supported his brother in periods of unemployment.34

While there is hardly anything dramatic about this particular case, it seems that the social ascent could be quite stark on occasion. One respondent told me about his father, who had started off in Singapore in the first half of the twentieth century as a crew member on a lighter. By diligently setting money aside, he was able to purchase

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two lighters of his own. He then informed his employer that he would return to India with the intention of returning immediately and setting up his own business. The employer, however, had already come to know of his employee’s purchase and told him to start his own business right away. According to the respondent, his father became a “multi-millionaire” with his lighters and was even able to extend credit to his former employer. That some of the wealthiest South Indian merchants had undergone a similar sort of apprenticeship is exemplified by the aforementioned “Cattle King” Kader Sultan from Karaikal in French India, perhaps the best-known and wealthiest South Indian Muslim merchant in Singapore in colonial times. By the early 1930s, Kader Sultan was not only a successful merchant, but also a Justice of the Peace, a Knight of the Legion of Honour, member of the Mohammedan Advisory Board, patron of several associations, owner of a villa designed by an Italian architect in Karaikal, and possessed of a “beautiful residence” in Singapore where he hosted governors, foreign consuls, and dignitaries from India.35 Yet when he had come to Singapore at the age of fourteen in 1879 or 1880, he had been just another South Indian Muslim youth in search of employment. It took him more than twenty years before he founded the Straits Cattle Butchering Co., starting with only two stalls in 1908. Until 1914, he ran his business, styled the Straits Cattle Trading Company, together with five further individuals, before becoming the sole proprietor and establishing himself as the dominant cattle trader in Singapore for the next twenty years.36 The social boundaries between laborers and businessmen were thus porous and could be transcended. At the same time, though, economic and social advancement was regulated by a system of reciprocal obligations between employer and employee. Laborers were consequently strongly discouraged from organizing and going against the will of their employers. While Muslim boatmen obviously were able to take decisive action in conflicts with Europeans or other Indians, the comments of colonial authors about them being “cringingly servile to their superiors” and not organizing themselves suggests that Syed Mohamed’s remarks about the absence of industrial unrest among South Indian Muslims, if shorn of their interpretation as indicators of positive relations between employers and employees, have a basis in the hierarchical obligations only permitting the transcendence of class boundaries under certain circumstances.37 But perhaps the most important aspect of these networks of obligation and social mobility is the centrality of the individual and of business relationships that transcend kinship. The role played by individual relations besides and occasionally beyond kinship in the reproduction of South Indian Muslim business in colonial Southeast Asia forms the focus of the final section.

Reproducing business: Inheritance and network Two interrelated assumptions have shaped the perception of mercantile activities among migrants of Indian background in colonial Southeast Asia. The first is that clearly delineated “communities” were fundamental to mercantile activity and in most cases “congruent with either a specific ‘caste’ or ‘subcaste’ (including Muslim ‘quasi-castes’).”38

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The second is the notion that, beyond the lowest rungs of peddling and hawking, the main form of mercantile organization is that of a “firm” located either within or outside India that at the same time is coterminous with a particular “family.” The concept of the “family firm” has its origin in colonial assumptions about “native” business practices, but it has been readily embraced by studies on Indian mercantile activities in Southeast Asia, probably because similar assumptions guide studies on Chinese mercantile activities, and the “family firm” is therefore readily integrated into discourses on “Asian” versus “Western” identities in contemporary Southeast Asian nations.39 I only intend to interrogate these assumptions as far as they have played a role for how South Indian Muslim enterprise has been understood. It is my contention that the assumption about South Indian Muslims constituting a mercantile community structured by the family is partly responsible for the historical narrative of decline and mediocrity. To start with, there is no evidence that Tamil-speaking Muslims ever saw themselves as a clearly delineable community. All the terms with which they have been described, whether as “Chuliahs,” “Klings,” or “Tamil Muslims,” were given by outsiders. Yet, it is not merely debatable in how far South Indian Muslims saw themselves as part of a single community. It is also not possible to describe that community as mercantile given that, as we have seen, there was no clear boundary line separating merchants from laborers. The question of the role of the family thus requires some further probing. There is no denying that links of kinship could prove of vital importance for migrants from India hoping to make their fortune in colonial Southeast Asia. As we have seen in the case of Nee Aya Abdul Karim, kinship was an important asset for establishing a business. It was Abdul Karim’s brother, Mohamed Abdul Cader, who first set him up in business in Malaya and who supported him when his business failed in the global economic crisis of the early 1930s. Similarly, Abdul Karim supported his siblings in India in times of need. But the life story of Abdul Karim reveals another aspect that has received practically no attention from scholars, though it is vital for understanding the operation of South Indian Muslim businesses. At no time did Abdul Cader or Abdul Karim act as partners in a family-run “firm.” Their enterprises seem to have been entirely independent. Even if they supported each other in times of need, and while Abdul Cader became the administrator of Abdul Karim’s estate after the latter’s death, their enterprises remained separate.40 Before moving forward to explore the role of kinship in South Indian Muslim business enterprises in colonial Southeast Asia, I should note that it is a major problem to identify kin in business activities in the first place. The absence of anything resembling family names among South Indian Muslims, and the common practice of giving the father’s name only as a set of initials, often makes it impossible to identify siblings or children of an individual unless the relationship is expressly pointed out in a source. The common practice of naming a business after the individual who runs it— sometimes the manager rather than the owner—similarly makes it next to impossible to trace business histories through time.41 This apparent absence of continuity contributes a lot to the impression that there were no noteworthy South Indian Muslim business enterprises. But such discontinuity may be more apparent than real.

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We can note the pattern we have just highlighted with regard to the business activities of the brothers Abdul Cader and Abdul Karim. It is fruitless to look for “family firms” which integrate the business activities of siblings, cousins, and children of a single family and make them subordinate to the family’s wider concerns in a situation where siblings ran independent enterprises. The notion of the family firm also proves problematic with regard to another custom prevalent among at least some sections of South Indian Muslim societies, given that it is normally predicated on the assumption of a household held together by a patriarch or a number of male elders who form its central “management,” with sons and nephews filling junior positions. But in coastal Tamil Nadu, Muslims widely pass real estate property through the female line given uxorilocal residence patterns whereby a man goes to live with his wife after marriage.42 Under such circumstances, a set of brothers would end up living apart from their father and each other after marriage. Put otherwise, there was no central patriarchal control that kept the males of a family together, while women usually did not migrate or engage in business activities. In a sense, then, many South Indian Muslims actually lacked the extended patriarchal family to run a family firm! In order to understand how South Indian Muslim businesses were run and reproduced in colonial Southeast Asia, we must take a closer look at the process assumedly underpinning the reproduction of the family firm, namely inheritance. Historians of the precolonial era have preferred to ignore the insecurity over property on a trader’s death. Once, when a foreign trader died in a Malay city, his possessions were likely to be confiscated by the local ruler.43 The rise of European colonial empires on both sides of the Bay of Bengal subsequently made it possible for merchants to maintain property in Southeast Asia even in the absence of family members. Both the benefits and tensions that the possibility to inherit created for South Indian Muslims are amply demonstrated by the numerous inheritance disputes kept in colonial archives. Perusing the collections of Stephen Leicester and James Kyshe, as well as the Straits Settlements Law Reports, I was able to identify fifty-two cases involving South Indian Muslims.44 Of these, twenty-one (or 40 percent) relate directly to wills and inheritance. Indeed, South Indians gained a reputation of being “the most inveterate supporters of litigation” in civil cases in Singapore less than twenty-five years after the British had acquired the island, and there is little doubt that the majority of these legal disputes were property related.45 Utilizing the legal archive, however, involves its own pitfalls; it preserves only those cases that came to be contested, and only if the decision taken was considered to be of sufficient importance to be included in a law report. The danger thus consists in taking perhaps extraordinary cases as exemplary or yet normative. Nevertheless, these cases reveal some interesting parallels that are suggestive of practices of inheritance and the continuation of business enterprises. A glance at the persons involved in disputes over property bequeathed in wills alone exemplifies the range of actors in the business concerns of South Indian Muslims. These disputes pitted beneficiaries against administrators of estates, kinsmen of the deceased against business partners, and different branches of the same family against each other. Apart from kinsmen, we encounter a fair share of individuals who were not related to the testator, or whose relationship with the testator remained unclear. What emerges,

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then, is that there is scant evidence of business activities between kinsmen. In quite a number of cases, we find that testators and administrators passed on property to their apparently unrelated business partners, or that business partners were themselves appointed as administrators of estates if direct male heirs were missing.46 In several cases, businesses were actually passed on to the administration of, or sold to, nonkinsmen, even where kinsmen were available. In one case, a wholesale and retail clothshop business was sold by the elder brother of the deceased, who acted as the testator’s executor, to two apparently unrelated men, who had entered into partnership with the testator only a few days before the latter passed away in January 1904. This sale happened despite the deceased having a son. Moreover, a brother-in-law and a nephew (the son of the executor) were apparently directly involved in the firm, suggesting that the money accruing from the sale of the business to non-kinsmen was of greater interest to the immediate male relatives of the deceased than that of continuing that business.47 In other cases, testators attempted to turn non-kin business partners into kin by promising them the business if they were to marry one of the testator’s daughters. Thus, in a will dating to 1940, one testator directed the executor “to continue and carry on the business of General Merchant known as A. Kadir M. Saiboo and Company now being carried on by me,” and to divide the profits equally between the executor and the testator’s wife. After the death of the latter, “the whole of the said business will go to my executor the said Abdul Jabbar if and when he marries my second daughter the said Alimabi Ammal.”48 Rather than pitting different beneficiaries of a will against each other, as we might expect in cases of family firms, the archive presents us with cases in which beneficiaries were pitted against trustees and executors. In some cases, heirs moved to acquire control over funds that the testators, that is, the heirs’ own fathers and grandfathers, had invested in quasi-religious trusts. Thus, following an 1871 judgment that declared trusts for the performance of feasts in memory of the deceased to be void, a spate of litigation by heirs challenged such trusts.49 On the other hand, beneficiaries sued executors and trustees for attempting to take over or speculate with property, especially real estate, given to their charge.50 While these cases seem to have arisen when a testator died without male heirs or with heirs who were infants, it nevertheless appears that family members of the deceased were rarely interested in continuing the businesses and estates they inherited or took over as trustees. They rather seem to have been more interested in deriving the maximum amount of cash benefits, probably to be invested in businesses of their own. In this context, it is noteworthy that most of the businesses in question seem to have been run under the names of their individual owners or managers, suggesting that they were indeed run by individuals rather than as parts of wider family firms. The recurrent theme of geographical separation between testators, wills, executors, and beneficiaries in these cases enhances the impression that individuals pursued their own projects independent of those of their kinsmen, whose property was seen as little more than assets to be sold off. In the eyes of Muslim reformers, South Indian Muslims appeared to be greedy and incompetent managers. “Money-making is their prime concern,” was the resigned judgment of the controversial publisher P. Daud Shah (1885–1969) of his compatriots

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in Southeast Asia, where even hajjis were not above augmenting their income by supplying pork and alcohol to the rubber estates.51 Equally, British judges often lamented the maladministration of estates by “Mohammedan Indian” families.52 Yet, such judgments overlooked how the money and property supposedly squandered in Malaya would actually augment the enterprises of another family member at another place, in India, Burma, or even French Indochina. Unlike the stable family firms run by Gujaratis, North Indians, or Chettiars, then, South Indian Muslim businesses appeared unstable and ephemeral. What remains largely invisible are the flows of cash that the dissolution of one enterprise in one place brought for investment in another business venture elsewhere. The relative “individualism” of South Indian Muslim enterprise as well as the networks that the relationships between former employees and their employers afforded may have largely prevented the creation of big “firms,” but at the same time facilitated the extension of South Indian Muslim business networks in Southeast Asia, which by the 1940s connected the Coromandel Coast to the Gulf of Tonkin and interior Burma to Sulawesi.

Conclusions Let me reiterate a couple of points I have made in this chapter. The colonial period brought noteworthy transformations in the business activities of South Indian Muslims engaged in Southeast Asian markets. While continued engagement of South Indian Muslims in the circulation of commodities between India and Southeast Asia became far more difficult due to a variety of factors, the establishment of colonial empires and common legal regimes allowed for the extension of retail businesses and other more locally circumscribed enterprises into Southeast Asia. These businesses offered employment and the possibility for advancement to young Muslim men from South India, who would join an enterprise at a rather lowly position, but who might yet be able, through diligent work and the support of networks of kin and non-kin alike, to set up their own businesses and ultimately to retire to India, living off the rents collected from shops, lighterage businesses, or real estate. South Indian Muslim businesses, with their stress on individual obligations and fluid boundaries between labor and mercantile activities, provided a relatively flexible structure that could be replicated by individual entrepreneurs without access to (formal) European credit or labor markets. While a son might choose to continue his father’s business, individual businesses often seem to have changed owners, as heirs might choose to sell off their father’s or brother’s properties, raising funds for their own individual enterprises, while making established businesses available on the market for those who had accumulated enough cash to start their own. This model, in which kinship was only one of the many resources that could be utilized, may have largely precluded South Indian Muslims from forming large business conglomerates. But, on the other hand, they seem to have been ideally suited to the extension of small and medium-sized ventures. This may not have made them the richest Indian entrepreneurs in colonial Southeast Asia but certainly the most widespread and visible.

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Notes 1

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5

6 7

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18

A version of this chapter was presented at the workshop “Informal and Everyday Markets: Modern Histories of Indian Business and Entrepreneurship since the Nineteenth Century,” held at the University of Göttingen June 18–20, 2014. I wish to thank the participants for their feedback. Cf. Jayati Bhattacharya, Beyond the Myth: Indian Business Communities in Singapore (Singapore: ISEAS, 2011). On the Nattukottai Chettiars, see David W. Rudner, Caste and Capitalism in Colonial India: The Nattukottai Chettiars (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1994). Chuliah (in the form of “Chulyars”) was used by an English trader, Thomas Bowrey, as early as the 1670s. See Richard Carnac Temple (ed.), A Geographical Account of the Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, 1669 to 1679 (Cambridge: Hakluyt, 1905), 257. Torsten Tschacher, “The Challenges of Diversity: ‘Casting’ Muslim Communities in South India,” in Being Muslim in South Asia: Diversity and Daily Life, eds. Robin Jeffrey and Ronojoy Sen (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014). “Tamiḻar eṉṟāl tamiḻ nāṭṭiṉar,” Tamiḻ Muracu, February 5, 1941, 2. The classic formulation of this narrative remains Sinnappah Arasaratnam’s “The Chulia Muslim Merchants in Southeast Asia, 1650–1800,” Moyen Orient et Océan Indien 4 (1987): 125–43. Cf. Barbara W. Andaya, “The Indian Saudagar Raja (The King’s Merchant) in Traditional Malay Courts,” JMBRAS 51, no. 1 (1978): 13–35, esp. 33–34; Kenneth McPherson, “Chulias and Klings: Indigenous Trade Diasporas and European Penetration of the Indian Ocean Littoral,” in Trade and Politics in the Indian Ocean: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Giorgio Borsa (New Delhi: Manohar, 1990), 42–44; J. Raja Mohamad, Maritime History of the Coromandel Muslims: A Socio-historical Study on the Tamil Muslims 1750–1900 (Chennai: Government Museum, 2004); Lakshmi Subramanian, “Merchants in Transit: Risk-sharing Strategies in the Indian Ocean,” in Cross Currents and Community Networks: The History of the Indian Ocean World, eds. Himanshu P. Ray and Eward A. Alpers (New Delhi etc.: Oxford University Press, 2007), 278–83. Andaya, “Indian Saudagar Raja,” 33–34; McPherson, “Chulias and Klings,” 46; Subramanian, “Merchants in Transit,” 284. Cf. Raja Mohamad, Coromandel Muslims, chapter 6. Subramanian, “Merchants in Transit,” 279. SSR L6/42 (December 7, 1822). For the history of the term “Labbai,” see Tschacher, “Challenges of Diversity,” 70–71. These and other figures relating to the subscribers of Ciṅkai Nēcaṉ were computed from the lists of subscribers published intermittently by the newspaper during the second half of 1887. SSLR 1929: 5–6. Quoted in: Marcus Langdon, Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India 1805–1830: Volume One: Ships, Men and Mansions (Penang: Areca, 2013), 199. Arasaratnam, “Chulia Muslim Merchants,” 137. Cf. Bashir A. Mallal, Trial of Muslim Libel Case (Singapore: Ribero, 1928); Sharon Siddique and Nirmala Puru Shotam, Singapore’s Little India: Past, Present, and Future (Singapore: ISEAS, 1982), 58, 77. SSLR 1928: 15; cf. Stephen Dobbs, The Singapore River: A Social History 1819–2002 (Singapore: NUS Press, 2003), 38–43; Khoo Salma Nasution, The Chulia in Penang:

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22 23 24

25 26

27

28

29

30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Patronage and Place-making around the Kapitan Kling Mosque (Penang: Areca, 2014), chapter 26. Cf. A. Mani, “Indians in Thailand,” in Indian Communities in Southeast Asia, eds. Kernial S. Sandhu and A. Mani (Singapore: ISEAS, 1993), 912–13. Subramanian, “Merchants in Transit,” 278. Cf. Mani, “Indians in Thailand”; J.B. Prashant More, “Pathan and Tamil Muslim Migrants in French Indochina,” Pondicherry University Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities 1, nos 1&2 (2000): 113–28; Marcel Ner, “Les Musulmans de l’Indochine Française,” Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient 41 (1941): 151–200, at 152– 53; Moshe Yegar, The Muslims of Burma: A Study of a Minority Group (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1972). Cf. Khoo, The Chulia in Penang, 434–45. See Sunil S. Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Cambridge: Harvard, 2013), 73–85. See Clare Anderson and Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, “Convict Labour and the Western Empires, 1415–1954,” in The Routledge History of Western Empires, eds. R. Aldrich and K. McKenzie (London: Routledge, 2013), 102–17; and especially Anoma Pieris, Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes: A Penal History of Singapore’s Plural Society (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009). For a detailed account of Penang harbor, see Khoo, The Chulia in Penang, chapter 26. See James W.N. Kyshe, Cases Heard and Determined in Her Majesty’s Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements 1808–1884, 4 vols. (Singapore: Singapore and Straits Print. Office, 1885–90), I, 640–47; SSLR 1928: 14–27. Quoting Amitav Ghosh, Amrith (Crossing the Bay, 84–85) claims that many of these boatmen hailed from Orissa. I have seen no evidence supporting this claim from either Singapore or Penang. See e.g. “Coroner’s Inquest,” SFP, February 26, 1857 (statement of Emaum Saib Labbay); “The Decorations,” ST, December 4, 1869; “Mavulitu,” Ciṅkai Nēcaṉ, December 12, 1887, 97–98. For “impertinence” see “Boats—A Hint to the Authorities,” SFP, June 6, 1846; on “vagabonds” see “To the Editor of the Singapore Free Press,” SFP, May 5, 1836; for “detested,” see George W. Earl, Eastern Seas or Voyages and Adventures in the Indian Archipelago, in 1832-33-34, Comprising a Tour of the Island of Java-Visits to Borneo, the Malay Peninsula, Siam, &c.; also an Account of the Present State of Singapore, with Observations on the Commercial Resources of the Archipelago (London: Allen and Co., 1837), 392; and regarding “handsome,” see Isabella L. Bird, The Golden Chersonese and the Way Thither (Oxford: Putnam’s, 2011 [first published 1883]), 91. Syed Mohamed Baquir bin Md. Ibrahim, “The Tamil Muslim Community in Singapore” (Graduation Exercise, University of Singapore, 1973), 109. Ibid., 108–12. A.N. Maideen, Neñcil patinta niṉaivu-c cuvaṭukaḷ (Kumbakonam, 1989), 9–10; “Coroner’s Inquest,” SFP, February 26, 1857 (statement of China Tomby). Syed Mohamed, “Tamil Muslim Community,” 108–12. SSLR 1941: 282. “In Honour of the Marriage…,” ST, June 19, 1924, 8. “The Butchering Business,” ST, April 20, 1909, 7; “The Straits Cattle Trading Company,” ST, July 3, 1914, 3; “On the 18th Instant…,” ST, January 7, 1926, 8. Earl, Eastern Seas, 392; Bird, Golden Chersonese, 87; Syed Mohamed, “Tamil Muslim Community,” 112.

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45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52

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Claude Markovits, “Indian Merchant Networks outside India in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: A Preliminary Survey,” MAS 33, no. 4 (1999): 883–911, at 897; cf. Bhattacharya, Beyond the Myth, 9–11. Bhattacharya, Beyond the Myth, 9. On defining the family firm through legislation in British India, see Ritu Birla, Stages of Capital: Law, Culture, and Market Governance in Late Colonial India (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009). SSLR 1941: 281–86. See, for such an example, SSLR 1928: 46–52. See, for example, Dennis B. McGilvray, “Arabs, Moors and Muslims: Sri Lankan Muslim Ethnicity in Regional Perspective,” Contributions to Indian Sociology 32, no. 2 (1998): 433–83, at 441; J.B. Prashant More, “The Marakkayar Muslims of Karikal, South India,” Journal of Islamic Studies 2, no. 1 (1991): 25–44, at 37. Andaya, “The Indian Saudagar Raja,” 30–31. Kyshe, Cases Heard and Determined; Stephen Leicester, Straits Law Reports: Being a Report of Cases Decided in the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements, Penang, Singapore and Malacca: Also a Few Judgments of the Indian and English Cases (Penang: Commercial, 1877); SSLR. For a list of the cases, see Torsten Tschacher, “The Impact of Being Tamil on Religious Life among Tamil Muslims in Singapore.” (PhD Diss., National University of Singapore, 2007), Appendix 4. “We give below…,” SFP, June 2, 1842. Cf. e.g. SSLR 1928: 46–52; SSLR 1928: 83–84; SSLR 1940: 250. SSLR 1928: 83–97; SSLR 1929: 3–7; cf. also SSLR 1928: 46–52. SSLR 1940: 250. Kyshe, Cases Heard and Determined, I, 255–72, 580–81; IV, 212–3; SSLR 1911: 74–83; SSLR 1936: 107–13. E.g. SSLR 1928: 46–52; 82–97; SSLR 1929: 3–22; 141–46; SSLR 1930: 212–6; SSLR 1931: 3–12; 55–57; 118–29; 1933: 73–85; SSLR 1937: 1–7; 33–49. Pā Tāvutṣā, “Em malāynāṭṭu aṉupavam,” Tārul Islām 7, no. 8 (1925): 341–46, at 341. SSLR 1929: 145.

6

Transcultural Intimacies in British Burma and the Straits Settlements: A History of Belonging, Difference, and Empire Chie Ikeya Rutgers University

Introduction Burma (Myanmar) has received a great deal of attention of late, not least for its ongoing sectarian violence. Since 2012, the country has witnessed constant persecution of its Kalā (“brown” foreigner, mainly Indian) and Muslim populations, particularly the Rohingya, a minority Muslim ethnic group based in the western Rakhine state.1 The period has also seen the ascent of militant nationalist movements such as 969 and its successor Ma Ba Tha (an abbreviation of the Burmese “Association to Protect National Culture and Buddhism”), and the forcible displacement of an estimated 125,000 or more Rohingya and other so-called Kalā men and women. Much of this violence has been incited by vitriolic attacks launched by the likes of the now-infamous monk Ashin Wirathu, who appeared on the cover of Time in July of 2013 with the header “Face of Buddhist Terror.” Such identification would seem justified given the rhetoric of an interview he had recently given to The Guardian: In every city, we are being raped. In every city, we are being harassed and insulted. In every city we are being ganged up on and tyrannized. In every city, there are many barbaric Muslims … in every sermon, we [Burmese Buddhist monks] mention stories about girls who, after getting together with Muslims, become ungrateful daughters and disobey and insult their parents; about girls who, after getting together with Muslims, are forced to follow Islam against their will and in misery; and about girls who are killed or, if not killed, are abused and brought to tears every day for refusing to accept Islam.2

Through such interviews, sermons, and Facebook posts, Ashin Wirathu has campaigned against what he characterizes as an insidious Muslim plan in and beyond Burma to “devour the Burmese people, destroy Buddhism, and Islamicize Myanmar.”3 Wirathu was instrumental in drafting and mobilizing support for the controversial “national

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race and religion protection bills,” the crowning achievement of Ma Ba Tha to date. Signed into law in September 2015, the laws outlaw polygamy and restrict interfaith marriages by requiring that non-Buddhist men first convert and obtain permission from the Buddhist woman’s parents and local authorities.4 What has gone largely unnoticed among even Burma scholars and observers is that this gendered, racialized, and sexualized nationalist discourse on the Kalā Muslim overwhelming of Burma has a long genealogy dating back to at least the late colonial period, when intimate relations between Burmese women and foreign men were widely denounced as an assault on Burmese tradition and nation.5 Almost a century ago, prominent monks—including the Arakanese U Ottama (1879–1939), known as the “Gandhi of Burma”—similarly campaigned with the help of the country’s pioneering women’s organizations for legislative reforms that would “protect” Burmese women in interfaith marriages. Beginning in 1921, members of various patriotic women’s associations spoke publically against intermarriage between Burmese women and non-Buddhist men, leading to the drafting of the Buddhist Marriage and Divorce Bill (1927). The bill served as the basis for the Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage and Succession Act (1939).6 This was enacted at the end of a decade bookended by the anti-Indian riots of 1930 and 1938, the most intense and protracted outbursts of communal violence under British rule. In both cases, riots erupted in Rangoon before spreading throughout the country. Much like the communal violence that has unfolded since 2012, the Burmese were mostly on the offensive, and the casualties were mostly Indians.7 Incidentally, both riots were fuelled by alarmist discourses not only about “the Indian immigrant” but also about intermarriage between Burmese women and Indian men.8 The government’s interim report on the 1938 riot even asserted that the “mixed marriage problem” was one of the main causes, declaring that “It became evident to us that one of the major sources of anxiety in the minds of a great number of Burmans was the question of the marriage of their womenfolk with foreigners in general and with Indians in particular.”9 The following year, the newly established left-wing, nationalist Kyi pwa yei (Progress) press published what is probably the most extensive and elaborate diatribe against intermarriage and miscegenation. U Pu Galay’s 350-page Kābyā pyatthanā (The HalfCaste Problem) claimed that marriages between Burmese women and Indian men, and the Kābyā (half-caste) children of such unions, threatened a spiraling destruction of the Burmese race and culture. The problem, as he saw it, was as follows: It’s worse to be half-caste in mind than to be half-caste in body; even if a person happens to be half-caste in body, if he or she lives in Burma and will die in Burma, it would be fitting for him or her to think like a Burmese person. … [E]very person who lives in Burma and dies in Burma ought to share one blood, one soul, with Burmese people; he or she should not stray from or get in the way of the struggle for Burma’s independence.10

While U Pu Galay conceded that “a person who is not mixed is truly rare” and that all human beings are half-caste in one way or another, he was most troubled that the Kābyā were not Burmese in blood or soul.

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Then, as now, unions between Buddhist women and Kalā/Muslim men were condemned in the name of religion and race. The image of the woman oppressed by “others” was put into the service of nationalist, masculinist discourse seeking to discipline women, family, and nation. Then, as now, Islam was seen as an infectious religion, pervading Burma’s national body through conversion and migration. Then, as now, the alarmist discourse about “foreign races” growing in number became a rallying cry for militant nationalist movements. Then, as now, nationalists sought to assert their dominance over internal “others” and demanded overt reassurance by Burmese women of their fidelity and obedience to their men, race, religion, and nation. A global perspective reveals that Burma was hardly exceptional. At the turn of the twentieth century, anti-Asian race riots shook the western coast of North America. The transnational Orientalist discourse of “The Yellow Peril,” “The Dusky Peril,” and Asian exclusion found in North and South America, England, Australia, and New Zealand circulated not only among white settler societies but also among (non-settler) colonies in Asia. In the neighboring Straits Settlements of Penang and Singapore, for example, ideologues expressed concerns about the political, social, and economic marginalization of Malays by non-Malays and even “foreign” Muslims—namely the Jawi Peranakan (also known as Jawi Pekan), whose parentage was often Indo- or ArabMalay. As early as 1907, the Malay-language Utusan Melayu (Malay Messenger) depicted Chinese and Indian immigrants as the “enemies” of the Malays and pleaded with the colonial administration to protect them from being “removed from their own country by foreign races who possess great greed and a lack of manners, and are accustomed to seize people’s property by means of trickery.”11 Whereas some Jawi Peranakan—such as the editors of Singapore’s al-Imam—saw themselves as different from local Malays at that time, if allied to them by religion and deserving of respect and emulation, by 1923 Haji Abdul Latif, the Jawi Peranakan editor of the monthly English-language journal The Modern Light, would react to such distinctions and criticism with his article “An Argument in Favour of Accepting Jawi Peranakan and Arabs as Malays.”12 Abdul Latif begins by admitting that indeed there were new and “mercenary” immigrants who had no intention of adopting the “Malay nationality,” even if they had Malay wives: It is remarkable that they avoid Malay society as much as possible and in business invariably engage men of their own kind as assistants and servants. If they have children by Malay women their children will be brought up according to their national custom and ideals, and more often than not will be sent back to their own country for education and cultural upbringing; while they themselves will return to their ancestral homeland the moment they make their fortune, to die and be buried among the bones of their forefathers.13

While granting that such men “have no rights whatever to claims to be Malays,” Abdul Latif also points out that “there are men today who are descendants of foreign settlers who in their time were accepted by their meritorious service to the Malay nation as Malays, men who speak with Malay language, practise [sic] the Malay adat [tradition] and religion and have the interests and welfare of the ‘Malay nation’ at heart.”14 He then

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proceeds to give a detailed account of one such Arab-Malay man, the Hon. Sheikh Ahmad bin Sheikh Mustapha, and asks his readers to consider if it is fair to deprive a man such as Sheikh Ahmad or his children of Malay national rights and privileges. He concludes by emphasizing that: a nation is constituted not by a collection of people with the same origin of “blood” but by a collection of people with the same ideals and ideas for their common interests and welfare; and this man (like many others of the same pedigree as he, whose merits we can quote if necessary) has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is working for the interests and welfare of the Malays.15

Despite such efforts to identify with the Malay community, antagonism toward those not “truly Malay” (betul Melayu) continued to grow in the 1920s. In 1926, a group of English-educated Malays founded the Singapore Malay Union, the first Malay political organization, formed with an explicit membership policy restricted to those of “Malay stock.” By the late 1930s, Chinese, as well as “Malays possessing Arab blood,” “Malays possessing Indian blood,” and others of mixed racial and ethnic origins, were frequently portrayed as intruders who defiled the “Malay race” (bangsa Melayu) by marrying Malay women.16 I begin with these acrimonious debates about Asian immigrants, intermarriage, and miscegenation not to make the obvious point that there is a long and often conveniently forgotten history of anti-Asian racism in Southeast Asia. Rather, I wish to draw attention to the curious fact that, despite the salience and resilience of discourses that pathologize intermarriage between “Indian,” “Arab,” and “Chinese” foreigners and native women, scholars have seldom felt compelled to explore the history of these transcultural intimacies. This is all the more surprising given the voluminous literature that has developed on the intimacies of empire. Since the pioneering work by Ann Stoler revealed that “matters of intimacy”—that is, sex, sentiment, domestic arrangements, and child rearing—were “matters of state,” scholars have made significant progress in interrogating the interplay between the macroeconomics of colonialism and the micro-dynamics of the intimate.17 Yet, this scholarship, echoing the dominant black-white paradigm in the Americas, remains narrowly preoccupied with relations between Euro-American colonizers and native women, and has thus rendered some bodies and socialities more epistemologically relevant than others. In colonies such as British Burma and the Straits Settlements, though, unions between local women and Asian foreigners, whose mass migration was encouraged by the various European colonial administrations, were far more prevalent. They were also more relevant to emerging political and social imaginaries. Asian intimacies functioned as sites for confronting questions of national affiliation and who could be considered and counted as “Burmese” or “Malay.” By and large, it was against Asian migrants and Asians of mixed heritage such as the Indo-Burmese and Jawi Peranakan that Burmese and Malay national identities were formulated. These facts have perhaps eluded historians of colonial intimacies due to their emphasis on the archives and priorities of the colonial state. Eurasians represented a consistent source of anxiety for European colonial administrations throughout Southeast Asia.

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Government efforts to identify, enumerate, and “protect” Eurasian populations— including the removal of Eurasian children from native mothers, families, and homes— have been abundantly documented.18 Yet colonial administrations demonstrated no such interest in tracing and tracking mixed Asian populations. The categories “SinoBurmese” and “Sino-Malay” never entered the census in the British colonies of Burma, Malaya, and the Straits Settlements. And neither did Malay vernacular terms, such as anak awak, that referred to the children of Siamese or Burmese fathers and Chinese or Baba (Straits-born Chinese) mothers.19 The only classifications available for people of multiple or mixed racial identification were “Eurasian,” “Indo-Burman,” “Jawi Peranakan,” and “Zerbadee”—(the Burmese equivalent of Jawi Peranakan derived from the Farsi compound for “below the wind”). The last term entered the census in British Burma in 1891 when only twenty-four individuals were recorded. By the same token, the fast-fading Jawi Peranakan would be omitted altogether from the census by the twentieth century.20 Interestingly, the British administration had only employed the terms Jawi Peranakan, Zerbadee, and “Indo-Burman” to refer to the descendants of Indian Muslim fathers and Malay Muslim or Burmese Buddhist mothers. This is peculiar, given both Jawi Peranakan and Zerbadee appear at times to have had a more capacious and ambiguous meaning. For instance, in their dictionary published in 1894, colonial officers Hugh Clifford and Frank Swettenham defined Jawi Peranakan as “the name given by Malays to the offspring of a Malay and a native of India.”21 In this instance, Islam was not an explicit part of the equation. Some thirty-six years later, though, C. A. Vlieland, the author of the 1931 Census of British Malaya, remarked that while Europeans regarded the cognate Jawi Pekan as meaning “a mixture of Indian and Malay blood,” Malays “frequently applied [the term] to an Indian who has in fact no Malayan blood in his veins, but is a Muhammadan who has settled and married in Malaya.”22 Further north, John Nisbet, who was the Conservator of Forests in British Burma from 1895 until 1900, had defined Zerbadee as “the children of Indian and Burmese unions.”23 Writing in 1920, R. Grant Brown, the longtime revenue officer in Burma, similarly described Zerbadee as “a person of mixed Indian and Burman descent.”24 Even so, neither Jawi Peranakan nor Zerbadee was ever used administratively to include the offspring of non-Muslim Indian men and local Burmese or Malay women, for whom the census provided no separate category. This chapter therefore explores these neglected and erased intimacies of empire, focusing on “inter-Asian” or “South-South” transcultural families and companionships that resulted from the immense human movements across the British-dominated Bay of Bengal. It draws on civil court cases dealing with marriage, adultery, divorce, and inheritance to illuminate the lives of men and women who seldom left behind personal documents such as autobiographies, memoirs, letters, or family portraits. By turning our attention to intimate encounters among colonial bodies, my goal is to offer a microhistory of women and men who have been dematerialized and disembodied by the intimate turn in histories of empire. Moreover, I highlight important commonalities in the way that affective ties and family affairs were managed and confronted, and certain forms of belonging and estrangement were normalized

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and legitimated. This analysis not only unravels the tangled threads of colonialism, migration, race, law, and intimacy; it underscores striking patterns and parallels in the way that transcultural/transracial/transnational alliances were limited in colonial Asia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Ties that (un)bind Hailing from a Shia Muslim family in Calcutta, by the middle of the nineteenth century, the brothers Abdul Hadee and Hadjee Hoosain Bindaneem were merchants in Rangoon. Having had a less than prosperous career, though, Abdul Hadee returned to Calcutta a poor man sometime before his death in March 1886. Though he had no property to speak of, he apparently left a will in which he bequeathed everything to his (much wealthier) brother, noting that he had a child in Burma and wished that his brother should give them “something.”25 Hadjee Hoosain, on the other hand, made quite a fortune in Rangoon, though he had no children prior to his own death there in February 1890. Having thus died without issue, a search began for Abdul Hadee’s son in Burma in order to bequeath unto him a rather sizeable estate. Thanks to the efforts of “some enterprising gentlemen at Calcutta,” it was soon discovered that Abdul Hadee had once married a Burmese woman by the name of Mah Thai and had indeed had a son, Abdool Razack a.k.a. “Moung Hpay.”26 The story of Abdul Hadee, Mah Thai, and Abdool Razack comes to us by way of a published collection of case laws known as The Law Reports, Indian Appeals. Such cases had reached the Privy Council in London, which, given the extraordinary reach of the British Empire, at one time served as the final court of appeal for more than a quarter of the world’s population.27 Through Mah Thai’s testimony, we know that her marriage to Abdul Hadee, which took place sometime around 1854, was first proposed by her sister in Rangoon. Mah Thai had been married once before but was by now divorced and living with her parents in her native village of Mangi, about a half day’s journey from Rangoon, where Abdul Hadee came to meet her. Recounting her first encounter, Mah Thai recalled that she asked him, “if he would look after her and cohabit with her for a long time,” to which he replied that he would.28 Abdul Hadee then visited her several more times before their marriage. On the day of the marriage, Mah Thai was placed “in an inner room,” and was asked by someone in the outer room if she loved him and consented to the marriage.29 Mah Thai’s description of her marriage was recorded as follows: My husband said something which I did not understand. Abdul Hadee said he would marry me according to Kala custom. I agreed… I said he would have to give dower according to custom among Kalas. I did not understand; but it was said it must be according to Kala custom, and so I said he must give dower according to Kala custom.30

Mah Thai then moved to Rangoon to live with Abdul Hadee after what must have been a Muslim marriage. She never met his brother Hadjee Hoosain or any of his relatives,

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and did not know why they did not come to see her. She also recalled that she was not allowed to go to the mosque with her husband. As she explained: I know nothing about the Mahomedan religion. I have all my life lived and worshipped as a Burman. While cohabiting with Abdul Hadee I worshipped as he did. As a long time has elapsed, I have forgotten. I could repeat after him; but have forgotten now. He repeated his prayers in some Kala language; I don’t know what language. I repeated in the language he used; I did not understand the meaning of a single word … I know there is a Mahomedan mosque here. I wasn’t allowed to go to it; I had to stop at home. I know that wives of Moguls go to the mosque; I didn’t go, because Abdul Hadee would not allow me to go. I said I wanted to go; but he wouldn’t allow me.31

About a year and a half later, Mah Thai returned to her mother’s home to give birth. Upon their son’s birth, she sent a message to her husband who replied that he was too busy to come, but sent money for expenses and a message to her parents to look after her. Mah Thai remembers that he came to see her only twice thereafter: first, about six months after, when Abdul Hadee gave their son a Muslim name: Abdool Razack. He wrote the name on a piece of paper, which Mah Thai had copied on a palm leaf for fear it might be lost. Abdul Hadee returned six months later, hoping to take his wife and son with him to Rangoon. Yet Mah Thai refused, explaining that “she was not well yet and that the child was not old enough.”32 She never heard from her husband again, although he continued to reside in Rangoon for the next twenty years or so. In the words of Lord Macnaghten, who delivered the judgment for the Privy Council: He was at that time apparently in prosperous circumstances, but he made no provision for her or for the child … Mah Thai was very badly off, but she never applied to her alleged husband for assistance, nor did she make any attempt to see him, though she knew where he lived, and he had, she said, been kind to her while they cohabited together, and she liked her life with him. At the end of two years, or four years as she says in one place, she married a Burman by whom she had seven children.33

Abdool Razack was raised by Mah Thai’s parents, who gave him the Burmese name Moung Hpay, and lived the life of “an ordinary Burmese peasant,” that is, until he was “discovered” by the Calcutta gentlemen at the age of thirty-five.34 Such life stories were not uncommon in colonial Burma. After all, of the 28 million or so people who emigrated from the Indian subcontinent between 1840 and 1940, 12–15 million went to Burma, while another 4 million went to Malaya and the Straits Settlements.35 In fact, prior to the interventions of Sunil Amrith, it often went unnoticed that Southeast Asia was host to the largest Indian and Chinese migrant populations the world over for much of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Governed as outposts of Britain’s Indian territories, Burma and the Straits Settlements—both treated as part of the British Raj and then under the sovereignty of the Bengal Presidency until

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endowed with legislative authority in 1897 and 1867, respectively—promised security to bureaucrats, merchants, moneylenders, and laborers from various regions of British India and Ceylon. Unsurprisingly, the disproportionately high male population among these new migrants led to a rapid growth in relations with local women.36 Some, such as the marriage between Mah Thai and Abdul Hadee, were short-lived. As often as not, they were cases of desertion or divorce by the wife, rather than the husband. Take, for example, the story of Ma Saing and Kader Moideen. Ma Saing, a Burmese Buddhist, was fifteen when she married Kader in 1896 “according to Mahomedan rites.”37 In 1901, she sued for divorce on the grounds of cruelty—a charge she subsequently dropped— and apostasy. Kader, for his part, testified to the Chief Court of Lower Burma that Ma Saing had eloped with one Cheeper Meera Moideen and, upon his initiating court proceedings against her, she notified him through her lawyer of her renunciation of Islam and “re-conversion” to Buddhism. The court discounted his allegation that she apostasized only for the purpose of annulling her marriage to be with her new lover, and determined that the marriage had, indeed, been effectively dissolved by her act of notifying Kader that she had “re-converted.”38 Another marriage between a Burmese Buddhist woman and a Muslim man shared a similar trajectory, though it was far more fleeting. Ali Asghar and Mi Kra Hla U only lived together for seven days in 1916 before the latter abandoned her husband. Ali then sued for the restitution of conjugal rights on the basis that Mi Kra Hla U had converted to Islam in order to be married to him according to Muslim rites. Like Kader, Ali Asghar lost the case due to his wife’s reconversion to Buddhism being deemed cause for the termination of the marriage.39 Few intermarriages were cut short by willful acts of severance. When Soolong had married an “Arab Muslim” by the name of Shaik Allie bin Awal Thalap in Singapore, little did she know that she would be widowed with three young daughters within the decade. In her affidavit, filed with the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements in 1878, Soolong described their marriage as follows: I the said Soolong for myself say, I am a Malay, and was married about twenty years ago to one Shaik Allie bin Awal Thalap, by whom I had three daughters, born during the first three years subsequent to my marriage, namely Zannah, who is since dead, and Salmah and Fatimah, the plaintiffs above named. My husband, the said Shaik Allie, died about three years after the birth of my youngest daughter, the above-named Fatimah, leaving me in such a state of penury, that I was obliged to apply to relations and friends for assistance to enable me to defray the expenses of his funeral.40

Soolong worked as a nursemaid to provide for her daughters for about four years after the death of Shaik Allie, when she, like Mah Thai, turned to her family for help. Salmah and Fatimah were taken in and raised by her sister Mandak and her husband Mohamed Mustan, until his death in 1877, and solely by Mandak thereafter. According to Soolong, neither she nor her daughters received support from her late husband’s family after his death, although she admitted that his brother Shaik Omar bin Sahlaf

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had given Salmah and Fatimah “a present of a Sarong and twenty-five cents apiece,” and proposed to take them with him to Batavia to look after them.41 While it is impossible to develop a clear picture of the relationship between Shaik Omar and Salmah and Fatimah, the fact that he later represented Fatimah (then age seventeen) against her mother Soolong is telling. The dispute arose from Fatimah’s decision to marry Ismail, described as “a Mohamedan Kling.”42 Soolong apparently objected to the marriage, arguing that Ismail, not being Arab, was unworthy of her daughter, and sued successfully for an injunction restraining the consummation of the marriage. Seeking to dissolve the injunction, Fatimah had apparently found an ally in Shaik Omar. It thus seems that Fatimah’s ties with her uncle may not have been as tenuous as Soolong insisted, and even fleeting intermarriages created wide and lasting kinship networks. Other intermarriages certainly endured. When Karim Khan died in 1907, he had been joined to Ma Kye for over twenty-seven years. They had married “according to Mussalman rites” and had four children.43 Together they had built a lucrative paddytrading and money-lending business, managed largely by Ma Kye, which more than supplemented Karim’s modest income as a hospital assistant on the Burma Railways and from his private medical practice. This income allowed the couple to finance the expensive medical training of Abdul Rahman Khan Laudie, Karim’s son from another marriage, first in Rangoon and eventually England, as a result of which he attained the position of Captain in the Indian Medical Service.44 Thanks to the business, too, Karim and Ma Kye had also acquired sizable land holdings, considerable enough in 1914 to induce Abdul Rahman, by then a civil surgeon in Punjab, to sue Ma Kye for possession of the land in the Chief Court of Lower Burma. Also tucked away in the documents of the Chief Court of Lower Burma is the marriage of Ma Me, a Buddhist Burmese woman, and Seniyappa Anamalay, a Tamil migrant. Ma Me had predeceased Seniyappa and, in 1905, the widower applied for letters of administration to her estate. Ma Me’s brother, Po Lan, objected, claiming that Seniyappa was not Ma Me’s legal husband. Seniyappa’s testimony, in which he described his marriage, was recorded as follows: The appellant [Seniyappa] when asked his description said that he was born in Madras, and that he was by race Sudra. Later on in his evidence he said he was from birth a pariah. He asserted that Ma Me was his wife, and that he and she had married 16 or 17 years previously. There was no ceremony but they agreed to live together, and did so until she died. They had no children. She used to cook food for him, and he used to eat with her. All along he used to go to the Hindu Temple, but he used to go with her to the Pagoda and to Pongyi Kyaung [monastery]. He professed to know some Burmese prayers. There was some evidence that the two were regarded as man and wife.45

The chief justice, who decided the case in the widower’s favor, acknowledged that “a Hindu of one of the castes recognized by the Hindu faith cannot lawfully marry anyone who does not belong to the caste to which he or she belongs.”46 Yet, he found in Seniyappa’s account of his life with Ma Me—which stressed that they lived, ate, and worshipped together—sufficient proof of “permanent alliance.”47

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To be sure, Seniyappa’s assertion that Ma Me used to cook for him must not have been lost on the judge, who would have had some knowledge of caste-based prescriptions about food sharing, and the way that mundane activities of cooking and eating establish social distance among Hindus. Accordingly, he concluded that “Tamils of the lower orders,” such as Seniyappa, evidently did not “consider themselves bound by a rule of Hindu law which Hindus of the recognized castes regard as one of the essentials of their religion and system.”48 As this case suggests, the legitimacy of what appear to have been long and committed marriages only became an issue when the surviving wife, husband, and/or children tried to secure property and inheritance rights. The aforementioned Ma Kye was similarly sued by her stepson Abdul Rahman for possession of paddy holdings on the basis that she was not in fact his father’s wife.49 At around the same time, R. Kristnasawmy Muduliar, alias Maung Maung, had his right to his father’s estate contested by his cousin, W. R. Vanoogopaul. Maung Maung was the son of W. V. Ramasawmy Mudaliar, “an orthodox Hindu,” and Ma Gun, the daughter of one Narainsawmy Naidoo and Ma Thu Za.50 According to Vanoogopaul, the marriage between Narainsawmy and Ma Thu Za had not been lawful as the latter was Burmese Buddhist, not Hindu, and Ma Gun was therefore an illegitimate child. As such, Ma Gun was herself not Hindu and unable to lawfully marry Ramasawmy. If taken as fact, this claim would have rendered Maung Maung an illegitimate child, disinheriting him. The case thus turned upon the question of the legality of the marriage between Maung Maung’s maternal grandparents, Narainsawmy and Ma Thu Za, and the latter’s religious status. There was no dispute that Narainsawmy and Ma Thu Za had lived together for many years, until the former’s death in 1857, and had had several children. Fortunately, for Maung Maung, both presiding judges were convinced that Ma Thu Za, though perhaps Buddhist by birth, was regarded as a Hindu, and that the couple had brought up their children as Hindus and married them to Hindus “according to Hindu rites.”51 Maung Maung was thus declared the rightful heir to his father’s estate. The Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements heard many a similar tale. For example, in 1902, a Straits-born Chinese Buddhist widow, Tim Kim, was taken to court by her brother-in-law, Carolis De Silva, who alleged that she was not his late brother’s lawful wife, but merely a “kept woman.”52 Tim Kim testified that she and her husband, Cornelis De Silva, a Sinhalese Buddhist, had performed a marriage ceremony in the presence of friends at the Chinese Buddhist Szya Meow Temple in Kuala Lumpur where they lit joss papers and candles, together worshipped the joss, and declared themselves man and wife. After the ceremony, Tim Kim and Cornelis lived together until the latter’s death and had a child who was registered by Cornelis as his. Beyond accusing Tim Kim of being a concubine, Carolis challenged the validity of the marriage on two grounds: that the marriage ceremony was “imperfect” as “there can be no Chinese marriage without worship by the bride of the bridegroom’s ancestors,” and that Cornelis could not be married unless the contract of marriage was registered in Ceylon. While acknowledging that “Ceylon priests would not consider this marriage with a Chinese woman celebrated in a Chinese temple in Kuala Lumpur as a marriage sanctioned by their religion,” the presiding judge affirmed its validity, arguing that there was overwhelming evidence that the couple cohabited as man and wife, and that Cornelis

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“was a Buddhist and certainly after his cohabitation with the respondent and probably at its inception he adopted Chinese forms and worship, or at least much of them.”53

Unruly alliances: The case of the “Hindu-Buddhist” Ohn Ghine Whether fleeting or lasting, or yet Muslim-Buddhist, Tamil-Burmese, or SinhaleseChinese, such transcultural matrimonial alliances invariably raised the problem of identification, belonging, and classification for the judges, jurists, lawyers, and litigants. What kind of individuals, unions, and families were they? How were they to be identified and categorized? What law was to be applied to them? These were intertwined questions because of plural legal jurisdiction—a legal system extended to Burma and the Straits Settlements upon their piecemeal incorporation into the British Raj from 1826. In a plural legal order, cases related to family relations and religion were exempted from the civil law of the state and made subject to the religious “personal law” of the individuals involved in the dispute.54 In India, the British had, over the course of the nineteenth century, identified the indigenous religious systems that would form the basis for laws of the family as either Hindu or Muslim and worked to codify them accordingly, even extending the latter codes to the Straits Settlements without regard to the difference in jurisprudence.55 In Burma, meanwhile, they identified Buddhism as the indigenous religious system that would form the basis for laws of the family.56 The indigenous dhammasat texts—extant in thousands of palm-leaf and paper manuscript versions—were thus recognized as the legal and ethical treatises that outlined appropriate social practices and methods of dispute settlement and the foundational sources of “Burmese Buddhist law.” Accordingly, in cases concerning marriage, divorce, inheritance, and succession, British courts administered the “Burmese Buddhist law” in cases where the parties were Buddhists, “Muhammadan law” in cases where the parties were Muslims, “Hindu law” where the parties were Hindus, and “Chinese customary law” where the parties were Chinese. Determining which religious law pertained to a particular individual or family was no straightforward matter. In theory, the “personal law” of an individual was determined by his/her professed religious affiliation. In practice, however, colonial jurists viewed professed faith as a requisite yet inadequate indication of one’s “true” religious identity. This was no doubt due, in part, to the frequency with which judges discovered that men and women in the colonies converted nominally for the purpose of marriage.57 Thus in order to establish a person’s religious affiliation, her professed faith had to be corroborated by her habits and practices. The story of U Ohn Ghine (1858–1911), a wealthy Indo-Burmese merchant and highly respected member of Rangoon’s elite circles, serves as an illustrative example. In August 1921, the Privy Council heard two consolidated appeal cases from the Chief Court of Lower Burma concerning the estate of Ohn Ghine.58 He had led an illustrious life, not least as an elected member of the Rangoon Municipality, an Honorary Magistrate, recipient of the Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire, and the title of Ahmudan gaung tazeik ya min (Recipient of the Medal of Honour for

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Good Service). He had even represented the Province of Burma at the Coronations of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902. Ohn Ghine had also been an active member of and contributor to the Maha Bodhi Society, founded by the Sinhalese reformer and preacher Anagarika Dharmapala; the Rangoon-based International Buddhist Society, founded by Britain’s first Buddhist monk Ananda Metteyya (a.k.a. Allan Bennett, 1872–1923); the Royal Asiatic Society; and the Society of Arts. Notable among his philanthropic activities was the endowment of two scholarships tenable at the Government School of Engineering in Insein, Burma.59 Ohn Ghine had died in 1911 during a visit to England, leaving behind a will appointing his wife Ma Yait and daughter Ma Noo as trustees. His son Chit Maung disputed this provision, contesting the validity of the will on the basis that his father was Hindu. Had Hindu law been applied to Ohn Ghine’s estate, as Chit Maung requested, then Ma Yait and Ma Noo would only have been entitled only to maintenance—and only until their (re)marriage with the estate passing to his sons for administration. The issue to be decided therefore concerned the religious status of Ohn Ghine. It is worth noting that when questioned in 1907, and in his capacity as a municipal commissioner of Rangoon by the Royal Commission upon Decentralization in India, Ohn Ghine had self-identified as a “Hindu-Buddhist” native of Burma.60 Yet, this hybrid category did not exist in the colonial rule of law, even as all parties involved agreed that Ohn Ghine was “as much Burmese as Indian by blood, and in dress, language and manner of life he was more Burmese than Indian.”61 He came from an IndoBurmese family whose members professed to be Hindus and yet also “worshipped at the pagoda, fed the pongyis [monks] and observed Buddhist fasts and festivals.”62 As Viscount Haldane remarked, Judge Robinson, who first tried the case, had been “right in thinking that Ohn Ghine observed to a certain extent the rites and ceremonies of the Hindu religion, but that he also observed and followed the Buddhist religion to a great extent and was far from being an orthodox Hindu.”63 No one denied that he could not be considered “an orthodox Hindu.” But was he even Hindu enough to warrant the application of Hindu law to his estate? If not, could he be considered a Buddhist instead? As in the forgoing cases, rites and ceremonies mattered greatly in establishing the “true,” and inherently religious, identity of the deceased. The lawyer for Ma Yait, who portrayed Ohn Ghine as primarily Buddhist, emphasized that he had sent his sons to a monastic school for instruction, arranged the marriage of Chit Maung to a Burmese Buddhist woman according to Burmese custom, and took a leading role in supporting a number of notable Buddhist projects. For example, in 1900, Ohn Ghine sent a letter to the governor of Madras on behalf of his “Buddhist Co-religionists,” requesting the return of certain Buddhist relics held at the Madras Museum to be placed in a shrine that he was building in Rangoon. The following year, he gave an address on behalf of the Buddhist community in Rangoon to the viceroy, Lord Curzon, and traveled with fellow Burmese pilgrims to the temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Ceylon. Viscount Haldane took notice of other evidence confirming his Buddhist leanings: Ohn Ghine had sent a card to one of his sons in England admonishing him to “daily think of the Buddha,” and when Ohn Ghine’s daughter Ma Mya died in 1910, he did not send her ashes to the Ganges.64

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At the same time, though, evidence presented by Chit Maung suggested that his father’s “liberality to Buddhist monks and his liking for Buddhist prayers and practices” did not amount to a “clear renunciation” of the Hindu faith.65 Ohn Ghine had continued to support the Hindu temple in Rangoon, serving as one of its trustees. It was also noteworthy that he had not sponsored the temporary ordination (shin byu) of his sons as monks, a crucial rite of passage considered as the noblest of the meritorious acts that anyone can perform in Buddhist Southeast Asia. When his body was returned to Rangoon, Ma Yait had chosen to observe Hindu rites at his cremation—though she had also invited Buddhist monks—and sent his ashes to Benares. In the end, the Privy Council could only determine who Ohn Ghine was not. His Hindu-ness was apparently so divergent from “pure” Hinduism as to render him nonHindu.66 Still, the Council stopped short of declaring the late Ohn Ghine a Buddhist, and decided that the Indian Succession Act—the so-called rule of justice, equity, and good conscience—should apply to his estate.

Domesticating disobedient ties The trialed life and legacy of Ohn Ghine highlight the unruly character of transcultural intimate relations that defied fixed juridical notions of identity. Hardly “unassimilable,” immigrant men and their locally born children—men such as Seniyappa Anamalay, Cornelis De Silva, and Ohn Ghine—led transculturated lives, producing an assortment of conjoined Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist, and Indian, Burmese, and Chinese practices and institutions. Transcultural couples and families opportunistically and adaptively reconfigured cultural elements to fashion new and distinct configurations of habits, rituals, and hierarchies. They developed their own customs, however loosely defined and arranged, that diverged from colonially determined notions of religious, racial, and cultural difference. Confronted with disobedient kinships and belongings, jurists nevertheless sought to circumscribe subjects and affiliations that flouted the gaze of the colonial state. For their part, the litigants, who often knew and calibrated the attendant prerogatives and penalties of each law, opportunistically and purposefully appealed to such notions of difference as “Arab Muslim,” “Hindu,” or “Chinese Buddhist” to privilege understandings of marriage and family that most suited their needs. They attempted aggressively to shape the meaning and materiality of their lives, and influence colonial categories of rule, inserting themselves into broader debates about communal identity and its definition and boundaries. Ultimately, no amount of investigation could yield clear, bounded identities that lent themselves to unambiguous classification. Rather the protracted and intricate process of argumentation and adjudication threw into sharp relief the disorderliness of life and the orderly unreality of the law. Litigants and judicial authorities alike were compelled to acknowledge the messy complexities and contradictions of transcultural intimacies and family ties, even while nominally employing determinate and exclusive classifications. This is not to suggest that the attitude and approach of transcultural couples and families toward communal identity and domestic affairs were laissez-faire. The wellto-do classes of transcultural families were most adept at developing techniques to

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manage and discipline mixed offspring. The preclusion of their own sons from shin byu appears to have been a common practice, as were endogamous marriages, especially for sons but even for daughters who were encouraged to take India-born husbands. Perhaps such practices stemmed from a concern for sociocultural status and repute. Indo-Burmese/Malay families may indeed have shared with Eurasian communities anxieties about the cultural incompetence of their mixed families. Not only status was at stake, however. The cases discussed above, as well as the dozens of precedent cases relating to succession or inheritance of Indo-Burmese families reviewed during the process of adjudication, strongly indicate that debates about which law was to be applied in intestate succession were not about religious traditions or communal identities but rather a gendered negotiation over the power and authority to define familial bonds and control who had access to property and privilege. As Aihwa Ong has shown for the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia, instrumentalist family norms, practices, and attitudes that emphasize pragmatism, gender and age hierarchies, and other ethnic-specific modes of social production and reproduction do not represent some essentialized, traditional Chineseness. They are the strategies and effects of diasporic subjects who seek to both circumvent and benefit from different colonial and nation-state regimes, and negotiate the diverse rules or “governmentality” of host societies where they may be valued as homo economicus but devalued in terms of ethnicity. Such “habits” of diasporic subjects have ensured that the emigrant family survives for generations, accumulating wealth and security while evading the discipline of the colonial, and later the postcolonial, state.67 Building on Ong’s analysis, I would argue that in transcultural marriages and families under colonial rule and law, the issue of men’s access to and control over women’s land, labor, and resources was intertwined with the issue of foreigners’ access to the very same things. This raises questions about the coloniality of Asian settlers and immigrants and their intimate relations with “local” subjects. Did Asian intermarriages serve to extend foreign men’s control over the affective and economic resources of local women? If we are to understand colonialism as not only the conquest of land, labor, and resources but also the colonization of existing forms of knowledge, socialities, and subjectivities, then in what ways did Asian transcultural marriages and domesticities aid and abet colonial relations of power, even as they were produced by it? The scholarly literature on the Indian and Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia and beyond has shown that these migrant and diasporic subjects often served as the middlemen between colonial governments and the native populations.68 Neither group has been described as colonials, as no centralized body organized Indian or Chinese overseas efforts and affairs. Scholars have rightly emphasized the precarious position of these compradors whose political loyalties were questioned due to their economic domination and extensive overseas connections. They were often blamed for the humiliation and dislocation experienced by Burmese and Malay people under colonial rule, as a cartoon published one month before the 1938 riots shows (Figure 6.1). It depicts what appears to be four foreign men—Arab, Indian, Chinese, and British— sitting side by side comfortably on a bench called Burma, while a much smaller Burmese man sits uncomfortably on its edge. As stateless subjects and “outsiders within” at the mercy of host governments and societies, Indian and Chinese immigrants in Southeast Asia as elsewhere were at once marginal and privileged.

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Figure 6.1 “Crowded by other guests, such is the lot of the Burmese,” Thuriya, June 1938.

Even so, the family and kinship regimes that these subjects developed in order to safeguard themselves against the adversities—dispossession, displacement, and pogroms—that periodically befell them also served to reconstitute antecedent familial and conjugal, and gender and sexual relations in Southeast Asia, sometimes to the detriment of local women and communities. Perhaps the most telling evidence of this comes from the Burmese legal cases that mention the preclusion of sons from shin byu. I have already mentioned the importance of shin byu in Buddhist society, but let me elaborate on the significance of this practice specifically to the mother. When a son enters the monastery as a novice, merit accrues to his mother, who cannot herself be ordained because she is a woman. Before his ordination, chants proclaim the debt the son owes his mother, extolling her selflessness and mettā (pure, selfless, loving kindness) in enduring the pain of childbirth, nurturing him thereafter, and offering him to the Sangha (Pali: saṅgha, monastic community). In reminding both the lay and monastic communities that the Sangha’s gain means a mother’s deprivation, shin byu rites render the maternal relationship and the debts it encodes integral to the practice of Buddhism.69 It is not hard to imagine that Burmese Buddhist women might have felt profoundly disenfranchised by the denial of this meritorious deed. No wonder then that the performance of other Buddhist rites and ceremonies such as funerals, shin byu of male kinsmen, and donations to the Sangha became important for these women, as the court records show.

Conclusion Case laws are documents produced under highly regulated circumstances of the courtroom that give us only a fragmentary picture of the lives of the litigants and

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witnesses, even when the individual testimonies are registered. Seen through the lens of juridical records, past lives and individuals are always mediated by the language of the law and the interpretations of lawyers and judges. Only a selection of especially important civil cases in the high court were compiled and published by the British colonial administrations. The preponderance of urban and comparatively wealthy people among civil cases recorded for posterity reflects the selective nature of the colonial legal system. Yet, and as I hope to have shown, court records provide a rare window into the inner workings of South-South transcultural intimacies. As with civil cases in colonial India, those examined here underscore the creativity and resourcefulness of the plaintiffs and defendants who knowingly staged versions of their selves and families that they calculated were most likely to result in a favorable outcome under plural legal jurisdiction.70 They all reinforce the familiar argument that the British policy of noninterference toward its colonial subjects in religious and familial matters and its recognition of personal laws actually ossified religious and ethnic identities and eroded heterogeneous customs and cultures.71 Time and again, the courts insisted on imposing and codifying essentialist understandings of difference. The litigants, too, found that an effective legal strategy for winning the contest over who has the authority to govern the family and its fortunes was to invoke difference. Colonizer and colonized unevenly coauthored a fiction of discrete religious, racial, and cultural—and, hence, legal—communities that belied the interactions and connections that cut across the allegedly hard-and-fast boundaries that estranged them. In other words, in Burma and the Straits Settlements, family law served as a commanding force in the production of difference. It furthermore played an undeniably important role in reconstituting family and dis-incentivizing Asian alliances. Nonetheless, I don’t wish to overemphasize the efficacy of law as a technology of colonial governance. Even when colonial subjects availed themselves of the services of the colonial courts, it is doubtful that their lives and subjectivities were fundamentally remolded or refashioned. As they crafted narratives of kinship and belonging, Asian colonial subjects both threw into question and, simultaneously, concretized colonial categories of rule. Here, we see an important commonality between South-South intimacies and their Eurasian counterparts: they both served as microsites of governance that confounded and confirmed the strictures of colonial rule. Indeed, transcultural intimacies in British Burma and the Straits Settlements shared much in common. They faced comparable difficulties as well as opportunities as forms of attachment that defied easy categorization, endured similarly gendered struggles over status and resources, and adopted overlapping strategies to these challenges. Some of the stories we have encountered in this chapter bear out the 1920s–1930s attacks on “unassimilable foreigners” that denounced intermarriage as a strategy of colonization. The enactment of a plural legal order did place many women in intermarriages in precarious positions, as we have seen. Though the precariousness of the plural legal system was experienced by both husband and wife, and the “foreign” as well as the native party, as the brief marriages of Ma Saing and Kader Moideen, and Ali Asghar and Mi Kra Hla U remind us.

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Besides, it would be a mistake to focus singularly on South-South transcultural intimacies. Many couples and families, not just transcultural ones, fought embittered battles over marriage, fidelity, and inheritance. Deception, cruelty, and revenge: these are the stuff of marital scandals and family dramas. Stories of wayward wives, oppressive husbands, ungrateful children, and conniving relatives were common across the board, as even a cursory survey of case laws from British Burma and the Straits Settlements reveals. Civil court cases are by nature overwhelmingly about marital discord and family dispute. I would suggest that historians resist the legal archival impulse to keep our analytical eye fixed on the transcript of tense and tenuous—rather than tender and abiding—matrimonial and familial bonds. By so doing, we uncover a history of empire plotted around the complex and charged everyday efforts at transcultural relations of belonging, inequality, and contestation, and their achievements as well as failures.

Notes 1

2

3

4

5 6

7

Historically, Kalā functioned as a generic category for “foreigners from the west of Burma.” In the twentieth century, it took on a pejorative, racialized sense, meaning “dark” or “brown races” of the Indian subcontinent, and was differentiated from bou, which appeared as the common word for “Caucasian.” The etymology of the more recent Rohingya remains uncertain, though it probably derives from the Indianized form of Rakhine: Rakhanga. See Jacques P. Leider, “Rohingya: The Name, the Movement and the Quest for Identity,” in Nation Building in Myanmar (Yangon: Myanmar Egres/Myanmar Peace Center, 2013), 204–55. Kate Hodal and Christopher Symes, “Burma’s Bin Laden, the Buddhist Monk Who Fuels Hatred,” The Guardian (April 16, 2013), http://www.theguardian.com/world/ video/2013/apr/16/burma-bin-laden-buddhist-monk-video (accessed February 7, 2016). Unless otherwise stated, all translations in this chapter are my own. This is an excerpt from an interview with the Global Post. See Tin Aung Kyaw, “Buddhist Monk Wirathu Leads Violent National Campaign against Myanmar’s Muslims” (June 21, 2013), http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/ groundtruth-burma/buddhist-monk-wirathu-969-muslims-myanmar (accessed February 7, 2016). For a more recent example, see Mark Juergensmeyer, “Chatting with Myanmar’s Buddhist ‘Terrorist,’” Religion Dispatches (February 17, 2015), http://religiondispatches.org/chatting-with-myanmars-buddhist-terrorist/ (accessed February 7, 2016). The four laws, collectively and euphemistically known as “Race and Religion Protection Laws,” are the Population Control Law No. 28/2015, the Conversion Law No. 48/2015, the Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage Law No. 50/2015, and the Monogamy Law No. 54/2015. See Chie Ikeya, Refiguring Women, Colonialism, and Modernity in Burma (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011). Ibid., 129–30. The Buddhist Special Women’s Marriage and Inheritance Act of 1954, the successor to the Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage and Succession Act of 1939, remains in force. The first riot occurred in Rangoon in May 1930, following a brawl between striking Indian dockworkers and Burmese laborers who had been hired as their replacements.

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8

9 10

11

12

13 14 15 16

17

18

19 20

21 22

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal A citywide fight ensued, leaving 110 people dead and nearly 800 injured (IOR, M/3/513, B3932/38(i), “Burma Riots: Situation Reports,” Government of Burma, 1938, “Minute Paper, Burma Office”). The 1938 riots were occasioned by a mass meeting of Burmese monks and laymen at the Shwedagon Pagoda on July 26, 1938, organized to protest the reprinting of an anti-Buddhist book. Those gathered began an anti-Indian attack that escalated to country-wide looting and damaging of Indian mosques, shops, and homes. See Riot Inquiry Committee, Interim Report of the Riot Inquiry Committee (Rangoon: Superintendent Government Printing, 1939). On the intra-imperial question of “the Indian immigrant,” see Wickramasinghe in this volume and Rajashree Majumdar, “Constructing the Indian Immigrant to Colonial Burma, 1885–1948” (Doctoral Diss., UCLA, 2013). Riot Inquiry Committee, Interim Report, 28. U Pu Galay, Ka brā: prassanā (Yangon: Kyi pwa yay, 1939), 11–12. The word Kābyā, in its most basic meaning, refers to people of mixed ancestry, though its etymology is uncertain. Utusan Melayu, December 26, 1907, quoted in Anthony C. Milner, The Invention of Politics in Colonial Malaya: Contesting Nationalism and the Expansion of the Public Sphere (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 119. Cited in Helen Fujimoto, The South Indian Muslim Community and the Evolution of the Jawi Peranakan in Penang up to 1948. Comparative Study on the Modes of InterAction in Multi-Ethnic Societies Monograph Series No. 1 (Tokyo: Tokyo Gaikokugo Daigaku, 1988), 189–93. On al-Imam, see William R. Roff, The Origins of Malay Nationalism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), ch. 3. Fujimoto, South Indian Muslim Community, 190. Ibid. Ibid., 193. Ungku Maimunah Mohd. Tahir, Modern Malay Literary Culture: A Historical Perspective (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1987), 29–30; Milner, Invention, 271; Fujimoto, South Indian Muslim Community, 126–27. Ann L. Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002). For a sample of this literature, see Ann L. Stoler, ed., Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006); and Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton, eds., Moving Subjects: Gender, Mobility, and Intimacy in an Age of Global Empire (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009). See, for example, Stoler, Carnal Knowledge; and Christina Firpo, “Crises of Whiteness and Empire in Colonial Indochina: The Removal of Abandoned Eurasian Children from the Vietnamese Milieu, 1890–1956,” Journal of Social History 43 (2010): 587–613. The descriptive “Straits-born” or “Straits Chinese” were used to differentiate Chinese who were born in the Straits Settlements from the so-called sinkeh (“new guest”). Government of India, Census of India, 1931: Part One, Report, Vol. 11, Burma (Rangoon: Office of the Superintendent, Government Printing and Stationery, 1933), 230–31. Hugh Clifford and Frank Athelstane Swettenham, A Dictionary of the Malay Language, Part I (Taiping: Government Printing Office, 1894), 57. C.A. Vlieland, British Malaya: A Report on the 1931 Census and Certain Problems of Vital Statistics (London: Crown Agents for the Colonies, 1932), 73–74, cited in Charles Hirschman, “The Meaning and Measurement of Ethnicity in Malaysia: An

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23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

37 38 39 40

41 42 43 44

45 46 47 48 49 50

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Analysis of Census Classifications,” Journal of Asian Studies 46, no. 3 (1987), 555–82, at 565. John Nisbet, Burma under British Rule and Before, 2 vols (Westminster: Constable, 1901), I, 451, no. 1. R. Grant Brown, “The Kadus of Burma,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London 1, no. 3 (1920): 1–28, at 2. Abdul Razack v. Aga Mahomed Jaffer Bindaneem (1893–1894), 21 IA, 56–70, 70. Ibid., 63. Mitra Sharafi, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772– 1947 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 54. Abdul Razack v. Aga Mahomed Jaffer Bindaneem, 65. Ibid., 57. Ibid. Ibid., 57. Ibid., 66. Ibid., 66–67. Ibid., 67. Sunil S. Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013), 104. For example, in Penang in 1901, approximately 71 percent of Indians and 75 percent of Chinese were male (Fujimoto, South Indian Muslim Community, 194). In Burma, in 1931, approximately 72 percent of Indians and 66 percent of Chinese were male. Of the immigrant population from India, which constituted roughly 80 percent of the total immigrant population, females represented only 18 and 16 percent in 1921 and 1931, respectively. See Government of India, Census of India, 1921, Vol. 10, Burma (Rangoon: Superintendent Government Printing, 1923), 90–91; and Census of India, 1931, 60–63. Ma Saing vs. Kader Moideen (1901) in The Burma Law Reports, ed. Aviet Agabeg (Rangoon: British Burma Press, 1902), VIII-i, 16–18. Ibid., 18. Ali Asghar v. Mi Kra Hla U (1916) 8 LBR, 461–63. Salmah and Fatimah, Infants, by their next friend Shaik Omar v. Soolong (1878), in James W.N. Kyshe, Cases Heard and Determined in Her Majesty’s Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements 1808–1884, 4 vols. (Singapore: Singapore and Straits Print. Office, 1885–90), I, 421–26, at 422. Ibid. Ibid. Captain Abdul Rahman Khan Laudie, by his agent, Fazal Rahman Khan vs. Ma Kye (1914) 8 BLT, 87, 88. Abdul Rahman’s medical training was estimated to have cost at least Rs. 20,000, which would have been worth between 1,300 and 2,000 pounds sterling in 1900, the equivalent of 75,400–116,000 pounds sterling in the year 2000. S. Anamalay Pillay v. Po La (1906) 3 LBR, 228. Ibid. Chief Justice C. E. Fox, in Ibid. Ibid., 229. Captain Abdul Rahman Khan Laudie, by his agent, Fazal Rahman Khan vs. Ma Kye, 87. WR Vanoogopaul by his guardian and next friend PA Murugasa Mudaliar v. R Kristnasawmy Muduliar alias Maung Maung, administrator to the estate of WV Ramasawmy Mudaliar (1905) 3 LBR, 25.

136 51 52 53 54

55

56

57

58 59

60

61 62 63 64 65 66 67

68 69

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Ibid. Carolis De Silva v. Tim Kim (1905) SSLR 8, 11–14, 12. Ibid. In Burma as elsewhere, the implementation of colonial law was not straightforward, as the Indian Civil Service officer and scholar John S. Furnivall (1878–1960) showed in his Colonial Policy and Practice: A Comparative study of Burma and Netherlands India (New York: New York University Press, 1956). See Bernard S. Cohn, “Law and the Colonial State in India,” in Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India, ed. Bernard S. Cohn (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 57–75; and Scott Alan Kugle, “Framed, Blamed and Renamed: The Recasting of Islamic Jurisprudence in Colonial South Asia,” MAS 35, no. 2 (May 2001): 257–313. For the Straits Settlements and Islam, see Nurfadzilah Yahaya, “Courting Jurisdictions: Colonial Administration of Islamic Law Pertaining to Arabs in the Straits Settlements and the Netherlands East Indies, 1860–1941” (PhD Diss., Princeton University, 2012). For an example of the codification of Burmese Buddhist law and Islamic law in the Straits Settlements, see U. Gaung, Translation of a Digest of the Burmese Buddhist Law Concerning Inheritance and Marriage; Being a Collection of Texts from ThirtySix Dhammathats (Rangoon: Superintendent Government Printing, 1909); and John Jardine, trans. and ed., King Wagaru’s Manu Dhammasattham (Rangoon: Superintendent Government Printing, 1934). In Malaya, there was a similar pattern of Chinese men becoming Muslims in order to marry Malay women. See J.E. Nathan, The Census of British Malaya (the Straits Settlements, Federated Malay States and Protected States of Johore, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Trengganu, and Brunei), 1921 (London: Waterlow, 1922), 103–4; Tan Chee Beng, The Baba of Melaka: Culture and Identity of a Chinese Peranakan Community in Malaysia (Selangor: Pelanduk, 1988). Ma Yait v. Maung Chit Maung, and Maung Chit Maung v. Ma Yait and Another (1921) 11 LBR, 155. Government of Burma, Third Quinquennial Report on Public Instruction in Burma, for the Years 1902–03 to 1906–07 (Rangoon: Office of the Superintendent Government Printing and Stationery, 1908), 42. Great Britain, Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Royal Commission Upon Decentralization in Burma, Presented to Both Houses Parliament by Command of His Majesty, Vol. III (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, Darling & Son, 1908), 50. Ma Yait v. Maung Chit Maung, and Maung Chit Maung v. Ma Yait and Another, 158. Chit Maung v. Ma Yait and Ma Noo (1913) 7 LBR, 362, 363. Ma Yait v. Maung Chit Maung, and Maung Chit Maung v. Ma Yait and Another, 160. Ibid., 159. Ibid., 158, 160. Ibid., 157–59, 162. Aihwa Ong, “Flexible Citizenship among Chinese Cosmopolitans,” in Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation, eds. Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), 139. See Furnivall, Colonial Policy and Practice. Barbara Andaya, “Localising the Universal: Women, Motherhood and the Appeal of Early Theravada Buddhism,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 33, no. 1 (2002): 1–30, at 7–8.

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71

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See Lauren Benton, “Colonial Law and Cultural Difference: Jurisdictional Politics and the Formation of the Colonial State,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 41, no. 3 (1999): 563–88; and Mitra Sharafi, “The Marital Patchwork of Colonial South Asia: Forum Shopping from Britain to Baroda,” Law and History Review 28 (2010): 979–1009. Cohn, “Law and the Colonial State”; Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); and Janaki Nair, Women and Law in Colonial India: A Social History (Delhi: Kali for Women, 1996).

7

Citizens, Aryans, and Indians in Colonial Lanka: Discourses on Belonging in the 1920s–1930s Nira Wickramasinghe Leiden University

Introduction The disconnect between migrant and citizen is perhaps best evoked in the words of Ponnan Munniandy who, in 1953, and under the Indian and Pakistani Residents (Citizenship) Act No. 3 of 1949, applied for citizenship in the new Dominion of Ceylon (est. 1948). He did so because he was convinced that he belonged there, like so many others who, over previous epochs, had been crossing the Bay of Bengal (or simply the Palk Strait) to settle on the island of Lanka—whether as migrants and traders, seasonal workers, or even conquerors. Now, in the wake of a century and a half of British rule, Munniandy’s sense of belonging was considered suspect and consequently subject to the scrutiny of the bureaucracy of the newly independent state. According to the Commissioner for the Registration of Indian and Pakistani Residents, Munniandy’s testimony displayed holes. As he had stated: I am the applicant and am about 25 years old. I work as a labourer on this estate. I was at Igalkanda estate, Elpitiya during the period under reference. I worked in that estate for about two years under Sodalimuthu Head Kanagani. Immediately before that I had been attending the Igalkanda Estate school for about four years studying up to the third Std (standard). I was with my parents at home on this estate before I went to school. I cannot remember the name of the teacher who taught me at the Igalkanda estate school. The names of some other pupils who studied with me are Nadesan and Vadivel. I cannot remember any other names. I came to Ceylon as a child, but cannot say how old I was at that time. … No I now remember that I returned to India about 6 years ago. I tried to get documentary evidence of my stay at Igalkanda estate but the staff there told me that no documents were available for that period. I have no witnesses. That is all I have to say.1

The application was refused as neither the estate schoolteacher nor the head overseer was available to testify to the veracity of his claims, which were deemed “fallible.” According to the rejection letter, even their names were “wrong.”2 Munniandy’s definite will to be

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a citizen was therefore deemed insufficient, and he immediately became a “stateless” person who perhaps returned to India, as indeed so many others had and would. This chapter considers the cultural genealogy of the bureaucratic notion of citizenship seemingly founded on scientific, legal, and enumerative criteria put in place by the independent Ceylonese state to inscribe boundaries between rights-bearing citizens and foreign “others.” I will argue that the official understanding of citizenship was first inflected by the idea of being an Aryan “son of the soil” that took shape in the 1920s among Sinhalese literati, before spreading to a wider public consciousness in the wake of the economic depression to become the preserve of the ruling elite ensconced in the State Council. Indeed, it was by the 1930s that to become a citizen in the official sense meant shedding all traces of migration—not merely proving loyalty and belonging to the island through ties of blood but moreover demonstrating an absence of such ties to the subcontinent. While at first sight it would be tempting to read in these moves the seeds of more recent discrimination against the community known as Sri Lankan Tamils that led to Civil War and global diaspora from the 1980s, in the early twentieth century the question was phrased in terms quite different to so seemingly simple a dichotomy as Sinhalese-Tamil. Indeed, in the early twentieth century, the well-established community known as Ceylon Tamils did not feel any great kinship with the more recently settled migrants who hailed from the south of India and who spoke a variety of languages. Rather, these people—of so-called lower castes and meager means who had been forced to seek work in plantations—were seen as inferior in all ways. It was thus a recent form of colonial Indianness, and not Tamilness per se, that was the subject of contention, and it is this distinction that will be foregrounded in what follows while keeping sight of the contradictory nature of claims that simultaneously embraced a heroic Indian past. The early sections of this chapter will focus on the place of India in discourses of belonging into the 1920s. The vagaries and permutations of Indianness as a defining trope for exclusion from the nation will be examined. It will show an arena of competing ideas on who belongs to the nation, when discordant claims were voiced by lay leaders like Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933) and elite caste associations that embraced Aryan origins, and in contrast to yet more nativist endeavors such as the Hela movement of Kumaratunga Munidasa (1887–1944), who would see the genesis of a Lankan people prior to the mythical arrival of the Aryans (a genesis ironically proven by Indian sources). The remainder of the chapter will then turn more specifically to the anti-Indian rhetoric that grew in the wake of the Donoughmore Commission of 1927 and the economic slump that was exacerbated by the Financial Crash of 1928. While the contours of a “Ceylonese” identity were being drawn and fixed through the definition of who was eligible for rights, violent politics in the labor arena crystallized antimigrant perceptions that had developed over the previous eras of myth making.

India and the “Aryan” Sinhalese In the first decades of the twentieth century, India was present in many Lankan minds. This awareness was founded in part on classical Jataka tales that celebrated the previous lives of the Buddha, or yet traditional stories that were further energized through their modern performance at Colombo’s Tower Hall Theatre or even by traveling Parsi artists who took to

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using gramophone recordings of Nurti plays to reach out to those living in the hinterland. At the same time, India was a real place where people traveled, whether on pilgrimage or for education, and about which they brought back stories. Even today, Sinhala speakers will say “we are going on pilgrimage” (api vandana yaneva) to mean they are traveling to India. In the 1920s, the musings of Ananda Coomaraswamy and Rabindranath Tagore, who dreamt of Mother India and an ideal Asia, could still touch an existing chord. Even so, with the colonial state’s insatiable appetite for labor, India was simultaneously present in everyday encounters with southern Indians who had moved to Lanka to work in urban factories or toil on the tea plantations in the irrigated highland zones of the north of the island. Indeed, this fact would feed into the emergence of a distinctly proprietorial Sinhala sense of belonging that would be sharpened with the economic slump of the 1930s. The popular imaginary of India as mother country would begin to fade, giving space to competing claims that it was a territory swarming with cheap labor ready to swamp a smaller, vulnerable island. Then as now, the two main ethnic communities of the island, the Sinhalese and the Tamils of long standing, traced their genetic origins to Indian settlers, if via different religious traditions. The Sinhalese majority, who make up 74 percent of the island’s population, are predominantly Buddhist and live primarily in the south, western, and central regions of the island. For their part, the Tamils form 11 percent of the population, speak a dialect distinct from those of India, and are largely Shaivite Hindu. Only half of them live in the north and east, while the rest are dispersed in Sinhalese majority areas.3 India certainly remains the mother country in Sri Lanka’s modern foundation myth too. The Mahavamsa, a sixth-century court chronicle composed in Pali, states that on the very day of the Buddha’s death, Vijaya—an Indian prince and the founder of the Sinhala race—landed in Lanka to bear witness to the Buddha’s prediction that his beliefs would flourish there.4 Even if the Pali text of the Mahavamsa was not widely available at the dawn of British colonialism in 1795, early observers such as Anthony Bertolacci (1776–1833) and John Davy (1790–1868), whose works first appeared in 1817 and 1821, respectively, suggested that its content was in popular circulation.5 Even so, once it was identified and translated into English in the 1830s by a British civil servant, George Turnour (1799–1843), it gained increased weight in the minds of a Sinhalese intelligentsia who served the state. It would also become an important text for those who would be stirred in the late nineteenth century by anticolonial sentiments and the simultaneous patronage of the Theosophical Society, whose leaders were especially fascinated by the island’s Buddhist past and pan-Asian linkages. Anthony D. Smith suggests that “myths of origins and descent provide the means of collective location in the world and the charter of the community which explains its origins, growth and destiny.”6 Just such a narrative would be promulgated by a Sinhalese lay preacher D. D. Hewavitharana, who in 1883 adopted the name Anagarika (“homeless”) Dharmapala. Dharmapala was arguably the most celebrated preacher and reformer of the late nineteenth century. The son of a furniture dealer who had attended Roman Catholic and then Anglican schools, he worked as a clerk in the Education Department. Following Colonel Olcott’s visit to the island in 1880, he became active in the Theosophical Society, with which he would remain engaged for over a decade, emerging as a spokesman for World Buddhism in his own right on the stage of the World's Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago in 1893 (Figure 7.1).

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Figure 7.1 “H. Dharmapala, from Ceylon,” from John Henry Barrows (ed.), The World’s Parliament of Religions, 2 vols. (Chicago: The Publishing Company, 1893), II, after p. 860.

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Crucial to this transition as global spokesman for Buddhism, and for Southern Buddhism in particular, was his engagement with India, and more especially his spearheading of an effort to protect and restore the dilapidated site of Buddha’s enlightenment, Bodh Gaya, in Bihar.7 During his pilgrimage there in 1891, Dharmapala was convinced that his mission was to restore this most sacred of sites to Buddhist control and to unseat the Hindu monastic incumbent.8 He knew full well that he would need major international support, and his Maha Bodhi Society, established that same year, had a clear pan-Buddhist approach from the outset. Dharmapala would travel widely to mobilize opinion against what he saw as the ongoing destruction of the holy site, raising money to purchase the village of Maha Bodhi itself.9 While Dharmapala raised most of his money from Lankan and Burmese Buddhists, he claimed that his correspondence included a wider arc that also took in subscribers from Siam, China, and Japan, as well as communities from Arakan and Chittagong.10 Certainly, there was a tangible result when Buddhist monks were brought from Lanka to establish a presence at the site. The Buddhagaya movement, as he called it, was not, however, a success due to tensions with the British Indian government and the lack of wide support of the monastic community in Lanka itself or yet from King Chulalongkorn of Siam (1853–1910), then seen by some as the most logical patron of Buddhism across the Bay of Bengal. As a result, too, and even if he had good personal relations with such spokesman for Hinduism as Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), Dharmapala appears to have distanced himself more clearly from India through his battle over what he called the “Buddhist Jerusalem.” He also began to feel that it was ever more urgent to define the identity of Sinhalese Buddhists at home in opposition to (contemporary) Hindus. It also became clear from Dharmapala’s rhetoric that, together with his calls for the revival of Buddhism in Lanka itself, he had absorbed the theories of nineteenth-century orientalists. By the end of the century, and while imbibing the textual offerings of Max Müller (1823–1900) and Wilhelm Geiger (1856–1943), who edited the Mahavamsa, a general consensus formed among such exponents of racial theories as Mahadeo Moreshwar Kunte (1835–88), Rudolf Virchow, and the brothers C. F. and P. B. Sarasin, that the Sinhalese were either Aryans or a mixed race derived from the fusion of the Aryans and the aboriginal inhabitants of the island.11 Certainly, Dharmapala explained his island’s peopling in such terms, famously claiming in 1902 that: Two thousand four hundred and forty six years ago a colony of Aryans from the city of Sinhapura, in Bengal, leaving their Indian home, sailed in a vessel in search of fresh pastures and they discovered the island named Tambanni, on account of its copper coloured soil. The leader of the band was an Aryan prince by the name of Wijaya.12

Even if the notion of Arya had certainly existed in precolonial Lanka, “Aryan” had not been a quality bestowed upon an individual by birth or blood. Rather it was a status obtainable through the performance of meritorious acts. While Kitsiri Malalgoda once suggested that the majority of Sinhalese Buddhists “remained indifferent to the ‘great tradition’ of India” at that time, it is clear that

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Dharmapala’s movement reinscribed India as a land close to the heart of the Buddhist community in Lanka and encouraged a stream of pilgrims to the sacred sites.13 From being a purely mythic, imagined India, the subcontinent had become an ever more real territory that could be visited and, as we have seen in the case of Bodh Gaya, fought over. And there were fights to be had at home too. For while India was the land of birth of the northern king Vijaya, it was also keenly remembered as the land of the southern Chola invaders, who had first conquered the capital city of Anuradhapura and reigned until repulsed by the Sinhalese hero Dutugamunu in the second century BCE, much as they would return in subsequent eras, most notably in the eleventh century.14 Indeed, the Bay of Bengal was perceived as constituting distinct zones: a northern historical area that had nurtured the Buddhist Sinhala people before being overwhelmed by Hindus and Muslims alike, and a southern one from which Shaivite conquerors and destroyers sprang. Even so, there was no immediate clamor or hostility against non-Buddhists and migrant Indians in the first decade of the twentieth century. Dharmapala’s ideas had not yet captured all of the intellectuals of Lanka. Under the aegis of Ananda Coomaraswamy, some continued to represent India as the source of all things transcendent and spurred a renewal of interest in Sinhalese and Tamil art alike. As he announced in 1906 in the opening issue of his Ceylon National Review, Coomaraswamy believed in uniting the “Eastern races of Ceylon.”15 Beyond this, he emphasized the mental and spiritual kinship between India and Lanka.16 And if the former was identified as the “motherland,” the modern “Anglicisation of the East” was subjected to much criticism.17 Equally, the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, who embraced the same circles and who visited the island on three occasions (in 1922, 1928, and 1934), would bemoan the disappearance of moral values and beauty associated with the wider Orient. The “East” he believed in was one whose past offered lessons for the present under the guidance of India.18 During his 1922 visit to Colombo he spoke of “all the different peoples of India” adding that “When I say India, I certainly include Ceylon in India.”19 Yet, if Lanka was in Tagore’s India, this did not mean that Lankan elites were so eager to be subsumed by their giant neighbor or were unwilling to cast their eyes elsewhere for inspiration. In an address to his “Ceylon Audience,” written after his first visit to the island, Tagore expressed disappointment at the way Lankans had drifted, in his view, “into the vagabondage of imitation”: It struck my heart with dismay, when I visited Ceylon, to find that the people there have lost the consciousness of their unity with their Indian kinsmen … A tree grows in its own shape and finds its fulfilment, but when cut off from its root it is, as timber, at the mercy of the dealers who turn it into toys of their fancy.20

Tagore continued with a plea for recognition that Lanka’s “subconscious mind, its racial mind,” had an “unbroken connection with that of India.”21 Rabindranath Tagore’s indictment was based on the impression obtained from a minority of urbanites who dressed in top hats and spoke in English in their homes and in a manner that was quite inconceivable in India. Tagore felt they were casting off their intellectual and spiritual links with India. He did not understand that, for the majority

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of the vernacular-speaking educated youth, it was no longer a question of turning away from the West, but of searching for a model in the East (increasingly Japan) that answered their need for authenticity and for technology, science, and progress alike. Still, the useful India of the past remained, and “Indian” cultural hierarchies were also invoked in contemporary caste rivalries among the Sinhalese that pitted elite members of the Karava, Durava, Navandanna, and Vahumpura coastal castes against the Goyigamas, who formed the overwhelming majority of the Sinhalese people.22 Indeed, members of these castes, who until then had occupied an intermediary position between the Goyigama and service castes, had made significant economic gains with the growth of the plantation sector. They claimed in such appropriately named journals as The Aryan that their higher status was based on hierarchies present in the Indian varna system.23 For instance, in their pamphlets and caste histories, the Karavas claimed chivalric Ksatriya status based on their putative descent from the Kurus mentioned in the Mahabharata, or that they had arrived with King Vijaya and a cutting of the sacred Bodhi Tree (known to Sinhalese as the Bo Tree). The Navandanna, for their part, claimed even higher, priestly, Brahmin status, while the Nekati community’s representatives, appearing before the Donoughmore Commission in 1927, related their origins as stemming from “descendants of one of the eight sections of Brahmins sent to Ceylon with the sacred Bodhi Tree by the Indian Emperor Dharmasoka [Ashoka] about 2000 years ago.”24 Needless to say, all such claims relegated the Goyigamas to the lower status as Sudra laborers, even if they too were allocated an origin in northeastern India.25 By the opening of the third decade of the twentieth century then, it was no longer India as a whole but a specific geographic portion of India—the land of the Aryans (then identified as the province of Bengal)—which was looked upon as the motherland of the Sinhala people by literati linked to the towering personality of Anagarika Dharmapala. Indeed, the ongoing influence of Dharmapala’s ideas must not be denied. From 1921, he addressed a number of well-attended meetings upon his return from India, where he verbally attacked foreigners and encouraged the Sinhalese “lion race” to wake up.26 Yet, if the “foreigners” singled out by Dharmapala and his disciples on such occasions were often South Indian Muslim traders rather than Indian estate workers, his ideas and imagery of a pure race would be applied in just such ways by the leadership of the main trade union, the Ceylon Labour Union, and the Labour Party thereafter.27 In the 1930s, for example, Viraya, the official organ of the Union and Labour Party, would go so far as to use Hitler’s racial policies as an example to be followed and emphasized the need for a “pure Sinhalese nation.”28

Hindu tales: Lanka before the Aryans and the Tamils of the north There was clearly more than one route to exclusionary Sinhalese nationalism, with similar patterns in the Tamil community. From the late nineteenth century Sinhala newspapers and publications referred to a pre-Aryan colonization of Lanka contemporaneous with the original Aryan colonization of southern India. In these texts, the Sinhalese were conceived as predating the Vijayan colonization. The argument was made by invoking the (Hindu) epic of the Ramayana in which Ravana, the king of

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Lanka, had carried off Sita, the wife of the exiled Rama. Having allied himself with the Aryan races of southern India, Rama crossed over to Lanka, gave battle to Ravana, and recovered Sita. In telling such a tale, the Sinhalese daily Lak Mini Kirula announced in 1881 that Lanka had been a powerful kingdom prior to the advent of Vijaya, and that Ravana had ruled the island in about 2837 BCE with the assistance of a council of ten.29 Following the same line of thought, Vijaya was read by a group of Sinhala intellectuals not as a hero but as the archenemy. By the 1930s, the scholar Munidasa Kumaratunga would even promulgate an indigenous “Hela” identity that amounted in effect to a denial of the dominant Arya-Sinhala paradigm forged during the religiocultural revival led by Dharmapala.30 Indeed, India was nowhere to be found in their writings other than as a foil to the ambitions of the ideologues who saw the Hela language as an original form of Sinhalese free from any Sanskrit or Pali influence. Indeed, it was posited as a language that owed nothing to any other known languages.31 But neither the Hela theory of the origins of the Sinhalese nor the earlier incarnations of the Ravana myth succeeded in capturing the imagination of a large group of Sinhalese in the way that Dharmapala’s ideas had. Even if the Hela theory was perhaps too literary and complex to be appreciated by common people, the Ravana myth failed to give Lankans a victorious (or yet Buddhist) persona to identify with. Indeed, it was a myth seen as belonging to Hindus, now very much in possession of the north of the island, and competing for Sinhalese jobs in the south. Certainly, for Sinhalese living in the south of the island, India was more remote than for those living among the “Tamil” peoples of the north and the east who had been constantly linking and delinking with southern India over the previous centuries. Indeed, the same period under discussion here had seen the parallel emergence in the north of a Tamil Shaivite revivalist movement and a definite pan-Tamil sentiment, given that the continuum of British rule offered ongoing opportunities for scholars and poets to travel to India freely. The more affluent Tamils visited India frequently and the “Jaffna School” dominated the literary scene in Madras. Arumuga Navalar (1822–79) traveled and preached in India for a great part of his life much as others, such as C. W. Thamotharampillai (1832–1901) and V. Kanagasabhai (1855–1906), spent most of their lives in South India, holding positions in government service but returning to Jaffna on and off to found schools in their home villages. Leading Tamil politicians from Jaffna, such as the Ramanathan brothers, had also received a greater part of their education in Madras.32 At a popular level, too, the nineteenth century had seen a constant flow of pilgrims from India to Hindu kovils (temples) in Lanka answered by a flow of Lankan Hindus crossing over to the great temples and pilgrimage centers of the south. Funerary ashes would be taken from Sri Lanka to Kasi by those for whom Benares was too far, with such travel often being organized by members of the “Chetty” community who dominated networks of finance across the Bay of Bengal.33 To no small degree, the popular sense of belonging to a Greater India was not expressed by such people using Tagore’s florid formulations of cosmopolitanism, but was rather practiced on foot by peoples who trekked for days before crossing the Palk Strait. Many of the more recent migrants engaged in such crossings were often of lower or “untouchable” groups that had no place in the caste-conscious Shaivite revivalist

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movement. Even if they spoke Tamil, plantation workers were not deemed to be an integral part of the new identity that was being fashioned by the elite Tamil Vellalas. With the notable exception of Ponnambalam Arunachalam (1853–1924), who championed a campaign aiming at improving wages and conditions on the plantations in the 1910s, Tamil intellectuals displayed little solidarity with plantation laborers; much as they would be the target of Sinhalese nationalists operating from Colombo in the 1930s.34

Commissions, Depression, and the Malayalee menace By the late 1920s, Colombo had grown into a bustling colonial center. It had an urban labor force engaged in skilled and unskilled work in factories, public works and transport, and an informal sector of vendors that serviced the working population. Only on rare occasions did workmen speak for themselves, which means the historian often has to rely on an anecdotal and trivial archive to understand their common sense assumptions. One such archive was produced by the Donoughmore Commission on Constitutional Reform, initiated in 1927–28, while another resulted from the gleanings of the Jackson Commission on Immigration, convened some ten years later in the wake of a parlous economic downturn and increasingly hostile rhetoric against outsiders. For Ceylon, this slump had started early, first taking effect in 1926.35 And, much as in other parts of the Empire where Indian laborers had found work in fields and plantations, the ongoing economic crisis sharpened ethnic identities.36 Certainly, the Donoughmore Commission collected evidence pointing to the prevalence of group prejudice in its vernacular form and quite some resistance to the idea of enfranchising southern Indians.37 For instance, a group calling itself “Ceylonese workers” sent a memorandum to the Donoughmore Commission claiming to “feel very keenly the menace to Ceylonese labour occasioned by the influx of foreign and especially Malayalee labourers.”38 Beyond this, Indians, so often put under the rubric of Malayalee, were often represented as inherently inferior since they deigned to perform tasks a Sinhalese would consider despicable. The sanitary and scavenging services that had been established with the formation of municipal and urban councils were essentially manned by southern Indians. Moreover, unlike the labor in plantations that was protected by the Medical Wants Ordinance No. 9 of 1912, urban workers were not provided with sanitary facilities or yet medical care, compounding extant perceptions of Indian bodily uncleanliness coupled with moral and intellectual degradation.39 It is in this context that the Donoughmore Commission on constitutional reform recommended universal franchise, which was enacted in the lead-up to elections in June of 1931. This had come about once the initial report had been submitted to an unusual Secretary of State to the Colonies, Lord Passfield (Sidney Webb, 1859–1947)— the founder of the Fabian Society and the London School of Economics. Passfield accepted all the Commission’s proposals and went even further, granting universal suffrage. The previous literacy and property qualifications that had been in force were

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henceforth abolished, and proof of five-years’ residency within the Crown Colony became the criterion for voting and, by extension, future civic rights—providing that the applicant could demonstrate a commitment to remaining on the island and with an allowance for temporary absences not to exceed eight months.40 In the view of the Commission, being rooted in the land was the ultimate proof of belonging. While many Indians were disqualified, the Sinhalese masses were enfranchised. This resulted in the election of a State Council dominated by a Sinhalese majority that bore witness to ever more hostile sentiments concerning the “Malayalees.” Such hostility only increased as the world slump began to affect Lanka all the harder in 1930–32, sharpening the feelings of distance between migrants and politicized urbanites who, regardless of the comparable poverty and working conditions they shared with the “other” from across the straits, saw themselves as “authentic” and part of a larger respectable collectivity. Ceylon had been particularly vulnerable to market fluctuations owing to its dependence on tea, rubber, and coconut by-products on the one hand, and to its negligible bargaining power in the world market on the other. More than 100,000 southern Indians left the country as a consequence between 1930 and 1933, with the bulk of men thrown out of work having come from the more marginal categories of estate laborers who were poorly integrated into the plantation structure. Yet, many Sinhalese casual workers who worked on small plantations and on public works were badly hit too. The number of (largely Sinhalese) persons in government employment also dropped by some 13 percent, shrinking from 69,287 in 1930 to 60,553 in 1933.41 Given this state of affairs, the leadership of the State Council found it ever more convenient to suggest a causal link between Indian immigrants and rising unemployment. This is not to say that discontent had not been expressed previously. As early as 1927, D. B. Jayatilleke, a prominent member of the conservative Ceylon National Congress (CNC), had declared in the Legislative Council that Indian unskilled laborers were coming over to Ceylon in large numbers and ousting the “local man.” Such views would soon become commonplace. By the following year, D. S. Senanayake (1883–1952), a fellow member of the Legislative Council and future first prime minister of independent Ceylon (1948–52), could claim that “whenever strikes break out I find it leads to more people from India coming over here taking the bread from the mouth of our countrymen.”42 Meanwhile, there were instances of violence and friction between Malayalee and Sinhalese workers, though never of the scale afflicting Burma, which saw the tumult of the Saya San rebellion of 1930–31. One site of contestation was at the railway workshops, where in September 1931 a Sinhalese workman was reported to have been stabbed to death by “Malayalees.”43 The Sinhalese press seemed to selectively report such altercations where Sinhalese were injured by Indians, thus confirming the idea of a “Malayalee menace.” Later the same month, for example, newspapers reported that a Sinhalese servant had been assaulted by a party of Malayalees.44 Equally, the trade union leader A. E. Goonesinha, who had taken the side of the Indians during the debate over franchise a few years before the Depression, would use particularly virulent words against them in 1931, announcing that the “root cause” of unemployment was because hundreds of Malayalees were arriving, “depriving

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Ceylonese labourers of work and undercutting them.”45 He furthermore associated Malayalees with blacklegs, invoking notions of collaboration and betrayal. During a strike he headed at the Times of Ceylon in that same year, he engaged in a dramatic protest fast that he broke only when Malayalee strike breakers decided to come out.46 Henceforth, May Day processions and National Day celebrations became occasions to denounce some “40,000 foreigners employed in various business establishments.”47 Equally, in 1933, Councillor L. A. Mendis would achieve success with a boycott of Indian traders that spread from Ambalangoda to Balapitiya.48 Over the course of 1934–35, a malaria epidemic and crop failure would further aggravate the distress, much as anti-Indian sentiment would be found on left and right alike. Even if they couched their stand in less aggressive terms than members of the Labour Unions, the CNC adopted a similar platform. In their 1935 Policy and Programme, the dangers of employing non-Ceylonese labor were underlined and it was suggested that measures should be taken to remedy the practice of employing cheap labor in government departments and private establishments.49 While it has been shown that the British did indeed continue to import Malayalee workers onto industrial sites despite rising unemployment on the island, it appears that Sinhalese politicians began to ask for restrictions on labor migration more by virtue of their long-standing reluctance to consider Indians as future citizens of Ceylon, often drawing attention to the abject misery in which they so often lived. Natesan Iyer stressed this point ironically in Council in 1936, alleging that while “50 or 60 Malayalees may live together in one house the receipt for the rent is given only in the name of one of them and that man alone will be allowed to vote,” and thus joked that the “Hon. Member for Colombo Central need not fear the Malayalees coming in.”50 The councillor in question, Goonesinha, had certainly found his anti-Indian stand to be propitious terrain, which he now used to combat the members of the recently formed Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which was beginning to supersede his Labour Union on the Colombo scene. This new party, constituted by young, mostly Western-educated members of Marxist persuasion, offered a constant and principled critique of anti-migrant mobilization. Having had some success in unionizing the Malayalee workers of Colombo, the LSSP were therefore branded as “Communists” and denounced as taking part in a common plot against the Sinhalese. Even if they looked askance at the politics of the LSSP, the verbal abuse of Malayalees was not encouraged by the colonial government. In March of 1936, the editor of Viraya was reportedly brought before the Deputy Inspector General of Police regarding editorials he had written about a “Malayalee menace.”51 Remembering the anti-Indian moves that had taken place around the question of the Indian franchise, and the threat this could cause to law and order, the Ceylon government had reason to be concerned. It was at this time, too, that Goonesinha organized his own boycott of southern Indians aimed at their shops, hotels, and boutiques, even evicting “Malayalee” tenants and encouraging employers to refrain from engaging them. In March of that year his car was pelted with bottles in response to his followers’ reported slogan “Kill the Cochins.”52 Then, on April 16, a supporter of the Labour Union was reported to have entered a Malayalee boutique, assaulted its owner, and damaged property.53 This was despite Goonesinha having chaired a meeting a few weeks earlier in which it had

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been decided not to resort to harassment but to base the campaign on Gandhian nonviolence: first by supporting his motion in the State Council to oust Malayalees from the country, then by boycotting all establishments run by Malayalees. Members of the LSSP who had openly supported the Malayalees were meanwhile condemned for trying to sabotage the boycott, labeled as “foreigners” and “traitors to their kith and kin.”54 Equally, such events attracted notice in India. In October, thirty members of the Indian Legislative Assembly expressed their anxiety concerning a violent agitation started against Indians in Ceylon where the “denial of employment, boycotts, insults and even assaults are becoming the lot of our countrymen.”55 Even so, what is interesting in these episodes is what could have happened and yet did not. Apart from the few isolated acts of violence reported above, there was never large-scale rioting against southern Indians. The protests took the form of boycott and nonviolent action. In the face of a coercive imperial state, the labor leadership succeeded in controlling its membership to a large extent. The workers functioned within the limited repertoire of social action which they knew and which the state permitted. Only on rare occasions did they overstep the boundary. This can be explained by the fact that violence had already entered the domain of formal politics with the passing of anti-migrant legislation by the State Council controlled by the nationalists. The working class had in this sense succeeded in creating a legitimate space for itself in the public domain. Resorting to violence was not necessary.

Policies against migrants and bankers In May of 1936 the State Council moved that: In view of the serious unemployment prevalent among the working class in the country, this Council requests His Excellency [the Governor, Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs] to appoint a commission to consider the question of restricting immigration and further to investigate the causes that have contributed to such unemployment.56

A year later, the Jackson Commission on Immigration was established with the aim of answering these contentious issues. The colonial state aimed to play a conciliatory role between parties; even as familiar tropes were offered by some who appeared, as when one Sinhalese worker would claim in 1938 that the Indian is “cook, sweeper and [does] everything himself and boils the water and makes the tea,” while another announced that a “Sinhalese will sit on a stool, rather than weigh a tea chest which a Tamil or Malayalee puts on the scale.”57 Indeed, numerous witnesses appeared before the Commission and different schemes were proposed to limit immigration. One of them proposed placing a limit of 7,000 on the number of Indians allowed into the country in any given year.58 After their initial term of work, these immigrants would have to pass a review before a permit was either extended or terminated. Another proposal suggested the establishment of open and closed occupations, for which the employment of immigrant labor would

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be prohibited or allowed according to the availability of Ceylonese workers. Once again, the Commission would disappoint the Ceylonese elite. The Jackson Report concluded that there should be no restriction on immigration for the protection of employment, nor yet any form of compulsory employment of proscribed percentages of Ceylonese. The Jackson Report was therefore received by Sinhalese politicians with much hostility and the campaign to curtail the flow of immigrants gathered new momentum. In an interview given in August of 1938, the chairman of the Labour Party, Gunawardene, claimed that “[w]e have 200,000 unemployed in Ceylon out of a population of 6 million yet there are over 900,000 Chinese and Indian immigrants who work for lower wages.”59 The CNC soon followed suit. Its policy on immigration, set out in December 1939, promised to introduce legislation for the complete prohibition of immigration whenever foreign labor competed with Ceylon labor in any trade or profession. While the immigration issue was not to be solved easily, given that it involved too many conflicting interests, the conservative State Council did succeed in passing what was felt to be corrective legislation in specific areas of trade and business. After all, with the exception of the main plantation crops, Ceylon’s external trade was largely in the hands of non-Sinhalese merchant groups. Equally, the domestic business market was dominated by “Moors” from Malabar, “Nattukottai Chettiars” from South India, as well as those identified in the colonial census as “Sindhis,” “Borahs,” and “Memons” from West India. Yet, even if there were two groups of Indians belonging to the commercial classes—those of the small trading class and the big Chettiar financiers and bankers— they formed but one group in popular perception, as Indian exploiters and “foreigners” on the side of the British imperialists. The 1930s had already seen various measures enforced to break their monopoly in certain professions. From 1935, Chettiar and Afghan pawn broking transactions were regulated by a new procedure by which every pawn ticket would be executed in foil and counterfoil and would hold the signature of the pawner and pawnbroker.60 While this had some effect, the legislative enactments that most affected Indian traders were the Agricultural Quota Ordinance, the Agricultural Produce Dealers Ordinance, and the Shop Regulation Ordinance, all passed in 1938. Under the first of these, Indian importers of rice and textiles had to purchase a certain amount of local products at a fixed price. The second ordinance was intended to restrict the number of Indian shopkeepers in the plantation areas by instituting licenses for the purchase of local produce. Gradually, restrictions and regulations by way of price control and the maintenance of reserved stocks rendered trade progressively less profitable, leading to an exodus of Indian businessmen in 1941–42. One of the reasons given in the 1930s for the small number of Ceylonese in trade and industry was the difficulty they were said to experience in obtaining credit facilities on reasonable terms. Since the British banks did not lend directly to the indigenous population, from the mid-nineteenth century the Nattukottai Chettiars had become middlemen between the banks and the Ceylonese who needed credit. As with Burma, there was much resentment against these bankers and moneylenders who, foreclosing on mortgages during the Depression, had acquired agricultural land from their debtors

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estimated at about 50,000 acres, with property worth Rs. 25 million.61 This led the Council to pass a series of legislative acts and legal proceedings aiming at curbing the power of the southern Indian bankers.62 Having suspended all credit to the Chettiars, money-lending activities were delayed, leading to wide support for the creation of a state-aided bank. Thus, following the recommendations of the Ceylon Banking Commission, the Bank of Ceylon was established in 1939, followed by the Agricultural and Industrial Credit Corporation in 1943.63 Such actions troubled the mercantile middlemen, and ensured that Indian public opinion would be stirred by articles in the press describing the “fresh indignities on Indians.”64 Yet, these indignities and forms of discrimination had often shown little concern for the plight of Ceylonese or Indian workers alike. The Village Communities Ordinance of 1934, which had brought about a singular degree of self-governance at the village level, is a case in point. It was substantially amended in 1936 and 1937 to exclude Indian estate workers from voting in village communities. After protests by the Indian government, though, the same restrictions were imposed on nonresident Sinhalese workers. Equally, the Essential Commodities Reserves Ordinance No. 5 of 1939 declared rice just such a commodity and obliged importers—the majority of them of Indian origin—to register themselves and maintain a reserve stock under all circumstances. This law was seen as prejudicial to private importers who were expected to bear the cost of potential losses by creating reserves in the advent of national emergencies. In response, India’s politicians declared their Ceylonese peers unreasonable not to recognize “what Ceylon owes to India,” whether “culturally, spiritually [or] materially.”65

Conclusion: The issue of residency revisited The Donoughmore Commission brought about an unprecedented form of selfgovernment to the crown colony of Ceylon in the 1930s. Yet, its recommendations went far beyond expectations and put into place a radical extension of the franchise until now limited to a tiny portion of educated Ceylonese. The question of who truly belonged to the nation therefore took a new turn and the definition of the migrant became tied to the question of entitlement and what constituted the contours of a national identity. By granting universal suffrage to those it defined as Ceylonese by residence alone, the Donoughmore Constitution had effectively established a fixed boundary. The new self-governing state construed this quasi-citizenship as an identity which subordinated all other claims of religion, estate, family, gender, ethnicity, or yet region to its framework of a uniform body of law. It forged contractual relations based in principle on an equality of rights. The legitimacy of the state was consolidated and the boundaries of the nation affirmed through the vote. Yet, the nation was not a group of people who had a common lineage and history, nor yet did it include all the people who had a common will to live together. For while literacy and property qualifications were abolished, residency became the criterion for civic rights, and it was this qualification that was so staunchly resisted by both trade unionists and conservatives in Council.

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In order to obtain civic rights, an individual was now required to produce documents: to prove rental receipts and a willingness to live in the island. This reliance on written documents, and the attendant valorization of the written word in administrative practices, was an important part of the colonial technology of rule which assumed that meanings became more stable once inscribed. Elected elites followed the same logic when they demanded literacy qualifications and written documents proving intention to settle for all potential voters, becoming more committed to the idea of fixed, stable, unchangeable, and exclusive identities in the process. Thus, the right to vote was only given to those Indians who could meet the test of continuous past residence. As such, newly arrived laborers or those who, like Ponnan Muniaiandy, could not prove their assertions, would not be enfranchised. Equally, many urban mercantile and professionals who spent long periods of any given year in India were likewise unable to obtain a vote. Indeed, the criteria of residency was interpreted by Ceylonese elites as giving value to people whose lifestyle was sedentary, who had roots in the land and mud on their feet. This constituted a clear breach of the Government of Ceylon’s undertaking not to discriminate against people of Indian origin.66 More than as an individual bestowed with the ability to read and write, then, the citizen was conceived as a peasant or landowner. The emphasis on residency as a criterion for civic rights was further infused with extant Sinhalese anxieties about “race,” entailing the need for deeper roots in the island rather than in India and a more distant past. While the Donoughmore commissioners’ preference for residency had been motivated by practical reasons, this choice was endorsed by the local elites for other reasons as they positioned themselves as the champions of voters of all social classes who harbored a sense of fear that people of recent Indian origin would swamp the locals. When this fear burst into contained outbreaks on the streets of Colombo, they passed further legislation that catered to an ingrained self-image of the Sinhala man as a paddy cultivator stuck in time and tradition, an idea that stemmed partly from the high status of the govi (farmer) caste in the Sinhalese social hierarchy. It was a strategy that castigated the mobile Tamil plantation worker who appeared to be protected by the Government of India that forced upon certain material benefits and legislation such as the Indian Immigrant Labour Ordinance No. 1 of 1923. Similar legislation castigating and criminalizing mobility and nomadic lifestyles had been current in Ceylon since the early twentieth century.67 The British had, for instance, introduced the “Destitute Immigration Ordinance” of 1907, which had been implemented in order to prevent the entry of persons who would be a liability to the Treasury. This ordinance established the necessity for an Asian to be in possession of Rs. 150 or a European to possess Rs. 600 to be permitted to enter Ceylon. As the Depression progressed, economic and political rights of the plantation Tamils were further eroded. In the newly created State Council, the language of race was rarely visible. There was a move away from the racially inflected rhetoric of the labor arena to seemingly rational and reasonable critiques of the presence of foreign labor in a country suffering from unemployment. The 1930s saw a spate of legislation infused with a rhetoric of “permanent settlement,” “abiding interest,” and “domicile of origin.”68

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The conceptualizing of citizenship in it most official sense was made of multiple and interlaced discourses of belonging that inhabited the public domain in colonial Ceylon where a racially inflected dyad of citizens and migrants took root in a context of economic crisis and occasional violence. Both the official understanding of citizenship rights and duties in the self-governing state of the 1930s and the popular understanding of the peopling of the island among the Sinhalese revealed a final distancing from India and Indianness. While this trend announced later discriminatory practices against Tamils in the 1930s, the “other” was still primarily perceived by both Sinhalese and Tamil elites alike as the menial Indian worker who had no roots in the country.

Notes 1 2 3

4 5

6 7

8 9

10

11

Sri Lanka National Archives (SLNA), 5/53, 5/8377, p. 18. Inquiry of October 13, 1953, affidavit of Ponnan Muniandy. Ibid. The decennial census of 1911 first identified Indian Tamils as 12.9 percent of the populations and as a category distinct from the Ceylon Tamils. Many of these Indian Tamils were in fact Telugu or Malayalam speakers. W. Geiger (trans. and ed.), The Mahāvamsa (Colombo: Ceylon Government Information Department, 1950). J. Davy, An Account of the Interior of Ceylon (Dehiwela: Tisara Press, 1983 [1821]); A. Bertolacci, A View of the Agricultural, Commercial and Financial Interests of Ceylon (Dehiwela: Tisara Press, 1983 [1817]). A.D. Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), 24. The nineteenth-century revival movement in Lanka, sometimes called “Protestant Buddhism,” is examined in: George Doherty Bond, Buddhist Revival in Sri Lanka: Religious Tradition, Reinterpretation, and Response (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988); R.F. Gombrich and G. Obeysekere, Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988); Kitsiri Malalgoda, Buddhism in Sinhalese Society, 1750–1900: A Study of Religious Revival and Change (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1976). That said, Blackburn has questioned the characterization that tends to portray the shifts in Lankan Buddhism as simply a response to the West and fails to take into account reformist trajectories well under way prior to the nineteenth century. See A.M. Blackburn, Buddhist Learning and Textual Practice in Eighteenth Century Lankan Monastic Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). See T.G. Thakurta, Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 268–372. For a reevaluation of Dharmapala emphasizing his concern with creating a unified Buddhist world, see Steven Kemper, Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World (Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 2015). A. Dharmapala, “Buddha-gaya: The Holiest Buddhist Shrine” (1917), in Return to Righteousness: A Collection of Speeches, Essays and Letters of the Anagarika Dharmapala, ed. A. Guruge (Colombo: Ministry of Educational Cultural Affairs, 1965), 615–26. R.A.L.H. Gunawardena, “The People of the Lion: The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography,” in Sri Lanka and the Roots of Conflict, ed. Jonathan

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12 13 14

15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

33 34 35

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Spencer (London: Routledge, 1990). For similar issues in India, see Romila Thapar, “The Theory of Aryan Race and India: History and Politics,” Social Scientist 24, nos 1–3 (1996): 3–29; and Thomas R. Trautmann, Aryans and British India (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1997). Dharmapala, “History of an Ancient Civilization,” in Guruge, Return to Righteousness, 479 Malalgoda, Buddhism in Sinhalese Society, 255. In the early twentieth century, the novelist Martin Wickramasinghe related how folktales and celebrations of the heroic King Dutugamunu and Queen Yasodhara constituted a real world for villagers. See M. Wickramasinghe, Upandasita (Dehiwela: Tisara Press, n.d.), 41. Ceylon National Review 1, no. 1, January 1906. Ibid. 1, no. 2, July 1907. Ibid. R. Bharucha, Another Asia: Rabindranath Tagore and Okakura Tenshin (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006). Ceylon Independent, October 12, 1922. S.K. Das et al. (eds.), The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, 3 vols. (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1996), III, 760. Ibid., 761. Sinhala castes such as the Salagama, Durava, and Karava were mostly made up of relatively recent South Indian migrants who appear to have trickled in from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries. See Michael Roberts, Caste Conflict and Elite Formation: The Rise of a Karāva Elite in Sri Lanka, 1500–1931 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982). Bryce Ryan, Caste in Modern Ceylon: The Sinhalese System in Transition (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 332. Rhodes House Library, Nathan Mss 621, Memorandum of the Members of the Nekati Caste Community, 1928. Roberts, Caste Conflict, 162–63. Guruge, Return to Righteousness, lxv. Ibid., 540; and Kemper, Rescued from the Nation, 347. See, for example, Viraya, March 17, 1937. Cited in K.N.O. Dharmadasa, The Growth of Sinhalese Nationalism in Sri Lanka (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), 120. Ibid., 262–86. Sandagomi Coperahewa, “Purifying the Sinhala Language: The Hela Movement of Munidasa Cumaratunga (1930s–1940s),” MAS 46, no. 4 (July 2012): 857–91. D. Hellman-Rajanayagam, The Tamil Tigers: Armed Struggle for Identity (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1994), 128; K. Kailasapathy, “Cultural and Linguistic Consciousness of the Tamil Community,” in Ethnicity and Social Change in Sri Lanka, ed. Social Scientists Association of Sri Lanka (Colombo: Social Scientists Association, 1984). Nira Wickramasinghe, Sri Lanka in the Modern Age (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006), 256. Ravindran Sriramachandran, “Life is Where We are Not: Making and Managing the Plantation Tamil” (PhD Diss., Columbia University, 2010), 180–92. For an interpretation of the economic crisis in Ceylon as being the result of overproduction, with an endogenous crisis leading to an exogenous one, see E. Meyer, “Depression et Malaria a Sri Lanka 1925–1939: L’Impact de la crise

156

36

37

38 39

40 41 42

43 44 45 46 47 48 49

50 51 52 53 54

55 56 57 58

59

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal economique des annees 1930 sur une societe rurale dependante” (PhD Diss., EHESS, Paris, 1980). Sunil S. Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 152, 181–86; Sugata Bose, A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University press, 2006), 118–21. Gyanendra Pandey differentiates between vernacular and universal prejudices, the first being local, localizable, relatively visible, and sometimes acknowledged, while the second belongs to the invisible language of law and the state. See his A History of Prejudice. Race, Caste and Difference in India and the United States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 2. SLNA, Nathan Mss 619, Special Circulation No. 291, Memorandum from Ceylonese Workmen. SLNA, Ceylon Administrative Report for 1927, Administrative Report of the Director of Medical and Sanitary Services for 1927, H. Rosss Cottle, Government Printer 1928 (C. 23). SLNA, Command papers 3862, Constitution of Ceylon. Ceylon (State Council Elections) Order in Council 1931, May 1931. SLNA, Sessional Paper VII, 1937, “Unemployment in Ceylon: Report of an informal Committee appointed by the Hon. Minister of Labour, Industry and Commerce.” Cited in Y.R. Amerasinghe, “Trotskyism in Ceylon: A Study of the Development and Political Role of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party 1935–1964” (PhD Diss., University of London, 1974), 129. Ceylon Morning Leader, September 7, 1931. Ibid., September 30, 1931. Hansard, 1931, vol. III, p. 507. 140. National Archives, Great Britain, CO 54/907/10, Strike Bulletin Special, April 11, 1931. Ceylon Independent, April 15, 1931 and May 2, 1933. Ibid., May 2, 1933. “A Policy and Programme for the CNC adopted on 28 September 1935,” in Documents of the Ceylon National Congress and Nationalist Politics in Ceylon 1929– 1950, 4 vols, ed. M. Roberts (Colombo: Department of National Archives, 1977), III, 1757. Hansard, 1936, vol. I, p. 349. Viraya, March 31, 1936. Ceylon Independent, March 6, 1936. Ibid., April 16, 1936. Viraya, April 6, 1936. For more information on the attitude of the left toward the “Malayalees,” see K. Jayawardena, “The National Question and the Left Movement in Sri Lanka,” in Facets of Ethnicity in Sri Lanka, eds. C. Abeysekera and N. Gunasinghe (Colombo: Social Scientists Association, 1987). Hindu Organ, October 19, 1936. Hansard, 1936, vol. I. Sessional Papers III, 1938, Report of a Commission on Immigration to Ceylon, 59–60. Sessional Papers III, 1938, p. 28. This figure was minute compared to the yearly average of 94,000 Indians who entered Ceylon for employment purposes in the decade ending in 1936. Daily Herald, August 24, 1938.

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61 62 63 64 65 66 67

68

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The Pawnbroker Ordinance No. 1 of 1942 would institute even more stringent provisions regarding the keeping of proper books, the fixing of interest rates, and the redemption of goods pawned. Patrick Peebles, The Plantation Tamils of Ceylon (London: Leicester University Press, 2001), 185. David Rudner, “Bankers Trust: The Culture of Banking among Nattukottai Chettiars of Colonial South India,” MAS 23 (1989): 417–58, at 432. N. Wickramasinghe, Ethnic Politics in Colonial Ceylon (New Delhi: Vikas, 1995), 141. M.S. Nata Rajan, “Plight of Indians in Ceylon,” The Modern Review 66, no. 4 (1939): 402–7. Ibid., 405. Peebles, Plantation Tamils, 152. For similar practices in other parts of the empire, see Subir Rana, “Nomadism, Ambulation and the ‘Empire’: Contextualising the Criminal Tribes Act XXVII of 1871,” Transcience 2, no. 2 (2011): 1–22; and Radhika Sinha, “Settle, Mobilize, Verify: Identification Practices in Colonial India,” Studies in History 16, no. 2 (2000): 151–98. Peebles, Plantation Tamils, 158.

Part Three

Cosmopolitan Hybridities

8

Calling the Other Shore: Tamil Studies and Decolonization Bhavani Raman University of Toronto

Introduction The first International Tamil Studies Conference was held in 1966 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Organized by the International Association of Tamil Research (IATR), it was certainly the first assembly of its kind. Here, scholars gathered in large numbers to present and exchange ideas about the Tamil language and the myriad histories of Tamil-speaking communities scattered over the world. Politicians from Malaysia, India, and Ceylon also addressed the audience.1 Media coverage was dense and more conferences followed, with a second event held in Madras (now Chennai) in 1968, followed by forums in Paris (1970), Jaffna (1974), Madurai (1981), and Kuala Lumpur once again (1987). In this chapter, I shall focus on the genealogy and milieu of the first Kuala Lumpur conference, which is remembered as a moment of arrival for Tamil Studies on an international footing, much as its moving spirit, Fr. Xavier Thani Nayagam (1913–80), is considered the doyen of Tamil Studies, and commemorated by Tamil associations around the world.2 In India, memories of the Kuala Lumpur conference are now occluded by Dravidian political patronage of the second conference, when the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had just come to power in Tamilnad. Under its direction, the state government organized a “World Tamil Conference” in a popular idiom that ran simultaneously with the scholarly gathering. Events showcasing Tamil culture were organized in the city. Statues of great figures associated with Tamil literary history were unveiled along Marina Beach. Lavish tableaux depicting scenes from Tamil history, tradition, literature, and art rolled down the main thoroughfares of the city. The procession attracted huge crowds and moved over a mile-long route, starting and finishing in the Island Grounds, a popular venue for public exhibitions. It was a spectacular display of popular cultural pride and a careful staging of the DMK as the representative of the Tamil people. Indeed, youth volunteers of the DMK-linked Prosperity Brigade mingled with contingents of students.3 From the perspective of the Indian nation-state, the DMK-sponsored conference of 1968, especially in its popular aspects, was the apotheosis of a vigorous subnationalist

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politics.4 The DMK’s origins lay in the Dravidian movement that had disrupted the frameworks of Indian nationalism from its inception. In the late 1930s, Dravidian activists participated in, and led popular protest against, the Congress-backed provincial government’s imposition of the North Indian language of Hindi in South India. The language of social emancipation had braided with emancipation from northern Aryan domination and converged in the political mobilization around language. In the 1940s, the Dravidian activists had offered political alternatives to the Indian nation-state.5 Hence, when independent India’s Official Language Act of 1963 reprised the policies of the 1930s, declaring that Hindi would be the national language from 1965, the DMK, which had by then broken away from the earlier Dravidian formation, was active in the second wave of anti-Hindi agitations. Indeed, it was the popular rejection of the language policy that had catapulted DMK leader C. N. Annadurai (1909–69) to power in the state elections in February 1967.6 For these reasons, Dravidian politics often occupies center stage in the discussion of Tamil Studies. And yet, as I will argue, it is crucial to understand the wider intellectual currents that had shaped the Tamil Studies in the 1950s and 1960s. Such currents were not only imbricated in popular Tamil-language mobilizations, but were connected with international law and the itineraries of migration that connected communities across the Bay of Bengal. The latter trans-regional circuit was especially important. As we have seen, four of the first five International Tamil Studies conferences met in newly independent nation-states inhabited by significant South Indian populations. Intellectuals like Thani Nayagam were global travelers and, more specifically, intellectual sojourners working at a turbulent political time. In what follows, I draw out how Thani Nayagam’s conception of “Tamil Studies” offered a critical counterpoint to the forms of knowledge propagated by these new nation-states as the Cold War swept the region. I trace specifically how Thani Nayagam’s interest in Tamil Studies disrupts the scalar order of regions that governs this knowledge making. For him, “Tamil culture,” was much more than a form of “sub-nationalism.” It emerged in critical dialogue with international discourses of cultural rights sponsored by the United Nations in the late 1940s. But on this international terrain too, the trajectory of Tamil Studies is interesting. Thani Nayagam and the first Tamil Conference certainly drew on Cold War Area Studies expertise. But his effort to reformulate a subfield of Indology into an anthropological study of Tamil culture, rather than a pure linguistic nationalism, cannot be framed within the narrow bounds of Area Studies. Indeed, Thani Nayagam’s internationalist (and ambassadorial) tones that framed Tamil culture in 1950s and 1960s called to other shores, being centered on migration in conceptions of culture and engaged the United Nations (especially the UNESCO).7 Most important, rather than a concept that tied particular processes to a place deemed to be transitioning to modernity, for Thani Nayagam, “Tamil culture” served as an interpretive framework filled with possibility for articulating postcolonial democracy. Rereading what is often taken to be an archive of “ethnic studies” or subnationalism, I take Thani Nayagam’s world to be a restless navigation of decolonization after empire, when communities grappled with democratization and self-emancipation within an enveloping crisis of minoritization.8 Thus, the itineraries of the first conference can be mapped against the receding horizon of labor mobilization that had followed

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the devastating economic depression and the Second World War, and as culture was fortified from the 1950s as the ground for political belonging and electoral democracy. Much like sailors of the doni, the iconic Indian Ocean country boat, men like Thani Nayagam crisscrossed emerging national cartographies while navigating fractured political landscapes in Ceylon (later Sri Lanka), Malaya (later Malaysia), and (partitioned) India. But first, let me begin with what I mean by decolonization.

Decolonization, culture, and subnationalism It is remarkable that although decolonization is protracted, uneven, and an unfinished project, historians routinely limit it to the arrival of the colonized on the world stage of nation-states, to be celebrated at Bandung in 1955, when Indonesia would host the great Asian-African Conference. It is as if the international system that was birthed in 1945 has hardwired a pernicious scalar order in scholarly production. There are, of course, many reasons for this methodological nationalism.9 John Kelly and Martha Kaplan describe how, after the Second World War, world politics began to be organized by formal horizontal symmetries (one nation-state, one vote) and an ethos of civility based on nature (human rights, needs, and freedoms) rather than culture.10 In this international order, the hopes and utopias associated with decolonization could only register as a moment of the formal political sovereignty of nation-states contained in such dates as August 14 or 15, 1947. When hardwired into our scholarly frames, this scalar order of a world of free nations relegates the unfinished aspects of decolonization— especially the messiness of cultural belonging and the political movements that did not culminate in national sovereignty—to the scale of subnationalism. As a scholarly framework, scaling decolonization as national arrival has precluded the scholarship of international history or indeed national citizenship from grappling adequately with messier conceptions of culture that elude territorial frames. Two recent examples illustrate my argument. Samuel Moyn’s history of human rights notes that the decolonized politics of the mid-twentieth century did not evoke human rights but the right of self-determination of peoples. As a consequence, he traces the rise of transcendent claims at a global level only with the emergence of human rights in the 1970s.11 For Moyn, cultural rights were asserted in quest of guarantees for subnational claims to citizenship.12 But Moyn takes little note of transcendental claims made by anticolonial thinkers from the late nineteenth century in the name of popular sovereignty, and he has little to say on the ways in which such claims were braided with culture. Similarly, Niraja Gopal Jayal lays out the inclusionary and exclusionary terms of Indian citizenship by foregrounding how it was crafted against the individual figures of the refugee, the returnee, and the abducted woman.13 Jayal’s insights into antinomies of citizenship and cultural belonging notwithstanding, she consistently approaches cultural difference, culture talk, and community talk as subnational (regional) membership.14 It is striking then that in their very different books, one on universal human rights and the other on the discontents of national citizenship, Moyn and Jayal converge in their scalar treatment of culture as representing territorial grounded particularisms. In

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some ways, these studies echo the ways in which international bodies like the League of Nations formulated culture in the context of safeguarding minorities as early as the 1920s. For the League, culture was a bounded entity and hence cultural difference became the grounds for adjudicating minority rights in international law, shaping how international rights discourse would later take up the culture question. But this formulation acquired force simultaneously with the acceptance of the nation-state as the norm in international relations.15 That is to say the League positioned culture as a scalar correlate of the nation. This keeps with Veena Das’s observation that, by the 1940s, cultural rights and communities in India were simultaneously formulated at national and international forums.16 But it is also clear that while the League of Nations may have treated the protection of cultural minorities as a way to stabilize new European nations in the interwar period, in the process, the concept of culture had become entangled with the claims to national self-determination but sometimes potentially escaped the bounds of citizenship proposed by territorial nation-state form. The logic of international law, of course, underwrites this scalar order. But as Das notes, from the very beginning there was little consensus on what cultural rights actually entailed. Das concludes that this lack of consensus reflects the dualistic and restrictive character of international law for which the state and the individual (rather than communities) form the two poles around which legal personalities were allowed.17 Unlike Das, my interest in thinking about the problem of culture is not to prescribe legal structures for formulating the collective dimension of human existence. Rather, I wish to see how Tamil-speaking intellectuals of the long decolonization negotiated this growing juridical framing of culture as a minority right by considering how language and culture could be yoked to a politics of autonomy and self-governance. In fact, in the early years after Independence, the Indian state, like its neighbors Ceylon and, in time, Malaya, explicitly turned to the culture concept as a site of commensuration and recognition in order to “regionalize” its political challengers and stabilize (Indian) national citizenship following the codes of the international system.18 How did culture in the Tamil context serve as a mode of potentiality when it was being corralled by the rubric of minority or territorial rights around the Bay of Bengal as a type of ethnicity? Let us now join the Jaffna-born padre, Xavier Thani Nayagam, the spirit of the International Tamil Studies Conference of 1966.

Sojourning the Bay of Bengal with Thani Nayagam Born in 1913 in Kayts, in Jaffna District, at the northernmost tip of British Ceylon, Xavier Thani Nayagam read History and English in Jaffna and then took Holy Orders. The Catholic Church then took him to Colombo, where he studied philosophy at the St. Bernard Seminary, learning Sinhalese along the way. Further theological studies in Rome from 1934 culminated in a doctorate in divinity studies awarded in 1939. By this time, Thani Nayagam was also fluent in several Romance languages. The Church sent him to teach at a convent in Vadakkankulam, an old Catholic congregation near Nagercoil, South India.

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Thani Nayagam’s movement was not uncommon in and of itself. As Wickramasinghe observes in this volume, it was quite usual for Indians and Lankans alike to go back and forth across the Palk Strait. And it was only natural too that Church circuits would take such South Asian teachers from the citadels of the Vatican to the palmyradotted villages of the South Indian coast. Yet, the year Thani Nayagam arrived in India marked a tumultuous change in migration around the Bay of Bengal. The rigors of war and economic depression staunched a thick flow of plantation workers who went to Ceylon, Burma, and Malaya.19 Even so, it was an educational institution produced by this now-diminishing migration that allowed Thaniyagam to become a Tamil scholar. In 1945, he decided to pursue further studies in the language, enrolling for his master’s in Tamil literature at Annamalai University in the temple town of Chidambaram, a few hundred miles from Madras, where he would stay until 1949. Annamalai University had been founded in 1929 by a prominent businessman, banker, and philanthropist, Raja Sir S. R. M. Annamalai Chettiar (1881–1948).20 Following the British flag, Chettiar capitalists like Annamalai had made their fortunes in moneylending, plantations, and timber in Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, and even French Indochina. Sir Annamalai had advocated for these groups through the 1930s. When the separation of Burma from India was being discussed in 1930s, he led a deputation of businessmen to London to safeguard the place of Indians in the 1935 Burma Act. He later spoke extensively on Indian immigration in the Madras Legislative Assembly. Such Chettiar capital was crucial for Tamil intellectuals for much of the twentieth century and, as we shall see, the Tamil trading community heavily supported the Kuala Lumpur Conference of 1966. Thani Nayagam was thus at Annamalai, studying Tamil under the great T. P. Meenakshisundaram (1901–80), when India and Ceylon became independent in August of 1947 and February of 1948, respectively. We don’t know much about what he made of independence. Certainly, a memoir, written by his friend who recounted those years at Annamalai, makes little of the events.21 After completing his degree, for which he wrote a thesis on the idea of nature in the poems of the Tamil Sangam—the ancient assemblies of poets and scholars—Thani Nayagam traveled widely. It is unclear how and why he traveled, though we know that he visited Japan, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, and the United States, identifying several early printed Tamil books in European libraries. He obtained his first academic appointment at the University of Ceylon in 1952, though not as a Tamil literary scholar but as a teacher concentrating on Tamil education. He remained affiliated with the University for nine years, building new and important institutions concerning Tamil Studies in Ceylon and writing on Tamil-language rights. It was also during this time that he visited Southeast Asia and came back enamored of its cultural complexity. In 1961 Thani Nayagam left Ceylon, discouraged by the minoritization of Tamil language there and a growing discourse of Sinhalization, and moved to teach at the newly established Department of Indian Studies at the University of Malaya, in a country where, with the defeat of the Malayan Communist Party, a state of emergency had only just been lifted. Thani Nayagam was based in Kuala Lumpur from 1961 to 1969. During this time, Malaya would unite with British North Borneo, Sarawak and (briefly) Singapore, to become Malaysia in 1963, and in the face of active hostility from neighboring Indonesia until Soekarno was swept from power in 1965.

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In any case, it was in this charged international atmosphere, and having convened a meeting in New Delhi with Kamil Zvelebil (1927–2009) and V. I. Subramaniam (1925–2009), that Thani Nayagam would establish the International Association of Tamil Research in 1964, the body that would organize the first International Tamil Studies Conference of 1966. He organized a second one in 1968, after which he retired from Malaysia. His move away from Kuala Lumpur coincided with another declaration of emergency in 1969 that lasted two years.

Decolonization across the Bay of Bengal Thani Nayagam’s sojourns across India, Ceylon, and then Malay(si)a not only mirrored that of many who crisscrossed the Bay but it also followed the arc of decolonization as it rippled across its shores. From the 1940s, his biography holds together the shared terms of the increasingly parallel and divergent political landscapes in which Tamil speakers made their worlds. The story of these landscapes can in one sense be narrated from the interwar period. In the 1930s, the sojourning circuits that had funneled migrants across the Bay had been disrupted by the Depression. By the 1940s, they would be further dislocated by the war. Diasporas created by this disruption articulated themselves both as overseas national communities and as communities of migrant settlers who had claims on postcolonial citizenship in the regions where they had worked and lived.22 It was in this context of economic and imperial crises that intellectuals and activists sought to develop a modern language of postcolonial democracy and popular participation. Various allied and contending visions of decolonization were enabled in the interwar years. In Madras Presidency, for instance, popular language mobilization had emerged in the late 1930s with a robust anti-Hindi agitation that saw wide support from diverse movements like the Self Respect Movement in South India.23 From the late 1940s, the terms of social revolution began to be reimagined in South India just as they were across the Bay. The geopolitical realignment marked by the rise of India, Pakistan, Ceylon, and (eventually) Malaysia put questions of political community front and center. What should constitute the national community in these countries? How was it to be represented, and who was it to represent? These questions gained ground in citizenship discourses and laws just as political claims of labor movements began to recede.24 Over the 1950s, the forces of Sinhalization in Ceylon alienated and targeted southern Indians. Already, large numbers of Tamil-speaking plantation workers, who had made lives in Ceylon over more than a century, were rendered stateless in 1948. The plantation workers were unable to claim domicile under the new citizenship laws that privileged continuous residence or blood descent.25 This disenfranchisement was followed by the suppression of a general strike mobilized by the left (called the “Hartal” after the civil disobedience campaigns run in India by Gandhi in 1930) and the declaration of emergency. This was a big blow to Communist organizing. The ratcheting up of Sinhalese mobilization in the leadup to elections quickly followed and riots broke out between Sinhalese and Tamil groups in 1956 and 1958.26

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The disenfranchisement of the estate workers posed a particular dilemma to white-collar Tamil leaders from Jaffna and Colombo. Should they cross the bounds of class and caste and support the enfranchisement of the mostly Tamilspeaking workers? And could that support lead to electoral gains? In the end, the alliance between the plantation workers and those mobilized around language rights remained fraught. The upper caste (and often middle class) Tamils of Jaffna who were most affected by Sinhalization had little in common with the “Indian” plantation union leadership with their strong working-class affiliations with radical left politics. In any case, the 1956 Chelvanayagam-Bandarnaike Pact, which weakly accommodated a “reasonable” use of Tamil language in Ceylonese public life, gave short thrift to estate workers. In this instance, the Malaya-born S. J. V. Chelvanayagam (1898–1977) had tried to resurrect alliances with plantation workers in concert with Tamil rights groups to reach agreement with Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike (1899–1959). But the nascent civil disobedience begun by Chelvanayagam’s Federal Party was quelled with the declaration of emergency in 1961 by Bandaranaike’s widow and now prime minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1916–2000). There were also trust issues that could not be bridged. An ineffectual and patronizing Indo-Ceylon dialogue accompanied these problems. New Delhi made remarkably few concrete contributions to the plantation worker question, other than offer to distance itself from them and, at best, to divide up and repatriate about a third of one million stateless in 1964.27 The violence of this partition remains largely unspoken in Indian history. Indeed, a parallel resuscitation of language-centered cultural politics was under way in the Bay of Bengal littoral of Nehruvian India. The forceful suppression of left-based labor movements in Telengana and Tanjavur (Tanjore) in the late 1940s was quickly followed by the reorganization of Indian provinces along linguistic lines. The many language movements in the Indian subcontinent, of which Tamil-language politics was a piece, had opposed Hindi as the national language but had grounded this opposition in a democratic call for fashioning a language for popular participation. The vigor of these movements pushed Nehru to retreat from unilaterally imposing Hindi, but the Congress began to territorialize cultural difference in turn. This move reorganized the call for language rights as a form of subnationalism that could be contained through the granting of provincial autonomy.28 The Nehruvian cultural compact inaugurated in the 1950s held serious consequences for Dravidian politics. The Dravidian quest for an alternative political community that had surged in the 1940s had been energized by the possibility of decolonization. It had sought to develop a language that was anti-caste and anticapitalist and was not explicitly territorial. However, it had been unable to carry the aspirations of other language speakers of South India. Together, the linguistic reorganization and the electoral battlegrounds of the legislative assembly of 1950s operated as a magnetic field that drew in the DMK, which acquired a mass base just as it began to compete and contest the terms of Nehruvian welfarism in Madras.29 In effect, the DMK sought to reimagine social emancipation and castelessness in Tamil, attracting students and the urban male working-class electorate even as its terms of engagement subtly changed. From reimagining the social through

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language, the center of gravity in Dravidian party politics in 1950s shifted to the proper governance of the social and indeed a territorial locus: the idea of Tamilnad or the Tamil nation.30 Interestingly, overseas “returnees” played an important role in this reconfiguration. For instance, Parasakti, the iconic DMK film released in the 1950s, imagined a secular and anti-Brahman future for a new Tamil society. Yet, it also solicited the labors of the migrant fleeing war and imperial disintegration in places like Burma. When antiHindi agitations reemerged in the 1960s as a site of popular mobilization, they had roots in just economic and social struggles. And once the Hindi Bill was passed in 1963, Congress invoked the Defense of India regulations to repress the consequent political mobilization in non-Hindi-speaking areas, especially Madras State. These failed and the DMK would be swept to power in 1967. Certainly, the DMK would work very hard to channel these energies into what it called “nation-building.” As noted above, the DMK leader Annadurai made several interventions that channeled the youth to engage in nation-building, drawing on recreating a Tamil community through technologies of governance that would be made visible at the second conference of 1968. In the process, the DMK would also begin to cultivate itself as a custodian of Tamil culture for all Tamil communities scattered along the Bay’s littoral.31 Various active DMK networks in Ceylon, Singapore, and Burma served as vectors of solidarity and support for their vision of the Tamil good life, even as they were often embedded in localized projects of social emancipation. In short, it is possible to chart the changing emphasis in DMK politics not just as an engagement with Indian electoralism but as a response to changing geopolitics across the Bay of Bengal. In Malaysia, where the first conference had taken place, decolonization had arrived, spooled out over several years (from 1957 to 1963) and punctuated, as in Ceylon, with emergency and conflicts over language rights, not to mention transitioning in name from the narrower Malaya. Like Ceylon in the 1950s, the emergence of a “sons of the soil” movement in the 1960s reshaped discourses of cultural belonging, laying the ground for minority politics. As the discourses of ethnicity consolidated around them, Tamil political energies were focused on securing civic citizenship.32 And yet divisions remained. As in Ceylon, Tamil speakers did not speak with one voice. Variant caste status, class, and specific memories of migration divided them even as they collectively withdrew from a pan-Indian political identity.33 These various fractured Tamil landscapes made up Thani Nayagam’s world. Internationally, it was precisely when processes of decolonization shored up ethnicity around the Bay that the protection of cultural rights and linguistic diversity of minorities was institutionalized in international arenas. The agency tasked with promoting “cultural diversity” was the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which had begun to fund professional scholarly associations in the late 1940s. But this sponsorship of Orientalist research had not quite entered the world of Tamil intellectuals. Thani Nayagam and his intellectual collaborators’ initial efforts to publish and institutionalize the study of Tamil culture in the 1950s were in direct response to developments in the Bay of Bengal and later became a project that sought to secure UNESCO’s attention.

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Culture as anthropology: Tamil culture beyond territory The beginnings of Thani Nayagam’s endeavors on the subject of Tamil culture lay in enabling the autonomous study of Dravidian societies and freeing them from the intellectual weight of Aryan domination. By the late 1940s, due in part to the gathering weight of scholarship on Dravidian civilization and its forays into Indological study, Tamil intellectuals had begun to mobilize for more institutional support for their work in India. This important effort was one of the ways in which Indology as the study of Sanskrit alone came to be queried and contested. From his first scholarly base at the University of Ceylon, Thani Nayagam established institutional connections across the Palk Strait. The most prominent output of this was Tamil Culture, a quarterly published in English from 1952 by the Academy of Tamil Culture and the Tamil Culture Society in Colombo, and bearing the flags of the classical Chera, Chola, and Pandiya kingdoms on its masthead (see Figure 8.1). Intellectual autonomy was to be secured for its founders with international collaborations and systematic scholarship that would rescue the study of Tamil contributions to Indian and Ceylonese culture from neglect.34 But these efforts were equally connected to equipping Tamil to function in a democracy. Writing on the Madras State’s constitution of a Tamil Development and Research Council, in 1959 Thani Nayagam envisioned the study of Tamil history and culture as necessary and acquiring permanent value as Tamil became the language of civic life. To this end, and like many of his peers, Thani Nayagam observed that Tamil had to be modernized for public use and studies of societal interest alike.35 Thani Nayagam’s vision of Tamil development for a public democratic future went along with a fine sense of the danger of majoritarianism. This took on particular urgency in the context of growing Sinhalization in Ceylon. Just a few years earlier, in 1956, he had written that demands by a majority needed to be lawful and reasonable lest they foment separatism. He had argued that language rights were like human rights that could only be decided by the “common law of nations” and he observed that Sinhalization would be opposed by movements toward self-determination, cultural freedom, and autonomy within a decentralized state. So do these ideas reflect what Mufti has called “the cultural possibilities for groups deemed minorities that take neither the form of assimilation in the official sense nor of separatism of the political sort”?36 It is clear that Thani Nayagam’s criticism of Sinhala majoritarianism refused to frame culture as a problem of the minority. It rather stemmed from his understanding that rule by majority was a democratic method located in the principles of federalism that held its ideal to be rule by unanimity.37 Indeed, Thani Nayagam’s call for cultural autonomy idealized the political will of different national communities to live together under a common political institution.38 That this federalism meant something more than minority culturalism is clear. Thani Nayagam developed a de-territorial conception of culture in which the migrant appeared repeatedly. The pages of Tamil Culture regularly harkened to Tamil diasporas, especially those labor and trade migrations that took Tamil speakers to various corners of the world. In 1954, Thani Nayagam wrote that “in Malaya, in Burma, in Indonesia, in Mauritius, in Africa, in the Isles of Martinique, in Jamaica, in Trinidad, and in

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Figure 8.1 The Front Page of Tamil Culture, October 1955.

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other countries, they have left the stamp of their language, their religion, their fine arts and of their enterprise.”39 A key issue for the journal as Thani Nayagam then saw it was to elevate Tamil in scholarly circles. “That the Tamil people are industrious and enterprising and immigrated in modern times to different parts of the world to earn their bread by manual work, need not lower them in the esteem of scholarship or render study considering their contributions to the world, fruitless.”40 Sure enough, Tamil Culture soon became the peak forum for scholars of Tamil language and history around the world. Through its pages we can glimpse how older Indological frameworks were modified, falling away as the study of culture came to anchor the study of Tamil materials. For the first time, scholars writing on literary history, race, ancient history, and folklore began to publish together and this interdisciplinary conversation began to hang together a sense of a new “Tamilology,” a term that Thani Nayagam favored.41 Tamil Culture is often given so much importance because Thani Nayagam expanded the idea of culture, stretching the high peaks of classicalism like an umbrella over a population of Tamil speakers scattered in various corners of the world. But we should also note that this formulation of culture was not immediately anthropological, nor yet was it undertaken within the new paradigms of the “new nations” projects sponsored by the Area Studies framework.42 Rather, the pages of Tamil Culture suggest a more subtle convergence between high Victorian ideas of culture as the study of perfection advanced by Mathew Arnold in his Culture and Anarchy of 1867–68, not to mention those of Arnold Toynbee on the emergence and dissipation of world civilization in his twelve-volume Study of History, published between 1934 and 1961.43 Whereas Toynbee fell out of academic favor the world over in the 1960s, he was perhaps the most important historian of culture writing in the mid-twentieth century. To the producers of Tamil Culture, Toynbee offered a way to consider the dissipation of civilization, of the breakdown of minority and majority politics, and to dwell on the survival and merger of civilization traditions. In the pages of Tamil Culture, Toynbee’s discussion of the future of culture under Western stewardship was repurposed for reflections on the universality of classical Tamil civility against the context of its minoritization. Arguing against Oswald Spengler (1880–1936), who wrote of cultural demise as a cyclic process, Thani Nayagam made a strong case for human agents. “It is in the power of men, to contribute to the causes and work at the conditions necessary for a flowering of culture.”44 By the same token, Arnold’s vision of culture as a transcendent substance and the basis of an uplifting humanism served as the other guiding framework for the authors of Tamil Culture. The question of culture in Thani Nayagam’s work at this point, in this sense, partook of a world history schema but departed from it because it was not really located in the practice of history but in literary criticism, aesthetics, and ethics. So how did this expansive and inclusive Tamil civility speak to the tumult unfolding in Ceylon in the 1950s and the institutionalization of Tamil-language development in postwar Madras State in India? How might we situate this Tamil civility that transcended territory against the overwhelming fissures between the professionals and the working class among Tamil speakers across the Bay? These are difficult questions to pose of an academic journal seeking to publicly diffuse its findings to the English-speaking world. Nonetheless, it is possible to suggest that the Tamil sublime expressed in the journal

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carefully navigated the call of subnationalism. Drawing on T. S. Eliot, Thani Nayagam was invested in creating a discourse about multiple loyalties that superseded the call of subnationalism.45 It was an interesting argument about patriotism as a defensive gesture. Tamil linguistic patriotism, he argued, intended no harm to other languages. And if its partisans did, it was in the context of self-preservation. One cannot help, he noted, writing about modern Tamil writers that “the tension on the part of writers is not due to a lack of love for a Mother India concept but to apprehensions concerning what Mother India equals Mother Hindi might do to Mother Tamil.”46 This rereading of the Tamil sublime, inspired in part by his interest extending its nourishing canopy to most far-flung and subaltern diasporas, remained distinct from the agenda of Dravidian parties’ ideological investment in cultural nationalism.47 Here was a debate with Dravidian politics over culture somewhat smothered in retrospect by the selective hearing of Dravidian Party intellectuals. Over time, and as V. Arasu has argued, Thani Nayagam’s travels took him to know a variety of Tamil diasporas, and even to write about indentured workers in the Carribbean.48 But his opinions on language patriotism in the 1950s and his substantive commitment to think of culture transcending territory acquire a sense of poignancy when we note that at this time of the growing crescendo of Sinhala nationalism, Thani Nayagam looked not directly to the Caribbean but to Southeast Asia to derive ideals of cultural transcendence.

Rescuing culture from ethnicity: Southeast Asia and Tamil culture As noted already, it was in 1955, around the time that Thani Nayagam wrote on Sinhalization and Federalism, and indeed on migrant workers that he traveled extensively in Southeast Asia. The visit was sponsored by the Asia Foundation and made a deep impression. Writing on the limited study of Tamil influence on Southeast Asia, he argued that the Greater India Society of Bengal, preoccupied with Sanskrit and the diffusion of Brahmanism and Aryanism, had misread and greatly overestimated the claims of India over the region, entirely overlooking Tamil cultural influence. To be sure, his observations were very much in keeping with the times. Southeast Asianists were embroiled in debate over Indianization and other theories of cultural diffusion largely championed by French scholars such as Georges Coedès (1886–1969) and the admiring members of the Greater India Society of Calcutta. But Thani Nayagam’s investment in Tamil influence was not intended to counter with a greater Tamil sovereignty across Southeast Asia. Rather he wished to see “greater Tamil country (Tamilnad)” as a way to recuperate a shared culture of migration across the Bay, being a story of sailors, merchants, and settlers. As he noted, while this was seemingly a oneway diffusion from India, it remained up to the scholars of India and Ceylon to trace the influence of Southeast Asia on their countries.49 Southeast Asia seemed full of possibilities, representing a new hope and a new destiny. Thani Nayagam came back convinced of “the strength of the historical and cultural foundations of Southeast Asian cooperation.”50 Arguing that the isolation of its universities stood in the way of cultural cooperation in Southeast Asia, Thani Nayagam argued that the new age could still dawn with the University of Malaya for, with the establishment of Indian studies there, it was poised to offer special insights into

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comparative studies and would signal a new era of Asian scholarship that would center international cultural cooperation.51 Thani Nayagam made this prediction in 1955, just before the Federation of Malaya became independent in 1957. Seven years later, he moved to the Department of Indian Studies at the University of Malaya. S. Arasaratnam, a leading historian of Dutch Lanka and Indian Ocean trade, soon followed. Did men like Thani Nayagam and Arasaratnam move to the University of Malaya because of the increasing strictures of Sinhalization in Ceylon? What did they make of the Malaysian political field? Did the possibility of building new institutional practices in a newly constituted department in a new decolonized country offer some hope? Was the idea of federation, now for all purposes dead in India and Ceylon, something that Malaysia could still provide? We don’t know. But it is clear very soon after moving to Kuala Lumpur, Thani Nayagam began to actively solicit funds and mobilize his intellectual networks for an International Tamil Studies Conference.

The International Conference of Tamil Studies, 1966 Preparations for an International Tamil Conference began in 1959, when Thani Nayagam asked his teacher at Annamalai University, T. P. Meenakshisundaram, to join his efforts and write to the chief minister of Madras State. Not much came of that letter. Yet, after moving to Kuala Lumpur, he was able to persuade the National Education (Indian Schools) Development Council to co-sponsor the conference. The conference’s topics elaborated the issues explored in Tamil Culture, if with some changes. Sections were planned on literary theory, social history, trade, culture in Southeast Asia, and language and translation. There were several pieces on popular culture, folklore and ballads, classical Tamil texts, and customary practices, though without mention of such popular rites as that of Thaipusam (Cover Image). Dravidian race theory was conspicuously absent, too, but included were discussions of Dravidian comparative linguistics, migration, and indenture. An exhibition related to Southeast Asia was organized to coincide with the conference. One section was devoted to the archaeology and sculpture of Southeast Asia at the National Museum, Kuala Lumpur. Another section on publications, rare books, and pictures relating to Tamil Studies was organized at the University of Malaya Library. About 240 delegates and 50 observers had registered for the conference from all over the world, with the opening panel featuring the Malaysian prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903–90), the director of the École Française d’Extrême Orient, Prof. Jean Filliozat (1906–82), and, of course, Thani Nayagam among others, who were all arrayed between the flags of numerous nations (Figure 8.2).52 Indeed, scholars were funded by a mix of national governments (Malaysia, Ceylon, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany), provinces (the Government of Madras State), institutes (the French Institute of Pondicherry, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the British Council), as well as a clutch of foundations (including the Asia Foundation and the Lee Foundation). The Tamil press in India, Ceylon, and Malaysia gave it a lot of publicity. While the Malaysian government and the Asia Foundation raised the bulk of the money, funds were also raised by subscription from the Nattukottai Chettiar temples in Southeast Asia.

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Figure 8.2 “Prof. Jean Filliozat, President of the International Association of Tamil Research, speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference,” from Proceedings of the First Tamil Studies Conference, Xavier Thani Nayagam et.al., eds. (Kuala Lumpur: IATR, 1968), II, image 3 after p. 888. Note Thani Nayagam at extreme right.

This extraordinary mix of governments, foundations, community groups, and public interest signified the polyvalence of Tamil culture and of what Tamil Studies had come to represent to many different audiences after the war. The schedule of papers and subsequent publications shows the numbers of scholars and publicists who presented their work. Presenters ranged from scholars in Tamil history (Brenda Beck, Noboru Karashima, S. Arasaratnam, A. J. Wilson, and Robert Frykenberg among others) to scholars of plantation economies (R. Jain), religion and literary culture (T. P. Meenakshisundaram, K. Sivathamby), and Indologists (Jean Filliozat). It also included independent scholars like N. Vanamamalai who returned and nurtured a generation of scholars working in Tamil at the intersection of folklore and cultural Marxism. Vanamamalai’s circle also anticipated many of the critiques that would be offered by Subaltern Studies and an early instance of a dialogue between anthropology and history outside the North American academy. Much like the doni, the conference was a place for individuals and collectivities to briefly touch each other as they journeyed to different destinations. And yet, given the great diplomatic role assumed by the international conference, there were several efforts to frame it. The Indian Express provided an enduring Indian narrative, which was significant given the recent debates about the citizenship status of Indian plantation workers in

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Lanka and Malaysia. With its strong upper-caste orientation, The Express presented the conference as an exercise that recuperated a greater Tamil empire for India, something Thani Nayagam had opposed. As one Express journalist wrote: The culture and tradition of these were Indian, the degree depending on the interaction of the local and the Chinese civilization. They were and are the strongest in Ceylon. But from the last century, the former ruling race became indentured labourers and traders and in this humble manner contributed to the economies of these countries.53

Thus even though India had not sponsored the event in the way that the Malaysian government had, The Express nonetheless took an Indian culturalist narrative and a migrant Indian claim to Malaysian citizenship to be at the heart of the conference. Beyond this, too, The Express trumpeted a deep past in the bluntest of colonial terms: The history books speak in bare outline of what, in fact, was a great achievement. The conquest by Indians of South-east Asia and, what is more important, the absolute cultural supremacy they established were achievements comparable to the conquest of Asia and Africa by the West in the last two or three centuries.54

Thani Nayagam’s own take could not have been more different. At the conference, he had persuaded the IATR to publish regular reports of Tamil Studies research undertaken in various parts of the world, including centers funded by North American institutions. These developments coincided with the efforts of the IATR to secure UNESCO patronage and recognition on the lines of the Orientalist Conference. Thani Nayagam’s internationalist vision was premised not on cultural territorial nationalism but on the mobility of Tamil culture that explored the varied registers of cultural belonging. This orientation to Tamil culture, as it should be clear by now, was not underwritten by imperial cultural pluralism or yet cosmopolitanism. It was a re-crafting of history that centered its territorial malleability and that expressed an aesthetic and ethical commitment to crafting Tamil language for building a postcolonial democratic society. As my discussion of Tamil Culture suggests, the Tamil question as it unfolded across the Bay of Bengal in the 1950s made for a greater emphasis on the Arnoldian vision of cultural universalism. But at the same time, there was an attempt by intellectuals like Thani Nayagam to stretch this concept over the many unlettered and migrant population to make Tamil Studies address multiple Tamil-speaking worlds constituted in work and labor. By the time of the first conference, though, and perhaps as a result of the political conditions in Malaysia, Thani Nayagam’s personal interest in recuperating the history of plantation workers as a site of Tamil culture had begun to grow. Yet rather than writing on Malaysian or Ceylonese plantation history or its minority policies, Thani Nayagam now undertook a study tour of the Caribbean, reaching out again to distant shores of another decolonizing region of the 1960s to find his ideal of cultural transcendence. He chose Guyana and its history of indenture to restage his recuperation of lost cultural history. In an essay evocatively titled “Tamil Studies Elsewhere,” published in 1968

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and as Annadurai’s government would claim its mantle at Madras, he observed that “one encounters in Trinidad, elderly men who have worked in the estates of Lanka or Malaya; in Fiji, those who have been employed in the Sugar Plantations of South Africa.”55 This turn to indenture marked perhaps Thani Nayagam’s final turn from a notion of culture in terms of Toynbee, Eliot, and Arnold, to that of cultural anthropology in the Boasian sense, of everyday life. Now his international vision of Tamil Studies was carried in the food and rituals of migrants. Recuperating indentured migrants as cultural subjects for Tamil Studies was a bold move. In a field obsessed with classicalism and civilization, and constantly aware of a growing minoritization, the papers at the first conference had quietly put certain questions about labor and culture on the table in relation to language rights. When the laboring migrants of the Bay of Bengal had been all but granted a civil death in Ceylon, Malaysia, and India itself, the tantalizing potential of migrant history recovered from the distant archives of the Caribbean appears especially potent. But it was a move that was not without its own ironies. Even as it held out the possibility of breaking free from the stultifying discourse of classicism and territoriality, and engaged in questions of transculturation, the new project undertaken by Thani Nayagam did not directly address the fractures of caste and class at center of the tensions he was trying to suture. As far as we know, Thani Nayagam did not directly comment on the waves of statelessness rippling through the Bay. Perhaps his vision holds out the potential for these questions to be asked even as it reincarnated estate laborers as Tamil rather than Indian cultural subjects. On what terms could a labor history of indenture be recuperated as Tamil history? On what terms could migrants whose sense of the past was necessarily discontinuous, to use V. Geetha’s phrase, and whose claims were premised on a history of manual labor inhabit “Tamil” culture? This was, of course, a wider question that confronted many Tamil political leaders in the 1940s and 1950s. But did fragments of memory, or yet the stray invocation of Muneeswarar and Amman worship, query the territorial holism of Tamil culture for Thani Nayagam? Could these distant shores of cultural fracture and creolization reanimate cultural contestation around the Bay? Veena Das writes that it is when a person can bear witness to suffering, “through the act of hearing, when the eye becomes transformed from the organ that sees to one that weeps, that we can speak of culture as having a soul.”56 Perhaps not the least, Thani Nayagam’s thought reveals the polysemy and dynamism of knowledge formations called “Tamil studies,” eluding essentialism of territory and reopening instead the meaning of culture as having a soul born by calling other shores.

Notes 1 2

Xavier S. Thani Nayagam et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the First International Conference-Seminar of Tamil Studies, 2 vols. (Kuala Lumpur: IATR, 1968). Thani Nayagam statues have even been erected in Tamilnad in Toothukudi (Tuticorin) and Madurai. For a commemoration of his work, see Rajan Philippupillai (ed.), Tamiḻāram: A Volume of Tributes and A Volume of Tributes and Reminiscences

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5 6

7

8

9

10 11 12

13 14

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Dedicated to the Memory of Father Thani Nayagam (Jaffna: Theepam Institute, 1983); and Pā. Iraiyarācaṉ, Taṉināyaka Aṭikaḷiṉ Itaḻiyal Vaḻit Tamiḻppa (Ceṉṉai: Ulakat Tamiḻārāycci Niṛuvaṉam, 1997). More recent celebratory reflections include, Tamiḻnāyakam: Taṉināyakam Aṭikaḷ Nūṟṟāṇṭu Viḻā Malar, 1913–2013 (Yālppānam: Yalppānat Tamilc Cankam, Yāḻppāna Maṟaimāvaṭṭam, 2013). His essays and writings have also been republished in recent years, such as Tavattiru Taṉināyaka Aṭikalāriṉ Paṭaippukạl, Tavittiru Taṉināyakam Aṭikalār Nūṟṟāṇṭu viḻākkuḻu (Chennai: Poompuhar Patipakam, 2013). My interest in Prof. Thani Nayagam was fostered by conversations with the late Prof. Chelva Kanaganayakam at the University of Toronto and Prof. V. Arasu at the University of Madras, Chennai. While this chapter may not meet their expectations, I hope it will serve as a modest beginning to think about the wider historical context of Tamil Studies after the end of empire in the Bay of Bengal. I dedicate the essay to Chelva Kanaganayakam who always tried to foreground the multiplicity of Tamil worlds. See, for instance, R.E. Asher (ed.), Proceedings of the Second International Conference of Tamil Studies, Madras, India 1968, 3 vols. (Madras: IATR, 1971), especially Vol. 1. Indeed, since then observers have noted that the celebratory and political dimensions of the “public conference” (potu nilai karuttaranku) have dominated the more scholarly “research conference” (araycci karuttaranku) aspects of the IATR Tamil Studies conferences in India. See Norman Cutler, “The Fish-eyed Goddess Meets the Movie Star: An Eyewitness Account of the Fifth International Tamil Conference,” Pacific Affairs 56, no. 2 (1983): 270–87. Nambi Arooran, Tamil Renaissance and Dravidian Nationalism 1905–1944 (Madurai: Koodal, 1980). On this and the DMK’s articulation of the common man, see Marguerite Barnett, The Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976). Contemporary comment includes Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr., “Problems and Prospects of India’s Language Crisis,” Asian Survey 5, no. 8 (1965): 399–407. I draw here on Arasu’s observations on Tamilology beyond Orientalism in Thani Nayagam’s formulation in V. Arasu, “Kīḻaitīviyal-Tamiḻiyal: Pērāciriyar Xavier Taṉināyakam, Avarkaḷiṉ Vakipākam,” Māṟṟuveḷi 13 (2013). See, in this regard: Aamir Mufti, Enlightenment in the Colony: The Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007); and Faisal Devji, Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea (London: Hurst, 2013). Andreas Wimmer and Nina Glick Schiller, “Methodological Nationalism and Beyond: National-State Building, Migration and the Social Sciences,” Global Networks 2, no. 4 (2002): 301–34. John Kelly and Martha Kaplan, Represented Communities: Fiji and World Decolonization (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2001), 4. Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 85–86 and 99. Ibid., 33. See Mark Mazower on the links between the UN’s commitment to human rights and the wartime decision to abandon the interwar system of an international regime for the protection of minority rights in his “The Strange Triumph of Human Rights, 1933–1950,” The Historical Journal 47, no. 2 (2004): 379–98. Niraja Gopal Jayal, Citizenship and Its Discontents: An Indian History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013). Ibid., 255.

178 15 16 17 18

19 20

21 22 23 24

25 26

27

28

29

30 31 32

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal For a more sensitive articulation, see Mazower, “Minorities and the League of Nations in Interwar Europe,” Daedalus 126, no. 2 (1997): 47–63. Veena Das, Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective in Contemporary India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995), 84–117. Ibid. On how territorializing nation-state ideologies domesticate transnational phenomena, see Prasenjit Duara, “Transnationalism and the Predicament of Sovereignty: China, 1900–1945,” American Historical Review 102, no. 4 (1997): 1030–51. Sunil S. Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013). K. Nagarajan, Rajah Annamalai Chettiar (Chidambaram: Annamalai University, 1985); Annamalai University, 1929–1979: Golden Jubilee (Chidambaram: Annamalai University, 1979). Va. A. Subramaniam, “Pērāciriyar Taṉināyaka Aṭikaḷ,” Māṟṟuveḷi 13 (2013): 43–58. Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal. V. Geetha and S.V. Rajadurai, Towards a Non-Brahman Millenium: From Iyothee Thas to Periyar (Popular Prakashan, 2001). V. Geetha, “Stateless Tamils: The Many Ironies of Nationhood in India and Ceylon, circa 1948,” Unpublished paper (2013). My thanks to Geetha for sharing her paper and permitting me to cite it. Ibid. Nira Wickramasinghe, Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History of Contested Identies (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2014); Valli Kanapathipillai, Citizenship and Statelessness in Sri Lanka: The Case of the Tamil Estate Workers (London: Anthem, 2009). Wickramasinghe, Sri Lanka in the Modern Age; S. Nadesan, A History of the Upcountry Tamil People in Sri Lanka (Nandalala: Ranco, 1993); Patrick Peebles, The Plantation Tamils of Ceylon (London etc.: University of Leicester Press, 2001); Kanapathipillai, Citizenship, 2009. See Duara, “Transnationalism and the Predicament of Sovereignty.” Contrast this with Robert King’s otherwise excellent analysis that parses Nehru’s response to language movements as laying a solid foundation for Indian unity by robbing the language crises of its potential for causing disorder. Robert King, Nehru and the Language Politics of India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997). Narendra Subramanian, Ethnicity and Populist Mobilization: Political Parties, Citizens and Democracy in South India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999). See also: John Solomon, “The Decline of Pan-Indian Identity and the Development of Tamil Cultural Separatism in Singapore, 1856–1965,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 35, no. 2 (2012): 257–81. Subramanian, Ethnicity and Populist Mobilization. Solomon, “The Decline of Pan-Indian Identity.” Tamilvel Sarangapani’s life is a good example of the transition. As an educated migrant from Tanjavur, he became a prominent publicist and Dravidian activist. Moreover, as a Periyarite, he organized several campaigns on the caste and established the South Indian Reform League. See S. Arasaratnam, “Social and Political Ferment in the Malayan Indian Community 1945 to 1955,” in Nayagam et al., Proceedings of the First International Conference-Seminar of Tamil Studies. After independence, Sarangapani became involved in the citizenship question

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34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

43

44 45 46 47

48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56

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in Singapore. Earning the sobriquet of “Tamilvel,” he lobbied strongly for Tamil language to be included as one of Singapore’s official languages. Because of his older associations with plantation worker groups, he got citizenship papers for many working-class Tamils. Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal; S. Arasaratnam, Indians in Malaysia and Singapore (London: Oxford University Press, 1970); Solomon, “The Decline of PanIndian Identity.” X. Thani Nayagam, Collected Papers of Thani Nayagam Adigal (Chennai: International Institute of Tamil Studies, 1995 [1955]), 9. Ibid., 40. Mufti, Enlightenment in the Colony, 8. Nayagam, Collected Papers, 342–43. Ibid., 349. Ibid., 13. Ibid. For an elaboration, see Arasu, “Kīḻaitīviyal-Tamiḻiyal.” For a complementary reading of Thani Nayagam’s engagement with Arnoldian culturalism in the context of resisting Sinhalization, see Anon, “Tamiḻar Paṇpāṭu: Pērāciriyar Cēviyar Taṉināyakam Avarkaḷiṉ Iṟutic Coṟpoḻivu,” Māṟṟuveḷi 13 (2013): 75–92. Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy: An Essay in Social and Political Criticism (London: Smith 1875 [1869]); Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, 12 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934–61). Nayagam, Collected Papers, 68. Ibid., 131. Ibid., 151. V. Arasu, “Professor Thani Nayagam’s Interventions in the History of Tamil Diaspora.” Unpublished Plenary Speech, Tamil Studies Conference, University of Toronto, 2014. Ibid. Nayagam, Collected Papers, 313. Ibid. Ibid. I rely here on the Proceedings of the International Tamil Studies Conference of 1968. See also the images at the close of volume two, and Figure 8.2 of this volume. As reported in: Nayagam et al., Proceedings of the First International ConferenceSeminar of Tamil Studies, II, 887. Ibid., 888. X. Thani Nayagam (ed.), Tamil Studies Abroad: A Symposium (New York: Asia Publishing House, 1966), 227. Veena Das, “Voice as Birth of Culture,” Ethnos 60, nos 3–4 (1995): 159–79, at 162.

9

Hybridity and Indigeneity in Malaya, 1900–70 David Henley Leiden University

Malaysia is known internationally as a country that has sought to address pressing problems of interethnic tension and inequality—with some success, by most accounts— using policies of explicit ethnic discrimination.1 Since 1970, members of its (historically) underprivileged Malay ethnic majority, whose default status as Muslims is recorded on their identity cards and other official documents, have enjoyed systematically preferential treatment in economic life, as well as in public education and employment. Members of the large ethnic Chinese and Indian minority groups, meanwhile, have been correspondingly disadvantaged. Yet Malaysia’s strident modern discourse of indigenous Malay entitlement and its practice of reinforcing and institutionalizing boundaries between Malay and non-Malay groups stand in ironic tension with the hybrid character and cosmopolitan origins of the Malay people, both historically and in recent times. Munshi Abdullah (1796–1854), the nineteenth-century “father of modern Malay literature” whose account of the death of Shaykh Yasin opens the chapter of Teren Sevea, was of Tamil and Arab ancestry. Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903–90), the first prime minister of independent Malaya, was Thai on his mother’s side. Mahathir Mohamad (b. 1925), Malaysia’s most influential leader and one of the principal architects of its entrenched system of Malay privilege, is himself partly of South Asian descent. The hardening of divisions between Malay, Indian, and Chinese “races” which took place in the twentieth century is often ascribed to the influence of ideas and stereotypes that were propagated by the British colonial state. This chapter attempts to give nuance to that picture by taking a closer look at the continuities between British ideas about Malay racial identity, particularly as these were actually transmitted to Malays in the colonial context, and the ideologies and politics of race propagated in the period after independence. In doing so it will plumb some decidedly murky depths of intellectual history, both colonial and postcolonial, and show that the ideological continuities, while real, are not entirely those which existing literature would lead us to expect.

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Malaysia’s plural society and its discontents In 1969, in the wake of riots that left hundreds dead, multiracial Malaysia put its national experiment in equal rights on hold and initiated a system of institutionalized racial discrimination that is still in force today. In his landmark 1970 book The Malay Dilemma, outspoken radical and future prime minister Mahathir (served 1981–2003) reasserted the status of the ethnic Malays as the “definitive people” of Malaysia—the bumiputera, or “sons of the soil”—and announced their right to the support of the state in their endeavor to reduce the long-standing economic disparity between themselves and the non-Malay population. Under British rule, liberal immigration policies and an expanding commercial economy had made the population of Malaya and Singapore one of the most mixed, by any definition, in the world. Attracted by burgeoning employment opportunities and propelled by poverty in their lands of origin, between 1880 and 1940 some 10 million Chinese, 3 million Indians casually labeled as “Tamils” (see Figure 9.1), and an unknown but large number of migrants from the Dutch Indies arrived in the colony. In the 1920s, more than 40 percent of Malaya’s population, and more than 70 percent of Singapore’s, was not just of foreign descent, but actually foreign-born.2 The fact that many of the Chinese immigrants were (or became) involved in commercial professions, and achieved considerably higher incomes than the  average Malay, contributed to the resentment that would turn violent in 1969. It has often been argued that the authors of the New Economic Policy (NEP), as Malaysia’s system of positive discrimination or “affirmative action” was called, were influenced, directly and indirectly, by colonial ideas, stereotypes, and prejudices concerning race and racial differences.3 The British had differentiated systematically between the races in their censuses and other administrative procedures, besides creating racially specific institutions such as the Chinese Protectorate (1877) and the Malay Reservations (1913)—the latter a belated attempt to restrict the purchase of land by non-Malays and prevent Malays from becoming dispossessed, as well as outnumbered, in their own country. They had also encouraged the development of a system of stereotypes according to which the Malays were affable but lazy, and the Chinese industrious but greedy. These prejudices generated self-fulfilling expectations in economic behavior, and perpetuated both inequality and antipathy between populations. In The Malay Dilemma and related publications, Mahathir and other Malay radicals not only called for protective and discriminatory measures reminiscent of the colonial period, they also called for a “mental revolution” (Revolusi Mental) on the part of the Malays, who allegedly needed to discard their traditional indolence and lack of initiative in favor of individualistic, entrepreneurial values that would one day enable them to compete with Chinese economic power on equal terms, without further need of protection. The ideological roots of this prescription, as the Malaysian sociologist Hussein Alatas pointed out in The Myth of the Lazy Native (1977), were unmistakable.

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Figure 9.1 “Tamils,” from Ambrose B. Rathborne, Camping and Tramping in Malaya (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1898), p. 85.

The formulators of the ideology are still under the spell of the colonial image of the Malays…. Owing to the absence of a long and profound political struggle for independence in Malaysia and the continuity of the ruling class, there was no sharp break in the ideological consciousness of the Malay elites. Hence the resemblance between the Revolusi Mental and the colonial ideology…. The degradation of the Malay character is an attempt by the ruling party to absolve itself from blame for real or expected failures to ensure the progress of the Malay community.4

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Yet, there is also another, less well known and perhaps more surprising, aspect of the continuity between colonial and postcolonial attitudes to race and ethnicity in Malaysia. Whereas existing writings on the topic tend to blame British influence explicitly for the hardening of racial boundaries in Malaya, and implicitly for helping to create an ideology of Malay homogeneity and indigeneity, in what follows I will show that key British officials and educators in Malaya actually promoted an ideology of benevolent miscegenation, rejected any idea of Malay racial purity, celebrated the partly foreign origins of the Malays themselves, and yet deplored barriers to intermarriage between them and other peoples. This does not mean, however, that British ideas about the nature of the “Malay race” had no influence on postcolonial developments. On the contrary, Mahathir’s bumiputera revolution can be interpreted not only as a turning point in MalayChinese relations, but also as a key moment in a contest between a British-inspired view of the Malays as a mixed race by definition—a view which Mahathir, ironically, underwrote—and an alternative view which sought to define Malayness more narrowly and exclusively.

The origins of the “Malay Race”: British views While the British in Malaya often referred to the Malays as a “race” distinct from the other peoples of the peninsula—Chinese, Indian, European—they never thought of the Malays either as homogeneous, or as wholly indigenous. As Soda Naoki has observed, the textbooks encountered by pupils at government schools in early twentieth-century British Malaya “did not seek to posit ‘pure’ Malays.”5 Instead, they consistently portrayed the Malays as a mixed race, the product of centuries of interbreeding between local and foreign stocks. This characterization had a long pedigree in colonial Malaya, albeit in the context of considerable disagreement regarding the specific ingredients of the Malay ethnic blend. Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781–1826), who founded modern Singapore in 1819, believed that the Malay “nation” had developed primarily through the intermarriage of Middle Easterners with indigenous Southeast Asian peoples and cultures: The most obvious and natural theory on the origin of the Malays is, that they did not exist as a separate and distinct nation until the arrival of the Arabians in the Eastern Seas …. [T]hey seem … to have been gradually … separated from their original stock by the admixture of Arabian blood, and by the introduction of the Arabic language and Moslem religion.6

By contrast, nearly a century later, Frank Swettenham (1850–1946), the main architect of British rule on the Malay Peninsula, favored the theory that the origins of the Malays lay partly on the Indian subcontinent. [T]here are good reasons for believing that Malays are the descendants of people who crossed from the south of India to Sumatra, mixed with a people already

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inhabiting that island, and gradually spread themselves over the central and most fertile States—Palembang, Jambi, Indragiri, Menangkabau, and Kampar. From Sumatra they gradually worked their way to Java, to Singapore and the Malay Peninsula… The word Malay is said to be derived from a river of that name, the Sungei Malayu … in the State of Palembang, in Sumatra, but it is equally likely that it was carried by the first emigrants from the Mallia or Malaya country in southern India.7

A key figure in the transmission of British views on the hybridity of the Malays to Malay people themselves was Richard Olof Winstedt (1878–1966), director of education in the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States from 1924 to 1931, and a prolific author on the history and culture of the Malays. In his writings, Winstedt particularly emphasized the diverse origins of the Malay aristocracy, which, like aristocracies everywhere, had always sought to form alliances by marriage with distant foreign powers. Royalty has always been cosmopolitan in its mistresses. Sultan Muhammad Shah of Malacca (1424–45) married a Tamil, who bore him Sultan Muzaffar Shah: his grandson, Mansur Shah, married a Javanese, a Chinese and a Siamese, the last the mother of two Sultans of Pahang. Everywhere Sayids from the Hadramaut have married with Malay nobility.8

Cosmopolitanism and miscegenation, however, were not limited to the Malay upper classes. Ordinary Malays, too, were of very mixed stock due to centuries of immigration and intermarriage: For 2000 years there has been continuous traffic between the Coromandel coast and Kedah, while old Malacca was full of Gujeratis and Tamils. In the north there has been intermarriage with Thais. Achinese dominated Perak for a century, Bugis colonized Selangor and traded and fought from Riau to Kedah. In Patani and Kelantan traces of Javanese culture date back to the Majapahit period of the fourteenth century, while during the British period there were Javanese, Bugis, Banjarese and Sumatran immigrants into Malaya. There is no one type of civilized Malay.9

One early twentieth-century Straits Settlements school textbook further relativizes the issue by declaring that “the Malays are no longer considered a distinct race in the division of mankind but only a branch of the Mongolian race”—that is, of the race that also includes the Chinese and other Northeast Asian peoples.10

The merits of miscegenation; or, a very British kind of racism In his own 1918 school textbook Kitab tawarikh Melayu (A Malay history)—the first of its kind ever produced in Malay for a Malay readership, and one that went

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through multiple reprints—Winstedt makes it clear that hybridity is not only an old and intrinsic characteristic of the Malay people, but also a positive and desirable one. Miscegenation has given the Malays—much like, significantly, the British— hybrid vigor, protecting them from the deleterious consequences of inbreeding. Winstedt drew an uncharitable contrast in this respect between the Malays and the Semang, one of the small “aboriginal” peoples (Orang Asli, see Figure 9.2) of the interior of the Malay Peninsula, whose blood had remained unmixed with that of foreigners, and whose mental and physical capacities he alleged had suffered as a result: It was in Sumatra that the Malay race, as we know it today, first emerged in close association with other peoples: the Hindus, together with the earlier inhabitants of Sumatra, Borneo, and other islands. For the Malay race has since ancient times been a mixed race [bangsa champoran], just as the British have; and among human races it is universally the case that if they do not mix with other races, then their bodies, developing in isolation, become less vigorous, and their intellects less sharp—as we see, for example, in the case of the Semang!11

The parallel between Malay and British hybridity was, of course, intended to be a flattering one for the Malays. As the child of an English mother and a Swedish-born

Figure 9.2 “Proto-Malays from Johor,” from R. O. Winstedt, A History of Malaya (London: Luzac, 1935), after p. 40.

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father, Winstedt may have had personal reasons to stress the hybrid character of the British nation and the benefits that this hybridity supposedly entailed. Nevertheless, it is clear that he, and no doubt other British officials in Malaya, saw a real parallel between the cosmopolitan origins of the Malays and the waves of immigration, conquest, and miscegenation that had constituted the British people as an amalgam of Celtic, Roman, Saxon, and Norman elements. The British or English analogue also made colonial observers reluctant to deny the Malays, notwithstanding the acknowledged historical precedence of the Orang Asli, indigenous status in Malaya. “The Malays,” Winstedt declared, “have at least as much right to be regarded as the aboriginal people of Malaya as the English have to be called the aborigines of England.”12 The British were by no means the first, or the only, commentators to applaud the supposedly invigorating effect of foreign influences on the Malay character. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a group of Islamic reformers boasted in their monthly journal al-Imam of their Arab connections, looked to the Central Lands of Islam for moral leadership, and were grateful that, centuries earlier, “the arrival of an Arab in Malacca,” had made it possible for the Malays to overcome their chronic laziness, greed, and individualism thanks to “the blessing of the Islamic religion.”13 Winstedt’s argument, nevertheless, was distinctive both in its biological aspect, of which more below, and in its insistence that hybridity per se, rather than interaction with specific and superior peoples and civilizations, was the key to Malay national salvation and survival. It is worth noting that appreciation for the past contribution of Chinese (among other) blood to Malay racial vitality did not preclude the espousal of caustic prejudices against Malaya’s contemporary Chinese population. Winstedt was particularly given to Sinophobic sentiments, accusing the “clannish” Chinese of deliberately excluding others from their businesses and “draining Malaya of a great proportion of its wealth” through remittances to China.14 As late as 1948, he even described them as “the locusts of commerce and industry, leaving for local races nothing but manual labour and invading even peasant agriculture if a crop like pineapples happens to attract their hungry notice.”15

Mahathir, urban cosmopolitan chauvinism, and the British legacy Leafing through The Malay Dilemma reveals many passages that are at first sight surprising given the status of the book as the foundational document of Malaysia’s discriminatory, but ultimately optimistic, system of affirmative action in favor of Malays. Not only does Mahathir uncritically reiterate, as Alatas pointed out, colonial stereotypes regarding the character and capabilities of the Malay race, he also implies that, to a large extent, racial characteristics are simply innate: Races are differentiated not merely by ethnic origin but also by many other characteristics. These characteristics are important … The Jews, for example, are not merely hook-nosed but understand money instinctively. The Europeans are not only fair-skinned but have an insatiable curiosity. The Malays are not merely

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brown, but are also easy-going and tolerant. And the Chinese are not just almondeyed people, but are also inherently good businessmen. Their progress in the whole of Southeast Asia will testify to this.16

Historically speaking, Mahathir argues, one of the most important causes of change and improvement in the otherwise intractable character of races has been interbreeding between them. In this respect, he draws a sharp distinction between urban Malays, who have always been a mixed population open to intermarriage with foreigners, and rural Malays of the villages (kampung), who under British rule were isolated from the cosmopolitan world of the port cities, and became increasingly parochial in their marriage patterns. The character of the town Malays became more diverse and they found no difficulty in changing with the times. Some intermarried … These intermarriages enriched Malay stock. Of course not all town Malays married non-Malays, but as time went on, town Malays inherited a certain amount of mixed blood as more and more offspring of intermarriage became indistinguishable from the Malays themselves, and married as Malays. The absence of inter-racial marriages in the rural areas resulted in purebred Malays. This was further aggravated by the habit of family inbreeding. Malays, especially rural Malays, prefer to marry relatives.17

For Mahathir, it is precisely the purebred, rural Malays who most chronically embody the behavioral vices of the Malay race: laziness, lack of initiative and ambition, irrationality, fatalism. While he stops short of prescribing miscegenation as a remedy for these vices in the present, he clearly regrets that more such miscegenation did not occur in the past, and he includes interracial marriage as part of his blueprint for a unified multiethnic Malaysian nation in the future. Every barrier which tends to distinguish between racial, ethnic or other origins must be broken. Discrimination in all walks of life must be eliminated. And finally, inter-racial marriages should be encouraged. These are the bases of national unity, the understanding of which is the sine qua non of a multiracial society desirous of building a stable and viable nation.18

For the Malays themselves, Mahathir’s immediate prescription is urbanization. To the extent that the racial character of the purebred Malays is amenable to change, in Mahathir’s view it is most likely to do so in an urban context, where the conditions of life are more complex and challenging than in the countryside. Other key Malay political figures of the time, such as Tun Abdul Razak (deputy prime minister, 1957– 70; prime minister 1970–76), tended to idealize the life of the kampung, and partly for this reason saw rural development as the key to raising Malay living standards.19 But for Mahathir, “rural development” was almost a contradiction in terms: In this modern age, it does not take long to discern that the most progressive nations are those with maximum urbanization … The importance of urbanization in the

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progress of a community lies in the more complex organization which the towns and cities provide. This makes urban dwellers sharper and more knowledgeable. The rural dwellers on the other hand are cut off from these experiences and are subjected only to the age-old pattern of life that characterizes the countryside. Their sum total of knowledge is therefore minimal and their capacity for change limited … Essentially because of environmental and hereditary factors, the Malays have become a rural race with only a minute proportion of them in the towns. Rural people everywhere are less sophisticated and progressive than urban people. Our solution to this problem must be to attempt a reversal of this state of affairs. In other words, we must seek to urbanize the Malays.20

Eric Thompson has characterized Mahathir’s views not in terms of racial chauvinism, but in terms of an “urban cosmopolitan chauvinism” comparable to that which exists among liberal urban elites in the United States.21 Just as the Democratic Party in the United States has often had difficulty appealing to “redneck” rural voters, many of whom are conservative Christians, so Mahathir’s party, the United Malays National Organization, has faced stiff competition in the least urbanized Malay states from the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which appeals precisely to the conservative kampung Malays for whom Mahathir makes little attempt to conceal his scorn. The origins of the contest between a cosmopolitan and an exclusive variant of Malay ethnic politics lie well before Mahathir’s time. In 1939 and 1940, the infant Malay nationalist movement had already been torn between a Melayu jati (true Malay) faction which preferred to exclude Malays of Indian or Arab descent, and a more cosmopolitan faction which deplored its opponents’ insistence on “Malay blood purity.”22 Being an urban Malay of partly South Asian ancestry, Mahathir would no doubt have been inclined to take the cosmopolitan side in this debate regardless of other influences. Nevertheless, it is striking how closely his views mirrored those of British writers who saw the strength of the Malay race as lying precisely in its ability to absorb foreign elements, both cultural and biological. Moreover, we know that he was familiar with the writers in question. In his published memoirs, Mahathir recalls reading at school “books on Malayan history by British administrators such as Sir Richard Winstedt, Sir Frank Swettenham and many academics.”23 Indeed, there was also a more personal connection: on a trip to Britain in 1962, the future Malaysian leader was, as he later recalled, “invited to the house of Sir Richard Winstedt, a highly regarded Malayan Civil Service officer, who had looked after my sister-in-law Saleha when she was studying in England.”24

British eugenics: An underestimated ideological influence in Southeast Asia Although Mahathir was certainly influenced by the major British writers on Malaya, none of their works (other than an English-Malay dictionary by Winstedt) is actually mentioned in The Malay Dilemma. Almost the only modern publication which

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Mahathir does pay the honor of referring to explicitly in his seminal work—and in the introduction at that—is a book of a quite different kind, and one which throws light on a second important set of ideological influences on Malaysian racial politics.25 The book in question is The Evolution of Man and Society, a 1969 work by British geneticist Cyril Dean Darlington (1903–81), which attempts to analyze the broad sweep of human history in genetic terms. Its central thesis is that the fate of societies is closely linked to the quality of their members’ genetic stock, which can be improved through selective mating. However, homogenous populations successfully bred for particular desirable characteristics are at risk from the effects of inbreeding. Periodic hybridization is therefore essential to the success of classes and nations. In Britain, for example, the interbreeding that followed the Norman conquest produced a “hybrid stock, energetic and fertile,” from which “a large part of the medieval aristocracy, as well as the modern population, of the British Isles must be descended.”26 As discoverer of the mechanism of “chromosomal crossover” and its importance to heredity, Darlington was a distinguished scientist whose reputation was ultimately stained by his increasingly blatant racism.27 He belonged to the intellectual tradition known as eugenics, which advocated the improvement of humanity by means of selective breeding. During the second half of the twentieth century, eugenic ideas all but disappeared from intellectual and public life in Western countries due to their association with racism and fascism. But up to the Second World War, their influence was pervasive in liberal and socialist circles as well as on the political right. “In the first half of the century,” as a later apologist has pointed out, “virtually all biological scientists and most social scientists supported eugenics, and so also did many of the informed public.”28 This was particularly so in Britain, where influential figures who expressed support for selective human breeding were to be found in all political and occupational domains and included Winston Churchill, Bertrand Russell, and George Bernard Shaw. That such an apparently authoritative body of thought concerning human diversity should acquire intellectual traction in Britain’s colonies, with their racial hierarchies of status and power, was inevitable.29 Geographical and psychological remoteness from the wartime Nazi atrocities, moreover, meant that during and after decolonization, the intellectual and popular reaction against eugenics was less marked in British Asia than it was in Europe, or perhaps even in Africa. Sunil Amrith and others have noted— albeit without exploring its historical roots—the striking, anachronistic persistence of eugenic thinking during the postwar period both in Malaysia and in Singapore, where as late as the 1980s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015) appeared “increasingly enamoured of the kind of racist eugenic theories that were popular in Edwardian England.”30 Under the influence of his hereditarian convictions, in 1984 the government of Singapore even launched an official program designed to induce “intelligent” women to bear more children for the sake of the nation’s future.31 Given the mainstream status of eugenics in prewar British intellectual life, it is likely that its influence in Malaya and Singapore had become entrenched partly by indirect means, via figures like Winstedt whose writings reflect it without referring to it explicitly. But there may also have been more direct connections. Mahathir, for instance, may have learned something rather specific about eugenics during

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his training as a medical doctor in Singapore in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The existence of tantalizing evidence for ideological links between Lee’s People’s Action Party and Oswald Mosley’s prewar British Union of Fascists, meanwhile, reinforces the suspicion that there is still an important hidden history here waiting to be uncovered.32

Notes 1

2 3

4 5

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

16

Just Faaland, Growth and Ethnic Inequality: Malaysia’s New Economic Policy (London: Hurst, 1990); Harold Crouch, “Managing Ethnic Tensions through Affirmative Action: The Malaysian Experience,” in Social Cohesion and Conflict Prevention in Asia: Managing Diversity Through Development, eds. Nat J. Colleta, Teck Ghee Lim, and Anita Kelles-Viitanen (Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2001); Barry Wain, Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Anthony Reid, “Malaysia/Singapore as Immigrant Societies,” Asia Research Institute Working Paper 141 (2010): 6–8. Syed Hussein Alatas, The Myth of the Lazy Native: A Study of the Image of the Malays, Filipinos and Javanese from the 16th to the 20th Century and its Function in the Ideology of Colonial Capitalism (London: Cass, 1977); Charles Hirschman, “The Making of Race in Colonial Malaya: Political Economy and Racial Ideology,” Sociological Forum 1, no. 2 (1986): 330–61; Shamsul A.B., “A History of an Identity, an Identity of a History: The Idea and Practice of ‘Malayness’ in Malaysia Reconsidered,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 32, no. 3 (2001): 355–66. Alatas, The Myth of the Lazy Native, 155, 166, 181. Soda Naoki, “The Malay World in Textbooks: The Transmission of Colonial Knowledge in British Malaya,” Southeast Asian Studies 39, no. 2 (2001): 188–234, at 210. Thomas Raffles, “On the Meláyu Nation, with a Translation of its Maritime Institutions,” Asiatick Researches 12 (1818): 102–58, at 127. F.A. Swettenham, British Malaya: An Account of the Origin and Progress of British Influence in Malaya (London: John Lane, 1907), 144. R.O. Winstedt, A History of Malaya (Kuala Lumpur: Marican, 1982 [1961]), 14. Ibid., 14. C.M. Phillips, A Text Book of the Malay Peninsula (Singapore: Education Department, Straits Settlements, 1904), 12. [R.O. Winstedt], Kitab tawarikh Melayu (Singapore: Kelly and Walsh [second edition], 1919), 5–6. R.O. Winstedt, Malaya and Its History (London: Hutchinson [sixth edition], 1962 [1948]), 16. “An Exposition Concerning the Malays,” in Modernist Islam 1840–1940: A Sourcebook, ed. Charles Kurzman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 341. Winstedt, Malaya and its History, 20. R.O. Winstedt, “Books of the Day: The Chinese in Malaya, by Victor Purcell/Colonial Policy and Practice: A Comparative Study of Burma and Netherlands India, by J.S. Furnivall,” The Spectator, March 12, 1948, 20. Mahathir bin Mohamad, The Malay Dilemma (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2008 [1970]), 110–11.

192 17 18 19 20 21

22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

30

31 32

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Ibid., 43–44. Ibid., 132. William Shaw, Tun Razak: His Life and Times (London: Longman, 1976), 13–14, 73. Mahathir, Malay Dilemma, 105, 136. Eric C. Thompson, “Urban Cosmopolitan Chauvinism and the Politics of Rural Identity,” in Cleavage, Connection and Conflict in Rural, Urban and Contemporary Asia, eds. Tim Bunnell, D. Parthasarathy, and Eric C. Thompson (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013). William R. Roff, The Origins of Malay Nationalism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), 242–45. Mahathir bin Mohamad, A Doctor in the House: The Memoirs of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Petaling Jaya: MPH Publishing, 2011), 43. Ibid., 370. Mahathir, Malay Dilemma, 10. C.D. Darlington, The Evolution of Man and Society (London: Allen and Unwin, 1969), 442. Oren Solomon Harman, The Man Who Invented the Chromosome: A Life of Cyril Darlington (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004). Richard Lynn, Eugenics: A Reassessment (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001), 7. Chloe Campbell, Race and Empire: Eugenics in Colonial Kenya (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007); Sarah Hodges, “South Asia’s Eugenic Past,” in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics, eds. Alison Bashford and Philippa Levine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). Sunil Amrith, “Eugenics in Postcolonial Southeast Asia,” in Bashford and Levine, The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics; Joe Studwell, Asian Godfathers: Money And Power in Hong Kong and South-East Asia (London: Profile Books, 2007), 51. See further J. John Palen, “Fertility and Eugenics: Singapore’s Population Policies,” Population Research and Policy Review 5, no. 1 (1986): 3–14. John Burton, “Observer from Singapore,” Financial Times, May 7, 2006.

10

History in and of a Penal Colony in the Bay of Bengal: Two Convict Mazars in the Andaman Islands Clare Anderson University of Leicester

Introduction Sketching a background history of the association of public celebrations with Muslim tombs across the British Empire, this chapter explores the history of two Muslim graves in the Andaman Islands, known locally as mazar-baba, and examines their relationship to the history of nation making in independent India.1 The Andamans were selected in 1858 as a penal colony for Britain’s Indian empire after the Great Revolt of 1857, and are now a Union Territory of the Republic of India. The mazars themselves lie at South Point, between the outskirts of the capital, Port Blair, and the local beauty spot of Corbyn’s Cove. Indigenous hunter-gatherer peoples inhabited the Islands prior to this decisive moment of settler colonization. Once their home was chosen as the site of British India’s most infamous prison, these islanders were soon overwhelmed as convicts, ex-convicts, and their descendants came to dominate demographically. Whereas mazars, sometimes called saints’ tombs, are strongly associated with Muslim, and especially mystical Sufi, teachings and practices, Andaman Islanders of all faiths commonly visit them, seeking blessings and interventions of various kinds, as was once common across Central and Monsoonal Asia. Indeed, historian Nile Green has written of mazars not just as religious sites, but as social places, describing them as “stronghold[s] of memory, a treasury of tales brought there by people seeking blessings, gossip, amusement, exorcism or simple respite from the traffic.”2 Equally, anthropologist Rachana Rao Umashankar has pointed to their broader religious and secular appeal, as they draw pilgrims and visitors: as supplicants, recipients of God’s grace, or simply tourists. Their dynamic social and religious functions render them “microcosms” of the places in which they are situated.3 Research for this article was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the collaborative project, with Madhumita Mazumdar and Vishvajit Pandya, “Integrated Histories of the Andaman Islands” (award no. RES-000-22-3484). The author thanks her co-investigators, fellow authors, and especially editor Michael Laffan.

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Green’s focus is on the history of Muslim saint-soldiers buried at various sites in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, and his rich account is in part based on privately owned genealogical sources acquired through contacts made during visits to mazars. Umashankar meanwhile analyzes her findings from a year’s ethnographic work in two key North Indian sites. The aim of this chapter is rather different. Integrating archival evidence with the histories of the penal colony that are narrated at the South Point site, it will briefly tell the story of two convicts buried in the Andamans. In this way, the chapter will explore the points where colonial histories of religious and cultural crossing meet the contemporary concerns of the postcolonial state. Indeed, a key point will be how the mazars—promoted locally as a site of religious unity—have been incorporated into the larger project of writing a history for the new nation since independence in 1947. In this, the Andamans are viewed as the hopeful, cosmopolitan “mini India.” My focus on the larger context can further be read in parallel with anthropologist Vishvajit Pandya’s recent discussion of everyday practices at a third convict mazar site in the Andamans, that of Sonar Paa, which he describes as a “re-packaged memory structure at the periphery of the forest zone.”4 Historically, Muslim graves have long been established and commemorated across the Bay of Bengal, as we see in the chapter of Sevea on the Singaporean tomb of Sayyid Nuh, a Tamil-speaking saint often claimed as a Malay and now assumed to have been a Sunni Arab. It is only recently that there came to be a more explicit association of some such Indian shrines with Shiite commemorations, most notably the celebration of Muharram, whose performance by convicts had so worried Straits officials in the 1850s, as Naidu reminds us in his discussion of Kurruck Singh. Indeed, this later shift in public emphasis was facilitated by the subcontinent’s rootedness in the larger networks of British Empire from the late eighteenth century. But what is less well understood is how these mazars are related to the larger political structures of empire, and to the consequences of its aftermath. Indeed, it is well known that nations are constructed through the consolidation of imagined communities, and that the invention of connected traditions and histories to bring people together in cohesive communities is a vital part of national formation.5 Linked to this understanding of countries and peoples is the spatial turn in the academy, which has suggested that the making of identity and community is intimately related to the ways in which places and modes of belonging are made through social practice.6 This chapter thus aims to connect ideas about imagined communities and invented histories to ideas of place, identity, and belonging, as they turn in and around the mazars of the Andaman Islands. This framework is of immediate significance for understanding the historical and contemporary specificities of the place under analysis here, but it might also be used as an entry point into our understanding of mazars in other cosmopolitan locations. Moreover, it may open new understandings of the relationship between history and nation-making in other sites of sojourning, migration, and settler colonialism, both within and beyond the Bay of Bengal.

Migration, Muharram, mazars Anthropologists have long since established that mazars constitute an alternative religious network to mosques, and satisfy different kinds of devotional needs, especially

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at the local level. Sufia Uddin has written of their importance in contemporary Bangladesh, for instance, as flexible spaces where the power of saints, often called pirs, can be transferred to visitors seeking intercession of various kinds.7 As Surinder M. Bhardwaj has argued in a larger geographical context that spans South and Central Asia, such holy places “are an integral part of the village communities in which they exist.”8 It is further noteworthy that many mazar sites are multireligious, drawing Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist as well as Muslim supplicants seeking intercession.9 Certainly, as Pandya argues in looking at indigenous tribal use of the mazar of Sonar Paa for the purpose of medical well-being, they can be transformed into “universal sites of healing,” with meanings that transcend religion, ethnicity, or community.10 The syncretic character of mazar sites is very much evident in places associated with Indian migration, and especially through indentured servitude inaugurated with the formal banning of slavery in much of the British Empire in the 1830s. As Susan Bayly has shown, devotion to Muslim pirs became increasingly attractive to South Asian Muslims during the period of rapid social change under British rule.11 It seems to have appealed similarly to migrants, Muslim or otherwise, because migration implied social transformation of various kinds, provoking profound cultural changes in communality and eating, as well as in drinking and bathing practices. The grossly imbalanced ratios of men to women that characterized the early years of indenture, moreover, profoundly affected gender relations. Seen in this light, mazars were thus spaces where new cultural identities could be affirmed, empowering migrants in the most unpromising of economic circumstances. Certainly, indentured migrants established mazars across the Indian Ocean. In Mauritius, for instance, which received the largest single number of indentured Indians, there are shrines all over the island, including in the capital at Port Louis, and in Terre Rouge, Les Pailles, Arsenal, and Cap-Malhereux. There are even more distant sites associated with indentured laborers and free Gujarati traders alike, as with that of Badsha Peer in Durban, South Africa. According to Ghoolam Vahed, on their death, such pirs are believed to be “very receptive to intercessory pleas” at the site of their graves, which also helps explain the popularity of extra-Indian mazar complexes. Given the belief that prayers to God were more likely to achieve success if made in the presence of pirs, migrants who could not appeal to the saints of their home locality needed to establish new places of devotion.12 If mazars traveled with indentured migrants, they were also incorporated into a diasporic repertoire of other popular practices, including consultations with itinerant diviners and performers of miracles.13 The most important of these activities, though, and that with the clearest connection to Shiite praxis in the Indian Ocean Arena, was the commemoration of Muharram, which marks the end of the period of mourning for the Prophet’s grandson Husayn’s martyrdom. Here Shiite Muslims process through the streets, chanting and engaging in self-flagellation, or stabbing and piercing their body, and carrying representations of the tomb of Husayn or yet stylized coffins known as tabut. Though part of the Shiite calendar, sojourners and locals of other sects and faiths typically participated in this commemoration, which had been taken to the ports of empire by a mixture of lascar sailors, those in military service, and even slaves.14 It was

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sailors, for instance, who took the Muharram procession to the newly established colony of New South Wales, processing for the first time through the streets of Sydney in 1806. The commemoration provided an opportunity for their cultural agency in initiating a public event in common cause.15 In turn of the nineteenth-century Mauritius, not only Hindus but Christian creoles watched the procession of what they called “goons.” By the middle of the century, participation had expanded further to include Indian and Chinese indentured laborers, as well as transported Indian convicts.16 In 1850, the Rev. Patrick Beaton wrote that Hindus and Muslims observed Muharram without distinction, and to such an extent that it could “scarcely be regarded as a religious festival.” The syncretic, creolized character of the festival is represented in its Mauritian Kreol name: the Yamsé, said to be a contraction of the cry “Ya Husayn, Husayn!”17 Muharram was similarly an important part of the cultural life of indentured laborers in Natal, where participation by Hindu workers was also noted. Indeed, it is worth recalling that Goolam Vahed has also written that Muharram “provided an opportunity for developing and expressing a self-conscious local community identity,” drawing all Indians together, and fostering a wider common feeling of “Indianness.”18 The use of Muharram as a means for community expression or formation among sojourners and migrants is evident further east in the Bay of Bengal. The procession of tabut was once famous in Bencoolen (today Bengkulu in Indonesia), which was the site of the British penal colony of Fort Marlborough and its garrison of sepoys. Some of these Indians would relocate to Singapore in 1824 after its foundation in 1819, with yet more Indian convicts and sepoys joining them after 1826 once Bencoolen was transferred to the Netherlands in 1825.19 Indeed, in Singapore, the hybrid and largely Muslim Jawi Peranakan community—discussed in this volume by Sevea and Ikeya—soon participated in the commemoration. According to one mid-century observer writing soon after the trauma of 1857, they did so through subversive displays of mimicry and mockery—assuming the attire of Europeans and imitating the ceremonies.20 Writing of Singapore, Anoma Pieris has described this expansive participation as “a form of geographic memory and interethnic affiliation.”21 Indeed, Singapore would also become famous for its Thaipusam processions in honor of the (Tamil) incarnation of Murugan, a son of Vishnu, which see Indians and Chinese alike carry spiked burdens or yet pierce their bodies. But across contexts, such cosmopolitan festivities could be seen as threats to public security, and become politicized anticolonial spaces. Riots had already broken out in Singapore in 1856, for instance, after transported Indian convicts protested against a government ban on their processing a tabut through the streets of the city, which certainly affected the freedom of movement of their alleged “Rajah,” Kurruck Singh, whose travails are described by Naidu. Indeed, at the time of the Great Revolt, Singapore was the largest Indian penal settlement in the Indian Ocean, and convict public works had played a vital role in the construction of basic infrastructure. The convicts’ protests coincided with merchants and residents’ growing antipathy to their presence in what was by then a flourishing port. Merchant representations against the convict settlement initially formed part of larger concerns about greater self-governance.22 While the Muharram procession was a location for the expression of convict religion, resistance, and agency, in this respect it also became a focus of local desires to redraw the boundaries of an Empire that would be put on edge by the tumult of 1857.

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Representing convict history at South Point The mazar under discussion here contains two graves, those of the nineteenth-century transportees Fazl-i-Haq Khairabadi (1797–1861) and Liaquat Ali (1817–92) (see Figure 10.1). The locally understood narrative of the mazar is as follows: At some unspecified time in the past, Liaquat Ali followed his master Fazl-i-Haq to a peepal tree. As he lay dying, he was visited by God and told to keep an oil lamp burning until somebody else came to feed the flame. As long as the lamp was kept alight, God told him, goodwill and benevolence would prevail. Furthermore, God said that if people tied a string to the tree, representing a wish, then He would help them. Both men died, and so by divine grace benefited all Muslims and Hindus. A modern plaque at the site intersects with and adds details of the transformation of the grave into a shrine. It narrates the story of how a man grazing his cattle close by fell asleep beneath a peepal tree. In a dream he heard the muezzin call. When the call was over, still sleeping, he saw a white bearded faqir asking him for water. He then awoke and performed his ablutions; and from then on felt compelled to visit the place daily, burning an oil lamp during the night. The plaque speculates, “Perhaps that man was a prisoner released from confinement.”23 The colonial archives do not reveal anything further about either the development of the shrine or when it began to draw visitors.24 This can only be accessed via such local, orally transmitted, and textualized understandings of its story. However, we do know that while both men had been transported due to their roles in the Revolt of 1857,

Figure 10.1 Liaquat Ali Mazar, South Point, Andaman Islands. Photograph by Clare Anderson, 2012.

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they were never in the Islands at the same time (Liaquat Ali arrived more than ten years after the death of Fazl-i-Haq). Notwithstanding this historical detail, the structure and form of both the narrative and the complex is common to mazar sites elsewhere. One such example is that of Shaykh Yusuf of Cape Town, whose fabric-bedecked grave is similarly said to have been discovered by a shepherd after dreaming of a saintly figure.25 As Uddin has noted of Bangladesh, “for every shrine … there are stories,” with such hagiographical accounts affirming their sanctity.26 To be sure, there are broad resemblances across religious traditions too. Peepal trees have been identified as cuttings of the Bodhi tree elsewhere in Asia, for instance, and much like the larger South Asian complexes, that of South Point contains the grave of a central figure (in this case, Fazl-i-Haq), and a disciple (Liaquat Ali). And yet again, as elsewhere, the tombs are covered with brightly colored cloth brought by visitors, and incense burns.27 Yet, the tale of multi-faith benevolence associated with the Andaman mazars has a distinctive local meaning in that it is said to have held special appeal for transportees who experienced transformations in their cultural, social, and religious lives. Convicts from all over the Indian Empire (including Burma) were thrown together here, speaking different languages, eating different foods, and practicing different cultures. Beyond this too, the Andaman colonial regime expressly prohibited the building of mosques and temples, the sitting of caste panchyats (councils), the reservation of particular kinds of labor for particular castes, and the celebration of religious holidays. These measures were all part of a larger effort to render transportation to the Islands a harsh punishment. Muharram, for instance, would only be a minor feature of convict life in this penal colony, unlike in the settlements of Mauritius and the Straits before 1858. With few convict women in the Islands, marriages commonly crossed the boundaries of religion and caste alike. In these various ways, convict society became distinctively cosmopolitan in the Andamans. It was partly for this reason that, as early as 1901, Superintendent Richard Carnac Temple (1850–1931)—who had overseen Mandalay after the exile of King Thibaw (1859–1916) to Ratnagiri in 1885, and whose archaeological and census publications have informed the chapters of Blackburn and Ikeya—predicted that the locally born convict-descended population would eventually form a culture that was entirely different from their communities of origin on the mainland.28 The syncretic appeal of mazar-baba must be viewed in this context. It is also interesting to consider the history and representation of the two convicts buried at the site within the larger politics of colonial and postcolonial India. This includes the history of the Indian Revolt and the freedom struggle, and the ways in which both are now remembered and commemorated in the Andamans and on the mainland. According to colonial archives, Fazl-i-Haq was an Awadhi scholar of Islamic theology, literature, and languages, who joined the rebellion, proclaimed his loyalty to the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah (1775–1862), who would later be exiled to Rangoon, and drew up the constitution of liberated Delhi.29 Liaquat Ali for his part was found guilty of rebelling and waging war against the Queen and government of the East India Company from his base in Allahabad.30 However, locally, the men’s convictions and transportations have been represented in somewhat different ways.

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For this reason, I will dwell on their textual representation for a moment, both in the colonial archives and, for Fazl-i-Haq, in autobiographical writing. After the British resumed control of North India in 1858, official records note that Fazl-i-Haq turned himself in to the authorities, believing that he would be pardoned under the amnesty proclaimed by Governor “Clemency” Canning (1812–62). Instead, he was put on trial on three charges: 1. rebellion and instigation of murder in having during the years 1857 and 1858 been a leader in the Rebellion and instigator to revolt and murder at Delhi, in Oude and in other places. 2. in having at Boondee during the month of May 1858 taken a prominent part in the councils of the rebel Chief Mummoo Khan. 3. in having at Boondee during the month of May 1858 been an instigator to murder in the instance of one Abdool Hukeem a government servant.31 While Fazl-i-Haq claimed that he had been confused with a different man of the same name, he was found guilty of the first two charges, with the judge remarking that he had: very distinctly and officiously propounded doctrines which had a direct tendency to encourage murder in many cases. He quoted and perverted tracts from the Koran, insisted that the persons who had served the English were apostates, and that their death was required by the law, and even went so far as to tell the rebel Chief, that if he spared them he was himself a criminal in the eye of God … It is sufficiently clear, that such doctrines are eminently calculated to lead to such bloody scenes as have characterized this Rebellion and from the whole of the evidence, the Court consider it quite established that the prisoner was as a counsellor and adviser, an active Instigator of the Rebellion … he was high in the confidence of Mammo Khan, the rebel chief, and much consulted by him, as on the occasion in which he propounded the murderous doctrines. The prisoner is evidently a very clever man but either from unscrupulous ambition, or extreme bigotry has assumed the place in the rebel councils above described. He is a most dangerous character one who may at any time do infinite harm and one whose removal from the country, justice and security demands.32

The same records further show that in 1859 the government confiscated Fazl-i-Haq’s property and shipped him to the Andamans under sentence of transportation for life.33 A somewhat different account of events comes from Fazl-i-Haq himself, who wrote both an eyewitness account of the Revolt and about his experiences as a convict in the Andamans. Here he expressed his “grief and pain” at substituting his life of plenty and ease for one of shame, embarrassment, and loss of honor through penal transportation. He recorded his horror at being made to wear prison clothes and to sleep on bedding as coarse as “thorn-bush or a burning ember.” He complained that his jailers did not give him a separate cooking pot that would have enabled him to preserve caste, that

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the food rations were paltry, and the drinking water warm. “In spite of old age and weakness every moment I was subjected to humiliation and insults,” he wrote.34 Fazl-iHaq often wrote in the third person of his distress, isolation, oppression, melancholy, depression, and loss of honor too: “He is dejected, lonely and forlorn and subjected to drudgery; he has been exiled from his country and town. He is distressed, afflicted, and in banishment; he has been made to suffer, and separated from his family and children.”35 Another convict poet in the Islands, Munir Shikohabadi, recorded the death of Fazl-i-Haq in 1861, writing that he had “joined the company of the grave and winding sheet.”36 Fazl-i-Haq’s writings were apparently smuggled out of the Islands on pieces of torn cloth, carried by a released convict, Mufti Inayat Ullah Kakorwi, who gave the text to Fazl-i-Haq’s son, Abd al-Haqq. While Fazl-i-Haq never named his narrative, it later appeared under such titles as the Risala Ghadariyya (Book of Mutiny), al-Fitna al-Hindiya (The Indian Intrigue), or Bagh-i-Hindustan (Rebellion of India). A further edition appeared as Saurat-ul-Hindiya (Indian Revolution), to be followed after 1947 by an English translation, The Story of the War of Independence.37 Within these titular transformations we see a shift in the meaning of his narrative that reflected contemporary concerns, for in the context of its translation and release in the years after the formation of the new Indian Republic, the “mutiny” or “intrigue” was transformed into the beginning of the heroic resistance and martyrdom that resisted the British Empire and made the independent nation.38 The political transformation of the historical context of Fazl-i-Haq’s manuscript brings me back to the Andaman mazar complex, where his tomb is the central focus. There is today a large English sign on the wall of the small hall in front of his grave, where visitors can sit or gather for celebrations. This details his birth into a scholarly family, recounting its distinguished scholarly and theological history. The sign then goes on to note his participation in the 1857 Revolt, which it terms “a war of independence against British rule,” through his issue of a fatwa commending jihad, and the drawing up of a constitution for a Delhi “liberated from the British yoke.” It notes that “He roused the Mughal princes and the people of Delhi alike to take up arms against the alien ruler and to bring an end to their hegemony from Indian soil.” Following the defeat of the rebels, the signage continues, the British captured him, and charged him with inciting sedition. “At the trial before the court of judicature at Lucknow,” it states, “he confessed his guilt without fear or fret and was sentenced to imprisonment for life and transported to Port Blair on 8th October 1859.” The plaque goes on to list his Andaman writings, accounts of the 1857 Revolt, and experiences as a convict, which it notes had been written in charcoal on pieces of cloth, and secretly taken out of the Islands. It then records the date of his death: February 12, 1861. The contradiction in the recounting of Fazl-i-Haq’s plea in court (as noted above, the official record is that he claimed a case of mistaken identity) suggests that the plaque was drawn up using Fazl-i-Haq’s own writings. Liaquat Ali was an 1857 convict too, though he evaded capture for fifteen years, only being put on trial in 1871. He was dispatched to the Islands in 1872. The Times of London reported that he was a proud man, who was “greatly gratified” when photographed.39 According to The Pioneer, an Allahabad newspaper that covered the trial, Liaquat Ali pleaded guilty but framed his defense around the claim that some

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people had persuaded him to do his best “to stave off the mischief which must ensue in the absence of authority and order.”40 Moreover, he had helped to restore order and protect government property and livestock, and had saved the lives of Europeans, city and government police, and Indian Christians—all of whom had been under attack. One of them was the Anglo-Indian woman Amelia Bennett.41 Liaquat Ali added that he was of humble birth and had neither tried to reclaim past privileges nor acted for personal gain. As his government-appointed defender summarized, “He was simply chosen for his religious influence: he was told if he did not do as he was requested he would incur the displeasure of his king.”42 Judge A. R. Pollock nevertheless sentenced Liaquat Ali to transportation for life.43 He was shipped to Port Blair in November 1872.44 There is no surviving record of his life in the penal colony at all, other than the fact of the existence of his remains at South Point, and the oral accounts of his alleged meeting with Fazl-i-Haq that circulate around him. Indeed, this local silence is reflected in the rather opaque marking of Liaquat Ali’s grave with a simple sign reading “Sayed Liyakat Ali Ollyula.”45 Today, the mazars attract daily visitors. These include locals, but also an increasing number of mainlanders too. There has been a massive growth of tourism in the last two decades, and the mazars are in a convenient location half way between Port Blair and the beach at Corbyn’s Cove.46 Tourists can buy snacks or material for making ritual offerings at a small shop, just outside the front entrance. The lamp is a centerpiece of the site, and visitors tie strips of embroidered cloth on the peepal trees that grow next to both mazars, or donate money for lamp oil, and make a wish for divine intervention of various kinds. For islanders, this might include the desire for a job on the mainland, and, for them and mainland visitors too, for success in matters of the heart or with exams. As the chairman of the Wakf Board explained to me, people visit “regardless of caste, creed or religion … The people of the Andamans have the belief that on [a] visit to the Dargah of Mazar-Baba, their miseries are taken care of.”47 And it is the case that when wishes are fulfilled, locals come back and untie the cloth, and organize feasts or other offerings in the name of the saints. Of the two mazars, Liaquat Ali’s grave is certainly smaller, relatively less well known, and, judging by the relative quantity of cloths tied to its peepal tree, less visited. It was badly damaged in the great Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. Ten years later during my last visit, large cracks still awaited repair, much like the dilapidated corrugated tin roof that covers Fazl-i-Haq’s shrine and the neighboring cooking shed. When I first spoke to him in 2012, the presiding maulvi—newly arrived from the mainland—was not terribly sure of the “historical facts” himself but he was certain that the two men were somehow involved in the “integration” of Hindus and Muslims during the nationalist movement, had been transported to the Andamans, and had acquired such spiritual authority in the colony that the British had released them. His interpretation is surely drawn from what is written on the mazar plaque, for it ends its narrative of Fazl-i-Haq’s life by drawing attention to the visits to the complex of people of different castes, creeds, and religions: “It is a true symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in these Islands.”48 This received interpretation and representation of the mazars as an expression of religious cosmopolitanism is partly enfolded in the historical understanding of both

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men’s call for Hindus and Muslims to unite against the British during the 1857 Revolt. However, it must also be understood within the promotion of the Andamans as a place of “unity in diversity” in the years since independence. In the aftermath of the devastating violence and bloodshed of Partition, the Islands’ apparent cosmopolitanism and religious tolerance seemed to present a stark contrast to the communal divisions of the mainland.49 The idea of “unity in diversity” thus stresses that the Islands are a “mini India,” a melting pot where convicts from all over the subcontinent, practicing different religions, being of different castes, and speaking different languages, and with different regional cultures, came together as pioneers in the making of a new settler society. Such an image dates back to the aftermath of Partition itself, when the Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs, H. V. R. Iengar (1902–78), spoke of the Islands in 1949 as a “model” society, where penal transportation produced a place free from distinctions of language and religion.50 Historically, though, the local-born descendants of the convicts have drawn cultural lines of distinction between the Andamans and the rest of India, particularly with respect to their acceptance of intermarriage between faiths, and their lack of caste. One local-born islander, Dr. Rashida Iqbal, curator of the Cellular Jail National Memorial, spoke in a recent BBC radio interview of the Andamans as a new kind of society that in this respect “gives a message to the whole world.”51 The contemporary claim that Fazl-i-Haq and Liaquat Ali were “freedom fighters” in the struggle for independence is significant too. In the Andamans, the descendants of convicts have created shared histories of their importance in the nationalist movement. These represent convicts as “freedom fighters” against imperial oppression in two connected ways; whether as a result of their penal transportation for anticolonial resistance or else through their wartime alliances with the Indian National Army of Subhas Chandra Bose, which landed on the Andamans with the Japanese occupying force in March 1942. Indeed, on the 125th anniversary of British colonization in 1982, the islanders’ Local Born Association drew explicit parallels between local-born wartime activity and the original convict settlers: “We were fighting for the cause which our forefathers had fought about a century ago in the sub-continent.”52 Such representations of the history of the Andamans can be compared and contrasted with the view from the mainland. For although the importance of the 1857 rebels is acknowledged, stress is laid neither on the many tens of thousands of ordinary convicts and other coerced migrants who were shipped to the Islands after 1858, nor on the importance of local-born support for the Indian National Army during the Second World War. What is foregrounded in mainland-derived Andaman history is the relatively small number of elite twentieth-century nationalists who were incarcerated in the notorious Cellular Jail that opened in 1906. Originally intended as a harsh first penal stage for all new arrivals, it imprisoned several hundred famous nationalists too. These included well-known anticolonial agitators like V. D. Savarkar (1883–1966), famous for his designation of India as an exclusively Hindu domain (Hindutva) and once even accused of the assassination of Gandhi. The history of ordinary incarceration has been all but forgotten in such valorizations. Now a national memorial, the Cellular Jail regularly hosts official visits from the mainland, is the most visited tourist site in the Andamans, and a key focus

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of postcolonial efforts to write a shared history of struggle that can unify the diverse peoples of a postcolonial nation. The local claims to “freedom fighting” described above must be viewed in this context. These stress the importance for national history of convicts and their descendants born in the Andamans, promote the Islands as a place with a history of cosmopolitan tolerance, and enfold the mazar-baba into the history of the larger national struggle. There, we see an intertwining of place and nation writ large.

Conclusions Fazl-i-Haq’s descendants remain distinguished poets and activists. Most famous of all is his great-great-grandson: Bollywood scriptwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar, who paid a high-profile visit to the Andamans after the 2004 tsunami. Liaquat Ali’s shrine is also connected to the mainland through the Liaquat Ali Memorial Society, which in January 2008 sent a delegation to the Islands from Allahabad. Mazar histories of Fazl-i-Haq and Liaquat Ali present a selected reading of 1857 that aligns with larger postcolonial imperatives that stress the importance of freedom fighting in the heroic defeat of British rule. The naming and renaming of Khairabadi’s history is significant in this respect, as are the textual appeals that can be found at the site itself. But the tale of mazar-baba is also enveloped within broader relationships between the Andamans and the Indian mainland. In the popular nationalist imagination, the Islands and specifically the Cellular Jail stand for the struggle against, and then freedom from, colonialism. Locals have been able to situate Fazl-i-Haq and Liaquat Ali into the nation’s story, both with respect to their role in the 1857 Revolt, and their importance for the Islands’ cosmopolitanism and cultural distinction. However much its religious syncretism mirrors that of mazars elsewhere, it is in this sense that the South Point site is culturally distinct. It is a place where the history of a penal colony can be connected to the larger national story and Bay of Bengal crossings can be celebrated as productive of “unity in diversity,” the very slogan of neighboring Indonesia, but by no means released from the embrace of Greater India.

Notes 1

2 3 4

Information on the mazar-baba is derived from a sheet written by I. H. Khan, chairman, Wakf Board, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, n.d. (henceforth Khan, Information Sheet). I thank Dr. Francis Xavier Neelam for locating this information and gifting it to me. Nile Green, Islam and the Army in Colonial India: Sepoy Religion in the Service of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), xi. Rachana Rao Umashankar, “Metropolitan Microcosms: The Dynamic Spaces of Contemporary Sufi Shrines in India,” South Asian Studies 31, no. 1 (2015): 127–43. Vishvajit Pandya, “The Making of a ‘Rhizomatic’ Landscape: Place, Space and the Politics of Memory in the Andamanese Islands,” in New Histories of the Andaman

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5

6

7

8 9

10 11 12 13 14

15 16 17 18 19 20

21 22 23 24

25

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Islands: Landscape, Place and Identity in the Bay of Bengal, 1780–2012, eds. Clare Anderson, Madhumita Mazumdar, and Vishvajit Pandya (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983); Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983); Eric Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). Philip J. Etherington, “Placing the Past: ‘Groundwork’ for a Spatial Theory of History,” Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice 11, no. 4 (2007), 465–93; C.W.J. Withers, “Place and the ‘Spatial Turn’ in Geography and in History,” Journal of the History of Ideas 7, no. 4 (2009): 637–58. Sufia Uddin, “In the Company of Pirs: Making Vows, Receiving Favors at Bangladeshi Sufi Shrines,” in Dealing With Dieties: The Ritual Vow in South Asia, eds. Selva J. Raj and William P. Harman (New York: State University of New York Press, 2006). Surinder M. Bhardwaj, “Non-Hajj Pilgrimage in Islam: A Neglected Dimension of Religious Circulation,” Journal of Cultural Geography 17, no. 2 (1998): 69–87, at 78. Ibid., 83; Uddin, “In the Company of Pirs,” 88. See also J.J. Roy Burman, “HinduMuslim Syncretism in India,” Economic and Political Weekly 31, no. 20 (1996): 1211–15. Pandya, “Making of a ‘Rhizomatic’ Landscape,” 128. Susan Bayly, Saints, Goddesses and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society 1700–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 48. Goolam H. Vahed, “Mosques, Mawlanas and Muharram: Indian Islam in Colonial Natal, 1860–1910,” Journal of Religion in Africa 31, no. 3 (2001): 305–35, esp. 319–21. Ibid., 312–13. Jim Masselos, “Change and Custom in the Format of the Bombay Mohurrum during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 5, no. 2 (1982): 47–67. Ian Simpson, “Cultural Encounters in a Colonial Port: The 1806 Sydney Muharram,” Australian Historical Studies 43, no. 3 (2012): 381–95, at 392. Clare Anderson, Convicts in the Indian Ocean: Transportation from South Asia to Mauritius, 1815–53 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), 92–93. Rev. Patrick Beaton, Creoles and Coolies; or, Five Years in Mauritius (London: Nisbet and Co., 1850), 183–89. Vahed, “Mosques, Mawlanas and Muharram,” 311–12. R.M. Feener, “Tabut: Muharram Observances in the History of Bengkulu,” Studia Islamika 6, no. 2 (1999): 87–130. J.D. Vaughan (1858) cited in Anoma Pieris, Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes: A Penal History of Singapore’s Plural Society (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009), 166. Pieris, Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes, 168. Ibid., 176–87. See also I. H. Khan’s information sheet. Almost all local records were destroyed during the Japanese occupation (1942–45). There is similarly no trace of the history of the mazars in surviving Government of India archives. I.D. du Plessis, The Cape Malays: History, Religion, Traditions, Folk Tales, The Malay Quarter (Cape Town: Balkema, 1972), 5.

Two Convict Mazars in the Andaman Islands 26 27 28

29

30

31 32 33 34

35

36

37

38 39 40 41

42 43

44

45

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Uddin, “In the Company of Pirs,” 90; Umashankar, “Metropolitan Microcosms,” 127. Umashankar, “Metropolitan Microcosms,” 127–28. R.C. Temple, Census of India, 1901 Volume III: The Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing, 1903), 295, 369; [R.C. Temple], Imperial Gazetteer of India, Provincial Series: Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing, 1909), 66–67. Fazl-i-Haq was a contemporary of the poet Ghalib, who sought news of his fate after transportation. See Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Islam (trans. and ed.), Ghalib, 1797–1869, Life and Letters (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994), 263–64. The trial is recorded in S.A.A. Rizvi and Moti Lal Bhargava, Freedom Struggle in Uttar Pradesh: Source Material, Vol. IV (Lucknow : Information Department Uttar Pradesh, 1957–61); as well as in The Times and The Pioneer, of July 22 and 27, 1872, reporting trial proceedings of 18 and 24 July respectively. IOR L/PS/6/466 no. 59: Trial of Rajah Lonee Singh of Methowlee and Moulvee Fuzl Huk &c.; IOR P/206/62 (India Judicial Proceedings January 6, 1860). Ibid. IOR L/PS/6/466 no. 59: J.C. Haughton, Superintendent Port Blair, to W. Grey, Secretary to Government of India, November 13, 1859. S. Moinul Haq, “The Story of the War of Independence, 1857–8 (being an English translation of Allamah Fadl-i-Haqq’s Risalah on the War),” Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society 5, no. 1 (1957): 23–57, esp. 27 and 52. Ibid., 26–27. For a fuller discussion of Haq’s writing on the Andamans, see Clare Anderson, The Indian Uprising of 1857-8: Prisons, Prisoners and Rebellion (London: Anthem, 2007). Mahdi Husain, Bahadur Shah II and the War of 1857 in Delhi with its Unforgettable Scenes (New Delhi: M.N. Publishers, 1987), 298. See also: Ahmad Mujtaba, The Silent Past of Andamans: Few Freedom Fighters of 1857 (Port Blair: GCM Press, 2005), 12–15. Haq, “Story,” 23, n. 1; Husain, Bahadur Shah, 298, 372–92; Jamal Malik, “Letters, Prison Sketches and Autobiographical Literature: The Case of Fadl-e Haqq Khairabadi in the Andaman Penal Colony,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 43, no. 1 (2006): 77–100. Malik, “Letters, Prison Sketches,” 77. The Times, November 24, 1871. The Pioneer, July 27, 1872. For a full account of Liaquat Ali’s history, and in particular his protection of the Anglo-Indian woman Amelia Bennett during the 1857 Revolt, see Clare Anderson, Subaltern Lives: Biographies of Colonialism in the Indian Ocean world, 1790–1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), ch. 5. The Pioneer, July 27, 1872. Judgement in the case Govt. v Liakat Ali, signed by A.R. Pollock, Sessions Judge, July 24, 1872, in Rizvi and Bhargava, Freedom Struggle, 643–47. See also The Pioneer, July 27, 1872. IOR Z/P/1503 India Judicial November 1872, nos 40-1: Superintendent D.M. Stewart to H.L. Dampier, officiating secretary to government of India, October 12, 1872. Mujtaba, Silent Past of Andamans, 32–33.

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47 48 49 50 51 52

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal 195,396 tourists visited in 2010–11 with 90 percent being Indians from the mainland. The total population of the Andamans is under 400,000. See Arrival of Tourists in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, 2011 (Table 19.2) http://www.and.nic.in/stats/ BasicStatistics/basicstat%20PDF/20.%20Tourism.pdf (accessed May 12, 2015) and Rethink Tourism in the Andamans: Towards Building a Base for Sustainable Tourism, a Research Report (Bangalore: Equations, 2008). Khan, information sheet. Ibid. Kailash, “Peaceful Coexistence: Lessons from Andamans,” Economic and Political Weekly 35, no. 32 (2000): 2859–65. The National Archives, Kew, DO142/373: “A Paradise on Earth,” H.V.R. Iengar broadcast talk, All India Radio, January 3, 1949, 9.40 pm. “Kala Pani: A Forgotten History,” BBC Radio 4, April 21, 2010. I thank Selma Chalabi for sharing her interview transcripts with me. Local Born Association Celebration of Indian Settlement, 125th anniversary pamphlet, March 10, 1982. I thank Mukeshwar Lal for sharing this source with me.

11

Looking Back on the Bay of Bengal: An African Isolate Reoriented Michael Laffan Princeton University

Beyond the Bay of Bengal? It may seem odd to end a volume on the Bay of Bengal with a discussion of Cape Town. Yet, if we think of Islam as a crucial glue linking many of the peoples across its waters, whether in the form of shared codes of jurisprudence or the fellowship felt among passengers to Jeddah, we can just as readily ponder issues of Southern Asian belonging at this rather unusual site. For it was here that a related mix of people was brought together by networks of Dutch colonialism before being enfolded by the British Empire and labelled “Malay.” After all, the Bay of Bengal is only a sea within the greater Indian Ocean, which is itself but a fragment of the inter-regional arena of Afro-Asia. Moreover, as Metcalf and others have shown, by the opening of the twentieth century, the Indian Ocean littoral had become a site of second degree colonization by many thousands of South Asians laboring under, fighting for, and policing the British Empire.1 Seen through this optic, Gandhi’s cosmopolitan experiment inaugurated in 1903 at Phoenix, northwest of Durban, was a crucial moment in the expatriate envisioning of a united India. For it was here that he oversaw the printing of his paper Indian Opinion for South Africa’s diverse South Asian communities in addition to offering jobbing work for them in Gujarati, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, and even Sanskrit.2 In some senses, Gandhi’s western efforts paralleled those of Tagore far to the east in Bengal, while the construction of the idea of India among laborers in Southeast Asia prefigured the much later and more urgent marshaling of erstwhile prisoners-ofwar in Japanese-occupied Singapore and Rangoon.3 India and Farther India must have once been one, and the disenfranchised laborers of Malaya’s rubber plantations may have been indirectly encouraged to take comfort in the idea that their ancestors had brought civilization to the region in the first place. Such visions were complicated by the hegemonic discourse in India itself, which celebrated narratives of northern action even as it incorporated southern forms of “national” culture such as the dance now termed Bharatanatyam. Yet as Raman shows

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in her chapter, there were other competing visions of southern culture that were not so inherently colonial in their formulation, focusing more on people than civilizational transfer. Beyond this though, and without the remains of ancient temples like Angkor Wat and Borobudur, or yet the echoes of epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the deep Indianization thesis could never really take hold on Africa’s shores. The workers brought to colonial hubs like Durban would remain resolutely foreign in many eyes, even if some of them shared the faith of the peoples of the southwestern Cape, who adopted Anglo-Indian terms for their religious and cultural practices, now burying their “Malay” dead in dargahs and adding chapattis to their diet. Under National Party rule (1948–94), all such peoples—“Indian” and “Malay” alike—would be forced into the interstitial legal category of Coloured subjects of the Union of South Africa, to suffer expulsions and indignities that nonetheless paled when contrasted with the fate witnessed on the descendants of so many migrants to more northerly points of East Africa, or for that matter the San, Xhosa, and Zulu communities forced into Bantustans of neglect. But to return to Gandhi’s press in a rather more hopeful era: In an illuminating study, Isabel Hofmeyer has shown how Gandhi’s Indian Opinion not only advertised jobbing work in Indian languages, but also Zulu, Hebrew, and Dutch.4 Seemingly missing at first blush is Malay, the language that had had a long presence at the southernmost city of South Africa and which, as noted above, still served as a communal marker. The truth of the matter, however, is that Malay was already a marginal tongue at best by 1900. Even if there was a vision of a Malay Community in the Dominion—with the label being applied to numerous postcards and sites by Anglophone observers—that community was served by Afrikaans, and in Arabic script. Certainly, the hybrid Dutch-Muslim history of Cape Town is worth exploring for a moment before we come to this moment of official Malayness and an assertion of Indic origins.

Kaapstad Today, the spectacular city of Cape Town spills from a bowl at the foot of Table Mountain and looks out toward the South Atlantic Ocean. Yet, its history as the Dutch settlement of Kaapstad, founded in 1652, is fully integrated with the Indian Ocean, and all the more specifically with the greedy reach of the United East India Company (VOC) that sprawled across the Bay of Bengal, through the Indonesian archipelago and northward to Japan. In many ways, Cape Town was a mere waystation for those headed to the twinned hubs of sleepy Colombo and raucous Batavia. In fact, some echoes of the pomp and ceremony of Batavia was brought to the windswept African station by officials and soldiers returning from the east and bringing the latest set of instructions from the chief factors there. Also brought in VOC bottoms over the course of fifteen decades were thousands of slaves, in addition to hundreds of exiles deemed too dangerous to remain under the gaze of their fortified warehouses.5 Such exiles included Muslim scholars (ulama) and princes, together with their spouses, children, retainers, and even slaves of their own. Equally, some scholars had readily

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made the transition to royal status, given that a scholarly pedigree that reached to the Prophet was eagerly incorporated into the lineages of many sovereigns of the archipelago. The much-lionized Shaykh Yusuf of Makassar fitted that bill for the kings of Gowa in South Sulawesi, who were doubly eager for his body to be repatriated after his death at the Cape in 1699.6 But if the exiles were largely of Indonesian origin, and most notably from the powerful (but fractured) island of Java in the eighteenth century, the slaves were a far more heterogeneous group. Nearly a quarter of the unfree laborers came from other parts of what is now Indonesia, such as the island of Sulawesi, reflecting moments of warfare or crisis fed by earlier diasporas of fighters against Dutch power.7 Beyond this, a good many of those enslaved came from other places in Asia. One of the first such sites targeted by VOC slavers was Arakan, feeding instability and war in Bengal in the seventeenth century.8 Later sources were found elsewhere around, and even well beyond, the Bay of Bengal, including the Malabar Coast and Madagascar, if the names of so many deportees are to be trusted, given they often reflected their place of capture or previous owner if not personal origin. In short, by the opening of what would be a very British nineteenth century, the many subalterns of Cape Town known to their Dutch-speaking masters as “Indians” had multiple origins, often being the direct result of a mixing of peoples from across Southern Asia. Many had an additional European legacy too, given that the infamous slave lodge had functioned as a brothel by night after lessons in Christian ethics had been dispensed to the children by day. Still, many partook of a shared culture. For if Robert Ross once argued that the individualized nature of enslavement ensured that no incipient group awareness ever arose among the slaves of Cape Town, more recent scholarship has highlighted the growth of Islam in the twilight of Dutch empire, as more and more of those held captive rejected the Christianity foisted on them, with no hint of irony, in the darkened rooms of the lodge.9 Several key exiles, such as the Tidore-born Tuan Guru (d. 1807), even played a public role in celebrating the Muslim ceremonies of their forebears, ultimately establishing Malay-language schools and mosques just prior to the British interregnum of 1795–1802.10

British subjects, hybrid habits, Ottoman connections The rival factors of the English East India Company had long been aware of the makeup of colonial Cape Town. In plans hatched in London in the lead-up to the Fourth AngloDutch War of 1780–83, it was suggested that the Cape colonists lived in special fear of some ten thousand “Malays” who as good as equaled their number and whom it was thought would be potential allies for King and Company.11 Whereas this did not obtain after the raid led by Commodore George Johnstone in 1781, the question of the loyalty of the slaves and “free blacks” returned for Dutch and British governments alike as the Union Jack was planted from 1795 to 1802, and then firmly replanted during the Napoleonic Wars in 1806. Hence, concessions were made regarding freedom of worship and association in line with other parts of empire.12

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Recognition garnered loyalty, and the Malays were noted as stalwart defenders during the battle of Blauwenburg in 1806. With emancipation in 1834, the expanding and ever more Muslim body of fishermen, stonemasons, and craftsmen actively participated in the frontier wars against Xhosa cattle-herders to the north. Increasingly seen as the most loyal of local subjects, their numbers would swell with the absorption of so-called Prize Negroes taken from slave vessels (real and imagined) operating along the Mozambiquan coasts and Madagascar.13 Once the Cape Squadron took a role in such operations in 1860, following the dissolution of the Company-run Indian Navy, many more Africans would be “released” from their captors off the more northern reaches of the Swahili Coast and into debt-bondage at the tip of the continent.14 Soon enough, the lower slopes of Cape Town’s Signal Hill, known to many as BoKaap (“Cape Heights”), were crowded with the whitewashed homes of a community clustered around a number of competing mosques. It was, moreover, crowned by a small graveyard. This lay at the end of Longmarket Street and above an old quarry where worshippers had originally gathered for Friday Prayers. Known as the Tana Baru (New Land) after its foundation ca. 1790, and in contradistinction to the older field of anonymous plots down by the water’s edge at Green Point, this yard enclosed the well-maintained monuments to three of the most eminent exiles: Sayyid Alawi, Noriman, and Tuan Guru. The first was an Arab sent in 1743, the next a Bugis-speaker of uncertain origin who had arrived in 1773, and the last was scholarly prince from the Moluccas dispatched in 1780.15 Certainly, the Bo-Kaap was the place in which to be remembered. Already in 1805, one Frans van Bengal petitioned for the enlargement of this cemetery “up the flanks of the Lion’s Rump to the West Northwest.”16 Equally in the nineteenth century, the streets below would be filled with coachmen and porters instantly recognizable by their conical hats or the women with their wooden pattens, elaborate shawls, and hairpins—features recognizable in the art of this period (see Figure 11.1). For the duration of Crown Rule, this community was defined as quintessentially Malay in British sources. This reflected previous encounters in the Melaka Strait, and more particularly the scholarship of William Marsden (1754–1836) and his protégé Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781–1826), who both thought disparagingly of Malay and Malayness in terms of a Jawi Islamic hybridity that removed Southeast Asians from their cultural roots.17 On the other side of the lens, the reasons for the choice of Malay as a language of faith and thus community were bound up with the very Batavia-centric nature of the preceding networks and the pragmatic nature of its laboring class. As the accessible language that belonged, in some senses, to no one in particular, its long history of intercultural usage had made it a natural choice. Even so, some early Dutch churchmen had counseled against its use by virtue of the fact that its script and heavy borrowings from Arabic made it synonymous with Islam.18 With the transition to the relatively liberal regime of the British, quires of paper were gathered and filled by very Southeast Asian hands under the leadership of scholars with roots in the Moluccas and Java. But while the copying of the Qur’an and key jurisprudential works are celebrated as the first results of such industry, and often attributed to Tuan Guru himself, the vast bulk of literary production was geared to the inculcation of the elementary aspects of belief.19

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Figure 11.1 Four vignettes of Cape Malays, photographer unknown, from Anon. Album of South Africa: 60 Views of Cape Town, Simons Town, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and South African Goldfields (Cape Town: J.E., n.d.), plates 37–40, from the Library of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, item 25240. Permission for reproduction gratefully acknowledged.

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Recent work on this Malay-language heritage has uncovered numerous student notebooks. Basically the easily memorized texts of core belief, these were laboriously copied in so many mosques and schools appearing across the Cape, institutions owned or presided over by former detainees with names like Coridon van Ceylon, Jan van Boeghies, or yet Achmat van Bengalen.20 Malay also manifested in other ways, as an arcane tongue for invocations inscribed on small slips of paper or even eggshells intended to grant health, sexual prowess, or the downfall of an enemy. Such practices were noted with narrowing eyes by the European visitors who began to describe the “Malay” community in more detail in the nineteenth century. Here, Capetonian Muslims were portrayed as reliable artisans valued for their sobriety—indeed they had gained a place in the wineries and as coopers for that very reason. Yet, they were also warned against as swift to anger, and even run amuck, especially those with distant familial connections to Sulawesi. And while their well-tended graves and whitewashed mosques were admired—especially as the latter so often resembled Christian churches by the 1860s—nocturnal mystical ceremonies such as the ecstatic stabbing and burning rituals known as ratiep drew criticism much as Muharram festivals worried the Europeans of Singapore at the same time. Indeed, notes were made of fraudulent “priests” who taught the arts of juggling red hot chains or the apparently shambolic piercing of chests and stomachs with heavy awls, all to the beat of drums and tambourines.21 Those in the know could have certainly found such practices around the Indian Ocean rim, for such Sufi practices were not yet marked in South Africa as being distinctively Malay in the ways that they are today. In that sense, then, the community was no more or no less Islamic than in so many other contexts where visits to graves and prayers for saintly intercession were still deemed an acceptable part of belief.22 Yet, herein lay the terrain for contestation about belonging in the Cape that would play out over the ensuing decades, with the choice eventually to be made between a cultural membership of a Malay World (with assumedly Indic origins) and a homogenizing Islamic one under the leadership of the Ottoman Sultan. Such tensions were laid bare once the increasingly prosperous members of the community were able to carry out the hajj to Mecca. Unlike their long-sundered kin from the Indies, theirs would be an African coastal sojourn, broken not at Singapore and Colombo but Zanzibar and Aden. And in the Holy Places they would be made aware both of their similarity to the Southeast Asian peoples known to Arabic speakers as Jawa and their special distinction as “people of the Cape” (Ahl al-Kaf).23 In some eyes, the relative wealth of both the Ahl al-Kaf and the Jawa made them serviceable objects of Ottoman policy by the late 1870s, given Istanbul’s exclusive claims to the Caliphate now that the last Mughal emperor had died in exile in Rangoon. On the other hand, recent archival studies suggest that Ottoman claims were made in reaction to long-standing recognition from the global periphery—whether in terms of Malays of present-day Kedah seeking aid against the expansionist Siamese state in the 1820s, expatriate Indians wanting support in Meccan exile after 1857, or yet Acehnese, from the island of Sumatra, hoping for help against the aggressions of the Dutch in the early 1870s.24 Nor was this all about resistance. In the case of Cape Town in 1856, and just before the Indian Revolt, local ulama (including the well-known Carel Pelgrim, the “Chief

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Priest” Mochamat Achmat, and Tuan Guru’s son Abd al-Rakiep) submitted Arabicscript petitions approving of the authorities’ interdiction of the ratiep. In the view of these Mecca-oriented teachers (indeed Carel had been there), the ratiep was never carried out by their “priests” and was only led by rowdy and unlearned local “Malay” practitioners who only managed to bring shame on their faith in the eyes of outsiders. Some further adjudged the rite not only merely the misapplied or optional habit of local Malays, but entirely unislamic, and stressed both their gratitude to the state and the unparalleled loyalty of their community. They even presented their European interlocutor, the honorary Ottoman Consul Petrus E. de Roubaix, with a silver candlestick as a token of their appreciation for his neutrality in mediating in what had become a voluble dispute, for there were still those who sought to defend the ratiep as properly Islamic practice.25 Such efforts resulted in a letter of invitation being forwarded to Istanbul. For their part, the Ottomans determined to dispatch Abu Bakr Effendi (1814–80), a scholar with family connections in Kurdistan. After his arrival to much fanfare in 1862, however, this emissary set about challenging other practices of Indian Ocean Islam, most controversially the consumption of local shellfish, which is allowed in the majoritarian Shafiite school of jurisprudence, but rejected by the very land-bound Hanafi interpretation of Eurasia to which he subscribed. Today Abu Bakr Effendi is also remembered as a pioneer in the printing of a reformed Afrikaans as exemplified with his Hanafi-inflected handbook the Bayan alDin (Explication of Religion). Printed at Istanbul in 1877 and distributed free of charge to pilgrims, it would help further displace Malay as the scholarly helpmate of Arabic at the Cape.26 It would not be long before publishers in Cairo, most notably the firm of Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi, would publish in Arabic script Afrikaans too.

Commemorating community The Mahometen religion, is predominant … Mosques, or places of prayer of the Mahomedans, are erected all over the island; there is a very famous one near Cheribon, but I did not see it. They are very particular and nice about the tombs of their saints, and will suffer nothing unbecoming to be done, upon or near them. —Stavorinus on the tomb of Sunan Gunung Jati, Java, 179827 Regardless of Abu Bakr Effendi’s efforts, both spoken and scholarly Malay were on the decline by the time that the Bayan al-Din was printed. A description of the hajj that was published in the Cape Argus in 1878 mentions the need for translation between Arabic and English in the Hijaz, and in Mecca in 1885 the Orientalist C. Snouck Hurgronje (1857–1936) met guides practicing Dutch for this newest market of the faithful, whose regular and profitable appearance was deemed a success for the PanIslamic movement.28 At any rate, after a rather tumultuous career at the Cape, involving a celebrated divorce on the grounds of alleged abuse and ensuing court appearances, Abu Bakr Effendi would be laid to rest in Signal Hill betwixt the monument to Noriman and the larger enclosures of Sayyid Alawi and Tuan Guru, but not quite in

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the manner of the three saints of old, whose whitewashed monuments would still see a steady trickle of supplicants bearing candles to be lit in the evenings. Rather, Abu Bakr’s more modest grave was fenced off in Victorian fashion, where it remains in the shade of a large gum tree and unattached to tales of miracles that one hears had been performed by his (Malay) predecessors. Despite its steady disappearance from the streets, Malay retained a symbolic place in the local Muslim imagination, as did the ancestral struggles of those condemned to exile, whether on Robben Island, in the shadow of the Castle of Good Hope, or, most famously, at the old farmstead at Faure. In the case of the latter, Shaykh Yusuf ’s tomb became a site of hot contestation in the early twentieth century once the land on which it lay became the site of a project for rememoration by one Hajee Sullaiman Shahmahomed (d. 1929). Shahmahomed was a well-traveled Gujarati whose cloth business had taken him from India to Burma and then down the East Coast of Africa before he finally married Rahima Salie (1869–1918), the daughter of one of the Imams at the Cape. Worried that this outsider might restrict access to their most favored saint— indeed Shaykh Yusuf is the man to whom the very Islamization of the Western Cape is now attributed—members of the local community attempted to halt his grandiose project in the courts. Shahmahomed would ultimately triumph, though, and see the construction of a mausoleum in Indo-Saracenic style, replete with a commemorative column that had been inaugurated by the governor himself, as if acknowledging the veracity of all that he had been able to learn in the 1910s, and with the assistance of archivists in Cape Town and Batavia.29 Shaykh Yusuf is perhaps the most documented of all the saints of the Western Cape. Scattered over several sites across the region today, though, are further memorials accompanied by the more modest markers of so many others whose slate stones—some taken from Robben Island—are still to be found inscribed with laconic references in Malay certain days of Islamic months, or even with depictions of Southeast Asianstyled mosques (see Figure 11.2). That said, seldom is the year mentioned for many a nineteenth-century burial, despite the fact that this was increasingly a world of standardized calendars and almanacs where one could finally be sure that the Prophet’s birthday would fall on the same day in Mecca, Zanzibar, Bombay, and Singapore. Even without reference to the years of passing, the saints who they lay beside were the very crystals of memory across the colony.30 It was also clear that the communities held these crystals close to their hearts. In 1886, they had marched to defend their right to continue burying their dead on Signal Hill after the passing of an ordinance preventing them from doing so for reasons of public health and overcrowding.31 Despite such protestations, and with the foundation of the Moslem Cemetery Board in that year, the ever loyal Muslims of the Cape would be compelled to bury their dead further afield even as the ascending visitations to the Tana Baru continued and mosque congregations swelled and proliferated. The three saints of Signal Hill would never be alone, even as the grass would continue to grow and the Fire Department would bill the community for the expense of clearing that hazard, much as they did on the older and more anonymous burying ground at Green Point. In time, and as the hills recovered from centuries of clearing for firewood, the graves of the Tana Baru would attract newer visitors seeking objects of picturesque curiosity amid tangles of bushes and aloes.

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Figure 11.2 Simon’s Town grave detail showing Southeast Asian-style mosque. Photograph by Michael Laffan, 2008.

Such a state of affairs can be seen depicted by the amateur photographer Arthur Elliott (1870–1938) in the 1910s, or the painter and naturalist Thomas Pearson Stokoe (1868–1959) in the late 1920s. The latter was commissioned to illustrate a series of articles by the young K. M. Jeffries, who wrote in 1929 of the “desolation and neglect” of the sites and the lack of memory about the age of many slates scattered around and inscribed, she believed, with prayers or verses from the Qur’an.32 Still, Jeffries framed her account of the three saints of Bo-Kaap as communicated by a local leader of the community, and these were themselves derived from an account given some six years beforehand by the Imam of the Chiappini Street Mosque. At that time, the Imam had asserted that his lineal ancestor, Tuan Guru, had predicted that the Cape would one day be encircled by saintly tombs and thereby protected from calamity.33 Even as Stokoe effaced the many smaller slates with his brushstrokes and the Imam had highlighted the pioneering and protective roles of the Asian saints, the messy stone thicket was the real testament to the community, as were the far more modest sites nearer the old fishing beaches toward Green Point. Indeed, one may wonder whether any of the stones found in the upper reaches of what would be designated as the Malay Quarter were actually relocated there and reinscribed once it was slated for heavy-handed restoration in the 1950s, and again as the older site was threatened by bulldozers in the 1960s.

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This notion of reinscription (or just plain inscription) was expressed in December of 1945 by Cape Archivist P. J. Venter, in response to an inquiry from Jerusalem by the historian of Islamic art Leo Aryeh Mayer (1895–1959). Writing with more interest in the manuscripts he guarded than the graves that guarded him, Venter claimed that “the Moslem tombs we possess” had all been “erected during the last thirty years approximately” and that “[s]uch inscriptions as exist have been placed on them in recent times” given that “few Malays were literate prior to 1820.”34 He then went on to recommend the work of S. A. Rochlin (1904–61) and the local researches of I. D. du Plessis (1900–81), which he adjudged “undoubtedly informative” if “not profound” before suggesting that Mayer might be interested in some of the Elliott photographs held by his archive. Had he looked at Elliott’s photos more carefully, Venter would have seen the many slates standing before the gates of the tombs, with some clearly being of considerable age.

Marshalled and consigned an origin story While much has been made of the attraction of Islam at Cape Town in terms of inscribing legal visibility through rites of marriage and death, there were other ways of being Malay into the twentieth century that reflected comfort with the ascription if not the language. Most notable were the numerous choirs and cricket clubs which, with their uniforms and discipline, reflected a desire to be counted as equal subjects of empire and harkened back to the strong history of military careers at the Cape, whether in the defense of Blauwenberg in 1806 or the volunteerism of the 1840s when the state expanded its northern frontiers. In this sense, there are parallels to be drawn to the developments of the Malay community in Ceylon, with its famous cricket clubs, though Ceylon was, through the maintenance of literary texts and the more vital medium of Malay journalism from the 1860s, far more closely networked with the eastern cousins to whom they would eventually be “lost” in the 1980s.35 Here was a key difference between Ceylon and the Cape, given that the older and more diverse population of South Africa had linked Malay more exclusively to religious practice and memory. Infused with significant numbers of literate soldiers from the Malay Peninsula by contrast, the Lankan community did not necessarily separate the language of faith from that of folk tales, which would be churned off the presses of Singapore in greater numbers from the 1880s. In some senses this lack of distinction preserved the literature now being collected and studied by Ronit Ricci. This is not to say that the Cape Malays did not have a literary repertoire. Rather, the Singaporean imprints were several decades too late for them and their popular tales were in Dutch infused as much by Hans Christian Anderson as the Thousand and One Nights. It was exactly this inheritance that Du Plessis tried to highlight in a series of writings from the 1930s, cataloguing what he termed “Malay” folklore in the form of songs, stories, and performances of the ratiep. Like his Mecca-oriented informants and Germanic scholarly mentors, he adjudged the latter practice to have been some sort of Indic innovation that originated on what seemed the most Indianized of Indonesian

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islands, Bali. As he noted in his heavily illustrated anthology The Cape Malays, such rituals could “not be linked with the muslim faith as such.”36 Of course, Du Plessis was no neutral observer of the people he insisted were Malays for academic purposes. As head of the Institute of Malay Studies at the University of Cape Town from 1948, and then as a leading official of the apartheid state between 1953 and 1963—indeed he was the first head of the Department for Coloured Affairs (est. 1958) and chancellor of the segregated University of the Western Cape (est. 1959)—Du Plessis was instrumental in providing advice on the preservation of parts of the city and what he saw as the “necessary development” for its denizens to be allowed full participation in the future life of the nation.37 Du Plessis was thus responsible for museumizing the Malays on Signal Hill even as other significantly Muslim parts of the city would be marked for the clearances from 1968 under the Group Areas Act. Just as the infamous clearances of the 1960s have left deep, and arguably irremovable, scars, one should remember that the struggles over land and memory were already in play in the 1950s with regard to the defining dead. Even Bo-Kaap and its adjacent cemeteries were under threat. In December of 1952, for example, the City Council made tentative moves to acquire the old cemetery between High Level Road, Boundary Street, and Upper Hillside Road, seemingly at the instigation of one of the members of council. Having been unable to locate any record of the land being granted to the Malay community, and indeed with the Moslem Cemetery Board being similarly unable to produce any documentation themselves by 1953, Du Plessis, then Commissioner for Coloured Affairs, opined that: it would appear that in the year 1790 the ground in question was given by the then Kommandant of the Castle to the Malay community as a burial place and that for more than sixty years the ground had been used as such until 1841 when a new piece of land was purchased at the top of Longmarket Street for the same purpose. It is further understood that the authorities at the time never thought of requiring them to take transfer of the property and that the Malays acting in good faith, never worried to have the property registered in their name. … It is, however, not so much my intention to enter into the legal aspects of the case but the point I must stress and of which you are no doubt aware, is that the Malays regard their cemeteries with profound reverence and any attempt to use such properties for any other purpose would according to their religion be sacrilegious. Further as the Malays of Cape Town, on the whole, are regarded as a law-abiding community, it would be greatly appreciated if the necessary steps could be taken to have the cemetery transferred in their name.38

Such advice seems to have led to indecision on the part of Council, who determined that it was ungranted Crown Land that they weren’t about to grant, perhaps creating a false sense of security among the members of the Moslem Judicial Council, led by H. Edros after its foundation in 1945. Matters would loom again in 1961 when a Mrs. Brink of Stellenbosch tried to secure the same plot to build a luxury hotel “with a minimum of 100 bedrooms, each with its own bathroom and telephone.” She also

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noted that there appeared to be “one or two graves on the property” and that steps would be taken to “preserve and suitably protect these.”39 Before Council could respond definitively to Mrs. Brink, being confused as to which cemetery she wanted in any case, documents were leaked to the community which initiated a press campaign to defend their land. Here Sheik Abubakar Najaar of the MJC laid claim to the ground that the community had long understood to be their own, declaring that: The Moslem community regards this bit of land as sacred, and would never agree to giving it up for any other purpose. One of our holiest people—one of the pioneers of Islam in South Africa who arrived with Sheik Joseph—is buried there and frequent pilgrimages are made to his sacred tomb.40

It is intriguing that the tomb to which the community laid claim was suitably anonymous, and thus able to be assigned to an unknown assistant of Shaykh Yusuf, as other sites around the Cape so often are in the absence of any documents or inscriptions from the days before the Union Jack fluttered over Signal Hill. In time, though, the vast bulk of the land would pass into the hands of a Muslim developer and be turned into an equally anonymous sprawl of apartments, each doubtless with its own phone. The process for this transition was slow to unfold and is unclear to me at present. In 1970, the Moslem Cemetery Board once more attempted to acquire the old burial ground, claiming that it contained slate headstones datable to the period of Shaykh Yusuf. Interestingly enough, the Council determined not to oppose the application, though this led to a high court challenge from a neighboring developer. Although the two parties settled momentarily amid talk of preserving the land for a recreation area or park, by July of 1971 the Moslem Cemetery Board declared itself willing to dispose of the land for “normal development.”41 While Council signed off at that time with proposals to rezone the Burial Ground as Private Open Space, there is little to be seen of graves of any sort at the site of the Old Burial Ground, aside from the (very Dutch) Wessels Family Vault. Equally, there is nothing left today of the picturesque walls surrounding the tombs of Signal Hill, which would make way in the 1970s for high modern renovations and commemorative plaques in roman script, including maps of the Indian Ocean Arena and their points of origin within it. When I asked the former head of the body that oversees the Tana Baru why they had been remodeled in the 1970s and what could be said of its enfolded saints, he claimed not to know on either account. “Who are we to question these Holy people?” he asked.42 And even if the maps show Indonesia and India, the local Muslims, now embracing the term “Malay” once more, are urged to desist from old practices that make them too Southeast Asian to be truly Muslim.43

Conclusion While one may wonder what sort of Muslim community may have formed at Cape Town in the absence of the VOC, the fact remains that it was the Dutch Company and its more easterly Asian concerns that set the parameters for interaction among the

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diverse population of Asian and African peoples. Perhaps all the Dutch did was stall an inevitable development, at least in regard to religious change. For much as it had shaped the communities of the littoral regions of the Indies, India, and East Africa to the north, Islam emerged as a common grammar between diverse peoples. Of course, the directionality of Dutch authority saw Malay introduced as the language of that religion, which then became an early signifier of identity under the British before the population fully adopted the language of their erstwhile oppressors. And, as in so many British imperial settings, these “Malays” emphasized their loyalty as Muslim subjects of the Crown in the face of yet other communities that would crowd the Cape Colony, be they Indian and African migrants, or yet impoverished Irish and Scots laborers, some of whom converted and would have born witness to their Malay teachers much as the Singapore Free Press reported Sayyid Nuh being honored by four European followers at his funeral in 1866.44 With the advent of apartheid, a particular Malay Quarter would be transformed and museumized, in part because its graves and religious structures made a tangible argument about their historical importance as a community with roots on the other side of the Indian Ocean. Yet here is where the designation “Malay” also sat uneasily. For just as the community was growing, its more prosperous members were connecting with the push and pull of global Islam. In so doing, the leadership, emboldened by personal wealth and connections to the Ottoman Empire, began seeing local culture less as something intrinsically Muslim (as is now the case in Malaysia in the face of its Chinese and Indian others) and more as a set of traditions with origins far removed from Mecca. In short, the community that has much of its genetic and cultural origins in the Bay of Bengal now has a very different, African, place, and one with ever greater challenges now that Muslims are sometimes cast less as fellow victims of apartheid than people who gained advantage over their fellow citizens of color, however slight. For despite the brief promises of wealth to be made by reaching out to wealthy Muslims in Southeast Asia, and even with tours being offered back to the complex homeland of Shaykh Yusuf, no imagining of a pan-Malay world can yet match the uniting power of India abroad.

Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Thomas Metcalf, Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860–1920 (Berkeley : University of California Press, 2007). Isabel Hofmeyr, Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013), 49. See, for example, Sugata Bose, A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006). Hofmeyr, Gandhi’s Printing Press, 49. Kerry Ward, Networks of Empire: Forced Migration in the Dutch East India Company (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009). Thomas Gibson, Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia: From the 16th to the 21st Century (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). Robert Carl-Heinz Shell, Children of Bondage: A Social History of the Slave Society at the Cape of Good Hope, 1652–1838 (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1994).

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Belonging across the Bay of Bengal Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Slaves and Tyrants: Dutch Tribulations in SeventeenthCentury Mrauk-U,” Journal of Early Modern History 1, no. 3 (1997): 201–53. Robert Ross, Cape of Torments: Slavery and Resistance in South Africa (London etc.: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983). For a brief summary of Tuan Guru, see, Cape Town: The Making of a City, eds. Nigel Worden, Elizabeth Van Heyningen, and Vivian Bickford-Smith (Cape Town: Verloren, 1998), 124–25. For the Slave Lodge and a key resident of the early 18th century, see Rob Shell and Archie Dick, “Jan Smiesing, Slave Lodge Schoolmaster and Healer, 1697–1734,” in Cape Town Between East and West: Social Identities in a Dutch Colonial Town, ed. Nigel Worden (Cape Town: Jacana and Verloren, 2012). IOR L/PS/1/5, Minutes of the Secret Committee 1778–1858: 91–92. In 1800, for example, there are references to petitions for the establishment of a “temple.” See A. Barnard to the Resident and the Members of the Burgher Senate, Castle of Good Hope, 1 February 1800, KAB BO 155: 44, item 236; and Resolution Book, January 1800–December 1801, KAB BRD 9: 21–23. Patrick Harries, “Middle Passages of the Southwest Indian Ocean: A Century of Forced Migration from Africa to the Cape of Good Hope,” The Journal of African History 55, no. 2 (2014): 173–90. Erik Gilbert, Dhows and the Colonial Economy of Zanzibar, 1860–1970 (Oxford etc.; Currey, 2004), 60–65; see also Matthew S. Hopper, Slaves of One Master: Globalization and Slavery in Arabia in the Age of Empire (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015), 142–80. On Alawi, see my “The Sayyid in the Slippers: An Indian Ocean Itinerary and Visions of Arab Sainthood, 1737–1929,” Archipel 86 (2013): 191–227. For Noriman, see my “From Javanese Court to African Grave: How Noriman became Tuan Skapie, 1717–1806,” Journal of Indian Ocean World History 1, no. 1 (2017): 38–59. KAB RDG 2: 132, 149–50. William Marsden, The History of Sumatra (London: McCreery, 1783); and Thomas Stamford Raffles, The History of Java, 2 vols. (London: Black, Parbury and Allen, 1817); “On the Meláyu Nation, with a Translation of its Maritime Institutions,” Asiatick Researches 12 (1818): 102–58. One should also bear in mind that many Malays referred to their own tongue as Jawi. R.R.F. Habiboe, Tot verheffing van mijne natie: Het leven en werk van François Valentijn (1666–1727) (Franeker: Van Wijnen, 2004), 53–63. Many such texts are on display in the Heritage Museum in Simon’s Town. Important work has been done on their social histories by Saarah Jappie. See her “From Madrasah to Museum: A Biography of the Islamic Manuscripts of Cape Town” (MA Thesis, University of Cape Town, 2011). See Achmat Davids, “Alternative Education: Tuan Guru and the Formation of the Cape Muslim Community,” in Pages from Cape Muslim History, 2nd ed., eds. Yusuf da Costa and Achmat Davids (Gatesville: Naqshbandi-Muhammadi, 2005), 49. A.W. Cole, The Cape and the Kafirs: Or notes of Five Years’ Residence in South Africa (London: Bentley, 1852), 44–46; see also Anon., “Islam at the Cape,” Cape Monthly Magazine, December 1861, 353–63, esp. 356–60. Nile Green has made a call for more serious attention to be paid to the public aspects and activities of what he terms “Customary Islam” as opposed to the older focus on “reformists” or yet “modernists.” See Nile Green, Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840–1915 (New York: Cambridge, 2011).

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32 33 34 35

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C. Snouck Hurgronje, Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century: Daily Life, Customs and Learning of the Moslems of the East-Indian-Archipelago, trans. J.H. Monahan (Leiden: Brill, 1931), 215–16. For appeals from Kedah, see Ismail Hakki Kadi, “The Ottomans and Southeast Asia Prior to the Hamidian Era: A Critique of Colonial Perceptions of Ottoman-Southeast Asian Interaction,” in From Anatolia to Aceh: Ottomans, Turks and Southeast Asia, eds. A.C.S. Peacock and Annabel Teh Gallop (Oxford University Press, 2015), 155–59. On the Indian Muslims of Mecca after 1857, see Seema Alavi, “‘Fugitive Mullahs and Outlawed Fanatics’: Indian Muslims in Nineteenth Century TransAsiatic Imperial Rivalries,” MAS 45 (2011): 1337–82. For the Acehnese story of such connections, Reid’s study remains a classic. See A. Reid, The Contest for North Sumatra: Atjeh, the Netherlands and Britain 1858–1898 (London: Oxford University Press, 1969). See also Ismail Hajji Goksöy, “Acehnese Appeals for Ottoman Protection in the Late Nineteenth Century,” in Peacock and Gallop, From Anatolia to Aceh. J.S. De Lima, The Califa Question: Documents Connected with this Matter (Cape Town: Van de Sandt de Villiers, 1857). For more recent work on Roubaix as Consul and his connections to Zanzibar, see Hopper, Slaves of One Master, 163–64. Martin van Bruinessen, “A Nineteenth-century Kurdish Scholar in South Africa,” in Mullas, Sufis and Heretics: The Role of Religion in Kurdish Society, ed. Martin van Bruinessen (Istanbul: Isis, 2000), 133–41. See also Achmat Davids, “The Origins of the Hanafi-Shafi’i Dispute and the Impact of Abu Bakar Effendi (1835–1880),” in Da Costa and Davids, Pages from Cape Muslim History. Johan Splinter Stavorinus, Voyages to the East-Indies, 3 vols. (London: Robinson, 1798), I, 246–47. Cited in I.D. du Plessis, The Cape Malays: History, Religion, Traditions, Folk Tales, The Malay Quarter (Cape Town: Balkema, 1972), 11–14; Snouck Hurgronje, Mekka, 215–17. The story of Shahmahomed and the multiple commemorations of Shaykh Yusuf is currently being explored by Saarah Jappie. I borrow the idea of graves as crystals of memory from Alexander Etkind. See his “Post-Soviet Hauntology: Cultural Memory of Soviet Terror,” Constellations 16, no. 1 (2009): 182–200. See Worden, Cape Town, 210–11. Not everyone was happy about the way the cemetery was being run, especially as the community was quite divided among various mosque constituencies. Already in 1857, we find P. Roubaix, the mediator in the preceding Califah Controversy, being approached by Rahman, a “Malay priest,” regarding its use. KAB, CO 4096, ref 880. Anon, “A Circle of Islam,” Cape Times, November 30, 1929, 15–16. See especially K.M. Jeffreys, “The Malay Tombs of the Holy Circle,” The Cape Naturalist: Organ of the Cape Natural History Club 1, no. 2 (July 1935): 40–43. KAB, CAD 2/1/1/45, C14/28/461. P.J. Venter (Cape Archivist), Cape Town, to Prof. L.A. Mayer, Jerusalem, December 11, 1945. B.A. Hussainmiya, Lost Cousins: The Malays of Sri Lanka (Bangi: Institut Bahasa Kesusasteraan dan Kebudayaan Melayu, 1987); Torsten Tschacher, “Circulating Islam: Understanding Convergence and Divergence in the Islamic Traditions of Ma’bar and Nusantara,” in Islamic Connections: Muslim Societies in South and Southeast Asia, eds. R. Michael Feener and Terenjit Sevea (Singapore: ISEAS, 2009); Ronit Ricci, “The Malay World, Expanded: The World’s First Malay Newspaper, Colombo, 1869,” Indonesia and the Malay World 41, no. 120 (2013): 168–82; and

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38 39 40 41 42 43 44

Belonging across the Bay of Bengal “Perfect Wedding, Penniless Life: Ali and Fatima in a Sri Lankan Malay Text,” South Asian History and Culture 4, no. 2 (2013): 266–77. Du Plessis, Cape Malays, photo insert between pp. 20 and 21. Ibid., 35; on Du Plessis and his role, see also Shamil Jeppie, “Re-classifications: Coloured, Malay, Muslim,” in Coloured by History, Shaped by Place: New Perspectives on Coloured Identities in Cape Town, ed. Zimitri Erasmus (Cape Town: Kwela Books, 2001). KAB, 3/CT, 4/1/11/179; ref G6/63: Commissioner for Coloured Affairs, J.I. du Plessis, to Deputy Town Clerk, Cape Town, August 6, 1953. KAB, 3/CT, 4/1/11/179; ref G6/63: Mrs. D.G. Brink to Town Clerk, Kenvin Farm, Stellenbosch, June 14, 1961. Cape Times, September 12, 1961. The documentation is also to be found in KAB, 3/CT, 4/1/11/179. Sydney Tailor, Personal Communication, Cape Town, August 28, 2013. In this regard, see Norimitsu Onishi, “Muslim Enclave Forged in Apartheid Now Faces Gentrification,” The New York Times, February 29, 2016. See the contribution of Teren Sevea in this volume, especially pp. 60 and 68.

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Index Note: Page numbers in italic type indicate illustrations and page number followed by “n” refer to notes Abd al-Haqq, 200 Abd al-Rakiep, 213 Abdul Cader, Mohamed, 109–10 Abdul Ghani, Said, 61, 65, 66–8 Abdul Karim, Nee Aya, 107, 109 Abdullah al-Aydarus, 59 Abdullah al-Saqqaf, Sayyid, 68 Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, Munshi, 57–8, 181 Abdullah bin Ahmad al-Attas, 61–4 Abdullah Jalil, Hajji, 67 Abdul Latif, Haji, 119–20 Abubakar Najaar, 218 Abu Bakr Effendi, 213–14 Achmat, Mochamat, 213 Adam, Tassilo, 43, 53 n.42 Afro-Asian Conference (Bandung, 1955), 6, 163 Agricultural and Industrial Credit Corporation (Lanka), 152 Ahmad al-Habshi, 62 Ahmad bin Sheikh Mustapha, 120 Ahmad Khatib Sambas, 62, 63 Akhtar, Javed, 203 Alatas, Hussein, 182, 187 Alawi, Sayyid, 210 Algemeene Middelbare School, Solo, 46 Amadu Bamba, 68 Amarapura Nikaya, 24 Amrith, Sunil, 1, 8 n.1, 11 n.32, 123, 190 Ana Mohamed Hussain & Co., 103 Andaman Islands, 5, 8; Muslim graves in, 193–203; as penal colony, 193; postindependence, 194, 202–3 Andaya, Barbara, 102 Anderson, Benedict, 52 n.29 Anderson, Clare, 5, 74 Anderson, Hans Christian, 216 Anglo-Burmese Wars, 23, 25 Annadurai, C. N., 162, 168, 176 Annamalai Chettiar, S. R. M., 165

Arasaratnam, Sinnappah, 103, 173, 174 Arasu, V., 172, 177 n.2 Archaeological Survey of India, 26 Area Studies, 6–7, 11 n.32, 11 n.33, 49, 162, 171 Arnold, Edwin, 35, 39, 45 Arnold, Matthew, 171, 176 Arunachalam, Ponnambalam, 147 Aryans, 140, 143, 145–6 Aryan Sinhalese Fraternal Association, 27 Arya Samaj society, 5 Asia Foundation, 172, 173 Asian art, 40–4 Asian-African Conference. See Afro-Asian Conference (Bandung, 1955) Asoka (Ashoka), 15, 16, 145 Aung San, 5, 7 Aurangabadi Banne Miyan, 68 Australia, 2 Aw brothers, 27 Ayutthaya, 2, 19, 21, 22, 23 Bago, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26 Bahadur Shah II, 84, 198 Bake, Arnold, 46 Bala Rama Varma III, 46–7 Ba Maw, 5 Bandaranaike, Sirimavo, 167 Bandaranaike, Solomon, 167 Bangkok, 17, 24, 25, 39 Bank of Ceylon, 152 Bayly, Chris, 78 Bayly, Susan, 37, 195 Beaton, Patrick, 196 Beck, Brenda, 174 Benda, Harry, 11 n.34 Bengali Renaissance, 4–5 Bennett, Amelia, 201, 205 Bertolacci, Anthony, 141 Bhardwaj, Surinder M., 195 Bird, Isabella, 106

Index Birdwood, George, 41 Blackburn, Anne, 3, 37 Blavatsky, Helena, 4, 35, 36 Bloembergen, Marieke, 4 Blundell, Edmund, 80–1, 83–6 Boas, Franz, 176 Bodh Gaya, 3, 4, 26, 143 Bodhi Tree, 3, 19, 26, 40, 198 Borobudur, 35–43; as Muslim sacred site, 39; resacralization of, 36, 38–40; restoration of, 35; sculpture of, 41, 42, 43–4; as symbol of peace and unity, 36–7; Theosophists’ visit to, 35–6 Bosch, Frederik David Kan, 36, 40, 44, 45 Bose, Subhas Chandra, 4–5, 202 Boston Museum of Fine Art, 40, 41 Brink, Mrs. (developer), 217–18 British colonialism: and Andaman Islands, 193, 195–203; Burma and, 117–33; and Malayan racial identities, 181–91; and plural legal jurisdiction, 127–9; Sikh opposition to, 73–89; and South Africa, 210; and Southern Buddhism, 23 British Union of Fascists, 191 Brooklyn Museum, 43, 53 n.42 Brown, R. Grant, 121 Budah (Bengali), 83–4 Buddha, 3, 4, 15, 16, 22, 35, 40, 128, 140, 141, 143 Buddha Footprint, 19, 26 Buddhagaya movement, 143 Buddha sculpture, 39, 41, 42 Buddhism: in Bengal history, 3; in Burma, 117–18; in Lanka, 141, 143–4; shin byu rites in, 131; in Singapore, 26–8; traditions of, 15; as world religion, 4. See also monks and monasteries; Southern Buddhism Bulletin of the Greater India Society, 45 Burma: Asian role in colonialism in, 130– 1; British colonialism and, 117–33; Buddhist lineages sought in, 24; Indian and Chinese immigrants to, 123; intimacies in, 118–19, 121–33; mixed-race ancestry in, 121; nationalism in, 117–19; plural legal jurisdiction in, 127–9; Southern Buddhism in, 15–28

245

business: family firms in, 109–10; inheritance and continuation of, 110–11; labor overlapping with, 106–8; South Indian Muslims and, 104–12. See also labor and laborers; trade Butterworth (British governor in Straits Settlements), 77, 80 Cambodia, 15, 23, 25, 26, 43, 104 Canning, Charles John “Clemency,” Lord, 81, 86, 199 Cape Town, South Africa, 207–19 Caribbean, 175 caste, 5, 24, 77, 91 n.45, 108, 118, 125–6, 140, 145, 146, 153, 155 n.22, 167, 168, 175, 176, 178 n.32, 198, 199, 201, 202 cattle trade, 104, 105, 108 Cavenagh, Orfeur, 86–7 Cellular Jail, Andaman Islands, 202–3 cemeteries. See graves Central Sikh Gurdwara Board, 87–8 Ceylon. See Lanka Ceylon Labour Union, 145 Ceylon National Congress (CNC), 148, 149, 151 Chatterji, Sunit Kumar, 46 Chelvanayagam, S. J. V., 167 Chiang Mai, 19, 21, 26 Chinese: in Malaya, 119–20, 187; in Malaysia, 181–2; in Singapore, 26–7, 65–6, 68; in Southeast Asia, 130; in Straits Settlements, 81, 83, 86, 104, 126 Cholas, 9, 17, 18, 144 Chulalongkorn of Bangkok (Rama V), 24, 25, 38–9, 40, 38, 143 Chuliahs. See South Indian Muslims Churchill, Winston, 190 citizenship, in Lanka, 139, 149–54 Clifford, Hugh, 121 CNC. See Ceylon National Congress Coedès, Georges, 35, 44, 172 Cold War, 162 Colonial Institute (Netherlands), 43 colonialism: and intimacies in colonized lands, 120–1, 130–1; Southern Buddhism affected by, 17, 22–5;

246 South Indian Muslims affected by, 99–100, 102, 112; translation in context of, 78–9, 92 n.60. See also British colonialism; Dutch colonialism; French colonialism Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish, 40–1, 43, 141, 144 Cornell University Modern Indonesia Project, 6 Corpus Inscriptionum Javanicorum, 47–8 Cousins, James Henry, 47 Crawfurd, John, 67, 68 Culavamsa, 16–18, 21–3 culture: conceptions of, 163–4, 171, 176; Tamil, 161–2, 166–76 Cursetjee Muncherjee Moosh, 83, 84, 94 n.93 Dalhousie, James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, Lord, 75, 77, 78, 80, 87 Dare, George Mildmay, 83 Darlington, Cyril Dean, 190 Darul Arqam, 61, 66 Das, Veena, 164, 176 Davidson, M. F., 83 Davy, John, 141 Daw Suu Kyi, 7 decolonization: Andaman Islands and, 202–3; in Bay of Bengal region, 166–8; culture and nationalism in relation to, 163–4 De Silva, B. P., 27 De Silva, Carolis, 126 De Silva, Cornelis, 126, 129 Dhammaratano, Luang Phor Hong, 27 Dhammazedi of Bago, 19, 21, 22, 30 n.21 Dharmapala, Anagarika, 4, 39, 128, 140, 141, 142, 143–6 Dinishim Jumsetjee, 83–4 divorce, 124 DMK. See Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Donoughmore Commission on Constitutional Reform, 140, 147–8, 152–3 Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), 161–2, 167–8 Dravidian politics and culture, 161–2, 167–8, 172, 173 Du Plessis, I. D., 216–17

Index Dutch colonialism: and Greater India, 35– 6, 39–40, 43–8; and South Africa, 208–10, 218–19; and Southern Buddhism, 22–3 Dutch East India Company. See VOC Dutch East Indies Archaeological Service, 36, 40, 44 Dutugamunu, 144 East India Company, English (EIC), 22, 23, 67, 68, 92 n.60, 208–9, 218 East-West Center, University of Hawaii, 6 École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), 35, 44, 173 Edros, H., 217 EFEO. See École française d’ExtrêmeOrient EIC. See East India Company, English Eliot, T. S., 172, 176 Elliott, Arthur, 215, 216 Erp, Theodor van, 35, 38, 40 Essential Commodities Reserves Ordinance No. 5 (Lanka), 152 ethnicity and race: characteristics ascribed to, 187–90; in Lanka, 27–8; in Malaya, 181–91; in Singapore, 27–8 eugenics, 190 family firms, 109–10 Faqih Umar, 67 Farquhar, William, 57, 59, 68 Fazl-i-Haq Khairabadi, 197–203, 205 n.29 Feierman, Steven, 58 Filliozat, Jean, 173, 174, 174 Finot, Louis, 44 French colonialism: and Greater India, 35, 37, 43–4; and Southern Buddhism, 25 Frykenberg, Robert, 174 Gama, Vasco Da, 2 Gandhi, Mohandas, 4, 166, 202, 207–8 Gangoly, O. C., 45 Garling, Samuel, 77 Geertz, Clifford, 11 n.34 Geetha, V., 176 Geiger, Wilhelm, 143 Ghalib (poet), 205 n.29 Ginzburg, Carlo, 58

Index Goonesinha, A. E., 148–50 Goonewardena, K. W., 23 Goris, Rudolf, 48 graves: in Cape Town, 212, 214–18, 215; mazars of Andaman Islands, 193–203 Greater India: art of, 40–4; contributions of, to civilization, 35, 45; on Java, 44–5; Lanka and, 146; local genius vs., 45–8; as moral geography, 37; Muslims and, 37; scholarly conceptions of, 35–49. See also India Greater India Society, 5, 37, 44, 45, 172 Great Revolt (1857). See Indian Rebellion (1857) Green, Nile, 193–4 Groneman, Isaac, 39 Gunawardene (Labour Party chairman), 151 Guyana, 175 Haldane, Viscount, 128 Hamzah, Amir, 46 Hassan al-Khatib, 61 Havell, Ernest Binfield, 40–1, 43 Hela movement, 140, 146 Henley, David, 7 Hinloopen Labberton, Dirk van, 36–7, 39 Hitler, Adolf, 145 Ho, Engseng, 7, 60 Holt, Claire, 48 Husayn (Prophet’s grandson), 195 Husayn al-Aydarus, 61, 65, 68 IATR. See International Association of Tamil Research Ibn Battuta, 2 Ibn Majid, Ahmad, 2 Idris al-Qaurawani, 67–8 Iengar, H. V. R., 202 Ikeya, Chie, 7 immigration policies, in Lanka, 150–2 Imran Sayyid Ahmad, 62 Inayat Ullah Kakorwi, Mufti, 200 India: Andaman Islands in relation to, 193–4, 202; culturalist narrative of, 174–5; Lanka in relation to, 140–8; linguistic reorganization

247

of, 167; as mother country, 141, 144, 172; nationalism in, 162. See also Greater India; Indians; South Indian Muslims; South Indians Indian Express (newspaper), 174–5 Indian National Army, 202 Indian Opinion (newspaper), 207–8 Indian Rebellion (1857), 74, 81–2, 86–7, 197–200, 202 Indians: in Burma, 118, 121; in Malaysia, 181. See also India; South Indian Muslims; South Indians Indology, 48, 169, 171 Indonesia: Greater India and, 35–45; and Islamic art, 44; local genius of, 45–8 Indonesian Archaeological Service, 46 inheritance, among South Indian Muslims, 110–11 intermarriage: in Burma, 118–21, 124–6; cultural strength linked to, 186, 188, 190; in Malaya, 184–6, 188 International Association of Tamil Research (IATR), 161, 166, 175 International Buddhist Union, 33 n.65 International Institute for Asian Studies, 7 International Tamil Studies Conference (Kuala Lumpur, 1966), 161, 166, 173–6 International Tamil Studies Conference (Madras, 1968), 161–2, 166 intimacies, transcultural, 117–33; in Burma, 118–19, 121–33; colonialism and, 120–1, 130–1; divorce, 124; identity, 127–9; intermarriage, 118–21, 124–6; in Malaya, 119–20; plural legal jurisdiction, 127–9; in Straits Settlements, 126 Iqbal, Rashida, 202 Irawan, R. M. Toemenggoeng Djajen, 36 Iskandar Shah, 59 Islam and Muslims: art of, 44; in Bengal history, 2; Borobudur as sacred to, 39; in Burma, 117–19, 121; in Cape Town, 208–19; dissemination of, 3–4; and Greater India, 37; in Malaya, 119–20, 187; and Malayan keramatic traditions, 57–69; mazars

248 of, 193–203; South Indian, 99–112; in Straits Settlements, 85 Iyer, Natesan, 149 Jackson Commission on Immigration, 147, 150–1 Jaffna School, 146 Jain, R., 174 Japan, 4–5 Java: Borobudur in, 35–43; cultural and spiritual basis of, 48; Greater India on, 44–5 Java Buddhist Association of Batavia, 39 Java Institute, 43 Jawa, 210, 212 Jawi Peranakan, 119, 121, 196 Jayal, Niraja Gopal, 163 Jayatilleke, D. B., 148 Jeffries, K. M., 215 Jen, Tan Li, 87 Jilani, Abd al-Qadir, 64 Jinavaravamsa, 24 Johnstone, George, 209 Kader Sultan, 104, 108 Kalā, 117–19, 133 n.1 Kalyani Inscriptions, 19, 20, 21 Kanagasabhai, V., 146 Kandyan Kingdom, 22–3, 25 Kaplan, Martha, 163 Karashima Noboru, 174 Kelly, John, 163 keramatic traditions, 58–69 Kern, J. H. C., 46 Khidr, 67 kinship, among South Indian Muslims, 109–10 Klings. See South Indian Muslims Krom, N. J., 46 Kruisheer, J., 44 Kulke, Hermann, 18 Kumaratunga, Munidasa, 140, 146 Kunte, Mahadeo Moreshwar, 143 Kyi pwa yei (Progress; publisher), 118 Kyshe, James, 110 labor and laborers: business overlapping with, 106–8; cultural history of, 175–6; religious observances

Index associated with, 195–6; South Indian Muslims, 99–100, 103, 105–8; South Indians in Lanka, 147–51, 153, 166–7 Labour Party (Lanka), 145, 151 Lak Mini Kirula (newspaper), 146 Lanka: Buddhism in, 141, 143–4; economic crisis in (1930s), 140, 141, 147–50, 153; enfranchisement in, 147–8, 152, 166–7; identity and belonging in, 27–8, 139–54, 166–7; immigration policies in, 150–2; India in relation to, 140–8; Malays in, 216; nationalism in, 145; origins of people of, 143, 145–6; pilgrimages to, 25–6; Singaporean Buddhism and, 27, 33 n.60; Sinhalese and Tamil ethnicities in, 141; Southern Buddhism in relation to, 16–26; South Indian laborers in, 147–51, 154 Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), 149–50 law, and transcultural intimacies in Southeast Asia, 117–33 Lawrence, John, 80–1, 87 League of Nations, 164 Lee Kuan Yew, 88, 190–1 Leicester, Stephen, 110 Leiden University, 6, 11 n.34 Lévy, Sylvain, 44 Lewis, Martin, 7 Lewis, W. J., 85 Liaquat Ali, 5, 197–8, 200–3 Liaquat Ali Mazar, South Point, Andaman Islands, 197 Liebermann, Victor, 6 Light, Francis, 103 lighterage industry, 104, 105–6 Al-Linggi, Hajji Muhammad Said, 65–7 local genius, 45–8 localism: and Greater India, 45–8; in Southern Buddhism, 24, 26–8; of South Indian Muslim businesses, 104, 105 Lu’luk, Sharifah, 63 Ma Ba Tha, 117–18 Mackenzie, H. Somerset, 82, 83–4

Index Macnaghten, Lord, 123 Maha Bodhi Society, 39, 143 Maha Dhammaraja I, 19 Mahathir Mohamad, 7, 181, 182, 184, 187–91 Mahavamsa, 141, 143 Mahaweera, 27 Majumdar, R. C., 5, 47 Malalgoda, Kitsiri, 143 Malaya: hybrid and indigenous identities in, 181–91; Indian and Chinese immigrants to, 123; keramatic traditions in, 57–69; Lanka in relation to, 216; Muslims in, 119– 20, 187; nationalism in, 119–20, 189; origins of, 184–5; South Africa in relation to, 207–19, 211; urban and rural in, 187–9 Malayalees, 4, 147–50 Malay language, 210, 212 Malaysia: decolonization in, 168; ethnicity in, 181–4; formation of, 165; selfconception of, 7 Mandal, Sumit K., 58 Mangkunegara VII, 43, 48 Marsden, William, 210 Marxism, 5 Mayer, Leo Aryeh, 216 mazars (graves), 193–203 McCann, Gerard, 87 McLeod, Donald F., 75 McNair, John F. A., 76; “General Monthly Muster of the Convicts, Singapore Jail,” 82; Map of the Town and Environs of Singapore, 60 McPherson, Kenneth, 102 Mecca, 3 Meenakshisundaram, T. P., 165, 173, 174 Mellon Foundation, 7 Mendis, L. A., 149 Metteyya, Ananda (a.k.a. Allan Bennett), 128 Miert, Hans van, 52 n.29 money-changing, 104 monks and monasteries: and Buddhist traditions, 15; organization and lineages of, 16–25; trans-regional networks of, 24, 28 moral geographies, 37

249

Mosley, Oswald, 191 Moyn, Samuel, 163 Mufti, Aamir, 169 Muhammad, Prophet, 3, 57, 64, 66, 67 Muhammad Abu Bakar, 66 Muhammad bin Abdur Rahman alAydarus, 62 Muhammad bin Ahmad Bilkhair, 61 Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Saqqaf, 63 Muhammad bin Idrus al-Habshi, 69 Muhammad Salleh, Hajji, 63 Muharram, 4, 85, 194, 195–6, 198, 212 Mukamuttu Aptul Katir, 60, 65 Mukherjee, Rila, 1 Müller, Max, 143 Munidasa, Kumaratunga. See Kumaratunga, Munidasa Munir Shikohabadi, 200 Munniandy, Ponnan, 139–40 Musée Guimet, Paris, 43 museums, 41, 43–4 Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi, 213 Muznah al-Aydarus, 61, 68 Nag, Kalidas, 5, 44–5 Nanak, Guru, 65, 78 Naoki Soda, 184 National Defense Education Act (United States), 6 nationalism: in Burma, 117–19; decolonization in relation to, 163; Dravidian politics and, 172; in India, 162; in Lanka, 145; in Malaya, 119–20, 189. See also subnationalism National Party (South Africa), 208 Nattukottai Chettiars, 100, 151, 173 Navalar, Arumuga, 146 Nehru, Jawaharlal, 167 Netherlands. See Dutch colonialism Ne Win, 6 969 (movement), 117 Nisbet, John, 121 Noriman, 210 Norodom, 25 Nuh al-Habshi, 58–69, 87, 194, 219 Nuh bin Abdullah bin Ahmad Salikin alHabshi, 61, 63, 67, 69 Nukoliyulla, Sayyid, 64

250 Ohn Ghine, U, 127–9 Olcott, Henry Steel, 4, 35, 39, 141 Ong, Aihwa, 130 Orientalists, 26 Pali language, 15, 16, 18, 21, 23–4, 27–8, 33 n.65 Pan-Asianism, 4, 45 Pandey, Gyanendra, 156 n.37 Pandya, Vishvajit, 193–5 Pane, Sanusi, 44–5, 53 n.52 Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, 189 Pannikar, K. M., 2 Parasakti (film), 168 Passfield, Sidney Webb, Lord, 147 Peepal trees, 197, 198, 201 Pelgrim, Carel, 212–13 penal colonies, 73–89, 193–203, 196 Penang, 3, 8, 27, 60, 61, 62, 64, 74, 85–7, 103–6, 119 People’s Action Party, 191 Pieris, Anoma, 78, 87, 196 pilgrimages, 3, 26 Pires, Tomé, 21 pirs (saints), 195 plural legal jurisdiction, 127–9 Poerbatjaraka, Raden Mas Ngabehi, 40, 48, 52 n.29, 53 n.52 Pollock, A. R., 201 Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, 7 Przyluski, Jean, 44 race. See ethnicity and race Raffles, Thomas Stamford, 57–9, 67, 69, 184, 210 Rahman, Tunku Abdul, 7, 173, 181 Raja Mohamad, J., 102 Rajasimha, 22 Raman, Bhavani, 6 Ramanathan brothers, 146 Ramanna, 17–18, 17, 29 n.11 Ramanna Nikaya, 24 Ramayana, 45, 145–6 Rassers, W. H., 55 n.70 ratiep (ritual), 212, 213, 216–17 Ravana, 145–6 Ray, Haraprasad, 18 Razak, Tun Abdul, 188

Index Reid, Anthony, 6 religion, and plural legal jurisdiction, 127–9 Ricci, Ronit, 216 riots, Burmese anti-Indian, 118, 133 n.7 Rochlin, S. A., 216 Rohingya, 2, 6, 7, 117, 133 n.1 Rolland, Romain, 44 Ross, Robert, 209 Rothenstein, William, 41 Roubaix, Petrus E. de, 213 Royal Society of Arts, 41 Royal Thai Navy, 2 Rupam (journal), 45 Ruqaiyah, Sharifah, 59 Russell, Bertrand, 190 Sadan, Mandy, 11 n.33 Salie, Rahima, 214 Salim Ba Sumayr, 62 Sarangapani, Tamilvel, 178 n.32 Sarangapany, G., 100 Sarasin, C. F., 143 Sarasin, P. B., 143 Sarkar, Himansubhushan, 47 Savarkar, Vinayak Damodar, 5, 202 Saya San, 5 Schendel, Willem van, 11 n.33 School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 6, 11 n.33 Scott, James C., 6, 11 n.33 Senanayake, D. S., 148 Shah, P. Daud, 111 Shah al-Hamid of Nagore, 64 Shahmahomed, Hajee Sullaiman, 214 Shaw, George Bernard, 190 Sheriff, Abdul, 2 shin byu, 131 Siam, 15, 17, 22–7, 38–9, 108, 143, 212 Sikhism, in Singapore, 73, 75–85, 87–9 Simpson, Brad, 6 Singapore: Buddhism in, 26–8, 33 n.60; as convict colony, 74, 76–7, 82; hybrid and indigenous identities in, 182, 186; map of, 60; Sikhism in, 73, 75–85, 87–9; South Indian Muslims and, 105 Singapore Buddhist Association, 40 Singapore Free Press (newspaper), 60, 63, 65 Singapore Malay Union, 120

Index Singh, Bir, 75 Singh, Choor, 73, 87 Singh, Dalip, 75 Singh, Gobind, 78, 79, 88 Singh, Jool, 79 Singh, Khurruck, 73–89, 90 n.27, 93 n.28, 95 n.106, 194, 196 Singh, Maharaj (Nihal), 65, 68, 73–80, 87–8 Singh, Omar, 83–4 Sinhala language, 27 Sinhalese, 141, 145–9, 153–4, 169, 172–3 Si Sattha, 18–19, 26 Siti Maryam al-Aydarus, 59 Sivathamby, K., 174 Sixth Buddhist Council (Rangoon, 1955), 6 Siyam Nikaya, 22–4 Smith, Anthony D., 141 Snouck Hurgronje, C., 213 Soekarno, 5, 165 Soekmono, 54 n.58 Sosronegoro, Raden Toemenggoeng, 36 South Africa, Malays and Muslims in, 207–19 South Asia, notion of, 7 Southeast Asia: notion of, 6; South Indian Muslims and, 99–112; Tamil influence on, 172–3 Southern Asia: map of (ca. 1900), xi; notion of, 28 n.4 Southern Buddhism, 15–28; colonial impacts on, 17, 22–5; Lanka in relation to, 16–26; localism in, 24, 26–8; non-monastic, 26–7; and Pali-language scripture, 15, 16, 18, 21, 23–4, 27–8, 33 n.65; royal contexts for, in colonial era, 25–6; technological influences on, 26; tradition of, 15–16 South Indian Muslims, 99–112, 101; apprenticeship among, 107–8; business activities of, 104–12; colonial impacts on, 99–100, 102, 112; decline narrative concerning, 102–5; family firms of, 109–10; heterogeneity of, 100, 109; inheritance among, 110–11; kinship among, 109–10; and labor, 99–100,

251

103, 105–8; networks of, 111–12; terminology associated with, 100, 109; and trade, 99–100, 102–3, 105–8 South Indians: attitudes toward, 3–4, 5; as laborers in Lanka, 147–51, 154; migration patterns of, 123, 135 n.36; in trade and finance in Lanka, 151–2. See also South Indian Muslims Spengler, Oswald, 171 Spivak, Gayatri, 74 Spottiswoode, C., 83 Stavorinus, Johan, 213 Stein Callenfels, Pieter Vincent van, 36 Stern, Philippe, 43 Stokoe, Thomas Pearson, 215 Stoler, Ann, 120 Straits Settlements, 5; as convict colonies, 74; Indian and Chinese immigrants in, 123, 135 n.36; intimacies in, 126; Sikhism in, 73–89 Stubbs, Reginald Edward, 150 Stutterheim, W. F., 45–8, 54 n.58 Subaltern Studies, 174 subnationalism, 161–4, 172 Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, 10 n.23 Subramaniam, V. I., 166 Subramanian, Lakshmi, 102 Sufis, 59, 61, 66, 193, 212 Suhaimi, Muhammad bin Abdullah, 67 Sukhothai Inscriptions, 18–19 Surattee, Ghouse Khan, 59, 61–5, 67–9 Swettenham, Frank, 121, 189 Syed Mohamed Baquir, 106–7 tabut (procession), 196 Tagliacozzo, Eric, 6 Tagore, Rabindranath, 4, 36–7, 40, 44, 46, 141, 144, 146, 207 Tamil Culture (journal), 169, 170, 171–3 Tamils: culture of, 161–2, 166–76; Dravidian politics and, 161–2, 167–8; as laborers, 3, 147–51, 153, 166–7, 175–6; in Lanka, 141, 146–7, 153–4, 154 n.3, 166–7; meaning of designation as, 4, 100, 109, 154 n.3; origins of, 141; recent discrimination against, 140, 154;

252

Index

relations of, with India, 146; and Southeast Asia, 172–3, 183 Tamil Studies, 161–3, 169, 171–6 Taylor, Kathleen, 40 Temple, Richard Carnac, 198 Thammayut Nikai, 25, 39 Thamotharampillai, C. W., 146 Thani Nayagam, Xavier, 6, 8, 161–6, 168–9, 171–6, 174 Theosophical Society, 4, 5, 35–40, 44, 49 n.2, 141 Thera, Nerada, 40 Theravada Buddhism. See Southern Buddhism Thibaw, 25, 198 Thompson, Eric, 189 Thomson, John T., 58 Tilokaraja, 19 Timboel (journal), 44–5 Times (London), 41 Title VI funding (United States), 6 tombs. See graves Tooth Relic, 19, 22, 25, 26 Toynbee, Arnold, 171, 176 trade: Indian traders in Lanka, 151; South Indian Muslims and, 99–100, 102–3, 105–8. See also business translation, in colonial context, 78–9, 92 n.60 Travancore, 2, 47 Tschacher, Torsten, 4 Tuan Guru, 209, 210, 213, 215 Turnour, George, 141 Uddin, Sufia, 195, 198 Umar, Sharif, 57 Umashankar, Rachana Rao, 193–4 United Malays National Organization, 189 United Nations, 162 United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 162, 168, 175 University of Malaya, 172–3 University of Wisconsin, 6 U Ottama, 118 U Pu Galay, 118

Urbina, Ian, 11 n.34 Usma, Gurdip Singh, 73 Vahed, Ghoolam, 195, 196 vamsas, 16 Vanamamalai, N., 174 Van Bengal, Frans, 210 Vansittart, Henry, 74–5 Venter, P. J., 216 Victoria & Albert Museum, 43 Vijaya, 141, 145–6 Vijayabahu I, 17–18 Vijayarajasimha, 22 Village Communities Ordinance (Lanka), 152 Vimaladharmasuriya I, 22 Vimaladharmasuriya II, 22 Vink, D. L. N., 36 Viraya (newspaper), 145, 149 Virchow, Rudolf, 143 Vivekananda, Swami, 143 Vlieland, C. A., 121 VOC (Dutch East India Company), 22, 220 Vogel, J. Ph., 46 Vutthisara, 27 Wertheim, Wim, 11 n.34 Wesak, 39 Wickramasinghe, Nira, 4, 165 Wigan, Kären, 7 Wilson, A. J., 174 Winstedt, Richard O., 63, 185–7, 189, 190 Wirathu, Ashin, 117–18 World Buddhism, 141 World’s Parliament of Religions, 4, 141 Yamin, Muhammed, 53 n.52 Yang, Anand, 89 n.7 Yasin, Sayyid, 57–9, 67, 181 Yusuf, Shaykh, 10 n.16, 198, 209, 214, 218, 219 Zerbadee, 121 Zomian studies, 11 n.33 Zvelebil, Kamil, 166