Over a hundred years ago, caste-ridden and misogynistic Kerala society was whipped out of its slumber by the sexual escapades of a young, beautiful and intelligent Namboodiri (Brahmin) wife. At a Vedic-style Smartha Vicharam (adultery trial of Brahmin women), she named and identified 65 elite men with whom she had slept.

Call Kuriyedath Thathri a pioneer feminist or accidental social reformer; but her bold erotic revolt exposed the ignominious existence of Namboodiri women and accelerated the decline of the feudalistic social order. She triggered drastic family reforms within the Namboodiri caste in the mid-20th century — an end to child marriage, polygamy and the practice of marrying off teenage girls to wealthy old men. Predictably ostracised, Thathri faded into the sunset.

A century and a decade later, another Thathri is creating shock waves in Kerala. Saritha S. Nair, in her new-age ‘Smartha Vicharam’ conducted by the Solar Scam Enquiry Commission, has unsettled the Kerala society through her revelations of sex, sleaze and manoeuvres. She told the commission over the past fortnight how she had used her body and mind to charm ministers, politicians and powerful men into her circle. Saritha has CDs, videos and audio recordings of her telephone conversations with her partners. She has a list of 13 important men who had physically used her. Her allegations have rocked the State government. Kuriyedath Thathri had wanted to teach the men-folk of her time a lesson. But Saritha’s aim was to use her men to build up her firm Team Solar into a mega company. Thathri unwittingly ushered in social change. Saritha might end up contributing to the downfall of Chandy’s government in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Deputy Editor