Since one commie chettan is talking about slavery in Kerala, here's my thought on the matter. It is indeed true that castes like Pulayars were attached to land and worked as peasants. Such working class were found throughout the ancient world, and not just unique to Kerala.
Along with the lands they also were sold and bought by nobles and landlords. But we should remember that same was the case of warriors like Nairs who were also attached to noble lords or kings. They were required to protect their master throughout their lives.
If their master dies, they too were obliged to die with him as act of loyalty or avenge his death. Toma Pires in 16th century for instance states this.
This is also the opinion of Duarte Barbosa from 16th century.
Apart from European accounts, native accounts also confirms this fact that Nairs were obliged to serve in wars. Aithihyamala for instance says during the Shaktan Thampuran of Cochin, all Nair youths from Nair housholds were obliged to serve in military.
Many of these Nairs were very young and their life itself was uncertain. They may die anytime in a battle. Barbosa also reports that many of these Nair soldiers were from poor background and got little sum for serving their master. Their duty was to serve their Lords day & night.
Famous poet Kunjan Nambiar in 18th century also wrote about hungry and distressed Nair soldiers.
Also, another thing to note is that Pulayars, even when attached to land, were taken care of and was given Kanji (rice porridge) even during the time of famines. This is well recorded in Mathilakam rekhakal of Shri Padmanabha Swamy temple.
Rice porridge or Pazhankanji was common dish in households of pre-modern Kerala.

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