The Nambudiri Brahmans are one of a number of caste groups living in Kerala State, India. Most of the description given in this article refers to Nambudiri society as it existed circa 1900. Traditionally, they were a wealthy aristocratic landed caste group of highest ritual and secular status, who maintained their position by the practice of primogeniture and a complex relationship with lower-ranking matrilineal castes including the Nayars. After the advent of the British toward the end of the eighteenth century they gradually lost their political power. They rejected Western education early on and, apart from those few who took to communism, became entrepreneurs in the second half of the twentieth Century, or managed to get an advanced education, the majority in the 1990s are living in much-reduced circumstances.
Traditionally the Nambudiri Brahmans have lived on the southwest coast of India, in what is now the state of Kerala. (For a description of the area see the article on Nayars .) The Nambudiri Brahmans today make up less than 1 percent of the Hindu population of Kerala, but their status as the former elite of the state makes them important to document. The Nambudiri Brahmans speak Malayalam, a language belonging to the Southern Branch of the Dravidian Family of languages.