A warrior’s life is to war. A leader’s life is to lead. A farmer’s life is to farm. To rise above your life is to know uncertainty. To sink beneath your life is to know despair. – Vigrahin Patitraka, Chapter 6.23
Physical Description and Physical Outlook
Hierarchies exist within castes as well as between them. Although Vudrani are among the most accepting of all humans in regard to skin-tone variations, they do prefer those with a natural coloration the fair-skinned Avastani might call “tanned”. In general, people closer to the Vudrani ideal (light, but not too light) tend to be of a higher standing in a caste. The farther from that ideal, the lower the person’s standing, although those whose skin is “too dark” are generally seen as more attractive than those who are “too light.”
Whenever possible, Vudrani don luxurious garments of the finest cloth, favoring loose-fitting garb appropriate to the warm clime of their homeland. Many of these fancy clothes come to Vudra via trade from Tian Xia, while those fineries produced in the Impossible Kingdoms themselves are traded in Katapesh and Absalom. Vudrani women tend to wear brightly colored saris and wrap their heads in beautiful scarves. Gold jewelry, including piercings of the ears, nose, and eyebrows, are common. Married women of all castes adorn the center of their foreheads with dots of colorful pigments (usually red), and unmarried women of wealthy families frequently attack small jewels or other decorations to the same location using gum resins. Vudrani men adorn themselves with knee-length kilts or loose pants tied with silk at the waist and ankles, as well as simple shirts tied closed in the front. Men not of the powerful bhuridhana or rajah castes rarely wear any decorative jewelry, while men of those high castes festoon themselves with golden baubles and massive jewels.
The Vudrani strive for enlightenment and personal betterment, but they do not often reach beyond their station. Theirs is a culture steeped in ancient traditions that define roles, and many do not see it as proper to work above or below what the fate of their birth dictates. This mindset stays with the Vudrani, even when they travel thousands of miles west to visit Jalmeray and the Inner Sea, and it is only after several generations of life among the Avistani and Garundi that they begin to relax these beliefs.
The Vudrani come from distant Vudra, an immense and powerful empire made up of several nations collectively known as the Impossible Kingdoms. The affluence and stability of the Impossible Kingdoms support a large population. Despite its affluence, though, the Vudrani people do not content themselves with sitting idly by. Exploration – for the purposes of trade, conquest, or pure curiosity – has put the people of Vudra on nearly every continent of the world. Vudrani merchants are known as trustworthy and fair business partners and purveyors of exotic wares.
Throughout Vudrani society, such heavy emphasis is placed on the creation and care of male offspring that female infanticide remains a constant problem. Baladata (“Girl Schools”) offer an alternative to leaving an unwanted daughter out in the elements. These state-supported orphanages only house girls abandoned by their parents. Many girls who grow up in Baladata often learn useful (though rarely pleasant) trades that allow them to later contribute meaningfully to society. A large minority, though, learn how to fight, navigate at sea, survive in the wilds, and otherwise prove themselves as able explorers. These atanapratta become valued members of ships’ crews, adventuring bands, and expeditions into unknown territories.
Within the Inner Sea region, Vudrani tend to keep to themselves on their island colony of Jalmeray, although brisk trade with Katapesh, Quantium, and Absalom sees them frequently visiting those important ports. Agents of the Isle of Jalmeray often go on diplomatic missions throughout the region, but they are trusted in few courts outside Absalom. Most Vudrani encountered in the Inner Sea region belong to the padaprajna, kezavazreshin, or atanapratta castes, giving the people of Avistan the impression that all Vudrani are warriors, merchants, or explorers.
Vudrani culture places great value on beautiful, deliberate movements and the ability to spin a good story. Graceful veiled dancers catch the eyes of Vudrani men as easily as velvet-voiced storytellers set aflutter the hearts of Vudrani women. Even when not attempting to woo members of the opposite sex, the Vudrani value precise movements and eloquent speech.
Vudrani culture remains stable thanks to the people’s strong belief in the role of birth, which in turn draws itself from religious texts that define human existence in a series of castes. According to Vudrani beliefs, a person’s caste depends on the actions of their previous lives. Someone from a low caste only recently earned the right to be born as a human, while those of the highest castes are celebrated as examples of what good deeds over multiple lives can do for a soul. The ultimate goal of all this rebirthing is to serve the gods as an Anucara in Nirvana.
Beside this belief in reincarnation of the spirit, the Vudrani worship a bewildering array of thousands of unusual gods. As a former mortal human (as the stories go), Irori is hailed as the epitome of enlightened perfection – the ideal human. Even with his hundreds of aspects, though, Irori is but a small part of an ancient religious system little understood outside Vudra itself.
Various religious texts help guide the Vudrani in understanding their complex fiath. Chief among these collections of wisdom is the Azvadeva Pujila. Along with this book, the Mizravrtta Brahmodya recounts the history of the world as told to the sage Balazastrin by an avatar of the goddess Likha, the Teller. Finally, the Vigrahin Patitraka provides a set of instructions, told in a series of questions and answers, on how to properly live in order to move one step closer to Nirvana in your next rebirth.
Gruhastha, the Keeper, is said to be the watchful nephew of Irori, as well ans an honored adviser. According to lore, he is assigned the task of keeping watch over Golarion until enough beings reach enlightenment that the world itself becomes a part of Nirvana. Irori reached enlightenment through transcendence and this started the Iro-Shu philosophy which is popular in Tian Xia as well. Raumya, the Evil Prince, is followed by hidden cults all over Vudra. He appears as the antagonist in many myths and stories. Suyuddha, the warrior queen, is the patron goddess of the elite padaprajna caste, delighting in calculated, coordinated war. She is a tactician of great skill.
As an outgrowth of the Vudrani love of beautiful movements, study of martial arts (often first created in Tian Xia but perfected in Vudra) grows more popular with each passing year. So skilled are Vudrani martial artists that, on occasion, even masters from Tian Xia cross the treacherous sea separating their lands to study the precise motions of the Vudrani. Although the Vudrani are not known for their innovation in creating new or derivative styles, in the eastern half of the world their exacting mastery of existing schools brings them great accord.
Language and Naming
Almost every day Vudrani speak the language Vudrani, as it is considered the language of the gods, although tribal and regional languages continue to flourish across Vudra.
Most Vudrani have three names: a given name, a middle name (usually the father’s given name), and a family name. Both given and family names vary greatly by region, religion, and caste.
Male: Bala, Barid, Dakshi, Darpan, Hava, Krama, Mahasi, Manujyestha, Nitha, Pratapa, Sajan, Sumna, Viraj, Yantur
Female: Abha, Anahita, Harita, Hema, Isa, Jayazi, Lalitya, Nagina, Navya, Padma, Parvati, Rati, Sajni, Viraji, Zaci
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting