Ravishankar Venkatraman sunlike at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 24 08:50:55 CDT 2001

Good Morning all.

>My understanding was that they are a class of brahmins and  only they
>can become the temple priests of shiva temples in TN. They are not
>shaiva veLLaala-s. But they are shaiva-s and not smarta-s like rest of
>the aiyars.

It is correct that they are considered to be brahmins as they wear the
sacred thread and do veda adhyayanam. However, they do not do Panchagama
puja as smarthas do. Hence, it may be believed that they are not followers
of Sankaracharya, but certainly do hold the Sankaracharyas in high esteem.

>If I am not mistaken, aiyars consider them
>slightly at a lower level than them on social standing.

I believe that the caste system has given to a lot of misconceptions in that
we do not have exactly 4 castes. We have multitudes of castes with shades of
brahmins and kshtriyas and so on. In Brahmins, we have the aiyars,
aiyangars, madhwas and so on. The Chidambaram Dikshitas claim that they
directly descended from Lord Siva and hence they are the highest class of
Brahmins. In Kerala, they regard namboodhiris to be higher than aiyars. No
wonder aiyars find the SivAcharyas to be of a lesser status than themselves.

>do not give that great a status to shankarAchArya-s like aiyar-s. (this
>para may be wrong).

Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal started the "Kacchi Mudhoor
Archakas Welfare Trust" to pay salaries to the temple archakas (Sivacharyas,
Vaishnava Bhattacharyas and other non-brahmin pujaris in small village
temples), as many temples are not able to pay salaries to these people.
Still this trust is running well and it pays a monthly salary (may not be a
great amount) to many of these people. I got interested in the activities of
this trust several years ago, as I found that in many temples the priests
were not being paid at all, inspite of their doing regular puja. The lands
owned by the temple are leased to individuals who do not pay back the
required amounts to the temple. HR&CE in Tamilnadu has been very forgiving
with these individuals and that affects the temple functioning. If anybody
in this forum is interested in this trust activities, please let me know. I
can give the required information.


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