[Advaita-l] Temple Worship by Gurukkals/Sivacharyas

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Thu Jan 28 17:05:02 CST 2010

The issue here is what they hold as important. The shaiva priests hold
shaiva-agamas to be more important than the vedas and hence lesser status.
You can see Sankara also dismissing pA~ncarAtra followers as not holding the
veda in high regard (explicitly calling it lower than the veda itself) and
hence should not be accepted (towards the very end of his discussion on the

shaiva-Agamas or pA~ncarAtra Agamas are not held as smR^iti by the orthodox
brahmins. Ramanuja and others tried to change this - but you can see the
tension between vedic and non-vedic elements in their sub-sect arguments.

shrauta karmas or smR^iti karmas have equal validity as well explained by
the mImA.msaka-s. The section on the pAshupata and pAncarAtra in the
brahma-sUtras was specifically to combat the view that since some of the
elements of both were accepted by sampradAyavits, that they have to be
accepted completely as smR^iti.

On a more practical level, gurukkals are usually trained neither in veda
recitation (except for some sUktams and perhaps rudra-chamakam in the case
of the shaivas), nor in the smArta karmas.


On Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 5:35 PM, S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I have a question regarding Brahmins who perform worship at Temples,
> especially in Tamilnadu.
> According to a Wikipedia article (may of course be mistaken!):
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurukkal_brahmins/Sivacharyas
> ---
> Migration of Brahmins
> Tamil Nadu welcomed these new migrants with open hands. The stories of the
> migration of Agasthya and his being the founder of the river Cauvery are
> chronicled in ancient Tamil myth...
> Many of these migrants whose main occupation was learning Vedas and
> performing Yagnas took to Temple worship in Tamil Nadu by gaining
> proficiency in agama Sastras. These were called Gurukkal (gurukuls) in
> general and some of these prominent groups were again grouped in to
> Sholiyars. Since the initial migrants felt that these people have committed
> a big mistake by taking up Temple Worship, they were looked down by the
> other groups.
> ---
> I find the last sentence above a bit puzzling - why are those Brahmins who
> worship in Temples given a "lower" status? Is it the case all over India, or
> is it only in Tamilnadu?
> My guess: Shruti recommends the path of Vedokta Karma, and Temple worship
> is more aligned with the Smritis, hence the "lower" status - smriti-enjoined
> Karma is typically not considered to be on par with shruti-enjoined Karma.
> Is this a reasonable guess?
> But I think such divisions may be more sociological than anything else,
> since Ramana Bhagavan always gave an extremely high position to temple
> worship, and even said that an ascetic's body is "like a temple".

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