[Advaita-l] New member introduction: Venkatesh Murthy (Some questions on Brahmin-sects)

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Jun 28 01:42:21 CDT 2010

On Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 10:29 AM, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>wrote:

> I am Venkatesh Murthy, working as an IT professional in Bangalore. I am
>  interested in studying smartha and other brahmin customs culture,
> philosophy, to teach my kids about it. I will be a learner on the list.
> The first set of questions I have -
> What is the difference between Iyers and other smartha brahmin sub sects
> for example desastha, nambudiris, konkan brahmins and others?

Namaste.  Welcome to this discussion group.  It would be more appropriate to
raise questions on Advaita-related topics.  Here are some replies:

Iyers are the predominantly Tamil-speaking smarthas.  There are Iyers
originated in Tamil Nadu  and live there even now.  Tanjavur, Madurai,
Tirunelveli, Kumbhakonam, etc. are Iyer origin places.  There are Kolar
(Karnataka) Iyers too.  The famous K.V.Iyer of the gymnasium is of that
section.  Then there are the Brahaccharanam Iyers (Manjuppudi) of
Karnataka.  I think the well known liiteratteur D.V.Gundappa is from that
sect.  Then of course there are the Sanketi-s who are said to have migrated
from ShenkottaH of  TamilNadu and settled in various parts of Karnataka.
Rudrapatnam, Mysore, Shimoga, Mathur, etc.

The 'vaDama' sect of Tamil Iyers are said to have migrated to Tamil Nadu
several centuries ago from the North, Narmada region.  In Tamil 'north' is

Deshasthas are Madhwas to my knowledge.  These people are in Coimbatore and
Kumbhakonam and some parts of Tamil Nadu.

Nambudiris are Brahmins of Kerala.  They have some peculiar social customs
that can be known from some articles in Wikipedia.

Konkan Brahmins are Gauda Saraswat Brahmins, as I understand.  Kamata,
Shenoy, etc. are their surnames.

Then there are the Shivalli Smartha Brahmins too.  Babbur Kamme, and other
Kamme varieties are there in Karnataka.

> Are there no  differences?

There are a lot of custom based differences.  In the present days there is a
lot of inter-marriages across various sects of Smarthas and even across
Smartha-Madhva-Srivaishnavas too.  I have close relatives who are from
Madhwa and Srivaishnava groups.

> Nambudiris put their shikha on the top of the head, not back, as shown in
> the sankaracharya movie. Is this accurate?

Even the Dikshitars of Chidambaram have their tuft somewhat like the

> Todays newspaper: Palakkad Iyers migrated to Kerala and Mysore Iyengars
> migrated from Srirangam.

Yes.  The Kerala Iyers are originally from TamilNadu.  Kumbhakonam,
Tirunelveli etc. are places from where they migrated to Kerala over two
centuries ago and settled in places around Palakkad and Tiruvananthapuram.
In fact there are many Iynegars (Srivaishnavaites) too from Kerala.  They
first centered round the Anantapadmanabhaswamy Temple in Tiruvananthapuram
and spread to other parts like Cochin and Malabar regions.  I know some of
those Kerala Iynegars.

Iyengars from Srirangam did migrate to places like Mysore.  Mandyam Iyengars
are a popular sect.

> It is also said that palakkad Iyers were not treated well by Nambudiris.
> And some also married Nair women. Is this correct? Mysore Iyengars were
> treated well. Jayalalitha is a Mysore Iyengar?
> To my knowledge Palakkad Iyers, known as Bhattar-s, were hightly respected
by Nambudiris.  My maternal side has some stories to tell about how well the
Iyers were regarded by Nambudiris.

Iyers marrying Nair women was and perhaps is a practice called

I do not think this forum is the right place to discuss these things.  Since
you asked a question I have replied.  It is best to keep such discussions
private,  outside the scope of this Advaita-specific group.


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