Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Classification of Brahmins of Tamil Nadu

Classification of Brahmins of Tamil Nadu

Compiled by

(I  am sure most of you do not bother like me about   the Sub divisions among us. What I am presenting is for sake of knowledge. I started taking interest in this due to a write of Sri Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri   regarding this subject. Though I have   spent a lot of time  on this, I am  not sure it is complete  and also has several mistakes. I would be grateful  if you can point  out them to me  so that I can correct them. In the next part  I would be giving   the very large number of Gothras   that  exist among us  .)

A.According  to veda and Suthra
The Brahmins of Tamil Nadu can be classified by  the Vedas  that they follow  . Again those people   who follow  a Veda   are sub divided by the Grihya Suthra  that  they follow to do their rituals.There are  no followers of Athavana  Veda  In Tamil Nadu  .The Followers  of Yajur Veda   is further divided  in to  Krisha Yajurveda  and Shulka  Yajurveda  . The ritual a  Brahmin follows depends on the Veda   that he belongs and the  Suthra that  he has chosen to adopt . Thus the Brahmins Of Tamil Nadu can  be divided in to

1.Krishna YajurvEda-Apasthambha Suthra
2.Krishna Yajurvedac –Bodhayana  Suthra
3.Shukla Yajaurveda  -- Kanva Suthra
4.Rig Veda – Aswalayana  Suthra
5.Rig Veda- Kathyayana  Suthra
6.Sama Veda  - Drahyana sutra 
7.Sama Veda- Ranananyani sutra

  There are other Large number of Suthras  in Each Veda.Some of them have been lost ..Some existing Suthras have followers  in many pockets in North India.  Among the Tamil Brahmins the maximum  number are Followers of  Krishna Yajur Veda  , followed by  Rig veda, followed by  Sama Veda followed by Shukla Yajur veda.
   Though Some  very learned men know more than One Veda  , in Tamil Nadu we do not have  persons following more than one Veda like  Dwivedi(2 Vedas), Trivedi(Three Vedas ) and Chathurvedi (4 Vedas)

B.Classification according to Philosophy   that  they follow

Majority of the Tamil Brahmins are   either followers  of Adhi Sankara   or Saint Ramanuja. Though in Kumbhakonam there   are few  families following Madhvacharya  , the number is meager  . These Brahmins   were settlers  from Karnakata  during the time of Krishna Deva Raya.
   The  Followers of  Adhi Sankara  follow the philosophy  of Advaitha  and are worshippes  of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu  .Goddess Shakthi, Lord Subramanya   and Lord Ganapathy  .
The Followers of Ramanuja called   Vaishnavitee  follow his philosophy  of Visishttadwaitha  and worship Lord Vishn and Goddess Lakshmi   and all their incarnations.
 The Followers   of Saint Madhwa   follow the Philosophy of Dwaitham and  apart from worshipping all forms of Vishnu also worsjip  Lord Ganesa

C.Classification according to their place of origin,

       The Vast majority of Tamil Brahmins  originate from Tamil Nadu   but there are settlers   from Andhra  , Maharashtra   and Karnataka   who have been living with them for several centuaries .They   are part of Tamil Nadu  and follow the customs  of their own.

D.Classification  by Sub castes among Smartha Brahmins
1.Smarthas  or the followers  of Adhi Sankara   are divided  in to several sub groups
1.Vadama  which is divided in to
a.Vada Desathu Vadama
b.Then Desathu Vadama
e.Thummagunta Dravida
j.Puthur Dravida
3,Vadhyamas  (Eighteen village Vattimas)
b. Choliya
d.Kesika(Hiranya Kesigal)

4.Ashta SAhasram

5.Chidambaram Deekshithars

6.Mukkani Brahmins  of  Thiruchendhur

E.Apart from al these sub divisions   Brahmins  living in different parts of Tamil Nadu and outside  have  built up a culture  of their own

1.Thanjavur Brahmins(relatively rich and experts in fine arts especially  Carnatic Music)
2.Thirunel Veli Brahmins
3.Palakkad  Brahmins  of Kerala
4.Kolar iyers  of Karnataka.
5.The Pandi Brahmins   of Kerala.

Classification by Sub Castes  among  Vaishnavites
a.Then Kalai

b.Vada Kalai  

c) Kandhayars

d) Swayamachariars

e) Chozhiyars

  • Viswanathan Yk Dear mama Kolar Iyers are Actually known as Ashtagrama Iyers originally all hailed from Tamil nadu and settled in Karnataka more than 500 years back most are all vadamas and yajurvedic follower s of apasthambha sutras most of the Rituals, are followed as that of Tamil Iyers and please refer the details of this in Wikipedia Ashtagrama grama Iyers/Kolar Iyers just I want give feed back on this article for your information with kind regards
    Like · Reply · 2 hrs
  • Samyuktha Subrahmanyam · Friends with Meenakshi Subramaniam
    Namaskaram mama! Shankotai Iyers are also there, known as Sankethi Iyer.
    Like · Reply · 1 hr


  1. There are other groups of Brahmins, by profession, Bhattachariyars/Gurukkal. They serve the deities in temples, but they are kept separate in matrimony. A similar situatuation for the prohits (in Tamil we call them 'Vathiyars). They guide the karthas doing pleasant/sorrow rituals. They are not mingling with the other subsects. This can be called 'untouchability' even among the brahmins. Now the children are educated and are in good jobs in MNC's. But prohitam suffers as there are not many boys interested in choosing 'prohitam' as a profession as it is not viable if not lucrative. But the write-up is informative and the author has spent time collecting data. Hope many would atleast read. Please also look my psot on Veda Union of Europe, the group chanting Sri Rudram at Prasanthi Nilayam.

  2. I agree with you.Partly the problem has been to ceratain extent solved in case of Vathiyars in cities as they have become very rich.The situation is extremely bad in case of Purohiths of villages and Vathiars in small villages,Unfortunate.

  3. Do we have Jain equivalents in Tamil/Kerala Brahmins

  4. DEar Raman, The great Jnana Sambandar is supposed to have won over religious arguments and drove them all away.There are some h jain monuments including temple near Kudumian Malai near Trichy.As far as I know there are know jain temples in Kerala.

  5. DEar Raman, The great Jnana Sambandar is supposed to have won over religious arguments and drove them all away.There are some h jain monuments including temple near Kudumian Malai near Trichy.As far as I know there are know jain temples in Kerala.

  6. Dear Sir,
    There is good number of people with Shukla Yajur - Bhodayana - Yagyavalkya

  7. Dear Sir,
    There is good number of people with Shukla Yajur - Bhodayana - Yagyavalkya

  8. HARE KRISHNA, Dear Mr P.R.Ramamchander

    Thanks for this topi. we are in Canada. Most of the details given are unknown to us. We are part of Naidrupa Kasyapa gotram families it seems are we r originally from Suchindrum or Tirunelveli. When we say abhivaadaye... we end of saying abivaadaye, kasyapa, aapasthaambara, naidrupa, naidrupa kasyapa gotra aapastamba sutra, ramasubramaniya aham asmi bhogo. But we do not exactly what is it means? kindly guide us

    1. THe wods abot which Veda you follow is nissing in your Abhivadahye,

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  13. Excellent compilation of information about Brahmin community. Please elaborate on various sukthams followed by Brahmins such as Apasthamba Sutram, Bodhayana Sutram, Sadhyashada Sutram and so on