Classification of Brahmins of Tamil Nadu
(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
3,Vadhyamas (Eighteen village Vattimas)
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