Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Smarthas with Vaishnavite marks among Kerala iyers

The  Smarthas   with  Vaishnavite  marks   among  Kerala iyers

      Migration to Kerala iyers took place due to  various reasons   and was mainly from Thanjavur and  Thirunelveli   districts  of Tamil Nadu.   They possibly settled there    around 400 years back and built a culture  of their own . Their food underwent a great change due   to availability  of  groceries that   they were  used to in Tamil Nadu  .  The new recipes   that they evoived were  a wonderful combination of  Tamil Nadu and the recipes  of  Nambudiris of Kerala . Since the worship in Kerala temples were   essentially Thanthra based  , they  built their own temples   wherever  possible   and   the Vedic Pundits who migrated along with them started  their own  Veda Patasalas   and preserved   the  recitation style   they were  used to  .
    Strangely most of the people who migrated to Kerala were  iyers. While most of these  iyers wore Vibhuthi  (a smartha custom) , some of them wore  Gopi  crescent   like Madhwas   and some  the red Oordwa pundra   like   the Vaishnavites of Tamil Nadu . It is also interesting to note  that  the majority of people wearing Oordwa Pundra are      from two  of the eighteen villages  in Palakkad viz  Thirunellai    and Pallipuram . Even   among those who normally wear a crescent  with Gopi Chandana  , there are a few   who wear short  crescents and others   who wear  long  gopis.  Being very much intersted  in the  history of Kerala Brahmins  , I had enquired   from those who wear   Gopi and Namam whether    they are Vaishnavites and they told   they were but followed all the Acharas, manthras  and  ceremonial dress  of Smarthas  .For all practical  practical purposes   except for Oordwa pundra they were  Smarthas. Another intersting practice   is that  , in  most of the  Vishnu/Krishna/Rama temples  managed  by the  Tamil Brahmins , on  special days   they summon  an Azhvar   to do the Pooja . I could not get information as    to   the village from which these Azhvars came .

    I know that among my friends  , there are vey  many  relegious scholars well  versed in  Smartha   and Vaishnavite  Customs . I would like   to know  more   about  this peculiarity   among  Palakkad Brahmins . 

1 comment:

Anantha Narayanan said...

+P.R. Ramachander Thanks for this question. I am a no expert in this field, but I belong to both Thirunellai (paternal) and Pallipuram (maternal) villages. Its not only in namam that we differ, we invoke vishnu instead of "mamopartha" in sandhyavandhanam and all sankalpams. Both my grandfathers were vadhyars.

Regarding azhvar, they are called to do "dwaja arohanam", "avarohanam" in ratholsavam and certain pujas only.

What I could assume is that there were two or more separate inflow from tamilnadu. my grandfathers would say we came from srirangam. my theory is that initially the vaishnavites came from tamilnadu, who settled in thirunellai/pallipuram. then in a separate movement later smarthas came in larger number and settled in other 16 villages of palakkad town (more villages in district).

why i believe that vaishanavites came first is because of the lower number of villages which exist, and for them to have survived the bigger number of smarthas whom could have came later.

However there is a popular belief that tamil brahmins were called by the ruling kings for various priesthood duties. i am not buying this argument mainly because of the big number of settlements, and the way in which there are separate temples built in agraharams instead of existing temples.