Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Brahatcharanam group of Iyers



Brahatcharanam  group  of  Iyers

Compiled  by
P.R.Ramachander







(I am not an expert in this subject    and whatever  has been given below are from books   that I have as well  as on line search .Please  pardon me  if there is a mistake .If you comment about it  , I would make   the needed  correction. This  is only my effort   to understand  our Brahmin community)

 Brahacharanam

  There   are several sub group  of Smartha   Brahmins  . The major groups    are  Vadamas   and Brahachananams.
Brahatcharanam is a Iyer Tamil Brahmin Sect. The word Brahat in Sanskrit means "great" or "vast" or "significant" and the word charanam refers to feet. The name Brahacharanam can be thus literally translated as the great feet. Their exact origins are not clear but based on indirect evidences in history it can be inferred that their presence inTamil nadu has been there before at least 1000 AD. 
This can also be inferred from the fact that many of the   agraharam  villages  of Brahatcharanam sect   have very ancient origns.
  One historian  divides Brahmin sect as  Brihaspathi Brahmins (who were vaishnavites)   and Shukra Brahmins  (Shaivites).He classifies  Brahacharanam bRahmins  as Shukra  Brahmins
       Brahacharanam    is derived from the  word Bruhatcharanam   which could be split in to  Brihat Charanam(big  step)  or Brihath  Acharanam  , which could mean  “ great  practice of rituals”  or   if you take Brhath   to mean great i e Vedas  , it could be taken to mean  “Followers  of vEdic rituals” . I have also   heard some one explain it as bare   footed, though  I am not able to agree   with it.
   If we take   it to mean “big steps”  , , it would be indicative of the fact   they    were  the first to take   big steps   and reach Tamil Nadu. People believe they entered   Tamil Nadu through  Sathya Mangalam,
    Most of Smartha Brahmins of Tamil Nadu feel  that Brahacharanam people    are most orthodox , which  could be because   they were Bruhath   Acharanam.  Historians are  of the opinion that  they     are the first  Brahmins to enter Tamil Nadu.  “Most Brahacharanam are worshippers of Shiva, and they cover their forehead with sacred ashes. Some used to wear the symbol of linga on their heads. However, the Sathyamangalam group have some members who wear the vaishnava mark.
Women also dress like other Iyers. In the ancient times, the cloth worn by the women used to be of little more than a knee's length. Among the Milaganur Brahacharanam, the Adrishya Pondugal ceremony is celebrated in which four women, a widow and a bachelor are invited to a feast. This was done in order to propitate four women who disappeared due to the ill treatment of their mothers in law.

It has been documented that some Bracharanam who lived in places like Mangudi were such rigid saivaites that they would not even utter Govinda's name and lived a life of Stern austerity


Brahatcharanam    group of Brahmins    are further   divided into

Kandramanickam (a village  in Sivaganga  district)
Milanganur
Mangudi ( There are six villages  named  Mangudi  in Tamilnadu )
Mazhanadu (Trichy district)
Pazhamaneri (Thanjavur district)
Musanadu (?)
Kolathur (village in Kanchipuram district)
Marudancheri (Sivaganga   district near  Kandarmanikkam)
Sathyamangalam (erode district)
Puthur Dravida* (Chithoor   district, Andhra  Pradesh)

*These are those  who have  migrated in large numbers to Puttur in Andhra Pradesh where they form the Puthur Dravida community. Most probably  these divisions are based  on the initial  place of  settlement of these  Brahmins.
    A significant number of Brahacharanams have migrated to Kerala, where they are part of the Kerala Iyer community. They preferred   to live in separate   streets  in most of the agraharams. When I was young  intermarriage   between Vadamas   and  Bruhatcharanams was   very rare  .
    One of my friends in Bangalore    told that there  is  a Bruhathcharanam  Brahmin  association in Bangalore    who maje it a point to offer Bikshavandanam   at Kanchipuram Matam every year.

A majority of Brahatcharana Brahmins are   followers   of Adhi Sankara  and are   followers of Advaitha.  But some of them are Veera Saivas   and do not go temples  other than Lord Shiva .Though most of them  did the allotted   profession of Brahmins, history records   that some of them worked as soldiers   and commanders  of chola kings  like Raja Raja .

Some of the well known Brahatcharanam Brahmins were :-

1. Manakkal Nambigal disciple of Uyyakondar an early discple of Nathamuni
2. Vaidyanatha Dikshitar of 17 th century the renowned author of Vaidhiyanatha Dikishiyam- Smurthi MukthabhalaNibandana Grandham which laid down the code of conduct for brahmins.
3. Maha Vaidyanathan Sivan of Vaiyacheri, Tanjore considered by some to be the greatest singer composer afterthyagaraja
4. P.S.Sivaswamy Iyer - Advocate General of Madras during British times
5. Mahagnichit, Vajapeyayaji, Srowtha Bhaskara, Srowtha Ratnam,Nalliseri Brahmari N.R. Jambukeswara Srowthigal- One of the renowned Vedic Priests of the present centures
6. Manakkal Rangaraja a renowned Carnatic Musician
7. Kalki Sadasivam - Freedom Fighter and husband of M S Subbulakshmi
8.Sir C.V.Raman  , the great scientist who won nobel prize (mangudi Brahatcharanam)
9.Venkatraman Radhakrishnan, younger son of Sir C.V. Raman, prominent astrophysicist.
10.Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Nobel Prize winner in Physics from India, nephew of C.V.Raman
11.Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, one of the founding fathers of the Indian constitution(Puthur DRavida)
12.Alladi Ramakrishnan, son of Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy, founder of Matscience India
13.Alladi Kuppu Swamy, prominent jurist, son of Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy
14.V.S. Ramachandran, an eminent neuroscientist, grandson of Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer
15.Dr D.V.Gundappa, Padmabhushan winner, poet, philosopher, philanthropist (donated entire purse in 1968 to GIPA - Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs, Bull Temple Road, Basavanagudi, Bangalore)
16.Dharmarajadhvarin and Ramakrsnadiksita, father and son who lived in the 17th and 18th centuries. There were scholars of Nyaya and Vedanta and published works like Tattvacintamaniprakasavyakhya and Vedanta Paribhasha.
17.Sir T. Sadasiva Iyer, Indian judge.
18.R. V. Srinivasa Aiyar, Indian politician.
19.Krishnan Raman Brahmarayar, Commander-in-chief of the Chola army
20.Mahakavi C.Subramania Bharathi, a Tamil poet and fighter
21.Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, Dewan of Mysore, regarded as the "maker of modern Bangalore".
22.,Dorairaja Iyer, scholar of Bharatanatya
23,V. Balakumaran, Tamil writer, playwright and novelist
24.Vedam Venkataraya Sastry, Sanskrit scholar in Madras Christian college. Translated many Sanskrit works into Telugu

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