Brahmin community in South India

Brahmin community in South India

Brahmins (also Brahmans) have historically been a caste (one of the four varṇas) in India. They are traditionally priests, educators, scholars and preachers in Hinduism.

The Brahmin castes may be broadly divided into two regional groups: Pancha-Gauda Brahmins and Pancha-Dravida Brahmins as per the shloka, however this shloka is from Rajatarangini of Kalhana which was composed only in 11th CE and many communities find their traces from sages mentioned in much older Vedas and puranas.

कर्णाटकाश्च तैलंगा द्राविडा महाराष्ट्रकाः,
गुर्जराश्चेति पञ्चैव द्राविडा विन्ध्यदक्षिणे

सारस्वताः कान्यकुब्जा गौडा उत्कलमैथिलाः,
पन्चगौडा इति ख्याता विन्ध्स्योत्तरवासि

Translation: Karnataka (Kannada), Telugu (Andhra), Dravida (Tamil and Kerala), Maharashtra and Gujarat are Five Southern (Panch Dravida). Saraswata, Kanyakubja, Gauda, Utkala (Orissa), Maithili are Five Northern (Pancha Gauda)

Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, Brahmins belong to two major groups: Iyer and Iyengar. Iyers comprise of Smartha and Saivite Brahmins and are broadly classified into Ashtasahasram, Vadamal, Brahatcharnam, vathimal, Sholiyar, and Gurukkal. This is segregated according to the hierarchy. There are mostly followers of Adi Shankaracharya which form about three-fourths of Tamil Nadu’s Brahmin population. Iyengars comprise of Vaishnavite Brahmins and are divided into two sects: Vadakalai and Thenkalai. They are mostly followers of Ramanuja and make up the remaining one-fourth of the Tamil Brahmin population.


In Kerala, Brahmins are classified into three groups: Namboothiris, Pottis and Pushpaka. The major priestly activities are performed by Namboothiris while the other temple related activities known as Kazhakam are performed by Pushpaka Brahmins and other Ampalavasis. Sri Adi Shankara was born in Kalady, a village in Kerala, to a Namboothiri Brahmin couple, Shivaguru and Aryamba, and lived for thirty-two years. The Namboothiri Brahmins, Potti Brahmins and Pushpaka Brahmins in Kerala follow the Philosophies of Sri Adi Sankaracharya. Nagariks are the common name for north Indian immigrant brahmins The Brahmins who migrated to Kerala from Tamil Nadu are known as Pattar in Kerala. They possess almost same status of Potti Brahmins in Kerala.


In Karnataka, Brahmins are broadly classified into 4 groups: Madhwa (followers of Shri Madhwacharya), Smartha and Iyer (followers of Shri Adi Sankaracharya), and Iyengars (followers of Ramanuja’s vishiShTAdvaita). They are further divided into several sub-castes. Important among them are Halenadu Karnataka Brahmin, Hoysala Karnataka Brahmin, Babboru Kamme brahmins, Uluchu Kamme brahmins, Badagunadu Brahmins and Sankethi Brahmins. Besides these groups, there are other brahmin communities such as, Havyaka, Kota, Shivalli, Saraswata, etc.


In Andhra Pradesh, Brahmins are broadly classified into 3 groups: Vaidika (meaning educated in vedas and performing religious vocations), Niyogi (performing only secular vocations) and Dravidlu (In the Coastal Andhra Pradesh). They are further divided into several sub-castes. However, the majority of the Brahmins, both Vaidika and Niyogi, perform only secular professions.


In Maharashtra, Brahmins are classified into five groups: Chitpavan Konkanastha Brahmins, Gaud Saraswat Brahmin, Deshastha Brahmin, Karhade Brahmin, and Devrukhe. As the name indicates, Konkanastha Brahmin are from Konkan area. Gaud Saraswat Brahmins are from Konkan region or they may come from Goa or Karnataka, Deshastha Brahmin are from plains of Maharashtra, Karhade Brahmins are perhaps from Karhatak (an ancient region in India that included present day south Maharashtra and northern Karnataka) and Devrukhe Brahmins are from Devrukh near Ratnagiri.


N S Ramanand at 18 Mar 2011

Please give more details of uluchu kamme brahmins.

BHARATH at 08 Apr 2011


Hari at 01 Aug 2012

Pranams. Any suggestions from anyone to improve the standard of life of the brahmins?

S. Venkat Sridhar at 03 Aug 2012

I will soon post an article on the same sir. Do go through it when it is posted. Thanks for visiting website.Hope you liked our articles.

manjunatha at 07 May 2015

i think as a whole we should work for uplifting of our community, make sate wise groups, work together for over all improvement

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