From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Thenkalai Iyengar
Regions with significant populations
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh
Iyengar Tamil, Brahmin Tamil, Kannada, Telugu
Related ethnic groups
Iyengars, Vadakalai, Tamil people

Thenkalai are a subsect of the Vaishnavite Iyengar community of Hindu Brahmins. Thenkalais are followers of Ramanuja, Pillai Lokacharya and Manavala Mamuni.

Differences with Vadakalai Srivaishnavas[edit]

Absolutely no need to worry about the differences. Though Vadakalai and Thenkalai were non existent during Raamaanuja period, the opinions were formed later.These opinions merely opined to Strengthen the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya but not to inequate either Thenkalai or Vadakalai(neither vedanta desika nor pillai lokacharya have an intention to lessen each other).Though existing with two opinions the mutual respect and recognition for both existed till a certain point of time until the British Rules/ Court System came to existence. This led to the formation of Fanatics in both the sects as Power and control were distributed among them. Both the Tenkalai sampradaya and Vadakalai sampradaya are the strong pillars of the Sri Raamaanuja Sampradaya.None of the 18 differences with formed the two sects can actually be proved or disproved by either of the sects.

The main difference lies in doctrine i.e. the relation of divine grace to human response. The main views of Thenkalais that are not in line with Vadakalais are:

  • Thenkalai Iyengars lay more emphasis on worship of Vishnu while Vadakalais assign an equally important place to Vishnu's consort Lakshmi.
  • Thenkalais do not ring bells during worship.
  • Though both Vadakalais and Thenkalais revere Sanskrit, the Thenkalais place a higher important to Tamil shlokas than Sanskrit.
  • Unlike Vadakalai Iyengars, Thenkalai Iyengars forbid widows to shave (tonsure) their head. While Vadakalais support the tonsure quoting the Manusmriti,[1] Thenkalais oppose it quoting the Parashara Smriti.[2]
  • Thenkalais accept that kaivalya is in an eternal position within the realm of Vaikuntha. They say, however, that kaivalya only exists at the outer most regions of Vaikuntha.
  • Thenkalais say that God's seemingly contradictory nature as both minuscule and immense are examples of God's special powers that enable Him to accomplish the impossible.
  • Thenkalais take prapatti as the only means to attain salvation;[3] while the Vadakalais believe in Karmayoga, Jnanayoga, Bhaktiyoga and Prapatti as means to salvation.[4][5]
  • Thenkalais accept Prapatti as an unconditional surrender, while the Vadakalais consider prapatti as an act of winning grace.[6]
  • According to Thenkalais, exalted persons need not perform duties such as Sandhyavandanam; they do so only to set a good example.
  • Thenkalai iyengars follow Manavala Mamunigal and Pillai Lokacharya, while the Vadakalai Iyengars follow Vedanta Desika.[7][8]


The Thenkalai Iyengars are generally followers of Vanamamalai mutt, Sriperumbudur mutt and Tirukkoilur mutt in the Kanchipuram and Viluppuram districts of Tamil Nadu,[9] and Tirumala Jeeyar Swamy Mutt in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh.[10]

Thengalai Thirunamam

List of people of Thenkalai Iyengar descent[edit]



External links[edit]