Shivalli Smarta Brahmins
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Followers of Shri Adi Shankara
|Regions with significant populations|
|Coastal districts of Karnataka, Sahyadri region of Shivamogga and Chikkamagalooru Districts of Karnataka AND Coastal region of Kasargod Districts of Kerala|
|Kannada, Tulu, a variant of Kannada known as Kundagannada. Originally Tulu was their language, few centuries back.|
Shivalli Smartha Brahmins mainly reside in the northern part of Udupi taluk, Kundapura taluk, western parts of Shimoga and Chikmagalur districts in Karnataka and in the Kasaragod district of Kerala in southwest India.
The term Shivalli comes from the geographical origin of this community, the Shivalli village near Udupi. The Smartha word comes from their Vedantha faith. Adi Shankara propagated the Panchayathana Pooja system which worked towards the unification of diverse Sanathana Dharma followers (e.g. Soureya, Shaktheya and Shaiva).
This community is part of the Shivalli Brahmin community. These Shivalli Brahmins are believed to have been brought from North India by Alupa kings at the end of 11 century A.D.and who were known to have built several Shiva and Shakthi temples around coastal Karnataka. On the advent of Madhvaism around Udupi, many Shivalli families migrated north and east to Kundapura, Sagara, Thirthahalli, Koppa and Shringeri. Many of these families then adopted the Udupa because of their origins. For those families which re-grouped around Skandapura or Skandavara or Kandavara, the word Kandavara was added to their family names.
The population of Shivalli Smartha Brahmins is spread in the districts of Udupi, Shimoga, Dakshina Kannada, Chikmagalur and Kasargodu. All Shivalli Smarthas hail from the region of Tulunadu (Undivided South Canara District). It was during the Spread of Dwaita that many shifted to Malnad regions of Shimoga and Chickmaglur to preserve their way of life. Now they also live in other cities like Banglore, Mysore etc.
The Mathas of the Shivalli Smartha Brahmins preach the Advaita philosophy and the Bhagavata Sampradaya. The Shringeri Sharada Peetam in Shringeri is the main matha for all Smarthas Brahmins in Karnataka including the Shivalli Smartha Brahmins.
Balekudru Shri Matha
The Balekudru Shri Matha is situated in Udupi taluk. Its followers live in Udupi and Shimoga districts. They mainly hail from Udupi, Karkala, Kundapura, Sagara and Thirthahalli Taluks. They speak Tulu in Udupi and Karkala, the Kundagannada dialect in Kundapura and Standard Kannada elsewhere. The Kandavara Brahmins are followers of this Matha. The
Hariharapura Shri Matha
This matha is situated in Koppa taluk. Its followers live in Chikmagalur and Shimoga districts. They speak the Kannada language.
Thirthamukthapuri Shri Matha
This matha is situated in Thirthahalli taluk, Thirthamuttur Village. Sri Yoganarasimha Swamy is at Math's temple. Its followers live in Udupi, Shimoga and Chickmaglur districts. The followers of this matha are termed "Panchagrama Brahmins" as they hail from five villages in South Canara. In Kundapura taluk Kundagannada is spoken while others speak Standard Kannada. Sri Gopalkrishna is worshipped in the Mula Matam at Shankaranarayana, Kundapura Taluk. Disciples are from 5 Gotras i.e.,Aangirasa, Bharadhvaja,Kashyapa, Vashista & Vishvamitra. Surnames are Heggade, Kodgi, Yadiyala, Chatra, Kannantha, Bhat, Hebbara, Vaidya, Hemmanna, Rao etc. In 1389 AD. 13th Swamiji of sri Sringeri matam Sri Chandashekhar Bharati Swamiji (1st) gave deeksha to Sri Jnanendra Swamiji (1st).
Edaneeru Shri Matha
This Matha is situated in Kasargod Taluk. Its followers are spread around south of Dakshina Kannada and Kasaragodu Districts. They speak the Tulu language.
Unlike Shivalli Madhava Brahmins the affiliation of Shivalli Smartha Brahmins to the Smartha mathas is not exclusive. People can be followers of more than one smartha matha. In some parts of Kasargod and southern Dakshina Kannada the Madhava mathas also wield some influence.
It is difficult to ascertain the population of Shivalli Smartha Brahmins as sub-caste censi are not conducted in India. However, based on the community organizations, it can be estimated at 150,000.
Historically, Shivalli Smartha Brahmins were temple priests in the temples and also Vaidik Purohiths.[clarification needed] They were also teachers in the Gurukula kind of Aigala Matha.[clarification needed]
Apart from their main profession of Pourohithya (Priestly Duties), they also practice agriculture.
These days, Shivalli Smartha Brahmins have migrated out of their traditional places and have established themselves in many other fields, such as the hotel industry and academia.
Shivalli Smartha Brahmins worship Adithya, Ambika, Vishnu, Gananatha and Maheshawara every day as part of the Panchayathana Pooja, symbolizing the "unity in diversity" of Sanathana Dharma practitioners. Each family attaches itself to one temple.
Originally, Shri Anantheshwara temple (which is next to Shri Krishna Temple) at Udupi was the principal place of worship for all Shivalli Brahmins (including Shivalli Madhva Brahmins). Shri Anantheswara temple is stated to be the most ancient temple in the entire coastal Karnataka area, dating back to 6th Century. Udupi Shri Krishna temple stands on land belonging to Shri Anantheswara. So, as annual rent (geni in Kannada language), the Brahma Ratha of Shri Krishna Matha has been lent to the Shri Anantheswara temple festival every year. Later as Shivalli Brahmins migrated, they have shifted to more diverse worship places.
Shivalli Brahmins follow the Brahmin gotra system and affiliation of a brahmana consists of gotra, pravaras, sutra (Kalpa) and shakha. Shivalli Smartha Brahmins share the same Gothra as that of Shivalli Madhva Brahmins. Gotras of Shivalli Brahmins are:
Marriages within the same Gotra (Sagotra) is not prescribed.
Shivalli Brahmins originally used a surname derived from where they settled. Since they were a Tulu-speaking community, the word thyaye or aaye (meaning belonging to or person from) was a common addition to their surnames. So numerous families (like Putturaya, Kedilaya, Sampigetthaya, etc.) in the south of coastal Karnataka continue to use those surnames. However, most Shivalli Smartha Brahmins after migrating out of the Tulu region, gave up the Tulu-sounding surnames for new ones.
- Prof. M.Gopalakrishna Adiga
- Dr.U R Ananthamurthy
- Girish Kasaravalli
- Shivamogga Subbanna
- Ghatam Giridhara Udupa
- Nagara Srinivasa Udupa
- Singer Archana Udupa