Sthanika Brahmins

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Sthānika Brāhmins
Jnanashakthi Subrahmanya.jpg
Shri Jnanashakti Subrahmanyaswami, Pavanje
Regions with significant populations
Indian states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Seemandhra, Telangana, Tamilnadu,
Tulu, Kannada and Sanskrit

Sthānika Brāhmins belong to Hindu Tuluva Smartha Brahmin group.

They are the oldest Tulu Brāhmins[1] primarily from the coastal Karnataka (Kanara) also known as Parasurama Kshetra..They are the main Prathistapanacharyas/Founders of all ancient temples of tulunadu.

They are one of the oldest brahmins of South India and are referred to in many ancient historical epigraphical inscriptions as; Buddhivantha, Sthaneekam, Sthanapanthulu, Sthanadhikari, Sthanatthar, Sthalatthar, Sthanapadiyan, Thaniker, Sthanikar, Sthānādhipathi, Sthānādhyaksha, Naga brahmins, Nager brahmins, Nagoji brahmins, Tuluva brahmins. Sthānika Brahmins of south canara are referred to as Subrahmanya Sthānika Tulu Brāhmins as Lord Subrahmanya is their kuladevata and Kukke subramanya temple was their main center until the 16th century.[2]

Sthānika Brāhmins are followers of Advaita Philosophy and practice the Panchayatana form of worship. They are disciples of the Sri Sringeri Jagadguru Samsthanam from the time of Sri Adi Shankara.[2]


Sthānika Brahmins are a sect of Hindu vedic Smartha Brahmins.


The word Sthānika is a sanskrit word and has meanings such as 'Fixed worshiper', 'Chief priest of a temple',[3] 'chief tantri', 'Tantraagami', 'melu shanthiyavanu','Sarva shastra paramgata', 'Manager or Administrator of temple', 'One who holds managerial position', 'Governor of a place', 'Tax collector', 'People of local place', etc. Sthānika Brahmins acquired their name owing to their managerial positions, and also as 'Chief priest of a temples' ,"Tantris", Temple administrators, tax collectors etc.[4][5][6][7]


Sthānika Brāhmins history in Tulunadu dates back even before 380BC. From Historical records (stone, copper plate inscriptions and literature) ranging over a period of more than twenty centuries till the end of the 18th century, we can deduce and establish the facts, the origin, the history and the importance of the Sthānika brāhmins in the history of Tulunadu. Most of the temple in South canara region were maintained by Sthanika brahmins[citation needed]

Sthānika Brāhmins were highly respected by, for their character, knowledge, proficiency, and efficiency. During the first quarter of the eighteenth century A.D., the Sthanikas in Tulu speaking region of coastal Karnataka lost their reputed position because of the acute Saiva-Vaisnava (Madhva shivalli cult) rivalry,[8] the changed political set up, the British revenue policies and as they joined their hands in freedom fights supporting the local rulers of that time.

In 1836 Dewan Lakshminarayya a Sthanika brahmin started the first Non-cooperation movement in south canara and prepared a plan to revolt against the British rule with the help of the king of Kodagu. It was called the Rebellion of kalyanaswamy (kalyanappana kaatukaayi).Till 1845, the administration & chief priesthood of all temples was with Sthanika Brahmins and had an influence over large section of the people. The Sthanika Brahmins who were at the helm of affairs in anti-British movement, were sacked from their traditional posts and their hereditary trusteeship of the temple was also cancelled. A large number of people from the community also have been hanged to death by British and the community became economically poor.[9][10][11]

Today sthanikas being well educated and economically well positioned joining their hands establishing unity among the different subsects of Tuluva Brahmins and continue to be disciples of Sringeri Sharada Peetham.[12]

Followers of Adi Shankara

Language and food[edit]

The Sthanika Brahmins' mother tongue is "Tulu", "Sanskrit" and "Kannada". They speak a different dialect of Tulu called Brahmin Tulu, unique to their community. Sthanika brahmins are purely vegetarians.

Domestic culture[edit]


Traditionally, they wore a simple cloth around the waist called a Mundu, also called as veshti, in domestic settings. When they had to travel, they wore two sets of cloth in addition known as a vasthram.

Sthanika brahmins wore their traditional hair tufts (kuṭumi or śikhā or jhuttu or chundu) on the back of the crown.

Gotra and pravara[edit]

The following gotras and pravaras are found in the community.[13]

Gotra Pravara
Vishwāmitra Vaishwāmitra — Devarāta — Oudala
Vishwāmitra Vaishwāmitra — Mādhucchandasa- Dhānanjaya
Kāshyapa Kāshyapa — Avatsāra — Naidhruva
Vasista Vāsista — Indrapramada — Bharadwasu
Āngirasa Āngirasa — Āmbarisha — Youvanāshwa
Bharadwaja Angirasa - Bhāraspatya - Bhāradwaja
Bhārgava Bhargava - Chyavana - Apnavaan
Atri Ātreya - Archanānasa - Shyāvashwa

Surnames of families[edit]

Sthanika brahmin families surnames are as follows;

  • Ayya - Similar to Iyer of tamil. It is derived from Arya of Sanskrit
  • Oja- Meaning Acharya; An honorific title given to certain families by kings and emperors of yore along with Tamra patra shasana (certificate). It is given to those families well versed in all four vedas; vedangas;upangas; and upavedas along with tantragama and mantravada. They are teachers and examiner in chief in gurukulas and ghatikasthaana temples e.g-Chera Nattoja-They are the moola prathistapanacharya /tantragami of Puttur Shree Mahalingeshwara, Dharmasthala shree Manjunatheshwara (previously called Kuduma Mahadeva), Vittla shree panchalingeshwara and Polali shree Rajarajeshwari Temples.
  • Moroja- They were the high priests of Mayoorvarma king and moola prathistapancharya and tantragami of Kukke Subrahmanyeshwara temple.
  • Shrouti- Families who has performed nakshtresti yagyna
  • Agnihotri- Families performing agnihotra of three aahitaagnis namely garhapatya, avahaneeya, dakshinayana agnis as daily rituals
  • Deekshitha-Families who were consecrated as brahma for Somayaga
  • Somayaji- Families who have performed Somayaga
  • Tantri- Families well versed in Shaiva, pancharatra and Vaikhanasa agamas and Shakta tantras.
  • Samaga- Families of samaveda and sangeeta shastra (music)
  • Bhatta- Families which officiates Gruhya sutra rituals.
  • Dwivedi,*Trivedi,*chaturvedi -Families proficient in the number of vedas studied
  • Shastri- Families proficient in vedangas like siksha, vyakarana along with pratishakya, nighantu/nirukta, jyothisha, Kalpa, Chandas.
  • Sharma - Families proficient in upanga darshana shastras like vaisheshika, nyaya Samkhya, yoga, meemamsa, vedanta.
  • Joisha- Families teaching and practicing jyothisha/astrology
  • Avadhani- Families teaching siddhanta and samhita part of astrology and preparing panchangam.
  • Upadhyaya- Families proficient in kavya, vyakarana and dharma shastra
  • Rayaru, Raya, Rao-Brahmin Families appointed by kings to look after the whole affairs of admimistration and state through medium of temples.
  • Hebbar- Family of repute in conducting car festivals of temples
  • Acharya- Family of teachers of vedas

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karnataka State Gazetteer Volume 1, 1973, Dakshina Kannada District Chapter 3 - People
  2. ^ a b STHANIKAS - Their Socio-religious and Economic Role in Karnataka (A. D. 1215-1800) - Dr. K. G. Vasanthamadhava
  3. ^ Economic Conditions in Karnataka, A.D. 973-A.D. 1336, p216
  4. ^ Tulu Nadu - Samajika Chariteyalli ondu samshodhanatmaka Vivechane
  5. ^ Sthanika Brahmanaru by I. K. Shrinivasa Rao, School Book company - 1957
  6. ^ Tulunadina Itihasadalli Sthanika Brahmanaru
  7. ^ History of Sthanika Brahmins by Sri C. S. Rao
  8. ^ Being Brahmin, Being Modern: Exploring the Lives of Caste Today, Ramesh Bairy TS, 2010, p.163 ISBN 978-0415585767
  9. ^ History of Sthanika Brahmanas
  10. ^ The Land with A Rich Past, R P Sambasadaslva Reddy, dated 02 –July-1996, Deccan Herald News paper
  11. ^ South Kanara, By N. Shyam Bhat, Chapter 7: Rebellian of Kalyanaswami
  12. ^ Tattvāloka, Volume 25, Publisher: Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Educational Trust, 2002, p 134
  13. ^ Ahnika Darpanam — Dr. N.V Upadhyaya

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