Tamil Brahmin

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Tamil Brahmin
Regions with significant populations
Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh
Related ethnic groups
Pancha-Dravida Brahmins, Tamil people

Tamil Brahmins are Tamil-speaking Brahmins, primarily living in Tamil Nadu, although a few of them have settled in other states like, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. They can be broadly divided into three religious groups, Gurukkals who follow Saivism, Iyers who follow the Srauta and Smartha tradition and Iyengars who follow Sri Vaishnavism.


A Tamil Brahmin marriage ceremony

Tamil Brahmins are divided into three groups -- Iyers, Iyengars and Gurukkal. Iyers form the majority of the Tamil Brahmin population and are Smarthas, while Iyengars are Vaishnavas and Gurukkals are Saivas.


Iyers are Srauta-Smartha Brahmins, most of whom follow the Advaita philosophy propounded by Adi Shankara. Advaita Vedanta has been in existence from way before Adi Sankara. In fact, Vedanta refers to itself as Anadi, meaning without beginning[1][2] and are concentrated mainly along the Cauvery Delta districts of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur[citation needed] and Tiruchirapalli where they form almost 10% of the total population. However the largest population reside in Nagercoil, making up to 13% of the city's population[3][4][5] They are also found in significant numbers in Chennai,[6] Coimbatore, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Ambasamudram, Palakkad and Trivandrum.[7]


Iyengars follow the Visishtadvaita philosophy propounded by Sri Vikanasa or Sri Ramanujacharya. They are divided into two sub-sects: Vadakalai (Northern branch) and Thenkalai (Southern branch). They are devout worshippers of Lord Vishnu.


The sect of Sivāchārya or Gurukkal form the hereditary priesthood or in the Siva and Sakthi temples in Tamil Nadu. They are Saivites and adhere to the philosophy of Shaiva Siddhanta. They are well versed in Vedas, Agama Sasthras and follow the Agamic rituals of these temples. Because of these cultural differences, intermarriages with other Tamil Brahmanas are rare even to this date. Gurukkals are sub-divided into Tiruvalangad, Conjeevaram and Thirukkazhukunram.

Notable people[edit]

Spiritual Masters and Religious scholars[edit]

Poets, Writers and Journalists[edit]

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Social activists and politicians[edit]

Army/Navy/Airforce Chiefs[edit]



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Drama and Cinema Industry[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Iyer". Uttarakhand Information Centre. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  2. ^ Folk Songs of Southern India, Pg 3
  3. ^ "Brahmins seek reservation in education and employment". Thehindu.com. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  4. ^ G. S. Ghurye, Pg 393
  5. ^ Migration and Urbanization among Tamil Brahmans, Pg 5
  6. ^ Migration and Urbanization among Tamil Brahmans, Pg 15
  7. ^ "Approaching societal issues through the eyes of Ambedkar". dtNext.in. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  8. ^ Barry, Ellen (15 March 2016). "With Sri Srinivasan, Indian Town Prays for a 'Son' on Supreme Court". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  9. ^ "AIADMK's pick of no-nonsense Girija Vaidhyanathan as Chief Secretary surprises many". 22 December 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  10. ^ Venkataramakrishnan, Rohan. "One big reason Swamy attacking Arvind Subramanian is very different to his anti-Rajan campaign". Scroll.in. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  11. ^ Anthony, Andrew (30 January 2011). "VS Ramachandran: The Marco Polo of neuroscience | Profile". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Srinivasa Varadhan". Abel Prisen. Archived from the original on 5 November 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  13. ^ "An interview with social scientist P Radhakrishnan". Rediff. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  14. ^ "The story of LIFCO, the nearly 90-year-old publishing house in Chennai". The Hindu Businessline. 25 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Forbes India Magazine - Print". Forbesindia.com. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  16. ^ Sivakumar, B.; Vasudevan, Shilpa (12 August 2015). "Google CEO Sundar Pichai famous for his phenomenal memory". The Economic Times. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Viswanathan Anand: Who is he?". India Today. Retrieved 18 April 2018.