Tamil Brahmin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Tamil Brahmins)
Jump to: navigation, search
Tamil Brahmin
Total population

(2015: 2,359,000

2.75% of population of Tamil Nadu[1][2])
Regions with significant populations
Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, 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, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. They can be broadly divided into three religious groups, Gurukkals who follow Saivism, Iyers who follow the Srauta and Smarthas tradition and Iyengars who follow Sri Vaishnavism. Today Brahmins form 2.75% of Tamil Nadu's population.[3]


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[4][5] 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[6][7][8] They are also found in significant numbers in Chennai,[9] Coimbatore, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Ambasamudram, Palakkad and Trivandrum.


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).


The sect of Sivāchārya or Gurukkal (Tamil: குருக்கள்) 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]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Accurate statistics on the population of Iyers are unavailable. This is due to the fact that the practice of conducting caste-based population census have been stopped since independence. The statistics given here are mainly based on estimates from unofficial sources
  2. ^ "Tamil Nadu brahmin population"
  3. ^ "Brahmins seek representation in Legislative Council". The Hindu. October 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Iyer". Uttarakhand Information Centre. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  5. ^ Folk Songs of Southern India, Pg 3
  6. ^ "Brahmins seek reservation in education and employment"
  7. ^ G. S. Ghurye, Pg 393
  8. ^ Migration and Urbanization among Tamil Brahmans, Pg 5
  9. ^ Migration and Urbanization among Tamil Brahmans, Pg 15