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Thenkalai Iyengar
Thenkalai Sri Vaishnav Urdhva Pundram with Hanuman and Garuda.jpg
Thenkalai Sri Vaishnav Urdhva Pundram with Hanuman and Garuda
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 Sri Vaishnava Iyengar community of Hindu Brahmins. Thenkalais are followers of Ramanuja, Pillai Lokacharya and Manavala Mamuni.

Differences with Vadakalai Srivaishnavas[edit]

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]


Thengalai Thiruman

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]

Notable people of Thenkalai Iyengar descent[edit]



External links[edit]