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Iyengars/Sri Vaishnavas/Brahmins

From: K. Srinivasan (
Date: Fri Aug 04 1995 - 08:19:59 PDT

Here are a few points which complement the detailed response of Sadagopan.

>From: Manjula V Vangipuram <>
>Well What is the difference between Brahmins/SriVaishnavas?
> Other than the known one that is brahmins follow shiva and
> sri-vaishnavas follow vishnu.  Even I can give that reason.
>Another thing I have always wondered is.. well what is the
>difference between Iyengars and Sri-vaishnava's why is it
>that where ever I go I here tamilians say that Iyengars are 
>better and telugus say Sri-vaishnavas are better .

Not quite true. Even if you implied "Smarthas (called Iyers in TN)",
as Brahmins, they do not follow Siva exclusively. Almost all
respect Vishnu. Even Adi Shankaracharya has composed on Vishnu.
You know Poet Tyagaraja was a devout "Smartha Brahmin" and a
devotee of Sri Rama. ooththukkadu venkatasubba Iyer (same time as
Tyagaraja) composed excusively  on Krishna (in Tamil and Sanskrit).
I recently learnt that there are some Smarthas who wear "thiru maN",
go only to Vishnu temples and yet consider themselves as Iyers, followers of
Sri Sankara and not of Sri Ramanuja!

In a simplistic manner one can say:
Advaitin = Smartha = Adi Sankara's followers  (Iyer in Tamil)
Visistadvaithin = Sri Vaishnava = Sri Ramanuja's followers (Iyengar in Tamil)
Dvaithins = Vaishnava = Sri Madhva's followers (Many Tulu and Kannadigas are called Raos)

Particularly among Sri Vaishnavas, the caste was unimportant
according to Sri Ramanuja himself. So you were indeed technically
correct in using "Brahmins vs. Sri Vaishnavas".

Actually the term "Iyengar" was first used much after Sri Ramanuja.
It was one Kandhadai Ramanuja Ayyangar from Tirupathi area.
He was not a Brahmin. (Ref. a paper on saaththaadha Sri vaishnavas).

I think (yet to confirm) Iyengars were classified as a Brahmin subcaste
during the British regime. (At that time, Nayaks in Bombay were classed
as Brahmin, in Mysore as Vaishya and in Tamil Nadu as Sudras etc.).

>Manjula. V. Vangipuram

I suppose you noted that your father's ancestry is to
"64. vangeepuraththu nambi" one of the 74 mudhali appointed by Sri Ramanuja.

Your mother's ancestry is to  24. kidaambi aachchaan or 73. kidaambi perumaaL

K. Srinivasan