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Re: small doubt

From: Mohan Sagar (
Date: Tue Feb 05 2002 - 05:18:17 PST

Dear Sri Venkata Ramakrishna,

In response to your queries:

Venkata Ramakrishna wrote:

> In AP, i never saw anyone with a suffix of 'Iyengar'.
> We have 'Chari', or 'Chary' or 'Acharyulu' as the suffixes to the names.

The term "Iyengar" is actually based on the Sanskrit/Telugu/Kannada root that
refers to the number five, which would seem to indicate that what has now
become a name that is often used in Tamil Nadu and largely used in Karnataka in
varied forms, was probably a respectable title for someone who had received
panchasamskAram, the five sacraments of SriVaishnava faith.  Over time,
however, this word has become associated with specific castes of SriVaishnavas,
and hence its use has been dropped for the most part to maintain the equality
among devotees that forms a unique part of the SriVaishnava experience.  A few
families, particularly those who have emigrated to the US, continue to utilize
this title as a convenient last name.

The suffix Chary (or Chari) is highly caste based, and with very few
exceptions, is used primarily by brahmin followers of SriVaishnavism as a means
to identify their scholarly role in the community.  Over time, particularly in
Andhra, it would seem that the term has now come to refer to any male hailing
from a SriVaishnava family.  The use of "-ulu" ending is unique to Andhra to
make the name more in line with the proper grammar of the Telugu speaking

> Why is it so? What is the difference between Sri Vaishnavites in Andhra and
> other parts? Is there any or is it just naming convention?

Ideally, there are no differences in philosophy or practice between
SriVaishnavas in Andhra and those in other states. However, there have been
many cultural adaptations and dilutions that have occurred over time as people
acculturated themselves to the largely Telugu community of which they are now a
virtually indistinguishable part.  These have become more solidified in the
past 50 or so years as the regions became more clearly defined as states.

>From what I have been able to piece together from speaking with relations and
scholars from the area, the history of SriVaishnavas in Andhra can be traced as
far back as Sri Ramanuja's time, when such notable Acharya Purusha paramaparai
families as those of Sri Periya Thirumalai Nambi, Sri Thirumalai Anandanpillai,
Sri Parasara Bhattar, Sri Koyil Kandadai Annan, and many, many others settled
in and around the divya dEsham of Thirumalai, and several of the abhimAna
sthalams, such as the temples at Sri Kurmam and Simhachalam, for the purposes
of serving the Lord and propogating SriVaishnavism among the local
populations.  Later exoduses occured at various other times in SriVaishnava
history, as well, particularly just after the brutal ransacking of Srirangam in
the 1200s, and the during the great Vijayanagaram Empire.

This latter period could be called a Golden Age of SriVaishnava history in
Andhra, as it marked the time of the formalization of worship at the divya
dEsham at Ahobilam, and the renovation and restoration of Thirumalai.  It was
during this period that SriVaishnavam spread throughout Andhra, and also was
probably the time that the large agrahArams, such as those that can still be
seen in and around Guntur, were sectioned off exclusively for the use of
SriVaishnava families.

> Recently i came to know that there are two groups again in Iyengars: i)
> Vadagali ii) and Tengalai.

This subject has been discussed many times in some detail in this forum.  You
may wish to peruse the Bhakti archives for more information on this. Please
feel free to contact me to me if I can be of further assistance on this.

I hope that this brief introduction helps.

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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