You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : February 2002

Re: Digest Number 532

From: M.N.Ramanuja (
Date: Wed Feb 13 2002 - 04:30:52 PST

>Dear Bhagvatottamas,
>Recently there had been some correspondence regarding the meaning of the
>word "iyengar". The word "i" denoting five is also a Tamil word (not
>Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada alone). I am attaching a mail on the subject
>forwarded by adiyEn's brother Sri TCA Sadagopan.

Adiyen would like to add a few more reflections on this. Etymologically ai
in tamil kannada and telugu is the initial part of the word Aindu,aidu in
tamil and kannada. But I wonder how I or Ay or AI of various forms
of iyengar denote 5. Since iyengars have panchasamskaram it is
conveniently imagined that origin of iyengar is this.

But when we consider the word Iyengar on par with Iyer we have to explain
what has panchasamskaram to do with Iyers.

With this point of view, if we contemplate on the word ARYA of samskrit,
it flashes that Aiyya, iyya, aiyyan etc are the downward derivatives of
ARYA which means respectable elderly person or gentleman.
In this context some member asked the meaning of HEBBAR. In kannada
Haaruva means Paarpaan or brahmin. The prefix HEB to Haaruva makes it
HEBBAR(uva) to mean super brahmin or big brahmin ( the iyengars usually).

Coming back, we might have come across words like emm Aiyan iraamanujsan.
Aiyyan here is a respectable elderly wellwisher endearing gentleman. For
iyers this Aiyan was converted into Aiyer or Iyer. In the case of
srivaishnavas, Aiyan became Aiyen+ gars adding GAR to increase
respectability and for differentiation of subcastes, though we do not
know when such a inter-social understanding came about.
Besides,  Aiyengars are also variously spelled as Iyengar Ayyangar etc
precluding any relation with five in my opinion.

Incidentally there is also a group called AAyangaar which is the title of
AAyi Jananyaacharya family (guru Of SRI Manavalamaamunigal) which is
meaning motherly gentleman (who gave cooled milk to God as for a child).
So this debate may continue with other members' feedbacks.

Adiyen Ramanuja Dasan

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
To Post a message, send it to:

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to