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Re: Digest Number 532

From: TCA Venkatesan (
Date: Mon Feb 18 2002 - 19:40:11 PST

Dear Sri Ramanuja,

You are correct that "ai" or "i" in Tamil and other
south indian languages represents five in one sense.
However, the concern you raise about "ay" etc. is
is an issue of transliteration. Ultimately one
expects that they all mean the same thing no matter
how spelled. Since we don't seem to know for sure
what the origin of the word is, one can only
speculate based on the word. In that sense all
interpretations have to remain on equal footing;
one does not become a larger fancy of the 
imagination than the other.

In addition, I don't see the necessity to equate
it with the term Iyer, though it might seem 
necessary to do so because of the brahminical 
order in Tamilnadu.

Speculating freely then, one can break up the
word in Tamil as i + angam + ar (those with the
five parts) and hence the relation to the 
panchasamskaram. Speculating even further, one
can even think of it as iyan + kar(ar) - those
in the duty of the high one or the Lord. Perhaps
in the fashion of the sandhi rules in Sanskrit,
in combination this became iyengar. I do not
know of a Tamil word such as "gar" with some
meaning, so I am not sure how that would fit
with iyan.

Others have speculated that it could be the 
Telugu word of respect "garu". Is the word 
"iyan" one that stands for a noble person 
in Telugu also? If it is, then that would also 
make sense.

adiyEn madhurakavi dAsan
TCA Venkatesan

--- "M.N.Ramanuja" <> wrote:
> 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
> Ramanuja

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