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

Being 'aiyanGAr'.

From: SundaraRajan (
Date: Sat Feb 23 2002 - 06:20:32 PST


It is good to have a posting from a native Telugu-speaker like Sri Maruti
with a note on how the words 'aiyan' (prathamA-vibhakti/vERRumai in Tamil)
and 'aiyA' (Tamil prathamA and ashTami-sambOdhanam) and 'aiya' (Tamil
ashTami-sambOdhanam & Kannada prathamA) would combine with the Telugu 'gAru'
and set in Telugu language.

>From what Pavan says, it would be 'aiya-gAru' in Telugu,
and not 'aiyangAr'.   Assuming 'aiya-n' is exclusively Tamil
(which it is not), it is possible it goes as a loan-word to Telugu,
but the loan would be modified as per Telugu 'samAsa' rules,
and 'aiya-n' would not retain the 'a-n vikuti' (the 'n' terminal).
If this were at all to be traced to Telugu 'usage',
then what were the Kannada and Malayalam coinages
to denote the Tamil Srivaishnava ?

And, most importantly, what was the TAMIL connotation at all
for a Srivaishnava ?  The words 'vaishNavan' and 'SrivaishNavan'
occur freely in the inscriptions of the Great Temple of Srirangam.
('Sri-vaishNava-Sri' A. Krishnamachari, Srirangam,
has undertaken a systematic study of the inscriptions.)
I can offhand mention the instance of two inscription tablets of
parAntaka SOzha the First (early 10th cent.) embedded in the
tiru-k-koTTAram (cow-pen).

I have listened to some good recitations of
Telugu opera recitations (was it of Tyagaraja's
"prahlAda-bhakti-vijayam"?) and the word used in them
was simply "Srivaishnuvulu", but "aiya-GAru" did not figure in them.
I coud not trace "aiya-GAru" in the famed ANDAL classic,
'A-mukta-mAlya-dA' of Krishnadeva-rAya (one of the
Telugu pancha-mahA-kAvyam-s), nor in the minor work
of Pedda Tirumalacharya (grandson of the revered
Tallapakkam Annamacharya).
Can someone browse thro' some standard classics of the
17th century (when "aiya-GAru" is said to have come into usage)
for corroboration ?

I am reminded of some single-minded and
unacademic attempts to derive every expression from Tamil,
as indeed to trace everything to Sanskrit.   One such was when
someone said that the Tamil "pAr-ALu-mannRam" was the
source of the English "parliament".    I pointed out that
"parliament"  was not English but French, from 'parler', to speak.
Secondly, the so-claimed Tamil original "pAr-ALu-mannRam"
had a totally different semantic signal,
meaning the 'seat of governance' and not 'forum of debate'.
Thirdly, "pAr-ALu-mannRam" did not figure in any of the
Tamil classics, even works of say 1850 before Tamil faddisms of 1950's
replaced all academic direction and research.   This ponderous
mouthful of "pAr-ALu-mannRam" was patently a hurried and
post-1950 synthesis requisitioned from someone who was not aware
of classics, any classics whatsoever.

'aiya' is basically dravidic, and there are attempts to derive it from
the Sanskrit 'Arya' and the prAkr`ta "ajja".

But, attempting to relate the 'aiya' stub of 'aiyanGAr'
to the Tamil 'aiyam' (= uncertainty) is by far the most fanciful.
The appropriate thing here is to remember the common law of Philology
that "sound philology is unsound".

I have heard that 'aiyanGAr' could be the Tamil-Sanskrit hybrid
for "pancha-samskArin", as per the following from
Padma-puranam ~

"tApa: puNDras-tathA nAma mantrO yAga-S-cha panchama:
amee vai pancha-samskArA: pAramaikAntya-hEtava:"

(The Srivaishnava/paramEkAnti  sacrament is in five parts
-- "ai " and "anGam" --  namely, the Sankha-chakra imprint on the
shoulders, the Urdhva-puNDra lines drawn on the forehead symbolising
the blessed feet of the Lord, the instruction in and recitation of
the esoterics/'mantra', and the 'yAga' or daily worship / tiru-ArAdhanam.)
This verse occurs in several other texts including the parASara-samhitA
of pAncha-rAtra Agama.

'aiyanGAr' as a Tamilism for 'pancha-samskr`ta' SrivaishNava
appears plausible.   Pillai-perumal Aiyangar (of the gem-like
'ashTa-prabandham') was the well-known
scholar-poet-devotee to whom this honorofic attached.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja-dAsan
tirumanjanam Sundara Rajan
at Srirangam.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Maruthi Pavan" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2002 6:53 PM
Subject: aiyan in Telugu

> Dear Sri Venkatesan,
> the word 'aiyya' in telugu ( 'aiyan' in Tamil )
> is a word of respect to a highly revered person.
> The word ending with 'n' is unique to Tamil
> and thus I feel that its 'aiyan'. ( aiyya + n )
> or the reverse (aiyan - n = aiyya in Telugu ).
> Even before this discussion,
> I used to equate this word 'aiyangar'
> to aiyya + gaaru  in Telugu.
> In A.P., many srivaishnavaite archakas and scholars are
> reffered to with the word 'aiyya gaarlu' ( plural ).
> Maruthi Ramanuja Das

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

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to