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Karnataka Iyengars

From: Ranganath Sudarshan (tsranga_at_leland.Stanford.EDU)
Date: Sun Jun 04 2000 - 10:53:04 PDT

Dear Bhagavathas,
 
I'm an undergraduate student in California (born and raised in the U.S), and I am from a community known as the Hebbar Iyengars.  As many of you may know, Hebbar Iyengars are a community of SriVaishnavas distributed throughout various parts of Karnataka.  I have always asked my family what our origins were, and the answer I seem to get from everybody, including some very elderly relatives in India, is simply that "we don't know."  
 
No one seems to be quite sure whether the Hebbar Iyengars migrated from Tamil Nadu some hundreds of years ago, or whether they were a previous community in Karnataka who joined the Sri Vaishnava fold during Ramanuja's hiatus at Melukote.  Hebbar Iyengars are a distinct community, with marriage outside the community, even with other Karnataka Iyengars (e.g Mandyam, etc) being a very recent phenomenon.
 
Hebbar Iyengars speak a very distinct dialect of Tamil that most Tamil speakers say sounds like Kannada, and most Kannada speakers say sounds like Tamil.  It clearly borrows very heavily from Kannada in terms of vocabulary, but I find it amazing that the community has preserved its unique language till this day, which is neither Tamil nor Kannada in a pure sense.
 
What is frustrating to me is that no one really seems to have an exact idea of the history of these Hebbar SriVaishnavas.  I'm posting this message to ask if any one is aware of this history, and perhaps to start a general dialogue about the Sri Vaishnavas of Karnataka.  Please anyone respond to share your thoughts, ideas.
 
Namo Ramanujaya Namah
 
Ranganath


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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