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Swayamaacharis

From: Satyan, Nagu (Nagu.Satyan_at_den.mmc.com)
Date: Wed Oct 23 1996 - 12:44:49 PDT

1. NAMA Home Page address requested by one of the members, is as 
follows:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/chari/

2. Sri Krishna Kalale had asked a question about Swayamaachariyaars.  
My response is based on the fact that both my grandfathers were Swayam 
Achaaris following Vadagalai Sampradaayams.  As you all are aware, 
there are Swayam Achaaris in both Sampradaayams (Thengalai and 
Vadagalai).  This concept of Vadagalai and Thengalai sampraadaayams as 
well as Swayam Acharyas exists in Hebbar Iyengars, Madras (Keezh 
Naatu-Southern Region) Iyengars, etc.  My husband's family (Vadagalai 
Hebbar Iyengars) are followers of Sri Ahobila Matam.  One of my 
sisters is married to a person who belongs to Thengalai Hebbar Iyengar 
Swayam Acharyas tradition.

The senior most Patriach in the family is considered the  Acharya for 
performing some of the initiations--Brahmopadesham, Samaarshanam etc.  
 On my  paternal grandfather side, they are  from Thirumalai Nallan 
Chakravarthy lineage.  I remember my father mentioning a relative 
(pangaali) in Salem as their Acharya.  My maternal grandfather is from 
Thozhappa Kumara Thirumalai Nambi lineage.  Both families followed the 
sampradaayam of paying respect to Sri Ramanuja and Sri Desikan as is 
in any Vadagalai tradition.  From my little understanding, the 
difference between the Swayamacharyas and Matam followers is that the 
later's Acharya is the Matam head.  

It appears that the distinction started in earlier times to accomodate 
localization that resulted because of limited people mobility and 
regional political and religious influences.  Families were living 
near by and frequent visits were feasible.  Hence the senior most 
patriach who was very learned and knowledgable took upon the role of 
the Acharya.    Also, the Matams are relatively new.  Yes, in modern 
times distance is not as much a hindrance.  However, poor family tree 
documentation and imbibed traditions are major factors in continuation 
of certain traditions.  However, I am not sure that it is easy to keep 
track of the family tree due to extended family tree, lost relatives 
and geographical separation. 

Acharyas by definition implies a very knowledgable teacher.   On my 
father's side, none of the brothers are alive. None of my cousins are 
even close to following traditions.  As a result, Swayam Acharyas 
claim by the male lineage is purely academic.  

I hope that the kowledgeable members of this group will present 
logical and detailed explanations than the superficial explanation I 
have provided herein.

Nagalakshmi (Nagu) Satyan