When did Brahmin come to Tamil Nadu


An ethnolinguistic Hindu community in South India

Total population
c. 2 million[1]
Regions with significant population groups
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka
Saurashtra (mother tongue), Tamil
Related ethnic groups
Pancha Gauda Brahmins, Gauda Brahmins, Girnara Brahmins, Chitpavan Brahmins, Deshastha Brahmins, Saraswat Brahmins, Konkani People, Sanketi People, Tamils

The Saurashtra people, or Saurashtrians,[2][3] are an Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic Hindu community in southern India that speaks the Saurashtra language, an Indo-Aryan language and lives predominantly in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.[4]

Saurashtrians trace their ancestors back to the historical region of Saurashtra in the West Indies. Their migration to South India is due to the forays into and desecration of the Somnath Temple triggered by the frequent Muslim invasions, particularly by Mahmud Ghazni. They were a significant hardworking and wealthy trading community of merchants and weavers in southern India until the 20th century.[5][6]

Saurashtrians are Brahmins,[7][8] and are also referred to as Saurashtra Brahmins.[2][9][10][11][12][13] Like all traditional Orthodox Brahmins, they are also classified according to their gotra or patrilineal ancestry. The majority of people are Vaishnavas, although there are significant proportions of Shaivas as well. They are known by their unique family names and also use the titles Sharma,[14]Rao,[15] Iyer,[15] Iyengar and Achary[16] as their last names, however, belong to linguistic minorities.[17]

Your name has many alternate spellings, including Sourashtra, Sowrashtra, Sowrastra and Sourashtri.[4] Saurashtrians are colloquially referred to as Palkar among themselves.[18] They are also known as Patnūlkararbut the term is out of date.


The word Saurashtra literally means “a good condition”. It is derived from Su means good Rashtra Meaning state and the other connection of Saura and Rashtrawhich means "the land of the sun".[19] These people were once sun worshipers and built sun temples. The people who worship Surya or Saura and inhabit the Land of the Sun are referred to as Saurashtrians.[20]

The Tamil name by which these people were also known in Tamil Nadu is Patnūlkarar,[21] which means silk thread people,[22] mostly silk thread dealers and silk weavers,[23] Since the early settlers they founded silk weavers' guilds and were involved in the trade in silk dresses and diamonds to the royal families of the Tamil land.[24] After the Gupta dynasty, silk became the clothing of royal families, the Saurashtrians were patronized by several dynasties in northern India, and the rulers of Chola, Pandya, Vijayanagara, Nayak and Thanjavur Maratha patronized it in ancient southern India.[25] Their specialty was considered so honorable and intricate that in some cases they were exchanged as a major aspect of marriage contracts or as an endowment to neighboring kingdoms.[18]

These people are mentioned first as Pattavayaka, the Sanskrit equivalent of Patnūlkarar in the Mandasor inscriptions (today's Madhya Pradesh) of Kumaragupta I from the 5th century AD. They are also mentioned by the same name in the Patteeswaram inscriptions of Thanjavur from the mid-16th century AD[26] and in the inscriptions by Rani Mangammal of Madurai from the 17th century AD.[7][8][27][28][29]

Identity [edit]

Saurashtrians are well assimilated in Tamil society with no external differentiation. Aside from certain religious affiliations, brahminism, and vegetarianism, their culture is similar to the rest of Tamil Nadu. Although their physical characteristics are not similar to Tamils, they have Tamil names and are essentially part of the Tamil people, but differ in their ethnic identity and can be referred to as Saurashtrian Tamils.[30][31][32][33]

The Bhagavata Purana mentions that the ancient Abhiras were the rulers of the Saurashtra Kingdom and the Avanti Kingdom and were followers of the Vedas who worshiped Vishnu as their supreme deity.[34] These ancient provinces, as depicted in the epic literature of Mahabharata, roughly correspond to today's Saurashtra region in southern Gujarat and the Malwa region in Madhya Pradesh.

Their origin is Dwarka, land of Lord Krishna,[2] The origin of the name goes back to the time when the ancestors of these people lived in the Lata region in Saurashtra in southern Gujarat.[7][8][35] Saurashtrians are originally Gauda Brahmins and belong to the Pancha Gauda Brahmins.[7][8][36] After migrating south, they were called Saurashtra Brahmins.[2][9][21][24][37][38] They had their original homes in what is now Gujarat and immigrated to southern India over a millennium ago.[39] They are currently scattered across various locations in Tamil Nadu, mainly focusing on the Madurai, Thanjavur and Salem districts.[40]


Saurashtrians emigrated from southern Gujarat in the 11th century after the fall of Somnath Temple[41] when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India. It is said that the Saurashtrians lived in Devagiri, today's Daulatabad of Maharashtra, during the regime of the Yadava kings until the 13th century AD. After the fall of Yadavas in the 14th century AD, they moved to the Vijayanagar empire with its capital Hampi in what is now Karnataka at the invitation of the kings. The expansion of the Vijayanagar Empire brought the Saurashtrians to southern India in the 14th century AD as they were highly skilled manufacturers of fine silk dresses and supported by the kings and their families.[25][42] After the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire, they were greeted by the Nayak kings of Thanjavur in the mid-16th century AD[26] and Madurai in the 17th century AD and were allowed to settle near the Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace.[1][43][44][45][46]

Social department [edit]

Profession, divisions, sects and gotras [edit]

From an outsider's point of view, the community can be seen as homogeneous. In reality, however, there are many subdivisions at different levels. Professionally, the Saurashtrians can generally be classified as priests, merchants and weavers.[11]

Departments [edit]

When the Saurashtrians settled in the south, they reproduced their motherland's institutions in the new land, but due to the influence of the southern Dravidians, some of the institutions died out. During their migrations, the men were under the guidance of their leader, and the migration process tended to increase the power of the kinship.[47][48]

The people were divided into 5 heads -

  • Goundans (Chiefs);
  • Soulins (Oldest);
  • Voyduns (Doctors);
  • Bhoutuls (Religious Men);
  • Karesthals (Commons).[48][49]

Traces of this institution are still preserved. The Goundans were the judges in civil and criminal cases. They were assisted in settling cases by a group of nobles Soulins. The office of Soulins is to investigate and examine all cases connected with the community and to adhere to the decision of the chiefs. The Voyduns (vaidyas) and Bhoutuls (Pandits, Joshis and Kavis) also ranked Voyduns and have had their honor on all important occasions, and they are placed on an equal footing with the elders. The Karesthals (Commons) are the whole mass body. Your voice is necessary on certain important occasions, such as during excommunication ceremonies. Prayashittas for receiving apostates and during periodic fellowship meetings.[47][48][49]

Sects [edit]

The Saurashtrians can also be divided into three sects on a religious basis. namely.,

  • Vaishnavites, who bear the vertical Vaishnavite mark and call themselves Northerners;
  • Smarthas that have horizontal markings;
  • Madhvas who wear gopi (sandal paste) as a sect mark.

All of the above three divisions marry and interdine, and religious distinction does not create distinction in the community. The Saurashtrians classify their ancestors as originally belonging to the two lineages of Thiriyarisham and Pancharisham Descent groups. you follow Apastamba Dharmasutra and belong to the Ahobila and Sankaracharya Mathas. Their religion is Hinduism, they follow the Yajurveda,[8] and they were originally Madhvas. After settling in South India, some of them were converted into Saivites and Vaishnavites, respectively, because of the sermons of Sankaracharya and Ramanujacharya.[26][44]

Gotras [edit]

Saurashtrians, like all other Hindu Brahmins, trace their paternal ancestors back to one of the seven or eight sages, the Saptarishis. They are classified into gotras, named after the ancestor Rishi, and each gotra is made up of different family names. Gotra was inherited from Guru at the time of Upanayana in ancient times, so it is a holdover from the Guru Shishya tradition, but since the tradition is no longer followed, the father acts as the guru of his son during the Upanayana ceremony, i.e. the Son inherits his father's Gotra. The entire community consists of 64 gotras.[46][50]

Saurashtrians belong to the following gotras.[16]

Marriage within the common Gotra is strictly forbidden.[29][40][46][50]

Kuladevatas [edit]

Each Saurashtrian family has its own family cartridge deity or deity Kuladevata. This deity is common to a line or clan of several families linked by a common ancestor. The practice of worshiping local or territorial deities as Kuladevata began in the time of the Yadava Dynasty.[citation needed]

Culture [edit]

Saṃskāras, rituals and festivals [edit]

Saurashtrians are traditionally an Orthodox and close-knit community. They are essentially Nordic in their customs, manners, and social structure. Traditionally, the common family was a social and economic unit for them. In addition, the common family pattern helped them pass on their traditional culture to the younger generations.[44][46]

Saṃskāras [edit]

Saurashtrians adhere strictly to everyone Ṣoḍaśa Saṃskāra or 16 Hindu samskaras,[24] Of these, the main social customs among them consist of six social ceremonies in a person's life. (1) the naming; (2) the sacred thread ceremony; (3) puberty; (4) marriage; (5) reaching the age of sixty; (6) the funeral rites.[44][46][51]

The rites that are performed after the birth of a child are known as Jathakarma. In particular, the naming is known as Namakaranam. The main goal of these birth ceremonies is to purify and protect the child from disease. It is believed that these rituals verify the negative effects of planetary motion. The above rites were performed on the eleventh day after the child was born. The grandfather's name was highly preferred for a male child, and the name of a female deity was suggested for a female child.[46]

The vaduhom Ceremony (sacred thread ceremony) of the Saurashtrians is basically the Upanayanam Ceremony. This ceremony is extremely important among them. This is done between the seventh and thirteenth year. On rare occasions when the sacred thread ceremony was not held at a young age, it was performed at the time of marriage. The aim of this ceremony was to highlight their brahmin status. There was much feast and entertainment during this ceremony that lasted four days.[46]

Among the Saurashtrians, reaching puberty was the greatest event in a girl's life. They also conduct a pre-puberty marriage.[51]

The wedding ceremony lasted 11 days with up to 36 rituals. All of these rituals were performed by the Saurashtrian priests who were a separate clan in the community.[2] The Saurashtrians have their own marital arrangements. Before a marriage is entered into, a long negotiation takes place between the parents of both partners. As traditional Orthodox Brahmins, they fit the couple's horoscope very closely. A man can claim his maternal uncle's daughter as his wife, and polygamy is allowed. Girls get married early. Marriage within the common Gotra is strictly forbidden among them.[24][40][51][52]

Death rituals are referred to as abarakkirigai or andhiyaeshti in the Saurashtrian community. Andhiyaeshti means the last or last fire. These rituals are performed by the eldest son of the deceased. If there is no son, the relatives perform the final rites. Kartha is the name of the person who performs this rite. Performing the rite means believing that life is continuous and does not end with the death of a person. It is also believed that the deceased attain the level of deities. The mourning period lasts ten days, but is repeated every year in the form of Sraddha Ceremonies.[24][44]

Festivals [edit]

The Saurashtrians are religious and value morality and high character. The main deity of the Saurashtrians is Venkateshwara of Tirupati. Among other gods, they worshiped the sun god, Rama, etc. They regularly visited the Meenakshi Temple. They celebrate Kolattam, Chithirai Festival and Ramanavami with great enthusiasm and observe Deepawali, Ganesh Chathurthi, Dussehra, Vaikunta Ekadasi and Avani Avittam as important religious days.[2] Their current social customs are quite different from the traditional pattern and are very similar to those of the Tamils. Only a few wealthy Orthodox merchant families cling to their older customs.[40][45][46][51]

Clothes [edit]

The Saurashtrian way of life is similar to that of the Iyengar Brahmins, and the Saurashtrian way of life is similar to that of the Telugu Brahmins.

Saurashtrians wear dhoti or veshti called with a shirt and scarf khesa just like other brahmins. The men hold the topknot or Sikha on the head with a vermilion stain or Naamam on her forehead.

Saurashtrian women wear saree differently from Tamil women. The unmarried wear in the Bengali style while the married wear in the Marathi style. The shape and size of the ornaments worn by the Saurashtrian women are similar to those of the Telugu brahmins. The ornaments usually consist of precious diamonds and gold. The women, like the males, put a vermilion on their foreheads, but they also adorn their heads with flowers, which are called veni.[11]

Kitchen [edit]

Saurashtrian cuisine is famous for its mixed rice dishes, which include puliyotharai (tamarind rice), tomato rice with a hint of cinnamon, kalkandu (rock sugar), and sakkarai pongal[53](a dessert made from cottonseed milk)[53] and lemon rice.[54][55] Aside from these dishes, Saurashtrians have a particular fondness for halva and poli.[56] Other South Indian delicacies such as dosas, idli and sambar etc. are also preferred by the Saurashtrians. Several historians believe that it was Saurashtrian textile merchants who idly came to southern India in the 10th and 12th centuries. There are even claims that a mixture of rice and urad dal, ground together and later steamed into cakes, originated in Gujarat. This was called Iddada.[57] Another dish brought to Madurai by Saurashtrian traders in the 16th century is a vada made from fried spinach. It became the Keerai Vadai and remains a Madurai specialty.[58][59]

Diet [edit]

Traditionally, Saurashtrians are vegetarians, and those involved in priesthood activities have adhered to strict vegetarianism. Rice is their staple food along with Sambar, Gojju & Amti (Rasam). However, nowadays some occasionally eat non-vegetarian foods.[60]

Demography [edit]

There are three groups of Saurashtrians living in Tamil Nadu. The first migrants came to Salem and settled there, the second group of migrants settled in Thanjavur and the surrounding area, and later the third group of migrants in Madurai and the surrounding area. Saurashtrians are predominantly present in Madurai, a city also known as the "Temple City" in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. Although official figures are hard to come by, the Saurashtrian population is believed to be between a quarter and a fifth of the city's total population.

They are in considerable numbers in Ambur, Ammapettai, Ammayappan, Aranthangi, Arni, Ayyampettai, Bhuvanagiri, Chennai, Dharasuram, Dindigul, Erode, Kancheepuram, Kanyakumari, Karaikudi, Kottar, Krishnapuram, Kumbakonam, Namakamak, Nakkal, Numbakonam Puducherry, Pudukkottai, Rajapalayam, Ramanathapuram, Salem, Thanjavur, Thirubhuvanam, Thiruvaiyaru, Thiruvarur, Thuvarankurichi, Tirunelveli, Tiruvannamalai, Illuppur, Thiruvappur, Tramby, in Tamil Nadu.[4]

They are also in Trivandrum and Kochi in Kerala, Bengaluru in Karnataka,[4]Hyderabad in Telangana and Tirupati, Vizianagaram, Vijayawada, Nellore, Srikakulam, Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh[4] are said to house several Saurashtrian families known as the Pattusali.[61]

Language [edit]

The mother tongue of the Saurashtrians is Saurashtra (alternative names and spellings: Sourashtra, Sowrashtra, Sourashtri, Palkar), a dialect of Gujarati with the amalgamation of today's Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil, but all of them are bilingual[14] and can speak either Tamil or Telugu or one of the local languages.

Saurashtra, an offshoot of Sauraseni Prakrit,[14] Once spoken in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, it is now mainly spoken by the Saurashtrian population who settled in parts of Tamil Nadu.[62] The Saurashtrian language is the only Indo-Aryan language that uses a Dravidian script and is heavily influenced by the Dravidian languages ​​such as Tamil and Telugu. However, the census of India places the language under Gujarati.


Organization [edit]

The prominent leaders of the community emerged in the late 19th century and felt the need to organize the community. Initially, the Madurai Saurashtra Sabha was founded in 1895 and officially registered in 1900 with many destinations. The formation of this Sabha was the first step towards social mobilization. The Sabha is administered by elected councilors and officials. It has its own rules and regulations for holding elections, public officials' rights and duties, and celebrating social functions. The election for Sabha takes place every three years. The social life of the Saurashtrians is almost entirely controlled by the Saurashtra Sabha. This organization is a committee of the leading men of the community that administers and controls all schools and public institutions, the temple and its worship, and all political, religious and social issues among the Saurashtrians.

The Saurashtra Madhya (central) Sabha, which is headquartered in Madurai, remains the cultural center of all Saurashtrians living in Tamil Nadu. Many of the community's wealthy merchants and philanthropists have contributed significantly to the growth of these institutions. Today the Saurashtrians are represented in large numbers in salaried professions and professions.[2][40][63]

In 2009, Narendra Modi, then Prime Minister of Gujarat and current and 14th Prime Minister of India, opened the Saurashtra Heritage and Immigration Research Institute (RISHI), a project in collaboration with Saurashtra University in Rajkot.[41]

Politics [edit]

In the second decade of the 20th century, the Saurashtrians emerged as a dominant group in the social and political life of the Madras presidency. The Saurashtrians became the dominant social group because of their collective mobilization, intellectual leadership, education, wealth, trade and entrepreneurship. There are several instances where the leaders of the community organized the weavers and staged social and economic protests. The community's wealthy merchants donated TNCC to Salt Satyagraha and welcomed any form of Swadeshi agitation that favored Indian clothing.[64]

The leaders who came to lead the church weren't always upper class. LK Thulasiram, who headed the Madurai church, was not born into the aristocratic family. With his own efforts, he traveled abroad, which brought prosperity for himself and the community in general. Thulasiram initially supported the non-Brahmin movement in Tamil Nadu. When he earned the displeasure of his parishioners who were fighting for brahmin status, he changed his mind and supported the cause of his own people.[64] He was elected chairman of the city administration in a fierce competition in 1921. During his tenure, he brought many reforms to the community. For the first time in the country, he introduced a free lunch program in a community school that was later emulated by the Tamil Nadu government during the time of K. Kamaraj in the name of the lunch program in state schools.[63] When he lost his footing on the local council, he became a prominent organizer of the non-cooperation movement. He later impressed the Congress party and became the leader of the merchants. In this capacity he went to great lengths to raise the prestige and position of his community.[65]

Another community leader, NMR Subbaraman, funded and directed the Civil Disobedience Movement in Madurai from 1930-32. He worked for the promotion of the depressive classes. Together with A. Vaidyanatha Iyer, he organized a temple entry conference and helped the people of the depressed classes to enter the Meenakshi Amman Temple. He was involved in the Bhoodan movement and donated his 100 acres of land to the movement. He helped found the first Gandhi Memorial Museum in Madurai.[66] He later expressed his dissatisfaction with the civil disobedience. He was unhappy with the spending on agitation activities. With the help of the Venkatamarama Iyer faction, he mobilized his supporters into local politics under the banner of Congress.[65]

Representation in popular media [edit]

  • In a 2014 Tamil film Naan as BalaHer father, Vaishali (played by Shwetha Bandekar), one of the main characters, speaks SaurashtraThis suggests that she came from a Saurashtrian family.[67]
  • In another 2014 Tamil comedy gangster film JigarthandaKayalvizhi (portrayed by Lakshmi Menon), the heroine, and her mother (portrayed by Ambika) speak in Saurashtrawhich suggests they are Saurashtrians.[68]
  • In a 2019 Tamil-language drama film Pot of KalaimaaneBharathi (played by Tamanna Bhatia), the heroine speaks with her brother in Saurashtrawhich suggests she is a Saurashtrian.[69]

Notable people


Cinema [edit]

  • TM Soundararajan (1924-2013), Tamil playback singer[70]
  • PV Narasimha Bharathi (1924–1978), Tamil film actor[71]
  • Kaka RadhaKrishnan (1925–2012), veteran actor
  • SC Krishnan (1929-1983), Tamil playback singer
  • MS Sundari Bai (1923-2006), Tamil film actress
  • Sumathi, Tamil film actress
  • Prabhakar, Tamil film actor
  • TK Ramachandran, Tamil film actor
  • MN Rajam, Tamil film actress[71]
  • AL Raghavan, Tamil playback singer[71]
  • Vennira Aadai Nirmala, Tamil film actress[71]
  • Seetha, Tamil film actress[71]
  • Jagadeesh Kanna, Tamil film actor

Literature [edit]

Politics [edit]

Academics [edit]

Educational institutions [edit]

Temple [edit]

See also [edit]

References [edit]

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