Brahman divisions

S Krishna mahadevasiva at
Fri Jun 6 00:20:35 UTC 1997

>From indology-request at Thu Jun  5 13:04:22 1997
>Received: from (actually host localhost) by
>          with Local-SMTP (PP); Thu, 5 Jun 1997 20:57:33 +0100
>Message-Id: <a51_9706052138 at>
>Date: Thu,  5 Jun 1997 20:56:25 BST
>Reply-To: indology at
>Originator: indology at
>Sender: indology-request at
>Precedence: bulk
>From: zydenbos at (Robert Zydenbos)
>To: Members of the list <indology at>
>Subject: Brahman divisions
>X-Listprocessor-Version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas
>X-Comment: Indology mailing list
>Replies to msg 05 Jun 97: indology at
>(pclaus at
> pce> This has been a useful discussion of internal Brahman
> pce> sub-division and the "historical" traditions associated
> pce> with them.  
> pce> Even so, it would
> pce> be interesting, as Robert Zydenbos suggests, to collect
> pce> and compare motifs from the (internally significant)
> pce> legendary history of the splits.  These, too, speak to
> pce> something meaningful. 
> pce> There must
> pce> be something of a genre to what they created, one which
> pce> utilized motifs and themes and stories over and over.
> pce> Perhaps the core set is that of their own internal
> pce> ranks and divisions. Is there such a literature?
>Over the past years I have been collecting "what brahmins say about 
>brahmins", which is usually pejorative and often silly, but in 
>ways. In Karnataka, stereotypical images about the other group are 
>summarized in short rhymes or puns on the name of the other caste. For
>instance, I have often heard "Kamme endare hemme" ("Kamme means 
'pride'"), a
>catchphrase which expresses the supposedly arrogant airs which Kammes 
>about them (significantly, I have never heard this from the mouth of a 
>Some of these statements are quite vicious. Because the speakers are 
aware of
>this viciousness, it can be difficult to have people give examples. 
(But this
>is indeed interesting.)

  I am not sure about sayings and that sort of stuff, but in general
Brahmins of any given sub sect seem to be taking a lot of pleasure
in poking fun at other Brahmin subsects. In Tamil Nadu, the Ayyars
have a saying "While the Goat has two horns, the Ayyangars have three"
( a reference to the Namam of the Ayyangars). In Andhra Pradesh, the
Niyogi subsect refers disparagingly to the Vaidiki subsect as 
"Vaideekulu Dudekulu"( Vaidikis stich cotton blankets for a living)
(A reference to their supposed poverty).  In Maharashtra, the 
Konkanastha community seems to be having a low opinion of just about any 
subsect....The Shenvi/Gauda Saraswat Brahmins are the descendants of an 
outcasted Konkanstha youth and a Sudra woman who collected cow dung 
while the Karhade Brahmin are supposed to be the descended from the 
carcass of a dead donkey. The other side of course hits back
by calling the Konkanasthas "Cobras"( A contraction of KOnkanastha
BRAhmin)- a reference to their stereotyped mentality.)
In the Garhwal district, Garhwali brahmins classify themselves as "Lambi 
Dhoti"(Long Dhoti) while the Benaresi Brahmins
as "Choti Dhoti"(Small Dhoti)- a refernce to their superior status.
The Benaresi Brahmins in turn have equally "complementary" things to say 
about Bengali Brahmins i.e. "Bengali Brahmins are the most democratic 
set of people where it comes to eating- they eat anything that walks, 
flies or swims" or "Bengali Brahmins have the following names- 
Bhattacharjee, Mukherjee, Banerjee, Chatterjee and Allergy."
          The only exception of sorts i.e. where people make fun
of Brahmins coming from a PLACE as opposed to a SUBSECT seems to
be in the case of Kumbakkonam town. The well known "Kumbakkonam
business/Kumbakkonam effect " seems to be true of all Brahmin natives of 
this town irrespective of origin/subsect.

Get Your *Web-Based* Free Email at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list