Brahman divisions

Mani Varadarajan mani at shasta.Stanford.EDU
Mon Jun 9 22:34:13 UTC 1997

On Thu, 5 Jun 1997, Vidyasankar wrote:

> Such catchy statements express stereotypes among Tamil speakers too.
> examples:
> vaDaman mutti vaishNavan - supposedly most of Ramanuja's original
> followers were vaDamas. 

Actually, this refers to the fact that Ramanuja himself was a Vadama
and converted to strict Vaishnavism.  In doing so, he probably brought
into the movement many other Vadamas, who already tended towards
Vaishnavism in their religious practices.

Many if not the majority of Srivaishnavas and hence Ramanuja's
original followers were at one point "sOzhiya" or pUrvaSikha
brahmins, i.e., they wore their sacred tuft near the center
of their head rather than on the back. sOzhiyas are a different
subgroup from Vadamas.

Speaking of stereotypes of other groups of people, there is
a wonderfully colorful line from Vedanta Desika's "bhagavad dhyAna
sopAnam", a short poem in mandAkrAnta that presents a devotional
description of the image of Ranganatha, the presiding deity of
Srirangam.  When describing the deity's locks of hair curled
under his kirIta, Desika writes, "kupya cOLI vacana kuTilaiH" --
his hair is as crooked as the twisted words of an angry Chola

Modern Tamils also comment on the sharp-tonguedness of people
from the Chola part of Tamil Nadu.


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