INDOLOGY Digest - 10 May 1999 to 11 May 1999 (#1999-55)

Mani Varadarajan mani at SHASTA.STANFORD.EDU
Mon May 17 17:17:29 UTC 1999

Mr. B.N. Hebbar wrote:

> These days everyday wants to be "original", "pure", "primal" etc.
> Nobody wants to be known as "secondary", "converted", "derived"
> etc.


> Also, many of the 12 AzvAzhars of the Shri-VaiShNava tradition
> were not brahmin.Also, many of the 12 AzvAzhars of the
> Shri-VaiShNava tradition were not brahmin.

No one is denying that there have been conversions in all
sects, including the Sri Vaishnava tradition.  The question
is whether it is historically justifiable to claim
that certain groups of Sri Vaishnava brahmins are descendants
of converted Jains.  I don't think there is any evidence
for this, and it does not make sense, given the brahminical
society of that time.

Case in point: Ramanuja's guru, Periya Nambi, came from the
bRhaccaraNa sect of brahmins. Ramanuja's disciple Kurattalvan
was a vaDama. Both families were Sri Vaishnavas. Yet, when
a marriage was proposed between a relative of Periya Nambi
and relative of Kurattalvan, there was very strong opposition
from the vaDama side, because they thought they were the superior
subcaste. Ramanuja had to personally intervene for the marriage
to go ahead. This, when both were Sri Vaishnava, and both were

I find it extremely hard to believe that wholesale conversion
to *brahminhood* could happen when there was such intricate
caste-consciousness.  The Jains may have been converted to
Sri Vaishnavism, and the historical record supports this,
but it is unlikely that they became brahmins, or were accepted
as such in the 12th century.

I am surprised at the ease with which theories are casually
bandied about as fact on this list without any evidence, solid
or otherwise.


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