Q: Manu on Pouring Lead in Sudra Ears

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at BIGFOOT.DE
Sun Feb 6 17:39:29 UTC 2000

On 4 Feb 00, at 16:38, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> Re: ArAdhya brAhmaNas and vizvakarmas - the former group is expressly
> associated with the vIrazaivas, but they intermarry with other brAhmaNa
> groups.

Interesting. Perhaps this is a regionally limited phenomenon? (The
brahmins I know in southern Karnataka have an ambiguous attitude
towards the Aaraadhyas: a 'sort of brahmins', who are respectable
for their traditional learning and general lifestyle, but at the same
time they are Virasaivas and 'therefore' they 'cannot be brahmins'.
Similarly, there is a widespread notion that Ayyangars cannot be
'real' brahmins.)

> The ArAdhyas do not intermarry with other vIrazaivas.

This is also the case with the 'jangamas', who were mentioned
earlier in this thread. This compartmentalisation of the religious
community into sub-castes, although it is not so very recent, goes
against the original spirit of Virasaivism (cf. explicit 12th- to 15th-
century Virasaiva writings) and is an ongoing matter of controversy.
Occasionally it occurs as a theme in contemporary Kannada

> Perhaps their origins lie among the brAhmaNa relatives of Basava
> himself.

I have not made any deep enquiry, but the general belief seems to
be that the Aaraadhyas were originally from what is now Andhra

> The vizvakarmas, on the other hand, are not all of them vIrazaiva,

(A Dutch anthropologist who has written a study on the
Viswakarmas once told me that there are also Sikh Viswakarmas.)

> One must distinguish between caste identity, mostly guaranteed by birth, and
> a religious identity, adopted by considering oneself a follower of Basava.
> Take the case of the kOmaTis in Andhra, another skilled artisan and trader
> group. There are ordinary zaivas, vIrazaivas, zrIvaishNavas and mAdhvas
> among them, but they all have a fairly coherent caste identity as kOmaTis.

Another nice illustration is the community to which the royal family
of Mysore belongs: among them there are Jainas, Virasaivas and
Srivaishnavas, but their caste identity outweighs religious
adherence when it comes to matters such as possible marriage


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