Brahman: South India
This article is an excerpt from
Government Press, Madras
The Brāhmans of Southern India are divided into a number of sections, differing in language, manners and customs. As regards their origin, the current belief is that they sprang from the mouth of Brahma. In support thereof, the following verse from the Purusha Sūktha (hymn of the primæval male) of the Rig Vēda is quoted:—From the face of Prajāpathi (Viratpurusha) came the Brāhmans; from the arms arose the Kshatriyas; from the thighs sprang the Vaisyas; and from the feet the Sūdras. Mention of the fourfold division of the Hindu castes is also made in other Vēdas, and in Ithihāsas and Purānas.
The Brāhmans fall into three groups, following the three Vēdas or Sākas, Rig, Yajus, and Samam. This threefold division is, however, recognised only for ceremonial purposes. For marriage and social purposes, the divisions based on language and locality are practically more operative. In the matter of the more important religious rites, the Brāhmans of Southern India, as elsewhere, closely follow their own Vēdas. Every Brāhman belongs to one or other of the numerous gōtras mentioned in Pravara and Gōtra Kandams. All the religious rites are performed according to the Grihya Sūtras (ritual books) pertaining to their Sāka or Vēda. Of these, there are eight kinds now in vogue, viz.:—
1. Asvalayana Sūtra of the Rig Vēda.
2. Āpasthamba Sūtras of the black Yajus.
7. Kāthyayana Sūtra of the white Yajus.
8. Drahyayana Sūtra of Sāma Vēda.
All Brāhmans claim descent from one or more of the following seven Rishis:—Atri, Bhrigu, Kutsa, Vashista, Gautama, Kasyapa, Angiras. According to some, the Rishis are Agasthya, Angiras, Atri, Bhrigu, Kasyapa, Vashista, and Gautama. Under these Rishis are included eighteen ganams, and under each ganam there are a number of gōtras, amounting in all to about 230. Every Brāhman is expected to salute his superiors by repeating the Abhivādhanam (salutation) which contains his lineage. As an example, the following may be given:—“I, Krishna by name, of Srivathsa gōtra, with the pravara (lineage) of the five Rishis, Bhargava, Chyāvana, Āpnuvana, Aruva, and Jamadagni, following the Āpasthamba sūtra of the Yajus Sāka, am now saluting you.” Daily, at the close of the Sandhya prayers, this Abhivādhanam formula should be repeated by every Brāhman.
Taking the Brāhmans as a whole, it is customary to group them in two main divisions, the Pancha Drāvidas and Pancha Gaudas. The Pancha Drāvidas are pure vegetarians, whereas the Pancha Gaudas need not abstain from meat and fish, though some, who live amidst the Pancha Drāvidas, do so. Other differences will be noted in connection with Oriya Brāhmans, who belong to the Pancha Gauda section. In South India, all Brāhmans, except those who speak the Oriya and Konkani languages, are Pancha Drāvidas, who are divided into five sections, viz.:—
1. Tamil, or Drāvida proper.
2. Telugu or Āndhra.
3. Canarese, or Carnātaka.
4. Marathi or Dēsastha.
The Tulu-speaking Shivalli Brāhmans are included among the Carnātakas; the Pattar and Nambūtiri Brāhmans (see Nambūtiri) among the Drāvidas proper.
From a religious point of view, the Brāhmans are either Saivites or Vaishnavites. The Saivites are either Saivites proper, or Smarthas. The Smarthas believe that the soul of man is only a portion of the infinite spirit (ātman), and that it is capable of becoming absorbed into the ātman. They recognise the Trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva as separate gods, but only as equal manifestations of the supreme spirit, and that, in the end, these are to be absorbed into the infinite spirit, and so disappear. Saivas, on the other hand, do not recognise the Trimurtis, and believe only in one god, Siva, who is self-existent, and not liable to lose his personality. Of Vaishnavites there are three kinds, viz., those who are the followers of Chaitanya, Rāmānuja, and Mādhvāchārya. Like the Smarthas, the Vaishnavites recognise Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, but Vishnu is supposed to be the chief god, to whom the others are subordinate.
“Vaishnavas,” Monier Williams writes,86 “are believers in the one personal god Vishnu, not only as the preserver, but as above every other god, including Siva. It should be noted, too, that both Saivites and Vaishnavas agree in attributing an essential form of qualities to the Supreme Being. Their one god, in fact, exists in an eternal body, which is antecedent to his earthly incarnations, and survives all such incarnations.” He adds that “it cannot be doubted that one great conservative element of Hinduism is the many sidedness of Vaishnavism. For Vaishnavism is, like Buddhism, the most tolerant of systems. It is always ready to accommodate itself to other creeds, and delights in appropriating to itself the religious idea of all the nations of the world. It admits of every form of internal development. It has no organised hierarchy under one supreme head, but it may have any number of separate associations under separate leaders, who are ever banding themselves together for the extension of spiritual supremacy over ever increasing masses of population.”
The Oriya Brāhmans, who follow the creed of Chaitanya, are called Paramarthos, and are confined to the Ganjam district. There is no objection to intermarriage between Smartha and Paramartho Oriya Brāhmans.
Sri Vaishnavas (who put on the nāmam as a sectarian mark) and Mādhvas are exclusive as regards intermarriage, but the Mādhvas have no objection to taking meals with, and at the houses of Smarthas, whereas Sri Vaishnavas object to doing so.
According to the Sūtras, a Brāhman has to go through the following samskāras (rites):—
These rites are supposed to purify the body and spirit from the taint transmitted through the womb of the mother, but all of them are not at the present day performed at the proper time, and in regular order.
The Garbhādhāna, or impregnation ceremony, should, according to the Grihya Sūtras, be performed on the fourth day of the marriage ceremonies. But, as the bride is a young girl, it is omitted, or Vēdic texts are repeated. The Garbhādhāna ceremony is performed, after the girl has attained puberty. At the time of consummation or Ritu Sānthi, the following verse is repeated:—“Let all pervading Vishnu prepare her womb; let the Creator shape its forms; let Prajāpathi be the impregnator; let the Creator give the embryo.”
Pumsavanam and Sīmantam are two ceremonies, which are performed together during the seventh or ninth month of the first pregnancy, though, according to the Grihya Sūtras, the former should be performed in the third month. At the Pumsavanam, or male producing ceremony, the pregnant woman fasts, and her husband squeezes into her right nostril a little juice from the fruit and twig of the ālam tree (Ficus bengalensis), saying “Thou art a male child.” The twig selected should be one pointing, east or north; with two fruits looking like testicles. The twig is placed on a grinding-stone, and a girl, who has not attained puberty, is asked to pound it. The pulp is wrapped in a new silk cloth, and squeezed to express the juice. On the conclusion of the Pumsavanam, the Sīmantam, or parting the pregnant woman’s hair, is gone through. After oblations in the sacred fire (hōmam), the woman’s husband takes a porcupine quill, to which three blades of dharbha grass, and a twig with fruits of the aththi tree (Ficus glomerata) are attached, and passes it over the woman’s head from before backwards, parting the hair.
The Jātakarmam, Nāmakaranam, Annaprāsanam, and Chaulam rites are ordinarily celebrated, one after the other, on the Upanayanam day. Jātakarmam consists in smearing some ghī (clarified butter) and honey on the tongue of the baby, and repeating the following verses from the Rig Vēda:—“Oh! long lived one, mayst thou live a hundred years in this world, protected by the gods. Become firm as a rock, firm as an axe, pure as gold. Thou art the Vēda called a son; live thou a hundred years. May Indra bestow on thee his best treasures. May Sāvitri, may Sarasvati, may the Asvins grant thee wisdom.”
At the Nāmakaranam, or naming ceremony, the parents of the child pronounce its name close to its ear, and repeat the Vēdic prayer to Indra and Agni “May Indra give you lustre, and Indra semen, wisdom, and children.”
The Annaprāsanam, or food-giving ceremony, should be performed during the sixth month after birth. A little solid food is put into the child’s mouth, and the following Vēdic verses are repeated:—“Agni who lives on plants, Sōma who lives on sōma juice, Brāhmans who live on the Vēdas, and Dēvatas who live on amartam (ambrosia), may they bless you. As the earth gives food to plants and water, so I give you this food. May these waters and plants give you prosperity and health.”
At the Chaulam, or tonsure ceremony, the child is seated in his mother’s lap. The father, taking a few blades of dharbha grass in his hand, sprinkles water over the child’s head. Seven times he inserts blades of dharbha in the hair of the head (three blades each time), saying “Oh! divine grass, protect him.” He then cuts off the tips of the blades, and throws them away. The father is expected, according to the Grihya Sūtras, to shave or cut the child’s hair. At the present day, however, the barber is called in, and shaves the head, leaving one lock or more according to local custom.
The Upanayana, or leading a boy to his guru or spiritual teacher, is essentially a ceremony of initiation. From an orthodox point of view, this ceremony should be performed before the age of eight years, but in practice it is deferred even up to the age of seventeen. It usually commences with the arrangement of seed-pans containing nine kinds of grain, and tying a thread or pratisaram on the boy’s wrist. After this, the Abyudayam, or invocation of ancestors, is gone through. The boy sits in front of the sacred fire, and his father, or some other person, sits by his side, to help him in the ceremonial and act the part of guru. He places over the boy’s head blades of dharbha grass so that the tips are towards the east, south, west, and north. The tips are cut off, and the following Vēdic verses are repeated:—“Please permit me to shave the head of this boy with the knife used by the sun for shaving Sōma. He is to be shaved, because it will bring him long life and old age. May the boy become great, and not die a premature death.
May he outshine all in glory.” The boy is then shaved by a barber, and more Vēdic verses are repeated, which run as follows:—“You are shaving with a sharp razor, so that this shaving may enable him to live long. Brihaspathi, Sūrya, and Agni shaved the hair of the head of Varuna, and placed the hairs in the middle regions of the sky, earth, and in swarga. I shall place the hairs removed by me at the foot of the audambara tree (Ficus glomerata), or in the clumps of dharbha grass.” The boy then bathes, and comes near the sacred fire. After ghī has been poured thereon, a bundle of palāsa (Butea frondosa) sticks is given to him, and he puts it on the fire after repeating certain Vēdic riks. A grinding-stone is placed on one side of the fire, and the boy treads on it, while the following verse is repeated:—“Tread on this stone, and may you be as firm as it is. May you subdue thy enemies.” A new cloth is given to him, which he puts on. The following verses are then repeated:—“Oh! cloth, Revathi and others have spun, woven, spread out, and put skirts on both sides of you. May these goddesses clothe the boy with long life. Blessed with life, put on this cloth.
Dress the boy with this cloth. By wearing it, let him attain a hundred years of age. May his life be extended. Such a garment as this was given to Sōma by Brihaspathi to wear. Mayst thou reach old age. Put on this cloth. Be a protector to all people. May you live a hundred years with full vigour. May you have plenty of wealth.” After the boy has put on the cloth, the following is repeated:—“You have put on this cloth for the sake of blessing. You have become the protector of your friends. Live a hundred years. A noble man, blessed with life, mayst thou obtain wealth.” A girdle (minji) spun from grass is wound thrice round the boy’s body, and tied with a knot opposite the navel, or to the left of it. The following verses are repeated:—“This blessed girdle, the friend of the gods, has come to us to remove our sins, to purify and protect us, bring strength to us by the power of exhalation and inhalation. Protect, Oh! girdle, our wealth and meditation. Destroy our enemies, and guard us on all the four sides.”
A small piece of deer-skin is next tied on to the sacred thread, which has been put on the boy soon after the shaving rite. The following verses are repeated:—“Oh! skin which is full of lustre because Mitra sees you, full of glory and one that is not fit for wicked people, I am now putting you on. May Aditi tuck up thy garment. Thou mayst read Vēdas, and grow wise. Thou mayst not forget what you have read. Mayst thou become holy and glorious.” The boy seats himself next to the guru, and close to the sacred fire, and repeats the following:—“I have come near the spiritual teacher, my Āchārya. May the teacher and myself become prosperous. May I also complete my Vēdic studies properly, and let me be blessed with a married life after the study.” The guru sprinkles water over the boy three times, and, taking hold of his hand, says:—“Agni, Sōman, Savitha, Sarasvati, Pūsha, Aryaman, Amsuhu, Bagadēvata, and Mitra have seized thy hand. They have taken you over to them, and you have become friends.”
Then he hands over the boy to the gods by repeating:—“We give you to Agni, Sōman, Savitha, Sarasvati, Mrityu, Yaman, Gadhan, Andhakan, Abhaya, Ōshadhi, Prithvi, and Vaisvānara. With the permission of Sūrya, I am allowing you to approach me. Oh! boy, may you have children full of lustre, and capable of becoming heroes.” The boy then repeats the following:—“I am come to be a student. You that have obtained permission from the Sūrya, please take me.” The teacher asks, “Who are you? What is your name?” The boy gives out his name, and the teacher enquires of him what kind of Brahmachari he is. The boy replies that he is a Brahmachari for Ātman, and repeats the following:—“Oh! sun, the lord of all ways, through your grace I am about to begin my studies, which will do good to me.” The teacher and the boy take their seats on dharbha grass, and say:—“Oh! dharbha, a giver of royal power, a teacher’s seat, may I not withdraw from thee.” The boy then pours some ghī on to the sacred fire.
A cloth is thrown over both the teacher and the boy, and the latter asks the former to recite the Sāvitri. The following Gāyatri is repeated into his ear:—“Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine vivifier. May he illumine our understandings.” The boy touches his own upper lip with his right hand, and says:—“Oh! Prāna, I have become illumined, having heard the Sāvitri. Protect and guard this wealth that has entered me, the Gāyatri or Sāvitri.” He then takes the palāsa staff, and the teacher says:—“Up with life. Oh! sun, this is thy son. I give him in charge to thee.” The boy then worships the sun thus:—“That bright eye created by the gods, which rises in the east, may we see it a hundred autumns; may we live a hundred autumns; may we rejoice a hundred autumns; may we live a hundred autumns; may we rejoice a hundred autumns; may we be glad a hundred autumns; may we prosper a hundred autumns; may we speak a hundred autumns; may we live undecaying a hundred autumns; and may we long see the sun.” The ceremonial is brought to a close on the first day by the boy begging rice from his mother and other female relations. A basket, filled with rice, is placed in a pandal (booth), and the boy stands near it, repeating “Please give me alms.” Each woman pours some rice into a tray which he carries, and presents him with some money and betel leaves. The rice is placed in the basket. On the second and third days, the boy puts palāsa sticks into the sacred fire, and pours ghī thereon. On the fourth day, the new cloth is given to the teacher.
The wearing of the sacred thread is a sign that the boy has gone through the upanayanam ceremony. It is noted87 by the Rev. A. Margöschis that “the son of Brāhman parents is not reckoned to be a Brāhman (i.e., he may not take part in religious ceremonies) until he has gone through the ceremony of assuming the sacred thread; and I have heard Brāhman boys wearing the thread taunting a boy of Brāhman birth, and calling him a Sūdra, because he had not yet assumed the holy thread.” The thread is composed of three threads of cotton secured together in one spot by a sacred knot of peculiar construction, called Brahma Grandhi. The knot in the sacred thread worn by Vaishnava Brāhmans is called Vishnu Grandhi, and that in the thread of Smarthas Rūdra Grandhi. In the preparation of the thread, cotton sold in the bazaar may not be used; the bolls ought to be secured direct from the plant. Here and there Brāhmans may be seen in villages, removing the cotton from the bolls, and preparing it into pads for spinning into thread. Those who teach students the Vēdas may be seen spinning the thread from these pads. The spinning rod is a thin piece of bamboo stick weighted with a lead or soapstone disc about half an inch in diameter. The thin thread is kept in stock, and twisted into the sacred thread whenever it is required. Three or more people usually take part in the twisting process, during which they chant Vēdic verses. In the Srutis and Sūtras, it is enjoined that the Yagnopavita (sacred thread) is to be put on only on occasions of sacrifice. It ought really to be a vestment, and is a symbolical representation thereof. Ordinarily the thread is worn over the left shoulder in the position called Upavītham. In ceremonies connected with the dead, however, it is worn over the right shoulder in the position called prāchinavīthi. At the time of worshipping Rishis and Ganas, the thread should be over both shoulders and round the neck in the position called nivīthi.
The grass girdle and deer-skin worn by a youth at the Upanayanam ceremony are removed on the fifth day, or, among the orthodox, kept on until the first Upākarmam day. They, and the palāsa stick, should be retained by the Brahmachāri till the close of his studentship. Nambūtiri Brāhman lads of eight or nine years old, who have gone through the Upanayanam ceremony, always carry with them the palāsa stick, and wear the grass girdle, and, in addition to the sacred thread, a thin strip of deer-skin in length equal to the thread. Round the waist he wears a narrow strip of cloth (kaupīnam) passed between the legs. He may cover his breast and abdomen with a cloth thrown over his body. He is thus clad until his marriage, or at least until he has concluded the study of the Vēdas.
The marriage rites in vogue at the present day resemble those of Vēdic times in all essential particulars. All sections of Brāhmans closely follow the Grihya Sūtras relating to their sākha. The marriage ceremonies commence with the Nischyathartham or betrothal ceremony. The bridegroom being seated on a plank amidst a number of Brāhmans, Vēdic verses are repeated, and, after the bestowal of blessings, the bride’s father proclaims that he intends giving his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom, and that he may come for the purpose after the completion of the Vratam ceremony. For this ceremony, the bridegroom, after being shaved, dresses up. Meanwhile, the Brāhmans who have been invited assemble. The bridegroom sits on the marriage dais, and, after repeating certain Vēdic verses, says:—“With the permission of all assembled, let me begin the Vratams Prājāpathyam, Soumyam, Āgnēyam, and Vaiswadēvam, and let me also close them.” All the Vratams should be performed long before the marriage. In practice, however, this is not done, so the bridegroom performs an expiatory ceremony, to make up for the omission. This consists in offering oblations of ghī, and giving presents of money to a few Brāhmans. The bridegroom is helped throughout the Vratam ceremonies by a spiritual teacher or guru, who is usually his father or a near relation. The guru sprinkles water over the bridegroom’s body, and tells him to go on with kāndarishi tharpanam (offerings of water, gingelly, and rice, as an oblation to Rishis).
A small copper or silver vessel is placed on a leaf to the north-east of the sacred fire, and is made to represent Varuna. A new cloth is placed round the vessel. The various Vratams mentioned are gone through rapidly, and consist of offerings of ghī through fire to the various Dēvatas and Pitris. The Nāndhi Srādh, or memorial service to ancestors, is then performed. The bridegroom next dresses up as a married man, and proceeds on a mock pilgrimage to a distant place. This is called Paradēsa Pravesam (going to a foreign place), or Kāsiyatra (pilgrimage to Benares). It is a remnant of the Snāthakarma rite, whereat a Brahmachāri, or student, leaves his spiritual teacher’s house at the close of his studies, performs a ceremony of ablution, and becomes an initiated householder or Snāthaka. The bridegroom carries with him an umbrella, a fan, and a bundle containing some rice, cocoanut, and areca-nut. He usually goes eastward. His future father-in-law meets him, and brings him to the house at which the marriage is to be celebrated. As soon as he has arrived there, the bride is brought, dressed up and decorated in finery. The bridal pair are taken up on the shoulders of their maternal uncles, who dance about for a short time. Whenever they meet, the bride and bridegroom exchange garlands (mālaimāththal). The couple then sit on a swing within the pandal (booth), and songs are sung.
A few married women go round them three times, carrying water, a light, fruits, and betel, in a tray. The pair are conducted into the house, and are seated on the marriage dais. The marriage, or Vivāham, is then commenced. A purōhit (priest) repeats certain Vēdic texts as a blessing, and says:—“Bless this couple of ... gōtras, the son and daughter of ..., grandchildren of ..., now about to be married.” At this stage, the gōtras of the contracting couple must be pronounced distinctly, so as to ensure that they are not among the prohibited degrees. The bridal couple must belong to different gōtras. The bridegroom next says that he is about to commence the worship of Visvaksēna if he is a Vaishnavite, or Ganapathi if he is a Saivite, for the successful termination of the marriage ceremonies. The Ankurarpana (seed-pan) ceremony is then proceeded with. Five earthenware pans are procured, and, after being purified by the sprinkling of punyāham water over them, are arranged in the form of a square. Four of the pans are placed at the four cardinal points, east, west, north, and south, and the remaining pot is set down in the centre of the square. The pan to the east represents Indra, the one to the west Varuna, the one to the south Yama, and the one to the north Sōman. While water is being sprinkled over the pans, the following synonyms for each of these gods are repeated:—
Indra—Sathakruthu, Vajranam, Sachipathi.
Yama—Vaivaswata, Pithrupathi, Dharmarāja.
Varuna—Prachethas, Apāmpathi, Swarūpinam.
Sōman—Indum, Nisākaram, Ōshadīsam.
Nine kinds of grains soaked in water are placed in the seed-pans. These grains are Dolichos Lablab (two varieties), Phaseolus Mungo (two varieties), Oryza sativa, Cicer Arietinum, Cajanus indicus, Eleusine Coracana, and Vigna Catiang. The tying of the wrist-thread (pratisaram) is next proceeded with. Two cotton threads are laid on a vessel representing Varuna. After the recitation of Vēdic verses, the bridegroom takes one of the threads, and, dipping it in turmeric paste, holds it with his left thumb, smears some of the paste on it with his right thumb and forefinger, and ties it on the left wrist of the bride. The purōhit ties the other thread on the right wrist of the bridegroom, who, facing the assembly, says “I am going to take the bride.” He then recites the following Vēdic verse:—“Go to my future father-in-law with due precautions, and mingle with the members of his family. This marriage is sure to be pleasing to Indra, because he gets oblations of food, etc., after the marriage. May your path be smooth and free from thorns. May Sūrya and Bhaga promote our dhāmpathyam (companionship).”
The purōhit again proclaims the marriage, and the gōtras and names of three generations are repeated. Those assembled then bless the couple. The bride’s father says that he is prepared to give his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom, who states that he accepts her. The father of the bride washes the feet of the bridegroom placed on a tray with milk and water. The bridegroom then washes the feet of the bride’s father. The bride sits in her father’s lap, and her mother stands at her side. The father, repeating the names of the bridegroom’s ancestors for three generations, says that he is giving his daughter to him. He places the hand of the bride on that of the bridegroom, and both he and the bride’s mother pour water over the united hands of the contracting couple. The following slōka is repeated:—“I am giving you a virgin decorated with jewels, to enable me to obtain religious merit.” The bridegroom takes the bride by the hand, and both take their seats in front of the sacred fire. This part of the ceremonial is called dhāre (pouring of water). Much importance is attached to it by Tulu Brāhmans. Among Non-Brāhman castes in South Canara, it forms the binding portion of the marriage ceremony. After the pouring of ghī as an oblation, the bridegroom throws down a few twigs of dharbha grass, and repeats the formula:—“Oh! dharbha, thou art capable of giving royal powers, and the teacher’s seat. May I not be separated from thee.” Then the bride’s father, giving a vessel of water, says “Here is Arghya water.” The bridegroom receives it with the formula:—“May this water destroy my enemies. May brilliancy, energy, strength, life, renown, glory, splendour, and power dwell in me.” Once again the bride’s father washes the feet of the bridegroom, who salutes his father-in-law, saying “Oh! water, unite me with fame, splendour, and milk.
Make me beloved by all creatures, the lord of cattle. May fame, heroism, and energy dwell in me.” The bride’s father pours some water from a vessel over the hand of the bridegroom, who says “To the ocean I send you, the imperishable waters; go back to your source. May I not suffer loss in my offspring. May my sap not be shed.” A mixture of honey, plantain fruit, and ghī, is given to the bridegroom by the bride’s father with the words “Ayam Madhuparko” (honey mixture). Receiving it, the bridegroom mutters the following:—“What is the honeyed, highest form of honey which consists in the enjoyment of food; by that honeyed highest form of honey, may I become highest, honeyed, an enjoyer of food.” He partakes three times of the mixture, and says:—“I eat thee for the sake of brilliancy, luck, glory, power, and the enjoyment of food.” Then the bride’s father gives a cocoanut to the bridegroom, saying “Gauhu” (cow). The bridegroom receives it with the words “Oh! cow, destroy my sin, and that of my father-in-law.”
According to the Grihya Sūtras, a cow should be presented to the bridegroom, to be cooked or preserved. Next a plantain fruit is given to the bridegroom, who, after eating a small portion of it, hands it to the bride. The bride sits on a heap or bundle of paddy (unhusked rice), and the bridegroom says “Oh! Varuna, bless her with wealth. May there be no ill-feeling between herself, her brothers and sisters. Oh! Brihaspathi, bless her that she may not lose her husband. Oh! Indra, bless her to be fertile. Oh! Savitha, bless her that she may be happy in all respects. Oh! girl, be gentle-eyed and friendly to me. Let your look be of such a nature as not to kill your husband. Be kind to me, and to my brothers.88 May you shine with lustre, and be of good repute. Live long, and bear living children.” The pair are then seated, and the bridegroom, taking a blade of dharbha grass, passes it between the eyebrows of the bride, and throws it behind her, saying “With this dharbha grass I remove the evil influence of any bad mark thou mayst possess, which is likely to cause widowhood.” [Certain marks or curls (suli) forebode prosperity, and others misery to a family into which a girl enters by marriage. And, when a wealthy Hindu meditates purchasing a horse, he looks to the presence or absence of certain marks on particular parts of the body, and thereby forms a judgment of the temper and qualities of the animal.] The bridegroom then repeats the following:—“Now they ought to rejoice, and not cry. They have arranged our union to bring happiness to both of us. In view of the happiness we are to enjoy hereafter, they should be glad. This is a fitting occasion for rejoicing.” Four Brāhmans next bring water, and the bridegroom receives it, saying:—“May the evil qualities of this water disappear; may it increase. Let the Brāhmans bring water for the bath, and may it bring long life and children to her.” A bundle of paddy, or a basket filled therewith, is brought to the pandal. The bride sits on the paddy, and a ring of dharbha grass is placed on her head.
The bridegroom repeats the formula “Blessed by the Sūrya, sit round the sacred fire, and look at the dharbha ring, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law.” A yoke is then brought, one end of which is placed on the head of the bride above the ring, and the following formula is repeated:—“Oh! Indra, cleanse and purify this girl, just as you did in the case of Abhala, by pouring water through three holes before marrying her.” Abhala was an ugly woman, who wished to marry Indra. To attain this end, she did penance for a long time, and, meeting Indra, requested him to fulfil her desire. Indra made her his wife, after transforming her into a beautiful woman by sprinkling water over her through the holes in the wheels of the car which was his vehicle. Into the hole of the yoke a gold coin, or the tāli (marriage badge), is dropped, with the words “May this gold prove a blessing to you. May the yoke, the hole of the yoke, bring happiness to you. May we be blessed to unite your body with mine.” Then the bridegroom, sprinkling water over the yoke and coin, says:—“May you become purified by the sun through this purificatory water. May this water, which is the cause of thunder and lightning, bring happiness to you. Oh! girl, may this water give you health and long life. A new and costly silk cloth (kūrai), purchased by the bridegroom, is given to the bride, and the bridegroom says:—“Oh! Indra, listen to my prayers; accept them, and fulfil my desires.” The bride puts on the cloth, with the assistance of the bridegroom’s sister, and sits on her father’s lap. The bridegroom, taking up the tāli, ties it by the string on the bride’s neck, saying:—“Oh! girl, I am tying the tāli to secure religious merit.” This is not a Vēdic verse, and this part of the ceremony is not included in the Grihya Sūtras. All the Brāhmans assembled bless the couple by throwing rice over their heads.
A dharbha waist-cord is passed round the waist of the bride, and the following is repeated:—“This girl is gazing at Agni, wishing for health, wealth, strength and children. I am binding her for her good.” The bridegroom then holds the hand of the bride, and both go to the sacred fire, where the former says:—“Let Sūrya lead to Agni, and may you obtain permission from the Aswins to do so. Go with me to my house. Be my wife, and the mistress of my house. Instruct and help me in the performance of sacrifices.” After offerings of ghī in the sacred fire, the bridegroom says:—“Sōma was your husband; Gandharva knew thee next; Agni was your third husband. I, son of man, am your fourth husband. Sōma gave you to Gandharva, and Gandharva gave you to Agni, who gave to me with progeny and wealth.” The bridegroom takes hold of the bride’s right wrist, and, pressing on the fingers, passes his hand over the united fingers three times.
This is called Pānigrahanam. To the Nambūtiri Brāhman this is a very important item, being the binding part of the marriage ceremonial. Some years ago, at a village near Chalakkudi in the Cochin State, a Nambūtiri refused to accept a girl as his bride, because the purōhit inadvertently grasped her fingers, to show how it ought to be done at the time of the marriage ceremony. The purōhit had to marry the girl himself. The next item in the ceremonial is Sapthapathi, or the taking of the seven steps. This is considered as the most binding portion thereof. The bridegroom lifts the left foot of the bride seven times, repeating the following:—“One step for sap, may Vishnu go after thee. Two steps for juice, may Vishnu go after thee. Three steps for vows, may Vishnu go after thee. Four steps for comfort, may Vishnu go after thee. Five steps for cattle, may Vishnu go after thee. Six steps for the prospering of wealth, may Vishnu go after thee. Seven steps for the seven-fold hōtriship,89 may Vishnu go after thee.
With seven steps we have become companions. May I attain to friendship with thee. May I not be separated from thy friendship. Mayst thou not be separated from my friendship. Let us be united; let us always take counsel together with good hearts and mutual love. May we grow in strength and prosperity together. Now we are one in minds, deeds, and desires. Thou art Rik, I am Sāmam; I am the sky, thou art the earth; I am the semen, thou art the bearer; I am the mind, thou art the tongue. Follow me faithfully, that we may have wealth and children together. Come thou of sweet speech.” The bridegroom then does hōmam, repeating the following:—“We are offering oblations to Sōma, Gandharva, and Agni. This girl has just passed her virginity. Make her leave her father’s house. Bless her to remain fixed in her husband’s house. May she have a good son by your blessing. Cause her to beget ten children, and I shall be the eleventh child. Oh! Agni, bless her with children, and make them long-lived. Oh! Varuna, I pray to you for the same thing. May this woman be freed from the sorrow arising out of sterility, and be blessed by Garhapathyāgni. May she have a number of children in her, and become the mother of many living children. Oh! girl, may your house never know lamentations during nights caused by deaths. May you live long and happy with your husband and children. May the sky protect thy back; may Vāyu strengthen your thighs; and the Aswins your breast. May Savitri look after thy suckling sons. Until the garment is put on, may Brihaspathi guard them, and the Viswedēvas afterwards. Oh! Varuna, make me strong and healthy. Do not steal away years from our ages. All those who offer oblations pray for the same. Oh! you all-pervading Agni, pacify Varuna; you who blaze forth into flames to receive oblations, be friendly towards us.
Be near us, and protect us. Receive, and be satisfied with our oblations. Make us prosperous. We are always thinking of you. Take our oblations to the several dēvatas, and give us medicine.” The bride next treads on a stone, and the bridegroom says:—“Oh! girl, tread on this stone. Be firm like it. Destroy those who seek to do thee harm. Overcome thy enemies.” Some fried paddy is put in the sacred fire, and the bridegroom repeats the following:—“Oh! Agni, I am offering the fried grains, so that this girl may be blessed with long life. Oh! Agni, give me my wife with children, just as in olden days you were given Sūryayi with wealth. Oh! Agni, bless my wife with lustre and longevity.
Also bless her husband with long life, that she may live happily. Oh! Agni, help us to overcome our enemies.” Again the bride treads on the stone, and the bridegroom says:—“Oh! girl, tread on this stone, and be firm like it. Destroy those who seek to do thee harm. Overcome thy enemies.” This is followed by the offering of fried grain with the following formula:—“The virgins prayed to Sūrya and Agni to secure husbands, and they were at once granted their boons. Such an Agni is now being propitiated by offerings of fried paddy. Let him make the bride leave her father’s house.” For the third time, the bride treads on the stone, and fried paddy is offered with the formula:—“Oh! Agni, thou art the giver of life, and receiver of oblations. Oblations of ghī are now offered to you. Bless the pair to be of one mind.” The dharbha girdle is removed from the bride’s waist, with the verse: “I am loosening you from the bondage of Varuna.
I am now removing the thread with which Sūrya bound you.” Those assembled then disperse. Towards evening, Brāhmans again assemble, and the bride and bridegroom sit before the sacred fire, while the former repeat several Vēdic riks. They are supposed to start for their home, driving in a carriage, and the verses repeated have reference to the chariot, horses, boats, etc. After ghī has been poured into the fire, a child, who should be a male who has not lost brothers or sisters, is seated in the lap of the bride, and the bridegroom says:—“May cows, horses, men, and wealth, increase in this house. Let this child occupy your lap, just as the Sōma creeper which gives strength to the Dēvatas occupies the regions of the stars.” Giving some plantain fruit to the child, the bridegroom says:—“Oh! fruits, ye bear seeds. May my wife bear seeds likewise by your blessing.” Then the pair are shown Druva and Arundathi (the pole star and Ursa major), which are worshipped with the words:—“The seven Rishis who have led to firmness, she, Arundathi, who stands first among the six Krithikas (Pleiads), may she the eighth one, who leads the conjunction of the (moon with the) six Krithikas, the first (among conjunctions) shine upon us.
Firm dwelling, firm origin; the firm one art thou, standing on the side of firmness. Thou art the pillar of the stars. Thus protect me against my adversaries.” They then proceed to perform the Sthālipāka ceremony, in which the bride should cook some rice, which the bridegroom offers as an oblation in the sacred fire. In practice, however, a little food is brought, and placed in the fire without being cooked. The purōhit decorates a Ficus stick with dharbha grass, and gives it to the bridegroom. It is placed in the roof, or somewhere within the house, near the seed-pans. [According to the Grihya Sūtras, the couple ought to occupy the same mat, with the stick between them. This is not in vogue amongst several sections of Brāhmans. The Mysore Carnatakas, Mandya Aiyangars, and Shivallis, observe a kindred ceremony. Amongst the Mandyas, for example, on the fourth night of the marriage rites, the bridal couple occupy the same mat for a short time, and a stick is placed between them. The Pajamadmē, or mat marriage, amongst the Shivalli Brāhmans, evidently refers to this custom.] On the second and third days of the marriage ceremonies, hōmams are performed in the morning and evening, and the nalagu ceremony is performed.
In this, the couple are seated on two planks covered with mats and cloth, amidst a large number of women assembled within the pandal. In front of them, betel leaves, areca nuts, fruits, flowers, and turmeric paste are placed in a tray. The women sing songs which they have learnt from childhood, and the bride also sings the praises of the bridegroom. Taking a little of the turmeric paste rendered red by the addition of chunam (lime), she makes marks by drawing lines over the feet (nalangu idal). The ceremony closes with the waving of ārāthi (water coloured red with turmeric and chunam), and the distribution of pān-supāri (betel leaves and areca nuts). The waving is done by two women, who sing appropriate songs. On the fourth day, Brāhmans assemble, and the pair are seated in their midst. After the recitation of Vēdic verses, the contracting couple are blessed. A small quantity of turmeric paste, reddened by the addition of chunam, is mixed with ghī, and smeared over the shoulders of the pair, and a mark is made on their foreheads.
This is called Pachchai Kalyānam, and is peculiar to Tamil Brāhmans, both Smarthas and Vaishnavas. Amongst Tamil Brāhmans, prominence is given to the maternal uncles on the fourth day. The bride and bridegroom are carried astride on the shoulders of their uncles, who dance to the strains of a band. When they meet, the couple exchange garlands (malaimāththal). Towards evening, a procession is got up at the expense of the maternal uncle of the bride, and is hence called Ammān Kōlam. The bride is dressed up as a boy, and another girl is dressed up to represent the bride. They are taken in procession through the streets, and, on their return, the pseudo-bridegroom is made to speak to the real bridegroom in somewhat insolent tones, and some mock play is indulged in. The real bridegroom is addressed as if he was the syce (groom) or gumastha (clerk) of the pseudo-bridegroom, and is sometimes treated as a thief, and judgment passed on him by the latter. Among Sri Vaishnavas, after the Pachchai smearing ceremony, the bridal couple roll a cocoanut to and fro across the dais, and the assembled Brāhmans chant stanzas in Tamil composed by a Vaishnava lady named Āndal, an avatar of Lakshmi, who dedicated herself to Vishnu. In these stanzas, she narrates to her attendants the dream, in which she went through the marriage ceremony after her dedication to the god. Pān-supāri, of which a little, together with some money, is set apart for Āndal, is then distributed to all present. A large crowd generally assembles, as it is believed that the chanting of Āndal’s srisukthi (praise of Lakshmi) brings a general blessing.
The family priest calls out the names and gōtras of those who have become related to the bride and bridegroom through their marriage. As each person’s name is called out, he or she is supposed to make a present of cloths, money, etc., to the bridegroom or bride. [The Telugu and Carnataka Brāhmans, instead of the Pachchai Kalyānam, perform a ceremony called Nāgavali on the fourth or fifth day. Thirty-two lights and two vessels, representing Siva and Parvathi, are arranged in the form of a square. Unbleached thread, soaked in turmeric paste, is passed round the square, and tied to the pandal. The bridal couple sit in front of the square, and, after doing pūja (worship), cut the thread, and take their seats within the square. The bridegroom ties a tāli of black glass beads on the bride’s neck, in the presence of 33 crores (330 millions) of gods, represented by a number of small pots arranged round the square. Close to the pots are the figures of two elephants, designed in rice grains and salt respectively. After going round the pots, the couple separate, and the bridegroom stands by the salt elephant, and the bride by the other.
They then talk about the money value of the two animals, and an altercation takes place, during which they again go round the pots, and stand, the bridegroom near the rice elephant, and the bride near the salt one. The bargaining as to the price of the animals is renewed, and the couple go round the pots once more. This ceremony is followed by a burlesque of domestic life. The bride is presented with two wooden dolls from Tirupati, and told to make a cradle out of the bridegroom’s turmeric-coloured cloth, which he wore on the tāli-tying day. The couple converse on domestic matters, and the bridegroom asks the bride to attend to her household affairs, so that he may go to his duties. She pleads her inability to do so because of the children, and asks him to take charge of them. She then shows the babies (dolls) to all present, and a good deal of fun is made out of the incident. The bride, with her mother standing by her side near two empty chairs, is then introduced to her new relations by marriage, who sit in pairs on the chairs, and make presents of pān-supāri and turmeric.] On the fifth day of the marriage ceremonies, before dawn, the bridal couple are seated on the dais, and the Gandharva stick is removed, with the words:—“Oh! Visvāwasu Gandharva, I pray to you to make this girl my wife. Unite her with me.
Leave her, and seek another.” The bridegroom then performs hōmams. A coin is placed on the bride’s head, and a little ghī put thereon. Gazing at the bridegroom, she says:—“With a loving heart I regard thee who knowest my heart. Thou art radiant with tapas (penance). Fill me with a child, and this house of ours with wealth. Thou art desirous of a son. Thus shalt thou reproduce thyself.” Looking at the bride, the bridegroom then says:—“I see thee radiant and eager to be filled with child by me. Thou art in thy youth now. Enjoy me, therefore, while I am over you, and so reproduce thyself, being desirous of a son.” Touching the bride’s breasts with his ring-finger, and then touching his heart, he repeats the following:—“May the Viswe gods unite our hearts; may the water unite our hearts; may Vāyu and Brahma unite our hearts; and may Sarasvati teach us both conversation appropriate to this occasion of our intercourse.” More Vēdic riks are then recited, as follows:—“Thou Prajāpathi, enter my body that I may have vigour during this act; so thou Thvastri, who fashionest forms with Vishnu and other gods; so thou Indra, who grantest boons with thy friends the Viswedēvas, by thy blessing may we have many sons. May Vishnu make thy womb ready; may Thvashtri frame the shape (of the child); may Prajāpathi pour forth (the sperm); may Dhatri give thee conception. Give conception, Sinivāli; give conception, Sarasvati.
May the two Asvins, wreathed with lotus, give conception to thee. The embryo which the two Asvins produce with their golden kindling sticks, that embryo we call into thy womb, that thou mayst give birth to it after ten months. As the earth is pregnant with Agni, as the heaven is pregnant with Indra, as Vāyu dwells in the womb of the regions (of the earth), thus I place an embryo in thy womb. Open thy womb; take in the sperm. May a male child, an embryo, be begotten in the womb. The mother bears him ten months, may he be born, the most valiant of his kin. May a male embryo enter the womb, as an arrow the quiver; may a man be born here, thy son, after ten months. I do with thee (the work) that is sacred to Prajāpathi; may an embryo enter the womb. May a child be born without deficiency, with all its limbs, not blind, not lame, not sucked out by Pisāchas” (devils). The marriage is brought to a close, after this recitation, with the presentation of fruits, etc., to all the Brāhmans assembled, and to all relations, children included. The bridegroom chews betel for the first time on this day. The wrist-threads are removed, and the seed-pans containing the seedlings, which have been worshipped daily, are taken in procession to a tank (pond), into which the seedlings are thrown.
It will be noticed that prayers for male issue are of frequent occurrence during the marriage ceremonial. In Sanskrit works, Putra (son) is defined as one who delivers a parent from a hell called put. It is generally believed that the welfare of a parent’s soul depends on the performance of srādh (memorial services) by his son. It was laid down by Manu that a man is perfect, when he consists of three—himself, his wife, and his son. In the Rig Vēda it is stated that “when a father sees the face of a living son, he pays a debt in him, and gains immortality. The pleasure which a father has in his son exceeds all other enjoyments. His wife is a friend, his daughter an object of companion, his son shines as his light in the highest world.” The following story of a certain pious man of ascetical temperament, who determined to shirk the religious duty of taking a wife, is narrated by Monier Williams:—“Quietly skipping over the second prescribed period of life, during which he ought to have been a householder (grihastha), he entered at once upon the third period—that is to say, he became an ascetic, abjured all female society, and retired to the woods. Wandering about one day, absorbed in meditation, he was startled by an extraordinary spectacle. He saw before him a deep and apparently bottomless pit. Around its edge some unhappy men were hanging suspended by ropes of grass, at which here and there a rat was nibbling. On asking their history, he discovered to his horror that they were his own ancestors compelled to hang in this unpleasant manner, and doomed eventually to fall into the abyss, unless he went back into the world, did his duty like a man, married a suitable wife, and had a son, who would be able to release them from their critical predicament.” This legend is recorded in detail in the Mahābhārata.
A curious mock marriage ceremony is celebrated amongst Brāhmans when an individual marries a third wife. It is believed that a third marriage is very inauspicious, and that the bride will become a widow. To prevent this mishap, the man is made to marry the arka plant (Calotropis gigantea), and the real marriage thus becomes the fourth. If this ceremony is carried on in orthodox fashion, it is generally celebrated on some Sunday or Monday, when the constellation Astham is visible. The bridegroom and a Brāhman priest, accompanied by a third Brāhman, repair to a spot where the arka plant (a very common weed) is growing. The plant is decorated with a cloth and a piece of string, and symbolised into the sun. The bridegroom then invokes it thus:—“Oh! master of three lōks, Oh! the seven-horsed, Oh! Rāvi, avert the evils of the third marriage.” Next the plant is addressed with the words:—“You are the oldest of the plants of this world. Brahma created you to save such of us as have to marry a third time, so please become my wife.”
The Brāhman who accompanies the bridegroom becomes his father-in-law for the moment, and says to him:—“I give you in marriage Aditya’s great grand-daughter, Savi’s grand-daughter, and my daughter Arkakanya.” All the ceremonies, such as making hōmam, tāli-tying, etc., are performed as at a regular marriage, and, after the recitation of a few sentences from the Vēdas, the plant is cut down. “The plant,” Mr. A. Srinivasan writes,90 “is named arka after the sun. When the car of the sun turns towards the north, every Hindu applies the leaves of this plant to his head before he bathes, in honour of the event. The plant is, besides, believed to be a willing scapegoat to others’ ills. Oil and ghī applied to the head of the victim of persistent illness has only to be transferred to this plant, when it withers and saves the man, even as Baber is said to have saved his son. The poet Kalidāsa describes sweet Sakuntala, born of a shaggy dweller of the forest, as a garland of jasmine thrown on an arka plant. ‘May the arka grow luxuriant in your house’ is the commonest form of curse. ‘Be thou belaboured with arka leaves’ is familiar in the mouths of reprimanding mothers. Adulterers were, half a century ago, seated on an ass, face to the tail, and marched through the village.
The public disgrace was enhanced by placing a garland of the despised arka leaves on their head. [Uppiliyan women convicted of immorality are said to be garlanded with arka flowers, and made to carry a basket of mud round the village.] A Telugu proverb asks ‘Does the bee ever seek the arka flower?’ The reasons for the ill-repute that this plant suffers from are not at all clear. The fact that it has a partiality for wastes has evidently brought on its devoted head the dismal associations of desolation, but there would seem to be more deep-seated hatred to the plant than has been explained.” A Tamil proverb has it that he who crushes the bud of the arka earns merit. Some Telugu and Canarese Brāhmans, who follow the Yajur Vēda or Rig Vēda, consider the arka plant as sacred, and use the leaves thereof during the nāndhi (ancestor invoking) ceremony, which is performed as one of the marriage rites. Two or three arka leaves, with betel leaves and areca nuts, are tied to the cloth, which is attached to a stick as representing the ancestors (pithrus). With some the arka leaves are replaced by leaves of Pongamia glabra. On rathasapthami day (the seventh day after the new moon in the month Āvani), an orthodox Hindu should bathe his head and shoulders with arka leaves in propitiation of Sūrya (the sun). Brāhmans who follow the Sāma Vēda, during the annual upākarmam ceremony, make use of arka leaves and flowers in worshipping the Rishis and Pithrus. On the upākarmam day, the Sāma Vēdis invoke their sixty-two Rishis and the last three ancestors, who are represented by sixty-five clay balls placed on arka leaves. To them are offered arka flowers, fruits of karai-chedi (Canthium parviflorum), and nāval (Eugenia Jambolana). In addition to this worship, they perform the Rishi and Pithru tharpanam by offering water, gingelly (Sesamum indicum) seeds, and rice. The celebrant, prior to dipping his hand into the water, places in his hands two arka leaves, gingelly, and rice.
The juice of the arka plant is a favourite agent in the hands of suicides. Among the Tangalān Paraiyans, if a young man dies before he is married, a ceremony called kannikazhithal (removing bachelorhood) is performed. Before the corpse is laid on the bier, a garland of arka flowers is placed round its neck, and balls of mud from a gutter are laid on the head, knees, and other parts of the body. In some places a variant of the ceremony consists in the erection of a mimic marriage booth, which is covered with leaves of the arka plant, flowers of which are also placed round the neck as a garland. At a form of marriage called rambha or kathali (plantain) marriage, the arka plant is replaced by a plantain tree (Musa). It is performed by those who happen to be eldest brothers, and who are incapable of getting married, so as to give a chance to younger brothers, who are not allowed to marry unless the elder brother or brothers are already married.
At the present day, many Hindus disregard certain ceremonies, in the celebration of which their forefathers were most scrupulous. Even the daily ceremonial ablutions, which are all important to a Brāhman from a shāstraic point of view, are now neglected by a large majority, and the prayers (mantrams), which should be chanted during their performance, are forgotten. But no Brāhman, orthodox or unorthodox, dares to abandon the death ceremonial, and annual srādh (memorial rites). A Brāhman beggar, when soliciting alms, invariably pleads that he has to perform his father or mother’s srādh, or upanayanam (thread ceremony) of his children, and he rarely goes away empty-handed. “The constant periodical performance,” Monier Williams writes,91 “of commemorative obsequies is regarded in the light of a positive and peremptory obligation. It is the simple discharge of a solemn debt to one’s forefathers, a debt consisting not only in reverential homage, but in the performance of acts necessary to their support, happiness, and progress onwards in the spiritual world.
A man’s deceased relatives, for at least three generations, are among his cherished divinities, and must be honoured by daily offerings and adoration, or a nemesis of some kind is certain to overtake his living family. The object of a Hindu funeral is nothing less than the investiture of the departed spirit with an intermediate gross body—a peculiar frame interposed, as it were parenthetically, between the terrestrial gross body, which has just been destroyed by fire, and the new terrestrial body, which it is compelled to ultimately assume. The creation of such an intervenient frame, composed of gross elements, though less gross than those of earth, becomes necessary, because the individualised spirit of man, after the cremation of the terrestrial body, has nothing left to withhold it from re-absorption into the universal soul, except its incombustible subtle body, which, as composed of the subtle elements, is not only proof against the fire of the funeral pile, but is incapable of any sensations in the temporary heaven, or temporary hell, through one or other of which every separate human spirit is forced to pass before returning to earth, and becoming re-invested with a terrestrial gross body.”
When a Brāhman is on the point of death, he is removed from his bed, and laid on the floor. If there is any fear of the day being a danishtapanchami (inauspicious), the dying man is taken out of the house, and placed in the court-yard or pial (raised verandah). Some prayers are uttered, and a cow is presented (gōdhanam). These are intended to render the passage of life through the various parts of the body as easy as possible. The spirit is supposed to escape through one of the nine orifices of the body, according to the character of the individual concerned. That of a good man leaves the body through the brahmarandhra (top of the skull), and that of a bad man through the anus. Immediately after death, the body is washed, religious marks are made on the forehead, and parched paddy and betel are scattered over and around it by the son. As a Brāhman is supposed always to have his fire with him, the sacred fire is lighted.
At this stage, certain purificatory ceremonies are performed, if death has taken place on a day or hour of evil omen, or at midnight. Next, a little cooked rice is cooked in a new earthen pot, and a new cloth is thrown over the corpse, which is roused by the recitation of mantrams. Four bearers, to each of whom dharbha grass is given in token of his office, are selected to carry the corpse to the burning-ground. The eldest son, who is the funeral celebrant, and his brothers are shaved. On ordinary occasions, brothers should not be shaved on the same day, as this would be inauspicious. They are only shaved on the same day on the occasion of the death of their father or mother. The widow of the deceased, and female relations, go three times round the corpse, before it is placed on the bier. Very often, at this stage, all the women present set up a loud lamentation, and repeat the death songs.92 If the dead person was a respected elder, special professional women, trained as mourners, are engaged. I am informed that, in the Coimbatore district, and amongst the Sathyamangalam Brahacharanams, there are certain widows who are professional mourners. As soon as they hear of the death of an elder, they repair to the house, and worry the bereaved family into engaging them for a small fee.
The space, which intervenes between the dead man’s house and the burning-ground, is divided into four parts. When the end of the first of these is reached, the corpse is placed on the ground, and the sons and nephews go round it, repeating mantrams. They untie their kudumis (hair knot), leaving part thereof loose, tie up the rest into a small bunch, and keep on slapping their thighs. [When children at play have their kudumi partially tied, and slap their thighs, they are invariably scolded, owing to the association with funerals.] A little cooked rice is offered to the path as a pathi bali (wayside offering), to propitiate evil spirits, or bhūthas. The same ceremonial should, strictly speaking, be performed at two other spots, but now-a-days it is the custom to place the corpse on the ground near the funeral pyre, moving its position three times, while the circumambulation and pathi bali are gone through only once. As soon as the corpse has reached the spot where the pyre is, the celebrant of the rites sprinkles water thereon, and throws a quarter of an anna on it as the equivalent of purchase of the ground for cremation. The sacred fire is lighted, and the right palm of the corpse is touched with a gold coin. The nine orifices of the body are then smeared with ghī, and rice is thrown over the corpse, and placed in its mouth.
The son takes a burning brand from the sacred fire, lights the pyre, and looks at the sun. He then carries a pot filled with water, having a hole at the bottom through which the water trickles out, on his shoulders three times round the corpse, and, at the end of the third round, throws it down. Then he, and all the relations of the deceased, squat on the ground, facing east, take up some dharbha grass, and, cutting it into small fragments with their nails, scatter them in the air, while repeating some Vēdic verses, which are chanted very loudly and slowly, especially at the funeral of a respected elder. The celebrant then pours a little water on a stone, and sprinkles himself with it. This is also done by the other relations, and they pass beneath a bundle of dharbha grass and twigs of Ficus glomerata held by the purōhit (officiating priest), and gaze for a moment at the sun. Once more they sprinkle themselves with water, and proceed to a tank, where they bathe. When they return home, two rites, called nagna (naked) srādh, and pāshāna sthāpanam (stone-fixing), are celebrated. The disembodied spirit is supposed to be naked after the body has been cremated. To clothe it, offerings of water, with balls of cooked rice, are made, and a cloth, lamp, and money are given to a Brāhman. Then two stones are set up, one in the house and the other on the bank of a tank, to represent the spirit of the deceased.
For ten days, libations of water mixed with gingelly seeds, called tīlothakam, and a ball of cooked rice, must be offered to the stones. The ball of rice is left for crows to eat. The number of libations must be seventy-five, commencing with three on the first day, and increasing the number daily by one. In addition, three further libations are made daily by dipping a piece of cloth from the winding-sheet, and rinsing it over the stone (vasothakam). On the day after cremation, the relations assemble at the burning-ground, and the son, after extinguishing the burning embers, removes the fragments of bones from the ashes. The ceremony is called sanchyanam (gathering). Cooked food is offered. The bones are thrown into some sacred river, or buried in the ground. On the tenth day after death, a large quantity of cooked rice (prabhūthabali) is offered to the spirit of the dead person, which is believed to grow very hungry on that day. The food is heaped up on plantain leaves, and all the near relations go round them, crying and beating their breasts. It is mostly females who perform this rite, males standing aloof. The food is taken to a tank, and the widow, decorated and dressed up, is conducted thither. The food is thrown into the water, and, if the widow is an elderly orthodox woman, her tāli is removed. On the same day, her head is clean shaved.
A widow is not allowed to adorn herself with jewels and finery except on this day, when all her close relations come and see her. If this is not done, pregnant women may not see her for a year. All the agnates should be present on the tenth day, and perform tharpana (oblations of water). Until this day they are under pollution, and, after prabhūthabali, they bathe, and hōmam is performed. Some ashes from the sacred fire are mixed with ghī, and a mark is made on the foreheads of those who are under pollution, to remove it. During the period of pollution, a Sri Vaishnava will have only a white mark without the red streak on his forehead; a Mādhva will not have the black dot; and Smarthas avoid having marks altogether. The tenth day ceremony is called Dasāham. On the eleventh day, a ceremony called Ēkodishtam (eleventh day ceremony) is performed. A Brāhman is seated to represent the prētha or dead person, and fed after going through srādh rites. As a rule, the man is a close relation of the deceased. But, amongst certain classes of Brāhmans, an outsider is engaged, and well remunerated. On the twelfth day, the Sapindikaranam (sapinda, kinsman) ceremony, which is just like the ordinary srādh, is performed. At the close thereof, six balls of cooked rice are offered to three ancestors, male and female (three balls for males, and three for females). These balls are arranged in two rows, with a space between them. An elongated mass of food is placed between the rows, and divided with blades of dharbha grass into three portions, which are arranged close to the balls of rice. This is regarded as uniting the dead man with the pitris (ancestors).
A cow is usually presented just before the union takes place, and the gift is believed to render the crossing of the river Vaitarani (river of death) easy for the departed soul. The Sapindikaranam is a very important ceremony. When there is a dispute concerning division of property on the death of an individual, the ceremony is not performed until the parties come to an agreement. For instance, if a married man dies without issue, and his widow’s brothers-in-law cannot come to terms as regards the partition of the property, the widow may refuse to allow the performance of the ceremony. The Sapindikaranam should, according to the shāstras, be performed a year after death, i.e., on the completion of all the Māsikas (monthly srādhs). But, at the present day, a ceremony called Shōdasam (the sixteen) is performed just before the Sapindikaranam on the twelfth day. In the course of the year, twelve monthly and four quarterly srādhs should be performed. The Shōdasam ceremony, which is carried out in lieu thereof, consists in giving presents of money and vessels to sixteen Brāhmans. On the twelfth day, a feast is held, and domestic worship is carried out on a large scale. At the close thereof, a slōka called Charma slōka, in praise of the deceased, is composed and repeated by some one versed in Sanskrit.
Every month, for a year after a death in a family, srādh should, as indicated, be performed. This corresponds in detail with the annual srādh, which is regularly performed, unless a visit is paid to Gaya, which renders further performance of the rite not obligatory. For the performance of this ceremony by the nearest agnate of the deceased (eldest son or other), three Brāhmans should be called in, to represent respectively Vishnu, the Dēvatas, and the ancestors. Sometimes two Brāhmans are made to suffice, and Vishnu is represented by a sālagrāma stone. In extreme cases, only one Brāhman assists at the ceremony, the two others being represented by dharbha grass. The sacred fire is lighted, and ghī, a small quantity of raw and cooked rice, and vegetables are offered up in the fire. The Brāhmans then wash their feet, and are fed. Before they enter the space set apart for the meal, water, gingelly, and rice are sprinkled about it, to keep off evil spirits. As soon as the meal is finished, a ball of rice, called vāyasa pindam (crow’s food), is offered to the pithru dēvatas (ancestors of three generations), and thrown to the crows. If they do not eat the rice, the omens are considered to be unfavourable. The Brāhmans receive betel and money in payment for their services. On one occasion my assistant was in camp at Kodaikānal on the Palni hills, the higher altitudes of which are uninhabited by crows, and he had perforce to march down to the plains, in order to perform the annual ceremony for his deceased father. The recurring annual srādh (Pratyābdhika) need not of necessity be performed. It is, however, regarded as an important ceremony, and, should an individual neglect it, he would run the risk of being excommunicated.
The rites connected with the dead are based on the Garuda Purāna, according to which the libations of the ten days are said to help the growth of the body of the soul. In this connection, Monier Williams writes as follows:—93“On the first day, the ball (pinda) of rice offered by the eldest son or other near relative nourishes the spirit of the deceased in such a way as to furnish it with a head; on the second day, the offered pinda gives a neck and shoulders; on the third day a heart; on the fourth a back; on the fifth a navel; on the sixth a groin and the parts usually concealed; on the seventh thighs; on the eighth and ninth knees and feet. On the tenth day, the intermediate body is sufficiently formed to produce the sensation of hunger and thirst. Other pindas are therefore put before it, and, on the eleventh and twelfth days, the embodied spirit feeds voraciously on the offerings thus supplied, and so gains strength for its journey to its future abode. Then, on the thirteenth day after death, it is conducted either to heaven or hell. If to the latter, it has need of the most nourishing food, to enable it to bear up against the terrible ordeal which awaits it.”
To the Hindu mind, Yama (the god of death) is a hideous god, whose servants are represented as being capable of tormenting the soul of the dead. “No sooner,” writes Monier Williams, “has death occurred, and cremation of the terrestrial body taken place, than Yama’s two messengers (Yama Dūtan), who are waiting near at hand, make themselves visible to the released spirit, which retains its subtle body composed of the subtle elements, and is said to be of the size of a thumb (angustha-mātra). Their aspect is terrific, for they have glaring eyes, hair standing erect, gnashing teeth, crow-black skin, and claw-like nails, and they hold in their hands the awful rod and noose of Yama. Then, as if their appearance in this form were not sufficiently alarming, they proceed to terrify their victim by terrible visions of the torments (yātana) in store for him. They then convey the bound spirit along the road to Yama’s abode. Being led before Yama’s judgment seat, it is confronted with his Registrar or Recorder named Chitra Gupta. This officer stands by Yama’s side, with an open book before him. It is his business to note down all the good and evil deeds of every human being born into the world, with the resulting merit (punya) and demerit (pāpa), and to produce a debtor and creditor account properly made up and balanced on the day when that being is brought before Yama. According to the balance on the side of merit or demerit is judgment pronounced. The road by which Yama’s two officers force a wicked man to descend to the regions of torment is described in the first two chapters of the Garuda Purāna. The length of the way is said to be 86,000 leagues (yojanas).
The condemned soul, invested with its sensitive body, and made to travel at the rate of 200 leagues a day, finds no shady trees, no resting place, no food, no water. At one time it is scorched by a burning heat equal to that of twelve meridian suns, at another it is pierced by icy cold winds; now its tender frame is rent by thorns; now it is attacked by lions, tigers, savage dogs, venomous serpents, and scorpions. In one place it has to traverse a dense forest, whose leaves are swords; in another it falls into deep pits; in another it is precipitated from precipices; in another it has to walk on the edge of razors; in another on iron spikes. Here it stumbles about helplessly in profound darkness; there it struggles through loathsome mud swarming with leeches; here it toils through burning sand; there its progress is arrested by heaps of red-hot charcoal and stifling smoke. Compelled to pass through every obstacle, however formidable, it next encounters a succession of terrific showers, not of rain, but of live coals, stones, blood, boiling water and filth. Then it has to descend into appalling fissures, or ascend to sickening heights, or lose itself in vast caves, or wade through lakes seething with fœtid ordures.
Then midway it has to pass the awful river Vaitarani, one hundred leagues in breadth, of unfathomable depth; flowing with irresistible impetuosity; filled with blood, matter, hair, and bones; infested with huge sharks, crocodiles, and sea monsters; darkened by clouds of hideous vultures and obscene birds of prey. Thousands of condemned spirits stand trembling on the banks, horrified by the prospect before them. Consumed by a raging thirst, they drink the blood which flows at their feet; then, tumbling headlong into the torrent, they are overwhelmed by the rushing waves. Finally, they are hurried down to the lowest depths of hell, and yet not destroyed. Pursued by Yama’s officers, they are dragged away, and made to undergo inconceivable tortures, the detail of which is given with the utmost minuteness in the succeeding chapters of the Garuda Purāna.”
The Ahannikams, or daily observances, of a religious Brāhman are very many. Nowadays, Brāhmans who lead a purely religious life are comparatively few, and are mostly found in villages. The daily observances of such are the bath, the performance of the Sandhya service, Brahma yagna, Dēva pūja or Dēvatarchana, Tarpana (oblations of water), Vaisvadēva ceremony, and the reading of Purānas or Ithihāsas. Every orthodox Brāhman is expected to rise at the time called Brahma Muhūrtam in the hour and a half before sunrise. He should then clean his teeth, using as a brush mango leaf, or twigs of Acacia arabica or nīm (Melia Azadirachta). He next bathes in a river or tank (pond), standing knee-deep in the water, and repeating the following:—“I am about to perform the morning ablution in this sacred stream (Ganges, Sarasvati, Yamuna, Godāvari, etc.), in the presence of the gods and Brāhmans, with a view to the removal of guilt resulting from act, speech, and thought, from what has been touched and untouched, known and unknown, eaten and not eaten, drunk and not drunk.” After the bath, he wipes his body with a damp cloth, and puts on his cotton madi cloth, which has been washed and dried. The cloth, washed, wrung, and hung up to dry, should not be touched by anybody. If this should happen prior to the bath, the cloth is polluted, and ceases to be madi. A silk cloth, which cannot be polluted, is substituted for it. The madi or silk cloth should be worn until the close of the morning ceremonies and meal. The man next puts the marks which are characteristic of his sect on the forehead and body, and performs the Sandhya service. This is very important, and is binding on all Brāhmans after the Upanayanam ceremony, though a large number are not particular in observing it. According to the shāstras, the Sandhya should be done in the morning and evening; but in practice there is an additional service at midday. Sandhyāvandhanam means the thanksgiving to God when day and night meet in the morning and evening. The rite commences with the sipping of water (āchamanam) from the hollow of the right palm. This is done three times, while the words Achyuthāyanamaha, Anantāyanamaha, and Govindāyana are repeated. Immediately after sipping, twelve parts of the body are touched with the fingers of the right hand in the following order:—
The two cheeks with the thumb, repeating the names Kēsava and Narāyana;
The two eyes with the ring-finger, repeating Mādhava and Govinda;
The two sides of the nose with the forefinger, repeating Vishnu and Madhusūdhana;
The two ears with the little finger, repeating Trivkrama and Vāmana;
The shoulders with the middle finger, repeating Sridhara and Rishikēsa; 
The navel and head with all the fingers, repeating Padmanabha and Damōdar.
This Āchamana is the usual preliminary to all Brāhman religious rites. The water sipped is believed to cleanse the internal parts of the body, as bathing cleanses the external parts.
After Āchamana comes Prānāyāma, or holding in of vital breath, which consists in repeating the Gāyatri (hymn) and holding the breath by three distinct operations, viz:—
Pūraka, or pressing the right nostril with the fingers, and drawing in the breath through the left nostril, and vice versâ.
Kumbhaka, or pressing both nostrils with finger and thumb or with all the fingers, and holding the breath as long as possible.
Rēchaka, or pressing the right nostril with the thumb, and expelling the breath through the left nostril, and vice versâ.
The suppression of the breath is said to be a preliminary yōga practice, enabling a person to fix his mind on the Supreme Being who is meditated on.
The celebrant next repeats the Sankalpa (determination), with the hands brought together, the right palm over the left, and placed on the right thigh. Every kind of ceremony commences with the Sankalpa, which, for the Sandhya service, is as follows:—“I am worshipping for the removal of all my sins that have adhered to me, and for the purpose of acquiring the favour of Narāyana or the Supreme Being.” The performer of the rite then sprinkles himself with water, repeating:—“Oh! ye waters, the sources of all comforts, grant us food, so that our senses may grow strong and give us joy. Make us the recipients of your essence, which is the most blissful, just as affectionate mothers (feed their children with milk from their breasts). May we obtain enough of that essence of yours, the existence of which within you makes you feel glad. Oh! waters, grant us offspring.” He then takes up the water in his palm, and drinks it, repeating the following:—“May the sun and anger, may the lords of anger, preserve me from my sins of pride and passion. Whate’er the nightly sins of thought, word, deed, wrought by my mind, my speech, my hands, my feet; wrought through my appetite and sensual organs; may the departing night remove them all.
In thy immortal light, Oh! radiant sun, I offer up myself and this my guilt.” At the evening service, the same is repeated, with the word Agni instead of Sūrya (sun). At the midday service the following is recited:—“May the waters purify the earth by pouring down rain. May the earth thus purified make us pure. May the waters purify my spiritual preceptor, and may the Vēda (as taught by the purified preceptor) purify me. Whatever leavings of another’s food, and whatever impure things I may have eaten, whatever I may have received as gift from the unworthy, may the waters destroy all that sin and purify me. For this purpose, I pour this sanctified water as a libation down my mouth.” Once more the celebrant sprinkles himself with water, and says:—“I sing the praise of the god Dadikrāvan, who is victorious, all-pervading, and who moves with great speed. May he make our mouths (and the senses) fragrant, and may he prolong our lives. Oh! ye waters, the sources of all comforts, grant us food,” etc.
The ceremonies performed so far are intended for both external and internal purification. By their means, the individual is supposed to have made himself worthy to salute the Lord who resides in the orb of the rising luminary, and render him homage in true Brāhman style by what is called Arghya. This is an offering of water to any respected guest. Repeating the Gāyatri, the worshipper throws water in the air from the palms of the hands joined together with the sacred thread round the thumbs. The Gāyatri is the hymn par excellence, and is said to contain the sum and substance of all Vēdic teaching.
After these items, the worshipper sits down, and does Japam (recitation of prayers in an undertone). The Gāyatri, as repeated, consists of the Gāyatri proper Vyāhritis, and Gāyatri Siromantra. It runs as follows:—
Ōm, Bhuh; Ōm, Bhuvah;
Ōm, Suvah; Ōm, Mahaha;
Ōm, Janaha; Ōm, Thapaha;
Bhargodēvasya dhimahi dhiyo-yonah prachodāyat;
Ōm, Jyotiraso amrutam
Brahma, Bhur, Bhuvasvarūm.
The Vyāhritis are generally taken to refer to the seven worlds, and the prefixing of the Pranava (Ōm) means that all these worlds have sprung from the Supreme Being. The Pranava given above means “All the seven worlds are (the visible manifestations of) Ōm, the all-pervading Brāhman. We think of the adorable light of the Lord, who shines in our hearts, and guides us. May he guide our intellects aright. Water, light, all things that have savour (such as trees, herbs, and plants), the nectar of the gods, the three worlds, in fact everything that is Brāhman, the universal soul.”
The mystic syllable Ōm is the most sacred of all Hindu utterances. Concerning it, Monier Williams writes that it is “made up of the three letters A, U, M, and symbolical of the threefold manifestation of the one Supreme Being in the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, and is constantly repeated during the Sandhya service. This prayer is, as we have seen, the most sacred of all Vēdic utterances, and, like the Lord’s Prayer among Christians, or like the Fatihah or opening chapter of the Kuran among Muhammadans, must always, among Hindus, take precedence of all other forms of supplication.”
The celebrant next proceeds to invoke the Gāyatri Dēvata thus:—“May the goddess Gāyatri Dēvata, who grants all our desires, come to us to make known to us the eternal Lord, who is revealed to us only through the scriptures. May the Gāyatri, the mother of all the Vēdas, reveal to us the eternal truth. Oh! Gāyatri, thou art the source of all spiritual strength. Thou art the power that drivest away the evil inclinations which are mine enemies. Thou, by conducing to a sound mind, conducest to a sound body. Thou art the light of the gods, that dispellest my intellectual darkness, and illuminest my heart with divine wisdom. Thou art all. In the whole universe there is naught but thee that is. Thou art the eternal truth that destroys all sins. Thou art the Pranava that reveals to me the unknown. Come to my succour, Oh! thou Gāyatri, and make me wise.” This invocation is followed by the repetition of the Gāyatri 108 or only 28 times. The celebrant then says:—“The goddess Gāyatri resides on a lofty peak on the summit of mount Mēru (whose base is deeply fixed) in the earth. Oh! thou goddess, take leave from the Brāhmans (who have worshipped thee, and been blessed with thy grace), and go back to thy abode as comfortably as possible.” The Sandhya service is closed with the following prayer to the rising sun:—
“We sing the adorable glory of the sun god, who sustains all men (by causing rain); which glory is eternal, and most worthy of being adored with wonder. The sun, well knowing the inclinations of men, directs them to their several pursuits. The sun upholds both heaven and earth; the sun observes all creatures (and their actions) without ever winking. To this eternal being we offer the oblation mixed with ghī. Oh! sun, may that man who through such sacrifice offers oblations to thee become endowed with wealth and plenty. He who is under thy protection is not cut off by untimely death; he is not vanquished by anybody, and sin has no hold on this man either from near or from afar.” In the evening, the following prayer to Varuna is substituted:—“Hear, Oh! Varuna, this prayer of mine. Be gracious unto me this day. Longing for thy protection, I cry to thee. Adoring thee with prayer, I beg long life of thee.
The sacrificer does the same with the oblations he offers thee. Therefore, Oh! Varuna, without indifference in this matter, take my prayer into your kind consideration, and do not cut off our life. Oh! Lord Varuna, whatever law of thine we, as men, violate day after day, forgive us these trespasses. Oh! Lord Varuna, whatever offence we, as men, have committed against divine beings, whatever work of thine we have neglected through ignorance, do not destroy us, Oh! Lord, for such sin. Whatever sin is attributed to us by our enemies, as by gamblers at dice, whatever sins we may have really committed, and what we may have done without knowing, do thou scatter and destroy all these sins. Then, Oh! Lord, we shall become beloved of thee.” The Sandhya prayer closes with the Abhivādhana or salutation, which has been given in the account of marriage. After the Sandhya service in the morning, the Brahma yagna, or worship of the Supreme Being as represented in the sacred books is gone through. The first hymn of the Rig Vēda is recited in detail, and then follow the first words of the Yajur Vēda, Sāma Vēda, Atharvana Vēda, the Nirukta, etc.
The next item is the Tarpana ceremony, or offering of water to the Dēvatas, Rishis, and Pitris. The sacred thread is placed over the left shoulder and under the right arm (upavīta), and water is taken in the right hand, and poured as an offering to the Dēvatas. Then, with the sacred thread round the neck like a necklace (niviti), the worshipper pours water for the Rishis. Lastly, the sacred thread is placed over the right shoulder (prāchinā vīthi) and water is poured for the Pitris (ancestors).
The various ceremonies described so far should be performed by all the male members of a family, whereas the daily Dēvatarchana or Dēvata pūja is generally done by any one member of a family. The gods worshipped by pious Brāhmans are Siva and Vishnu, and their consorts Parvati and Lakshmi. Homage is paid thereto through images, sālagrāma stones, or stone lingams. In the house of a Brāhman, a corner or special room is set apart for the worship of the god. Some families keep their gods in a small almirah (chest).
Smarthas use in their domestic worship five stones, viz.:—
1. Sālagrāma, representing Vishnu.
2. Bāna linga, a white stone representing the essence of Siva.
3. A red stone (jasper), representing Ganēsha.
4. A bit of metallic ore, representing Parvathi, or a lingam representing Siva and Parvathi.
5. A piece of pebble or crystal, to represent the sun.
Smarthas commence their worship by invoking the aid of Vignēswara (Ganēsha). Then, placing a vessel (kalasa) filled with water, they utter the following prayer. “In the mouth of the water-vessel abideth Vishnu, in its lower part is Brahma, while the whole company of the mothers (mātris) are congregated in its middle part. Oh! Ganges, Yamunā, Godāvari, Sarasvati, Narmadā, Sindhu, and Kāveri, be present in this water.” The conch or chank shell (Turbinella rapa) is then worshipped as follows:—“Oh! conch shell, thou wast produced in the sea, and art held by Vishnu in his hand. Thou art worshipped by all the gods. Receive my homage.” The bell is then worshipped with the prayer:—“Oh! bell, make a sound for the approach of the gods, and for the departure of the demons. Homage to the goddess Ghantā (bell). I offer perfumes, grains of rice, and flowers, in token of rendering all due homage to the bell.” The worshipper claps his hands, and rings the bell. All the tulsi (sacred basil, Ocimum sanctum) leaves, flowers, sandal paste, etc., used for worship on the previous day, are removed. “The tulsi is the most sacred plant in the Hindu religion; it is consequently found in or near almost every Hindu house throughout India. Hindu poets say that it protects from misfortune, and sanctifies and guides to heaven all who cultivate it. The Brahmins hold it sacred to the gods Krishna and Vishnu.
The story goes that this plant is the transformed nymph Tulasi, beloved of Krishna, and for this reason near every Hindu house it is cultivated in pots, or in brick or earthen pillars with hollows at the top (brindāvanam or brinda forest), in which earth is deposited. It is daily watered, and worshipped by all the members of the family. Under favourable circumstances, it grows to a considerable size, and furnishes a woody stem large enough to make beads for the rosaries used by Hindus, on which they count the number of recitations of their deity’s name.”94 Writing in the seventeenth century, Vincenzo Maria95 observes that “almost all the Hindus ... adore a plant like our Basilico gentile, but of a more pungent odour.... Every one before his house has a little altar, girt with a wall half an ell high, in the middle of which they erect certain pedestals like little towers, and in these the shrub is grown. They recite their prayers daily before it, with repeated prostrations, sprinklings of water, etc. There are also many of these maintained at the bathing-places, and in the courts of the pagodas.” The legend, accounting for the sanctity of the tulsi, is told in the Padma Purāna.96 From the union of the lightning that flashed from the third eye of Siva with the ocean, a boy was born, whom Brahmadēv caught up, and to whom he gave the name of Jalandhar. And to him Brahmadēv gave the boon that by no hand but Siva’s could he perish.
Jalandhar grew up strong and tall, and conquered the kings of the earth, and, in due time, married Vrinda (or Brinda), the daughter of the demon Kalnemi. Naradmuni, the son of Brahmadēv, stirred up hatred against Siva in Jalandhar, and they fought each other on the slopes of Kailās. But even Siva could not prevail against Jalandhar, so long as his wife Vrinda remained chaste. So Vishnu, who had lived with her and Jalandhar, and had learnt their secret, plotted her downfall. One day, when she, sad at Jalandhar’s absence, had left her garden to walk in the waste beyond, two demons met her and pursued her. She ran, with the demons following, until she saw a Rishi, at whose feet she fell, and asked for shelter. The Rishi, with his magic, burnt up the demons into thin ash. Vrinda then asked for news of her husband. At once, two apes laid before her Jalandhar’s head, feet, and hands. Vrinda, thinking that he was dead, begged the Rishi to restore him to her. The Rishi said that he would try, and in a moment he and the corpse had disappeared, and Jalandhar stood by her. She threw herself into his arms, and they embraced each other. But, some days later, she learnt that he with whom she was living was not her husband, but Vishnu, who had taken his shape. She cursed Vishnu, and foretold that, in a later Avatar, the two demons who had frightened her would rob him of his wife; and that, to recover her, he would have to ask the aid of the apes who had brought Jalandhar’s head, feet, and hands. Vrinda then threw herself into a burning pit, and Jalandhar, once Vrinda’s chastity had gone, fell a prey to Siva’s thunderbolts. Then the gods came forth from their hiding place, and garlanded Siva.
The demons were driven back to hell, and men once more passed under the tyranny of the gods. But Vishnu came not back from Vrinda’s palace, and those who sought him found him mad from grief, rolling in her ashes. Then Parvati, to break the charm of Vrinda’s beauty, planted in her ashes three seeds. And they grew into three plants, the tulsi, the avali, and the malti. By the growth of these seeds, Vishnu was released from Vrinda’s charm. Therefore he loved them all, but chiefly the tulsi plant, which, as he said, was Vrinda’s very self. In the seventh incarnation, the two demons, who had frightened Vrinda, became Ravan and his brother Kumbhakarna, and they bore away Sīta to Lanka. To recover her, Ramchandra had to implore the help of the two apes who had brought her Jalandhar’s head and hands, and in this incarnation they became Hanuman and his warriors. But, in the eighth incarnation, which was that of Krishna, the tulsi plant took the form of a woman Rādha, and wedded the gay and warlike lord of Dwarka.
The Shōdasopachāra, or sixteen acts of homage, are next performed in due order, viz.—
1. Āvahana, or invocation of the gods. 2. Āsanam, or seat.
3. Pādhya, or water for washing the feet.
4. Arghya, or oblation of rice or water.
5. Āchamanam, or water for sipping.
6. Snānam, or the bath.
7. Vastra, or clothing of tulsi leaves.
8. Upavastra, or upper clothing of tulsi leaves.
9. Gandha, or sandal paste.
10. Pushpa, or flowers.
11. 12. Dhūpa and Dhipa, or incense and light.
13. Naivēdya, or offering of food. 14. Pradakshina, or circumambulation.
15. Mantrapushpa, or throwing flowers. 16. Namaskāra, or salutation by prostration.
While the five stones already referred to are bathed by pouring water from a conch shell, the Purusha Sūktha, or hymn of the Rig Vēda, is repeated. This runs as follows:—“Purusha has thousands of heads, thousands of arms, thousands of eyes, and thousands of feet. On every side enveloping the earth, he transcended this mere space of ten fingers. Purusha himself is this whole (universe); whatever has been, and whatever shall be. He is also the lord of immortality, since through food he expands. Such is his greatness, and Purusha is superior to this. All existing things are a quarter of him, and that which is immortal in the sky is three quarters of him. With three quarters Purusha mounted upwards. A quarter of him was again produced below. He then became diffused everywhere among things, animate and inanimate. From him Viraj was born, and from Viraj Purusha. As soon as born, he extended beyond the earth, both behind and before. When the gods offered up Purusha as a sacrifice, the spring was its clarified butter (ghī), summer its fuel, and the autumn the oblation. This victim, Purusha born in the beginning, they consecrated on the sacrificial grass. With him as their offering, the Gods, Sadhyas, and Rishis sacrificed. From that universal oblations were produced curds and clarified butter. He, Purusha, formed the animals which are subject to the power of the air (Vāyavya), both wild and tame.
From that universal sacrifice sprang the hymns called Rik and Saman, the Metres, and the Yajus. From it were produced horses, and all animals with two rows of teeth, cows, goats, and sheep. When they divided Purusha, into how many parts did they distribute him? What was his mouth? What were his arms? What were called his thighs and feet? The Brāhman was his mouth; the Rājanya became his arms; the Vaisya was his thighs; the Sūdra sprang from his feet. The moon was produced from his soul; the sun from his eye; Indra and Agni from his mouth; Vāyu from his breath. From his navel came the atmosphere; from his head arose the sky; from his feet came the earth; from his ears the four quarters; so they formed the worlds. When the gods, in performing their sacrifice, bound Purusha as a victim, there were seven pieces of wood laid for him round the fire, and thrice seven pieces of fuel employed. With sacrifice the gods worshipped the sacrifice. These were the primæval rites. These great beings attained to the heaven, where the Gods, the ancient Sādhyas, reside.”
Some Smarthas, e.g., the Brahacharnams, are more Saivite than other sections of Tamil-speaking Brāhmans. During worship, they wear round the neck rudrāksha (Elæocarpus Ganitrus) beads, and place on their head a lingam made thereof. In connection with the rudrāksha, the legend runs that Siva or Kālāgni Rudra, while engaged in Tripura Samhāra, opened his third eye, which led to the destruction of the three cities, of which Rākshasas or Asuras had taken the form. From this eye liquid is said to have trickled on the ground, and from this arose the rudrāksha tree. The mere mention of the word rudrāksha is believed to secure religious merit, which may be said to be equivalent to the merit obtained by the gift of ten cows to Brāhmans. Rudrāksha beads are valued according to the number of lobes (or faces, as they are called), which are ordinarily five in number. A bead with six lobes is said to be very good, and one with two lobes, called Gauri Sankara rudrāksha, is specially valued. Dīkshitar Brāhmans, and Pandāram priests of the higher order, wear a two-lobed bead mounted in gold. In a manuscript entitled Rudrākshopanishad, it is stated that a good rudrāksha bead, when rubbed with water, should colour the water yellow. The Mādhvas worship in the same way as Smarthas, but the objects of worship are the sālagrāma stone, and images of Hanumān and Ādi Sēsha. Food offered to Ādi Sēsha, Lakshmi, and Hanumān, is not eaten, but thrown away.
The Mādhvas attach great importance to their spiritual guru, who is first worshipped by a worshipper. Some keep a brindāvanam, representing the grave of their guru, along with a sālagrāma stone, which is worshipped at the close of the Dēvata pūja. Sri Vaishnavas keep for domestic worship only sālagrāma stones. Like the Mādhvas, they are scrupulous as to the worship of their gurus (ācharyas), without whose intervention they believe that they cannot obtain beatitude. Hence Sri Vaishnavites insist upon the Samāsrayanam ceremony. After the Sandhya service and Brahma yagna, the guru is worshipped. All orthodox Vaishnavas keep with them a silk cloth bearing the impressions of the feet of their Ācharya, an abhayastha or impression of the hand of Vishnu in sandal paste, a few necklaces of silk thread (pavitram), and a bit of the bark of the tamarind tree growing at the temple at Ālvartirunagiri in the Tinnevelly district. The worshipper puts on his head the silk cloth, and round his neck the silk necklaces, and, if available, a necklace of Nelumbium (sacred lotus) seeds. After saluting the abhayastha by pressing it to his eyes, he repeats the prayer of his Ācharya, and proceeds to the Dēvatarchana, which consists in the performance of the sixteen upachāras already described. The sālagrāma stone is bathed, and the Purusha Sūktha repeated.
The daily observances are brought to a close by the performance of the Vaisvadēva ceremony, or offering to Vaisvadēvas (all the gods). This consists in offering cooked rice, etc., to all the gods. Some regard this as a sort of expiatory ceremony, to wipe out the sin which may have accidentally been committed by killing small animals in the process of cooking food.
The male members of a family take their meals apart from the females. The food is served on platters made of the leaves of the banyan (Ficus bengalensis), Butea frondosa, Bauhinia, or plantain. Amongst Smarthas and Mādhvas, various vegetable preparations are served first, and rice last, whereas, amongst the Sri Vaishnavas, especially Vadagalais, rice is served first. Before commencing to eat, a little water (tīrtham), in which a sālagrāma stone has been bathed, is poured into the palms of those who are about to partake of the meal. They drink the water simultaneously, saying “Amartopastaranamasi.” They then put a few handfuls of rice into their mouths, repeating some mantras—“Pranāyasvāha, Udanayasvāha, Somanayasvāha,” etc. At the end of the meal, all are served with a little water, which they sip, saying “Amartapithānamasi.” They then rise together.
In connection with the sālagrāma stone, which has been referred to several times, the following interesting account thereof97 may be quoted:—“Sālagrāms are fossil cephalopods (ammonites), and are found chiefly in the bed of the Gandak river, a mountain torrent which, rising in the lofty mountains of Nepal, flows into the Ganges at Sālagrāmi, a village from which they take their name, and which is not far from the sacred city of Benares. In appearance they are small black shiny pebbles of various shapes, usually round or oval, with a peculiar natural hole in them. They have certain marks to be described later, and are often flecked and inlaid with gold [or pyrites]. The name sālagrām is of Sanskrit derivation, from sara chakra, the weapon of Vishnu, and grava, a stone; the chakra or chakram being represented on the stone by queer spiral lines, popularly believed to be engraved thereon at the request of Vishnu by the creator Brahma, who, in the form of a worm, bores the holes known as vadanas, and traces the spiral coil that gives the stone its name. There is a curious legend connected with their origin. In ancient times there lived a certain dancing-girl, the most beautiful that had ever been created, so beautiful indeed that it was impossible to find a suitable consort for her. The girl, in despair at her loveliness, hid herself in the mountains, in the far away Himalayas, and there spent several years in prayer, till at last Vishnu appeared before her, and asked what she wanted. She begged him to tell her how it was that the great creator Brahma, who had made her so beautiful, had not created a male consort for her of similar perfect form.
Then she looked on Vishnu, and asked the god to kiss her. Vishnu could not comply with her request as she was a dancing-girl, and of low caste, but promised by his virtue that she should be reincarnated in the Himalayas in the form of a river, which should bear the name Gandaki, and that he would be in the river as her eternal consort in the shape of a sālagrām. Thereupon the river Gandaki rose from the Himalayas, and sālagrāms were found in it. How the true virtue of the sālagrām was discovered is another strange little fable. A poor boy of the Kshatriya or warrior class once found one when playing by the river side. He soon discovered that when he had it in his hand, or secreted in his mouth, or about his person, his luck was so extraordinary at marbles or whatever game he played, that he always won. At last he so excelled in all he undertook that he rose to be a great king. Finally Vishnu himself came to fetch him, and bore him away in a cloud. The mystic river Gandaki is within the jurisdiction of the Mahārāja of Nepal, and is zealously guarded on both banks, while the four special places where the sacred stones are mostly picked up are leased out under certain conditions, the most important being that all true sālagrāms found are to be submitted to the Mahārāja. These are then tested, the selected ones retained, and the others returned to the lessee. The first test of the sālagrāms to prove if they are genuine is very simple, but later they are put through other ordeals to try their supernatural powers. Each stone, as it is discovered, is struck on all sides with a small hammer, or, in some cases, is merely knocked with the finger. This causes the soft powdery part, produced by the boring of the worm, to fall in and disclose the vadana or hole, which may, in the more valuable sālagrāms, contain gold or a precious gem.
In addition to the real stone with chakram and vadana formed by natural causes, there are found in many mountain streams round black pebbles resembling the true sālagrām in colour, shape, and size, but lacking the chakram and vadana. These are collected by Bairāgis, or holy mendicants, who bore imitation vadanas in them, and, tracing false chakrams in balapa or slate stone, paste them on the pebbles. So skilfully is this fraud perpetrated that it is only after years of use and perpetual washing at the daily pūja that in time the tracery wears away, and detection becomes possible. There are over eighteen known and different kinds of true sālagrāms, the initial value of which varies according to the shape and markings of the stone. The price of any one sālagrām may be so enhanced after the further tests have been applied, that even a lakh of rupees (Rs. 1,00,000) will fail to purchase it; and, should experience prove the stone a lucky one, nothing will, as a rule, induce the fortunate owner to part with it. The three shapes of sālagrāms most highly prized are known as the Vishnu sālagrām, the Lakshmi Narasimha sālagrām, and the Mutchya Murti sālagrām. The first has a chakram on it the shape of a garland, and bears marks known as the shenka (conch) gada padma, or the weapons of Vishnu, and is peculiar to that god. The second has two chakrams on the left of the vadana, and has dots or specks all over it.
This stone, if properly worshipped, is believed to ensure to its owner prosperity and eternal life. The third, the Mutchya Murti, is a long-shaped flat stone with a vadana that gives it a resemblance to the face of a fish. It bears two chakrams, one inside and one outside the vadana, and also has specks and dots on it in the shape of a shoe. There are four or five varieties of this species, and it also, if duly worshipped, will infallibly enrich its possessor. One sālagrām there is which has no vadana, and is known as the ugra chakra sālagrām. It is quite round with two chakrams, but it is not a particularly safe one to possess, and is described as a ‘furious sālagrāma,’ for, if not worshipped with sufficient ardour, it will resent the neglect, and ruin the owner. The first thing to do on obtaining a sālagrām is to find out whether or not it is a lucky stone, for a stone that will bring luck to one owner may mean ruin for another. The tests are various; a favourite one is to place the sālagrām with its exact weight of rice together in one place for the night. If the rice has increased in the morning (and, in some cases, my informant assures me, it will be found to have doubled in quantity), then the stone is one to be regarded by its lucky holder as priceless, and on no account to be parted with.
If, on the other hand, the rice measures the same, or—dreadful omen—has even become less, then let the house be rid of it as early as possible. If no purchaser can be found, make a virtue of necessity, and send it as a present to the nearest temple or mutt (religious institution), where the Gurus know how to appease the wrath of the Deity with daily offerings of fruits and flowers. A sālagrām will never bring any luck if its possession is acquired by fraud or force. The story runs that once a Brāhman, finding one with a Mahomedan butcher, obtained it by theft. The luckless man speedily rued the day of his time, for, from that time onwards, nothing prospered, and he ended his days a destitute pauper. Again, possession of them without worship is believed by all Hindus to be most unlucky, and, as none but Brāhmans can perform the worship, none but Brāhmans will retain the stones in their keeping. For an orthodox Brāhman household, the ownership of three or more stones is an absolute necessity. These must be duly worshipped and washed with water, and the water drunk as tīrtha, and sacrifice of boiled rice and other food must be daily performed. When this is done, speedy success in all the business of life will fall to the lot of the inmates of the house, but otherwise ruin and disgrace await them.”
In some temples, the Mūla Vigraha, or idol fixed in the inner sanctuary, is decorated with a necklace of sālagrāma stones. For example, at Tirupati the god is thus decorated.
The following incident in connection with a sālagrāma stone is narrated by Yule and Burnell98:—“In May, 1883, a sālagrāma was the ostensible cause of great popular excitement among the Hindus of Calcutta. During the proceedings in a family suit before the High Court, a question arose regarding the identity of a sālagrāma, regarded as a household god. Counsel on both sides suggested that the thing should be brought into court. Mr. Justice Morris hesitated to give this order till he had taken advice. The attorneys on both sides, Hindus, said there could be no objection; the Court interpreter, a high-caste Brāhman, said it could not be brought into Court because of the coir matting, but it might with perfect propriety be brought into the corridor for inspection; which was done. This took place during the excitement about the ‘Ilbert Bill,’ giving natives magisterial authority in the provinces over Europeans; and there followed most violent and offensive articles in several native newspapers reviling Mr. Justice Morris, who was believed to be hostile to the Bill. The Editor of the Bengallee newspaper, an educated man, and formerly a member of the Covenanted Civil Service, the author of one of the most unscrupulous and violent articles, was summoned for contempt of court. He made an apology and complete retraction, but was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.”
The sacred chank, conch, or sankhu, which has been referred to in connection with ceremonial observance, is the shell of the gastropod mollusc Turbinella rapa. This is secured, in Southern India, by divers from Tuticorin in the vicinity of the pearl banks. The chank shell, which one sees suspended on the forehead and round the neck of bullocks, is not only used by Hindus for offering libations, and as a musical instrument in temples, but is also cut into armlets, bracelets, and other ornaments. Writing in the sixteenth century, Garcia says:—“This chanco is a ware for the Bengal trade, and formerly produced more profit than now ... and there was formerly a custom in Bengal that no virgin in honour and esteem could be corrupted unless it were by placing bracelets of chanco on her arms; but, since the Patāns came in, this usage has more or less ceased.” “The conch shell,” Captain C. R. Day writes,99 “is not in secular use as a musical instrument, but is found in every temple, and is sounded during religious ceremonials, in processions, and before the shrines of Hindu deities. In Southern India, the sankhu is employed in the ministration of a class of temple servers called Dāsari.
No tune, so to speak, can of course be played upon it, but still the tone is capable of much modulation by the lips, and its clear mellow notes are not without a certain charm. A rather striking effect is produced when it is used in the temple ritual as a sort of rhythmical accompaniment, when it plays the part of kannagōlu or tālavinyāsa.” In a petition from two natives of the city of Madras in 1734, in connection with the expenses for erecting a town called Chintadrepettah, the following occurs100:—“Expended towards digging a foundation, where chanks was buried with accustomary ceremonies.” A right-handed chank (i.e., one which has its spiral opening to the right), which was found off the coast of Ceylon at Jaffna in 1887, was sold for Rs. 700. Such a chank is said to have been sometimes priced at a lakh of rupees; and, writing in 1813, Milburn says100 that a chank opening to the right hand is greatly valued, and always sells for its weight in gold. Further, Baldæus narrates the legend that Garroude flew in all haste to Brahma, and brought to Kistna the chianko or kinkhorn twisted to the right. The chank appears as a symbol on coins of the Chālukyan and Pāndyan dynasties of Southern India, and on the modern coins of the Mahārājas of Travancore.
Temple worship is entirely based on Āgamas. As Brāhmans take part only in the worship of Siva and Vishnu, temples dedicated to these gods are largely frequented by them. The duties connected with the actual worship of the idol are carried out by Gurukkals in Siva temples, and by Pāncharatra or Vaikhānasa Archakas in Vishnu temples. The cooking of the food for the daily offering is done by Brāhmans called Parchārakas. At the time of worship, some Brāhmans, called Adhyāpakas, recite the Vēdas. Some stanzas from Thiruvāimozhi or Thēvāram are also repeated, the former by Brāhmans at Vishnu temples, and the latter by Pandārams (Ōduvar) at Siva temples. In a typical temple there are usually two idols, one of stone (mūla vigraha) and the other of metal (utsava vigraha). The mūla vigraha is permanently fixed within the inner shrine or garbagraha, and the utsava vigraha is intended to be carried in procession. The mūla vigrahas of Vishnu temples are generally in human form, either in a standing posture, or, as in the case of Ranganātha, Padmanābha, and Govindarājaswāmi, in a reclining posture, on Ādisēsha. Ordinarily, three idols constitute the mūla vigraha. These are Vishnu, Sridēvi (Lakshmi), and Bhudēvi (earth goddess). In temples dedicated to Sri Rāma, Lakshmana is found instead of Bhudēvi. Sridēvi and Bhudēvi are also associated with Vishnu in the utsava vigraha. In all the larger temples, there is a separate building in the temple precincts dedicated to Lakshmi, and within the garbagraha thereof, called thāyar or nāchiyar sannadhi, is a mūla vigraha of Lakshmi. There may also be one or more shrines dedicated to the Ālvars (Vaishnava saints) and the Āchāryas—Dēsikar and Manavāla Mahāmunigal. The sect mark is put on the faces of the mūla and utsava vigrahas. The mūla vigraha in Siva temples is a lingam (phallic emblem). In Siva temples, there is within the garbagraha only one lamp burning, which emits a very feeble light. Hence arise the common sayings “As dim as the light burning in Siva’s temple,” or “Like the lamp in Siva’s temple.” The utsava vigraha is in the human forms of Siva and Parvathi. In all important Saivite temples, Parvathi is housed in a separate building, as Lakshmi is in Vishnu temples. Vignēswara, Subramanya, and the important Nāyanmars also have separate shrines in the temple precincts.
So far as ordinary daily worship is concerned, there is not much difference in the mode of worship between temple and domestic worship. Every item is done on a large scale, and certain special Āgamic or Tantric rites are added to the sixteen Upachāras already mentioned. At the present time, there are, especially in the case of Vishnu temples, two forms of temple worship, called Pāncharatra and Vaikhānasa. In the former, which is like domestic worship in all essential points, any Brāhman may officiate as temple priest. In the latter, only Vaikhānasa Archakas may officiate.
All big temples are generally well endowed, and some temples receive from Government annual grants of money, called tasdik. The management of the temple affairs rests with the Dharmakarthas (trustees), who practically have absolute control over the temple funds. All the temple servants, such as Archakas, Parchārakas, and Adhyāpakas, and the non-Brāhman servants (sweepers, flower-gatherers, musicians and dancing-girls) are subject to the authority of the Dharmakartha. For their services in the temple, these people are paid partly in money, and partly in kind. The cooked food, which is offered daily to the god, is distributed among the temple servants. On ordinary days, the offerings of cooked food made by the Archakas, and the fruits brought by those who come to worship, are offered only to the mūla vigraha, whereas, on festival days, they are offered to the utsava vigrahas.
For worship in Vishnu temples, flowers and tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) are used. In Siva temples, bilva (bael: Ægle Marmelos) leaves are substituted for tulsi. At the close of the worship, the Archaka gives to those present thīrtham (holy water), tulsi or bilva leaves, and vibhūthi (sacred ashes) according to the nature of the temple. At Vishnu temples, immediately after the giving of thīrtham, an inverted bowl, bearing on it the feet of Vishnu (satāri or sadagōpam), is placed by the Archaka first on the head, and then on the right shoulder, and again on the head, in the case of grown up and married males, and only on the head in the case of females and young people. The bowl is always kept near the mūla vigraha, and, on festival days, when the god is taken in procession through the streets, it is carried along with the utsava vigraha. On festival days, such as Dhipāvali, Vaikunta Ekādasi, Dwādasi, etc., the god of the temple is taken in procession through the main streets of the town or village. The idol, thus borne in procession, is not the stone figure, but the portable one made of metal (utsava vigraha), which is usually kept in the temple in front of the Mūla idol.
At almost every important temple, an annual festival called Brahmōtsavam, which usually lasts ten days, is celebrated. Every night during this festival, the god is seated on the clay, wooden or metal figure of some animal as a vehicle, e.g., Garuda, horse, elephant, bull, Hanumān, peacock, yāli, etc., and taken in procession, accompanied by a crowd of Brāhmans chanting the Vēdas and Tamil Nālayara Prapandhams, if the temple is an important one. Of the vehicles or vahānams, Hanumān and Garuda are special to Vishnu, and the bull (Nandi) and tiger to Siva. The others are common to both deities. During the month of May, the festival of the god Varadarāja takes place annually. On one of the ten days of this festival, the idol, which has gone through a regular marriage ceremony, is placed on an elaborately decorated car (ratha), and dragged through the main streets. The car frequently bears a number of carved images of a very obscene nature, the object of which, it is said, is to avert the evil eye. Various castes, besides Brāhmans, take part in temple worship, at which the saints of both Siva and Vishnu—Nāyanmar and Ālvars—are worshipped. The Brāhmans do not entirely ignore the worship of the lower deities, such as Māriamma, Munēswara, Kodamanitaya, etc. At Udipi in South Canara, the centre of the Mādhva cult, where Mādhva preached his Dvaitic philosophy, and where there are several mutts presided over by celibate priests, the Brāhmans often make a vow to the Bhūthas (devils) of the Paravas and Nalkes. Quite recently, we saw an orthodox Shivalli Brāhman, employed under the priest of one of the Udipi mutts, celebrating the nēma (festival) of a bhūtha named Panjurli, in fulfilment of a vow made when his son was ill. The Nalke devil-dancers were sent for, and the dance took place in the courtyard of the Brāhman’s house. During the leaf festival at Periyapalayam near Madras, Brāhman males and females may be seen wearing leafy twigs of margosa (Melia Azadirachta), and going round the Māriamma shrine.
I pass on to a detailed consideration of the various classes of Brāhmans met with in Southern India. Of these, the Tamil Brāhmans, or Drāvidas proper, are most numerous in the southern districts. They are divided into the following sections:—
• I. Smartha. • o (a) Vadama. o o (b) Kēsigal. o o (c) Brahacharnam. o o (d) Vathima or Madhema.  o o (e) Ashtasahasram. o o (f) Dīkshitar. o o (g) Shōliar. o o (h) Mukkāni. o o (i) Kāniyalar. o o (j) Sankēthi. o o (k) Prathamasāki. o o (l) Gurukkal. o • II. Vaishnava. • o A. Vadagalai (northerners). o (a) Sri Vaishnava. (b) Vaikhānasa. (c) Pāncharatra. (d) Hebbar. o B. Thengalai (southerners). o (a) Sri Vaishnava. (b) Vaikhānasa. (c) Pāncharatra. (d) Hebbar. (e) Mandya.
(a) Vadama.—The Vadamas claim to be superior to the other classes, but will dine with all the sections, except Gurukkals and Prathamasākis, and, in some places, will even eat with Prathamasākis. The sub-divisions among the Vadamas are:—
• 1. Chōladēsa (Chōla country). • • 2. Vadadēsa (north country). • • 3. Savayar or Sabhayar. • • 4. Īnji. • • 5. Thummagunta Drāvida. • All these are Smarthas, who use as their sect mark either the ūrdhvapundram (straight mark made with sandal paste) or the circular mark, and rarely the cross lines. They worship both Siva and Vishnu, and generally read Purānas about Vishnu. Some Vadamas use the Vaishnava nāmam as their sect mark, and are called Kiththunāmakkārar. They follow the Smartha customs in every way. There is a common saying “Vadamam muththi Vaishnavam,” i.e., a Vadama ripens into a Vaishnava. This is literally true. Some Vadama families, who put on the ūrdhvapundram mark, and follow the Smartha customs, observe pollution whenever a death occurs in certain Sri Vaishnava families. This is because the Sri Vaishnavas are Vadamas recently converted into Vaishnava families.
(b) Kēsigal.—The Kēsigals, or Hiranyakēsikal (men of the silvery hair), as they are sometimes called, closely resemble the Vadamas, but are an exclusive endogamous unit, and highly conservative and orthodox. They are called Hiranyakēsikal or Hiranyakēsis because they follow the Grihya Sūtras of Hiranyakēsi. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district, that they “are peculiar in all having one common Sūtram called the Sathyāshāda after a common ancestor.”
(c) Brahacharnam (the great sect).—The Brahacharnams are more Saivite, and more orthodox than the Vadamas. They put on vibhūti (sacred ashes) and sandal paste horizontal lines as their sect mark. The sub division Sathyamangalam Brahacharnam seems, however, to be an exception, as some members thereof put on the Vaishnavite sect mark at all times, or at least during the month of Purattāsi, which is considered sacred to the god Venkataramana of Tirupati. The more orthodox Brahacharnams wear a single rudrāksha bead, or a necklace of beads, and some make lingams out of these beads, which they put on the head during worship. They generally worship five gods, viz., Siva in the form of a lingam, spatika (crystal) lingam, Vishnu, Ganēsa, and Iswara. It is said that Brahacharnam women can be distinguished by the mode of tying the cloth, which is not worn so as to reach to the feet, but reaches only to just below the knees. The Brahacharnams are sub-divided into the following sections:—
• 1. Kandramanicka. • • 2. Milaganur. • • 3. Māngudī. • • 4. Palavanēri or Pazhamanēri. • • 5. Musanādu. • • 6. Kolaththur. • • 7. Maruthanchēri. • • 8. Sathyamangalam. • • 9. Puthur Drāvida. •
It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district, that “one ceremony peculiar to the Milaganur Brahacharnams is that, before the principal marriage ceremonies of the first day, a feast is given to four married women, a widow, and a bachelor. This is called the adrisya pendugal (invisible women) ceremony. It is intended to propitiate four wives belonging to this sub-division, who are said to have been cruelly treated by their mother-in-law, and cursed the class. They are represented to have feasted a widow, and to have then disappeared.”
(d) Vathima.—The Vathimas, or Madhimas, are most numerous in the Tanjore district, and are thus described in the Gazetteer:—“The Vattimas are grouped into three smaller sub-sections, of which one is called ‘the eighteen village Vattimas,’ from the fact that they profess (apparently with truth) to have lived till recently in only eighteen villages, all of them in this district. They have a marked character of their own, which may be briefly described. They are generally money-lenders, and consequently are unpopular with their neighbours, who are often blind to their virtues and unkind to their failings. [There is a proverb that the Vadamas are always economical, and the Vathimas always unite together.] It is a common reproach against them that they are severe to those who are in their debt, and parsimonious in their household expenditure. To this latter characteristic is attributed their general abstinence from dholl (the usual accompaniment of a Brāhman meal), and their preference for a cold supper instead of a hot meal. The women work as hard as the men, making mats, selling buttermilk, and lending money on their own account, and are declared to be as keen in money-making and usury as their brothers. They, however, possess many amiable traits. They are well known for a generous hospitality on all great occasions, and no poor guest or Brāhman mendicant has ever had reason to complain in their houses that he is being served worse than his richer or more influential fellows. Indeed, if anything, he fares the better for his poverty. Again, they are unusually lavish in their entertainments at marriages; but their marriage feasts have the peculiarity that, whatever the total amount expended, a fixed proportion is always paid for the various items—so much per cent. for the pandal, so much per cent. for food, and so on. Indeed it is asserted that a beggar who sees the size of the marriage pandal will be able to guess to a nicety the size of the present he will get. Nor, again, at their marriages, do they haggle about the marriage settlement, since they have a scale, more or less fixed and generally recognised, which determines these matters. There is less keen competition for husbands among them, since their young men marry at an earlier age more invariably than among the other sub-divisions. The Vattimas are clannish. If a man fails to pay his dues to one of them, the word is passed round, and no other man of the sub-division will ever lend his money. They sometimes unite to light their villages by private subscription, and to see to its sanitation, and, in a number of ways, they exhibit a corporate unity. Till quite recently they were little touched by English education; but a notable exception to this general statement existed in the late Sir A. Seshayya Sāstri, who was of Vattima extraction.”
The sub-divisions of the Vattimas are
1. Pathinettu Grāmaththu (eighteen villages).
4. Rāthāmangalam. According to some, this is not a separate section, but comes under the eighteen village section.
(e) Ashtasahasram (eight thousand).—This class is considered to be inferior to the Brahacharnams and Vadamas. The members thereof are, like the Brahacharnams, more Saivite than the Vadamas. The females are said to wear their cloth very elegantly, and with the lower border reaching so low as to cover the ankles. The sub-divisions of the Ashtasahasrams are:—
• 1. Aththiyur. • • 2. Arivarpade. • • 3. Nandivādi. • • 4. Shatkulam (six families). • As their numbers are few, though the sub-divisions are endogamous, intermarriage is not entirely prohibited.
(f) Dīkshitar.—Another name for this section is Thillai Mūvāyiravar, i.e., the three thousand of Thillai (now Chidambaram). There is a tradition that three thousand people started from Benares, and, when they reached Chidambaram, they were one short. This confused them, but they were pacified when Siva explained that he was the missing individual. The Dīkshitars form a limited community of only several hundred families. The men, like Nāyars and Nambūtiri Brāhmans of the west coast, wear the hair tuft on the front of the head. They do not give their girls in marriage to other sections of Brāhmans, and they do not allow their women to leave Chidambaram. Hence arises the proverb “A Thillai girl never crosses the boundary line.” The Dīkshitars are priests of the temple of Natarāja at Chidambaram, whereat they serve by turns. Males marry very early in life, and it is very difficult to secure a girl for marriage above the age of five. The tendency to marry when very young is due to the fact that only married persons have a voice in the management of the affairs of the temple, and an individual must be married before he can get a share of the temple income. The chief sources of income are the pāvādam and kattalai (heaps of cooked rice piled up or spread on a board), which are offered to the god. Every Dīkshitar will do his best to secure clients, of whom the best are Nāttukōttai Chettis. The clients are housed and looked after by the Dīkshitars. Concerning the Dīkshitars, Mr. W. Francis writes as follows101:—“An interesting feature about the Chidambaram temple is its system of management. It has no landed or other endowments, nor any tasdik allowance, and is the property of a class of Brahmans peculiar to the town, who are held in far more respect than the generality of the temple-priest Brahmans, are called Dīkshitars (those who make oblations), marry only among themselves, and in appearance somewhat resemble the Nāyars or Tiyans of Malabar, bringing their topknot round to the front of their foreheads. Their ritual in the temple more resembles that of a domestic worship than the forms commonly followed in other large shrines. Theoretically, all the married males of the Dīkshitars have a voice in the management of the temple, and a share in its perquisites; and at present there are some 250 of such shares. They go round the southern districts soliciting alms and offerings for themselves. Each one has his own particular clientèle, and, in return for the alms received, he makes, on his return, offerings at the shrine in the name of his benefactors, and sends them now and again some holy ashes, or an invitation to a festival. Twenty of the Dīkshitars are always on duty in the temple, all the males of the community (except boys and widowers) doing the work by turns lasting twenty days each, until each one has been the round of all the different shrines. The twenty divide themselves into five parties of four each, each of which is on duty for four days at one of the five shrines at which daily pūja is made, sleeps there at night, and becomes the owner of the routine offerings of food made at it. Large presents of food made to the temple as a whole are divided among all the Dīkshitars. The right to the other oblations is sold by auction every twenty days to one of the Dīkshitars at a meeting of the community. These periodical meetings take place in the Dēva Sabha. A lamp from Natarāja’s shrine is brought, and placed there by a Pandāram, and (to avoid even the appearance of any deviation from the principle of the absolute equality of all Dīkshitars in the management of the temple) this man acts as president of the meeting, and proposals are made impersonally through him.” As a class the Dīkshitars are haughty, and refuse to acknowledge any of the Sankarachariars as their priests, because they are almost equal to the god Siva, who is one of them. If a Sankarachariar comes to the temple, he is not allowed to take sacred ashes direct from the cup, as is done at other temples to show respect to the Sanyāsi. The Dīkshitars are mostly Yejur Vēdis, though a few are followers of the Rig Vēda. When a girl attains puberty, she goes in procession, after the purificatory bath, to every Dīkshitar’s house, and receives presents.
(g) Shōliar.—The Shōliars are divided into the following sections:—
• (1) Thirukattiur. • • (2) Mādalur. • • (3) Visalur. • • (4) Puthalur. • • (5) Senganur. • • (6) Avadayar Kōvil. •
Concerning the Shōliars, Mr. C. Ramachendrier writes as follows102:—“The Shōliars of Thiruvanakaval (in the Tanjore district) belong to the first sub-division, and they form a separate community, devoting their time to service in the temple. Those who make pūja to the idol are Pradhamasakis, and are called Archakas. Those who serve as cooks, and attend to other inferior services, are called Arya Nambi, and those who decorate the idols taken in procession on festive occasions are termed Therunabuttan. Archakas alone are entitled to decorate stone images in the chief shrines of the temple, and they are also called Pandits. According to custom, Shōlia Brahmans should wear front locks, but some of them have adopted the custom of other Brahmans, while the orthodox section of the community, and the Archakas of Thiruvanakaval, speak a very low Tamil with a peculiar intonation, and they do not send their children to English schools. Young boys are trained by their parents in the temple service, which entitles them, even when young, to some emoluments. There are amongst them none who have received either Sanskrit or Tamil education. The Archakas perform pūjas by turn, and, as the Archakaship is to be conferred at a certain age by anointment by a guru, infant marriage does not obtain among them to such an extent as among the Dīkshitars of Chidambaram. They eat with the other Smartha Brahmans, but do not intermarry. They count about 300 in number, including women and children. There is no intermarriage between them and the other Shōlia Brahmans.
Those of Avadayarcovil are also engaged in the service of the temple of that name. Shōliars of other classes are to be found in Vasishtakudy in the taluk of Vriddachallam, Vemmaniathur in the taluk of Villupuram, and Visalur in the taluk of Kumbaconam.” In an article on the Shōliars,103 it is recorded that “they are a very intelligent people, and at the same time very vindictive if disturbed. Chanakya, the Indian Machiavelli and the Minister of Chandragupta, is supposed to have belonged to this caste. His hatred of the Nanda family, and the way in which he uprooted each and every member of that race, has been depicted in the famous Sanskrit drama Mudrarakshasa, which belongs to the 7th century A.D. Whether on account of his character, and under the belief that he originated from this caste, or for some reason which is unaccountable, the Soliyas of modern days are held as very vindictive people, as the following proverb will show:—’We do not want to meet with a Soliya even in a picture.’” Another proverb is to the effect that “the kudumi (hair tuft) on the head of a Shōliar does not shake without sufficient reason,” i.e., it is a sign that he is bent upon doing some mischief.
(h) Mukkāni.—The Mukkānis are Smarthas confined to the Cochin and Travancore States.
(i) Kāniyālar.—Concerning the Kāniyālars, Mr. Ramachendrier writes as follows:—“Kaniālars form a separate class of Smartha Brahmins, and they live in the district of Tinnevelly and some parts of Trichinopoly. They do not intermarry with any other class of Smartha Brahmins, but eat with them. A large number of them, though Smarthas by birth, wear a mark on their forehead like Vyshnava Brahmins, and serve as cooks and menial servants in the big temple at Srirangam. Their women adopt the Vyshnava women’s style of wearing cloths, and to all appearance they would pass for Vyshnava women. The Vyshnava Brahmins would not allow them to mess in their houses, though they treat rice and cakes prepared by them in temples and offered to god as pure and holy, and partake of them.”
(j) Sankēthi.—The Sankēthis are confined to the Mysore Province. They speak a very corrupt form of Tamil, mixed with Canarese. The following account of them is given in the Mysore Census Report, 1891. “They are found chiefly in the Mysore and Hassan districts. Their colonies are also found in Kadur and Shimoga. Their number seems to have been somewhat understated; many of them have probably returned themselves as Dravidas. So far as language is an indication of race, the Sanketis are Tamilians, although their dialect is more diluted with Kanarese than that of any other Kannada ridden Tamil body. Theirs seems to have been among the earliest immigrations into Mysore from the neighbouring Tamil country. It is said that some 700 years ago, about 1,000 families of Smartha Brahmans emigrated from the vicinity of Kanchi (Conjeeveram), induced doubtless by contemporary politics. They set out in two batches towards Mysore. They were attacked by robbers on the road, but the larger party of about 700 families persevered in the march notwithstanding, and settled near the village of Kausika near Hassan, whence they are distinguished as Kausika Sanketis. Some twelve years afterwards, the other party of 300 families found a resting place at Bettadapura in the Hunsur taluk. This branch has been called Bettadapura Sanketi. Their religious and social customs are the same. The Kausika Sanketis occasionally take wives from the Bettadapura section, but, when the married girl joins her husband, her connection with her parents and relatives ceases altogether even in regard to meals. During the Coorg disturbances about the end of the last (eighteenth) century, many young women of the Sanketis were captured by the Kodagas (Coorgs), and some of the captives were subsequently recovered. Their descendants are to this day known as Sanketis of the West, or Hiriangalas. But they, and another sub-class called Patnagere Sanketis, do not in all exceed twenty families. The Sanketis are proverbially a hardy, intensely conservative and industrious Brahman community. They are referred to as models for simultaneously securing the twofold object of preserving the study of the Vēdas, while securing a worldly competence by cultivating their gardens; and, short of actually ploughing the land, they are pre-eminently the only fraction of the Brahman brotherhood who turn their hands to the best advantage.”
(k) Prathamasāki.—These follow the white Yajur Vēda, and are hence called Sukla Yejur Vēdis. The white Yajus forms the first fifteen sākas of the Yejur Vēda, and this is in consequence sometimes called Prathamasāka. The Prathamasākis are sometimes called Kātyayana (followers of Kātyayana Sūtram), Vājusaneya, and Madyandanas. The two last names occur among their Pravara and Gōtra Rishis. The Prathamasākis are found among all the linguistic sections. Among Smarthas, Āndhras, and Vaishnavas, they are regarded as inferior. Carnataka Prathamasākis are, on the other hand, not considered inferior by the other sections of Carnatakas. In the Tanjore district, the Prathamasākis are said to be known as Madyāna Paraiyans. The following quaint legend is recorded in the Gazetteer of that district:—“The god of the Tiruvalur temple was entreated by a pūjāri of this place (Koiltirumūlam) to be present in the village at a sacrifice in his (the god’s) honour. The deity consented at length, but gave warning that he would come in a very unwelcome shape. He appeared as a Paraiyan (Pariah) with beef on his back, and followed by the four Vēdas in the form of dogs, and took his part in the sacrifice thus accoutred and attended. All the Brahmans who were present ran away, and the god was so incensed that he condemned them to be Paraiyans for one hour in the day, from noon till 1 P.M., ever afterwards.
There is a class of Brahmans called mid-day Paraiyans, who are found in several districts, and a colony of whom reside at Sedanipuram five miles from Nannilam. It is believed throughout the Tanjore district that the mid-day Paraiyans are the descendants of the Brahmans thus cursed by the god. They are supposed to expiate their defilement by staying outside their houses for an hour and a half every day at mid-day, and to bathe afterwards; and, if they do this, they are much respected. Few of them, however, observe this rule, and orthodox persons will not eat with them, because of their omission to remove the defilement. They call themselves the Prathamasaka.” Several versions of stories accounting for their pollution are extant, and the following is a version given by Mr. Ramachendrier. “Yagnavalkiar, who was the chief disciple of Vysampayanar, having returned with his students from pilgrimage, represented to his priest that Yajur Vēda was unrivalled, and that he and his students alone were qualified for its propagation. Vysampayanar, feeling provoked by this assertion, which, he remarked, implied insult to Brahmans, proposed certain penance for the offence.
Yagnavalkiar replied that he and his students had done many good deeds and performed many religious rites, and that they were still to do such, and that the insult imputed to them was worthy of little notice. Vysampayanar required Yagnavalkiar to give back the Vedās which he had taught him, which he threw out at once. The matter thrown out having been like cinders, Vysampayanar’s disciples then present, assuming the shape of thithiri birds (fire-eating birds), swallowed them, and hence the Vēda is called Thithiriya Sāka and Ktishna Yajus. Soon after, Yagnavalkiar, without his priest’s knowledge, went to the Sun, and, offering prayers, entreated him to teach him Vēdas. The Sun, thereupon taking the shape of a horse, taught him the Yajur Vēda, which now forms the first fifteen sākas, and he in turn taught it to his disciples Kanvar, Madhyandanar, Katyayanar, and Vajasaneyar. It is to be gathered from Varāha Purānam that Vysampayanar pronounced a curse that the Rig Vēda taught by the Sun should be considered degraded, and that the Brahmans reading it should become Chandālas (outcastes).” Another version of the legend runs as follows. Vaisampayanar used to visit the king almost every day, and bless him by giving akshatha or sacred rice. One day, as Vaisampayanar could not go, he gave the rice grains to his disciple Yagnavalkiar, and told him to take them to the king. Accordingly, Yagnavalkiar went to the king’s palace, and found the throne empty. Being impatient by nature, he left the rice grains on the throne, and returned to his priest. The king, when he returned home, found his throne changed into gold, and certain plants were growing round his seat. On enquiry, he discovered that this marvellous effect was due to the sacred akshatha. He sent word to Vaisampayanar to send the rice grains by his disciple who had brought them. Yagnavalkiar refused, and was told to vomit the Vēdas. Readily he vomited, and, going to the Sun, learnt the Vēda from him. As the Sun is always in motion sitting in his car, the Vēdas could not be learnt without mistakes and peculiar sounds. When he came to his Guru Vaisampayanar, Yagnavalkiar was cursed to become a Chandāla. The curse was subsequently modified, as the Sun interceded on behalf of Yagnavalkiar.
(l) Gurukkal.—The Gurukkals are all followers of the Bodhayana Sūtras. They are temple priests, and other Brāhmans regard them as inferior, and will not eat with them. Even in temples, the Gurukkals sprinkle water over the food when it is offered to the god, but do not touch the food. They may not live in the same quarters with other Brāhmans. No agrahāram (Brāhman quarter) will ever contain a Gurukkal’s house. There should, strictly speaking, be at least a lane separating the houses of the Gurukkals from those of other Brāhmans. This is, however, not rigidly observed at the present day. For example, at Shiyali, Gurukkals and other Brāhmans live in the same street. There are among the Gurukkals the following sub-divisions:—
• 1. Tiruvālangad. • • 2. Conjeeveram. • • 3. Tirukkazhukunram. • The Tiruvālangad Gurukkals mark their bodies with vibhūti (sacred ashes) in sixteen places, viz., head, face, neck, chest, navel, knees, two sides of the abdomen, back and hands (three places on each hand). The other two sub-divisions mark themselves in eight places, viz., head, face, neck, chest, knees and hands. Gurukkals who wish to become priests have to go through several stages of initiation called Dīkshai (see Pandāram). Gurukkals are Saivites to a greater extent than the Smarthas, and do not regard themselves as disciples of Sankaracharya. Those who are orthodox, and are temple priests, should not see the corpses of Pandārams and other non-Brāhman castes. The sight of such a corpse is supposed to heap sin on them, and pollute them, so that they are unfit for temple worship.
II. Vaishnava.—The Vaishnavas, or Sri Vaishnavas, as they are sometimes called to distinguish them from the Mādhvas, who are also called Vaishnavas, are all converts from Smarthas, though they profess to constitute a distinct section. Some are converts from Telugu Smarthas, and are called Āndhra Vaishnavas. These do not mix with other Tamil-speaking Vaishnavas, and retain some of the Telugu customs. There are two distinct groups of Sri Vaishnavas—the Vadagalais (northerners) and Thengalais (southerners), who are easily distinguished by the marks on their foreheads. The Vadagalais put on a U-shaped mark, and the Thengalais a Y-shaped mark. The white mark is made with a kind of kaolin called tiruman, and turmeric rendered red by means of alkali is used for the central streak. The turmeric, as applied by the more orthodox, is of a yellow instead of red colour. Orthodox Sri Vaishnavas are very exclusive, and hold that they co-existed as a separate caste of Brāhmans with the Smarthas. But it was only after Rāmānuja’s teaching that the Vaishnavas seceded from the Smarthas, and the ranks were swollen by frequent additions from amongst the Vadamas.
There are some families of Vaishnavas which observe pollution when there is a death in certain Smartha families, which belong to the same gōtra. Vaishnavas of some places, e.g., Valavanur, Savalai, and Perangiyur, in the South Arcot district, are considered low by the orthodox sections of Vaishnavas, because they are recent converts to Vaishnavism. A good example of Smarthas becoming Vaishnavas is afforded by the Thummagunta Drāvidas, some of whom have become Vaishnavas, but still take girls in marriage from Smartha families, but do not give their daughters in marriage to Smarthas. All Vaishnavas are expected to undergo a ceremony of initiation into Vaishnavism after the Upanayanam ceremony. At the time of initiation, they are branded with the marks of the chakram and sankha (chank) on the right and left shoulders respectively. The Vaikhānasas and Pāncharatras regard the branding as unnecessary. The ceremony of initiation (samāsrayanam) is usually performed by the head of a mutt. Sometimes, however, it is carried out by an elderly member of the family of the candidate. Such families go by the name of Swayam Ācharya Purushas (those who have their own men as Ācharyas).
For Vadagalais there are two mutts. Of these, the Ahobila mutt was formerly at Tiruvallur, but its head-quarters has been transferred to Narasimhapūram near Kumbakonam. The Parakālaswāmi mutt is in the Mysore Province. For Thengalais there are three mutts, at Vanamamalai and Sriperumbudur in Chingleput, and Tirukoilur in South Arcot. These are called respectively the Tothādri, Ethirājajhir, and Emberumānar mutts. There are various points of difference between Vadagalais and Thengalais, which sometimes lead to bitter quarrels in connection with temple worship. During the procession of the god at temple festivals, both Vadagalais and Thengalais go before and after the god, repeating Sanskrit Vēdas and Tamil Prapandhams respectively. Before commencing these, certain slōkas are recited, in one of which the Vadagalais use the expression Rāmānuja dayā pātram, and the Thengalais the expression Srisailēsa dayā pātram, and a quarrel ensues in consequence. The main differences between the two sections are summarised as follows in the Mysore Census Report, 1891:—“The tenets which form the bone of contention between the Tengalēs and Vadagalēs are stated to number 18, and seem to cluster round a few cardinal items of controversy:—
1. Whether Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, is (Vibhu) co-omnipresent and co-illimitable with Vishnu;
2. Whether Lakshmi is only the mediatrix for, or the co-bestower of mōksham or final beatitude;
3. Whether there is any graduated mōksham attainable by the good and blessed, according to their multifarious merits;
4. Whether prapatti, or unconditional surrender of the soul to god, should be performed once for all, or after every act of spiritual rebellion;
5. Whether it (prapatti) is open to all, or is prescribed only for those specially prepared and apprenticed;
6. Whether the indivisibly atomic human soul is entered into, and permeated or not by the omnipresent creator;
7. Whether god’s mercy is exerted with or without cause;
8. Whether the same (the divine mercy) means the overlooking (dhōsha darsanam) or enjoyment (dhōsha bogyatvam) of the soul’s delinquencies;
9. Whether works (karma) and knowledge (jnāna) are in themselves salvation giving, or only lead to faith (bhakthi) by which final emancipation is attained;
10. Whether the good of other (unregenerate) castes should be tolerated according to their graduated social statuses, or should be venerated without reference to caste inequalities; 
11. Whether karma (works, rituals, etc.) should or not be bodily and wholly abandoned by those who have adopted prapatti.”
The points of difference between Vadagalais and Thengalais are thus described by Mr. V. N. Narasimmiyengar104:—“The Tengalē schismatists deny to Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, any participation in creation, and reduce her to the position of a creature; omit to ring the bell when worshipping their idols; salute each other and their gods only once; make use of highly abstruse Tamil verses in room of Sanskrit mantras and prayers; modify the srāddha ceremony materially, and do not shave their widows. The principal texts cited by the Tengalē Sri Vaishnavas in support of the immunity of their widows from the rite of tonsure are the following:—
Widows should avoid, even when in affliction and danger, shaving, eating of sweets, betel nut, flowers, sexual intercourse, conversation with men, and jewels (Sāndilyah).
A woman, whether unmarried or widowed, who shaves her hair, will go to the hell called Rauravam. When the husband dies, the widow should perform his due obsequies without shaving. She should never shave on any occasion, or for any purpose whatever (Sambhuh).
If any woman, whether unmarried or widowed, shave (her head), she will dwell in the hell called Rauravam for one thousand karors of kalpās. If a widow shave (her head) by ignorance, she will cause hair to grow in the mouths of her ancestors’ ghosts on both sides. If she perform any ceremonies inculcated by the Srutis and Smritis with her head shaved, she will be born a Chandālī (Manuh).
There is no sin in a devout widow, whose object is eternal salvation, wearing her hair. If she should shave, she will assuredly go to hell. A Vaishnava widow should never shave her head. If she do so through ignorance, her face should not be looked at (Vridd’ha Manuh in Khagēsvara Samhitā).
If any one observe a Brahmachāri beggar with his kachchē (cloth passed between the legs, and tucked in behind), a householder without it, and a widow without hair on her head, he should at once plunge into water with his clothes (Ananta Samhitā).
It is considered highly meritorious for Vaishnava widows to wear their hair, as long as they remain in this world (Hayagrīva Samhitā).”
In a note on the two sects of the Vaishnavas in the Madras Presidency, the Rev. C. E. Kennet writes as follows105:—“While both the sects acknowledge the Sanskrit books to be authoritative, the Vadagalai uses them to a greater extent than the Thengalai. The former also recognises and acknowledges the female energy as well as the male, though not in the gross and sensual form in which it is worshipped among the Saivas, but as being the feminine aspect of deity, and representing the grace and merciful care of Providence; while the Tenkalai excludes its agency in general, and, inconsistently enough, allows it co-operation in the final salvation of a human soul. But the most curious difference between the two schools is that relating to human salvation itself, and is a reproduction in Indian minds of the European controversy between Calvinists and Arminians. For the adherents of the Vadakalais strongly insist on the concomitancy of the human will for securing salvation, whereas those of the Tenkalai maintain the irresistability of divine grace in human salvation. The arguments from analogy used by the two parties respectively are, however, peculiarly Indian in character. The former adopt what is called the monkey argument, the Markata Nyāya, for the young monkey holds on to or grasps its mother to be conveyed to safety, and represents the hold of the soul on God. The latter use the cat argument, the Mārjāla Nyāya, which is expressive of the hold of God on the soul; for the kitten is helpless until the mother-cat seizes it nolens volens, and secures it from danger. The late Major M. W. Carr inserts in his large collection of Telugu and Sanskrit proverbs the following:—
“The monkey and its cub. As the cub clings to its mother, so man seeks divine aid, and clings to his God. The doctrine of the Vadakalais.
“Like the cat and her kitten. The stronger carrying and protecting the weaker; used to illustrate the free grace of God. The doctrine of the Tenkalais.
“Leaving the speculative differences between these two sects, I have now to mention the practical one which divides them, and which has been, and continues to be, the principal cause of the fierce contentions and long-drawn law suits between them. And this relates to the exact mode of making the sectarian mark on the forehead. While both sects wear a representation of Vishnu’s trident, composed of red or yellow for the middle line or prong of the trident, and of white earth for those on each side, the followers of the Vadakalai draw the middle line only down to the bridge of the nose, but those of the Tenkalai draw it over the bridge a little way down the nose itself. Each party maintain that their mode of making the mark is the right one, and the only means of effecting a settlement of the dispute is to ascertain how the idol itself is marked, whether as favouring the Vadakalai or Tenkalai. But this has been found hitherto impossible, I am told, for instance at Conjeveram itself, the head-quarters of these disputes, owing to the unreliable and contradictory character of the evidence produced in the Courts.”
The Hebbar and Mandya sections belong to the Mysore Province, in which the former are very numerous. The latter are few in number, and confined to Mandya and Melkōte. Some families have settled in the city of Madras, where they are employed as merchants, bank clerks, attorneys, etc.
The Mandyas say that they migrated to Mysore from some place near Tirupati. Though both the Hebbar and Mandya Brāhmans speak Tamil, some details peculiar to Carnatakas are included in the marriage ceremonial.
The Vaishnava Shōliars are considered somewhat low in the social scale. Intermarriage takes place between Smartha and Vaishnavite Shōliars. The Vaikhānasas and Pāncharatras are temple priests (archakas). Both use as their title Dīkshitar. Sometimes they are called Nambi, but this term is more used to denote Sātāni temple servants.
Reference may here be made to the Pattar Brāhmans, who are Tamil Brāhmans, who have settled in Malabar. The name is said to be derived from the Sanskrit bhatta. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that “the Pattars present no peculiarities distinguishing them from the ordinary East Coast Brahmans. Like the latter, they engage in trade and business, and form a large proportion of the official, legal, and scholastic classes. With the exception of one class known as Chōzhiya or Ārya Pattars, they wear their kudumi (top-knot) on the back of the head in the east coast fashion, and not on the top and hanging over the forehead, as is done by the genuine Malayāli castes. They also live as a general rule in regular streets or grāmams on the east coast plan. Few Pattars, except in the Palghat taluk, are large land-owners. As a class, they have embraced modern educational facilities eagerly, so far as they subserve their material prospects. Both Pattars and Embrāndiris, but especially the latter, have adopted the custom of contracting sambandham (alliance) with Nāyar women, but sambandham with the foreign Brahmans is not considered to be so respectable as with Nambūdiris, and, except in the Palghat taluk (where the Nambūdiri is rare), they are not allowed to consort with the women of aristocratic families.”
In connection with the Ārya Pattars, it is recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, that “the term Aryapattar means superior Brahmins. But the actual position in society is not quite that. At Rāmēsvaram, which may be considered the seat of Aryapattars, their present status seems to be actually inferior, due probably, it is believed, to their unhesitating acceptance of gifts from Sudras, and to their open assumption of their priestly charge. Though at present a small body in Malabar, they seem to have once flourished in considerable numbers. In the case of large exogamous but high-caste communities like the Kshatriyas of Malabar, Brahmin husbands were naturally in great requisition, and when, owing to their high spiritual ideals, the Brahmins of Malabar were either Grihasthas or Snātakas (bachelor Sanyāsins dedicating their life to study, and to the performance of orthodox rites), the supply was probably unequal to the demand. The scarcity was presumably added to when the differences between the Kōlattunāt Royal Family and the Brahmins of the Perinchellūr grāmam became so pronounced as to necessitate the importing of Canarese and Tulu Brahmins for priestly services at their homes and temples. The first immigration of Brahmins from the east coast, called Aryapattars, into Malabar appears to have been under the circumstances above detailed, and at the instance of the Rajas of Cranganore.
With the gradual lowering of the Brahminical ideal throughout the Indian Peninsula, and with the increasing struggle for physical existence, the Nambūtiris entered or re-entered the field, and ousted the Aryapattars first from consortship, and latterly even from the ceremony of tāli-tying in families that could pay a Nambūtiri. The Aryapattar has, in his turn, trespassed into the ranks of the Nāyars, and has begun to undertake the religious rite of marriage, i.e., tāli-tying, in aristocratic families among them. There are only two families now in all Travancore, and they live in the Karunagapalli taluk. Malayālam is their household tongue; in dress and personal habits, they are indistinguishable from Malayāla Brahmins. The males marry into as high a class of Brahmins as they could get in Malabar, which is not generally higher than that of the Pōtti. The Pōtti woman thus married gets rather low in rank on account of this alliance. The daughter of an Aryapattar cannot be disposed of to a Brahminical caste in Malabar. She is taken to the Tinnevelly or Madura district, and married into the regular Aryapattar family according to the rites of the latter. The girl’s dress is changed into the Tamil form on the eve of her marriage.”
III Āndhra.—The Telugu-speaking Brāhmans are all Āndhras, who differ from Tamil Brāhmans in some of their marriage and death ceremonies, female attire, and sectarian marks. Telugu Brāhman women wear their cloth without passing it between the legs, and the free end of the skirt is brought over the left shoulder. The sect mark consists of three horizontal streaks of sacred ashes on the forehead, or a single streak of sandal paste (gandham). In the middle of the streak is a circular black spot (akshintalu or akshintalu bottu). The marriage badge is a circular plate of gold, called bottu, attached to a thread, on which black glass beads are frequently strung. A second bottu, called nāgavali bottu, is tied on the bride’s neck on the nāgavali day. During the time when the bridegroom is performing the vrata ceremony, the bride is engaged in the worship of Gauri. She sits in a new basket filled with paddy (unhusked rice) or cholam (Andropogon Sorghum). On the return from the mock pilgrimage (kāsiyātra), the bride and bridegroom sit facing each other on the dais, with a screen interposed between them. Just before the bottu is tied on the bride’s neck by the bridegroom, the screen is lowered. During the marriage ceremony, both the bride and bridegroom wear clothes dyed with turmeric, until the nāgavali day. Among Tamil Brāhmans, the bridegroom wears a turmeric-dyed cloth, and the bride may wear a silk cloth. Immediately after the tying of the bottu, the contracting couple throw rice over each other, and those assembled pour rice over their heads. This is called Talambralu.
Taken as a class, the Telugu Brāhmans are very superstitious, and the females perform a very large number of vratams. Of the vratams performed by Telugu and Canarese females, both Brāhman and non-Brāhman, the following account is given in the Manual of the Nellore district. A very favourite deity is Gauri, in honour of whom many of the rites hereafter noticed are performed. These ceremonies give a vivid idea of the hopes and fears, the aspirations, and the forebodings of Hindu womanhood. The following ceremonies are practised by girls after betrothal, and before union with their husbands:—
Atlataddi —On the third day after the full moon, an early meal before sunrise, the worship of Gauri in the afternoon, and the presentation of ten cakes to ten matrons upon the dismissal of the deity invoked. The object is to secure a young agreeable husband.
Uppu (salt).—This consists in making a present to any matron of a pot of salt, full to the brim, at the end of the year, with the view to secure a long enjoyment of the married state.
Akshayabandar —This consists in making a present of a pot full of turmeric to any matron at the end of the year, with a view to avert the calamity of widowhood.
Udayakunkuma —Putting the red kunkuma mark on the foreheads of five matrons before sunrise, with the object of being always able to wear the same mark on her own forehead, i.e., never to become a widow.
Padiharukudumulu —The presentation of sixteen cakes once a year for sixteen years to a matron. This is for the attaining of wealth.
Kartika Gauri Dēvi —Exhibiting to a matron the antimony box, with a preparation of which the eyes are trimmed to give the brilliancy, and wearing on the head turmeric rice (akshatalu). The object of this is said to be to give sight to blind relatives.
Kandanomi —Abstaining for a year from the use of arum (Amorphophallus Campanulatus), of which the corms are an article of food), and presenting a matron with a silver and gold representation of a kanda to be worn on the neck. The object to be attained is that she who performs the rite may never have to shed tears.
Gummadi Gauri Dēvi —The presentation at the end of the year to a matron of a pumpkin in the morning, and another in the afternoon, with a silver one at food time, and a gold one to be worn round the neck. This is for the prolongation of married life.
Gandala Gauri Dēvi —The distribution of twenty-five different sorts of things, twenty-five to be distributed to matrons at the rate of five of each sort to each. The object of this is to avert evil accidents of all kinds, which may threaten the husband.
Chittibottu Making the kunkuma marks on the foreheads of five matrons in the morning, for the attainment of wealth.
Isalla Chukka —Rubbing butter-milk, turmeric, kunkuma, and sandalwood paste on the threshold of the door. The object is the same as in the last.
Tavita Navomi —To avoid touching bran for any purpose, for the prolongation of married life.
Nitya Srungaram —Offering betel nut, and putting the kunkuma mark on the face of a matron, for the purpose of securing perpetual beauty.
Nallapusala Gauri Dēvi —The presentation to a matron of a hundred black beads with one gold one, the object being again to avert widowhood.
Mocheti Padmam —The worship of some deity, and the making of the forehead mark (bottlu) for four matrons in the first year, eight in the second, and so on, increasing the number by four each year for twenty-seven years, being the number of certain stars. This presentation has to be made in silence. The object is the attainment of enduring wealth. 
Mogamudo sellu —The performer washes her face thirteen times daily in a brass vessel, and offers to some matron some rice, a pearl, and a coral.
Undrallatadde —On the thirteenth day after the full moon, taking food before sunrise, the girl worships the goddess Gauri in the afternoon, and, at the time of dismissing the deity invoked (udyapana), she presents five round cakes to as many matrons. The object of this is to secure her future husband’s affections.
Vara Lakshmi —The worship of the goddess Lakshmi for the attainment of wealth and salvation, or to make the best of both worlds.
Vavila Gauri Dēvi —In order to avert the risk of all accidents for her future lord, the devotee, on each of the four Tuesdays of the month Sravana, worships the goddess Gauri Dēvi, and distributes Bengal gram to married women.
Savitri Gauri Dēvi —The offering of nine different articles on nine different days after the sun has entered the solstice, the sign of Capricorn. This is also practised to secure a husband’s affection.
Tsaddikutimangalavaram.—This is a piece of self-mortification, and consists in eating on every Tuesday for one year nothing but cold rice boiled the previous day, and feeding a matron with the same.
The following are some of the ceremonies practised by young women after attaining a marriageable age:—
Prabatcha Adivaram —Offering worship to a married couple, and limiting the taking of food to a single meal on Sunday. This is done with the object of having children.
Apadalēni Adivaram —Taking but one meal every Sunday, and making a presentation to five matrons of five cakes with a flat basket of rice, body jackets, and other things. This is for the procuring of wealth.
Adivaram (Sunday).—Total abstinence from some one article of food for one year, another article the next year, and so on for five years; also limitation to a single meal every Sunday, and the presentation of cloths to Brāhmans upon the dismissal of the deity invoked for worship. The object of this seems to be to secure re-union with the husband after death.
Chappitti Adivaram —Abstinence from salt on every Sunday for a year, with a view to secure the longevity of children.
Udayapadmam —To take for one year a daily bath, and to draw the representation of a lotus with rice-flour every morning near the sacred tulasi plant (Ocimum sanctum), which is kept in many Hindu households, growing on an altar of masonry. The object of this is to restore a dead husband to life again, i.e., to secure re-union in another life.
Krishna Tulasi —To avert widowhood, those who perform this rite present thirteen pairs of cakes in a gold cup to a Brāhman.
Kartika Chalimidi —The distribution of chalimidi, which is flour mixed with sugar water, for three years; in the first year one and a half seer of rice, in the second year two and a half seers, and in the third year twenty-six seers, the object sought being to restore life to children that may die, i.e., restoration in another world.
Kailāsa Gauri Dēvi —To grind one and a half viss (a measure) of turmeric without assistance in perfect silence, and then distribute it among 101 matrons, the object being to avert widowhood.
Dhairya Lakshmi —As a charm against tears, matrons light a magic light, which must have a cotton wick of the weight of one pagoda (a gold coin), and, instead of a quarter of a viss of ghee, clarified butter.
Dhanapalalu —Giving four different sorts of grain for five years to a Brāhman, to atone for the sin of the catamenial discharge.
Nadikēsudu —The distribution of five seers each of nine different sorts of grain, which must be dressed and eaten in the house. This is done for the procuring of wealth.
Nityadhanyamu —Daily giving a handful of grain to any Brahmin with the object of averting widowhood.
Phalala Gauri Dēvi —This is performed by the presentation of sixteen fruits of sixteen different species to any married woman, with the view of securing healthy offspring.
Pamidipuvulu —With the view to avert widowhood and secure influence with their husbands, young wives practise the daily worship of thirteen flowers for a time, and afterwards present to a Brahmin the representations of thirteen flowers in gold, together with a lingam and panavattam (the seat of the lingam).
Muppadimudupurnamulu —To avert widowhood, cakes are offered on the occasion of thirty-three full-moons; on the first one cake is eaten, on the second two, and so on up to thirty-three.
Mudukartelu —For the attainment of wealth, women light seven hundred cotton wicks steeped in oil at the three festivals of full moon, Sankurātri (the time when the sun enters the zodiacal sign of Capricorn), and Sivarātri.
Magha Gauri Dēvi —The worship of the goddess Gauri in the month of Magham, with a view to avert widowhood.
Vishnukanta —For the same purpose, thirteen pairs of cakes are offered in a new pot to some married woman.
Vishnuvidia —To atone for the sin of the catamenial discharge, food is eaten without salt on the second day after every new moon.
Sokamulēni Somavaram —The taking of food without salt every Monday, for the restoration of children removed by death.
Chitraguptulu —Burning twelve wicks daily in oil, for the attainment of happiness in a future state.
Sukravaram —For the acquisition of wealth, women sometimes limit themselves to one meal on Fridays, and feed five married women on each occasion of dismissing the deity invoked for worship.
Saubhagyatadde —To avert widowhood, another practice is on the third day after every new moon to distribute, unassisted and in silence, one and a quarter viss of turmeric among thirteen matrons.
Kshirabdhi Dvādasi —Keeping a fast day specially devoted to the worship of Vishnu, with a view to secure happiness in a future state.
Chinuku —A woman takes a stalk of Indian corn fresh pulled up, and with it pounds rice-flour mixed with milk in a mortar. This is to avert widowhood in this world, and to secure happiness in the next.
Women who have lost children frequently perform the following two ceremonies for restoration to life or restoration in a future state:—
Kundella Amavasya (hare’s new moon).—To give thirteen different things to some married woman every new moon for thirteen months.
Kadupukadalani Gauri Dēvi —The presentation of thirteen pairs of cakes to thirteen matrons.
The following ceremonies are often performed after the cessation of the catamenial discharge, to atone for the sin contracted by their occurrence:—
Annamumuttani Adivaram —The eating of yams and other roots every Sunday for three years, or, under certain conditions, a longer period.
Rushipanchami —On the fifth day of Bhadrapada month to eat five balusu (Canthium parviflorum) leaves, and to drink a handful of ghee.
Gomayani —To eat three balls of cow-dung every morning for a year.
Lakshvattulu —To burn one lac (100,000) of wick lights.
Lakshmivarapu Ekādasi —From the time when the eleventh day after new moon falls on a Thursday, to observe a fast, and to worship the tulasi plant for eleven days.
Margasira Lakshmivaram —The mistress of a family will often devote herself to the worship of Lakshmi on every Thursday of the month of Margasira, in order to propitiate the goddess of wealth.
Somisomavaram —A special worship performed on every new moon that falls on Monday, with the giving away of 360 articles, two or three on each occasion. This is performed with the view of attaining atonement for sins, and happiness in a future state.
There are many ceremonies performed by women to whom nature has denied the much-coveted joys of maternity. Among these may be noted:—
Asvadhapradakshinam —In villages is often to be seen a margosa (Melia Azadirachta)tree, round which a pīpul tree (Ficus religiosa) has twined itself. The ceremony consists in a woman walking round and round this tree several times daily for a long period. 
The sub-divisions of the Telugu Brāhmans are as follows:—
• A.—Vaidiki. • o 1. Murikinādu. o o 2. Telaganyam. o o 3. Velnādu. o o 4. Kasalnādu. o o 5. Karnakammalu. o o 6. Veginādu. o o 7. Konesime. o o 8. Ārama Drāvida. o o 9. Ārādhya. o o 10. Prathamasāki. o • B.—Niyogi. • o 1. Āruvela. o o 2. Nandavarikulu. o o 3. Kammalu. o o 4. Pesalavayalu. o o 5. Prānganādu. o • C.—Tambala. • • D.—Immigrants. • o 1. Pudur Drāvida. o o 2. Thummagunta Drāvida. o All these sections are endogamous, and will eat together, except the Tambalas, who correspond to the Gurukkals among the Tamil Brāhmans. Vaidikis are supposed to be superior to Niyōgis. The former do not generally grow moustaches, while the latter do. For srādh ceremonies, Niyōgis do not generally sit as Brāhmans representing the ancestors, Vaidikis being engaged for this purpose. In some places, e.g., the Nandigama tāluk of the Kistna district, the Niyōgis are not referred to by the name Brāhman, Vaidikis being so called. Even Niyōgis themselves point to Vaidikis when asked about Brāhmans.
Velnādu, Murikinādu, and Vēginādu seem to be territorial names, and they occur also among some of the non-Brāhman castes. The Ārādhyas are dealt with in a special article (see Ārādhya). Among the Karnakammas are certain sub-sections, such as Ōgōti and Koljēdu. They all belong to Rig Sāka. Of the Telaganyams, some follow the Rig Vēda, and others the Yejur Vēda (both black and white Yajus). The Nandavarikulu are all Rig Vēdis, and regard Chaudēswari, the goddess of the Dēvāngas, as their tutelary deity. When a Nandavariki Brāhman goes to a Dēvānga temple, he is treated with much respect, and the Dēvānga priest gives up his place to the Nandavariki for the time being. The Nandavariki Brāhmans are, in fact, gurus or priests to the Dēvēngas.
A special feature of the Telugu Brāhmans is that, like the Telugu non-Brāhman classes, they have house names or intipērulu, of which the following are examples:—Kōta (fort), Lanka (island), Puchcha (Citrullus Colocynthis), Chintha (tamarind), Kākī (crow). Niyōgi house-names sometimes terminate with the word rāzu.
IV. Carnātaka.—The sub-divisions of the Carnātakas or Canarese-speaking Brāhmans are as follows:—
• A.—Smartha. • o 1. Aruvaththuvokkālu. o o 2. Badaganādū. o o 3. Hosalnādu. o o 4. Hoisanige or Vaishanige. o o 5. Kamme (Bobburu, Karna, and Ulcha). o o 6. Sīrnādu. o o 7. Māraka. o • B.—Mādhva. • o 1. Aruvēla. o o 2. Aruvaththuvokkalu. o o 3. Badaganādu. o o 4. Pennaththūrar. o o 5. Prathamasāki. o o 6. Hyderabadi. o The Carnātakas very closely resemble the Āndhras in their ceremonial observances, and, like them, attach much importance to vratams. The Mādhva Carnātakas are recent converts from Carnātaka or Āndhra Smarthas. The Pennaththūrars are supposed to be Tamil Brāhmans converted into Mādhvas. They retain some of the customs peculiar to the Tamil Brāhmans. The marriage badge, for example, is the Tamil tāli and not the bottu. Intermarriages between Smarthas and Mādhvas of the same section are common. Mādhvas, excepting the very orthodox, will take food with both Carnātaka and Āndhra Smarthas.
The Mārakas are thus described by Mr. Lewis Rice.106 “A caste claiming to be Brāhmans, but not recognised as such. They worship the Hindu triad, but are chiefly Vishnuvites, and wear the trident mark on their foreheads. They call themselves Hale Kannadiga or Hale Karnātaka, the name Marka107 being considered as one of reproach, on which account also many have doubtless returned themselves as Brāhmans of one or other sect. They are said to be descendants of some disciples of Sankarāchārya, the original guru of Sringēri, and the following legend is related of the cause of their expulsion from the Brāhman caste to which their ancestors belonged. One day Sankarāchārya, wishing to test his disciples, drank some toddy in their presence, and the latter, thinking it could be no sin to follow their master’s example, indulged freely in the same beverage. Soon after, when passing a butcher’s shop, Sankārachārya asked for alms; the butcher had nothing but meat to give, which the guru and his disciples ate. According to the Hindu shāstras, red-hot iron alone can purify a person who has eaten flesh and drunk toddy. Sankarāchārya went to a blacksmith’s furnace, and begged from him some red-hot iron, which he swallowed and was purified. The disciples were unable to imitate their master in the matter of the red-hot iron, and besought him to forgive their presumption in having dared to imitate him in partaking of forbidden food. Sankarāchārya refused to give absolution, and cursed them as unfit to associate with the six sects of Brāhmans. The caste is making a strong effort to be readmitted among Brāhmans, and some have recently become disciples of Parakālaswāmi. Their chief occupations are agriculture, and Government service as shānbogs or village accountants.” It is recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that “some of the more intelligent and leading men in the clan give another explanation (of the legend). It is said that either in Dewān Pūrnaiya’s time, or some time before, a member of this micro-caste rose to power, and persecuted the people so mercilessly that, with characteristic inaptitude, they gave him the nickname Māraka or the slaughterer or destroyer, likening him to the planet Mars, which, in certain constellations, is astrologically dreaded as wielding a fatal influence on the fortunes of mortals. There is, however, no doubt that, in their habits, customs, religion and ceremonials, these people are wholly Brāhmanical, but still they remain entirely detached from the main body of the Brāhmans. Since the census of 1871, the Halē Kannadigas have been strenuously struggling to get themselves classified among the Brāhmans. About 25 years ago, the Srīngēri Math issued on behalf of the Smarta portion of the people a Srīmukh (papal bull) acknowledging them to be Brāhmans. A similar pronouncement was also obtained from the Parakāl Math at Mysore about three years later on behalf of the Srīvaishnavas among them. And the Local Government directed, a little after the census of 1881, that they should be entered as Brāhmans in the Government accounts.” 
The Mādhva Brāhmans commence the marriage ceremony by asking the ancestors of the bridal couple to bless them, and be present throughout the performance of the rites. To represent the ancestors, a ravike (bodice) and dhotra (man’s cloth) are tied to a stick, which is placed near the box containing the sālagrāma stone and household gods. In consequence of these ancestors being represented, orthodox Vaidiki Brāhmans refuse to take food in the marriage house. When the bridegroom is conducted to the marriage booth by his future father-in-law, all those who have taken part in the Kāsiyātra ceremony, throw rice over him. A quaint ceremony, called rangavriksha (drawing), is performed on the morning of the second day. After the usual playing with balls of flowers (nalagu or nalangu), the bridegroom takes hold of the right hand of the bride, and, after dipping her right forefinger in turmeric and chunam (lime) paste, traces on a white wall the outline of a plantain tree, of which a sketch has previously been made by a married woman. The tracing goes on for three days. First the base of the plant is drawn, and, on the evening of the third day, it is completed by putting in the flower spikes. On the third night the bridegroom is served with sweets and other refreshments by his mother-in-law, from whose hands he snatches the vessels containing them. He picks out what he likes best, and scatters the remainder about the room. The pollution caused thereby is removed by sprinkling water and cow-dung, which is done by the cook engaged for the marriage by the bridegroom’s family. After washing his hands, the bridegroom goes home, taking with him a silver vessel, which he surreptitiously removes from near the gods. Along with this vessel he is supposed to steal a rope for drawing water, and a rice-pounding stone. But in practice he only steals the vessel, and the other articles are claimed by his people on their return home.
Branding for religious purposes is confined to Srī Vaishnavas and Mādhvas. Srī Vaishnava Brāhmans are expected to undergo this ordeal at least once during their life-time, whereas Mādhva Brāhmans have to submit to it as often as they visit their guru (head of a mutt). Of men of other castes, those who become followers of a Vaishnava or Mādhva Āchārya (guru) or mutt, are expected to present themselves before the guru for the purpose of being branded. But the ceremony is optional, and not compulsory as in the case of the Brāhmans. Among Srī Vaishnavites, the privilege of branding is confined to the elder members of a family, Sanyāsis (ascetics), and the heads of the various mutts. All individuals, male and female, must be branded, after the Upanayanam ceremony in the case of males, and after marriage in the case of females. The disciples, after a purificatory bath and worship of their gods, proceed to the residence of the Āchārya or to the mutt, where they are initiated into their religion, and branded with the chakra on the right shoulder and chank on the left.
The initiation consists in imparting to the disciple, in a very low tone, the Mūla Mantram, the word Nāmonarāyanāya, the sacred syllable Ōm, and a few mantrams from the Brahma Rahasyam (secrets about god). A person who has not been initiated thus is regarded as unfit to take part in the ceremonies which have to be performed by Brāhmans. Even close relations, if orthodox, will refuse to take food prepared or touched by the uninitiated. Concerning Mādhvas, Monier Williams writes as follows108: “They firmly believe that it is a duty of Vaishnavas to carry throughout life a memorial of their god on their persons, and that such a lasting outward and visible sign of his presence helps them to obtain salvation through him. ‘On his right armlet the Brāhman wears the discus, on his left the conch shell.’ When I was at Tanjore, I found that one of the successors of Mādhva had recently arrived on his branding visitation. He was engaged throughout the entire day in stamping his disciples, and receiving fees from all according to their means.” Mādhvas have four mutts to which they repair for the branding ceremony, viz., Vayasaraya, Sumathendra and Mulabagal in Mysore, and Uttarāja in South Canara. The followers of the Uttāraja mutt are branded in five places in the case of adult males, and boys after the thread investiture. The situations and emblems selected are the chakra on the right upper arm, right side of the chest, and above the navel; the chank on the left shoulder and left side of the chest. Women, and girls after marriage, are branded with the chakra on the right forearm, and the chank on the left. In the case of widows, the marks are impressed on the shoulders as in the case of males.
The disciples of the three other mutts are generally branded with the chakra on the right upper arm, and chank on the left. As the branding is supposed to remove sins committed during the interval, they get it done every time they see their guru. There is with Mādhvas no restriction as to the age at which the ceremony should be performed. Even a new-born babe, after the pollution period of ten days, must receive the mark of the chakra, if the guru should turn up. Boys before the upanayanam, and girls before marriage, are branded with the chakra on the abdomen just above the navel. The copper or brass branding instruments (mudras) are not heated to a very high temperature, but sufficient to singe the skin, and leave a deep black mark in the case of adults, and a light mark in that of young people and babies. In some cases, disciples, who are afraid of being hurt, bribe the person who heats the instruments; but, as a rule, the guru regulates the temperature so as to suit the individual. If, for example, the disciple is a strong, well-built man, the instruments are well heated, and, if he is a weakling, they are allowed to cool somewhat before their application. If the operator has to deal with babies, he presses the instrument against a wet rag before applying it to the infant’s skin. Some Matathipathis (head priests of the mutt) are, it is said, inclined to be vindictive, and to make a very hot application of the instruments, if the disciple has not paid the fee (gurukānika) to his satisfaction. The fee is not fixed in the case of Sri Vaishnavas, whereas Mādhvas are expected to pay from one to three months’ income for being branded. Failure to pay is punished with excommunication on some pretext or other. The area of skin branded generally peels off within a week, leaving a pale mark of the mudra, which either disappears in a few months, or persists throughout life. Mādhvas should stamp mudras with gōpi paste (white kaolin) daily on various parts of the body. The names of these mudras are chakra, chank or sankha, gātha (the weapon of war used by Bhīma, one of the Pāndavas), padma (lotus), and Narāyana. The chakra is stamped thrice on the abdomen above the navel, twice on the right flank, twice on the right side of the chest above the nipple, twice on the right arm, once on the right temple, once on the left side of the chest, and once on the left arm. The chank is stamped twice on the right side of the chest, in two places on the left arm, and once on the left temple. The gātha is stamped in two places on the right arm, twice on the chest, and in one spot on the forehead. The padma is stamped twice on the left arm, and twice on the left side of the chest. Narāyana is stamped on all places where other mudra marks have been made. Sometimes it is difficult to put on all the marks after the daily morning bath. In such cases, a single mudra mark, containing all the five mudras, is made to suffice. Some regard the chakra mudra as sufficient on occasions of emergency.
The god Hanumān (the monkey god) is specially reverenced by Mādhvas, who call him Mukyaprānadēvaru (the chief god).
V. Tulu.—The Tulu-speaking Brāhmans are, in their manners and customs, closely allied to the Carnatakas. Their sub-divisions are—
• 1. Shivalli. • • 2. Kōta. • • 3. Kandāvara. • • 4. Havīk or Haiga. • • 5. Pānchagrāmi. • • 6. Kōteswar. • The following interesting account of the Tulu Brāhmans is given by Mr. H. A. Stuart109:—
“All Tulu Brahmin chronicles agree in ascribing the creation of Malabar and Canara, or Kērala, Tuluva, and Haiga, to Parasu Rāma, who reclaimed from the sea as much land as he could cover by hurling his battle-axe from the top of the Western Ghauts. According to Tulu traditions, after a quarrel with Brahmins who used to come to him periodically from Ahi-Kshētra, Parasu Rāma procured new Brahmins for the reclaimed tract by taking the nets of some fishermen, and making a number of Brahminical threads, with which he invested the fishermen, and thus turned them into Brahmins, and retired to the mountains to meditate, after informing them that, if they were in distress and called on him, he would come to their aid. After the lapse of some time, during which they suffered no distress, they were curious to know if Parasu Rāma would remember them, and called upon him in order to find out. He promptly appeared, but punished their thus mocking him by cursing them, and causing them to revert to their old status of Sudras. After this, there were no Brahmins in the land till Tulu Brahmins were brought from Ahi-Kshētra by Mayūr Varma of the Kadamba dynasty. A modified form of the tradition states that Parasu Rāma gave the newly reclaimed land to Nāga and Machi Brahmins, who were not true Brahmins, and were turned out or destroyed by fishermen and Holeyas (Pariahs), who held the country till the Tulu Brahmins were introduced by Mayūr Varma. All traditions unite in attributing the introduction of the Tulu Brahmins of the present day to Mayūr Varma, but they vary in details connected with the manner in which they obtained a firm footing in the land. One account says that Habāshika, chief of the Koragas (Pariahs), drove out Mayūr Varma, but was in turn expelled by Mayūr Varma’s son, or son-in-law, Lōkāditya of Gōkarnam, who brought Brahmins from Ahi-Kshētra and settled them in thirty-two villages.
Another makes Mayūr Varma himself the invader of the country, which till then had remained in the possession of the Holeyas (Pariahs) and fishermen who had turned out Parasu Rāma’s Brahmins. Mayūr Varma and the Brahmins whom he had brought from Ahi-Kshētra were again driven out by Nanda, a Holeya chief, whose son Chandra Sayana had, however, learned respect for Brahmins from his mother, who had been a dancing-girl in a temple. His admiration for them became so great that he not only brought back the Brahmins, but actually made over all his authority to them, and reduced his people to the position of slaves. A third account makes Chandra Sayana, not a son of a Holeya king, but a descendant of Mayūr Varma and a conqueror of the Holeya king. Nothing is known from other sources of Lōkāditya, Habāshika, or Chandra Sayana, but inscriptions speak to Mayūr Varma being the founder of the dynasty of the Kadambas of Banavāsi in North Canara. His date is usually put down at about 750 A.D. The correctness of the traditions, which prevail in Malabar as well as in Canara, assigning the introduction of Brahmins to the West Coast to Mayūr Varma who was in power about 750 A.D., is to some extent corroborated by the fact that Brahmins attested the Malabar Perumal’s grant to the Christians in 774 A.D., but not that to the Jews about 700 A.D. The Brahmins are said to have been brought from Ahi-Kshētra, on the banks of the Gōdāvari, but it is not clear what connection a Kadamba of Banavāsi could have with the banks of the Gōdāvari, and there may be something in the suggestion made in the North Kanara Gazetteer that Ahi-Kshētra is merely a sanskritised form of Haiga or the land of snakes. The tradition speaks of the Brahmins having been brought by Lōkāditya from Gōkarnam, which is in the extreme north of Haiga, and in the local history of the Honalli Matha in Sunda in North Canara, Gōkarnam is spoken of as being Ahi-Kshētra. Gōkarnam is believed to have been a Brahmin settlement in very early times, and there was probably a further influx of Brahmins there as Muhammadan conquest advanced in the north.
“The class usually styled Tulu Brahmins at the present day are the Shivalli Brahmins, whose head-quarters are at Udipi, and who are most numerous in the southern part of the district, but the Kōta, Kōtēshwar, and Haiga or Havīka Brahmins are all branches of the same, the differences between them having arisen since their settlement in Canara; and, though they now talk Canarese in common with the people of other parts to the north of the Sītanadi river, their religious works are still written in the old Tulu-Malayālam character. Tulu Brahmins, who have settled in Malabar in comparatively late years, are known as Embrāntris, and treated as closely allied to the Nambūtiris, whose traditions go back to Mayūr Varma. Some families of Shivalli and Havīka Brahmins in the southern or Malayālam portion of the district talk Malayālam, and follow many of the customs of the Malabar or Nambūtiri Brahmins. Many of the thirty-two villages in which the Brahmins are said to have been settled by Mayūr Varma are still the most important centres of Brahminism.
Notably may be mentioned Shivalli or Udipi, Kōta and Kōtēshwar, which have given names to the divisions of Tulu Brahmins of which these villages are respectively the head-quarters. When the Brahmins were introduced by Mayūr Varma they are said to have been followers of Bhattāchārya, but they soon adopted the tenets of the great Malayālam Vēdāntic teacher Sankarāchārya, who is ordinarily believed to have been born at Cranganore in Malabar in the last quarter of the eighth century, that is, soon after the arrival of the Brahmins on the west coast. Sankarāchārya is known as the preacher of the Advaita (non-dual) philosophy, which, stated briefly, is that all living beings are one with the supreme spirit, and absorption may finally be obtained by the constant renunciation of material in favour of spiritual pleasure. This philosophy, however, was not sufficient for the common multitude, and his system included, for weaker minds, the contemplation of the first cause through a multitude of inferior deities, and, as various manifestations of Siva and his consort Parvati, he found a place for all the most important of the demons worshipped by the early Dravidians whom the Brahmins found on the West Coast, thus facilitating the spread of Hinduism throughout all classes.
That the conversion of the Bants and Billavas, and other classes, took place at a very early date may be inferred from the fact that, though the great bulk of the Tulu Brahmins of South Canara adopted the teaching of the Vaishnavite reformer Mādhavāchārya, who lived in the thirteenth century, most of the non-Brahmin Hindus in the district class themselves as Shaivites to this day. Sankarāchārya founded the Sringēri Matha in Mysore near the borders of the Udipi taluk, the guru of which is the spiritual head of such of the Tulu Brahmins of South Canara as have remained Smarthas or adherents of the teaching of Sankarāchārya. Mādhavāchārya is believed to have been born about 1199 A.D. at Kaliānpur, a few miles from Udipi. He propounded the Dvaita or dual philosophy, repudiating the doctrine of oneness and final absorption held by ordinary Vaishnavites as well as by the followers of Sankarāchārya. The attainment of a place in the highest heaven is to be secured, according to Mādhavāchārya’s teaching, not only by the renunciation of material pleasure, but by the practice of virtue in thought, word and deed. The moral code of Mādhavāchārya is a high one, and his teaching is held by some—not ordinary Hindus of course—to have been affected by the existence of the community of Christians at Kaliānpur mentioned by Cosmos Indico Pleustes in the seventh century. Mādhavāchārya placed the worship of Vishnu above that of Siva, but there is little bitterness between Vaishnavites and Shaivites in South Canara, and there are temples in which both are worshipped under the name of Shankara Nārāyana. He denied that the spirits worshipped by the early Dravidians were manifestations of Siva’s consort, but he accorded sanction to their worship as supernatural beings of a lower order.
“Shivalli Brahmins. The Tulu-speaking Brahmins of the present day are almost all followers of Mādhavāchārya, though a few remain Smarthas, and a certain number follow what is known as the Bhagavat Sampradāyam, and hold that equal honour is due to both Vishnu and Siva. They are now generally called Shivalli Brahmins, their head-quarters being at Udipi or Shivalli, a few miles from Mādhavāchārya’s birth-place. Here Mādhavāchārya is said to have resided for some time, and composed thirty-seven controversial works, after which he set out on a tour. The temple of Krishna at Udipi is said to have been founded by Mādhavāchārya himself, who set up in it the image of Krishna originally made by Arjuna, and miraculously obtained by him from a vessel wrecked on the coast of Tuluva.
In it he also placed one of the three sālagrāms presented to him by the sage Vēda Vyāsa. Besides the temple at Udipi, he established eight Mathas or sacred houses, each presided over by a sanyāsi or swāmi. [Their names are Sodhē, Krishnāpur, Sīrur, Kānur, Pējāvar, Adamar, Palamar, and Puththige.] These exist to this day, and each swāmi in turn presides over the temple of Krishna for a period of two years, and spends the intervening fourteen years touring through Canara and the adjacent parts of Mysore, levying contributions from the faithful for his next two years of office, which are very heavy, as he has to defray not only the expenses of public worship and of the temple and Matha establishments, but must also feed every Brahmin who comes to the place. The following description of a Matha visited by Mr. Walhouse110 gives a very good idea of what one of these buildings is like: ‘The building was two-storeyed, enclosing a spacious quadrangle round which ran a covered verandah or cloister; the wide porched entrance opened into a fine hall supported by massive pillars with expanding capitals handsomely carved; the ceiling was also wooden, panelled and ornamented with rosettes and pendants as in baronial halls, and so were the solid doors. Within these was an infinity of rooms, long corridors lined with windowless cells, apartments for meditation and study, store-rooms overflowing with all manner of necessaries, granaries, upper rooms with wide projecting windows latticed instead of glass with pierced wood-work in countless tasteful patterns, and in the quadrangle there was a draw-well and small temple, while a large yard behind contained cattle of all kinds from a goat to an elephant. All things needful were here gathered together. Outside sat pilgrims, poor devotees, and beggars waiting for the daily dole, and villagers were continually arriving with grain, vegetables, etc.’ The periodical change of the swāmi presiding over the temple of Krishna is the occasion of a great festival known as the Pariyāya, when Udipi is filled to overflowing by a large concourse of Mādhvas, not only from the district but from more distant parts, especially from the Mysore territory.
[A very imposing object in the temple grounds, at the time of my visit in 1907, was an enormous stack of fire-wood for temple purposes.] The following is a description111 of a festival at the Udipi Krishna temple witnessed by Mr. Walhouse: ‘Near midnight, when the moon rode high in a cloudless heaven, his (Krishna’s) image—not the very sacred one, which may not be handled, but a smaller duplicate—was brought forth by four Brahmins and placed under a splendid canopy on a platform laid across two large canoes. The whole square of the tank (pond) was lit up by a triple line of lights. Small oil cressets at close intervals, rockets and fireworks ascended incessantly, and the barge, also brilliantly lit up, and carrying a band of discordant music, and Brahmins fanning the image with silver fans, was punted round and round the tank amid loud acclamations. After this, the image was placed in a gorgeous silver-plated beaked palanquin, and borne solemnly outside the temple to the great idol car that stood dressed up and adorned with an infinity of tinsel, flags, streamers and flower wreaths. On this it was lifted, and placed in a jewel shrine amidst a storm of applause and clapping of hands—these seem the only occasions when Hindus do clap hands—and then, with all the company of Brahmins headed by the swāmis marching in front, followed by flambeaus and wild music, the car was slowly hauled by thousands of votaries round the square which was illuminated by three lines of lights, ascending at intervals into pyramids. A pause was made half-way, when there was a grand display of rockets, fire fountains and wheels, and two lines of camphor and oiled cotton laid along the middle of the road were kindled and flamed up brilliantly. Then the car moved on to the entrance of the temple, and the god’s outing was accomplished.’ Another famous temple of the Shivallis is Subramanya at the foot of the ghauts on the Coorg border, and here also Mādhavāchārya deposited one of Vēda Vyāsa’s sālagrāms. It existed before his time, however, and, as the name indicates, it is dedicated to the worship of Siva. In addition to this, it is the principal centre of serpent worship in the district.
“Many of the Shivalli Brahmins are fair complexioned with well-cut intelligent features. A number of them own land which they cultivate by tenants or by hired labourers, and there are several wealthy families with large landed properties, but the great bulk of them are either astronomers, astrologers, tantris, purohitas, worshippers in temples, or professional beggars. They have been backward in availing themselves of English education, and consequently not many of them are to be found holding important posts under Government or in the professions, but a few have come to the front in late years. A good many of them are village accountants and teachers in village schools. The women, as is usually the case among all classes, are fairer than the men. Their education is even more limited, but they are said to be well trained for the discharge of household and religious duties. They wear the cloth falling as low as the feet in front, but not usually so low behind, especially on festive occasions, the end being passed between the legs and tucked into the fold of the cloth round the waist. Like all Brahmin women in Canara, they are fond of wearing sweet-scented flowers in their hair.
The language of the Shivalli Brahmins is Tulu, except to the north of the Sītanadi river, where close intercourse with the ruling Canarese classes above the ghauts for several centuries has led to the adoption of that language by all classes. Their religious books are in Sanskrit, and, even north of the Sītanadi river, they are written in the old Tulu-Malayālam character. Their houses are all neat, clean, and provided with verandahs, and a yard in front, in which stands, in a raised pot, a plant of the tulasi or sacred basil. Some of the houses of the old families are really large and substantial buildings, with an open courtyard in the centre. Men and widows bathe the whole body every day before breakfast, but married women bathe only up to the neck, it being considered inauspicious for them to bathe the head also. In temples and religious houses, males bathe in the evening also. An oil bath is taken once a week. They are, of course, abstainers from animal food and spirituous liquors, and a prohibition extends to some other articles, such as onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc. At times of marriages, deaths or initiations, it is usual to give feasts, which may be attended by all Drāvida Brahmins. The Shivallis have 252 gōtras, and the names of the following seem to be of totemistic origin:—
• Kudrettāya, from kudre, a horse, taya, belonging to. • • Tālitāya, palmyra palm. • • Manōlitāya, name of a vegetable. • • Shunnatāya, chunam, lime. • • Kalambitāya, a kind of box. • • Nellitāya, the Indian gooseberry. • • Gōli, banyan tree. • • Āne, elephant. • “These names were obtained from one of the eight swāmis or gurus of the Udipi math, and according to him they have no totemistic force at the present day. Girls must be married before maturity, and the ordinary age now-a-days is between five and eleven. The age of the bridegroom is usually between fifteen and five and twenty. A maternal uncle’s daughter can be married without consulting any horoscope, and during the marriage ceremonies it is customary for a bridegroom’s sister to obtain from him a formal promise that, if he has a daughter, he will give her in marriage to her son. Widows take off all their ornaments, and wear a red or white cloth. They ought not to attend any auspicious ceremonies or festivals, but of late years there has been a tendency to relax the severity of the restrictions on a widow’s freedom, and a young widow is allowed to keep her head unshaven, and to wear a few ornaments. A few Shivallis in the Malayālam-speaking portion of the Kāsaragōd taluk follow the customs and manners of the Malayālam Brahmins, and amongst these a girl does not lose caste by remaining unmarried until she comes of age.
“Kōtēshwar Brahmins are a small body, who take their name from Kōtēshwar in the Coondapoor taluk. They are practically the same as the Shivalli Brahmins, except that, like all classes in that taluk, they talk Canarese.
“Havīka, Havīga, or Haiga Brahmins are the descendants of the section of the Brahmins brought in by Mayūr Varma, who settled within the tract known as Haiga, which comprised the southern part of North Canara and the extreme northern part of South Canara. They did not, like the Shivallis, adopt the teaching of Mādhavāchārya, but remained followers of Sankarāchārya, and they now speak Canarese, though their religious and family records are written in old Tulu-Malayālam character. Though originally of the same stock, a distinction has arisen between them and the Shivalli Brahmins, and they do not intermarry, though they may eat together. A number of Havīka Brahmins are to be found scattered throughout South Canara, engaged for the most part in the cultivation of areca palm gardens, in which they are very expert. A very well-to-do colony of them is to be found in the neighbourhood of Vittal in the Kāsaragōd taluk, where they grow areca nuts which are valued only second to those grown in the māgane of the Coondapoor taluk above the ghauts. The Havīka Brahmins, perhaps owing to their residing for many generations in the comparatively cool shade of the areca nut gardens, are specially fair even for west coast Brahmins. This fairness of complexion is particularly noticeable in the women, who do not differ much in their manners and customs from the Shivalli Brahmin women, except that they take a prominent part in the work of the gardens, and never on any occasion wear the end of their cloth passed through the legs and tucked up behind. The Havīk widows are allowed more freedom than in most other classes. Some Havīk Brahmins in the Malayālam portion of the Kāsaragōd taluk have, like the Shivallis in the same locality, adopted the language and customs of the Malayāli Brahmins.
“Kōta Brahmins, so called from a village in the northern part of the Udipi taluk, are, like the Havīks, Smarthas or followers of Sankarāchārya, and now speak Canarese, but the breach between them and the Shivallis is not so wide, as intermarriages occasionally take place. In the Coondapoor taluk and the northern part of the Udipi taluk, the Kōtas occupy a place in the community corresponding to that taken by the Shivallis throughout the rest of the district.
“Saklāpuris, of whom there are a few in the district, are what may be called a dissenting sect of Havīkas who, a few years ago, renounced their allegiance to the Rāmchandrapura matha in favour of one at Saklāpuri near the boundary between North and South Canara. Like the Havīkas, they speak Canarese.
“Kandāvaras obtain their name from the village of Kandāvar in the Coondapoor taluk. They are commonly known as Udapas, and they all belong to one gōtram, that of Visvamitra. They are, therefore, precluded from marrying within the caste, and take their wives and husbands from the ranks of the Shivalli Brahmins. They are, indeed, said to be the descendants of a Shivalli Brahmin who settled in Kandāvar about seven or eight centuries ago. The head of the Annu Udapa family, which is called after this ancestor, is the hereditary head of the caste, and presides over all panchāyats or caste councils. They speak Canarese. Their title is Udapa or Udpa.”
In a note on the Brāhmans of South Canara, Mr. T. Raghaviah writes as follows112:—“The sentimental objection to manual labour, which is so predominant in the East Coast Brahmin, and the odium attached to it in this country, which has crystallised into the religious belief that, if a Brahmin cultivates with his own hand, the fire of his hand would burn down all that he touches, have entirely disappeared in South Canara. In the rural parts of the district, and especially at the foot of the Western Ghauts, it is an exceedingly common sight to see Brahmins engaging themselves in digging, ploughing or levelling their lands, trimming their water-courses or ledges, raising anicuts across streams, and doing a hundred other items of manual work connected with agriculture. Brahmin women busy themselves with cutting green leaves for manure, making and storing manure and carrying it to their lands or trees, and Brahmin boys are employed in tending and grazing their own cattle. This is so much the case with a class of Brahmins called Havīks that there is a proverb that none but a Havīk can raise an areca garden. You find, as a matter of fact, that nearly all the extensive areca plantations in the district are in the hands of either the Havīk Brahmins or the Chitpāvans allied much to the Mahratta Brahmins of Bombay. These plantations are managed by these Brahmins, and new ones are raised with the aid of a handful of Holeyas, or often without even such aid.”
VI. Oriya.—The Oriya Brāhmans of the Ganjam district belong to the Utkala section of the Pancha Gaudas. Between them and the Pancha Drāvidas there is very considerable difference. None of the sections of the Pancha Drāvidas adopt the gōsha system as regards their females, whereas Oriya Brāhman women are kept gōsha (in seclusion). Occasionally they go out to bring water, and, if on their way they come across any males, they go to the side of the road, and turn their backs to the passers-by. It is noted, in the Manual of the Vizagapatam district, that Oriya Brāhmans “eat many kinds of meat, as pea fowl, sāmbur (deer), barking deer, pigeons, wild pig, and fish.” Fish must be one of the dishes prepared on festive occasions. As a rule, Oriya Brāhmans will accept water from a Gaudo (especially a Sullokondia Gaudo), and sometimes from Gudiyas and Odiyas. Water touched by Drāvida Brāhmans is considered by them to be polluted. They call the Drāvidas Komma (a corruption of Karma) Brāhmans. The Oriya Brāhmans are more particular than the Drāvidas as regards the madi cloth, which has already been referred to. A cloth intended for use as a madi cloth is never given to a washerman to be washed, and it is not worn by the Oriya Brāhmans when they answer the calls of nature, but removed, and replaced after bathing. Marriage with a maternal uncle’s daughter, which is common among the Drāvida Brāhmans, would be considered an act of sacrilege by Oriyas. When an Oriya Brāhman is charged with being a meat eater, he retorts that it is not nearly so bad as marrying a mathulakanya (maternal uncle’s daughter). The marriage tāli or bottu is dispensed with by Oriya Brāhmans, who, at marriages, attach great importance to the pānigrahanam (grasping the bride’s hand) and saptapadi (seven steps). The Oriya Brāhmans are both Smarthas and Vaishnavas who are generally Paramarthos or followers of Chaitanya. The god Jagannātha of Puri is reverenced by them, and they usually carry about with them some of the prasādham (food offered to the god) from Puri. They are divided into the following twelve sections:—
• (1) Sānto (sāmānta, a chief). • • (2) Dānua (gift-taking). • • (3) Pādhiya (one who learns the Vēdas). • • (4) Sārua (sāru, tubers of the arum Colocasia antiqitorum). • • (5) Holua (holo, yoke of a plough). • • (6) Bhodri (Bhadriya, an agrahāram on the Ganges). • • (7) Bārua (a small sea-port town). • • (8) Deuliya (one who serves in temples). • • (9) Kotokiya (kotaka, palace. Those who live in palaces as servants to zamindars). • • (10) Sāhu (creditor). • • (11) Jhādua (jungle). • • (12) Sodeibālya (those who follow an ungodly life). • It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that “the Sāntos regard themselves as superior to the others, and will not do purōhit’s work for them, though they will for zamindars. They are also very scrupulous about the behaviour of their womenkind. The Dānuas live much by begging, especially at the funerals of wealthy persons, but both they and the Pādhiyas know the Vēdas, and are priests to the zamindars and the higher classes of Sūdras. The Sāruas cultivate the ‘yam’ (Colocasia), and the Holuas go a step further, and engage in ordinary cultivation—actual participation in which is forbidden to Brāhmans by Manu, as it involves taking the lives of worms and insects. A few of the Sāruas are qualified to act as purōhits, but the Holuas hardly ever are, and they were shown in the 1891 census to be the most illiterate of all the Brāhmans of the Presidency. Few of them even perform the Sandhya and Tarpana, which every Brāhman should scrupulously observe. Yet they are regarded as ceremonially pure, and are often cooks to the zamindars. Regarding the sixth class, the Bhodris, a curious legend is related. Bhodri means a barber, and the ancestor of the sub-division is said to have been the son of a barber who was brought up at Puri with some Sānto boys, and so learned much of the Vēdas and Shāstras. He left Puri and went into Jeypore, wearing the thread and passing himself off as a Brāhman, and eventually married a Brāhman girl, b
The Brāhmans said they would treat his children as Brāhmans if a plant of the sacred tulsi grew on his grave, but, instead of tulsi, a plant of tobacco appeared there, and so his descendants are Bhodris or barber Brāhmans, and even Karnams, Gaudos, and Mahantis decline to accept water at their hands. They cultivate tobacco and ‘yams,’ but nevertheless officiate in temples, and are purōhits to the lower non-polluting castes. Of the remaining six divisions, the Bāruas are the only ones who do purōhit’s work for other castes, and they only officiate for the lower classes of Sūdras. Except the Sodeibālyas, the others all perform the Sandhya and Tarpana. Their occupations, however, differ considerably. The Bāruas are pūjāris in the temples, and physicians. The Deuliyas are pūjāris and menials in zamindars’ houses, growers of ‘yams,’ and even day labourers. The Kotokiyas are household servants to zamindars. The Sāhus trade in silk cloths, grain, etc., and are money-lenders. The Jhāduas are hill cultivators, and traders with pack-bullocks. The last of the divisions, the Sodeibālyas, are menial servants to the zamindars, and work for daily hire.”
VII. Sārasvat and Konkani.—Both these classes belong to the Gauda branch, and speak the Konkani language. The original habitation of the Konkanis is said to have been the bank of the Sarasvati, a river well known in early Sanskrit works, but said to have subsequently lost itself in the sands of the desert, north of Rajputana. As they do not abstain from fish, the other Brāhmans among whom they have settled regard them as low. The full name as given by the Konkanis is Gauda Sārasvata Konkanastha. All the Konkani Brāhmans found in South Canara are Rig Vēdis. Like the Shivalli Brāhmans, they have numerous exogamous septs, which are used as titles after their names. For example, Prabhu is a sept, and Krishna Prabhu the name of an individual. A large majority of the Konkani Brāhmans are Mādhvas, and their god is Venkatarāmana of Tirupati, to whom their temples in South Canara are dedicated. Other Brāhmans do not go to the Konkani temples, though non-Brāhmans do so. A very striking feature of the Konkani temples is that the god Venkatarāmana is not represented by an idol, but by a silver plate with the image of the god embossed on it. There are three important temples, at Manjēshwar, Mulki, and Karkal. To these are attached Konkani Brāhmans called Darsanas, or men who get inspired. The Darsana attached to the Mulki temple comes there daily about 11 A.M. After worship, he is given thīrtham (holy water), which he drinks. Taking in his hands the prasādam (offering made to the god), he comes out, and commences to shiver all over his body for about ten minutes. The shivering then abates, and a cane and long strip of deer skin are placed in his hands, with which he lashes himself on the back, sides, and head. Holy water is given to him, and the shivering ceases. Those who have come to the temple put questions to the Darsana, which are answered in Konkani, and translated. He understands his business thoroughly, and usually recommends the people to make presents of money or jewels to Venkatarāmana, according to their means. In 1907, a rich Guzerati merchant, who was doing business at Mangalore, visited the temple, and consulted the Darsana concerning the condition of his wife, who was pregnant. The Darsana assured him that she would be safely delivered of a male child, and made him promise to present to the temple silver equal in weight to that of his wife, should the prophecy be realised. The prediction proving true, the merchant gave silver, sugar-candy, and date fruits, to the required weight at a cost, it is said, of five thousand rupees. At the Manjēshwar temple, the Darsana is called the dumb Darsana, as he gives signs instead of speaking. At a marriage among the Konkanis, for the Nāgavali ceremony eight snakes are made out of rice or wheat flour by women and the bridal couple. By the side of the pot representing Siva and Parvati, a mirror is placed. Close to the Nāgavali square, it is customary to draw on the ground the figures of eight elephants and eight Bairavas in flour.
The following account of the Konkanis is given in the Cochin Census Report, 1901:—“The Konkanis are a branch of the Sarasvat sub-division of the Pancha Gaudas. Judged from their well-built physique, handsome features and fair complexion, they appear to belong ethnically to the Aryan stock. The community take their name from their Guru Sarasvata. Trihotrapura, the modern Tirhut in Behar, is claimed as the original home of the community. According to their tradition, Parasu Rāma brought ten families, and settled them in villages in and around Gomantaka, the modern Goa, Panchrakosi, and Kusasthali. When Goa was conquered by Vijayanagar, they placed themselves under the protection of the kings of that country. For nearly a quarter of a century after the conquest of Goa by the Portuguese, they continued unmolested under the Portuguese Governors. During this period, they took to a lucrative trade in European goods. With the establishment of the Inquisition at Goa, and the religious persecution set on foot by the Portuguese, the community left Goa in voluntary exile. While some submitted to conversion, others fled to the north and south.
Those that fled to the south settled themselves in Canara and at Calicut. Receiving a cold reception at the hands of the Zamorin, they proceeded further south, and placed themselves under the protection of the Rulers of Cochin and Travancore, where they flourish at the present day. The Christian converts, who followed in the wake of the first batch of exiles, have now settled themselves at the important centres of trade in the State as copper-smiths, and they are driving a very profitable trade in copper-wares.
The Brāhman emigrants are called Konkanis from the fact of their having emigrated from Konkan. In the earliest times, they are supposed to have been Saivites, but at present they are staunch Vaishnavites, being followers of Mādhavāchārya. They are never regarded as on a par with the other Brāhmans of Southern India. There is no intermarriage or interdining between them and other Brāhmans. In Cochin they are mostly traders. Their occupation seems to have been at the bottom of their being regarded as degraded. They have their own temples, called Tirumala Dēvaswāms. They are not allowed access to the inner structure surrounding the chief shrine of the Malayāli Hindu temples; nor do they in turn allow the Hindus of this coast to enter corresponding portions of their religious edifices. The Nambūdris are, however, allowed access even to the interior of the sacred shrine. All caste disputes are referred to their high priest, the Swāmiyar of Kāsi Mutt, who resides at Mancheswaram or Basroor. He is held in great veneration by the community, and his decisions in matters religious and social are final. Some of their temples possess extensive landed estates. Their temple at Cochin is one of the richest in the whole State. The affairs of the temple are managed by Konkani Yogakkars, or an elected committee. Nāyars and castes above them do not touch them. Though their women use coloured cloths for their dress like the women of the East Coast, their mode of dress and ornaments at once distinguish them from other Brāhman women. Amongst them there are rich merchants and landholders. Prabhu, Pai, Shenai, Kini, Mallan, and Vadhyar, are some of the more common titles borne by them.”
In conclusion, brief mention may be made of several other immigrant classes. Of these, the Dēsasthas are Marāthi-speaking Brāhmans, who have adopted some of the customs of the Smartha and Mādhva Carnatakas, with whom intermarriage is permitted. A special feature of the marriage ceremonies of the Dēsasthas is the worship of Ambābhavāni or Tuljabhavāni, with the assistance of Gondala musicians, who sing songs in praise of the deity. The Chitpāvan Brāhmans speak Marāthi and Konkani. In South Canara they are, like the Havīks, owners of areca palm plantations. Karādi Brāhmans, who are also found in South Canara, are said to have come southward from Karhād in the Bombay Presidency. There is a tradition that Parasu Rāma created them from camel bones.
Brāhmani.—A class of Ambalavāsis. (See Unni.)