Friday, June 5, 2009

Ancestorage and the Niyogi Brahmins

In the ancient world and even in the modern society people usually form cohesive groups based on their language, culture and geographical location. These groups have a common ancestry and are led by chiefs of the families around which they gathered. Such communities are called tribes. There are innumerable tribes in this world. The Indian continent is not different from the rest of the world as far as tribes and the rivalries between them are concerned.

It seems there are two kinds of tribes in the Indian continent, the tribes and castes. The tribes are still in the forests and hills and not really part of the modern society. Castes have been living in the villages and cities since ancient times and are civilized. In the Indian Continent, a caste means a modern civilized tribe or clan or group of people that have marital relationship among them. Some castes are further divided into sub-castes. Matrimonial relationship among sub-castes is not acceptable due to differences in religious and cultural practices. It is important to note that the caste or tribe is blood-related and genetic, and hence hereditary. So, one has to be born into a caste or tribe to belong to that tribe or caste. Again, this is not unique to India. These ancient tribal traditions are slowly disappearing in this modern age. One among such communities in the Indian continent is the Brahmin caste. For consistency in this article, Brahmins are referred to as a caste.

Brahmin Population

The census of 1881 enumerated 1,929 castes. Brahmins, Kunbis and Chamars accounted for approximately 10 million each. Of these 1,929 castes, 1432 (74 per cent) were geographically localized groups and each caste or tribe is unique to a particular place. Only few castes like Brahmins had an all-India presence.

Brahmins are one of many minority groups in India. In 1931, Brahmins were 4.32% of the total population. The so-called Muslim minority in India is approximately 20 to 25 percent of the total population, even after Muslim Pakistan and Muslim Bangladesh separated from India. However, registered Muslim percentage is only ~15%, less than the real percentage of the total population, due to misrepresentation. Brahmins even in Uttar Pradesh, where they are most numerous, constitute just 9 percent. In Tamil Nadu they form less than 3 percent and in Andhra Pradesh they are less than 2 percent.

During the Islamic conquests in India, it was a typical policy to single out the Brahmins for slaughter, after the Hindu warriors had been bled to death on the battlefield. Even the Portuguese in Malabar and Goa followed this policy in the 16th century, as can be deduced from Hindu-Portuguese treaty clauses prohibiting the Portuguese from killing Brahmins.

Geographical Location

Brahmins are Vedik people. The Vedas describe the landscape of northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over and over the Vedas mention a mighty river called the Sarasvati where Brahmin communities flourished, where the Indus Valley civilization flourished and dispersed when the Saraswati River dried up around 1900 BCE. Long before, during the Ramayana period Brahmins migrated to Dandakaranya (Dandaka Forest) in the south with Viswamitra, the author of several hymns in Rigveda including Gayatri mantra, and practiced Vedik religon performing yajnas under the protection of Lord Rama and Lakshmana. Long before Rama went south, Agastya, a prominent Brahmin sage and writer of several hymns of Rigveda, crossed Vindhyas and established Vedik religion in south India. Sage Agastya appeared to Rama when he was despondent at the impending war with Ravana and instructed him in the use of Aditya Hridayam, a hymn praising the Sun God. Brahmins have been migrating to various regions within the Indian Continent since time immemorial and recently to other continents as well.

Meaning of “Brahmin”

The word Brahmin means many things to many people resulting in confusion. One of the reasons for this confusion is Sanskrit language. Many words in Sanskrit have many meanings. Depending upon the context one has to take the meaning of the word. The word Brahmana (herein after "Brahmin") means the God, one who knows God, one who has the knowledge of God, one who has the knowledge of Vedas, an intellectual, a priest, a teacher, a professor, a person belonging to Brahmin caste, a superior person, a text related to Vedas, and so on. Accordingly, priests in a mosque, church, a synagogue, a gurudwara etc. are all Brahmins because they are all, obviously, priests. They are also Brahmins because they are supposed to have the knowledge of God. They are also Brahmins because they are intellectuals. However, none of them are God and at least a couple of them would consider it blesphemous to say so. They may not have the knowledge of the Vedas and they may not belong to the Brahmin caste. And certainly, they are not the texts related to Vedas. To add to this confusion there are Boston Brahmins who are Americans and have nothing to do with the Vedas or vegetarianism. They are not even remotely related to the Indian Continent.

There are hundreds of religions, practices, traditions, castes, tribes etc. dubbed as Hinduism. One among those religions is the Brahminism8 practiced by the Brahmin caste. Brahmins have distinct traditions, culture and religion and follow certain principles and practices. This religion may also be called Sanatana (ancient) Dharma or Vedic religion. However, there is a lot of confusion as to the definition of Hinduism, which encompasses everything indigenous to the Indian Continent, e.g., some groups of Indians like Busddhists, Jains, Sikhs, dalit Christians, Muslims, and people like Iliah Kanche, a Kuruma Christian, confuse Brahminism with Hinduism (Indigenous Religions of Indian Continent). Iliah Kanche declares that he is not a Hindu, because he does not follow any of the principles of Brahmins such as vegetarianism etc. However, Brahminism is only one of the many religions of India that are collectively called Hinduism. Yet, almost all other Indian (Hindu) religions also respect the Vedas because they are essentially the human heritage and the most ancient texts. The Rig Veda was declared by UNESCO as part of the world heritage.

Most of the practicing Brahmins adhere to the principles such as acceptance of the Vedas with reverence; recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation and realization of the truth are diverse; God is one, but has innumerable names and forms to chant and worship due to our varied perceptions, cultures and languages; that a Brahmin works for the welfare of the entire society and so on. Daily practices of Brahmins include sandhyavandana (prayers to Gayatri and Sun God), prayer to ishtadaiva or ilavelpu (personal God), yoga, non-violence, vegetarianism etc. Everything in the daily life of a Brahmin is a ritual. However, special rituals include marriage, ritual conception and consummation of the wedding, rituals of childbirth, naming ceremony, first feeding ceremony, the child’s first tonsure, upanayana (the sacred-thread ceremony - initiation into Vedic learning and ritual), ritual baths, cremation rituals, shraaddha, etc. All of these rituals are very important for a practicing Brahmin.

The Vedas are the primary source of knowledge for all Brahmin traditions, both orthodox & heterodox. All religions of Brahmins and all traditions, in one way or other, take inspiration from the Vedas. Traditional Brahmin accepts Vedas as apaurusheyam (not man-made), but revealed truths and of eternal validity or relevance and hence the Vedas are considered Srutis that which have been heard and are the paramount source of Brahmin traditions and is believed to be divine. These Srutis include not only the four Vedas (the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda), but also their respective Brahmanas. Brahmins also give tremendous importance to purity of body and mind and hence attach importance to ritual baths and cleanliness.

Brahmin Sages and Branches (Gotras and Subcastes):

In general, gotra denotes all persons who trace descent in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Panini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as 'apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram' (IV. 1. 162), which means 'the word gotra denotes the progeny (of a sage) beginning with the son's son. When a person says 'I am Kashypasa-gotra' he means that he traces his descent from the ancient sage Kashyapa by unbroken male descent. According to the Baudhâyanas 'rauta-sûtra Vishvâmitra, Jamadagni, Bharadvâja, Gautama, Atri, Vasishtha, Kashyapa and Agastya are 8 sages; the progeny of these eight sages is declared to be gotras. This enumeration of eight primary gotras seems to have been known to PâNini. The offspring (apatya) of these eight are gotras and others than these are called 'gotrâvayava'.

The gotras are arranged in groups, e.g. there are according to the Âsvalâyana-srautasûtra four subdivisions of the Vasishtha gana, viz. Upamanyu, Parâshara, Kundina and Vasishtha (other than the first three).

Each of these four again has numerous sub-sections, each being called gotra. So the arrangement is first into ganas, then into pakshas, then into individual gotras.

The first has survived in the Bhrigu and Ângirasa gana.

The principal eight gotras were divided into pakshas.

The pravara of Upamanyu is Vasishtha, Bharadvasu and Indrapramada.

The pravara of the Parâshara gotra is Vasishtha, Shâktya and Pârâsharya.

The pravara of the Kundina gotra is Vasishtha, Maitrâvaruna, Kaundinya and the pravara of Vasishthas other than these three is simply Vasishtha.

It is therefore that some define pravara as the group of sages that distinguishes the founder (lit. the starter) of one gotra from another.

There are two kinds of pravaras:
1) Sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara
2) Putrparampara

Gotrapravaras can be ekarsheya, dwarsheya, triarsheya, pancharsheya, saptarsheya, and up to 19 rishis.

Kashyapasa gotra has at least two distinct pravaras in Andhra Pradesh: one with three sages (triarsheya pravara) and the other with seven sages (saptarsheya pravara).

This pravara may be either sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara or putraparampara.

When it is sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara marriage is not acceptable if half or more than half of the rishis are same in both bride and bridegroom gotras. If it is putraparampara, marriage is totally unacceptable even if one rishi matches.

Due to the diversity in religious and cultural traditions and practices, and the Vedic schools which they belong to, Brahmins are further divided into various sub-castes.

The Beginning of Divisions among Brahmins:

Sutra Period: During the sutra period roughly between 1000 BC to 200 BC, Brahmins became divided into various Sakhas or branches, based on the adoption of different Vedas and different readings and interpretations of Vedas. Sects or schools for different denominations of the same Veda were formed, under the leadership of distinguished teachers among Brahmins.

The teachings of these distinguished rishis are called sutras. Every Veda has its own sutras. The sutras that deal with social, moral and legal precepts are called dharma sutras, whereas those sutras that deal with ceremonials are called Srauta sutras and domestic rituals are called gruhya sutras. Sutras are generally written in prose or in mixed prose and verse.

These sutras are based on divine Vedas and are manmade and hence are called Smritis, meaning “recollected or remembered.”

There are several Brahmin law givers such as Angirasa, Apasthambha, Atri, Brihaspati, Boudhayana, Daksha, Gautama, Harita, Katyayana, Likhita, Manu, Parasara, Samvarta, Sankha, Satatapa, Usanasa, Vasishta, Vishnu, Vyasa, Yajnavalkya and Yama. These twenty-one rishis were the propounders of Dharma Sastras.

There is a lot of contradiction among these Darmasastas, even within one Smriti.

These differences in the rules and rituals resulted in the rigid stratification of subcastes among Brahmins. None of these smritis is supreme and universally applicable throughout the Indian Continent. The oldest among these Dharma Sutras are Apasthambha, Baudhayana, Gautama and Vasishta Sutras.

Apasthambha: Apasthambha, a native of Andhra, belonged to Krishnayajurveda School. He belonged to fifth century BC. Apasthambha’s teachings are called Apasthambhasutra or Apasthambhasmriti.

Baudhayana: Baudhayana also belonged to Krishnayajurveda School and was an inhabitant of Andhra. Baudhayana’s teachings are called Baudhayanasutra or Baudhayanasmriti.

Brihaspati: Brihaspati was probably the first jurist to make a clear distinction between civil and criminal justice. Yajnavalkya referred to Brihaspati. However, Brihaspati is considered to belong to 200-400 AD. Brihaspatismriti has a lot of similarities with Dhammathats of Myanmar (Burma).

Gautama: Gautama was the most ancient sage of all Brahmin lawgivers. He was quoted by Baudhayana and belonged to Samaveda School. Gautama’s teachings are called Gautamasutra or Gautamasmriti.

Harita: Baudhayana and Vasishta in their Dharmasutras quote Harita. Haritasmriti or Haritasutra is an extensive work.

Katyayana: Yajnavalkya mentions Katyayana. Katyayanasmriti is quoted in several works of Viswarupa, Mitramisra etc. Smriti Chandrika cites 600 verses of Katyayanasutras. He may belong to the same period as Narada and Brihaspati.

Manu: Manu is a mythical personality and is the ancestor of the entire humankind. Manu received the code from Brahma, and communicated it to ten sages and requested Bhrigu rishi to repeat it to the other nine. This code of conduct recited by Bhrigu is called Manusmriti. For convenience, the British took Manusmriti as the paramount law of the Indian Continent. Manudharma is not only revered by Brahmins and Hindus, but also by Buddhists in Java, Siam and Myanamar. Manusmriti was composed around 200 BC, around which time a revival of Brahminism took place under the rule Sungas in the North India.

Narada: Sage Narada was probably a native of Nepal around first century AD. Naradasmriti is the first legal code unhampered by the mass of religious and moral teachings. Some authors think that Narada belonged to Gupta period when there was a distinct revival of Brahminism and Sanskrit literature.

Vasishta: Vasishta belonged to 3rd century BC and a native of North India. Vasishta’s teachings are called Vasishtasutra or Vasishtasmriti.

Vishnu: Vishnu belonged to 1st or 2nd century AD. Vishnu’s teachings are called Vishnusutra or Vishnusmriti.

Yajnavalkya: Yajnavalkya belonged to Suklayajurveda School. He was a native of Mithila City in North Bihar and probably lived anywhere from few centuries before Christ to 200 AD. However, some scholars think he belonged to first or second century AD. Yajnavalkya Dharmasmriti has been subject of numerous commentaries. The most celebrated of all the commentaries of Yajnavlkyasmriti is Mitakshara and is practically the beginning of the Brahmin law and the so-called Hindu law. Passages from Mitakshara have been found practically in every part of the Indian Continent and became an authority. The Yajnavlkyasmriti is concise, more systematic and better arranged than the Manusmriti. From early times, commentators like Viswarupa, Vijnaneswara, Apararka, Sulapani, Mitramisra etc., from every part of India selected the Yajnavalkyasmriti as the basis of their commentaries. Passages from Yajnavalkyasmiriti appeared in Panchatantra.
Other important Brahmins who gave smritis/sutras/laws are: Angirasa, Atri, Daksha, Devala, Laugakshi, Prajapati, Pitamaha, Pulatsya, Yama, Vyasa, Samvarta and Satatapa. Prominent smriti writers of later age include, Devanabhatta or Devanandabhatta of Madras province, who belonged to ~1200 AD and wrote Smritichandrika, and Madhavacharya or Vidyaranya, who was the Prime Minister of Vijayanagara dynasty and pontiff for some time of the celebrated mutth at Sringeri in Mysore province. He wrote Parasaramadhaviya, which is a commentary on Parasarasmriti.

Major Brahmin Castes:

Major Brahmin castes in the Indian Continent include Niyogi Brahmins, Chitpavana Brahmins, Daivajna Brahmins, Deshastha Brahmins, Dhima Brahmins, Gouda Saraswat Brahmins, Havyaka Brahmins, Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins, Iyers, Kandavara Brahmins, Karade Brahmins, Karhada Brahmins, Kayastha Brahmins, Khandelwal Brahmins, Kota Brahmins, Konkanastha Brahmins, Koteshwara Brahmins, Nagar Brahmins, Namboothiri Brahmins, Padia Brahmins, Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins, Saklapuri Brahmins, Sanketi Brahmins, Saraswat Brahmins, Shivalli Brahmins, Smarta Brahmins, Sthanika Brahmins, Thenkalai Iyengars, Tuluva Brahmins, Vadagalai Iyengars, Vaidiki Brahmins and Vaishnava Brahmins.

In addition to the above major castes of Brahmins, there are several Brahmin subcastes. The Brahmin subcastes are grouped under various gotras that are patrilineal groups.

According to some Shashtras and popular belief as mentioned in "Hindu Castes and Sects" (by Jogendranath Battacharya), the Brahmins in the Indian Continent are divided into two major groups: Panch Gaur and Panch Dravida.

Panch Gaur (the five classes of Northern India) group constitutes: 1) Saraswata, 2) Kanyakubja, 3) Gaudra, 4) Utkala, and 5) Maithila. In addition, for the purpose of giving an account of Northern Brahmins each of the provinces must be considered separately, such as, North Western Provinces, Gandhar, Punjab, Kashmir, Sindh, Rajputana, Kurukshetra, Oudh, Cetral India, Trihoot, South Bihar, Orissa, Bengal, Assam etc.

Panch Dravida (the five classes of Southern India) group constitutes: 1) Andhra, 2) Dravida (Tamil and Kerala), 3) Karnataka, 4) Maharashtra, 5) Gujarat.

Various Brahmin Communities (Note: The following list does not represent all the Brahmin castes of the Indian Continent)

1. Andhra Brahmins
Niyogi Brahmins
Vaidiki Brahmins
2. Chitpavana Brahmins
3. Daivajna Brahmins
4. Deshastha Brahmins
5. Dhima Brahmins
6. Gaur Brahmins
7. Gouda SaraswatBrahmins
8. Havyaka Brahmins
9. Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins
10. Iyers
11. Kandavara Brahmins
12. Karade Brahmins
13. Karhada Brahmins
14. Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmins
15. Kayastha Brahmins
16. Khandelwal Brahmins
17. Konkanastha Brahmins
18. Kota Brahmins
19. Koteshwara Brahmins
20. Nagar Brahmins
21. Namboothiri Brahmins
22. Padia Brahmins
23. Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins
24. Saklapuri Brahmins
25. Sanketi Brahmins
26. Saraswat Brahmins
a) The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins
b) Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmins or Kashmiri Pandits
c) Rajapur / Balawalikar Saraswat Brahmins
d) Haryana Saraswat Brahmins
27. Shivalli Brahmins
28. Smarta Brahmins
29. Sthanika Brahmins
30. Tuluva Brahmins
31. Vaishnava Brahmins

Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh

Brahmins have been migrating from time immemorial. The Brahmin families that migrated made an impact peacefully by example rather than converting people by any means.

The Brahmin migration to the South features in the legends of sage Agastya. The Vindhya mountain range in central India continued to grow higher showing its might and obstructed cloud movement causing draught. Sage Agastya decided to solve the problem and traveled south. The Vindhya mountain bowed to Agastya and the sage requested Vindhya to stay prostrated until he returns. Vindhya complied with this request and sage Agastya never returned to north.

The earliest Brahmins to arrive in Andhra were most probably sage Viswamitra's students and progeny around 1200 BC. South Indian kings showed respect and patronage for Brahmins and Brahminism since ancient times, e.g., Satavahana dynasty that ruled for five centuries and extended over Andhra and central India, founded by Srimukha (221-198 BC), supported Brahminism and Vedic tradition. One of the most important features of Satavahana dynasty was granting land to Brahmins. Sangam era of Chera, Chola and Pandya kings in Deep South also used to grant lands to Brahmins. Similarly there have been Brahmin migrations back and forth that continue even today. Due to these waves of Brahmin migrations, perhaps, we see today various sub-castes and traditions among Brahmins.
Most of the Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh belong to smaarta Brahmin group, i.e., the followers of smritis and followers of Adi Sankaracharya. The smaarta Brahmins follow Apastambasmriti or Apastambasutra (not Manusmriti). Apasthamba (~600 BC) was one of the earliest lawmakers of south India who lived on the banks of River Godavari. Boudhayana, Parasara, Yajnvalkya sutras and other laws were also important in the past, e.g., in the courts of Srikrishnadevaraya.

Pradhamasakha Niyogi Brahmins (see below) follow Yajnavalkya sutras and Kanva sutras. The smaarta Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh can be grouped into two major divisions formed about a thousand to about 700 years ago (most probably during Kakatiya rule), Niyogi and Vaidiki. However, in addition to smaarta Brahmins, there are other Brahmin groups such as Sri Vaishnavas, Madhavas and Aradhyas. I have grouped them in Vaidiki Brahmin group below for convenience only. Today, many Brahmins don't know and don't care about these distinctions.

i) Niyogi Brahmins: Niyogi Brahmins are those Brahmins who took up various secular vocations including military activities and gave up religious vocation, especially the priesthood. Niyogi Brahmins depend and emphasize on modern education. They were ministers in the courts of kings and feudatories. Many of them were village accountants / clerks, karanams (Andhra) or patwaris (Telangana). The Niyogis are considered to be eligible for priestly service. But they will never either accept a religious gift or partake of Sraaddha food (food given to Brahmins duiring the death related rituals). Niyogin in Sanskrit also means "employed" or "appointed" and accordingly, it is probable that they are so-called because they accept secular employment.

They were very rich and influential. Legendary Rayamantri belongs to this group. Niyogi Brahmins include eminent personalities like Veeresalingam Kandukuri, Radhakrishnan Sarvepalli, Venkatgiri Varahagiri, KL Rao, Prakasam Tanguturi, Venkatanarasimha Rao Pamulaparti (PV), and General K. V. Krishnarao etc. PV was the only Brahmin Chief Minister (1971-72) of Andhra Pradesh and also the only Telugu Brahmin Prime Minister (1991-1996) from South India who ruled the modern Indian Union. Over the past millennium the Niyogi Brahmins are divided further into various groups:

a. Pradhamasakha (First Branch) Niyogi Brahmins
b. Aruvela Niyogi
c. Nandavarika Niyogi
d. Karanakamma Niyogi
e. Velanati Niyogi
f. Telaganya Niyogi
g. Dravida Niyogi
h. Karanalu
i. Sristikaranalu or Sistukaranalu or Sistakaranalu.
j. Kasalanati Niyogi
k. Pakanati Niyogi.

a. Pradhamasakha Niyogi Brahmins: This caste belongs to Sukla (white) Yajurveda School, while majority of Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh belong to Krishna (black) Yajurveda School. In Maharashtra also there is a group of Brahmins called Pradhamasakha Brahmins. The Pradhamasakha Niyogi Brahmins are further divided into branches such as Vajasaneyulu, Saivulu, Yajnavalkyulu and Kanvulu.

b. Aruvela Niyogi: Aruvela Niyogi group is the largest Niyogi group. They belong to Krishna Yajurveda School. According to some, the word "Aruvela" is derived from 6000 (Aruvelu) villages in velanadu area of Andhra Pradesh. Some believe that Arvelanadu is an alternate name for Velandu and hence the Niyogi Brahmins of that region are Arvela Niyogis. Aruvela Nioyogi Brahmins are political, worldly-wise, and business minded. They were ministers in the courts of kings and feudatories, and clerks and accountants (Karanalu).

c. Nandavarika Niyogi
d. Karanakamma Niyogi
e. Velanati Niyogi
f. Telaganya Niyogi
g. Dravida Niyogi
h. Karanalu
i. Sristikaranalu or Sistukaranalu or Sistakaranalu: These are teachers, officials, village accountants (karanam). They are mostly located in Ganjam and Visakha districts. Famous poet Krishnamurthy Sistu belongs to this group of Brahmins.
j. Kasalanati Niyogi
k. Pakanati Niyogi

ii) Vaidikulu (Vaidiki Brahmins): Vaidiki Brahmins are those Brahmins who practice mainly religious vocation performing various religious activities, in addition to other mainstream secular vocations like agriculture, cooking, teaching, clerical, management, administration, architecture, science etc. They perform various religious activities including performing rituals and prayers to please Gods, planets and stars as priests for both Brahmins and non-Brahmins, at homes and in temples. However, they are not the priests for many Hindu temples in which animal sacrifices are common. The priests in such Hindu temples are non-Brahmins. Vaidikis also perform rituals for every occasion in life such as birth, giving solid food to the infant for the first time (annapraasanamu), initiation into education (upanyanamu), female puberty, marriage, consummation of marriage, several stages of pregnancy, death, carrying the dead bodies, cremating the dead, etc. Many of these rituals are very important and limited to Brahmins, except a few ceremonies like marriage. They also take up even begging as ascetics. This ascetic life of Brahmins was the inspiration for the Buddhist ascetics.

The Brahmins who perform priestly duties and other religious activities should follow certain rules:

The Brahmin has to wake up at four in the morning and bathe in cold water, rain or shine, warm or cold. Then, without a break, he has to perform one rite after another: sandhyavandana, Brahmayajna, aupasana, puja, vaisvadeva and one of the 21 sacrifices. If you sit before sacrificial fire for four days you will realise how difficult it is with all the heat and smoke. How many are the vows and the fasts the Brahmin has to keep and how many are the ritual baths.

Other castes do not have to go through such hardships. A Brahmin cannot eat "cold rice" in the morning like a peasant - he has no "right" to it. The dharmasastras are not created for his convenience or benefit, nor to ensure that he has a comfortable life. He would not have otherwise imposed on himself the performance of so many rites and a life of such rigorous discipline. When he has his daytime meal it will be 1 or 2. (On the day of a sraddha it will be three or four). This is the time the peasant will have his rest after his meal under a tree out in the field where he works. And the Brahmin's meal, mind you, is as simple as the peasant's. There is no difference between the humble dwelling of the peasant and that of the Brahmin. Both alike wear cotton. The peasant may save money for the future but not the Brahmin. He has no right either to borrow money or to live in style.

In the "Yaksa-prasna" of the Mahabharata the simple life of Brahmin is referred to:

Pancame' hani saste va sakam pacati svegrhe
Anrni ca' pravasi ca sa varicara modate

If daytime is divided into eight parts, the Brahmin may have his food only in the fifth or sixth part after performing all his rites. Before that he has neither any breakfast nor any snacks. And what does he eat? Not any rich food, no sweets like almonds crushed in sweetened milk. "Sakam pacati" - the Brahmin eats leafy vegetables growing on the banks of rivers, such areas being no one's property. Why is he asked to live by the river side? It is for his frequent baths and for the leafy vegetables growing free there and for which he does not have to beg. He should not borrow money: that is the meaning of the word "anrni", because if he developed the habit of borrowing he would be tempted to lead a life of luxury. Poverty and non-acquisitiveness (aparigraha) are his ideals. A Brahmin ought not to keep even a blade of grass in excess of his needs. ...

The Brahmin must be conversant with the fourteen branches of the Vedic lore. He must be proficient even in Gandharva-veda or music and must be acquainted with agricultural science, construction of houses, etc. At the same time he must give instructions in these subjects to pupils from the appropriate castes. His own vocation is the study of the Vedas and he must have no other source of income.

If the Brahmin is asked, "Do you know to wield a knife?” he must be able to answer, "Yes, I know". If he is asked, "Do you know to draw and paint" again he must (be able to) say, "Yes". But he cannot wield a knife or become an artist to earn his livelihood. All he can do is to learn these arts and teach others the same according to their caste. He is permitted to receive a daksina to maintain him and he must be contented with it however small the sum may be. The Brahmin's specialty is his true vocation is Vedic learning.

The goal of Vedic works is the happiness of all mankind, indeed the happiness of all the worlds ("Lokah samastah sukino bhavanthu"). The sound of the Vedas creates universal well-being, so too Vedic sacrifices.

The ancient tradition of rulers protecting Brahmins is an obsolete tradition. Accordingly, it is upon the individual citizens to step up to help and protect Brahmins, temples and their traditions. As the times have changed, even Vaidika Brahmins should earn money to protect the Dharma, despite the traditional ban on earning money. That was one of the main reasons for the existence of Niyogi Brahmins. Thus, it is incumbent on all Brahmins, who believe in their culture, to rise to the challenge of protecting the Vedik culture. Otherwise, the extinction of Hindu culture and Brahmin tradition is not far away.

There are many subcastes in Vaidiki Brahmins as well:

l. Vaishnava
m. Draavidulu
n. Madhvulu
o. Velanati Vaidikulu
p. Telaganyulu or Telaganadu Vaidikis
q. Venginati Vaidikulu
r. Kasalnati Vaidikulu
s. Muraknati Vaidikulu
t. Adisaivulu
u. Saivulu

l) Vaishnava: Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa Brahmanulu: Among the Vaishnavities, the strict vegetarians and highly educated people also are given the approximate status of Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh. They adhere to either the medieval Tenkalai or Vadakalai and Agaama scriptures. One section follows Vaikhanasa scriptures and other the Pancharaatra, dealing mainly with temple ritual. They run large temple establishments very efficiently. They rose to prominence during Vijayanagar times. They are followers of panchasanskara, ekayanayajussakha and katyayanasutra. These Vaishnavite Brahmins are spread mainly in Karnataka and Andhra and to some extent in Tamilnadu also. Vaikhanasa subcaste belongs to this group. The great Vaishnavite reformers like Ramanujacharya, Ramananda (north India), Madhva (all over south India), Vallabhacharya (found among Velanadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan and UP), Nimbaarka, etc. Not all the followers of these Vaishnavite reformers are Brahmins. Some of these Vaishnavites include Acharis, Iyengars and Velanadu Vaideekulu. These Vaishnavas are also known as Andhra Vaishnava.

They rely on the doctrines laid down in the medieval scriptures (agamas). Many of the famous temple establishments like Tirupati and Ahobilam are run per vaishnavite agamic canons. The big hearted Raamanuja fought against caste distinctions and gathered under his doctrine, people from all walks of life and caste and religion and occupation and said henceforth they shall be known as one community. Thus he created the Iyengar community, and told them to always work for reform of society. Some of the earlier Vaishnava and bhagaavata adherents also merged into the iyengars. Later there was a large immigration of Ramaanandi vaishnavas from north India and another large migration from Gujarat. While they too merged, slight differences arose.

m) Draavidulu: Draavids, who seem to be north Indian Brahmins who arrived in coastal Andhra? Dravidas are further divided into subcastes like Aaraamadravidulu, Perurudravidulu, Ryalidravidulu, Divili Brahmins, Pudurudravidulu, Tummagunta Brahmins etc based on the locations they settled. Some of these Dravida Brahmins belong to Rigveda School and some belong to Krishnayajurveda School. The Telangana Vaidiki Brahmin caste to which Goutamiputra Satakarni beloged to is a Dravida Brahmin caste. This group belongs to Rigveda School.

n) Madhvulu: Madhvas are the followers of Sri Madhvacharya, the 13th century saint-philosopher of Karnataka, India. They were prominent in the last days of Vijayanagar (1500's). Raghavendraswami was a famous guru of this caste. They are found all over Karnataka, south Maharashtra, Tamilnadu and Andhra and have very strong roots in Maharashtra and the north.

o) Velanati Vaidikulu: The Velnadus are most numerous class of Vaidiki Brahmins. Vallabhachari, who in the 15th century attained great success as prophet, and whose descendants are worshipped almost as gods still Rajputana, Gujarat and Maharashtra was a member of this caste. The Velnadus are most numerous in the Godavari and Krishna districts. Colonies of this caste are found in the erstwhile Mysore State (Karnataka), except Kadur.

p) Telaganyulu or Telaganadu Vaidikis: The Telaganya Vaidikis are as numerous as the Velnadus and found mostly in Telangana, chiefly in the Northeaster part of erstwhile Hyderabad Kingdom.

q) Venginati Vaidikulu: The Venginadus are chiefly found in the districts of Godavari and Vizianagaram, formerly known as the Vengi Country.

r) Kaasalnati Vaidikulu: The Kasalanadu derive their name from Kosala, the ancient name of Oude, from where they migrated to Kalinga Country, where they are found now.

s) Muraknati Vaidikulu: Murakanati Vaidikis are found mostly in the country sounth of the River Krishna. They are numerous in Karnataka.

t) Gouda Brahmins are teachers and priests. They belong to Sukla Yajurveda and Kanva madhyandina sakha and have the family names such as Joshi, Ojjhulu etc.

u) Adisaivulu: They belong to Krishna Yajurveda School. These Saiva Brahmins are further devided into several castes such as Kanchisaivulu, Antarvedisaivulu, Balajipetasaivulu, Tiruvalngadusivulu, Sakteya Brahmins etc.

v) Saivulu: The Saivite Brahmins follow the Saiva aagamas. However, they study Vedas also and belong to Krishna Yajurveda School. One of the sects of these saivite Brahmins is called Aradhyas, related to Panditaradhyas of Sivakaviyugamu (Era of Saiva poets) of 12th century. They generally run Saiva and Shakti shrines, often very large, and famous ones like Kalesvaram, Vemulavada, Srisailam, Kalahasti, etc. They have a link to Kashmir Saivism, Varanasi and Jyotirlinga shrines all over India like Kedarnath. The rituals they follow are different from the smaartas. Aradhyas are in fact semiconverted Lingayats. They following Basava and attach great importance to Linga worship. However, they adhere to Brahminism, recite Gayatri prayers and marry Smaarta Brahmins. Although Lingayat Saiva religion attempted to dismatle the tribal differences, the Lingayats adhere to their original castes naturally. Thus Aradhyas remain designated to be Brahmins, just like other castes in Lingayat religion (followers of Basava) today, e.g., various Jangamas.

2) Chitpavana Brahmins: Konkanastha Brahmins
Chitpavan Brahmins are basically from Konkan, the coastal belt of western Maharashtra. Since they are from Konkan they are known as Konkanastha. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj appointed Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt as his Peshwa or Prime Minister. It was the first time a person from Konkan appointed to an important post in Deccan. Eventually, many people from Konkan migrated to join the service of Marattha kingdom. Chitpavan Brahmin folks are easily recognised by the certain characteristics suc as fair skin, light coloured eyes (blue, green or grey), and sharp nose, distinct jawline, and some have light or blonde hair.

3) Daivajna Brahmins

4) Deshastha Brahmins

5) Dhima Brahmins

The Brahmins of Haryana are divided into four main groups: Gaurs, Saraswats, Khandelwals and Dhima. The Khandelwals and Dhima came into this region after Saraswats and Gaurs, most probably from neighboring Rajasthan. The Brahmins themselves had a ranking system between them with the Gaurs being on the top followed by the Saraswats, the Khandelwals and the Dhima. The Gaurs used to consider themselves to be superior to the other Brahmins and neither ate, drank nor intermarried with them.

6) Gaur Brahmins
The Gaurs of Haryana claim that they come to Haryana originally from Bengal. It is believed they came as Purohitas along with various immigrant farming tribes. The Brahmins themselves had a ranking system between them with the Gaurs being on the top followed by the Saraswats, the Khandelwals and the Dhima. The Gaurs used to consider themselves to be superior to the other Brahmins and neither ate, drank nor intermarried with them.

7) Gouda Saraswat Brahmins

8) The Havyakas
It is believed that the Kadamba kingdom had many Kshatriyas and Havyakas were brought in to perform the royal rituals and the related functions of the empirical government. Thus the first few families were settled in Banavasi, the beautiful capital of the Kadambas and the place so adored by Pampa. Since the very purpose of bringing these Brahmin families was to perform Havana (Havya) and Homa (Gavya), they were aptly named as Havyaga or Haveega, which has transcended to the present day "Havika" or "Havyaka." This functionality of naming even extended to the specific role played by families in the whole gamut of rituals. Thus originated the seven family names given by Raja Mayooravarma. The Havyakas are the only Brahmins who derive their surnames from the job they perform rather than by their origin (e.g., Kota, Shivalli) or by the preacher (e.g., Madhva) or by God worship (e.g., Shivite, Vaishnavite). Thus came the names "Hegade (Hegde)" for the head of the village who sponsors the ritualistic activities, "Dixit" for one who is the head of the Yajna, "Bhat", who actually performs the rituals and so on.

9) Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins

10) Iyer: The earliest group of Brahmins to come to Tamil Nadu is largely known as Gurukuls. They have been here from very ancient times and were primarily invited to be temple priests in the early Chola period. Many of them were great Vedic scholars. They conducted the coronation of the kings and acted as their spiritual advisors and Gurus. They also acted as the Gurus to the villages and the towns where the temples were located. They advised people on various matters including fixing of auspicious time for commencing important ventures. Many of them were the great exponents of Vedic Astrology and Ayurvedic Medicine. They are supposed to be followers of Baudhyana sutra and are divided as 'Kanchipuram', 'Tiruvalangadu' and 'Thirukazhakundram' Gurukuls. It is interesting that all the three are the names of ancient towns and temples around Kanchipuram. This clearly indicates that the earliest migration was to Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram is one of the two most ancient cities of India, the other being Varanasi (Kashi). The linkage between the Varanasi (Kashi) and Kanchi has existed from earliest times and has been facilitating the migration of priests between the North and the South. It is possible that Kanchipuram, Tiruvangadu and Tirukalikundram were the first destinations for the Gurukuls who arrived. They stayed and worked there till they were redeployed to other interior temples and towns.

11) Kandavara Brahmins

12) Karade Brahmins

13) Karhada Brahmins

14) Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmins

15) Kayastha Brahmins

16) Khandelwal Brahmins

17) Konkanastha Brahmins

18) Kota Brahmins

19) Koteshwara Brahmins

20) Nagar Brahmins

21) Namboothiri Brahmins

22) Padia Brahmins

23) Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins

24) Saklapuri Brahmins

25) Sanketi Brahmins

26) Saraswat Brahmins

a) The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins:
The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins represent a relatively small group of Brahmins who firmly established their identity as a unified group in the year 1708. The history of migration of their ancestors from Kashmir to a variety of places all over the country of India serves to demonstrate how their strong religious and cultural beliefs developed into the present century. Today, members of this group are in Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu.

b) Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmins or Kashmiri Pandits:
According to accepted traditions in the rest of the country, Kashmiri Brahmins are believed to be a branch of the Saraswat Brahmins who were so called because they were believed to have settled along the course of an ancient river in the North-West Indian Continet (Indo-Pak region) called Saraswati. When this river dried up, these Brahmins migrated. A large section of this uprooted community was settled in the Western Konkan coast of the present state of Maharashtra. Others moved further North into the Valley of Kashmir.

c) Rajapur/Balawalikar Saraswat Brahmanas:
Rajapur/Balawalikar Saraswat Brahmanas, as they are known, belong to the "Pancha (five) Gauda Brahmana" groups or "Gaudadi Panchakas". The Saraswats of all subsects of today are said to have originated from the Saraswath region, from the banks of river Saraswati. In Rigveda, references to river Saraswati has been frequently made in the shlokas praising the river as the mightiest river and describe her as "limitless, undeviating, shining and swift moving". But the Saraswati vanished from the region.

d) Haryana Saraswat Brahmins
The Saraswats of Haryana are original settlers of this region, taking their name from the Saraswati River.

27) Shivalli Brahmins

28) Smarta Brahmins

29) Sthanika Brahmins

30) Tuluva Brahmins: The ancient Tulu nadu extended from Gokarna in the north, all along coastal Karnataka up to Kasargod in the south. This included both coastal Uttara Kannada district as well as all of Dakshina Kannada district. Over many centuries the principal language of Tulu nadu was Tulu. Today Tulu is spoken only south of River Kalyanpur in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. This is the heartland of Tulu nadu today. Udupi is the religious center of Tulu nadu. Innumerable smaller towns and villages comprise of a green landscape within the mountainous range of the Western Ghats as well as along the coastal Karnataka with access to Arabian Sea. Here Tulu language, one of the five main Dravidian languages of the South, with its extinct script is spoken. For historical purposes the regions settled by Brahmins are three in number. Haige or Haive (Uttara Kannada), Taulava (Dakshina Kannada) and Kerala.

31) Vaishnava Brahmins


Niyogis are a sect of Brahmins and are predominantly Telugu speakers.

Theories of origin

The origin of Niyogi community is descending from their Bramhin ancestors originally from Northern as well as North Western geographical region of present day India. About six thousand (6000) exceptionally intelligent, extremely capable of administration, management with high degree of skills of warfare were chosen to help Kshatryias in desperate need in defending the country. Hence the origin of the word Aaruvela (Telugu: Aaruvelu = six thousand; Niyogi = a derivative of word 'Niyogimpabadda' in Telugu which means appointed). Niyogin in Sanskrit means "employed" or "appointed" and it is quite probable that "Niyogi"s were given this name because they accept secular employment. In the later centuries they migrated to various parts of the country in pursuit of better and Green pastures. They belong to the brahma-kshatriya group who took secular duties like the military and administration.

It is said in Shastras, that one should live near a river, away from relatives but close to place where medical help is available. Thus, they crossed Vindhyas. As they crossed over Vindhyas they came across perennial River Godavari few of them followed flow of River Godavari. A few crossed the river and went farther south and came across another perinial River - Krishna, they followed flow of River Krishna. Some went further down tracing origin of Krishna River and came across the main tributory "Tungabadra" and some other minor tributaries of river Krishna and settled down around hundreds of its tributories. Some who went tracing the tributeries of Tunga and Bhadra went further west and south west, to almost to west coast in Malenadu source of river Kavery. Some groups followed flow of River Kaveri and went to Tanjavur, Madurai etc in present day Tamil Nadu.

Brahmins are known by their paths of belief, like Smartas, Vaishnavas or Madhvas. Most of Bramhins in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu belong to the Smarta Brahmin group. (Though in later years population of Madhvas saw increase in Karnataka where saint 'Madvacharya' spread the message of dwaitha philosophy).

Smarthas follow Smritis and they are all followers of Adi Guru, Adi Sankara Acharya. The Smarta Brahmins follow Apastamba Smriti or Apastamba Sutra (not Manu Smriti). Apasthamba sutra dates back to pre (~600 BC) and these Bramhins were the ones who mastered the art of Administration, Medicine and teaching. They are the earliest Law makers of South India who lived on the banks of the Godavari River. Soon, their works and regulations like Boudhayana, Parasara, Yajnvalkya Sutras etc., came into practice and were passed as laws, especially in the courts of Sri Krishna Deva Raya.

The Smarta Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh can be grouped into two major divisions formed about a thousand to 700 years ago (most probably during Kakatiya rule), Niyogi and Vaidiki, besides the smaller group of Bhatt. This classification is based on their inherent ability and Masterity in Administration, Spiritual Practices and cooking respectively.

Traditionally believed to have descended from Lord Parasurama, Niyogi Brahmins are those Brahmins who are into various secular vocations including military activities and gave up religious vocation, especially the priesthood just like Bhumihar Brahmins in north India who largely gave up priesthood. There is a lot of brotherhood between Niyogi Brahmins and Bhumihar Brahmins. The Bhumihar Brahmins, of whom many, though not all, belong to the Saryupareen Brahmin division of Kanyakubja Brahmins. The Bhumihar Brahmins were established when Parashurama destroyed the Kshatriya race, and he set up in their place the descendants of Brahmins, who, after a time, having mostly abandoned their priestly functions (although some still perform), took to land-owning.

The Satavahana Vamsam (dynasty) that is said to have given the name "Andhra" to the present state was from Niyogi clan. Traditionally and even today Niyogi Brahmins depend on as well as emphasise and orient themselves towards modern education. As minor-kings, zamindaars (landlords), ministers in the courts of kings and as feudal Lords (Palegallu) earned a good name for their administrative abilities and progressive attitude (sarva dharma samanatha). Many of them were village heads like munsabs, talukdaars, and accountants, Karanams (Andhra) or Patwaris (Telangana) until recently

Niyogin in Sanskrit also means "employed" or "appointed" and it is probable that Niyogis were given this name because they accept secular employment.

Over the past millennium the Niyogis have been further divided further into various groups:

1. Pradhamasakha/Kanveyulu/Yagnavalkyulu (The First Branch)
2. Aruvela (6000) Niyogi
3. Nandavarikulu
4. Golkonda Vyaparulu
5. Karanakamma Vyaparulu
6. Sristikaranalu/Sistukaranalu/Sistakaranalu/Karanalu or Karanam
7. Pakanati
8. Pranganati

The Pradhamasakha group which belongs to the Shukla Yajurveda School. In Maharashtra too, there is a group of Brahmins called Pradhamasakha. There are Marathas (warrior / land owner community) also known as Pradhamasakhi. Pradhamasakha Brahmins are also called a Yagnavalkyulu and Kanveyulu.

The Aruvela Niyogis are the largest Niyogi group.

Different explanations exist for the coining of the phrase "Aruvela Niyogilu" or 6000 Niyogis.

They, as well as the majority of Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh, belong to the Krishna Yajurveda School. Some part of Krishna Dist, Guntur Dist and the surrounding areas was called as "AAru vela naadu". As these people belong to that area, they were called so.

Another belief is that 6000 Brahmins once left out some area in and around "vishakhapattanam and the surrounding Samsthanams". So they were called as Aaruvela niyogulu.

Another theory asserts that 6000 Brahmins left drought- and famine-stricken regions of present-day Maharashtra and traveled to coastal and riverine regions of Andhra. These Brahmin settlers and their descendants, who adopted secular vocations, were termed the 6000 (or Aruvela) Niyogi. Many surnames among Maharashtra Brahmins and Aruvela Niyogis are common (or similar): this fact is considered by many to support for this theory of migration.

Another theory asserts that 6000 Brahmins were appointed as village heads and accountants and training imparted to them, way back in 13th or 14th century AD


Every Brahmin family will have Pravara. This means every family linked up with one or two or three origins or ancestors or Vamsa Parampara. Every Brahmin family will have minimum three Rishis. For example: Angirasa, Aayasha, Gargeysa. This is one parampara. These three people are origin for today's generation. Like that there are very prominent Rishis (sages) like Kashyapa, Vasista, Koundinyasa, Bhardwaja, Parasara, Gothamasa, Srivatsava, and so on. Every family while celebrating either function or sraddha, they should utter three times this Pravara and start the function or ceremony.

The Nandavariks

The Nandavariks, were known as such as they were ‘Nandavara Agrahara Graheetas’. They are Rig-vedins and come under ‘ASVALAYANA SUTRA’ or principle and follow ‘Smartha Sampradaya’ as distinguished from ‘Madhava’ or ‘Vaishnava samparadayas’. ‘ASVALAYANA SUTRA’ is one of the six Sutras followed by Rig Vedins, the others being APASTABMHA (KRISHNA YAHJUR VEDINS), KATHYAYANA (SUKLA YAJUR VEDINS) DRAKSHAYANA (SAMA VEDINS), VATSYAYANA (SUKLA YAJUR VEDINS). A link at the galaxy of the names of the thirteen recipients (MOOLA PARASHAS) of the grant of Nandavaram will reveal their caliber and mettle.

The list of their names and ‘Gothrams’ is as follows:

1. ‘Avadhanam’ Peddi Bhattlu – Srivatsava Gothram
2. ‘Tarkasastram’ Mahadeva Bhattlu – Vasista Gothram
3. ‘Vaseshikam’ Vishnu Vardhana Bhattlu – Kausika Viswamitras Gothram
4. ‘Mahabhashyam’ Mahadeva Bhattlu – Atryasa Gothram
5. ‘Mantra Sastram’ Kamalanbha Pandithulu – Harithasa Gothram
6. ‘Puranam’ Sridhara Dikshitlu – Bharadwajasa Gothram
7. ‘Shadangala’ Narayana Dikshitulu – Agastyasa Gothram
8. ‘Prabhakara’ Naga Vadhyulu – Kashyapasa Gothram
9. ‘Kramadhati’ Janardana Somayajulu – Kutsasa Gothram
10. ‘Dasagrandhala’ Viswanadhacharyulu – Gautamasa Gothram
11. ‘Surya Siddhantham’ Narayana Somayajulu – Mounabhargava Gothram
12. ‘Pradyotha’ Narasimha Somayajulu – Modgalyasa Gothram
13. ‘Kanadam’ Vishnu Vardhana Bhattlu – Veetha Havyasa Gothram
A close study of the names of the recipients will reveal that they were men of high caliber and attainments. They appear to have been authorities in their own fields and faculties with which their very names are associated; Folloing the same order of names of the recipients:

1. ‘Tarkasastram’ Mahadeva Bhattlu appears to have been an authority on Logic.
2. ‘Vaiseshikam’, the later branch of Logic which is said to haven the field of Vishnuvaardhana Bhattlu.
3. ‘Mahabhashyam’ Maahadeva Bhattlu was an authority in Vedic Grammar.
4. Mantrasastram’ Kamalanabha Pandithulu, as the name implies, appears to have been an authority on the Science of Mantras (Hymns).
5. ‘Puranam’ Sridhara Dikshitulu was an authority on Epics, like the ‘Ramayana’ and the ‘Mahabharata’.
6. Shadangala’ Narayana Dikshitulu was an authority on the six systems of Indian Philosophy.
7. ‘Prabhakara’ Naga Vadhyulu was an authority on Poorva Mimamsa-Philosophy of rituals and Sacrifices.
8. ‘Kramadhati’ Janardhana Somayajulu was a disciplinarian in the reaction of the Vedas.
9. ‘Dasagrandhala’ Viswanathadwarya was an authority on the ten main Upanishads.
10. ‘Pradyotha’ Nursimha Somayajulu was similarly an authority on the observance and performance of rituals.
11. ‘Kanadam’ Vishnuvardhana Bhattlu was an authority of the earlier branch of Logic known as ‘Vaiseshikam’.

As one of the receipents was known as ‘Vaiseshikam’ Vishnu Vardhana Bhattlu (items 2 in the list above) and as ‘Vaiseshikam’ (known to be the Atomic system of the philosophy) is believed to have emerged around the 16th Century, there is perhaps scope for further careful study and deliberation to deliberation to determine the period of reign of Nandana and the year of grant of ‘Anandavarapuram’ to the Nandavariks. The team of thirteen recipients as seen above is galaxy of scholars, Logicians, Grammarians, writers and Scientists-a glorious teem indeed! No wonder the Deity ‘Sri Chodeshwari’ had conscended from Banares to Nandavaram in response to their prayer as a witness as believed by the devotees, in consideration of their extraordinary prowess.

The suffixes to the names of the ‘Moola Purushas’ are given as ‘Bhattlu’, ‘Pandithulu’, Dikshitulu’, Vadhyulu’, ‘Somayajulu’, and ‘Adhvaryul’, and these have to be considered carefully. These suffixes con note that the ‘Moola Purushas’ were all essently ‘Vadikis’. A ‘Vaidiki’ is commonly known to be one who has studied the Vedas and the Nandavarik Brahmins must have also, as other Brahmins, taken to the study of the Vedas and the Sastras in olden times. The five hundred families of Nandavariks are said to be the descendants of the thirteen “Moola Purushas” of the thirteen Gothrams. By the efflux of time and their eventual migration to the different parts of the country, the occupations they held, their employment in the positions other than those pertaining to the study or propagation of the Vedas and the Sastras, they came to be gradually denominated as ‘Niyogis’ as distinguished from ‘Vaidikis’.

A ‘Niyogi’ is one who is engaged for a post or a situation or entrusted with a job on wages.


Times New Indian said...

Quite amazing stuff. Great work! Very informative. Thanks for the post.

srinagesh said...

That's a good account on Brahmins. Informative, educative. The younger generation should actually go through this article. Well done Umesh.


very informative.came to know a lot about my community for the first time. please keep adding more information on these topics.

Umasankar said...

If you have Wordpress please note I have changed to that and keep updating there

kashyap velpuru said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VN RAYUDU said...

thank you sri Umashankar ji for enlightening peice of information about the origin and etimology of aaruvela niyogis
dr. rayudu valluri

Sumalatha Majeti said...

Good site!

Please add Majeti to 6000 niyogi's list. These Brahmins are from "Maajeru" in Krishna district.

BT Kumar said...

Happened to see this note just now. Stupendous work. Hats off andi. Kumar Bhavaraju.

Satyanarayana Rao Adiraju said...

Excellent research work. very useful to the present generation to know their roots.

Manikumar Mutchumilli said...

Good information Sir. Could you please add Mutchumilli and Devaguptapu to 6000 Niyogi list..

Manikumar Mutchumilli

Gadiraju Nageswara Rao Raju said...

It is most informative and gives pride to the brahmin community to know their roots.Many eminent people were born in niyogi brahmin community.Of course list is always incomplete.You mentioned Gowthami puthra Satakarni is Telaganya vaidiki brahmin and who belongs satavahana dynasti but satavahanas are niyogi brahmins.I found repetitions about definition of niyogi brahmins.I think Thikkana,Yerrapragada,Thyagaraja,Kshetraya,Annamaya,BhogarajuPattabhi Seetharamayya,Bhanumathi,Yellapragada Subba Rao,Gurazada Appa Rao are also niyogi brahmins who contributed to the society in their fields.Akkana and Madanna were ministers in Muslim rulers time in Hyderabad and i think they are also niyogi brahmins. I think Tenali Ramakrishna,Pingali,Peddana,Nandi Thimmana were among Ashta Diggajas in Krishnadevaraya kingdom are Niyogi Brahmins.Congratulations for the excellent research work done on Andhra Brahmins.Gadiraju Nageswara Rao

Anonymous said...

Sir, why you mentioned 8 rushi? Actully from yougas there are only SAPTA RUSHI ( 7 ) they were 1) ATRI,2)AGASTYUDU 3)Angeerasudu 4) Bharadwajudu 5)Gowtamudu 6)VASISTUDU 7) Kasyapudu

Viswamitra was a Rushi but Rajarshi
Jamadagni is son of Gowtamudu

And Pradhamasakha niyogis are main to all the other Brahmine comunity

BRAHMINE= Those who got BRAHMAGYANAM are called as BRAHMINE
Kindly clarify Bollapragada Harisankararao


Very Nice Explanation


Very nicely explained.


Very nice

poornima said...

Its Really Very Informative And interesting and I came to many unknown things about my community thank you sir for posting this.

Gadiraju Nageswara Rao Raju said...

Thank you very much for giving the history and origin niyogi brahmins.You have taken lot of interest and trouble to unearth the roots of this sect of brahmins.Our young generation should take pride of their ancesters and keep up their traits.Thyagaraja,Kshetrayya,Annamayya,Thikkana,Yerrapragada,Bhanumathi,Bhogaraju Pattabhiseetharamaiah,Gurajada,Yellapragada subbarao,Tenali Ramakrishna,Mukku Thimmana,Peddana are some of the eminent niyogi brahmins.

Murthy Csvs said...

I salute the author of this detailed work and the people trying to improve upon.

Murthy Csvs said...

I salute the author of this detailed work and the people trying to improve upon.

Umasankar Vadrevu said...

Nischal Rao Garu:

Identified as below - hope it clariefies. This is exactly from the above there has been no correction anywhere.

The full affiliation of a brāhamana consists of:Ø Gotra,


ØSutra (of Kalpa)


(Example:) A brahmana named 'X' introduces himself as follows : I am 'X', of Shrivatsa gotra, of Āpastamba sutra, of Taittiriya shākha of Yajurveda, of five pravaras named Bhārgava, Chyāvana, Āpnavan, Aurva and Jāmdagnya (This example is based upon the example given by Pattābhirām Shastri in the introduction to Vedārtha-Pārijata, cf. ref.).

While the gotras were classified initially according to nine rishis

The pravaras were classified under the names of the following seven rishis:


According to the listing of authors included in the verses in Rigved, the rishi Jamadagni was a descendant of rishi Bhrigu while the rishis Gautam and Bharadvaja were the descendants of rishi Angirasa.

The pravara identifies the association of a person with three or sometimes five of the above-mentioned rishis.

For example, Kashyapa Gothram has 3 rishis associated with it viz. Kashyapa, Daivala and Aavatsaara

Warm Regards,

Vadrevu Kameshwara Narasimha Umasankar

Umasankar Vadrevu said...

Sowmya Devasena Garu,

Please note there are a certain number of family names which appears as family names under different communities as well, that does not change the fact these family names do not appear amongst our family names as well.

There are many researches being done parallely and discussions being done in this regard. I am having a lot of discussions with Brahmin communities in and around Rajahmundry especially the renowned pundits

As and when I am able to gain more information on or otherwise you shall see the changes on these very pages. Please note that this page is being retained as a live document and changes are being made in this constantly. New names are being added as and when information flow and confirmations are received. Maintaining and working on this after having discussions with various persons is painstaking with the varied jobs that all of us are in. I keep travelling in and around the world and when ever and where ever I find additional information I try and make amendments.

Hope this clarifies your curiosity at the moment in time.

Warm Regards,

Vadrevu Kameshwara Narasimha Umasankar

Pravin India said...

excellent work. very informative.

However, there is no information regarding the sub caste of brahamin namely "BHUMIHAR BRAHAMIN". Kindly include it giving adequate information such as:-
various Titles
their gotra
places where found

Suresh PR said...

very very informative and interesting information about Brhmins across india. every brahmin irrespective of their subcast must read and know this information. thanks alot sir. thank you. great research and great job. I salute Umasankar garu for your work and interest.

ankur mishra said...

katshya is not a brahmin

Anonymous said...

Excellent!! Literacy in these aspects is what we lack which is results in people yielding to distractions easily. Just like few other religions make it a compulsion for their young to study their religious scriptures, I think we should also have some way to get the little ones aware of the rich culture they come from.

Umasankar Vadrevu said...

According to the Baudhâyanas 'rauta-sûtra Vishvâmitra, Jamadagni, Bharadvâja, Gautama, Atri, Vasishtha, Kashyapa and Agastya are 8 sages; the progeny of these eight sages is declared to be gotras.

Hope your question is clarified!

kumar said...

great information sir


Dear Sir,
I have gone through your article. This is a well prepared one. You have written various sub groups of Niyogi Brahmins as Follows
h. Karanalu
i. Sristikaranalu or Sistukaranalu or Sistakaranalu.

I belong to Sistakaranam caste and we feel that we are not Brahmins. However I would request you to kindly give references of ancient documental proof to tell we belong to Niyogi Brahmins.I will honour your reply.I have gone through many historical writings and could not find the co-relation.
Yours Sincerely

Ayyannamahanti Rama Krishna Rao