|Agraharam house Kalpathy. palakkadwalks.blogspot.com|
|homes from kalpathy cultural heritage village in palakad,kerala,india. www.alamy.com|
|Nuranivillage temple,Palakkad district, Kerala.blogspot.com|
The Palakkad Iyers were a land-holding community owning extensive cultivable land in Palakkad, Chittoor and surrounding areas. If you go back to 14th century or earlier they were inhabitants of mostly of Mannargudi, Satyamangalam, Needamangalam, Vaitheeswaran Koil, Kandarmanickam and other areas in the erstwhile Tanjore district of the State of Tamil Nadu (earlier Madras Presidency). A major wave moved into Kerala during the Muslim invasions in the 14th century by Ala-ud-din Khilji. From Palakkad later they settled in other parts of North Kerala which were part of the erstwhile Madras Presidency like Kozhikode and Malappuram. They were responsible citizens and held several public posts in Kerala. Early migration of Iyers in the 8th century and their settlement near the Nila river banks around Palakkad was not ruled out.
Chera Kings, it is believed, was not on good terms with the Nambootheri Brahmins who wielded a lot of influence and in order to break their dominance they welcomed and settled these Brahmins in their areas in 64 settlements around Palakkad, granting them lands and privileges and allowing them to perform religious rituals in Palakkad temples, despite protests from the Namboothiri communities.
Namboothiri Brahmins of Kerala were very orthodox and caste-conscious and were stickler for discipline with respect to matters related to Hindu religion and rituals. In the case of Tamil Brahmins, Iyers take care care of Shiva as well as Amman temples while Vaishnavaites - Iyengars take care of mainly Vishnu, Rama and Krishna Temples. It is also stated that the continuous drought over many years in the Kaveri Delta area also triggered migration of Tanjore Brahmins to Kerala.
In the wake of the worst Delhi Muslim ruler's treacherous invasion here 1311, Brahmins of Madurai and the surrounding areas whose main source of income was from the temples, fearing livelihood and persecution, began migrating to the neighboring Chera country via Palakkad Pass Dindigul and Pollachi. The Iyers always live around temples and rivers as it had been their wont mainly for the simple reason, it will give them easy accessibility to the temples. The religious traditions of Cheranadu were different - only Namboothiris were allowed to perform religious rites in Hindu temples based on ''Tantric Rituals'' as preferred by the Chera Kings and not ''Vedic Agama Rituals'' of the Iyers with which they were familiar, and Which Chola, Pandya and Pallava rulers ardently followed. Being Vedic scholars, Iyers went on to build their own temples and conducted their Vedic rites in them. The temples were located in their places of residence called Agraharams - a series or rows of houses of similar design and appearance. Most of them are located near the temples and rivers. The most famous one being Viswanatha Swamy Temple, Kalpathy, Palakkad which was constructed as per Vedic Sastras and not as per Tantric Rituals. Kalpathy, also known as Dakshin Kasi or the 'Varanasi of the South, is an early Tamil Brahmin settlement (agraharam) is close to the Olavakkot, now called Palghat railway station.
A research paper, 'Plight of Palghat Iyers', presented by M Lakshman Singh, a sociology professor with Bharathiar University, at the Tamil meet, traced the history of a successful community that has made rapid progress through education, hard work and endurance. According to him:
Brahmins from Kumbakkonam were requested to settle down in Palakkad on promises of a prosperous life and other perks several generations ago by Nair chieftains, who primarily needed their religious services for coronations, which the orthodox Brahmins of Kerala - Nambootheries refused because they were not Kshatriyas. Further, as pointed out earlier, Nambootheri Brahamins refused to accept the Brahmins of Tamil Nadu for the simple reason they followed Vedic Agama Sastras, a common practice in many parts of India.
When Nairs were in power, the Brahmins were prosperous, but after they became powerless for many reasons, their prosperity also dwindled and they were pushed to the point of enduring hardship and doing menial jobs for survival. Despite their misfortune, at this crucial juncture, never had they failed to pay attention to the education of their children. Equally responsible were their studious children who went to colleges on merit. Through sheer hardship, proper planning and commitment, the Iyers of Kerala grew up in statures as time went by and had held positions of eminence during the British period and later. Late Sir Seshadri Iyer, the Dewan of Mysore kingdom, and late Sri. A.S.P. Iyer. ICS are just examples. Now, despite enforcement of caste quota in government jobs, almost poor employment prospects in the government they hold better positions in private sector companies.
Brahmins and other forward communities have been facing reverse discrimination with respect to government jobs for more than two decades.
Brahmins - Basic facts:
''Brahmin'' (also called Brahmana) is a varna in Vedic Hinduism and also a caste of people who are members of it.
The name 'Iyer' was used as a designation for all Tamil 'Smartha' Brahmins in the medieval period when different sects of Brahmins of the then Tamil country organized themselves as a single community. A breakaway sect of Brahmins known as Sri 'Vaishnavas' later formed a new community called "Iyengars."
Brahmins normally adhere to the principles of the Vedas - Sruti and Smriti which are pillars of Hinduism and practice Sanatana Dharma with reverence.
To them God is one, but has no beginning(aathi) and no endn (andham), but has innumerable names and forms to chant and worship, depending on one's perception. This aids concentration and meditation on God.
God is one of the means or ways to salvation and realization of the truth, though there are many ways.
After morning ablutions, it is the foremost duty of Brahmins to do daily prayer to God (or Eshta deivam) or family deity. Daily he must do sandhyavandana - prayers to Gayatri and Sun God.
They preach non-violence, partake only vegetarian food, preach religion and morality. It does not mean they are not courageous. They know violence begets violence and weigh pros and cons before undertaking misadventure.
Brahmins normally work for the welfare of the entire society and do ''Yagams'' (in Tamil Velvi) - fire-worships in specially built Yagasala and chanting mantras accordingly. They actively participate in the consecration of temples and temple related festivals and rituals.
They are traditionally Priests in all temples, Prohits (Prohithars) - conduct weddings, childbirth, grahapravesam, upanayana and obsequies for Brahmins and other communities as well. Basically they are teachers or ''Gurus'' or ''Acharyas.'' Because of compulsion, they have become professionals and employees in companies.
|Avani avitam upakarma.harivara.com|
All male Brahmins - both Smartha and Vaishnava normally pay obeisance to their Acharyas. In the case of Smartha Bramins of Tamil Nadu Brahmachari Brahmin boy after Upanayana is chosen by the senior Acharya of a Mutt as his successor as in the case of Sankaracharyas of Kanchi of Tamil Nadu or Sringeri of Karnataka. Junior Acharya learns all aspects Veda Sastras, Tamil Sanskrit, Kannda, Telugu, etc and should practice celibacy throughout his life.
|Shivali Brahmins of Kanataka.www.nammabhoomi.com|
All male Brahmins should go through''Upanayana,'' an important ceremony (also known as sacred thread ceremony; in Tamil Upanayanam or Poonal Kalyanam) preferably before 14th year. It is Brahma Upadesam of Gayatri Mantra (initiation to the Gayatri hymn), recital or practice of Gayatri jabam. It is an essential part of his life.
Likewise, the young girls or boys are encouraged to learn Carnatic music at an early age. Knowing Carnatic music is an added advantage for girls.
All Brahmins are identified by their ''Gothra''- origin of their genealogical roots to a Rishi or Saint; supposedly descendants of that particular Rishi, Brahmins of same gothra should not intermarry each other. It is strictly prohibited.
Every stage, during the life span of a Brahmin, is a ritual, right through child birth, tonsuring, upanayana, adulthood, marriage, raising family till the end. They are supposed to uphold ''Dharma'' justice and fairness in his chosen profession at any cost and be an example, so that others may emulate them. In short they are a highly principled community.
All Brahmins aspire for salvation.