Monday, December 6, 2010

Dravida Brahmins

Dravida Brahmins of Andhra
There are two major divisions among Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh: Niyogi and Vaidiki, and the Vaidiki Brahmin division is further divided into several groups, one of which is Dravida Brahmin group that arrived in Andhra via Tamil or Dravida (draaviDa) country.

A group of Brahmins migrated approximately 600 years ago (~1300-1400 AD) from Saurashtra towards south of Vindhyas and settled on the banks of River Kaveri in Tamilnadu and adopted Tamil language. These Brahmins are related to the Ayyars of Tamilnadu.  Later, some of these Brahmins migrated northward towards coastal Andhra to the River Godavari basin and henceforth are called Dravida Brahmins.

It is possible that Dravida Brahmins migrated to Andhra around 400 years ago from Tamilnadu.  The Dravida Brahmin group continued the migration deep into north coastal Andhra, settling at various places of their convenience and based on the locations they settled in, further divided into:
Divili Brahmins
Dravidas or suddha dravidas
Tummagunta Brahmins

Aaraamadravidas are those Brahmins who settled and lived in gardens (aaraamas) initially. They are also called thota aravalu (thota = garden, aravulu = Tamils or Dravids). Some Dravida Brahmins settled in the villages and are identified by the area or the name of the village in which they settled down. For example, the Brahmins who settled in the town Peruru near Amalarpuram came to be known as Perurudraavidulu. Similarly, the Brahmins settled in the towns of Ryali, Divili, Puduru and Tummagunta came to be known as Ryalidraavidulu, Divili Brahmins, Pudurudraavidulu, Tummagunta Brahmins, respectively. In addition, there is another branch called dravidulu or suddha dravidulu.
The Dravida Brahmins included 6 jaatis (tribes), 6 vamshams (stock or clan), 18 pakshams (parts) and 18 gotrams (lineage) and several family names.  Due to their expertise and learning, the rulers of Coastal Andhra gave not only refuge, but also gifts and rewards of lands and agrahaaras (villages) to the migrated Brahmins. Dravida Brahmins continued their migrations in search of opportunities and are found in several states in the Indian Union, especially in the cosmopolitan cities like Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore etc., and also in the New World.

Dravida brahmins such as perurudaravidas, dhimiladaravidas, Dravidas etc. are very much into vedic rituals like yajnas and yagas.   Aaraamadravidas are not big on perfoming yajna and yaagas like others Dravida Brahmins, but excelled in vedic studies, poetry and literature, medicine, music, astrology etc. 

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