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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tambrahms

My nephew sent this mail. I am posting this in my blog so that those who have not read this interesting articles when published, can read and spread to others. After reading this article, I was inspired to post the list of famous Tambrahms from the web, for the benefit of the readers. The list may raise some questions about some characterisation of tambrahms in this article

Tambrahms

This piece, it must be explained at the outset, is not a history of the Tamil Brahmins, or a gratulatory account of the community's famous achievers. It is more in the nature of a portraiture of the "average or the median" member of the species. In an endeavour of this kind seeking to crystallize the unique qualities of a whole people, it would be misleading to talk of the "tall poppies", the all-time greats, such as Sir T Muthuswami Iyer, G Subramania Iyer, Subramania Bharati, Rajaji, Satyamurti, Sir C V Raman, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Madurai Mani Iyer or Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar.

It would be more appropriate to use (or misuse?) the well known statistical concept of the "Bell Curve": a graph showing the distribution of the range of any characteristic within a population - say, height, weight,
intelligence etc. This is typically a bell-shaped figure with a single well-defined maximum, an initial steep slope and a gradual tapering further down. Since such a distribution is common in nature, it is also known as "normal distribution". The maximum number in the frequency distribution, also called the "mode", occurs roughly in the middle. It would be permissible to take persons in this range as authentic representatives, warts and all, of the whole community. What follows is one man's perception, necessarily subjective, of the defining qualities of this "representative" Tamil Brahmin.

Those who have seen the 1971 Satyajit Ray classic Seemabaddha (Company Limited) would recall a cameo in it of a conversation between the yuppie Bengali hero of the film and his personal secretary, a middle-aged Tamil Brahmin. The young man "on the make" is a "covenanted officer" in one of those once-famous British Merchant Houses of Calcutta. The two have forged a relationship of extraordinary mutuality based on trust and admiration for each other's contrasting qualities. Tormented by the neurosis of upward mobility, particularly by his frustration over a decisive promotion still eluding him, the young executive asks his elderly secretary the secret of his sangfroid, his total imperviousness to tension and worry. The secretary sagely replies: "Sir, it is quite simple. On a cold day, when the hearth-fire is on, the best position to occupy is the place that is neither too near the fire nor too far. If you are too near, you might get singed. If you are too far, you would not get the necessary warmth."

Here, if you like, is the metaphor of the working philosophy of the archetypal Tamil Brahmin. What this illustrates is that the Tamil Brahmin prefers to function (and function efficiently) from behind the scene, rather than thrust himself to the front, with all the hassles and hazards of overexposure and too public a presence. His preferred position is the row behind the throne (as when the pompous minister briefs the Press). His passion for anonymity is notorious. His real successes are private ones secretly to be gloated over by himself or at the most in the intimacy of chosen friends. Even his jokes are private, with his cynical wit much in evidence when among intimates. His forte is wit rather than humour, unlike, say, the Punjabi's. He is a master of the double entendre and is an inveterate punster, often bilingual and sometimes even trilingual. A random example: At the height of Japanese commercial expansionism in Europe and America in the seventies, an envious joke was that the Japanese multinational Sony had bought up-the Leaning Tower of Pisa and re-erected it in Tokyo . The Tamil Brahmin tourist in Japan watching the operation is supposed to have made the deadpan observation: "Nikkumo Nikkado" which is Tamil for "God knows whether it will stand or fall."

An apocryphal quip describes the Tamil Brahmins as "the best second-rate men in the world." Rude as this remark is on the face of it, it is in many ways perceptive and could well be considered a compliment. (It is certainly better than being considered the worst first-rate men.) The sneer latches on to the central characteristic of a Tamil Brahmin - his instinctive preference for anonymous functionality behind the scene rather than high profile highfalutin from centre-stage. A Tamil Brahmin would readily endorse E M Foster's famous prayer: "Let no achievement on an imposing scale ever be mine."

This ineradicable modesty coexisting with proven competence is the reason why his preferred professions are the great anonymous ones, such as the Civil Service, where it is easy - indeed the required trait - to be "the faceless bureaucrat." He lets his nominal boss, the publicity-hungry politician, boast about policies whose details his ingenious mind has given legal and formal shape to, with all the ambiguities and obfuscations safely hidden in the fine print. Give him a brief of your intention, and he will give it a shape that would pass muster with a trusting public. Like the prestidigitator, he gloats in secret not over the illusion that the public laps up but over his real skill of sleight of hand that had made the illusion possible. An extreme example of this is the Tamil Brahmin folklore to the effect that some of the brilliant judgments of the English judges in pre-Independence Madras High Court were really written by their Tamil Brahmin bench clerks.

In the public sphere, the representative Tamil Brahmin is an apolitical pragmatist rather than a passionate ideologue, a trait that makes him an ideal public servant rather than a political leader. Temperamentally, he is a natural Tory, or at best, a "Fabian", believing in the art of the possible rather than in the impossible dream. A British Conservative of the 1960s famously said once: "Let the socialists dream their dreams and scheme their schemes: we Conservatives have a job to do." This sums up admirably the Working philosophy of the Tamil Brahmin administrator. Grand gestures and conspicuous posturing are not in his blood. Risk averse by temperament and playing for safety, he is rarely given to extreme positions or assertive stances in public. A pugnacious Tamil Brahmin is a contradiction in terms, though high profile T N Seshan, former Chief Election Commissioner, might seem to disprove this assessment. (In any case, he is a "Palghat Tamil Brahmin", a sub (?) species that deserves a special study in itself!)


Intellect rather than imagination is the Tamil Brahmin's forte. (Harsher judges might even say that intelligence rather than intellect is a Tamil Brahmin's strength.) Typically, a Tamil Brahmin is a professional executive or administrator rather than a professional politician or entrepreneur or a labour leader. It can even be argued that this is a throw-forward of the ancient Varna taxonomy: of the Brahmin - the purohit and the counsellor, in contrast to the Kshatria (the forerunner of the modern-day politician), Vaisya (the prototype of today's entrepreneur) and the Labour leader, (the champion of the working class, the modern-day shudras.) Thus it is that you find that some of the greatest Diwans of Indian States of yore such as Seshadri Iyer, C P Ramaswami Iyer, T T Krishnamachari, and T Vjayaraghavachari were vintage Tamil Brahmins.

The Tamil Brahmin is by instinct a Rajabhakta, putting his ingenious mind at he disposal of the ruler of the moment for any purpose the latter chooses. But it is not a passive role of the flunkey, doing the bidding of his master. His manifest intellectual superiority makes him an ideal Amaathya, or Counsellor. Many a ruler of the former princely States had the good sense to listen to their Tamil Brahmin Diwans: this was true even when the advice was to quietly quit the scene collecting their privy purses when Sardar Patel ran a coach and four through their puny sovereignties. Quite often, some of these princelings have been saved from the extreme consequences of their rather lurid private lives by the sagacious intervention of their counsellors.

Ostentatious wealth is rare in this community, testifying once again that a representative Tamil Brahmin abhors extremes. Though poverty and privation are not unknown in the community the median Tamil Brahmin has a reasonable competence that meets his un-extravagant needs. Thrift comes naturally to him to the point of stinginess. A famous story used to go round the Indian Express editorial anterooms in the days of Ramnath Goenka. A Marwari friend asked RNG why he paid his Punjabi editors fabulous salaries while his Tamil Brahmin editors were paid a pittance. Ramnathji is supposed to have replied: "Arre Bhai! My Punjabi editor gargles his mouth with rose water after brushing his teeth. My Tamil Brahmin editor is content with rasam sadam. To everyone according to his needs. Pure Communism!"

Competent, conventional and conformist, the median Tamil Brahmin is rarely adventurous or conspicuously unorthodox. Resilient and quickly adaptive, he would never wish "to stand out" as too heterodox or for that matter excessively orthodox either, despite the fact that until recent times, the "caste mark" on his forehead was a give-away. A favourite expression of approbation in the community is "God-fearing." But his conformity is a convenience rather than conviction, arising partly from his reluctance to be the "odd man out". Ancient taboos atavistically present in him are observed in letter rather than in spirit as in the obligatory rituals regularly performed. His house has its sacred and secular spaces clearly demarcated. Even today, in villages and small towns where the "flatculture" has not yet found its way, a traditional Tamil Brahmin house has the ancient layout of increasingly "sacred" space as one goes inwards with the right of admission to each strictly caste-graded. In cities, where the "drawing-cum-dining room" layout has insinuated itself into domestic architecture, the Pooja room is inviolable.

A Tamil Brahmin's modernity is equally skin-deep, readily discarded in the privacy of his home. He eagerly sheds his trousers and shirt the moment he is back home and gets back to his comfortable lungi and bare chest. Until recently, alcohol was not a domestic amenity even among the more affluent and "modern" Tamil Brahmins and was meant mostly for others who might visit. Though for professional reasons and for compulsions of livelihood, he will go to the end of the earth, he is by no means as cosmopolitan, readily jettisoning his cultural baggage and merging with homogenized non-descript new environment. His domestic pieties are preserved whether in New Delhi or New Jersey and his twin-passion of temple worship and Carnatic music are never ever abandoned wherever he is.

Like the Jew to whom he is often compared, he is a great survivor. One of the earliest communities to have eagerly embraced the exhilarating new opportunities offered by English education in the early 19th century, the Tamil Brahmins had acquired a near monopoly of the much coveted Government employment of the times. This had naturally led to upper caste non-brahmin resentment, which effectively politicised itself in the first decades of the last century. When this self-consciousness captured political power and formed governments in the 1920s in the Madras Presidency, it pursued vigorously a policy of reservation that ended the Brahmin's earlier monopoly of government jobs. This was the signal for the great Tamil Brahmin Diaspora that still continues.

Denied opportunities at home, the Tamil Brahmin sought and found newer pastures in Bombay , Delhi and Calcutta . Caste-neutral professions such as accountancy and journalism became the alternatives. Still later, newer professional opportunities abroad, notably in the United States , became the magnet. And with the ascendancy in recent years of the new information technology where brainpower is more important than capital investment, this dispersal has become a flood. Almost every English-educated middle class Tamil Brahmin family has a younger member abroad.

Like much else in the world and in this country, the Tamil Brahmin profile is no doubt changing. The younger generations are conspicuously deracinated and some of the unique qualities of this community are getting blurred and homogenized with the rest of the world. Older generations still around are often disconcerted by the fact that the young Yuppies are losing their unique traits such as the love of their mother tongue and routine absorption of domestic pieties in an ambience of soft Hinduism.

Sanskrit slokas and Tamil Prabandam verses that used to reverberate in the house in the stillness of the evening are being heard less and less. Raucous rock music is displacing the softer Carnatic melodies and ancient civilities are being replaced by modern brusqueness in the attitude of the young towards the elders. But deep down, not much has changed. They are still the world's best second-rate men.

The author, a former Editor of The Indian Express, is a distinguished scholar in English and Tamil. An English version of Kamba Ramayana edited by him was published last year. He is - as you can well understand from the writing style - is also a Tamilian !

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I was just smiling and laughing as I read this article..Typical Tambrahms self deprecating humor but well articulated article...I think many of this unique species are evolving now. The outgoing, financially savvy socially engaging streak is emerging...Especially the women in this Kaali-yuga will be a force to reckon with..We match line by line to our male [Sivam} counterpart in our notorious house-coat/Nightie to their Lungis, tapping and nodding to Elvis, Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix/ John Lennon to the Inspired Doens of Carnatic Music,and while we serve the Lasagna and Enchiladas, Spiked with Molaga chilli powder and sprinkle Crushed red pepper and hot sauce on our Pizza. We are truly in our element while we sip a tumbler/Davara of Authentic frothy Kapi after a good dish of lip smacking Vatha kuzhambu and sutta Appalam and Thayir sadham with crisp Mavadu. We always adapt with great expertise but return to our core in our privacy. Best Thirst quencher is 'Thootham' from clay Panai and Neer Moru with kari veppalai and Perungayam....


Rahul Narayan
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list of notable Iyers (people from the Iyer caste of Tamil Brahmins).

Spiritual leaders

The Shankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Maha Swamigal also called the Paramacharya served as the supreme head of the Kanchi mutt for 87 long years from 1907 to 1994 and is regarded as one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the 20th century.
The Shankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Maha Swamigal also called the Paramacharya served as the supreme head of the Kanchi mutt for 87 long years from 1907 to 1994 and is regarded as one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the 20th century.

Scientists and academicians

Sir C.V. Raman was India's second Nobel laureate after Rabindranath Tagore.
Sir C.V. Raman was India's second Nobel laureate after Rabindranath Tagore.

Journalists and writers


Advocates and social activists


Freedom fighters

Subramanya Bharathy, the national poet of Tamil Nadu, remains the most recognized and revered Iyer in Tamil Nadu
Subramanya Bharathy, the national poet of Tamil Nadu, remains the most recognized and revered Iyer in Tamil Nadu

Sportspersons


Artists and musicians


Politicians and administrators


Entertainers


Business-persons, professionals, miscellaneous


Iyers in popular culture

Famous Iyengars
Due to education and a progressive outlook, Iyengars have progressed in many fields and have made remarkable contributions, especially in science, bureaucracy (Indian civil services) and more recently industry. Four of the 19 Indian RBI governors were Iyengars.

Science and Technology

  • Dr. M.O.P. Iyengar, 1886 - 1963 - Known as the Father of Algology in India, did pioneering research in fresh water, estuarine and marine algae, their systematics, life-histories, morphology and cytology.
  • Professor Mallur. K. Sundareshan,Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Director, Information Processing and Decision Systems Lab, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Sreenivas Lakshminarasimha Malurkar (late), Former Director, Colaba and Alibag Observatories, Mumbai. M.Sc. Cantab, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, UK. Worked in mathematical physics at Sir Ernst Rutherford Research Laboratory, Cambridge, UK. Fellow, Indian National Science Academy. Post-doctoral Research Associate, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA.
  • M.C.Rangaswamy, Director, National Dairy Research Center, Bangalore
  • Prof. Asuri Sridharan , Geotechnical Engineer, Former Deputy Director, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore , Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Purdue University U.S.A, Fellow , Indian National Science Academy , Indian Academy of Sciences , Indian National Academy of Engineering.
  • Sir K. S. Krishnan - Physicist, Fellow of the Royal Society, Director of National Physical Laboratory. He along with Sir C.V.Raman discovered the Raman Effect.
  • C S Seshadri - Director, Chennai Mathematical Institute and Trieste Awardee.
  • Dr.Raja Ramanna - Nuclear Scientist.
  • Dr S Rajappa, Former Deputy Director, National Chemical Laboratories, Pune.
  • Dr Rangaswamy Srinivasan - Former Scientist, IBM Research Labs, NY and inventor of LASIK laser surgery.
  • Dr Rangaswamy Narasimhan- Designer of India’s first general purpose digital computer. Also, Dr Rangaswamy Srinivasan's brother.
  • Dr. V.K. Aatre- Former Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister of India (replaced Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Oceanographic scientist, Fmr. Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister of India and Fmr. head of the DRDO.
  • Prof S Sadagopan - Founder Director, International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, India.
  • Mandyam V Srinivasan - Robotics and Biology.
  • Dr. K Kasturirangan - Head of Indian Space Research Organisation (India's Space Agency).
  • P. K. Iyengar - Former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
  • M. R. Srinivasan - Former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
  • Dr.Rajan K. Sampath - FAO Consultant Head of Economics Dept, Colorado State University and Former Managing Director of ISARD.Author of several books and journals.
  • Dr. S. Rangachari - Renowned physician.
  • Dr. P.Vasudevan- Renowned Urologist in the US after whom the Dr Vasudevan Wellness Center at the University of Arkansas at Helena, Arkansas is named.
  • Dr. Srinidhi Varadarajan - Renowned Computer Scientists, Director of Terrascale Computing Facility at Virginia Tech and leader of the team that built the world's cheapest and seventh fastest super computer.
  • Dr. R. N. Iyengar - Director, Central Building Research Institute, KSIIDC Chair, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Science.
  • Dr. Kotur S. Narasimhan - Former Director, Central Fuel Research Institute, (CSIR) Dhanbad, Bihar.
  • Dr Thirumalachari Ramasami- Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India, New Delhi.
  • Dr S Parthasarathy- Leading Eye specialist in Chennai.
  • Professor Ramanuja Vijayaraghavan - Physicist, TIFR.
  • Sonny Ramaswamy - Insect physiologist; Director of Agricultural Research Programs and Associate Dean, Purdue University
  • Gita Ramaswamy - Textile scientist; Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Purdue University
  • Ravi Iyengar- Indian neuroscientist, pioneer in G protein studies.
  • Dr. Rangachar S. Keshavaprasad - American trained Interventional Cardiologist who has performed over 10,000 cardiac catheterizations completely free of charge in rural India.
  • Dr. K.Aprameyan - Former CMD, Bharat Earth Movers Limited
  • Prof. S.Ranganathan- Professor Emeritus ( Metallurgical sciences ),IISc and Bhatnagar award recipient
  • Professor Dr Nallar Chakravarthy Vaijayanthi, Professor Obstetrics & Gynaecology, banaglore University
  • Dr. Sudarshan - Remote Sensing Expert - Regional Organisation for Protection of Marine Environment - Kuwait
  • Late Prof. Sampath -Ertswhile Director IIT Kanpur and a distibguished academic
  • Late Dr. M.D. Rajagopal - MBBS, PhD (Anatomy), Served as Professor of Anatomy at Medical Colleges of Mysore, Hubli & Gulbarga. Had been a visiting Professor of Anatomy at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA, pioneered research on comparative anatomy of Indian Elephants.
  • Dr N.V.Ramanuja Iyengar - a renowned Cardiologist - Miami, USA - Actively associated with building the Shiva Vishnu temple as Chairman of the temple trust in Fortlauderdale. He is now pursuing efforts for restoration/renovation of the Gunjanarasimhaswamy temple in T.Narasipur, Mysore district, India
  • Venkataramanan Soundararajan - Biological Engineering, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Nanobiomaterials Researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA. Graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, India in 2005. Founded the education consultancy company Lakshyas in 2005 and the Ignited Mind Council in 2006 of which he is currently the chairman.
  • Mr N.V.V.Char, Formerly Commissioner (Eastern Rivers) and Chairman, Brahmaputra Board of the Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India, is a renowned civil engineer and has been involved in fruitful negotiations of the Mahakali Water Sharing Treaty with Nepal and the Farakka -Ganga Water Sharing -Treaty with Bangladesh and has played a significant role in resolving issues connected with the most controversial Sardar Sarovar Multipurpose Project on the Naramada river. He is now very well known as consultant in the field of Hydropower development in India.
  • Dr. S.Sridhar - Aero Space Engineer for 20 years in several aerospace companies in USA, followed by more than 10 years computer companiesand is currently a programme manager of Sun MicroSystem in San Diego, USA
  • Dr. Krishnamachar Harish - Surgical Oncologist for 15 years and contributed towards pioneering research in Cancer surgery, is currently the Dean of the Oncology department at the M.S.R. Hospital, Bangalore
  • V.L. Narasimhan - Associate Director at High Energy Materials Research Labs Pune and a 2 time AGNI award winner
  • Mannargudi Rengarajan Rajesh - Prominent Home Theatre Professional from Chennai. Involved in widely publicising the concept of Home theatres and micro electronics in Chennai and Singapore.
  • Dr. S.Sampath Iyengar, Geologist and renowned Mineralogist of the Technology of Materials Laboratory, in California, who did original research work on the Mysterious Crop Circles. His work has been covered in shows in History Channel and also in a show called Uncalled Mysteries.
  • Dr.G.Sundararajan-Bhatnagar award winner and Director ARCI, Hyderabad ( Metallurgist)
  • Dr.Rama Govindarajan- IIT Alumnus & Bhatnagar award recipient
  • Dr. Prof. Venkateshan Shakkottai - Professor of heat transfer at IIT, Chennai and author of the text book 'First Course in Heat Transfer'.
  • Dr.Venkatavaradan-Astrophysicist and Erswhile Director, Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai
  • Dr. Vijay V. Raghavan- Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, University of Louisiana

Mathematics


Music


Journalism


Industry


Diplomacy, Bureaucracy and Politics


Sports


Films and Entertainment


Army and Police


Miscellaneous


Blogger Ramakrishnan Parthasarathy said...
Just stumbled across this piece through the web, and I agree with much of the article. Nietzsche's portrayal of the priestly (Jews) rides somewhere close to the Tamil Brahmin picture here. As a born Tamil Brahmin and an agnostic now, I still owe most of whatever I am to the Brahmin way. The austerity, the self-understanding everything. The Brahmin life is highly compatible with agnosticism - even Periyava would've acknowledged it. However, most of what we are is indebted to our approach to religion - our beautiful culture, the priestly avocation of vegetarianism, which is conducive to self-discipline and meditation, and lots more. Brahmins possess imagination. This is where I disagree with the article that states that intellect rather than imagination is our forte. It is just that the Brahmin imagination is not the "easy-sensuality/ perverted" kind that a typical poet has, and can be attributed to several factors including our diet. The poet would exploit his experiences that his "adventurous spirit" subjects itself to, a large part being a lack of self-discipline. In contrast, a Brahmin is highly imaginative in a universal way, and even sometimes utilitarian with it. A Brahmin is classified as an introvert, a bore due to his dislike of parties, but usually makes for an excellent conversation companion. In a lot of ways, he is undervalued for his wisdom. I have noticed that Brahmins have been opportunistic, but in this regard he only is adjusting to the modern world. Opportunism is the modus operandi of all now, and when a Brahmin is being so, he just is conspicuous because his introverted self holds mystery and resentment arising out of mystery and the "boring rationalist" tag in others. A Brahmin is great at giving sage advice, and he needs to extend that to material charity too. Thanks once again for posting this.
June 1, 2008 12:14 AM
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Anonymous Chander said...
Just to point out the famous Tamil Brahmin Diwan referred to as T T Krishnamachari was in fact Sir V T Krishnamachari who was Diwan of Baroda State. Former Union Minister T T Krishnamachari was never a Diwan in any State.
August 25, 2008 6:35 PM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Lakshmi Sehgal is Half Iyer and half Nair(Kerala). Her mother Ammu Swaminathan was a Nair married to an Iyer
March 16, 2009 9:04 PM
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Blogger cvsmuthy said...
Dear Sir, I am a nascent follower of your blog. However please permit me to write a few words on this subject. One of my friend's Onbuthuveli Vaidyanathan (a small village near Thirukattupalli, Tanjore or rather Thiruviyar) used to say ( and all of us are 65 plus)that the Brahmins(may be Iyer or Iyengar or other Brahmins domiciled in Tamilnadu due to migration)were living a peaceful life in pockets of villages earlier. Due to 'land reforms' they were forced out of their villages and migrated to cities especially Madras and were the pioneers in English education, to say, they started many convents or matriculation schools and slowly started to set their foot in Government departments. They sold their lands and bought property in cities. The 'reformists' ushered problems through and Brahmins could not find a place in Government departments. Even their due promotions were deprived due to 'roster' system. They educated their children and found greener pastures in out of 'home'. And now almost every family has atleast one living or settled abroad. This notwithstand a latest write up in your blog about 'reverse brain'... Seems to sound plausible! And inducting everyboyd into Government service, who earlier used to work harder has made them lazy. And all hardworkers have become lazy and proceed to office by availing the 'grace' time and even beyond that. Earlier in a village everybody owned some sort of a house and now due to migration many live in rented houses shifting them frequently. And now the skyrocketing prices of property eluding the reach of middle class or riddle class! Thank you.
January 6, 2010 3:33 PM
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Blogger cvsmuthy said...
Will Mr. Anantharamakrishnan of Simposons groups form part of Industrialists?
January 9, 2010 12:58 PM
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Blogger bairavi said...
Madras Lalithangi Vasanthakumari is not a brahmin (assuming a strict definition that both parents must be "brahmins"). In fact, Lalithangi, MLV's mother, is well-known as a member of the devadasi community.
January 12, 2010 11:40 AM
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Blogger cvsmuthy said...
DearSir, As far as I understand history the Jews were living in various parts of the globe. They were hounded everywhere and hence formed their own Jewish state. And one must know that they are christend as 'Gods chosen people' something like 'Brahmanapriya'.
January 13, 2010 9:09 AM
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OpenID sthitapragnya said...
Dear Sir, Meaning no disrespect to Tamil Brahmins, I would like to point to the fact that Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Alladi Krishnaswami Iyer, Alladi Kuppuswami, Thyagaraja, Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, Y. V Rao and his daughter Lakshmi, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Mokshagundam Vishveshwarayya, Jana Krishnamurthy, Actress Bhanupriya, Annamacharya, Srirangam Gopalaratnam and Kilambi Venkata Narasimhacharyulu (aka Aathreya) - all belonged to Telugu speaking Brahmin families and were not TamBrams as claimed here. Also, Annamacharya was born into a Telugu Vaidika Smartha Brahmin family and was not born a Sri Vaishnavite. He was initiated into Sri Vaishnavism much later. His wife Timmakka is widely regarded as the first woman poet in Telugu. Finally, my mother's side of the family traces its lineage back to Sri Shyama Sastry and so far as I'm aware, we hold no Tamil pedigree. Our family has always spoken Telugu and I barely understand Tamil. Again, my intention is hardly to mean disrespect to the Tamil language and the Tamil Brahmin community. I'm only pointing to some discrepancies in the list.
March 4, 2010 4:27 PM
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Blogger BHASKARAN said...
I just happened to post this to US Brahmin Group and someone has pointed out the following missing list: +++++++++++++++++++++++++ Late T.S Santhanam and other brothers,all T.V Sundaram Iyengar's sons. S.Anantaramakrishnan and A.Sivasailam of Simpson group Journalists Late Kasturi Srinivasan and others of THE HINDU GROUP Late T.V Ramasubbier.Founder,Dinamalar,R.Lakshmipathy and R.Krishnamurthy,TVR's sons Late Swadesamitran Subramania iyer, Late A.N.Sivaraman of Dinamani Tamil Thataha Late U.V Swaminatha iye Freedom Martyr--Maniyachi N .Vanchinathan Fighter for Harijan Temple entry,,Vaidyanatha Iyer,Madurai
August 19, 2010 7:52 PM
Blogger Saras said...
Wow! A beautiful compendium of "Tambrahms".It felt as if I was looking at a Mirror1
April 5, 2011 10:25 AM
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Blogger Saras said...
Sir, this is how I would describe "Tambrahms" acrostically! Tactful Articulate Matured Bashful Reformer Avoiding High Profile Media Glitz Scrupulously
April 5, 2011 10:36 AM



    Blogger Harisankar said...





    Behind every great iyer is another iyer and infront of both of them is the greater iyer woman. :))
    June 16, 2011 8:34 PM
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    Anonymous Venkat said...





    Literally, this article is just awesome!!! I stumbled across your blog accidentally when I had a chance to read the poem about the plight of tamil iyer, which I felt was necessarily not emphatically true with all though...I am really thankful to read several other articles at your site. I have literally started reading a bunch of articles that you have put up..Awesome work! Hats off to you!
    November 30, 2011 11:04 AM



    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    Superbbb... article...

    I am proud to be a BRAHMIN...
    December 1, 2011 2:19 PM
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    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    Sir
    This is a beautifully crafted article well researched both within and without. It is with extreme love and respect for the writings of Dr Radhakrishnan and C Rajagopalachari that the pride the writer has for his ilk does not feel out of place. I hope that the people like mentioned keep churning out and make life much brighter and interesting.
    December 27, 2011 12:42 AM
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    Blogger raja said...


    sir,the informations give an enthusiasm.all well done but how come sudha raghunathan"s name is not included in artists &musicians. i note that her name is in only carnatic music.
    December 27, 2011 5:16 AM


    Blogger hvaidya said...


    Ms. Sudha Raghunathan' name is there under Iyengar musicians list
    December 29, 2011 9:16 PM
    Blogger MaX said...
    Sir, I may agree to many of the things you've noted here. However, I'd like to point out that the way you want to emphasize on focusing on the middle of the bell curve of TamBrahm distribution, kindly do the same for Punjabis as well. The across the board classification of all Punjabis as loud and hollow is the same as calling all Tams as meek.
    January 10, 2012 8:06 PM
     Delete
    Anonymous Anonymous said...
    This is an absolutely wonderful article - Its just so so so correct that I dont know of a louder way to approve of and attest to it....
    January 25, 2012 5:23 AM
     Delete
    Dear Sri Hariharan
    I think you should add Padma sri Prof D Balasubramanian to your list of scientists

    19 comments:

    Ramakrishnan Parthasarathy said...

    Just stumbled across this piece through the web, and I agree with much of the article. Nietzsche's portrayal of the priestly (Jews) rides somewhere close to the Tamil Brahmin picture here.

    As a born Tamil Brahmin and an agnostic now, I still owe most of whatever I am to the Brahmin way. The austerity, the self-understanding everything. The Brahmin life is highly compatible with agnosticism - even Periyava would've acknowledged it. However, most of what we are is indebted to our approach to religion - our beautiful culture, the priestly avocation of vegetarianism, which is conducive to self-discipline and meditation, and lots more.

    Brahmins possess imagination. This is where I disagree with the article that states that intellect rather than imagination is our forte. It is just that the Brahmin imagination is not the "easy-sensuality/ perverted" kind that a typical poet has, and can be attributed to several factors including our diet. The poet would exploit his experiences that his "adventurous spirit" subjects itself to, a large part being a lack of self-discipline. In contrast, a Brahmin is highly imaginative in a universal way, and even sometimes utilitarian with it.

    A Brahmin is classified as an introvert, a bore due to his dislike of parties, but usually makes for an excellent conversation companion. In a lot of ways, he is undervalued for his wisdom.

    I have noticed that Brahmins have been opportunistic, but in this regard he only is adjusting to the modern world. Opportunism is the modus operandi of all now, and when a Brahmin is being so, he just is conspicuous because his introverted self holds mystery and resentment arising out of mystery and the "boring rationalist" tag in others.

    A Brahmin is great at giving sage advice, and he needs to extend that to material charity too.

    Thanks once again for posting this.

    Chander said...

    Just to point out the famous Tamil Brahmin Diwan referred to as T T Krishnamachari was in fact Sir V T Krishnamachari who was Diwan of Baroda State. Former Union Minister T T Krishnamachari was never a Diwan in any State.

    Anonymous said...

    Lakshmi Sehgal is Half Iyer and half Nair(Kerala). Her mother Ammu Swaminathan was a Nair married to an Iyer

    cvsmuthy said...

    Dear Sir,

    I am a nascent follower of your blog. However please permit me to write a few words on this subject. One of my friend's Onbuthuveli Vaidyanathan (a small village near Thirukattupalli, Tanjore or rather Thiruviyar) used to say ( and all of us are 65 plus)that the Brahmins(may be Iyer or Iyengar or other Brahmins domiciled in Tamilnadu due to migration)were living a peaceful life in pockets of villages earlier. Due to 'land reforms' they were forced out of their villages and migrated to cities especially Madras and were the pioneers in English education, to say, they started many convents or matriculation schools and slowly started to set their foot in Government departments. They sold their lands and bought property in cities. The 'reformists' ushered problems through and Brahmins could not find a place in Government departments. Even their due promotions were deprived due to 'roster' system. They educated their children and found greener pastures in out of 'home'. And now almost every family has atleast one living or settled abroad. This notwithstand a latest write up in your blog about 'reverse brain'... Seems to sound plausible! And inducting everyboyd into Government service, who earlier used to work harder has made them lazy. And all hardworkers have become lazy and proceed to office by availing the 'grace' time and even beyond that.

    Earlier in a village everybody owned some sort of a house and now due to migration many live in rented houses shifting them frequently. And now the skyrocketing prices of property eluding the reach of middle class or riddle class!

    Thank you.

    cvsmuthy said...

    Will Mr. Anantharamakrishnan of Simposons groups form part of Industrialists?

    bairavi said...

    Madras Lalithangi Vasanthakumari is not a brahmin (assuming a strict definition that both parents must be "brahmins"). In fact, Lalithangi, MLV's mother, is well-known as a member of the devadasi community.

    cvsmuthy said...

    DearSir,

    As far as I understand history the Jews were living in various parts of the globe. They were hounded everywhere and hence formed their own Jewish state. And one must know that they are christend as 'Gods chosen people' something like 'Brahmanapriya'.

    sthitapragnya said...

    Dear Sir,
    Meaning no disrespect to Tamil Brahmins, I would like to point to the fact that Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Alladi Krishnaswami Iyer, Alladi Kuppuswami, Thyagaraja, Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, Y. V Rao and his daughter Lakshmi, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Mokshagundam Vishveshwarayya, Jana Krishnamurthy, Actress Bhanupriya, Annamacharya, Srirangam Gopalaratnam and Kilambi Venkata Narasimhacharyulu (aka Aathreya) - all belonged to Telugu speaking Brahmin families and were not TamBrams as claimed here.

    Also, Annamacharya was born into a Telugu Vaidika Smartha Brahmin family and was not born a Sri Vaishnavite. He was initiated into Sri Vaishnavism much later. His wife Timmakka is widely regarded as the first woman poet in Telugu.

    Finally, my mother's side of the family traces its lineage back to Sri Shyama Sastry and so far as I'm aware, we hold no Tamil pedigree. Our family has always spoken Telugu and I barely understand Tamil.

    Again, my intention is hardly to mean disrespect to the Tamil language and the Tamil Brahmin community. I'm only pointing to some discrepancies in the list.

    BHASKARAN said...

    I just happened to post this US Brahmin Group and someone has pointed out the following missing list:
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Late T.S Santhanam and other brothers,all T.V Sundaram Iyengar's sons.
    S.Anantaramakrishnan and A.Sivasailam of Simpson group

    Journalists Late Kasturi Srinivasan and others of THE HINDU GROUP
    Late T.V Ramasubbier.Founder,Dinamalar,R.Lakshmipathy and R.Krishnamurthy,TVR's sons

    Late Swadesamitran Subramania iyer,
    Late A.N.Sivaraman of Dinamani
    Tamil Thataha Late U.V Swaminatha iye
    Freedom Martyr--Maniyachi N .Vanchinathan
    Fighter for Harijan Temple entry,,Vaidyanatha Iyer,Madurai

    Saras said...

    Wow! A beautiful compendium of "Tambrahms".It felt as if I was looking at a Mirror1

    Saras said...

    Sir, this is how I would describe "Tambrahms" acrostically!
    Tactful

    Articulate

    Matured

    Bashful

    Reformer

    Avoiding

    High Profile

    Media Glitz

    Scrupulously

    Harisankar said...

    Behind every great iyer is another iyer and infront of both of them is the greater iyer woman. :))

    Venkat said...

    Literally, this article is just awesome!!! I stumbled across your blog accidentally when I had a chance to read the poem about the plight of tamil iyer, which I felt was necessarily not emphatically true with all though...I am really thankful to read several other articles at your site. I have literally started reading a bunch of articles that you have put up..Awesome work! Hats off to you!

    Anonymous said...

    Superbbb... article...

    I am proud to be a BRAHMIN...

    Anonymous said...

    Sir
    This is a beautifully crafted article well researched both within and without. It is with extreme love and respect for the writings of Dr Radhakrishnan and C Rajagopalachari that the pride the writer has for his ilk does not feel out of place. I hope that the people like mentioned keep churning out and make life much brighter and interesting.

    raja said...

    sir,the informations give an enthusiasm.all well done but how come sudha raghunathan"s name is not included in artists &musicians. i note that her name is in only carnatic music.

    hvaidya said...

    Ms. Sudha Raghunathan' name is there under Iyengar musicians list

    MaX said...

    Sir, I may agree to many of the things you've noted here. However, I'd like to point out that the way you want to emphasize on focusing on the middle of the bell curve of TamBrahm distribution, kindly do the same for Punjabis as well. The across the board classification of all Punjabis as loud and hollow is the same as calling all Tams as meek.

    Anonymous said...

    This is an absolutely wonderful article - Its just so so so correct that I dont know of a louder way to approve of and attest to it....