Namboothiri

Part of a on
Hinduism
History · Deities
Denominations · Hindu Literature
Beliefs & practices
Dharma · Artha
Kama · Moksha
Karma · Samsara
Yoga · Bhakti
Maya · Puja · Mandir
Scriptures
Vedas · Upanishads
Ramayana · Mahabharata
Bhagavad Gita · Purana
Bibliography
Related topics
Hinduism by country
Leaders · Reforms
Ayurveda · Jyotisha
Calendar ·
Glossary
Caste system · Criticism


This box:     [ edit]
The Namboothiris (Malayalam :നമ്പൂതിരി) are the upper class Brahmins of Kerala, who consider themselves the most orthodox Brahmins in India. They perform Pooja in temples of Kerala based on Tantra Vidhi. The other temple related activities known as Kazhakam are performed by the Ambalavasi castes. There are also other brahmins called Sharada Brahmins, who have their own temples, mutts, ashrams, sannyasi sanghams and guru lineages. The unique thing about Namboothiris is that they follow the poorva mimamsa school of Hindu philosophy unlike uttara mimamsa or vedanta school followed by most of the South Indians.

Etymology

Namboothiri is said to be either derived from Nambu meaning sacred (in Prakruta Tenugu) and Thiri which is a suffix added to the names of certain upper castes in Kerala. Another view is that it is derived from Nam (Veda) and Poorayathi (who imparts).

Origins

Brahmins are supposed to have migrated from North. However, it is unclear if all of them migrated after various South Indian kingdoms started taking shape. According to modern Keralite Historians the period of the first arrival of Namboothiris in Kerala happened around 5th-7th century AD after the fall of the first Chera Kingdom (Which is debatable as therewere Namboothiri Brahmin settlments in Kerala as early as 2nd century BC as said in Sangam literature, Dandi's story, etc.), and settled in 32 gramams(villages) through out Kerala, may be called the original Namboothiris. Most of them live in central Kerala and a few, in north and south kerala.

At present, the only known migration(of Brahmins to Kerala) is that of Tulu Brahmins from the region of Tulu Nadu to North Malabar(or Kolathunadu as it was known then). The Tulu Braahmanans brought to North Kerala (today's Kasaragod & Kannur Districts) during the 17th century, many of whom were resettled between today's Kottayam & Trivandrum Districts, and the later immigrants from Tulu and Chola regions constitute the Saagara, Samudra, Thonnoorukaar, and Thukalasseri Bhattathiris. Many of them were known as Embraanthiris. Many of them have, for practical purposes assimilated into the original Namboothiri community - practising rituals in the Namboothiri style, considered as equals, and even called Namboothiris, especially after the Temple-Entry Proclamation of the Travancore king in early 1900s.

However, neither they nor those who retained the Embraanthiri surnames may participate in rituals along with original namboothiris. There is no ritual to convert others into Namboothiri community. So, practically, original namboothiris do not accept these namboothiris to participate in their ritual. Those Tulu Brahmins who are called Embranthiries still speak Tulu and are considered as Tulu Brahmins. The Malayalam speaking Embranthiries who have the namboothiri surnames of "Namboothiri" and "Potty" are now considered Namboothiries but as secondary citizens. However there are very few Embranthiries who have assimiliated to Namboothiri community fully and are now considered equal to original Namboothiries.In south kerala, many old namboothiri families keep the surname of Potty.(E.g the Thanthri family of Taazhman).In earlier times, males of there families were used to affix 'ru' to the end of their names(E.g Kantharu Sankararu). This practice is still continued by some families.

Myth of origin

The Namboothiris' own tradition holds that Parashuraaman recovered the land (of Kerala) from the sea and bestowed it upon them. The excavations made proves that Kerala was once under the sea, as fossils of ancient marine animals were found from almost all parts of Kerala. The belief of modern Historians that Namboothiries migrated to Kerala after 5th century is certainly wrong, considering the fact that even in geographically separated (From Indian subcontinent) SriLanka, there were Sanskrit influences as early as the third century BCE. When the Mauryan Emperor Asoka sent Buddhist missionaries to Srilanka around 275 BCE the capital of Sril Lanka was named Anuradhapura (See Mahavamsa). As it is certain that Sanskrit coexisted with Aryan/Brahmin societies, it can be considered that Srilanka was a Hindu land with Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras along with outcastes (Chandalas). The King had established marriage relations with Asoka and the whole Kingdom was converted to Buddhism. Hinduism reappeared in the island only around 1000 AD when Cholas conquered it and established the province of MummudiChola Mandalam (Jaffna Peninsula) and settled it with Hindu Tamilians. The presence of Sanskrit speaking Aryans in SriLanka as early as 275 BCE proves that in geographically connected (with India) Kerala there were Namboothiri Brahmins as early as 275 BCE and that the Chera Kings of Kerala of the time were noble Kshatriyas and not Dravidians. The Mauryan inscriptions mention the Cheras as Kerala Putras. This proves that Vedic religion predates Dravidian culture, Buddhism and Jainism and Communism in Kerala. The Christian Tradition of Kerala also confirms this as Syrian Catholics consider themselves descendants of those Namboothiries who were banished from Namboothiri community when they give food and shelter to St. Thomas (who was considered a Mlechcha by the orthodox Namboothiri community), the apostle of Christianity who came to India in AD 52. Namboothiries are mentioned in Sangam literarture as early as 200 BCE (as described in Sangam literature, Dandi's story)

The legend of Parasurama also exists amongst Brahmins throughout India. He is worshipped in UP and Bihar by Bhumihar Brahmins, Chitpawan Brahmins in Maharashtra and Saraswat Brahmins in Goa. These Brahmin subcastes also hold that they are those Brahmins who were the followers of Bhagwan Parashuram or Parashuraaman or they were created by him. Hence it has to be seen as a myth not exclusive to Namboothiris and Kerala alone. According to the Namboothiries, Parashuraaman used his Parashu (Axe), to create new land for the Brahmins. This legend is also present in KeralaMahatmyam (a Sanskrit text which is a part of Brahmanda Purana) as also in Keralaolpathy in Malayalam. According to this, the land area that Kerala Lord Parashurama created was of 160 "Katams" (a measure of area) in size. Since the Vedas holds that Kshatriyas are dependent on Brahmins and vice versa and that Kshatriyas' prime duty is to protect the Brahmins and cows, Parashurama (Bhargava), the Great seer belonging to the line of the Saptarshi Bhrigu, wanted a King to protect the Namboothiries he settled in Kerala. Thus a Chera Prince who had surrendered to him was installed in the throne of Kerala, and made Mahodayapuram (Mezuris, as known to Romans) near Kodungallur his capital. The fact that the Namboothiries, who do not consider the Zamorin Rajah and the Maharajah of Travancore (who are Samanta Kshatriya or normal nair "madampi") as Kshatriyas, consider Cheras as noble Kshatriyas proves that the Cheras were of Aryan-Kshatriya race and not Dravidians as said by modern historians. In addition, the Cheras are said to have helped the Pandavas in the Mahabharatha war in the Great Indian epic.

Namboothiries in Kerala

At a time when land was ruled by Kshatriyas and the world was over populated by powerful Kshatriyas like KarthaVeerarjunah who have himself defeated the ten headed Ravana of Lanka, and had him in chains ; who could stop the waters of Holy Narmada with his thousand hands ; the Brahmins of the world suffered. These Kshatriyas who are bound to protect the interests of Brahmins and cows became arrogant and Dharma Dweshis(Dharma Hating) and started harming Brahmins. At that time Bramhanas worshipped the Lord Achyuta(Chyuti=destruction. Achyuta=death-less)who is Ajita(Invincible), who is both microcosm and macrocosm, who is dear to Brahmins, who is present everywhere (omnipresent,omnipotent and omniscient) fully, He who is present in all the infinite divisions of space of even a minute object as if all objects are made of him, He who appears as the Trimurthis, Lord Vishnu,Lord Shiva and Lord Bramha, He who is Ananta (infinite),He who is the body ,the mind and the feeling of "I" or the self which is unique to living things known as the Atman(soul) of all beings, He who assumes numerous forms using Maya, yet fully aware of His nature of Self ,He who is the creator of all sounds and so though cannot be heard or associated to a sound assumes a form using Maya and speak to devotees, He who cannot be associated to a name, yet assumes the divine form and assumes infinite names, He who cannot be seen , yet assumes many forms from human to animal (like a boar) to a huge ball of fire and light ; that Divine Achyuta was born as Parashurama (Rama of the Axe) to sage Jamadagni to protect Brahmanas' interests

Parashuram ;the slayer of Brahmin/Dharma hating Kshatriyas will challenge and fight the Kshatriyas.Since it is the Dharma(duty) of a Kshatriya to accept such a challenge and fight most of them did so and perished. Only few noble hearted Kshatriyas did surrendered to Parashuram and since it is the Dharma of all beings to forgive those who seek assylum ,Parashurama spared them. Parashuram though a Brahmin who is not supposed to fight, kill or punish did this deed of massacre when he was provoked by Kartha Veerarjunah's minister who stole Jamadagni's cow. This dreadful deed resulted in great pain and misery for the whole Kshatriya race and Parashuram became a sinner as he himself violated the Brahmin Dharma. But this is unavoidable as this is always the result(misery, death in large numbers) of doing Adharma To shed his sins Parashuram performs penance(Tapasya) . He came to know that the land of Kerala has been submerged in water and he threw his axe from Gokarnam and the axe fell at Kanyakumari and thus Kerala was born . This land owned by Parashuram was given to Namboothiri Brahmins as alms as it is always the best way to give alms to Brahmins to shed one's sins.

Parashurama settled the new land with Brahmins. The land from Gokarna in the north to the River Chandragiri Puzha in modern Kasargod District of north Kerala is Tulu Nad where Lord Parasurama established 32 villages. And south of Chandragiri river he established another 32 villages which are normally referred to as Namboothiri Gramams or villages. Although there are 32 Namboothiri villages spanning from Kasargod in north Kerala to the south, all the important Namboothiri villages both in number of Namboothiri population and importance with respect to Veda prominence and the like are located between river ChandragiriPuzha (Kasargod District) and River Karivannoor Puzha just south of Cherpu in Thrissur District. The Namboothiri Gramams between these two rivers are ten in number. They are Perinchellur(Taliparamba) ,Payyannur, Alathur,Panniyur(Anakkara ,Palghat District),Karikatt(Manjery) and Sukapuram(Edappal); both in Malappuram District ,Perumanam or Peruvanam(Cherpu) in Thrissur District and three more. The other 22 Gramams are located in southern parts of Thrissur District and Southern Districts of Kerala.But this all or story or legends, not historical facts, the present cast system and Malayalam language itself comes around 1000-1200 years ago. The present day keralam before that period was a part of "thamizakam"and the language was "chenthamiz", during"sankakalam" and later cheras,cholas and pandyas were the three prominent rulers of "thamizakam"."muziris" was the most important city of "cherakkam". Uzavar,panner, parayar,parathar(fishermen),kurumber were the main casts of that time, cheras were the ruling class people and they worshipped nagas,amma(devi,amman) deities they were followers of shaktheya shivasim based on tantrics. majority people were uzavas (farmers) and paravans(fishermen)who followed Buddha dharma came through sinhalam(lanka).later majority of uzavas became ezavas and thiyyas(means people from ezham,deep)and good portion of paravans became chiristans and Muslims. Jainism came through mysoor and Karnataka, they also had good followers among locals.Muziris, maduri,panthalayanikollam,vizinjam such cities and costal areas had roman,jewish,arab,chinies settlements, thus the 3 Semitic religions came to India, there were few Aryans(Brahmans) also settled in these cities but that time they were neither influential nor have any significant presence in society.

Brahmin settlement start much later stage around AD 7-10 centuries. They came to kerala from tulunadu under kadamba king mayurasharma's directions and settled in 32 gramams.

Then came 100 years of war between cheras and cholas, at 1st cheras lost heavily and chera power started to vanish, this time with the help of Brahmins cheras formed "chavers"(suicide squads) and finally cholas defeated, during this time social system started to change, Brahmins got upper hand in society ,cheras lost their mens in battle field,chera womens accept Brahmin partners, matriactial system started,these Brahmins received local customs and imposed their vedic and knowledge and became namputhiris their childrens and relatives from cheras became nairs, adisankara established Brahmin supremacy among other ideologies especially among budha dharma, and namputhries accept and accommodate so many local believes and rituals such as chera king of ancient time"vell kezu kettavan" myth became parasurama myth etc. The story of Brahmins converts to Christianity came much later stage "the ramban pattu" and such type of other stories are using Malayalam language called"vattezuthu " ,these type of dialects used in 15- 18 th centuries. But one thing is shower that, AD 1 st centuries itself there were Christians in kerala, st: Thomas converts some jews who settled before them and locals(uzavas, paravas etc).probably he converts some budha,jain priests. In history you can see that people from lower sections have a tradition to imitate the upper class, and different clans and groups are claiming that they are descendents of some gods or prophets or some historical figure and try to imitate that custom and culture

Namboothiries in Kerala are a small minority community and their population is steadly decreasing. This is mainly due to family planning and one child norm adopted by most of the educated in the community. According to the Brahmin survey Namboothiries will face extinction in next 50 years.

More On Namboothiri Settlements

Parashurama, the slayer of Dharma Dweshi Kshatriyas ; the disciple of the Lord of the Lords' (Shiva) established 108 Shiva Temples and 108 Durga Temples(For instance Cherpu Bhagavathy Temple) throughout Kerala. In every Grama, he established a Temple which the people of that Grama considered as Grama Kshetra(Village Temple). Also every Grama has a deity who is considered Grama Paradevata (Instance-Perumanam Shiva temple as Grama Temple and Thiruvllakkavu Sastha as Grama Paradevata of Perumanam-Cherpu). Of all Namboothiri Gramams, the most important ones are Perinchellur;considered to be the first Namboothiri Grama established by Parashurama, The Panniyur Grama, The Perumanam Grama and the Sukapuram Grama (in the order of their imporatnce). The Taliparamba(Perinchellur) temple and Panniyur temple is important to all Namboothiries and not just to the Namboothiries of the respective Gramas.

Vedic Sacrifices need Ritwiks from all the three Vedas and only in Perinchellur,Panniyur and Perumanam there were all the three Vedic people. The Samavedic Namboothiries of today belonging to Panjaal and Kottayam were originally from Panniyur and Perinchellur(Taliparamba). Today the Namboothiri Gramams with a tradition of Vedic Sacrifices(Yajna-Yaaga) are Perumanam,Perinchellur,Sukapuram and Irinjalakuda Namboothiri Gramam of Thrissur District.Once there were three thousand Namboodiri families in both Panniyur and Perinchellur; thousand each belonging to Yajur,Rig and Sama Vedaas. But today there is only about 200 Illams(Families) in Perinchellur who are mostly Yajur Vedi and about 30 families in Panniyur who are all Veda-less. The Sukapuram grew at the cost of Panniyur when the latter was destroyed. Today however Perumanam Gramam is the biggest Namboothiri village with about 300 families(mostly Yajur Vedis and few Rig Vedis too).

Every Grama has a Head Man who is known as the Tambrakkal, and used to have two Vydika families(Vydikan is one who perform Yaaga as Yajamana). Besides there are Oykkan families who are well versed in Vedas and teach Vedas to Brahmacharis and Smartha(Smarthan) families who plays role in excommunicating(Banish from community) fellow Namboothiries who have violated the Dharma Sootra rules. However it is the Vydikan who is the final authority in matters of Shodasa rituals, daily rituals and other Brahminic and Vedic rituals. After Tambrakkal it is the Vydikan who is the most respected among Namboothiries. The head of all Tambrakkals of all Gramas (villages) is the Kurumathur Naickar (The Tambrakkal of Perinchellur (Taliparamba) village. The Sardar(head) of all Vydikans is the Azhvanchery Tambrakkal , the Tambrakkal of Alathur Grama. The prominent families of Perumanam, are Kirangatt Mana and Chittoor Mana of which Kirangatt are the Tambrakkals and Chittoor Family were the hereditory administrators of Perumanam Temple. Chittoor Family has Samudayam rights in Perinchellur and Panniyur Temples too.

Temple rituals

Namboothiris follow vedic tradition for their spiritual life and Smartha tradition for their social life. Apart from following other Gods, they follow the concept of "Sankaranarayanan" (combination of Shaivism and Vaishnavism), unlike other brahmins. Namboothiris do poojas in temples based on Tantra Vidhi. The dvision of pooja practice in to Tantric and Vedic are recent innovations. Pooja must be performed in temples based on Tantra Vidhi. Tantra Vidhi clearly describes the moola(Basic) mantra of the Gods and Goddesses and their form, and weapons they hold on their arms etc. Namboothiries believe in the saying Mantradheenantu Daivatam (Through Mantras Gods' can be realised). Namboothiri Thanthri chants Mantra and make sure the Gods' presence in the statue. Only then the statue of the God becomes an idol which is worth worshipping. Namboothirires perform Kalasam in temples to reaffirm Gods' presence in the Idols. It begins with chanting of Punyaha Mantra which is in the Samhita part of Vedas. Many Mantras from Tythireeya Samhita of Yajur Veda , Rig Vedic and Sama Vedic Mantras are used in special poojas and Kalasam, Panchagavyam, SreeBhootavali and Navakam rituals done by Namboothiries in Temples. In Shiva temples Namboothiries perform Abhishekam chanting the Sree Rudram which is one of the forty eight modules of Tythireeya Samhita of Yajur Veda. In other temples Bhagya Sooktam, Purusha Sooktam, Narayana Sooktam are chanted. Namboothiries also perform Othoottu in temples were entire Samhita part of Vedas are chanted.

Tantra Vidhi forbids use of utensils made of iron/steel in temples. Only utensils made of earthern pot,Bronze, Silver and Gold are used. The belief that Iron Age started in India only by 1000 BCE must be reviewed based on this notion. Also Namboothiries perform poojas in a very Satwik way consisting of Jala, Gandhah , Pushpa, Deepa ,Dhoopa tradition. Use of meat and alcohol is strictly forbidden. Offerings to God are mostly payasams, rice, puffed rice, coconut and Kadali Banana fruit. Flowers used for Pooja are different for different Gods and Goddesses. The clothing used for many Gods' and Goddesses' are Satwik Durga - Green, White. Flower- Tulasi, Sandalpaste. Kali- Red. Flower- Red Flowers. Vishnu/Krishna -Yellow. Sastha (Ayyappa) -Black, Blue. Shiva - None.

Also Namboothiries considers bathing in river (Floating water) as the best, bathing in pond/Tank as medium and taking bath in shower or taking bath drawing water from well as worse kind of Bathing. Even today Namboothiries perform Vedic rituals as well as Temple rituals by taking bath in either river or a pond/Tank.

The daily rituals in Kerala temples are traditionally performed by Namboothiris, and often by Embranthiri migrants from the neighbouring Karnataka, but not by Tamil Braahmanans. Even among Namboothiris, only certain designated families deserve to become "Thanthris". Thanthris have to perform the incredible task of transferring ("Aavaahanam") the aura ("Chaithanyam") of God and energizing the idol. There have been numerous books on this topics, written by Namboothiris. The treatises may be divided into three categories - Aagamams (Saivam), Samhithas (Vaishnavam) and Thanthrams (Saaktheyam). Aagamams include Nigamam versions too. The former are Sivan's advice to Parvathy, while Nigamams are spoken by Parvathy to Sivan. Other classifications are regional, like Vishnukraanthaa, Rathhakraanthaa and Aswaakraanthaa, and also like Yaamalams and Daamarams. Usually, all branches of knowledge are dealt with in Thanthra Granthhams.

Gothras and Pravaras

Each Namboothiri male (or unmarried female) is identified by his/her respective paternal family name. A married female adopts her husband's family name. Each family is affiliated to a Gothra and Pravara. The Gothra name demonstrates the family's traditional style of knowledge acquisition and expertise in ancient theories. Based on the fact that cross-breeding of excellent but different species yields better quality, marriage from a family belonging to the same Gothra was and is still banned for Namboothiris. Looking from another angle, Namboothiris believe that marriage from the same Gothra has a better chance of generating mentally retarded or physically handicapped children or at least children of less intellectual capacity. Each Gothra has several sub-classes known as Pravara. If by mistake, a boy marries a girl of same Gothra, he is not allowed to have sex with her. He has to treat her like he treats his mother.

Common gothra (and their pravara in brackets) among Namboothiris are Bharadwaajam (Amgirasam, Bhaarhaspathyam, Bharadwaajam), Kousikam (Viswaamithram, Akhamarshanam, Kousikam ), Vaatsam( Bhaargavam, Chyavanam, Aapthavaanam, Ourvam, Jaamadagnyam ), Koundinyam (Vaasishtam, Maithraavarunam, Koundinyam), Kaasyapam (Kaasyapam, Aavatsaaram, Naidruvam), Vaasishtam(Vaasishtam, Indrapradamam, Aabharaswath), Jaamadagnyam (Bhaargavam, Chyavanam, Aapthavaanam, Ourvam, Jaamadagnyam), Viswaamithram(Viswaamithram, Devaraatha Oudalam), Gouthamam (Amgirasam, Aayasyam, Gouthamam ), Athri (Aathreyam, Archanaanasam, Syavaaswam). Eight more Gothras also exist among Namboothiris, as branches of the Gothras listed above. They are Kutsam, Mudgalam, Aamgirasam, Gaargyam, Naidruvam, Saandilyam, Dhaananjayam, and Samkhyaayanam.

Vedic Tradition Of Namboothiries

Namboothiries belong to three different Vedic groups, those who follow Yajur Veda, those who follow Rg Veda and those who follow the Sama Veda. However there are Namboothiries who are barred from chanting of Vedas. These Veda-less Brahmins lost their right to chant Vedas due to some violations of the Dharma sootra rules at some point of time. The Yajur Vedic Namboothiries follow the Krishna Yajur Veda (Prose and Poetry combined Yajur Veda) and not the Sukla Yajur Veda(Yajur Veda with metre-poetry). The Yajur Veda is divided in to Samhita (literally means collection of Mantras) , Bramhana part (Philosophy) and Aranyaka part. The Namboothiries follow the Tythireeya Samhita. Namboothiries divides the Black (Krishna) Yajur Veda in to Samhita and Sakha (Bramhana and Aranyaka part). Samhita consists of about 48 modules known as Parchams.Sakha consists of 36 Parchams. Each Parchams have sub-modules known as Anuvakam (Sanskrit) or oath (Malayalam). Hence the Namboothiri name Oath (Malayalam ; Not English word Oath) for Vedas.

Sree Rudram is a parcham with eleven Anuvakas(Oaths) dedicated to Lord Rudra (Shiva). Another important Parchams are Chama koottam(Chamakam) ,Arunam and Aswamedham.All these Parchams are important to Namboothiri Yajur Vedi Bramhanas. The collection of the last three Anuvakas(Oaths) of the last Parcham (named Valli) of Sakha is known as the Tythireeya Upanishad. All the ten major Upanishads belongs to the three Vedas mentioned above. Majority of Namboothiries are Rig Vedic and are spread throughout Kerala. Then comes the Yajur Vedic ones, whose prime settlements are Perinchellur or Taliparamba of Kannur district and Perumanam (Cherpu) of Thrissur district. Less important ones are Irinjalakuda (Thrissur Dt) and Karikatt (Malappuram Dt). Samavedic Namboothiries form a minority and are located in pockets of Kottayam District and in Panjaal near Wadakkancherry division of Thrissur District.

Vedic chanting

Namboothiris, who are entitled to recite Vedams, have evolved a rich and diversified culture of Vedam recitation. Basically Namboothiries follow the Seeksha rules while chanting the Vedas. The Six Vedangas(Literally Veda-body parts)are Seeksha(Which describes the Sandhi and other rules in Sanskrit and also tells how to chant Vedas) ,Chandas(Metre in poetry-ChandoManjari) ,Meemamsa(Philosophy), Nirukta (Etymology of Sanskrit language) ,Vyakarana (Grammer) and Jyotisha (Astrology). Most of Yajur Vedic Namboothiries (esp Boudhaayanas) follows the Seeksha of Vasishtha (Sage Vasishtha). The Veda chanting way divides all words in to Udatha (High Pitch), Anudatha(Low Pitch) and Swarita. The Namboothiri Veda tradition is orally transmitted over the generations and is perhaps the oldest ,and most traditional and correct way of chanting of the Vedas. Their recitation is quite different from traditional vedam recitations in other parts of India. This is due to a variety of features, such as the pronunciation of Sanskrit in Kerala. An Important feature is nasalization, a feature of Malayalam in general which seems to be relatively ancient. (In Sanskrit it was called "anunaasika athiprasaram") Another reason may be that a much larger percentage of Malayalam words is of Sanskrit origin than is the case with Tamil. It may also be connected with the isolated development of the Namboothiri tradition, which was not exposed to contact with other traditions. And lastly, though there have been many Namboothiri scholars of Sanskrit, there has not been a tendency to bring existing practice in line with the norms established in the past. Rather, the living tradition has been left to prevail and develop freely.

While all Vedic recitations are taught at home, there are two special schools for the teaching of Rigvedam, one at Thrissur and the other at Thirunaavaaya, in Malappuram district. The Thirunaavaaya School was formed by several Namboothiris and financed by Saamoothiri Raja (King Zamorin) of Malabar. The Thrissur school was supported by the Raja of Cochin. There are differences in the style of recitation of the two Rigvedi schools. The Thrissur school (Brahmaswam Madhom) has a few students even now, while the Thirunaavaaya school is not fully functioning. Fortunately, a few of its students are being taught at home. The Thrissur school recently started admitting children of families, which originally followed Thirunaavaaya style. In the Yajurvedam, there are also two traditions that differ slightly in style of recitation, the Peruvanam School tradition and the Irinjalakuda School tradition. Now mostly, the Yajurvedam and Saamavedam are being taught in homes.

Vedic recensions

Each Namboothiri family is traditionally and strictly a follower of only one of the three Vedas, namely, Rigveda, Yajurveda and Saamaveda. Followers of Rigveda are called Rigvedis. Two sub-divisions of Rigvedis are Kousheethaka and Aswalaayana. Followers of Yajurveda are called Yajurvedis, with two sub-divisions, Boudhaayana and Baadhoolaka. All Samavedi Namboothiris are of Jaimineeya sub-division. Each of these five divisions has its own unique style of performing certain or all rituals.In fact these five subdivisions are not just for chanting of Vedas they are the names of the Vedic Acharyas these Namboothiries follows. Most of Yajur Vedic Namboothiries are Boudhaayanas (Those of Taliparamba and Perumanam-Cherpu).Also the Aswalaayana Rig Vedic Namboothiries are more in number and downgrade the other division(Kousheetaka). For instance the Boudhaayana Namboothiries follows the Boudhaayana Dharma Sootra for their moral conduct and Boudhaayana Grihyasootra for the daily rituals or rather the Shodasa Kriyas(The sixteen rituals like Seemantam,Pumsavana,Chowlam,AnnaPrasam,Upanayana,Samavarthana,Veli(Marriage)etc) ; which a Namboothiri has to undergo during the various stages of his life time as well as the Pancha Mahayajna.Also the Boudhaayana SroutaSootra deals mainly with the Vedic Sacrifices like Agnishtoma,Somayaaga etc. Also the Grihya sootras tells about the Nitya Karmas (Daily rituals) a Namboothiri has to perform like Sandhyaavandana,Chamata Homa(Bramhacharis--Refer the Four Asramas),Vyswadeva and Oupasana(Grihasthasrama people).Also Reference books, called "Chadangu pusthakam", is available for each of these five sub-divisions. These books clearly describe the step-by-step procedure to perform all kinds of rituals like Shodasakriyakal (various rituals from birth to death), Samskaaram (cremation), etc. For example, Kousheethakan Namboothiris refer the book "Kousheethakan Chadangu", Aaswalaayanan Namboothiris refer "Pakazhiyan Chadangu", and Boudhaayanan Namboothiris refer the book "Boudhaayanan Chadangu".

Yaaga

Vedic ritual is part of Namboothiri life. Namboothiris perform mostly two types of yaagas; Agnishtomam, generally known as Somayaagam, and Athiraathra (Agnichayana), popularly known as Agni. While performing of Somayaagam makes a Namboothiri a complete (Nithyam) Braahmanan, Athiraathram is only optional. In the Sangam literature (Tamil), however, there is reference to Vaajapeyam Yaagam having been performed during the second century BC in Perinchellur Graamam near Taliparamba in the present Kannur district. So, performances of other Yaagams by Namboothiris during the earlier periods, cannot be ruled out. The three types of Athiraathra altars constructed by Namboothiris are six-tipped, five-tipped and Peetthan. The six-tipped Agnichayanam and five-tipped are the most common and Namboothiris still practice them. The Peetthan (square bird) has not been constructed for some 150 years. The Yajamaanan (master / leader) is the person who actually performs Yaagam. Not all Namboothiris are permitted to perform Yaagam. Only Namboothiris of Aadu class can perform Yaagam. The Yajamaanan has to be a male Namboothiri having several pre-requisites and qualifications. After yaaga, the Threthaagnis (the three spiritual fires attained through Yaagam) are shown (Kaachi) at and invoked back to the Arani. Once the Threthaagni is invoked back to Arani, the remaining fire in the Yaagasala has conceptually become forest fire with no spiritual content. Also, the Yaagasala has lost its divine nature. The Yaagasaala is set fire to with this fire. The Threthaagni is taken to the Yajamaanan's residence (Illam) and placed in an appropriate location like Vadukkini or Padinjaatti (two rooms in a Namboothiri Illam). The Somayaaga (or Athiraathra) is now over and the Yajamaanan now becomes a Somayaaji (or Akkithiri) and his wife (wives), Paththanaadi. It is using this Threthaagni that the Somayaaji (or Akkithiri) and Paththanaadi perform the rituals, viz., Agnihothram, twice daily, and other rituals through out their married life.

Marriage

The Namboothiri women are called Antherjanam, the literal meaning being "people inside the house." The travel of Namboothiri girls were limited to the temples or to the house of their immediate relatives, but that too had to be accompanied by a maid servant.

The Namboothiri believed that the girl, during infancy, childhood and youth, is under the wings of gods Soman, Gandharvan and Agni respectively. God Viswavasa protects her virginity. Hence the bridegroom has to thank Viswavasa for protecting her till marriage and then marry her in the presence of Agni. Namboothiri marriage is a four day long ritual.

Sambandham

Main article: Sambandham
The Dharma Sootra allows Brahmin men to marry maidens belonging to the Kshatriya,Vaisya and Sudra (definitely not from outcastes) communities. If a Brahmin man wanted to take a bride from Sudra community , he has to first marry a Brahmin maiden, then a Kshatriya , then Vaisya and then only he can marry the maiden of his desire who apparently belongs to Sudra race. Also if he wish to marry a girl from Vaisya community he has to first marry from his own, then a Kshatriya maiden and then the desired Vaisya maiden. This was the rule laid by Dharma. After the big war which left most of the teen-aged and grown-up Kshatriyas dead at the hands of Lord Parasurama, there was a need of young Kshatriyas to continue the noble races of Kshatriyas and Parasurama is said to have asked Brahmin men to marry the Kshatriya princesses so that they can have sons who can become Kings and rule the land. These marriages were legally solemnised by the presence of Agni and the Brahmins who married princesses were already married to Brahmin maidens. This tale is described in the Puranas.

Early Namboothiries too followed this model. A Namboothiri who was a contemporary of Mezhathur Agnihothri (Who performed 99 Athiratrams or Agnishtoma Yagas ) is said to have married from all the other three castes of Brahmin,Kshatriya and Vaisya before marrying a Sudra girl of his choice. Mezhathur Agnihotri was a Namboothiri and the son of Vararuchi who was one of the Navaratnas (Like Kalidasa) at the court of the Gupta Emperor Chandragupta 2nd also known as Vikramaditya. The time of this Emperor was around 400 AD(400 CE). From this story it appears that there was no practice of Sambandham among early Namboothiris though Namboothiris men might have married maidens belonging to other castes.

"Sambandham" marriages were informal marriages done by men of Namboothiri with girls of Keralite Malayala Kshatriya ,Ambalavasi and Nair communities. These marriages are informal for Namboothiris as only marriages within Namboothiri castes, performed through rituals in the traditional style were considered as marriages. Sambandham is not supported by blessings from individual gods through Mantrams and advices to the bride, through "Veli Othu", a part of Rigveda. This is why Sambandham is just a casual relationship for Namboothiris.

Till the early ages of the common era there was no practise of Sambandham and the practise might have started and encouraged by the Malayala Kshatriyas of Kerala in the later ages when Kshatriyas of Kerala who fought amongst themselves found it difficult to establish marriage relationships among themselves. This was the practice of the members of the Cochin royal family till recently. The Female members of Cochin Royal Family were married to Namboothiris (Sambandham) and male members generally marry Nair girls preferably from Paliam house who were the hereditary ministers of Cochin state.Also the Kshatriyas of Kerala followed the matriarchal system (Marumakkathayam) as different from other Kshatriyas of other parts of India. The King of Cochin normally would be a Kshatriya his wife would be Nair lady, son also considered as a Nair and if the Kings' son belonged to the Paliam house, he would be most probably the Prime Minister of the state. Also the father of the Cochin Rajah would be a Namboothiri and mother a Princess of the royal family. Kings' sister also will be considered member of royal family, her husband would be a Namboothiri and her son , who is the nephew of the King would be a Kshatriya and heir to the throne.

Namboothiries got in to this practise of Sambandham probably to avoid the growth of the size of family and to avoid the partition of property and Temples administered (Till recently most of Kerala's temples were administered by Namboothiries).

Until 1933, only the eldest brother was entitled to marry within the Namboothiri caste. His younger brothers were supposed to practice pure "Brahmacharyam" by being unmarried and to dedicate themselves to preserve Vedams and rituals. Apart from this, those younger brothers, who opted to marry within the caste were excommunicated from the family. Except for a few intelligent and studious ones, most younger brothers turned to more lucrative and worldly affairs like Sambandham.

The practise of Sambandham which is against the Dharma sootra rules badly affected the community. Though it avoided partition of property and Temples administered , it prevented the Family size from increasing. Newer Namboothiri families also didn't rise due to this practise. Namboothiri population became dependent on the number of houses(Illams).At the start of the common era the population of the world was 3% of the population of the world by 1990. While the population of other castes steadily increased, Namboothiri population remained stagnant due to Sambandham. This led to a steady decrease in the percentage of Namboothiri population in Kerala. Today there are only an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Namboothiries world wide.During the Mysorean Subedar Malabar Sultan's ten year rule(From 1782-1792 CE) of north Kerala many Namboothiri Houses were either destroyed or absorbed in to the Mappila community which weakened the Namboothiri community in Malabar.

Other communities, especially Royal families, and similar communities have encouraged Namboothiris to have Sambandham with girls in their communities. The objective behind this encouragement was to "purify" their future generations with the Namboothiri blood and also to elevate their families to higher levels in the society due to a Namboothiri relationship. Thus while it 'Aryanised' the matriarchal castes involved, it gave the Namboodiris integrity of property (since their children, as per the matriarchal system would be members of their mother's family) and also a say in politics and administration. Several Namboothiris thus married girls from royal families as well as Nayar, Warrier, and Pisharody girls and the children from such marriage alliances belonged to the matrilineal (Marumakkathaayam) lineage of their mothers. Namboothiri Spinsters remained abandoned in the community. Namboothiri Yogakshema Mahaasabha, an association of Namboothiris founded in 1908, took a decision in 1919 and agitated for marriage of all Namboothiris within the community. Sabha declared the marriages of younger brothers from within the community as official, irrespective of whether the elder brothers were married or not. The aim was embodied in the Madras Namboothiri Act of 1933. In the same year, the Madras Marumakkathayam Act was passed, by which Sambandham was considered as a regular marriage, conferring on the children the same rights of inheritance and property as held by children whose parents were both Namboothiris. The declaration and these Acts led to a sudden decline in the number of Sambandham marriages, and this unethical practice ended shortly (in about ten years). Following these acts, Namboothiri land was increasingly partitioned and property dispersed.

The stoppage of Sambandham led to a liberation of Namboothiri wives and girls. They were the major sufferers due to unavailability of Namboothiri boys for marriage because of the above mentioned social taboos,and lot of this girls were married to the same Namboothiri and polygamy was the norm of the day

Caste system

The caste system enforced by Namboothiris in Kerala was one of the most rigid in whole India. The rules of untouchability across various levels of castes,and sub castes also. They considered all other castes as shudra,and they practiced untouchabilty and "aiyitham" with their own lower subsects and with Tamil,konkani and other "paradesi "brahmins and their own blood related nair cousins. the regulation on the language used, the regulations on the dress, the regulations on the place of dwelling and also on the construction of the houses were either extreme form of caste rules or unheard of in other parts of India.

Vivekananda, a Hindu monk, famously declared Kerala "a lunatic asylum of castes" after observing the strange caste practices in the society.

Classes of Namboothiri

Please refer the website www.namboothiri.com for details on all these topics.

Functional Classification: The original Namboothiris are classified into ten sects. The classification was solely based on the jobs entrusted to (or opted by) the respective family. All members of a family were supposed to do the jobs entrusted to (or opted by) that family, which was assigned corresponding rights too. Though this classification methodology later turned out to be a ranking system of the families depending on the vocation entrusted to them, all Namboothiris were urged by their supreme authority to respect each other's profession, and hence to respect every other Namboothiri.

These ten classes and their rights and duties are

1. Aadu: They are specialised in Yaagam, and have Yaagaadhikaaram or the right to perform Yaagam.

2. Edu (a page in a book, symbolising knowledge): They have the right to acquire knowledge and teach Sanskrit, Vedam, Linguistics, Astronomy, Astrology, Architecture and so on.

3. Bhiksha (alms, symbolising a saint or a samnyaasi): They have the right to become a saint (or samnyaasi).

4. Picha (also means alms, in crude form): They are Othikkans, helping other Namboothiris to perform rituals.

5. Othu (Spiritual hymns): This class of Namboothiris was basically teachers of Othu (Vedam).

6. Saanthi (temple priesthood): These Namboothiris are priests in temples.

7. Adukkala (kitchen, symbolising cooking): These Namboothiri families were specialists in large-scale cooking and catering. A family belonging to this group has to be consulted on all catering-related issues including for Yaagam.

8. Arangu (stage): This special group of Namboothiris, called Chaathira Namboothiris, was a military group. Their evening entertainment was Panemkali (Sanghakkali).

9. Panthi (dining structure): Namboothiris like Graamani, Thangal, Vaal-Nambi and Ashtavaidyans (all Mooss families except Vaidhyamadham) belong to this category. Vaidhyamadham, though an Ashtavaidyan, belongs to Aadu class, as they are the Vaidyans in the Yaagasaala (the hall where Yaagam is performed). Mooss families are not included in the above eight classes as these physicians perform surgery. Graamani Namboothiris, Thangal Namboothiris and Vaal Nambis are Namboothiris performing village administration and hence excluded from the above eight classes.

10.Kadavu (bathing points in the pond): Elayathu and Adikal are Namboothiris belonging to this category. Elayathu and Adikal are not included in the above nine classes because Elayathu helps members of other castes to perform their rituals, while Adikal uses meat and blood to perform temple rituals.

An elite sub-class of Aadu class above, is a special group of Namboothiris known as "Ashtagrihathil Aadhyanmaar" (eight elite families). They, along with Mezhathol Agnihothri, did 99 yaagas (Yajnas. It could be believed that by conducting 99 Yaagas, members of these eight Namboothiri families have become experts in almost all the aspects of Veda. Looking from that angle, the efforts of Mezhathol Agnihothri and seven other families to preserve the Vedic tradition of Namboothiris are to be appreciated. Agnihotri , who did 99 Agnihotras was stopped by Indra the Sata Kratu (Doer of 100 Yagas) himself from doing the 100th yaga. Agnihotri asked a boon from Indra and uplifted the Ritwiks who helped him. The eight families like Kadamboor Mana, Kulikkalloor Family, ThiruvillaKattil Mana and others became the eight Aristocrats or Ashta Grihathile Aadhyans by the grace of the King of gods' Indra.

The Bhatta title

Bhattathiripad and Bhattathiri are surnames of some Namboothiri families. They are titles gained due to their scholarship. The three types of bhattathiris are Saasthra Bhattathiris, Smaartha Bhattathiris and Bhaagavatha Bhattathiris. The Saasthra Bhattathiris are Namboothiris who were honoured by this title after receiving the "Bhatta" title from the Zamorin raja of Kozhikode after passing various examinations conducted during the famous "Pattathaanam", on their scholarship in Sanskrit, Vedam, Linguistics, Astronomy, Astrology, Architecture, Meemaamsa, Tharkam (logic) and so on. Many elite Namboothiris became Bhattathiripad in this way. The Smaartha Bhattathiris specialised in conducting trials and bringing out the evidences from the mouth of the culprit, if a Namboothiri (man or woman) committed sins in social life. Bhaagavatha Bhattathiris specialize in oratory and recitation of "Puraanams" (epics) like Bhaagavatham. Many Namboothiris became Bhattathiris in this manner.

The Azhvanchery Thamprakkal

The Azhvanchery Thamprakkal is considered the highest authority among the Namboothiris and for any important matter on caste, religion, society etc within Kerala his opinion was final.

Scholarship

Philosophy

The Greatest Hindu Philosopher Adi Sankara was born to a Namboothiri family known by the name Kaipully Mana in Kalady. His mother Arya hailed from the famous Melpazhoor Mana. The Namboothiri houses Thalayattumpilly Mana and Kalpilly Mana did the final funeral rites of Adi Sankara's Father. His Father served as a priest in the famous Manickamangalam Durga Temple of Kalady which was administered by the noble Rig Vedic- Ashulayana Family of Panayil Pazhoor Mana. He is supposed to have changed the course of river Poorna (River Periyar). The great seer worshipped Goddess Lakshmi by chanting the Kanakadhara Stotram thus making the Namboothiries of Punnorkottu Mana very rich.

Literature

Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiripad worte the miniature version of Srimad Bhagavata Purana in Sanskrit which is now known as "Narayaneeyam". The Namboothiri sanyasin Vilwamangalam Swamiyar (Leela Suka) composed the SreeKrishna Karna Amrutam in Sanskrit. The Namboothiri community had immensely contributed to the Sanskrit literature and there are many such works.

Astrology

The Great Astrologer Thalakulathu Bhattathiri was a Namboothiri who wrote a commentary in Sanskrit language on Varahamihira's Hora. This is the famed book Dasadhyayi.Even today the community dominates in the field of Indian astrology and performs Prasna Vichara not done anywhere else in India now.

Ayurveda

Ashtavaidyans are believed to be the traditional Ayurvedic physicians of Kerala and are from Namboothiri community. They are masters of the eight branches of medicine from which the word Ashtavaidyan is originated. They wrote several books incorporating their observations and clinical experiences. "Chikitsa Manjari", "Yogamithram", "Abhidhana Manjari", "Alathur Manipravalam", "Sindoora Manjari" and "Kairaly Commentary on Ashtanga Hridayam" are some of them. They come under the family of Vaagbhatachaaryan, one of the members of Brihat Trayee. Brihat Trayees are three authentic Aachaaryans, namely Susruthan, Charakan and Vaagbhatan.Vaagbhatachaaryan was a Namboothiri and author of Ashtangahrudayam.His story of his learning and escape from his Moorish Guru who had stolen the Ayurveda books from India and his supreme sacrifice cherishes the hearts of all Namboothiries to this day.

Toxicology

Kerala has seen numerous Namboothiri families who used to practice Vishachikitsa (Toxicology) in very effective yet inexpensive manner, absolutely free. It is a pity that today only a handful continue that tradition. Doyens in this field were Kaaraad Namboothiri (Kurumbranaad, N Malabar), Kokkara Namboothiri (near Tripunithura), Tharananalloor Namboodiri, Kirangatt Nambudiripad (Thrissur), Avanaparamb Godan (Anujan) Nambudiripad (Thrissur), Avanaparamb, Maheswaran Nambudiripad, Mankulam Govindan Namboothiri , and several others. Pambumekkatt and Mannarasala do not actually practice Vishachikitsa. After the snake bite-victims are brought there, they spray Theerttham (sacred water) and drop Bhasmam (sacred ash) on the victims. It is believed that the victims are saved through the blessings of the serpent gods.

Families namely Amedamangalam, Pathirikkunnath, Athippatta, etc. are famous for eliminating the wrath of serpents ("Sarpakopam") and also ritually relocate sacred serpent groves ("Paambinkaavu").

paediatrics

The Kunnath Mana of Thrissur has an Ayurvedic tradition, particularly in paediatrics, for five or six centuries. Many Ashtavaidyan families of Kerala sought help and advice from them.

Ophthalmology

Nellikkat Illam in Koothattukulam (Kottayam Dist.) has gained special expertise in "Oordhwaanga Rogam" ("Saalaakya Thanthram") of ophthalmology.

Elephant treatment

"Paalakaapyam" is a treatise (Granthham) authored by Sage Paalakaapya. This work is better known as Hasthyaayurvedam (Encyclopaedia of Elephants and their Treatment). There were a few Namboothiris who had studied it and practised the techniques.

Stage plays

Namboothiri's who had acquired political authority in Kerala, developed a new hybrid art form called 'Sanghakkali' through adaptations of the music, dance, martial arts, folk-drama and other local art-forms and adding to it the Naalupaadam sung along the lines of the Veda chants. This represents a turning point in Kerala's traditional theatre arts and stage plays. There were 32 teams of Namboothiris, performing this art form.

The contribution of the Namboothiri community to the evolution, overall development and promotion of Kathakali dance-drama can never be over-stressed, They had an immense presence in the Kathakali canvas, be it in choreography, lyrics, acting, composing, singing, drumming and perhaps more importantly, in organizing and running of Kathakali troupes with "Kalaris" for training, or as just plain connoisseurs or serious critics. Around 23 Kathakali Yogams have been identified as having been established by Namboothiri families. They were not behind in literary capabilities, either. Many from the community had authored and choreographed ("Chittappeduthal") Aattakkathhaas, some of which gained much popularity.

Painting

The richness as well as weaknesses of the wall paintings of Kerala can be said to have been derived from the visionary zeal of Namboothiris. The symbolism and display of colours have their origin in the Vedic heritage. True to the Indian tradition, while green was considered to represent "Sathwa-gunam" and red, "Rajo-gunam", they equated white or absence of colour with "Thamo-gunam". They gave primacy to the concept of "Manthrams" over depiction of myths. Though this aspect had a certain restrictive impact on the development of this art form, it played an important part in enriching knowledge about gods and idols, and this wealth of knowledge enhanced Kerala's glory in the fields of Manthrams and Thanthram.

Calendar mathematics

Todays’s western is the outcome of Pope Gregory's Calendar Reform Commission under the leadership of Father Clavius, in 1582. Several historians have pointed out that the Father Clavius's Commission suddenly discovered a solution for the problem in the Julian Calendar with the help of Namboothiris through Jesuit fathers from Rome, arrived in Kerala. Namboothiris then practiced an error-free calendar system. Father Ricci, a jesuit father translated the masterpiece of Kerala mathematics and astronomy, Yuktibhaasha written in Malayalam. Along with that they might have sent translations of Kerala scientists such as Madhavan, Parameswaran, and Neelankandhan (Kelalloor Neelakandha Chomathiri). A proof for this can be seen in the following fact: During the years after Fr. Ricci visited Kochi and lived there, European mathematicians such as Galileo, Cavalieri, and Gregoy brought about immense revisions in their own mathematical theories. Most of the scientists of the day had close connection with Jesuit libraries in Rome and elsewhere. In some of the European scientific texts of the period, all of a sudden there began to appear references to Indian mathematical advances.

Mathematics

Astronomy (Jyothissaasthram) was popular in Kerala even in ancient times, and their deep knowledge of Namboothiris in that branch of science is well-known. A number of great treatises (Granthhams) were written by several eminent scholars (most of them Namboothiris) of the area at different times. It is difficult to date some of the very ancient ones such as "Devakeralam", "Sukrakeralam" (also known as "Bhrigukeralam", "Kerala Rahasyam" or "Keraleeyam" and has 10 chapters), "Vararuchi Keralam" (or "Jaathaka Rahasyam" or "Kerala Nirnayam" - quite possibly authored by Vaakyam expert, Vararuchi), and "Keraleeya Soothram".

The 7th century (AD) witnessed tremendous development in Jyothissaasthram (astronomy) in Kerala. The contributions of the Namboothiris in Astrology, Astronomy and Mathematics have been immense. They had a capacity for unmistakable and sharp observations on the natural phenomena and accurate ability of deducting complicated theoretical formulae. The works of prominent ones among them during a long period of about a millennium between the seventh and the eighteenth century (AD) are Bhaaskaraachaaryan - I (early 6th century AD), Bhaaskaraachaaryan-II (11th century), who wrote "Leelaavathy", Haridathan (650 - 750 AD), Sree Sankaracharya (788 - 820 AD), who first expounded the idea of assigning a set of natural numbers to a straight line that also required the symbol of infinity and is also famous for his second "Slokam" of "Soundarya Lahari" which gives a hint to the Einstein’s theory of inter-convertibility of mass and energy, Sankaranarayanan (9th century), Sreepathy (around 1039 AD) , Thalakkulathu Bhattathiri (1237 - 1295 AD), Sooryadevan Somayaaji (Sooryadeva Yajwaavu), Irinjaatappilly Madhavan Namboodiri (1340 - 1425), the doyen whose enunciatiation of formulae for accurate determination of the circumference of a circle and the value of p by the method of indeterminate series, a method which was rediscovered in Europe nearly three centuries later and whose enunciation for the first time in the world, of the formula for the sine of sum of two angles, sine (A + B) = sine A cos B + cos A sine B, and the power series expansions for sin x and cos x for an arc x correct to 1/3600 of a degree, Vatasseri Parameswaran Namboodiri (1360 - 1455), Puthumana Somayaaji, a doyen who expanded tan and tan inverse much before Europeans derived it, Chennas Narayanan Namboodiripad (mid 15th century), Kelallur Neelakandha Somayaaji (1465 - 1545), Paarangottu Jyeshthhadevan Namboodiri (1500 - 1610), Mahishamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri (1540 - 1610), Chithrabhanu Namboodiri (16th century) whose work "Eka Vimsathi Prasnothari" gives a method of solving the binomials (A + B), (A - B), (A² + B²), (A³ + B³), (A³ - B³), AB, etc with twenty one different ways to solve for A and B, given any two of these. The achievements of such and other Kerala mathematicians were, at first, brought to the notice of scholars, both Indian and western, by Charles M Whilsh who presented a paper on the subject before the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 3 (1835) (509 - 523).

Letter-number system

"Paralpperu" is an ancient method for memorising oft-used numbers, by converting them into words or word-clusters. Vararuchi, the great grammarian is the proponent of this technique, very widely used by Namboothiris.

Architecture

Vaasthu Vidya, the art and science of construction existed in India from Vedic times. "Sthhaapathya Vedam" is a subsidiary branch of Athharva Vedam which is one among the four Vedams. The science of house construction, traditionally known as "Vaasthu Vidya" or "Thachu Saasthram" is nothing but this Sthhaapathya Vedam. Like other scientific treatises in India the art of building construction is also written in Sanskrit, and find references to it in her scriptures and legends. A profound knowledge of Sanskrit was indispensable for a proper understanding of the subject. The Namboothiris were well-versed in Sanskrit and so they had easier access to and better grasp of this subject. Along with Vaasthu Vidya, the seekers got opportunities of learning Astrology and Thanthric rites, since the three fields are inter-related. As a result, those practising Thanthric rites were adept at building construction too. Mention must be made here that Keralites have been following the principles of construction as enshrined in treatises like "Silparathnam", "Manushyaalaya Chandrika", etc. which were written by great masters of the subject, and which describe the designs and styles of construction unique to the geographical condition of the region, and quite different from those in the neighbouring states. It is interesting to remember that a detailed description of the plan, style and design relating to building of houses is a special feature of Kerala, not found in other parts of India. Kanippayyur Krishnan Namboothiripad, now consulting across globe, is a doyen in Vaasthu.

Chess

Historians the world over agree that India is the country of origin of chess. "Chathurangam" which was popular in Kerala, is probably the one closest to international chess. The two prominent sects, Namboothiris and Muslims, who had played pivotal roles in shaping the region's cult, culture and customs, were also ardent lovers of Chathurangam. They patronised it for hundreds of years. Two old vernacular poetries, "Payyannur Paattu" (AD 13th Century) and "Chandrolsavam" (16th Century) mention Chathurangam. Legend has it that Chathurangam was instrumental in the creation of the famous poetic work "Krishnagaattha" by Cherusseri Namboodiri - a scholar who decorated the royal assembly of Raja Udayavarman of Kolathunaadu (1466 - 1471). The works of poets like Punam Namboodiri, Kunchan Nambiar, etc., and the heroic songs of "Vadakkan Paattu" (ballads of North Malabar) written during the 14th to 17th centuries carry mention of Chathurangam. It has been recorded that Rev. Fr. Arnos who came to Kerala for missionary work (AD 1681 - 1732), learned Sanskrit and Chathurangam from Namboothiris. Chathurangam columns marked on the floor of house at Velur (Thrissur District) where Arnos "Paathiri" lived his last days can be seen even now as evidence of his love towards the game. Rev. Fr. Poulinose, while referring to the old educational system in Kerala, points out the special role of Chathurangam in the development of one's mental faculty. In Kerala, Namboothiris occupied a place of pride in the renowned centres of learning like Kodungallur, Koodallur, Payyur, etc. They also enjoyed a high degree of royal favours in the power centres. It was mainly Namboothiris and upper caste people who were acquiring knowledge in Sanskrit, Logic, Literature, "Saasthrams" (sciences), etc. Famous temples, Manas or Illams of rich Namboothiri landlords were adorned with permanent arenas for Chathurangam. Many famous temples in Kerala have permanent structures of granite floorings with 64 squares carved on it for playing Chathurangam. Till the late 1950s, famous Namboothiri landlords used to invite leading Chathurangam players, provide them all hospitalities for days together for playing exhibition matches and giving tips to up-and-coming talents. The Arabs, who were the trade links between India and the West, took the game of Chathurangam to other parts of the world, and the game gained enviable growth and popularity. The various countries followed different rules though the main theme remained the same.

Social reforms

The Hindu Marriage Act and the influence of Communism during the start of 20th century made drastic effects on this otherwise orthodox community. Determined steps were made to give more rights to women, and to desist the men folk from having alliances with members from other castes. The Land Reforms Act, also caused a heavy blow on this community (along with other castes like Nairs) as agricultural land was taken away from them.

Present state of the community

Today you find members of this community in all walks of life, all across the world - right from the priest at a nearby temple, to a software engineer or an accountant in the Middle East, Europe or in the United States.

The Srilankan branches of Namboothiri community

In Srilanka, the members of the Salagama caste believe that their ancestors were Namboodiri brahmins,who arrived in Srilanka, from a village called Sali-Gramam, or Shali-Gramam, an article which appeared in the "Sunday Observer" April 28 2002,in Srilanka under the heading "GE" names of the Sinhalese people says, {It may be mentioned here that some members of the Salagama community, own "GE" names aligned to "Shali-Grama" of India said to be their root land,} Their community has a flag, which they call theNambudiri Flag which they frame, and hang in their homes. They have names which commence with Namediri, or Nanediri (the sinhala version of Namboodiri),in Sinhala language,Nam or Nan means the same (Nam=Names), (Nan=Names),& also names ending with Muni, Edirimuni, Walimuni (Walaimuni), Jagamuni, Yagamuni (Sage who performs yaga), Rammuni(Sage of lord Ram), Wijerama (the conquering Rama), Weerakkodi (Weerakkodai) etc. By accepting, several migration invitations by several Sinhala Kings,during various periods,the ancestors of the Salagama caste people came in several waves,to Srilanka from Kerala,the most important ancestors were the seven Saligrama Brahmins,including their chief Nambudiri or Namadiri, & Weerasinghe,Edirimuni, etc...who came for the royal coronation ceremony, of the great King Vijayabahu I, (1055-1110)during the 11th century AD.Ceylon history also indicates, that King Vijayabahu the I, gave the seven noble Brahmins,the responsibility of managing his cinnamon plantations, situated in the western & southern part of the island, According to another legend, during the 15th or the 16th century, the buddhist monks in Srilanka refused to perform the rituals associated with the coronation ceremony of a King,(most probably the son of King Bhuvenaka Bahu the 2nd as Prince Wathhimi's mother was supposed to be a muslim lady from the Kings harem) and as a consequence the King invited Namboodiri Brahmins instead. The brahmins subsequently wanted to return to Kerala after performing the ceremony, but the King, who was pleased with them, wanted them to stay on in Srilanka, and offered them royal maidens in marriage. They assimilated well into the Sinhala community and their descendants formed the Salagama caste,along with Weavers, & Mercenary Soldiers who came from Kerala.

References

See also

External links

Hinduism (known as Hindū Dharma in modern Indian languages[1]
..... Click the link for more information.
Hinduism has prehistoric roots, including suspected survivals of traditions of the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization in historical Shramana traditions, and of Proto-Indo-Iranian traditions surviving in the Iron Age Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans.
..... Click the link for more information.
Mahādevas ("Great Gods" ) because of their central positions in worship and mythology.[11] The Purānas also laud other devas, such as Ganesha
..... Click the link for more information.
Hinduism encompasses many movements and brahminic schools are fairly organized within Hindu denominations. A religious denomination shares a common ground of beliefs but embraces many different movements and schools inside its philosophical branches.
..... Click the link for more information.
Hindu scriptures

Vedas
Rigveda · Yajurveda
Samaveda · Atharvaveda
Vedic divisions
Samhita · Brahmana
Aranyaka  · Upanishad

Upanishad
..... Click the link for more information.
Hindu philosophy. These schools have come to be synonymous with the greater religion of Hinduism, which was a development of the early Vedic Religion.

Darshanas

Hindu philosophy is divided into six orthodox (Sanskrit
..... Click the link for more information.
the Way of the Higher Truths. What is in the West called religion in India comes within the general purview of dharma. Thus the various Indian religions and Dharmic Traditions are so many versions of Dharma (versions of what is considered to be 'right' or in truest accord with the
..... Click the link for more information.
Artha (Devanagari: अर्थ) is a Sanskrit term meaning "purpose, cause, motive, meaning, notion".

It may refer to the idea of material prosperity. In Hinduism, artha is one of the four goals of life, known as purusharthas.
..... Click the link for more information.
In Indian religions (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism), Moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष, liberation) or Mukti (Sanskrit: मुक्ति, release
..... Click the link for more information.
Hinduism

History · Deities
Denominations · Hindu Literature
Beliefs & practices
Dharma · Artha
Kama · Moksha
Karma · Samsara
Yoga · Bhakti
Maya · Puja · Mandir
..... Click the link for more information.
Samsara or saṃsāra
..... Click the link for more information.
Yoga (Sanskrit: योग Yoga, IPA: [joːgə]) is a group of ancient spiritual practices originating in India.
..... Click the link for more information.
Bhakti (Devanāgarī: भक्ति) is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning devotion. Within Hinduism the word is used exclusively to denote devotion to a particular deity or form of God.
..... Click the link for more information.
Maya (Sanskrit माया māyā
..... Click the link for more information.
Pūjā (Devanagari: पूजा) (alternative transliteration Pooja, Sanskrit: reverence, honour, adoration, or worship) is a religious ritual that Hindus perform on a variety of occasions to pray or show respect to their chosen Gods or Goddesses.
..... Click the link for more information.
Hindu temple (Sanskrit: mandira), is a house of worship for followers of Hinduism. They are usually specifically reserved for religious and spiritual activities.

A Hindu temple can be a separate structure or a part of a building.
..... Click the link for more information.
Literature regarded as central to the Hindu literary tradition were predominantly composed in Sanskrit, Indeed, much of the morphology and linguistic philosophy inherent in the learning of Sanskrit is inextricably linked to study of the Vedas and other Hindu texts.
..... Click the link for more information.
Vedas (Sanskrit véda वेद
..... Click the link for more information.
The Upanishads (Devanagari: उपनिषद्, IAST: upaniṣad) are regarded as part of the Vedas and as such form part of the Hindu scriptures.
..... Click the link for more information.
Hindu scriptures

Vedas
Rigveda · Yajurveda
Samaveda · Atharvaveda
Vedic divisions
Samhita · Brahmana
Aranyaka  · Upanishad

Upanishad
..... Click the link for more information.
Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit भगवद्‌ गीता
..... Click the link for more information.
Purana (Sanskrit: पुराण
..... Click the link for more information.
Hindu scriptures

Vedas
Rigveda · Yajurveda
Samaveda · Atharvaveda
Vedic divisions
Samhita · Brahmana
Aranyaka  · Upanishad

Upanishad
..... Click the link for more information.
The percentage of Hindu population of each country was taken from the US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2006. [1] Other sources used were CIA Factbook[https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/] and adherents.com.
..... Click the link for more information.
These are some of the most noteworthy Gurus and Saints of Hinduism (in alphabetical order):
  • A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (male)
  • Adi Shankara (male)
  • Akhandanand (male)
  • Yogi Amrit Desai (male)
  • Ayya Vaikundar (male)

..... Click the link for more information.
Hinduism is going through a phase of regeneration and reform through the vehicle of several contemporary movements, collectively termed as Hindu reform movements. Although these movements are very individual in their exact philosophies they generally stress the spiritual,
..... Click the link for more information.
Ayurveda (Devanagari: आयुर्वेद) or Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient system of health care that is native to the Indian subcontinent.
..... Click the link for more information.
Hindu calendar used in ancient times has undergone many changes in the process of regionalization, and today there are several regional Indian calendars, as well as an Indian national calendar. In Pakistan it is called 'desi' or native calendar.
..... Click the link for more information.
glossary of terms and concepts in Hinduism. The list consists of concepts that are derived from both Hinduism and Hindu tradition, which are expressed as words in Sanskrit as well as other languages of India.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Indian caste system describes the social stratification and social restrictions in the Indian Subcontinent, in which social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous, hereditary groups often termed as jātis or castes.
..... Click the link for more information.


This article is copied from an article on Wikipedia.org - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.