The Lost Tradition by Adithya

Blog post by Adithya M Ramadurai Sharma

This article is written in the same nature as that of any other article published in the page and holds no offence to anybody.

It was a year or so that I happened to see this page and had an immediate affinity towards it. I could relate to almost everything published as it is something that happens in any TamBrahm house. That sense of excitement and happiness in reading each article was multi-fold.

Amidst all these fun, one thing we all tend to lose focus is the fact that the race of TamBrahm is slowly getting eradicated. The reasons plenty!

One big reason for this is that the excitement of being a TamBrahm is not the same as it is portrayed in this page. The pride of being a Brahmin is literally not seen in the present age. The absence of our tradition from speaking the Iyer bashaai (the tamil slang spoken by Iyer’s) to performing the Sandhyavandanam is a disheartening scenario. Right from eating meat to consuming liquor is a shameful plight highlighting how we are losing our sacred tradition. We have reached a scenario where carrying our last name has become an act of embarrassment.

I still remember my paati’s words: “Ellarum brahmnava pooraka matta. Pona jenmathla panna punniyam athu” (Not everyone is born a Brahmin. It is because of last birth’s deed on is born a Brahmin). The so called westernisation does not entertain this philosophy and you are branded a fool if you utter these sacred words in your friend circle. This westernisation has left its mark on almost all the families and ours was no exception.

Being from an orthodox TamBrahm family, my paati used to follow all the traditions properly. One could sense that she is from the Brahmin community by her Tamil slang. My appa and amma was no exception except that their language has changed. The real change is in the present generation, where everything has gone awry. And because of this one generation the entire TamBrahm community has lost its previous charm. And sadly I belong to this generation.

I am writing this article not to hurt anyone’s feeling or point finger at anyone but in the hope that our rich and sacred tradition regains its old charm. I am not asking anyone to shed your modern clothing and wear dothi or saree, but just wanted to make sure that the tradition which all the generations have been following continues.

And finally to conclude, being a TamBrahm is not a thing to be ashamed off, but rather a proud feeling which echoes the philosophy “Ellarum brahmnava pooraka matta. Pona jenmathla panna punniyam athu” (Not everyone is born a Brahmin. It is because of last birth’s deed on is born a Brahmin.)

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “The Lost Tradition by Adithya

  1. There are ways to not loose the tradition. Brahmins have stopped using Iyer or Iyengar with their names. Further religious titles Shastri, Gurukkal, Avadhani, Dikshitar etc are also in disuse. Being Brahmins all Iyers and Iyengars have a Gotra. All those with a Sacred thread should know the Abhivadye. The Gotra could be used as a last name.

    Like

  2. Who is a real Brahmin?. Does one exist now?. Most of the so called Brahmins are Vaisyas as they are all in trading or manufacturing. When caste system has to go, why rake up one’s caste?. It is the bane of our society and stands in the way of progress.

    Like

  3. When it comes to following traditions , culture, rituals etc each person is free to follow as per his/her belief and convenience in today’s age. I have been born and brought up in northern and western India so I am not very familiar with reading and writing tamil ( although I can recognize alphabets and read little which my thatha taught during the summer vacations when we used to visit our native place in Trichy) but I am very familiar with the Iyer way of speaking Tamil and like conversing in tamil too . One thing I have always felt strongly about is ‘ why can’t people converse in tamil when tamilians happen to meet in a temple, vetala paaku occasion during navratri,golu, varalakshmi puja etc etc. ( I am talkIng about people settled and residing in India) . I have always felt that the very purpose of following these customs is bcoz ” one is a tamilian, so why can’t we converse in our mother tongue at least now!!”. (I know I am writing this in English )

    Like

  4. There are 2 kinds of people in the world. Those that are born in brahmin families and uphold the “defined way of life” and those that dont.

    To those that do – Good Job, but nothing to be proud of. You are just doing your duty.
    To those that don’t – Your life, your choice but don’t say that the “defined way of life” is pointless. It has stood against the tests of Time!

    To all – Read http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26043368-the-gita-for-children. By far the simplest and best adaptation, with analogies to real life. There is a bit for everyone in it. Ask everyone you know to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh you poor lost soul!!

    The tradition harks back to times you don’t even know of. The rituals you talk of are simply meaningless unless you know what you’re doing. Actions don’t define a man completely. Any proper, complete Brahman will know that. And since you (or for that matter, anyone who is masquerading as Brahman) don’t have the faintest idea of what it means to truly be a Brahman, you resort to petty mannerisms, outdated actions and unnecessary lament on blogs like these.

    So, to conclude, go back to your miserable misled insignificant life. Because it seems abundantly clear you are not willing to change your perception.

    Like

      1. Dear Sweta
        You are absolutely right. There are quite a handful TamBrahms who reach such extremities. Really disappointing as it really prevents a cohesive response.

        Like

        1. 😂😂😂
          I never said I was TamBrahm. Those who say they do are a collection of disparate lives living in pseudo-unity.

          Like

      2. Because I want to. I dunno, what’s in a name? A name is merely quantification. It doesn’t completely define a person. The grammar part was true. Proofreading makes articles look good.

        Like

  6. Hi,

    I’ve followed this page for a while. While articles in this vein are not new, they definitely are new to this page. So here’s a few things to think about. (I know there’s counters to these, and counter-counters, but let’s not argue on the Internet :P)

    Is culture and tradition stagnant? Does it not evolve?

    1. A lot of culture is based on context. In the world we live in today, religion, especially among the educated has become less of a central issue and more of something that happen on the side. For those of the past, especially among TamBrahms it was a central thing they based their life around.

    2. Due to upending of caste and a certain egalitarianism in society, the stature of the TamBrahm has come down from ruling caste to more “generally smart people”. This has led to a diversification of focus away from religion

    3. No offence, but the previous generations had a lot of time to read the shastras and the puranas and follow rituals very religiously. Not only was it the ONLY thing they had to do sometimes, it was the very basis of social structure

    4. A lot of pride on being Brahmin etc also comes from how society views you. TamBrahm slang was possibly tolerated because it was a sign of being different and superior. Now it’s a throwback to times when there were notions of superiority by birth. There’s some reverse discrimination here, no doubt.

    5. I’ve heard stories about how my great grand father used to have a bath after using a train, because the shadows of the lower caste would touch him. The “being born a Brahmin” pride that you lament us losing is a very dangerous idea that upends the idea of individual merit and establishes merit by birth.

    6. Also, while your grandparents might be aware about the reasons for a lot of customs, the newer generation will not accept them unless they can be rigorously analyzed and proven. While this may lead to some moral victories like “oh! Look, the americans said use fluoride, now they’re using salt, they’re doing what our ancestors did, but you young people won’t accept. Aiyyo!”, on the whole, I think some scientific temper is good for society

    Ides need to be robust to survive. If they can’t survive the passage of a few decades, then perhaps you need to question whether they are to be retained for the sake of usefulness or merely to sate the nostalgia of those who came before.

    (Unless of course, you think all of this was specifically architected to erode the TamBrahm way. That we had a nemesis who slowly eradicated our sense of identity. The invisible hand of the Foreign Arm). But if you see this, as I do, of happening organically, happening as it is, in front of your eyes, then you see the marketplace of ideas at work.

    You cannot expect old customs to last, especially when they were based in the construct of a society which has gone through upheaval. I’m sure what is worth preserving will be retained. As with all things, change is inevitable.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I grew up watching my thatha and pati fowllow typical Iyengar traditions. I have heard many stories in childhood where in my thatha used to quote that Brahmins were respected by everyone. I am a girl of science and happen to be an agnostic. I was just doing some research about Tamilian Brahmin culture and was stunned to see how rich it was. Most of the theories and rituals had a logic and meaning to it. I realized how far away I am from my culture. I was never ashamed to be a TamBRahm nither was I proud. But all I would say is… Take a chance and live life the TamBrahm way… I am sure you will love atleast some of it.Know and understand your roots and culture before you deviate from it.

    Like

  8. This Post hits the bull’s eye. There can not be a better description of where the Tambrahms stand today. I myself have not followed all the traditions but atleast shunned Liquor , smoking and Non Veg food. Though ,i would rate myself poorly as a Tambrahm but very proud of being one. Hope , haven’t committed many sins to prevent being born again as a Tambrahm.

    Like

  9. Dear Aditya,
    I agree with your thoughts on tradition being lost. Clearly one generation has made a difference. Also when I read some comments here I see a clear reflection of two sides -one favouring retention and reverence to tradition and another which raises questions. This is very symptomatic of our community. The greatest Vedic practitioners and atheists come from our community. So basically it boils down to a lack of knowledge and most importantly inclination on the part of our parents and our generation to be imbibe and inculcate reverence to our religion and culture. This is the crux, also the inability or you could call it lack of appropriate forums to have informed debates is another. Also the country’s Hindu ethos was totally altered post independence by a Prime Minister who neither understood nor appreciated anything remotely Hindu. So overall a grim picture, however I must say that in my family my elders did not fail, they put these habits into us and we follow it. Proud to be a TamBrahm.

    Like

  10. I enjoyed reading the article. It is written with subtle humor,” tongue in cheek” as said! . While the traditions may be forgotten with the inevitable passage of time (kala chakra), we have to be aware of the immutable laws. One of them is the aw of Karma or cause and effect. The main purpose to be served in having born as a brahmin is to acquire Spiritual Wisdom and share it with others. Progress spiritually, evolve and be a shining role model. Manifest divine qualities in words and action. Become a “pratyatsha deivam.” A good starting point for that will be to read Chapter 16 of Gita. And if one can also read and strive to live by “The Sermon on the Mount”, all the more better. I am active in Inter religious harmony group, regular invited speaker in spiritual forums and serve on the committee of http://www.schoolofancientwisdom.org Birth is an obligation to contribute to speed up the evolution and the responsibility of a TAMBRAHM is vital and must not be relinquished. Avoid straying from the path of hard earned brahmin birth and its inherent commitment or covenant. Otherwise the law of cause and effect will inevitably catch up, and one will have to reap the inevitable consequences. BEWARE!

    Like

    1. Fact check!! Karma ISN’T the law of cause and effect. It is surprising that you consider yourself an authority when you lack the understanding of this simple fact. Deplorable! Please avoid casteism.

      Like

  11. It is just hogwash! I was also born a Tamil Brahmin, in Chenni, not far from Tiruvallikeni. Even Mahilapuri (mylapore was not far. That was 8 decades ago.
    I was vegetarian but I now consume meat and occasionally imbibe. Is it all poorva janma karma?
    That is based on belief, a statement without rationale.
    Look around and how does one explain castes and races?
    I do not want to crumble your beliefs, but we did not learn it in our classes on science or technology
    thatlets us become citizens fo developed natins and live comfortably/
    Our own kids here will not be swayed by such beliefs.
    I respect your grandmother but she did not know much. Do you want to gow old like that?
    Sankara, Ramanuja and many others were far wiser. It is nice, makes one feel good about his heritage, but wisdom should reign, not blind faith.

    Like

  12. A man is not great by his birth but by his deeds.- chanakya
    From a TamBrahm. It is true that we have to preserve our tradition but it is not because we are superior. The right to save one’s tradition is equal for all.

    Like

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s