Viewing page 10 of 167

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.

Sri Vishnu Brahmin.
As among the Aryan tribes of Northern India, so also among the Dravidians of the South, Brahmins hold the first place as the priestly order, and are in nowise inferior in learning and sanctity. The general divisions of Brahmins all over India are into two great classes, the northern being the Panch Gauda, or five Gauda; those of the south, Panch Dravida, or five Dravidian; all being further divided by gotes, or castes, and family considerations; but the Brahmins of the north do not intermarry with those of the south, considering them inferior; while, on the other hand, the southern Brahmins consider the northerns impure and have no connection with them: yet in essentials they are necessarily alike, worshipping the same divinities and professing the same belief. Divisings of sects also exist in both, and they are followers of Vishnu or of Siva, as it may be. Those who follow Vishnu wear the trident-shaped sect mark, as in the figure represented, and term themselves Sri Vaishnava, whose sprirtual guide is Ramanuja Acharya, while the Madva, or Vaishnava, adopt the tenets of Madva Acharya, the missionary who preached his own doctrines in the South of India in the early part of the twelfth century. They mark their foreheads with a black perpendicular stripe divided by a round red spot. The Smarthas, another division, join both Vishnu and Siva worship, and are known by their horizontal strokes with a round red spot in the middle; their founder being Shankar Acharya, another missionary from the north whose tenets are held in much reverence. There are also Laukika Brahmins of all the above denominations, who follow worldly occupations such as trade, goverment, or other service, while among the Smarthas are many who devote themselves exclusively to religious lives, and are like other priestly professors, termed Vaidika. 

Thus the constitution of the Dravidian Brahmins of Southern India does not seem to differ from that of the Northern Aryans, and they are controlled and governed on points of doctrine and caste observances by hereditary Swamees or popes, who keep up the discipline of caste, and preserve general purity of