Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins

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Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins are one of the prominent communities of Kannada speaking Smartha Brahmins. The community has many eminent scholars, musicians, philosophers, generals and religious pontiffs. This sect of Brahmins are spread over the Southern Districts of Karnataka such as Shivamogga, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Tumkur, Mysore, Mandya, Bangalore and Kolar. Kannada is the mother tongue of Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins.

Origin of NameEdit

Of the two parts of the name of the community, viz. Hoysala and Karnataka, the second part i.e., Karnataka is derived from the fact that, mother tongue of this community is and has been Kannada, and as they have been the inhabitants of the Karnataka region. The first part of the name, Hoysala is derived from the Hoysala empire of Karnataka. Hoysala dynasty was the ruling dynasty of Karnataka for over three centuries, from about 950 A.D. The earliest mention of the name "Hoysala" occurs in an inscription of the middle of the tenth century, and the origin of the family name is given for the first time in an inscription of 1117 A.D as follows: "In the lineage of Yadu there was born a certain Sala. In company with a Jain ascetic, who was versed in all the science of incantation, he was worshipping the goddess Padmavati of Sasakapura with a view to bringing her into their power and so acquiring sovereignty for Sala. A tiger sprang out threatening to interrupt and spoil the efficacy of their rites. On the appeal of the ascetic who cried our `Poy-Sala-`slay, oh Sala`, Sala slew the tiger. And from this exclamation and the slaughter of the tiger he and his descendants acquired the name of Poysala".

The Hoysalas rose to power as feudatory of the Chalukyas, and as their subordinates began to rule over a small tract of territory, with their capital first at Sosevur (now Angadi in Mudagere Taluk), then at Belur, and finally at Dwarasamudra (now Halebid) and acquired control over the Talekad region. The Hoysalas continued the tradition of patronage to men of letters etc. On account of the generosity and broad mindedness of these rulers, the area comprised in the former Mysore State became the home of many non-kannada Brahmins such as the Velandus, Mulakanadus, and the Aravelu Niyogis of the Andhra Country, the Karahadis , Konkanansthas and Desasthas of the Maharashtra Country and the Vadamas of the Tamil Country. There were many sub-sects among the Kannada speaking brahmins such as the Badaganadu, the Babbur Kamme sect, the Seeranadu, and Hoysala Karnatakas. The Havyaka, the Kota and the Sivalli sects of Kannada speaking brahmins were localized to the western coastal region. It will be readily seen that these names indicate the geographical divisions from which these people hailed. In order to maintain their own customs, rituals, language (dialectal peculiarities), traditions, and individuality, each sub-sect called itself by a distinctive name, usually a town or geographical division of their origin. (This tendency is not very marked and rigid after the Muslim invasion of the South). Thus the Badagandu Karnatakas came from the northern parts of former Mysore State - Bellary and Anantapur districts; the seeranadu Karnatakas from the region, around Sira in Tumkur district.

As noted above, the sphere of authority of the Hoysalas, when they rose to power, was in the region of their birth place - Sosevur, and expanded to Belur, Dwarasamudra and Talakad, situated in the modern districts of Kadur, Hassan and Mysore respectively. This tract of Karnataka was the home province of the Hoysalas and the Brahmins who were residing in this area were therefore called Hoysala Karnatakas.

Prominent Persons Edit

There is practically no reference to this sub-sect by the name Hoysala-Karnataka, in literature or in inscriptions, till late seventeenth century. Therefore, we must rely only on traditional accounts. According to one such account, the great Madhava-Vidyaranya, renowned pontiff of Sringeri Mutt who was instrumental in the founding of the great Vijayanagara Kingdom belonged to this sub-sect. This tradition is in a way borne out by a contemporary inscription which says that Singambika (Singale) was the sister of Madhava and Sayana, and her son, the Minister Lakshmidhara who is described as "kannadiga kulake rannada kannadi". Evidently, therefore Madhavacharya, Sayanacharya and Bhoganatha, who were the brothers of Singambika were also "Kannadiga's". As the nomenclature Hoysala Karnataka was not applied in literary or other records of this period to this sub-sect, the tradition that they were Hoysala Karnataka gains support. It is well known that Madhava Vidyaranya lived through the reigns of three successive monarchs, viz., Harihara I, Bukka I and Harihara II and guided them administration of their vast territory. He also wrote a treatise on Law and Procedure - Parasara-Madhaviya for the benefit of these rulers. Besides this, his works on the Advaita philosophy are very well known. He was also the author of a work on music entitled Sangitasara.

The youngest of the brothers, Bhoganatha, who is usually known as Bhoganathakavi, was like his brothers a reputed author. He calls himself the born companion of Sangama II, who was the ward of his elder brother Sayancharya.

On account of their accomplishments and influence over the early Vijaynagara rulers, the Hoysala Karnataka Community gained importance and prestige in the social, political and other spheres and occupied prominent official positions of authority.

The earliest and specific mention of the Hoysana Kannadi sect is found in a late seventeenth century inscription. This inscription of 1687 A.D. states that Rama Sastri of Hoysana Kannadi (Hoysala Karnataka) Community received some gifts from Mahadevendra Sarasvati, the disciple of Chandrasekhara Sarasvati, who occupied the pontifical throne of the Saradapitha of Kanchi. This Ramasastri has been identified with his namesake Ramasastri, the elder brother of Kuttikavi (Circa 1700). Both these brothers are known to be the sons of the daughter's daughter of the great Govinda Dikshita, the minister of the Nayaka chiefs of Tanjavur, proving beyond any doubt that Govinda Dikshita belonged to the Hoysala Karnataka Community. Govinda Dikshita was a scholar, philosopher, statesman and musicologist. He was the minister of three successive Nayakas of Tanjavur.

This Nayaka family owed its rise to the relationship of its first prominent member, Sevvappanayaka, by ties of marriage with the Vijaynagar emperor Achyutaraya (1530-1542). Sevvappa's wife Murtimamba was the younger sister of Thirumalamba, one of the Queens of Achyutaraya. Govinda Dikshita was called Ayyan by the Nayaka chieftains on account of their affection and regard for him; and he was given the Ardhasana, a signal mark of honour by these chiefs. On account of his able guidance, the Tanjavur tract became very flourishing and cultured. He is known to have written a treatise on music called Sangita-Sudhanidhi in addition to his other works. His son, Yajnanarayana Dikshita in his famous work Sahityaratnakara has given many details regarding his illustrious father and his activities. Another son of Govinda Dikshita was the renowned Venkatamakhi, who wrote the work Chaturdandiprakasika which is even to-day regarded as one of the most authoritative books on Carnatic music.

Based on the inscription about Ramasastri mentioned above, we may note that the Hoysala Karnataka sect enjoyed some patronage in the kamakoti Pitha at Kanchi. This perhaps accounts for the choice of the Mathadipatis of this Peeta from among the Hoysala Karnataka Community for some generations. The erstwhile Jagadguru who adorned the Kamakoti Peeta, His Holiness Sri Sri Chandrasekarendra Sarasvati Swamigalu who is held in great esteem for his spiritual qualities, catholicity of outlook and simplicity of life by all the sections of the people in India, is the greatest living luminary of the Hoysala Karnataka Community.

Several members of this community have excelled in literature, sports, and education.They include Raja Rao well known novelist (his writings are in English), Prof. S.L. Bhyrappa who is famous for novels such as Parva, Vamshavriksha, and Avarana (he writes in Kannada), K.S. Narasimha Swamy a well known Kannada poet who is famous for Mysoora Mallige lyrics, Srinath well known Kannada movie actor, Javagal Srinath a test cricket player, and Shankar Sastry Dean of Engineering at University of California.

See also Edit


1) Silver Jubilee Souvenir of Hoysala Karnataka Sangha (Regd.) Bangalore , with the permission of the President Mr..B.S.Anantha.

2)| Origin of Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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