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I am intrigued by the practices and beliefs of a community native to Kerala - India, the Kerala Iyers not Namboodris, they are Tamil Brahmin communities residing in Kerala, who migrated centuries ago from Tamil Kingdoms to Kerala. They practice an admixture of Malayali and Tamil cultures, though most of their forefather Tamil practices are still intact.

Though they still converse in Tamil and follow most Tamil practices, they refuse to align themselves as a part of the Tamil region and are in fact against few practices(preference in food, attire, religious practices, etc.) native to Tamil region!

I looked up online for any literature on the causes of migration and there was no literature I could look into. But there were few websites that discussed the reasons for migration in their own views eg here.

Several sources suggest that the Brahmins were driven out of Tamil Kingdom and forced to take refuge in Kerala due to:
1. Invasion by Muslim rulers
2. Isolation from society, etc.

I am looking for the reason(s) for their migration with credible source(s). I was also wondering if there was something to do with the reason of migration for their non-alignment with Tamil Brahmins.


A few sources/leads that I came across.

  1. A news article published in a regional daily, here
  2. A research article (un?)published by Prof. Lakshman Singh - Plight of Palghat Iyers - Couldn't get my hands on it, not even the abstract!
  3. A very brief account of a Tamil brahmin settlement in Kerala @ Coolimuttam
  4. This is a refute to the news article published1 by one of the Kerala Iyers, Mr. Narayanmurthi. ( I tried google, google scholar searching for the article on Plight of Palghat iyers and I couldn't get to it anywhere)
  5. Another account on Kerala Iyers from yet another community in Kerala @ Kuzhalmannam.

Hope this helps.

  • could be job prospects ? – user16615 Feb 25 '16 at 8:12
  • @gansub, yes, the first source I have listed above claims chieftains of clans in Kerala went in search of Brahmins to perform the rituals required to coronate them... But, they don't have any valid proof, nor quote any circumstances which might lead to this... – Andrew Feb 25 '16 at 14:05
  • Whole of south India was changing hands between chalukyas, pandyas, yadavas and chola kingdoms. The kingdom means their was logical boundary for masses to move from one place to other. – siddhant Kumar Aug 8 '16 at 10:25
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When the earlier Brahmins (Namboodris) migrated to Kerala late in the first millenium, CE, they "acted as priests, counsellors, and advisers to local kings." In other words, they got to perform their "high status" roles when such opportunities were limited elsewhere. And in so doing, they introduced the caste system where none existed before.

The Keraal Iyer Brahmins were recruited by local kings about half a millenium later (e.g. 13th century) to break the stranglehold of the Namboodris. These two groups differed in ideology, and tended to compete, rather than cooperate, at least at first.

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The ancestors Sri Shankar Acharya being Saraswata brahmins following Bhagavatha Sampradaya from KONKAN had migrated to Kerala during sixth century A.D. It was when a Deccan king (who was compared to Sri Parashurama) won a war on King of Kerala.But there are no necessary evidences.

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The migrating brahmins from Tamilnadu districts were learned scholars of the Vedic lore, top Sanskritists and, more importantly, ADVAITINS - FOLLOWERS OF ADI SANKARA of Kaladi. They are worshippers of Siva and Vishnu, Sakti, Ganesa and Skanda (the PANCHAYATANA) and rooted in the Agama system of worship.

While people of Kerala, including non-brahmins, were equally great in Vedic lore, Sanskrit, worshippers of identical Gods, their system of worship was founded on the Tantrik system, which is followed to this day.

How come then that these Tamil-brahmins could replace Nambudiris as priests for rituals or worship of any kind in the Tantrik mode? I challenge everyone to try and point out a single temple or Maharaja, then or now, where, for rituals, Tamil brahmins were engaged.

  • 1) I'm not sure this answers the question. 2) sources are needed to back up the claims. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 4 '18 at 12:28

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