Kannada Brahmin Surnames Who Is Smartha

Narayanamurthy, Infosys

Narayanamurthy, Infosys

There is a misconception about the term Smartha.

The term Smartha is taken to mean Brahmins who worship Siva.

Ramanuja, founder of the Vishishtadvaita philosophy found sanctuary in Karnataka at a time when the Hoysala empire, ruled by Vishnuvardhana, were at their zenith. Adi Shankaracharya, founder of the Advaita philosophy chose Sringeri as the site for the first Matha. Madhvacharya, founder of the Dvaita philosophy, was the son of Karnataka. As such,south Indian Brahmin belongs to any one of three specific sects (schools of philosophy), being:

  • the Smartha sect – adherents of the Advaita philosophy propounded by Sri Adi Shankaracharya.
  • the Srivaishnava sect – adherents of the Vishishtadvaita philosophy propounded by Sri Ramanujacharya.
  • the Madhwa sect – adherents of the Dvaita philosophy propounded by Sri Madhvacharya.'(wiki)

This is incorrect.

A ‘Smartha’ is one who follows ‘Smriti’, ‘Smriti yeti Smarthaha’.

Those who follow the general code , other than ‘Sruthi’ (Vedas) a or both are called Smarthas,

The systems of Advaita,Visishtadvaita and Dvaita came later, these systems having been  organised by Adi Sankaracharya, Ramanuja and Madvacharya respectively.

All are Smarthas.

Those who follow Sankaracharya ,Siva are Saivites(here I mean those who worship Siva and not those who follow Saiva Siddhanta).

Those who worship Vishnu are Sri Vaishnavas.

And those who follow Madvacharya’s Dvaita are Madhwas.

  • Kandavara/Shivalli Brahmins from coastal Karnataka
  • Babboor Kamme
  • Badaganadu
  • Hoysala Karnataka
  • Kota brahmin – Smartha sect brahmins from the central part of coastal Karnataka
  • Halenadu Karnataka Brahmin also known as Mooguru (Muguru) Karnataka Brahmins
  • Panchagrama Brahmins
  • Sankethi
  • Sthanika
  • Shukla Yajurvedi Smartha Brahmins
  • Sama Vedi Smartha Brahmins
  • Havyaka
  • Vishwabrahmins

Kannada Srivaishnava Iyengar Brahmins

  • Hebbar Iyengars
  • Hemmige Iyengars
  • Mandyam Iyengars
  • Mysore Iyengars

Kannada Madhva Brahmins

  • Madhwa Brahmins
  • Shivalli Madhwa Brahmins
  • Shukla Yajurvedi Madhva Brahmins
  • Deshastha Brahmin Deshastha Brahmins

Common Surnames of Karnataka, Kannada Brahmins:

Rao,-this surname  is used both in Andhra and Karnataka and at times are also used by other communities in Andhra, especially by those belonging to Khamma Community.

Readers may clarify.

Aithal,Bhat,Adiga Deshpande( of these the term Adiga denotes those Brahmins who specialize in Cooking)

Somayaji( got this name because they were/are specialists in performing the Soma Yaga),Sharma and Shastri.

Hebbar, Iyer, Iyengar, Karanth,Bendre.




11 thoughts on “Kannada Brahmin Surnames Who Is Smartha

  1. Keshava Prakash B says:

    With complete respect to all commented here, Just wanted to make you all clear that Smartha Brahmin does not mean he is just Shiva devotee, In fact they treat Shiva and lord Vishnu in the same was. you may need not know which Brahmani I am .


  2. With all due respect, I would like to oppose your statement: “Those who follow Sankaracharya ,Siva are Saivites”.
    Followers of Adi Sankaracharya are Advaitins, who don’t see any difference between Siva and Vishnu, but believe in the ultimate Brahman. Adisankara gave us “Sanmata”, the system of worship centered around six main deities of Hinduism, viz, Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesha, Surya and Skanda.
    So, how can we say that those who follow Sankaracharya are Saivaites?

    Please correct me if I am wrong in understanding your statement.



    • You are right.I should have made this point clear.In practice.One finds that the followers of Shankaracharya generally worship Shiva and many of them are not even aware of Advaitha.Thanks for pointing out.Please point out errors in other post as well.Regds


  3. Most of the things specified is correct, We have a launched a matrimonial website exclusively for Thrimatasata Brahmins – (Smartha or Advitha, Madhwas or Vaishnava, Iyengars or Sri Vaishnava ) http://www.anugrahamatrimony.in, Where we have classified most of the sub-castes under these groups), We have mentioned Iyers as separate group though they belong to smarthas, because of their nos across south india is larger compared to any other subcastes of brahmins.Anyone can use these as a reference and also suggest us if there are any other prominent sub-groups.


  4. Ashwini says:

    Even smartha deshastha community is there like madhwa deshastha community. You have not mentioned under smartha

    Who are vishwa bramhins.. Are they vishwakarma bramhins?


  5. Radhika Venkatramana says:

    In Telugu smartha brahmins,we have the same like worshipping lord Shiva,following Sankara mutt(shringeri,kanchi)!
    We,smarthas worship lord Vishnu also!
    Telugu smartha brahmins;-
    Velanaadu(vaidheekulu), mulakanaadu,venginaadu,aaruvela niyogi,konasamudhram(konapaitalu)kota brahmins, etc.
    Actually, Kannada smartha sampradhayam, festivals are same as Telugu smartha sampradhayam!! So,we usually have marraiges mixed in both communities because of this !!in Karnataka, you can see a mulakanaadu mom&bobberkamme dad or bride will be a Kannada smartha &groom will be a Telugu smartha & sometimes madhwas also!!!


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