Brahmin Iyer?

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

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I know this one young lady on another message board (one that pertains to the etymology of names) who is a Brahmin Iyer. I want to know more about her religion, but most of the members of that board, including myself, agreed not to ask/post religious questions (too many trolls/flame wars.)

Since her religion is a branch of Hinduism, I thought I'd ask you here to explain as close to exact as possible just what her religion is/entails I can't ask her because I don't have her email address and I have agreed not to post religious questions on the other board.)

Thank you ahead of time. :eek:

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
 
Namaste Phyllis,

The term "brahmin" suggests that your friend is a descendent of hereditary Hindu temple priests. The last name Iyer suggests that this person is of southern Indian descent, more specifically of Tamil ethnic origin. The term Iyer also suggests that your friend likely follows the Smarta branch of Hinduism. Smartism is the liberal branch of Hinduism, which was reformed in the 9th century CE under the leadership of the sage-philosopher, Adi Shankara. Adi Shankara reformed both the theology and philosophy of Smartism. Smarta Hinduism is generally considered “liberal” because, unlike other branches such as Shaivite, Vaishnavite or Shakta Hinduism, the choice of which Deity form one is to worship as Supreme God is left ultimately up to the individual. Orthodox Smartas may also set up a six-Deity alter at home, as per the custom started by Adi Shankara to unite the six Vedic religions that existed at his time. Smartas generally accept that all Deity forms are expressions of the same Divine, like all rays are of the same Sun. The philosophical position held by Smarta Hindus, called Advaita Vedanta, is also quite famous, and posits that Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, alone is Real and permanent. The Advaita Vedanta philosophy became famous in the last 200 years under a long series of Hindu reformers including Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, etc. Some even consider Advaita Vedanta to be the defining Hindu philosophy, which, of course, is not true. In the West, a reformed universalist version of Smartism called Vedanta or Vedantism is taught by many ashrams. Universalist Vedanta attempts to reconcile the message of various teachers including Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, etc. and teaches that all paths lead ultimately to the same destination, i.e. Brahman.

You can read more on the Smarta denomination at these sites:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartism
http://smartism.brainsip.com/
http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/ (orthodox Advaita Vedanta)
http://www.vedanta.com/vedanta.html (universalist Vedanta)

Hope that helps :).

OM Shanti,
A.
 
Namaste.

I "spoke" with her, and she said that her family "follows" Shiva (they are Brahmins for the god Shiva.) Is there any information you can give me that can clarify what she said (I'm still rather lost in this and I'm "trying to make ghee out of herbed and salted butter" [aka :confused: ].)

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
 
“Phyllis” said:
I "spoke" with her, and she said that her family "follows" Shiva (they are Brahmins for the god Shiva.) Is there any information you can give me that can clarify what she said
Namaste Phyllis,

A little bit of background that you may find useful in this discussion is that there are actually four main branches of orthodox Hinduism: Shaivism (name of God is Shiva), Vaishnavism (name of God is Vishnu/Narayana/Krishna), and Shaktism (God is Goddess, and is called the Divine Mother or Shakti). The fourth branch is called Smartaism, and can be considered as “liberal” because it accepts all three as forms of the same Divine. Followers of Smartaism historically have been from priestly communities, and have chosen one these forms as their “chosen form of God” (Ishta Devata). Although technically in Smartaism, each person would have the choice of which form of God to worship, in reality the Ishta Devata is passed down the generations. So, in the case of your friend, my guess would be that the family’s Ishta Devata is Shiva. Technically speaking, those who are Smartas and worship Shiva as their Ishta Devata are not considered Shaivites, purely because of theological and philosophical differences. However, they may choose to describe themselves as "Shaivites" because they are followers of Shiva.


“Phyllis” said:
I'm "trying to make ghee out of herbed and salted butter"

Aren’t we all?! :) ;)

Hope that helps.

OM Shanti,
A.
 
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