There are several subsects in this Sathatha Sri Vaishnava, Many follow a life style like that of the Sri Vaishanava(Iyengars). Their names have the Characteristic honorary suffix-”Ayya” and the title “Daasar”. They especially revere the Sankha, the Chakra, the Naamam, Hanuman and Garuda. Above all, they honour the Aazhvaars, especially, Nammaazhvaar. They recite and use only the Aazhvaar’s hymns for domestic rituals. Most of them are disciples of Koil Annan-and Acharya Purusha of Sri Rangam. Some follow the Vaanamaamalai Math and others the Para Vastu Math at Tirupati.
In the past fifty years, they have formed local, regional and national associations for the education and upliftment of their community. They have the right to recite Prabandhams along with Brahmins in the “Iyal Goshti”. (Hymn-singing group) This was true in Srirangam up to 1942. Possibly the term “Sathatha” is a corruption of Sat-taada (Sanskrit “Sat” and Tamil Taada (D (Dhasa) meaning pure or true servant. The term “Sathatha” may also mean in Tamil, “one who does not wear top-knot(sikha).
The Srirangam “koil Olugu” records that this community was serving in the srirangam temple at the time of Sri Ramanujacharya (11th century A.D) and that this Acharya assigned them special duties and services in his reorganisation of the temple.
This community was prominent in Srirangam and Kanchipuram (15th and 16th centuries) under the leadership of Kanudaadi Ramanujudasar, who was a disciple of both Koil Annan at Srirangam and Azhagiyamanaavala Jeeyar at Kancheepuram Varadarajaswami temple. They were in charge of Ramanuja Kootams.
The Distinctiveness of Srivaisnava Hinduism lies not only in the fact that it gives special attention to the female mode of the godhead (sri), but also in its claim to inspiration by both the Sanskrit Veda and the devotional poems of the twelve devotees known as Alvars (650-850 C.E.) – considered to be the Tamil Veda. The two vedas are not of equal weight for all Srivaisnavas – Vatakalai, or Northern-branch, Srivaisnavism gives precedence to the Sanskrit and Tenkalai, or Southern-branch, Srivaisnavism to the Tamil; nonetheless both lineages of theologians come to speak of their theology as ubhaya vedanta – “the wisdom of both” the Tamil Veda and the Sanskrit Veda. Among the Alvars – one female and eleven males, at least five are non-Brahmin and it is the works of one of these, Nammalvar. The literature of both the northern and southern lineages stipulates that moksa is by the grace of the supreme Lord through rituals open to both male and female members of all castes.
At the same time, it appears that the entire lineage of theologians, on both the Tenkalai and Vatakalai sides, from the beginning (Nathamuni, c. 900) to the present, is Brahmin. Sociological and ritual studies show that both Tenkalai and Vatakalai Brahmins consider the maintenance of caste purity important and continue to perform the prescribed Vedic rituals – and that those who administer initiatory rites (diksa), as well as Srivaisnava temple priests, are invariably Brahmin. Indeed, the rather extensive scholarly literature describing and interpreting Srivaisnavism represents it as essentially a Brahmin tradition.
Sattada Srivaisnavism has a long history and that Sattadas enjoyed greater status in Srivaisnava temples in times past than they do today. The number of temples served by Sattadas and the number of Sattada families serving where services continue, have significantly declined over the last fifty years. The number of Sattadas at Srirangam was much larger in earlier times; some of those who left Srirangam went to serve other temples and some sought a livelihood outside of temple service. Privileges have been cancelled or, at least, eroded. Srirangam Sattadas recited alongside other Srivaisnavas(called as Iyengars) in the Iyal Gosthi up to 1942, when the privilege was cut off by legal action. Present day Sattadas say that their ancestors were in charge of the major Srivaisnava temples of South India, as dharmakartr or srikaryakartr (Tam. srikariyakarttan), and that, in a few of these temples, they served as archakas. There is substantial inscriptional evidence for Sattada prominence at Srirangam, Tirupati-Tirumalai and Kancipuram (Varadarajasvami temple) during the 15th and 16th centuries, under the leadership of one Kandadai Ramanuja Dasar (c. 1430-1496), alias Kandadai Ramanuja Ayyangar or Kandadai Ayodhya Ramanuja Ayyangar. The earliest notice is in a Tirumalai inscription dated 1456,in which it is said that Kandadai Ramanujayyan, the disciple of Alakiyamanavala Jiyar, is the trustee (kartr) of ramanujakutams (feeding houses for pilgrims, in commemoration of Ramanujacharya), constructed by the Vijayanagara ruler, Saluva Narasimha, at Tirumala and Tirupati. Numerous inscriptions, thereafter to 1495, refer to him as “Kantatai Ramanujayyangar, disciple of Alakiyamanavala Jiyar and manager of the Tirumalai-Tirupati ramanujakutams.” These texts indicate that, as the agent of Saluva Narasimha, he constructed and managed feeding houses at Srirangam and Varadarajasvami temple, Kancipuram, as well as Tirumalai-Tirupati.
A sprawling expansion of 460 acres of ornamental, flower and landscape gardens under the auspicious of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, TTD gardens is a flamboyant location in Tirumala. This garden supplies 500 kilograms of flowers daily to the various temples in and around Tirumala. It is responsible for the beautification of the temples on special occasions apart from providing the routine demands for flowers.
It is believed that Ramanuja and his disciple Sri Anandalwar had paved way for such a magnificent patch in the 14th century. Another legend is that Sattada Sri Vaishnavas cultivated the Tirumala flower gardens under the name of Dasa Nambis. Now the garden has four nurseries namely in the Travellers Bungalow area, Gogarbham Dam area, Sri Padmavathi Guest House area and Divyaramam area in which ten lakh plants are produced annually. One can see mixed assortments of crotons, bougainvilleas, hibiscus, which is named after great personalities like N.T. Ramarao, S.D. Sarma and Ramanuja.
There are not only the flowerbeds that allure one, the charm of the garden is prettily complimented by various streams and ponds, which are full of lovely lotus flowers.