SATHADHA SRIVAISHANAVAS IN FOREIGNER’S RESEARCH
Professor Robert C. Lester, University of Colorado, U.S.A. spoke on The Sathatha Sri Vaishanavas at the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Madras – 4, on 29.07.1988 he pointed out:
The Sathatha Sri Vaishnavas are a distinctive community, about thirteen hundred thousands in number spread throughout Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. For several centuries, they have rendered a variety of services in Sri Vaishnava temples as archakas, dharmakartas, guardians of temple properties and suppliers of flowers – garlands for worship etc., . There are several subsects in this community, Many follow a life style like that of the Sri Vaishanava Brahmins. 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 upto 1942. Possibly the term “Sathatha” is a corruption of Sat-taada (Sanskrit “Sat” and Tamil Taada (D (Dhasa) meaning pure or true servent. The term “Sathatha” may also mean in Tamil, “one who does not wear the sacred thread or 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 lecture was followed by a lively discussion, the participants being the president of the Dr. A. Thiru Venkatanathan ( Vaishnava College), Agnihotram Ramanuja Thathachariar, Prof. R.N. Sampath and others, each stressing different pertinent points.
Courtesy: INDIAN EXPRESS: 3.8.98