Madhva Brahmins

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Madhva Brahmins or Madhvas (also sometimes spelled as Madhwa Brahmins or Madhwas), are subcaste of Hindu Brahmin community in India. They follow the Dvaita philosophy propounded by Madhvacharya. They are also called as Sadh-Vaishnavas, since they are followers of Sadh Vaishnavism.[1][2] They are found mostly in the Indian states of Karnataka, Maharashtra,[3] Goa, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. [4]

Regions with significant populations
Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
Kannada, Tamil, Tulu, Telugu, and Marathi
Hinduism (Vaishnava)


The Madhwa community traces its philosophical origins to Madhvacharya, the first said Vaishnava acharya, who lived around 13th century. The Ashta Mathas of Udupi were established by Madhvacharya by his disciples. Other Acharya's who established mathas after Madhvacharya include Padmanabha Tirtha, Naraharitirtha, Akshobhya Tirtha, Jayatirtha, Sripadaraja, Vyasatirtha, Vadiraja Tirtha, Vijayendra Tirtha, Raghavendra Tirtha.[5] The affiliations of the Madhwa philosophy extended in the form of temples and monasteries from Udupi in the south to Dwaraka in the North India.[6]

The town of Udupi is famous for the Sri Krishna temple of 13th century. The Madhwas believe that the human soul is saved by the grace of God and God bestows on true devotees. Devotional worship is central to the lives of madhwas.[7]


During the rule of Qutb shahis of Golkonda in 17th century, several Deshastha Madhva Brahmins held high administrative positions such as Deshmukh, Deshpande, Majumdar, Mannavar etc. in the districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States.[8]


The Madhwa Brahmins are distributed all through the state of Karnataka, ranging from villages to urban areas. Madhwas are also present outside Karnataka, such as Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.[9][10] In Bihar, the Gayawal Brahmins are followers of Dvaita philosophy of Madhvacharya.[11][12] In Goa, there are Gaud Saraswat Brahmins who are followers of Dvaita philosophy of Madhva. Salcete is a stronghold of Madhwa Saraswats in Goa and are staunch devotees of Lord Vishnu.[13][14]

In Kerala, there are Embranthiris who follow Dvaita Vedanta of Madhvacharya. There are also other sections of Brahmins who follow Madhva Sampradaya especially in the Central Kerala region.[15]

Society and cultureEdit

Masala dosa with Sambar and chutney in Udupi


The majority of Madhwas speak Kannada, one of the major languages of the mainly southern Dravidian languages group. The Madhwa Brahmins speak a variety of Kannada that borders on a literary dialect.[16] Even in the non-Kannada states Madhwas speak Kannada in their homes but with outsiders they speak the native language of that state.[17] The Marathi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil speaking Madhva Brahmins are Deshastha Madhva Brahmins, who are spread in Maharashtra and throughout South India.[18] The Tulu speaking Madhva brahmins are Shivalli Madhva Brahmins. They are present in the coastal districts of Udupi, Dakshina Kannada of present day Karnataka state, Kasargod and other parts of Kerala state. The Konkani speaking Madhva Brahmins are Gaud Saraswat Madhva Brahmins, who are spread throughout the Coastal Karnataka, Goa and Kerala .[19] According to Thurston, A majority of Konkani Brahmins in these areas are Madhvas.[20]

The Shivalli Madhvas and Deshastha Madhvas are more sought after for priestly services by other communities. The Gaud Saraswat Madhvas are a religiously self-contained community. There are numerous cultural difference between these three subdivisions.[21]


Madhwa Brahmins are pure vegetarian and their staple cereals are rice and wheat.[22]Udupi cuisine is a synonymous name to Madhwa cuisine.It is a major vegetarian cuisine of Karnataka, which includes a combination of cereals, pulses, vegetables and spices.[23]

Typical Madhwa cuisine consists of Saaru (Rasam), Huli (Sambar), gojju, and Anna (Rice).[24] Gojju is generally a beloved dish to entire Madhwa community.[25] In sweets, Hayagreeva is a very common sweet dish made in most Madhwa Brahmin homes, made using Bengal gram with jaggery and coconut. [26]

Social and political issuesEdit

In 2017, Government of Karnataka took stand against superstition and planned to Ban all evil practices including Black Magic by introducing The Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017 in assembly.After much debate, practices like 'Mudradharane' by Madhwa Brahmins have been exempted. As per this practice, 'Mudras' (dyes) usually made of gold or copper are heated on the coal fire and stamped on the body.[27]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bansi Dhar Tripathi (1978). Sadhus of India: The Sociological View. Popular Prakashan. p. 32. The followers of Madhwa are called Sad- Vaishnavas in contra-distinction to the Vaishnavas of Sri Sampradaya.
  2. ^ Vivek Ranjan Bhattacharya (1982). Famous Indian sages: their immortal messages. Sagar Publications. p. 356.
  3. ^ Lavanya Vemsani. Krishna in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Hindu Lord of Many Names: An Encyclopedia of the Hindu Lord of Many Names. ABC-CLIO. p. 165. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  4. ^ B. N. Krishnamurti Sharma (2000). History of the Dvaita School of Vedānta and Its Literature: From the Earliest Beginnings to Our Own Times. Motilal Banarsidass Publications. p. xxxiii.
  5. ^ O. P. Bhatnagar, India. University Grants Commission, University of Allahabad. Dept. of Modern Indian History (1964). Studies in social history: modern India. St. Paul's Press Training School. pp. 133–135.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Nataraja Guru (1990). Life and Teachings of Narayana Guru: In Two Parts. Narayana Gurukula Foundation. p. 200.
  7. ^ Yamuna Lingappa, Banadakoppa T. Lingappa (1992). Wholesome nutrition for mind, body, and microflora: the goal of lacto-vegetarianism (recipes of Udipi cuisine included). Ecobiology Foundation International. p. 320.
  8. ^ Appasaheb Ganapatrao Pawar (1971). Maratha History Seminar, May 28-31, 1970: papers. Shivaji University. The ascendancy of the Qutb-shahis of Golkonda resulted in several Maratha Brahmins of the Madhwa sect, generally called Desasthas, being appointed to high positions. This is evident from several terms such as Deshmukh, Deshpande, Majumdar, Mannavar etc.used in the district's of Andhra to signify certain administrative posts
  9. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 532.
  10. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 542.
  11. ^ A. M. Shah. The Structure of Indian Society: Then and Now. Routledge. p. 88. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  12. ^ T. N. Madan (1992). Religion in India. Oxford University Press. A third religious leader who has had tremendous influence on the Gayawal is Madhavacharya who flourished during the twelfth century ad. The Gayawal caste as a whole is a follower of the Madhava Vaishnava sect, and, as we have noted earlier, the Madhva math is a living religious center that wields a powerful influence on Gayawal.
  13. ^ Vithal Raghavendra Mitragotri (1999). A socio-cultural history of Goa from the Bhojas to the Vijayanagara. Institute Menezes Braganza. p. 105.
  14. ^ Sharma 2000, p. 601.
  15. ^ Raj Kumar (1999). Survey of Ancient India: Literary and cultural perspectives on ancient. Anmol Publications. p. 267.
  16. ^ Dr. Amith Kumar P.V. Bakhtin and Translation Studies: Theoretical Extensions and Connotations. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 83. The Madhwa Brahmins speak a variety of Kannada that borders on a literary dialect. Their language is punctuated by Sanskrit shlokas
  17. ^ R. Thirumalai, S. Manoharan (1997). Tamil Nadu, Part 2. Anthropological Survey of India. p. 854. The Madhva speak Kannada, their mother tongue, in their homes but with outsiders they speak Tamil
  18. ^ Studies in the Linguistic Sciences, Volumes 8-9. Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois. 1978. p. 199. The Desastha Madhwa brahmins in the South have traditionally been bilingual in Marathi and Kannada, Telugu or Tamil
  19. ^ Hebbar 2005, p. 152.
  20. ^ Edgar Thurston (2018). CASTES AND TRIBES OF SOUTHERN INDIA VOL 1: With commentary by VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS. Victoria Institutions. p. 170.
  21. ^ Vasudha Dalmia; Angelika Malinar; Martin Christof (2001). Charisma and Canon: Essays on the Religious History of the Indian Subcontinent. Oxford University Press. p. 123. While the GSBs tend to be a religiously self-contained community, the Taulavas and Desasthas are more sought after for priestly services by other communities. There are numerous cultural difference between these three subdivisions.
  22. ^ India's Communities, Volume 5. Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 2045. They are pure vegetarian and the staple cereals are rice and wheat
  23. ^ Secrets From The Udupi Kitchen
  24. ^ "A Peek Into A Madhwa Brahmin Kitchen". India Food Nerwork.
  25. ^ Madhur Jaffrey (2014). Curry Easy Vegetarian. Penguin Random House.
  26. ^ Sweets from Karnataka that deserve Geographical Indication (GI)
  27. ^ "Karnataka Takes Stand Against Superstition, Bans All Evil Practices Including Black Magic". Indiatimes. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  28. ^ "Statesman and a survivor". Deccab Herald. 7 February 2011.
  29. ^ "C. Hayavandana Rao". The Indian Biographical Dictionary, 1915 (Classic Reprint). Fb&c Limited. p. 238. Retrieved 24 February 2018. (page 238) Krishnaswami Rao Kanchi, Dewan Bahadur, (1895), C.I.E, (1898), Dewan of Travsncore (retired), belongs to respectable Madhwa Deshastha Brahmin family; of late Mr. Kanchi Venkat Rao; b. 1845.
  30. ^ The Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society (Bangalore)., Volume 73. The Society. 1982. p. 124. P.N.Krishnamurthi Mysorean and Madhwa Brahmin was a Dewan
  31. ^ C. T. M. Kotraiah; K. M. Suresh. Archaeology of Hampi-Vijayanagara. Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. p. 390. Retrieved 1 January 2008.
  32. ^ "The quarterly journal of the Mythic society (Bangalore)". 56. Mythic Society. 1966: 94. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  33. ^ Life Sketch of Rajacharitha Visharada Rao Bahadur C.Hayavadana Rao at Google Books at page 94; Quote - "Rao Bahadur C.Hayavadana Rao was born on Tenth of July 1865 at Hosur, Krishnagiri talk in a Madhwa Deshastha Family.His father was C.Raja Rao"
  34. ^ "The Dharwad Gharana: Hindustani music's southern home". THE NEWS MINUTE. A name that stands tall is that of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi born to a Madhwa Brahmin family of scholars in Gadag, Bhimsen took his training under the great Pt Rambhau Kundgolkar, popular as ‘Sawai Gandharva’.
  35. ^ "Man with saucer eyes". The Hindu. 28 May 2015.
  36. ^ "Changing roles with the years". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  37. ^ Kashinath laid to rest: Shivaraj Kumar, Darshan and entire Sandalwood bids tearful adieu
  38. ^ Datta, Amaresh (1987). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A-Devo. Sahithya Akademi. p. 145. Born in an orthodox Madhwa Brahmin household, he graduated in Philosophy hons
  39. ^ Vuppuluri Lakshminarayana Sastri. Encyclopaedia of the Madras Presidency and the Adjacent States. Oriental Enclyclopaedic Publishing Company. p. 610. Mr. Sanjeevi Rao is the youngest of the three sons, born in 1883, of his father Venkobachariar of Palladam, Coimbatore District, belonging to a respected orthodox Madhwa Brahmin family
  40. ^ Vijendra Kasturi Ranga Varadaraja Rao; S. L. Rao (2002). The Partial Memoirs of V.K.R.V. Rao. Oxford University Press. p. 1.
  41. ^ The mind and metaphors of U.R. Ananthamurthy - The Hindu
  42. ^ Baiderbettu Upendra Nayak; N. C. Ghosh; Shikaripur Ranganatha Rao (1992). New trends in Indian art and archaeology: S.R. Rao's 70th birthday felicitation volume, Volume 1. Aditya Prakashan. p. xxi. Shikaripur Ranganatha Rao (S. R. Rao) was born on 1st July, 1920 at Anandapuram in Sagar taluk of Shimoga district in the erstwhile Mysore (now Karnataka) state. His father Shikaripur Hucha Rao, a Madhwa Brahmin, was well educated upto first year in Arts and wanted to practise Law.
  43. ^ P.N. Sundaresan (1994). Sruti, Issues 112-113. p. 9. Born in 1852 in a Madhwa brahmin family, Seshanna was the son of Veena- Bakshi Chikkaramappa, a vidwan in Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar's court and a descendant of Pachimiriam Adiappaiah, the creator of the immortal Bhairavi
  44. ^ The Journal of the Music Academy, Madras, Volume 58. Music Academy. 1987. p. 110. Sakharam Rao was born at Madhyarjunam ( Tiruvidaimarudur) in the Tanjore District. He was the eldest son of Gottu Vadya Srinivasa Rao, a famous player of the preceding generation from whom he learnt the art. He was a Madhva Desastha Brahmin and a Rigvedi.
  45. ^ Purandaradāsa; A. S. Panchapakesa Iyer (1992). Sree Puranḍara gānāmrutham: text with notation. Gānāmrutha Prachuram. Shri Purandara dasa who is considered to be the aadhiguru and Sangeeta Pitamaha of carnatic music was born in purandaragad in Ballary District near the town of Hampi, to a millionaire Varadappa Nayak and Kamalambal, a devoted wife and great lady, belonging to Madhva Desastha Brahmin race, by the blessings of Tirupati Venkatachalapathi in the year 1484.
  46. ^ Rajaram N S. The Vanished Raj A Memoir of Princely India. Prism Books Private Limited. p. 18. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  47. ^ Journal of the Andhra Historical Society, Volumes 25-26. Andhra Historical Research Society. 1960. p. 175. Krishnadevaraya of Tuluva Dynasty honoured the famous Madhwa Brahmin Poet Vyasatheertha
  48. ^ A. K. Ramanujan (2006). Poems and a Novella. Oxford University Press. p. 193. Saint Vadiraja: Belonged to the sect of the Madhva Brahmins of Udipi.
  49. ^ Rajaram N S. The Vanished Raj A Memoir of Princely India. Prism Books Private Limited. p. 447. Retrieved 12 January 2019.