Satanis (Telugu: సాతాని) are a Telugu-speaking caste of Vaishnavas who render temple services in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in India. Traditionally they have rendered a variety of services in the Sri Vaishnava temples as mendicants, singers, torch-bearers at festivals, makers of umbrellas and flower garlands, archakas (priests) of minor temples, guardians of temple properties etc. They are also present in smaller numbers in Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
They are also variously known as Chatani, Chatadi, Chattada Sri Vaishnavas, Sathatha Sri Vaishnavas, Ayyawar, Vira Vaishnava, Vighas etc. They have claimed Brahmin status, although this has been contested by Brahmins. They are currently included in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) list by the state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The name 'Satani' is supposed to be a corruption of 'chyatani' or 'chyati' which means "acting according to prescribed rites". They are said to be a caste of mixed origins recruited from various castes like Sale (weavers), Darji (tailors), Golla (herdsmen) etc.
In their social and religious customs, the community is associated with the Tenkalai movement of Sri Vaishnava faith propounded by Ramanuja. Whilst Ramanuja himself probably expressed no preference, the Tengalais, or "southerners", preferred Tamil language religious texts and their counterparts, the Vadagalais ("northerners") were in favour of Sanskrit sources. The two groups also had doctrinal differences regarding such things as the nature of salvation. The cumulative effect of these differences was that the Tengalai were more liberal, radical and socially inclusive than the Vadagalai, and thus attracted to their ranks a larger number of people from castes that were considered to be low in status and, indeed, people who were thought to be completely outside the caste system.
Request for name changeEdit
Originally known as Satani, Sattada, Chattada or Chatadi, the 1931 Census Report for Mysore stated that "the request that the name Satani to be changed to Sattada Sri Vaishnava could not be accepted because Sri Vaishnava is the name of a distinctive group of Brahmins and Satani community is not generally treated as a Brahmin community. The adoption of the new name could be misleading." Many communities were attempting to claim Brahmin status there at that time, and British Raj officials had previously treated Satanis as being a mixed community of non-Brahmins who had in common their adherence to the Tengalai movement and various forms of temple service.
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There are several sub-sects among the Sathatha Sri Vaishnava. Many follow a lifestyle like that of the Iyengars. Their names have the honorary suffix Ayyangar and the title acharya, swamy. They especially revere the Sankha, the Chakra, the Naamam, Hanuman and Garuda. Above all, they honour the Alvars, especially Nammalvar. They recite and use only the Alvar's hymns for domestic rituals. Most are disciples of the Koil Annan and Acharya Purusha of Srirangam. Some follow the Vaanamaamalai Math and others the Para Vastu Math at Tirupati.
The Srirangam Kovil Olugu records that this community served in the Srirangam temple at the time of Ramanuja and that he assigned them special duties and services in his reorganisation of the temple.
They were also prominent in Srirangam and Kanchipuram (15th and 16th centuries) under the leadership of Kanudaadi Ramanujuayyangar, who was a disciple of both Koil Annan at Srirangam and Azhagiyamanaavala Jeeyar at Kancheepuram Varadarajaswami temple. They were in charge of Ramanuja Kootams.
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