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Three Types of Bhattathiris

Some families among the Namboothiri community became Bhattathiris in one of the following three ways:

1. Saasthra Bhattathiris (Meemaamsa Bhattathiris): The primary mission in life of Namboothiris used to be the acquisition of knowledge and its wise application. Saasthra Bhattathiris pursued this mission as well as teaching and specialising in Sanskrit, Vedam, Linguistics, Astronomy, Astrology, Architecture, Meemaamsa, Tharkam (logic) and so on. All of these Saasthra Namboothiris are from "Aadu" or "Edu" class and some of them are from "Ashta Grihathil Aadhyan" families. Polpaya Bhattathiripad, Pandamparambath Bhattathiripad (Ashta Grihathil Aadhyan families), Kunnathur Padinjaredath Bhattathiripad (Aadu), Manjappatta Bhattathiripad, Avinjikkad Bhattathiripad (both Edu) are some of them. These families got "Bhatta" titles from the Samoothiris of Kozhikode after passing various examinations conducted during the famous "Pattathaanam" (Click here). Some families like Koodalloor Nambudiripad and Purayannur Nambudiripad were eligible to use the title "Bhattathiripad", as several generations in these families had passed the necessary tests, but they continue to use Nambudiripad as surname.

2. Smaartha Bhattathiris: In olden days, certain families specialised in conducting trials and bringing out the evidences from the mouth of the culprit, if a Namboothiri (man or woman) committed sins in social life. They conducted trials only on Namboothiris. These sins included extra-marital affairs, treachery, theft, etc. The job was almost like that of the prersent-day judge. The king or an equally responsible person pronounced the judgement, based on the evidences collected and presented by these experts. The process of trial was called "Jaathi Saasyam" or "Smaartha Vichaaram", and the expert conducting it was called Smaarthan or Smaartha Bhattathiri. Here, the term Bhattathiri is synonymous to "expert Namboothiri". So "Smaartha Bhattathiris" are educated, qualified and experts in Smaartha Vichaaram. (Click here for Smaartha Vichaaram). Some of the Smaartha Bhattathiris are Pattachomaarath Bhattathiri, Vellakkaatt Bhattathiri and Kaavanaad Bhattathiri. Some of these families are now known as Bhattathiripad due to respect. All such families were from "Aadu" or "Edu" class.

3. Bhaagavatha Bhattathiri: Specialisation in oratory and recitation of "Puraanams" (epics) like Bhaagavatham was also considered a great achievement among Namboothiris. Such Namboothiris gained much respect as they enlightened the people-at-large with their oratorial skills and knowledge of the epics. Thus, ordinary people gave them "Bhattathiri" title. Namboothiris specialised in these areas were known as Bhaagavatha Bhattathiris. Aattupurath Bhattathiri, Karuvaatt Bhattathiri and several other families in various parts of Kerala belong to this category. Many families from various classes of Namboothiris gained the "Bhattathiri" title in this manner.

| Article No:3.4 | Last update of this article:8th October 2001 |
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