Excerpts are taken from the book of Sri Jatavallabha Singra Iyengar and Vamsha Parampara first edition.
Thanks to our elders undertaking enormous pains to do research on the origin and history of our community by studying extensively from stone carvings, documents and Epigraphica Karnataka records, a wealth of information about our community’s history right from the days of Sri Ramanuja in 1090s, has been made available for all of us to read and enjoy. A summary of historical events since then to the present day is described chronologically below.
11th CENTURY – Our roots go back to 1053 AD when, at Kirangoor near Srirangapatna, our community’s originator, Sri Tiru Ananthalwar, was born as son of Sri Keshavacharya. He went to Srirangam to become a disciple of Sri Ramanujacharya. After several years of learnng under him, the Acharya desired him to go to Tirumalai and serve Lord Srinivasa. Tirumalai located in the seven hills was then inhospitable, dense and dangerous forests with no proper approach and was shunned by other disciples. But Sri Ananthalwar readily obeyed the order of the guru. In appreciation of his exemplary courage the Acharya gave him the title “Aan Pillai” (Manly person). Aan Pillai went to Tirumalai with 30 Srivaishnavaites and lived in a village called Bala Mandayam or Ilaya Mandayam (in honour of Sage Mandavya) gifted by the ruler of Tirupathi, Vitthala Raya. They are the first generation members of our community dating back to Sri Ramanuja’s period itself and this great man is the oldest ancestor of our community. He lived for 100 years.
12th CENTURY – An important period in our history. With Sri Ramanuja establishing Yadava puri (Melukote) and Yathiraja mutt. Vishnuvardana, the Hoysala King and follower of Sri Ramanuja, granted 8 villages (Ashta grammas) near Srirangapatna to Sri Anantacharya as a Jahagiri in the year 1117.
13th CENTURY – With the extinction of Hoysala Kingdom, we lost the 8 Jahagir villages. Melukote was partly destroyed by Muslim invaders, who also destroyed the Hoysala kingdom.
14th CENTURY – However in 1380 the then King of Vijayanagar empire which was rising, sent his emissary Srirangaraya and gave 21 villages as Jahagiri to Tiru Anantacharya’s successor at this time – Sri Tirumala Iyengar.
15th CENTURY – our fortunes rose with Timmanna Dandanayaka (Tirumalacharya) of Nagamangala becoming the representative of Vijayanagar ruler. He restored the glory of Melukote and was running the administration from Nagamandala.
16th CENTURY – Fortunes further rose in 1516 AD, Sri Krishna Devaraya, the great Vijayanagar ruler gifted several villages near Melukote (which included present Mandya then called Krishnaraya pura) to Sri Govindaraja Udayar, 12th successor in Ananthalawar’s lineage impressed by his knowledge. Sri Govindaraja Udayar moved over here with his followers and relations and in memory of Bala Mandayam where he had lived earlier, renamed the village as Mandya. He made his followers sign a covenant that laid the foundation for our well-knit community. From then on the Srivaishnava who settled down in and around the town of Mandya and their genie are referred as Mandayam Iyengars. The covenant entered by these followers included marrying within the community, but belonging to different Gothras, sharing one’s experiences with all, participating together in all activities-religious and social and lead a simple and honest life.
17th CENTURY – Our community’s fortune reached the peak with our people getting ministerial and various posts in the Mysore Kingdom. When Raja Wodeyar, became Mysore King in 1608, one of our person, Sri Tirumal Iyengar successfully resolved the dispute with Vijayanagar rulers and got a ministerial post. From then on till the end of century Tirumala Iyengar’s sons and grandsons continued in important positions of Mysore Kingdom. All proved very good administrators, scholars and poets. Melukote prospered. There is a unsubstantiated belief that Mandayam’s did not marry at all during this period and the community did not grow and to overcome this Sri Tirumalai Iyengar, minister with the then Mysore king Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar married 5 Srivaishnava women from various settlements to make the community grow.
18th CENTURY – Early in the century Sri Tirumalai Iyengar and other leading personalities who were in important positions died. Fortunes reversed with our community members ill treated by Hyderali and Tippu for showing loyalty to royal family, after Hyderali snatched the Mysore Kingdom. To escape the harsh treatment, many families migrated to Madras Kingdom. It appears that Tippu killed a large number of members of our community, mainly belonging to Bharadwaja Gothra, in 1783, on “Naraka Chaturdashi” day and hence Bharadwaja Gothra members do not celebrate Naraka Chaturdashi.
19th CENTURY – In 1799 Mysore Kingdom got restored to royal family and our community’s persecution ended. Fortunes improved again and settlements started prospering. Many families who had moved away from Mandya etc. returned back and also to Mysore which had become royal family’s capital. Apart from Melukote, Mandya and Nagamangala our people also settled in Malur, Ramanuja Puram, Honnalagere and in villages along Kaveri such as Kannambadi, Sampalli and Kothegala . By 1831 Bangalore became working capital of the state, started gaining importance and attracted our community. Among the prominent Mandayam, who did yeoman service to bring up our community in this century are – Josya Singracharyar, Natampalli Anandalwar, and Natampalli Singlachar.
20th CENTURY – As education, medical facilities, job opportunities in government services, industries, teaching line etc. improved vastly at Bangalore, the community started mass migration over there and also to Madras, Mumbai and all corners of India contributing our bit in various walks of life in serving mother land. Thanks to our community giving priority and keeping pace with developments in education, (including women’s) the community has spread not only all over India but also all over the world – USA, UK, Australia and Europe winning many laurels and bringing fame to us. Perhaps today the second largest gathering of affluent Mandayam community, next to Bangalore is in Silicon Valley in California, USA. All these records indicate that origin of our Mandayam community dates back right up to Sri Ramanuja’s period in 11th century, though it got forged as a well knit community in 16th century by efforts of Sri Govindaraja Udayar.