Welcome to the TCA Family Website
The TCA Family is descended from Angiras (c.2750BC), an important descendant of Manu (c.3100BC), the progenitor of the Aryans of India. Angiras is recorded as a Prophet in the Rig Veda (Chapter 1.1.6.).
Angirasa was the founder of one of the world's five earliest Brahminical families. The other four families were founded by Bhargava, Vasishtha, Atri (Atreya) and Marichi (Kashyapa).
A descendant of Angirasa, Dirghatama (c.2300BC) was born blind, expelled for misconduct and set afloat on the Ganges, but regained his sight later in life and became a scholar. Dirghatama consecrated Bharata of the Paurava dynasty as the Emperor. Emperor Bharata unified the dominions of India under one rule for the first time in history, established his capital at Hastinapura (Delhi) and ancient India was known after him as Bharata-varsha. The poet Kalidasa(c.400AD) celebrates Emperor Bharata's mother in his world famous poem, Shakuntala. Modern India took the name Bharat in 1947.
Emperor Bharata was disappointed in his sons (and killed them all) and adopted Dirghatama's son Bharadwaja as his own. Bharadwaja's son Vithatha succeeded Bharata as Emperor of India. From this time, the descendants of Angirasa took the name Bharadwaja (c.2275BC).
Four generations after Vithatha, the Paurava dynasty lost its supremacy to the House of Ayodhya, which gradually rose in power from about 2225BC to 1950BC, when Rama ruled as King of Ayodhya. But by 1700BC, the Paurava dynasty had regrouped under King Kuru, a descendant of Bharadwaja. The descendants of King Kuru were Santanu, Bhishma, Dhritarashta and Pandu. The sons of Dhritarashta and Pandu and their allied kingdoms fought the famous Maha Bharata war (c.1400BC) and their teacher was Dronacharya, also a Bharadwaja. In the Maha-Bharata war, King Krishna of Dwaraka participated as an ally of the Pandavas, and his prophetic battlefield sermon to Arjuna the Pandava is known has the Bhagawad Gita.
The destruction, havoc and passions unleashed by the Maha-Bharata war, which in some ways was also the first great Indian civil war, ushered a long period of intense introspection and spiritual scrutiny starting with the Upanishads (intensely philosophical commentaries on the Vedic worship of God as the Creator and the meaning of life and death) and culminating with the beginning of four of the great Indian religious traditions at around the same time in 600BC - Vaishnavism (the worship of God as the protector of Good with the human goal of everlasting union with God through prayer and devotion), Shaivism (the worship of God as the destroyer of Evil with the human goal of attaining the consciousness of God through knowledge of the self and meditation), Buddhism (the Eight-fold Path of deliverance from human suffering) and Jainism (every human action has an equivalent reaction and only strict control of actions can minimize painful reactions).
The contributions of Bharadwajas to the development of the Upanishads (several of which were authored by Bharadwajas) and of Vaishnavism and Shaivism are too numerous to list here. Even the Buddhist history text Mahavagga describes a famous Bharadwaja scholar of Ekanala who was personally convinced by the Buddha to become one of his first disciples. During the period 1400BC-600BC, India was divided into several dozen states including eleven people-administered republics with no kings. Bharadwajas were kings, prime ministers, administrators or renowned scholars in several of these states. From 600BC to 317BC, most parts of India from the Indus (Punjab) to Patna (Bihar) to Mysore (400 miles south of Bombay, 200 miles west of Madras and 50 miles from Bangalore) were consolidated into one empire by the Nanda kings, the most famous of whom was Mahapada Nanda.
Janamejaya, the great grandson of the Bharadwaja Arjuna (c.1400BC), spent his career fighting and suppressing the tribes of Gandhara (also known as Upa-gana-stan or Afghanistan, and some will say, we are still fighting them!) and one of his descendants in that region, the Bharadwaja Paurava King Purusha (Porus) fought the Greek barbarian invader Alexander in 326BC. Alexander died from wounds sustained while fighting one of King Purusha's allies. At this time, Kautilya (Chanakya), a Bharadwaja Brahmin of Gandhara was seething in fury at the atrocities committed by the invading Greeks. Chanakya, who authored the Arthashastra (the world's first authoritative book on statecraft) recruited an upstart Nanda prince, Chandragupta, and raised and trained an army under him to overthrow both the Greeks and the Nandas. Chanakya crowned Chandragupta the Emperor of India (317BC) and the great Maurya dynasty was established. Chandragupta's grandson Ashoka the Great (c.250BC) ascended to the throne of India after assassinating nearly a hundred of his half-brothers, and had political dominions stretching from the Oxus River to the Indian Ocean (he named Madurai, 250 miles south of Madras, after Mathura) and spiritual dominions around the world through state-sponsored Buddhist missionaries sent far and wide. Buddhism became the world's first official state religion under Ashoka with its unique order of monks, monasteries and missionaries and was later copied by Romanized Christianity. Ashoka's four-lion imperial emblem, which adorns the top of this this web site, was adopted as the national emblem of India in 1947.
Emperor Ashoka founded the ancient university town of Kanchi Pura (50 miles west of Madras) as one of three major world centers of Brahminical learning and Sanskrit scholarship (the other two being Taxila (Afghanistan) and Nalanda (Bihar)). Later in the emperor's reign, Kanchi was transformed into a major Buddhist center.
Pushyamitra, a Bharadwaja Brahmin and General of the Mauryan army, assassinated the weak descendants of Ashoka during an army parade in their honor and established the Sunga dynasty (c.150BC). He was able to stop fresh Greek invasions and keep the political administration secular in the best traditions of India. Pushyamitra was succeeded by his son Agnimitra, who is the star of Kalidasa's Malavikagnimitra. Greeks embraced Vaishnavism under the Sungas. The tenth Sunga emperor was assassinated (c.25BC) by his minister using a dancing girl. The resulting chaos coincided with the Kushan (Shaka Hun) invasions from central Asia and the country disintegrated once again into several independent principalities, including those around and north of Kanchi.
After the death of the Kushan King Kanishka (78AD), the disintegration of the Kushan dynasty started and the great Gupta dynasty was beginning to be forged from humble beginnings (c.250AD). Around the same time, a Bharadwaja Brahmin, Ashwathama founded the Pallava dynasty in the region north and west of Kanchi. Ashwathama was descended from the Bharadwaja Pallava governors of the region under the Sunga and Maurya dynasties as recorded in Emperor Ashoka's rock edicts. The Pallava dynasty was unique in the region for several reasons, but most importantly, it was a Sanskrit speaking Brahmin dynasty with Sanskrit and Prakrit as the official languages in a region whose population was predominantly Tamil speaking. A descendant of Ashwathama, Virakurcha, was under pressure from Samudra-gupta's expansionary military campaigns in the south and strengthened his position by marrying the daughter of a local Naga chieftain who was ruling Kanchi. With that alliance the Pallava capital was moved to Kanchi Pura, from where the grand Bharadwaja Pallava dynasty ruled as the most powerful kingdom in the Deccan and southern India until 880AD. Several smaller Pallava principalities have been recorded to have existed up to 1300AD.
Although both the Bharadwaja Pallava and the Gupta dynasties were founded around the same time (c.250AD) and had military conflicts between them, the Pallava dynasty had outlasted the Guptas by more than three hundred years. The Gupta dynasty ushered in the Golden Age of India, from the ascension of Chandra-gupta Vikramaditya in 375AD to well after his grandson, Skanda-gupta, who crushed Atilla's invading Huns in 455AD (previously, Attilla had sacked the Roman empire and annexed Rome). The Gupta empire disintegrated due to internal dissensions in 570AD and was succeeded by Harsha-vardhana, whose celebrated reign was recorded by Bana-bhatta's biography Harsha-Charita and the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang. Harsha was defeated by the Chalukya (modern Maharashtra-Vidarbha) King Pulakesin in c.630AD, who in turn was defeated by the Pallava Narasimha-varma (642AD) and the Chalukya capital was annexed into the Pallava kingdom.
Amid times of incredible prosperity, the Pallava and Gupta dynasties embraced the Agama (symbolic material) forms of worship over the Vedic Nigama (abstract) forms and were prolific builders and architects. Temple architecture was developed for the first time by the Guptas. The first temple built in India was commissioned at Som-nath by Chandragupta Vikramaditya, who also built the only surviving major original architecture of the Guptas, the Maha-bodhi Temple in Gaya at the place of the Buddha's enlightenment. The Guptas also may have contributed to the commissioning of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan. They built the original Ram Temple in Ayodhya at Rama's birthplace and the original Krishna Temple in Mathura at Krishna's birthplace. With the exception of the Mahabodhi Temple (c.400AD), all of the Gupta architectural achievements were destroyed by barbarian islamic invaders.
However, all of the Pallava temples, built around the same time as those of the Guptas, remain intact, and they are a wonderful testimony to the combined architectural achievements of the Pallavas and Guptas. The basic Pallava temple architecture design at its core was identical to the Gupta design, but was later improved. The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang visited the Pallava capital at Kanchi in 640AD and records the city as six miles in radius, with more than hundred Buddhist monasteries and eighty non-Buddhist temples, the majority of which belonged to Jains. However, today (2002AD) there are 126 major temples in Kanchi which date back to that period, of which 18 are Vaishnava temples and the rest belong to Shaivism. The Pallava Nandi-varma (d.795AD), great-grandson of Narasimha-varma, was a staunch Vaishnava and ruled for 65 years. All the major historical Vaishnava temple monuments standing today, including the Vaikunth-nath and Vara-da-raja Temples in Kanchi, Partha-sarathy Temple in Madras, Ranga-nath Temple at Srirangam (Trichy), Narayan Temple (Melkot-Mysore), and most importantly for Indians of today, the Balaji Temple in Tirumala (Tirupati) were built by the Pallavas.
Bharadwaja Ananth-arya was born to the Vaishnava Brahmin Bharadwaja Keshav-acharya in 1053AD in Melkot (15 miles north of Mysore). Today, an ancient, twenty four-column granite hall marks the spot of his birthplace which, in the 1980s, used to serve as a cow-shed. Acharya Ram-anuja (b.1017AD near Kanchi), who was born to a Shaiva family, converted to Vaishnavism and lived for 120 years. He lies buried at the Ranga-nath Temple in Srirangam. He was fired with an intense missionary zeal to promote the merits of Vaishanava philosophy and to satisfy the spiritual hunger of millions of Indians who were reeling from the bigoted barbarian islamic invasions in the north and the bigoted Shaiva Chola rulers in the south who had taken over Pallava lands. Vaishnavas and Vaishnava places of worship were neglected by the rulers of the time. During a sermon at the Narayan Temple (Melkot), he described the state of the Balaji Temple on the remote 4000 feet, seven-range, Venkata mountains (part of the Eastern Ghats of the Vindhya mountains) in Tirupati to his followers as follows, "the temple is in ruins and there is no worship, the forest has moved into the sanctum sanctorum and tigers, elephants, snakes and other wild animals roam freely, there is no water or nor are there any facilities, it is completely uninhabited by humans, and it is a seven-day trek up the wild mountain jungle from the nearest inhabited village to an elevation of 4000 feet to reach the shrine". And then he continued, "who among you will volunteer to rebuild the temple and establish facilitates for pilgrims?". In the audience that comprised of several hundred grown men, the only hand that went up was that of a mere boy, 16-year old Bharadwaja Ananatharya. Moved to tears, Ramanuja said, "you are only male here. Henceforth you will be known as Ananth-an-pillai." "An-Pillai" means "masculine-son".
Anantharya made extensive renovations to the Balaji Temple. He built a trek route up the mountains with rest stops. He developed and established the temple's prayers and rituals (followed to this day) and recruited priests to perform them. After his wedding, his wife joined him in making renovations. When his pregnant wife was helping him dig a lake to provide a water service to the temple and pilgrims, a little boy came to help her and she took his help. When Anantharya saw this, he was angry, because, in his devotional zeal, he wanted none but himself and his wife to create God's lake, and struck the boy on his chin with the crow-bar he was using. The boy bled and ran away. The next morning, when Anantharya opened the temple doors, he saw the deity bleeding from the chin. And he quickly realized that the little boy who came to help his wife was none other than God. Anantharya wept and begged for forgiveness and applied raw camphor to the deity's chin to stop the bleeding. To this day, raw camphor is applied to the deity's chin every day, the 1000-year old crow-bar hangs from a high wall at the temple's entrance, the lake is called Ananth-arya(alwar) Lake and the town of cottages built for pilgrims is called Ananth-arya(alwar) Nagar. A descendant of Anantharya has rights to the first holy water offerings-of-the-day to pilgrims, that is, he has the right to be the first among pilgrims. Anantharya's 1000-year old granite home and garden outside the temple is a national monument under the protection of the Archeological Survey of India. The Balaji Temple is today the most popular pilgrim shrine in India today, with several hundred thousand pilgrims converging at the shrine every day (several million a day on religious occasions). Even though the temple never really closes for worship, pilgrims need to book their place five years in advance for certain routine temple services.
Anantharya was also a renowned scholar and has composed extensive philosophical works in Sanskrit, which are subjects of study for students of philosophy in India even today. For his yeoman service to Vaishnavism, Acharya Ramanuja designated him an "alwar" or an acharya-guru who is also worthy of worship. Deities in the image of Ananth-arya are worshiped as Ananth-alwar in several temples of India. One of the unique religious beliefs and traditions of India is that spiritual enlightenment is more likely to be achieved by an individual through a learned teacher, or acharya-guru, who would provide the instruction and philosophical foundations that an individual can build on. This tradition is one of the central features of Vaishnavism as well. However, in light of Anantharya's distinguished achievements, Ramanuja, also ordained that Anantharya and his descendants would be "Swayam-Acharyas", that is, self-taught individuals. In practice, descendants of Anantharya have regarded their father or another elder of the family as acharya-gurus. As Swayam-Acharyas, Anantharya descendants also have legal rights to establish formal Vaishnava Mutts (or churches) and serve as Pontiffs, accept disciples and instruct them in Vaishnava philosophy as well as provide advice on life events when solicited.
From c.1100AD, the descendants of Anantharya came to be known as belonging to the Bharadwaja Anantharya family, and have been variously known as Tirumala Ananth-an-pillai or simply, Ananth-alwar family. During the Middle Ages, they were renowned scholars, teachers and feudal landlords (often all three in combination) as well as prime ministers and other administrators of kings. Those who were spiritually inclined, have established Vaishnava Mutts, and have had, and still do have, disciples, comprised of both royal families and commoners, from all over India, but notably from Bombay, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal, and from places that comprise of Pakistan today. A complete family tree from the time of Anantharya to the present generation, an unbroken lineage of nearly a thousand years, has been recorded and published.
In c.1850AD, a descendant of Bharadwaja Anantharya, Ramanujacharya, was born in the village of Cunnavakkam, six miles from Kanchi. His family had recently moved to the village as feudal landlords at the invitation and a grant from a Raja. Ramanujacharya became the first person in the Anantharya family to become a matriculate in English, upon which he moved to Mathura (50 miles from Delhi) as the Post Master General of the area. He married and had five children. In a cholera epidemic that swept through the region, his wife and all of his children perished. Disillusioned with life, he decided to become a Sanyasin (meditative monk who has renounced the world) and disappeared into the Vindhya mountains for seven years, where he remained in meditation in a cave. A tiger walked into the cave when he was in meditation and disturbed him. He opened his eyes to see the tiger in-his-face and was not sure what to do. To his surprise, the tiger spoke to him in telepathy, and told him that Sanyas was not in his destiny and that he must return to the world and raise a family again, and walked away without harming him. And so, Ramanujacharya, moved back to Kanchi, but retained his foot-long Sanyasin-beard, for which he became known affectionately as Dadi Ramanujacharya, or simply, Dadiyar.
In due course, Dadiyar became interested in a maiden, Singh-a-ma (translated as "mother of lions"), and as an accomplished horseman, he and one of his two brothers went riding to the maiden's house and asked the permission of the father to marry his daughter. Startled by a bearded stranger on horseback asking for the hand of his daughter, the father brandished his sword and called for help, thus chasing Dadiyar away. However, within the hour, someone informed the father of the identity and family antecedents of the bearded horseman. The maiden's father gathered some two dozen of his relatives and rode after Dadiyar, who was resting a couple of miles away. Upon seeing a bunch of horseman, with the maiden's father at their head, shouting Dadiyar's name and riding fast toward him, Dadiyar decided to scoot. But, his brother recognized the seemingly peaceful intentions of the approaching party and decided to wait for them. Singha-a-ma's father informed Dadiyar that he would be delighted to have him as his son-in-law.
At the time, Dadiyar decided to anglicize (that is, write it in English) the family name for his descendants. Traditionally, a formal introduction of a family member would include the following: "Angirasa-Bharata-Bharadwaja-Tirumala-Anantharya-YourGivenName". For the English language rendering, Dadiyar retained Tirumala Anantharya part of the name, to which he added the name of the Cunnvakkam village to highlight the family branch, and finished it as Tirumala Cunnavakkam Ananth-arya(an-pillai), or "T.C.A.".
The marriage of Dadiyar and Singh-a-ma produced five sons. In order to support his family, Dadiyar acquired an interest in a diamond mine in Rajasthan and became a diamond merchant, along with some business partners. The family was prosperous for several years and lived in a mansion at the center of Kanchi. However, a business partner cheated Dadiyar and suffered losses. At this time, Dadiyar visited his brother who had been terminally ill. Coming back from the visit, the perfectly healthy Dadiyar predicted to Singh-a-ma, "my brother will live, but I will die within the week" and asked her to be prepared for the trials that would follow. As he predicted, Dadiyar passed away within the week at the age of 55 (his brother recovered and lived long after), leaving behind his widow, five children aged from five to fourteen, and a mountain of business debt.
Creditors swarmed the Dadiyar home within ten days of his passing. On the tenth day, Singh-a-ma with five children in tow, was evicted from their home with nothing but the clothes on her back. As she was leaving, Singh-a-ma took a solemn vow, in front of creditors and neighbors, "if I am an honorable woman, I will recover this home of my husband". The family was in dire straits for several years, living in a one-room tenement. However, through the sheer force of Singh-a-ma's will and the hard work, sacrifice and brilliance of her children, they won scholarships to law school and became leading lawyers in Madras. Twenty years after Singh-a-ma was evicted from her home, one her sons bought it back and gifted it to her.
Today, the TCA Family is a family of professionals - lawyers, bankers, accountants, businessmen, teachers, journalists, government administrators, ambassadors, soldiers and a few feudal landlords. Professions where the family is not adequately represented include doctors and technologists. Not including spouses, the descendants of Dadiyar and Singh-a-ma in the present generation (c.2002AD) number approximately one hundred people and are spread across the globe. As is evident from the above discussion, the key words that describe the family's lineage are: Angirasa, Bharata, Bharadwaja, Hastinapura (Delhi), Vaishnava, Chanakya-Maurya, Sunga, Pallava, Anantharya, Tirumala, Kanchi, and lately, America and the Internet (WWW).
There are approximately fifty million Brahmins in this world today, of who some five million are descended from Angirasa Bharadwaja. Of these, there are approximately 10,000 living descendants of Bharadwaja Anantharya. The family's rich genealogical heritage spanning five thousand years is entwined with the very soul of India and the people of India, and has left a triumphant and lasting legacy of scholarship, political administration and professionalism against harsh adversities. However, it must be noted that Bharadwajas cannot and do not inter-marry with Bharadwajas. And by extension, Anantharyas do not marry among themselves. Other Brahmin families have contributed spouses to enrich our blood and like-wise the Bharadwaja families have contributed to the enrichment of other Brahmin families.
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