AGRAHARAM

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Many Brahmin settlements in South India are called agraharams.

The word agraharam has various etymological meanings. It indicates the conglomeration (haram) of the first among the four varnas (castes). Agraharam also indicates a cluster of houses with a temple on the agram (extreme tip) of the street.


There are many meanings to the word Agraharam

'agrahAram' is a portmanteau word of mixed origin viz., sanskrit and
tamil. The sanskrit part 'agra' (a^Ng raN (Un 2.28) means first,
foremost,pre-eminent, best etc, the tamil part is 'akaraM' which means house, settlement etc. Collectively the word means the foremost or important collection of houses or community. In the olden structure of a village (grAmaH)


In India the temple was the centerpoint and the agraharam was around the temple literally the first segment.

Another Meaning of the word Agraharam

"That which is first taken from a heap after the dedication of a portion to the "Viswadevas."

The word 'Agraharam' literally means, 'the higher ground'. It was usually the center of a village where Brahmins lived.
The agraharams were constructed according to its own principles of architecture. Each house opened out into the street and each had a vasal-thinnai, which led to the ul-thinnai, rezhi, thazhvaram, adukkalai and kottil. Many of the agraharams had small inner courtyards, which provided adequate daylight to the room

http://www.mail-archive.com/sanskrit@cs.utah.edu/msg00432.html

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