Vishwakarma or the Vishwa Brahmin caste is used in India for the class of engineers, architects, sculptors, temple builders, and artists. Generally the term Vishwakarma caste is used for five classes of people namely the gold-smiths, the black-smiths, the copper-smith, the carpenter and the sculptors. In India there are several sub-divisions of the Vishwakarma caste in the different regions.
In Tamil Nadu
the people belonging to Vishwakarma caste are known by the name Kamaalar or Aachari or Aasaari. They are engaged in various occupations like gold-smiths, iron-smiths, carpenters and stone masons.
In Andhra Pradesh
also the Vishwakarmis have been subdivided into a number of groups namely the gold-smiths, black-smiths, brass-smiths, carpenters and the stone masons. In Andhra Pradesh they also have territorial sub divisions as well. They are Murikinadu, Pakinadu, Dravida and a lot more. These people of Andhra Pradesh claim the status of Brahmins and follow similar customs as that of the Brahmins.
In the state of Kerala
there are four divisions of the Vishwakarmis. The divisions are namely carpenters, braziers, gold-smiths and black-smiths. In Karnataka
also the Vishwakarma caste is divided into several subdivisions. The sub-divisions are iron-smiths, carpenters, gold-smiths, sculptors and a lot more. The Vishwakarmi sub-caste in Karnataka does not inter-marry with each other. Some of them follow the religion of Lingayatism and the Brahmin culture.
The other states of India also have a number of Vishwakarmi population and all of them are black smiths, gold-smiths, copper-smiths, brass-smiths, carpenter, sculptor, stone-masons and a lot more.
Tradition says that the Vishwakarmi castes are sub-divided according to the name of the sons of Vishwakarma. The sons of Lord Vishwakarma were Manu, Maya, Thwastha, Silpi and Vishvajnya. People belonging to the Manu cast are black-smiths; those of the Manu group are carpenters. The metal craftsmen are known as Thwastha and those who are called gold-smiths are called by the name Vishvajnya.
The Vishwakarmi castes have been sub-divided into five gotras each corresponding to the name of a Rishi which has been mentioned in the Yajur Veda
. The five gotras of the Vishwakarmi are namely Sanagasya Manu, Sanatanasya Maya, Abhuvanasya Tvashta, Pratanansya Silpi and Suparnasya Vishvajna. The five gotras of the Vishwakarmis are again sub-divided into twenty five sub-clans.
The contribution of the Vishwakarmis to Hindu art and architecture is immense. The University of Nalanda has been an architectural marvel for ages together as also the iron pillars of Delhi
. At the same time Hindu Architecture as well as Buddhist Architecture represents great contributions of the Vishwakarmis.
The Konark Temple
, the Ajanta Caves
, the Ellora Caves
, the caves of Mahabalipuram, the rock cut architecture of India and many other constructions of India reflect as to how the members of the Vishwakarmi caste were skilled and largely talented.