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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ancient Kamma History

There are many theories about the origins of the word "Kamma" and the social group known as Kammas but none is conclusive. One theory is that the people who lived in the Krishna river valley, where Buddhism prevailed, got the name from Theravada Buddhist concept of Kamma (Pali) or Karma (Sanskrit). This region was once known as Kammarashtram / Kammarattam / Kammanadu, which was under the control of Pallavas, Eastern Chalukyas and Telugu Cholas. Inscriptions mentioning Kammanadu are available since 3rd century A.D.

Kambhoja/Pallava Origin :
Some historians opined that the name Kamma is probably derived from Kambhoja, an ancient Aryan warrior clan.
Historian Avadh Bihari Lal Avasthi comments as follows: We find Kambhi, Kamma, Kumbhi etc castes in South India. There is also a famous city Koimb-toor. Possibly, there has also been a Kamboja country in Southern India (See Garuda Purana, Aik Adhyan p 28). Historians need to closely analyze if there are any links between Pahlava/Kambhoja migrations to Palnadu / Kammanadu region of ancient Telugu country.
Kambhoja Raja Kathalu is very popular in Andhra traditions. The story deals with militaristic exploits of a fierce and adventuours king of Kambojas. It probably relates to some historical brush the Andhraites might have had with the intruding hordes of Kambojas/Pahlavas around Christian era. The region extending from the southern bank of Krishna river up to Nellore district of modern Andhra Pradesh was once called Kammanadu. Inscriptional evidence for Kammarashtram / Kammanadu exists since 3rd century CE. A part of Kammanadu is called Palnadu/Pallavanadu. Pallavas started their rule from the southern parts of Telugu country and later extended it to Tamil country with Kanchi as their capital. This strongly points out a wave of Kambhoja/ Pallava migration to coastal Andhra Pradesh.
The Kamboja hordes of second/first century BCE have left indelible foot prints in the names of mountains, rivers, and some geographical places in western India. The Kamb/Kambuh river and Kamboh/Kambo mountain in Sindh ( Sind, p 44, M. R. Lamrick) remind us of Sanskrit Kamboja. The Kamboi (ancient town/port) in district Patan, Khambhoj in district Anand, Kambay (port/town and Gulf)... all in Saurashtra; Kumbhoj/Kambhoj (an ancient town) in Kolhapur in Maharashtra; and the Coimbatore city of Tamilnadu in southern India carry unmistakable footprints of Kambojas. There is also an ancient Kambhoj caste living near Nanded in Maharashtra which could be a dwindling remnant of ancient Kambojas who had settled in SW India around Christian era. A similar analogy can be drawn with the Kamma (caste) of Andhra Pradesh which had a military past during medieval times. This caste is predominantly found in Kammanadu / Palnadu region. The people of this caste are known for their enterprising and boisterous nature.'

Kurmi Origin :
Another origin of Kammas is speculated as follows. Buddhist Kurmis from Gangetic plains migrated to Krishna delta in large numbers to escape the persecution of Pushyamitra Sunga (184 B.C). Buddhism was already flourishing in Dharanikota, Bhattiprolu, Chandavolu etc in this fertile area. Historians surmised that the Sanskrit word Kurmi/Kurma became Kamma in later years. The first records of the word Kammakaratham appeared in the Jaggayyapeta inscription of Ikshvaku King Madhariputra Purushadatta (3rd century A.D.). The Kammarashtram extended from the Krishna River to Kandukur (Prakasam Dt.). The next record was that of Pallava King Kumara Vishnu II followed by that of Eastern Chalukya king Mangi Yuvaraja (627-696 A.D.). The subsequent inscriptions of Telugu Chodas and Kakatiyas mentioned ‘Kammanadu’ (E.g., Konidena inscription of Tribhuvana Malla – 1146 A.D.). This region is also known as Pallavanadu/Palanadu due to Pallava rule.

Famous Kurmis :

  1. Sardar Vallabhai Patel (Former. Deputy Prime Minister of India)
  2. Nitish Kumar ( Chief Minister of Bihar)
  3. Sharad Pawar (Former. Chief Minister of Maharastra)
  4. Dr.Cheddi Jagan (Former. Prime Minister of Guyana/West Indies)

Kammanadu/Kammakaratham :
Kammanadu is an ancient geographical region in the present day South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The region straddled from the southern bank of Krishna river delta up to Kandukur (Prakasam Dt.). The word Kammanadu is derived from Karmarashtram (Sanskrit) or Kammaratham (Pali). Buddhism flourished in this region from 3rd century BC onwards. It is obvious that name was derived from the Theravada Buddhist concept of Karma (Kamma). Dharanikota, near Amaravati on the bank of Krishna river (Guntur Dt.) was the ancient capital of Satavahana dynasty which ruled South India for five centuries.
The region is famous for the exquisite sculpture found in the Buddhist stupas of Bhattiprolu, Nagarjunakonda and Amaravati. The ancient Brahmi script found in the inscriptions at Bhattiprolu was the progenitor of modern Telugu and Tamil scripts.
The mention of Karmarashtram is noticed first in the inscriptions of Ikshvaku king Madhariputra Purushadatta (3rd century A.D) found at Bethavolu (Jaggayyapeta). The next record is the inscription of Pallava king Kumara Vishnu II, son of Buddhaverma found in the village Chenduluru. The third record is that of Eastern Chalukya king Mangi Yuvaraja (627-696 AD) which goes as:
Srisarvalokasraya maharajah kammarashtre chendaluri grame (Sanskrit)
In all contemporary inscriptions (3rd to 11th century AD) the words Kammaratham, Kammakaratham, Karmarashtram, Karmakaratham and Karmakarashtram, Kammakarashtram were interchangeably used.
Pavuluri Mallana, the contemporary of the great king Rajaraja Narendra (1022-1063 AD) wrote:
Ila Kammanati lopala vilasillina Pavuluri vibhudan (Telugu)
The subsequent inscriptions of Telugu Chodas and Kakatiyas mentioned ‘Kammanadu’ (E.g., Konidena inscription of Tribhuvana Malla – 1146 AD). During the rule of Kakatiya emperor Prataparudra II, one Boppana Kamaya was ruling Kammanadu with Katyadona (Konidena) as the capital.
It is not known clearly when the usage of the word Kammanadu ceased. However, the name survives on as the denomination of a social group ‘Kamma’, predominantly found in the region.

Origin of Caste :
The division of warrior class into many castes and their consolidation commenced in the time of Prataparudra I (1158-1195 A.D). Badabanala Bhatta prescribed Surnames and Gothras of Kammas. Castes such as Kamma, Velama, Reddy and Telaga probably had a common origin. The battle of Palnadu (1180 A.D) created strife among the social groups of the Telugu country, which echoes till today.
The affiliation of Kammas as a caste to the ruling dynasties could not be ascribed till 11th century. Traces of evidence were found in the inscriptions of Telugu Chodas of Velanadu starting from Gonka I (1075-1115), found in many places in Kammanadu. The Dharanikota kings (1130-1251) who belonged to Kota clan of Kammas had marital alliances with Telugu Cholas. Similarly, Kota kings married the women from Kakatiya dynasty (E.g., Kota Betharaja married Ganapamba, daughter of Ganapati Deva). Ganapati Deva married the sisters of Jayapa Senani, a brave warrior hailing from Chebrolu (Guntur Dt.). Jayapa is also well known for his contributions to the field of Indian dance (1231 A.D). Around this time many warriors from Kammanadu joined the forces of Kakatiya empire. Such evidences prompted some historians to speculate that Kakatiyas were Kammas. However, this theory needs to be validated.
Kammas grew to prominence during the Kakatiya reign. In the middle ages they held important positions in their army. Two Kamma chieftains, Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka and Musunuri Kapaya Nayaka served the Kakatiya king Prataparudra. After the fall of Warangal they united the Nayaka chieftains, wrested Warangal from the Delhi Sultanate and ruled for 50 years Subsequently many Kammas migrated to the Vijayanagar kingdom. During the Vijayanagar rule Kamma Nayaks formed the bulwark of its army and were Governors in Tanjore, Madurai and Coimbatore areas of Tamil Nadu. For instance, Krishnadevaraya sent a Cheiftain Pemmasani Vishwanatha Nayudu to suppress the rebellion of his father Pemmasani Nagama Nayudu in Madurai. Later, Vishwanatha Nayudu was made Governor of Madurai. The Pemmasani Kamma clan still has a Zamindari near Madurai called Nayakarpatti. An interesting historical episode was that a Kamma Nayak Pemmasani Thimma Nayudu saved the life of Krisnadeva Raya in the battle of Raichur and the grateful king made him the Governor of Gandikota (Cuddapah district). Thimma Nayudu constructed a large number of temples in Rayalaseema region.
Kammas controlled parts of south and north Tamil Nadu for several years under the title of Nayacker, which was a legacy of the Vijayanagar Empire. Thirumala Nayacker of Madurai was the most famous among them.


Raghuram said...

Interesting article...just wondering though..if kammas came from the khamboja aryan clan, howcome we are classified as dravidians and under shudras when we should in fact be kshatriyas and aryans...it is my understanding that the brahmins, kshatriyas and vaishyas are aryans and shudras are dravidians...confused..

bvindh said...

once rich and prosperous by hook or crook, people start to crave for some legitimacy. and that is the source of your confusion.

Anonymous said...

Looks like The "Grate" historical kamma community is very weak in english and spellings

mallikarjun.kurra said...

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perumalchowdary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
perumalkumar said...
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S said...


You seem to be very passionate about being a Kamma. Fine, except sadly the "arrogance" in our community (I am a Kamma too) is catching up fast to us. We don't even treat the women in our families well anymore. Look at the fast evolving divorce rates in our community. No wonder more and more people are marrying away from the Kamma communities. Me thinks all this glory is not going to last very long. Sadly, we are not given some "fundamental" values at home, but are taught arrogance because we are Kammas. We extend that arrogance to other Kamma families amongst us as well.

Long story short, someone already commented about this, but at the very least please "fix" the spelling of GREAT (It is NOT Grate).
It looks silly, please fix this at the very least.

javed said...

Dude kamma origins have never been in existance in any literature. They are desandents of the women whom the kings maintained and made the rich. However once the king ships came to an end the women who were beautiful, dominant and rich were sought by men of the same community and were funded for business by the women. The women of this community have no bounds. And the men can never conrol them. No Offence but this is practical.

javed said...

Can somebody help me find a name of this community before the 18th century???????

S said...

Oy - Javed what a story! Dude - so how did you come up with this story? Your grandmother told you?

The next time you want to post rigmarole, learn to "corroborate" your statements - Dig? Else, you are only showing us what an IDIOT you are!

Kamma women certainly have more "bounds" than the women in your house - you moron!

Actually, go ahead - don't hold your thoughts back and show us what an idiot you are!!

S said...

And Javed Babe - your English is SPECTACULAR LOL!!!

Take English classes before you decide to post with your profound intelligence - ok babe?

Why do you want to "control" any woman again? Is that what you and your father do at home? Then you surely deserve your ass to be kicked by the women at YOUR home!

NGUGIE said...

Kamboja or Pahalva has nothing to do with Kamma caste.Kamma caste has no such ancient history.We can not see kamma caste mentioned before of vijayanara.Mere mention of kammanadu is equal to giving history a caste.Kamma caste is matriarchal group composed Dravidian people.Kurmis are kshatriyas of north India,closely related to yadava kshatriyas. Kaktiyas and kota kings were kshatriyas.All the People living in kammanadu can not be treated as of kamma caste. Kammanadu was under the rule of so many kshatriya Rulers till the rule Golkonda Nawabs.Why these kamma people claiming the history of others as their history?

NGUGIE said...

kamma caste has nothing to do with Kamboja or Phlahalva.Kamma caste has no such ancient history.We can not see references to kamma caste before the vijayanagara times.Mere mention of kammanadu deos not mean referring kamma caste.A king ruling kammanadu does not mean he belongs to kamma caste.Kamma caste is a matriarchal group of people belonging to DRAVIDIAN sect.Kurmis are kshatriyas of north India.They are closely related to yadava kshatriyas.Kakatiyas and Kota kings were kshatriyas according to their inscriptions. Kammanadu was under so many kshatriya rulers till the rule of Nawabs of Golkonda.Why are these kamma people claiming the history of others.you had some prominent officials under vijayanagara rule.you have some zamindars in some areas of Andhra Pradesh during the times of British rule. N.T.R gave a great recognition to kamma caste not only in A.P but also India.It is better to build your own real history.

Narayanappa Kesanapally said...

I am proud born in kamma

Aradhya Chowdary said...

Very interesting blog!!
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