Kammavar History:

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 :
Sardar Vallabhai Patel (Former. Deputy Prime Minister of India)
Nitish Kumar ( Chief Minister of Bihar)
Sharad Pawar (Former. Chief Minister of Maharastra)
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.

Great Kamma Rulers:
Kakatiya Dynasty
Musunuru Nayaks
Nayak Dynasty
Vasireddi Dynasty
Pemmasani Nayaka Dynasty
Kamma Nayskas of Candy
Kamma History

The Telugu language is the mother tongue for the 35%+ of the population of Tamilnadu. There are more than 20 Telugu castes living in almost all the Districts of Tamilnadu. Among them Kamma have more population (40 lakhs) whose concentration is in three regions of Tamilnadu. (The Northern region, West and Southern regions). These people are talking Telugu in their home but are not able to read and write except the people of border area of Andhra, but they have been following traditional customs and cultural activities.

The Kamma's had their migration from the earliest period but more people have migrated during the Vijayanagar rule. Today the Kamma people are known as 'Kammavar naidu' in some areas and Nayakkars in some other regions of Tamilnadu, since they were the warriors of Naick Chief in those days. 'Vadugu' in Tamil means Telugu language. All the Telugu speaking people in Tamilnadu are 'Vadugars' including Kammas.

Kamma's social, economic and cultural life differs from zone to zone due to the ecological conditions.

South Zone :
The South zone consists of present day Madurai, Ramanathapuram and Tirunalvely Districts where the Kammavars are living mostly in villages. The black cotton soil and the dry climate were liked by Kammas who were specialist in Cotton and Chilly cultivation in Tamilnadu. Kammas living in villages where the Headman or 'Voor Naicker' (Village Naicker) was a Kamma who controlled the entire village. The Kammas of this region are treated as Backward Class people (economically and educationally) and availed the educational concessions and employment opportunities in the Government offices. The Government policy was helpful to the Kamma people who studied well and got employment in the Government offices and migrated to their work places. Thus they have spread all over the State.

West Zone :
TCoimbatore, Erode, Salem and Dharmapuri Districts belong to the west zone where Kamma people are living in villages and doing agriculture. The Kamma people of Coimbatore District were the pioneers in introducing modern inputs in agriculture. They have fitted diesel and electric pump sets in their wells at first in Tamilnadu. Agro based industries were started by Kammas in this region. Further they have cultivated commercial crops like cotton, sugarcane, tobacco and other horticulture. This helped to start Ginning mills, Spinning mills and Textile mills in the area. Most of the people are doing agriculture successfully and interested in agro based small scale industries. The Kamma Textile and Industrial giants of this area are benevolent in starting educational institutions and medical hospitals to serve all the communities. The farmer's movement of 1980's was started from this District by Sri.C.Narayanaswamy Naidu, which got widespread support from all the states of India.

North Zone :
The North Zone comprises the Districts of Madras, Chengelpat, North Arcot and South Arcot Districts. The Kammas of this region are the 'Sons of the Soil' and not migrators as the people of Southern and Western zones. So they have followed Andhra customs more than their counterparts in other regions. Most of them were able to read and write Telugu language. This Telugu is pure, which is not understandable by the Kammas of other regions. Here people are identified with their surname ( Intiperu) and they have used their surname (Intiperu) as their initials before their names. Educational concessions were not available by the people of this region because they are treated as Forward Community They are doing their traditional agriculture and raised commercial crops like sugarcane, groundnut, paddy and others. But now some have migrated to urban centres and are doing various businesses and industries. Brick industry near and around Chennai is in Kamma's hands.

  Kurivikulam Estate (Tirunelveli Dt) – Pemmasani clan
Ilavarasanandanal Estate (Tirunelveli Dt) – Ravella clan
Naickerpatti Estate (Madurai Dt) – Pemmasani clan
Seevalpatti Estate (Bellam clan)