Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A crie de couer from a Kshatriya from Andhra Part I

Sometime ago I came across this very interesting site by a Kamma caste individual(one of the forward castes in Andhra Pradesh/Telengana) lamenting the dire straits that his caste and the country in general has fallen into due to lack of observance of Kshatriya dharma. I thought it was very interesting and sympathized and agreed with a lot of his views but there were some which I found problematic and regressive. I would like to share his views and issue my comments and counter opinion (in italics)

....They are both deep admirers of the ancient Indian way of life, where man lived in harmony with nature according to Dharma and enjoyed his natural state of mind, Anandam and the natural state of the body, Arogyam.
The gross deviation of the Indian society from the path of the 'dharma' due to the new unnatural and unethical constitution that came into existence since 1947 (so called 'Independence'), has done irreparable damage to the Indian culture in 60 years which even thousand years of foreign occupation has not done. The self-sustaining village structure and hierarchy coming down from thousands of years is destroyed and today the villagers are forced to look up for assistance from the state or central governments even for a road or water facilities.
This is true. For all the talk of Satavahanas, Cholas, Chalukyas, Kakatiyas, Vijayanagar kingdoms and empires much power was decentralized and most of the nadus or nattars were self governing units who did not require much from the distant centralized authority in the cities. This system started eroding under Muslim rule ,worsened under the British and finally met its end with the "independence" of India which resulted in mass flight of the landless and destitute to the cities adding to the squalor and chaos there. A similar situation can be seen in Mexico city and Cairo.
The new politics have split the people along caste, religion and party lines. Day by day ethics and morals are shrinking as people are witnessing the phenomena where people with low morals, ethics and origin are prospering within no time in all fields of life and controlling the state, while people of high origin and moral values are withering away in this strange social setup. The country is already in a state of anarchy with no one able to check the crime and corruption.
Today, utter chaos and anarchy and adharma are prevailing in the state and the country with the established social order being violated at each and everyone's will and wish, with every vocal community claiming far superior status than they have.
In all fairness you sir are also claiming superior status as you elaborate below even further.

Barbers call themseves Nayibrahmins ,fishermen claim to be Agnikulakshatriyas. When they occupied part of Andhra after the fall of Kapaya Naidu, the Oriya Gajapathis, were called 'Vadde kings'(meaning from Orissa or 'Odhra') or "Vadde Rajulu" as the term "Rajulu" (kings) referred to the Kammas by default.
No sorry there is no evidence that Kammas were royalty. In southern India you were either Brahmin or Shudra who take on the mantle of Kshatriya, Shudra or Vaishya as the situation merited.
Kammas are nothing more the aristocracy of the Kapu caste . The Kapus being a yeoman peasant warrior caste similar to the Jats of the north or Vellalar of the south.
I agree that a lot of Puranic genealogies are a load of bunk. You can find a lot of these silly claims in Wikipedia where all sorts of fantastic claims of suryavanshi and chandravanshi are made on behalf of some really obscure castes.
 Labourers who came along with them were called 'Vadderas'. As time passed on and the kingdoms of the Kammas perished one after another the term 'rajulu' came to be applied to these Vadde kings. Once the 'Vadde rajulu' became known as simply 'rajulu', the Vadderas who lived by doing very hard jobs like rock breaking and masonry, started calling themselves as 'Vadde Rajulu' and citing that they were once kings, stopped doing some menial jobs in villages like cleaning and lifting used plates (or leaves). Similarly every community is tying up with some mythological character and seeking its roots in the puranas (previously only Brahmins and Kshatriyas had this privilege) and trying to elevate their position in the social heirarchy.
I don't see the issue with this. Caste was never set in stone in our society contrary to popular perception. You could rise and fall, though it may take a generation or two for a family to elevate their status. In other words, it was easier for you offspring to elevate their caste than you as an individual unless you were truly exceptional(which very tend to be in any society).
 For example, as it was mentioned in the Puranas(Bhagiratha's story) that the sons of King Sagara dug into the earth to go to Pathala loka in search of their ritual horse, the earth diggers (called Upparas) started calling themselves "Sagaras" and claim they were descendants of Sagara's sons.
The term reddi was used to denote a kapu or farmer. It actually signifies a village head rather than any caste. At present some 56 castes are calling themselves 'reddis' who have diverse social and financial status. They range from the rich pantakapus of Nellore to the very poor salt-harvesting 'Oruganti kapus' to the begging 'Bikshu kunta reddis'. By serving the lotus feet of Musunuri Kapaya Naidu, a few families of the "pantareddi" community became kings of small territories in Kammanadu for a few years. (80 years to be precise, an insignificant period considering the vastness of our history). Now, not only the pantareddis, each and every 'reddi' claims he is a reddi king as after independence they attained political domination which led to their social and economic development.
It will become obvious later on that the author doesn't care for Reddys like most of his caste. This can be viewed on large scale in Andhra ,especially Rayalaseema politics with its blood feuds.
It is mean spirited to dismiss the Reddy's yearning for an Kshatriya hood because they "only" ruled for 80 years.
Reddys to be sure have a different social dynamic from Kammas where there are warrior Reddys, peasant Reddys etc.
Today, for a country ruled by Shatchakravarthis and Shodasa Maharajas, a baniya was declared 'father' of the nation. For a country which had 'Dharma Sastras' and "Dharma Sukshmas" thousands of years ago, a constitution was drafted (of course compiled and copied from various European constitutions) by a 'untouchable'. These two people belong to communities which invariably suffer from the worst disease "Inferiority" , which a ruler or leader should never have. Can we expect a better social order from such people ?
I am with you here. Both of these individuals suffered from serious complexes and misgivings about their heritage and never really gotten over their admiration for their colonial masters.
The same goes for Nehru and the bureaucracies which are supposed to serve us but instead oppress and exploit. We are not ruled by our representatives but foreign tyrants in a familiar garb.
The authors had their taste of experiences, which bore witness to the changing social order and they felt a strong urge to re-establish "Dharma" or order and show each community and person their actual status irrespective of what they have began to feel in this trivial constitution, which tilted the social and economical positions of people and communities.
Dharma Prasad hails from an agraharam in Guntur dt. The agraharam was donated to his forefathers by the legendary king of Amaravati Rajah Venkatadri Naidu some 200 years ago. The last descendant of Venkatadri Naidu left Amaravati some 40 years ago and today Amaravati is being dominated by their once 'serfs and servants'(paleru) who became a 'neorich' class and started calling themselves as 'Naidus'. So far so good. But, some ten years ago, they went to the extent of writing plays which claimed the legendary Rajah was a telaga/balija and not the royal Kammas.
The finest of Telega/Balija and Kapus came together to create the Kammas.
When this play (natakam) was about to be played, the grateful brahmins objected to it and stopped the show.
Krishnama Naidu hails from a rich and influential family of Kamma landlords. As the society in his childhood during the 1970's did not differ radically from the ancient setup, he was lucky enough to have a taste of the self-sufficient village structure; practically independent of the outside world, people leading simple and innocent lives, respecting and caring for one another. ( He witnessed his grandfather converse with his madiga servant, as any close friends would converse although they followed the tradition with the madiga sitting at the Kamma Lord's feet, a few steps away).
It is all very well for you, your friend and his grandfather but what about this madiga fellow? Did you ask him if he likes sitting at someone's feet. Why cant he sit in a chair?
He remembers the days before the arrival of electricity, ploughing with bulls and the sound of their bells. He also enjoyed the 'priviliges' that were brought about by caste domination and 'superiority'. Belonging to an influential family of a dominant caste, he felt like a king and actually believed that all the kings on this earth are "Kammas".
He should've really been more aware of the outside world.
But,life changed so fast that the changes are hard to digest. When Krishnama Naidu went for studies, in a remote place bordering Tamil Nadu, he was surprised to know that the people there don't know who are Kammas.
They probably knew by the term Naicker or Naidu.
And, he experienced how vulgar caste fanaticism can be when NTR's photo was garlanded with chappals by students of congress party in september 1985, at a time when the whole state was celebrating the historic triumph of NTR
That's Congress for you
 and his reinstatement as the Chief Minister. And,considering the fact these students who feel so proud and arrogant do not realise that their forefathers were servants at the feet of NTR's ancestors,
Again with this feet business. If there forefathers were servants of NTR's ancestors, should they remain servants and obsequious for the rest of eternity?
the need to esatblish facts and heirarchy was felt.
Establish facts yes, hierarchy-please no...Unless you can by action and deeds.
The authors expect that this work may prompt atleast a few people to know the facts and provide a ground for them to call a dog a dog irrespective of what it has began to think about it due to the newly acquired power and wealth. But their main aim is to set a benchmark to various communities in the soceity as to where they stood relative to each other 'originally', so that people do not forget where they came from. Symbolically, today we find lions and tigers starving in the zoos and at the mercy of the zookeeper. Even in the wild they are not secure. At the same time, dogs are having joyrides in air-conditioned cars and leading luxurious lives. Le it be. But never shall a dog think that it is a lion or feel a 'dog is greater than a lion'.
This is the modern world in which material riches count for pretty much everything. I am certainly not against people acquiring wealth . Indeed I subscribe to rather unPC philosophies which encourage others to accumulate as much as they can . But I do recognize all the money in the world is worthless without honor and self respect.
In modern India, we are constantly fed the propaganda that dogs and vultures like Gandhi and Nehru are far superior than lions and eagles such as Shivaji and Subhash Chandra Bose.
Shivaji and SCBose know who they are , but what use it these days if we don't recognize their worth of such individuals in our midst?

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