A brief note on the Raju community of Andhra Pradesh
by v ramchandra rao
Some tentative research threads-- origins of Raaju community of Andhra Pradesh
Raju, pronounced raadzjoo, meaning king is the name of a small but prominent community in Andhra Pradesh. They are considered to be descendants of the ancient kings. Rajus today are concentrated in Godavari district, but they have some tradition of Krishna district origin. They are also found in Rayalseema, also Tamilnadu in some numbers. There is a sprinkling of Rajus all over India, even Nepal. Now Rajus are found in USA too.
(Note: NOT all "--rajus" are kshatriyas i.e. surnames ending in --raju is found among other communities also, usually of brahmins whose ancestors were senior bureaucrats of ancient times. )
There is a book dealing with traditional accounts of the Rajus. I haven't studied it yet. It is said to deal in surnames mainly not so much history. The gotra system is very ancient but now, after so many thousands of years, does not yield anything interesting.
1.The traditional accounts speak of two sections, poetically called Chandravamsa and Suryavamsa . But this is an ancient all-India categorisation, really, and doesnt tell us anything historically about Andhra Rajus.
2.One of the early andhra kingdoms are said to be immigrants from Kosala, UP. There is a old ikshvaaku dynasty in these parts too.
3.Another traditional account of some Rajus mentions one famous Madhava Varma as an important ancestor. Now there are three or four prominent Madhava Varmas in history: which is the correct one, needs to be to inspected. Could be Vishnukundin. See below for some details on vishnukundin connections.
4. There are four traditions which claim descent from Varnataka, Parchedi, Kota and Kakatiya. Varnataka is likely to be karnataka --the eastern chalukyas. Parchedi is most probably connected to the famous kingdom of Chedi in Madhya Pradesh. Kota was an ancient family in Andhra, and so were the famous Kakatiyas.
5. The prominent Raju family of recent times i.e. Pusapatis of Vizianagaram was founded officially by a revenue collector from Krishna area who took up the fief of the area, during Qutb Shahi times in 16th century. However, earlier inscriptions indicate one General Pusapati controlled the area near Vijayawada -Guntur during the clashes between Vijayanagar and Orissa kingdoms in the 15th century.
But closer examination indicates the Raju community is far, far older than this.
6.A reader suggested maybe there is a maratha connection. "Maratha" meaning Shivaji's armies?-- unlikely, unless Parchedi is mahratta. (Direct maratha connection seems to merge in reddis and brahmans. ) Maratha in the sense of hailing from maharashta? Certainly possible, apart from general history we have a great deal of specific evidence about Rashtrakuta activity ( interference, really) in the affairs of the Eastern Chalukya empire right from supporting rival claimants to the throne, giving royal princesses in marriage, as well as rashtrakuta military people appointed as governors of vishayas (administrative subdivisions) in coastal andhra. But here too, Reddis are the likely descendants.
Based on Historical notices:
1. Vishnukundi dynasty --- the vishnukundi c.500 -600 a.d had alliances with northern Guptas. The Vishnukundis came on the scene after the Satavahanas. They were powerful kings and celebrated asvamedha, etc. One Madhava Varma of this dynasty is celebrated in folklore and many Rajus say they are descended from him. The Vishnukundins had three important cities, near Eluru, Amaravati and (unknown) Puranisangam. They constructed cave monuments too. There is an inscription in an old Buddhist monastery in southeast Hyderabad suburbs near Dilsukhnagar mentioning Govinda varma, one of the Vishnukundins. Keesara, Ghatkesar and Tummalagudem roughly northeast of Hyderabad had Vishnukundin connections as the excavations indicate. But the main area of the Vishnukundins was coastal andhra Krishna-Godavari near Eluru. They were finally displaced by the Badami Chalukyas who came from western Karnataka. One of the forts later traditionally connected to Rajus is Kaldindi in Krishna district, which was under the Vishnukundi sway for a long time.
For an idea of the times of Vishnukundins--elsewhere , around this time Kumara gupta / Vakataka were prominent in North India : Fa Hien visited India: the western Turk khanate was established in central asia : the huns began invading India from the Northwest : Alaric the goth rose to prominence in europe : soon, Atilla the hun was going to attack europe.
2. Eastern Chalukya :--- The aggressive Chalukyas of Badami under Pulakesin expanded into various areas, gujarat, madhya pradesh, andhra etc. They defeated the Vishnukundis (615 AD), and Vishnu vardhana, Pulakesin's brother was appointed viceroy. Later this became a sister kingdom, called Eastern Chalukya. Their heartland was the area between town of Eluru and the Godavari delta.
What was going on in the world around this time? ...The Sui dynasty was ousted by the Tang in China: in england, the anglosaxon Ethelbert of Kent passed away : Hiuen Tsang visited India : Brunehilde's turbulent career came to a dramatic end.
This Eastern Chalukya state was a very, very long lived one, interfered in wars with almost every kingdom around at one time or the other: sometimes won victories, was on occasion beaten badly by for instance Rashtrakutas, but bounced back everytime. Finally it merged with the kingdom of CHOLAS of Tamilnadu. (the chalukya king married the chola's daughter : the next prince inherited both the kingdoms. There was a big wave of people from Godavari into deep south India (dravida) at this time. Later some came in the reverse direction to Godavari and were called draavids.) During the reign of the Eastern chalukya king Rajaraja Narendra, Nannayya Bhat embarked on the Telugu mahabharata.
Most of the old spots in Godavari area have a eastern chalukya connection, like temples, etc.
MOST RAJUS OF GODAVARI HAVE A CONNECTION TO EASTERN CHALUKYAS.Note: The solankis i.e. chalukya offshoot in Gujarat were a SMALL BRANCH of western Chalukyas . Several so called rajputs were actually of deccan plateau --peninsular Indian origin. This is fairly well known.
3. Kakatiya:---After the second empire of the western chalukyas faded away around 1000 AD the kakatiyas took over most of Telangana and quickly expanded to coastal Andhra. Later after the Kakatiya kingdom based at warangal fell, some of the the feudal chieftains and generals MIGRATED to Godavari area and briskly expelled the sultans. They settled in Godavari area around 1250AD : but there is no "raju" kingdom of those times, only Reddi and Velama kingdoms. There is some connection of Rajus to the kakatiya kingdom but not crystal clear.
4. Orissa:--The regions between Cuttack to Vijayawada was also known as Kalinga, controlled often by Oriya rulers, the Gangas and Gajapatis. There was a regular movement of people up and down the coast. There were several kingdoms, like the Vatsavaaya (maybe old matsya) and the like. Certainly some Rajus can be linked to the Orissa rule.
5. Hill tribal: -- It is likely there is a substantial ancient hill tribal element in the physical makeup. These tribal kings were the rulers of the upland valleys from very long ago. It is also possible they may be the ancient connections to the Matsya and Oddadi peoples of the area. (They had their own forts and the like: tribal does not automatically mean picturesque national geographic forest dwellers. For instance the 'tribal' Gond rajahs of central India were powerful kings who successfully beat back the Mughals). The hill tribals of these areas are extremely tough, generally peaceful and pleasant and rarely go on the rampage. (This the Sultans and Brits found out the hard way..... unfortunately, something similar is happening in Orissa, by the way)
6. Vijayanagar:--It was an far flung empire and people moved back and forth quite a lot. Governors, for instance were appointed from all over the empire.
7. Recent times:
Over all of India, feudal warriors of Indian kingdoms and empires were recognized or appointed as local governors --something like barons and dukes. If the kingdom disappeared, they usually managed to become semi independent bosses of the areas they controlled. They usually had a small castle with cannon, etc and a few fortified buildings at the borders. They used to levy taxes and engage in trade, and render justice, etc. But very few managed to retain these for more than a couple of centuries. There was constant warfare and redrawing of boundaries. (This meant a great deal more trouble for the common people.)
With the coming of the british and capitalism, (i.e. more powerful and better organised thugs) the estates were rapidly broken up and boundaries became more or less fixed. The british got a scare in 1857, so they made a deal with these sections. The bigger brigands hung around as "princely states"--maharajas-- for a while. The lesser ones became "zamindars" or "jagirdars" ---minor rajas. Some temple establishments were quite large samsthanams (estates). Finally people with cash and influence could purchase such estates and the title to go with it.
Thus locally prominent tax collectors became rajahs. In the andhra context the name raju , raja is also a title. It need not be related to the specific kshatriya raju community. Some rajus may have opted for "reddi" title also.
The feudal rajahs and maharajas (mostly hindu) married among their own kind, so it is common to see andhra Rajus in faraway places. Even Burma, claim some. Nowadays, of course it is only a vague interesting story
In brief, the Rajus are connected with older states like Vishnukundin, Eastern Chalukya, maybe kakatiya, orissa Ganga, Gajapati, and earlier ones too. NOT so much associated with the more recent kingdoms of the Reddis, Vijayanagar, Sultans etc. They hark back to 600 AD at least, if not even earlier. So, nobody really minds if a Raju behaves like a grand Chalukya and courtly mannered Rajah to his heart's content. ;-) (as an aside -- for some years now there's this new racket where almost every community wants to be listed as "socially backward" so as to get benefits from the government. The Rajus are the only ones who have NEVER attempted this ridiculous gambit, even though many are very poor. Almost every other community has tried )
Today they are mostly peaceful business men and professionals. Many Rajus are also tradtionally expert horticulturists, since they live in lush riverland areas. They were always ready to chance their luck in battle...(--and cockfights adds one Godavari Raju), now they are prepared to do so in business... and they work very hard and have done well in industry.
They are prominent in the fields of pharma, medical, horticulture, Information Technology (e.g. Satyam), real estate and construction, etc. They are likely to do very well in the emerging field of higher education (setting up colleges and universities) and Bio Technology too.
There are large numbers of prominent Rajus, too long to be really listed. The one heading the list is the legendary Alluri Sitarama Raju. More on Alluri later.
feedback discussion etc on why rajus dont like to be called rajputs etc.
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email: vramrao@yahoo ( add .com)