culture series...

draft notes, more info needed... MUDIRAJ:

Mudiraju, Muthrasi, Muttarasu, Bantu, Bantlu, Ekkatlu, Ontari

The mudiraj community is found in AP, Karnataka and Tamilnadu as well. They are today cultivators and village administrative employees, but they were in the past a type of specialised soldiers. Incorrectly the mudiraj are often considered fishermen. There is a section of mudirajs who in ancient times looked after the water reservoirs in granitic areas, and have entered the fish trade long ago. (they are not traditional fishermen, that's another community).

In medieval times there was only a very small standing army of any kingdom : most of the armies mustered belonged to the feudatories and subordinate nobles and dukes. These soldiers were basically farmers. Then there were the retainers of the many land holders : the "camp followers" who assisted in transport and logistics. But a section of the kingdom's official army was specialised professional infantry. These groups were exclusively concerned with techniques of warfare, and here too one section were called Ekattalu, or Ontari (individual hand to hand fighters). In a sense they were shock troops or commando(?) type soldiers. Among the Mudiraj are these sections. They were usually in the service of Velama kingdoms. Today also the Mudiraj farmers are found today in the vicinity of old Velama controlled areas. For instance all around the old Velama fort areas even today.

It is said a section of the old Mudiraj were interior palace guards "suicide squads" -- i.e. the last line of defence of the Velama castles. While they mostly have a connection with the Velamas they are a distinct community, and it is likely they were active in earlier times too. In my humble opinion a study needs to be made of a likely martial arts tradition among the Mudiraj, because in kakatiya times they used to spend most of their time developing this. Similar martial arts tradition is found in Orissa , Tamilnadu and of course the well known Kalaaripayat of Kerala.

In some places the Mudiraj acquired large properties and were "zamindars" in Tamil nadu. I do not have much info about Tamilnad Mudirajs. There is a tradition that Mudiraj were kings under Pallava emperors in Tanjavur area of Tamilnadu, until Vijayalaya Chola took over the area. Even long afterwards, some of them retained large estates. In fact one of them set up a college during early English times. But on the whole Mudirajs today are middle and small farmers.

There is some discussion about the connection between mudiraj and munnuru kaapu community. Actually from field research I find, well there is a link -- of a traditional rivalry. Explanation seems to be because they are similar professional military /farming castes : one associated with Northern Velama kingdom of Rajkonda, other with Southern Velama kingdom of devarakonda. Such groups are ancient warrior communities found all over South India.

Addition by Mr. K Anka Rao--
I'm a Mudiraj from Prakasham District of Andhra Pradesh. Our tradition is our ancestors were all kings.

Apart from some specialist defence as you said, Mudirajs were kings like the Saluva dynasty.

Elugu rayudu was the last ruler of saluva dynasty who ruled his kingdom making Podili town as his capital. The people having surname 'eleugu' are our close relatives.

Mudiraj's popular deity is mother Goddess Ankamma . During the worship singers recite the histories. In those stories, there is a reference to one Katamaraju who perhaps belonged to chola kings of Nellore.

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