Kamma (caste)

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Religions Hinduism
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Karnataka
  • ChowdaryCoastal Andhra Pradesh
  • Rao, RayuduAndhra Pradesh
  • NayakaMedieval Andhra Pradesh, Medieval Karnataka
  • NaiduSouth Andhra Pradesh, North & West Tamil Nadu
  • NaickerSouth Tamil Nadu

Kamma or the Kammavaru is a social group found largely in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Starting from the 1960s, a sizable number have emigrated to other parts of the world, particularly to the Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Australia.[1]

Medieval history[edit]

Kakatiya period[edit]

In prolonged battles with Muslims between 1296 and 1323 CE. thousands of Kamma Nayakas perished along with others, in the defense of Warangal.[citation needed] A group of nobles formed in opposition to Muslim rule and were led by a Kamma called Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka, although details of the circumstances surrounding his rise are uncertain. Also uncertain are the methods used that enabled some limited amount of success for the venture, which saw the rebels defeating the Muslim armies in some battles and disrupting their cohesion in the region. The nobles were able to assert control in the Godavari area, over which Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka became ruler from 1325 until his death in 1333. He left no children and was succeeded by a cousin, Kapaya Nayaka, who governed until 1368 and attempted further to expand the Hindu rule. He took control of Warangal from Malik Maqbul in 1336 and thus also of a wider swathe of eastern Telangana that was governed from there. He also tried to support other rebels in surrounding areas, although in the case of aid given to Jaffar Khan — also known as Alauddin Baharnan Shah — the outcome was that his ambitious, unscrupulous and emboldened fellow rebel turned on him. Several military engagements with Khan followed over a period of years, during which Kapaya Nayaka had to cede various forts and territories. His weakened position was exploited by the Reddis and the Velamas, the latter of whom caused his death in battle at Bhimavaram and ended the period of Kamma rule.[2][3]

Vijayanagara period[edit]

After the death of Kapaya Nayaka, many Kammas migrated to the Vijayanagara kingdom. During the reign of Sri Krishnadevaraya Kammas belonging to thirty seven gotras were living in the city of Vijayanagar.[4][page needed] Kamma Nayaks formed the bulwark of Vijayanagara army and were appointed as governors in many areas of Tamil Nadu.[5] Their role in protecting the last great Hindu kingdom of India was significant.[6]

Golkonda period[edit]

Vijayanagara kingdom underwent very difficult times after the battle of Tallikota in 1565. Pemmasani Nayaks, Ravella Nayaks and Sayapaneni Nayaks steadfastly helped the Araviti kings in keeping the Muslims at bay. It took another 90 years to consolidate the Muslim power in Andhra country with the capture of Gandikota in 1652. Kamma nayaks migrated in large numbers to the Tamil region. During the Golkonda period, the Sayapaneni Nayaks (1626–1802) ruled Dupadu region as vassals of the Golkonda sultans.[7]

The British gained control of Andhra by 1788 from Golkonda Nawabs. Another Kamma principality during Golkonda period was Devarakota with Challapalli as its capital. Its ruler, Yarlagadda Guruvarayudu was subdued by Abdullah Qutb Shah in 1576. His successors ruled as vassals of Golkonda till the French took over in 1751 and later the British in 1765.[citation needed]

Modern history[edit]

After the decline of major kingdoms, Kammas controlled large fertile areas in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, as a legacy of their martial past. The British recognized their prominence and made them village heads (Talari) also known as Chowdary to collect taxes.They also proved themselves to be adept at farming.[citation needed]

Construction of dams and barrages and establishment of an irrigation system in Godavari and Krishna River deltas by Sir Arthur Cotton was a great boon to the Kamma farmers. Availability of water and the natural propensity for hard work made the Kammas wealthy and prosperous.[8] The money was put to good use by establishing numerous schools and libraries and encouraging their children to take up modern education.[9]

The Kammas of Southern Tamil Nadu have also excelled in the cultivation of black cotton soils and later diversified into various industrial enterprises, particularly in Coimbatore and Kovilpatti.[10][11]


During the British Raj, the Kammas were considered 'upper Shudra', along with the Reddy and Velama castes, under the varna system of ritual ranking.[12][13] In the present day, they and the Reddys are politically dominant in the state.[14]

During the 1980s, they played a key role in state and national politics with the inception of the Telugu Desam Party by its then President Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao also called as NTR.[15] Nara Chandrababu Naidu gave a progressive direction to Andhra Pradesh and won global recognition to the state.[16]


  1. ^ G. Oonk, Global Indian Diasporas, 2007, Amsterdam University Press, p. 89, ISBN 978-90-5356-035-8
  2. ^ Prasad, J. Durga (1988). History of the Andhras up to 1565 AD. P. G. Publishers. pp. 168–172. 
  3. ^ Talbot, Cynthia (2001). Pre-colonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra. Oxford University Press. pp. 177–182. ISBN 9780198031239. 
  4. ^ Further Sources of Vijayanagara History, K. A. Nilakanta Sastry, 1946.
  5. ^ Kamma Commanders of the Vijayanagara Empire, K. I. Dutt, In: Journal of the Andhra Historical Society, 1926, Vol. X, p. 223
  6. ^ Vijayanagara Voices by William Jackson, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2005, p.124, ISBN 0-7546-3950-9
  7. ^ Textures of Time: Writing History in South India, V. Narayanarau, D. D. Shulman and S. Subrahmanyam, 2003, Other Press LLC, p. 264, ISBN 1-59051-044-5
  8. ^ Parties, Elections and Mobilisation, K. R. Murty, 2001, Anmol Publications, New Delhi, p. 20
  9. ^ Education and the Disprivileged, S. Bhattacharya, 2002, Orient Longman, p. 58, ISBN 81-250-2192-2
  10. ^ Vijayanagara, Burton Stein, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p.46, ISBN 0-521-26693-9
  11. ^ Fraternal Capital, Sharad Chari, 2004, Stanford University Press, p. 162, ISBN 0-8047-4873-X
  12. ^ Sabyasachi Bhattacharya (2002). Education and the disprivileged: nineteenth and twentieth century India. Orient Blackswan. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-81-250-2192-6. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  13. ^ Alyssa Ayres; Philip Oldenburg (2002). India briefing: quickening the pace of change. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-0-7656-0813-0. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Srinivasulu, K. (September 2002). "Caste, Class and Social Articulation in Andhra Pradesh: Mapping Differential Regional Trajectories". London: Overseas Development Institute. p. 3. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Political Parties in South Asia, S. K. Mitra and M. Enskat, 2004, Praeger/Greenwood, p.115, ISBN 0-275-96832-4
  16. ^ The Impact of Asian Powers on Global Developments, E. Reiter and P. Hazdra, 2004, Springer, p. 125, ISBN 3-7908-0092-9

Further reading[edit]