Madanna and Akkanna

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Madanna and Akkanna were two brothers who rose to prominence in the sultanate of Golkonda between 1674 and 1685. Towards the end of their lives in October 1685 they came to dominate state affairs in Golkonda. This is remarkable because they were administrators and ruled it and a large part of the elite of the sultanate were Muslims.

Early life[edit]

The brothers were born in Hanamkonda into a Telugu Brahmin family of four brothers and some sisters, among whom, according to a Dutch contemporary source, Akkanna was his mother's favourite. Madanna was, however, the more talented. There has been some discussion in the historical literature about the question whether they were Telugu or Maratha Brahmins. It is probable that they were Smarta Brahmins, who honoured not either Shiva or Vishnu, but both gods, along with Surya.[1]

Life[edit]

Madanna started as a clerk with the Golconda Sultanate and moved higher up through talent, guile and intrigue. At some point Madanna and Akkanna came into the service of Sayyid Muzaffar, a nobleman of Persian descent. Some time after Sayyid Muzaffar had brought Abul Hasan (r. 1672-1687) to the throne, however, then vizier Madanna and brother locked him up in his house and took over the charge of the treasury.[2] As treasurer, Madanna became more and more powerful until he practically ruled the sultanate in all but name till his death, assisted by his brother Akkanna and his nephew Rustam Rao. Akkanna was less important, but was appointed general of the army, not so much to conduct military operations, but more to keep it from waging war (at least according to Dutch contemporary sources).[3]

Administration[edit]

The most important policies of Madanna were staving off the Mughal emperor and reforming the tax or revenue collection. After the alliance with Shivaji and certain parties in the Bijapur sultanate failed in 1677, the method employed by Madanna to stave off Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who was intent on subduing the Deccan sultanates, was to pay him off. In modern terms we would call this policy 'appeasement'. In order to be able to pay the enormous tributes to the Mughal emperor, Madanna reformed the revenue system. Briefly, he made sure that as little money as possible was left with the intermediaries in the collection chain and that the revenue collected from the agriculturalists, artisans and traders came directly to the state.[4]

The English factors in Madras reported in July 1676 that the oppressive rule of Madanna, the people were peeled and squeezed for revenue.

Death[edit]

The brothers heads were cut off by a mob as they came out of their palace on night and sent to Prince Shah Alam (Muazzam) by a discreet person, on the day that the Mughal army reached Hyderabad in October 1685. Their murder is surrounded by much intrigue and mystery, but according to Mughal historian Khafi Khan they were seen by the Mughals as the cause of the troubles the sultanate of Golkonda was creating for them.[5]

Less than two years after their death the sultanate finally fell to the Mughals. Already in the eighteenth century their rule was remembered as a golden age by the Brahmins who drew up the local histories found in the Mackenzie collection.[6] The brothers are remembered in today's Andhra Pradesh as just administrators and as 'martyrs'.[7]

The Temple[edit]

Visible reminders of their activities as politicians and religious benefactors are the Akkanna Madanna Temple in Hyderabad, and the ruins marked as their offices in Golkonda fort.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gijs Kruijtzer, Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2009), 226-30.
  2. ^ S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar, “Abul Hasan Qutub Shah and his Ministers, Madanna and Akkanna.” Journal of Indian History (August 1931): 91-142.
  3. ^ Gijs Kruijtzer,Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2009), 237-9
  4. ^ Gijs Kruijtzer,Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2009), 230-42
  5. ^ Khafi Khan, Muntakhab ul-Lubab (Persian text), 308
  6. ^ Gijs Kruijtzer,Xenophobia in Seventeenth-Century India (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2009), 248-9
  7. ^ K.V. Bhupala Rao, The Illustrious Prime Minister Madanna. Hyderabad, [1984].