Musunuri Nayak

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The Musunuri Nayak were a family of 14th-century South India who were briefly significant in the region of Telangana but about whom little is known.

They were warrior chieftains in the Kakatiya army, who regained Andhradesa in 1326 from the Delhi Sultanate in the aftermath of the Kakatiya defeat.[1][need quotation to verify] Prominent among them were Musunuri Prolaya Nayak and Musunuri Kapaya Nayak, also known respectively as Prolaaneedu and Musunuri Kaapaaneedu.

Opposition to Muslim invaders[edit]

1323 CE was a turning point in the history of the Telugu-speaking region of South India. After the fall of the Kakatiya capital at Orugallu, Muslim armies annexed other parts of the region, capturing Kondapalli, Kondaveedu, Rajahmundry, Nidadavole, Nellore, and Kolanuveedu forts. The conquest spread up to Madhura (Tamil Nadu) . The Hoysala and Kampili kingdoms in Karnataka also became part of the Delhi Sultanate. The conquest of South India was complete.[2][page needed] Ulugh Khan ascended the Delhi throne under the name Muhammad bin Tughluq.[3]

The Telugu country was in great turmoil. Annaya Mantri and Kolani Rudradeva, who had both served as generals under Prataparudra II, united the remaining Nayak chieftains, instilling a sense of unity and sacrifice to protect the Telugu country and Hindu dharma. However, neither wanted actually to lead and so Musunuri Prolaya Nayak, of the Kamma caste, was selected for that role.[4][a]

Little is known of Prolaya Nayak or indeed any of the Musunuri family; they are often described as "obscure".[7][8] As uncertain as his rise were 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 Prolaya Nayak 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.[9][10]



  1. ^ Caste was not in fact a significant factor in the region at that time, as even the Kakatiya kings had been proud to consider themselves as Shudras and the title of nayak could be assumed by anyone who chose to do so.[5][6] Durga Prasad refers to the Kammas as the "fourth caste"; Shudra is the fourth rank in the Hindu varna system.[4]


  1. ^ After the Kakatiyas, V. Yashoda Devi, 1975, Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Academy, Hyderabad
  2. ^ The Early Muslim expansion in South India, N. Ventakaramanayya, 1942
  3. ^ A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar, K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, 1955, Oxford Univ. Press
  4. ^ a b Prasad (1988), pp. 167-168
  5. ^ Eaton (2005), pp. 15-16
  6. ^ Subrahmanyam, Sanjay (1998), "Hearing Voices: Vignettes of Early Modernity in South Asia, 1400–1750", Daedalus 127 (3): 75–104, JSTOR 20027508, (subscription required (help)) 
  7. ^ Talbot (2001), p. 177
  8. ^ Eaton (2005), pp. 26-28
  9. ^ Prasad (1988), pp. 168-172
  10. ^ Talbot (2001), pp. 177-182