Nayakuralu Nagamma was a renowned statesperson and minister to king Nalagama, the ruler of Palanadu in Guntur District. She is one of the key characters along with Bramha Naidu in the epic war - Palnati Yudham (War of Palnad) set in the medieval Andhra Pradesh, a southern state of India. She can be listed as one of the most powerful women in the medieval times in India and in the world.
The battle of Palnadu
The battle of Palnadu (Palnati Yudham) was immortalized in Telugu literature by the poet Srinatha in his 'Palnati Vira Charita'. The only other scholarly book on the subject was written by Gene Roghair titled "Epic of Palnadu: Study and Translation of Palnati Virula Katha, a Telugu Oral Tradition from Andhra Pradesh". This war was very important in the social history of Andhra Pradesh. It was a battle between two factions of the Kalachuris (Haihaya).
Nalagama Vira Raju was the son of Alugu Bhupathi Raju of the Palanati Kalachuris. His step brother was Malideva Raju, who was married to a princess of the Kalyani branch of Kalachuris. Recherla Dodda Naidu and Recherla Brahma Naidu were vassals of the Velanti Chodas (Vassals of the Chola-Chalukyas and responsible for the administration of their Andhra territories) and tried to usher in a new era in which caste distinctions would be abolished. Nalagama being a conservative was against this and tried to check their progress. He was supported by Nagamma, a female statesperson who became his chief adviser. The differences in ideology led to Brahma Naidu leaving with his supporters, including Nalagama's half brother Malideva and set up an independent court in Macherla.
Mutual suspicion and rivalry reached a high pitch between the two courts and Nagamma, under the pretext of Malideva's defeat in a cock-fight, exiled them for seven years from Palnadu. After the exile was over Brahma Naidu sent Alaraja, the son of Kalachuri Kommaraja of Kalyani, and the brother-in-law of Malideva to claim Malideva's share. The demand was turned down and Alaraja was poisoned to death under the orders of Nagamma in Cherlagudipadu. The enraged Kalyani Kalachuris and Brahma Naidu declared war on Gurazala. The battle was fought in Karempudi on the banks of the river Naguleru. The Kakatiya dynasty, Kota Vamsa, Paricchedis and Hoysalas supported Nalagama and the Vengi Kalachuris. The Velanati Chodas and Malideva were supported by the Kalyani Kalachuris.
The faction led by Brahma Naidu and Malideva was victorious. But Malideva died in the battle, so Brahma Naidu reinstated Nalagama. The civil war shook the Velanadu kingdom to its foundation. A whole generation of the warriors of Andhra perished in the war. The tragedy hastened the end of the Chalukyan rule in Vengi. It exposed their weaknesses and allowed the Hoysalas, Kalachuris, Eastern Gangas and the Kakatiyas to eventually overrun them.
In Popular Culture
- Palnati Yudham, 1947 and 1966 Telugu films depicted various aspects of the war and the human emotions surrounding it.
- The 1947 film was directed by L. V. Prasad, one of the pioneers of Indian cinema and a Dadasaheb Phalke Award recipient and starred Govindarajula Subba Rao as Brahmanaidu, P. Kannamba as Nagamma and Akkineni Nageswara Rao, another Dadasaheb Phalke Award recipient as Balachandrudu.
- Roghair, G.H., The Epic of Palnadu, 1982, Clarendon Press; ISBN 0-19-815456-9
- B S L Hanumantha Rao, Social Mobility in Medieval Andhra, Telegu Academy Press
- Palanati Vira charitra, Oral Epic