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Varna Brahmin[1]
Religions Hinduism
Languages Telugu
Country Primarily South India, a significant population in the United States, and Canada[2]
Populated States Andhra Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Family names Rao, Sarma, Sastry, Pragada, Palli, Kota, Pudi
Subdivisions Aruvela Niyogi
Prathama Sakha
Golconda Vyapari
Status Forward caste[3]

Niyogi Brahmins are those Brahmins who took up various secular vocations including military activities and gave up religious vocation, especially the priesthood. Niyogi Brahmins depend and emphasize on modern education. They were ministers in the courts of kings and feudatories. Many of them were village accountants/clerks, karanams (Andhra) or patwaris (Telangana), until recently. The Niyogis are considered to be eligible for priestly service. But they will never either accept a religious gift or partake of Sraaddha food (food given to Brahmins duiring the death related rituals). According to Jogendranath Bhattacharya, Niyogi name is derived from Yoga, which means religious contemplation or meditation, as opposed to Yaga, which means religious sacrifice. Niyogin in Sanskrit also means "employed" or "appointed" and accordingly, it is probable that they are so-called because they accept secular employment.

Niyogi Brahmins were associated with administration, economics, literature, screen writing, film direction, music composing, play back singing, politics, scholarly, scientific and defence careers.[4][5]


In India these Brahmins were chosen to help Kshatriyas (ruling caste of India) in desperate need in defending the Indian country, by piloting the Royal vimanas (chariots) in war and in peace. There is a different opinion about the 6000 Brahmins as they were chosen by the merit for performing secular profession. Hence the origin of the word Aarvela (Telugu: Aar-vela = rishis count = 6000 rishis; Niyogi = a derivative of word 'Niyogimpabadda' in Telugu which means appointed). Niyogin in Sanskrit means "employed" or "appointed" or "assigned" and it is quite probable that "Niyogi"s were given this name because they accepted secular employment assigned to them.[6]

In the later centuries they migrated to various parts of the country in pursuit of better and Greener pastures. Traditionally believed to have descended from Lord Parasurama avatar, Niyogis are those who gave up religious vocations (especially learning, teaching vedas which used to be the traditional vocation of Brahmins) and moved on to various secular vocations including military activities.

The descendants of these Brahmin administrators, after Parashurama stopped warring and became an ascetic sanyasi, gave the thrones back to the descendants of Kshatriyas who had survived because they and their ex-ruler parents and grandparents hid in the forests. By this time, having forgotten the ways intense Vedic practices, the Brahmin ex-rulers took to land-owning as a full-time occupation with the administrative experience they gained during the interruption of Kshatriya rule.

The Satavahana Vamsam (dynasty), that is said to have given the name "Andhra" to the present state, was from Niyogi clan. Traditionally and even today Niyogis depend on, put emphasis on, and orient themselves towards modern education. As ministers in the courts of kings and zamindaars (landlords) as Palegallu feudal Lords, Niyogis earned a good name for their administrative abilities and progressive attitude (sarva dharma samanatha). Many of them were also village chief-officers like munsabs, talukdaars, and accountants, Karanams (Andhra) or Patwaris (Telangana) until recently.[7]


According to Jogendranath Bhattacharya, the word Niyogi is derived from Yoga, which means "religious contemplation" or "meditation", as opposed to Yaga, which means "religious sacrifice". Niyogin in Sanskrit also means "employed" or "appointed" and it is probable that Niyogis were given this name because they accept secular employment.[8]


Niyogis, possibly even before the time of the Kakatiya dynasty, gave up intense vedic lifestyle and took up various secular vocations such as scholars, administrators, ministers, social reformers. So they comprised a secular 'scholar' caste, but with the caveat that their traditions still required them to follow religious practices such as vegetarianism and some less intense rituals for prayer/puja in their own homes with their own families. In these modern times they haven't forgotten their heritage of the knowledge of the Vedas, and they still try to follow and understand the vedas with their implications in life. But since Niyogis aren't vedic scholars. Andhra state's Niyogis have counterparts in other states such as Chitpavans in Maharashtra, Mohyals in Punjab, and Tyagis and Bhumihars in many other parts of the Indian Subcontinent.

Niyogis are dependent upon and put emphasis upon modern education, administration (Niyogis have traditionally been well represented in the local administration in Andhra Pradesh state), management (Diplomats, bureaucrats, Administrators and politicians) etc. [9][10] A historical Telugu aphorism is Yendu Niyogimpavalenanna Niyogimpadagina vaadu Niyogi translated "Niyogi is the person who can be trusted for successful completion of the entrusted tasks" where Niyogi-mpa translates as entrusted and/or assigned. In the past, Niyogis were ministers in the courts of kings and feudal lords, zamindars and talukdars. Sometimes Niyogis were well-off farmers with ownership of land acreage holdings.They owned thousands of acres until the land ceiling act was introduced.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brahmin, brahmana, caste, tribe, gotra, rishi, ritual, india, hindu, religion, Mana Sanskriti (Our Culture), Issue 69
  2. ^ Anand A. Yang, Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Bihar, University of California Press, 1999
  3. ^ Vundavilli
  4. ^ Sanatha Dharma, Religion, Gothra, Sages, Saints & Rishis of Vedic Era
  5. ^ Ancient India: a history of its culture and civilization, Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, p. 166-170
  6. ^ Article on Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh at Vepachedu Educational Foundation
  7. ^ "Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh". 
  8. ^ Hopkins, Religions of India, p. 192 states: "As to the fees, the rules are precise, and the propounders of them are unblushing.
  9. ^ The expansion of the Kurgan people from the Pontic-Caspian steppe, which is associated with the spread of the Indo-European languages. (Semino 200)
  10. ^ Baldev Upadhyaya, Kashi Ki Panditya Parampara, Sharda Sansthan, Varanasi, 1985.
  11. ^ P. 201, Professor A.L. Basham, My Guruji and Problems and Perspectives of Ancient, by Sachindra Kumar Maity

Further reading[edit]

  • Wagoner, Phillip B. (October 2003). "Precolonial Intellectuals and the Production of Colonial Knowledge". Comparative Studies in Society and History 45 (4): 783–814. JSTOR 3879496. (subscription required (help)).