The Banas were a dynasty of South India, who claimed descent from the asura Mahabali. The dynasty takes its name from Bana, the son of Mahabali. The Banas faced opposition from several neighbouring dynasties and served some major dynasties such as the Cholas and Pandyas as feudatories, sometimes after they were subjugated by them. They also served as Samantas to some dynasties such as Chalukyas. The Banas had their capital at various places at different times, including Kolar and Gudimallam. The earliest mention of the Banas in authentic historical records is in the middle of the fourth century AD, and as the feudatories of the Satavahana and early Pallavas. The Banas were a native Kannada ruling dynasty.
The Bana Kingdom was made up of various regions at different points in time and was known by the following names:
- Perumbanappadi (the great Bana country), of the Sangam Period. It is the Tamil equivalent of the 'Country of Brihad-Bana' or 'country of the Brihad (great) Bana'. Perumbanappadi was a large tract of land which lay to the west of Andhrapatha. It had Punganur, Kolar and Srisailam in the west, Kalahasti and Sholingur in the east, while the river Palar formed its Southern boundary. Its capital was Thiruvallam, also known as Vanapuram. Perumbanappadi formed a part of the province of Jayakonda Sola Mandalam  and also represented the north-western portions of Thondai-Mandalam.
- Balikula Nadu (Kingdom of the Banas). It was made up of parts of modern Chittor, Ananthapur and Cuddapah districts. A portion of Balikula Nadu later included parts of Nellore. The Banas were located in the said regions as early as the 7th century AD and were affiliated with the Tamil Cholas.
- Andhrapatha (aka Andhra-desa or Province of the Andhras) traditionally between the Godavari and Krishna rivers. This Bana Kingdom known as Andhrapatha, originally extended as far as Kalahasti in the west and covered the whole of present-day North Arcot district. It also included present day Guntur and flourished under the Satavahanas. Andhrapatha was known to the Tamils as Vadugavalli, Vadugavalli Merku or Vadugavalli 12,000. Andhrapatha was developed into Andhramandala by a grant given by the Bana king, Vadhuvallaba Malladeva Nandivarman in AD 338. Andhrapatha was ruled by Ikshvaku kings, such as Virapurshadatta.
In medieval Andhra
The Ganga king, Prithivipati II was conferred the title "lord of the Banas" by Parantaka I Chola after he defeated the Banas. After the Chola King, Parantaka I deprieved the Banas of their Andhrapatha kingdom between 909-916 AD, the Banas were subsequently found ruling various parts, such as Nellore, Guntur and Anantapur, as Chieftains in medieval Andhra.
An inscription found in Sannamur brought to light a Bana family ruling in the north of Nellore district in the 11th century AD. The Bana king's name was Aggaparaju (also spelled Aggraparaju alias Aggappa). Aggappa claimed descent from Mahabali, and lordship over Paravipura and Nandagiri. Nothing is known of his predecessors. Aggappa may have ruled as a feudatory of the Chalukya prince, Vimaladitya.
Churrabali I or Churaballiraja I of the Banas was ruling in Konidena in the 12th century AD. Churaballi II alias Churabbiraju II, served as a Mahamandaleshwara and bore a long prasasti and titles similar to that of Aggapparaju. Hence it is suggested that he was a descendent of Aggappa Raju. Churabbiraju's only record from Konidena dated 1151 AD mentions him as "Mahamandalesvara Berbaha Churraballi Raju". His epithets mention he belonged to Vashista gotra. He claimed lordship over Paravipura and Nandagiri and ruled in a part of Kammanadu.
- Chittarasa, figuring in a record of 1122 AD record of Anantapur, was perhaps of Bana lineage.
- In the time of Prataparudra of the Kakatiya Dynasty, some Banas are heard of in the Telugu country. They have been mentioned in the work 'Prataparudra Yashobhushana' written by Vidyanatha.
- Trivikramadeva claimed a Bana descent and flourished in the 15th Century. He wrote Trivikrama Vritti, a work on Prakrit grammar.
- The last date for the Vijayanagar Viceroys (Nayaks) of Madurai claiming a Bana descent is 1546 AD.
Based on the copper plates of Jayavarman Brihat-Phalayana, it has been suggested that Brihat-Phala means the same as Brihad-Bana, where 'phala' and 'bana' both have the same meaning as 'arrowhead'. The Brihat-phalayanas ruled in regions around Masulipatnam around the 3rd century AD. Additionally, the Saka Mahakshatrapas of Ujjain claimed Brihatphala (Bahaphala) gotra and were linked with the Ikshvakus. A record of the Ikshvakus of the Guntur-Krishna region mentions that a queen named Varma Bhatarika, the wife of Maharaja Ehuvula Chantamula, and daughter-in-law of Maharaja Chantamula, is said to have belonged to Bahapala (that is, Brihat-phala or Brihatphalayana) gotra and is said to have been the daughter of a Mahakshatrapa. It may therefore be surmised that Brihatphala was possibly used as a gotra name to indicate descent from Brihad-Bana.
Some Bana kings mentioned in various historical sources are:
- Vijayaditya I, Son of Jayanandivarman
- Malladeva, Son of Vijayaditya I
- Bana Vidhyadhara, son of Malladeva (Married a granddaughter of the Ganga King Siva maharaja, who reigned between 1000 and 1016 AD)
- Prabhumerudeva, son of Banavidhyadhara
- Vikramaditya I, Son of Prabhumerudeva
- Vikramaditya II or Pugalvippavar-Ganda, Son of Vikramaditya I
- Vijayabahu Vikramaditya II, Son of Vikramaditya II
- Aragalur Udaiya Ponparappinan Rajarajadevan alias Magadesan (Magadai Mandalam chief) of Aragalur
In Sangam literature
An ancient Tamil poem of the Sangam period, describes a scene in front of a Vanar Palace as below:
Poets are leaving the palace with plenty of gifts from the King, while the arrested rulers of smaller regions of the Kingdom, who have failed to pay tribute to the King and waiting for the King's pardon happen to see the poets leaving with expensive gifts which are actually things seized by the King from them. One of them, seeing the gifts, says that it is his horse that one the poet takes away, while another one points out to his elephant, similarly and so on goes the poem, capturing the might of ancient Vanars. This poem explains the wealth and power of Southern Vanars. Kalki, in his historic novel Ponniyin Selvan, describes a scene in which the protagonist, Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan, who he claims to be of Vanar descent, broods over the fall of his clan, singing this poem.
The Bana Chieftains had different titles in different regions at different times. Some of them include Vanar, Vanara, Vanavarayar, Vanakovarayar, Ponparappinan. Some of the Banas claim as "Vaana-Kulothoman" and "Ganga-kula-uthaman".kaangeyar.etc.
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The last date for the Vijayanagar Viceroys (Nayaks) of Madurai claiming a Bana descent is 1546 AD
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