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Mudliar (alternatively spelled: Mudaliyar, Mudliyar, also Mudali or Moodley) is a caste title used by the people belonging to various Tamil castes and in the Tamil diaspora. Castes using Mudaliar title speak Tamil as their native language.
The surname is derived from the honorary title Mudali meaning a person of first rank in the Tamil Chola feudal society which was bestowed upon top-ranking bureaucratic officials and army commanders in medieval South India. The surname is generally prevalent among Indian Tamils (Nattar) and the Tamil diaspora though it is also used in other parts of South India. literally meaning The first citizens or first ones after his son Athondai had won the battle against Kurumbars.
Thondaimandala Mudaliars are the natives of Tamil Nadu, from time immemorial. This community with rich heritage, traditions and civilization and known for their honesty, intelligence, valour, loyalty and administrative ability were occupying high positions like ministers, army chiefs, regional rulers, etc., in various southern kingdoms.
Chola king Karikal Cholan has awarded the title of “Mudaliars” (meaning muthanmai (first) citizens) to these community members. Since then we are called as “Thondaimandala Mudaliars”.
These community members had the privilege of handing over the crown at the time of coronation ceremony (mudi-sootu vizha) of the kings, religious heads, etc. This fact can be seen from old Tamil classical literature “Thirukkaivazhakkam” which states “mangaiyoru bhagarkum, madhavarkum, mannavarkum thunga mudiyai sootumkai (the hands that handover the crown to kings/religious heads at the time of coronation ceremony)”.
Some of the Mudali clans of Thondaimandalam migrated to Sri Lanka during the period of the medieval poet Kambar. For example, some of the Tamils in Ceylon trace their lineage to this group, some of whom had become saints called Nayanars. The book The Tamils in Early Ceylon by C. Sivaratnam traces some of the Mudaliyars in Ceylon to Thaninayaka Mudaliyar (among others), a rich Saiva Vellalar who emigrated to Ceylon from Tondaimandalam. Maanadukanda Mudali, a Vellala king of Thondai Nadu had shed over kamban a shower of gold for his work of Erezhupatu, a literary work praising agriculture. Taninayaga, a Vellala of Seyur was made the chief of Neduntiva.
Jaffna has two or three clans from Thondaimandalam with the Mudali surname. Irumarapum Thooya Thaninayaga Mudali from Seyyoor and Mannadukonda Mudali whose clan has been quoted even during poet Kambar's time. Here is the direct quotation from Kailaya Malai, a historical book of Jaffna on the migration into Jaffna from Thondai Nadu. The other clans may come under this section or under Sri Lankan Vellalar section.
The next was the Vellala of the family of him who shed over kamban a shower of gold for the work of Erezhupatu, whose country was Tondainade, who had a widespread name, who used to wear a lotus garland and whose name was Maanadukanda Mudali. He was made to reside at Irupalai. The next was the Vellala of Seyur, who was as wealthy as Indra, and who never deviated from the path of visture. whose garland was of water lilies. Whose fame was great and whose paternal and maternal lines were matchless and pure and whose name was Taninayaga. He was made a chief of Neduntiva..[unreliable source?]
Castes using Mudaliar title
Agamudayar is a Tamil caste whose members are prevalent in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu.Agamudayars have been using the title of Mudaliar since the 13th century. Pillai, Servai and Udayar are the other titles used by them in various parts of Tamil Nadu. Agamudayar literally means a person who stood steadfast with pride. Thuluva Vellalar or Thozhu Vellalar, whose presence is significant in the Northern part of Tamil Nadu is a sub-caste of Agamudayar.
Isai Velalar or Isaivellalar is a Tamil caste from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. They are also known as Melakkarar or Molakkara Mudaliar. They use the surname of Mudaliar. Other titles of Isai Vellalar are Pillai and Nayanar. The name "Isai Velalar" is derived from the Tamil words Isai meaning Music and Vellalar meaning Cultivator. Therefore, Isai Velalar is a person who cultivates or creates the music. The caste which comprises many Hindu temple musicians are predominantly found in Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Trichy Districts of Tamil Nadu. Chinna Melam, Periya Melam and Nattuvangam/Nattuvanar are the sub-divisions of the caste.
Kerala Mudali is an aggregation of various castes that use Mudaliar title in the state of Kerala. They are predominantly found in the areas of Trivandrum and Palakkad Districts of Kerala and Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu. They migrated to these places starting late 17th Century onwards for various purposes including Agriculture, Coconut oil extraction, Coir Trade and as Specialized Fighters and Reliable Spies. They were given special preference by Royal Family of Travancore due to their cultural similarity and loyalty. This status resulted in further deepening their area of influence within Travancore. During the British era, many families embraced Christianity. Kerala Muthalis still keep their separate identity even though they are a micro-minority caste in Kerala. Due to their linguistic and educational backwardness Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry states have categorized them as Backward Castes. Gradually after independence and state reorganization, Kerala Muthalis have completely integrated with the Kerala Culture, but still consider Lord Muruga/Subramanya as their primary god of worship while most of the Kerala Hindus are devotees of Lord Vishnu.
Saiva Vellalar is a Forward caste and vegetarian community in the state of Tamil Nadu, India whose members use Mudaliar title. Thondaimandala Saiva Vellalar or Thondaimandala Mudliar is a sub-section of Saiva Vellalar caste in the northern part of Tamil Nadu. Saiva Vellalars trace their lineage to Sekkizhar, the author of the Periyapuranam. They settled in Thondaimandalam (also known as Thondai Nadu) in South India by the command of Chola Emperor Karikala Chola. The legendary great king “Karikal-cholan” of “Chola- dynasty” had two sons. He divided his kingdom into two and gave the northern part including “Kanchipuram”region to second son named “Aathondai Chakravarthi”. This region has come to be called as “Thondai-mandalam”, named after the founder-emperor. Aathondai chakravarthy has divided his kingdom into 24 divisions (kottams) and appointed members from ‘Saiva-velalars” community as “rulers” of these regions or “kottams”, under his empire. They were emerging as 'Landlords' during the time of British rule.
Sengunthar also known as Kaikolar is a caste found in the state of Tamil Nadu. Historically, there were seventy-two subdivisions (nadu or desams). Their name comes from the Tamil words "kai" (hand) and "kol" (shuttle used in looming or spear). They consider the different parts of the loom to represent various gods and sages. They are also known as Sengunthar, which means a red dagger in Tamil and it also means the people of 'thirukodimada sengundrur',today known as 'thiruchengode' in the state of Tamil Nadu .During Chola rule Kaikolars served as soldiers and were called "Terinja kaikolar padai". (Terinja means "known" in Tamil and Padai means "regiment"), so "terinja-kaikolar padai" were the personal bodyguards. Kaikkolars were militarised during the Chola empire and formed a major part of the Chola army from 8th century to 13th century. There were no Kaikolar army before or after the Chola empire. Kaikkolar formed merchant groups and maintained a military unit to protect the merchants. They formed many regiments in the Chola army. Kaikolars were prominent members of Tamil society even during the 10th century AD during Chola rule. Smarakesarit-terinja-Kaikkolar and Vikramasingat-terinja-Kaikkolar derived their names from possible titles of Parantaka Udaiyar-Gandaradittatterinja-Kaikkolar must have been the name of a regiment called after king Gandaraditya, the father of Uttama-Chola. Singalantaka-terinda-Kaikkolar (a regiment named after Singalantaka i.e. Parntaka I) Danatonga-terinja-Kaikkola (regiment or group). The early writing of the record and the surname Danatunga of Paranataka I suggests its assignment to his reign. Muttavalperra seems to indicate some special honour or rank conferred on the regiment by the king.
History of Jaffna has at least two or three clans from Thondaimandalam with Mudali surname. Irumarapum Thooya Thaninayaga Mudali from Seyyoor and Mannadukonda Mudali whose clan has been quoted even during famour poet Kambar's time. It is not a British Phenomenon. Here is the direct quotation from a part of Kailaya Malai a historical book of Jaffna on the migration into Jaffna from Thondai Nadu. The other clans may come under this section or under Sri Lankan Vellalar section. The next was the Vellala of the family of him who shed over kamban a shower of gold for the work of Erezhupatu, whose country was Tondainade, who had a widespread name, who used to wear a lotus garland and whose name was Maanadukanda Mudali. He was made to reside at Irupalai.
The next was the Vellala of Seyur, who was as wealthy as Indra, and who never deviated from the path of visture. whose garland was of water lilies. Whose fame was great and whose paternal and maternal lines were matchless and pure and whose name was Taninayaga. He was made a chief of Neduntiva.
List of Prominent Personalities
- Irschick, Eugene F. Dialogue and History: Constructing South India, 1795-1895. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. direct web reference: http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft038n99hg&brand=eschol
- History of Tirupati: The Tiruvengadam Temple By T. K. T. Viraraghavacharya
- Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture - Page 161 by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar
- The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago By V. Kanakasabhai
- Thondaimandala Mudaliars, http://mudaliartm.org/history.htm Cite error: Invalid
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- The Tamils in Early Ceylon By C. Sivaratnam, http://books.google.com/books?vid=0PrqSaY8TV9DtgCG9v&id=hlocAAAAMAAJ&q=mudaliyar+vellala&dq=mudaliyar+vellala&pgis=1
- Rural Society in Southeast India By Kathleen Gough By Kathleen Gough
- "Irschick, Eugene F. Dialogue and History: Constructing South India, 1795-1895. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994."
- Order and Disorder in Colonial South India Eugene F. Irschick Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 23, No. 3 (1989), pp. 459-492,
- The Hindu : Of tilting pillars
12 THURSTON, E., 1909. Castes and Tribes of Southern India, I: 516, Government Press, Madras.