Sanchari Kuruba

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Kuruba or Kuruma is a caste of Hindus who in the past were mainly shepherds. They are also called as Gowdas or Kuruba Gowdas. The community is present in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. They are known as Dhangars in Maharashtra, Kurumba / Kurumans / Kurumbar in Tamil Nadu, Kuruba Gowdas or Halumatha in Karnataka and Kurma in Andhra Pradesh. Unofficial population estimate Karnataka is about 16 million.

Classification: Caste Kuruba / Dhangar/Kurma
Significant populations in: Southern India
Language Kannada, Kuruba language, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil
Religion Hinduism


The word Kuruba means "warriors" and "trustworthy people".[citation needed] The word "Kuru" means "do or seek" in Sanskrit, and "Kuruhu" means "trust" in Kannada.[citation needed] The majority of Kurubas were shepherds in ancient times In fact, animal breeding was a very early profession; just after hunting-gathering and just before farming. According to the British historian Reginald Edward Enthoven, Kurumas are none other than the Ahirs of the south.[1][2] Kurubas are among the most ancient and original inhabitants of India and were a pastoral community,an occupation which predates agriculture and farming. The majority of the Kurubas have abandoned their traditional profession as pastoralists, who at some point in history had a foresight about shrinking pastoral landscapes which influenced their occupational shift to settled agriculturalists, hence asserting themselves in this region where they settled down. In the process a few of them grew powerful. It signifies the transition of the ancient animal rearing and nomadic humans into more settled and farming communities. People have branched out of the Kuruba community and developed into other communities over the ages when they started professions other than animal husbandry. Kurubas are of two major divisions: the larger one is the Kannada-speaking pastoral middle caste of Western Karnataka, while the other is the Kurumba language speaking tribe of Nilgiris and surrounding parts.


The Kuruba community is one of the oldest existing communities of India, tracing its history back to prehistoric times. Kurubas have a great and ancient association Kannada language. The population of the Kuruba community in Karnataka alone is nearly 80 lakhs. People of the Kuruba community have long practised a variety of professions, and have not been confined to their traditional (and still predominant) occupation as shepherds and farmers. They have been the source of several ruling dynasties, most recently the Holkars of Indore who were Maratha Dhangars. Undeniably, a large section of rural gentry and peasantry in Karnataka have belonged to the Kuruba community. Some Kurubas have been social thinkers and poets, such as Kanakadasa. Before the Tamil Sangam, South India was inhabitated by megalith-builders. These were a pastoral people who lived in caves and in the wilderness. They made stone and metal weapons and pottery. These people built dolmens and cromlechs for their noble dead. In these they buried their dead along with foodgrains, tools, weapons and other eminities for the afterlife. They were locally called as the Pandava people. These were the earliest monuments found in South India. These megalith-builders were the Kurumba people. Kuruba Gowdas reached the zenith of prosperity during the Vijayanagara Empire, which they founded and the Kuruba dynasty (Sangama Dynasty) lasted from 1336 CE to 1488 CE.[3][4][5]Virupaksha Raya II was the last Kuruba emperor of Vijayanagar Empire


Kurubas are Hindus who follow Halumatha, referred to as Palamatha in some parts of India, the religion of the Palakas. Worshiping Almighty Source in stone (Linga) form might have originated from Halumatha. Since animals are indirectly related to stone(soil is formed from stones, plants grow on soil, animals depend on plants), this may be the reason for worshiping Almighty in Stone. Through the ages, this stone worship tradition might have led to worshiping Shiva (Pashupati) as Beeralingeswara, Mailara Linga, Khandoba, Mahadeshwara, Nanjundeswara, Mallappa, Mallara, Mallikarjuna, Junjappa, Malingaraya, Bommagondeshwara, Sande devaru etc. Even the worshiping of shakti as Manchamma, (Temple in Naganahalli, Kunigal Taluk, Tumkur District, Karnataka, Yellamma, Renuka, Chowdamma, Kariyamma, Hulluramma, Hallehoramma, Thottilhiramma, Chamundi, Bhanashankari, Gullamma, Gangamma etc. might have come from this tradition. Even today ancestral worship as deities is very common. The worship of ancestors like Revanasidda, Rama, Hanuman, Krishna, Keshava, Ranganatha, Eera Thimmanna, Tirupati Thimmappa, Venkateswara, Kalidasa, Siddarama, Kanakadasa, etc. as Devaru very much exists in Kuruba traditions. Beeralingeswara temples have Balaga with Gowda.,[6] Buddhivanta, Bandari, Kolkara, Heggade[6] etc. Generally, priests in Beeralingeshwara and Milaralingeshwara temples are Kurubas. The forefathers of these people were of the major Indian dynasties.[7]

Other Names[edit]

Kurubas are known by different names in different regions of the country, like Maldhari / Bharwad / Rabari, Bharavadaru, Dhangar, Dhangad / Dhanwar / Dhanka /Dhangod, Doddi Gowda, Goravar,Gadhariya, Gadaria, Gowda, Gaddi, Gadri, Golla, Kurumba Gounder, Halumatha, Heggades, Idyar, Kuruba, Kuruba Gowda, Kuruva, Kurumba, Kurmar, Kurumbar, Kuruma, Kurkhi, Kurupu, Naikers, Nikhers, Oraon, Pal / Pala, Palaru, Paalakshtriya. Gowda is the commonly used surname among Kurubas. These people perform the role of the village or community head called "Gowdike".


Kuruba Gowda Gotras[edit]

The tradition of gotras was started by Kuruba Gowdas as a means of identifying people of same familial lineage. Gotras were used to prevent intermarriages amongst family members within the community. Allama Prabhu, the Lingayat saint had said "Kuruba Hutavamunna Kulavilla Gotra Villam, Kuruban fal kani Basavanna", meaning "Before the Kurubas there were no gotras, gotras came with Kurubas, Basavanna, we are the descendants of kurubas". This shows that many Lingayats were Kurubas/Dhangars previously. The gotra system was later adopted by other communities and is even prevalent to this day.

Kuruba Gowda Deities[edit]

Kuruba Gowda Festivals[edit]

Kuruba epics[edit]



Traditionally Kuruba Gowdas celebrate most Hindu festivals. They have their own costumes, songs, ballads and plays in praise of god such as:

Kuruba Gowdas Today[edit]

Traditionally warriors and farmers, Kurubas were late to take up modern education, but have made rapid progress in many fields. They reached the zenith of prosperity under the Vijayanagara empire.[8]

Kuruba language[edit]

Kurubas are probably the only major caste in south India with a distinct Kuruba Language spoken by Betta Kurubas and Jenu Kurubas of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.[original research?]

Books about Kuruba Gowdas[edit]

The following literary works are on Kuruba Gowdas

  • "Bharatha Kurubara Charithre" by V R Hanumanthaiah
  • "Halumatha Darshana" by Shambha Joshi
  • "Karnataka Kurubas" by Shivanand Gubbanna
  • "Badal Aamhi Ghadvinar" in Marathi by Mahadeo Jankar
  • "Satyashodhak,Dandnayak - Saint Kanakadass" (in Marathi) by S.L.Akkisagar

Portrayal of Kuruba Gowdas in media[edit]

Kuruba Gowdas are a favourite topic for movies, since the community has produced many historical figures who have become household names. Many Kannada films have extensively portrayed their life, culture and traditions. The most famous dialogue is "Kuntre Kuruba, Nintre Kiruba" literally meaning that "If I sit I am just a Kuruba, but If I stand I can turn into a Hayena", the meaning of which is that Kurubas are good to good people, but at the same time can become bad to teach bad people a lesson. Kuruba Gowdas are portrayed in films such as


Historical Persons[edit]

Spiritual/Religious People[edit]

  • Shri Anjanappa Swamiji - First head of Gattahalli Ashram, Kolar
  • Shri Beerendra Keshava Tarakananda Puri Swamiji - 1st head of the Kaginele Kanaka Guru Peetha
  • Basavaraja Devaru- Head of Mansur Sri Revana Siddeshwara Mutt
  • Shri Niranjanananda Puri Swamiji - Head of the Kaginele Kanaka Guru Peetha.
  • Shri Yellalinga Maharaja - Mungalkod
  • Shri Laddu Muttya - Bagalkot
  • Shri Balumama - Maharashtra

Some Famous Kuruba Gowdas[edit]

Kollur Mallappa, T.Mariappa, D.K.Naiker, Siddaramaiah, K.S.Eshwarappa, H.Vishwanath, Channaiah Odeyar, Bandaru Dattatreya, Kempaiah, A.V.Ravi, General Sri Nagesh, Kalathapasvi Rajesh, Duniya Vijay, Kancha Ilaiah, P.R.Thippeswamy.

Other Kuruba Gowdas[edit]

Sanchari Kuruba are an ancient nomadic community of North Karnataka, their origins date back to the times when hunting and gathering humans decided to become pastoralists and started taming animals. These people are in large numbers in the plains of North Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh where the rainfall is so little that agriculture is not possible every year. These people have large herds of sheep numbering in their thousands and they take their herds for grazing to different places and they themselves put up camps with their sheep. They are also called as Kivi Kuruba. Estimates put the numbers of Sanchari Kuruba community at 400,000. They to this day remain backward and exploited due to lack of knowledge about the facilities available for them from the government and poor education. They worship the deities Beeralingeswara and Mailara Linga like their cousins Kuruba Gowdas. An interesting costume is the performance of letting a donkey among the herd of sheep when their numbers cross 1000.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Reginald Edward Enthoven, The tribes and castes of Bombay, volume 1, page 19
  3. ^ a b c d By James Mansel Longworth page 204
  4. ^ Oriental Historical manuscripts in Tamil Language, volume 2 page 140
  5. ^ By S N Sadasivan page 242
  6. ^ a b By K.Balasubramanyam
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ By L. Krishna Anantha Krishna Iyer(Diwan Bahadur) year 1936
  10. ^ Mackenzie collection: a descriptive catalogue of the oriental manuscripts and other articles of south India, surver general of India, volume 1 page cxl3