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VELLALAR HISTORY

ORIGIN & EVOLUTION OF THE VELLALAR CASTE

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VELLALAR -VELALAR -VEL (LORD MURUGA'S WEAPON) -VELZH (THE VEZH OF NADIGAVEZH
M.R RADHA) -VEZHIR -ALL THESE WORDS ARE INTER CONNECTED, RELATED.

"VEL konda VEZHIR VELANMAI seithanar"
 
THIS KIND OF DESTROYING THE FOREST AND MAKING THE AGRICULTURE IS COMPARED WITH A GOAT.
 
SO THERE IS A TAMIL SAYING:
"VELLALAN PONA IDAMUM, VELLADU PONA IDAMUM VETTAI".
-means, the VELLADU eats the punjai land and make it clean.
 
The VELLALA clears the FOREST with the VEL and make it ready for TILLING with
PLOUGH SHARE /(eer, nanjil).
 
This kind of KNOWLEDGE, VALOUR,
EFFORT and CREATIVITY can be found in todays' VELLALARS also.
 
Dravidians (In Tamil Words Dravida is said to be the name of the Southern Portion of India, So it describes the TRACT OF LAND and not a RACE) who did cultivation, using water were called "Vellalas"(Castes & Tribes of South India - ET.Thurston, VII 361)Plough was their symbol.
 
In Thelunku nadu they were called "Velar". In Karnataka they had a kingdom. Those vellalas who migrated from banks of Ganga was called "Gangavamsa vellalar".Their kingdom was "Ggangawathi".Those vellalas who lived in Kongunadu was called "Gounders". Ulkala (Orissa) was ruled by vellala kings in 11 century AD.Mudaliars and Reddiars of Thontaimantalam (Chengalpet & North Arcot Dists),Pillai of Chola (Kumbakonam ,Thanchavoor,Thrissinappally) Pillai of Pandya (Madura, Ramanathapuram, Thirunelveli) and Gounder of Kongunadu (Coimbatore & Selam) were Vellalas .They are either "sivas" or "vaishnavas". Some wear sacred thread . In "Pathittupathu" Vellalas were called "Uzhavar". Vellala King Mavel Aai founder of "Aai vamsam" created theVenadu . In Tharisappally sasan of 9th century AD, there is mention about Vellala -"velkulasundaran".(TAS II 70-80) In former Travancore and Kochi Vellalas were entrusted with account keeping.They were called "kanakkapillai" accountntant). Muthalpidi and parvathyakars of olden days were all vellalas. Accountants were respectfully called "Pillaiannan".
 
Vellalars are agricultural people and in Tamilnadu they are classified into Vellalars and Karalars. Vellalars are one who control the "Vellam" i.e floods in the river and grow crops and Karalars are one who control "Kar" i.e Clouds in the form of Tanks and Lakes and grow crops. Later when Southern parts of Tamilnadu came into the control of Telegu Nayak Chieftains, both Vellars and Karalars(Karkathars) came to work under the chieftains. They maintained Accounts in palayakaras offices, and hence they assumed the title kanakku "pillays "and then Pillays. Vellalas in Tamilnadu are concerned, they have broadly three layers. The first layer consists of Saiva Vellalars (Saiva Mudaliars and Pillais). They are vegetarian, literate and sophisticated like Brahmins except priestly duties but also were major landowners, feudal lords and powerful like Rajputs or Thakurs of Northern India except individual violent nature of Rajputs and were village administrators like Kayasthas of Central and Eastern India. There are a number of sub-castes/clans among them like Thondaimandala vellalar, Karkatha vellalar, Tirunelveli saiva vellalar, etc., and most of them intermarry these days.The second layer consists of a number of unique castes, which do not intermarry at all. The castes like Kongu Vellalar, (Western Tamilnadu) Pandia Vellalar,(Madurai) Chozhia Vellalar,(Trichy & Thanjavur) Tuluva Vellalar (North Tamilnadu), Arcot Mudaliar,(North Tamilnadu) Nanjil Vellalar (Kanya Kumari) are concentrated in specific parts of Tamilnadu and are similar to Reddies, Kammas,Vokkaligas and Lingayats. Equating them to Jats may not be appropriate since these vellala castes have a long-standing history of agriculture and leadership whereas Jats have grown to the current position recently and are considered not very cultured in Northern India.But care has to be taken with reference to Lingayats. Lingayat is a large conglomeration that has the top creamy layer similar to Vellalars (Patels, Patils, etc.,) but also has other caste groupings like Barber, Washerman, etc., within it.The third layer consists of certain castes who have started using the title of vellalar like Isai vellalar (Temple musicians and dancers), Devendrakula Vellalars (Pallars, agricultural labourers), etc.,
 
SANKRITIZATION
 
Although the tamil word Vellala means the cultivator, there is ample evidence to indicate that the original Chera , Chola and Pandia Kings were Vellalas. Today vellalas in Tamil nadu is a miniscule minority in southern districts.They are less than 7% of population. In Kerala and Sree Lanka vellalas are thriving.50% of Sri Lankan origin Tamilians are vellalas. Almost all political, business and academic leadership of Tamil community of Sri Lanka has been provided by vellalas. Many castes merged into vellala.'Kalarum maravarum agamuditarum mella mella koodi vellalar aayinere"- so goes the saying. Which means Kalar,Maravar and Agamudaiyar, the three power castes from South Tamilnadu assumed Vellala ID with the accumilation of wealth. This happens in Elankai too. Many including Malayalee Nairs have took Vellala ID with them .This is called "sankritization".Regarding Ayyappan , in Elankai, Ayyanar Swami and among Singalees Ayyanakaye are popular deities.
 
ORIGIN OF PILLAI
 
Since, time immemorial , clans existed among Dravidians; but they cannot be equated to castes of later periods. The "Tholkappiam" tells about four groups . The conversion of clans to caste system - right hand caste and left hand caste - occurred during Chola ( Kulothunga-AD 1110 ) period. The caste system got a firm footing after the arrival of Ariyans. Initially there were only two classes: Those who owned land or go to war and those who depend on manual labour for living ( artisans, weavers, farm labourers etc) formed first group. Brahmins were on the top in society and second came Velalars(cultivators ) , chettiyars (business men) ,warriors (Thevar , Kallar , Vanniar ).Others were below these. Due to the process called "sankritization"(every caste takes up the habits and customs of its immediate superior to reach the superior status..) many of Kallars , Maravars and Vanniars became Vellalars . Some section of vellalas gave up meat eating and became vegetarians- they were called "Saiva Vellalas ".This process started in Pallalav period.The Saiva Vellalas carry titles like PILLAI and Mudaliar , depending in the area of domicile. The saiva vellalas of Pandia and Chola K ingdoms carry the title "PILLAI" and those from Pallalva Kingdom used to carry the title MUDALIARAanakulangara Bhagavathy temple in Arunapuram Aanakulangara Bhagavathy temple in Arunapuram, Palai, is one of the oldest temples in Kerala. Vellalas from different parts of Tamilnadu migrated to Malanadu of Kerala. They were called Thenkasy vellalar (Anjoottikkar-500 families) , Kumbakona vellalar etc.

All the information in this small box may not be true..... Due to the lack of information found in the internet.

 

According to the early Sangam literature, there was a CHOZHA KING called MUSUGUNTHAN in around 989 B.C & the CHOZHA EMPEROR of his time is thought to be parunjembiyan 1045 B.C.

 

The Musugunthan Community people think of a minor King or Maharajah called Musugunthan (Probably not the King Musugunthan of 989 B.C) as a member of Vellalar (either Karkatha or Veera Kudi) Caste. He was said to have ruled over 32 villages surrounding a village called Musuri (it is about 10 km from Patukkottai town).

 

This Story Was Told By My Mother:

 

Village tale tells us that Musugunthan Maharajah had an incurable skin disease. He tried everything in his power to heal himself but nothing seemed to work. One day, he left his post, his family and his palace and wandered off, accompanied only by his loyal palace dog (which was also thought to have been sick).

 

Eventually he sat down under a tree and slept. Hours later, he was woken up by his dog. He was very surprised to find the dog fit and well. The dog then brought the Maharajah over to a small puddle of water and it licked the water. The Maharajah understood the dog and he took a hand full of that water and wetted himself and his skin disorder immediately vanished. Not knowing what to do, he sends for his General and other folks of the Palace. When they arrived, it was decided that they should dig the earth below the puddle to find out what exactly lies beneath. To all of their shock, they discovered a Lord Shiva statue or Shiva Lingam.

 

The Maharajah then ordered for a temple to be constructed for the Shiva Lingam or Statue; Which is located now near Musuri village. The puddle of water was constructed as a large temple pond and many people consider the temple a pilgrimage site (especially those with some major incurable skin diseases; they come over on certain important religious seasons, pray to Lord Shiva and take a bath in that holy pond).

 

Another version of the Tale:

It is believed that many centuries ago a Cola King by name Musukundan once visited the ancient temple of Thirukadavur in South India and  took bath in  the holy water that was meant  for the main deities of the temple namely Amudakadeshwarar (Shiva) and Abirami ( Sakthi) . The King became very ill with a mysterious disease. The King was repentant and prayed to Lord Shiva to cure him by performing an Abhishekam ( holy bath) to the deities as prescribed by  the scriptures using 1008 Conchs.  The King was immediately cured and since then the event became an annual event in this ancient temple of Thirukadavur .

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