Kapu Caste Information

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Since it is a large, diverse and geographically well spread with multiple divisions there is not one root or Origin but the most prevalent theories of their origin are mentioned below.

Kapu seem to be the earliest inhabitants of the Deccan region who migrated from the North and cleared Forests for Agriculture and built Towns in the Deccan. They are considered to be the Original Aryan Descendants who migrated to South India.

Kapu Community is believed to be the descendants of migrants of the Kaampu tribe from Kampilya (near Ayodhya) and was one of the earliest inhabitants of South India who took to clearing the forests and starting agriculture in the Deccan and of the current day Andhra Pradesh.

Kapu Community is also referred to as the Kaampu tribe in the Ancient Texts, which was also, referred to as the Kossar tribe, who some historians believe established, the Satavahanas and other ancient dynasties.

  • Kapu Community shares a similar history to the Kurmi,kunbis and Maratha castes.

Brief Notes:
Some of the very common Gothrams found in the Kapu community are Janakula, Mahipala, Paidipaala, Raghukula, Kasyapa, Dhanunjaya, Athreya, Achyuta to name a few and there are lots of other Gothrams
• Naidu in Andhra refers to the Kapu/Telaga/Balija/Ontari/Turpu Kapu community.
• Balijas have the title Naidu and Setty
•. In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka they are called Balija Naidu
•. In Southern T.N. Districts Balijas have the title Naicker
• Munnuru Kapu’s have the title Rao and Reddy in Telangana
• Kapu/ Telaga /Balija /Munnuru Kapu communities have the title Setty in their Surnames who served as Traders during the Kakateeya and Vijayanagar Empires.
(Indicating their Ancestors established Powerful Trading Guilds Surnames like Bandreddy, Ramisetty, Polisetty, Kalisetty, Muthamsetty, Kamisetty, Tirumalasetty, Rangisetty, Singamasetty, Chennamsetty etc)
• Telaga/Kapu Community also has the title Reddy in their Surnames in Coastal Andhra region.
(Indicating some of their ancestors were village heads. Maddireddy, Muthareddy, Kunapareddy, Katreddy, kasireddy, Rayapureddy, Siddireddy, Dharapureddy, Peddireddy etc.)
• Some Kapu/Telaga Surnames end with the title Neni which is a derivation of Senani. (Indicating the Ancestors of these families served as Commanders under the Kakateeya Dynasty.
Samineni, Lakkineni, Padalaneni, Vallabhaneni, chitikineni, kasineni etc.)
• Kapu and Telaga community have the title Rayudu in Coastal and Rayalaseema Regions which is a legacy of the communities association with the Vijayanagar Empire.
• Chola-Chalukyas used titles Udayar or Odeyar for certain period of time.

Kapu Community Primarily served as Protectors of villages from Bandits in the medieval ages who later took to other Professions like Village heads and Farmers during times of peace. During times of war they also served as Soldiers, Governors (Nayaks), Commanders in many of the Andhra Dynasties. Hence the term Nayaka/Naidu becomes synonymous with the community

Modern day Kapu Community is predominantly are an Agrarian community diversified into Business, Industry, Films, Academia, and IT etc.

Kapu in teh Pre Kakatiyan period referred to soldiers and agriculturists.
Some of the occupations or responsibilities that “Kapus” had in the medieval period:
•.Village defense committees (Kapu)
•.Administration (Pedda Kapu)
• People responsible for protecting the farms bandits and those protecting livestock were (Panta Kapu).
The term Kapu has become synonymous with Agriculturists.
Hence Reddy are called Kapu in Telangana & Rayalaseema of Andhra Pradesh.Genetics of the Communities of A.P.

Sub Castes:
There are many sub castes within the Kapu community but most of them prefer to be simply called Kapu(Kosthaa).
• Kapu • Telaga • Balija/Balija Naidu • Munnuru Kapu • Ontari • Turpu kapu 

The Kapu community is primarily concentrated in the Coastal Districts of Andhra. It is probably the oldest middle caste in Andhra along with the Yadava/Golla Community of A.P. and forms the bed rock of the state. They carry Caste title Naidu which is a Derivation of the word Nayaka. The Nayaka/Danda Nayaka could be found being under the Vishnukundini Dynasty of Andhra who ruled from the Krishna and Godavari Deltas during the 3rd Century A.D.

Kapu as a term is used to refer to Landowning or Agrarian Communities in Andhra Pradesh. Today the Land Owners are called Kapu by the Agricultural Laborers, and those who served as village heads were given the title of Reddy. This is the reason the title Reddy is found among the Kapu and Reddy castes. They are heavily concentrated in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Kapu Branches:
. Dhulipudi • Mekala (Also found in Kamma, Boya, Chencus)
• Mogili (Also found in Yerukulas)
• Motati • Mungaru • Tungala • Thorati • Nagali • Nerati or Neravati
(Also found in Reddy)
• Pakanati or Pakinadu (Eastern territory)
(Also found in Reddy, Golla, Kamsala, Mala, and Tskala)
• Oruganti (Also found in Mudiraju)
• Nagaralu / Patrulu • Chalukya Kapu • Challa • Uggina •. Paggina • Koraganji

Konda Kapu, Vanne Kapu, Are Kapu, Kapu Savara, Moras Kapu & Reddy Subcastes like (Dommari Kapu, Godugulanati Kapu, Kodithi Kapu, Musugu kapu, Nallevelama Kapu, Pakaanati Kapu, Paala Kapu, Palle kapu, Panta Kapu, pedakanti kapu, Pokanati Kapu, Sajjana kapu, Velama Kapu, Yerlam kapu) are not Part of the Kapu Caste.

Most of the Balijas refer themselves as kapu/Telaga in Andhra and as Munnuru Kapu in Telangana. But in Rayalaseema Area they are not referred as Kapu but as Balija/Setty Balija / Balija Naidi / Naidu here kapu refers to Reddys another Community.

The Origin of the Telaga’s can be traced back to the Western Chalukyan Expansion into Andhra region which happened in the 6th century A.D. Telagas are the most, ancient Warrior/Agricultural clans of the Deccan and South India who are specialized in warfare. They ruled over the Palnadu, Velnadu and Renadu regions to Andhra Pradesh as Feudatories and Principal Clans of these regions.
Some of the major and improtant Dynasities of Telagas are
• Telugu Cholas
•. Kona Kings
• Koppula Chiefs
•. Musunuri Nayaks
• Korukonda Nayaks

The Term Telaga was a derivation of the word Telingana. Andhra was referred to as Telingana in the ancient text as it was the area that had three major Shivinsa-Aramas, thus was called Tri-Ling, and the people living there were called Telugus and the language spoken by the people there was called Telugu. The Telagas have served as Nayakulu (Governors), Commanders and vassals of the Western Chalukya rulers under Pulakesin, These Commanders were also called Telugu Nayakulu from which the community name might also have been derived Telaga.

They formed the bulwark of Ancient armies of the Deccan and South India like Cholas, Pallavas, Chalukyas and Kaktiya etc. They seem to have a connection with the Eastern Chalukyas. The Vassals of Chalukyas entered into Matrimonial Alliances and ultimately established the Chalukya – Chola Dynasty. The Telugu Cholas are in fact the Telagas. They seem to have a connection with the Eastern Chalukyas. Also the Telugu Cholas (Velanti Cholulu) of Palnadu War who supported Bramha Naidu in his war against the Nalagam Raju. So were the other Telugu Chola Dynasties like Renati Cholas, Konidena Choals, Nannuru Cholas, and Nellore Chola Kings.

Balijas are concentrated throughout Andhra and Rayalseema Region, Tamilnadu and Karnataka. This is the only Sub caste of Kapu which bears both the tiles Setty and Naidu.

Balija is Primarily a Warrior / Trading community by occupation they seem to have been formed by a small Social Change that seem to have occurred among some sections of the Kapu community the Original Balijas seem to have migrated form the Balijipeta, Srikakulam District .According to some Historians. Veera balingyas were mentioned in Kakatiya inscriptions. They were powerful and wealthy merchants who were highly respected in Kakatiyan society. The Balijas had the title Setty and were primarily Tax collectors and Merchants.

The following are the major Balija ruling clans or Dynasties which comprised the heart of Vijayanagar Empire. It is also said the great Emperor Krishnadevaraya had a Balija / Kapu Origin.
• Araveeti Dynasty the last Dynasty of Vijayanagar and its ruler Ramaraya the last ruler of the Vijayanagar Empire was Kota Balija.
• Madurai nayaks
• Tanjavur nayaks
• Ceylon Khandi Kings
• Penukonda
• Kalyanadurg
• Rayadurgam
• Chandragiri
• Udayagiri

Kasturi Naidu, Peda Koenti Nayudu of the Vasarasi family of Balija caste ruled these provinces.

Most of the Balijas refer themselves as kapu/Telaga in Andhra and as Munnuru Kapu in Telangana. But in Rayalaseema Area they are not referred as Kapu but as Balija/Setty Balija / Balija Naidi / Naidu here kapu refers to Reddys another Community, however they retain the caste title Naidu.

Balija Branches:
Setty Balija, These were the Rich and Powerful Traders and Merchants of the Kakatiya Dynasty, there was mention of some very old Trading Guilds concentrated in Bellary in Karnataka. In fact Historian’s suggest this was the first branch in Balijas.
• Balija Naidu is a derivation of the term Balija Nayakulu. This sub caste seems to have formed during the Kakatiya Dynasty times primarily to protect the Balija / Setty trading caravans from being attacked by bandits. The current Anantapur Dt. and Nellore Dt were ruled by Balija Naidu Kings’ Families.

• Kota Balijas the Araveedu dynasty of Vijayanagar Empire was from this lineage so are the Madurai nayaks and the Tanjavore nayaks.

• Gajula Balija / Sugavansi Balija (Pure) Myth is that Siva’s wile Parvati made a penance in order to look beautiful for Siva and person that brought her bangles riding a donkey was the ancestor of the Gajula Balija.

• Kavarai (Kavara Balija Naidu or Gavara Balija Naidu). “Kavarai is the name for Balijas (Teluu trading caste), who have settled in the Tamil country” as per Thurston of Castes and Tribes of Southern India.
Kavarais call themselves Balija (Born from lire). They use the titles Naidu, Nayakkan. Chetti or Setti and nayak. Gajula Balija is the largest sub-division of Kavarais. The equivalent name of Gajula Balija in Tamil is Valaiyal Chetti, (The meaning of Tamil name valaiyal in Telugu is Gajula (Bangles)). Gajula Balijas attained this name as they were involved in manufacturing and selling bangles initially though they made their mark in various other fields later.

• Rajamahendravaram Balija or Musu kamma Balija (Named after a special ear ornament worn by women)

Munnuru Kapu:
Munnuru Kapu’s are primarily concentrated in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. By Occupation they are Farmers. The name Munnuru seems to be of a recent origin, which means three hundred. They were a part of the Telaga community and were the Imperial guard of the Tanjavore Nayaks. The Nawabs of Hyderabad requested the Tanjavore nayaks to send a battalion of his best infantry and cavalry for this personal security. The Tanjavore Nayak dispatched three hundred Telaga men and their families. The descendants of these three hundred families are now called Munnuru Kapu.

The Munnuru Kapu’s have always been associated with one Kingdom or the other in the form of Interior palace Guards like Tanjavore nayaks, Devarakonda, and Nizam etc.

Ontari community is concerted mainly in Coastal Andhra. They have the title Naidu and Dora. Ontari Kapu’s used to be soldiers/Special Forces in Andhra Kingdoms. They are different from the Ontaris. The Ontari-Kapu community was primarily specialized in individual weapons like a sword or a spear and was primarily used for special operations. Their surnames always start with weapons like Kattula (Knife), Tupakula(Pistol),
Kommula etc,.

Ontari of Mudiraj Community is not part of the Kapu-Ontari Caste.

Turpu Kapu:
Turpu in Telugu means east. The Kapus living on the eastern frontiers of Andhra Pradesh called themselves Turpu Kapus. There have been some rulers of coastal kingdoms from this community; they are hard working poor and middle farmers. They are majority community especially in Vizianagaram District by many of them still show their feudal loyalty to erstwhile Zamindars of Bobbili and Vizianagaram etc. Off late however the political awakening of this Caste has led some representatives of this caste group to be politically active.

Nayaka—> Nayudu—> Naidu—> Naicker—> Naidoo
Native captain or Headman.
Title of honor among Hindus in the Deccan. ”The King of Deccan also has a custom when they will honor a man or recompense their service done, and raise him to dignity and honor. They give him the title of Nayak.

It evolved in the following manner during different phases of history.

Many people with the Naidu surname had some remote ancestor who was a solider that was promote to ‘Nayaka”. It is equivalent to a Baron. They served as nayaks under the Chalukyas, Kakatiyas and Vijayanagar Emperors. The Kakatiya Dynasty had many prominent Nayaks, of which several were from kapu background. The Vijayanagar kings also had several Nayakas of Kapu, Telaga and Balija background.

Naidu’s, especially of Kapu background, have migrated to several countries like United Kingdom (UK), South Africa, Mauritius, United States etc. They are active in the local Telugu and Tamil associations.

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