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Since it is a large, diverse and geographically well spread with multiple divisions there is no 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 are believed to be the descendants of migrants of the Kaampu tribe from Kampilya (near Ayodhya) and were 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 are 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.
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 Gotrams
- 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/Balija/Telaga/Munnuru Kapu communities have the title Setty in their Surnames who served as Traders during the Kakateeya and Viajayanagar Empires..
(Indicating their Ancestors established Powerful Trading Guilds Surnames like Bandreddy, Ramiesetty, 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 Dynasity. Samineni, Lakkineni, Padalaneni, Vallabhaneni, Chitikineni, Kasineni etc)
- Kapu and Telaga community have the title Rayudu in Coastal and Rayalseema 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.
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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 becamse 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 the Pre Kakatiyan period referred to soldiers and agriculturists. Some of the occupations or responsibilities that “Kapus” had in the medieval period:
- Village defence committees (Kapu)
- Administration (Pedda Kapu)
- People responsible for protecting the farms from bandits and those protecting livestock were (Panta Kapu).
The term Kapu has become synonymous with Agriculturists. Hence Reddys are called Kapu in Telangana & Rayalaseema of Andhra Pradesh.Genetics of the Communities of A.P.
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There are many sub castes within the Kapu community but most of them prefer to be simply called 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 the Caste title Naidu which is a Derivation of the word Nayaka. The Nayaka/DandaNayaka could be found being under the Vishnukundini Dynasity 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 Agragarian 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.
- Mekala (Also found in Kamma, Boya, Chenchus)
- Mogili (Also found in Yerukulas)
- Nerati or Neravati (Also found in Reddy)
- Pakanati or Pakinadu (Eastern territory) (Also found in Reddy, Golla, Kamsala, Mala, and Tsakala)
- Oruganti (Also found in Mudiraju)
- Nagaralu / Patrulu
- Chalukya Kapu
Note Konda Kapu,Vanne Kapu,Are Kapu,Kapu Savara,Moras Kapu & Reddy Subcastes like(Dommari Kapu,Godugulanati Kapu,Kodithi Kapu,Musugu Kapu,Nallevelama Kapu,Pakanati Kapu,Paala Kapu,Palle Kapu,Panta Kapu,Pedakanti Kapu,Pokanati Kapu,Sajjana Kapu,Velama Kapu,Yerlam Kapu) are not part of the Kapu Caste.
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Balijas are concentrated throughout Andhra and Rayalseema Region, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
This is the only Subcaste of Kapu which bears both the titles 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 Balaingyas 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 Dynasities which comprised the heart of Vijayanagar Empire. It is also said the great Emperor KrishnadevaRaya had a Balija/Kapu Origin.
- Araveeti Dynasity the last Dynasty of Vijaynagar and its ruler Ramaraya the last ruler of the Vijaynagar Empire was a Kota Balija.
- Maduri Nayaks
- Tanjavur nayaks
- Ceylon Khandi Kings
Kasturi Nayadu, Peda Koneti 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 Naidu/Naidu here Kapu refers to Reddys another Community. However they retain the caste title Naidu
- 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 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 Balijasthe 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 wife Parvati made a penance in order to look beautiful for Siva and the 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 (Telugu trading caste), who have settled in the Tamil country" as per Thurston of Castes and Tribes of Southern India. Kavarais call themselves Balijas (Born from fire).They use the titles Naidu, Nayakkan, Chetti or Setti and Nayak. Gajula Balija is the largest sub -division of Kavarais. The equivalent name for Gajula Balija in Tamil is Valaiyal Chetti. (The meaning of Tamil name Valaiyal in Telugu is Gajulu (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)
- Gandavallu or Gundapodi Vandlu (Supposed to have originally Komatis)
- Odda (Vada) Balija a subcaste of the Balija based in Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and E.Godavari dist., a community of Sea-faring Traders and Merchants.
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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 Tanjore Nayaks. The nawabs of Hyderabad requested the Tanjore Nayaks to send a battalion of his best infantry and cavalry for his personal security. The Tanjore 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 Tanjore Nayaks, Devarakonda, and Nizam etc.
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The Origin of the Telagas 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 specialised in warfare.They ruled over the Palnadu, Velanadu and Renadu Regions of Andhra Pradesh as Fuedataries and Principal Clans of these regions.
Some of the major and important Dynasities of Telagas are
- Telugu Chodas
- 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 texts as it was the area that had three major Shivinsa-Aramas, thus was called Tri-Linga', 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 Kakatiyas 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 Dynasity. The Telugu Cholas are in fact the Telagas. They seem to have a connection with the Eastern Chalukyas. Also the Telugu Cholas (Velanati Cholulu) of Palnadu War who supported Bramha Naidu in his war against the Nalagam Raju. So were the other Telugu Chola Dynasities like Renati Cholas, Konidena Cholas, Nannuru Cholas, and Nellore Chola Kings.
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Ontari community is concentrated 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.
Note Ontari of Mudiraj Community are not part of the Kapu-Ontari Caste.
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Turpu in Telugu means east. The Kapus living on the eastern frontier 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 Vizinagaram District but 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 more politically active.
Native captain or headman.
Title of honour among Hindus in the Deccan. "The kings of Deccan also have a custom when they will honor a man or recompense their service done, and raise him to dignity and honour. 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 soldier that was promoted 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 Nayakas, of which several were from a Kapu background. The Vijayanagar kings also had several Nayakas of Kapu, Telaga and Balija background.
Naidus, 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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