Dr K Prabhakar Rao
Velama community played very important role in the history of Andhra Pradesh .Velamas belong to chaturth varna in the social cadre. They are invariably identified with warrior class. Most of the people remember the names of Tandra Papayya (Papa Rayudu)of Bobbili, Brahmanaidu and Balachandrudu of Palanadu as the great persons from the Velama community. In fact there are many stalwarts from the community from the past history who have been forgotten. Velama commanders were very prominent during the reign of Kakateeya Kings at Warangal during12 to 14 centuries. They occupied important positions in the army of King Prataparudra deva II in 14 century. It is learnt that Recharla Singa Bhoopalaudu was a Velama warrior of great repute and he was occupying the position of Commader in Chief of Kakateeya Army.He was reportedy having titles, Kakateeya rajya samrakshaka and Kaliyuga Dronacharya. Andhra history is replete with mutual bickerings between Kammas, Reddys and Velamas.Velama chieftains and feudatories fought relentlessly with Reddy and Kamma chiefs during 14 and 16 centuries. The bickerings during the reign of King Parataparudradeva are well known and wewre at zenith.
Muslim sultans from North started their campaigns in 14 century during the reign of Prataparudradeva and Alluddin Khilji sultan of Delhi sent his Eunuch General Malik Kafur to conquer Waranagal and Devagiri which were the large and rich kingdoms in South India. But Muslim armies were defeated at Upparapalli in Karimnagar District and also at Bheemavaram near Warangal. These were conclusive victories.For some time Warangal had peace. However subsequently Mulsims were victorious and Parataparudradeva agreed to pay tribute to Delhi sultan and his reign continued. After the death of Allauddin Khilji, the tribute was stopped and the Sultans from Tughlaq dynasty consequently sent large armies to discipline southern kingdoms. Although Kakateeya armies repelled the attacks Juna Khan ( Later Mohd Bin Tughlaq) again invaded with great army and during this period bickerings and rivalries between the Velama and Reddy communities were at the peak. The padmanayaka velamas were reportedly favorites of the King. General Bobbareddy of Kakateeya army decided to show the King who exactly were the valorous and important fighters. He decided to wait till the Velama contigent got mauled, and then jump in to save the Velamas as well as the King. Unfortunately, his timing was not good and both were defeated. Prataparudradeva was captured by Muslim troops and was made a prisoner. Warangal city was devastated and looted and temples were defaced and damaged. These damages can be seen even today where statues with defaced faces, broken limbs look helplessly at the visitors and mock at the inability of Hindus to defend them. Huge carved pillars of the temples were also broken into pieces and structures were pulled down. Warangal fort is the testimony to vandalism by Muslim armies much before the damage done to Hampi and vijay nagar in 16 century. Prataparudradeva the king was taken to Delhi. But on the way he reportedly committed suicide by jumping in river Narmada ( Some say it was Godavari river). From then onwards, Velama chiefs blamed Reddy Chiefs and community that acts of Reddys were solely responsible for the loss of Kakateeya kingdom.Or else, the kingdom would have flourished for many more centuries and even up to 1947.
Thus relations between Reddys and Velamas became bitter and bitter day by day. Kakateeya dynasty collapsed and Warangal was occupied by Muslims and Muslim governor Malik Maqbool was appointed by Mohd Bin Tughlaq and Warangal was named sultanpur. However the chieftains of Prataparudradeva did not loose heart. Under Prolayanaika a Kamma chieftain at Rekapalli ,they continued to wage guerilla war against the Muslim occupational forces. After Prolaya Naikas death his cousin Kapayya Naika ( Kapaneedu) took over the command and conducted a long guerilla war and after 10 years Malik Maqbool was defeated and Muslim armies were driven away and Warangal was liberated. There were 75 chieftains under Prataparudra deva and they elected Kapayya naika as the new ruler at Warangal and as successor to the Kakateeya kings. Velama scion Singha Bhoopala was one of the powerful scion in Telnagana while Vema reddy was another powerful chieftain in coastal Andhra located at Addanki. While Kapayya Naika was consolidating at Warangal,A Mulsim chieftain of Mohd Bin Tughlaq at Daulatabad ( Devagiri) revolted against Delhi. Kapayya Naika helped him by sending 1500 cavalry as he thought that a Mulsim kingdom between Delhi and south would be buffer state and that it would be a safe proposition. Probably this step was not liked by Singama Bhoopala. The Muslim chieftain became successful in his revolt and he was crowned as Allauddin Hasan Gangu Bhamaniat at Daultabad. As events proved later, this friendship and good relations did not last long as he invaded territories of Kapayya naika and he had to cede Kaulas fort, few elephants and good amount of money.Relations between Kapayya and Singama Bhoopala also got strained and Singama Bhoopala established an independent kingdom at Pillala Marri in Nalgonda district revolting against Kapayya Naika.Later the capital was shifted to Rachakonda ( Rajukonda or Rajadri). Singama Bhoopla had two valiant songs. They were Anapotha Naika and Madav naika.This revolt surely must have annoyed Kapaya who was the ruler.On the other hand Velama king conducted parleys with Bhamani sultans and befriended them.Thus Telugu kings had no unity.
It is learnt that the Raju and Reddy Chieftains of the kingdom were jealous of growth of Singama Bhoopala who had large elephant army and troops of 40000 strength. Raju chieftains attacked Velama kingdom when the sons of Singama bhoopala were away and killed singamanauyudu brother in law of Singama Bhoopala and the ruler of Chintapalli ( Near Jaggayyapeta).
Poosapati Madhava varma the king of Vijayawada at that time was leading the war on kshatriyas side. He sent his childhood friend (king of Srisailam) Thambolla Brahmaji to Singamabhupala for peace talks, but Brahmaji stabbed Singamabhoopala, while he was sleeping in midnight and killed him. All velama kings were enraged and they could not digest the death of Singamabhupala, who brought glory to velama caste The news reached to the sons of Singamabhupala and they came back from Kalinga immediatly. Singamabhupala has taken promise from his sons to kill all Kshatriya kings and take revenge.

On 7th day of Singamabhupala's death ceremony, all velama kings promised to kill kshatriyas. Before embarking on war over Jallepalli all velamas prayed to Sun god ( god of Padmanayaka velamas) and Bhethala(guardian of velama caste) and attacked the Jallepalli fort shouting Har Har Mahadev. Anaphotha nayudu killed the commander of kshatriyas kondamalraju and severed his head from his body and he pierced the head with his spear and lifted it up sending shivers among the enemy. Anaphtha nayudu killed all the main kings like Pinnamaraju and Myloore raju. Madava nayudu killed the Obulu raju and chief of Reddy kings "vinukonda maarareddy".

There is one war custom among velamas known as "Bomma kattu", as per the custom they make a statue of opponent and they will tie it to their foot and they will tempt the opponent by dragging the statue on earth. All velama kings followed this custom in Jallipalli war.Velams were victorious in this war and most of the enemy leaders were slain while Poosapati Madhava Verma the ruler of Vijaywada escaped and took shelter with Kalinga Gajapathi.Velamas were not happy winning the war and they performed Pooja of demons called Paisachika Pooja also called Ranamu kudupu. At midnight they went to war field and chanting all mantras of Bhetala, Bhairava, Shakini and Dhaakini and invited all those kshudra ( evil spirits) shaktis by mixing food and blood in the skulls of their enemies. This was a terrible practice in those days.
Velamas were not satisfied and they soon attacked Kapayya Naika and a battle was fought at Bheemavaram near Warangal. Kapayya was exhausted with constant battles with Bahmanis and velamas.His son Vinayaka Deva was earlier killed by Mahmud shah I the Bahmani sultan very cruelly at Velamputta and he was under great pain. In the severely fought battle Kapayya reportedly was killed by deceit by Anapotha naika who was the ruler of Rachakonda. Soon Devarakonda province was given to his brother to rule and thus Devarakonda became another Velama kingdom. Both Rachakonda and Devarakonda kingdoms always worked together throughout their existence and also vanished together. Velamas occupied Warangal fort and the territories.The velama kings fought always with Reddy kings of Kondaveedu( shifted to Kondaveedu from Addanki).Prolaya Vema reddy declared independence after the death of Kapayya Naika of Warangal. Velamas in collusion with Bahmanis sultans fought battles with Vijay nagar empire and slowly lost their independence. Soon Bhamanis sultans, Vijaynagar empire and Gajapathi of Kalinga clashed in Telangana and Andhra and in the events Velamas lost their power and had to leave the state and serve with Vijaynagar empire as soldiers, commanders and chieftains at different places.

---------------- Note: Content of this blog post is writer's personal opinion and may not be or Sangh's view.


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Brabaric practices

The practice of Ranamu ( Battle) kudupu( Offerinfs) was a common practice in AP warrior class in past where the armies performed pooja ( worship) for demons and evil spirits like Bhetals, Kalabhairava, Veera Bhadra, before the commencement of War and after victory. In Palnadu battle also warriros performed the pooja at Karempudi before the war commenced. the practice of Blood and food mixing in skulls of slain warriors was no doubt barbaric.Scythian in past too practiced similar thing where the skulls of slain men were used as bowls for consuming food by the victorious men. It is an indication of revenge than celebration of a victory. What Pakistan has done recently to our Jawans was a similar act where they cut and took head away. It is a tribal practice. Invader Baber made towers of skuls and sat on it.