Monday, November 29, 2010

The Ravilla Zamindars of Ilaiyarasanandal

    Ravella Appasamy Naidu 

The Zamindars of Ilaiyarasanandal are of the Kammavar section of Naidu Community. Ilaiyarasanandal lies some six miles of Kovilpatti, Tinnelveli District, Tamilnadu.

Origin of Kamma:
A Rishi named Kamadita performed his penance in a forest known as Danda-Karanya,when many Rakshaas troubled him; he could not stand it, and hence he repaired to Maha Vishnu and laid before him his grievance. The latter directed the Rishi to his wife Lakshmi Devi, who gave him her ear ornament (Kamma) enjoying him to perform a penance for one hundred years. He fulfilled what had been told him, and the result was that five hundred warriors sprang from that Kamma. They destroyed the forests, annihilated the Rakshasas, and made the placefree from the trouble. The Rishi recognised their help, and blessed them to live happily by cultivation. The descendants of those warriors are called Kammavaaru as they originated from the Kamma.

In 'Brahmanda Purana Kalidharma Prakarnam', Chapters 3 to 20, we find the following:- The kammavars were born to the descendants of the Solar King Dwilipa and as they had alliances with the lunar race they were known as Upayadis. The original man is said to be one Dharmapala and their Guru, Dharmasilan. A member of the lunar race tried to carry away a daughter of Dharmapala, named Kannikamani, when the parents of the girl with a view todisgracing him had a black dog disguised as a girl, left it in the house, and migrated to Southern parts. At that stage, a river barred their way. They begged of the Rishi Jamadagni who was busy in a penance on the bank of the river. They were with him his wife Rukminidevi, and also Parasurama. Rukminidevi gave them her ear ornament (Known as Kamma), directed them to attach veneration to it and further added that if they did so, the river would give way. This came to Pass. Since then they have been known as Kammavaru. From that time forward, they attach much veneration to the names of Jamadagni, Renukadevi and Parasurama. On marriage occasions they first offer prayers to these, and then to their family guru, Palabhaddira. These Kammavars are divided into two classes known as Godasatu (gosha) and Gampasatu (not gosha).

It is said that in the reign of Krishna Deva Rayalu there were 1,60,000 volunteer guards, most of them were Kammavars, to protect the fortresses with in his jurisdiction.

Ravilla Zamindars of Ilaiyarasanandal:
From the said Godasatu class, the Zamindars of Ilaiyarasanandal claim their descent, and their family name is Ravillavaru, which formed one of the houses, namely, Aravitivaru, Bellamvaru, Nandiyalavaru, Pemmasanivaru, Velugotivaru, Poottaharivaru, Durugantivaru, Tuluva Doralu and Ravillavaru, that helped Krishna Deva Rayalu, in maintaining the dignity and prestige of his State. Velugoti is the family name of Rajah of Venkatagiri and Pemmasani of that of the Kuruvikulam Zamindar.

The Zamindars of Ilaiyarasanandal owe their origin to one Ravilla Veera Mallappa Naidu of the said Godasatu clan, the Commander of the Cavalry under Krishna Deva Rayalu, The well known King of Vijayanagar, who was distinguished for great powers of organisation, as well as for keeping his feudatory chiefs under proper check. During the time of Achuta Deva Rayalu, the brother of Krishna Deva Rayalu, as the State in his charge was too vast and unwieldy for one man's power, he sent representatives dividing it into principalities and made each of them a feudatory chief. Ravilla Veera Mallappa Naidu place in charge of the countries lying between Travancore and Calicut.

He was also authorised to keep in readiness 6,000 Infantry and 400 Cavalry. Hefought an important battle on behalf of the King of Vijayanagar, which resulted in the capturing of an impregnable fort, known as "Audi Venna Droog." He subsequently took a prominent part on many other battle fields; all this won the esteem and approbation of the King who conferrred on him the Samsthanam of Sonangipuram as a Jaghir in addition to what had already been given him and which Jaghir was in the enjoyment of the family till the fall of the house of Vijayanagar. The forefathers of the Zamindars of Ilaiyarasanandal are said to have migrated from Roya Vellore of the Vijayanagar Kingdom.

About this time, the Kingdom of Vijayanagar witnessed many scenes of horror and disaster, and the power of the Mohommedan rulers became paramount. Nizam Ali withdrew the successors to the Royalu King, and Vijayanagar lost it's glory and declined. The descendants of the said Veera Mallappa Naidu, thinking that they would not receive due honour and respect at the hands of the paramount power, found it wise and safe to leave the country of their sires, and accrodingly betook themselves to Trichinapally which was then under the sway of the Nayak Kings, originally nominated by the king of Vijayanagar. As they had already won laurels for their active military service, it was no wonder their request to the Naick King was granted, and they were admitted as Sardars. They conducted themselves so nobly and worthily that he deputed them to settle the boundary dispute that had arisen between him and the rulers of Tanjore. They brought about the successful termination of the dispute, and their services were recognised by a grant of the Jaghir of Thirukkottupalli, the Fort of Koviladi and some adjacent villages in the District of Tanjore. There is still the evidence of the existence of this fort, and the ruins thereof can be seen to this day. Another dispute of a similar nature having arisen between the two parties, the Naidus were deputed again to settle it. This time also, their mission met with success, though many fell victims to the cause. This act of velour and zealous loyally touched the sympathetic chord in the then Naick King, who granted them the Jaghir of Ilaiyarasanandaland eighteen villages surrounding it, in the District of Tinnelvelly, and both the Jaghirs were in their enjoyment for a long time.

The Naidus and the Mahommedan Kings became very intimate, and behaved more like relations than friends of different communities. While matters stood thus, the former gave away the Jaghir of Thirukottupalli and the Fort of Koviladi reffered to above as a dowry to a Begum Sahiba who claimed relationship with them as a sister.

They were, howevewr, in possession of Ilaiyarasanandal during the time of Chanda Sahib. But his successor on hearing of their antecedents and their heroic deeds, thought of wise, in his own interests, to keep them under subjection, and the best course he thought he ought to adopt to execute his design was by laying an imposition on them, and thus converted the Jaghir into a Zamindari subject to the payment of an annual peshcush. They submitted themselves to the yoke of the ruling power and after the advent of the British, the Estate was recognised as a "Kattuguthagai Zamindari."

From the records that are forthcoming, we understand that Lakshmi Ammall, the widow of the one ninth in descent from Veera Mallappa Naidu, in order to expiate the sins committed by her husband on a number of battle fields by shedding the blood of many lives, built an Agraharam (quarters for Brahmins) and gave them as a gift some two thousand acres of dry land and also some wet lands. It is known as Lakshmiammall Puram, and is in a flourishing condition.

A little prior to the advent of the British rule, the Estate of Ilaiyarasanandal was in the joint enjoyment of two proprietors, and the sannad was therefore in the names of both of them. But the management was solely in the hands of one of them as he was more powerful than the other. This state of affairs did not last long. The latter brought a suit against the former for a partition, and eventually, the Zamindari was divided and each of the claimants got his respective share. It was Periya Ksaturi Ranga Appaswami Naidu who was the in charge of the Estate from 1772 to 1810 that filed the suit for partition. His son Ravilla Venkata Ranga Appaswami Naidu, predeceased him.

Next in succession was Ravilla Kasturi Ranga Appaswami Naidu, who ruled from 1810 to 1822. It was during his time that the partition in an appeal against the decision of the lower court was confirmed by the High Court. He built a palace for the use of the Zenana, excavated some tanks, and raised a garden. He was succeeded by Ravilla Appaswami Naidu who was in charge of the estate from 1822 to 1854. His rule witnessed many suits for partition, and the ultimate decision was that the minor members of the family were only entitled to maintanance. He made many additions to the palatial building, the prominent of them being the Lakshmi Vilas, and the front gate of the palace. He built a choultry at Melapatti on the trunk road side of Mangammall Salai. He sank many tanks and wells. During his time, the Zamindari - especially the Pannai (home farm lands) was in a flourishing state.

Ravilla Venkata Ranga Appaswami Naidu who came next managed the affairs of the Estate from 1854 to 1869. It was he that built the Kalyana Mahal attached to the palace. The temple dedicated to Subrahmanyaswami was one of his public benefactions. He made an addition to the Zamindari by purchasing a Muttah called Nainanagaram yielding an annual income of then thousand rupees.

Sri Ravilla Kasthuri Ranga Appaswami Naidu garu ruled the Estate from 1869 to 1900. Though arrangements for the rapid diffusion of English knowledge were not made then on so vast a scale as they are done now, yet he took pains to learn English. He was highly cultured in Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil and Hindustani. He traveled a good deal in India, and was the friend of many great men in the country. He built some bungalows and raised a few gardens. He was loved by all, both European and Indian. With the Collectors and other high officials of the District, he was very popular. His brother Zamindars held him in great esteem and showed him much regard. Suffice it to say that he invariably won the hearts of every body he came in contact with. He received the following certificate of honor on the occasion of the Imperial Assemblage at Delhi in 1877, in recognition of his charities to the poor during the great famine of 1876, and in appreciation of his loyalty to the British Raj:-

"By command of His Excellency the Viceroy and Governor General, this certificate is presented in the name of Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, Empress of India, to Ravilla Kasthuri Ranga Appaswami Naicker, Kattuguttagadar of Ilaiyarasanandal, son of Ravilla Venkata Ranga Appaswami Naicker, in recognition of his loyalty and fidelity to the British Government and charity to the poor."

The last Zamindar, Sri Ravilla Venkata Ranga Appaswami Naidu garu was born in 1877. He received the early part of his education in Tinnelvelly in the Hindu college and the remaining portion he got at home under able tutors. He is a good scholar in Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit. His learning in Sanskrit is of a high order; he can even compose verses. He talks and writes English well. He had the misfortunate to lose his father in 1900 when he was 23 years old. He was installed on the guddi of his ancestors four months after the demise of his father with the usual solemnities attendant on such occasions. He being the senior member of the family, is in sole charge of the Estate. He has been managing it in an efficient manner. He was a member of the Taluq and District Boards. Every charitable institution finds in him a ready patron.

Sri Ravilla Appaswami Naidu garu, the younger brother of the Zamindar, was born in 1879. He was sent to Tinnelvelly for his education, where he joined the Hindu college. He subsequently went to Madras, and by dint of energy and preseverance passed the Matriculation examination from Pachaiappa's collage, and after finishing FA course discontinued his studies. Both the brothers are very popular with their ryots, and many in the District of Tinnelvelly and Madras are their friends.

The Jaghir of Ilaiyarasanandal was formed as Mannaria (Royal) Palayapat during the time of the Naick Kings and Mr.Taylor also in his list of ancient estates puts Ilaiyarasanandal and Kuruvikulam (Pemmasani Kammavar clan) under the category of Mannaria (Royal) Palayapats. The ancestors of the Zamindars of Ilaiyarasanandal and Kuruvikulam were of one and the same caste, and both of them settled down in these parts under similar circumstances.

Part I and II of the Zamindari of Ilaiyarasanandal consists of about 32,000 acres of land subject to an annual Government peshcush of Rs.15,000. The land is mostly black cotton soil yielding a good annual crop of cotton.

The ryots of these Estates who are mostly Kammavar Naidus were in a flourishing condition, and they were very peaceful and law abiding people and litigation among them is of rare occurrence.
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