Part 1 chapter notes

Madiga Home
The Dandora Campaign
Part 1 Notes
Roots 1
Roots 2
Performing arts 1
Performing arts 2
Performing arts 3
The Yellamma Cult
Part 2 Notes
Village order
Inter-caste rivalry
Anti-caste movements
Conflict and atrocities




Footnotes (as in text extracts)

1.             The research reported in this paper was carried out as part of an Economic & Social Research Council project on ‘Popular Performance and Social Change in Indian Society' (R000239063). Their financial support and practical assistance are gratefully acknowledged, as also the support of the University of Hyderabad at which it was based, and in particular its Department of Sociology.

2.             Yakshagana flourished in court circles in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and subsequently developed rather differently in the Telugu, Tamil and Karnataka regions (Satyanarayana 1983,151-52,439-41; Rao & Shulman 1991; Bapat 1998).

3.             This was derived from a performance set up for recording in 1994. The performers were selected members of local troupes and the version offered appears to have been thought out in terms of the perceived audience and purpose. The original translations from the Telugu text used here were made by I. Narasaiah. He co-authored the preliminary reading on which the present paper draws freely.

4.             [See Endnote b.]

5.             The summary that follows is based mainly on the published text of a three-hour performance (Venkateswarlu 1997; Charsley & Narasaiah 2004).

6.                McCormack (1959, pp 123-24) reports a Virasaiva Devipurana from Karnataka which includes a similar narrative. Eggs, with varied contents and uses for their shells, are a major cosmogonic theme.

7.             The worship of personal lingams, the symbol of Shiva, points to a link with Virasaivism. In a later re-capping of this incident, one particular lingam protecting his life is distinguished. This also fell down, but he appointed another son, Sangaiah, the progenitor of the Nulakachandaiah caste gurus, to protect it (Venkateswarlu 1997, 29).

8.             These would be examples of satellite castes: Gouda Jettis are indeed today the tellers of the Toddy Tappers' caste myth in the region, but other Jettis are not currently known.

9.             Relationships with Gollas - often keen to be known today as Yadavas - are found in a variety of contexts. For the village performance, a major and essential item of costume, the gajjela lāgu, shorts with bells attached, were borrowed from Yadavas locally.

10.           This is the subject of Lakshana Parinayam, a yakshagana which is a favourite of Madigas.

11.           Sri Virabrahmam, popularly known as Brahmamgāru, and his doctrines live on as a centre for pilgrimage and one of the most popular subjects for yakshaganas and other dramatic genres in Andhra Pradesh. [See Chapter 7 below].

12.           That Madigas have the service of Brahmans in this respect is taken for granted.

13.           See Briggs 1953, 44-49, and Parry 1994, 25-26.

14.           [Several notes in the margins, probably in the same hand, follow in the original manuscript: see also notes 15-19 following. Here:] ‘Puttinchinár : they created, 3rd person plural past tense'.

15.           ‘Kudupa: - foetus. kudu munuchu: to assume'.

16.           ‘a priest or great personage'.

17.           ‘Madi is the goddess of the Chucklars. It is probably Máya or illusion, hence Mádiga or Chucklar'.

18.            ‘corruption of Janaka'.

19.           ‘Lúlu is the word in the original. In the Sanskrit Lulupa signifies a buffaloe'.

20.           The meaning is that nothing can be in the world without them.

21.           The meaning is that the Chucklers supplied the Iron Smiths with a pair of bellows.

22.           Iron Smith

23.           This original word is said to have been corrupted into ‘Mádiga', a Chuckler.

24.           Chandála

25.           manda

26.           [See pp 34-38: Perantalu worship is discussed, and the 5-day festival of the village goddess Usuramma at Pokuru, Kandakuru taluk of Nellore district. The pujari belongs to the Shepherd caste and on the third day there is an impersonation of goddess Gangamma by a male of of the pujari family] ‘proceeded by a Madiga horn-blower' [and receiving offerings. Kommu vandlu are the story-tellers who] ‘recite the Shepherds' Purana, and at the close of each line the people shout and throw a little food into the air for the spirits and demons.' [On the evening of the fifth day,] ‘this time a Madiga being disguised as a warrior. He enacts scenes from the Purana, his chief feat being to cut off a pith post with a sword. After this he leaps and dances about the temple while the shopkeepers press him to take presents, hoping thus to secure good luck. And so comes to a close the worship of Usuramma, with its many sports from the olden times, and its slight touch of a severer worship' [i.e. hook-swinging and sacrificing].

Endnotes (editorial additions)

a)           Jambava and his sons are often called muni, commonly translated ‘sage', with connotations overlapping with those of the title Rsi (Rishi): Rishi Agastya, for instance, is also Agastya Muni. In narratives from the Vedas onwards, both are human helpers for the gods, though sometimes challenging and even alarming them through the power of their austerities. They often have important descendants, sometimes born of relationships with several different women. See Mitchiner 1982.

b)           The assertion in original article and footnote here need amendment. It is probable that the reference to ‘Basavapurana' points to Pālkuriki Somanātha's Basava Purāņa, the Telugu classic of the 13th century dealing with the life of Basavēśvara and the Vīraśaiva devotees of the twelfth century. Its major themes are the challenging of Brahmins and of Vaisnavites and opposition to caste discrimination. It takes up the latter explicitly in relation to Madigas and Malas and others of low status (see Narayana Rao 1990; 14-16 and Chapter 7). The significance of terming the third component of the Jamba Purana the Basava Purana probably relates to the direct challenging of Brahmin pretensions prominent in its latter part. 

c)          See Narayana Rao 1990: 246 for an ancient Vīraśaiva model.

d)          This is still an interesting observation but, as is usual, it is not without contrary examples from other regions and other tiimes. Hiebert (1971, pp 135-36) reports more recently from a village in Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh that ‘Jamavanthudu, god of the leatherworkers, is ensconced in a small rock shrine in the Harijan section of the village'. Significantly, however, when household deities there were surveyed, he did not appear in the list for Madigas. This contrasts with the strong presence of Madel, the equivalent figure in the Chākili (Washerman) purana, in their list of household deities.

e)         This is likely to be Kadiri with its important Laxmi Narasimha Swamy temple, now in Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

f)           The contents of Vol II, quoted here, date from before 1890 when this volume was bound. The text following was copied from two copper plates obtained from the Session Court at Cicacole (Srikakulam in the far north of Andhra Pradesh) and translated by A. Soobau Row. No date is available for either the original copper plates or the translation. The original text has not been located and this 19th century translation is full of eccentricities and inconsistencies. These are retained here: it would be misleading to try to correct them in the absence of the original.

g)          Bantū: ‘A soldier, a servant, an armed attendant, police officer' (Brown 1852).

h)          Of the first three, male, names, Gamantídu probably represents the main Madiga line, Mástídu a Madiga satellite caste still known today, and Gosangi Bantoo one represented in the Jamba Puranam but probably not still existing: see Chapter 4. For Arundhati, Aranjoti, Aranzodi, see the following section of this chapter. Kali is a widely worshipped goddess, Ganti probably another goddess but not so far identified.

i)            vīranam is a double drum used at weddings (Brown 1852) Jamilika or jamidika is an expressive instrument that looks like a drum, but with a single skin at the base which is variably tensioned with a cord rather than beaten.

j)             Here Burabatta seems to be called Maramudi before being given the name Gosangi.

k)            See notes f and g above.

l)             The varied forms in the text are variations in pronunciation and/or transliteration of one or other of these two forms, Telugu and Sanskrit. At times they themselves are, as will have been already noted, used interchangeably.

m)           Reddy 1989 reports an ‘Aram Jyothi' folk song from Chittoor district. See Note 15 in Chapter 3 on ‘Significant Others': Brahmins.

n              See also Jambava's own military connections: (p. 16) and Footnote 26 above.

o)            Millet or finger millet, ragi.

p)            An evergreen Indian shrub with vivid yellow flowers, the bark of which is used in tanning.

q)            Nanjundayya & Ananthakrishna Iyer (1931: Vol. 4, pp 165-67) also note the making of drums and their Kannada names: tappate [the dappu] ‘the characteristic instrument of the caste', and rāmdholu , a big drum, both used for making proclamations. They note also the implements used in their leather work: rampi (small saw), ari (awl), goota (peg), uli (chisel), andikallu (stone for cutting on), kodāli  (iron mallet), churi (knife).

r)             See the Aranzodhi section preceding for the Madiga Brahmin relationship which provides a model here, also Chapter 4, Brahmins, following.

s)            A respectful local name for addressing Brahmin men. A street here (vāda) is a single caste area of the village or town. Mentions of 12 of them here indicates the social distance between Brahmins and Madigas. 

t)             Payments in cash or kind due as part of the mutual obligations of farmers to whom the Madiga is providing leather devices for lifting water and other leather goods.

u)            Tangēdu (Cassia auriculata) used locally as the source of tannins.                                     






1.             This study is made on the basis of field observations and interviews conducted with different troupes between 1996 and 2000. Performances of jambapuranam by Yadagiri Troupe were recorded on 09.11.97 at Jonnagiri, Bhongir Taluk, Nalgonda District and again by Gaddam Peddulu Swamy and Party at Armoor, Nizamabad on 14.04.99. The performance of Yellamma Vesham was observed on 12.06.98 at Aleru, Janagaon Taluk, Nalgonda, performed by Renuka and Balanarasu Party. Interviews were conducted with various members of different troupes: Cindula Ellamma Troupe of Amdapur, Bhodhan Taluq, Nizamabad District between 20.04.98 and 05.12.98; Cindula Shyam and Neelamma Troupe at Nagapuram, Balakonda Mandal, Nizamabad District on 02.06.97, 19.08.98, 07.03.99 and 04.01.00; Cindula Sanjeeva Troupe at Saijaraopet, Aleru, Nalgonda from 08.4.98 to 16.04.98; Gajevelli Shambhulingam and Party at Vangapadu, Asanparti Mandal, Warangal District on 11.01.00; and Gaddam Sammaiah and Party at Appireddypalli, Janagaon, Warangal District on 03.04.99 and on 1.3.98.

2.             The community that provides visual material is called Nakashis. The Nakashis are community painters and they paint mythological narratives on long canvasses. In addition they also prepare masks, ritual and legendary figurines used during performances by various marginalised communities. The Nakashis thus serve some eight cultural communities in the Andhra area.


a)            Elliott pre-1890, Vol. 2, pp 373-77: Case from Karrapad/Korraputi village in Durvoor taluq, Cuddapah. Privileges enjoyed by Chucklers and Pariahs up to 1826/7 and then being challenged by the latter, the former appealing.

b)            See Sarma (1995, pp 26-28) for this unusual instrument, spelt in this source jamilika. There are complexities of terminology, going with variation between regions in who those playing it and related instruments are.

c)             Small note on Grama Devi festivals in Guntur District. (Elliott pre-1890. Vol. 2, pp 3a, 68)

d)            For a different perspective see Endnote 3, Chapter 7.

e)            ‘Dappu Madigas' are, however, sometimes found. From Telangana, Siraj ul Hassan (1920, p. 412) reports: ‘The Dappu Madigas are identical with the Lambada Madigas, and are attached to each Lambada tanda (camp). They act as musicians to the Banjara tribes, playing at their religious ceremonies ...'. Dube (1955, p. 53) reports ‘Dappu and Kommu' as two of 14 ‘village menials' in the village he studied in Medak district of Telangana (cf. Singh's report in Chapter 7).

f)              ‘a single piece of wood that is hollowed out and has playing heads on both sides'; ‘the principal drum used in the performance of classical South Indian music and dance' (V. Seetharaman: www.planetmridangam.tripod.com/Mridangam/introduction.html  Downloaded 20.01.2007.

g)            See also Subbarao 2001, p. 195.

h)            A bagpipe, largely replaced first by the ubiquitous harmonium and then sometimes by electronic drones.

i)              A pattern in flour or coloured powder which here creates the space for the ritual performance.

j)              An example is given here: Gonti, a Mala woman was ‘discovered in sin with a Madiga'. Her brothers planned to kill her but she disappeared mysteriously while being protected. She became a goddess, with a female Mala pujari and associated with the rains.

k)             See also ‘Significant Others' in this chapter.

l)              See also

www.sxcc.tn.nic.in/07_folktheatre/andhra/Chindu%20Yakshaganam/chinduyakshaganam.html .

                For yakshaganams performed by others, see also his pp 86-90.





a)         Oppert 1893 (pp 464-74) also provides alternative versions, as well as stories attached to goddess Peddamma which overlap at many points with those of Yellamma. While the Yellamma material here appears mainly to be from Baindla (also Beinēnis) of the Madigas, the Peddamma story comes from Āsadis performing for Malas. Performers of these groups are often thought to be attached to one or the other in this way but have not been as fixed within the separate orbits as this has often been taken to imply. They are not as a whole, that is to say, satellites or sub-castes.

b)         For observations dating from the early 18th century, see Ziegenbalg 1869, p. 137. Vijaishri (2003: 188) comments that ‘the colonial period witnessed the categorisation of the Matangi as a sacred prostitute’ and that the institution was ‘restricted to a few pockets of the region’.

c)         See Surabeswara Kona in Madhaviah 1906 below.

d)         This may be confusion over commensality rules.

e)         For saffron should surely be read turmeric, here and elsewhere.

f)          Today in Prakasam district.

g)         See Mitchiner 1982, pp 237-8 on the Renuka story from classical sources.

h)         A name of Kamadhenu, the all-providing super cow.  For her appearance in Madiga mythology, see Chapter 1 above.

i)          The ancient Orugallu, now Warangal in Telangana.

j)          One of a widespread class of instruments identified with the premtal (Hindi), the khamak (Bengali), the chonka (Marathi), the jamidika (Telugu) and others. See B. Chaitanya Deva:  Indian musical instruments, www.4to40.com/discoverindia/ . Undated. Download 04.07.2006).

k)         For a detailed analysis of the Yellamma cult at its major temple at Soundatti in Belgaum district of Karnataka, see Assayag 1992 generally and pp 93-103 particularly.





1.         Pandit Jamisetti Appalaswamy 1956. Arundhati (Telugu). Sri. Ranga Printing Works, Vishakapatnam, p.2.

2.         Namalakanti Jagannadham 1990. Arundhatīyula Vamsha Vrukshamu (Telugu),

            Jagjeevan Sahithi Kalaparishath, p.27.

3.         Chinthada Gouri Vara Prasad 1996. Madigalu Malkonnaru (Telugu).

4.         R. Akhileshwari 1997. ‘A Battle Won’, Deccan Herald, 18th June, p.8.

5.         P.R. Venkatswamy 1955. Our Struggle for Emancipation, p.60.

6.         Ibid. p. 33.

7.         Interview with Dr. Kishan Lal.

8.         Bandhu Seva Mandali 1982. ‘Status of Arundhatiyas in Andhra Pradesh and Need for Review of the Rule of Reservations’, p.10.

9.         Interview with Dr. Vidyakumar, a medical doctor: he made it clear, that there was no need to hide the name of the caste, as others are using our caste identity for their political advantage.                                                                                            

10.       The Hindu 1982. July 27, p.12.

11.       Adi-Jambava/Arundhatiya Samakhya: Its programmes and Achievements, p. 1.

12.       Udyam (Telugu Daily) 1992, June 13, p.1.    

13.        Deccan Chronicle (English Daily) 1994. May 30.   

14.       The writer witnessed changing socio-economic conditions in the state as an activist in the last 35 years.                                                                           .

15.       The writer as a sympathizer of Marxism observed the negation of Ambedkar’s caste annihilation theory in students’ organisations like PDSU, RUS, SFI and their political parties prior to Mandalisation of political process.

16.       M.P. Kumar 1996.’Dandora’ Bulletin, M.R.P.S. Publication, March 2.

17.       Sisir Bhattacharya1984. ‘Social Darwinism’, p.235 in India’s Welfare State, M. Venkata Rangaiah Foundation.

18.       Data on educational development of SCs is collected from Special Tables for SCs and STs, Census of India 1981. There was no caste-based census after 1981. [CHECK]

19.       Anon 1997. ‘Dalit Classification in A.P.’, Frontline, July 11, p.43.

20.       Constituent Assembly of India Debate, p.702.

21.       P. Muthaiah 1993. ‘Reservations and recruitment: A study with special references to SCs in A.P.’, p.200.

22.       Marc Galanter 1984. Competing Equalities, Oxford University Press, p. 32.

23.       The writer proposed these principles of categorisation of Scheduled Castes into four groups for equitable distribution of reservation benefits among the 59 Scheduled Castes in A.P. See also Justice P. Rama Chander Raju Commission of Inquiry, based on Census of India 1981, for population particulars. There was no caste-based census after 1981. [CHECK]

24.       Data on traditional occupation is collected from Ethnographic Notes, Census of India 1961, and classics like Thurston, Suraj ul Hassan, etc.

25.       NA = Not available/applicable.




a)         Another part of Guruswamy’s mythology is reported by TR Singh (1969, p.7-9). He writes: These legends [of Matangi, from Thurston] have been considerably modified by educated Madiga leaders to enhance the respectability of their mythical ancestors. As early as 1928, Guruswamy, one time president of the Godavari Adi-Andhra Matanga Conference said: ‘We of the leather working caste are a numerous and important community all over the country. It is a common tradition among us that we are descended from Jambavan, a well-known general in the army of Sugriva, specially noted for his wisdom, hence we are called Jambuvans … Our country, India, …, is known as “Jambudweepam”, or the “Island of Jambu” and as its early inhabitants, we are known as Jambuvans … we were the masters of the country. You will be interested to know that inscriptions found in the Kanarese country speak of a Matanga dynasty as having been rulers there, and there is no doubt that the rulers of the dynasty and we, the Matangas of today, are from the same stock. It is of further interest to note that the capital of Sugriva, where Jambuvan lived, is reputed to have been near Hospet in Bellary district, the very Kanarese country where according to the inscriptions the Matangas held sway.’ (Guruswamy 1928, p. 1-2) [Reference not identified.]

b)            Butchiah died in 1942. See Venkatswamy 1955, p. 235-6

c)         The Muslims, with 11% of the population had been given 50% of the 85 seats, the Depressed Classes with 18% only the 5 seats.

d)         It has to be remembered that Hyderabad State included the large Marathi-speaking area of the northeast and excluded the Telugu-speaking areas of the east and south.

e)         Soon to become the first President of the Dalit Jatiya Sangh, in a flurry of recrimination and division. See Venkatswamy 1955, p.577 foll.

f)          A.P. Arundhateeya Bandhu Seva Mandali: Dasara Milap, K. Ranga Rao, Minister for Municipal Administration, chief guest, Madupu Chandraiah Gardens, Lower Tank Bund, 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct 31, 2004

g)         TR Singh 1969, p.8-9: ‘The Madiga of Telangana sometimes like to be called Matanga, but they do not appear to claim any connexion with the Matanga dynasty of Kanarese country. It is agreed that the name Matanga has been derived from Matangi, but they are not altogether clear or consistent about the latter’s identity. Some regard Matangi as Jambavant’s daughter; while others think of her as his son Yugamuni’s wife.’ 


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