Niyogi Explained

Caste Name:Niyogis
Classification:Brahmin
Subdivisions:-
Populated States:Andhra Pradesh
Languages:Telugu
Religions:Hinduism

Niyogis are a sect of Brahmins and are predominantly Teluguspeakers.

Theories of origin

The origin of Niyogi community is descending from their Bramhin ancestors originally from Northern as well as North Western geographical region of present day India. About six thousand (6000) exceptionally intelligent, extremely capable of administration, management with high degree of skills of warfare were chosen to help Kshatryias in desperate need in defending the country. Hence the origin of the word Aaruvela (Telugu: Aaruvelu = six thousand; Niyogi = a derivative of word 'Niyogimpabadda' in Telugu which means appointed). Niyogin in Sanskrit means "employed" or "appointed" and it is quite probable that "Niyogi"s were given this name because they accept secular employment. In the later centuries they migrated to various parts of the country in pursuit of better and Green pastures. They belong to the brahma-kshatriya group who took secular duties like the military and administration.

It is said in Shastras, that one should live near a river, away from relatives but close to place where medical help is available. Thus, they crossed Vindhyas. As they crossed over Vindhyas they came across perennial River Godavari few of them followed flow of River Godavari. A few crossed the river and went farther south and came across another perinial River - Krishna, they followed flow of River Krishna. Some went further down tracing origin of Krishna River and came across the main tributory "Tungabadra" and some other minor tributoriesof river krishna and settled down around hundreds of its tributories. Some who went tracing the tributeries of Tunga and Bhadra went further west and south west, to almost to west coast in Malenadu source of river Kavery. Some groups followed flow of River Kaveri and went to Tanjavur, Madurai etc in present day Tamil Nadu.

Brahmins are known by their paths of belief, like Smartas, Vaishnavas or Madhvas. Most of Bramhins in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu belong to the Smarta Brahmin group. (Though in later years population of Madhvas saw increase in Karnataka where saint 'Madvacharya' spread the message of dwaitha philosophy).

Smarthas follow Smritis and they are all followers of Adi Guru, Adi Sankara Acharya. The Smarta Brahmins follow Apastamba Smriti or Apastamba Sutra (not Manu Smriti). Apasthamba sutra dates back to pre (~600 BC) and these Bramhins were the ones who mastered the art of Administration, Medicine and teaching. They are the earliest Law makers of South India who lived on the banks of the Godavari river. Soon, their works and regulations like Boudhayana, Parasara, Yajnvalkya Sutras etc., came into practice and were passed as laws, especially in the courts of Sri Krishna Deva Raya.

The Smarta Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh can be grouped into two major divisions formed about a thousand to 700 years ago(most probably during Kakatiya rule), Niyogi and Vaidiki, besides the smaller group of Bhatt (Bhattu, Bhatteria, Bhatia,Bhattarika are other variants.) This classification is based on their inherent ability and Masterity in Administration, Spiritual Practices and Cooking respectively.

Traditionally believed to have descended from Lord Parasurama, Niyogi Brahmins are those Brahmins who are into various secular vocations including military activities and gave up religious vocation, especially the priesthood just like Bhumihar Brahmins in north India who largely gave up priesthood. There is a lot of brotherhood between Niyogi Brahmins and Bhumihar Brahmins. The Bhumihar Brahmins, of whom many, though not all, belong to the Saryupareen Brahmin division of Kanyakubja Brahmins.[1] The Bhumihar Brahmins were established when Parashurama destroyed the Kshatriya race, and he set up in their place the descendants of Brahmins, who, after a time, having mostly abandoned their priestly functions (although some still perform), took to land-owning.[2] The Satavahana Vamsam (dynasty) that is said to have given the name "Andhra" to the presnt state was from Niyogi clan. Traditionally and even today Niyogi Brahmins depend on as well as emphasise and orient themselves towards modern education. As minor-kings, zamindaars (landlords), ministers in the courts of kings and as feudal Lords (Palegallu) earned a good name for their administrative abilities and progressive attitude (sarva dharma samanatha). Many of them were village heads like munsabs, talukdaars, and accountants, Karanams (Andhra) or Patwaris (Telangana) until recently. [3] .

Etymology

According to Jogendranath Bhattacharya, the word Niyogi is derived from Yoga, which means "religious contemplation" or "meditation", as opposed to Yaga, which means "religious sacrifice". Niyogin in Sanskrit also means "employed" or "appointed" and it is probable that Niyogis were given this name because they accept secular employment.

Subdivisions

Over the past millennium the Niyogis have been further divided further into various groups:

The Pradhamasakha group which belongs to the Shukla Yajurveda School. In Maharashtra too, there is a group of Brahmins called Pradhamasakha. There are Marathas (warrior / land owner community) also known as Pradhamasakhi. Pradhamasakha Brahmins are also called a Yagnavalkyulu and Kanveyulu.

The Aruvela Niyogis are the largest Niyogi group. Different explanations exist for the coining of the phrase "Aruvela Niyogilu" or 6000 Niyogis. They, as well as the majority of Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh, belong to the Krishna Yajurveda School. Some part of Krishna Dist,Guntur Dist and the surrounding areas was called as "AAru vela naadu".As these people belong to that area,they were called so.

Another belief is that 6000 brahmins once left out some area in and around "vishakhapattanam and the surrounding Samsthanams".So they were called as Aaruvela niyogulu.

Another theory asserts that 6000 Brahmins left drought- and famine-stricken regions of present-day Maharashtra and traveled to coastal and riverine regions of Andhra. These Brahmin settlers and their descendants, who adopted secular vocations, were termed the 6000 (or Aruvela) Niyogi. Many surnames among Maharashtra Brahmins and Aruvela Niyogis are common (or similar): this fact is considered by many to support for this theory of migration.

According to Narasimha Shastry Nori, 6000 Brahmins were appointed as village heads and accountants and training imparted to them, way back in 13th or 14th century AD

Pravaras

Every Brahmin family will have Pravara . This means every family linked up with one or two or three origins or ancestors or Vamsa Parampara. Every brahmin family will have minimum three Rishis . For example ., Angirasa, Aayasha, Gargeysa. This is one parampara . These three people are origin for today's generation . Like that there are very prominent Rishis (sages)like Kashyapa, Vasista, Koundinyasa, Bhardwaja, Parasara, Gothamasa, Srivatsasa, and so on..,. Every family while celebrating either function or sraddha, they should utter three times this Pravara and start the function or ceremony.

About The Nandavariks

The Nandavariks, were known as such as they were ‘Nandavara Agrahara Graheetas’. They are Rig-vedins and come under ‘ASVALAYANA SUTRA’ or principle and follow ‘Smartha Sampradaya’ as distinguished from ‘Madhava’ or ‘Vaishnava samparadayas’. ‘ASVALAYANA SUTRA’ is one of the six Sutras followed by Rig Vedins, the others being APASTABMHA (KRISHNA YAHJUR VEDINS), KATHYAYANA (SUKLA YAJUR VEDINS) DRAKSHAYANA (SAMA VEDINS), VATSYAYANA (SUKLA YAJUR VEDINS). A liik at the galaxy of the names of the thirteen recipients (MOOLA PARASHAS) of the grant of Nandavaram will reveal their caliber and mettle.

The list of their names and ‘Gothrams’ is as follows:

• ‘Avadhanam’ Peddi Bhattlu – Srivatsasa Gothram.

• ‘Tarkasastram’ Mahadeva Bhattlu – Vasista Gothram.

• ‘Vaseshikam’ Vishnu Vardhana Bhattlu – Kausika Viswamitras Gothram.

• ‘Mahabhashyam’ Mahadeva Bhattlu – Atryasa Gothram.

• ‘Mantra Sastram’ Kamalanbha Pandithulu – Harithasa Gothram.

• ‘Puranam’ Sridhara Dikshitlu – Bharadwajasa Gothram. • ‘Shadangala’ Narayana Dikshitulu – Agastyasa Gothram.

• ‘Prabhakara’ Naga Vadhyulu – Kashyapasa Gothram.

• ‘Kramadhati’ Janardana Somayajulu – Kutsasa Gothram.

• ‘Dasagrandhala’ Viswanadhacharyulu – Gautamasa Gothram.

• ‘Surya Siddhantham’ Narayana Somayajulu – Mounabhargava Gothram.

• ‘Pradyotha’ Narasimha Somayajulu – Modgalyasa Gothram.

• ‘Kanadam’ Vishnu Vardhana Bhattlu – Veetha Havyasa Gothram

A close study of the names of the recipients will reveal that they were men of high caliber and attainments. They appear to have been authorities in their own fields and faculties with which their very names are associated, Folloing the same order of names of the recipients, ‘Tarkasastram’ Mahadeva Bhattlu appears to have been an authority on Logic. ‘Vaiseshikam’, the later branch of Logic which is said to haven the field of Vishnuvaardhana Bhattlu. ‘Mahabhashyam’ Maahadeva Bhattlu was an authority in Vedic Grammar. Mantrasastram’ Kamalanabha Pandithulu, as the name implies, appears to have been an authority on the Science of Mantras (Hymns). Likewise, ‘puranam’ Sridhara Dikshitulu was an authority on Epics, like the ‘Ramayana’ and the ‘Mahabharata’, Shadangala’ Narayana Dikshitulu was an authority on the six systems of Indian Philosophy. ‘Prabhakara’ Naga Vadhyulu was an authority on Poorva Mimamsa-Philosophy of rituals and Sacrifices. ‘Kramadhati’ Janardhana Somayajulu was a disciplinarian in the reaction of the Vedas. As an example, the Character role of ‘Shankara Sastry’ in that exquisite Telugu movie of recent times ‘Shankarabharanamu’ superbly enacted by Sri Somayajulu (!) may perhaps be considered to be that of a ‘Kramadhati’ in the rendering of Carnatic music. ‘Dasagrandhala’ Viswanathadwarya was an authority on the ten main Upanishads. ‘Pradyotha’ Nursimha Somayajulu was similarly an authority on the observance and performance of rituals. ‘Kanadam’ Vishnuvardhana Bhattlu was an authority of the earlier branch of Logic known as ‘Vaiseshikam’. As one of the receipents was known as ‘Vaiseshikam’ Vishnu Vardhana Bhattlu (items 3 in the list above) and as ‘Vaiseshikam’ (known to be the Atomic system of the philosophy) is believed to have emerged around the 16th Century, there is perhaps scope for further careful study and deliberation to deliberation to determine the period of reign of Nandana and the year of grant of ‘Anandavarapuram’ to the Nandavariks. The team of thirteen recipients as seen above is galaxy of scholars, Logicians, Grammarians, writers and Scientists-a glorious teem indeed! No wonder the Deity ‘Sri Chodeshwari’ had conscended from Banares to Nandavaram in response to their prayer as a witness as believed by the devotees, in consideration of their extraordinary prowess.

The suffixes to the names of the ‘Moola Purushas’ are given as ‘Bhattlu’, ‘Pandithulu’, Dikshitulu’, Vadhyulu’, ‘Somayajulu’, and Adhvaryul’, and these have to be considered carefully. These suffixes con note that the ‘Moola Purushas’ were all essently ‘Vadikis’. A ‘Vaidiki’ is commonly known to be one who has studied the Vedas and the Nandavarik Brahmins must have also, as other Brahmins, taken to the study of the Vedas and the Sastras in olden times. The five hundred families of Nandavariks are said to be the descendants of the thirteen “Moola Purushas” of the thirteen Gothrams. By the efflux of time and their eventual migration to the different parts of the country, the occupations they held, their employment in the positions other than those pertaining to the study or propagation of the Vedas and the Sastras, they came to be gradually denominated as ‘Neogis’ as distinguished from ‘Vaidikis’. A ‘Neogi’ is one who is engaged for a post or a situation or entrusted with a job on wages. The Nandavarik Brahmins, before their migration, supposedly from ‘Kashi’ according to the legend are believed to have been known as ‘Badaganadu’ Kannadia Brahmins’ according to ‘Kamalapuri’, Venkata Subba Sarma, as seen from the book ‘Sri Chowdeswari valisamu, he published as long as 1891 A.D. One might agree with this view to the extent that ‘Badagandu’ is said to mean ‘Northern Region’ as the Nandavarik Brahmins are stated to have migrated from ‘Kashi’ or Benares, which is located in the North, ‘Kamalapuri’ Venkata Subba Sarma’s, view that the Nandavariks were Badaganadu Kannadigas’, however, is not obviously quite acceptable and must be considered to have been his personal view as he happened to live in Bellary amidst Kannadigas and their influence and environment. It is not in ended to raise any controversy in this matter, but it is mentioned only to serve as a study of academic interest and enlightenment to the community.

Surnames (Family Names) of Niyogi Brahmins

Niyogi Brahmins:

Most of these families belong to "Kanva" or "Kanveeya" branch of Pradhamasakha. Many of these family names are unique to Pradhamasakha, and you may not find the same names in any other Brahmin caste, but some family names are found in various other Brahmin groups as well. Also, some of these family names may be found in non-Brahmin castes due to the fact that many of the family names are derived from the village names and/or due to inter-caste-mixing[4] . Aruvela Niyogi and Other Niyogi Brahmins

Niyogis today

Niyogis are those brahmins, who took up various secular vocations including military ones like their counterparts in other states such as Chitpavans in Maharashtra, Mohyals in the Punjab, Tyagis and Bhumihar Brahmins in most parts of Northern India and the Pushpaka Brahmins of Kerala. For this many of them gave up religious occupations such as priesthood. Today you can see only hand-full of niyogi priests working in some temples. But still as brahmins, they are committed to follow individual/family level rituals required to be followed at their homes, even though they don't choose that as career outside. Hence, the Niyogis never either accept a religious gift or partake of Shraadha food (food given to Brahmins during death related rituals). In spite of living in modern age, most of them never give up their consciousness regarding their vedic heritage, but rather try to follow or understand them radically.

Niyogis depend and emphasize on modern education, administration (Niyogis have traditionally been well represented in the lower cadres of local administration in Andhra Pradesh), management etc. In the past, they were Zamindars, Talukdars, Munsabs, Minor kings, Ministers in the courts of kings and feudatories. Many of them were village accountants/clerks, Karanams (in Andhra) or Patwaris (in Telangana), until recently. A famous saying goes Yendu Niyogimpavalenanna Niyogimpadagina vaadu Niyogi - He who can be trusted for successful completion of task is a Niyogi.

Many of them were village accountants/clerks, karanams (Andhra) or patwaris (Telangana), until recently, as a heritage. However, these positions were abolished by the Telugu Desam Party Government during 1980s. As a result of this and other populist programs such as reservations and quotas for selected castes and tribes, Niyogi Brahmins had become economically weak till a generation back because of the sudden end to their vocation. Things have now changed for much better with the community members doing well and occupying senior positions in private sector and even have their own business establishments.

P.Susheela and S.Janaki, Duggaraju Murali Mohan,Bandaru Venkata Pavan Kumar,Bandaru Anannya,Anitha Venkatraman Names to be added to the list of eminent Niyogis...\

Dr.T.S.S.Lakshmi - Principal & Superintendent of Osmania Medical college & General hospital, Andhra pradesh's first lady Dermatologist

Tadinada Krisha Murty - Eminent Chartered Accountant & Director Of National Film Development Corporation (NFDC),Financial advisor to the Governament of Andhra Pradesh."Elchuri Vijaya Raghava Rao" a Grate poet, Flute Expert ."Bhimavarapu" initial is comes in to 6000 niyogulu not in pradhamashaka niyogulu

Kanta Rao Telugu Film ActorChillara krishnamurty - noted scholar and telugu poet- Late Dr KASTURI VENKATACHALAM, well known doctor and freedom fighter from Kakinada

Late Deshmukh Kotamarthi Kishan Ranga Rao freedom fighter from Dopahad, NalgondaLate Sri Siripragada Bhargava Rao

References

Other noted personalitiesDr Tatavarthy Bharatham Shashidhar, the famous ENT surgeon in North of India.(6000 niyogi)

Dr. Bitragunta Rajendra Prasad is an an Arvela Niyogi Brahmin with Kousikasa Gotram(Viswamitra-Aghamarshana-Kousika) a renowned Geophysicist(Scientist-G,in National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad,A.P), is widely travelled and has 30 SCI (international) publications.

Yabaluri sreedhar murthi,eminent scholar in geophysics in osmania university.

Yabaluri Vasudeva Rao, well known lawyer in high court of Andhra Pradesh and Rotary International ex president.

Amperayani Kuntamukkala venkata subramanya Rangarao retd excise officer Andhra pradesh

Notes and References

  1. Book: Sherring, M.A.. M.A. Sherring

    . M.A. Sherring. Hindu Tribes and Castes as Reproduced in Benaras. Asian Educational Services. 6A, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi-110049, India. First ed 1872, new ed 2008. 978-8120620360.

  2. Book: Crooke, William. William Crooke

    . William Crooke. The Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh. Asian Educational Services. 6A, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi-110049, India. 1999. 1809 (at page 64). 8120612108.

  3. http://www.vedah.net/manasanskriti/Brahmins.html#Brahmins_of_Andhra_Pradesh Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh
  4. http://www.vedah.net/manasanskriti/Brahmins.html#16b Brahmin, brahmana, caste, tribe, gotra, rishi, ritual, india, hindu, religion, Mana Sanskriti (Our Culture), Issue 69