A Revised and Enlarged Account of the Bobbili Zemindari/Bobbili Zemindari/The Founder of The Samasthanam

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As regards the founder of the Samasthanam, the genealogies given in those Prabandhams that have been composed by the members of the family, or are dedicated to them by poets, the history of the Zemindari compiled by the late G. Ranganayakulu, Carmichael's District Manual, and the Samasthanam records, all these differ from one another. I now, therefore, propose to examine the different accounts, and to show who is the real founder of the Bobbili family.

The Prabandhams referred to above, all begin with the ancestor Anipotamulu, and say that Lingappa Ranga-Rao built the fort and town of Bobbili. It is from the latter that they trace the genealogy of the successive generations.

The Prabandhams are the following :—

(1) "Sree Kurma Kshetra Mahatmyam," composed by K. Venkata Kristna Somayajee and dedicated to Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao.

(2) " Sankalpa Suryodayam," composed by Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao.

(3) "Prapadana Parijatam," composed by K. Kothandaramayya and dedicated to Rajah Swethachalapati Ranga-Rao.

(4) " Hari Bhakti Sudhodayam " and "Mitravindaparinayam," both composed by Rajah Janardana Ranga-Rao, the second son of Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao.

In his history of the Bobbili Zemindari, G. Ranganayakulu says that Rajah Dharma Rao was the founder of the Samasthanam. He finds this stated in some of the records of the Samasthanam, to which much weight must apparently be attached. But this cannot, for the following reasons, be accepted as true.

In his letter, dated the 15th December, 1821, J. Smith, Esq., the then Collector and Agent of Vizagapatam, in asking the then Rajah of Bobbili, Rayadappa for his opinion on some matters then under the consideration of the Government, such as the entrusting of the police administration to the Zemindars, and the making of all the Zemindaries inalienable under certain conditions, inquired of the Rajah who the founder of the Samasthanam was and what customs prevailed in the Samasthanam in the matter of succession. In reply to the inquiry about the founder, the Rajah says that Rajah Dharma Rao, the grandson of Sarvagnya Singamulu, a scion of the Venkatagiri family, was the founder of the Samasthanam.

But five years afterwards, Rajah Rayadappa himself composed a book named "Sankalpa Suryodayam," in which lie does not even mention the name of Dharma Rao in the genealogy. On the completion of the book he made a gift of an Agraharam, by a deed dated 13th September, 1826, to a Pandit who helped in the task. In it he says that Rajah Lingappa Ranga-Rao was the ancestor that built the town and fort of Bobbili, resided there, and conquered the country as far as Bastar. He mentions also the names of Anipotamulu and Sarvagnya Singamulu as the great, victorious, and learned members of the family before Rajah Lingappa.

The other four Prabandhams also begin with the same two great members of the family, and say that Rajah Lingappa was the one who built the fort at Bobbili and resided there. It would seem, therefore, that Rajah Rayadappa must have subsequently learnt that Dharma Rao was not, as he had previously written to the Collector and Agent of Vizagapatam, the founder of the Bobbili family; for when he mentioned the name of Sarvagnya Singamulu, he would not have omitted mention of his grandson, Dharma Rao, of whom he wrote to the Collector and Agent of Vizagapatam that he was the founder of the Samasthanam.

In the genealogy of the Venkatagiri family, Sarvagnya Singamulu is shown to be childless; but in the male line, as amongst the Hindus all brothers' sons are regarded as sons of each brother, there was a descendant, Dharma Rao by name, related as a kind of grandson to Sarvagnya Singamulu. As Sarvagnya Singamulu belongs to the tenth generation, Dharma Rao must then be regarded as belonging to the twelfth. The present Rajah of Venkatagiri, being a member of the twenty-eighth generation, comes, therefore, under the sixteenth generation after Dharma Rao. If we take this Dharma Rao as the head of the Bobbili family, there must have been about sixteen generations from him to the present Rajah of Bobbili. But from Rajah Lingappa who, all the Prabandhams say, was the builder of the fort at Bobbili, there are only ten generations. Therefore, from all these circumstances, it seems clear that Dharma Rao could not be the founder of the House. Again, opposite to the name of Dharma Rao, in the ninth generation of the Venkatagiri family, it is written that he is one of the Ravu Varu. The families of Venkatagiri, Pittapur, Bobbili, and Jetprole (in the Nizam's Dominions) are all Ravu Yaru. But Venkatagiri and Jetprole have, in later years, changed their family names for the names of the towns where they settled. All these four families, and many other families descended from these four, have the same Gotra, viz., " Recherla." The Venkatagiri family is not only the first to whom the surname Ravu Varu was applied, but is also the head of the Velama Doralu. The family was at first called Ravu Varu, but after some years they lived at Amanagallu near Warangal, and were hence called Amanaganti Varu.

Again, the thirteenth generation settled at Velugodu, and since then to the present day they have been called Velugoti Varu. This Dharma Rao, of the ninth generation of the Venkatagiri family, for some reason or other changed his family name from Amanaganti Varu for the older name of Ravu Varu; or he might have become the founder of the Pittapur or some other family called Ravu Varu. But we cannot call him the founder of the Bobbili family; for, if we take this Dharma Rao or the Dharma Rao of the twelfth generation as its founder, we have to add four or five more generations to the Bobbili family and to assign them some names as well as places for them to live in.

This family name Ravu Varu is one of historical importance, but it is not the name of a place where the members of the family lived. Its origin is this :

The Maharajah Pratapa Rudra of Warangal conferred this name of honour on the family of Chevi Reddi alias Bhetala Naidu, the founder of the Venkatagiri Samasthanam, and also ordered that every Velama Dora must have Ravu added at the end of his name. In the history of "Padmanayaka Charitra" there is a verse in regard to this family name, which translated runs as follows : —

"He who has the title Rao, which was bestowed by the king, prefixed to his name, is the ruler; and if it is affixed to the name, then it is a general mark of the Velama caste."

Now let us see who were Anipotamulu and Sarvagnya Singamulu, They were none other than the Anipotamulu and Sarvagnya Singamulu of the Venkatagiri family. The first one was a great warrior, who distinguished himself by his valour. He killed many chiefs in battle and conquered the country as far as the river Krishna. It is said that in a single battle he killed and conquered one hundred and one chiefs who had combined together against him. The second, Sarvagnya Singamulu, was celebrated for his learning. He was well versed in many branches of knowledge and always surrounded himself by pandits and poets. He composed a book called "Singa Bhupaleeyam." He was called Sarvagnya (one who knows everything) by the people. Though they were members of the Venkatagiri family, which was the original line of Ravu Varu, they were praised in the histories of Bobbili and Pittapur as the members of their own families, for the simple reason that they were their ancestors and of great reputation. But they were always mentioned before the founders of the houses. Their names have also become household words in every Velama family.

G. Ranganayakulu, the compiler of "the Bobbili Zemindari," was altogether mistaken in the view he took. Following the letter written by Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao to the Collector, he takes Dharma Rao as the founder of the family, yet strangely puts Anipotamulu, who belongs to the sixth generation of the Venkatagiri family, as the son of Dharma Rao, who is of the twelfth generation in the same genealogy. Again he puts Sarvagnya Singamulu as the great grandson of Dharma Rao, while according to Rajah Rayadappa's letter and the Venkatagiri genealogy, Dharma Rao is the grandson of Sarvagnya Singamulu. He has also added two more generations before Lingappa Ranga-Rao, thus showing more generations in the line. He had not any sort of authority to add these extra generations.

Note here that Rajah Lingappa Ranga-Rao is mentioned in all the above Prabandhams as a resident of Bobbili and the builder of the fort. But they do not say he was the founder of the house. Then it must be another one who first acquired this Zemindari.

In Carmichael's District Manual, and also in the recently published histories, the name of Pedda Rayadu is mentioned as the founder of the house.

Carmichael's Manual says in para 3, page 291 :—