History of Munnurukapu Community
Sons of soil
It may be pointed out that the Munnurukapu community is not found in any other State except Andhra Pradesh. If we open the chronology of the Munnurukapu community, we find the growth of the community on the soils of Telangana. In this region, the fathers of the community made a great struggle to find the traces of water. In this endeavour, they had cultivated lands and constructed tanks. Munneru, Munneti, Munneruwad and Munnurukapu are synonyms widely diffused cultivating castes in Telangana.
The chief land cultivating caste of Telangana whose physical characteristics although, difficult of accurate description are decided by a Dravidian type. The kapu means ‘guardian’ which is interpreted in the sense of ‘food donor’, as many as members of this caste cultivate land and grow corn, to maintain their civil life. They rear milk cattle and bullocks, which are employed in agricultural operations.
'Mannu' in Telugu language means “soil”. As this community did struggle with mannu, they, in due course, were termed as ‘Munnuru’, which can be roughly translated as sons of soil. The cultivators may be termed as Kapus. In other words, Munnurukapus are those communities who cultivate the land by paying the total labour on ‘mannu’. Thus, the Munnurukapus have become the sons of soil in Andhra Pradesh.
Especially, the views of a few historians and scholars may be quoted in this regard. According to Edgar Thruston, a British historian; the Munnurukapus where the earliest community to do cultivation very long ago. According to him, the term “Munnuru” is a synonym for munvallnmee, a Dravidian word. T.A.Agaiah Varma, a great historian, also says that the Munnurukapus had constructed tanks and cultivated the lands.
He describes how the Munnurukapus acted as the guardians of agricultural lands. According to him, the Munnuru Kapus were the back bone to the Telangana economy. He also says that the Munnurukapus have been in this task since the times of Kakatiya dynasty. The Munnurukapus had a grip on the development of agriculture and also rearing the animals. They had knowledge on weather conditions. With this knowledge, they knew about the rain fall. By this, they also could find different ways to develop agriculture.
But due to the negligence and indifferent attitudes of the rulers in helping them, to have various projects and other resources, the Munnurukapu community were not able to stay in their traditional occupation. So, most of them had lost their share in agriculture. They had to search for some other sources for living, as Syed Siraj ul Hassan mentioned. The Munnurukapus have given up their original occupation and have either entered government service or become traders.
In due course, the Munnurukapus have had conjugal relations with their counterpart of Seemandra regions where there are different castes of this group namely Kapus, Ontary, Telaga, Balijas and so on. Thus, the Munnurukapus have become an important community in Andhra Pradesh. Syed Sirajul ul Hassan, who worked as the minister of finance in the Nizam’s Government provides an account of the Munnurukapus in the Nizam’s dominion. In his book, Hassan further says that Munnurukapus of Hyderabad State had main occupation of cultivation.
They had certain customs and traditions which were more are less like those of some communities of Reddy and Velamas. According to Chilukuri Veerabhadra Rao, in his Kakatiya Andhra Charitra there are fourteen farming castes. Among them the Munneri Kapu which is basically a farming community. Munnurukapus were very prominent community among these castes.
Bojjam Narsimlu the President of All India Munnurukapus Association, points out a few facts. According to him, there are many fictions in regard to an origin of Munnurukapus. One of them was that the Munnurukapus had come from Ayodya. According to another legend, they were the sons of one of the wives of Raja Badru Hari who had three hundred wives. By repudiating all these fictions which points out that the Munnurukapus were the sons of soil of Telangana.
The Munnurukapus have different social and economic positions in Telangana. In Medak and Karimnagar districts, some are known as Reddies. Some are known as Raos and patels. There are some reasons for such designation. During Kakatiya times they had exhibited valour and courage like Kshatriyas. So, in Warangal, they are known as Hajari. In Telangana regions they worked as government servants in Nizam’s government, they got titles like Patel, Malipatel, Patwary etc.
The Munnurukapus constitute 15 percent in the population of Telangana. In the Telangana region there are more than 50 lakhs Munnurukapus. If the Munnurukapus consolidate themselves, they can become a strong, viable force in the A.P. State politics. It was N.T.Ramarao, the then Chief Minister of A.P. Who had provided 20 percent reservations for backward classes in the state Panchayat Raj System. By then, the Backward Class Community had become a decisive force in the state politics. But, the Munnurukapus could get the least benefits in the political power structures of Andhra Pradesh.
Former Chief Minister K.Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy provided 34 percent reservation to BCs. This had made the Munnurukapus to get benefited to some extent. It may be pointed out that even the fruits of benefits could be achieved only by those who were economically and politically strong.The leaders of Backward Community have not been working with wholeheartedly for their community. This is largely found more in the Kapu community.
In order to get the required benefits, it is necessary for all the backward communities to get reservations on the basis of their proportion in the state-population. Then only, it is possible for them to have a casteless society and able to fulfill the dreams of Dr.Ram Manohar Lohia, the champion of the Backward communities in India. The natural resources and the fruits of development must be judiciously distributed to all the backward classes. Since the recommendations of Mandal Commission, various steps have been taken. The Backward classes are not able to get the real benefits which, the preamble of the Indian Constitution reflects on.
Munnurukapu community did have a great role to play in the various social, economic, political and cultural aspect of the Telangana Region till the 19th century, it has not enjoyed much economic and political rights.It is only after India's independence,they started realizing importance of mobilizing themselves.They started getting into a steady decline except for a few sections of the community who adopted to modern education and economic transition.