Boyar (caste)


Boyar (caste)

Infobox caste
caste_name=Boyar
classification= Warriors, and Peasants.
subdivisions=Multiple
populated_states=South India
languages=Regional Languages
religions=Hinduism
A "boyar", also spelled "boya" ( = Hunter) is the name of a caste. A leader of a group or Head of Territory. Boya is called as Naidu in Andhra Pradesh is similar to Kapu (caste). Boya is called as Boyar in Tamil nadu they constitute the Non-orthodox Kshatriya or Warrior class of India. They are all believed to have originated from an ancient people called Kirata.

Origin

Boya caste corresponds to Kiratas of Sanskrit writers, the Warriors, Hunters and Mountaineers. As the names indicate, they belonged to one of the hill tribes who subsisted by hunting and tending cattle.

Boyars are Non-orthodox Kshatriya or Vratya Kshatriya according to Manu's script. They are called 'Boya' also known as descendants of Kirata ( _sa. किरात), a generic term in Sanskrit literature for people who lived in the mountains, particularly in the Himalayas and North-East India and who were Mongoloid in origin. They are mentioned along with Cinas (Chinese), and were different from the Nishadas. [Harvcol|Chatterji|1974|p=26] They are first mentioned in the Yajurveda ("Shukla" XXX.16; "Krisha" III.4,12,1), and in the Atharvaveda (X.4,14) .

In Manu's Dharmashastra (X.44) they are mentioned as Vratya (Non-Orthodox) Kshatriyas, which meant that they were considered to be advanced in civilization and warfare, [Harvcol|Chatterji|1974|p=28] but outside the ambit of Brahminical influence. It is speculated that the term is a Sanskritization of a Sino-Tibetan tribal name, like that of Kirant or Kiranti of eastern Nepal. [Harvcol|Chatterji|1974|p=28]

Mythology gives an indication of their geographical position of Kirata kingdom near Nepal and Bhutan. In the Mahabharata, Bhima meets the Kiratas to the east of Videha, where his son Ghatotkacha is born; and in general the dwellers of the Himalayas, especially the eastern Himalayas, were called Kiratas. [Harvcol|Chatterji|1974|p=30] In general they are mentioned as "gold-like", or yellow, unlike the Nishadas or the Dasas, who were dark. Ghatotkacha of Mahabharata fame (Son of Bhima) was a Kirata Chieftain [Harvcol|Chatterji|1974|p=31]

Kiratas are described in the Kirata-Parva and Vana-Parva of Mahabharata and they were considered so powerful that even Lord Shiva is said to have taken the form of a Kirata. Kiratas and Shakas were considered to be Kshatriyas of good birth, according to Mahabharat. These communities were included among the suryavamshi or chandravamshi kshatriyas in the wake of battle.

Etymology

The meaning of the word 'Boya' is a 'hill tribe' a mongoloid warrior. Boya to some is of Turkic origin and it is composed of the roots "boy"("tribe") and "ar" ("pride/honour") or "ari" (pure/clean) so is 'boyari". 'Boi' in Bulgarian word is to fight Battle , Boyar could also mean 'Warrior'. Other sources claim it comes from the Russian "boyarin" (member of Boyar; the tribes who migrated from central Asia).

History

In ancient Hindu scriptures, The Himalayas is referred as the "Kirant Desh" or "the Land of Kirants".

Kiratas or Kirants were indigenous people of Mongolian race with stout and short stature, high cheekbones, flat noses, narrow black eyes and thin moustaches and beards. They were brave and doughty warriors and very deft archers. Before the advent of the Kirants, there were Ahir and Abhir rule in the valley. Yalambar, the first Kirant King, overthrew the last king of Abhir dynasty Bhuban Shima. Thus, after defeating the last ruler of Abhir dynasty, Yalambar laid the foundation of the Kirat dynasty that lasted for about 1225 years. When Kirants occupied the valley, they made Matatirtha their capital. The Kirant kingdom during the rule of Yalambar had extended to Tista in the East and Trisidi in the West. It is said Yalambar had gone to witness the battle of Mahabharata between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He was so brave and powerful that Lord Krishna beheaded him prior to the battle suspecting he might fight for the Kauravas. The Kirants revere him as the God King. In the chronicle of Banasawali, William Kirk Patrick mentions that 'the Kirat rule existed from about 900 BC to 300 BC. During this long period, altogether 29 Kirat Kings ruled over the country'.

The twenty-nine Kings were : 1.Yalambar 2.Pari 3. Skandhar 4.Balamba 5.Hriti 6.Humati 7.Jitedasti 8.Galinja 9.Oysgja 10.Suyarma 11.Papa 12.Bunka 13.Swawnanda 14.Sthunko 15.Jinghri 16.Nane 17.Luka 18.Thor 19.Thoko 20.Verma 21.Guja 21.Guja 22.Pushkar 23.Kkeshu 24.Suja 25.Sansa 26.Gunam 27.Khimbu 28.Patuka 29.Gasti.

It was during the rule of Jitedasti, the 7th Kirant king, Lord Gautama Buddha visited the valley with his several disciples. He visited the holy places of Swayambhu, Suheswari, etc and preached his religious gospels. Kirants in the valley refused to follow his doctrine, but welcomed Lord Buddha and his disciples. It is also said that King Jitedasti had helped the Pandavas in the battle of Mahabharata. It shows, of course, a historical anachronism; because according to another legend, the battle Mahabharata had taken place during the regime of King Yalambar.

During the rule of the 4th Kirant King Sthunko about 2250 BC, the Indian Emperor Ashoka had his inspections engraved on rocks and a stone-pillar. The pillar known as Ashoka-pillar still stands in Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha.

Emperor Ashoka also came to the Kathmandu Valley later. His daughter Princess Charumati accompanied him. During his stay in the valley, he built four stupas in four directions and one in the centre of Patan. These monuments speak of the historical fact of Ashoka's visit to the valley. Another fact is he arranged his daughter Charumati's marriage with a local young Prince named Devpal. Prince Devpal and his consort Charumati lived at Chabahil, near the Pashupatinath temple area. Later, Charumati built the touss of Devpatan after the death of her husband in his memory. Charumati who later on became a nun also got erected a convent where she resided and practiced doctrines of Lord Buddha.

Buddhism, thus entered Nepal and flourished during the liberal rule of the Kirant dynasty. Like Buddhism, another religious doctrine Jainism was being preached the same time by Mahavir Jain in India. In this regard, Bhadrabhau, a disciple of Mahavir Jain came to Nepal in about 300 BC when the 17th Kirant king Jinghri was ruling. But comparatively, Jainism could not gain popularity like Buddhism in Nepal.

When the 28th Kirant King Paruka was ruling in the valley, the Somvamshi ruler attacked his regime many times from the west. Although he successfully repelled their attacks, he was forced to move to Shankhamul from Gokarna. He had built a Royal Palace called "Patuka" there for himself. The Patuka Palace is no more to be seen, except its ruins in the form of mound. "Patuka" had changed Shankhamul into a beautiful town. The last King of the Kirant dynasty was Gasti. He proved to be a weak ruler and was overthrown by the Somvamshi ruler Nimisha. It brought to the end of the powerful Kirant dynasty that had lasted for about 1225 years.

After their defeat, Kirants moved to the eastern hills of Nepal and settled down divided into small principalities. Their settlements were divided into three regions; namely, "Wallo-Kirant" or "near Kirant" that lied to the East of Kathmandu, "Majh-Kirant" or "central Kirant" and "Pallo-Kirant" that lied to the far east of the Kathmandu valley. These regions are still heavily populated by Kirants. Many Kirant people moved to Indus valley in 300 BCE in search of advanced civilization, where they were called as 'Boya' ( meaning : mountaineers / hunters / warriors).

In South India

The Boya warriors migrated from Indus valley after saraswathi river dried up and invaded several mountainous regions in south-eastern peninsula near Orissa-Andhra region. The original population of Boyas was mixed with various linguistic groups. These Boya warriors served as military regiment and chiefs between 10th century to 15th century in Chalukya, Chola, Vijayanagar and Hoysala empires.

In Europe around 5th century the Boyas migrated from Indus valley only to be found as prisoners of war, or else captive entertainers. Later they were inducted as soldiers. During various wars and raids they migrated into remote regions of the world and carried titles such as 'Boyari' in Turkey, 'Boyash' in Romania, Serbia and 'Boyar' in Russia and Bulgaria. Slowly they became land owners, Feudal lords and Nobles.

In India Boyas were mainly found in South India as Hindu Telugu speaking community as non-orthodox Kshatriyas. Their population concentrated mainly in the Andhra-Orissa region and later in all southern states.

Eastern Chalukyan empire’s court was essentially a Republic of Badami, and the administrative subdivisions were known as 'Boya-Kottams'. Boya-kottams existed across southern states right from 5th century according to Kakatiya inscriptions. Boya-kottams held assignments of land or revenue in different villages. Chola-Chalukyas used titles 'Udayar' or 'Odeyar' for chieftains at certain periods of time which included Boya Chieftains.

The Musunuri Nayaks were Boya and Kamma warrior chieftains in the Kakatiya army, who regained Andhra in 1326 from the Delhi Sultanate in the aftermath of the Kakatiya defeat. King Pratapa Rudra’s Kakatiya kingdom was ably served by seventy five chieftains called Nayaks. The Nayaks who belonged to various agrarian castes such as Boyar, Velama, Kamma, Reddy, Telaga, Balija, etc. were divided by mutual jealousy and rivalry but they are valiant cousins.

Boyar Gudi at Aihole-Pattadakal (South East of the Village) was built in 14th Century for the Boyar community worship. Many more temples were constructed in Andhra-Orissa region by Boya Chieftains.

The Chitradurga Paleyagar family was of the Beda or Boya caste and belonged to one of the hill tribes family who subsisted by hunting. According to one tradition, it appears that three Boya families emigrated from Jadikal-durga, in the neighbourhood of Tirupati, and settled at Nirutadi near Bramhasagara about 1475. They are said to have belonged to the Kamageti family and Valmiki gotra. The son and the grand­son of one of these, named Hire Hanummappa Nayaka and Timmanna Nayaka respectively. There were many battles in the reign of this Nayaka between Chitradurga and Harapanahalli, Rayadurga and Bijapur in all of which the Nayaka had splendid success.

Sri Krishnadevaraya was ruling over the Vijayanagar empire from 1509 A.D to 1529 A.D. Very well-known nayakas in Vijayanagar army was 'Boya Ramappa' and 'Tipparaju', the Boya chief of Vulivendakonda and the polegars of Kotakonda-Kappatralla. This was in about 1562 A.D.

About 1517, Chitradurga Fort was given by Vijayanagar ruler to Boya chief. It became a tributary to Bijapur after fall of Vijayanagar. There were portraits of ‘A Boya of Rank’ a member of the royal caste (related to royal family) of Chitradurga Nayaks was documented by Colin Mackenzie.

These princes and Boya chiefs were invariably valorous in battle, merciful and generous to their enemies, wise and discreet in their administration, far-sighted in their policy, thoroughly religious and orthodox in their belief and liberal to a fault. These powerful chieftains had some French engineers in their service and built very strong fortresses and other works of public utility as the standing monuments of their glory.

Rayadurg and Kalyandurg are the two important forts which were ruled by Boya Palegars. The name Kalyandurg came from Boya Kalyanappa, who was a Polygar in the 16th Century. Rayadurg was originally a stronghold of Boyar palegar who were very turbulent during the Vijayanagar rule. Kalyandurg was under the rule of Sri Krishnadevaraya and was a part of Vijayanagara Empire.

In 1786 Harapanahalli a town in Bellary District was in possession of a powerful Poligar of the Boya caste. One of the descendants married a daughter of Poligar of chitradurga. The Poligars at different times paid tribute to the Nizam, to Morari Rao of Gooty and to the Peshwa. The fort is deserted and now in ruins.

Later in 17th century Boyars distinguished themselves as smiths, sculptors, nobles, leaders, priests, landlords, temple sculptors, arm traders, and seafarers.

British Era

As the fall of the Vijayanagar empire was followed by conflict between the British Indian rulers and the rulers of Hyderabad and Mysore, much of which took place over the Rayalaseema districts, the warlords as well as any villager who could gather an armed group around him carried a double premium: the battling armies wooed them, and the local people too needed their help to protect them against the marauding soldiers from outside the region. At the end, by the time the British brought the entire region into their control by the beginning of the 19th century, there was left this residue of a social practice: men of the dominant sections would gather an armed gang around them to assert their power, enforce their writ in the village and fight off challengers to their power over society. While the polegars were mostly of non-cultivating communities such as boya and patra, the practice of establishing dominance and exercising power through the force of armed gangs became a characteristic feature of powerful landed communities, generically described as kapu (husbandsman) but mainly of the reddy caste in recent decades. The British, who successfully put an end to the polegars by a carrot-and-stick policy, found to their dismay that this residue continued to disturb their notion of rule of law. They christened these gangs 'village factions', a name that continues to be used to this day.

Caste Hierarchy in Kakatiya society

According to a medieval inscription in kakatiya kingdom there was considerable fluidity among half of the male titled population.

An analysis of the variations listed confirms the existence of distinct social classes within which specific sets of titles circulated. One set are the secular 'Brahmans' who used titles 'pregada', 'mantri' and 'raju' interchangeably. Only once did a person whose father have another status title 'Boya' entered into this exclusive category. A circumscribed royal or noble class in which the titles 'maharaja' and 'raju' rotated can also be distinguished. Two sons of 'nayakas' were able to be in this group, however ‘setti’ (merchants-artisans) formed another fairly restricted set, with just one case of crossover (a 'setti' father with 'boya' son). The most fluid of all were 'reddi', 'boya' and 'nayaka' categories. 'Nayaka' and 'Lenka' (kamma) fathers could have 'reddi' offspring, while 'nayaka' could come from 'reddi', 'boya' or 'kamupati' (Head of army) families.

The transversing of boundaries between these status groups also characterizes female donors in inscriptions. A woman whose father was a 'nayaka' but who was married to a 'reddi'. Another had 'nayaka' husband but was the daughter of a 'boya'. A third woman was the sister of 'nayaka' and wife of 'reddi'. Marriage patterns indicate much interchange among members of the 'nayaka', 'reddi' and 'boya' status. Additionally, several 'nayaka' daughters became the wives of 'rajus', 'maharajah' and 'rautus' or 'rao's'.

Inscriptions from Kakatiya through Vijayanagar period in Andhra suggests an even more complicated picture in which occupational identity, an important component of caste, also played major role in the construction of social identities in ways that crosscut heredity. Thus the title ‘setti’ was used to identify diverse merchants and artisan communities across the south, while ‘Boya’ was as generic title that indicated herder, warrior and Chieftain. Today 'setti' are called as 'Shetty', 'chetty' and 'chettiar'.

Boya sub-titles as Bedar / Ramoshi / Nayak / Palegar

According to Rajguru of Sholapur princely state, Berads or Boyas come from Tamil Nadu migrating to Karnataka during Vijaynagar rule. Names of 14 ancestors are known to him but not whereabouts. The last was 'goshti pid nayaka', a contemporary of Shivaji Maharaj. This means the history dates back to 800 years from Shivaji's known date of 1630. Epigraphs of 8th to 11th century mentioning 'Boya - Beda', as they were from the Hunter - warrior community who were called as 'Nayaks'.

During Vijaynagar rule, these Nayak kings were assigned duty of protecting province of Tungabhadra. After of fall of Vijaynagar, the kings of Sholapur became independent. They only came under Bijapur court for name sake. But the Bijapur court was always afraid of Berad Nayak Kings.

Later, during Maratha - Moghul conflict, Nayak kings played important role. After fall of Sambhaji and migration of Rajaram to Gingee, Moghul-Maratha conflict spread from Narmada to Tamil Nadu and from east to west coast. Moghul Emperors realized they were fighting with a hurt identity in 1695. But it was not possible to turn back. During this conflict, Berad Nayaks played an important role. The families of all important Maratha Sardars and their treasury was in Vagana-gera (or Wakin-kheda), the capital of these Nayak kings. Therefore, King Aurangzeb had to fight his last battle of his life against Berad Nayaks of Vagana-gera during 1705 - 06.

Today's Ramoshi in Maharashtra was earlier called as Boya, Berad and Vedan. In Andhra it was called Boya and in Karnataka and Tamilnadu it was called Berad and Bedar. Ramoshis of Maharashtra have come from mostly Karnataka and their surnames are same as Berad-Ramoshi of Karnataka. Their original language is southern. They first got settled in Karnataka and later migrated to Maharashtra. Word 'Bhuyal' in Berad's language seems to have originated from Boya. Though it is known in Maharashtra as Ramoshi-Berad, the name 'Ramoshi' is not older than 100-200 years.

1. Maharashtra -- Ramoshis are Berads or Boyas. Ramoshi did not originate from 'Ram vamshi'. It is in use only for 200 years. Before that, they were called Boya, Berad or Bedar, as mentioned during rule of Peshavas.

2. Andhra Pradesh -- Boya, Dorabiddu and Nayakalu are the names in vogue. Dorabiddu means sons of Sardars. Boya consider themselves as sons of Sardars.

3. Karnataka -- Names Berad and Bedar are in vogue. Bedar was word used by Muslims either to show the dauntless quality or may be inability to pronounce properly. Muslim books use word Bedar.

4. Tamil nadu -- Boyar, Naiker and Naidu are in vogue. Boyars were revenue collectors of villages and towns. Also there occupation was to maintain local armies.

The Boya titles was split into Berad, Bedar, Nayak, Talwar, Nayakwadi, Nayakar, Valmiki nayak, Palegar etc. each having distinctive meaning.

1. "Nayak and Nayakar" - During Kakatiya and Vijayanagar rules in Andhra a head of a region was called Nayak, and traditional 'vatandars' were called Nayakar. Akin to Deshmukh and Desais in Maharashtra, were Palegar and Nayakars. Many Berads became Palegar on their own bravery. Nayak in Telugu means Owner or Head. Maybe this is origin of word.

2." Nayakwadi" - was the title of 'Killedar'. Those protecting outer walls of forts were called 'Nayakvadi'.

3. "Talwar / Taliari / Talari" - was name of Soldiers , Guards and Revenue collectors. For village policing, carrying the land revenue to treasury headquarters, the workers had to bear arms, so called 'Talwar' meaning sword.

4. "Ganga Naik / Gangawaru" - was the title given for Nayaks of Ganga Dynasty.

5. "Boya Palaiyakkarar (Polygar)" - who was to administrate their Palaiyams (territories) from their fortified centers. Their chief function was to collect taxes, maintain law and order, run the local judiciary, and maintain a battalion of troops for the Kingdom.

6. "Bhoyar / Bhoir " - having titles such as 'Mahajan' and 'Patel' is a cultivating caste residing principally in the Betul and Chhindwara Districts of central India. The Bhoyar population are not found outside Central Provinces. They claim to be the descendants of a band of 'Panwar Rajputs', who were defending the town of Dharanagri or Dhar in Central India when it was besieged by Aurangzeb. Their post was on the western part of the wall, but they gave way and fled into the town as the sun was rising, and it shone on their faces. Hence they were called Bhoyar from a word "bhor" meaning morning, because they were seen running away in the morning. They were put out of caste by the other Rajputs, and fled to the Central Provinces. The name may also be a variant of that of the 'Bhagore Rajputs'. And another derivation is from "bhora", a simple or timid person. Their claim to be immigrants from Central India is borne out by the fact that they still speak a corrupt form of the Malwi dialect of Rajputana, which is called after them 'Bhoyari', and their Bhats or genealogists come from Malwa. But they have now entirely lost their position as Rajputs.

The present Bangalore and Kolar Districts and their surrounding areas in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu were once ruled by Vokkaliga Gowdas (Okkaliyar of utkal tribe) and Reddys as Generals (Dalavayis), Boya Palegars, Vassals and Nada Gowdas under Gangas, Chalukyas, Nolambas, Rashtrakutas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagar Emperors.

Boyar in medieval Europe as Landlords and peasants

The Term 'Boyar' or Bolyar in medieval Bulgaria, Walachia and Moldovia denoted a community of the privileged upper class. The boyars were originally just military men. but as society became more settled they gradually became land holders. Boyar status did not necessarily denote great wealth, since "little" Boyars existed as well as great ones. A boyar could own just fraction of village or ten villages. Great boyars occupied the highest military and administrative offices in the state, whereas petty boyars held lesser positions. They met in an assembly of the land to discuss important matters. The sovereign, who essentially just the first among came to denote the entire landed upper class of Bulgaria and the Romanian principalities The peasants who did the actual work of farming paid boyars in crops, services, and sometimes in cash as well.

The word "Boyar" is of Turkic origin, introduced into the Balkan peninsula by the Bulgars in the 7th century. As the Turkic speaking Bulgar conquerors became Slavicized, they joined with the Slavic clan chiefs to form a single upper class known as Boyars. The Boyar word apparently entered Romania during the 9th-10th centuries when the ruling class dominated Dacia. In all of Europe, the only people who call their nobles Boyars are Bulgarians, Romanians, Lithuanians, and Serbians. These noble Boyars were very much recognized as aristocratic people. They were members of the upper stratum of medieval Russian society and state administration during the 10th–12th century. Boyars constituted the senior group in the prince's retinue (druzhina) and occupied the higher posts in the armed forces and in the civil administration. They also formed a Boyar council, or "Duma", which advised the prince in important matters of state.

Other References

Kirata or Kirant of Himalayas

In ancient times, the entire Himalayan region was known as the kimpurusha desha, a phrase derived from a Sanskrit term used to identify people of Kirant origin. These people were also known as nep, to which the name nepala is believed to have an etymological link. The earliest references to the Kirant as principal inhabitants of the Himalayan region are found in the texts of Atharvashirsha and Mahabharata, believed to date to before the 9th century BC. For over a millennium, the Kirant had also inhabited the Kathmandu Valley, where they installed their own ruling dynasty. This kirant population in the valley, along with original Austro-Asiatic and mongoloid settlers form the base for later Newar population. As time passed, however, those Kirant, now known as the Limbu settled mostly in the Koshi region of present-day eastern Nepal and Sikkim, their Land east of Arun River and west of Mechi river is called Limbuwan.

Kirant refers to the Kiranti group or a Kirata confederation that includes the Limbu, Rai, Yakkha and Sunuwar ethnic groups of Nepal. They were the earliest inhabitants of Nepal. The Kirant follow their own religion, Kirant Mundhum which is distinct from Hinduism and Buddhism. Their holy book is the Mundhum.

Kirant Rai people believe in a supreme male deity, Paruhang, and a supreme female deity, Sumnima. Other deities they worship include Sakela, Sakle, Toshi, Sakewa, Saleladi Bhummidev, Chyabrung, Yokwa, Folsadar and Goddess Chandi.

Kirant Limbu ( meaning : archer) people believe in Supreme God Tagera Ningwaphuma, who is also known as the supreme knowledge. Ancestor Goddess Yuma Sammang and God of War Theba Sammang are second most important deities. Limbu Clans and Tribes are said to be divided into the Lhasa gotra (those from Lhasa, Tibet) and Kashi gotra, those who come from the Benaras.

Kirata were believed to be from Lunar race, the neolithic stones was associated with cult of fertility, Ancestor of worship, Theory of sacrifice and worship of Phallus (Shiva Lingam). Yoni later associated with saivate and shakti cults in Hinduism. One of the remarkable facts, which has not received recognition from authorities is that of Kiratas religious doctrines and artistic ideas associated with megalithic cultures is greatly inspired by Jain, Buddhism, Hindu religion with philosophy and art.

Kirata tribes worshipped the goddess Chandika, yet another manifestation of Shiva's wife Durga, more fearsome form of goddess being responsible for the destruction of buffalo-demon Mahishasura. The Devi Mahatmya, one of the more important sources on mother goddess cult, suggests an eastern if not Tibetan origin for the birth of goddess Chandi had been absorbed into classical Hinduism. In fact, a substantial part of Hinduism itself had undergone transformation with popularity of the Shakti cults and tantricism. Down the south region it is worshipped as 'Amma' in Sri Boya Konda Gangamma Temple at Diguvapalle, Chittoor.

Religious text references

In Yoga Vasistha 1.15.5 Rama speaks of "kirateneva vagura", "a trap [laid] by Kiratas", so about BCE Xth Century, they were thought of as jungle trappers, the ones who dug pits to capture roving deer. The same text also speaks of King Suraghu, the head of the Kiratas who is a friend of the Persian King, 'Parigha'.

Boyas or Bedars were none other than Vanaras of Kishkinta kingdom of Ramayana times in South India. These were the vanara warriors who were controlled by Sri Rama in the war against Demon Ravana of Srilanka to rescue Sita. Boya and Valmiki are the names in vogue. Boya consider themselves as descendents of 'Valmiki' a Sanskrit writer.

The most famous Kiratas in Hinduism are the Kiratra avatar of Shiva, Lord Buddha and sage Valmiki, writer of the Ramayana.

Lord Shiva disguised as Boya hunter

Boya hunter is the only form of Lord Shiva in which He appeared black in color. Arjuna wanted to get the peerless weapon pasupatastram from Lord Shiva for the battle of mahabharata. He left the other four pandavas, went to the forest and did austere tapas for getting the boon of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was satisfied with his prayer, wanted to give the pasupatastram to him, but wanted to play a bit too. He took the form of a Hunter with Shakthi as Huntress. That time a demon by name mukasura, who was in the form of wild pig came to kill arjuna. To kill the wild pig arjuna fired an arrow from the front, at the same time the Hunter, Who is none other than God Himself, attacked it from the back and killed the pig. Arjuna mocked at the Hunter for firing the arrow from the back. Having great pride of his valor, he was angry at the Hunter because He aimed at his prey. The Hunter responded that attacking an animal from the back is not against rules of hunting. An argument broke out. They decided to fight deciding who was more valorous between them. The Hunter cut the string in arjuna's bow with His arrow in the fight! Angered and excited, arjuna started wrestling. He couldn't match the Lord, and the Lord enjoyed his fighting. At one point of time in wrestling arjuna held the foot of the Hunter. As the Lord is pleased when somebody catches His holy feet, He stopped wrestling appeared with parvati revealing Who He is. Shocked arjuna pleaded for forgiveness, as he was trying to fight with the Supreme out of his ignorance. However the God, Who is pleased by devotion, blessed him and gave him the invincible pasupatastra. (In some books it is told that arjuna couldn't fight with the Hunter, he started worshipping the Shiva Lingam. To his astonishment he found the flowers he offered to the Lingam on the head of the Hunter. Then he prostrated before the Hunter and the Lord revealed Himself). This can be found in detail in ‘Kiratarjuniyam of bharavi’ and Mahabharata.

Vijayeswara Swami Temple - The Vijayeswara temple is set on the Indrakiladri hill in Vijayawada. The installation of Vijayeswara is said to have been done by Arjuna, to commemorate his victory with Lord Shiva in the form of 'Kirata' (hunter).

Lord Shiva and a Boya devotee in Skanda purana

Siva who dwelled in Kailasa (Kailas range in Tibet) is mentioned as assuming the disguise of a Kirata and fighting with Arjuna in high-Himalayas (3-39,49). Siva sometimes assumes the form of Kiratas, Pisachas and Savaras, or that of any exotic tribes (13,14)

A Boya Hunter who owed money to his King went to the forest for hunting without paying his debt. There he set up traps and waited on the top of a tree. While waiting, he plucked the leaves and dropped them below. As time passed, four deers were trapped in the net and the Hunter was about to kill them. At that time, they all pleaded to let them off for that day and promised to return the next day. The Boya Hunter obliged their request and the animals returned the next day exactly as promised. The Boya Hunter was shocked and was so impressed with their honesty. But at the same time was ashamed of himself, since he left the kingdom without paying his debt to the King. Years later, the Boya Hunter died and his soul reached Kailasa. He wondered how he got there. A voice appeared and told him that he unknowingly plucked Bilva leaves from the tree and dropped them on the Shiva Lingam below all night without taking any food or water on a Shivarathri night, and thus made it to Kailasa(Heaven). Such was the power of worshipping the most merciful and generous Sarveshwara on Shivarathri. One can get salvation of Moksha by staying awake on Shivarathri night and worshipping Lord Shiva knowingly or even unknowingly !

Boya Kannapa or Kannappa Nayanar

'Boya Tinnadu' who is also known as 'Bhakta Kannappa' is one of the Alwars in Shaivism. A youth from Boya caste became a great devotee of shiva and attained such eminence as to join the galaxy of Nayanars. There stands a shrine for this great Bhakta in the magnificent temple at Sri Kalahasti on banks of Swarnamukhi river.

The Boya cave Temple in Thailand

In early 6 century AD. the belief in Hinduism was widespread in this South East Asia. Vishnu and Krishna sculptures were discovered there. The encounter of sculptures is the indication of Hinduism influence which includes the belief in Siva-linga in the society. This belief was transmitted from ancient Khmer to Thailand through the northeastern route. So it is not unusual that in this modern day to find Shiva still being worshiped as in the Boya cave.

Guhesvara is a name of Shiva, and means Lord of the Caves. Siva lived in a cave in the Himalayas on Mt Kailasa so his presence within a cave is a way to pay respects to Lord Shiva. In Wat Tham Boya in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand. The cave is known as Boya Cave and is located in Khao Luang Forest Park which has a large out cropping of lime stone hills, which are filled with many caverns. Wat Tham Boya sits at the base of one of these hills with a very long stair case which ascends the steep hill and finally reaches the entrance to Boya cave.

War Tactics of Boya warriors

The Boya were inducted into the armies of the Vijayanagar empire because of their skills in archery. They used various kinds of bows and arrows including bullet arrows. They used two type of arrows The ‘potu ammu’ (male arrow) for smaller range targets and the ‘penti ammu’ (female arrow) for longer range targets. Also newer techniques was incorporated with the use of spears and sharp weapons which was used only in hunting games.

Inscriptions about boyas

Boyas often appear in kakatiya-period inscriptions as the persons who are entrusted with livestock endowed to temples and Military chieftains. The meaning of boya has changed considerably over time.

During the 7th century various inscriptions from South India mentions the Boya Brahmans, the Boyas otherwise being described as a warrior/ hunter caste. It appears appended to village place names as an alternative designation for Brahman recipients of religious grants. It may have either meant "resident" or denoted a particular village office.

During Vijayanagar period women incorporated the status titles of their husband into their names as with 'Peda Potana Boyusani', the wife of 'Peda Potana Boya' the Aristocratic class. By 18th century, the label 'Boya' was used for Telugu speaking community in the Kurnool-Ananthpur region, resembling the Kannada speaking Bedars, who were associated with hunting and often served in local armies.

Boya as Non-Orthodox Kshatriyas

According to Manu's script several foreign tribes found refuge within the fourth varna, once they became part of Hindu society. Thus Manu has described large number of castes as being fallen or Vratyas did not confirm exactly to the codes set for conduct of the orthodox varnas. The Vratya Kshatriya were Dravida, Kamboja, Kirata, Odra, etc as these communities were considered as Non-orthodox.

Tradition and Culture

As per Hindu tradition the following rituals are compulsory,

Namakarana (Naming ceremony)
Karnavedha (Ear-boring ceremony)
Annaprashana (First solid food-feeding)
Chudakarana (Tonsure; removing impure hair)
Vidyarambha (Teaching alphabets)
Vivaha (Marriage)
Antyeshti (Last or funeral rites)

Boyar caste consists of many Boyar gotras. Gotras are used as surnames in Andhra region. Marriage by members of the same gotra is traditionally prohibited. The custom is intended to prevent inbreeding as well as to broaden the influence of each gotra through marriage alliances.

A traditional wedding went into many days in the past. Recently most weddings take place in about 2 days. Each part is usually performed in the presence of a Hindu Priest who chants Sanskrit slokas. Main point of a typical wedding is the tying of Mangalsutra - a small gold ornament (the design can vary based on a number of factors - caste, region, community and family tradition) tied in a yellow thread or strung in a Gold, silver or beaded chain on the neck of the Bride. She will retain this until the end of her life or her spouse's.

Panigrahanam the bride's hand is held in a ceremony, Pratigna Karanam exchanging of solemn vows, Parikrama - circumambulation of the Holy Fire or Agni and Saptapathi or visualizing Arundathi are all part of the elaborate ritualistic traditional south Indian Weddings. At the end, there is a grand lunch offered to the guests.

Boyar worship Tirupati Lord Venkateshwara, Shiva, Subramanya, Mariamman, etc.

Boyar Gotras

Gotra is a term applied to an ancestor or an originator through whom a particular family, rather a race of humans have been originated. A Gotra is the lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth. In most cases, the system is patrilineal and the gotra assigned is the gotra of the person's father.

Lineage segment within an Indian caste, indicating common descent from a mythical ancestor. Marriage by members of the same gotra is traditionally prohibited. The custom is intended to prevent inbreeding as well as to broaden the influence of each gotra through marriage alliances.

A common mistake is to consider gotra to be synonymous with cult or 'Kula'. A 'kula' is basically a set of people following similar rituals, often worshipping the same God (the Kula-Devata - the God of the cult). Kula has nothing to do with lineage or caste. In fact, it is possible to change one's Kula, based on his faith or ista devtha.

For example : 'Uppu Kulam' Bride groom's Kula Devatha is 'Lord Venkateshwara' whereas they wed 'Karumbu kulam' bride which has 'Amman' as Kula devatha.

Boyar caste consist several Gotras(Kulams) which has same meaning in Telugu and Tamil language. These gotras are believed to be shared from Kapu (caste).

Gotras in Telugu

Alkunte vaaru
Boorasu vaaru
Cheruku vaaru( Sugar )
Dyarangollu vaaru
Idikotta vaaru
Jadabilla vaaru
Gunjal or Kunchap vaaru
Peetalu vaaru( Strength )
Pasupu vaaru( Turmeric )
Rajulu vaaru( Prince )
Sema vaaru
Dandalu vaaru( Stick )
Thepta vaaru
Upputolla vaaru( Salt )
Vallapu vaaru
Vemulu vaaru( Neem )

Gotras in Tamil

Aalam Kulam ( Banyan Tree )
Eecham Kulam ( Palymra Tree )
Dhandam Kulam ( Stick )
Dyarangam Kulam
Karumbu Kulam ( Sugar cane )
Komali Kulam ( Clown )
Manjal Kulam ( Turmeric )
Nallam Kulam ( Good )
Poosam Kulam
Raja Kulam ( Prince )
Raasi Kulam ( Luck )
Semavar Kulam
Theku Kulam ( Teak Tree)
Vembu Kulam ( Neem Tree)
Uppu Kulam ( salt )

Boyar Caste Titles

* Boya / Boyan / Boyar
* Boya Naidu / Nayakar / Nayaka / Naicken
* Boya Palegar / Palaiyakkarar / Palegara
* Talwar-Boya / Talari Boya / Taliari Boya

Naidu Title

The Naidu or Nayudu is a title used by many Telugu speaking community like Balija, Bestha, Boya, Gavara, Golla, Kapu, Mutracha and Velama. A Tamilian, when speaking of a Telugu person bearing this title, would call him Naiker or Naicken instead of Naidu. However, Naidu essentially refers to Balija, Gavara and Kamma. Naidu is a community concentrated in the Vishakapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.

Boyar sub-castes

The Boyar caste is the oldest caste. There are many divisions and sub-divisions in Boya communities and in course of time many sub-communities and sub-groups have come out their tribal boundaries and have mingled with the on-coming communities namely Kshatriyas and Brahmins as well as business community (Vaishyas) brought in by the ruling dynasty from both/or South and North as explained in Kakatiya society.

'Boya brahmins' of Andhra Pradesh were once Kshatriya, and before that a wild tribe and later they adopted priestly functions and became Brahmana only in the last century. (See Proceedings of Indian History Congress, Millennium session 2000, Kolkata session). Holalkere was an important Jain settlement in 10th century. The present town seems to have been founded in 14th century by 'Boya gauda', under the protection of Chief Doddanna Nayak.

‘Vada Balija’ a subcaste of the Balija based in Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and E. Godavari dist., a community of sea-faring traders and merchants. Some sections of Boya, Gangaputra, Agnikula Kshatriya castes consider themselves as part of Mudiraj community in some regions of Andhra Pradesh.

'Viswa Karma Boyar' community at Okkarai Village in between Thurayur and Sobanapuram 70 off km Tiruchy in Tamil Nadu are experts in Stone carving, the craftsmen community could be settled more than two centuries ago, are specialised in the making of wooden temple cars. The artistic and brilliant panels containing figures of Gods and Goddess, which adorn the great temple cars are made and distributed to various temple in the region.

Boya sub-castes and gotra can also be found in Lingayath, Gowda, Gounder, Reddy, Kuruba, Kunbi, Bestar, Kamma, Rajus, Kapus, Mudhaliyar and Chettiyar communities.

Other Sub-Groups

During the medieval times, the state corresponding roughly with now-a-days Orissa passed under the various names such as: Utkala, Kalinga, and Odra (Udra) Desa. The state boundaries varied from time to time and were sometimes much larger. These land names are associated with peoples. The Okkala (Okkaliar), or Utkala , the Kalinga, and the Odra or Oddaka were mentioned in literature as tribes. Ancient Greeks knew the latter two as Kalingai and Oretes. Eventually the names got identified with the territories. The land was inhabited by semi-Hinduized tribes (shabaras) in the hinterland, a group of farming Brahmins (halua brahmuna) who practised invincible Tantra method near Jajpur area (the place of Goddess Biraja), and people of other castes and trades as well. For centuries before and after the birth of Christ, Kalinga was a formidable political power, extending from the Ganga river to the Godavari river. Approximately between the 11th and 16th centuries the name was twisted; the name Odra Desh was gradually transformed into Uddisa, Udisa, or Odisa, which in English became Orissa. The language of Odisa came to be known as Oriya. The important Deity of Odes is 'Jasma devi'.

The Ode tribes migrated to Gujarat around 12th century for construction of temples in which they are more specialized. People who supplied stone and lime for construction work of Temples, Tanks and wells were termed as Bovi, Oddar, Vaddera, Uppara, sagara and Waddar in Andhra, Tamil nadu and Karnataka. The word 'Bhovi' is a corrupt form of 'Bhavi' which means 'well' in Kannada, it also means 'earth-digger'. They have been involved in the digging of wells. There is a confusion of 'Boya' a 'Kshatriya' caste and 'Bovi' a 'shudra' caste mix-up there is no proper evidence in which period this has taken place, but some gotras are common. Many castes in Andhra pradesh have shared common gotras. This may be one of the reason for mix-up in remote regions in different periods. Thus various irrelevant castes has become sub-caste of Boya.

These may be part of Boyar communities also a sub-caste of other caste or community and some have common gotras / surname through out India.

* Bhoi / Bhoir
* Bhoyi / Boyi
* Bhovi / Bovi
* Bhoyar / Bhuyal
* Beda / Beldar / Bedar / Bendar / Bendre
* Chauhan / Chavan
* Odde / Ode / Oudh
* Odde Raju
* Pawar / Powar
* Setti
* Vadde / Vaddera / Vaddi
* Vadde Raju
* Vada Balija
* Vadde Reddy
* Vettuvan / Vettaikarar
* Vettai Gounder
* Vedar / Vedan
* Waddar / Wadkar

Epics

* The Story of Jasma Devi
* The Story of Kannappa Nayanar ( Bhakta Kannappa)
* The Story of Nayakas of Chitradurga Paleyagar family and Madakari Nayaka

Boyar Today

The people of warrior race who were the erstwhile professional warriors lost their identity with the collapse of powerful local kingdoms. Those warrior soldiers who managed to retain their control over large tracts of lands became zamindars, administrators, farmers, etc. The rest of them were gradually forced to become Backward class ( BC ) people without any fixed / organized profession in their hands.

Boya / Boyar caste comes under OBC in Central List. In Tamil Nadu as OBC. Andhra Pradesh as BC ( Group 'A') and Karnataka as BC ( Category I ).

Today an estimated population of Boyar community is more than 15 million spread throughout India and other countries. Comprising State leaders, Administrative officers, Politicians, Scientists, Entrepreneurs, Industrialists, Financiers, Doctors , Accountants, Lawyers, Professionals, Engineers, Academicians, Businessmen and Traders. Diversified in various professions with average to high income, dwelling in all cities.

Associations

Boyar Sangam in Tamil Nadu
Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Madurai, Trichy, Salem, Tiruppur and Pollachi.

References & Sources

* Kingdoms of Ancient India
* Exotic Tribes of Ancient India
* Castes And Tribes of Southern India By Edgar Thruston
* Castes And Tribes of Nizam Dominions By Syed Siraj Ul Hassan
* [http://evolutsioon.ut.ee/publications/Bamshad2001.pdf Genetic Evidence on Caste Origins]
* [http://www.odi.org.uk/livelihoodoptions/papers/wp179.pdf#search='caste%2C%20class%2C%20and%20social%20articulation' Caste & Class Articulation of Andhra Pradesh]
* Gazetteer of Mysore By B. L. Rice
* Encyclopedia of Indian Tribes By Shyam Singh Shashi
* Precolonial India in Practice By Cynthia Talbot
* Kiratas in Ancient India By G. P Singh
* Criminal Tribes of India By Dr. K. Jamnadas

References


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