Kamma is a dominant caste (community) mainly from the state Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Tamil Nadu in southern India. They are also referred to as Kamma Naidus or Kammavar Naidus in the southern parts of the state and neighboring Tamilnadu state, and as Choudharys in coastal AP. There are significant numbers of this community members in Chennai (Madras) and neighboring districts Coimbatore, Madurai (Sivakasi), Tirunelveli, Theni, Tutucorin Districts of Tamil Nadu and Bangalore as well. In the late decades of last century some of them migrated to other parts of the world, particularly to the US, UK and Australia.
Modern Kammas are an enterprising and hardworking community, considered as one of the prosperous communities in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Kammas are politically very active in Andhra Pradesh especially in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. Their presence is particularly strong in politics, business, media, movies, industry and education. They are generally found in roles ranging from large scale industrialists to small business entrepreneurs. Many kammas in villages of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are land owners and agriculturists. Their rise makes for an absorbing reading in history of India owing to the small percentage of Kammas in the state. The factors behind their success have been noted to be their generally enterprising nature and diligence. The Kammas can legitimately claim the credit for introducing modern agricultural techniques in the state. Today, some of the most efficient and professional institutions in the state are run by the Kamaas.
There are many theories about the origins of the word "Kamma" and the social group known as Kammas but none is conclusive. One such theory is that the people who lived in the Krishna valley, where Buddhism prevailed, got the name from Theravada Buddhist concept of Kamma (Pali) or Karma (Sanskrit). This region was once known as Kammarashtram / Kammakaraatam / Kammanadu.
Avadh Bihari Lal Avasthi comments on the above references as follows: We find Kambhi, Kamma, Kumbhi etc castes in South India. There is also a famous city Koimb-toor. Possibly, there has also been a Kamboja country in Southern India. 2. The Kambojas in west, south-west India are also attested from inscriptions of kings Sadasiva Raya of Sangama Dynasty (1336-1478), Harihara, Bukka & Deva Raya of Narasinga Dynasty (1496-1567), and from the references of Vishnuvardhana of Hoyasala Dynasty/Mysore (of 12th century AD). 3. Inscription of 1050 AD from Mysore Tract (EC, VII SK 118) attests Trading Corporations of Nanadesa Tisaiya Yirattu Ainnurruvar which traded, among other commodities, in elephants,horses, sapphires, moonstones, pearls, rubies & other gems. The countries of trade are mostly located in middle to southern India. These corporations are stated to have trading links, among others, with the Kambhojas and Pallavas. 4. Kambhoja Raja Kathalu (Story of the king of Kambhojas) is still very popular i n Andhra Pradesh which treats the military exploits of an adventurous king of Kambhojas. The story probably refers to some historical brush of the Kambojas with the people of Andhra around Christian era.
Important components of the development of the Kamma community are:
Many Kammas in villages are not only peasants but are landlords as well. The Kamma community can also be found in large numbers in Anantapur, Chittoor, Bellary, Nizamabad, Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Khammam districts besides their significant presence in Guntur, Krishna, Godavari, Nellore and Prakasham Districts of Coastal Andhra Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu they can be found in Coimbatore, Thirunelveli, Tutucorin, Kovilpatti, Madurai, Theni, Karur, Dindigal, North Arcot and South Arcot districts.
Most of the Kamma surnames end with 'neni' denoting descent from an ancestor having title 'Nayakudu/Nayudu/Nayuni. For example, persons with surname 'Veeramachaneni' are descendants of 'Veeramacha Nayudu'. Other surnames indicate the villages to which the persons originally belonged to. Kammas use different titles in different regions such as Choudary, Rao, Naidu and Naicker. In Tamil Nadu and Southern A.P., Naidu is commonly used. Naicker is added in the areas south of Coimbatore district. However, Telugu speaking Balija and Gavara communities also add the title Naicker in Tamil Nadu. Politics:
Kammas are politically very active, especially in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. During the twentieth century a number of leaders like Prof N.G. Ranga, Gottipati Brahmaiah, and Kalluri Chandramouli took prominent roles in the national freedom movement. Several Kammas were attracted to leftist ideals and joined the Communist Party.
It was a strong political force in the state until the mid sixties. Many wealthy Kammas willingly relinquished their lands and actively worked for the land distribution reforms. This helped many landless individuals attain middle class status and brought about greater economic development of the state as a whole rather than to just one particular community. We are witnessing the benefits of this sacrifice now in the state as Andhra Pradesh has developed into an economic hub. However, their affinity towards the communist party in the early days led them to lose political clout along with the diminished influence of the Communist party throughout the world.
During the 1980s, they again played a key role in state and national politics with the inception of the Telugu Desam Party. Later, Nara Chandra Babu Naidu gave a progressive direction to Andhra Pradesh and got himself and the state global recognition. This recognition of the political and economic importance of Andhra Pradesh was manifest in the visits of American Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush.
The educated Kammas are at a crossroads today. They are trying to decide if they are an impatient, forward looking, leftist, creative, artistic, bold, young and rebellious community which does not fit into the old feudal society structure or as a prosperous, right wing, conservative, reactionary, cautious, money minded and clannish community?
This dilemma is real, and several Kammas have expressed such views. With increased global horizons, like prospering in the USA and UK and Australia it will be interesting to see what route the creative Kammas will take. Most probably there will be a split between the wealthy and not so wealthy sections, each allying with various other similar groups but overall maintaining a trend towards progressive views.
Amaravati (Vasireddy clan), Challapalli (Yarlagadda clan),Undrajavaram (Mullapudi clan),Kapileswarapuram (Bulusu clan), Rangapuram (Adusumalli clan), Muktyala (Vasireddy clan), Nayakarpatti near Madurai(Pemmasani clan), Rachuru kingdom (suryadevara clan)
Source: Wikipedia and kammavar Sangam