Garigipati Rudrayya Chowdari ENDOWMENT LECTURE - 1



Prof. (Smt.) Myneni Krishna Kumari, ANDHRA UNIVERSITY


21th Ramachendrepu I"



Prof. kl. KRISHN A KUMARI, Andhra University,

I am greatly beholden to the trustees of Dr. Garigipa ti Rudrayya Chowdari Endowment Trust for having invited me to initiate its several activities by delivering its first lectu: e, For this purpo~e, J have chosen to speak on the role of the templ es as socio ... economic institutions in Andhra region during the medieval times. This choice of the topic is not just because of my interests on the temple studies alone but is also because of the students, researchers and the elite of the place who have assembl ed here. The purpose of this is to provide a true picture of the role of the temples in the social and economic life of the people of . the medieval times, to highlight their integrating character, their importance and to create historical interest as well as awareness among the general public to preserve the temples intact for posterity. '.

Man's attitudes, behaviour and pattern of life has been influenced by religion from times immemorial. Religion has played a vital role in the life of a man ever since the days when man has become the mrn in the stric t physiological sense, i, el, even dui ins the prehistoric times. The re:igious ideas, beliefs and superstitions played a key role in the different act vi ... ties of manl.ind During the periods of early civilizations the w .irsl.ip of Mother Goddess and fertility e t


predominated the ideology of .the yeople. Since the day man began fearing and meditating upon the superpower of nature, he began to worship and admire it with an admixture of awe and reverence. It has been an important part of his daily life, hence inevitable for the fulfilment or his desires and for his blissful life here 011 earth and in Heaven. - Following his own line of thinking man attributed all his characteristic f€atures with so many super-powers to the nature, i. e., God whom man thought to be the creator of all the worlds with all its flora and fauna. In order to appeaseGod or to invoke his blessings and protee= tion, man began to make Some offerings and -sR€rif'ices after housing him in a certain place in a certain form. Thus the primary necessity of giving shelter to the God resul ted in the construction of huge temples which as time passed by; have beoorne a centre of worship and attraction.

_ _ It is. not an exaggeration if one says that ther-e was no village or town without a temple in medieval South India, as it was extensiv ly dotted with richly ornam ented temples of va tious sizes and deities. In. the sacred texts, it is mentioned that, whosoever wishes to enter the worlds that are reached by sacrificial off Gring and the perfomran of religi" ous obligations should build a temple to the . by dcing which he attains both the results of Sflcti and the performance of religious obligations.

Encouraged by this and anxious to get merit, people rangir g from the king to the ordinary person vied with each other to build templ s cI endow them with grants for their maintenance.


number and richness of the temples also speak about the importance they were given owing to the role they played in every sphere of human life. There was no part of the society left untouched by the activities of the temple. It' was the nucleus around which the village developed. Towns grew and commerce developed around famous religious centres, holy tirthas and temples. The temples controlled man's various desires . and correct ed his path to righteousness. They become the standards to measure the man's spirituality and morality. Even the the very presence of the temple in any village was treated as presence of God. Temples attracted and got al1 of man's devotion and attent jon with a special care and reverence.

During the medieval times, the temples, the centres of pilgrimage and religion have emerged as lh-e major powerful socio-economic institutions besides influencing the purity of Jife and character of the people. The temples were constructed at sacred tirthas, on the banks of the rivers, confluence of rivers or rivers and seas and on hill tops. .The large number of temples built in Andhra belong to different

,faiths of Hinduism, i.e., Saivism, Va ishnavism , Sak- . tism etc, The popular forms of Siva worshipped

during this period were Bhimesvara, Amaresvara, Tripurantaka, Kalyana Chandrasekhara, Mallesvara, Svayambhu Sri Mahadeva, Mallikarjuna, Virabhadra, Mailaradeva,- Ishta ([(amesvara, etc. Vishnu was worshipped in the forms of Gopinatha, K.esav&, nsimha, Rama, Janardana Laksgminarasimha, gopala, Yoganarasimha, Chennakesava, Sri V"_&&&'I~ swara, etc, The temples dedicated to the


Iecated at Srisailam; Tripurantakam, Draksharama Sarnalkot, . Bhimavaram, Amaravati, Palakolre, Sarpavaram, Tri,¢urantakam\ Ahobilarn, Tirupati, . Bapatla, Simlrachalar», SJlik11JlJ.rrnram and. Mu khalingam ' attracted large: number .of: people. Besides tb.~~ SiVA! and Vjshnu:t€ulp-tes, these, were some \ othcss w.biob:-'

, '.'-',~ I

were special to some coraraunities. Tb~vais:yas· .had

iheir temple; of Goddess>- VasaviiKanyaka Pararaesvari.. The-trading communities, had their own temples .dedica ted to Nagaresvara; Gauresvara.aad, Saka] esvara, The horse dealers worshipped Goddess QUIram Paramesvari byconstructinga temple' to her. 'Likewise, ' there were a good number of temples dedicated to. tbe.

village Goddesses also during .thi s period. Generally thenumber of temples grew in proportion to the size and extent of the village, and in accordance with the intensity of the charitable and religious zeal among tlie people .. The-temples were patronised by the kings, noblesand private-men and women alike. It was' a customary practice of the times to donate e~ther in

kind or in cash to the temples for- their' maintenance, for providing lamps and for conducting various ritual services, All these donations. made to the 'temples throw-a great light in understanding the, socio-economic and. structural patterns of the society. _It .is. known from the large number of epigraphs inscribed on the temple walls and pillars that the socio-eeo!\o-:

mic activities of the people of the period revolved round these religious institutions. It is (Tom these records that we know about the agrarian system,

the types of lands, cr ops grown in the fieU:ls, mo~es of revenue collection, the irrigation systems s~lal

status of the people, the divisions in the .castc sys the position of women and so on.

_ To perform its all -pervasive Tole il1- the

~Eliety." the temples required ~~'\l-ge f-inanc66, ~ whieh ai"-e _~'ply (ull;f~~M:~cl throl,lgh va-rious - d~t16flS ma<le by the kings, O(f~c:ia]-s aflei other _ prmt~ '·Ik'HvidhmlJos. ~it;h~ tna4dng such gr-ants to the _Gods <M t1ite - 1'C1n~ies eijjl~r for the mer ie .ef -the k;it1g, their parents, ~ro ... -ttter~, sisters or 'ether _relatioNs or for themselves they wish to pu:t,t-ieise it by c"diJs-ing them to be insoribeef on the _ temple walls, so that -it will be known to the other people who were not en'y eentemporsrv to them but also to those . of' the future times. White issuing such eonat-iveg.,fiflt<s, they often reeord the details of the donor and for the -sef'vice$ to whi.eh the grant is ~ade and also the d€t{d1·s regarding the type ef dsnatton. . Careful aflQtysiti of these epigraphi reveal the intimate fel_ati6nshi~ between the people of tile society and th€ t.€mfll~s.

To manage the tempJe properties received through the dona 1 ions, f or managing its affairs and to eenduet various temple . rituals and - services the temples had tiloif own funetlenares. The tempi funetieneries Include those ft!Qg· d in dministrat n of the temple, -those involed in th i pur Iy piritual

vices like eendue ing the wershlp d th people ppointed te perform th non ... p I t)y and various mi c 11 - neous s fvic08 connected with the reIJ810us du i's of the tomple. 'Maha sthanadhipati,' 'Sth nadhi - t' nd 'Kettasuvu' occupied a prlvil g d po itt n in b t ple administeatie b eause or their chief fUB tiens, To up fvis, the melBag ment of the t 'mpl~s had a ard or trustee ,kno II S

ulu'. On b h If of he tempi , the ·Sth ,~CIIIJ


tulu' received all grants and took the responsibility of uting them. The mainduty of the 'Sthanapati' was to conduct the daily rituals and occasional f'estivals to be conducted in accordance with .the principles laid down in the religious texts. Another important" office,,of the temple is its treasury.. and 'Kottaruvu' was the officer incharge of the temple :tr~asllry. The other 'officers incharge of maintaining accounts ,of the income and expenditureof the templeswere' Karanalu' and 'Karmi Karanalu'. To per-form the daily ritual services in the temples the priests, i.e., 'Pujaris' were appointed. During the medieval times not only' the persons belonging to the brahmin caste wer-e,' serving as the temple priests but also the non-brahmins, The 'Tammalas' and 'Jangamas' were officiating the temple


rituals' in some Saivite temples. By about 16th Cen-

tury A.D. as Vaisnnavism propagated by Ramanuja became dominant. the brahmins became the priests of all the Vishnu shrines.

For performing various miscellaneous and nonpriestly services in the temples both male and female persons wereemployed in large number. This. category, include the services of the people like making garlands to the Gods, cleaning of vessels, bringing water , to the temples, procuring firewood for the temple kitchen, cooking the food, gardeners, the masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, sculptors, architects, washermen, barber, musicians, dancers of the deity and so on. The activities of the people involve manual labour and vari.ous aspects of the day-to-day routine andreligious duties of the temple. For the services they render to the temples, these temple servants were paid salaries regularly in cash, besides land and shares in the tem-

ple sacred food for their maintenance. It is known to usfrom the temple records that the annual salary fix~dfor the temple priest is higher than that of the other temple functionaries. - -, . . .

. 'From the large number of endowments made to' the temples it is' observed that. the granting of donations for either the, upkeep or. maintenance of lamp donations by gifting away either 25, 50 or: 100 milk yielding animals generally referred -~-o as "inupa yedlu, enupa yedlu, enumulu.modavulu.modalu and surabhulu' to the temples was more common during l i thto i3thCenturies A.D. rather than granting the - other types of donations. The less number: of lamp donations during the subsequent perior's C0U~q havebeen either due to the large number of -temples dedicatedto the Vaishnava faith, wherein importance was given to the 'bhogas' of the God including offerings of 'tirtharm' and 'prasadam,' or due to the changing ritual prac rices in the temples,

By way of receiving liberal grants-from thepeople for its maintenance the temples amassad landed wealth and bee-arne more or less 8, state within a state with, all its administrative machinery. ' The temple lands were cultivat.,d eithc:-r through the temple management fir given to the cultivators (Kampus) under lease system for a Cf'r tain period of time for aftxed annual rent, parti .. cula rl y during 16th an-d 17th Centuries .1). Notonly the temples ~were' receiving various from thepeople, but interestingly during th vanagara period certai n endowments we by the temples to certain individuals .nd


generous grants or their 1.""~~.1~o t temples. An insori ption

MlMJllfMJa m of l( urnool Di stri et of 16th ...... ' ..... lIAd to as 'bahumanadi dharma the sev .. !'al tt'mplt' honours and mpl sadam' gre.nted to Ve. ju by the 'StbnBm varu' of the 00 fully recapturing Ahobalam d of the Muslims and for reinstating obal~sv9.ra and renov8.tjng the temple .

. ,"""lfI#o·._"objeciive behind such gift-donations of .a·_-le8, though limited in number, is to encopeople of the future generations to un. G8na~1tO several tasks in times of need for the deveJQllaeJl~ andibenefit of the temples. apart from bem&terially valuable to the donees of the grants.

The division af each caste into a number of 8ubc3aie-s and communittes with distinctive charactfr and Aiat'1sin the social hierarchy based on their profession and locali ty of origin is very well-

pre.nied in the temple inscriptions. The social aDd ritual privileges enjoyed by certain mercantile cute· groupS . and ,the political power 3asumed by the Sudra people by becoming the 'rna. bamandaJesvail'as' of different localities indicate the social mobility and change in the medieval Andhra. society . .As this period has witnessed Sudra poJitical ascendancy and remarkable social change the Sudral who were not allowed to make the grant. and to study the Sanskrit literature until then, were now alJowed even to construct new temples to Siva and Vishnu and· to name the Gods a.fter> \teir beloved who were either alive 01· deceased.


The temples during this period thus acted as l'he meeti~,irounds for bringing social harraony among the :different caste:g.rul.lJjjp:s orr ta'¢ sorciety as well as in .sett~tin'g some social <<iLiSPl'ltes. 'Tlreassemblyof the 'TeHkis' (oil-mongers oornanity) used'tt!) 'settle questions of succession of property at the 'temple precints and pass rules .and regulations regacding tbe conduct. to be followed inmarriages, It is ~')lown from Nadendla stone inscr,iption t]aa t therigh t to the jewels of a deceased wife was ·decided by the 'Te1tki' Asseml::ily iBfa~r of the surving husband as against the parents of tht deceased woman.

The temples of th:e .perjod were ,great .unifyillg factorsandcontributed ~ollsiQe.t:ab]'y to . the national unity_ .Some of the major Hiadu -temples situated at places like '1 iru r f! t j, .Srisailam, Draksharama and Simbaclralam were religious eenters of all India fame and imports nee, They used to draw, as they do evea tIlew, especiaHy d\l,ring the tim~·"f .their . .aanuaJ f'estivals, pHgrim-s from the entire aCDulltry,. 'fhe-Q.0nduct~-er th-e ~Gail.Y' rituals :3 ned tile oelebra.t.i01l -of Jlumerou f-estivals in the temples inspire" net oaly til religious but also the socio-econemic life of the people.

The :process of Hin~uization of tire vil1a,e drities can be observed' in the temple comPlexes 'Of tbe medieval limes. In that process, either n-ew tern . were construced for them 'or due place "Was given tbeir warship in 'the existing Hindu f'lsbrines. It is tib'gefved from some Vijayanagar inscriptions 1lm1 th taxe~ . H e 'devata prayo janalu' andtrnaharaja 'PI'aYO]1lnalu collected from all the villagers were donated to

the ternp'es of the village deities for tbe perf a c

of the temple festivals.


The legends and traditious gathered around the t mples give interesting' account about their origin .

. The regional traditions which emerged through the 'Bhakti' cult, eliminated the discontinuity betweenthe Vedic 'sects ar.d non-Vedic folk religious activities. The temples are responsible in developing the regional traditions, regional cults and regional language and literature. The regional loyalty that has been' developed through the temples in' medieval period - forms

> the ideological basis of the regional kingdoms in An'dhradesa,

As the temples are the important pilgrim centres they also acted as the main centeres of cultural and political integration through its closely knit' network of transport and comunica lion. Because of this the temples helped in the spread of spiritual 'conceptions quickly in tbe country. The medieval Hindu' temples attracted not only the> ordinary devotees but also the great teachers of various religions. The re~ ligious teachers freguented these places for the diffusion of their teachings among the 'devotees who visited these shrines from far and wide. - This greatly helped the quick propagation of their spiritual ideology in the country. It was made easy for the rulers to spread the royal message and change of kingship even to the remotest villages of the kingdom because of the existing network of pilgrimage. Thus the medieval Hindu temples were the meeting places for the people of different nationalities, races and -linguistic groups and

f acilitatc d e: change of vicwsiano" helped.Lhe . spread of COIT.U:'OD culture.

Due to the proliferation and complexity in the nature of the temple rituals during the medieval times


the temples had under their services the f m 1

. 'S' di e a e ser-

vants, r.e. anis or gu 1 sanis' In the Bhi

. . tnnesvara

temple at Draksharama alone were 600 'Sanis' t '

d he ' 0 con-

uct t e amga ramga bhogas' and other types of servi-

ces to the Gods. These 'Sanis' were organised . t guilds like .those of the trade and COlnmerce and In 0

I d'S··, , were

stye as ani m unnu~uvaru, Sanulu manulu and Pedd-

da munnu ti Sanulu'. These guilds used to administer the

"endowments kept in their trust by the donors and played a very important ·role in propagating the 'Bhakti' ideolo_gy among the devot ees through 'their dance per-

formances, -

The temples drew' crowds comprising. people from all walks Iif'eand were responsible-for the promotion

. .

of education, arts, (crafts' and for controlling the eCo-

mic life of the people, The temples besides being the employers for the people of diff erent castes and prof'essions provide opportunities to the interested pupils coming from distant places to get free edncation, free food and shelter. The tradesmen found opportunity to selltheir goods to one of the largest and honest consumers and the agriculturists' gained favour from one of the largest-landholders of the time in the for~ of getting lands and "water from its numerous tanks for irrigating their lands on liberal terme, etc. .

- .

The temples be.sides patronisin~ and contributing to the devolo,pment of firie arts - music. dance and 'painting, anoouraged the aroniteott'lral and SCUlptural arts The Hindu temples of the medieval times a.re containing bonanza of informwtion besides being the standing monuments pro udly +rumpeti ng the achievfment of our forefat •


, .rs and -also: attract; ng connoisseurs of art a .~architEfc'ture.. '.'

, ;,,","l .. , .• ~ ~. _"!',

_, 1

" ') ... ~; '," _,c,,' ",' :" REFERENOES

- '.' .

'I -, -t- "''') .• .'- I· , ..... -,; _"'" ,~ I ~, .. -, -'~; '-, 'to" -, ; , . .~ II!

1. '·"M. Krisqn~._;ttl]rriari, "Panoharamas in Medie'

: :" A~db'~ad~~,~,' Del.hi , 1989. . "

, . 1,>.' ,. :',~'~:. :::r< .. '. : ..'..""

'2·.,· M.'" K'rF8'hli:a~;Klinia,ri, ' Studi es on Medieval ~ , ... ' dh~a HL,to~'yan:d 'Culture -', Delhi', '-1994, .

.: " ' ... ~ .. _ .. ' 1(1 "":._' :,,:~ ': _ 1._ .. :,::~, _ .~" ~ I'

3. T. V. Mahalingam, 'Studies in South J,.nd'

• Temple Complex', Dharwad , 1990.· ..

4~ .': :R .. !Nag:asVicii~:; ='·8011th Indian Temple '3S ' ~-; .. p1.6:yer ~'~~" The'Iridian Ec-onomic and Soc

-:. FIistarjr 1~evt8w ," No.4, -1965, '

.: ,-.' ': , ", " ',,t.t ';;-". "'. ,; ~,~ c" r "\.. . , ,t- , -

6 .. ,,:) 13.\lr~Q:n~··St;~j*-:,.-' S,Outh'Indian Temples-An. A

,.,' _:ry~fp~tRe:C'~~l,~j~r~ration', .. Delhi, 1975.'-

•. _ '. I \ ,1, ...... I-J ...... ,~. .},__;:-_ • .:.. .. , .. {~ ,_. • '.. •

f: '~.:;!'T: :rh;(:\Tem..Vles as Landed MsgMtlt .in ,", rdi~v.~l'S'cnith'~;Indi.a A D.' 700.1300),' in R

Sharma-le'd..r ~'. Indian Society .'llistorioai bi ngs, ' New Delhi, 1974.

~.' .. :"1(.~ ts,tri'all~; f "'~K'~~natak~) 'Temp~~ - Th'eir ,:::' '\.1P~6~i~-~~~§oTic Lii~', ·,:D~~hi.19s4..

'.O', "~, -1'1, " r

• - . J. . l.. '_.'

) "


-, ,',\,". '.~ .~ ~".\:.~~.-,' - ~.~ <,~-..-:-r-~____'--

.10. .., _. "',' \ t-,!. ~.,} • •


\ . .

. I

Dr. Myneni Krishna Kumari, a Speciaist in epig ruph y , .art history and history of Medieval Andhra was awarded Ph. D. by Andhra University in 1979 for her thesis "The Rule of the Ohalukya Cholas in Andhradf'sa"· An accamplished scholar with sever al Post-graduate Diplomas in Sanskrit, Tamil and Environmental Studies , she was rightly honoured by the UGC with the Young Scientist's Career A-ward.

She has be en on the Teaching Staff of the Department of History and Archaeology of Andhra University since 1984 and is presently professor and Chair-person, Bord of Studies in History and Archaeology. A n author ?f six eminent books, and 52 research papers pu bljshed In reputed academic and research [our ns ls. She prPFPnted

research papers at national and international serniria.ra,

Widly acclaimed for he r contribution to the medieval South-Indian History with special emphasis on Andhra History' Dr. Krishna Kumari set new trends in innovative research, and is expected to be conferred with D.Litt. shortly for he r published work,

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