About The Legend
The Legend ‘Sri Chowdeshwari Mahatmyamu’ written by Kaviyogi Gummaraju Rama Kavi of Gownipalle is possessed by many a Nandavarik, Briefly, the legend tells us how the Brahmins from Banaras secured the Nandavara Agraharam from the Regular of the region ‘Nandana Chakravarthi’ and how Sri Chowdeshwari Devi came down from Banaras and stayed at Nandavaram. It also tells us that five hundred families of thirteen Gothrams had divided among themselves the ‘Agraharams’ and the ‘Vritties’ proclaiming ‘Sri Chowdeshwari Devi’ as their family Deity or ‘Kula Devata’. The names of Gothrams and families are appended for the benefit of the readers and for preservation.
Some family names such as ‘Chintakunta’ Thallapaka. ‘Manchiraju’, Rayasam etc.. are to be found under more than one ‘Gothram’ For instance ‘Chintakunta’, is found to be under ‘Vasistasa’, ‘Gowthamasa, Moudyalyasa’ and ‘Kutsasa, ’Manchiraju’ under ‘Vasistasa’ and ‘Kowsika Viswamitrasa’ and ‘Rayasam’ under ‘Kasyapasa’ and ‘Gothamas’ and so on. They are not to be considered as errors but as factual and have to be taken for granted.
The legend more or less on similar lines is said to have been adopted by some other sections of Brahmins, and other communities. The Brahmins who received the Nandavara Agraharam and the ‘Vritties’ are known as Nandavariks because they were ‘Nandavara Agrahara Graheetas’. A ‘Vritti’ is an occupation or an economic holding for a living, consisting of a house, a well, some land and a pair of bullocks etc., They deity, ‘Sri Chowdeshwari Devi’ had, according to the legend, ordained the Nandavariks to lead a pure and pious life, uphold the Vedas and the Sastras and be charitably disposed and become ‘Anna Datas’.
Of the original families of five hundred of thirteen Gotrams, only about 350 are known to be existing and the existence or the survival of the remaining families is not known. Of the thirteen Gotrams, our of the twenty families of ‘Mouna Bhrgava’ Gotram, only one single family is surviving and that is of ‘Kakaluru’. The other Gotrams under which the familes have alarmingly diminished in number are ‘Kutchasa’ ‘Gothram’ there are only three families, i.e., Kanadam’, Goddumurri, and Sakunala’ as against the original twenty families that lived at the time of Nandana ‘Chkravarthi’. The other families under these Gotrams are not known and it is hoped that they are not extint. In all, about one hundred and fifty families of Nandavariks of various Gothrams are ‘Missing’ as on this day and have to be ‘traced’. If for any reason, the family of ‘Kakaluru’ of ‘Mouna Bhargava Gotram’ is extinct, one Gothram’ is lost and will be a great loss for any anthroplogical study at a future date. It is incumbent, therefore, upon family to fuard against any family-planning methods vigorously advocated in the modem days to control the general over-population.
Before the legend Sri Chowdeshwari Mahatmyamu, as presented by Sri Gummaraju Rama Kavi of Gownipalle in 1935, there had existed Sri Chowdeshwari Vilasamu a book-let in Telugu written by Sri Narayankya kavi, son of Koti Venkataramanarya and published by Sri Kamalapuri Venkata Subba Sarma, a Nandavarik living in Bellary (originally in Andhra and now in Karnataka) as long ago as 1891 A.D. The Chowdeshwari Vilasamu appears to have been the first to be put in print and it contains partly the legend and some revelations about Nandavariks and their family Deity Sri Chowdeshwari Devi Sri Chowdeshwari Vilasamu is unique as it also contains three important verses in Samskrit that throw light on the origin and to some extent the history of the Nandavariks. These slokas’ among are others are said to have been found in worm-out palm-leaf manuscripts Written in Samskrit and has survived the efflux of time and later translated into Telugu by scholars like koti Narayanakya kavi, Apparaju Narasa kavi, Attaluru Papayya Kavi and Others. Sri Gummaraju Rama Kavi has also mentioned the existence of these slokas in his ‘Sri Chowdeshwari Mahatmyamu’ published in 1935. The slokas as such are an invaluable source of knowledge for Nandavariks and they are reproduced here for Posterity and for the benefit of the community at large. They are transliterated in English and reproduced below:
Vyomebha Randhraha Samkyabdhe, Viditesmin Kalauyuge!
Abhishikthasa Viprebhyo, Nando Nandapuranam Dadau’
Vilambinamankita Bhvya Vatsaare, Sooryoparage Manikarnikayam,
Maheesurebhya Subha Magraharam, Nando Dadau Nandapuram Maheesah.
Satam Vatsa Shashta Samkhyaha, Vasishtaatreya Kousikaha.
Prathyekamhi Bharadwaja Chatwarimsat Bhavetpruthak
Harithas chagasthaya kutsa Moudgalya Gowtamastata
Bhargava kasyapa Veethahavya Vimasti Samkyakaha.
Apart from Sri Chowdeshwari Vilasamu and Sri Chowdeshwari Mahatmyamu, referred to above there are some manuscripts about Nandavariks, their origin etc., still available in titles such as Nandavara Vruttantamu Nandavara Brahmanula Vruttantamu Nandana Chakravarthi Charitra and so on at the famous Tanjore Maharaja Serfogi Saraswathi Mahal Library the Mackenzie Manuscipts in the Madras University Library the Oriental Manuscript Libraries and Research Institutes at Madras, Thirupathi and Hyderabad. These have to be explored some day as they might throw more light on Nandavariks.
The Machenzie collections mentioned above is unique as it contants importand document’ such as ‘KAIFIYATS’, It has to be explained here as to who this Mackenzie was and what the Kaifiats, are. Col Mackenzie was an Army Officer under the British in the Deccan between 1830 and 1840 A.D. To build up a collection of his own, for his information about the region he served, he had engaged a number of agents to collect or prepare documents about every place and village. The Agents extensively toured, visited Practically every place and village in the whole of the Andhra Rayalaseema and Tamilnadu and collected the information. The term ‘Kaifiat’ used in Persain parlance refers to a document containing information about the places and villages. These are relevant to us because they contain information about villages and places the names of which are adopted as family names by many Nandavarik families. When we go through the list of families of Nandavariks, we find that most of them go by the name of their village or place such as ‘Kurapati’ ‘Engeti’, ‘Cirium’, ‘Mudiam’, ‘Chintakunta’, ‘Tallapaka’, Tarikonda’, Thurumella’, etc., as distinguished from family names of professions such as ‘Rayasam’, ‘Samprathi’, ‘Vahikaranam’, ‘Nirarabham’, Desi Kulkami’ etc., to mention only a few. A ‘Kaiflat’ contains information about the derivation of the name of the village or place or its etymology, the details of the extent of land-dry and wet-chief occupations, industries, temples, fairs and festivals, the dignitaries of the place and the manuscripts they possessed etc. They remain to be explored for information about the places where the Nandavariks had lived in the past. The manuscripts contained in the Libraries and Research Institutes mentioned above are available for study and bono fide research for any Researcher or Scholar.
Source: A Treatise on Nandavariks by Rayasam Viswanatha Rao