Kuruba Gowdas and Yadavas History

The History of Kurubas is traced at the times of Mahabharata and is considered as one of the oldest existing communities in India.

Kurubas ruled the entire southern India for nearly 325 years and achieved their zenith of prosperity between the 13th and 15th century under the "Great Vijayanagara Empire". Pallava Kingdom in Tamil Nadu and Hoysala Kingdom in Karnataka were also ancient Kuruba Kingdoms.

Meaning of Kuruba
The word Kuruba means "warriors" and "trustworthy people." The word "Kuru" means "do or seek" in Sanskrit, and "Kuruhu" means "trust" in Kannada. "Kuruba" can be inferred to mean "doers" or "trustworthy (male person)". Kuruba can also be inferred to mean Seeker of Knowledge, Kuru (seek), Bha (Knowledge, Light). Kuruba has a direct meaning of one who herds "Kuri" (Sheep) in Kannada, mainly a Shepherd.

History Kuruba Community

The Kuruba community is one of the oldest existing communities of India, tracing its history back to Mahabharata times. Kurubas have a great love for kanada language .The population of the Kuruba community in Karnataka alone is nearly 80 lakhs. People of the Kuruba community have long practiced a variety of professions, and have not been confined to their traditional (and still predominant) occupation as shepherds and farmers. They have been the source of several ruling dynasties, most recently the Holkars of Indore; it has also been stated by some scholars that the Hoysala dynasty may have hailed from this community. Undeniably, a very large section of rural gentry in Karnataka, and many chieftains and feudal barons in past eras, have belonged to the Kuruba community

Most prominent Kurubas have been Hakkaraya and Bukkaraya, founders of Vijayanagara Empire, Hoysalas, Pallavas, Holkars, Sangolli Rayanna, Mauryas, and Yadavas etc. Some Kurubas have been social thinkers and poets, such as Kalidasa and Kanakadasa.

The Great Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar was the first freedom fighter who made an army, in 1803, mostly consisting of Kurubas (Dhangars) to fight with the British and to drive them out of India. He built a factory to manufacture tanks. He appealed to the rest of the Kings of India and said, "First Country and then Religion. We will have to rise above caste, religion and our states in the interest of our country. You too must wage a war against the British like me". His appeal fell on deaf ears as all of them had already signed treaties with the British. The Kurubas took part in the revolt of 1857. Many of them were hanged to death in Berar (M.P.). The British were so much afraid of Kurubas that they made a law banning purchase of land by Kurubas stating a reason that they were not Kunbis (agriculturists). They were oppressed in all spheres of life.

He was the only king in India to whom the British approached to sign a peace treaty. Initially he refused to sign any treaty with the British, but when he saw that rest of the kings were not ready to unite and were interested in personal benefits he was the last to sign a treaty with the British on 24 December 1805 at Rajghat. He did not accept any condition which would affect his self respect.

Similar to Kurubas who are Yaduvamsha Kshatriyas, there are gouds/Idigas who are Somavamsha Kshatriyas and Palli, Jalari who are Mathsya vamsha kshatriyas.Meat selling community who are Are Kshatriya (Katika). Padmasali / Devanga who are having brahminical lineage.

Allama Prabhu, President of Lingayat Temple at the time of allowing saint Rewad in the temple stated "Kuruba Hutavamunna Kulavilla Gotra Villam, Kuruban fal kani Basawanna." meaning "Before the kurubas there were no gotras, gotras came with kurubas, Basawanna, we are the decendants of kurubas". This shows that many Lingayats were kurubas/Dhangars previously.

Culture of kurubas

Kurubas are Hindus who follow Halumatha. Halumatha is also referred to as palamatha in some parts of India. Religion of the Palakas Worshiping Almighty Source in stone (Linga) form might have originated from Halumatha. Stone is the source for the soil. Soil is the source for the plants. Plants are the source for the animals. This may be the reason for worshiping Almighty in Stone. Through the ages, this stone worship tradition might have led to worshiping Shiva as Beeralingeswara, Mailara Linga, Mahadeshwara, Nanjundeswara, Mallappa, Mallara, Mallikarjuna, Junjappa etc.

Even the worshiping of Shakti as Yellamma, Renuka, Chowdamma, Kariyamma, hallehoramma, thottilhiramma Chamundi, Bhanashankari, and Gullamma etc. might have come from this tradition. Even today ancestral worship as deities is very common. The worship of ancestors like Revanasidda, Rama, Hanuman, Krishna, Keshava, Ranganatha, Eera Thimmanna, Tirupati Thimmappa, Venkateswara, Kalidasa, Siddarama, Kanakadasa, etc. as Devaru very much exists in Kuruba traditions.

Beeralingeswara temples have Balaga with Gowda, Buddhivanta, Bandari, Kolkara etc. Generally priests in Beeralingeswara and Milaralingeshwara temples are Kurubas. Kurubas were great warriors and had established many ancient kingdoms such as the Hoysala kingdom in Karnataka and Pallava kingdom in present day Tamil Nadu; they reached their zenith of prosperity between AD 1300 and AD 1600 under the great Vijayanagara Empire.

Kurubas are known by different names in different regions of the country. In some locations in Karnataka, people from the Kuruba community use Naiker as surname. It means the same as Gowda (a leader of village or temple). The following are used: Andar, Ahiyaru, Ahir, Appugol, Maldhari / Bharwad / Rabari, Bharavadaru, Dhangar, Dhangad / Dhanwar / Dhanka /Dhangod, Doddi Gowda, Goravar, Gadhariya, Gadaria, Gowda, Gaddi, Gadri, Gollavadu, Gounder, Halumatha, Heggades, Idyar, Kaude, Khuruk, Kuda, Kuruba, Kuruba Gowda, Kurama, Kurumba, Kurmar, Kurumbar, Kalavar, Kuruma, Kurumavaaru, Kurkhi, Kurupu, Naikers, Nikhers, Oraon, Pal / Pala, Palaru, Paalakyatriya, Poduvar, Yadavalu, Mane (being the upper class of the following).
(for more see Gallery).

Rao Birender Singh
  Godess Tulja Bhavani of Tuljapur  
  Gauwlies Cowherds Berar
  Gauli Mysore Buffalo Herder Lingayat  
  Hyderabad bull  
  Dollu Kunitha    

This dance, as a major form of art, occupies the pride of place among folk dances. It provides both spectacular variety and complexity of skills in the process of demonstration. Woven around the presiding deity of Beereswara, chiefly worshipped by the shepherd clan, who comes under the caste of Kurubas, also called Halumathasthas, it presents both entertainment and spiritual edification.

There are quite a few legends very popular about Beereswara, a variation of Lord Siva, whose manifestation in this manner is a sacramental devotion as far as the Kurubas are concerned. It is necessary; at least, that one version of the legend is examined here for its ritualistic practice and sacred convention. In all temples of Beeresware, it is a religious practice that the major instrument Dollu be hung in the premises of the temple by means of a thick thread tied up to the hooks fixed in the ceiling. Every time pooja is offered to Beereswara, the custom demands that there should be an instantaneous beating of the Dollu as an accompanying act of worship.

As traditional art provides robust entertainment, Dollu dance has gone on uninterruptedly generation after generation with renewed vigour and raciness of performance. Hardly any religious performance of a ritualistic ceremony or any village festival can ever take place without this dance, especially in North Karnataka. On all these occasions, the Dollu dance becomes the very centre of activity around which other important things get built up. Since this dance demands strength, muscle power and the spirit of endurance, only well-built sturdy persons of enough stamina alone can take to it.

The songs that come under this category are referred to as 'kaipattu' – songs that just beat (no stick is involved but the incessant play of the hands all the time-hence called Kaipattu). Stressing the importance of Revanasiddeswara, they sing in his glory, giving an altogether different ring of intonation as distinguishable from the rest of other kinds of folk singers. Their ancestral pride is something, unconditional when they take to singing, tracing the origin of their genealogy, evolution and development over the ages. This expressive literature in its oral tradition goes by the legend called 'Halumatha (Kuruba) Purana'.

Kanaka Dasaru (1509 - 1609)

Kanaka Dasaru was great poet, philosopher, musician and composer from Karnataka. He is known for his kirtanes and ugabhoga compositions in the kanada language for Karnataka music. Uniqueness of his compositions is that he embedded common people day to day language in to the complicated classical Karnataka music which was mostly limited to scholarly language. He is also known for propagating Dwaita philosophy of Shri Madhvacharya through poetry and music to the masses in the Karnataka region of South India.

Thimmappa Nayaka was his original name & he belonged to chieftain (Kuruba) family of Kaginele in Haveri district. He was born to the Kuruba gowda couple Biregowda and Beechamma at bada. When he being warrior community (Kuruba) his defeat in the battle field directed him to the devotional path and then he being called as kanaka Nayaka and he found treasure – trove of gold ( kanaka means gold in kanada). Kanaka Dasa was well educated and capable of analyzing the society microscopically. In his early age he has deep knowledge about poetry and understood the nuances of Karnataka music that was just founded by Purandara Daasara.

He has become the composer after he got severely injured in the war and miraculously he have been saved and after that he left the war profession and he devoted his life for composing music and literature with philosophy explained in common man language. And he travel lot of place and gained more knowledge. Although he was from Shaivism community followed by Kurubas, he became a follower of Vaishnavism. However he had maintained a balanced view about all faiths.

In young age he wrote poetries Narasimha stotra, Ramadhyana mantra, and Mohanatarangini. His writing started showing his innovativeness in using day to day activities of common man. He joined Haridasa movement and became a follower of Vyasaraja who named him as Kanakadasa. His poems and krithi deal with many aspects of life and expose the futility of external rituals. Similar to Purandara Daasara, Kanaka Daasaru’s compositions addressed social issues in addition to devotional aspect. Kanaka Dasa was very aggressive and straight forward in criticizing evils of society such as superiority claims using caste system. . His poem "Kula Kula Kula vendu hodedhada dhiri" asks humans not to segregate themselves from one another, because every human is born the same way, everyone eats the same food and drinks the same water; hence none is superior or inferior to one another, the Major work of Kanaka Dasa was Nalacharitre, Haribhaktisara, Nrisimhastava, Ramadhanyacharitre, Mohanatarangini.

The deity he worshiped was Adhikeshava of Kaginele, presently in Haveri district of Karnataka. Kaginele, now a village, was a prosperous place and trading center in the Middle Ages. Out of the many of his compositions, about 240 are fully accountable today.

All his Karnataka Music compositions end with mudra (signature) Kaginele Adhikeshava. In addition to being a poet he worked as a social reformer by down playing dogmatic communities that were suppressing the disadvantaged communities. Kanakadasa made extreme effort in reforming the disadvantaged communities by convincing them to give-up their age old obsolete social practices and adapt to the changing world. He effectively used music to convey his philosophy. He lived at Tirupathiin his last days. He is one of the greatest musician, composer, poet, social reformer, and philosopher and saints that India has ever seen.  


Nandhi Statue from Madhyapradesh
  Veera Bhadra Sswamy  
  Veera Bhadra Swamy  
  Hampi Narashima  
  Arjun Rampal Yadav