Part 2 chapter notes

Madiga Home
The Dandora Campaign
Part 1 Notes
Roots 1
Roots 2
Performing arts 1
Performing arts 2
Performing arts 3
The Yellamma Cult
Part 2 Notes
Village order
Inter-caste rivalry
Anti-caste movements
Conflict and atrocities




(as in sources)

1)         People from any caste may use either ‘AK’ or ‘Madiga’ when telling this story, but the former is more common. Non-AKs will only use the latter when they are confident of the sympathies of the audience.

2)         That this re-establishment also functions as a protection against disease demonstrates a causal connection between moral categories about which society is organised, and which give it order, and the malign and chaotic forces that threaten it. Moral disorder, in this case a contravention of caste rules, is linked to natural disorder, here taking the form of disease. It is perhaps appropriate that the AKs, the people who are located the closest to the qualities of disorder, are those who have the principal role in sustaining culture.

3)         The values surrounding the AKs’ drum, the tamate, are a clear case of disjunction in values between AKs and the non-Untouchable castes. As far as the other castes are concerned this drum is unpleasant and the sound of it being played is harsh and disgusting (vakaarike, karkasha). Children are often brought inside the house when AKs start to drum. In contrast, the AKs see it as a thing of power. They dance when the drums play, and sometimes have to ask the drummers to stop, so that they can stop dancing, the rhythm being difficult to ignore. They find the sound appealing and have no sense of its being distasteful.

4)         Harper (1964) rehearses highly refined and systematised taxonomies that are apparently used by his Brahman informants in their thinking about pollution. In comparison the situation in Mahepura is simpler, despite the Brahman presence within a region where Lingayat influences are strong.

5)         Muula and bevuur are said now to be becoming less sharply distinguished, as inter-marriage begins to merge the later-comers with the earlier.  Such processes of assimilation may well, however, be long-standing rather than modern innovation (cf. Epstein 1962: 127-8).

6)         Shankar (1990: 101) records the chant at the initiation of a devadasi as ‘Tai Yellamma Udho Udho’.  He translates this as ‘Glory to Mother Yellamma’.  Udho’ used subsequently to bless refers back therefore to her initiation: what further meaning it may have is not known.

7)         Hanchett (1988: 158 fol.) identifies a more general connection of such flowers with the worship of ammas.

8)         The likeness of this supposed punishment to the samadhi procedure described below should be noticed.

9)         Cheluvadis also belong to the guruputra makkalu order.  It is not known whether other castes may too.

10)       For an account of the temple and cult and its comparison with the better-known Yellamma of Saundatti, see Assayag 1992: 365-8.

11)       For the significance of baskets, see Assayag 1992: 265-78, and of pearls, op. cit.: 279-82.

12)       The Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of dedication) Act, 1982 (Act No. 1 of 1984).  See Assayag (1992: 170-2) and Nair (1994) for the long history of official attempts at abolition.

13)       Though over 400,000 devadasis and devotees were reported as converging on Saundatti in January 1997 at the traditional date for dedications, amid extensive government and NGO propaganda activities it was reported that no new dedications took place (Indian Express 24.1.97).  However, new forms of private initiation had been developed elsewhere (Shankar 1990: 99 fol.).


(editorial additions)

a)          Rauschenbusch-Clough  (1899, p. 33) describes him as ‘a kind of second headman’, ‘who was necessarily literate, who could keep accounts and make out statistical returns’.

b)         For Singh’s important study, see the introductory paragraph to Chapter 4 above.

c)         etti is the word without its common initial glide, represented as either yetti as in the previous section or vetti.

d)         See also Chapter 4 above.

e)         See Gayathri Devi in the section below.

f)          This is a simplified account of a village goddess festival described by Fawcett from Bellary district, now northern Karnataka. The extent of Madiga participation in such festivals was evidently variable, this example being selected as showing maximum participation and reported in such a way as to highlight it. See Fawcett 1890, p. 261-82.

g)         Leatherworkers such as the Madars and other service castes were integrated as Āyagārs in the Vijayanagara kingdom, those entitled to a share in village produce (Stein 1980, p. 424).

h)         For a similar system but termed kamathalu and operated only by Madigas who are the largest caste community of a village in Nellore district of AP, see Sudhakar Rao 1998, pp 36-37.



1)         Census of India 1961, Vol. II, Part V-B (10) Ethnography Notes, A.P., p. 45.

2)         Census of India 1931 [NEEDS VOL], p.256

3)         Interview with Mr. Krishna Madiga, President of MRPS. He stated that MRPS took the lead in exposing the TDP government’s attempt to murder Gaddar.


See also his ‘Spatial variance of custom in Andhra Pradesh’, pp 283-98, in B. Ratnam ed.  Anthropology on the March. Madras: The Book Centre 1963.

b)         See also Martin 1937, pp 16/7, 24/5.

c)         Brackenbury (1915, pp 67/8), compiling the gazetteer for Cuddapah district, comments on the way in which, when trouble is provoked by Cindu dance, typically at festivals, ‘the whole village joins in supporting one side or the other.’ A different division is suggested: Kamsalas, Kurubas and Bōyas are mainly Madiga supporters, Mala supporters Potters, Barbers, washermen, Balijas and some sub-divisions of Kāpus. ‘The Chindhu becomes a “shindy” of the liveliest description’.




1)       Jeevasamadhi is a means of negating death in the Hindu religion.




a)         Now Basavakalyana in Bidar Districy of northern Karnataka. For the Kalachuri king Bijjala, see Desai 1968, Part I

b)         Narayana Rao (1990) provides a lively translation from Telugu of the full text, with valuable commentary. See also Desai 1968.

c)         It has retained a distinctiveness however. The Mallikarjuna Siva temple there has been in Vīrasaiva management since the fourteenth century, while the temple of Siva’s consort, Brahmarambha, is under Brahmin Sakta management (Reddy 2005).

d)         For much useful contextual information, see Harris 2003, p. 89 and generally.

e)         Emma’s studies are also quoted in Chapters 1, 3 and 8. See also Clough (1914), particularly Chapter 7 ‘The destined leaders of a movement’. This interesting and strongly documented work was also written by his wife, but as an autobiography of her by then ailing husband. It contains much evidence and insight into both Madigas and mission.

f)          The great Tamil philosopher and teacher of the 11th century revered as the foundation of SriVaishnavite Hinduism. 

g)         See also Narasimha Rao 1989.

h)         See Chapter 7 above.

i)          See Sackett 1951 for a biography of Posnett (1870-1950). It includes some insight into the arrival of Madigas in the church in a mass movement between 1916 and 1925.

j)          Or Baindlas.

k)         For the story of the preaching and healing of Sadhu Joseph, a Mala, see pp 148-54 of the same book.

l)          See note h) above.



Getting one third of the output in return for labour only.

b)         ‘Harijan’ in the article indicates, according to context, either someone from the harijan hamlet or a Madiga.

c)         The public Road Transport Corporation.

d)         A folk ballad form. See Sarma 1995: pp 24-25.

e)         Translated by I. Narasaiah.

f)          Pyāpali, Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh. This article is based on a fact-finding report conducted by the Kula Nirmōlana Porata Samithi, AP.

Please continue to:-

Site last updated 20.4.2008