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Naicker History

Naicker History
Nayak, Nayaka, Nayakar, Nayakkar, Naik, Naiker, Naicker, Naickan, Nayakkan, Naidu, Nayudu or Naidoo is a common title used by various caste and ethnic groups across India. They are all derivatives of the original Sanskrit Nayaka, meaning a leader. The community history of various groups that use this title differs from place to place.
In North India
  • Naik or Naik-Gond [in Maharashtra]: They are agriculturists and agricultural labourers.
  • Naik [in Maharashtra and Goa]: is a kul (clan) of the Gabits who call themselves Konkani Marathas [4].
  • Naik, Naique or Nayak [in Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka]: is a common surname of the Saraswat Brahmins,Namadhari naik,Nadavaru. Naicker is also used as a surname amongst the Deshastha Brahmin.
  • Naik [in Goa]: Satarkars and Naik castes performed rituals in hamlets. After the arrival of the Maratha tribe, they named both of them as Naiks and some of them formed a separate caste named Bhandari with toddy tapping as profession. Mundaris in some villages in Goa were also named Naik [16].
  • Nayak [in Gujarat]: are performers of bhavais (religious dramas) and inter-marry with Bhojaks (pujaris). They are a subunit of Targala [Brahmin] (or Bhavaiya), are practicing Jains [3].
  • Nayak [in Gujarat]:is a title used by the Audichya brahmins.
  • Naik-Nayak [in Gujarat]: is a title used by the Anavil brahmins.
  • Nayak [in Gujarat]: is a low or middle caste of Gujarat together with the Kanbi-Leva, Lohana, Rajput and Baraiya [7].
  • Naik [in Gujarat]: is a title used by the pattidars of Central Gujarat.
  • Nayaka [in Gujarat]: is an aboriginal tribe. The headman amongst the Lambadis is called Naik.
  • Nayak or Naik [in Rajasthan]: is used by the bhopo caste in Rajasthan, a scheduled-caste [15]. Also called Thori or Dalits, they perform epic bards just as the Sutas [5].
  • Nayak [in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab]: is also called Aheri, Ahori or Aheria, Heri, Thori or Turi.
  • Naik or Naik [in Uttar Pradesh]: is a Banjara tribe. In the former United Provinces, Behar and the Kumaon region, the women of the Naik acted as prostitutes. A Protection Act passed in 1929 and the Arya Samaj put an end to the practice.
  • Nayak and Behera [in Orissa and central provinces]: were honorific titles of the Khadal, a dravidian caste of labourers probably an offshoot of the Bauri caste of Bengal [6].
  • Naik [in Orissa and central province]: family name used by a small non-aryan caste, Taonia, derived principally from the Khond tribe [8].
  • Nayak [in Delhi]: a caste of the Mali, Saini, Southia and Sagarwanshi-Mali.
  • Naik, Nayak and Nayaka [in Madhya Pradesh]: a title used by brahmins and non-brahmins.
  • Naik [in Bihar]: a caste similar to the Mahato and Munchi.
  • Naik [in Eastern India]: is a title, like Rally, taken by the Ghasi and Nag (Naga_people).
  • Naik [in Bengal]: is the name of a low agricultural caste and is another name for the Bedar caste.
  • Naik [in central provinces]: a title such as Raja, Pradhan or Povar (Pawar), Mankar or Chaudhri taken by the Bhils.
  • Naik, Naiko, Nayako [in Orissa]: appears as the title of various Oriya classes, such as Pana, Alia, Aruva, Bagata, Gaudo, Jatapu, Odiya, Pentiya, Rona, Teli. Pattanayak or Potonaiko signified a Naik or Head of a town. Many notable personalities of the trading castes were appointed to key positions as Nayaka in the military of Kalinga [17].
In South India
  • Nayak or Nayaka [in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh]: is a title used by the Bedaru, Cheptegara, Charodi, Kannadiyan, Valmiki, Servegara, Siviyar, Toreya, Boya (Boyar (caste)), Palegar, Ramoshi and Vedan.
  • Nayak [in Karnataka]: is a title used by Tulu Billavas. Mogers in some parts of South Canara prefer the title Naiker instead of the caste title of Marakaleru.
  • Nayaka or Nayakar [in Tamil Nadu]: A title adopted by the Telugu speaking people who settled in the Tanjore Madura regions [9].
  • Naik [in Karnataka]: A title adopted by Kannada speaking people settled in the Malnad region of Karnataka.
  • Naicker [in Tamil Nadu]: used by various castes such as Vanniyar Naicker, Tholuva Naicker (Tulava Naicker), Vettalakara Naicker, Thottai Naick,
  • Thottia Naickers (such as Rajakambalam, Gollavar, Sillayar, Thokalavar and Tholuva Naicker). Rajakambalam or Gollavar are found in Tiruppur District, Sathyamangalam and Gopichettipalayam in Erode District and Southern States of Tamil Nadu.
  • It is also used by the Pallis, Irulas and Vedans.
  • Naidu [in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu]: A caste title of the Kapu castes and its subcastes Balija, Telaga, Ontari, and Turpu Kapu [12]. The Kapu caste constitutes more than 25% of the AP population. In Cholavandan: Naidus and Mudaliyars originated from military officers or defeated soliders who supported the Nayak rulers [11]. According to Edgar Thurston (Castes and Tribes of Southern India Vol. 5; p.138) "Naidu" or "Nayudu" is a title used by several Telugu castes (in alphabetical order): Balija, Bestha, Boyar caste, Ekari, Gavara, Golla, Kalingi, Kamma, Kapu, Mudirajus, and Velama. It is also used as a caste title by other communites such as the Odde, Tottiyan, Reddy, Telaga, Uppiliyan, Idiga and Valmiki.
  • Nair [in Kerala]: has been suggested to be the corruption of the word Nayak in Malayalam[1][2][3].
  • Naicker [in Kerala] Naicker [in Kerala]: is a title used by the Jen Kurumbas (jungle folk) in Wynad.
  • The protector groups in the Afghan Pashtunwali system are called Naiks.
In South India
Significant populations in

Etymology (in South India)
As a conferred title:
  • The term Nayankara is an abbreviation of Amaranayenkara, composed of three syllables, Amara, Nayaka and ara.
1.     Amara literally stands for a command of a thousand foot soldiers.
2.     Nayaka stands for the military chief who held land from the king.
3.     Kara probably means an office.
Thus the term Amaranayakara may be taken to refer to a military chief who was granted land, yielding a fixed revenue for the sovereign.
  • Medieval Andhra dynasties like the Vishnukundins and Chalukyas conferred the title Nayaka / Nayakudu to a commander or a leader of a band of soldiers.
  • A title bestowed (to usually warriors) who had received land and the title as a part of the Nayankarapuvaram system for services rendered to the court during the Kakatheeya dynasty. Nayaka was one among approximately 25 titles used by the Kakatiyas to create a new political infrastructure to undercut the authority of heredity regional elites. [1].
Nayankara System (in South India)
The first widespread use of the title Nayaka appeared during the Kakatiya period and was conferred to whoever served as a commander in the military. Its use spread throughout the Deccan during the expansion of the Vijayanagar Empire, the title was conferred upon individuals who served as commanders or governors. It was predominant during the seveteenth and eighteenth centuries in Vijayanagar dynasty in southern India
The provincial three level administration of the Vijayanagara empire consisted of:
1.     Hereditary Kings
2.     Imperial provinces: They were directly administered by the emperor through his representatives and were generally referred to as Rajas or Mandaleshwars or sometimes as Chavidis. The distinguished members of the royal family were appointed as governors. At times when suitable members were not found in the royal family or when a capable and trustworthy officer of the central government was required to administer a troubled area, such a person was appointed as governor. Generally the king used to appoint governors after consulting his ministers.
3.     Vassal states: They were administered through the Nayakas (or Samantas).
The first division of administration was the royal family who held ultimate power. In the second type of provinces, the administration was done by the feudal vassals, variously called Samanta, Nayaka, etc. The system of administration of the kingdom through these feudal vassals (Nayakas) is known as the Nayankara system in the Vijayanagara times. This system resembles somewhat the feudal system of medieval Europe. The king being the owner of the soil granted lands to some persons as a reward. They were called nayakas and ruled over the territory under their charge with great freedom. In return they had to pay a fixed amount as tribute to the king besides maintaining a prescribed number of troops for the service of the sovereign during war. On ceremonial occasions, these Nayakas offered the king great presents of money and costly gifts or presentations. Failure to conform to these obligations was liable for punishment.
The governors were required to submit regular accounts of the income and expenditure of their charges to the central government and render military aid in times of necessity. They maintained an agent at the imperial capital to keep themselves informed of the happenings at the court. In case of oppressive and tyrannical governors, the central government used to transfer them from one place to another. The autonomy enjoyed by these governors later led to the disruption of the empire under incompetent rulers.
The position of Nayaka was quite different from that of the Governor. He was merely a military vassal who had been assigned a district in lieu of certain military and financial obligations. He was not transferable and his office was personal but later on became hereditary, when the kings at the centre became weak. The Nayakas maintained two agents, one military and the other civil, representing their masters interests at the imperial city. The Nayankara system had its own merits and demerits. It was because of this system of administration, new settlements were formed, irrigation facilities were extended, new hands were brought under cultivation and Hindu culture and civilization was fostered and developed. However the amount of autonomy which the Nayakas enjoyed gave them sufficient opportunity to engage themselves in local wars and mutual feuds. They even defied at times the Central authority. In spite of its inherent weaknesses, it served its purpose tolerably well.
Origins (in South India)
Nayaka's origins can be traced to the expansion of the Western Chalukyas into Andhra country during the 7th Century. The Nayaka / Danda Nayaka term started being used during the Vishnukundina dynasty which ruled from the Krishna and Godavari deltas during the 3rd Century A.D. Little is known about the title usage prior to that.
Usage (in South India)
Naicker, Nayaka and Naidu
In Tamil Nadu Tamil speaking communities use the title Naicker and the title Naidu is used to denote persons of Telugu or Kannada origins who moved into Tamil lands with the expansion of Vijayanagar empire. They were also referred to as Vadugar or Northerners. Both titles carry the same meaning.
In the medieval times, the title Naidu was associated primarily with the people who served as commanders under various Andhra dynasties, such as Chalukya, Kakatiya, etc. Initially, the title was conferred upon Kapu, Boya, Kuruba, Telaga, Balija communities. However, during the expansion of the Vijayanagar kingdom into Southern India, the title was conferred upon other non-Telugu speaking communities who served as Commanders, Barons or Governors under the Vijayanagar emperors in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka -- hence the widespread usage of the surname Naidu among many non-Telugu speaking communities in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Orissa.
The word Naidu is used by the older writers in southern India in several senses, of which the following example given by Yule and Burnell may be cited:
  • It denoted a Commander or a Governor.
  • Native captain or headman.
  • Title of honor among Hindus in the Deccan. "The kings of deccan also have a custom when they will honor a man or recompence their service done, and raise him to dignity and honor. They give him the title of Nayak." (Linschoten).
  • The general name of the Kings of Vijayanagar.
  • Naik, Naickan, Naicker, Nayak or Nayakkan has been used by the Tamil communities like Pallis, Vanniars, Irulas, Vedans, and also by various Kannada castes apart from Telugu speaking Communities
Though originally not meant to be a heredity title, by modern times, the Nayaka / Naicker / Naidu title had been inherited by many, although they no longer were governors, army commanders or tax collectors.
Tamil Nadu
Unlike in Andhra, a lot of communities have the tile Naidu. And most of them are sometimes referred to as Subcastes of Naidu which is not right as they are different communities. The title Naidu is used only by people of Telugu origins, whereas Tamil speaking communities, such as in Arcot district, use the title Naicker. But several Balijas and Kammas also have the title Naicker. Both titles carry the same meaning. For Example, E.V.Ramasami Naicker was a Balija and had the title Naicker.
A section of Vanniars (Vanniakula Kshtriya or Agnikula Kshtriya) use Naicker or Nayakar as title in northern parts of Tamil nadu and southern parts of Karnataka.
According to "The Tribes and Castes of The Central Provinces Of India" (R.V.Russell), "The Castes and Tribes of Southern India" (Edgar Thurston) and "Balija Kula Charithra" (Kante Narayana Desayi), the Madurai, Tanjore and Gingee kings belonged to Balija caste. See more of Nayak dynasty. The book Balijawaru Puranam (1896) by Salem Sri Pagadala Narasimhalu Naidu of balija caste is also a good reference.

In Kerala there are just about 5000 Naidu families spread all over Kerala state. Their ancestors migrated around 200 years back from Madurai region. Some families came from Tirunelveli region. They are mostly Gavara Balija which is regarded as other backward castes in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In Kerala, this group was in the OBC list in the 1950's and 60's. But later on it was removed from the list and the community no longer receives any concessions. This is being taken up by the members of Naidu community in Kerala. They had a unique culture. Earlier marriages were solemnised for four days. There were different Telugu songs for each ceremony of the marriage. These songs are in corrupted form due to inheritance by word of mouth and are no longer in practice now. In Kerala the two major sub-sects of Naidu caste are Balija and Kavara (Gavara) Naidus. The Naidus of Pattipparambu of Kerala can be classified as Balija Naidus. Balija Naidus wear a conical shaped Thali (Mangala sutram), where as the other sub-sect Kavara (Gavara) Balija Naidus wear a pot-shaped Thali (Mangala sutram). [4]
Usage abroad
In South Africa a variant spelling "Naidoo" is used amongst its Telugu citizens. The usage does not denote Telugu ancestry any longer as intermarriages had diluted such identities. In Sri Lanka, it is used amongst the Hill Country Tamils of Indian origin, and in Mauritius it is a common surname of Tamil populations. In Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, it is a surname of the broader Indian diaspora. In Malaysia it is used by Telugus to denote their Telugu ancestry.
Amongst the Tamil citizens of South Africa a variant spelling Naicker is used. It is used in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and RĂ©union as common surname amongst Tamil citizens of these countries. It is also used as a title amongst Indian origin Hill Country Tamils of Sri Lanka.

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