Leiden plates, other inscriptions, and potters

S Krishna mahadevasiva at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 26 03:00:33 UTC 1998

I find Prof Palaniappan's theory very interesting. I have 2 questions
about specific portions of his write up:

<< Till now, scholars have assumed that it referred to people of the
"vELALar" or "veLLALar" caste who are supposed to be descendants of
"vELir" (plural of "vEL") or chieftains mentioned in the Classical Tamil
texts. (The Telugu velumas are called veLLALar in a tri-lingual
Sanskrit-Telugu-Tamil inscription of 1257-58 AD in
>Nandaluru, Andhra Pradesh)>>

In this context, I would like to know the status and the accepted
etymology[sic?] of the telugu word "velama". Prof Palaniappan's write up
suggests to me that this community is analogous to that of Tamil
"veLLala". As I understand it, the veLLalas were primarily an
agricultural community(I've seen this being mentioned by, amongst others
, Indira Vishwanathan Peterson in regard to 8th-9th century
Tamil Nadu and in different contexts of the naTarAja temple where the
veLLala farmers were/are very prominent in carrying the image during
processions.) While some veLLalas were certainly warriors, agriculture
has certainly been the mainstay of this community well into the last
century ; this can also be verified from any book on the history of 19th
century zrilaGkA, where the veLLalAs have been prominent ATLEAST since
the 17th century.

  On the other hand, the "velama" community seems to have been more
of a martial race; many accounts written by velamas themselves
explicitly refer to their prowess in the battle field.( Examples
are the official histories of the erstwhile royal family of piThApuram
who are velama, or a history of the guNTUru district which mentions the
"deshmukhi" rights of the velama "maNikarAvu" family of the 16th
century.) Prof Frykenberg mentions the origin of the word "velama"
as:(not an exact quote): "There were a group of brigands who stole an
earring( telugu "kamma") belonging to a royal family because of which
they were chased by the retainers of the royal family. Some of the
retainers returned before the earring could be retrieved because
of the strenuous chase as a result of which they were called "velama"
( from telugu "venuka" literally back; to return) while the retainers
who pursued the brigands and finally retrieved the earring came to be
called "kamma"( as in the community by the same name). This story
therefore posits martial origins for both the "velama" and the "kamma"

  My question is : IS this theory( given by Dr Frykenberg) the
standard/accepted derivation for the name of the "velama" community? If
so, ( and in view of the fact that velamas think of themselves as
warriors  rather than agriculturists) wouldn't this contradict the
theory of a relationship between the tamil veLLalAs and the telugu
velama community?

<< he said it is possible and mentioned the story of
"sAlivAhana", the potter who defeated King Vikramaditya and in whose
honor the Indian era is named.>>

Could you please clarify as to which ZAlivahana is being refered to
here? There was a boy who is supposed to have killed a king vikramAditya
of ujjayinI; this story is mentioned (to the best of my knowledge) in
connection with the "vEtalapamchavimshatikA".

  The other zAlivAhana is supposed to lived in vidarbhA and obtained his
name from the fact that he rode on the branch of a "zAlI" tree,
proclaiming it to be his "vAhana". This zAlivAhana had a minister
by name guNADhya who is  considered the probable author of the
"br*hatkathA". He also did defeat a number of kings, one of whose name
was probably vikramAditya.( which seems to have been a very common name
in that period). I would therefore like to know as to which zAlivAhana
is being refered to....

  Looking forward to all sugesstions, clarifications and help.


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