Andhra Brahmin Community, born to learning and nurtured in it, was often of invaluable help to their rulers who rewarded them suitably. Copper-plate charters of the Chalukya rulers record the extensive grants made to the members of this community. Their competence led to the rulers appointing them in secular posts.
Origin of Andhra Brahmin Community
Andhra Brahmin Community can trace their origin to the time of the Brahmin Satavahana dynasty. It was one of the earliest records in their history, which was a period of prosperity for the region as well as a time of Brahminical achievement.
Classification of Andhra Brahmin Community
Andhra Brahmin Community falls under the Pancha Dravida Brahmin classification of the Brahmin community in India.
Andhra Brahmin Community was sub-divided on the basis of pursuits which include Vaidikis, Niyogis, Deshasthas and Dravidas. They are divided on the basis of Vedic traditions that they follow such as Smartha, Madhva and Sri Vaishnava.
Vaidikis: The Vaidikis continued the traditional occupation of priesthood, observing Vedic rituals and vows; officiating at ceremonies; expounding the sacred books and the Mahabharata and the Ramayana to the royal family and the public; and serving as temple priests and astrologers. Since Brahmin tradition had to be perpetuated, some of their time was given to teaching. The Vaidikis were either looked after directly by their royal patrons or were settled in the 'agrabarams' (villages) given as sifts for their maintenance. Some lived on alms, which was devoid of stigma, being ordained by the scriptures. Some of the subjects of the Vaidikis, which evolved long ago on a regional basis, are the Velanadu, Mulakanadu, Kasalnadu, Veginadu, Koneseema, Telaganyam, Karnakammulu and Partha-masakis.
Niyogis: The Niyogis also followed Brahmin tradition in their personal lives. The subjects of the Niyogis, which are based mostly on distinctions of employment, are Nandavarikulu, Kammalu, Desalavayulu and Pranganadu.
Dravidas: During the Chalukya rule, a number of Brahmin families from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka settled in Andhra Pradesh. They formed the nucleus of the Dravida sect of the Andhra Brahmin community.
Apart from these divisions based on occupational or regional differences, there are the sects based on faith: the Madhavas, Shaivas comprising the Smartas who worship all the Gods of the Hindu pantheon and the Lingayats or Veerashaivas who wear lingams on their persons and proclaim the supremacy of Lord Shiva. Vaishnavism was present among Andhra Brahmin Community as far back as the 2nd century. In the 12th century the stirring lyrics of Jayadeva found their way into Andhra adding a poetic dimension to the Bhakti cult. This inspired a number of artistic works in Andhra, which were suffused, with devotion. Inspired by divine ecstasy, Potana, a Telugu Brahmin poet, wrote the 'Bhagavata.' The love of Krishna and the need to seek redemption through divine grace found expression in the creation of two major classical dance styles - Kuchipudi and Bhagavata Mela.
As in the rest of India, the Andhra Brahmin Community’s confrontation with the modern age has caused many a compromise with tradition and orthodoxy. Within the community there is a definite trend towards modernization but this trend is not very marked. They still cling to certain attitudes, especially, regarding women and though education for girls is acceptable, it is mostly meant to enhance their matrimonial projects. A woman’s role is strictly limited to the home and the family and the dowry system exists in one subtle form or another though forbidden by the law.