Pusapati Dynasty

c. 1330 - 1995

Pusapati Dynasty c. 1330 - 1995

Popularly know as “PVG” and reverently called as ‘Raja Saheb’, Hon. Dr. Pusapati Vijayarama Gajapati Raju, the last crown prince of the Royal House of Vizianagaram is a star of the first magnitude in the firmament of the Pusapati lineage. His majesty and sublimity, his culture and refinement, his sincerity of purpose and transparent honesty, his unparallel philanthropy and magnificent munificence have endeared him to all those who know him throughout the length and breadth of the country. It will be interesting and instructive to a acquaint ourselves with the history of the illustrious house which he hails from as its most worthy descendant.

Hon. Dr. P.V.G Raju in one of his writings has rightly observed that “It is not my purpose that all young friends should read history in an academical sense, but, knowledge of the background history will provide a living base of appreciation of why events take place.” An idea as to how we have arrived, at the present is a must for going ahead-for a man or society-as they are synonymous.

Here, an attempt has been made to highlight the history of a House consisting of compelling personages that dominated the politico-cultural scene in their respective times. To be very cyptic, two broad phases are discernible ever since the ‘Pusapatis’ arrived in these parts-the era of political predominance that is prior to the battle of Padmanabham (1794) and thenceforth that of cultural effulgence. The early Pusapatis distinguished themselves in the annals of ancient and medieval Andhra history.

The Pusapatis were of Solar race (Suryavamsi) and of Vashista ‘gotra’. Tradition preserved in some literary works speak of an emigration of four important Rajput clans of the Vashista,Dhanunjaya,Kowndinya and Kasyapa ‘gotras’ under the leadership of one Madhava Varma into South India in Saka 514 corresponding to A.D. 592. Epigraphical evidence has also been cited to state that a king named Madhava Varma ruled Andhra Desa with his capital at Bezwada (Vijayawada) about that time. Madhava Varma became a celebrated name in the annals of ancient Andhra history in so much as he is said to have caused a rain of gold (Kanaka Varsha) by Goddess Durga of that place. In his lineage was born Mailma Bhima about whose prowess of arms there are numereous ‘catu’ verses. It was his heroic valour that acquired to the family the designation ‘Parichedis’. One of the descendants of Mailama Bhima, Amalaraju having resided at a place called Pusapadu in Kondapalli region acquired to the family the surname Pusapati. The early geneology and chronology of the Pusapatis are still subjects of debate among researchers.

Pusapati Rachi Raju I (C.1415-1456 A.D.) possessed imperious titles such as ‘Chalukya-rajya-sthapanacharya’ and ‘Manya Sutan’. He excelled as a general under Prouda Deva Raya or Deva Raya II of Vijayanagar (Hampi). His son Tammi Raju III (c.1436-1500 A.D) shifted his allegiance to Suryavamsi Gajapatis of Orissa and scored a victory over a faction of Gajapatis at Nadanpuram during the war of succession after the demise of Kapileswara in caputuring forts such as Bellmkonda, Vdapalli and Rangarayakonda situated in the Telugu speaking coastal districts and in subduing antagonist such as Ravu Singa and Bhatikhan. The same source suggests that Daggupalli Duggana author of ‘Naciketopakhyanam’ and the poet duo Nandi Mallayya ad Gahata Singayya authors of ‘Prabodha-chandrodaya’ enjoyed the patronage of Pusapati Basava Bhupala then stationed at Udayagiri (Nellore).

Rachi Raju II (c. 1459-1530 A.D.) obtained Ketavaram (Mogalturru in West Godavari District). He was credited with the composition of ‘Nava Bharatam’ – an extinct work and a ‘Seesamalika’ that elightens the readers regarding the early history of some of the Andhra Kshatriya families. His son Tammi Raju IV (c.1493-c1560) married the daughter of Prataparudra Gajapati and thus was the co-brother of Srikrishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagar. Pusapati Raghunadha Raju (c.1605-1685) also known as Madhava Varma had originally distinguished himself as a ‘Sardar’ of the Sultans of Golkonda at Kondapalli. In A.D. 1652, he accompanied Foujdar Sher Muhammad Khan in the later’s mission of capturing the Northern Circars for and on behalf of the Mughals ad in return was rewarded the regions of Kumili and Bhogapuram. Kumili then known as Kumbhilapuram thus became the first seat of the Pusapatis at which place they had also built a fort. Tammi Raju VI(c.1608-1680) composed ‘Srikrishna Vijayam’- a Srinagara (erotic) Prabandha in five cantos depicting the story of Lord Krishna’s slaying of demon Naraka and ‘Prajiataapaharana’.

During the time of Seetaramachandra Raju (A.D. 1685-1697) Gandredu and Devupalli ‘paraganas’ were added to the Pusapati possessions. He had his set at Potnur. The insignia on the Pusapati flag ‘Zulficar’ (twoedged sword) was presented to him by the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in recongnition of the asiistance rendered by him in his successful campaign against Golkonda in the year 1686.

The actual foundation of the political power of the Pusapatis was laid during the time of Ananda Raju I (1671-1717) adopted son and successor of Seetaramachandra Raju. During his minority period the principality was managed by his elder brother Annama Raju and Venkatapati Raju (1669-1720). The latter composed ‘Ushabyudayam’- a Prabandha work in five cantos with ‘Sringara’ as its main theme as it deals with the love and marriage of Aniruddha ad Usha, son and daughter of Srikrishna and Bhanasura respectively. The charitable disposition of Venkatapati Raju is revealed by oe of his copper-plate grants, which recorded the gifti away of the village ‘Kottam’, situated on the banks of river Gosthani, after rechristening it as ‘Venkatapati Rajapuram’, to Brahmins.

Ananda Raju I laid the foundation to the fort of Vizianagaram in the year ‘Vijaya’ according to Hindu Jovian cycle (corresponding to A.D. 1713) on Vijaya Dasami which also happened to be ‘Jaya Varam’ (Tuesday) in the name of his son Vijayarama Raju and named it Vizianagaram thus completing the five ‘jaya’ (victory) auspicious symbols. He is credited with the composition of ‘Nava Ramayanam’ – an extinct work.

It has been observed ‘the political history of the Chicacole Circar’ between the second half of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth century was the history of the rise of the Vizianagaram rulers. They exacted tributes from the other Zamindars, undermined the Faujdars and emerged as the foremost power in the Circar.

“From Pedda Vizayaram Raju (1708-1757) to Narayana Raju (1786-1845) the history of the family was the history of the district”, observed the author of the Vizagapatam District. While the Zamindaries of Srungavarapukota (Kasipuram), Madugula, Kurupam, Salur, Sangamavalasa, Tada and Chemudu were annexed, Palakonda,Gogonda,Jeypore and Andra became tributary zamindaries to Vizianagaram. James Grant in his ‘Political Survey of the Northern Cricars’ noticed that the Pusapatis gradually extended their power over all Vizagapatam including Jeypore (Orissa) and a great part of Ganjam and Rajahmundry regions.

The policy of Pusapati expansionism was inaugurated by Pedda Vizayarama Raju. During his minority period, Seetaramaraju son of Venkatapati Raju wielded power and brough Kaniti, Pudimadaka and Bontapalli etc, under the family dominion. This ‘Sarvabhowma’ Seetaramaraju (1717-1734) was also noted for his pious and charitable nature. There is epigraphical evidence to suggest that he endowed the Kesavaswami temple at Chodavaram with a land grant. The Kondandaramaswami temple at Ramatirtham was also renovated by him.

J.Smith, Agent to Governor of Madras at Vizagapatam wrote in March, 1832,”In the proress of their achievement” the Pusapatis appear to have rendered service of importance to the Mughal emperors as they were honoured with distinguished marks of power and dignity and titles were conferred upon them by the emperor or Padshah of Delhi. On the decline of that power the Pusapati family met with constant support and favour from the Government of Hyderabad.’ The seal of Pedda Vizayarama Raju shows that he held authority directly under the sanction of the Mughal emperor. He was held in high esteem even by his immediate suzerain, the Nizam-ul-Mulk who allowed him latitude in appointing and dismissing Faujdars and infact appointed him to that position in Chicacole Circar in 1724. Vizayarama Raju defeated the faujdar frequently and made them subservient to him. During the initial stae of their expansion, both the English and the French considered it a pre-condition to secure the favour and cultivate the good will of native potentiates. Consequently, we find both the parties entering in to race to win over Vizayaramaraj by way of diplomacy.

When Vizayaramaram went to Antarvedi on 7th November 1751, we find both the French and the English sending presents to him, each wishing to obtain a cowl for Bendamurlanka. Vizayaramaraj himself a great tactician kept both of them at a safe distance without preferring one or the other for a long time. However, towards the end of his reign there was tilt towards the French. The Pusapagi-French friendship was seen at its apex in the context of the disastrous battle of Bobble fought on 24th January 1757.

It is known from the correspondence of the East India Company of this period that during the time of Pedda Vizayarama Raju the struggle of Vizianagaram for freedom from Mohammedan domination continued with full vigour and considerable success. Alienated by his policy of preferring the French, Jafar Ali, the Faujdar of Chicacole called in the help of the Marathas. A battle took place at Tummapalem near Anakapalli in 1756 in which the Raja gained a complete victory. It is quite possible that it was at that time the Pindaris, a contingent of the Maratha army raided the Simhachalam temple to wreck indirect vengeance on Vizayaramaram,under whose patronage it was then flourishing. Gogulapati Kurmanadha Kavi (1720-1790) his court- poet vividly described those events in his popular ‘Simhadri Narasimha Satakam’. Bhalla Perayya Kavi’s ‘Bhadragiri Satakam’ written in the first half of the 18th century alluded to the removal of the idols of Bhadrachalam to a safe place due to the fear of their being destroyed by a Yavana attack. From verse 102, it is surmised that they were brought back after five years from Polavaram with the help of Pusapagi Vizayaramaraju and Seetaramaraju. Edda Vizayaramaraju protected the Peddapuram (East Godavari district) ‘Samasthanam’ against the Muslim onslaught.

Devulapalli Rama Sastry, Mandapaka Kama Kavi and more importantly Adidam Sura Kavi (1720-1785) received the bounteous patronage of Pedda Vizayaramaraju in the form of ‘agraharams’. His contemporary in collateral line of Regulavalasa also carrying his name- Vizayaramaju authored ‘Vishnubhakti Sudhakaram’ -a-‘prabandha’ in the five cantos dealing with the story of Kulasekara Alvar who was on the twelve celebrated Vaishnava Alvars. This work and ‘Srikrishna Vijayan’ mentioned earlier constitute primary source for the history of the Pusapatis. Regulavalasa Viziayaramaraju also translated in to Telugu ‘Parasariyahora’, a work on astrology originally composed in Sanskrit by Anivalla Venkata Society.