A short History of Bondilis in Tamil Nadu
It will be interesting to the readers to know about our ancestors, Rajputs the Bondilis.
The great political event of the country during the 8th century in the Historic India was the rise of Rajputs as warriors in the place of ancient kshatriyas of Indo-Aryan type. The Rajputs are the linear descendents of the famous Hindu Kings of ancient India. They spread to various parts of the country from the original homes of Rajputana and budh assimilating a number of fighting clan and binding them together within a common code.
There were thirty six (Chatis) Rajkul among the Rajputs that had been divided into three great dynasties (viz) (1) Suryavamsa (the clan of solar dynasty) descended through Manu, Ishvaku, Harischandra, Raghu, Dasaratha and Sri Rama, (2) Chandravamshis or Somavamshis (the clan of lunar dynasty) desended through-Yayati, Devanusha, Puru, Yadu, Pandu, Yudhistra and Sri Krishna and (3) Agnikula (the clan of Fire dynasty) desended from Agnipala, Sevacha, Mallan, Gulunsur, Ajpala and Dolai Rai.
The Rajputs by reason of position as integral families of pure descent, as a landed nobility and as kinsmen of ruling chiefs are also the aristocracy of India. Thakur Jesraj Seesodia (Author of Rajputs-a fighting race) states many of the Rajput princes of India trace their descent from the ancient Rulers and Emperors of India; and though politically subordinate to the Imperial Government they had a hereditary claims to the Royal Authority.
Prior to their influx to South India, the ancestors of Bondil Community were Rajas/Kings/Killedars/Zamindars/Army Captains/Zamedhars and Village Chiefs/Patels. In point of social standings, the Bondilis professed to be superiors in religion, considered as landed nobility and as kinsmen of and also the aristrocracy of India. For example, in the South, Gingee ruled Raja Jey Singh and the killedars (Chief of the Forts) of Venkatagiri Kotta, which is situated at Hosur taluk of Dharmapuri District. Thus, it is doubtless, 300 years age, the ancestors of Bondil community lived in Tamil Nadu with glory, pomp and pleasure and with high social prestiges. But, after a lapse of two hundred years, that is, at the beginning of twentieth century their high social and economical status were deteriorated. The Rajas’ generation became peons and Killedars generations became ordinary soldiers.
The foreign author Mr. Edgar Thruston opines in his book “Castes and Tribals of South India” – published during 1901 that many of the SUDHRAS say that they were kshtriyas Rajput Bondilis. One section is named as ‘TOLIS’ is reference to their involvement in leather processing. It is shocked to note from the versions of Mr. Edgar Thruston, once professed to be superior in religion during 1700 A.D. were not allowed to enter into temples during 1900 A.D. He Further recorded authentically that the Bondilis on those days (1900 A.D.) were cultivators, peons, Bodyguards of Zamindars, sepoys, constables, Revenue peons and Tolis. (The leather processing was considered as undignified, unclean and demeaning occupation and called these peoples as Tolis).
The Bondilis migrated from Bundlekund according to the Madras Census Report, 1891, they claim to be Rajputs and divided into two sets. Sivaites and Vaishnavaites. The sivaites said to bury their deeds while the vaishnavaites burn. The custom in this respect appears to differ in different localities. Besides, Siva and Vishnu worships, (three of the eight who gave particulars of the section agree that) they worship village deities as well. The Bondilis of North Arcot District are described by Mr. H.A. Stuart, in the Manual of North Arcot District, as being of foreigners from Bundlekund from which fact their name originates and of various Vaisya and Sudhra castes; the formerly having the terminations of LALA to their names and the later the title SINGH and say that they are kshatriyas, that is, Rajputs. The Vaisya Bondilis are few in number and only found in Vellore, Chittoor and Arni where they are usually money-lenders. The Sudras are mostly in Services. Some say that they are not even sudras but the desendants of Rajputs by women of the country and probably many of them are such. All are very particular with respect to eating with an other professed Bondili and refuse to do so unless they are quite certain that he is of their class. In their marriage customs they resemble the Rajputs. In the Census Report 1901, Guvals or traders from Sambalpur is retained as a sub-caste of Bondilis.
It is well known to all that one Raja Jey Singh (Dey Singh) a Rajput Raja was ruling his kingdom in Gingee situated near Tindivanam of South Arcot – District. He ruled his kingdom independently who paid no tribute to any power. The Moghul Emperor Aurangageb had remitted all payments as a reward to Raja Jey Singh’s skill in managing powerful horse that no one else could ride. The Nawab of Carnatics who was jealous of the Raja’s independent rule, demanded payments. On refusal of payment, the Nawab sent an army to fight against the Rajput king. N the fight, Day Singh Raja fought with a string army. It is stated that there were 300 Rajput soldiers in Raja’s army. (Old History of Madras) and was apparently successful. But on hearing the death of Mothugar (a Mohammedan friend) and his powerful horse, Raja Dey Singh resolved to die in the battle field. It is said that Raja Dey Singh was killed by his own sword. On hearing the news of the death of her lord, the Rani (wife of Raja Dey Singh) committed Sathi by jumping into agnikunta. The Nawab admiring the action of the Rani, build and named after her, the town RANIPET which is at present situated in the former North Arcot Ambedkar District, present Vellore District.
At Gingee Raja Dey Singh left behind famous rock fortresses, three strongly defended hills known as Rajagiri, Krishnagiri and Chandraya Drug. As they are worth seeing places, a large number of visitors used to go to see the exhibits of several ruins of fire buildings which are situated within the forts. The most attractive ruins of all perhaps are the Kalyan Mahal, a great gun kept on the top of Rajagiri, the Raja’s bathing stone and temple of Sri Ranganatha Swamigal.
At present in our Bondil community there are no rich persons, Industrialists, Business magnets, Big Officers and Politicians. No Government patronage except the inclusion of our community in the list of Backward classes is available. Our total meager population in Tamil Nadu is about 1.3 lakhs as per the census conducted in 1994. Lesser number of votes and our scatteredness all over in Tamil Nadu in small groups and numbers are the lacunae to attract political support and through them to derive the upliftment of the community. Thus, we are deprived of Vote banks in which politicians are interested in. The social Backwardness of our community were agreed to by the previous Backward classes commission constituted by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
The areas where Bondil community populated are in South Arcot District: (1) Kallakurichi (2) Sankarapuram (3) Vanamadevi (4) Ponnankuppam (5) Gingee. The reason for this due to the fact that in this District there was a ruler namely, Gingee Raja Dey Singh. In other Districts, they are very very scattered.
The Bondil community people residing in Karnataka state are called as Rajputs and in Andhra Pradesh as ARE BONDIL. In Karnataka State, the Government had declared our counterparts as Forward community as more Backward classes during 1994. Whereas our counterparts residing in Andhra Pradesh are called as Are Bondil and classified as Scheduled Tribes. In Kerala state, our community people are very low in numbers. Hence not much significance is attached in reservation. In Tamil Nadu, the Bondil Community is declared as Backward classes citizens is super session of all previous Govt. orders, (Vide their G.O. Ms. No. 1564 Social Welfare Dept., dated 30.07.1985 specifying the castes and communities as socially and educationally Backward for the purposes of Reservation under Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the constitution. Notwithstanding to this order, the Head Quarters Bondil Association had moved to the Govt. of Tamil Nadu to pass an order declaring the existing Backward class of BONDIL into the list of Most Backward Classes (MBC) of Tamil Nadu. The matter is under the active consideration of the Government.
Further, the Association has also approached the Ministry of Welfare/Kalyan Mantralaya, Govt. of India with proposals to include the Bondil community in Tamil Nadu in the list of Scheduled Tribes in Tamil Nadu. The Director, Ministry of Welfare Dept,. New Delhi had informed that the proposals of the Association s being considered in accordance with the criteria laid down in the contest of the proposal comprehensive Revision of the list of Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Further, any amendment in the existing lists of SC and ST can be done only through an Act of Parliament in view of Article 341(2) and 342(2) of the constitution.
The word Rajput in a sense, is the name of the CLAN and RACE in general term. It does not specify the particular caste or sub caste. We, the people in Tamil Nadu are classed as BONDIL – a Backward class citizens. Therefore, it is imperative on our part for all purposes, to mention the caste name as BONDIL, by our community people. It is therefore impressed on the community people that any other caste name other than BONDIL-revealed will not fetch any benefit to us as enunciated in the Tamil Nadu Government order as Backward class citizens and also in Mandal Commission’s Report.