I find from a google search that the claim or desire of Nais for upgradation as "Nai Brahmins" started ever since 1881 census and this is not peculiar to AP; it is found in many other parts of the country too. It was not that the Nais were in any distress but wanted upgradation to Brahmin status.
Similar claims for upward movement from several other castes have also been recorded.
Pl. google books for Nayi Brahmin
True sir, that is why i was wondering how come Ravi was claiming that the Nayees (barbers) used to be Vaidyas ?
Mangali simply is a short form for mangalavadu (slang telugu for barber) so wonder why does Ravi say "Mangali" means one "who wishes good things".
Upward movement by practically all non-brahmin castes have happened throughout India in British India (including the so called self-appointed kshatriyas all across India).
A classic example is the large caste of Vellalars. Like all other communities, they came up with several 'origin stories". Am reproducing the notes by Edgar Thruston:
Vellala - The Vellalas, Mr. H.A.Stuart writes, "are the great farmer caste of the Tamil country, and they are strongly represented in every Tamil district. The word Vellalan is derived from vellanmai [vellam, water, anmai, management ?] meaning cultivation, tillage. Dr. Oppert considers Vellalan to be etymologically connected with Pallan, Palli, etc., the word meaning the lord of the Vallas or Pallas. The story of their origin is as follows. Many thousands of years ago, when the inhabitants of the world were rude and
ignorant of agriculture, a severe drought fell upon the land, and the people prayed to Bhudevi, the goddess of the earth, for aid. She pitied them, and produced from her body a man carrying a plough, who showed them how to till the soil and support themselves. His offsprings are the Vellalas, who aspire to belong to the Vaisya caste, since that includes Govaisyas, Bhuvaisyas, and Dhanavaisyas (shepherds, cultivators and merchants). A few, therefore, constantly wear the sacred thread, but most put it on only during marriages or funerals as a mark of the sacred nature of the ceremony."
The traditional story of the origin of the Vellalas is given as follows in the Baramahal Records.* " In ancient days, when the God Paramesvaradu and his consort the goddess Parvati Devi resided on the top of Kailasa Parvata or mount of paradise, they one day retired to amuse themselves in private, and by chance Visvakarma, the architect of the Devatas or gods, intruded on their privacy, which enraged them, and they said to him that, since he had the audacity to intrude on their retirement, they would cause an enemy of his to be born in the Bhuloka or earthly world, who should punish him for his temerity. Visvakarma requested they would inform him in what part of the Bhuloka or earthly world he would be born, and further added that, if he knew the birth place, he would annihilate him with a single blow. The divine pair replied that the person would spring up into existence from the bowels of the earth on the banks of the Ganga river. On this, Visvakarma took his sword, mounted his aerial car, and flew through the regions of ether to the banks of the Ganga river, where he anxiously waited the birth of his enemy.
One day Visvakarma observed the ground to crack near him, and a kiritam or royal diadem appeared issuing out of the bowels of the earth, which Visvakarma mistook for the head of his adversary, and made a cut at it with his sword, but only struck off the kiritam. In the meantime, the person came completely out of the earth, with a bald pate, holding in his hand a golden ploughshare, and his neck encircled with garlands of flowers. The angry Visvakarma instantly laid hold on him, when the Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, and the supporters of the eight corners of the universe, appeared in all their glory, and interceded for the earth-born personage, and said to Visvakarma thou didst vow that thou wouldst annihilate him with a single blow, which vow thou hast not performed ; therefore with what justice hast thou a second time laid violent hands on him ? Since thou didst not succeed in thy first attempt, it is but equitable that thou shouldst now spare him. At the intercession and remonstrance of the gods, Visvakarma quitted his hold, and a peace was concluded between him and his enemy on the following stipulation, viz., that the pancha jati, or five castes of silversmiths, carpenters, ironsmiths, stone-cutters, and braziers, who were the sons of Visvakarma, should be subservient to the earth-born person. The deities bestowed on the person these three names. First Bhumi Palakudu or saviour of the earth, because he was produced by her. Second, Ganga kulam or descendant of the river Ganga, by reason of having been brought forth on her bankshttp://www.ebooksread.com/authors-e...-tribes-of-southern-india-volume-7-ala.shtml#. Third, Murdaka Palakudu or protector of the plough, alluding to his being born with a ploughshare in his hand, and they likewise ordained that, as he had lost his diadem, he should not be eligible to sovereignty, but that he and his descendants should till the ground with this privilege, that a person of the caste should put the crown on the king's head at the coronation. They next invested him with the yegnopavitam or string, and, in order that he might propagate his caste, they gave him in marriage the daughters of the gods Indra and Kubera. At this time, the god Siva was mounted on a white bullock, and the god Dharmaraja on a white buffalo, which they gave him to plough the ground, and from which circumstance the caste became surnamed Vellal Warus or those who plough with white bullocks.
After the nuptials, the deities departed to their celestial abodes. Murdaka Palakulu had fifty-four sons by the daughter of the god Indra, and fifty-two by the daughter of the god Kubera, whom he married to the one hundred and six daughters of Nala Kubarudu, the son of Kubera, and his sons-in- law made the following agreement with him, viz., that thirty-five of them should be called Bhumi Palakulu, and should till the ground ; thirty-five of them named Vellal Shetti, and their occupation be traffic ; and thirty-five of them named Govu Shetlu, and their employment breeding and feeding of cattle. They gave the remaining one the choice of three orders, but he would not have any connexion with either of them, from whence they surnamed him Agmurdi or the alien. The Agmurdi had born to him two thousand five hundred children, and became a separate caste, assuming the appellation of Agmurdi Vellal Waru. The other brothers had twelve thousand children http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-e...-tribes-of-southern-india-volume-7-ala.shtml#who intermarried, and lived together as one caste, though their occupations were different .....
[Am not doing copy-paste of the Krishnadeva raya episode, am instead going directly to Varna claims in the colonial period. Please note that Vellalars were classed as Shudras in the later 1901 census also. But Thurston is mentioning the previous census here]. Read the ebook Castes and tribes of southern India (Volume 7) by Edgar Thurston
At the time of the census, 1871, some Vellalas claimed that they had been seriously injured in reputation, and handled with great injustice, in being classed as Sudras by the Municipal Commissioners of Madras in the classification of Hindus under the four great divisions of Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. In their petition it was stated that "we shall first proceed to show that the Vellalas do come exactly within the most authoritative definition given of Vysias, and then point out that they do not come within the like definition of Sudras. First then to the definition of Visya, Manu, the paramount authority upon these matters, says in paragraph 90 of his Institutes : ' To keep herds of cattle, to bestow largesses, to sacrifice, to read the scripture, to carry on trade, to lend at interest, and to cultivate land, are prescribed or permitted to a Vysia.' " In the course of the petition, the Vellalas observed that "it is impossible to imagine that the Vellalas, a race of agriculturists and traders, should have had to render menial service to the three higher classes ; for the very idea of service is, as it needs must be, revolting to the Vellala, whose profession teaches him perfect independence, and dependence, if it be, upon the sovereign alone for the protection of his proper interests. Hence a Vellala cannot be of the Sudra or servile class. Besides, that the Vellalas are recognised as a respectable body of the community will also appear from the following. There was a ceremony called tulabharam (weighing in scales) observed by the ancient kings of, at some part of their lives, distributing in charity to the most deserving gold and silver equal to the weight of their persons ; and tradition alleges that, when the kings of Tanjore performed this ceremony, the right to weigh the king's person was accorded to the Vellalan Chettis. This shows that the Vellalas have been recognised as a respectable body of mercantile men in charge of weights and measures (Manu 30, chap. 9). So also, in the Halasya Puranam of Madura, it is said that, when the King Somasundara Pandien, who was supposed to be the very incarnation of Siva, had to be crowned, there arose a contention as to who was to put the crown on his head. After much discussion, it was agreed that one of the Vellalas, who formed the strength of the community (note the fact that Manu says that Vysya came from the thighs of the Supreme Deity, which, as an allegory, is interpreted to mean the strength of the State) should be appointed to perform that part of the ceremony. Also, in Kamban's Ramayana, written 1,000 and odd years ago, it is said that the priest Vasista handed the crown to a Vellala, who placed it upon great Rama's head."
In "The Tamils eighteen hundred years ago". Mr.V.Kanakasabhai writes that "among the pure Tamils, the class most honoured was the Arivar or Sages. Next in rank to the Arivar were the Ulavar or farmers. The Arivars were ascetics, but, of the men living in society, the farmers occupied the highest position. They formed the nobility, or the landed aristocracy, of the country. They were also called Vellalar, 'lords of the flood', or 'Karalar,' ' lords of the clouds, ' titles expressive of their skill in controlling floods, and in storing water for agricultural purposes. The Chera, Chola and Pandyan Kings, and most of the petty chiefs of Tamilakam, belonged to the tribe of Vellalas. The poor families of Vellalas who owned small estates were generally spoken of as the Veelkudi-Uluvar or 'the fallen Vellalas,' implying thereby that the rest of the Vellalas were wealthy land-holders. When Karikal the Great defeated the Aruvalar, and annexed their territory to his kingdom, he distributed the conquered lands among Vellala chiefs.* The descendants of some of these chiefs are to this day in possession of their lands, which they hold as petty zamindars under the British Government. The Vellala families who conquered Vadukam, or the modern Telugu country, were called Velamas, and the great zamindars there still belong to the Velama caste. In the Canarese country, the Vellalas founded the Belial dynasty, which ruled that country for several centuries. The Vellalas were also called the Gangakula or Ganga-vamsa, because they derived their descent from the great and powerful tribe named Gangvida, which inhabited the valley of the Ganges, as mentioned by Pliny and Ptolemy. A portion of Mysore which was peopled mostly by Vellalas was called Gangavadi in the tenth and eleventh centuries of the Christian era. Another dynasty of kings of this tribe, who ruled Orissa in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, was known as the Gangavamsa ....
In the earliest Tamil grammar extant, which was composed by a Brahman named Tholkappiyan, in the first or second century B.C., frequent allusions are made to the Arivar or Sages. But, in the chapter in which he describes the classes of society, the author omits all mention of the Arivar, and places the Brahmins who wear the sacred thread as the first caste. The kings, he says, very guardedly, and not warriors, form the second caste, as if the three kings Chera, Chola and Pandy could form a caste ; all who live by trade belong to the third caste. He does not say that either the kings or the merchants wear the sacred thread. Then he singleshttp://www.ebooksread.com/authors-e...-tribes-of-southern-india-volume-7-ala.shtml# out the Vellalas, and states that they have no other calling than the cultivation of the soil. Here he does not say that the Vellalas are Sudras, but indirectly implies that the ordinary Vellalas should be reckoned as Sudras, and that those Vellalas who were kings should be honoured as Kshatriyas. This is the first attempt made by the Brahmins to bring the Tamils under their caste system. But, in the absence of the Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra castes in Tamilakam, they could not possibly succeed ; and to this day the Vellala does not take meals at the hands of a Padaiyadchi, who calls himself a Kshatriya, or a merchant who passes for a Vaisya.
In speculating on the origin of the Vellalas, Mr. J.H.Nelson states that "tradition uniformly declares them to be the descendants of foreign immigrantshttp://www.ebooksread.com/authors-e...-tribes-of-southern-india-volume-7-ala.shtml#, who were introduced by the Pandyas : and it appears to be extremely probable that they are, and that an extensive Vellala immigration took place at a rather remote period, perhaps a little before or after the colonization of the Tonda-mandala by Adondai Chakravarti. The Vellalas speak a pure dialect of Tamil, and no other language. I have not heard of anything extraordinary in the customs prevailing among them, or of any peculiarities pointing to a non-Tamil origin . .
. . With regard to the assertion so commonly made that the Pandyas belonged to the Vellala caste, it is observable that tradition is at issue with it, and declares that the Pandyas proper were Kshatriyas : but they were accustomed to marry wives of inferior castes as well as and in addition to wives of their own caste ; and some of their descendants born of the inferior and irregularly married wives were Vellalans, and, after the death of Kun or Sundara Pandya, formed a new dynasty, known as that of the pseudo-Pandyas. Tradition also says that Arya Nayaga Muthali, the great general of the sixteenth century, was dissuaded by his family priest from making himself a king on the ground that he was a Vellalan, and no Vellalan ought to be a king. And, looking at all the facts of the case, it is somewhat difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that the reason assigned for his not assuming the crown was the true one. This, however, is a question, the settlement of which requires great antiquarian learning : and it must be settled hereafter."
Edgar Thurston also made one important observation:
In religious observances, they are more strict than the generality of Brahmans; they abstain from both intoxicating liquors and flesh meat. In the Coimbatore Manual, the Vellalas are summed up as "truly the backbone of the district. It is they who, by their industry and frugality, create and develop wealth, support the administration, and find the money for imperial and district demands. As their own proverb says : The Vellalar's goad is the ruler's sceptre. The bulk of them call themselves Goundans."
However, we find that there are groups such as the Paraiyans, Pallis and Vedan hunters, who consume anything from rats, pork to spurious liquor, claiming to be Vellalars in the colonial times. When people have come in possession of land, they succeeded in their claims. And this is acknowledged by colonial writers. Anyways, am doing a copy-paste of Thurston's description for specifically the Vettuvan (for which plenty of info is available on google books itself). Read the ebook Castes and tribes of southern India (Volume 7) by Edgar Thurston
Vettuvan. The Tamil Vettuvans are described, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as "an agricultural and hunting caste, found mainly in Salem, Coimbatore, and Madura. The name means 'a hunter'. They are probably of the same stock as the Vedans, though the exact connection is not clear, but they now consider themselves superior to that caste, and are even taking to calling themselves Vettuva Vellalas. Tradition says that the Konga kings invited Vettuvans from the Chola and Pandya countries to assist them against the Keralas. Another story says that the caste helped the Chola king Aditya Varma to conquer the Kongu country during the latter part of the ninth century. In paragraph 538 of the Census Report, 1891, reference is made to the belief that the Vedans are identical with the Veddahs of Ceylon.
In connection with this supposition, it is reported that the Vettuvans worship a goddess called Kandi-Amman, which may possibly mean ' the goddess of Kandy ' (in Ceylon). Of the endogamous sections into which the caste is divided, the most numerically important are Venganchi, Kilangu (root), Pasari, Viragu (firewood), Pannadai (sheath of the cocoanut leaf), and Villi (bow). They have their own barbers, who seem also to form a separate sub-division, and are called Vettuva Ambattans or Navidans, both of which words mean barber. They are said to refuse to serve any one lower than a Konga Vellala.
Nominally they are Hindus, but they are said to worship the seven Kannimars, or aboriginal goddesses, to whom the Irulas also pay homage. They eat meat and drink alcohol, though some of those who are endeavouring to increase their social repute are taking to vegetarianism. Widow marriage is forbidden. They either burn or bury the dead, but no ceremonies are performed for deceased ancestors. Their customs are thus a curious mixture of those followed by high castes and low ones. Their ordinary title is Kavandan.
Am wondering if there is any one caste that did not become sanskritised in colonial India. The mention of Naavidans reminds me of this website: Marrige Customs & Rites | Sri Pudhu Vangal Amman
The case all over southern india is equally curious. Everyone, from children of dancing girls to hunters to merceneries, profess to belong to some caste or the other. They assume titles, rituals, and what not and pass themselves off as a member of their chosen caste...and today, folks are supposed to adhere to whatever is this "caste"...