The word 'Nadu' in Tamil language is 'a Country'. The addendum 'Aar
' or 'Aal
' comes from Aadchi or Alugai , meaning, to rule. The term 'Nadar' itself means "Lord of the Land". It is something like Bhoumik or Bhoomikar meaning, one who is the owner of the land, or the 'Authority' of the land. The term 'Naden
' exists even before the great Sangam periods of the Tamils. This is a Casteless period of the great Dravidians. This period, according to Tamil literature, is assessed to go beyond 30000 to 60000 years(Tamil and Tamils, Prehistoric India, Archaeological Reports). But some of the Sanskritic thinkers assess this period to be around 3000 BC. The Chief of the Land, or the Protector of the country was addressed as 'NADEN
'( Elamkulam). The people of the tribe was called NADAR, NADALVAR, ALVAR, NADALVAN, NADAVI etc. In Andhra Pradesh they are called NADAVA
, NADAVARU and in Karnataka, as IDIGA, BUNT or BHILLS equivalent to the VILLAVA-Nadens
of Travancore, GOUDA, etc (Karnataka Inscriptions). In the Northern and central parts of India, they are known in different names such as TALWAR, ALVAR, AHLWALIA, MADHVA, JNATRIKA, KALALR, JAYASWAL, CHODHURY, CHOUHAN, PATEL etc., and in more than 250 of such names classified according to the regional languages. Naden is an original Tamil term. After Saskritisation of the country, a new word is coined to equalize this word, 'Naden' as 'Kshetriya' originated from the word Kshetra, meaning, a region where the King lives. Sanskritisation of Indian literature and culture had great impact on Nadars for the growth as well as for the downfall of the history of the Nadars. One of the earliest Inscriptions got by archaeological department of India, in ancient Tamil, was that of a "Toddy Tapper", of 6th century BC, linked up with the Nadars (Iravatham Mahadevan).
The history of the Nadalvars (Nadars) are written down in their Palm-Leaf Text, Valamkaimalai
. This Text with all its narratives
going back to about 3000 years is said to have been written in around 10th century AD, referring to early events. It describes the
great wars that the Nadars had fought in Ujjaini and in many of the Northern provinces and also in Southern Sri Lanka. It also
indicates that the 'Mana Dynasty' of the Central India is an off-shoot of the Nadars from Tamil country, who went on Trade towards
the North. This is confirmed by modern historical research also (History and Culture of Indian People, vol. I, II, III
). There are
several other off-shoots like this. Naden has also other epithets like "Ko, Arasan, Ko-Naden, Thennavan, Vendan, Marra, Natta,
The report of the emperor Alexander the great points out that the great warriors of Nadans and their Republican Sangha called 'Gana' had fought to resist the inflow of the Alexander's army for a long period. These branches of the Nadars are called Kana or Gana (History and Culture of Indian People: vol III). They are found existing in South India, as seen in the records of Travancore. They are one of the 39 branches of the Kshatriya Nadans (Nattans) as notified in the State Manual of Travancore and also in the Census Report of India, 1901. The Manual of Administration of Madras Prasidency also says about these 39 branches. The Rajputs
have only 36 branches. Among the original 39 branches of the Kshatriya Nadars
, 9 warrior Gurukkal are marked with importance. They are: 1. Itanat 2. Illom, 3. Kana (Gana), 4. Karukkumattai (Karukkupattayar)=Talwar, 5. Kavara, 6. Kiriyam, 7. Mutta (mootha), 8. Natan. 9. Trippapur (Thiru Paappu). From these, the Kavaras are mostly found in the Andra Pradesh and Karnataka. The interpretations given to Karukkumattai differs between the Malayalam writer of State Manual of Travancore, Sri T.K. Velupillai, and the Tamil Brahmin writer, Sri Nagam Aiya, in the two different versions of the State Manual of Travancore. Out of these important 39 subdivisions, the branch called Trippapur (Thiruppappu - Godly Care), were the last ruling tribe of the Travancore Dynasty. This is explained in the Census Report of India, 1901. The Mootha (Mutta) = Elder and the Trippapur branches are almost amalgamated in the Royal fold till to the last rule of the last King of Travancore. After almost from the 19th century AD, there are many matrimonial alliances mixing up with the few of the other tribes as is commonly observed among the Kshatriya classes of India. But the DNA test Reports say that the Nadars are the least mixed up races in India, or even in the world.
The great Tamil kings, Kalangkaai Naar Mudi Cheral(Essence of Tamil Literature)
who had his Crown made from the soft fibres of the Palm-Tree petiole, and the garland made from the yellow flowers of the male-palm tree, Cheral Imaya Varampan, and Cheral Aten (dates not yet decisively confirmed), and the King Ezhini, etc., are known to be the ancestors of Nadar rulers(Essence of Tamil Literature). They were a Warrior tribe engaged even in agricultre, arts, literature and in many multi-crafts. Atencottu Asan, Panam Paranaar, Tolkappiyar (9th century BC), etc., are such great literary stalwars of the Tribe, who have given the first Grammar book of the world. Their descendants still hold Gurupooja in their birth place, Atencode and Kappiyanarcode (present Kaappicaude), in Kanyakumari district. The great Jain Saint, Mahavira (6th century BC) belongs to this tribe (Mahavamsam)
. The great Peumals like Cheraman Perumal Nayanar (8th century AD, etc) are depicted in the temples of South India akin to the Nadars (Nayanar, an epithet of Nadars - State Manual of Travancore by Nagam Aiya). The relation of the Nadars and the Aye kings are established with the Yadavas(Elangulam)
through Manu Vaivasvata and the kings, Ko-Karunandakkan (9th century AD). The Thachchanvilai Copper Plate refers to the King Viira Martanda Varma and Dalapathy Anandapadmanabhan Thiruppapu, as relatives (1729-1758). The relatives of King Dharma Raja (1758-1798) are still holding claim over the Puthupparakkal Palace (old name for Padmanabha puram palace), Court-Case pending issue of Copper plate, in spite of orders from Supreme Court.
Later mixing up of tribes around the 19th century AD have compelled many of the orthodox groups of Kshatriya Nadans to tear relationship with the late main royal fold in the later years. This isolation added up with the arrival of new foreign political forces like Mughuls, Nayaks, British, Dutch, etc., have made the situation more worse for the isolated major Nadar groups to suffer heavy taxation and many other political and social disabilities. But the Nadars have strongly stood to their ground and faced all the situations with courage and determination. Their traiditional system of Mahamai
(offering one sixth of the income as tax - Royalty - to the 'Elder' Uravinmurai
or Kindred group) has saved the Nadars to withstand the economical needs in the Tamil country, during the time of trial and persecutions. They have fought many social wars for Self Determination, conducted Revolutionary Movements like the 'Temple Entry Movement' Breast Cloth Movement, Equal Rights Movement, Rights for Franchise, etc., under their strong 'Elders' and Heroes like Kali Kaatha Perumal Nadan, Navab Viira Martandan Nadan, Thiru Vazhuthi Vaikunda Naden, Ayya Vaikunda Swamigal, Marshall A. Nesamony, WPS. Soundara Pandian Nadar, Ratinaswamy Nadar, Thachanvilai Shakuntala Devi and so many of such great souls.
Nadars, in spite of their fall in the 19th century AD, were a Class of Society who were traditionally scholarly and literates, familiar with a variety of subjects like Herbal Treatise (Vaidyam
, Astrology, Mantric Accults, Alchemy, Martial Art, Varma Sastra
- a special Martial Art and Phisiotherapy for warriors and the wounded, Literature, Arts of Building Construction, Masonary, Architectural Stone Cutting, etc. The huge quantity of Palm-Leaf Texts found with the Nadars, till today, especially from Southern India, are good Evidences for this. Icons of Nadars are well depicted in the ancient Hindu and Jain temples of India (Madurai, Kazhugumalai, Chitharal, Trivandrum, etc). Saint Mahavira is described as a "son of a Nada" (Nata-putta) from the tribe of Jnatrika of Vaisali, (History and Culture of Indian People-vol. I
). The History of the Nadars is recorded in Palm-leaf Texts as Valamkaimaalai
, going back several centuries before Christ. There are more than 100 books on the history of the Nadars. Rev. Caldwell started the research, but had failed to bring all about the Nadars, because of lack of information due to the fall of this community, in this period. Recently, one Robert Hardgrave Jr.,(The Nadars of Tamilnadu - 1969
), another Dennis Templeman (The Northern Nadars
) have brought out some incomplete truth about the Nadars. But, an elaborate work about the Nadars was done by M.Immanuel, in 2002, The Dravidian Lineages - The Nadars through the Ages.
Among the great men of the Nadars, Kali Kaatha Perumal Nadan (1660-1698), Mooka Nadan, WPS.Soundara Pandiyan Nadar (1893-1953), Scientis Padmabhushan R.R.Daniel, Marshal A.Nesamony, K.Kamaraj Nadar (Kumaraswamy Kamakshi Kamaraj Nadar), Kunjan Nadar, Thanulingom Nadar, Admiral O.S.Dowsson, Admiral Sushil Kumar, first Malayalam film maker, Dr.J.C.Daniel, actor and ward winner Satyan, Dalapathy Anandapadmanabhan, last Perumal -King, Udaya Martanda Kulasekhara Perumal, Woman Martyr Shakuntala Devi, Novelist Azhagiya Nayagi Ammal, Woman Kalari Specialist Chellamma Assatti, are to be ever remembered by the society. The contribution given to the society by the great Saint and Revolutionist and the forerunner of all the revolutions of 19th century AD Ayya Vaigunda Swamigal is very great. His model was accepted and executed later, by many Social Revolutionists like Sri Narayana Guru
, Chattampi Swamigal
and even by some of the politicians of Tamilnadu like E.V.Ramasamy Naicker
. Some of the other living legends like News paper magnet Shivanti Adityan, a descendant of early Parakrama Pandya dynasty, and the famous Computer Industrialist and Educationalist, Shiva Nadar
, etc., are only very few in today's very flourishing Industrial world. Genetically, this race is calculated to have an antiquity of 150000 to 170000 years from the Mediterranean/African Belt. In short, the Nadars, one of the earliest Civilized Races of the world, had and still have vibrant and turbulent history worthy to study and be familiar with. They are a Great "Patriarchal Class" as almost all the famous Kshatriyas of India