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Title: Raju  
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Languages Telugu
Populated States Andhra Pradesh

The Raju (or Rajulu) are a Telugu caste found mostly in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Etymology and claims of Kshatriya status

The Raju caste, which A. Satyanarayana calls the "locally dominant landed gentry", claims Kshatriya status in the varna system despite there being "no real Kshatriya varna" in the Andhra region.[1][1] They also claim descent from the ancient royal dynasties of India such as the Eastern Chalukyas, Chalukya-Cholas, Vishnukundina, Gajapati, Chagi, Paricheda and Kota Vamsa.[3]

Raju is a Telugu language variant of the Sanskrit title Raja, a term for a monarch or princely ruler. Cynthia Talbot describes the term as being:

...most often used by members of noble or princely lineages. [But it] could also designate an individual employed by a lord or prince.[4]

In medieval Andhra Pradesh, the title was used in both senses, and was very likely adopted by some secular Brahmins, who occupied important advisory functions. The royal usage at that time was particularly prevalent in the northern coastal areas of the region. Talbot also notes that the title, and others in use at that time, do not align with the Vedic four-fold varna system and in that sense could not refer to a caste.[4] However, they do appear to have conformed to

...the existence of broad social categories based primarily on occupation. Although [the title] did not necessarily designate a distinct class, much less a bounded community, or a hereditary grouping, various sets of these titles differentiated social types marked by a common status and shared occupation.[5]

Temple inscriptions from the period of the Kakatiya dynasty, a South Indian dynasty that flourished between 1175-1324 CE in the Telugu-speaking lands now in Andhra Pradesh, refer both to royal and clerical rajus as donors, together with peasant leaders called reddies.[6]

Modern community


A report published by the Overseas Development Institute in 2002, describing the Rajus of Andhra as an ex-warrior caste, noted that along with the Kapu and Vellamar they were

...important communities with considerable political significance in the State, although in numerical terms they constitute only a small percentage of the population and spatially are confined only to small pockets.[7]

As of 2002 the Rajus constituted less than 1 per cent of the population in Andhra Pradesh, concentrated mainly in the coastal region.[8]

A well-known contemporary Raju was Sathya Sai Baba.[9]



  1. ^ The anthropologist Minna Säävälä glossarises the present-day Rajus as a "higher caste of traditional warriors and rulers; Kshatriya",[2] but does not provide an explanation or source for this description.


  1. ^ Satyanarayana, A. (2002). "Growth of Education among the Dalit-Bahujan Communities in Modern Andhra, 1893-1947". In Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi. Education and the Disprivileged: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century India. Orient Blackswan. p. 53.  
  2. ^ Säävälä, Minna (2001). Fertility and familial power relations: procreation in south India. Psychology Press. p. xvi.  
  3. ^ Krishnarao, B.V (1942). A History of the Early Dynasties of Andhradesa. V. Ramaswami Sastrulu. p. 258. 
  4. ^ a b Talbot, Austin Cynthia (2001). Precolonial India in practice: Society, Region and Identity in Medieval Andhra. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 57–58.  
  5. ^ Talbot, Austin Cynthia (2001). Precolonial India in practice: Society, Region and Identity in Medieval Andhra. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 61.  
  6. ^ Talbot, Austin Cynthia (2001). Precolonial India in practice: Society, Region and Identity in Medieval Andhra. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 17, 112.  
  7. ^ Srinivasulu, K. (September 2002). "Caste, Class and Social Articulation In Andhra Pradesh. Mapping Differential Regional Tragectories". London: Overseas Development Institute. p. 3.  
  8. ^ Suri, K. C. (September 2002). "Democratic Process and Electoral Politics in Andhra Pradesh, India". London: Overseas Development Institute. p. 10.  
  9. ^ N. Suman Bhat (2005), Saints of the masses, Sura Books, p.82
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