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Kurubas are a caste of Hindus concentrated mainly in the southern states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, India. They are also known as Dhangars in Maharashtra, Kurumba / Kurumans / Kurumbar in Tamil Nadu, Gaddi, Bharwad, Gadaria, Nikher, Pal, Baghel in North India, Bakarwal in Jammu & Kashmir and Oraon in Eastern India. Unofficial population estimate in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka is about 16 million.

Classification: Caste/Kshatriya Dhangar
Significant populations in: Northern India, Western India, Southern India, and Central India
Language Kannada, Tamil, Telugu
Religion Hinduism
Vijayanagara Empire.



The word Kuruba means "warriors" and "trustworthy people." The word "Kuru" means "do or seek" in Sanskrit, and "Kuruhu" means "trust" in Kannada. "Kuruba" can be inferred to mean "doers" or "trustworthy (male person)". Kuruba can also be inferred to mean Seeker of Knowledge, Kuru (seek), Bha (Knowledge, Light). Kuruba has a direct meaning of one who herds "Kuri" (Sheep) in Kannada, mainly a Shepherd.



Saint Poet - Kanakadasa.
Great Poet - Kalidasa.

The Kuruba community is one of the oldest existing communities of India, tracing its history back to Mahabharata times. Kurubas have a great love for kannada language .The population of the Kuruba community in Karnataka alone is nearly 80 lakhs. People of the Kuruba community have long practised a variety of professions, and have not been confined to their traditional (and still predominant) occupation as shepherds and farmers. They have been the source of several ruling dynasties, most recently the Holkars of Indore; it has also been stated by some scholars that the Hoysala dynasty may have hailed from this community. Undeniably, a very large section of rural gentry in Karnataka, and many chieftains and feudal barons in past eras, have belonged to the Kuruba community.

Most prominent Kurubas have been Hakkaraya and Bukkaraya, founders of Vijayanagara Empire, ,Hoysalas, Pallavas, Holkars, Sangolli Rayanna, Mauryas, Yadavas etc. Some Kurubas have been social thinkers and poets, such as Kalidasa and Kanakadasa.

The Great Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar was the first freedom fighter who made an army, in 1803, mostly consisting of Kurubas(Dhangars) to fight with the British and to drive them out of India. He built a factory to manufacture tanks. He appealed to the rest of the Kings of India and said, "First Country and then Religion. We will have to rise above caste, religion and our states in the interest of our country. You too must wage a war against the British like me". His appeal fell on deaf ears as all of them had already signed treaties with the British. The Kurubas took part in the revolt of 1857. Many of them were hanged to death in Berar (M.P.). The British were so much afraid of Kurubas that they made a law banning purchase of land by Kurubas stating a reason that they were not Kunbis (agriculturists). They were oppressed in all spheres of life.

He was the only king in India to whom the British approached to sign a peace treaty. Initially he refused to sign any treaty with the British, but when he saw that rest of the kings were not ready to unite and were interested in personal benefits he was the last to sign a treaty with the British on 24 December 1805 at Rajghat. He did not accept any condition which would affect his self respect.

Similar to Kurubas who are Yaduvamsha Kshatriyas, there are gouds/Idigas who are Somavamsha Kshatriyas and Palli, Jalari who are Mathsya vamsha kshatriyas.Meat selling community who are Are Kshatriya( Katika). Padmasali/Devanga who are having brahminical lineage.

Allama Prabhu, President of Lingayat Temple at the time of allowing saint Rewad in the temple stated "Kuruba Hutavamunna Kulavilla Gotra Villam, Kuruban fal kani Basawanna." meaning "Before the kurubas there were no gotras, gotras came with kurubas, Basawanna, we are the decendants of kurubas". This shows that many Lingayats were kurubas/Dhangars previously


Kurubas are Hindus who follow Halumatha. Halumatha is also referred to as palamatha in some parts of India. Religion of the Palakas. Worshiping Almighty Source in stone (Linga) form might have originated from Halumatha. Stone is the source for the soil. Soil is the source for the plants. Plants are the source for the animals. This may be the reason for worshiping Almighty in Stone. Through the ages, this stone worship tradition might have led to worshiping Shiva (Pashupati) as Beeralingeswara, Mailara Linga, Khandoba, Mahadeshwara, Nanjundeswara, Mallappa, Mallara, Mallikarjuna, Junjappa etc. Even the worshiping of shakti as Yellamma, Renuka, Chowdamma, Kariyamma,hallehoramma,thottilhiramma Chamundi, Bhanashankari, Gullamma etc. might have come from this tradition. Even today ancestral worship as deities is very common. The worship of ancestors like Revanasidda, Rama, Hanuman, Krishna, Keshava, Ranganatha, Eera Thimmanna, Tirupati Thimmappa, Venkateswara, Kalidasa, Siddarama, Kanakadasa, etc. as Devaru very much exists in Kuruba traditions.

Beeralingeswara temples have Balaga with Gowda, Buddhivanta, Bandari, Kolkara etc. Generally priests in Beeralingeshwara and Milaralingeshwara temples are Kurubas. Kurubas were great warriors and had established many ancient kingdoms such as the Hoysala kingdom in Karnataka and Pallava kingdom in present day Tamil Nadu; they reached their zenith of prosperity between AD 1300 and AD 1600 under the great Vijayanagara Empire.

Kurubas are known by different names in different regions of the country. In some locations in Karnataka, people from the Kuruba community use Naiker as surname. It means the same as Gowda (a leader of village or temple). The following are used:

Andar, Ahiyaru, Ahir, Appugol, Maldhari / Bharwad / Rabari, Bharavadaru, Dhangar, Dhangad / Dhanwar / Dhanka /Dhangod, Doddi Gowda, Goravar,Gadhariya, Gadaria, Gowda, Gaddi, Gadri, Gollavadu, Gounder, Halumatha, Heggades, Idyar, Kaude, Khuruk, Kuda, Kuruba, Kuruba Gowda, Kurama, Kurumba, Kurmar, Kurumbar, Kalavar, Kuruma, Kurumavaaru, Kurkhi, Kurupu, Naikers, Nikhers, Oraon, Pal / Pala, Palaru, Paalakyatriya, Poduvar, Yadavalu,Mane(being the upper class of the following).

Kuruba kingdoms

Emblem of the Vijayanagara Empire


Kurubas today

Traditionally warriors and farmers, Kurubas were late to take up modern education, but have made rapid progress in many fields. They reached the zenith of prosperity under the Vijayanagara empire[1]



Traditionally Kuruba Gowdas celebrate most Hindu festivals. They have their own costumes, songs, ballads and plays in praise of god such as:

Kuruba epics

Famous kuruba gowdas

See List of Kurubas.

Books about Kurubas

The following literary works are on Kuruba Gowdas

  • Bharatha Kurubara Charithre by V R Hanumanthaiah
  • Halumatha Darshana by Shambha Joshi
  • Karnataka Kurubas by Shivanand Gubbanna
  • Badal Aamhi Ghadvinar in Marathi by Mahadeo Jankar
  • Satyashodhak,Dandnayak-Saint Kanakadass (in Marathi) by S.L.Akkisagar

Portrayal of kurubas in media

Kuruba Gowdas are portrayed in films such as

See also: List of Kuruba films

Community websites

Pastoral Community interlinks in India

Related External websites about the community and its history


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