Sardar Papanna

Name : Sardar Sarvayi Papanna Goud or Sardar Sarvai Papanna or Sardar Sarvay Papanna or Papadu 
Born: August 18, 1650 in Khilashapur of the present Station Ghanpur, Jangoan District, Telangana
Died: April 2, 1710
Parents : Mother is Sarvamma and father is Dharmanna Goud. Dharmana Goud, the elder of the village, was killed by the local nobles for standing on the side of Dharma. 

Papanna, who is locally known as “Papadu” a freedom fighter, was a “bandit” for the Mughal and Qutub Shahi rulers who rose from humble beginnings to become a folklore hero.His deeds have been described by historians Barbara and Thomas Metcalf as "Robin Hood-like", while another historian, Richard Eaton, considers him to be a good example of a social bandit. 

Papadu lived during the period when the Mughal Empire had expanded its interests in South India and when tensions between the Muslim ruler Aurangzeb and his Hindu populace were rising. 

Papanna has a fighting spirit from childhood. When he was in Kallu Mandava, the Mughal soldiers used to mock and taunt him. When a soldier was about to kick his friend with his foot, he couldn’t control his rage and cut the soldier’s neck with a sharp knife. His guerilla war that started there continued till he became the emperor of Golconda fort.

Papanna started a guerilla army with his friends Chakali Sarvanna, Mangali Masanna, Kummari Govindu, Jakkula Perumallu, Dudekula Piru, Kotwal Mir Saheb and 12 others. He used to run trains in the heart of Gadila Dora. Papanna’s name and fame spread and youth joined Papanna’s army in large numbers. The guerrilla army that started with 12 men grew to 12,000. 

First, in 1675, he built a fort in his own village Shapur (now Khilashapur) and laid the foundation for the expansion of his kingdom, then he occupied the fort of Sarvaipet and gradually he captured about 20 forts including Tatikonda, Kolanupaka, Cheryala, Husnabad, Huzurabad, Bonagiri, Warangal and Kota till 1678–80. Finally, he conquered Golconda and ruled for 7 months. If you look at some of the important events of his fighting life, you can understand his military, diplomatic ethics and punctuality.

By Jan 1707, Hyderabad had become an epicenter for Mughal politics. Both kambaksh and Bahadur shah I contested for the Mughal throne. kambaksh was defeated and was killed.

On 31 March 1708 after the death of Aurangzeb (March 3, 1707), he initiated an attack on the heavily fortified former capital city of Warangal with a force of between 2500 and 3500 men. This action was planned to coincide with the eve of the Muslim celebrations of Ashura, when the city walls would be poorly manned and proved his martial ethics.

In 1708, he also besieged and besieged the mighty Bonagiri fort, married the sister of the fort Foujidar and captured the Bonagiri fort. After the capture of Warangal fort, enormous wealth fell into the hands of Papana. 

He defeated Fauzdar of kolanupaka near Bhongir and killed some of the Mughal commanders.

The emperor Bahadur Shah I, recognized Sarvai Papanna as a king and honored him by gifting ‘Robe of Honor’. In return, Papanna offered to the emperor vast wealth. After that, within 6 months, Papanna declared himself as the emperor and stopped Kappam Kattu to Delhi. 

In 1709, seeing Bahadur Shah I rule weakened by the power struggle between Delhi Mughals he invaded and conquered Golconda fort. He ruled  for 7 months whole of Telangana from there until his death in last battle. 

During that 7 month rule he implemented many reforms in his kingdom from Warangal to Golconda. He gave important posts to the Bahujans and encouraged the Bahujan landlords here and there on par with the zamindars. Unable to digest the presence of a low caste as the king, the hereditary landlords and all the foujdars from other regions followed the path of Delhi and put pressure on the Mughal emperor and insisted on eliminating Papanna at any cost. The Muslim emperor Bahadur Shah’s army, the Hindu landlords, nobles, and Nayaka Sena all together besieged Golconda. 

The beginning of the fall of Papanna can be dated to June 1709. Prisoners at Shahpur including his brother-in-law, the faujdar managed to overturn their captors and take possession of the fort while Papanna was besieging another fort elsewhere. Simultaneously, Dilawar Khan was advancing on him and, unaware of the situation at Shahpur, Papanna thought it prudent to defend his position by lifting his siege and retreating to his base. When he reached Shahpur he found that the tables were turned on him: he was fired upon by his former captives, using his own cannon, and with the imminent arrival of Khan he was forced to take refuge in the very compound that he had constructed to imprison them. Finding his position there to be untenable, and facing the desertion of some of his own forces, he decamped to the fort at Thatikonda or Tatikonda or Tarikonda, leaving Khan to take control of the wealth within Shahpur in accordance with instructions of his superior, the governor of Hyderabad.

Bahadur Shah I sent Yusuf Khan, the Hyderabad governor, sent a force of several thousand to besiege Thatikonda and this became a prolonged affair, lasting until March 1710. At that point, Yusuf Khan determined to take personal charge, doubling the number of imperial forces to around 12,000 and being further aided by the provision of at least 30,000 soldiers – cavalry and infantry – supplied by local landowners. This concentration of support from Hindu chieftains, together with the fact that they were the first to oppose him when he was originally based at Thatikonda and evidence that he attacked both Muslims and Hindus, demonstrate that Papadu's motivations and the popular support for them were not based on religious considerations. Claims that he was a "Hindu warrior" are further negated by analysis of the names of his followers noted in the ballads, which appear to demonstrate that those within his group included Muslims and non-Hindu tribal peoples in almost equal proportion to Hindus.

Despite the considerable forces set against him at Thatikonda, it was bribery that caused significant losses for Papadu: his men, by now weary, hungry and demoralised, were tempted to defect by offers of double pay made in May. The final straw was when Papadu ran out of gunpowder and was forced to flee in disguise. Although wounded, he was able to reach the village of Husnabad before being betrayed by a toddy tapper and captured by the brother-in-law who had previously been his prisoner. He was executed a few days later. 

While controlling the fort at Shahpur between 1702 and 1709, Papanna and his soldiers were under siege four times.  The war, which began in late 1709, lasted until April 1710. Sardar Papanna fought the enemy army till the end. But he was captured by his brother-in-law’s conspiracy. Finally, in April 1710, Papana was beheaded and sent to Bahadur Shah in Delhi. A statue of his has been installed at the Bhongir fort in Telangana. 

The traditional accounts say that the method of execution was that of decapitation, and that thereafter his body was cut into pieces and his head sent to Delhi and some say he committed suicide to avoid capture and insult and humiliation.

After almost 30 years of social struggle, the Bahujan empire that was established has collapsed. Papanna during his reign of 30 years ruled Buvanagiri of Nalgonda, Thatikonda of Warangal, Kolanupaka, Cheriyala, Karimnagar, Huzurabad and Husnabad regions. However in his tenure of 30 years Papadu ruled boldly and brought in Socio-Economic Equality in the society!

Much of the information relating to Papadu is of the quasi-historical type. His exploits, and those of other folk heroes of his area and era, are documented primarily in ballads that have passed through the generations and are still sung locally. It is in the context of studying folklore and linguistics that much of the evidence, such as it is, has been collected. However, there is also the work of Khafi Khan, a contemporary chronicler who based his writings on official reports circulating in the Mughal empire.

At the base of the Bhongir fort is a statue of Sardar Sarvai Papanna, a chieftain who is believed to have defended the fort against the rulers of Golconda.

There are many living testimonies of Sarvai Papannagoud’s struggle even today. Khilashapur, Tatikonda fort, Vemulakonda forts built by him, Husnabad town, Ellamma temple, check dams built by him are still standing today. The Saka of Renuka Ellamma temple in Golconda fort is also from that time. There the first bonam is offered as a tribute to the Gowda social class Papanna. There are many folk tales and songs that have continued since then. In 1874, an English historian named JA Boyal recorded 7 Burra stories of Payala Raju, the sentence in the inscription of Dulmitta Veeragallu, “Bandipota Gowda Shapur Khila Puli Gowda, Yabadi Roddi, Shabbarayada, Fodaur Papanna Gowda” is a Living proof. Cambridge University conducted a study on Papanna and published a book (The New Cambridge History of India, The Social History of Deccan) with his portrait. There is a stone statue of Sarvai Papanna in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Historians Barbara and Robert Mate Klip describe Papanna as the “Robin Hood of the Deccan”, while Richard Eaton calls him a “social bandit”. This generation owes a debt to Pervaram Jagannath and former DJP Pervaram Ramu who have given the history of sin to the present generation.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao said that freedom-fighter Sardar Sarvai Papanna Goud stood as a symbol of self-respect and courage of Telangana. With his endeavour for political and social equality of all sections of people, he had carved a niche for himself in the history.