Karanam or Karana is a caste mostly prevalent in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. In Orissa this is spelled as Karana and in Andhra Pradesh it is spelt as Karanam. In Andhra Pradesh, they are also called as Sristikaranam, Sistukaranam, Sistakaranam, Sristikaranalu, Sistukaranalu, Sistakaranalu or Karanalu.The Karanam community of Andhrapradesh were migrated from Cuttack and Puri District of Orissa to look after various royal management of different dynasties of Kalinga-Utkala(ancient Orissa) empire and after the northern portion of present day Andhra Pradesh was occupied by Vijaya Nagaram King from Orissa's Gajapati Empire,these Karana Community settlled in different part of the mighty kingdom of Vijayanagara and were appointed in various official work fields like accounts, court, Govt duties or tax, solving the internal problems in villages, collecting the information, statistics, look after village karanam work etc.Gradually the Karanam community adopted telugu language.Still Karnalu,a special form of mix language of Telugu & Oriya prevelent in the Karanam community of Andhra Pradesh. In the border district of Orissa (Koraput, Rayagada, Nowrangpur, Ganjam, Paralakhemundi) and Andhra Pradesh (Visakhapatnam, Vizianagram, Srikakulam, Prakasam, Guntur) karana caste people are known as telugu karana or oriya karana or sometimes used interchangeably. Since Patnaik is the most common surname, it is used interchangeably with Karana.

Surnames of Karanams in Andhra Pradesh

In Andhra Pradesh the surname may be Amiti, Arikathota,Gandavarapu, Behara,Makkuva, Lakshmi Dhara Mahanthi, Raghupatruni, Avasarala, Balivada, Bogela, Kuppili, Mantri, Garbham, Pakki, Baggam, Narasipuram, Regulavalasa, Kallepalli, Basara, Kantimahanti, Vadada, Vandrangi, Gadagamma, Wuriti, Murthy, Donepudi, Sundarigari, Sadasivuni, Manipatruni, Chandramahanti, Yellumahanti, Durgumahanti,Salihundaun etc.

Surnames of Karana/Karanams in Orissa

The surnames of the people Oriya speaking Karanas may be Das,
Patnaik,Pattnaik,Pattanaik,Pattanayak,DasPatnaik,ChauPatnaik,Mohanty/Mahanty/Mahanti, Kanungo,Ray,RayChoudhury,Bogela, Kuppili,Dabbiru, Mahapatra,DasMahapatra,RayMahapatra,Patra,Samantaray,Samanta, Das Adhikari,Choudhury,Bohidar,Routray,Baral,Parija,Harichandan,Chhotray,Maity/Maiti(mostly found in the Midnapore District of West Bengal.These are the alternate surname of Mohanty/Mahanti) etc in Orissa.

Culture & Social Living of Karanam of Andhra Pradesh

Karanam Culture, especially in Andhra Pradesh, is associated with Niyogi Brahmins. They have common festivals which were/are celebrated by Brahmins, but Karanams, unlike the rest of the Brahmins, were warriors, administrators, ministers, reformers in pre-independent colonial India i.e. more like the Samurais of Japan. Typically, Niyogi Brahmins take on secular vocations such as the Karanam position, which is a highly esteemed position in villages because Karanams are tantamount to upwardly mobile members of the village i.e. aristocrats. Historically, the Karanam position is patrilineally passed down from father to eldest son and this position stays within the family. But in the early 1980s, N.T. Rama Rao, a prominent actor and politician, mandated that the Karanam position be rescinded. In place of a Karanam, he established a Mandal officer position which is granted based on merit and scholarship, not based on caste thereby giving opportunity to people from any caste to contest for such a position.

Karanam Culture also has roots in Kayastha of North India. Kayastha believe they are decendants of Chitra Gupta. Accounting is the main profession for Kayastha. Like Kayastha, most Karanams in Andhra Pradesh are the head village accountants for their respective villages.

Culture & Social Living of Karana/Karanam of Orissa

The Karana community of Orissa is regarded as the most intellectual Oriya community.They are similar to the Kayastha community of North India.

Madala Panji is a a chronicle of the Jagannath in Puri and the dynasty of Kalinga-Utkala Empire(ancient Orissa).It describes the historical events of Orissa related to Lord Jagannath or Jagannath Temple.The earliest use of prose can be found in the Madala Panji or the Palm-leaf Chronicles of the Jagannatha temple at Puri, which date back to the 12th century.While writing Orissan history, historians like Sir W.W.Hunter and Andrew Stirling considered the facts related in Madala Panji as base. The Madala Panji was traditionally written on a year-by-year basis. On Vijaya-Dashami day, the Karanas of Puri involved in keeping the chronicle. This ritual is cited as a proof that the tradition of keeping this chronicle began with Orissan king Chodaganga Dev (1078-1150 ) himself.The reference to "some Panjis" above should be explained. According to the tradition, Chodaganga created 24 families of Karanas to preserve the temple and the empire records. Of these, five were entrusted with the writing and preservation of the Madala Panji. They are:

Panjia Karan -- preserves the Madala Panji, Tadan Karan -- writes the Madala Panji, Deula Karan -- enforces the Madala, Kotha Karan -- the main compiler, Baithi Karan – assistant.

The Madala Panji has not been kept officially for more than 50 years now, though it is still said that there are Karanas who keep an unofficial record.

After the fall of Orissa's Gajapati Empire the Karana community played an important role in administration of Orissa region under Marathas,Mughals & British rule.They were appointed in important postions in administration in both Mughalbandi(costal Orissa) which was directly ruled by Mughals,Maratha & Britishers & Garhjat(feudatory states of Gajapati emperor of Orissa) which was independently rulled by the Hindu royals of Orissa.Even the Karana community occupied large numbers of Zamindari during this period streched from Ganjam to Midnapore.

After independence also Karana community plays an important role in Orissa's socio-political arena.In Orissa, Brahmins and Karans (more popular as Patnaiks or Kayasths) have been dominating politics for the last 50 years. If you take a close look at all the leading parties in the state, you may admit that either a Brahmin or Karana at the top.The first chief minister of Orissa after independence, the late Nabakrushna Chaudhury was a Karan by caste.He was succeeded by Harekrushna Mahtab, a Kshatriya (Rajput). After him, another Karan Biren Mitra became the CM. Biju Patnaik succeeded him. Then came Sadashiv Tripathy, a Brahimin. He was followed by Biswanath Das, his caste brother. In the early 70s, a kshatriya and Maharaja of earstwile Bolangir Garhjat, R N Singh Deo, became the chief minister. Then Nandini Satpathy,brahmin came to power. She was succeeded by another Brahmin, Binayak Acharya.In 1977 Nilamani Routray,a Khandayat,a branch of Oriya karana became chief minister.From 1980 to 2000, it was Karan leaders who ruled the state -- Janaki Ballav Patnaik for the first 14 years and Biju Patnaik for five.Now Naveen Patnaik,the son of legendry Biju Patnaik is in power for the second consecutive terms.

Great Oriya Karana Personality:

Raya Ramananda Pattanayak(16th century A.D.)was the Governer of Godavari Province under Orissa's Surya Vanshi GajapatiPrataparudra Deva.He was a great poet and could explain everything in a very elegant style. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu heard "Rasatattva" from Ramananda's mouth. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and Vaishnava philosopher.His Sanskrit drama "Jagannatha Ballava Nataka" was staged at Puri in which for the first time in Orissa he introduced female artists on the stage."Native Place"-"Puri","Orissa"

Madhavi Pattanayak(Madhavi Dasi)(16th Century)Madhavi dasi is considered the first poetess in the Oriya language. She was a contemporary of the famous Pancha Sakha poets in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries. She was born in Bentapura village of Puri district in a Karana family and was the sister of Raya Ramananda Pattanayak.Her chosen path was that of simple devotion and intense passionate longing for the Lord Jagannath.She wrote religious poetry in the mid-16th century."Native Place-Puri,Orissa" Raja Gopinath Pattanayak(17th Century)He was the king of Hijli Kingdom(costal Midnapore District of West Bengal),a feudetory state of Orissa's Gajapati empire."Native Place"-"Hijili Kingdom",present day Contai town of Midnapore District of West Bengal.

Dinakrushna Das(17th Century)He was a famous poet of Orissa, belonging to the Vaishnava movement.He is known for his Oriya poem titled ‘"Rasakallol"a,’ which is devoted to Lord Krishna. Among his many literary compositions, "Artatrana Chautisa" is a reputed one."Native Place"-"Puri,Orissa"

Jagabandhu Patnaik(Jaggu Deewan)Raja Arjun Singh of Porahat (Singhbhum)and his Dewan Jagabandhu Patnaik took part in anti-British activities during the 1857,the first war ofindependence. The Kol Rebellion of Singhbhum in 1831 was the outcome of the inspiration and instigation of Jagabandhu Patnaik more popularly known as Jagu Deewan to the Kols. In the firstwar of independence he too encouraged Raja Arjun Singh to raise his arms against the British.Jagu Dewan with a strong force rose against the British and occupied Chakradharpur.But the British force under Lt. Birch reoccupied Chakradharpur.Jagu Dewan was captured and hanged."Native Place-Chakradharpur,District West Singhbhum,Jharkhand".

Utkala Gourava Madhusudan Das(1848-1934)A lawyer, patriot, politician, and industrialist, had played a leading role in the making of the state of Orissa. Born in a rich Zamindar family, he passed matric from the Cuttack high school and went on to complete his MA, LLB from Calcutta University.Later he adopted christianity. He practiced as an advocate for fifteen years in Kolkata before returning to Cuttack in 1881.During the British rule the Oriya people were scattered across four states. Madhusadan Das took a valiant stand for unification of scattered Oriya tracts. He organized 'Utkal samilani' in 1903 and started a revolution called 'Desha Mishrana Andolan'. He took up the issue with the British high command and as a result the declaration for a separate state was issued in 1933.He was a great legislator and journalist who rose as a symbol of new hope and aspiration of all Oriyas. He was the founder of the English magazine named 'The Oriya'. His poem 'swalpa hele sudha' revealed love for the Oriya community. He was the member of administrative council of Orissa, Bihar and Bengal for around thirty years from 1896. He had served the office of the minister for self-administration and health for Bihar and Orissa from 1921 to 1923, the post which he eventually resigned owing to differences with the British.Madhusudan Das was also a reputed industrialist. Acclaimed as an eminent lawyer and administrator, He passed away in 1936."Native Place-Satyabhamapur,District-Cuttack,Orissa."

Nabakrushna Choudhury was born in a mighty karana Zamindar family .While continuuing his graduation in Ravenshaw College, he took part in non-cooperation movement and left his course incomplete. In 1922 he trained himself in Sawarmati Aashram and started serving for his motherland. In 1925 he joined for graduation degree again at Shantiniketan. After completing the graduation he participated in the freedom movement. He has been imprisoned in the years 1930, 1932, 1940, 1942 for takling part in the salt revolution, law-disobedience revolution and Garjhat revolution etc.HE was elected to the legislative assembly in the year 1937. In 1946 he held the position of Finance minister in Harekrushna Mahatab ministry. He resigned from the post because of his son's death in 1948. On 12th May 1950 he became the Chief Minister of Orissa. Till 1956 he worked as the Chief Minister of Orissa. He resigned and left the party and started serving the country. Some of his works include the first five year plan for Orissa the removal of landlord System, the law to make Oriya language the official language, establishment of the agricultural university, Baji Rout hostel for the students and many other laws to help the people.In 1964 he visted Nagaland & Kashmir and tried to handle the situation there. Then he dedicated himself for the purpose of upliftment of education in Orissa. Due to degradation of the political environment in India again he returned to the field of politics in 1974. He was jailed in 1975 during the emergency period. He has dedicated his life for helping the poor. The Champati Munda Jeevan Vidyalay and the Nava Jivan Mandal are the two organiations set by him for the schedule caste and schedule tribe students. He was very honest, fearless, selfless and was a person of high morale. Throughout his entire life he has struggled against corruption and suffering."Native Place-Kherash Pragana,District-Jagatsinghpur,Orissa."

Ramadevi Choudhury adoringly called Maa (Mother) by the people of Orissa, was a celebrated freedom fighter and a social reformer. Born on the 3rd December, 1899 at Cuttack, she inherited a great legacy as the daughter of Gopal Ballav Das and the niece of Utkal Gaurab Madhusudan Das. At the tender age of 15, she married Gopabandhu Choudhury, then a Deputy Collector and later a freedom fighter.After independence, Rama Devi dedicated herself entirely to the cause of Bhoodan and Gramdan movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Along with her husband she travelled on foot about 4000 kilometers across the state to propagate the message of gifting land and wealth to the landless and poor.In recognition of her selfless services to the nation, Rama Devi was honoured with the Jamnalal Bajaj Award on the 4th November, 1981 and the Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris causa) by Utkal University on the 16th April, 1984.A remarkable saga of courage, dedication, and supreme sacrifice came to an end on the 22nd July, 1985, the day Rama Devi breathed her last."Native Place-Cuttack,Orissa."

Sarala Devi Choudhury noted freedom fighter & social reformer."Native place-Cuttack,Orissa".

Pranakrushna Parija(1891-1950) noted scientist,educationist & social worker."Native place-Cuttack,Orissa".

KalingaPutra Bijayananda Patnaik(Biju Babu)(1916-1997)After completing his schooling from Ravenshaw Collegiate School,Cuttack.After studying Aeronautics at the Aeronautical Training Institute of India, he started his career with Indian National Airways. He was imprisoned until 1945 due to his participation in the Quit India Movement. He had also plunged headlong into the Nepalese Democratic Movement and Indonesia's struggle for independence from the Dutch. He flew out the then Indonesian Prime Minister Sultan Sjahrir to Singapore, and then to Delhi where Sjahrir met Jawaharlal Nehru. After independence, the grateful Indonesian government subsequently conferred its highest civilian award, "Bhumi Putra" to him. He served as the Chief Minister of Orissa from 1961 to 1963 and again from 1990-1995. He was a member of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.He was the cabinet minister at the centre for four times. He was involved with many projects like the Paradip Port, the Orissa Aviation Centre, Bhubaneswar Airport, the Cuttack-Jagatpur Mahanadi highway bridge and many others. He passed away in New Dehli on April 17, 1997. He founded the Kalinga Prize, which the UNESCO has been conferring for excellence in the field of science.He was the most prominent national leader of India."Native Place-Ganjam & Cuttack,Orissa."

Janaki Ballav Patnaik is an Indian politician, and a former chief minister of Orissa, in which capacity he served for the longest time on record.Currently he is the Leader of the Opposition in the orissa Vidhan Parishad. Apart from that he is recognised as an eminent poet and writer Sankrit and Oriya language, and has won awards from the Rajya Sahitya Academy and Kendra Sahitya Academy.He is now appointed as Chancellor of Tirupati based Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha."Native Place-Begunia,District-Khordha,Orissa".

Gopinath Mohanty (1914 - 1991)),the prestigious Jnanpith award(1993) winner , eminent Oriya novelist of the mid-twentieth century is arguably the greatest Oriya writer after Fakir Mohan Senapati."Native Place-Cuttack,Orissa".

Manoj Das (1934- ) is an Indian award-winning writer in Oriya and English.Since 1963, he has been an ashramite at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Manoj Das is currently an English professor at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry.He was awarde Saraswathi Samman in the year 2000."Native Place-Balasore,Orissa".

Sitakanta Mahapatra (1937-), he is the third recipient Jnanpith awardee from Orissa after Shri gopinath Mohanty and Sri Sachi Routray. He is perhaps most widely translated Oriya poet. One of the foremost voice in the Indian poetry. His poetry has been translated into all the Indian languages, French, German, Swedish, English, Czech, Danish, Russian, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian and Ukranian.Earlier he worked in the executive Board of the Central Sahitya Academi and was a member of Indian National Commission for Co-operation with UNESCO."Native Place-Bhubaneswar,Orissa".

Kabichandra Kalicharan Patnaik

Sreedhar Rao Karanam (1954- ), currently a High Court Judge of Karnataka and on a path to higher posts was born in Bellary Karnataka and is very well revered for his quick wittedness when it comes to solving cases. Credited with numerous awards for his just thinking and accomplishments and also well regarded as a very religious man believing very much in conservative principles and believing in the welfare of the country.

Gopal Chhotray (1916-) Eminent national theatre personality."Native Place-Purunagarh,District-Jagatsinghpur,Orissa,"

Satyanarain Bohidar

Balailal Das Mahapatra

Hemachandra Kanungo

Surendra Mohanty

Akshaya Mohanty

Uttam Mohanty

Praibha Ray

Gita Patnaik Mehta

Jatin Das

Nandita Das

Aloka Kanungo

Debashis Mohanty

Shivsundar Das

Devraj Patnaik

Ellora Patnaik

Prabhat Patnaik

Sudarshan Patnaik


Karanam is a writer-caste. Its a sect of Brahman, whose vocation or kulavruthi (caste profession) is writing and/or professions that need writing skills such as documentation of land and property titles, accounts maintenance, legal writing, lawyers etc. Karnams, primarily, had jobs as bureaucrats and government officials before the 1980s.

In the past, they are well educated, wealthy, and good administrators; many people from Niyogi caste were government officers, employees, teachers, professors, principals, lawyers,and doctors in Northern Andhra Pradhesh and Orissa border districts.

Now a days, many of them are employed as Software professionals, doctors, etc in foreign countries therefore the NRI (Non-resident Indian) population is increasing rapidly.

Similar Castes

Karuneegar Pillai:

Karuneegar Pillai is the closest related caste to the Karanam / Karnam caste, which exists predominantly in Tamil Nadu and other parts of neighboring states including southern borders of Andhra Pradesh.Karuneegars are considered to be Karnams closest relatives. Karuneegars share same beliefs and have common responsibilities such as white collar jobs as village accountants. Karuneegar Pillai is the subdivision of Pillai. Pillai is not related to Karnam. In the sense, the other communities of Pillai (except Karuneegar), are not related to Karnam. Pillai is just a title name as when started. The other communities of pillai, does NOT share common beliefs and does NOT have primary jobstyle as village accountants. So Karuneegar is the only division which has relationship with Karnam.

Karanam's also belong to 'Madhwa' class of Brahmins. They follow Dvaita Philosophy.

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