Konar (caste)

Kōnār is a sub-caste of Yadav community,[1] [2] from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. They were traditionally held to be a pastoral community involved in cattle cultivation, who are otherwise also known as Ayar and Idaiyar,[3] and who appear in the ancient Sangam literature as occupants of the Mullai (forest region).[4][a] However, historically they have held positions such as kings and chieftains.[6]

According to Alf Hiltebeitel, Konar is a regional name for Yadava, the caste to which Krishna belongs.[7] Several vaishnavite texts associate Krishna with the Aayar caste, or konar, most notably the Thiruppavai, composed by goddess Andal herself, most notably referring Krishna as the “Aayar kulathu mani vilakke”. The caste name is interchangeable with the names Konar and Kovalar being derived from Tamil word Kōn, which can mean "king" and "herdsmen".[5][8] The word might be derived from the from Tamil word kōl, a herdsman's staff.[5] The Tamil word kōl also means a king's sceptre.[9][10]

The word Ayar might be derived from the Tamil word Aa, meaning cow.[5] The term idai (middle) might refer to the Mullai region, being an intermediate zone between two other Sangam landscapes called Kurinji (hilly region) and Marutham (cultivation region), but probably reflected their intermediate socio-economic status.[11] Idaiyar remains the most commonly used word in Tamil for a cow-herder, and another name for Ayars was pothuvar, meaning common.[12]

According to medieval inscriptions the konars are mentioned as Nandaputras of yadava lineage.[13]