Introduction / History
The Telugu word Kapu or Kaapu means protector. They are also referred to by their caste title Naidu, which means leader.
Where Are they Located?
Kapus were inhabitants of the Andhra region, people who migrated from the north, cleared forests for agriculture and built settlements. They are the descendants of the Kaampu tribe, an Indo-Aryan tribe, which migrated from Kampilya, Mithila and Ayodhya. These were ancient cities situated in the Gangetic Plains of North India spread across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The migration seems to have occurred 2500 years ago, which coincides with the rise of the first Andhra Kingdom, Satavahanas. This migrant tribe initially settled along the banks of the Godavari River, cleared forests and built settlements and towns.
The Kapus were primarily a military/agrarian community which took up military service and participated in farming during peace time. Consequently the Kapu subcastes also evolved based on occupation. Kapus who engaged in trade were referred to as Balija. Balijas who took up military service and protected trading caravans were called Balija Nayakulu or Balija Naidu.
Modern day Kapus have banded together to fight for their political rights in the caste system. They have also organized agricultural unions to protect their way of life.
They are found primarily in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where they make up about one-quarter of the population. The Kapu community in Andhra Pradesh is predominantly concentrated in the coastal districts, North Telangana and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh. They are also found in large numbers in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Orissa.
What Are Their Lives Like?
A significant number of Kapus have today diversified into industry, arts and academia. However, substantial segments of the population are still farmers. They are similar to farming peoples in neighboring Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Orissa, Rajasthan and also Madhya Pradesh.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Kapu are primarily Hindu. They also live among many Muslims.
What Are Their Needs?
Missionary activity in the Andhra Pradesh region has seen spouts of success in winning the population to Christ. In 1710, a Roman Catholic missionary established one of the first mission stations in the region and nearly 300 people came to faith. Various Protestant missions groups arrived some two hundred years later. Today, 30 major denominations are represented in the state. The Church at large, however, has struggled long and hard against nominalism. Of the 33 tribal groups in Andhra Pradesh, 16 have yet to be evangelized.
* That missionaries will be called to the Kapu.
* That the spiritual and physical needs of the Kapu will be met by Christian leaders.
* That God will open the minds and hearts of the Kapu to the love of Christ.