Akkanna on the Left and Madanna on the Right from the Dutch Potrait Series of the Golconda High Command
The brothers Akkanna and Madanna were born to Pengala Banooge Timayamah or Banoojee Puntooloo in Hanamkonda of Warangal. They had two brothers and some sisters. According to some sources, they are named Madhava Bhan(u)ji and Akkarasu Bhan(u)ji. Akkanna is generally seen with a Vaishnavite mark on forehead while Madanna is seen with that of Shaivite. Because of this they are considered Smartha Brahmins. There is a possibility that they are not Telugu Brahmins but Maratha Brahmins settled in Telangana some generations before.
Madanna was in the service of Sayyid Muzaffar, who was a central figure in the government during the later reign of Abdullah (r. 1626-72) and in the royal court after his arrest on 7 January 1674
His official rank with the king is majmu‘adar shahi, the king’s collector or bookkeeper. He had the titles Mahram-i Asrar-i-Shahinshahi or Mahram-i Asrar-i Zill Allahi, “Confidante of the Secrets of the King of Kings/Shadow of God.” While Akkanna’s rank was shahnawis-i kull-i qalamraw-i sultan, “chief bookkeeper of the crown estate,” and later sar-lashkar. Also, he had two or three trade ships under his name. Their main role was collection of revenue in the kingdom.
It appears that the brothers grew to be so powerful that the sultan was in effect pensioned off. In September 1685 it was rumoured in Masulipatnam that the sultan had absolutely no say in state matters anymore, and that he had transported everything, including the royal seal, to Madanna on the condition that he receive 150,000 rupees a month.
When the French, through a Brahmin tried to settle at San Thome exchange for 100,000 hons, the Dutch factors wrote a letter to Madanna requesting the complete destruction of the town. San Thome was razed to the ground in 1675.
They were part of the plan along with their suzerain to send the rebel son Akbar of Aurangzeb to Persia. This plan had been worked out, in collusion with the Persian envoy to the court, by the sultan and his brother-in-law, entitled Sharif ul-Mulk. and the Dutch. Apparently the sultan and Sharif ul-Mulk had tried to conceal the matter from Madanna and his brother.
Madanna was also known for his munificence towards Brahmins. Madanna once had a very expensive ‘ashura’ khana (pavilion for the celebration of the Shi‘i festival of Muharram) built in Hyderabad and built buildings for feeding Brahmins at regular intervals along the route between Masulipatnam and Hyderabad. Also, there was a five-day celebration of Madanna’s birthday on which food and clothes were distributed to Brahmins. In Vijayawada alone, 3,000 saris and 4,000 cloths of other types were handed out on this occasion in 1682, for which Brahmins and their wives had come to the town from far and wide. Linganna, their cousin and Sarlashkar of Karnatik displayed his organisational skills to Madanna and Akkanna by having a feast ready for 12,000 Brahmins on the occasion of their visit to Tirupati.
Madanna led the Golconda Armies along with Muhammad Ibrahim to support Abdul-Karim Bahlul Khan in the summer of 1676, when the Mughal forces came to get him for the murder of Khawas Khan.
After Abdul-Karim aligned himself with the Afghans in the Mughal force, and the Deccani nobles of Bijapur broke away, Madanna supported the Deccani faction.
Madanna’s policy was to bribe off Mughals instead of fighting them after Shivaji decided to keep the Karnatik lands to himself, both for critical and trivial reasons. For instance, during the 1683 advance on Hyderabad, the money sent over the months of March through July amounted to 855,000 rupees, plus a load of mangoes with the last instalment (Aurangzeb was very fond of mangoes from one of his letters to Bidar Bakht). This amount was sent over and above the enormous annual peshkash remitted to the emperor(Although The peshkash was 200,000 hons in 1636 and increased to 5,000,000 rupees (ca. 650,000 old hons) in the period of Madanna.)
In 1682, in what seems to have been a move to forestall any warlike behaviour by the army, Akkanna was appointed sar-laskar instead of Muhammad Ibrahim. The Dutch Havart commented “he was as capable of handling the sword as the iron is capable of swimming, and he had never seen a battle except in a painting.” Madanna’s cousin Yenganna, entitled Rustam Rao, was also appointed to a high position in the army.
In 1684 when Abul-Hasan thought of putting an impromptu elephant fight while he was taking leisure in his Lingampalli garden with his harem, the Mughal ambassador, however, threatened to leave the city and notify Aurangzeb, for elephant fights were an imperial prerogative that was jealously guarded by Aurangzeb:
Madanna also tried to induce the king to refrain therefrom, since it could create great trouble, over which the king, annoyed, said to his grandees in order to ridicule Madanna: “I see that Madanna is a good Mughal ambassador,” upon which Akkanna brought his majesty in a better temper… and immediately arranged everything necessary for the fighting in his own garden, and requested the king to agree to have it there. Meanwhile his master of ceremonies Samanna satisfied the ambassador with a gratuity of 5,000 rupees and thus it took course, without further objection.
In 1685, when a Mughal army under Aurangzeb’s son Shah Alam approached the city, Madanna and Akkanna left their town houses to take refuge in the fortress, where they were killed on 29 October 1685 by Sidi Makta, an Abbasynian who was removed by Madanna a few months before for some slight and some other slaves at the order of “an old woman.”(Accd to Havart), while on their way home from the darbar, the brothers were killed by one Jamshid and some other slaves and the murder was commissioned by Saruma and Jani Sahiba, who wielded supreme power in the palace and had been the main wives of Abdullah.(Accd to Khafi Khan). The Nawab of Golconda was not privy to the plan of murder. Their murder was made to look like a riot where many Brahmins, including twelve prominent ones including Rutum Rao lost their lives in Hyderabad.
One of the conditions offered for peace by Shah Alam was according to Khafi Khan: “making powerless and imprisoning Madanna and Akkanna, which two brothers were the cause of the mean rebellion [fasad] of the inhabitants of Hyderabad.”. Akkanna’s and Madanna’s heads were sent to Shah Alam as a consequence of this. When Shah Alam came close to Hyderabad, he razed the huge Shiva temple which Akkanna built at Maheshwaram.
Below are the reasons given for their death –
1. Elevation of Brahmins in administration as against Muslims
2. Treason. It is mentioned that the brothers wrote a letter to Aurangzeb’s son Shah Alam saying that he and his second in command Bahadur Khan should just come with their armies and that they would present them with the keys of the kingdom assuming that they leave the governance of Golconda to themselves. Also, it is thought in the court of Golconda that Madanna had instigated Muhammad Ibrahim to cross over and wanted to go over himself as well. There was a story going around that Akkanna was involved in a feud with a Zamindar Raja “Attamataroydoo” over the right of precedence in a narrow street. Later, Madanna reprimanded his brother for this as the Raja was supposed to be the newsletter writer of Aurangzeb in the Deccan. It is said that the Raja played a part in the death of the brothers by forging letters of defection in their writing.
After the departure of Shah Alam, little over a month after he arrived, Abul-Hasan took matters in hand and the Brahmin faction managed to regain power. He put a Brahmin, Persupati Venkatadri, at the helm. A certain Venkarapiti, who was appointed majmu‘adar to replace the murdered Madanna in exchange for 100,000 hons. In April 1686, however, Vessanna, the eldest brother of Madanna, was invested with the dignities formerly belonging to Madanna after he had donated 200,000 hons. In Oct 1686, Vessanna was superseded by Mir Husaini Beg and Golconda fell in Jan 1687 through treachery.