The word Gounder is mainly used as a caste name by the Kongu Vellalars, a Kshatriya clan in Tamil Nadu, who are also called the Vellala Gounders. Kongu vellala meaning Ganga Vallala in Sanskrit or the one who rules the Gangavadi (Similar to Hoysala "Ballala"), not to be mistaken with the mistaken Velala or farmer. Caste systems are traditional, hereditary systems of social stratification.
Kongu Vellalar are a land owning and dominant feudal caste of Tamil Nadu, India. Tamil Nadu is a state at the southern tip of India.
Sanskrit is an Indo-European Classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
The name Gounder is a title for warriors which is applied to various castes like the Vokkaligas and Telugu Kshatriyas; though the former, the Gangadicara Vokkaligas may be a cut off stream as the Ganga country later lost its identity to Tamil and Kannada. They are the descendants of the Gangakula kshatriyas. Kambar in his Mangala valthu, which is still read in Gounder marriages, says, "Ganga kulam vilanga Kambar sonna vakkiathai'. The Gangas belong to the Solar race of Kshatriyas, known as the "Suryavamsam". They originally are from Ayodhya as they are referred in the Silappadhikaram as "Kongilam kosargal", or people from Kosala. They also belong to the Ikshvaku dynasty that Rama belonged to. Upto the Mahabharata age, they used to marry other Indian Kshatriyas. Mahabharata's Uttara was from Dharmapuram. The name Kongu is a derivant of the word Ganga. Sadly this lineage has been eclipsed by the Dravidian movement. Kongu vellalars often use surnames such as Mandradiar, Gounder, Goundan, Vanavarayar, Kalingarayar etc.
The Cheras,Pandyas, Banas and Pallavas themselves being Kshatriyas later amalgamated and settled with this caste. This is evident from Gotra (kootam) names Cheran,Pandyan and the Vanavarayas and Mummudi Pallavarayas who are affluent families even now. They originally were called "Kolumunai theendadha karalar" or the people who never touched the ploughshare, being overseers (Yajamanas again meaning one who supports the Yagnyas). Later, due to population increase (like the modern day Rajputs), they took to direct farming. Their earlier title was Kangeyan, meaning the one from Ganga. Even now there are people with titles like Surya Kangeyan, Kangeya Mandradiyar and Kangeyan itself. The language of Gangavadi was Kangeya Basha or Kangee which due to Standard Tamil assault has become one of its dialects.