A search for the first ever mention of the ‘Andhras’ as a distinct race in the human history would lead us to the age of Vedas. In the Eithereya Brahmana (which belonged to the Rig Veda), in the story of Sunahssepa, we find that the Vedic Sage Maharshi Viswamitra, who was already blessed with a hundred sons by then, wanted to adopt this non-Brahmin boy Sunahssepa as his hundred and first son. Fifty of his hundred sons, who did not like the Maharishi’s act of adopting Sunahssepa as his hundred and first son, express their dissent. Angered by this act of his sons, the Maharshi curses and orders them to leave Aaryavartha, the land of Aaryas, and go to the farther regions (regions outside the land of Aaryavartha) where the Andhras, Pundras, Pulindas, Mutibas etc races were residing by then, stay there for ever and get themselves lost amongst the peoples of these races for ever.
This was actually a curse, a punishment pronounced by the sage Viswamitra on fifty of his own sons for not obeying his orders. In a way, this episode means that people of the races i.e., Andhra, Pundra, Pulinda, Mutibas etc were considered as people of inferior birth with whom people of Aryan race would not like to come in contact with.
This apart, the story, nevertheless, indicates that a people with the distinct race-name ‘Andhras’ were in existence by then and even before the composing of Eithereya Brahmana.
In ‘Ramayan’ while sending his subjects, the Vaanaraas, for searching Sita, the Vaanara-king Sugreeva specifically mentions the names of the areas in Dandakaaranya where they have to carry out the search. The areas mentioned were those inhabited by the Andhras, Pundras, Cholas and Keralas.
‘ChaaNura Mallu’ a mighty wrestler of Mahabharat times who was killed by Sri Krishna was by race an Andhra. This act earned for Sri Krishna the title of ‘ChaaNura Mardana’. We find this in ‘Vishnu Sahasra namam’.
The king of Andhra region was one of the many kings present in the Maya Sabha, the palace and royal residence of Pandavas when Dharmaraja performed the Rajasuya yagna. Andhras, however, fought against Pandavas i.e., fought on the side of Kauravas in the great war of Mahabharat.
‘Manu Smriti’, a work of 4th century BC, mentions that the offspring born to a Kaaravara woman and a Vaideha man, who made hunting as their livelihood, came to be known as Andhras.