Zitierweise | cite as: Amarasiṃha <6./8. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (Amarakośa) / übersetzt von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- 2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam. -- 14. kṣatriyavargaḥ (Über Kṣatriyas). -- 1. Erster Abschnitt. -- Anhang 1: Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya [যোগেন্দ্রনাথ ভট্টাচার্য্য] über Kriegerkasten (1896). -- Fassung vom 2017-04-27. -- URL: http://www.payer.de/amarakosa6/amara2141aAnhang.htm
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Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath [ভট্টাচার্য্য, যোগেন্দ্রনাথ]: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and toward other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, Spink, 1896. -- 623 S. -- S. 132 - 158
PART VII. THE MILITARY CASTES.
The political importance of the Rajputs [राज्पुत] in India is well known, and I need not, in this book, say anything as to what their position had been until the country became subject to Moslem rule. Their past history is a glorious one; and although it is long since they have been shorn of their ancient greatness, yet it cannot be said even now that they have no importance whatever. From time immemorial, they looked upon war and politics as their only proper sphere, and although the Brahmans allowed to them the privilege of studying the Shastras [शास्त्र], yet they never devoted their attention to the cultivation of letters. The traditions of their families, and the hereditary aptitude for the art of warfare developed in them, made them the perfect type of good soldiers. But their want of literary culture made their great generals incapable of recording their own experiences in such manner as to be available for the benefit of their successors. The Bhats [भाट] who served as their genealogists lavished praises on their ancestors, and excited them to feats of bravery, but could never give them anything like a good history. The Brahmanical Purans [पुराण] distorted the facts so as to suit the policy of their authors, and gave greater importance to the good or bad wishes of a Brahman, than to either military or diplomatic skill. On the other hand, the Rajputs themselves were too illiterate to profit by even the little authentic history that was in the Purans. The result was that, with all their natural talents and personal bravery, they could not secure to the country a sufficient number of good generals and political ministers. A genius shone at times. But in no country and in no community are Chandra Guptas [चन्द्रगुप्त मौर्य, 4. Jhdt. v. Chr.] and Vikramadityas [विक्रमादित्य] born every day. A natural genius like that of Sivaji [शिवाजी भोसले, 1627/30 - 1680] or Ranjit [ਰਣਜੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ, 1780 - 1839] may do without any kind of education; but the majority of even the best men in every country require training in order to develop their capacities, and the necessary means for that training was sadly wanting among the Rajputs. Thus, in spite of all their soldier-like virtues, they failed to cope with the early Mahomedan invaders. But the greatest of the Mahomedan rulers—not even Akbar [1542 - 1605] [ جلال الدین محمد اکبر] or Alaudin [gest. 1316] [علاء الدین خلجی]— could break their power completely. The wrecks which they preserve still of their former greatness are not at all inconsiderable. The majority of the leading Hindu chiefs of India are still of their tribe. A great many of the Hindu landholders, big and small in every part of India, are also of the same caste. The Rajputs are still generally quite as averse to education as their ancestors ever were. But already some members of the class have shaken off their old prejudices, and have received the benefits of English education. And the time seems to be fast coming when the scions of the Ksatriya [क्षत्रिय] aristocracy will prove to be formidable rivals to the Brahmans and the Kayasthas [कायस्थ], in the race for high offices, and for distinction in the liberal professions. Some noble examples of such departure have already been set in Bengal. The well-known Vakils [वकील], Babus Prasanna Chandra Roy [প্রসন্ন চন্দ্র রায] and Saligram Sing, of the Bengal High Court, are Rajputs by caste. The former is a Rajput zemindar of Nadiya [নদিয়া]. In the early years of the Calcutta University he attained its highest honours, and for a time, practised with great success in the Bar of the Allahabad [इलाहाबाद] High Court. If he had continued in the profession, he might have been one of its recognized leaders; but the exigencies of his patrimony and his indigo plantations compelled him to keep himself unconnected with the Bar for nearly twenty years. He has lately resumed his profession as a Vakil of the Bengal High Court, and is fast rising in eminence. In the Judicial Service of Bengal there are at present two gentlemen who are of the Rajput caste. They are the grandsons of the celebrated Babu Kesava Roy of Nakasipara [নাকাশীপাড়া], who was the terror of his district in his time, and who with his army of Goala clubmen successfully set at defiance the authority of the police and the magistracy.
The Rajputs [राजपुत] are to be found in every part of India, and the total population of the tribe exceeds ten millions. The following table shows their numerical strength in each of the several Provinces where they are most numerous: —
|N. -W. Provinces||3,793,433|
There are no sub-castes among the Rajputs properly so-called. They are divided into a large number of clans, the rules among them relating to marriage being as follows: —
Like the Sarswats [सारस्वत], the Rajputs are said to marry within their Gotra [गोत्र] provided the clan is different.
The principal clans of the Rajputs are the following: —
Besides these, there are twenty-four other principal clans, and each of these is divided into numerous subclans. The usual surnames of the Rajputs are:
In respect to diet the Rajputs do not strictly conform to the practice of high caste Hindus. There are many among them who eat both fish and such flesh as is not forbidden by the Shastras [शास्त्र]. Some eat even pork. There are, however, some among them who are very puritanic, and who do not eat any kind of animal food. Their caste vanity is such that it is very rare to find two Rajputs of different families who will eat together, and hence there is a common saying in the country that a “dozen Rajputs cannot do without at least thirteen kitchens.” The Rajputs of Bengal eat kachi [कच्ची] food, i. e., rice, dal [दाल], fish, or flesh cooked in water by a Brahman. In other parts of the country the practice is not uniform, and some Rajputs refuse to take kachi [कच्ची] food even from a good Brahman of their country, unless such person is the spiritual guide of the family. As to pakki [पक्की] food, i. e., such as is prepared by frying flour or vegetables in ghi [घी], the Rajputs have not much prejudice, and like the modern Brahmans of Bengal they will take it from any of the clean Sudra [शूद्र] castes such as the Dhanuk [धानुक], Kurmi [कुड़मी], Kahar [कहार], Lohar [लोहार], Barhi [बढ़ई ?], Kumhar [कुम्हार], Goala, Napit [नापित], Mali [माली], Sonar [सोनार] and the Kaseri, provided that no salt or turmeric has been used in the making. These the Rajput will add himself before eating.
The Rajput is the best person from whom a Brahman can accept a gift. A Brahman may also officiate as a priest in a Rajput household without lowering himself in the estimation of his castemen. There is nothing in the Shastras to prevent a Brahman from eating even kachi [कच्ची] food from the hands of a Rajput. But in actual practice the Brahmans do not eat such rice, dal [दाल], fish or flesh as is cooked, or touched after cooking, by a Rajput. The ghi [घी] cakes and sweetmeats made by the Rajputs are, however, eaten by the best Brahmans, with the exception of only a few of the over puritanic Pandits [पण्डित]. The Brahmans will eat also kachi [कच्ची], food in the house of a Rajput, if cooked by a Brahman, and untouched by the host after cooking. The following is a list of the leading Rajput chiefs of India together with the names of the clans to which they belong: —
* The Maharaja of Vizianagram [విజయనగరం], in the Vizigapatam [విశాఖపట్నం] district, represents the royal house of the ancient Kalinga [କଳିଙ୍ଗ] country. According to the local traditions, one of his remote ancestors, named Madhava Varma, came to the Telugu country from the north, and having conquered it, settled there with all his followers, who are divided into five classes. Intermarriage still takes place between these Rajputs and those of Northern India. But there is in Kalinga another class of the military caste who are called Khond Rajus (Lit., hill Chattris). The Gajapati [ଗଜପତି ] Rajas are Khond Rajus, and intermarriage cannot take place between them and the Rajputs properly so-called.
The number of minor chiefs and landholders who are of the Rajput caste is so large that a complete list of them cannot possibly be given in this book. The Maharaja of Domraon, near Arrah [आरा], one of the biggest landlords in Behar [बिहार], is a high caste Rajput, representing, it is said, the line of the great Vikramaditya [विक्रमादित्य].
The Rajputs are admitted by all to be true Ksatriyas [क्षत्रिय] and are not to be confounded with the Kshettris [क्षेत्री] of the Punjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] who are usually regarded as Buniyas [बनिया], and an account of whom is given in the next chapter. The inferior Rajputs of Bengal are called Pukuria [পুকুরিয়া], or “Tonkmen." They wear the sacred thread, but some of them are to be found employed as domestic servants and tillers of the soil.
There is very considerable difference of opinion as to the exact position of the Kshettris [क्षेत्री] in the Hindu caste system. Some authorities take them to be the same as the bastard caste Kshatri [क्षतृ], spoken of by Manu as the offspring of a Sudra [शूद्र] father by a Ksatriya [क्षत्रिय] mother. *
* See Manu X, 12, 13; see also Shyama Charan’s Vyavastha Darpan, p. 659.
The people of this country include the Kshettris among the Baniya [बनिया] castes, and do not admit that they have the same position as the military Rajputs. The Kshettris themselves claim to be Ksatriyas [क्षत्रिय], and observe the religious rites and duties prescribed by the Shastras [शास्त्र] for the military castes. But the majority of them live either by trade or by service as clerks and accountants, and their caste status ought, it seems, to be intermediate between that of the Rajputs [राज्पुत] on the one hand, and the Baniyas and the Kayasthas [कायस्थ] on the other.
In their outward appearance the Kshettris lack the manly vigour of the Rajput and the broad forehead of the Brahman. But they are generally very handsome, and with their slender figures, their blue sparkling eyes, and their aquiline nose, some of them look exactly like the Jews whom they resemble also in their character. In trading as well as in service, they generally display great shrewdness. But there is not found among them either the enterprise of the Parsis [پارسى], or the literary industry of the Brahmans and the Kayasthas [कायस्थ]. What they want in real ability is, however, more than made up by their power of ingratiating themselves in the favour of their masters at any cost. They possess in great abundance all the virtues and vices of courtiers. But while these form the most conspicuous features in their character, they combine in it a great deal of what is good and noble in the Brahman, the Rajput, the Baniya and the Kayastha. In Campbell’s Ethnology of India is to be found the following account of the Kshetri caste: —
‘‘Trade is their main occupation; but in fact they have broader and more distinguishing features. Besides monopolising the trade of the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] and the greater part of Afghanistan [افغانستان], and doing a good deal beyond these limits, they are in the Panjab the chief civil administrators, and have almost all literate work in their hands. So far as the Sikhs [ਸਿੱਖ] have a priesthood they are, moreover, the priests or Gurus [ਗੁਰੂ] of Sikhs. Both Nanak [ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ, 1469 - 1539] and Govind [ਗੁਰੂ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿੰਘ, 1666 - 1708] were, and the Sodis and Bedis of the present day are, Kshetris. Thus, then, they are in fact in the Panjab, so far as a more energetic race will permit them, all that the Maharatta [मराठा] Brahmans are in the Maharatta country, besides engrossing the trade which the Maharatta Brahmans have not. They are not usually military in their character, but are quite capable of using the sword when necessary. Dewan Sawan Mull, Governor of Mooltan [ملتان / ਮੁਲਤਾਨ], and his notorious successor Mulraj [ਦੀਵਾਨ ਮੂਲ ਰਾਜ], and very many of Ranjit Sing’s [ਮਹਾਰਾਜਾ ਰਣਜੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ, 1780 - 1893] chief functionaries, were Kshetris. Even under Mahomedan rulers in the west they have risen to high administrative posts. There is a record of a Kshetri Dewan of Badakshan [بدخشان] or Kunduz [کندوز]; and, I believe, of a Kshetri Governor of Peshwar [پېښور ] under the Afghans. The Emperor Akbar’s [1542 - 1605] [جلال الدین محمد اکبر] famous minister, Todar Mull [gest. 1586] [ٹوڈرمل], was a Kshetri; and a relative of that man of undoubted energy, the great commissariat contractor of Agra [आगरा], Jotee Prasad, lately informed me that he also is a Kshetri. Altogether, there can be no doubt that these Kshetris are one of the most acute, energetic, and remarkable races of India. The Kshetris are staunch Hindus, and it is somewhat singular* that, while giving a religion and priests to the Sikhs, they themselves are comparatively seldom Sikhs.
* I cannot understand why Sir George Campbell considered this circumstance a singular one. It only illustrates the common saying that a prophet is never honoured in his own country. Christ is not honoured by the Jews; nor is Chaitanya [চৈতন্য, 1486 - 1543] honoured by the Brahmans of Nadiya [নদিয়া].
The Kshetris are a fine, fair, handsome race, and, as may be gathered from what I have already said, they are very generally educated.
“No village can get on without the Kshetri, who keeps the accounts, does the banking business, and buys and sells the grain. They seem, too, to get on with the people better than most traders and usurers of this kind. In Afghanistan, among a rough and alien people, the Kshetris are, as a rule, confined to the position of humble dealers, shopkeepers, and money-lenders; but in that capacity the Pathans [پٹھان] seem to look at them as a kind of valuable animal; and a Pathan will steal another man’s Kshetri, not only for the sake of ransom, but also as he might steal a milch cow, or as Jews might, I daresay, be carried off in the Middle Ages, with a view to render them profitable. ”—Campbell’s Ethnology of India, pp. 108— 112.
Many of the Kshettris now go to England, and those who do so are not very harshly treated by their castemen, as in other provinces. Some of the Kshettris have qualified to practise as barristers.
There are four main divisions among the Kshettris.
* The name of the Kukkur tribe is
mentioned in the Mahabharat. See Udyoga Parva, Chap. XXVII.
The Sereens are to be found only in the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ]. They have four main divisions among them, each of these having a large number of exogamous sections, as shown in the following table: —
The above lists, taken from Sherring, were referred to Baba Sumera Singh, the Chief of the Sodi Gurus, now in charge of the Sikh Temple at Patna [पटना], and have been pronounced by him to be substantially correct. The third Guru of the Sikhs, Ummer Das [ਗੁਰੂ ਅਮਰ ਦਾਸ, 1479 - 1574], was of the Bhalle clan, included in class No. 1, of the Sereen Kshettris. The second Guru, Ungat [ਗੁਰੂ ਅੰਗਦ ਦੇਵ, 1504 - 1552], was of the Tihan clan, included in class No. 2. The last seven Gurus were all of the Sodi clan included within the same group. Guru Nanak [ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ, 1469 - 1539], the founder of the sect, was not a Sereen, but a Banji of the inferior Bedi clan. His descendants are called Bedis. The last Guru left no descendants living, and the Sodis, who are now venerated by the Sikhs as his representatives, are the descendants of the following: —
The Bhalles and Tihans form small communities.
The Sodis and Bedis are very numerous. The chief of the Bedis is now the Hon’ble Baba Khem Sing [1830 - 1905], of Rawal Pindi [راولپنڈی], who has lately been made a member of the Legislative Council of India. The chief of the Sodis is, as stated above, Sumera Singh, the High Priest of the Sikh Temple at Patna [पटना]. These gentlemen do not possess any knowledge of English. But they are both very intelligent, and there is an air of dignity and greatness in their very appearance which cannot fail to command notice and admiration.
It has been already stated that the Bedis, who are descendants of Guru Nanak, belong to the Banjai division of the Kshettri caste, and that the Sodis belong to the division called Sereen. Intermarriages, however, are now taking place between the Bedis and the Sodis.
The Kukkurs are found chiefly on the banks of the Indus and the Jhelum, near the towns of Pind-Dadan Khan, Peshawar, and Nowshera. Their usual surnames are—
Mr. Sherring says that there are some Kukkurs in Benares [वाराणसी]. In Calcutta [কলকাতা] there may be some of the class, but I have never met with any one claiming to be so.
These are, properly speaking, Baniyas [बनिया]. But as they take the sacred thread and claim to be Kshettris [क्षेत्री], they are included in the group dealt with in this chapter. They are found chiefly in the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ]. Their total number is 673,695. The majority of them are shopkeepers and brokers. The sweatmeat makers of Panjab are mostly Rorhas. The other classes of Kshettris neither eat with the Rorhas nor intermarry with them.
The Banjai Kshettris are to be found throughout the greater part of Northern India. The total population of the class in each province is given in the following table: —
|N. -W. Provinces||46,650|
In Bengal proper the Kshettri population is very small. The only places in it where any considerable number of them are found to be settled are Calcutta [কলকাতা] and Burdwan [বর্ধমান]. The Calcutta Kshettris live here for trade; the Burdwan Kshettris have been made to colonise there by the Maharajas of Burdwan, whose family are Kshettris of the Adrai Ghar clan. The Soni Kshettris of Behar [बिहार] who do the work of goldsmiths seem to have been enumerated as Kshettris in the last Census. But the Sonis are a distinct caste altogether, between whom and the good Kshettris there can neither be intermarriage nor intercharge of hospitality on a footing of equality. The Kshettri weavers of Gujrat [ગુજરાત] are also a distinct caste.
The Banjai Kshettris are divided into many hypergamous and exogamous groups which, with their titles, are shown in the following table: —
Names of groups. Names of clans and titles.
|1a. Adrai Ghar
1b. Char Ghar
|2. Chazati or "the six clans"||
|3. Bora Ghor or “the twelve clans”||
Besides the above there are many other Kshettri clans which have a very low status.
The Adrai Ghar Kshettris have the highest position in the caste, and though they may take in marriage a girl from a family of a lower group, they will never give a daughter of their own family to a bridegroom of a lower status. The Maharaja of Burdwan [বর্ধমান] is of the Adrai Ghar clan. Guru Nanak [ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ, 1469 - 1539], the founder of the Sikh religion, was a Banjai Kshettri of the inferior class called Bedi. The other Sikh Gurus were all of the Sereen tribe.
The Sarswat [सारस्वत] Brahmans of the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] usually officiate as priests in Kshettri households. It is said that the Sarswats will eat even kachi [कच्ची] food cooked by a Kshettri. If they do so, they are quite within the law of the Shastras [शास्त्र]. The Brahmans of the other parts of the country do not honour the Kshettris by accepting their hospitality in the shape of kachi food cooked by them. But no Brahman will hesitate to accept their gifts, or to take a drink of water from them. Those Brahmans of Bengal and N. -W. Provinces whose religious scruples are not very strong, will take from the hand of a Kshettri pakki [पक्की] food unmixed with water or salt. They will eat also kachi [कच्ची] food in the house of a Kshettri, if cooked by a Brahman, and untouched by the host after cooking.
The bastard descendants of the Kshettris are called Puriwal [पुरीवाल], a name which literally means a person belonging to a town. The Puriwals form a distinct caste, and the Sahu Kshettris or Kshettris of pure blood do not intermarry with them.
The Jats [ਜੱਟ / जाट] are the most important element in the rural population of the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] and the western districts of the North-Western Provinces. The last Census gives the following figures as the population of the Jats in the several provinces of India where they are found: —
|N. -W. Provinces||701,259|
The Jats do not wear the sacred thread; and have among them certain customs which are more like those of the Sudras [शूद्र] than of the twice-born castes. But in every other respect they are like the Rajputs [राज्पुत]. Ordinarily, the majority of both the Jats and the Rajputs live by practising agriculture. But when the occasion arises, the Jat can wield the sword as well as the most aristocratic of the military castes. The late Lion of the Panjab [Ranjit Singh - ਰਣਜੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ, 1780 - 1839] and many of his leading generals were of the Jat tribe. To the same clan belongs also the Maharaja of Bhurtpur [भरतपुर], whose ancestors, from the beginning of the last century, played an important part in the politics of Northern India, and at the time of the conquest of the Doab by Lord Lake [Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount Lake, 1744 – 1808] compelled that great general to raise the siege of Bhurtpur which he had undertaken. The present reigning family of Dholepore [धौलपुर] are also Jats. The Jats themselves claim to be Ksatriyas [क्षत्रिय]. But as they do not wear the holy thread, they are usually looked upon as having the status of only clean Sudras [शूद्र]. There cannot therefore be intermarriage between the Jats and the Rajputs [राज्पुत]. The Jats are, like the Rajputs, divided into a large number of exogamous groups, and, among them, as among the superior Ksatriyas, marriage is impossible between parties who are members of the same clan. The Jats have been supposed, by some of the best authorities on Indian ethnology and antiquities, to be a Scythic tribe. General Cunningham identifies them with the Zanthii of Strabo and the Jatii of Pliny and Ptolemy, and fixes their parent country on the banks of the Oxus [آمودریا] between Bactria [باختر ], Hyrkania [Ὑρκανία], and Khorasmia [خوارزم]. But the sufficiency of the grounds on which this view rests has been questioned, Prichard remarks: —
“The supposition that the Jats of the Indus are descendants of the Yuetschi [月氏] does not appear altogether preposterous, but it is supported by no proof except the very trifling one of a slight resemblance of names. The physical characters of the Jats are extremely different from those attributed to the Yuetschi and the kindred tribes by the writers cited by Klaproth and Abel Remusat who say they are of sanguine complexions with blue eyes —Researches IV, 132.
The question cannot possibly be answered in a satisfactory manner so long as the ethnology and history of Russia and Central Asia are not carefully investigated by scholars. There are certainly historical works in Russia and Central Asia which might throw a flood of light on many an obscure passage of Indian history. But the necessary facilities for such study are sadly wanting at present, and the state of things is not likely to improve, until Russian scholars come forward to take their proper share in the field of Oriental research. In India itself a great deal yet remains to be done to provide the necessary basis of the ethnological sciences. A beginning has been made by Messrs. Dalton, Risley and Ibbetson. But the work must be prosecuted more vigorously before it can be expected to yield any important results.
The word Khandait [ଖଣ୍ଡାୟତ] literally means a “swordsman.” The Khandaits are to be found chiefly in Orissa and in the adjoining districts of Chutia Nagpore [छोटा नागपुर]. They were the fighting class of Orissa under the Hindu kings of the province. They are divided into two main sub-classes called the
These names indicate that the former represent the ancient military commanders, and the latter the rank and file who are now mainly agriculturists, and are therefore called Chasa Khandaits. Intermarriage between these sub-classes is not impossible, but is very rare in practice. Intermarriage takes place sometimes between the Khandaits and the Karans of the Nulia clan.
Whatever their origin may have been, the Khandaits have now very nearly the same position as the Rajputs. The best Brahmans do not hesitate to accept their gifts, or to minister to them as priests. The Khandaits do not take the sacred thread at the time prescribed for the Ksatriyas [କ୍ଷତ୍ରିଯ]. But they all go through the ceremony at the time of their marriage, and their higher classes retain the thread for ever as the twice-born castes are required by the Shastras [ଶାସ୍ତ୍ର]୯ to do. With regard to the Chasa Khandait, it is said that they throw away the janeo [= yajñopavīta] on the fourth day after marriage. There is a class of Khandaits in Chutia Nagpore छोटा नागपुर] who are called Chota Khandaits. They are in the habit of eating fowls and drinking spirits. The Brahmans regard them therefore as an unclean caste, and will not take even a drink of water from their hands. The usual titles of the Khandaits of Orissa are as stated below: —
The Marattas [मराठा] are the military caste of the Maharatta country [महाराष्ट्]. Their position in the Hindu caste system was originally not a very high one, and even now it is not exactly the same as that of the Rajputs [राज्पुत्] of Northern India. But the political importance acquired by them, since the time of Sivaji [शिवाजी भोसले, 1627/1630 - 1680], who was a member of their community, has enabled them to form connection by marriage with many of the superior Rajput families, and they may be now regarded as an inferior clan of the Rajput caste. The lower classes of the Marattas do not go through the ceremony of the Upanayana [उपनयन], or investiture with the thread. But they take it it at the time of their marriage, and are not held to be altogether debarred from its use. Their right to be reckoned as Ksatriyas [क्षत्रिय] is recognised by the Brahmans in various other ways. Even the most orthodox Brahmans do not hesitate to accept their gifts, or to minister to them as priests. The only ground on which they may be regarded as an inferior caste is the fact that they eat fowls. But in no part of the country are the military castes very puritanic in their diet.
The Marattas [मराठा] have two main divisions among them. The branch called the “ seven families ” has a superior status. The great Sivaji [शिवाजी भोसले, 1627/1630 - 1680], and the Rajas [राज] of Nagpore [नागपूर] and Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] were members of this division. The “seven families” are—
There is another division among the Marattas called the "ninety-six families.” [शहाण्णव कुळी मराठा] These have an inferior status. The Maharajas of Gwalior [ग्वालियर] and Baroda [વડોદરા] are of this class. The inferior Marattas are usually employed by the superior castes as domestic servants. The Maratta tribe is not to be confounded with the tribe called Mahars [महार] who serve as village watchmen and also practise the art of weaving. The Mahars are an unclean tribe, while the Marattas are certainly a clean caste. The name of the Maratta country seems to be derived from that of the Maratta tribe.
The Nairs [നായർ] of Malabar [മലബാര്] and Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] are more a tribe than a caste. They are generally said to be all Sudras [ശൂദ്രർ], and they have among them a large number of sections pursuing different avocations, from that of the soldier to the most degrading forms of menial service. The last Census includes them among the military and dominant castes, and as the Maharaja of Travancore is a Nair, I do not see any strong reason to give the tribe a different place in the caste system. The Nairs have among them many who are well educated, and who hold very high positions in the service of Government and in the liberal professions. The caste status of these is similar to that of the Kayasthas [कायस्थ] of Northern India. But there are some sections among the Nairs whose usual occupation is menial work, and the status of the entire body of the Nairs cannot be said to be the same as that of the writer castes. The following are the names of the different sections of the Nairs: —
The peculiarities in the social constitution and in the marriage laws of the Nairs have been described already. See p. 107, ante. Their unique customs and laws are the outcome of the undue advantage taken upon them by their priests, the Numburi [നമ്പൂതിരി] Brahmans. The nominal marriage which every Nair girl has to go through with a Brahman is a source of profit to the titular husband. The freedom which is subsequently given to the girl to choose her male associate from an equal or a superior tribe is also advantageous to the Numburis. But the Nairs are being roused to the necessity of better laws, and they have of late been demanding for special legislation in order to get rid of their ancient customs, and to have the benefit of such laws as are recognised by the Hindu Shastras [ശാസ്ത്ര].
In the extreme south of India the most important military caste is that of the Maravans [மறவர்]. The Rajas of Ramnad [இராமநாதபுரம்], and Sivaganga [சிவகங்கை] are of this caste. The head of the Maravans is the Raja of Ramnad who assumes the surname of Setupati [ஸேதுபதி] or “Master of the Bridge,” though it has been decided by the Privy Council that the shrine of Rameshwar [இராமேசுவரம்] belongs to its priest, and not to the Raja of Ramnad. The Raja of Ramnad is, however, entitled to great honor from the other Rajas and noblemen of his caste.
“The Raja Tondiman [ராஜ தொண்டைமான்], of Puthukottei [புதுக்கோட்டை], the Raja of Sivaganga [சிவகங்கை], and the eighteen chiefs of the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] country must stand before him with the palms of their hands joined together. The chiefs of Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி], such as Kataboma Nayakkan, of Panjala Kureichi, Serumali Nayakkan, of Kudal Kundei, and the Tokala Totiyans being all of inferior caste, should prostrate themselves at full length before the Setupati, and after rising must stand and not be seated.”*
* Nelson’s Manual of Madura, Part II, p. 41.
The Maravans are said to be in the habit of eating flesh and drinking wine. But they are regarded as a clean caste, and the Brahmans evince no hesitation to accept their gifts. The Maravans allow their hair to grow without limit, and both sexes wear such heavy ornaments on their ears as to make the lobe reach the shoulders. Unlike the other races of the locality the Maravans are tall, well built and handsome.
The Ahamdians [அகமுடையார்] cannot be regarded as a separate caste. They are rather an inferior branch of the Maravans. Intermarriage is allowed between the two classes. The total population of the Maravans is more than three hundred thousand.
The Kallans [கள்ளர்] have a very bad reputation. Their very name implies that they are a criminal tribe. They have some big men among them. Mr. Nelson, in speaking of the Kalians, says: —
“ The boyhood of every Kallan is supposed to be passed in acquiring the rudiments of the only profession he can be naturally adapted, namely, that of a thief and robbery. At fifteen he is usually entitled to be considered as proficient, and from that time forth, he is allowed to grow his hair as long as he pleases, a privilege denied to younger boys. At the same time, he is often rewarded for his experience as a thief by the hand of one of his female relations.
“ The Kalians worship Shiva [சிவன்], but practise the rite of circumcision like the Mahomedans. ”
The Poliyas and the Koch [কোচ] of North Bengal seem from their physiognomy to be a Mongolian race. They are now purely agricultural. But they may come within the class Poundraca [puṇḍraka] enumerated by Manu* among the Ksatriya [ক্ষত্রিয়] clans reduced to the condition of Sudras [শূদ্র] by not practising the rites prescribed for them.
* See Manu X, 44.
The Poliyas themselves derive their class name from the Sanskrit word Palayita [palāyita] which means a “fugitive,” and claim to be fugitive Ksatriyas degraded to the rank of Sudras for the cowardice betrayed by them in a great battle which took place at some remote period of antiquity.
The Koch [কোচ] were at one time a very powerful tribe, and their kingdom extended over a large portion of North Bengal. The Koch Rajas of Koch Behar [কোচবিহার] and Bijni [বিজনী] are believed by the Hindus to be the progeny of the great God Siva, and to have three eyes like their divine ancestor. The notion is so deep-rooted that it has not been eradicated even by the constant appearance of the present Maharaja of Koch Behar before the public.
The Aguris [আগুরী] of Bengal claim to be the Ugra Ksatriya [ugra kṣatriya] caste spoken of in Manu’s Code X, 9. In Mr. Oldham’s recent work on the Ethnology of Burdwan [বর্ধমান], the right of the Aguri to be reckoned as identical with the Ugra Ksatriyas has been questioned. But Mr. Oldham’s theory that the Aguris are the product of illicit unions between the Kshettris [ক্ষেত্রী] and the Shodgopas, has been shown to be utterly unfounded. *
* See the following extract from a review of Mr. Oldham’s work which appeared in a recent issue of the Reis and Rayyet.
The theory that the Aguris [আগুরী] are the product of unions between the Kshettris [ক্ষেত্রী] of the Burdwan [বর্ধমান] Raj family, and the Sadgopas [সদগোপ] of the Gopbhum dynasty, does not appear to be supported by any kind of proof, historical or ethnological. Mr. Oldham says that his theory is based upon admissions made by the Aguris themselves. But knowing what we do of them, it seems to us impossible that any of them would have given such a humiliating account of their origin. At any rate, according to the principles of the law of evidence recognised by almost every system of jurisprudence, an admission cannot be necessarily conclusive. In the case under consideration, there are very strong reasons why, in spite of Mr. Oldham’s certifying it as properly recorded, the so-called admission should be rejected altogether. The ground on which we base this view is that there are among the Aguris many families whose history is well known to extend to a far earlier period than the time of even Abu Roy and Babu Roy, the founders of the Burdwan Raj. Then again, the ethnic and moral characteristics of the Aguris clearly mark them out as a separate community, unlike any other caste to be found in Bengal. They are by nature, hot tempered, and incapable of bearing subordination, while the Kshettris and Sadgopas, whom Mr. Oldham supposes to be their progenitors, are endowed by qualities the very opposite of these. A Kshettri would do anything to secure the good graces of his master. But a single word of comment or censure, though reasonable and proceeding from a person in authority, would cause the Aguris’ blood to boil and urge him to desperate deeds. The supposed admixture of Sadgopa blood with that of the Kshettri cannot account for these peculiarities in the moral character of their alleged progeny, except on the theory that when both the father and the mother are of a mild nature, the child, by some law of physiological chemistry, must be fierce and hot tempered. The strongest argument against Mr. Oldham’s theory is afforded by the fact that, unlike the other leading castes, the Kshettris recognise, to some extent, their connection with the bastard, members of their class. The illegitimate sons of the Brahmans, Rajputs and of even the superior Sudra castes, have no recognised position whatever. The only alternative of the mother and the child in such cases is to adopt the faith of one of the latter day prophets, and to be members of the casteless Vaishnava community. Among the Kshettris the practice is very different. Their illegitimate progeny have a recognised though a lower status. They are called Puriwals and certainly not Aguris. See Reis and Rayyet, Feb. 16, 1895.
It can with more reason be said that the Aguris are connected with the Aghari tribe found in Chutia Nagpore [छोटा नागपुर] and Central Provinces. With regard to the origin and character of the Ugra Ksatriyas, Manu gives the following account: —
From a Ksatriya by a Sudra girl is born a creature called an Ugra which has a nature partaking both of Ksatriya and of Sudra, and finds its pleasure in savage conduct—Manu X. 9.
The word Ugra means 'hot tempered, and it is said that to this day the Aguris’ character fully justifies both the name and the description given of the Ugras in Manu’s Code. The Aguris are now to be found chiefly in the district of Burdwan [বর্ধমান] in Bengal. The majority of the Bengali Aguris practise agriculture. But some of them are more or less educated, and hold important offices in the service of Government, as well as of the local landholders. Some of the Aguris are themselves holders of estates and tenures of various grades. There are many successful advocates of the Aguri caste practising in the District Court of Burdwan.
The Burdwan Aguris appear to have a higher caste status than those of other parts of the country. In the eastern districts of Bengal, Aguris are classed with the hunting and fishing castes. In Burdwan the local Brahmans, who are mostly of a low class, not only accept their gifts, but even partake of such food in their houses as is cooked by Brahmans. As to taking a drink of water from the hands of the Aguris, the practice is not uniform. Some Brahmans regard them as clean castes, but many do not. Although the Aguris claim to be Ksatriyas, yet as they are the offspring of a Sudra woman, they have to perform their religious rites in the same manner as the Sudras. In practice also they perform the Adya Shradh [ādya śraddhā], or the first ceremony for the benefit of the soul of a deceased person, on the thirty-first day after death, and not on the thirteenth day as the true Ksatriyas.
The Aguris are divided into two main classes, namely,
The Janas take the sacred thread at the time of their marriage. There can be no intermarriage between the Suta and the Jana. The Sutas are sub-divided into several sub-classes, as, for instance,
* The Bardhamaniyas derive their name from the town of Burdwan [বর্ধমান], and the Kasipurias from the country of the Raja of Panchkote. I do not know where Chagram and Baragram are.
Intermarriage is well-nigh impossible between these sub-castes, and they may be regarded as separate castes.
The surname of the Kulins [কুলিন্], or the noblest families among the Aguris, is
The surnames of the other Suta Aguris are
The surname of the Jana Aguris is usually
There are among them also many families having the same surnames as the Sutas. The late Babu Pratapa Chandra Ray [প্রতাপ চন্দ্র রায়, 1842–1895], who made a great name by the translation and publication of the great Sanskrit epic, Mahabharat, was a Suta Aguri. He was not only an enterprising publisher, but a man of rare tact and grace of manners. The actual work of translating the Mahabharat was done by a young but gifted scholar named Kishori Mohan Ganguli [কিশোর মোহন গাঙ্গুলী], a Brahman of the Radhiya class.
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