2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam

16. śūdravargaḥ

(Über Śūdras)

2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker

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Zitierweise | cite as: Amarasiṃha <6./8. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (Amarakośa) / übersetzt von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- 2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam. -- 16. śūdravargaḥ  (Über Śūdras). -- 2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker.  -- Beispiele zu: Götterdiener. -- Fassung vom 2018-01-31. --  URL:ötterdiener.htm                                                        

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Meinem Lehrer und Freund

Prof. Dr. Heinrich von Stietencron

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Bairāgi [बैरागी], Sādhu [साधु] (Central Provinces)

"Bairāgi [बैरागी],1 Sādhu [साधु].

1 This article contains material from Sir E. Macklagan's Punjab Census Report (1891), and Dr. J. N. Bhattachārya's Hindu Castes and Sects (Thacker, Spink & Co., Calcutta)

Abb.: Hindu mendicants with sect marks

1. Definition of name and statistics.

The general term for members of the Vishnuite [वैष्णव] religious orders, who formerly as a rule lived by mendicancy. The Bairāgis [बैरागी] have now, however, become a caste. In 1911 they numbered 38,000 persons in the Provinces, being distributed over all Districts and States.

The name Bairāgi [बैरागी] is supposed to come from the Sanskrit Vairāgya [वैराग्य] and to signify one who is free from human passions. Bairāga [बैरागा] is also the term for the crutched stick which such mendicants frequently carry about with them and lean upon, either sitting or standing, and which in case of need would serve them as a weapon. Platts considers 2 that the name of the order comes from the Sanskrit abstract term, and the crutch therefore apparently obtained its name from being used by members of the order. Properly, a religious mendicant of any Vishnuite [वैष्णव] sect should be called a Bairāgi [बैरागी]. But the term is not generally applied to the more distinctive sects as the Kabīrpanthi [कबीरपंथी], Swami-Nārāyan [नारायण], Satnāmi [सतनामी] and others, some of which are almost separated from Hinduism, nor to the Sikh [ਸਿੱਖੀ] religious orders, nor the Chaitanya [চৈতন্য] sect of Bengal [বঙ্গ]. A proper Bairāgi [बैरागी] is one whose principal deity is either Vishnu [विष्णु] or either of his great incarnations, Rāma [राम] and Krishna [कृष्ण].

2 Dictionary, s.v.

2. The four Sampradāyas [सम्प्रदाय] or main orders.

It is generally held that there are four Sampradāyas [सम्प्रदाय] or main sects of Bairāgis [बैरागी]. These are—

  1. The Rāmānujis [रामानुजी], the followers of the first prominent Vishnuite [वैष्णव] reformer Rāmānuj [இராமானுசர், 12. Jhdt.] in southern India, with whom are classed the Rāmānandis [रामानन्दी] or adherents of his great disciple Rāmānand [रामानन्द, 14. Jhdt.] in northern India. Both these are also called Sri Vaishnava [श्रीवैष्णव], that is, the principal or original Vaishnava [वैष्णव] sect.
  2. The Nīmānandi [नीमानन्दी], Nīmāt [नीमात] or Nīmbaditya sect, followers of a saint called Nīmānand [नीमानन्द].
  3. The Vishnu-Swāmi [विष्णुस्वामी] or Vallabhachārya [వల్లభాచార్యుడు / वल्लभाचार्य, 15. Jhdt.] sect, worshippers of Krishna [कृष्ण] and Rādha [राधा].
  4. The Mādhavachārya [ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯರು, 13. Jhdt] sect of southern India.

It will be desirable to give a few particulars of each of these, mainly taken from Wilson’s Hindu Sects and Dr. Bhattacharya’s Hindu Castes and Sects.

Abb.: Examples of tilaks [तिलक] or sect-marks, worn on the forehead

3.The Rāmānujis [रामानुजी].

Rāmānuj [இராமானுசர், 12. Jhdt.] was the first great Vishnuite [वैष्णव] prophet, and lived in southern India in the eleventh or twelfth century on an island in the Kāveri [காவிரி] river near Trichinopoly [திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி]. He preached the worship of a supreme spirit, Vishnu [विष्णु] and his consort Lakshmi [लक्ष्मी], and taught that men also had souls or spirits, and that matter was lifeless. He was a strong opponent of the cult of Siva [शिव], then predominant in southern India, and of phallic worship. He, however, admitted only the higher castes into his order, and cannot therefore be considered as the founder of the liberalising principle of Vishnuism [वैष्णव]. The superiors of the Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 12. Jhdt.] sect are called Achārya [आचार्य], and rank highest among the priests of the Vishnuite [वैष्णव] orders. The most striking feature in the practice of the Rāmānujis [रामानुजी] is the separate preparation and scrupulous privacy of their meals. They must not eat in cotton garments, but must bathe, and then put on wool or silk. The teachers allow their select pupils to assist them, but in general all the Rāmānujis [रामानुजी] cook for themselves, and should the meal during this process, or while they are eating, attract even the look of a stranger, the operation is instantly stopped and the viands buried in the ground. The Rāmānujis [रामानुजी] address each other with the salutation Dasoham [दासो 'हम्], or ‘I am your slave,’ accompanied with the Pranām [प्रणाम] or slight inclination of the head and the application of joined hands to the forehead. To the Achāryas [आचार्य] or superiors the other members of the sect perform the Ashtanga [ष्टाङ्ग] or prostration of the body with eight parts touching the ground. The tilak [तिलक] or sect-mark of the Rāmānujis [रामानुजी] consists of two perpendicular white lines from the roots of the hair to the top of the eyebrows, with a connecting white line at the base, and a third central line cither of red or yellow. The Rāmānujis [रामानुजी] do not recognise the worship of Rādha [राधा], the consort of Krishna [कृष्ण]. The mendicant orders of the Sātanis [సతాని] and Dasaris [
దాసరి] of southern India are branches of this sect.
4. The Rāmānandis [रामानन्दी]

Rāmānand [रामानन्द, 14. Jhdt.], the great prophet of Vishnuism [वैष्णव] in northern India, and the real founder of the liberal doctrines of the cult, lived at Benares [वाराणसी] at the end of the fourteenth century, and is supposed to have been a follower of Rāmānuj [இராமானுசர், 12. Jhdt.]. He introduced, however, a great extension of his predecessor’s gospel in making his sect, nominally at least, open to all castes. He thus initiated the struggle against the social tyranny and exclusiveness of the caste system, which was carried to greater lengths by his disciples and successors, Kabīr [कबीर, 1440 - 1518], Nānak [ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ, 1469 - 1539], Dādu [दादूदयाल, 1544 – 1603], Rai Dās [रविदास, 15. Jhdt.] and others. These afterwards proclaimed the worship of one unseen god who could not be represented by idols, and the religious equality of all men, their tenets no doubt being considerably influenced by their observance of Islam, which had now become a principal religion of India. Rāmānand [रामानन्द, 14. Jhdt.] himself did not go so far, and remained a good Hindu, inculcating the special worship of Rāma [राम] and his consort Sīta [सीता]. The Rāmānandis [रामानन्दी] consider the Rāmāyana [रामायण] as their most sacred book, and make pilgrimages to Ajodhia [अयोध्या] and Rāmnath [रामनाथ].1 Their sect-mark consists of two white lines down the forehead with a red one between, but they are continued on to the nose, ending in a loop, instead of terminating at the line of the eyebrows, like that of the Rāmānujis [रामानुजी]. The Rāmānandis [रामानन्दी] say that the mark on the nose represents the Singāsun [सिंहासन] or lion’s throne, while the two white lines up the forehead are Rāma [राम] and Lakhshman [लक्ष्मण], and the centre red one is Sīta [सीता]. Some of their devotees wear ochre-coloured clothes like the Sivite [शैव] mendicants.

1 Sir E. Maclagan’s Punjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] Census Report (1S91), p. 122.

5.The Nīmānandis [नीमानन्दी].

The second of the four orders is that of the Nīmānandis [नीमानन्दी], called after a saint Nīmānand [नीमानन्द]. He lived near Mathura Brindāban [मथुरा
वृन्दावन], and on one occasion was engaged in religious controversy with a Jain [जैन] ascetic till sunset. He then offered his visitor some refreshment, but the Jain [जैन] could not eat anything after sunset, so Nīmānand [नीमानन्द] stopped the sun from setting, and ordered him to wait above a nīm [नीम - Azadirachta indica A.Juss., 1830] tree till the meal was cooked and eaten under the tree, and this direction the sun duly obeyed. Hence Nīmānand [नीमानन्द], whose original name was Bhāskarachārya [भास्कराचार्य], was called by his new name after the tree, and was afterwards held to have been an incarnation of Vishnu [विष्णु] or the Sun.

The doctrines of the sect, Mr. Growse states,1 are of a very enlightened character. Thus their tenet of salvation by faith is thought by many scholars to have been directly derived from the Gospels ; while another article in their creed is the continuance of conscious individual existence in a future world, when the highest reward of the good will not be extinction, but the enjoyment of the visible presence of the divinity whom they have served while on earth. The Nīmānandis [नीमानन्दी] worship Krishna [कृष्ण], and were the first sect, Dr. Bhattacharya states,2 to associate with him as a divine consort Rādha [राधा], the chief partner of his illicit loves.

1 Memoir of Mathura.
2 Hindu Castes and sects, p. 449

Their headquarters are at Muttra [मथुरा], and their chief festival is the Janam-Ashtami [जन्माष्टमी]3 or Krishna’s [कृष्ण] birthday. Their sect-mark consists of two white lines down the forehead with a black patch in the centre, which is called Shiāmbindini [श्यामबिंदिनी]. Shiām [श्याम] means black, and is a name of Krishna [कृष्ण]. They also sometimes have a circular line across the nose, which represents the moon.

6. The Mādhavachāryas [ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯರ].

The third great order is that of the Madhavas, named after a saint called Mādhavachārya [ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯರು, 13. Jhdt] in southern India. lie attempted to reconcile the warring Sivites [ಶೈವ] and Vishnuites [ವೈಷ್ಣವ] by combining the worship of Krishna [ಕೃಷ್ಣ] with that of Siva [ಶಿವ] and Pārvati [ಪಾರ್ವತೀ]. The doctrine of the sect is that the human soul is different from the divine soul, and its members are therefore called dualists. They admit a distinction between the divine soul and the universe, and between the human soul and the material world. They deny also the possibility of Nirvāna [ನಿರ್ವಾಣ] or the absorption and extinction of the human soul in the divine essence. They destroy their thread at initiation, and also wear red clothes like the Sivite [ಶೈವ] devotees, and like them also they carry a staff and water-pot. The tilak [ತಿಲಕ] of the Mādhavachāryas [ಮಧ್ವಾಚಾರ್ಯರ] is said to consist of two white lines down the forehead and continued on to the nose where they meet, with a black vertical line between them.

7. The Vallabhachāryas [వల్లభాచార్యుడు / वल्लभाचार्य]

The fourth main order is the Vishnu-Swāmi [विष्णुस्वामी], which is much better known as the Vallabhachārya  [వల్లభాచార్యుడు / वल्लभाचार्य] sect, called after its founder Vallabha [వల్లభాచార్యుడు, 15. Jhdt.], who was born in A.D. 1479. The god Krishna [कृष्ण] appeared to him and ordered him to marry and set up a shrine to the god at Gokul [गोकुल] near Mathura [मथुरा] (Muttra). The sect worship Krishna [कृष्ण] in his character of Bāla Gopāla [बाल गोपाल] or the cowherd boy. Their temples are numerous all over India, and especially at Mathura [मथुरा] and Brindāban [वृन्दावन], where Krishna [कृष्ण] was brought up as a cowherd. The temples at Benares [वाराणसी], Jagannāth [ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ ] and Dwārka [દ્વારકા] are rich and important, but the most celebrated shrine is at Sri Nāthadwāra [श्रीनाथद्वारा] in Mewār [मेवाड़]. The image is said to have transported itself thither from Mathura [मथुरा], when Aurāngzeb [اورنگ‌زیب] [1618 - 1707] ordered its temple at Mathura [मथुरा] to be destroyed. Krishna [कृष्ण] is here represented as a little boy in the act of supporting the mountain Govardhan [गोवर्धन] on his finger to shelter the people from the storms of rain sent by Indra [इन्द्र]. The image is splendidly dressed and richly decorated with ornaments to the value of several thousand pounds. The images of Krishna [कृष्ण] in the temples are commonly known as Thākurji [ठाकुरजी], and are either of stone or brass. At all Vallabhachārya  [వల్లభాచార్యుడు / वल्लभाचार्य] temples there are eight daily services :

  • the Mangala [मंगल] or morning levée, a little after sunrise, when the god is taken from his couch and bathed ;
  • the Sringāra [शृङ्गार], when he is attired in his jewels and seated on his throne ;
  • the Gwāla [ग्वाला], when he is supposed to be starting to graze his cattle in the woods of Braj [ब्रज] ;
  • the Rāj Bhog [राजभोग] or midday meal, which, after presentation, is consumed by the priests and votaries who have assisted at the ceremonies ; the
  • Uttāpan [उत्थापन], about three o’clock, when the god awakes from his siesta;
  • the Bhog [भोग] or evening collation ;
  • the Sandhiya [संध्या] or disrobing at sunset;
  • and the Sayan [शयन] or retiring to rest.

The ritual is performed by the priests and the lay worshipper is only a spectator, who shows his reverence by the same forms as he would to a human superior.1

1 Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes, Art. Vallabhachārya.

The priests of the sect are called Gokalastha Gosain [गोकुलस्था गोसाईं] or Mahārāja [महाराज]. They are considered to be incarnations of the god, and divine honours are paid to them. They always marry, and avow that union with the god is best obtained by indulgence in all bodily enjoyments. This doctrine has led to great licentiousness in some groups of the sect, especially on the part of the priests or Mahārāja [महाराज]. Women were taught to believe that the service of and contact with the priest were the most real form of worshipping the god, and that intercourse with him was equivalent to being united with the god. Dr. Bhattacharya quotes2 the following tariff for the privilege of obtaining different degrees of contact with the body of the Mahārāja [महाराज] or priest:

2 Hindu Castes and Sects, p. 457

For homage by sight Rs. 5.
For homage by touch. Rs. 20.
For the honour of washing the Mahārāja's [महाराज] foot

Rs. 35.

For swinging him Rs. 40.
For rubbing sweet unguents on his body Rs. 42.
For being allowed to sit with him on the same couch Rs. 60.
For the privilege of dancing with him Rs. 100 to 200.
For drinking the water in which he has bathed Rs. 17.
For being closeted with him in the same room Rs. 50 to 500.

The public disapprobation caused by these practices and their bad effect on the morality of women culminated in the great Mahārāj [महाराज] libel suit in the Bombay [मुंबई] High Court in 1862. Since then the objectionable features of the cult have to a large extent disappeared, while it has produced some priests of exceptional liberality and enlightenment. The tilak [तिलक] of the Vallabhachāryas  [
వల్లభాచార్యుడు / वल्लभाचार्य] is said to consist of two white lines down the forehead, forming a half-circle at its base and a white dot between them. They will not admit the lower castes into the order, but only those from whom a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] can take water.

8. Minor sects.

Besides the main sects as described above, Vaishnavism has produced many minor sects, consisting of the followers of some saint of special fame, and mendicants belonging to these are included in the body of Bairāgis [बैरागी]. One or two legends concerning such saints may be given.

A common order is that of the Bendiwāle, or those who wear a dot. Their founder began putting a red dot on his forehead between the two white lines in place of the long red line of the Rāmānandis [रामानन्दी]. His associates asked him why he had dared to alter his tilak [तिलक] or sect-mark. He said that the goddess Jānki [जानकी] had given him the dot, and as a test he went and bathed in the Sarju [सरयू] river, and rubbed his forehead with water, and all the sect-mark was rubbed out except the dot. So the others recognised the special intervention of the goddess, and he founded a sect.

Another sect is called the Chaturbhuji [चतुरभुजी] or four-armed, Chaturbhuj [चतुर्भुज्] being an epithet of Vishnu [विष्णु]. He was taking part in a feast when his loincloth came undone behind, and the others said to him that as this had happened, he had become impure at the feast. He replied, ‘ Let him to whom the dhoti [धोटी] belongs tie it up,’ and immediately four arms sprang from his body, and while two continued to take food, the other two tied up his loincloth behind. Thus it was recognised that the Chaturbhuji [चतुरभुजी] Vishnu [विष्णु] had appeared in him, and he was venerated.

9. The seven Akhāras [अखाड़ा].


Among the Bairāgis [बैरागी], besides the four Sampradāyas [सम्प्रदाय] or main orders, there are seven Akhāras [अखाड़ा]. These are military divisions or schools for training, and were instituted when the Bairāgis [बैरागी] had to fight with the Gosains [गोसाईं]. Any member of one of the four Sampradāyas [सम्प्रदाय] can belong to any one of the seven Akhāras [अखाड़ा], and a man can change his Akhāra [अखाड़ा] as often as he likes, but not his Sampradāya [सम्प्रदाय]. The Akhāras [अखाड़ा], with the exception of the Lasgaris [लसगरी], who change the red centre line of the Rāmānandis [रामानन्दी] into a white line, have no special sect-marks. They are distinguished by their flags or standards, which are elaborately decorated with gold thread embroidered on silk or sometimes with jewels, and cost two or three hundred rupees to prepare. These standards were carried by the Nāga [नागा] or naked members of the Akhāra [अखाड़ा], who went in front and fought. Once in twelve years a great meeting of all the seven Akhāras [अखाड़ा] is held at Allahabād [इलाहाबाद], Nāsik [नाशिक], Ujjain [उज्जैन] or Hardwār [हरिद्वार], where they bathe and wash the image of the god in the water of the holy rivers. The quarrels between the Bairāgis [बैरागी] and Gosains [गोसाईं] usually occurred at the sacred rivers, and the point of contention was which sect should bathe first. The following is a list of the seven Akhāras [अखाड़ा] :

  • Digambari [दिगम्बरी],
  • Khāki [खाकी],
  • Munjia [मुंजिया], 
  • Kathia [कठिया],
  • Nirmohi [निर्मोही],
  • Nirbāni [निर्बाणी] or Niranjani [निरञ्जनी] and
  • Lasgari [लसगरी].

The name of the Digamber [दिगम्बरी] or Meghdamber [मेघाम्बर] signifies sky-clad or cloud-clad, that is naked. They do penance in the rainy season by sitting naked in the rain for two or three hours a day with an earthen pot on the head and the hands inserted in two others so that they cannot rub the skin. In the dry season they wear only a little cloth round the waist and ashes over the rest of the body. The ashes are produced from burnt cowdung picked up off the ground, and not mixed with straw like that which is prepared for fuel.

The Khāki [खाकी] Bairāgis [बैरागी] also rub ashes on the body. During the four hot months they make five fires in a circle, and kneel between them with the head and legs and arms stretched towards the fires. The fires are kindled at noon with little heaps of cowdung cakes, and the penitent stays between them till they go out. They also have a block of wood with a hole through it, into which they insert the organ of generation and suspend it by chains in front and behind. They rub ashes on the body, from which they probably get their name of Khāki [खाकी] or dust-colour.

The Munjia [मुंजिया] Akhāra [अखाड़ा] have a belt made of munj [मुंज] grass round the waist, and a little apron also of grass, which is hung from it, and passed through the legs. Formerly they wore no other clothes, but now they have a cloth. They also do penance between the fires.

The Kathias [कठिया] have a waist-belt of bamboo fibre, to which is suspended the wooden block for the purpose already described. Their name signifies wooden, and is probably given to them on account of this custom.

The Nirmohi [निर्मोही] carry a lota [लोटा] or brass vessel and a little cup, in which they receive alms.

The Nirbāni [निर्बाणी] wear only a piece of string or rope round the waist, to which is attached a small strip or o4h passing through the legs. When begging, they carry a kawar [कावड] or banghy, holding two baskets covered with cloth, and into this they put all their alms. They never remove the cloth, but plunge their hands into the basket at random when they want something to eat. They call the basket Kamdhenu [कामधेनु], the name of the cow which gave inexhaustible wealth. These Bairāgis [बैरागी] commonly marry and accumulate property.

The Lasgari [लशगरी] are soldiers, as the name denotes.1 They wear three straight lines of sandalwood up the forehead. It is said that on one occasion the Bairāgis [बैरागी] were suddenly attacked by the Gosains [गोसाईं] when they had only made the white lines of the sect-mark, and they fought as they were. In consequence of this, they have ever since worn three white lines and no red one.

1 From laskkar [लशकर], an army.

Others say that the Lasgari [लशगरी] are a branch of the Digambari Akhāra [दिगम्बरी अखाड़ा], and that the Munjia [मुंजिया] and Kathia [कठिया] are branches of the Khāki [खाकी] Akhāra [अखाड़ा]. They give three other Akhāras [अखाड़ा]—Niralankhi, Mahanirbani and Santokhi—about which nothing is known.


10. The Dwāras [द्वारा]

Besides the Akhāras [अखाड़ा], the Bairāgis [बैरागी] are said to have fifty-two Dwāras [द्वारा] or doors, and every man must be a member of a Dwāra [द्वारा] as well as of a Sampradāya [सम्प्रदाय] and Akhāra [अखाड़ा]. The Dwāras [द्वारा] seem to have no special purpose, but in the case of Bairāgis [बैरागी] who marry, they now serve as exogamous sections, so that members of the same Dwāra [द्वारा] do not intermarry.

11. Initiation, appearance and customs.

A candidate for initiation has his head shaved, is invested with a necklace of beads of the tulsi or basil, and is taught a mantra [मन्त्र] or text relating to Vishnu [विष्णु] by his preceptor. The and initiation text of the Rāmānandis [रामानन्दी] is said to be Om Rāmāya  Nāmah [ॐ रामाय नामः], or Om [ॐ], Salutation to Rāma [राम]. Om [ॐ] is a very sacred syllable, having much magical power. Thereafter the novice must journey to Dwārka [દ્વારકા] in Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] and have his body branded with hot iron or copper in the shape of Vishnu’s [विष्णु] four implements : the chakra [चक्र] or discus, the guda [गदा]or club, the shank [शङ्ख] or conch-shell and the padma [पद्म] or lotus. Sometimes these are not branded but are made daily on the arms with clay. The sect-mark should be made with Gopichandan [गोपीचन्दन] or the milkmaid’s sandalwood. This is supposed to be clay taken from a tank at Dwārka [દ્વારકા], in which the Gopis [गोपी]or milkmaids who had been Krishna’s [कृष्ण] companions drowned themselves when they heard of his death. But as this can seldom be obtained any suitable whitish clay is used instead. The Bairāgis [बैरागी] commonly let their hair grow long, after being shaved at initiation, to imitate the old forest ascetics. If a man makes a pilgrimage on foot to some famous shrine he may have his head shaved there and make an offering of his hair. Others keep their hair long and shave it only at the death of their guru [गुरु] or preceptor. They usually wear white clothes, and if a man has a cloth on the upper part of the body it should be folded over the shoulders and knotted at the neck. He also has a chimta [चिमटा] or small pair of tongs, and, if he can obtain it, the skin of an Indian antelope, on which he will sit while taking his food. The skin of this animal is held to be sacred. Every Bairāgi [बैरागी] before he takes his food should dip a sprig of tulsi [तुलसी] or basil into it to sanctify it, and if he cannot get this he uses his necklace of tulsi-beads for the purpose instead. The caste abstain from flesh and liquor, but are addicted to the intoxicating drugs, gānja [गांजा] and bhāng [भांग] or preparations of Indian hemp. A Hindu on meeting a Bairāgi [बैरागी] will greet him with the phrase ‘Jai Sitaram [जय सीताराम],’ and the Bairāgi [बैरागी] will answer, ‘ Sitaram [सीताराम].’ This word is a conjunction of the names of Rāma [राम] and his consort Sīta [सीता]. When a Bairāgi [बैरागी] receives alms he will present to the giver a flower and a sprig of ttulsi [तुलसी].

12. Recruitment of the order and its character.

A man belonging to any caste except the impure ones can be initiated as a Bairāgi [बैरागी], and the order is to a large extent recruited from the lower castes. Theoretically all members of the order should eat together ; but the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] and other high castes belonging to it now eat only among themselves, except on the occasion of a Ghosti or special religious assembly, when all eat in common. As a matter of fact the order is a very mixed assortment of people. Many persons who lost their caste in the famine of 1897 from eating in Government poor-houses, joined the order and obtained a respectable position. Debtors who have become hopelessly involved sometimes find in it a means of escape from their creditors. Women of bad character, who have been expelled from their caste, are also frequently enrolled as female members, and in monasteries live openly with the men. The caste is also responsible for a good deal of crime. Not only is the disguise a very convenient one for thieves and robbers to assume on their travels, but many regular members of the order are criminally disposed. Nevertheless large numbers of Bairāgis [बैरागी] are men who have given up their caste and families from a genuine impulse of self-sacrifice, and the desire to lead a religious life.

13. Social position and customs

On account of their sanctity the Bairāgis [बैरागी] have a fairly good social position, and respectable Hindu castes will accept cooked food from them. Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] usually, but not always, take water. They act as gurus [गुरु] or spiritual guides to the laymen of all castes who can become Bairāgis [बैरागी]. They give the Ram [राम] and Gopal [गोपाल] Mantras [मन्त्र], or the texts of Rāma [राम] and Krishna [कृष्ण], to their disciples of the three twice-born castes, and the Sheo [शेओ] Mantra [मन्त्र] or Siva [शिव]’s text to other castes. The last is considered to be of smaller religious efficacy than the others, and is given to the lower castes and members of the higher ones who do not lead a particularly virtuous life. They invest boys with the sacred thread, and make the sect-mark on their foreheads. When they go and visit their disciples they receive presents, but do not ask them to confess their sins nor impose penalties.

If a mendicant Bairāgi [बैरागी] keeps a woman it is stated that he is expelled from the community, but this rule does not seem to be enforced in practice. If he is detected in a casual act of sexual intercourse a fine should be imposed, such as feeding two or three hundred Bairāgis [बैरागी]. The property of an unmarried Bairāgi [बैरागी] descends to a selected chela [चेला]or disciple. The bodies of the dead are usually burnt, but those of saints specially famous for their austerities or piety are buried, and salt is put round the body to preserve it. Such men are known as Bhakta [भक्त].

14. Bairāgi [बैरागी] monasteries.

The Bairagis [बैरागी]1 have numerous maths [
मठ] or monasteries, scattered over the country and usually attached to temples. The Math [मठ] comprises a set of huts or chambers for the Mahant [महंत] or superior and his permanent pupils ; a temple and often the Samādhi [समाधि] or tomb of the founder, or of some eminent Mahant [महंत] ; and a Dharmsala [धर्मशाला] or charitable hostel for the accommodation of wandering members of the order, and of other travellers who are constantly visiting the temple. Ingress and egress are free to all, and, indeed, a restraint on personal liberty seems never to have entered into the conception of any Hindu religious legislator. There are, as a rule, a small number of resident chelas [चेला] or disciples who are scholars and attendants on the superiors, and also out-members who travel over the country and return to the monastery as a headquarters. The monastery has commonly some small endowment in land, and the resident chelas [चेला] go out and beg for alms for their common support. If the Mahant [महंत] is married the headship may descend in his family ; but when he is unmarried his successor is one of his disciples, who is commonly chosen by election at a meeting of the Mahants [महंत] of neighbouring monasteries. Formerly the Hindu governor of the district would preside at such an election, but it is now, of course, left entirely to the Bairāgis [बैरागी] themselves.

1 This paragraph is taken from Professor Wilson’s Account of Hindu Sects in the Asiatic Researches.

15. Married Bairāgis [बैरागी].

Large numbers of Bairāgis [बैरागी] now marry and have children, and have formed an ordinary caste. The married Bairāgis [बैरागी] are held to be inferior to the celibate mendicants, and will take food from them, but the mendicants will not permit the married Bairāgis [बैरागी] to eat with them in the chauka [चौक] or place purified for the taking of food. The customs of the married Bairāgis [बैरागी] resemble those of ordinary Hindu castes such as the Kurmis [कुर्मी]. They permit divorce and the remarriage of widows, and burn the dead. Those who have taken to cultivation do not, as a rule, plough with their own hands. Many Bairāgis [बैरागी] have acquired property and become landholders, and others have extensive moneylending transactions. Two such men who had acquired possession of extensive tracts of zamīndāri [ज़मींदारी] land in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़], in satisfaction of loans made to the Gond [गोंड] zamīndārs [ज़मींदार], and had been given the zamīndāri  [ज़मींदारी] status by the Marāthas [मराठा], were subsequently made Feudatory Chiefs of the Nandgaon [नंदगाँव] and Chhuikhadan [छुईखदान] States. These chiefs now marry and the States descend in their families by primogeniture in the ordinary manner. As a rule, the Bairāgi [बैरागी] landowners and moneylenders are not found to be particularly good specimens of their class."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 2. -- S. 93 - 105]

Gandhmāli [ଗନ୍ଧମାଲୀ], Thānāpati [ଥାନାପତି] (Oriya)

"Gandhmāli [ଗନ୍ଧମାଲୀ],1 Thānāpati [ଥାନାପତି].The caste of village priests of the temples of Siva [ଶିଵ] or Mahādeo [ମହାଦେଵ] in Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର] and the Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] States. They numbered about 700 persons in the Central Provinces in 1911. The caste appears to be an offshoot of the Mālis [ମାଲୀ] or gardeners, differentiated from them by their special occupation of temple attendants. In Hindustān [हिन्दुस्तान] the priests of Siva’s [शिव] temples in villages are often Mālis [माळी], and in the Marātha [मराठा] country they are Guraos [गुरव], another special caste, or Phūlmālis [फूलमाली]. Some members of the caste in Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର], however, aspire to Rājpūt [राजपूत] origin and wear the sacred thread. These prefer the designation of Thānāpati [ଥାନାପତି] or ‘ Master of the sacred place,’ and call the others who do not wear the thread Gandhmālis [ଗନ୍ଧମାଲୀ]. Gandh [ଗନ୍ଧ] means incense. The Thānāpatis [ଥାନାପତି] say that on one occasion a Rājpūt [राजपूत] prince from Jaipur [जयपुर] made a pilgrimage to the temple of Jagannāth [ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ] at Puri [ପୁରୀ], and on his return stopped at the celebrated temple of Mahādeo [ମହାଦେଵ] at Huma [ଦେଉଳ] near Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର]. Mahādeo [ମହାଦେଵ] appeared before the prince and asked him to become his priest; the Rājpūt [राजपूत] asked to be excused as he was old, but Mahādeo [ମହାଦେଵ] promised him three sons, which he duly obtained and in gratitude dedicated them to the service of the god. From these sons the Thānāpatis [ଥାନାପତି] say that they are descended, but the claim is no doubt quite illusory. The truth is, probably, that the Thānāpatis [ଥାନାପତି] are priests of the temples situated in towns and large villages, and owing to their calling have obtained considerable social estimation, which they desire to justify and place on an enduring basis by their claim to Rājpūt [राजपूत] ancestry; while the Gandhmālis [ଗନ୍ଧମାଲୀ] are village priests, more or less in the position of village menials and below the cultivating castes, and any such pretensions would therefore in their case be quite untenable. There are signs of the cessation of intermarriage between the two groups, but this has not been brought about as yet, probably owing to the paucity of members in the caste and the difficulty of arranging matches. Three functional subdivisions also appear to be in process of formation, the Pujaris [ପୂଜାରୀ] or priests of Mahādeo [ମହାଦେଵ]’s temples, the Bandhādias or those who worship him on the banks of tanks, and the Mundjhulas2 or devotees of the goddess Somlai in Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର], on whom the inspiration of the goddess descends, making them shake and roll their heads. When in this state they are believed to drink the blood flowing from goats sacrificed in the temple. For the purposes of marriage the caste is divided into exogamous groups or bargas, the names of which are usually titles or designations of offices. Marriage within the barga is prohibited. When the bride is brought to the altar in the marriage ceremony, she throws a garland of jasmine flowers on the neck of the bridegroom. This custom resembles the old Swayamwara [स्वयंवर] form of marriage, in which a girl chose her own husband by throwing a garland of flowers round his neck. But it probably has no connection with this and merely denotes the fact that the caste are gardeners by profession, similar ceremonies typifying the caste calling being commonly performed at marriages, especially among the Telugu [తెలుగు] castes. Girls should be married before adolescence and, as is usual among the Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] castes, if no suitable husband is forthcoming a symbolic marriage is celebrated ; the Thānāpatis [ଥାନାପତି] make her go through the form with her maternal grandfather or sister’s husband, and in default of them with a tree. She is then immediately divorced and disposed of as a widow. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted. A bachelor marrying a widow must first go through the ceremony with a flower. The Gandhmālis [ଗନ୍ଧମାଲୀ], as the priests of Mahādeo [ମହାଦେଵ], are generally Saivas [ଶୈଵ] and wear red clothes covered with ochre. They consider that their ultimate ancestor is the Nāg [ନାଗ] or cobra and especially observe the festival of Nāg-Panchmi [ନାଗପଂଚମୀ], abstaining from any cooked food on that day. They both burn and bury the dead and perform the shradhh [ଶ୍ରଦ୍ଧ] ceremony or the offering of sacrificial cakes. They eat flesh but do not drink liquor. Their social position is fairly good and Brāhmans [ବ୍ରାହ୍ମଣ] will take water from their hands. Many of them hold free grants of land in return for their services at the temples. A few are ordinary cultivators."

1 This article is compiled from papers by Mr. Jhanjhan Rai, Tahsīdār, Sārangarh [सारंगढ़], and Satyabādi Misra of the  Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର] Census office.
to swing the head.

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 3. -- S. 17ff.]

Gurao [गुरव] (Marathi)

"Gurao [गुरव].1

1 This article is based partly on a paper by Mr. Abdus Subhān Khān, Tahsīldār, Hinganghāt, and Mr. Adūrām Chaudhri of the Gazetteer Office.


1. Origin of the caste.

A caste of village priests of the temples of Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] in the Marātha [मराठा] Districts. They numbered about 14,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār [बेरार] in 1911. The Guraos [गुरव] say that they were formerly Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] and worshippers of Siva [शिव], but for some negligence or mistake in his ritual they were cursed by the god and degraded from the status of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], though subsequently the god relented and permitted them to worship him and take the offerings made to him.

It is related that a certain Brāhman [ब्राह्मण], who was a votary of Siva [शिव], had to go on a journey. He left his son behind and strictly enjoined on him to perform the worship of the god at midday. The son had bathed and purified himself for this purpose, when shortly before midday his wife came to him and so importuned him to have conjugal intercourse with her that he was obliged to comply. It was then midday and in his impure condition the son went to the shrine of the god to worship him. But Siva [शिव] cursed him and said that his descendants should be degraded from the status of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], though he afterwards relented so far as to permit of their continuing to act as his priests ; and this was the origin of the Guraos [गुरव]. It seems doubtful, however, whether the caste are really of Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] origin. They were formerly village priests, and Grant-Duff gives the Gurao [गुरव] as one of the village menials in the Marātha [मराठा] villages. They have the privilege of taking the Naivedya [नैवेद्य] or offerings of cooked food made to the god Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव], which Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] will not accept. They also sell leaf-plates and flowers and bel [बेल] (Aegle marmelos) leaves which are offered at the temples of Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव]; and on the festival of Shivrātri [शिवरात्रि] and during the month of Shrāwan [श्रावण] (July) they take round the bel [बेल] leaves which the cultivators require for their offerings and receive presents in return. In Wardha [वर्धा] the Guraos [गुरव] get small gifts of grain from the cultivators at seed-time and harvest. They also act as village musicians and blow the conch-shell, beat the drum and play other musical instruments for the mornings and evening worship at the temple. They play on the cymbals and drums at the marriages of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] and other high castes. In the Bombay [मुंबई] Presidency some are astrologers and fortune-tellers, and others make the bāsing or coronet of flowers which the bridegroom wears. Sometimes they play on the drum or fiddle for their spiritual followers, the dancing-girls or Kalāvants [कलावंत]. When a dancing-girl became pregnant she worshipped the Gurao [गुरव], and he, in return, placed the missi [मिस्सी] or tooth-powder made from myrobalans on her teeth. If this was not done before her child was born, a Kalavantin [कलावंतिन] was put out of caste. In some localities the Guraos [गुरव] will take food from Kunbis [कुणबी]. And further, as will be seen subsequently, the caste have no proper gotras [गोत्र]or exogamous sections, but in arranging their marriages they simply avoid persons having a common surname. All these considerations point to the fact that the caste is not of Brāhmanical [ब्राह्मण] origin but belongs to a lower class of the population. Nevertheless in Wardha [वर्धा] they are known as Shaiva Brāhmans [शैव ब्राह्मण] and rank above the Kunbis [कुणबी]. They may study the Sama Veda [सामवेद] only and not the others, and may repeat the Rudra Gayatri [रुद्रगायत्री] or sacred verse of Siva [शिव]. Clearly the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] could not accept the offerings of cooked food made at Siva [शिव]’s shrine ;. though the larger temples of this deity have Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] priests. It seems uncertain whether Siva [शिव] or Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] was first a village deity and was subsequently exalted to the position of a member of the supreme Hindu Trinity, or whether the opposite process took place and the Guraos [गुरव] obtained their priestly functions on his worship being popularised. But in any case it would appear that they were originally a class of village priests regarded as the servants of the cultivating community, by whose gifts and offerings they were maintained. Grant-Duff in enumerating the village servants says : 

“Ninth, the Gurao [गुरव], who is a Sūdra [शूद्र] employed to wash the ornaments and attend the idol in the village temples, and on occasions of feasting to prepare the patraoli [पत्रावलि] or leaves which the Hindus substitute for plates. They are also trumpeters by profession and in this capacity are much employed in Marātha [मराठा] armies.” 1

1 History of the Marāthas, vol i. p.26. footnote


2. Internal structure.

The caste has several subdivisions which are principally of a territorial nature, as

  • Warāde [वर्हाडे] from Berār [बेरार] ;
  • Jhāde [झाड़े], inhabitants of the forest or rice country ;
  • Telanga [तेलंगा], of the Telugu [తెలుగు] country;
  • Dakshne [दक्षिणे] , from the Deccan [दक्खिन] ;
  • Mārwāri [मारवाड़ी], from Mārwār [मारवाड़], and so on.

Other subcastes are the Ahīr [अहीर] and Jain [जैन] Guraos [गुरव], of whom the former are apparently Ahīrs [अहीर] who have adopted the priestly profession, while the Jain [जैन] Guraos [गुरव] are held in Bombay [मुंबई] to be the descendants of Jain [जैन] temple servants who entered the caste when their own deities were thrown out and their shrines annexed by the votaries of Siva [शिव]. In Bombay [मुंबई], Mr. Enthoven states

“ That the Koli [कोली] and Marātha [मराठा] ministrants at the temples of Siva [शिव] and other deities often describe themselves as Guraos [गुरव], but they have not formed themselves into separate castes and are members of the general Koli [कोली] or Marātha [मराठा] community. They cease to call themselves Guraos [गुरव] when they cease to minister at temples.”

3 Bombay Ethnographic Survey, Monograph on Gurao.

In the Central Provinces one of the subcastes is known as Vājantri [वाजंत्री] because they act as village musicians. The caste have no regular exogamous sections, but a number of surnames which answer the same purpose. These are of a professional type, as

  • Lokhandes [लोखंडे], an iron-dealer ;
  • Phulzares, a maker of fireworks ;
  • Sontake [सोंतके], a gold-merchant ;
  • Gaikwād [गायकवाड], a cowherd ;
  • Nākade [नाकाडे], long - nosed,

and so on.

They say they all belong to the same gotra [गोत्र], Sānkhiāyan [शांखायन], named after Sānkhiāya Rishi, the ancestor of the caste.

3. Marriage and ceremonies of adolescence.

Marriage is avoided between persons having the same surname and those within six degrees of descent from a common ancestor whether male or female. The marriage ceremony generally resembles that of the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण]. Before the wedding the bridegroom’s father prepares an image of Siva [शिव] from rice and til-seed [तीळ] (Sesamum), covers it with a cloth and sends it to the bride’s house. In return her mother prepares and sends back a similar image of Gauri [गौरी], Siva’s [शिव] consort. Girls are married as infants, and when a woman arrives at adolescence the following ritual is observed : She goes to her husband’s house and is there secluded for three or four days while her impurity lasts. On its termination she is bathed and clothed in a green dress and yellow choli [चोली] or breast-cloth, and seated in a gaily decked wooden frame. Her lap is filled with wheat and a cocoanut, and her female friends and relatives and father and father-in-law give her presents of sweets and clothes. This is known as the Shāntik [शान्तिक] ceremony and is practised by the higher castes in the Marātha [मराठा] country. It may continue for as long as sixteen days. Finally, on an auspicious day the bride and bridegroom are given delicate food and dressed in new clothes. The fire sacrifice is offered and they are taken into a room where a bed, the gift of the bride’s parents, has been prepared for them, and left to consummate the marriage. This is known as Garbhādhān [गर्भाधान] . Next day the bride’s parents give new clothes and a feast to the bridegroom’s family ; this feast is known as Godai, and after giving it the bride’s parents may eat at their daughter’s house. A girl seduced by a man of the caste may be properly married to him after her parents have performed Prāyaschit [प्रायश्चित्त] or atonement. But if she has a child out of wedlock, he is relegated to the Vidūr or illegitimate group. Even if a girl be seduced by a stranger, provided he be of higher or equal caste, as the Kunbis [कुणबी] and Marāthas [मराठा], she may be taken back into the community.

4. Birth customs.

If a child is born at an unlucky season, they take two winnowing-fans and tie the baby between them with a thread wound many times round about. A cow is brought and made to lick the child, which is thus supposed to have been born again from it as a calf, the evil omen of the first birth being removed. The father performs the fire sacrifice, and a human figure is made from cooked rice and worshipped. A burning wick is placed in its stomach and it is taken out and left at cross-roads, this being probably a substitute for the member of the family whose death was presaged by the untimely birth of the child. Similarly if any one dies at the astronomical period known as Panchak [पंचक], they make five figures of wheat-flour and burn or bury them with the body, as it is thought that otherwise five members of the family would die.

5. The sacred thread.

Boys are invested with the sacred thread at the age of five, seven or nine years, and until that time they are considered to be Sūdras [शूद्र] and not members of the caste. From a hundred to three hundred rupees may be spent on the investiture. On the day before the ceremony a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] and his wife are invited to take food, and a yellow thread with a mango leaf is tied round the boy’s wrist. The spirits of other boys who died before their thread ceremony was performed and of women of the family who died before their husbands are invited to attend. These are represented by young boys and married women of other families who come to the house and are bathed and anointed with turmeric and oil, and given presents of sugar and new clothes. Next day the initiate is seated on a platform in a shed erected for the purpose and puts on the sacred thread made of cotton and also a strip of the skin of the black-buck with a silk apron and cap. The boy’s father takes him on his lap and whispers or, as the Hindus say, blows the Gāyatri mantra [गायत्री मन्त्र] or sacred text into his ear. A sacrifice is performed, and the friends and fellow-castemen of the family make presents to the boy of copper and silver coin. The amount thus given is not used by the parents, but is spent on the boy’s education or on the purchase of an ornament for him. On the conclusion of the ceremony the boy mounts a wooden model of a horse and pretends to set out for Benares [वाराणसी]. His paternal uncle then says to him, ‘Why are you going away ?’ And the boy replies, ‘Because you have not married me.’ His uncle then promises to find a bride for him and he gives up his project. The part played by the maternal uncle in this ceremony is probably a survival of the period of the matriarchate, when a man’s property descended to his sister’s son. He would thus naturally claim the boy as a husband for his own daughter, and such a marriage apparently became customary and in course of time acquired binding force. And although all recollection of the rule of inheritance through women has long been forgotten, the marriage of a brother’s daughter to a sister’s son is still considered peculiarly suitable, and the idea that it is the duty of the maternal uncle to find a bride for his nephew appears to be simply a development of this. The above account also gives reason for supposing that the investiture with the sacred thread was originally a ceremony of puberty.

6. Funeral customs.

The dead are burnt and the ashes thrown into water or carried to the Ganges [गंगा]. A small piece of gold, two or three small pearls, and some basil leaves are put into the mouth, and flowers, red powder and betel leaves are spread over the corpse. The son or male heir of the deceased walks in front carrying fire in an earthen pot. At a small distance from the burning-ground, when the bearers change places, he picks up a stone, known as the life-stone or jivkhada [जीवखडा]. This is afterwards buried at the burning-ghāt [घाट] until the priest comes to effect the purification of the mourners on the tenth day. It is then dug up, set up and worshipped, and thrown into a well. A man is burnt naked ; a woman in a robe and bodice. The heads of widows are not shaved as a rule, but on the tenth day after her husband’s death a widow is asked whether she would like her head shaved ; if she refuses, the people conclude that she intends to marry again. But if the deceased left no male heir to carry behind his bier the burning wood with which the funeral pyre is to be kindled, then the widow must be shaved before the funeral starts and perform this duty. If there is no male relative and no widow, the pot containing fire is tied to the bier. When the corpse of a woman who has died in child-bed is being carried to the burning-ground various rites are observed to prevent her spirit from becoming a Churel [
चुड़ैल] and troubling the living. A lemon charmed by a magician is buried under the corpse and a man follows the body strewing the seeds of rala, while nails are driven into the threshold of the house.1

1 Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xix, p. 101

 7. Social Position.

The caste has now a fairly high social status and ranks above the Kunbis [कुणबी]. They abstain from all flesh and from liquor and will take food only from the hands of a Marātha [मराठा] Brāhman [ब्राह्मण], while Kunbis [कुणबी] and other cultivating and serving castes will accept food from their hands. They worship Siva [शिव] principally on Mondays, this day being sacred to the deity, who carries the moon as an ornament on his head, crowning the matted locks from which the Ganges [गंगा] flows.

8. The Jain Guraos [जैन गुरव].

Of the Jain Guraos [जैन गुरव] Mr. Enthoven quotes the following interesting description from the Bombay Gazetteer:

“They are mainly servants in village temples which, though dedicated to Brāhmanic [ब्राह्मण] gods, have still by their sides broken remains of Jain [जैन] images. This, and the fact that most of the temple land-grants date from a time when Jainism was the State religion, support the theory that the JainGuraos [जैन गुरव] are probably Jain [जैन] temple servants who have come under the influence partly of Lingāyatism [लिंगायत] and partly of Brāhmanism. A curious survival of their Jainism occurs at Dasahra [दशहर], Shimga [शिमगा] and other leading festivals, when the village deity is taken out of the temple and carried in procession. On these occasions, in front of the village god’s palanquin, three, five or seven of the villagers, among whom the Gurao [गुरव] is always the leader, carry each a long, gaily-painted wooden pole resting against their right shoulder. At the top of the pole is fastened a silver mask or hand and round it is draped a rich silk robe. Of these poles, the chief one, carried by the Gurao [गुरव], is called the Jain’s [जैन] pillar, Jainācha khāmb.""

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 3. -- S. 175 - 181]

Jangam [जंगम], Jangama [जंगमा] (Central Provinces)

"Jangam [जंगम], Jangama [जंगमा]. — A Sivite [शैव] order of wandering religious mendicants. The Jangams [जंगम] are the priests or gurus [गुरु] of the Sivite [शैव] sect of Lingāyats [लिंगायत]. They numbered 3500 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār [बेरार] in 1911, and frequent the Marātha [मराठा] country. The Jangam [जंगम] is said to be so called because he wears a movable emblem of Siva [शिव] (Jana gama, to come and go) in contradistinction to the Sthāwar [स्थावर] or fixed emblems found in temples. The Jangams [जंगम] discard many of the modern phases of Hinduism. They reject the poems in honour of Vishnu [विष्णु], Rāma [राम] and Krishna [कृष्ण], such as the Bhagavad Gita [भगवद्गीता] and Rāmāyana [रामायण] ; they also deny the authority of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], the efficacy of pilgrimage and self-mortification, and the restrictions of caste ; while they revere principally the Vedas [वेद] and the teaching of the great Sivite [शैव] reformer Shankar Achārya [शंकराचार्य]. Like other religious orders, the Jangams [जंगम] have now become a caste, and are divided into two groups of celibate and married members. The Gharbāris [घरबारी] (married members) celebrate their weddings in the usual Marātha [मराठा] fashion, except that they perform no hom [होम] or fire sacrifice. They permit the remarriage of widows. The Jangams [जंगम] wear ochre-coloured or badāmi [बदामी] clothes and long necklaces of seeds called rudrāksha2 [रुद्राक्ष] (The nut of Elaeocarpus lanceolatus [
Elaeocarpus grandiflorus J. E. Smith
beads, which resemble a nutmeg in size, in colour and nearly in shape ; they besmear their forehead, arms and various other parts of the body with cowdung ashes. They wear the lingam [लिंगं] or phallic sign of Siva [शिव] either about the neck or loins in a little casket of gold, silver, copper or brass. As the lingam [लिंगं] is supposed to represent the god and to be eternal, they are buried and not burnt after death, because the lingam [लिंगं] must be buried with them and must not be destroyed in the fire. If any Jangam [जंगम] loses the lingam [लिंगं] he or she must not cat or drink until it has been replaced by the guru [गुरु] or spiritual preceptor. It must be worshipped thrice a day, and ashes and bel  [बेल] (Aegle marmelos) leaves are offered to it, besides food when the owner is about to partake of this himself. The Jangams [जंगम] worship no deity other than Siva [शिव] or Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव], and their great festival is the Shivrātri [शिवरात्रि]. Some of them make pilgrimages to Pachmarhi [पचमढी], to the Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] hills. Most of them subsist by begging and singing songs in praise of Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव]. Grant-Duff gives the Jangam [जंगम] as one of the twenty-four village servants in a Marātha [मराठा] village, perhaps as the priest of the local shrine of Siva [शिव], or as the caste priest of the Lingāyats [लिंगायत], who are numerous in some Districts of Bombay [मुंबई]. He carries a wallet over the shoulder and a conch-shell and bell in the hand. On approaching the door of a house he rings his bell to bring out the occupant, and having received alms proceeds on his way, blowing his conch-shell, which is supposed to be a propitious act for the alms-giver, and to ensure his safe passage to heaven. The wallet is meant to hold the grain given to him, and on returning home he never empties it completely, but leaves a little grain in it as its own share. The Jangams [जंगम] are strict vegetarians, and take food only from the hands of Lingāyats [लिंगायत]. They bless their food before eating it and always finish it completely, and afterwards wash the dish with water and drink down the water. When a child is born, the priest is sent for and his feet are washed with water in a brass tray. The water is then rubbed over the bodies of those present, and a few drops sprinkled on the walls of the house as a ceremony of purification. The priest’s great toes are then washed in a cup of water, and he dips the lingam [लिंगं] he wears into this, and then sips a few drops of the water, each person present doing the same. This is called karuna [करुणा] or sanctification. He then dips a new lingam [लिंगं] into the holy water, and ties it round the child’s neck for a minute or two, afterwards handing it to the mother to be kept till the child is old enough to wear it. The dead are buried in a sitting posture, the lingam [लिंगं] being placed in the palm of the hand. On the third day a clay image of Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] is carried to the grave, and food and flowers are offered to it, as well as any intoxicants to which the deceased person may have been addicted. The following notice of the Jangams [जंगम] more than a century ago may be quoted from the Abbé Dubois, though the custom described does not, so far as is known, prevail at present, at least in the Central Provinces :1   

1 Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies, 1897 ed. p. 118. 

“The gurus [गुरु] or priests of Siva [शिव], who are known in the Western Provinces by the name of Jangams [जंगम], are for the most part celibates. They have a custom which is peculiar to themselves, and curious enough to be worth remarking. When a guru [गुरु] travels about his district he lodges with some member of the sect, and the members contend among themselves for the honour of receiving him. When he has selected the house he wishes to stay in, the master and all the other male inmates are obliged, out of respect for him, to leave it and go and stay elsewhere. The holy man remains there day and night with only the women of the house, whom he keeps to wait on him and cook for him, without creating any scandal or exciting the jealousy of the husbands. All the same, some scandal-mongers have remarked that the Jangams [जंगम] always take care to choose a house where the women are young.”

The Jangams [जंगम] are not given to austerities, and go about well clad."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 3. -- S. 222ff.]

Jati [जति] (NW Provinces und Oudh)

"Jati [जति](Sanskrit Yati [यति], “one who has restrained his passions and abandoned the world”).—A class of mendicant devotees who are the priests of the Jainas [जैन] or Sarāogis [सरावगी]. According to Mr, Sherring the term is applied also to those Gusāīns [गोसाईं], Bairāgis [बरागी], and Udāsis [उदासी] who practise celibacy ; and another variety are akin to the Jogis [जोगी]; but the application of the term to any but the Jaina [जैन] sect appears very unusual. The total strength of the Jainas [जैन] in these Provinces, according to the returns of the last Census, was 84,785 persons, or 18 in 10,000 for the whole population. According to Mr. Baillie 

“the sectarian divisions of the faith are little known to the majority of Jainas [जैन] in these Provinces, to whom the Svetambara [श्वेताम्बर], though they have temples at Ajudhya [अयुध्या] and probably elsewhere, are practically unknown. The entries in the sect column were, therefore, in general the names of the principal Jinas [जिन]—

  • Adi Nāth [आदिनाथ],
  • Ajit Nath [अजितनाथ],
  • Pāras Nāth [पार्श्वनाथ], 
  • Mahavīra [महावीर], or Nīm Nāth [नीमनाथ],

or the word Sarāvgi [सरावगी], that by which a secular Jaina [जैन] is distinguished from a Jati [जति] or member of an ascetic order.

The total number of Svetambaras [श्वेताम्बर] shown in the Province was 2,235. It may be assumed that the others are Digambaras [दिगम्बर]. The Jaina [जैन] lists show that the adherents of the religion are almost entirely Banyas [बनिया] : 83,976, out of the total 84,601, entered originally as Jaina [जैन] in religion, being of that caste. The

  • Agarwāla [अग्रवाल],
  • Jaiswār [जइसवार], 
  • Khandelwāl [खण्डेलवाल],
  • Purwār [पुर्वार],
  • Paliwāl [पालीवाल] and
  • Oswāl [ओसवाल]

sub-castes are the most important. Four hundred and fifty-one Rājputs [राजपूत] appear, possibly converts, but more probably, as mostly shown, of the Jaiswār [जइसवार] subcaste, really belonging to the trading community. There are thirty-two Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], Gaur [गौड़] being more numerously represented than any other sub-caste. Gaur Brāhmans [गौड़ ब्राह्मण], even though Hindus, are employed by Jainas [जैन] as temple attendants, and sometimes join the faith of their patrons.”

2. On the Jaina [जैन] faith the remarks of Dr. J. Burgess may be quoted:—



"The Yatis [यति], or priests, carry an ugha, or besom made of cotton thread, to sweep insects out of the way of harm as they enter the temples, or where they sit down, and a mohomati, or mouth cloth, to prevent insects entering the mouth while praying or washing the images. The proper objects of worship are the Jinas [जिन] or Tirthankaras [तीर्थंकर], but they allow the existence of the Hindu gods and have admitted to a share of their worship such of them as they have connected with the tales of their saints. As, among the Bauddhas [बौद्ध], Indra [इंद्र] and Sukra [शुक्र] is of frequent occurrence, the Jainas [जैन] distinguishing two principal Indras [इंद्र]—Sukra [शुक्र], regent of the north heaven, and Īsāna [ईशान], regent of the south, besides many inferior ones; and images of Sarasvati [सरस्वती] and of Devi [देवी], or Bhawāni [भवानी], are to be found in many of their temples. Nor are those of Hanumān [हनुमान], Bhairava [भैरव], and Ganesa [गणेश] excluded from their sacred places. Besides, they have a pantheon of their own in which they reckon four classes of superhuman beings —

  • Bhuvanapatis [भुवनपति],
  • Vyantaras [व्यन्तर], ā
  • Jyotishkas [ज्योतिष्क], and
  • Vaimanikas [वैमानिक]—


  • first the brood of the Asuras [असुर], Nāgas [नाग], Garuda [गरुड], the Dikpālas [दिक्पाल], etc., supposed to reside in the hells below the earth;
  • secondly, the Rākshasas [राक्षस], the Pisāchas [पिशाच], Bhūtas [भूत], Kinnaras [किन्नर], Gandharvas [गन्धर्व], etc., inhabiting mountains, forests, and lower air;
  • thirdly, five orders of celestial luminaries; and,
  • fourthly, gods of present and past Kalpas [कल्प], of the former of which are those born in the heavens—Saudharma [सौधर्म], Īsāna [ईशान], Sanatkumāra [सनत्कुमार], Mahendra [महेन्द्र], Brahma [ब्रह्मा], Lāutaka, Sukra [शुक्र], Sahasrāra [सहस्रार], Ānata [आनत], Pranāta [प्रणात], Arana, and Āchyata, etc.

Each Jina [जिन], they say, has also a sort of familiar goddess of his own, called a Sāsanadevi [शासनादेवी], who executes his behests. These are perhaps analogous to the Saktis [शक्ति], or Mātris [मातृ], of the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण]; indeed among them we find Ambika [अंबिका], a name of Kaumāri [कौमारी], the Sakti [शक्ति] of Karttikeya [कार्त्तिकेय] and Chanda [चन्दा], and Mahākāli [महाकाली], names of Bhawāni [भवानी]”.

5.  The Jatis [जति] are divided into the real Jati [जति], who wear white clothes, and the Sewara [सेवरा], who dresses in ochre-coloured garments. According to Mr. Sherring, the Sewaras [सेवरा] walk about with head and feet bare, holding a red stick in the hand, and they carry with them a kind of brush made of peacocks’ feathers, with which they sweep the ground before sitting down, lest they should injure a worm or an insect. Both these classes beg cooked food from the houses of Jainas [जैन] or Sarāogis [सरावगी]. By Hindus they are held in abomination and contempt, and are said to practise magic and witchcraft.

6. The last Census shows only 12 Jaina [जैन] Faqīrs [فقير],—

  • 4 at Saharānpur [सहारनपुर],
  • 1 at Muzaffarnagar [मुज़फ़्फ़रनगर],
  • 1 at Mathura [मथुरा],
  • 2 at Agra [आगरा],
  • 4 at Jālaun [जालौन]."

[Quelle: Crooke, William <1848-1923>: The tribes and castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh. -- Calcutta : Office of the superintendent of government printing, 1896 - 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 3. -- S. 52 - 55]

Joshi [जोशी], Jyotishi [ज्योतिषी], Bhadri [भद्री], Parsai [परसाई] (Central Provinces)

"Joshi [जोशी], Jyotishi [ज्योतिषी], Bhadri [भद्री], Parsai [परसाई].—

1. The village priest and astrologer.

The caste of village priests and astrologers. They numbered about 6000 persons in 1911, being distributed over all Districts. The Joshis [जोशी] are nearly all Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], but have now developed into a separate caste and marry among themselves. Their social customs resemble those of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], and need not be described in detail. The Joshi [जोशी] officiates at weddings in the village, selects auspicious names for children according to the nakshatra [नक्षत्र] or constellation of the moon under which they were born, and points out the auspicious time or mahūrat [महूरत] for all such ceremonies and for the commencement of agricultural operations. He is also sometimes in charge of the village temples. He is supported by the contributions from the villagers, and often has a plot of land rent-free from the proprietor. The social position of the Joshis [जोशी] is not very good, and, though Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], they are considered to rank somewhat below the cultivating castes, the Kurmis [कुर्मी] and Kunbis [कुणबी], by whose patronage they are supported.1

1 Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xxi. p. 184.

The Bhadris [भद्री] are a class of Joshis [जोशी] who wander about and live by begging, telling fortunes and giving omens. They avert the evil influences of the planet Saturn and accept the gifts offered to this end, which are always black, as black blankets, charcoal, tilli [तिल्ली] or sesamum oil, the Urad [उड़द - Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper] pulse, and iron. People born on Saturday or being otherwise connected with the planet are especially subject to his malign influence. The Joshi [जोशी] ascertains who these unfortunate persons are from their horoscopes, and neutralises the evil influence of the planet by the acceptance of the gifts already mentioned, while he sometimes also receives a buffalo or a cow. He computes by astrological calculations the depth at which water will be found when a cultivator wishes to dig a well. He also practises palmistry, classifying the whorls of the fingers into two patterns, called the Shank [शंख] or conch-shell and Chakra [चक्र] or discus of Vishnu [विष्णु]. The Shank [शंख] is considered to be unfortunate and the Chakra [चक्र] fortunate. The lines on the balls of the toes and on the forehead are similarly classified. When anything has been lost or stolen the Joshi [जोशी] can tell from the daily nakshatra [नक्षत्र] or mansion of the moon in which the loss or theft occurred whether the property has gone to the north, south, east or west, and within what interval it is likely to be found. The people have not nowadays much faith in his prophetic powers, and they say, “If clouds come on Friday, and the sky is black on Saturday, then the Joshi [जोशी] foretells that it will rain on Sunday.” The Joshi [जोशी]’s calculations are all based on the rāshis [राशी] or signs of the zodiac through which the sun passes during the year, and the nakshatras [नक्षत्र] or those which mark the monthly revolutions of the moon. These are given in all Hindu almanacs, and most Joshis [जोशी] simply work from the almanac, being quite ignorant of astronomy. Since the measurement of the sun’s apparent path on the ecliptic, and the moon’s orbit mapped out by the constellations are of some interest, and govern the arrangement of the Hindu calendar, it has been thought desirable to give some account of them. And in order to make this intelligible it is desirable first to recapitulate some elementary facts of astronomy.

2. The apparent path of the sun. The ecliptic or zodiac.

The universe may be conceived for the purpose of understanding the sun’s path among the stars as if it were a huge ball, of which looking from the earth’s surface we see part of the inside with the stars marked on it, as on inside of a dome. This imaginary inside of a ball is called the celestial sphere, and the ancients believed that it actually existed, and also, in order to account for the varying distances of the stars, supposed that there were several of them, one inside the other, and each with a number of stars fixed to it. The sun and earth may be conceived as smaller solid balls suspended inside this large one. Then looking from the surface of the earth we see the sun outlined against the inner surface of the imaginary celestial sphere. And as the earth travels round the sun in its orbit, the appearance to us is that the sun moves over the surface of the celestial sphere. The following figure will make this clear.1

1 Newcomb’s Astronomy for Everybody, p. 33.

Fig. i.—The Orbit of the Earth and the Zodiac.

Thus when the earth is at A in its orbit the sun will appear to be at M, and as the earth travels from A to B the sun will appear to move from M to N on the line of the ecliptic. It will be seen that as the earth in a year makes a complete circuit round the sun, the sun will appear to have made a complete circuit among the stars, and have come back to its original position. This apparent movement is annual, and has nothing to do with the sun’s apparent diurnal course over the sky, which is caused by the earth’s daily rotation on its axis. The sun’s annual path among the stars naturally cannot be observed during the day. Professor Newcomb says :

“But the fact of the motion will be made very clear if, day after day, we watch some particular fixed star in the west. We shall find that it sets earlier and earlier every day ; in other words, it is getting continually nearer and nearer the sun. More exactly, since the real direction of the star is unchanged, the sun seems to be approaching the star.

“If we could see the stars in the daytime all round the sun, the case would be yet clearer. We should see that if the sun and a star were together in the morning, the sun would, during the day, gradually work past the star in an easterly direction. Between the rising and setting it would move nearly its own diameter, relative to the star. Next morning we should see that it had got quite away from the star, being nearly two diameters distant from it. This motion would continue month after month. At the end of the year the sun would have made a complete circuit relative to the star, and we should see the two once more together. This apparent motion of the sun in one year round the celestial sphere was noticed by the ancients, who took much trouble to map it out. They imagined a line passing round the celestial sphere, which the sun always followed in its annual course, and which was called the ecliptic. They noticed that the planets followed nearly the same course as the sun among the stars. A belt extending on each side of the ecliptic, and broad enough to contain all the known planets, as well as the sun, was called the zodiac. It was divided into twelve signs, each marked by a constellation. The sun went through each sign in a month, and through all twelve signs in a year. Thus arose the familiar signs of the zodiac, which bore the same names as the constellations among which they are situated. This is not the case at present, owing to the precession of the equinoxes.”

It was by observing the paths of the sun and moon round the celestial sphere along the zodiac that the ancients came to be able to measure the solar and lunar months and years.

3. Inclination of the ecliptic to the equator.

As is well known, the celestial sphere is imagined to be spanned by an imaginary line called the celestial equator, which is in the same plane as the earth’s equator, and as it were, a vast concentric circle. The points in the celestial sphere opposite the north and south terrestrial poles are called the north and south celestial poles, and the celestial equator is midway between these. Owing to the special form of the earth the north celestial pole is visible to us in the northern hemisphere, and marked very nearly by the pole-star, its height above the horizon being equal to the latitude of the place where the observer stands. Owing to the daily rotation of the earth the whole celestial sphere seems to revolve daily on the axis of the north and south celestial poles, carrying the sun, moon and stars with it. To this the apparent daily course of the sun and moon is due. Their course seems to us oblique, as we are north of the equator.

If the earth’s axis were set vertically to the plane of its orbit round the sun, then it would follow that the plane of the equator would pass through the centre of the sun, and that the line drawn by the sun in its apparent revolution against the background of the celestial sphere would be in the same plane. That is, the sun would seem to move round a circle in the heavens in the same plane as the earth’s equator, or round the celestial equator. But the earth’s axis is inclined at 23½° to the plane of its orbit, and therefore the apparent path traced by the sun in the celestial sphere, which is the same path as the earth would really follow to an observer on the surface of the sun, is inclined at 23½° to the celestial equator. This is the ecliptic, and is really the line of the plane of the earth’s orbit extended to cut the celestial sphere.

4. The orbits of the moon and planets.

All the planets move round the sun in orbits whose planes are slightly inclined to that of the earth, the plane of Mercury having the greatest inclination of 6°. The plane and of the moon’s orbit round the earth is also inclined at 5° 9' to the ecliptic. The orbits of the moon and all the planets must necessarily intersect the plane of the earth’s orbit on the ecliptic at two points, and these are called the nodes of the moon and each planet respectively. In consequence of the inclination being so slight, though the course of the moon and planets is not actually on the ecliptic, they are all so close to it that they are included in the belt of the zodiac. Thus the moon and all the planets follow almost the same apparent course on the zodiac or belt round the ecliptic in the changes of position resulting from their own and the earth’s orbital movements with reference to what are called the fixed stars.

5. The signs of the zodiac.

As the sun completes his circuit of the ecliptic or zodiac in the course of a year, it followed that if his course could be measured and divided into periods, these periods would form divisions of time for the year. This was what the ancients did, and it is probable that the measurement and division of time was the primary object of the science of astronomy, as apart from the natural curiosity to ascertain the movements of the sun, moon and planets, when they were looked upon as divine beings controlling the world. They divided the zodiac or the path of the sun into twelve parts, and gave to each part the name of the principal constellation situated on, or adjacent to, that section of the line of the ecliptic. When they had done this and observed the dates of the sun’s entry into each sign or rāshi [राशि], as it is called in Hindi [हिन्दी], they had divided the year into twelve solar months. The following are the Hindu names and meanings of the signs of the zodiac :
1. Aries. The ram. Mesha [मेष].
2. Taurus. The bull. Vrisha [वृष].
3. Gemini. The twins. Mithuna [मिथुन].
4. Cancer. The crab. Karkati [कर्कति].
5. Leo. The lion. Sinha [सिंह].
6. Virgo. The virgin. Kanya [कन्या].
7. Libra. The balance. Tula [तुला].
8. Scorpio. The scorpion. Vrischika [वृश्चिक].
9. Sagittarius. The archer. Dhanus [धनुष] or Chapa [चापा].
10. Capricornus. The goat. Makara [मकर] (said to mean a sea-monster).
11. Aquarius. The water-bearer. Kumbha [कुम्भ] (a water-pot).
12. Pisces. The fishes. Mina [मीन].

The signs of the zodiac were nearly the same among the Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians and Indians. They are supposed to have originated in Chaldea or Babylonia, and the fact that the constellations are indicated by nearly the same symbols renders their common origin probable. It seems likely that the existing Hindu zodiac may have been adopted from the Greeks.

6. The Sankrānts [संक्रान्ति].

The solar year begins with the entrance of the sun into Mesha [मेष] or Aries. The day on which the sun passes into a new sign is called Sankrānt [संक्रान्ति], and is to some extent observed as a holy day. But the Til Sankrānt [तिल संक्रान्ति] or entry of the sun into Makara [मकर] or Capricorn, which falls about the 15th January, is a special festival, because it marks approximately the commencement of the sun’s northern progress and the lengthening of the days, as Christmas roughly does with us. On this day every Hindu who is able bathes in a sacred river at the hour indicated by the Joshis [जोशी] of the sun’s entrance into the sign. Presents of til [तिल] or sesamum are given to the Joshi [जोशी], owing to which the day is called Til Sankrānt [तिल संक्रान्ति]. People also sometimes give presents to each other.

7. The nakshatras [नक्षत्र] or constellations of the moon's path.

The Sankrānts [संक्रान्ति] do not mark the commencement of the Hindu months, which are still lunar and are adjusted to the solar year by intercalation. It is probable that long before of they were able to measure the sun’s progress along the ecliptic the ancients had observed that of the moon, which it was much easier to do, as she is seen among the stars at night. Similarly there is little reason to doubt that the first division of time was the lunar month, which can be remarked by every one. Ancient astronomers measured the progress of the moon’s path along the ecliptic and divided it into twenty-seven sections, each of which represented roughly a day’s march. Each section was distinguished by a group of stars either on the ecliptic or so near it, either in the northern or southern hemisphere, as to be occultated by the moon or capable of being in conjunction with it or the planets. These constellations are called nakshatras [नक्षत्र]. Naturally, some of these constellations are the same as those subsequently chosen to mark the sun’s path or the signs of the zodiac. In some cases a zodiacal constellation is divided into two nakshatras [नक्षत्र]. Like the signs, the nakshatras [नक्षत्र] were held to represent animals or natural objects. The following is a list of them with their corresponding stars, and the object which each was supposed to represent :

Nakshatra [नक्षत्र]. Constellation. Object. Corresponding zodiacal sign.
1. Aswini [अश्विनी]. ß and y Arietis. A horse’s head. Aries.
2. Bharani [भरणी]. 35, 39 and 41 Arietis. Pudendum muliebre [weibliche Scham]. Aries.
3. Krittika [कृत्तिका]. Pleiades. A knife. Part of Taurus.
4. Rohini [रोहिणी]. α, y, δ, ε, θ Tauri
A wheeled carriage or a temple. Taurus.
5. Mrigasiras [मृगशिरस्]. λ, φ1, φ2 Orionis
(Orion’s head).
A deer’s head.  
6. Ardra [आर्द्रा]. Betelgeux or α Orionis (one of Orion’s arms). A gem.  
7. Punarvasu [पुनर्वसु]. Gemini or Castor and Pollux. A house. Gemini.
8. Pushya [पुष्य].  y, δ and θ Cancri. An arrow. Cancer.
9. Aslesha [आश्लेषा]. δ, ε, η, ρ and σ Hydrae. A wheel.  
10. Magha [माघा]. α, γ, ε, ζ, η  and μ Leonis. A house. Leo.
11. Pūrva Phālguni [पूर्वा फाल्गुनी]. δ and θ Leonis. A couch. Leo.
12. Uttara Phālguni [उत्तरा फाल्गुनी]. ß and 93 Leonis. A bed. Leo.
13. Hasta [हस्त]. a, ß, y, δ and ε Corvi. A hand.  
14. Chitra [चित्रा]. Spica (α Virginis). A pearl. Virgo.
15. Swāti [स्वाती]. Arcturus (α Boötis). A coral bead.  
16. Visacha [विशाखा]. α, β, γ and ι Librae. A garland. Libra.
17. Anurādha [अनुराधा]. β, δ and π Scorpionis. A sacrifice or offering. Scorpio.
18. Jyestha [ज्येष्ठा]. α, σ and τ Scorpionis. An earring. Scorpio.
19. Mula [मूल]. ε, ζ, η, θ, ι, κ, λ, μ, ν, Scorpionis. A lion’s tail. Scorpio.
20. Pūrva Ashādha [पूर्वाषाढ]. δ and ε Sagittarii. A couch or an elephant’s tusk. Sagittarius.
21. Uttara Ashādha [उत्तराषाढ]. ζ and σ Sagittarii. An elephant’s tusk or the singāra [सिंघाड़ा - Trapa spp.]nut. Sagittarius.
22. Sravana [श्रवणा]. α, ß and y Aquilae. The footprint of Vishnu [विष्णु].  
23. Dhanishtha [धनिष्ठा]. a, ß, y and δ Delphinis. A drum.  
24. Sata-bhishaj [शतभिषा]. λ Aquarii. A circular jewel or a circle. Aquarius.
25. Pūrva Bhadrapada [पूर्वा भाद्रपद]. α and ß Pegasi. A    two-faced image.  
26. Uttara Bhadrapada. [उत्तरा भाद्रपद] γ Pegasi and α Andromedae. A    two-faced image or a couch.  
27. Revati [रेवती]. ζ Piscium. A tabor. Pisces.

8.The revolution of the moon.

All the zodiacal constellations are thus included in the nakshatras [नक्षत्र] except Capricorn, for which Aquila and Delphinis are substituted. These, as well as Hydra, are a considerable distance from the ecliptic, but may perhaps be nearer the moon’s path, which, as already seen, slightly diverges from it. But this point has not been ascertained by me. The moon completes the circuit of the heavens in its orbit round the earth in a little less than a lunar month or 27 days 8 hours. As twenty-seven nakshatras [नक्षत्र] were demarcated, it seems clear that a nakshatra [नक्षत्र] was meant to represent the distance travelled by the moon in a day. Subsequently a twenty-eighth small nakshatra [नक्षत्र] was formed called Abhijit [अभिजित्], out of Uttarāshādha [उत्तराषाढ] and Sravana [श्रवणा], and this may have been meant to represent the fractional part of the day. The days of the lunar month have each, as a matter of fact, a nakshatra [नक्षत्र] allotted to them, which is recorded in all Hindu almanacs, and enters largely into the Joshi [जोशी]’s astrological calculations. It may have been the case that prior to the naming of the days of the week, the days of the lunar month were distinguished by the names of their nakshatras [नक्षत्र], but this could only have been among the learned. For though there was a nakshatra [नक्षत्र] for every day of the moon’s path round the ecliptic, the same days in successive months could not have the same nakshatras [नक्षत्र] on account of what is called the synodical revolution of the moon. The light of the moon comes from the sun, and we see only that part of it which is illuminated by the sun. When the moon is between the earth and the sun, the light hemisphere is invisible to us, and there is no moon. When the moon is on the opposite side of the earth to the sun we see the whole of the illuminated hemisphere, and it is full moon. Thus in the time between one new moon and the next, the moon must proceed from its position between the earth and the sun to the same position again, and to do this it has to go somewhat more than once round the ecliptic, as is shown by the following figure.1

1 Taken from Professor Newcomb’s Astronomy for Everybody.

Fig. 2.—Revolution of the Moon round the Earth.

9. The days of the week.

As during the moon’s circuit of the earth, the earth is also travelling on its orbit, the moon will not be between the earth and the sun again on completion of its orbit, but will have to traverse the further are shown in the figure to come between the earth and the sun. When the moon has completed the circle of the ecliptic from the position ME, its position relative to the earth has become as NF and it has not yet come between the earth and the sun. Hence while the moon completes the circuit of the ecliptic in 27 days 8 hours, the time from one new moon to another is 29 days 13 hours. Hence the nakshatras [नक्षत्र] will not fall on the same days in successive lunar months, and would not be suitable as names for the days. It seems that, recognising this, the ancient astronomers had to find other names. They had the lunar fortnights of 14 or 15 days from new to full and full to new moon. Hence apparently they hit on the plan of dividing these into half and regulating the influence which the sun, moon and planets were believed to exercise over events in the world by allotting one day to each of them. They knew of five planets besides the sun and moon, and by giving a day to each of them the seven-day week was formed. The term planet signifies a wanderer, and it thus perhaps seemed suitable that they should give their names to the days which would revolve endlessly in a cycle, as they themselves did in the heavens. The names of the days are: 
Etwār [एतवार] or Raviwār [रविवार]. Sunday. (Ravi [रवि] —the sun.)
Somwār [सोमवार]. Monday. (Soma [सोम]—the moon.)
Mangalwār [मंगलवार]. Tuesday. (Mangal [मंगल] or Bhauma [भौम]—Mars.)
Budhwār [बुधवार]. Wednesday. (Buddha [बुध]—Mercury.)
Brihaspatwār [बृहस्पतिवार] or Guru [गुरु]. Thursday. (Brihaspat [बृहस्पति] or guru [गुरु]—Jupiter.)
Shukurwār [शुक्रवार]. Friday. (Shukra [शुक्र]—Venus.)
Saniwār [शनिवार] or Sanīchara [सनिच्चर]. Saturday. (Sani [शनि]—Saturn.)

The termination vāra [वार] means a day. The weekdays were similarly named in Rome and other countries speaking Aryan languages, and they are readily recognised in French [...] It is supposed that the Hindus obtained the seven-day week from the Greeks.

10. The lunar year.

Four seven-day weeks were within a day and a fraction of the lunar month, which was the nearest that could be got. The first method of measuring the year would be by twelve lunar months, which would bring it back nearly to the same period. But as the lunar month is 29 days 13 hours, twelve months would be 354 days 12 hours, or nearly eleven days less than the tropical solar year. Hence if the lunar year was retained the months would move back round the year by about eleven days annually. This is what actually happens in the Muhammadan calendar where the twelve lunar months have been retained and the Muharram [محرم] and other festivals come earlier every year by about eleven days.

11. Intercalary months.

In order to reconcile the lunar and solar years the Hindus hit upon an ingenious device. It was ordained that any month in which the sun did not enter a new sign of the zodiac would not count and would be followed by another month of the same name. Thus in the month of Chait [चैत] the sun must enter the sign Mesha [मेष] or Aries. If he does not enter it during the lunar month there will be an intercalary Chait [चैत], followed by the proper month of the same name during which the sun will enter Mesha [मेष].1 Such an intercalary month is called Adhika [अधिक]. An intercalary month, obtained by having two successive lunar months of the same name, occurs approximately once in three years, and by this means the reckoning by twelve lunar months is adjusted to the solar year. On the other hand, the sun very occasionally passes two Sankrānts [संक्रान्ति] or enters into two fresh signs during the lunar month. This is rendered possible by the fact that the time occupied by the sun in passing through different signs of the zodiac varies to some extent. It is said that the zodiac was divided into twelve equal signs of 30° each or 1° for each day, as at this period it was considered that the year was 360 days.2 Possibly in adjusting the signs to 365 odd days some alterations may have been made in their length, or errors discovered. At any rate, whatever may be the reason, the length of the sun’s periods in the signs, or of the solar months, varies from 31 days 14 hours to 29 days 8 hours. Three of the months are less than the lunar month, and hence it is possible that two Sankrānts [संक्रान्ति] or passages of the sun into a fresh sign may occasionally occur in the same lunar month. When this happens, following the same rule as before, the month to which the second Sankrānt [संक्रान्ति] properly belongs, that is the one following that in which two Sankrānts [संक्रान्ति] occur, is called a Kshaya [क्षय] or eliminated month and is omitted from the calendar. Intercalary months occur generally in the 3rd, 5th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 16th and 18th years of a cycle of nineteen years, or seven times in nineteen years. It is found that in each successive cycle only one or two months are changed, so that the same month remains intercalary for several cycles of nineteen years and then gives way generally to one of the months preceding and rarely to the following month. Suppressed months occur at intervals varying from 19 to 141 years, and in a year when a suppressed month occurs there must always be one intercalary month and not infrequently there are two.3

1 The Indian Calendar, by Messrs. Sewell and Dikshit, pp. 11 and 25.
Hindu Astronomy, p. 100.
3 The Indian Calendar, Sewell and Dikshit, p. 28 and Table I.

This method of adjusting the solar and lunar years, though clumsy, is so far scientific that the solar and lunar years are made to agree without any artificial intercalation of days. It has, however, the great disadvantages of the frequent intercalary month, and also of the fact that the lunar months begin on different dates in the English solar calendar, varying by nearly twenty days.

12. Superstitions about numbers.


13. The Hindu months.

The names of the Hindu months were selected from among those of the nakshatras [नक्षत्र], every second or third being taken and the most important constellations apparently chosen. The following statement shows the current names for the months, the nakshatras [नक्षत्र] from which they are derived, and the constellations they represent :

Month. Nakshatra [नक्षत्र] Constellation.
1. Chait [चैत]. Chitra [चित्रा]. Virgo.
2. Baisākh [वैशाख]. Visacha [विशाखा]. Libra.
3. Jeth [जेठ]. Jyestha [ज्येष्ठा]. Scorpio.
4.  Asārh [आषाढ]. Pūrva Ashādha [पूर्वाषाढ].
Uttara Ashādha [उत्तराषाढ].
5. Shrāwan [श्रावण]. Sravana [श्रवणा]. Aquila.
6. Bhādon [भादों ]. Pūrva Bhadrapada [पूर्वा भाद्रपद].
Uttara Bhadrapada. [उत्तरा भाद्रपद]
7. Kunwār [कुंवार] or Aswin [अश्विन]. Aswini [अश्विनी]. Aries.
8. Kārtik [कार्तिक]. Krittika [कृत्तिका]. Pleiades (Part of Taurus)


9. Aghan [अगहन] or Mārgashīr [मार्गशीर्ष]. Mrigasiras [मृगशिरस्]. Orion.
10. Pūs [पौष]. Pushya [पुष्य]. Cancer.
11. Māgh [माघ]. Magha [माघा]. Leo.
12. Phāgun [फाल्गुन]. Pūrva Phālguni [पूर्वा फाल्गुनी].
Uttara Phālguni [उत्तरा फाल्गुनी].


Fig. 3.—The Hindu Ecliptic showing the relative position of Zodiacal Signs and nakshatras [नक्षत्र].

Thus if the Pleiades are reckoned as part of Taurus, eight zodiacal signs give their names to months as well as Orion, Pegasus and Aquila, while two months are included in Leo. It appears that in former times the year began with Pūs [पूस] or December, as the month Mārgashīr [मार्गशीर्ष] was also called Aghan [अगहन]  or Agrahana, or ‘That which went before,’ that is the month before the new year. But the renewal of vegetation in the spring has exercised a very powerful effect on the primitive mind, being marked by the Holi [होली] festival in India, corresponding to the Carnival in Europe. The vernal equinox was thus perhaps selected as the most important occasion and the best date for beginning the new year, which now commences in northern India with the new moon of Chait [चैत], immediately following the Holi [होली] festival, when the sun is in the sign of Mesha [मेष] or Aries. At first the months appear to have travelled round the year, but subsequently they were fixed by ordaining that the month of Chait [चैत] should begin with the new moon during the course of which the sun entered the sign Aries. The constellation Chitra [चित्रा], from which the sign is named, is nearly opposite to this in the zodiac, as shown by the above figure.1

1 Taken from Brennand’s Hindu Astronomy, p. 39.

Consequently, the full moon, being nearly opposite the sun on the ecliptic, would be in the sign Chitra [चित्रा] or near it. In southern India the months begin with the full moon, but in northern India with the new moon ; it seems possible that the months were called after the nakshatra [नक्षत्र], of the full moon to distinguish them from the solar months which would be called after the sign of the zodiac in which the sun was. But no authoritative explanation seems to be available. Similarly, the nakshatras [नक्षत्र] after which the other months are named, fall nearly opposite to them at the new moon, while the full moon would be in or near them.

14. The solar nakshatras [नक्षत्र].

The periods during which the sun passes through each nakshatra [नक्षत्र] are also recorded, and they are of course constant in date like the solar months. As there are twenty-seven nakshatras [नक्षत्र], the average time spent by the sun in each is about 13½ days. These periods are well known to the people as they have the advantage of not varying in date like the lunar months, while over most of India the solar months are not used. The commencement of the various agricultural operations is dated by the solar nakshatras [नक्षत्र], and there are several proverbs about them in connection with the crops. The following are some examples : “ If it does not rain in Pushya [
पुष्य] and Punarvasu [पुनर्वसु] nakshatras [नक्षत्र] the children of Nimār [निमाड़] will go without food.” ‘Rain in Māgh [माघ]a nakshatra [नक्षत्र] (end of August) is like food given by a mother,’ because it is so beneficial. “ If there is no wind in Mrigasiras [मृगशिरस्] (beginning of June), and no heat in Rohini  [रोहिणी] (end of May), sell your plough-cattle and go and look for work.” ‘ If it rains during Uttara [उत्तर] (end of September) dogs will turn up their noses at grain,’ because the harvest will be so abundant. “ If it rains during· Aslesha [आश्लेषा] (first half of August) the wheat-stalks will be as stout as drum-sticks ” (because the land will be well ploughed). ‘ If rain falls in Chitra [चित्र] or Swāti [स्वाती] nakshatras [नक्षत्र] (October) there won’t be enough cotton for lamp-wicks.’

15. Lunar fortnights and days.

The lunar month was divided into two fortnights called paksha [पक्ष] or wing. The period of the waxing moon was known as sukla [शुक्ल] or sudi [सुदी] paksha [पक्ष], that is the light fortnight, and that of the waning moon as krishna [कृष्ण] or budi [
बदी] paksha [पक्ष], that is the dark fortnight.

Each lunar month was also divided into thirty equal periods, called tithis [तिथि] or lunar days. Since there are less than thirty days in the lunar month, a tithi [तिथि] does not correspond to an ordinary day, but begins and ends at odd hours of the day. Nevertheless the tithis [तिथि] are printed in all almanacs, and are used for the calculation of auspicious moments.

The day is divided for ordinary purposes of measuring time into eight pahars [पहर] or watches, four of the day and four of the night; and into sixty gharis [घड़ी] or periods of twenty-four minutes each. The pahars [पहर], however, are not of equal length. At the equinox the first and fourth pahar [पहर] of the' day and night each contain eight gharis [घड़ी], and the two middle ones seven gharis [घड़ी]. In summer the first and fourth pahars [पहर] of the day contain nine gharis [घड़ी] each, and the two middle ones eight each, while the first and fourth pahars [पहर] of the night contain seven and the two middle ones six each. Thus in summer the four day pahars [पहर] contain 13 hours 36 minutes and the night ones 10 hours 24 minutes. And in winter the exact opposite is the case, the night pahars [पहर] being lengthened and the day ones shortened in precisely the same manner. No more unsatisfactory measure of time could well be devised. The termination of the second watch or do pahar [दोपहर] always corresponds with midday and midnight respectively.

16. Divisions of the day.

The apparatus with which the hours were measured and announced consisted of a shallow metal pan, named from its office, ghariāl  [
घड़ियाल], and suspended so as to be easily struck with a wooden mallet by the ghariali [घड़ियाली]. He measured the passing of a ghari [घड़ी] by an empty thin brass cup or katori [कटोरी], perforated at the bottom, and placed on the surface of a large vessel filled with water, where nothing could disturb it; the water came through the small hole in the bottom of the cup and filled it, causing it to sink in the period of one ghari [घड़ी]. At the expiration of each ghari [घड़ी] the ghariāl  [घड़ियाल] struck its number from one to nine with a mallet on a brass plate, and at the end of each pahar [पहर] he struck a gujar [गुजर] or eight strokes to announce the fact, followed by one to four hollow-sounding strokes to indicate the number of the pahar [पहर]. This custom is still preserved in the method by which the police-guards of the public offices announce the hours on a gong and subsequently strike four, eight and twelve strokes to proclaim these hours of the day and night by our clock. Only rich men could afford to maintain a  ghariāl  [घड़ियाल], as four persons were required to attend to it during the day and four at night.1

1 The above particulars regarding the measurement of time regarding the ghariāl  [घड़ियाल] are taken from 'An account of the Hindustāni Horometry' in Asiatic Researches, vol. v. p. 81 by John Gilchrist, Esq.  The account appears to be to some extent controversial, and it is possible that the arrangement of the gharis [घड़ी] may have varied in different localities.

17. The Joshi’s [जोशी] calculations. 2

2 The information contained in this paragraph is taken from Captain Mackintosh’s Report on the Ramosis, chap. iii. (India Office Library Tracts), in which a large variety of rules are given.

The Joshi [जोशी] calculates auspicious seasons by a consideration of the sun’s zodiacal sign, the moon’s nakshatra [नक्षत्र] or daily mansion, and other rules. From the monthly zodiacal signs and daily nakshatras [नक्षत्र] in which children are born, as recorded in their horoscopes, he calculates whether their marriage will be auspicious. Thus the zodiacal signs are supposed to be divided among the four castes, Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio belonging to the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] ; Aries, Leo and Sagittarius to the  Kshatriya [क्षत्रिय] ; Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn to the Vaishya [वैश्य] ; and Gemini, Libra and Aquarius to the Sūdra [शूद्र]. If the boy and girl were born under any of the three signs of the same caste it is a happy conjunction. If the boy’s sign was of a caste superior to the girl’s, it is suitable, but if the girl’s sign is of a superior caste to the boy’s it is an omen that she will rule the household ; and though the marriage may take place, certain ceremonies should be performed to obviate this effect. There is also a division of the zodiacal signs according to their nature. Thus Virgo, Libra, Gemini, Aquarius and half of Sagittarius are considered to be of the nature of man, or formed by him ; Aries, Taurus, half of Sagittarius and half of Capricorn are of the nature of animals; Cancer, Pisces and half of Capricorn are of a watery nature ; Leo is of the desert or wild nature ; and Scorpio is of the nature of insects. If the boy and girl were both born under signs of the same nature their marriage will be auspicious, but if they were born under signs of different the gharis [घड़ी] may have varied in different natures, they will share only half the blessings and comforts of the marriage state, and may be visited by strife, enmity, misery or distress. As Leo and Scorpio are looked upon as being enemies, evil consequences are much dreaded from the marriage of a couple born under these signs. There are also numerous rules regarding the nakshatras [नक्षत्र] or mansions of the moon and days of the week under which the boy and girl were born, but these need not be reproduced. If on the day of the wedding the sun or any of the planets passes from one zodiacal sign to another, the wedding must be delayed for a certain number of gharis [घड़ी] or periods of twenty-four minutes, the number varying for each planet. The hours of the day are severally appointed to the seven planets and the twelve zodiacal signs, and the period of ascendancy of a sign is known as lagan [लगन]; this name is also given to the paper specifying the day and hour which have been calculated as auspicious for the wedding. It is stated that no weddings should be celebrated during the period of occultation of the planets Jupiter and Venus, nor on the day before new moon, nor the Sankrānt [संक्रान्ति] or day on which the sun passes from one zodiacal sign to another, nor in the Singhast year, when the planet Jupiter is in the constellation Leo. This takes place once in twelve years. Marriages are usually prohibited during the four months of the rainy season, and sometimes also in Pūs [पूस], Jeth [जेठ] or other months.

18. Personal names.

The Joshi [जोशी] names children according to the moon’s daily  nakshatra [नक्षत्र] under which they were born, each nakshatra [नक्षत्र] having a letter or certain syllables allotted to it with which the name must begin.

Thus Māgha [माघ] has the syllables Ma, Mi, Mu and Me, with which the name should begin, as

  • Mansāram [मनसा राम],
  • Mithu Lāl [मिथुलाल],
  • Mukund Singh [मुकुंदसिंह],
  • Meghnāth [मेघनाथ];

Pūrva Phālguni [पूर्वा फाल्गुनी] has Mo and Te, as

  • Moji Lāl [मोजिलाल] and
  • Tegi Lāl ;

Punarvasu has Ke, Ko, Ha and Hi, as

  • Kesho Rao [केशवराव ],
  • Koshal Prasād [कौशलप्रसाद],
  • Hardyāl [हरदयाल] and
  • Hīra Lāl [हीरालाल],

and so on.


Similarly, if the name of a god or saint was given to a child it was thought that some part of the nature and virtue of the god might be conferred on the child. Thus Hindu children are most commonly named after gods and goddesses under the influence of this idea ; and though the belief may now have decayed the practice continues. 


The following are some of the best-known Hindu names, taken from those of gods :—

Names of Vishnu [विष्णु].

  • Nārāyan [नारायण]. Probably ‘ The abode of mortals,’ or else ‘ He who dwelt on the waters (before creation)’ ; now applied to the sun.
  • Wāman [वामन]. The dwarf, one of Vishnu [विष्णु]’s incarnations.
  • Janārdan [जनार्दन]. Said to mean protector of the people. 
  • Narsingh [नरसिंह]. The man-lion, one of Vishnu’s incarnations. 
  • Hari [हरि]. Yellow or gold-colour or green. Perhaps applied to the sun.
  • Parashram. From Parasurāma [परशुराम] or Rāma [राम] with the axe, one of the incarnations of Vishnu.
  • Gadadhar [गदाधर]. Wielder of the club or gada [गदा].
  • Jagannāth [जगन्नाथ]. Lord of the world.
  • Dīnkar [दिनकर]. The sun, or he who makes the days (din karna [दिन करना]).
  • Bhagwān [भागवान्]. The fortunate or illustrious.
  • Anant [अनन्त]. The infinite or eternal.
  • Madhosūdan [मधुसूदन]. Destroyer of the demon Madho [मधु] (Madho means honey or wine).
  • Pāndurang [पाण्डुरङ्ग]. Yellow-coloured.

Names of Rāma [राम], or Vishnu's [विष्णु] Great Incarnation as King Rāma [राम] of Ayodhia [अयोध्या].

  • Rāmchandra [रामचन्द्र], the moon of Rāma [राम], and Rāmbaksh [रामभक्ष], the gift of Rāma, are the commonest Hindu male names.
  • Atmarām [आत्मराम]. Soul of Rāma [राम].
  • Sitārām [सीताराम]. Rāma [राम] and Sīta [सीता] his wife.
  • Rāmcharan [रामचरण]. The footprint of Rāma [राम].
  • Sakhārām [सखाराम]. The friend of Rāma [राम].
  • Sewārām [सेवाराम]. Servant of Rāma [राम].

Names of Krishna [कृष्ण].

  • Krishna [कृष्ण] and its diminutive Kishen [किशन] are very common names.
  • Kanhaiya [कन्हैया]. A synonym for Krishna [कृष्ण].
  • Dāmodar [दामोदर]. Because his mother tied him with a rope to a large tree to keep him quiet and he pulled up the tree, roots and all.
  • Bālkishen [बालकिशन]. The boy Krishna [कृष्ण].
  • Ghansiām. The dark-coloured or black one (like dark clouds) ; probably referring to the belief that Krishna [कृष्ण] belonged to the non-Aryan races.
  • Madan Mohan [मदनमोहन]. The enchanter of love.
  • Manohar [मनोहर]. The heart-stealer.
  • Yeshwant [यशवंत]. The glorious.
  • Kesho [केशव]. Having long, fine hair. A name of Krishna [कृष्ण]. Also the destroyer of the demon Keshi [केशी], who was covered with hair. It would appear that the epithet was first applied to Krishna [कृष्ण] himself and afterwards to a demon whom he was supposed to have destroyed.
  • Balwant [बलवंत]. Strong. An epithet of Krishna [कृष्ण], used in conjunction with other names.
  • Mādhava [माधव]. Honey-sweet or belonging to the spring, vernal.
  • Girdhāri [गिरधारी]. He who held up the mountain. Krishna [कृष्ण] held up the mountain Govardhan [गोवर्धन], balancing the peak on his finger to protect the people from the destructive rains sent by Indra [इन्द्र].
  • Shiāmsundar [श्यामसुन्दर]. The dark and beautiful one.
  • Nandkishore [नंदकिशोर], Nandkumār [नंदकुमार]. Child of Nand [नंद] the cowherd, Krishna’s [कृष्ण] foster-father.

Names of Siva [शिव].

  • Sadāsheo [सदाशिव]. Siva [शिव] the everlasting.
  • Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव]. The great god.
  • Trimbak [त्रिंबक]. The three-eyed one (?).
  • Gangādhar [गंगाधर]. The holder of the Ganges [गंगा], because it flows from Siva [शिव]’s hair.
  • Kāshināth [काशीनाथ]. The lord of Benares [वाराणसी].
  • Kedārnāth [केदारनाथ]. The lord of cedars (referring to the pine-forests of the Himalayas).
  • Nīlkanth [नीलकण्ठ]. The blue-jay sacred to Siva [शिव]. Name of Siva because his throat is bluish-black either from swallowing poison at the time of the churning of the ocean or from drinking large quantities of bhāng [भांग].
  • Shankar [शंकर]. He who gives happiness.
  • Vishwanāth [विश्वनाथ]. Lord of the universe.
  • Sheo Prasād [शिवप्रसाद]. Gift of Siva [शिव].

Names of Ganpati [गणपति] or Ganesh [गणेश].

  • Ganpati [गणपति] is itself a very common name.
  • Vidhyādhar [विद्याधर]. The lord of learning.
  • Vinayak [विनयक]. The remover of difficulties.
  • Ganesh Prasād [गणेशप्रसाद]. Gift of Ganesh [गणेश]. A child born on the fourth day of any month will often be given this name, as Ganesh [गणेश] was born on the 4th Bhādon [भादों] (August).

Names of Hanumān [हनुमान].

  • Hanumān [हनुमान] itself is a very common name.
  • Māroti [मारुति], son of Marut [मरुत] the god of the wind.
  • Mahāvira [महावीर] or Mahābīr [महाबीर]. The strong one.

Other common sacred names are:

  • Amrit [अमृत], the divine nectar,
  • and Moreshwar [मोरेश्वर], lord of the peacock, perhaps an epithet of the god Kārtikeya [कार्त्तिकेय].

Men are also often named after jewels, as :

  • Hīra Lāl [हीरालाल], diamond ;
  • Panna Lāl [पन्नालाल], emerald ;
  • Ratan Lāl [रतनलाल], a jewel ;
  • Kundan Lāl [कुंदनलाल], fine gold.

A child born on the day of full moon may be called Pūran Chand [पूर्णचंद्र], which means full moon.

There are of course many other male names, but those here given are the commonest. Children are also frequently named after the day or month in which they were born.

19.Terminations of names.

Common terminations of male names are :

  • Charan [चरण], footprint ;
  • Dās [दास], slave ;
  • Prasād [प्रसाद], food offered to a god ;
  • Lāl [लाल], dear;
  • Datta [दत्त], gift, commonly used by Maithil Brāhmans [मैथिली ब्राह्मण];
  • Dīn or Baksh [भक्ष], which also means gift;
  • Nāth [नाथ], lord of; and
  • Dulāre [दुलारे], dear to.

These are combined with the names of gods, as:

  • Kālicharan [कालीचरण], footprint of Kāli [काली] ;
  • Rām Prasād [रामप्रसाद] or Kishen Prasād [किशनप्रसाद], an offering to Rāma [राम] or Krishna [कृष्ण] ;
  • Bishen Lāl [बिशनलाल], dear to Vishnu [विष्णु] ;
  • Ganesh Datta [गणेशदत्त] , a gift from Ganesh [गणेश] ;
  • Ganga Dīn, a gift from the Ganges [गंगा] ;
  • Sheo Dulāre [शिवदुलारे], dear to Siva [शिव] ;
  • Vishwanāth [विश्वनाथ], lord of the universe.

Boys are sometimes given the names of goddesses with such terminations, as Lachmi [लक्ष्मीप्रसाद] or Jānki Prasād  [जानकीप्रसाद], an offering to these goddesses.

A child born on the 8th of light Chait [चैत] (April) will be called Durga Prasād [दुर्गाप्रसाद], as this day is sacred to the goddess Durga [दुर्गा] or Devi [देवी].

20. Women's names.

Women are also frequently named after goddesses, as :

  • Pārvati [पार्वती], the consort of Siva [शिव];
  • Sīta [सीता], the wife of Rāma [राम]; 
  • Jānki [जानकी], apparently another name for Sīta [सीता];
  • Lakshmi [लक्ष्मी], the consort of Vishnu [विष्णु], and the goddess of wealth ;
  • Saraswati [सरस्वती], the goddess of wisdom ;
  • Rādha [राधा], the beloved of Krishna [कृष्ण] ;
  • Dasoda [यशोदा], the foster - mother of Krishna [कृष्ण] ;
  • Dewaki [देवकी], who is supposed to have been the real mother of Krishna [कृष्ण] ;
  • Durga [दुर्गा], another name for Siva [शिव]’s consort;
  • Devi [देवी], the same as Durga [दुर्गा] and the earth-goddess ;
  • Rukhmini [रूक्मिणी], the bright or shining one, a consort of Vishnu [विष्णु] ;
  • and Tulsi [तुलसी], the basil-plant, sacred to Vishnu [विष्णु].

Women are also named after the sacred rivers, as :

  • Ganga [गंगा], Jamni [जमुनी] or Yamuni [यमुनी] (Jumna [जमुना]) ;
  • Gomti [गोमती], the river on which Lucknow [लखनऊ] stands ;
  • Godha or Gautam, after the Godāvari [गोदावरी] river ;
  •  and Bhāgirathi [भागीरथी], another name for the Ganges [गंगा].

The river Nerbudda [नर्मदा] is commonly found as a man’s name, especially in places situated on its banks. Other names of women are :

  • Sona [सोना], gold ;
  • Puna, born at the full moon ; 
  • Manohra [मनोहरा], enchanting;
  • Kamala [कमल], the lotus;
  • Indumati [इन्दुमती], a moonlight night ;
  • Sumati [सुमती], well - minded ;
  • Sushila [सुशीला], well-intentioned ;
  • Srimati [श्रीमती], wealthy ;
  • Amrita [अमृता], nectar;
  • Phulwa, a flower [फूलवा];
  • Imlia, the tamarind ;
  • Malta [मालता], jasmine ;
  • and so on.

If a girl is born after four sons she will be called Pancho [पांचव] or fifth, and one born in the unlucky Mul nakshatra [मूल नक्षत्र] is called Mulia [मूलिया]. When a girl is married and goes to her husband’s house her name is always changed there. If two girls have been married into the household, they may be called Bari [बडी] Bohu and choti [चोटी] Bohu, or the elder and younger daughters-in-law ; or a girl may be called after the place from which she comes, as Jabalpurwāli [जबलपुरवाली], Raipurwāli [रायपुरवाली], and so on.

21. Special names and bad names.

The higher castes have two names, one given by the Joshi [जोशी] which is called rāshi-ka-nām [राशि का नाम]or the ceremonial name, rāshi [राशि] meaning the nakshatra [नक्षत्र] or moon’s daily mansion under which the child was born. This is kept secret and only used in marriage and other ceremonies, though the practice is now tending to decay. The other is the chaltu [चलतू] or current name, and may either be a second ordinary name, such as those already given, or it may be taken from some peculiarity of the child. Names of the latter class are :

  • Bhūra [भूरा], brown ; 
  • Putro, a doll, given to a pretty child ;
  • Dukāli [दुकाली], born in famine-time ;
  • Mahinga [महंगा], dear or expensive ;
  • Chhota [छोटा], little ;
  • Bābu [बाबू], equivalent to little prince or noble ;
  • Pāpa [बाबा], father ; 
  • Kakku, born in the cucumber season ;
  • Lada [लाडा], pet ;
  • Pattu, a somersault;
  • Judāwan [जूडावान], cooling,
  • and so on.

Bad names are also given to avert ill-luck and remove the enmity of the spirits hostile to children, if the mother’s previous babies have been lost. Instances of these are

  • Raisa, short in stature ;
  • Lūla [लूला], having a maimed arm ;
  • Ghasīta [घसीटा], dragged along on a board ;
  • Damru, bought for a farthing;
  • Khairāti [खैराती], alms ;
  • Dukhi [दुखी], pain ;
  • Kubra [कूबड़ा], hunch-back ;
  • Gudri, rag ;
  • Kāna [काना], one-eyed ;
  • Birla [बिरला], thin or lean ;
  • Bisāhu [बिसाहु], bought or purchased ; 
  • and Bulāki [बुलाकी] and Chedi, having a pierced nostril ; these names are given to a boy whose nostril has been pierced to make him resemble a girl and thus decrease his value.

Further instances of such names have been given in other articles."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 3. -- S. 255 - 279]

Pardhān [परधान], Pathāri [पठारी], Panāl [पनाल] (Central Provinces)

"Pardhān [परधान], Pathāri [पठारी], Panāl [पनाल].—

Abb.: Group of
Pardhāns [परधान]

1. General notice.

An inferior branch of the Gond [गोंड] tribe whose occupation is to act as the priests and minstrels of the Gonds [गोंड]. In 1911 the Pardhāns [परधान] numbered nearly 120,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār [बेरार]. The only other locality where they are found is Hyderābād [حیدر آباد], which returned 8000. The name Pardhān [परधान] is of Sanskrit origin and signifies a minister or agent. It is the regular designation of the principal minister of a Rājpūt [राजपूत] State, who often fulfils the functions of a Mayor of the Palace. That it was applied to the tribe in this sense is shown by the fact that they are also known as Dīwān [दीवान], which has the same meaning. There is a tradition that the Gond [गोंड] kings employed Pardhāns [परधान] as their ministers, and as the Pardhāns [परधान] acted as genealogists they may have been more intelligent than the Gonds [गोंड], though they are in no degree less illiterate. To themselves and their Gond [गोंड] relations the Pardhāns [परधान] are frequently not known by that name, which has been given to them by the Hindus, but as Panāl [पनाल]. Other names for the tribe are Parganiha, Desai [देसाई] and Pathāri [पठारी]. Parganiha [परगनिया] is a title signifying the head of a pargana [परगना], and is now applied by courtesy to some families in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़]. Desai [देसाई] has the same signification, being a variant of Deshmukh [देशमुख] or the Marātha [मराठा] revenue officer in charge of a circle of villages. Pathāri [पठारी] means a bard or genealogist, or according to another derivation a hillman. On the Satpura [सतपुड़ा] plateau and in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] the tribe is known as Pardhān Patharia [परधान पथरिया]. In Bālāghāt [बालाघाट] they are also called Mokāsi [मोकासी]. The Gonds [गोंड] themselves look down on the Pardhāns [परधान] and say that the word Patharia [पथरिया] means inferior, and they relate that Bura Deo [बूढ़ादेव], their god, had seven sons. These were talking together one day as they dined and they said that every caste had an inferior branch to do it homage, but they had none ; and they therefore agreed that the youngest brother and his descendants should be inferior to the others and make obeisance to them, while the others promised to treat him almost as their equal and give him a share in all the offerings to the dead. The Pardhāns [परधान] or Patharias [पथरिया] are the descendants of the youngest brother and they accost the Gonds [गोंड] with the greeting ‘Babu Johar [बाबू जौहर],’ or ‘ Good luck, sir.’ The Gonds [गोंड] return the greeting by saying ‘ Pathāri  Johar [पठारी जौहर],’ or ‘ How do you do, Pathāri.’ Curiously enough Johar [जौहर] is also the salutation sent by a Rājpūt [राजपूत] chief to an inferior landholder, and the custom must apparently have been imitated by the Gonds [गोंड]. A variant of the story is that one day the seven Gond [गोंड] brothers were worshipping their god, but he did not make his appearance ; so the youngest of them made a musical instrument out of a string and a piece of wood and played on it. The god was pleased with the music and came down to be worshipped, and hence the Pardhāns [परधान] as the descendants of the youngest brother continue to play on the kingri [किंगरी] or lyre, which is their distinctive instrument. The above stories have been invented to account for the social inferiority of the Pardhāns [परधान] to the Gonds [गोंड], but their position merely accords with the general rule that the bards and genealogists of any caste are a degraded section. The fact is somewhat contrary to preconceived ideas, but the explanation given of it is that such persons make their living by begging from the remainder of the caste and hence are naturally looked down upon by them ; and further, that in pursuit of their calling they wander about to attend at wedding feasts all over the country, and consequently take food with many people of doubtful social position. This seems a reasonable interpretation of the rule of the inferiority of the bard, which at any rate obtains generally among the Hindu castes.

2. Tribal subdivisions.

The tribe have several endogamous divisions, of which the principal are the Rāj Pardhāns [राज परधान], the Gānda Pardhāns [
गांडा परधान / गोंडा परधान] and the Thothia Pardhāns [थोटियापरधान]. The Raj Pardhāns [परधान] appear to be the descendants of alliances between Raj Gonds [राज गोंड] and Pardhān [परधान] women. They say that formerly the priests of Bura Deo [बूढ़ादेव] lived a celibate life, and both men and women attended to worship the god ; but on one occasion the priests ran away with some women and after this the Gonds [गोंड] did not know who should be appointed to serve the deity. While they were thus perplexed, a kingri [किंगरी] (or rude wooden lyre) fell from heaven on to the lap of one of them, and, in accordance with this plain indication of the divine will, he became the priest, and was the ancestor of the Raj Pardhāns [राज परधान] ; and since this contretemps the priests are permitted to marry, while women are no longer allowed to attend the worship of Bura Deo [बूढ़ादेव]. The Thothia  [थोटियापरधान] subtribe are said to be the descendants of illicit unions, the word Thothia [थोटिया] meaning ‘ maimed ’ ; while the Gāndas [गांडा परधान] are the offspring of intermarriages between the Pardhāns [परधान] and members of that degraded caste.

Other groups are the Mādes or those of the Mād country in Chanda [चंदा] and Bastar [बस्तर], the Khalotias [च्] or those of the Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] plain, and the Deogarhias [देवगडिया] of Deogarh [देवगड] in Chhindwāra [छिंदवाडा] ; and there are also some occupational divisions, as the Kandres or bamboo-workers, the Gaitas who act as priests in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़], and the Arakhs who engage in service and sell old clothes. A curious grouping is found in Chanda [चंदा] , where the tribe are divided into the Gond [्Pathāris [गोंड पठारी] and Chor or ‘Thief’ Pathāris [चोर पठारी]. The latter have obtained their name from their criminal propensities, but they are said to be proud of it and to refuse to intermarry with any families not having the designation of Chor Pathāri [चोर पठारी]. In Raipur [रायपुर] the Pathāris [पठारी] are said to be the offspring of Gonds [गोंड] by women of other castes, and the descendants of such unions. The exogamous divisions of the Pardhāns [परधान] are the same as those of the Gonds [गोंड], and like them they are split up into groups worshipping different numbers of gods whose members may not marry with one another.

3. Marriage.

A Pardhān [परधान] wedding is usually held in the bridegroom’s village in some public place, such as the market or crossroads. The boy wears a blanket and carries a dagger in his hand. The couple walk five times round in a circle, after which the boy catches hold of the girl’s hand. He tries to open her fist which she keeps closed, and when he succeeds in this he places an iron ring on her little finger and puts his right toe over that of the girl’s. The officiating priest then ties the ends of their clothes together and five chickens are killed. The customary bride-price is Rs. 12, but it varies in different localities. A widower taking a girl bride has, as a rule, to pay a double price. A widow is usually taken in marriage by her deceased husband’s younger brother.

4. Religion.

As the priests of the Gonds [गोंड], the Pardhāns [परधान] are employed to conduct the ceremonial worship of their great god Bura Deo [बूढ़ादेव], which takes place on the third day of the bright fortnight of Baisākh [बैसाख] (April). Many goats or pigs are then offered to him with liquor, cocoanuts, betel-leaves, flowers, lemons and rice. Bura Deo [बूढ़ादेव] is always enshrined under a tree outside the village, either of the mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] or sāj [साज] (Terminalia tomentosa [Terminalia elliptica Willd.]) varieties. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] the Gonds [गोंड] say that the origin of Bura Deo [बूढ़ादेव] was from a child born of an illicit union between a Gond [गोंड] and a Rāwat [रावत] woman. The father murdered the child by strangling it, and its spirit then began to haunt and annoy the man and all his relations, and gradually extended its attentions to all the Gonds [गोंड] of the surrounding country. It finally consented to be appeased by a promise of adoration from the whole tribe, and since then has been installed as the principal deity of the Gonds [गोंड]. The story is interesting as showing how completely devoid of any supernatural majesty or power is the Gond [गोंड] conception of their principal deity.

5. Social customs.

Like the Gonds [गोंड], the Pardhāns [परधान] will eat almost any kind of food, including beef, pork and the flesh of rats and mice, but they will not eat the leavings of others. They will take food from the hands of Gonds [गोंड], but the Gonds [गोंड] do not return the compliment. Among the Hindus generally the Pardhāns [परधान] are much despised, and their touch conveys impurity while that of a Gond [गोंड] does not. Every Pardhān [परधान] has tattooed on his left arm near the inside of the elbow a dotted figure which represents his totem or the animal, plant or other natural object after which his sept is named. Many of them have a better type of countenance than the Gonds [गोंड], which is perhaps due to an infusion of Hindu blood. They are also generally more intelligent and cunning. They have criminal propensities, and the Patharias [पथरिया] of Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] are especially noted for cattle-lifting and thieving. Writing forty years ago Captain Thomson 1 described the Pardhāns [परधान] of Seoni [सिवनी] as bearing the very worst of characters, many of them being regular cattle-lifters and gang robbers. In some parts of Seoni [सिवनी] they had become the terror of the village proprietors, whose houses and granaries they fired if they were in any way reported on or molested. Since that time the Pardhāns [परधान] have become quite peaceable, but they still have a bad reputation for petty thieving.

1 Seoni Settlement Report (1867), p. 43.

6. Methods of cheating among Pathāris [पठारी]

In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] one subdivision is said to be known as Sonthaga [सोनाठगा] (sona [सोना], gold, and thag [ठग], a cheat), because they Pathāris [पठारी] cheat people by passing counterfeit gold. Their methods were described as follows in 1872 by Captain McNeill, District Superintendent of Police : 2   

“They procure a quantity of the dry bark of the pīpal [पीपल - Ficus religiosa L. 1753 not Forssk. 1775], mahua [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.], tamarind or gular [गूलर - Ficus racemosa] trees and set it on fire ; when it has become red-hot it is raked into a small hole and a piece of well-polished brass is deposited among the glowing embers. It is constantly moved and turned about and in ten or fifteen minutes has taken a deep orange colour resembling gold. It is then placed in a small heap of wood-ashes and after a few minutes taken out again and carefully wrapped in cotton-wool. The peculiar orange colour results from the sulphur and resin in the bark being rendered volatile. They then proceed to dispose of the gold, sometimes going to a fair and buying cattle. On concluding a bargain they suddenly find they have no money, and after some hesitation reluctantly produce the gold, and say they are willing to part with it at a disadvantage, thereby usually inducing the belief that it has been stolen. The cupidity of the owner of the cattle is aroused, and he accepts the gold at a rate which would be very advantageous if it were genuine. At other times they join a party of pilgrims, to which some of their confederates have already obtained admission in disguise, and offer to sell their gold as being in great want of money. A piece is first sold to the confederates on very cheap terms and the other pilgrims eagerly participate.”

It would appear that the Pathāris [पठारी] have not much to learn from the owners of buried treasure or the confidence or three-card trick performers of London, and their methods are in striking contrast to the guileless simplicity usually supposed to be a characteristic of the primitive tribes. Mr. White states that 

“All the property acquired is taken back to the village and there distributed by a panchāyat [पंचायत] or committee, whose head is known as Mokāsi [मोकासी]. The Mokāsi [मोकासी] is elected by the community and may also be deposed by it, though he usually holds office for life ; to be a successful candidate for the position of Mokāsi [मोकासी] one should have wealth and experience and it is not a disadvantage to have been in jail. The Mokāsi [मोकासी] superintends the internal affairs of the community and maintains good relations with the proprietor and village watchman by means of gifts.”

7. Musicians and priests.

The Pardhāns [परधान] and Pathāris [पठारी] are also, as already stated, village musicians, and their distinctive instrument the kingri [किंगरी] or kingadi is described by Mr. White as consisting of a stick passed through a gourd. A string or wire is stretched over this and the instrument is played with the fingers. Another kind possesses three strings of woven horse-hair and is played with the help of a bow. The women of the Gānda Pardhān [गांडा परधान / गोंडा परधान] subtribe act as midwives. Mr. Tawney wrote of the Pardhāns [परधान] of Chhindwāra [छिंदवाडा]:

“The Raj-Pardhāns [राज परधान] are the bards of the Gonds [गोंड] and they can also officiate as priests, but the Bhumka generally acts in the latter capacity and the Pardhāns [परधान] confine themselves to singing the praises of the god. At every public worship in the Deo-khalla or dwelling-place of the gods, there should, if possible, be a Pardhān [परधान], and great men use them on less important occasions. They cannot even worship their household gods or be married without the Pardhāns [परधान]. The Raj-Pardhāns [राज परधान] are looked down on by the Gonds [गोंड], and considered as somewhat inferior, seeing that they take the offerings at religious ceremonies and the clothes of the dear departed at funerals. This has never been the business of a true Gond [गोंड], who seems never happier than when wandering in the jungle, and who above all things loves his axe, and next to that a tree to chop at. There is nothing in the ceremonies or religion of the Pardhāns [परधान] to distinguish them from the Gonds [गोंड].”"

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 352 - 358]

Patāri [पटारी] (NW Provinces und Oudh)

"Patāri [पटारी].—A branch of the Majhwār  [मझवार] tribe, who have now become their family priests. Two explanations of the name have been given : one connects it with the Sanskrit patravārnika [पत्रवार्णिक], in the sense of “a scribe” or “recorder,” in which case they may have been originally priests and genealogists of the Gond [गोंड] Majhwārs [मझवार]. Another, theory connects the word with pāt which in Gondi appears to mean “a sacred place”. Thus in Mandla [मंडला] to propitiate evil spirits the Gonds [गोंड] set up rude shrines (pāt) which are

“sometimes merely a bamboo with a piece of rag tied to the end, a heap of stones, or perhaps only a few pieces of rag tied to the branches of a tree. However, the spirit is supposed to have taken up his abode there, and in consequence on the occasion of any event of importance happening in the Gond's [गोंड] family, the spirit has his share of the good things going, in the shape of a little spirit, and possibly a fowl saerificed to him.” 1

1  Central Provinces Gazetteer, 275.

The same word apparently originates Pāt who is a mountain deity of the Kurs, and Mainpāt [मैनपाट] which is the holy plateau of Sarguja [सरगुजा], looked upon with reverence by these Dravidian tribes. The word Patāri [पटारी] or Pathāri [पठारी] with synonyms Pradhān [परधान] and Gugya appears as a sept of the Gonds [गोंड] of Mandla [मंडला]. Of the Gond [गोंड] Pradhān Mr. Hislop writes :    

“The Pādāl also named Pathādi, Pardhān [परधान] and Desai [देसाई] is a numerous class found in the same locality as the Rāj Gonds [गोंड], to whom its members act as religious counsellors (Pradhāna [प्रधान]). They are in fact the Bhāts [भाट] of the upper classes, repeating their genealogies and the exploits of their ancestors, explaining their religious system and assisting at festivals on which occasions they play on two sorts of stringed instruments (kingri [किंगरी] and jantar [जंतर], yantra [यंत्र]). For their services they receive presents of cows and bullocks, cloth, food and money.”

This is pretty much the position of the Patāri [पटारी] among the Mirzāpur [मिर्ज़ापुर] Majhwārs [मझवार].

2. Tribal organisation.

The Mirzāpur [मिर्ज़ापुर] Patāris [पटारी] are divided into four exogamous groups (jund) which each contain a number of septs (kuri [कुडी]) mostly totemistic. These septs are practically analogous with those of the Majhwārs [मझवार] (q.v.). 

  • In the first exogamous group we have six septs—
    • Markām, 
    • Poiya,
    • Kusro,
    • Soi,
    • Neti and
    • Serlo :
  • in the seeond twelve—
    • Tekām, 
    • Marpachi,
    • Netām,
    • Pusām,
    • Kariyām,
    • Sindrām,
    • Kerām,
    • Oima,
    • Dadāichi,
    • Koāchi,
    • Ulagwati,
    • Kargati:
  • in the third
    • Marāi,
    • Sarota,
    • Soiyām,
    • Sarotiya,
    • Bandaru,
    • Karbē,
    • Kursenga,
    • Purkela,
    • Masrām, 
    • Armor,
    • Ārpati and
    • Karpati:
  • in the fourth
    • Korām,
    • Poika,
    • Armon, 
    • Pāwalē,
    • Chichām,
    • Balariya,
    • Otē,
    • Urich,
    • Salām.

Most of these are analogous to the Majhwār [मझवार] septs and, as there shown, many of them are totemistic. A closer analysis of the Central Provinces’ septs of Gonds [गोंड] will probably show that this is generally the case.

3. Tradition of origin.

The Patāris [पटारी] say that they were originally Majhwārs [मझवार]: the whole tribe was descended from seven brothers. When they could find no one else to act as family priest (purohit [पुरोहित]) they compelled the youngest of the seven to undertake the duties. The curious part of the arrangement is however that a Majhwār [मझवार] must be attended as his priest by a Patāri [पटारी] of the same sept as his own. Thus a Markām Patāri [पटारी] acts as priest to a Majhwār [मझवार] of the Markām subdivision and so throughout the tribe. The result is that the parishioners or constituents of a Patāri [पटारी] are scattered over a large area and he has to undertake long journeys in order to pay his periodical visits. The system under which, by a specialisation of function this class of aboriginal local priests was formed, is very instructive in its analogies to what was probably the method by which the tribe of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] with its numerous local sub-divisions was organised.

4. Tribal council.

Their tribal council is exactly on the same system as among the Majhwārs [मझवार].

5. Marriage rules.

The rules of marriage agree with those of the Majhwārs [मझवार], but there appears to be no hypergamy. They marry rather earlier than Majhwārs [मझवार]—at the age of ten for boys and nine for girls. The bride price fixed by invariable tribal custom is ten sers [सेर]  of sesamum (tili [तिली]), ten sers [सेर]  of the urdi [उड़दी - Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper] pulse, twelve measures (panseri) of rice, four measures of coarse sugar, three rupees in cash and a cloth (dhoti [धोटी]) for the bride. Formerly part of the bride price used to consist of liquor but this gave rise to such an amount of quarrelling that about four years ago the tribal council decided that coarse sugar (gur [गुड]) was to take the place of liquor. A wife, who makes a practice of adultery, who wastes the family property or thieves, may be discarded with leave of the council. If a man does not support or ill-treats his wife she can leave him, and such divorced women can marry again by the sagāi [सगाई] form. Polygyny is allowed and the children of all the wives rank equally as heirs. Concubines arc not allowed : illegitimate children follow the caste of the fathers, but the clansmen will not eat with or intermarry with them.

6. Widow marriage.

When a man dies the council marry his widow to some widower in the tribe. The consent of the parties and the kindred of the first husband is essential. On a day fixed the man eats at the widow’s house. Next day he takes her home and puts on her a set of bangles and ear ornaments (chūri [चूडी], larki) and pays to the husband’s younger brother, who accompanies her, twelve rupees, a turban and a loin cloth which are regarded as the equivalent of the bride price. The levirate is allowed on the usual conditions. They practise Becna marriage in the usual gharjaiyān form.

7. Domestic ceremonies.

The domestic ceremonies are practically the same as those of the Majhwārs [मझवार].

8. Social position.

The position of the Patāri [पटारी] is decidedly low. He is looked upon with contempt as a beggar, and he is discredited because, like the Hindu Maha-Brāhman [महाब्राह्मण], he takes the clothes, utensils, etc., of the dead man which are given to him in the belief that he will pass them on for the use of the deceased in the next world. And although they are the family priests of the Majhwārs [मझवार], the latter show their contempt for them by refusing to eat with them or drink water from their hands."

[Quelle: Crooke, William <1848-1923>: The tribes and castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh. -- Calcutta : Office of the superintendent of government printing, 1896 - 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 153 - 155]



There is no village in India without its priest. The people themselves believe that they ought not to live in a village where there is no koil [கோவில்], i.e., the house of a god. Every village koil [கோவில்] has a priest of its own, who attends to the many duties of the koil [கோவில்], no matter whether it be a Sivan  [சிவன்koil [கோவில்] or a Vishnu[விஷ்ணு] koil [கோவில்] or a Pillayar [பிள்ளையார்] koil [கோவில்], or a koil [கோவில்] belonging to some local god or goddess. The duties of the village priests are not simple and easy, but they do not require any great skill or profound learning. There are two classes of village priests—the one Brahmin [பிராமணர்], the other non-Brahmin. The former are acknowledged as the proper priests of the village. They may serve in a village temple or not, but they have the right and privilege of enjoying an annual income from the people. It is not necessary that these priests should live in the village where they attend to their duties. They may live in a more suitable and convenient one, and this they often do, visiting other villages whenever there is work for them to do. Each priest is usually in charge of more than one village.

The villagers go to their priest in order to consult him about business matters which they have in hand. If there are marriages to be arranged, they ask the priest to examine the horoscope of both the young man and the young woman who want to be married. They consult him to fix a day for beginning to plough, to fix a day for sowing, and to fix a day in which to begin the harvest. Before they start on a distant journey they ask the priest to fix a day on which they can get the smile of a good star. They consult him when a child is born, a girl attains her womanly age, or when a person has fallen sick. They invite the priest to perform their marriage ceremony, their funeral ceremony, and the anniversary of a relative’s death. The service of the priest is also needed in all the purification days, and in the opening of a new building. On all these occasions the priest receives offerings in the shape of money, rice, paddy, vegetables, milk, ghee, fruits, plantain-leaves, etc. These things form the staple food of a Brahmin [பிராமணர்] priest; hence he is not imprudent in collecting such necessaries of life. As he is a vegetarian, he never demands a hen or a lamb. He is always on the look-out, and moving frequently among the villagers, in order to remind them of the approaching thithi [திதி]or annual ceremony for the dead. Through these ceremonies the Brahmin [பிராமணர்] priests make large incomes.

These ceremonies were introduced many centuries ago, and their object is to secure the forgiveness of the sins of the departed father, mother, or forefathers of the man who spends his money in getting the ceremony performed. Before this annual ceremony day comes round, the priest gives to Ramasamy [ராமசாமி] a long list of things to be bought. On the day of the ceremony the priest and his male relations reach Ramasamy’s [ராமசாமி] house at about 9 a.m. By the time the priest arrives, Ramasamy [ராமசாமி] and his household, having bathed and dressed themselves in clean cloths, are ready to receive him. They first take him into a spacious room or hall, in which there are twenty-one plantain leaves spread out on the floor, each of these being filled with six measures of rice, heaps of vegetables of all kinds, plantains, pulse, ghee, curds, honey, new cloth, money, and other things. The twenty-one leaves represent the twenty-one departed forefathers of Ramasamy [ராமசாமி], and the priest freely, willingly and gladly pronounces forgiveness of all the sins of omission and commission which have been charged to those twenty-one departed souls of the forefathers of Ramasamy [ராமசாமி]. If Ramasamy [ராமசாமி] is a man of limited means, he only supplies three leaves to the priest, and then the priest can see his way clear to forgive the sins of only three of the departed souls of Ramasamy ’s[ராமசாமி] ancestors, his parents and his grandfather. If Ramasamy [ராமசாமி] is a rich man, he can get the sins of any number of his departed ancestors forgiven, provided he can supply plantain-leaves full of good things, in the name of his forefathers. The priest readily forgives the sin of any man who can give him a good offering.

It is regarded as a great sin for a villager to receive anything from a Brahmin [பிராமணர்] priest free of charge; but it is a blessing to him to give anything that he has. If a man has a fine black cow, it is considered advantageous for him to give it to the priest, and in return to receive the forgiveness of all his own sins as well as those of his forefathers. It is inculcated by the priest that it is a sin to keep a black cow in the village. The Brahmin [பிராமணர்] priest consequently gets an income on which he can live very comfortably. Of course, his Aryan blood and his long ages of civilization and culture, give him an important position in village society. He is really the most intelligent man in the village, and he has introduced several useful institutions in the name of religion, for which the villagers ought to be thankful. Wherever the institutions and regulations of the priest are observed, the savageness and vulgarity are certainly moderated.

The union, craftiness, precaution and intelligence of the earlier village priests were so great that they induced the ancient village rulers to establish charitable institutions for their own sole benefit and for that of their posterity. These institutions are continued from one generation to another, and they are now enormously wealthy. There are several chatrams  [சத்திரம்], i.e., inns ; there are innumerable temples, which have great endowments, consisting of lands, villages and money ; the income arising from the property is entirely consumed by the priests. Having these privileges, the priests have too often dishonoured the true religious life, and become carnal-minded. In many cases they have altogether lost the true conception of God and of the life that is pleasing to Him. They have, as it were, paralyzed their religious ceremonies and devotions, and grown ever more licentious through materializing their religion. They multiply their institutions, and often seriously differ from one another in their teachings, and they cause the people to go to all sorts of unnecessary expenditure, and so they suck the life-blood out of the people. Having secured a large income, the priests sit down to enjoy their curry and rice, pulse and ghee, in quietness with their families. It is unfortunately also the case that they utilize their incomes in supporting concubines. The worst of the Hindu system is the support of public prostitution in connection with the Hindu temples. Women have the privilege of dancing and singing before the processions of Hindu gods, and supporting themselves from the temple funds. These village priests are not, perhaps, much worse than the Druid priests of ancient Britain, or the learned priests of ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome.

One of the important institutions of the priests is Brahmana bojana [ब्राह्मणभोजन], i.e., the feeding of Brahmins [பிராமணர்]. This takes place either in a large chatram [சத்திரம்], or in a temporary shed which has been erected for the purpose at the expense of a rich villager. This rich villager sends out invitations to the Brahmins [பிராமணர்] of the different villages to attend the feast. Having done this, he engages the priest of his own village to manage the feeding of the Brahmin [பிராமணர்] guests. If the Brahmins [பிராமணர்] know in time—as they generally do—that there is going to be a 'feeding of Brahmins [பிராமணர்]’ in such and such a village, they actually eat little or nothing for two or three days, and thus keep themselves in readiness for a good feed.

At the appointed hour all assemble—none but Brahmins [பிராமணர்]. Perhaps it will be a gathering of a hundred, or even two hundred, people of both sexes. The villager who has undertaken to feed them supplies several earthen vessels full of ghee, curds, buttermilk and milk, some measures of honey, a large quantity of sugar, and all sorts of fruit and other necessaries, such as rice, curry - stuff, vegetables, plantain-leaves, sago, pappadams [அப்பளம்] and asafoetida. The cooking is all done by the Brahmins [பிராமணர்] themselves, asafoetida and mulukutanny being used as substitutes for the brandy and wine of the West. This host of Brahmin [பிராமணர்] guests feed themselves well, so much so, indeed, that they are often unable to get up from the floor and walk as far as the back-yard to wash their hands. All the good things that were prepared for them have found ready consumers, and the guests can seldom walk, in the evening, to their respective villages, because of their heavily-laden stomachs. The saying that the ‘Brahmin [பிராமணர்] is a bojana pirya [भोजनप्रिय],' i.e., ‘the Brahmin [பிராமணர்] is fond of eating,’ is verified on such occasions.

There were, on one occasion, two Brahmin [பிராமணர்] feeding-parties in a village, and each party, having done justice to their calling, returned to their respective homes. One of the Brahmins [பிராமணர்] of the party who had their feeding-place on the west was making his way towards the east, and another Brahmin [பிராமணர்], who had his feeding with the eastern party, was going up to the western side. They met midway. One of them had a pair of shoes on his feet, but he was not able to look down to see whether he was really wearing them or had left them in the feeding-house; and so, as soon as he saw the other Brahmin [பிராமணர்] coming towards him, he addressed him thus : ‘O friend, do you see a shoe on my foot?’ Unfortunately, that Brahmin [பிராமணர்] also had enjoyed a good feeding, like his brother, and he, too, was unable to look down at the foot of the Brahmin [பிராமணர்]. He looked round about, here and there, towards the sky. ‘Ha ! I do not see the pair of shoes there.’ Such was the helpless condition of these two Brahmins [பிராமணர்] who were returning from the scene of ‘feeding the Brahmins [பிராமணர்].’ It is said that a Brahmin [பிராமணர்], not knowing how much to eat in a feeding company, ties round his stomach a piece of thread, and eats until the thread bursts with the distension of the stomach.

There are also non-Brahmin priests in the villages who are in charge of the temples of the local gods and goddesses. These priests bathe in cold water very early in the morning, and then go to the flower-gardens and pluck flowers and leaves ; these they boil with a measure or half a measure of raw rice in a brass vessel, and place the same, together with a broken cocoanut, flowers, etc., before the image. They then wave incense and ring the temple bell. On hearing this the people of the village, wherever they may be, raise both hands towards the temple. Sometimes the villagers go to the temple, when the priest performs the pooja [பூசை], which takes place twice a day. It must be remembered that these priests serve in the temples which are consecrated to the minor gods, who are very numerous in the villages.

The expenses of the daily pooja [பூசை] are met by the gifts and offerings of the villagers, and also by the revenue accruing from the endowment of the temple. The annual festival will cost from 100 to 150 rupees, and this sum is collected among the villagers themselves by compulsory subscriptions. If there is any surplus left after spending for the annual festival, that is added to the general fund of the temple.

The priest is constantly going about among the people, and telling them of the wonderful things that have been done by their gods to this or that person. By interpreting dreams as visions given to the people by the gods, he is constantly inducing somebody to pay a special vow to the gods. He gets the money, and makes the necessary preparations for the special pooja [பூசை]. This extraordinary pooja [பூசை] is performed by the priest simply by adding some extra ceremonies to the ordinary course. On these occasions people assemble to receive the answers to their prayers, which are supposed to come through the medium of lizards. Some of them wish to know the will of their god in regard to some particular matter which they have in their minds. For instance, if Gopal [கோபால] desires to marry Soundry [சுந்தரி], he comes to the temple to get information from the god as to whether that marriage wall prove a success or a failure. He tells the priest that he desires to know the will of the god concerning a certain matter, without letting him know what it is. The priest at once goes to his private chamber, takes one red flower and one white one, puts each in a separate leaf, rolls them round and ties them well; then the priest brings these two small bundles and leaves them at the foot of the image. Then he tells Gopal [கோபால] to take one of these bundles, and says to him : ‘ If the god is willing to answer you favourably, he will give you the white flower ; and if he is not willing to give you a favourable answer, you will get the red flower.’ At once Gopal [கோபால] prostrates himself before the image, and takes up one of the bundles, which he gives back to the priest. He opens it in the presence of Gopal [கோபால] and the others who may be present in the temple. If the flower happens to be the white one, then Gopal [கோபால] leaps for joy ; but if it is the red one, he goes away low and dejected. There may be many others present who are also anxious to know the will of the god about some matter of personal or family interest. The priest adopts the same plan in revealing the will of the god to them, but sometimes he will point out to them the right side of the temple on which to get a favourable answer through the lizard. People will wait for hours together for the answer of the lizard. There may come the voice of the god through the lizard on either the one side or the other, but it is oftener on the right side, for the priests are careful to kill the lizards on the left side of the temple building when the people assemble to know the will of their god."

These non-Brahmin priests cannot get as much income from the people as the Brahmin [பிராமணர்] priests can. Nevertheless, they lead a very easy and comfortable life at the expense of the villagers. This class of priest is not cultured or intelligent, as the Brahmin [பிராமணர்] priests are, and consequently they sometimes have to cultivate their lands in order to meet the demands of their families. They believe in matrimonial transactions, and some of them are men with large families, and their male descendants become their successors."

[Quelle: Pandian, T. B. (Thomas B.) [பாண்டியன், தாமஸ் பி] <1863 - >: Indian village folk: their works and ways. -- London : Stock, 1898. -- 212 S. : Ill. ; 21 cm. -- S. 124 - 132]

Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി]

"Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി].—·This is summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as

“a generic name applied to all classes of temple servants in Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. There are many sub-divisions of the caste, such as Poduvāl [പൊതുവാൾ], Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ], Nambiyassan [നമ്പീശൻ], Pidāran, Pishārodi [പിഷാരടി], Vāriyan [വാര്യർ], Nambi, Teyyambādi, etc., which are assigned different services in the Hindu temples, such as the preparation of garlands, the sweeping of the floor, the fetching of firewood, the carrying of the idols in procession, singing, dancing, and so on. Like most of the temple servant classes, they are inferior to the lower Brāhmans, such as the Mūssads, and food will not be taken from the hands of most of them even by Nāyars [നായര്‍].”

In the Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] Census Report, 1901, it is noted that Keraḷamahātmya

“the term Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി] (one who lives in a temple) is a group-name, and is applied to castes, whose occupation is temple service. The Kēralamahātmya [കേരളമഹാത്മ്യം] speaks of them as Kshētravāsinah [ക്ഷ്Eത്രവാസിനഃ], which means those who live in temples. They are also known as Antarālas, from their occupying an intermediate position between the Brāhmans and the Brāhmanical Kshatriyas [ക്ഷത്രിയ] of Malabar [മലബാര്‍] on the one hand, and the Sūdras [ശൂദ്ര] on the other. While according to one view they are fallen Brāhmans, others, such as the writer of the Kēralolpatti [കേരളോല്പത്തി], would put them down as an advance from the Sūdras [ശൂദ്ര]. The castes recognised as included in the generic name of Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി] are :—

  • Nambiyassan [നമ്പീശൻ].
  • Pushpakan.
  • Pūppalli.
  • Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ]
  • Brāhmani or Daivampati.
  • Adikal [അടികൾ].
  • Nambidi [നമ്പിടി].
  • Pilāppalli.
  • Nambiyar [നമ്പ്യാർ]
  • Pishārati [പിഷാരടി]
  • Vāriyar [വാര്യർ].
  • Nattupattan.
  • Tiyāttunni.
  • Kurukkal [കുരുക്കൾ].
  • Poduvāl [പൊതുവാൾ].

“All these castes are not connected with pagodas, nor do the Muttatus [മൂത്തതു], who are mainly engaged in temple service, come under this group, strictly speaking. The rationale of their occupation seems to be that, in accepting duty in temples and consecrating their lives to the service of God, they hope to be absolved from the sins inherited from their fathers. In the case of ascent from lower castes, the object presumably is the acquisition of additional religious merit .    .    . The delinquent Brāhman cannot be retained in the Brāhmanic function without lowering the standard of his caste. He had, therefore, to be allotted other functions. Temple service of various kinds, such as garland-making for the Pushpakan, Vāriyar [വാര്യർ] and others, and popular recitation of God’s works for the Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ], were found to hold an intermediate place between the internal functions of the Brāhmans and the external functions of the other castes, in the same sense in which the temples themselves are the exoteric counterparts of an esoteric faith, and represent a position between the inner and the outer economy of nature. Hence arose probably an intermediate status with intermediate functions for the Antarālas, the intermediates of Hindu Society. The Kshatriyas [ക്ഷത്രിയ], having commensal privileges with the Brāhmans, come next to them in the order of social precedence. In the matter of pollution periods, which seem to be in inverse ratio to the position of the caste, the Brāhmans observe 10 days, the Kshatriyas [ക്ഷത്രിയ] 11 days, and the Sūdras [ശൂദ്ര] of Malabar [മലബാര്‍] (Nāyars [നായര്‍]) 16 days. The Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] generally observe pollution for 12 days. In some cases, however, it is as short as 10, and in others as long as 13 and even 14, but never 16 days.”

It is further recorded, in the Cochin Census Report, 1901, that

“Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] (literally temple residents) are persons who have the privilege of doing service in temples. Most of the castes have grown out of sexual relations between members of the higher and lower classes, and are therefore Anulomajas [അനുലോമജ] and Pratilomajas [പ്രതിലോമജ]. They may be broadly divided into two classes,

  1. those that wear the sacred thread, and
  2. those that do not wear the same.

Adikal [അടികൾ], Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ], Nambiyar [നമ്പ്യാർ] or Pushpakan, and Tiyyāttu Nambiyar [നമ്പ്യാർ] belong to the threaded class, while Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ], Nambiyar [നമ്പ്യാർ], Pishāroti [പിഷാരടി], Vāriyar [വാര്യർ], Puthuvāl [പൊതുവാൾ], and Mārar [മാരാർ] are non-threaded. Though all Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] have to do service in temples, they have many of them sufficiently distinct functions to perform. They are all governed by the marumakkathāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] law of inheritance (through the female line); some castes among them, however, follow the makkathāyam [മക്കത്തായം] system (from father to son). A Nambiyar [നമ്പ്യാർ], Pishāroti [പിഷാരടി] , or Vāriyar [വാര്യർ] marries under special circumstances a woman of his own caste, and brings home his wife into the family, and their issue thus become members of the father’s family, with the right of inheriting the family property, and form themselves into a fresh marumakkathāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] stock. In the matter of tali-kettu (tali-tying) marriage, and marriage by union in sambandham (alliance), they follow customs similar to those of Nāyars [നായര്‍]. So far as the employment of Brāhman as priests, and the period of birth and death pollution are concerned, there are slight differences. The threaded classes have Gāyatri [ഗായത്രീ] (hymn). The purificatory ceremony after birth or death pollution is performed by Nambūdris [നമ്പൂതിരി], but at all funeral ceremonies, such as pinda, sradha, etc., their own caste men officiate as priests. The Nambūdris [നമ്പൂതിരി] can take meals cooked by a Brāhman in the house of any of the Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] except Mārars [മാരാർ]. In fact, if the Nambūdris [നമ്പൂതിരി] have the right of purification, they do not then impose any restrictions in regard to this. All Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] are strict vegetarians at public feasts. The Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] sit together at short distances from one another, and take their meals. Their females unite themselves in sambandham with their own caste males, or with Brāhmans or Kshatriyas [ക്ഷത്രിയ]. Brāhmans, Kshatriyas [ക്ഷത്രിയ], or Nambidis [നമ്പിടി] cannot take water from them. Though a great majority of the Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] still follow their traditional occupations, many of them have entered the public service, and taken to more lucrative pursuits.”

The more important sections of the Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] are dealt with in special articles."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 1. -- S. 28 - 31]

Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ]

"Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ].—The Chākkiyars [ചാക്യാർ] are a class of Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി], of whom the following account is given in the Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] Census Report, 1901. The name is generally derived from Slaghyavākkukār (those with eloquent words), and refers to the traditional function of the caste in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] society. According to the Jātinirnaya, the Chākkiyars [ചാക്യാർ] represent a caste growth of the Kaliyuga [കലിയുഗ]. The offence to which the first Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] owes his position in society was, it would appear, brought to light after the due performance of the upanayanasamskāra. Persons, in respect of whom the lapse was detected before that spiritualizing ceremony took place, became Nambiyars [നമ്പ്യാർ]. Manu derives Sūta, whose functions are identical with the Malabar [മലബാര്‍] Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ], from a pratiloma union, i.e., of a Brāhman wife with a Kshatriya [ക്ഷത്രിയ] husband. The girls either marry into their own caste, or enter into the sambandham form of alliance with Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി]. They are called Illōttammamar. Their jewelry resembles that of the Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി]. The Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] may choose a wife for sambandham from among the Nambiyars [നമ്പ്യാർ]. They are their own priests, but the Brāhmans do the purification (punyāham) of house and person after birth or death pollution. The pollution itself lasts for eleven days. The number of times the Gāyatri [ഗായത്രീ] (hymn) may be repeated is ten.

The traditional occupation of the Chākkiyans [ചാക്യാർ] is the recitation of Purānic stories. The accounts of the Avatāras have been considered the highest form of scripture of the non-Brāhmanical classes, and the early Brāhmans utilised the intervals of their Vedic rites, i.e., the afternoons, for listening to their recitation by castes who could afford the leisure to study and narrate them. Special adaptations for this purpose have been composed by writers like Narayana Bhattapāda, generally known as the Bhattatirippāt [ഭട്ടതിരിപ്പാട്], among whose works Dūtavākya, Pānchālisvayamvara, Subhadrāhana and Kauntēyāshtaka are the most popular. In addition to these, standard works like Bhōgachampu and Mahānātaka are often pressed into the Chākkiyar’s [ചാക്യാർ] service. Numerous upakathās [ഉപകഥാ] or episodes are brought in by way of illustration, and the marvellous flow of words, and the telling humour of the utterances, keep the audience spell-bound. On the utsavam [ഉത്സവം] programme of every important temple, especially in North Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], the Chākkiyarkūttu (Chākkiyar’s [ചാക്യാർ] performance) is an essential item. A special building, known as kūttampalam, is intended for this purpose. Here the Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] instructs and regales his hearers, antiquely dressed, and seated on a three-legged stool. He wears a peculiar turban with golden rim and silk embossments. A long piece of cloth with coloured edges, wrapped round the loins in innumerable vertical folds with an elaborateness of detail difficult to describe, is the Chākkiyar’s [ചാക്യാർ] distinctive apparel. Behind him stands the Nambiyar [നമ്പ്യാർ], whose traditional kinship with the Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] has been referred to, with a big jar-shaped metal drum in front of him called milāvu, whose bass sound resembles the echo of distant thunder. The Nambiyar [നമ്പ്യാർ] is indispensable for the Chākkiyarkūttu, and sounds his mighty instrument at the beginning, at the end, and also during the course of his recitation, when the Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] arrives at the middle and end of a Sanskrit verse. The Nangayar, a female of the Nambiyar [നമ്പ്യാർ] caste, is another indispensable element, and sits in front of the Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] with a cymbal in hand, which she sounds occasionally. It is interesting to note that, amidst all the boisterous merriment into which the audience may be thrown, there is one person who has to sit motionless like a statue. If the Nangayar is moved to a smile, the kūttu must stop, and there are cases where, in certain temples, the kūttu has thus become a thing of the past. The Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] often makes a feint of representing some of his audience as his characters for the scene under depictment. But he does it in such a genteel way that rarely is offence taken. It is an unwritten canon of Chākkiyarkūttu that the performance should stop at once if any of the audience so treated should speak out in answer to the Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ], who, it may be added, would stare at an admiring listener, and thrust questions on him with such directness and force as to need an extraordinary effort to resist a reply. And so realistic is his performance that a tragic instance is said to have occurred when, by a cruel irony of fate, his superb skill cost a Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] his life. While he was explaining a portion of the Mahābhārata [മഹാഭാരതം] with inimitable theatrical effect, a desperate friend of the Pāndavas rose from his seat in a fit of uncontrollable passion, and actually knocked the Chākkiyar [ചാക്യാർ] dead when, in an attitude of unmistakable though assumed heartlessness, he, as personating Duryōdhana, inhumanely refused to allow even a pin-point of ground to his exiled cousins. This, it is believed, occurred in a private house, and thereafter kūttu was prohibited except at temples.

It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar [മലബാര്‍], that

“Chākkiyars [ചാക്യാർ] or Slāghyar-vakukar are a caste following makkattāyam [മക്കത്തായം]] (inheritance from father to son), and wear the pūnūl (thread). They are recruited from girls born to a Nambūdiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] woman found guilty of adultery, after the date at which such adultery is found to have commenced, and boys of similar origin, who have been already invested with the sacred thread. Boys who have not been invested with the pūnūl when their mother is declared an adulteress, join the class known as Chākkiyar Nambiyars [ചാക്യാർ നമ്പ്യാർ], who follow marumakkattāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] (inheritance in the female line), and do not wear the thread. The girls join either caste indifferently. Chākkiyars [ചാക്യാർ] may marry Nangiyars, but Chākkiyar Nambiyars [ചാക്യാർ നമ്പ്യാർ] may not marry Illōtammamar.”

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 2. -- S. 7 - 11]

Mahant [మహంత్]

"Mahant [మహంత్] [మహంత్].The Mahant [మహంత్] is the secular head and

trustee of the temple at Tirumala [తిరుమల] (Upper Tirupati [తిరుపతి]) in the North Arcot [வட ஆற்காடு] district, and looks after the worldly affairs of the swāmi (god).

“Tirupati [తిరుపతి],” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes (Manual of the North Arcot district), “unlike most other temples, has no dancing-girls attached to it, and not to be strictly continent upon the sacred hill is a deadly sin. Of late years, however, even celibate Bairāgis [వైరాగీ] and priests take their paramours up with them, and the pilgrims follow suit. Everything is held to betoken the approaching downfall of the temple’s greatness. The irregular life of the Mahant [మహంత్] Balarām Dās [బలరామ దాస] sixty years ago caused a great ferment, though similar conduct now would probably hardly attract notice. He was ejected from his office by the unanimous voice of his disciples, and one Gōvardhan Dās [గోవర్ధన దాస], whose life was consistent with the holy office, was elected, and installed in the math [మఠ] (monastery) near the temple. Balarām Dās [బలరామ దాస], however, collected a body of disbanded peons from the pālaiyams, and, arming them, made an attack upon the building. The walls were scaled, and the new Mahant [మహంత్] with his disciples shut themselves up in an inner apartment. In an attempt at rescue, one man was killed, and three were seriously wounded. A police force was sent to co-operate with the Tirupati [తిరుపతి] poligars (feudal chiefs), but could effect nothing till the insurgent peons were threatened with the loss of all their lands. This broke up the band, and Balarām Dās' [బలరామ దాస] followers deserted him. When the gates were broken open, it was found that he and a few staunch followers had committed suicide. But perhaps the greatest scandal which has occurred in the history of the math [మఠ] was that which ended in the conviction of the present Mahant [మహంత్]’s predecessor, Bhagavān Dās [భగవాన్ దాస]. He was charged with having misappropriated a number of gold coins of considerable value, which were supposed to have been buried beneath the great flagstaff. A search warrant was granted, and it was discovered that the buried vessels only contained copper coins. The Mahant [మహంత్] was convicted of the misappropriation of the gold, and was sentenced to two years’ rigorous imprisonment, but this was reduced to one year by the High Court. On being released from jail, he made an effort to oust his successor, and acquire possession of the math by force. For this he was again sent to jail, for six months, and required to furnish security to be of good behaviour.”

It is recorded by Sir M. E. [Mountstuart Elphinstone] Grant Duff [1829 - 1906] (Notes from a Diary, 1881— 1886), formerly Governor of Madras, that

“while the municipal address was being read to me, a huge elephant, belonging to the Zemindar of Kalahastri [కాళహస్తి], a great temporal chief, charged a smaller elephant belonging to the Mahant [మహంత్] or High Priest of Tripaty [తిరుపతి], thus disestablishing the church much more rapidly, alas! than we did in Ireland.”"

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 326f.]

Ōcchan [ஓசன்]

"Ōcchan [ஓசன்].The Ōcchans [ஓசன்] are a class of temple priests, who usually officiate as pūjāris [பூசாரி] at Pidari [பிடாரி] and other Amman [அம்மன்] (Grāma Dēvata) temples. They are for the most part Saivites [சைவ] [சைவ], but some belong to the Vadagalai [வடகலை]  or Tengalai [தென்கலை] Vaishnava sects. Some of the pūjāris [பூசாரி] wear the sacred thread when within the temple. Their insignia are the udukkai [உடுக்கை], or hour-glass shaped drum, and the silambu, or hollow brass ring filled with bits of brass, which rattle when it is shaken. In the Chingleput [செங்கல்பட்டு] [செங்கல்பட்டு] district, some Ōcchans [ஓசன்] act as dancing-masters to Dēvadāsis, and are sometimes called Nattuvan [நட்டுவர்].

The name Ōcchan [ஓசன்] is derived from the Tamil [தமிழ்] ōchai [ஓசை], meaning sound, in reference to the usual mode of invoking the Grāma Dēvatas (village deities) by beating; on a drum and singing their praises. It has been suggested that Ōcchan [ஓசன்] is a contracted form of Uvacchan [உவச்சர்], which occurs in certain old inscriptions. Of these, the oldest is dated Sakha 1180 (A.D. 1258), and refers to the tax on Uvacchas Uvacchan [உவச்சர்]. Another inscription, in which the same tax is referred to, is dated Sakha 1328 (A.D. 1406). In both these inscriptions, Uvacchan [உவச்சர்] has been interpreted as referring to Jonakas, who are a class of Muhammadans. This is one of the meanings given by Winslow (Comprehensive Tamil [தமிழ்] and English Dictionary),  who also gives

“a caste of drummers at temples, Ōcchan [ஓசன்].”

In the northern districts, the Ōcchans [ஓசன்] are divided into five sections, called

  • Mārayan,
  • Pāndi,
  • Kandappan, 
  • Periya or Pallavarāyan, and
  • Pulavan.

Mārayan is also the name of temple priests in Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], on whom the title Ōcchan [ஓசன்] is bestowed as a mark of royal favour by the Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] sovereigns. The Ōcchans [ஓசன்] have many titles, e.g.,

  • Archaka [அர்ச்சகர்] or Umai Archaka,
  • Dēvar [தேவன்], 
  • Parasaivan,
  • Mudaliar [முதலியார்],
  • Vallabarāyan,
  • Pūsāli,
  • Pulavar, and 
  • Kamban [கம்பர்]

Of these, the last two are said to be derived from the Tamil [தமிழ்] epic poet Kamban [கம்பர், 12. Jhdt.], who is traditionally believed to have belonged to the Ōcchan [ஓசன்] caste. There is a legend that Kamban was on his way to the residence of a king, when he heard an oil-monger, who was driving his bulls, remonstrate with them, saying 

“Should you kick against each other because the poet Kamban [கம்பர், 12. Jhdt.] like the Ōcchan [ஓசன்] he is, hums his verse?”

On hearing this, Kamban [கம்பர், 12. Jhdt.] approached the oil-monger, and went with him to the king, to whom he reported that he had been insulted. By order of the king, the oil-monger burst forth into verse, and explained how his bulls had taken fright on hearing Kamban’s impromptu singing. Kamban was greatly pleased with the poet oil-monger, and begged the king to let him go with honours heaped on him.

In the southern districts, more especially in Madura [மதுரை] and Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி], it is usual for an Ōcchan [ஓசன்] to claim his paternal aunt’s daughter in marriage. In the northern districts, a man may also marry his maternal uncle’s or sister’s daughter. Brāhman Gurukkals officiate at marriages. In their puberty, marriage, and death ceremonies, the Ōcchans [ஓசன்] closely follow the Pallis [பள்ளி] [பள்ளி] or Vanniyans [வன்னியன்]. The dead are burnt, and Brāhmans officiate at the funeral ceremonies.

The caste is an organised one, and there is usually a headman, called Periyathanakāran, at places where Ōcchans [ஓசன்] occur."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 5. -- S. 419f.]

Pandāram [பண்டாரம்]

"Pandāram [பண்டாரம்].Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] is described by Mr. H. A. Stuart (Manual of the North Arcot district) as being

“the name rather of an occupation than a caste, and used to denote any non-Brāhmanical priest. The Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] seem to receive numerous recruits from the Saivite [சைவ] [சைவ] Sūdra [சூத்திரர்] castes, who choose to make a profession of piety, and wander about begging. They are in reality very lax in their modes of life, often drinking liquor and eating animal food furnished by any respectable Sūdra [சூத்திரர்]. They often serve in Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்] temples, where they make garlands of flowers to decorate the lingam [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்], and blow brazen trumpets when offerings are made, or processions take place. Tirutanni [திருத்தணி] is one of the chief places, in which they congregate.”

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Trichinopoly [திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி] district, that

“the water for the god’s bath at Ratnagiri [ரத்தினகிரி] is brought by a caste of non-Brāhmans known as Tirumanjana Pandārams [பண்டாரம்], who fetch it every day from the Cauvery [காவிரி]. They say that they are descended from an Āryan king, who came to the god with the hope of getting rubies from him. The god, in the guise of a Brāhman, tested his devotion by making him fill a magic vessel with Cauvery water. The vessel would not fill, and the Āryan stranger in a fit of anger cut off the Brāhman’s head. The dead body at once turned into a lingam [இலிங்கம்], and the Āryan was ordered to carry water for the temple till eternity.”

Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] is used both as the name of a caste, and of a class composed of recruits from various castes (eg., Vellāla [வேளாளர்] and Palli [பள்ளி]). The Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] caste is composed of respectable people who have settled down as land-holders, and of Sanyāsis [சந்நியாசி] and priests of certain matams [மடம்] (religious institutions), and managers of richly endowed temples, such as those at Tiruvādudurai [திருவாவடுதுறை] in Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்]  and Mailam [மயிலம்] in South Arcot [தென் ஆற்காடு]. The common name for these managers is Tambirān [தம்பிரான்]. The caste Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] are staunch Saivites [சைவ] [சைவ] and strict vegetarians. Those who lead a celibate life wear the lingam [இலிங்கம்]. They are said to have been originally Sozhia Vellālas [வேளாளர்], with whom intermarriage still takes place. They are initiated into the Saivite [சைவ] [சைவ] religion by a rite called Dhīkshai [தீட்சை], which is divided into five stages, viz.,

  • Samaya [சமய],
  • Nirvāna [நிர்வாண],
  • Visēsha [விஷேட],
  • Kalāsothanai, and 
  • Achārya Abhishēkam [ஆசாரிய அபிடேகம்].

Some are temple servants, and supply flowers for the god, while others sing dēvaram [தேவாரம்] (hymns to the god) during the temple service. On this account, they are known as Meikāval (body-guard of the god), and Ōduvar (reader). The caste Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] have two divisions, called Abhishēka [அபிஷேக] and Dēsikar [தேசிகர்], and the latter name is often taken as a title, e.g., Kandasami Dēsikar [தேசிகர்]. An Abhishēka Pandāram [அபிஷேக பண்டாரம்] is one who is made to pass through some ceremonies connected with Saiva Āgama [சைவ ஆகம].

The mendicant Pandārams [பண்டாரம்], who are recruited from various classes, wear the  lingam [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்], and do not abstain from eating flesh. Many villages have a Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] as the priest of the shrine of the village deity, who is frequently a Palli [பள்ளி] who has become a Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] by donning the  lingam [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்]. The females are said to live, in some cases, by prostitution.

The Lingāyat [லிங்காயதம்] Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] differ in many respects from the true Lingayats. The latter respect their Jangam [ஜங்கம்], and use the sacred water, in which the feet of the Jangam [ஜங்கம்] are washed, for washing their stone  lingam [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்]. To the Pandārams [பண்டாரம்], and Tamil [தமிழ்] Lingāyats [லிங்காயதம்] in general, this proceeding would amount to sacrilege of the worst type. Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ] and Telugu [తెలుగు] Lingāyats' regard a Jangam [ಜಂಗಮ /  జంగం] as superior to the stone  lingam [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்]. In the matter of pollution ceremonies the Tamil [தமிழ்] Lingāyats [லிங்காயதம்] are very particular, whereas the orthodox LingAyats observe no pollution. The investiture with the  lingam [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்] does not take place so early among the Tamil [தமிழ்] as among the Canarese Lingayats [ಜಂಗಮ].

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. [Conjeevaram] Hayavadana Rao [1865 - 1946].

“Dr. H. H. Wilson (Works, I, 225, foot-note)  is of opinion that the word Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] is

‘more properly Pānduranga, pale complexioned, from their smearing themselves with ashes. It is so used in Hemachandra’s history of Mahāvīra, when speaking of the Saiva Brāhmans.’

A more popular derivation of the name is from Bandāram [பண்டாரம்], a public treasury. A good many well-to-do Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] are managers of Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்] temples in Southern India, and accordingly have the temple treasuries under their care. It is, however, possible that the name has been acquired by the caste by reason of their keeping a yellow powder, called pandāram [பண்டாரம்], in a little box, and giving it in return for the alms which they receive.

Opinions are divided as to whether the Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] are Lingāyats [லிங்காயதம்] or not. The opinion held by F. W. Ellis, the well-known Tamil [தமிழ்] scholar and translator of the Kural [குறள்] of Tiruvalluvar [திருவள்ளுவர்] [திருவள்ளுவர்], is thus summarised by Colonel Wilks (History of Mysore).  

“Mr. Ellis considers the Jangam [ஜங்கம்] of the upper countries, and the Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] of the lower, to be of the same sect, and both deny in the most unequivocal terms the doctrine of the metempsychosis. A manuscript in the Mackenzie collection ascribes the origin of the Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] as a sacerdotal order of the servile caste to the religious disputes, which terminated in the suppression of the Jain religion in the Pāndian (Madura [மதுரை]) kingdom, and the influence which they attained by the aid which they rendered to the Brāhmans in that controversy, but this origin seems to require confirmation. In a large portion, perhaps in the whole of the Brāhmanical temples dedicated to Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்] in the provinces of Arcot [ஆற்காடு], Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்], Trichinopoly [திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி], Madura [மதுரை] and Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி], the Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] is the highest of the temple, and has the entire direction of the revenues, but allows the Brāhmans to officiate in the ceremonial part according to their own good pleasure, as a concern altogether below his note. He has generally the reputation of an irreproachable life, and is treated by the Brāhmans of the temple with great reverence, while on his part he looks with compassion at the absurd trifles which occupy their attention. These facts seem to point to some former revolution, in which a Jangam [ஜங்கம்] government obtained a superiority over the Brāhmanical establishments, and adopted this mode of superseding the substantial part of their authority. It is a curious instance of the Sooder (Sūdra [சூத்திரர்]) being the spiritual lord of the Brāhman, and is worthy of further historical investigation.”

Dr. Wilson also thinks that the Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] are Lingayats. Mr. H. A. Stuart (Madras Census Report, 1891)  says that they are a class of priests who serve the non-Brāhman castes. They have returned 115 sub-divisions, of which only two are sufficiently large to require mention, Āndi [ஆண்டி] of Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] and Malabar [മലബാര്‍], and Lingadāri of Chingleput [செங்கல்பட்டு]  and Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி]. Āndi [ஆண்டி] is a quasi-caste of beggars recruited from all castes, and the Lingadāri Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] are the same as Jangams [ஜங்கம்]. Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] is, in fact, a class name rather than the name of a caste, and it consists of priests and beggars. Mr. C. P. Brown (Madras Journ. Lit, and Science, XI, 1840) thinks that the Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] are not Lingāyats [லிங்காயதம்].

‘The Saiva [சைவ] worshippers among the Tamils are called Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] : these are not Vira Saivas [வீர சைவம்], nor do they wear the linga [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்] or adore Basava. I name them here chiefly because they are often mentioned as being Vira Saivas [வீர சைவம்], whereas in truth they are (like the Smartas) Purva Saivas, and worship the image of Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்] in their houses.’

It must be remarked that Mr. Brown appears to have had a confused idea of Pandārams [பண்டாரம்]. Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] wear the linga [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்] on their bodies in one of the usual modes, are priests to others professing the Lingāyat [லிங்காயதம்] religion, and are fed by them on funeral and other ceremonial occasions. At the same time, it must be added that they are—more especially the begging sections—very lax as regards their food and drink. This characteristic distinguishes them from the more orthodox Lingāyats [லிங்காயதம்]. Moreover, Lingāyats [லிங்காயதம்] remarry their widows, whereas the Pandārams [பண்டாரம்], as a caste, will not.

“ Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] speak Tamil [தமிழ்]. They are of two classes, the married and celibate. The former are far more numerous than the latter, and dress in the usual Hindu manner. They have the hind-lock of hair known as the kudumi [குடுமி], put on sacred ashes, and paint the point between the eyebrows with a sandal paste dot. The celibates wear orange-tawny cloths, and daub sacred ashes all over their bodies. They allow the hair of the head to become matted. They wear sandals with iron spikes, and carry in their hands an iron trisulam [திரிசூலம்] (the emblem of Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்]), and a wooden baton called dandāyudha (another emblem of Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்]). When they go about the streets, they sing popular Tamil [தமிழ்] hymns, and beat against their begging bowl an iron chain tied by a hole to one of its sides. Married men also beg, but only use a bell-metal gong and a wooden mallet. Most of these help pilgrims going to the more famous Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்] temples in the Madras Presidency, eg., Tirutani [திருத்தணி], Palni [பழனி], Tiruvannamalai [திருவண்ணாமலை], or Tirupparankunram [திருப்பரங்குன்றம்]. Among both sections, the dead are buried in the sitting posture, as among other Lingāyats [லிங்காயதம்]. A samādhi [சமாதி] is erected over the spot where they are buried. This consists of a linga [இலிங்கம்] [லிங்கம்] and bull in miniature, which are worshipped as often as may be found convenient.

“ The managers of temples and mutts [மடம்] (religious institutions), known as Pandāra Sannadhis, belong to the celibate class. They are usually learned in the Āgamas [ஆகமம்] and Purānas [புராணம்]. A good many of them are Tamil [தமிழ்] scholars, and well versed in Saiva Siddhanta [சைவ சித்தாந்தம்] philosophy. They call themselves Tambirāns—a title which is often usurped by the uneducated beggars.”

In the Census Report, 1901, Vairāvi is returned as a sub-caste of Pandāram [பண்டாரம்], and said to be found only in the Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] district, where they are measurers of grains and pūjāris [பூசாரி] in village temples. Vairāvi is further used as a name for members of the Mēlakkāran caste, who officiate as servants at the temples of the Nattukottai Chettis [நாட்டுக்கோட்டைச் செட்டியார்].

Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] is a title of the Panisavans and Valluvan [வள்ளுவர்] [வள்ளுவர்] priests of the Paraiyans [பறையர்] [பறையர்].

A class of people called hill Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] are described (Native Life in Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്]) by the Rev. S. Mateer as

“miserable beings without clothing, implements, or huts of any kind, living in holes, rocks, or trees. They bring wax, ivory (tusks), and other produce to the Arayans [അരയൻ], and get salt from them. They dig roots, snare the ibex (wild goat, Hemitragus hylocrius [Nilgiritragus hylocrius Ropiquet & Hassanin, 2005]) of the hills, and jungle fowls, eat rats and snakes, and even crocodiles found in the pools among the hill streams. They were perfectly naked and filthy, and very timid. They spoke Malayālam [മലയാളം] in a curious tone, and said that twenty-two of their party had been devoured by tigers within two monsoons.”

Concerning these hill Pandārams [பண்டாரம்], Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar writes that they live on the banks of streams in crevices of rocks, caves, and hollows of trees. They are known to the dwellers on the plains as Kāttumanushyar [காடு  ....], or forest men. They clad themselves in the bark of trees, and, in the rainy and cold seasons, protect their bodies with plantain leaves. They speak a corrupt form of Tamil [தமிழ்]. They fear the sight of other men, and try to avoid approaching them. A former European magistrate of the Cardamom Hills [ஏலக்காய் மலை] took some of them to his residence, but, during their three days’ stay there, they refused to eat or talk. There is a chieftain for every four hills, but his authority is little more than nominal. When women are married, the earth and hills are invoked as witnesses. They have Hindu names, such as Rāman [രാമൻ], Kittan (Krishna), and Govindan [கோவிந்தன்].

In a lecture delivered some years ago at Trivandrum [തിരുവനന്തപുരം], Mr. O. H. Bensley described the hill Pandārams [பண்டாரம்] as being 

“skilful in catching fish, their mode of cooking which is to place the fish on roots on a rock, and cover them with fire. They keep dogs, and, by their aid, replenish their larder with rats, mungooses, iguanas (lizard, Varanus), and other delicacies. I was told that the authority recognised by these people is the head Arayan [അരയൻ], to whom they give a yearly offering of jungle produce, receiving in exchange the scanty clothing required by them. We had an opportunity of examining their stock-in-trade, which consisted of a bill-hook similar to those used by other hillmen, a few earthen cooking-pots, and a good stock of white flour, which was, they said, obtained from the bark of a tree, the name of which sounded like āhlum. They were all small in stature, with the exception of one young woman, and, both in appearance and intelligence, compared favourably with the Urālis.”

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 6. -- S. 45 - 52]

Sātāni [సాతాని]

"Sātāni [సాతాని].The Sātānis [సాతాని] are described in the Madras Census Report, 1891, as

“a class of temple servants very much like the Mālis [মালি] of Bengal [বঙ্গ]. The word Sātāni [సాతాని] is a corrupt form of Sāttādavan, which, literally means one who does not wear (the sacred thread and tuft of hair). For temple services Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 11. Jhdt.] classed Vaishnavites [வைஷ்ணவ] [వైష్ణవ] into Sāttinavan and Sāttādavan. The former are invariably Brāhmans, and the latter Sūdras [శూద్రులు]. Hence Sātāni [సాతాని] is the professional name given to a group of the Vaishnava [వైష్ణవ] creed. It is sometimes stated that the Sātānis [సాతాని] of the Madras Presidency are the disciples of the famous Bengali reformer Chaitanya [চৈতন্য] (15th century), from whom, they say, the term Sātāni [సాతాని] took its origin. But, so far as I can ascertain, this supposition rests on no better foundation than the similarity in sound of the two names, and it seems to me more than doubtful. There is no evidence of Chaitanya [চৈতন্য] having ever preached in the Dravidian country, and the tenets of the Sātānis [సాతాని] of this Presidency differ widely from those of the followers of Chaitanya [চৈতন্য]. The former worship only Krishna [কৃষ্ণ], while the latter venerate Vishnu [విష్ణువు] in the form of Nārāyana [నారాయణ] also. The Sātānis [సాతాని], too, have as much reverence for Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 11. Jhdt.] as the followers of Chaitanya [চৈতন্য] have towards their guru, who is said to be an incarnation of Krishna [কৃষ্ণ]. With regard to their religion, it will suffice to say that they are Tengalai [தென்கலை] Vaishnavites [வைஷ்ணவ]. They shave their heads completely, and tie their lower cloth like a Brāhman bachelor. In their ceremonies they more or less follow the Brāhmans, but the sacred thread is not worn by them. Though the consumption of alcoholic liquor and animal food is strictly prohibited, they practice both to a considerable extent on all festive occasions, and at sradhs. Drinking and other excesses are common. Some Sātānis [సాతాని] bury the dead, and others burn them. The principal occupations of Sātānis [సాతాని] are making garlands, carrying the torches during the god’s procession, and sweeping the temple floor. They also make umbrellas, flower baskets and boxes of palmyra leaves, and prepare the sacred balls of white clay (for making the Vaishnavite [வைஷ்ணவ] [వైష్ణవ] sectarian mark), and saffron powder. Their usual agnomen is Aiya.”

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Sātānis [సాతాని] are summed up as being

“a Telugu [తెలుగు] caste of temple servants supposed to have come into existence in the time of the great Vaishnavite [வைஷ்ணவ] [వైష్ణవ] reformer Sri Rāmānujāchārya [இராமானுசர்] (A.D. 1100). The principal endogamous sub-divisions of this caste are

  1. Ekākshari [ఏకాక్షరీ],
  2. Chaturakshari [చతురక్షరీ],
  3. Ashtākshari [అష్టాక్షరీ], and
  4. Kulasēkhara [కులశేఖరుడు].

The Ekākshari [ఏకాక్షరీ] (eka [ఏక], one, and akshara [అక్షర], syllable) hope to get salvation by reciting the one mystic syllable Ōm [ఓం] ; the Chaturaksharis [చతురక్షరీ] believe in the religious efficacy of the four syllables Rā-mā-nu-ja [రా-మా-ను-జ]; the Ashtaksharis hold that the recitation of the eight syllables Ōm-na-mō-nā-rā-ya-nā-ya [ఓం-నమో-నా-రా-య-నా-య] (Om ! salutation to Nārāyana) will ensure them eternal bliss; and the Kulasēkharas [కులశేఖరుడు], who wear the sacred thread, claim to be the descendants of the Vaishnava [వైష్ణవ] saint Kulasēkhara Ālvār [കുലശേഖര ആഴ്‌വാർ, r. 844—883], formerly a king of the Kerala [കേരളം] country. The first two sections make umbrellas, flower garlands, etc., and are also priests to Balijas [బలిజ]  and other Sūdra [శూద్రులు] castes of the Vaishnava [వైష్ణవ] sects, while the members of the other two have taken to temple service. In their social and religious customs, all the sub-divisions closely imitate the Tengalai [தென்கலை] Vaishnava [వైష్ణవ] Brāhmans. The marriage of girls after puberty, and the remarriage of widows, are strictly prohibited. Most of them employ Brāhman purōhits [పురోహిత], but latterly they have taken to getting priests from their own caste. They attach no importance to the Sanskrit Vēdas, or to the ritual sanctioned therein, but revere the sacred hymns of the twelve Vaishnava [వైష్ణవ] saints or Alvars [ஆழ்வார்], called Nālāyira Prabandham [நாலாயிரத் திவ்வியப் பிரபந்தம்] (book of the four thousand songs), which is in Tamil [தமிழ்]. From this their purōhits [పురోహిత] recite verses during marriages and other ceremonies.” 

At the census, 1901, Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 11. Jhdt.] was returned as a sub-caste of Sātāni [సాతాని]. In the Manual of the North Arcot [வட ஆற்காடு] district, Mr. H. A. Stuart describes the Sātānis [సాతాని] as

“a mixed religious sect, recruited from time to time from other castes, excepting Paraiyans [பறையர்] [பறையர்], leather-workers, and Muhammadans. All the Sātānis [సాతాని] are Vaishnavites [வைஷ்ணவ], but principally revere Bāshyakār [பாஷ்யகார] (another name for Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 11. Jhdt.]), whom they assert to have been an incarnation of Vishnu [విష్ణువు]. The Sātānis [సాతాని] are almost entirely confined to the large towns. Their legitimate occupations are performing menial services in Vishnu [విష్ణువు] temples, begging, tending flower gardens, selling flower garlands, making fans, grinding sandalwood into powder, and selling perfumes. They are the priests of some Sūdra [శూద్రులు] castes, and in this character correspond to the Saivite [சைவ] Pandārams [பண்டாரம்].”

In the Census Report, 1871, the Sātānis [సాతాని] are described as being

“frequently religious mendicants, priests of inferior temples, minstrels, sellers of flowers used as offerings, etc., and have probably recruited their numbers by the admission into their ranks of individuals who have been excommunicated from higher castes. As a matter of fact, many prostitutes join this sect, which has a recognised position among the Hindus. This can easily be done by the payment of certain fees, and by eating in company with their co-religionists. And they thus secure for themselves decent burial with the ceremonial observances necessary to ensure rest to the soul.”

In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, it is noted that Sātānis [సాతాని] are also styled Khādri Vaishnavas, Sāttādaval, Chatali, Kulasēkhara [కులశేఖరుడు], and Samērāya. These names, however, seem to have pricked their amour propre in the late census, and they took considerable pains not only to cast them off, but also to enrol themselves as Prapanna Vaishnavas, Nambi, Venkatapura Vaishnavas, etc. The idea of being tabulated as Sūdras [శూద్రులు] was so hateful to them that, in a few places, the enumerators, who had so noted down their caste according to precedent, were prosecuted by them for defamation. The cases were of course thrown out. Further, the Mysore Census Superintendent, 1901, writes that

“the sub-divisions of the Sātānis [సాతాని] are Khadri Vaishnavas, Natacharamurti, Prathama Vaishnava, Sameraya or Samogi, Sankara, Suri, Sattādhava, Telugu Sātāni [తెలుగు సాతాని], and Venkatapurada. Some are employed in agriculture, but as a rule they are engaged in the service, of Vishnu [విష్ణువు] temples, and are flower-gatherers, torch-bearers, and strolling minstrels.”

The Sātānis [సాతాని] are also called Dāsa Nambis. They are flesh-eaters, but some have now become pure vegetarians. There are, for example, at Srivilliputtur [திருவில்லிபுத்தூர்] in the Tinnevelly [திருநெல்வேலி] district, a large number who have abandoned a meat dietary. They are connected with the temple of Āndāl [ஆண்டாள்], and supply flowers and tulsi [துளசி] (Ocimum sanctum [Ocimum tenuiflorum]) leaves for worship, carry torches before the goddess during processions, and watch the gate of the temple during the night. The small income which they derive from the temple is supplemented by the manufacture and sale of palmyra leaf baskets, and umbrellas made from Pandanus leaves. As a class, the Sātānis [సాతాని] are given to liquor, and all important ceremonial occasions are made the excuse for copious potations. This weakness is so well known that, in the north of the Presidency, the term Rāmānuja  Matham [இராமானுசர் மடம் ] is used to denote the consumption of meat and drink at death or srādh ceremonies, just as Saivam signifies vegetarianism. The Sātāni [సాతాని] mendicant can be recognised by the peculiar flat gourd-shaped brass pot and palm leaf fan which he carries. The Sātānis [సాతాని] claim to have sprung from the sweat of Virāt Purusha (lord of the universe). The following legend is told, as accounting for the removal of the kudumi [குடுமி] (tuft of hair on the head), and wearing the cloth without a fold behind. In the time of Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 11. Jhdt.], the Sātānis [సాతాని] enjoyed certain privileges in the temples, but, not satisfied with these, they claimed to take rank next to Brāhmans. This privilege was accorded, and, when flowers and other things used in the worship of the god were to be distributed, they were handed over to the Sātānis [సాతాని]. They, however, were unable to decide who should be deputed to represent the community, each person decrying the others as being of low caste. Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 11. Jhdt.] accordingly directed that they should shave their heads, and wear their loin-cloths with a fold in front only.

In addition to other occupations already noted, Sātānis [సాతాని] sell turmeric, coloured powders, and sacred balls of white clay used by Vaishnavites [வைஷ்ணவ]. Some act as priests to Balijas [బలిజ] and Kōmatis, at whose death ceremonies the presence of a Sātāni [సాతాని] is essential. Immediately after death, the Sātāni [సాతాని] is summoned, and he puts sect marks on the corpse. At the grave, cooked food is offered, and eaten by the Sātāni [సాతాని] and members of the family of the deceased. On the last day of the death ceremonies (karmāndiram), the Sātāni [సాతాని] comes to the house of the dead person late in the evening, bringing with him certain idols, which are worshipped with offerings of cooked rice, flesh, and liquor in jars. The food is distributed among those present, and the liquor is doled out from a spoon called parikam, or a broom dipped in the liquor, which is drunk as it drips therefrom.

Sātāni [సాతాని] women dress just like Vaishnava [వైష్ణవ] Brāhman women, from whom it is difficult to distinguish them. In former days, the Sātānis [సాతాని] used to observe a festival called ravikala (bodice) utchavam [ரவிக்கை உச்சவம்], which now goes by the name of gandapodi (sandal powder) utchavam [கந்தப்பொடி உச்சவம்]. The festival, as originally carried out, was a very obscene rite. After the worship of the god by throwing sandal powder, etc., the Sātānis [సాతాని] returned home, and indulged in copious libations of liquor. The women threw their bodices into vessel, and they were picked out at random by the men. The woman whose bodice was thus secured became the partner of the man for the day.

For the following note on Sātānis [సాతాని] in the Vizagapatam [విశాఖపట్నం] district, I am indebted to Mr. C. [Conjeevaram] Hayavadana Rao [1865 – 1946]. Sātāni [సాతాని] is said to be the shortened form of Saththādavan, the uncovered man. They are prohibited from covering three different parts of their bodies, viz., the head with the usual tuft of hair, the body with the sacred thread, and the waist with the customary strip of cloth. All devout Sātānis [సాతాని] shave their heads completely. [There is a proverb “Tie a knot on the Sātāni’s [సాతాని] tuft of hair, and on the[ ascetic’s holy thread.” The Sātānis [సాతాని] shave the whole head, and the Sanyasis have no sacred thread.] The caste is divided into exogamous septs, or intipērulu. The custom of mēnarikam [మేనరికం], according to which a man marries his maternal uncle’s daughter, is observed. The remarriage of widows and divorce are not allowed. Attempts have been made by some members of the caste, in other parts of the Madras Presidency, to connect themselves with Chaitanya [চৈতন্য]. But, so far as the Vizagapatam [విశాఖపట్నం] district is concerned, this is repudiated. They are Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 11. Jhdt.] Vaishnavas of the Tenkalai [தென்கலை] persuasion. Their gurus are known as Paravasthuvāru—a corruption of Paravāsu Dēva, whose figure is on the vimāna [விமானம்] of the Srirangam [ஸ்ரீரங்கம்] temple, and who must be visited before entering the principal sanctuary. They live at Gūmsūr in Ganjam [ଗଞ୍ଜାମ], and have Sadacharulu, or ever-devout followers, who act as their agents in Vizagapatam [విశాఖపట్నం]. They brand the shoulders of Sātānis [సాతాని] with the Vaishnavite [வைஷ்ணவ] [వైష్ణవ] emblems, the sankha and chakra, and initiate them into the mysteries of the Vaishnava [వైష్ణవ] religion by whispering into their ears the word Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 11. Jhdt.]. The Sātāni [సాతాని] learns by heart various songs in eulogy of Srirangam [ஸ்ரீரங்கம்] and its deity, by means of which he earns his living. He rises in the early morning, and, after a bath, adorns his forehead and body with the Vaishnavite [வைஷ்ணவ] [వైష్ణవ] nāmam, ties round his clean-shaved head a string of tulsi [துளசி] (Ocimum sanctum [Ocimum tenuiflorum])  beads known as thirupavithram, puts a tulsi garland round his neck, and takes a fan called gajakarnam, or elephant’s ear, in his right hand. In his left hand he carries a copper gourd-shaped vessel. He is generally accompanied by another Sātāni [సాతాని] similarly got up. When begging, they sing the songs referred to above, and collect the rice which is given to them in their vessels. At the end of their round they return home, and their wives clean the rice, bow down before it, and cook it. No portion of the rice obtained by begging should be sold for money. The Sātānis [సాతాని] play an important part in the social life of the Vaishnavites [வைஷ்ணவ] of the district, and are the gurus of some of the cultivating and other classes. They preside at the final death ceremonies of the non-Brahman Vaishnavite [வைஷ்ணவ] [వైష్ణవ] castes. They burn their dead, and perform the chinna [చిన్న రోజు] (little) and pedda rozu [పెద్ద రోజు] (big day) death ceremonies."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 6. -- S. 297 - 304]

Unni [ഉണ്ണി]

"Unni [ഉണ്ണി].For the following note on the. Unnis [ഉണ്ണി] of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyar. The word Unni [ഉണ്ണി], whatever its significance may have been of old, at present forms the common title of four castes of the Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി] group, whose manners and custom differ considerably in their details. They are known, respectively, as
  • Pushpakans,
  • Brāhmanis,
  • Tīyattunnis, and
  • Nattu Pattars,

their social precedence being in this order.

Pushpakan comes from pushpa [പുഷ്പം], which in Sanskrit means either a flower or menses.

Brāhmanis, more vulgarly known as Pappinis, are so named because they perform some of the priestly functions of the Brāhmans for the Sūdra [ശൂദ്ര] population of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്].

Tīyattunnis, also known as Taiyampatis in British Malabar [മലബാര്‍], are so called from the peculiar religious service they perform in some Hindu temples.

Nattu Pattars are also known as Pattar Unnis and Karappuram Unnis. Unni [ഉണ്ണി] means a child, and is used as an honorific term to denote the male children of a Nambūtiri’s [നമ്പൂതിരി] household. The reason why these Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി] castes came to be so called was that they were looked upon as more respectable than the Nāyars [നായര്‍], by whom the term must doubtless have been made use of at first.

The Pushpakans are said to be divided into three classes, namely

  • Pushpakans,
  • Nambiassans [നമ്പീശൻ], and
  • Puppallis.

The first section live only as far south as Evūr in Central Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], and are called Nambiyars [നമ്പ്യാർ] in the north. The Nambiyassans [നമ്പീശൻ] live in Cochin [കൊച്ചി] and North Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്], while the Puppallis are found only towards the south. There are no subdivisions among the Brāhmanis and Karappuramunnis. But the Tīyattunnis are divided into two classes, namely the Tiyatinambiyans of the north, who are generally employed in the temples of Sastha [ശാസ്താ], and Tīyattunnis proper, who perform a similar function in the shrines of Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി]. Women are also known as Atovarammamar and Kōvillammamar.

Pushpakans are said to have arisen out of the union of a Brāhman woman in her menses with her husband. Parasurāma [പരശുരാമൻ] set them apart, and gave them the occupation of making garlands in the temples of Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. Though this derivation is given in the Kēralamahatmya, it may be more easily believed that Pushpakan is derived from the occupation of working in flowers. Puppalli, at any rate, is thus derived, and, as Palli [பள்ளி] signifies anything sacred, the caste name arose from the occupation of preparing garlands for deities. Nambiyassans [നമ്പീശൻ], called also Nambiyars [നമ്പ്യാർ] and Nambis, must have been, as also the Puppallis and Brāhmanis, one with the Pushpakans. In some places, Nambiyassans [നമ്പീശൻ] are known to have kept gymnasia and military training schools. The Brāhmanis must have undergone some degree of degradation because of the religious songs which they sang during the marriages of the Nāyars [നായര്‍], while those who did not take part therein became, as it were, a separate sept. Another tradition, accounting for the origin of the caste, is that, as in primitive ages early marriages prevailed among the Malayāla Brāhmans, the family of the Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] who first married his daughter after puberty was excommunicated, and gave origin to the Pushpakas. This is untrue, as, in Vēdic times, adult marriage was the rule, and the Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി] in this respect have been known to follow a more primitive custom than the Brāhmans of the east coast. The Tīyattunnis are said to be the descendants of a Bhūta [ഭൂത] or demon directed by Siva [சிவன்] [ശിവൻ] to sing songs in praise of Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി], and appease her anger after the murder of Darika. They must from the first have formed a distinct section of the Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി]. The Karappuram Unnis [ഉണ്ണി] are supposed to have been elevated to their present status by Cheraman Perumāl, one of the rulers of ancient Kerala [കേരളം], as, though belonging to the Sūdra [ശൂദ്ര] caste, they were obliged on one occasion to perform Brāhmanical service for him. Perumāl is believed to have permitted them to take the title of Unni [ഉണ്ണി], and call themselves Pattar, by which name East Coast Brāhmans are known in Malabar [മലബാര്‍]. Thus they came to own the three names Nattu Pattar, Pattar Unni [ഉണ്ണി], and Karappuram Unni [ഉണ്ണി], Karappuram or Shertallay [ചേർത്തല] being the territory where the sept received the above-mentioned social elevation from their sovereign. Even now, many of them reside in the taluks of Ambalapuzha [അമ്പലപ്പുഴ] and Shertallay [ചേർത്തല].

The house of a Pushpaka is variously known as pushpakam, pumatum, or padodakam, the last signifying a place where the water falls from the feet of the deity, on account of its close proximity to the temple, where the daily avocation of the Pushpaka lies. The houses of the Tīyattunnis and Nattu Pattars are only known by the name of bhavanam. As in the case of the Brāhmans, the Pushpanis and Brāhmanis cover their bodies with a piece of cloth, carry an umbrella, and are accompanied by Nāyar [നായര്‍] servant-maids when they go out in public. The women have one more fold in their dress than the Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി]. The neck ornament of women is the cherutāli-kuttam, and the ear ornament the katila. Bell-metal bangles are worn round the wrists. Female Tīyattunnis and Nattu Pattars do not wear the last, and are generally unaccompanied by Nāyar [നായര്‍] servant-maids when they go out.

Pushpakans are believed to be the most fitting caste for the preparation of flower garlands to be used in temples. They also assist in the preparation of the materials for the daily offering. Nambiyassans [നമ്പീശൻ] were instructors in arms in days of old, and kalari or gymnasia are owned by them even at the present day. Their punyaha, or purificatory ceremony after pollution, is performed by Pushpakans. Brāhmani women sing religious songs on the occasion of marriage among all castes from Kshatriyas [ക്ഷത്രിയ] to Nāyars [നായര്‍]. In Kumaranallūr [കുമാരനല്ലൂർ] and other Bhagavati [ഭഗവതി] shrines, women are employed to sing propitiatory songs, while the men make garlands, sweep the floor of the inner court-yard and plinth, clean the temple vessels, and carry the lamp when images are taken round in procession. It is only the first of these temple services that the Pushpakas do, and their women never go out to sing on marriage occasions. The word Tīyattu or Teyyatu is said to be a corruption of Daivamattu, or dancing to please the deity. According to one tradition, they were degraded from Pushpakas for undertaking service in the temples. In more orthodox times, tīyattu could be performed only in temples and Brāhman houses, but now Sūdras [ശൂദ്ര] also share the privilege of inviting the Tīyattunnis to their homes for this purpose, though the ceremony cannot be performed in their houses without a previous punyaha. The rite is extremely popular when epidemic disease prevails. Ganapati [ഗണപതി] and Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി] are, as a preliminary measure, worshipped, to the accompaniment of musical instruments. As this has to be done in the noon, it is called uchchappattu, or noon-day song. In the evening, an image of Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി] is drawn on the ground with powders of five colours, white, yellow, black, green and red. At night, songs are sung in praise of that deity by the Tīyattunni and his followers. A member of the troupe then plays the part of Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി] in the act of murdering the demon Darika, and, in conclusion, waves a torch before the inmates of the house, to ward off the evil eye, which is the most important item in the whole ceremony. The torch is believed to be given by Siva [சிவன்] [ശിവ], who is worshipped before the light is waved.

The Karappuram Unnis [ഉണ്ണി], unlike the other septs of their class, are mostly agriculturists. The Unnis [ഉണ്ണി] are all Smartas, but a partiality for Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി] is manifested by the Tīyattunnis and Brāhmanis. All social matters among the Unnis [ഉണ്ണി] are superintended by Nambūtiri [നമ്പൂതിരി] Brāhmans, but, in all that directly touches the social wellbeing, their own headmen are the judges. Before entering a Pushpaka’s house for the observation of any ceremony, the Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി] insist upon the performance of punyaha. Though the superiority of Ilayatus [ഇളയത്] is acknowledged, they are never employed by the Pushpakas for priestly functions. The Ilayatus [ഇളയത്] are believed to have once been the priests of the Nattu Pattars, though at the present time learned men from their own sept are employed for this purpose. The punyaha is, however, performed through the agency of Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി]. The priests of the Nambiyassans [നമ്പീശൻ], Tīyattunnis, and Brāhmanis are Ilayatus [ഇളയത്].

Adult marriage prevails, twelve being the earliest age of a girl when she ceases to be single. On the evening of the day before the wedding, the bride has a ceremonial bath, and performs the ceremony of growing a jasmine shoot, the flowers of which she should cull and present as an offering to the deity. On the marriage day, the bridegroom’s party arrives in procession at the house of the bride, who awaits them with her face covered, and holding a brass mirror and garland of flowers in her hands. Her veil is removed, and the contracting couple gaze at each other. At the auspicious hour their hands are joined, and other items of the marriage rites carried out. In connection with a Pushpaka marriage, ammana āttam or tossing of metal balls, kaikottikali [കൈകൊട്ടിക്കളി] or the circular dance, and yātrakali [യാത്രക്കളി] are among the amusements indulged in. Divorce was common among the Pushpakas in bygone days, but, at the present time, the marriage tie is usually permanent, and it is only after the first husband’s death that cloths may be received from a Malayāla Brāhman in token of sambandham (alliance). The Brāhmanis, however, have not given up the practice of divorce. Nambiyassans [നമ്പീശൻ], Puppallis, Pattar Unnis [ഉണ്ണി], and Brāhmanis follow the marumakkattāyam [മരുമക്കത്തായം] system of inheritance (through the female line), while the Pushpakas and Tīyattunnis are makkattāyis [മക്കത്തായം], and follow the law of inheritance from father to son. The offspring of a Brāhmani by a Pushpaka woman are regarded as issue in a makkattāyam [മക്കത്തായം] family. As is the custom among the Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി], only the eldest son marries, the other sons remaining as snātakas, and contracting alliances with Nāyar [നായര്‍] women. The Illam Nāyars [നായര്‍], however, do not give their daughters to the Unnis [ഉണ്ണി].

The jatakarma, though not strictly proper, is observed in modern days. The namakarana takes place, along with the annaprasana, in the sixth month after birth. The chaula is performed in the third year, though, among the Nattu Pattars, it is a preliminary ceremony before upanayana [ഉപനയനം]. The proper time for the performance of the upanayana [ഉപനയനം] is between the eighth and sixteenth year. Samavartana takes place on the fourteenth day after upanayana [ഉപനയനം]. Pollution lasts for only ten days among the Tīyattunnis, whereas the Brāhmanis observe twelve, and the Nattu Pattars thirteen days’ pollution. Ten gayatris [ഗായത്രീ] (hymns) are allowed to be recited thrice daily.

The Pushpakas are the highest of the thread-wearing sections of the Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി], according to their traditional origin as well as their religious and social practices. The Pattar Unnis [ഉണ്ണി] are the lowest, and are only a step higher than the Kurukkals [കുരുക്കൾ]. Consecrated water and flowers are not given to them directly by the temple priest, but they may stand on the right side of the stone steps leading to the inner shrine. This is the rule with all Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി] divisions. Other Ambalavāsis [അമ്പലവാസി] do not receive food from the Unnis [ഉണ്ണി]. These sections of the Unnis [ഉണ്ണി] which have Ilayatus [ഇളയത്] for their priests accept food from them. As the Pushpakas proper employ only Nambūtiris [നമ്പൂതിരി] for purificatory purposes, the latter freely cook food in their houses, as in those of the Muttatus [മൂത്തതു].

It is recorded by Mr. Logan (Manual of the Malabar district) that the Tīyattunnis or Tīyādis (ti [തീ], fire ; āttam, play) are

“a class of pseudo-Brahmans in Malabar [മലബാര്‍], who derive their name from the ceremony of jumping through fire before temples.” 

Mr. Subramani Aiyar writes, in this connection, that 

“I do not think Mr. Logan is quite right when he describes the service of the Tīyattunnis as jumping through fire. It is dancing with lighted wicks in the hands, to exorcise the genius representing the evil eye, or as a propitiatory service in temples. It answers to the pallippanna and kolantullal of the Kaniyans. A figure of Bhadrakāli [ഭദ്രകാളി] is drawn on the ground with powders of different colours, and the chief incidents in the incarnate life of the deity are recited by the Tīyattunnis. After this, some cocoanuts are broken in two, and lighted wicks are then placed before the presiding deity if done in a temple as a propitiatory service, or before any particular individual or individuals, if the object is to free him or them from the effect of the evil eye.”"

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 7. -- S. 221 - 228]

Valluvan [வள்ளுவர்]

Valluvan [வள்ளுவர்] dressed up as Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்] at Malayanur [மலையனூர்] festival

"Valluvan [வள்ளுவர்].The Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] are summed up by Mr. H. A. Stuart (Madras Census Report, 1891, and Manual of the North Arcot district)  as being

“the priests of the Paraiyans [பறையர்] and Pallans [பள்ளர்]. Tiruvalluvar [திருவள்ளுவர்], the famous Tamil [தமிழ்] poet, author of the Kurāl [குறள்], belonged to this caste, which is usually regarded as a sub-division of Paraiyans [பறையர்]. It appears that the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] were priests to the Pallava [பல்லவர்] kings before the introduction of the Brāhmans, and even for some time after it. In an unpublished Vatteluttu [வட்டெழுத்து] inscription, believed to be of the ninth century, the following sentence occurs

‘Sri Velluvam Puvanavan, the Uvac’chan (Ōc’chan [ஓசன்]]) of this temple, will employ daily six men for doing the temple service.’

Again, the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] must have formerly held a position at least equal to that of the Vellālas [வேளாளர்], if the story that Tiruvalluva Nayanar [திருவள்ளுவர் நாயன்மார்] married a Vellāla [வேளாளர்] girl is true. He is said to have refused to acknowledge the distinctions of caste, and succeeded in obtaining a Vellāla [வேளாளர்] woman as his wife, from whom a section of the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] say it has its descent. As their ancestor amused himself in the intervals between his studies by weaving, they employ themselves in mending torn linen, but chiefly live by astrology, and by acting as priests of Paraiyans [பறையர்], and officiating at their funerals and marriages, though some refuse to take part in the former inauspicious ceremony, and leave the duty to those whom they consider impure Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] called Paraiya Tādas. Another section of the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] is called Ālvar Dāsari or Tāvadadhari (those who wear the necklace of tulsi beads). Both Saivites [சைவ] and Vaishnavites [வைஷ்ணவ eat together, but do not intermarry. Unlike Paraiyans [பறையர்], they forbid remarriage of widows and even polygamy, and all males above twelve wear the sacred thread.”

According to one account, the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] are the descendants of an alliance between a Brāhman sage and a Paraiyan [பறையர்] woman, whose children complained to their father of their lowly position. He blessed them, and told them that they would become very clever astrologers, and, in consequence, much respected. At the Travancore census, 1901, the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] were defined as a sub-division of the Pulayas, for whom they perform priestly functions.

“Both men and women are employed as astrologers and doctors, and are often consulted by all classes of people. In many villages they have the privilege of receiving from each ryot a handful of grain during the harvest time.” (Madras Census Report, 1891)

Of three Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்], whom I interviewed at Coimbatore [கோயம்புத்தூர] , one, with a flowing white beard, had a lingam [இலிங்கம்] wrapped up in a pink cloth round the neck, and a charm tied in a pink cloth round the right upper arm. Another, with a black beard, had a salmon-coloured turban. The third was wearing a discarded British soldier’s tunic. All wore necklaces of rudraksha [உருத்திராட்சம்(Elaeocarpus Ganitrus) beads, and their foreheads were smeared with oblong patches of sandal paste. Each of them had a collection of panchangams [பஞ்சாங்கம்], or calendars for determining auspicious dates, and a bundle of palm leaf strips (ulla mudyan) inscribed with slōkas for astrological purposes. Their professional duties included writing charms for sick people, preparing horoscopes, and making forecasts of good or evil by means of cabalistic squares marked on the ground. Some Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] would have us believe that those who officiate as priests are not true Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்], and that the true Valluvan [வள்ளுவர்], who carries out the duties of an astrologer, will not perform priestly functions for the Paraiyans [பறையர்]. 

The most important sub-divisions of the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்], returned at times of census, are

  • Paraiyan [பறையர்],
  • Tavidadāri, and
  • Tiruvalluvan [திருவள்ளுவர்].

From information supplied to me, I gather that there are two main divisions, called 

  • Arupathu [அறுபது] Katchi (sixty house section) and
  • Narpathu [நாற்பத்தைந்து] Katchi (forty house section).

The former are supposed to be descendants of Nandi Gurukkal, and take his name as their gōtra [கோத்திரம்]. The gōtra [கோத்திரம்] of the latter is Sidambara Sayichya Ayyamgar. Sidambara, or Chidambaram [சிதம்பரம்], is the site of one of the most sacred Siva [சிவன்] [சிவன்] temples. The subdivision Ālvār claims descent from Tiruppan Ālvār [திருப்பாணாழ்வார்], one of the twelve Vaishnava saints. In the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] district, the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] have exogamous septs or pattaperu, named after persons, eg.,

  • Marulipichan,
  • Govindazhvan,
  • etc.

The Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] include in their ranks both Vaishnavites [வைஷ்ணவ] and Saivites [சைவ]. The majority of the latter, both males and females, wear the lingam [இலிங்கம்]. The affairs of the community are adjusted by a caste council and there are, in most places, two hereditary officers called Kōlkaran and Kanakkan.

At the betrothal ceremony the bride’s money (pariyam), betel, jewels, flowers, and fruit, are placed in the future bride’s lap. The money ranges from seven to ten rupees if the bridegroom’s village is on the same side of a river as the bride’s, and from ten to twenty rupees if it is on the other side. A small sum of money, called uramurai kattu (money paid to relations) and panda varisai (money paid in the  pandal [பந்தல்] [பந்தல்]), is also paid by the bridegroom’s party for a feast of toddy to the relations. This is the proper time for settling caste disputes by the village council. On the wedding day, the milk-post, consisting of a green bamboo pole, is set up, and a number of pots, brought from the potter’s house, are placed near it. On the dais are set four lamps, viz., an ordinary brass lamp, kudavilakku [குடவிளக்கு] (pot light), alankāra vilakku [அலங்காரவிளக்கு] (ornamental light), and pāligai vilakku [... விளக்கு] (seedling light). The bride and bridegroom bring some sand, spread it on the floor near the dais, and place seven leaves on it. Cotton threads, dyed with turmeric, are tied to the pots and the milk-post. On the leaves are set cakes and rice, and the contracting couple worship the pots and the family gods. The Valluvan [வள்ளுவர்] priest repeats a jumble of corrupt Sanskrit, and ties the kankanams (threads) on their wrists. They are then led into the house, and garlanded with jasmine or Nerium flowers. The pots are arranged on the dais, and the sand is spread thereon close to the milk-post. Into one of the pots the female relations put grain seedlings, and four other pots are filled with water by the bridegroom’s party. A small quantity of the seedlings is usually wrapped up in a cloth, and placed over the seedling pot. Next morning the bundle is untied, and examined, to see if the seedlings are in good condition. If they are so, the bride is considered a worthy one ; if not, the bride is either bad, or will die prematurely. The usual nalagu ceremony is next performed, bride and bridegroom being anointed with oil, and smeared with Phaseolus Mungo [Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper] paste. This is followed by the offering of food on eleven leaves to the ancestors and house gods. Towards evening, the dais is got ready for its occupation by the bridal couple, two planks being placed on it, and covered with cloths lent by a washerman. The couple, sitting on the planks, exchange betel and paddy nine or twelve times, and rice twenty-seven times. The priest kindles the sacred fire (hōmam [ஓமம்]), and pours some ghī (clarified butter) into it from a mango leaf. The bridegroom is asked whether he sees Arundati [அருந்ததி ] (the pole-star) thrice, and replies in the affirmative. The tāli [தாலி] is shown the sky, smoked over burning camphor, and placed on a tray together with a rupee. After being blessed by those present, it is tied round the neck of the bride by the bridegroom, who has his right leg on her lap. On the second day there is a procession through the village, and, on the following day, the wrist-threads are removed.

In some places, the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்], at their marriages, like the Pallis [பள்ளி] and some other castes, use the pandamutti, or pile of pots reaching to the top of the  pandal [பந்தல்].

The Saivite [சைவ] lingam [இலிங்கம்] wearers bury their dead in a sitting posture in a niche excavated in the side of the grave. After death has set in, a cocoanut is broken, and camphor burnt. The corpse is washed by relations, who bring nine pots of water for the purpose. The lingam [இலிங்கம்] is tied on to the head, and a cloth bundle, containing a rupee, seven bilva [வில்வம்] (Aegle Marmelos) leaves, nine twigs of the tulsi [துளசி] (Ocimum sanctum [Ocimum tenuiflorum]), and nine Leucas aspera flowers, to the right arm. The corpse is carried to the grave on a car surmounted by five brass vessels. The grave is purified by the sprinkling of cow’s urine and cow-dung water before the corpse is lowered into it. On the way to the burial-ground, the priest keeps on chanting various songs, such as

“This is Kailāsa [கைலாசம்]. This is Kailāsa thillai (Chidambaram [சிதம்பரம்]). Our request is this. Nallia Mutthan of the Nandidarma gōtra [கோத்திரம்] died on Thursday in the month Thai [தை] in the year Subakruthu [சோபகிருது]. He must enter the fourth stage (sayichyam [சாயுச்சியம்]), passing through Sālokam [சாலோகம்], Sāmīpa [சாமீபம்], and Sārupa [சாரூபம்]. He crosses the rivers of stones, of thorns, of fire, and of snakes, holding the tail of the bull Nandi [நந்தி]. To enable him to reach heaven safely, we pound rice, and put lights of rice.” 

The priest receives a fee for his services, which he places before an image made on the grave after it has been filled in. The money is usually spent in making a sacred bull, lingam [இலிங்கம்], or stone slab, to place on the grave. On the third day after death, the female relatives of the deceased pour milk within the house into a vessel, which is taken by the male relatives to the burial-ground, and offered at the grave, which is cleaned. A small platform, made of mud, and composed of several tiers, decreasing in size from below upwards, is erected thereon, and surmounted by a lingam [இலிங்கம்]. At the north and south corners of this platform, a bull and paradēsi [பரதேசி] (mendicant) made of mud are placed, and at each corner leaves are laid, on which the offerings in the form of rice, fruits, vegetables, etc., are laid. The final death ceremonies are celebrated on the seventeenth day. A  pandal [பந்தல்] (booth) is set up, and closed in with cloths. Within it are placed a pot and five pestles and mortars, to which threads are tied. Five married women, taking hold of the pestles, pound some rice contained in the pot, and with the flour make a lamp, which is placed on a tray. The eldest son of the deceased goes, with the lamp on his head, to an enclosure having an entrance at the four cardinal points. The enclosure is either a permanent one with mud walls, or temporary one made out of mats. Within the enclosure, five pots are set up in the centre, and four at each side. The pots are cleansed by washing them with the urine of cows of five different colours, red, white, black, grey, and spotted. Near the pots the articles required for pūja [பூசை ] (worship) are placed, and the officiating priest sits near them. The enclosure is supposed to represent heaven, and the entrances are the gates leading thereto, before which food is placed on leaves. The eldest son, with the lamp, stands at the eastern entrance, while Siva [சிவன்] is worshipped. The priest then repeats certain stanzas, of which the following is the substance.

 “You who come like Siddars (attendants in the abode of Siva [சிவன்]) at midnight, muttering Siva’s [சிவன்] name, why do you come near Sivapadam ? I will pierce you with my trident. Get away. Let these be taken to yamapuri, or hell.”

Then Siva [சிவன்] and Parvati [பார்ப்பதி], hearing the noise, ask

“ Oh ! sons, who are you that keep on saying Hara, Hara? Give out truly your names and nativity.”

To which the reply is given

“Oh ! Lord, I am a devotee of that Being who graced Markandeya [மார்க்கண்டேயர்], and am a Vīrasaiva [வீர சைவம்] by faith. I have come to enter heaven. We have all led pure lives, and have performed acts of charity. So it is not just that we should be prevented from entering. Men who ill-treat their parents, or superiors, those addicted to all kinds of vice, blasphemers, murderers, perverts from their own faith and priests, and other such people, are driven to hell by the southern gate.”

At this stage, a thread is passed round the enclosure. The son, still bearing the lamp, goes from the eastern entrance past the south and western entrances, and, breaking the thread, goes into the enclosure through the northern entrance. The Nandikōl (hereditary village official) then ties a cloth first round the head of the eldest son, and afterwards round the heads of the other sons and agnates.

The Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] abstain from eating beef. Though they mix freely with the Paraiyans [பறையர்], they will not eat with them, and never live in the Paraiyan [பறையர்] quarter.

The Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] are sometimes called Pandāram [பண்டாரம்] or Valluva Pandāram [வள்ளுவபண்டாரம்]. In some places, the priests of the Valluvans [வள்ளுவர்] are Vellāla [வேளாளர்] Pandārams [பண்டாரம்]."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 7. -- S. 303 - 310]

Yōgi Gurukkal [യോഗി  ഗുരുക്കള്‍]

"Yōgi Gurukkal  [യോഗി  ഗുരുക്കള്‍].The Yōgi Gurukkals [യോഗി  ഗുരുക്കള്‍] are described in the Madras Census Report, 1891, as

 “a Malayālam [മലയാളം]-speaking beggar caste. They are also priests in Kāli [കാളി] temples, and pial schoolmasters. They bury their dead in a sitting posture (like Sanyāsis).”

The pial, it may be noted, is a raised platform under the verandah, or on either side of the door of a house, in which village schools are held.

The Yōgi Gurukkals [യോഗി  ഗുരുക്കള്‍] are scattered about Malabar [മലബാര്‍], and their chief occupation seems to be the performance of worship to Kāli [കാളി] or Durga [ദുർഗ്ഗ]. They officiate as priests for Mukkuvans and Tiyans [ടിയാൻ]. Among the Mukkuvans, pūja [പൂജ] (worship) to Kāli [കാളി] at the annual festival has to be done by a Yōgi Gurukkal [യോഗി  ഗുരുക്കള്‍], whereas, on ordinary occasions, it may be done by a Mukkuvan, provided that he has been initiated by a Yōgi Gurukkal [യോഗി  ഗുരുക്കള്‍]. In their customs, the Yōgi Gurukkals [യോഗി  ഗുരുക്കള്‍] closely follow the Nāyars [നായര്‍].

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that

“the Yōgi Gurukkals [യോഗി  ഗുരുക്കള്‍] of North Malabar [മലബാര്‍] are a caste which, though low in the social scale, is not regarded as conveying distance pollution. They perform sakti pūja [ശക്തി പൂജ] in their own houses, to which no one outside the caste is allowed to attend; they also perform it for Nāyars [നായര്‍] and Tiyans [ടിയാൻ]. They are celebrated sorcerers and exorcists, and are also schoolmasters by profession.”"

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 7. -- S. 438]