Quellenkunde zur indischen Geschichte bis 1858

10. Mündliche Quellen

von Alois Payer


Zitierweise / cite as:

Payer, Alois <1944 - >: Quellenkunde zur indischen Geschichte bis 1858. -- 10. Mündliche Quellen. -- Fassung vom 2008-06-09. -- http://www.payer.de/quellenkunde/quellen10.htm           

Erstmals publiziert: 2008-04-18

Überarbeitungen: 2008-06-09 [Ergänzungen]; 2008-04-22 [Ergänzungen]

Anlass: Lehrveranstaltung FS 2008

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0. Übersicht

1. Einleitung


[Bildquelle: The people of India : a series of photographic illustrations, with descriptive letterpress, of the races and tribes of Hindustan, originally prepared under the authority of the government of India, and reproduced by order of the Secretary of State for India in Council / edited by J. Forbes Watson [1827 - 1892] and John William Kaye [1814 - 1876]. --  London : India Museum, 1868-1875. -- ( Bde. : Ill. ; 32 cm.  -- In v. 1-3 the letterpress is by various authors; in v. 4-8, by Meadows Taylor [1808 - 1876]. -- Bd. 2. -- 1868. -- Nr. 91. -- Online: http://www.archive.org/details/peopleofindiaser02greauoft. -- Zugriff am 2008-06-09. -- "Not in copyright."]

Schriftliche Quellen in Regionalsprachen und mündliche Quellen (siehe Quellenkunde 9.) sind zwei Kategorien, die sich teilweise überschneiden, da die Träger mündlicher Quellen oft schriftliche Quellen als Gedächtnishilfe benutzen, bzw. ihre mündliche Überlieferung für ihre Nachfolger bzw. auf Wunsch Interessierter aufschreiben.

Sir Jervoise Athelstane Baines <1847 - >  von Census of India sagt im "Grundriss der Indo-arischen Philologie" zusammenfassend über die Barden und Genealogen: 

"C. Subsidiary Professional Castes.

§ 54. This comparatively small group comprises a number of bodies which, though not so directly concerned with the every-day life of the masses as those dealt with in the preceding paragraphs, exercise functions which are intimately connected with certain phases of the domestic or religious observances of at least the upper and middle classes of the Brāhmanic community in most parts of the country, and stand intermediately, as it were, between the village and the specially urban castes.

Bards and Genealogists (782,500). These ancient professions are usually found more or less linked together, and in India the connection is peculiarly intimate. From the earliest times chants in praise of the founders and heroes of the clan have been recited to tickle the ear of the ruling Chief when sitting in formal assembly or heading a procession through his streets. Still more essential were they in battle, to encourage the fighting members of the community to emulate or excel the deeds of [S. 86] their ancestors. The annals of such enterprise with the personality of the principal performers became, naturally, the special study of those whose duty it was to set them to verse and directly connect them with the patrons before whom they have to be recited. The Bard, therefore, developed into a sort of Herald, and as his office, like all others in India, tended to become hereditary, the pedigree of those he served was transmitted in all its ramifications from father to son, with that marvellous accuracy of memory which is marked feature of the Brāhmanic intellect. The importance of such knowledge can hardly be overrated in a country where the licit and the prohibited degrees of affinity which form the basis of all arrangements of marriage or adoption, are the subject of most minute and complicated regulation throughout the community from top to bottom. In the course of time, therefore, the genealogist more or less split off from the bard, and took the higher rank at Court. His functions are chiefly exercised among the Rājputs, but in the Panjāb some of the Jāṭ clans, and in Gujarāt some of the leading Kaṇbī families, utilise his services. As a rule, each of the ruling and leading families keeps its own genealogist. The rest of the community is divided into circuits, assigned respectively to a certain member of the fraternity, who annually visits each family in order to learn what domestic occurrences have taken place since his previous visit. In modern times every one of these incidents is entered by him in his register. Such is the reputation of the genealogist for accuracy and knowledge that this register is accepted as final in any question of affinity or relationship, and even before such "vahi" were customary, no Rājput ever thought of disputing the decision of the genealogist upon these points. The principal caste coming under this head is the Bhāṭ, sometimes called Bharot in Gujarāt and Rājbhāṭ in Bengal. A question has been raised whether the caste takes its origin from Brāhmans who in old days secularised themselves in order to act as Court poets and panegyrists, or whether the function devolved upon a member of the Rājput clan to which the Bhāṭ was attached. There is evidence on both sides. In every tract in which the Bhāṭ is found, the community contains two sections, of which the Brahma Bhāṭ is the higher. In Rājputāna, the Brahma, or Birm Bhats are treated as Gauṛ Brāhmans, and in the east of Oudh, that sub-caste of Brāhman which is native to the locality, actually performs the duties of bard, and sometimes of genealogist. Again, the person of a Bhāṭ has always been considered inviolable, like that of Brāhman. On the other band, a Brāhman is never known to drop his exogamous subdivision by Gotra, whilst the Bhāṭ are subdivided according to Rājput custom. The inviolability of the Bhāṭ, too, may be attributed not only to the character of herald or privileged messenger or forerunner of Chiefs, but to the inexpiable guilt of destroying the only recognised authority upon pedigree, and the apprehension of the vengeance or reprisals that would infallibly follow such an outrage. It is true that the Bhaṭrāzu of the Telugu country subdivided into the Brāhmanical gotra, but this branch of the caste is an exotic, introduced, under the name of Māgadha, through Orissa and probably from Bihār, in the course of invasions of the Andhra region from the north, and has not kept up either its traditions or its occupation amongst the once military Dravidian castes to which it was attached. On the other side, there is the fact that the Bhāṭ is a distinctively Rājput institution, and, except for the colonies in Telingāna and eastern Bengal, is only found where Rājput influence is supreme. Even in Gujarāt, where [S. 87] the Bhāṭs are numerous, all their sections trace their origin to some part of Rājputāna, and, as a rule, the Bhāṭs in regular employ dress as Rājputs and have Rājput names. In regard to the distribution of the work of the caste, the Brahma-Bhāṭ usually takes upon himself the duties of poet and reciter whilst the others look after the pedigree. In upper India, too, the former do not take up permanent posts, but are engaged for the occasion. In Rājputāna itself, the male Bhāṭ, it is said, undertakes the care of the pedigree of the male line, and his wife that of the female. In these days, the Bhāṭ does not enjoy by any means the same position as of yore, though a good reciter has still a high value, and in Gujarāt, a popular genealogist has considerable influence as counsellor in the households of his clients. Even in the west, however, the Bhāṭ has been obliged to leave his traditional profession to a great extent for trade and cultivation, like the Bhaṭrāzu of the south. In eastern Bengal, where the caste is exotic, it ranks much lower than in upper or western India, though it wears, as elsewhere, the sacred thread. The Bhāṭ there still practises the profession of genealogist, and each member of the fraternity has his circuit which he visits annually. At other times he is in request only in connection with marriage ceremonies, in which he takes the part of herald between the two houses concerned, and acts also as go-between in the preliminary stages of the family arrangement. But in the eastern districts, the Bhāṭ has been reduced even to the trade of making leaf-umbrellas. Some of the Rājputāna Bhāṭ acquire herds of cattle and carry salt, grain and piece-goods to localities remote from the railways.

In this respect they fall into line with the Cāraṇ, a bard and genealogist of a lower type, whose range lies between Kach and Rājputāna. The name seems to connect the caste with grazing, and it is by cattle-breeding and transport by pack-bullock that the Cāraṇ mainly now gets his living. There is an old and long obsolete connection between the Cāraṇ and the Kumbhār, or potter caste, the link being said to have been the joint trade of ass-breeding, but the relations have now passed into the stage of violent but unexplained hostility. It is possible, of course, that this misty tradition may account to some extent for the inferior position which the Cāraṇ, even when he is exclusively a bard or genealogist, occupies with reference to the Bhāṭ. The Cāraṇ caste is subdivided into geographical sections with numerous exogamous sub-sections. The families in permanent employ as genealogists intermarry with each other only, not as a matter of caste, but, as amongst the Jāṭs of the Panjāb, on purely social considerations. They have thus acquired a physical appearance far superior to that of the cultivating and cattle-breeding sections of their community. The profession, however, as among the Bhāṭ, has gone down, and only a minority now live by it. Most of the western, or Kach, Cāraṇ live by transport on pack-bullocks. Here again their trade has suffered by the extension of railways across the desert tracts, but many of them have adapted their operations to the new order and ply along the main feeder roads to the chief stations. The Cāraṇ who are thus engaged bear a striking resemblance to the Banjārā of upper India and the Dekkan in appearance, dress and customs. The Banjārā of the north have, in fact, a large subdivision called Cāraṇ, and it is possible that there was of old some tribal connection between them and the Cāraṇ of the west, lost through the migration of the latter.

The Cāraṇ shares with the Bhāṭ the reputation of personal inviolability, and numerous cases are on record, extending even down to 1861, of their [S. 88] killing one of their girls or old women, or inflicting serious, even fatal, wounds upon their own persons, in order to fix the guilt of certain acts upon those opposed to them. In earlier times, from at least the 15th century downwards, both castes were the professional securities for the performance of a contract or the repayment of a debt, and no important document of this sort would be accepted as valid without the "dagger" and signature of a Bhāṭ or Cāraṇ at the foot of it. This practice arose, apparently, out of that of obtaining the guarantee or escort of one of these castes for every caravan or transport train from the coast across Central India. But the origin of the notion of the inviolability of the Cāraṇ is as obscure as in the case of the Bhāṭ. The Cāraṇ, it is true, has the reputation of being a violent and turbulent character, whose ghost is particularly vindictive and malevolent. The curse of a Cāraṇ, therefore, was powerful against one's enemies, and a member of the caste used to be engaged, like Balaam, to accompany the army of the Chief to battle, and curse the foe. The women of the caste, too, are reprehensibly familiar with spells and charms, and in north Gujarāt, the tombs of some of them are worshipped like those of the local goddesses. On the whole, however, the sacredness of the office of an authoritative repository of the family pedigree and achievements seems to be the more probable source of the conception.

The only other caste which it is necessary to mention under this head is that of the Ḍūm or Mirāsi of the Panjāb. The members of this community are both minstrels and genealogists. Their Brāhmanic name of Ḍūm may have some relation to the former accomplishment, as the Ḍom are, as stated in the preceding paragraph, to some extent, musicians. But the Ḍūm as they exist in the present day are far above the Ḍom alike in appearance, position and attainments, though still amongst the lower classes out of communion with the peasantry and artisans. They are almost all Muslim, and the name of Mirāsi is derived from the Arabic for inheritance and may thus be taken to refer to their work as genealogists. In this capacity they are much below the Bhāṭ, and officiate chiefly in the families of the lower agricultural population and for the impure castes. Some Jāṭ families employ them, but the accredited genealogist for that race, strange to say, is the Saṅsi, a criminal vagrant tribe of the province, whilst the families ambitious of a rise in society engage, as above remarked, the Jāgā Bhāṭ. The musical attainments of the Mirāsi are considerable. Some only sing, others play the flute, pipe, lute, cymbals and different sorts of drum. Their women also dance and sing occasionally, but only for the delectation, it is said, of patrons of their own sex. Those who are genealogists in permanent employ of a definite circle of clients hold their office hereditarily, and do not associate or intermarry with those similarly engaged among the impure castes. The profession is by no means unremunerative, especially where agricultural prosperity connotes the necessity of an improved family tree. Even in the open market, the Mirāsi is a popular and well-paid feature of every fair and large wedding. Unfortunately, the Mirāsi, like the Bhāṭ in the eastern parts of India, is a shameless blackmailer, and the refusal or inadequate requital of his demand is followed by often witty and invariably outspoken burlesques of the genealogy of the ill-advised recusant. In eastern Bengal, the Bhāṭ, who there resembles the Mirāsi rather than his own namesake of Rājputāna, is said to vary his stock ridicule of the manners and customs of Europeans [S. 89]with depreciatory references to the ancestry of any local magnate whose purse-strings may have been drawn too tightly on the Bard's last visitation."

[Quelle: Baines, Jervoise Athelstane <1847 - >: Ethnography : castes and tribes / by Sir Athelstane Baines. -- Strassburg :  Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. ; 26 cm. -- (Encyclopaedia of Indo-Arian Research ; Vol. II, part 5). -- S. 85 - 89]

Im Folgenden werden einige der zahlreichen indischen Kasten und Volksgruppen von Barden und Genealogen exemplarisch genannt.

2. Barden Rājasthāns

Abb.: Übersichtskarte von Rājasthān
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia, GNU FDLicense]

2.1. Barden-Kasten Rājasthāns


Though the Cārans claim a heavenly descent from the Siddhas and Cārans of the Rāmāyana and the Mahābhārata, they seem to be a younger race, and their influence with the Rājputs commences from the end of the 15th century. A distinguished Cāran told me that about nine hundred years ago, a King of Sindh at the head of an army was miraculously fed by a few girls in the desert, and the Cārans are the progeny of these girls who were all Devis. But the Bhāṭ's version is different. The say that the word "Kula" or "Kulā" means a Cāran. The work entitled "Kulakulamaṇḍana" by Kavi Braja Lāl says that they had their origin in Sorat, ancient Saurāṣṭra. They are of a mixed origin, a Śaṅkaravarṇa. His derivation of the word is from ''Cāra" or "four", because he says the mother of the original Cāran, Jakat, had three husbands, a case of polyandry. The septs of Cārans descended from Jakat and her progeny are regarded in many quarters as "Ādicārans" or "original Cārans." Jakat had four sons, Nadu, Naraha, Chorar and Tumbeta, and a daughter Gaurī ; 28 septs derive their origin from Gaurī, who, they say, became a Devī. Gaurī and Chorar came to the Rājā of Girnar who was very much pleased with their performance and raised their status in Society by making all clean castes eat with them. Other septs of Cārans derive their origin either from Brāhmaṇas or from Rājputs and other castes. There are interesting stories how a Brāhmaṇa or a Rājput was made a Cāran and his descendants remained Cārans. There are 120 septs of Cārans of which nearly half are to be found in Marwar and the other half in Kutch and Kathiawar. The Cārans of Kutch are called Kutchela-Cārans, but they have given up their hereditary occupation of singing the praises of others and have taken to trade.

The date of the origin of the Cārans in Sorat cannot be determined. It is certain, however, that they were in existence during the reign of Siddharāja Jaya Siṃgha, a Solāṅki Rājā of Annahilapattan, who flourished in the 12th century A.D. The Cārans used to beg from the potters at their marriage. But their demands were so high that the potters could not give their daughters in marriage. The fact came to the notice of their Rājā who ordered that Cārans should beg from Rājputs only. In the literature of Rājputāna we first hear of the Cārans in the story of Acaldās Kīcchī in which a Cāranī Jimā is one of the leading characters. We hear of Cārans also in the story of Dholā and Marwani.

In the history of Rājputāna the Cāran appears for the first time as the fomenter of a discord between the Rahtor Pābujī and Jin Rao Kīcchī in which Pābujī was killed in the early part of the 13th century A.D., and for the second time as the protector of the young and helpless Cuṇḍā who founded the Rahtore Raj of Mandore. The Cāran's name was Alā Cāran who was both a wit and a poet. Dallā Joyi, a Bhātia chief, killed Biramdeva, the father of Cuṇḍā and the chief of Kheḍ in Mālānī, when Chuṇḍā was very young. Cuṇḍā's mother found an asylum in the house of Alā Cāran at Kālāu now in Jodhpur territory. When Cuṇḍā grew up, he became a warrior and Indā, the Parihār chief of Mandore, unable to protect himself against the depredations of Muhammadans, gave his kingdom of Mandore to Cuṇḍā.

"O, Cuṇḍā, the Rahtore will never be able to forget the benefit you have conferred on them. You gave Chuṇḍā Mandore as his dowry on the marriage seat."

Alā, hearing of the prosperity of his protegé Cuṇḍā, came to visit him but he did not get access to him and so he composed the following couplet :

[S. 8] "Cuṇḍā, don't you remember the Kācrā fruits you ate at Kālāu, now that you have become owner of palaces in Mandore and have nothing to fear ?"

On hearing this Cuṇḍā recognized him and honoured him according to his deserts.

It was from Cuṇḍā's time that the Cārans began to acquire a great influence on the Rājputs. Some of Ala's verses still survive, but the first book written by a Cāran is Jodhāyana, that is, a history of Jodhā, the founder of Jodhpur, during the middle of the 15th century. Just as the story of Rāma is called Rāmāyana, so the story of Jodhā is called Jodhāyana. In the 16th century Cārans had acquired great influence on the Rājputs and had become their constant companions and since then the great majority of Bardic works have been written by Cārans, and these Bardic works are one of the potent sources for checking the history of the Mussalman Rulers of India written by Mussalman Historians.

Each sept of Cāran has a Kuladevatā (family deity), who is generally a Cāran girl deified either during her life or after her death. But the tribal deity seems to be Karaṇī Devī whose temple lies close to the Deshnok Station of the J. B. Railway. She foretold that Bīkā, son of Jodhā, would found a great kingdom and was therefore very much esteemed by the founder of the city and of the Rāj of Bikānīr. All Marwari Cārans come to her temple at least once in life.

The Bardic works written by Cārans are generally diffuse and full of poetical descriptions written in an ornate language, peculiar to the later bards of Marwar, called Diṅgal Bhāṣā. To others than Rājputs and Cārans they are often a wearisome reading.


Very different however was the simple poetry of the Bards of the Pre-Cāranic age. See the Nisānī published by Mr. D. R. Bhandarkar in elucidating the contents of the Biṭhu inscription of Rāi Seho. The Viramāyana or the story of Viram, the father of Cuṇḍā is a work in point. It is a matter-of-fact statement of the life and adventures of Viramdeva.1 Both the Nisānī and the Viramāyana are written by poets of the Ḍaḍhi caste. The Ḍaḍhis sing songs or ballads on a stringed instrument called Rabāb or Sārangī. With the rise of the Cārans they have lost much of their influence with higher castes, but the simple poetry they compose is admired by the lower orders of people in Marwar. A collection of the Bardic poetry written by these Ḍaḍhis is expected to throw much light on the earlier history of Rājputāna ; but it is a matter of regret that they are very much neglected. The Cārans from interested motives would rather like that the Ḍaḍhi poetry should die in obscurity than that they should be brought to light and appreciated. The Ḍaḍhis neglected by higher class Hindus have become like the Bhāṭs and Daphālis2 of the Doab, Muhammadans of a sort adapting circumcision and burial ; but at the same time worshipping Bhairav, Yogamāyā, etc.

1 To this class seems to belong the popular Hindi ballad called the Alha describing the exploits of the contemporaries of Prithviraj.
2 Cf. Daphālis (drummers) of the Doab and Oudh.

Abb.: Sāraṅgī (सारंगी)
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia, public domain]


Equally simple are the ballads written by Ḍhulis2 or drummers called in many parts of Rājputāna, Rāṇās. They are numerous in Jaipur, Alwar, etc. They say that the Cārans are their brethren, but the Cārans repudiate this claim. They attach themselves to Rājputs but not exclusively to them as the Cārans do. There are certain classes of Rājputs such as the Udāvats of Marwar who do not care for Cārans, but stick to their old friends the Ḍhulis.

2 Cf. Daphālis (drummers) of the Doab and Oudh.

"The Cāmpās patronize the Cārans, the Udās patronize the Ḍhulis, the Mehās (the Malanis) patronize Brāhmaṇas but the Bhāṭi

The Ḍhulis use the stringed instrument Sāraṅgī and the covered instrument Ḍholak. Their women join them while they play in the public. Their songs are [S. 9] numerous and are much appreciated. They have some books but they are extremely rare and are to be found only among the members of their own caste. The Dohās of Lākhā-Phulānī were composed by men of this caste. The Kulakulamaṇḍana says that the Ḍhulis are the descendants of the Māgadhas of old Sanskrit poetry.


These are descendants of the Magii that from time to time came to India in ancient times and settled there. They are called Śākadīpī or Scythian Brāhmaṇas. They are the officiating priests in the temples of Jainas or the temples belonging to or under the control of the Mahārājā of Bikanir. Though claiming to be Brāhmaṇas they often do menial work ; hence their name Sevaka. They write poetry but do not confine themselves to Bardic poetry alone. They are a literate class and study Sanskrit They attach themselves to the Oswals, for it is believed that from Persia they came to Osia, the original home of the Oswals. Raghunātharūpaka, a work on Prosody by Mañc Kavi of the Sevaka caste, is regarded as the standard work on that subject by all classes of Marwari people who compose poetry. As regards the excellence of the poetry of the Sevakas, it would be sufficient to say that Vṛṇḍa, the well known Hindi poet whose Satasai is in everybody's mouth, belongs to the Sevaka caste. When in the beginning of the 19th century, Mānsingh, the Rājā of Jodhpur, was attacked by a combination of a large number of Chiefs of Rājputāna and had to take refuge in the fort of Jodhpur, Vṛṇḍa is said to have composed the following verse:

"O, Mān! you are a lion. The famous kings of the Yuga were pursuing the lion. But when the lion came in its own place it assumed its real form."


Motisar is a caste which keeps the genealogies of Cārans, sings their praises and begs money of them. The Motisars themselves are often good composers. In the middle of the 17th century Mahārājā Gaja Singh of Marwar killed Bhīm Sisodiā, the Rājā of Udaipur; (the sword used by Gaja Singh on this occasion is still kept in the Silākhānā of Jodhpur). Chaturā, a Motisar, who had very great respect for Bhīm, composed a verse to the effect that Bhīm Sisodiā was killed like an intoxicated buffalo. Buffalo-hunting was much appreciated in Rājputāna. The intoxicated buffalo was set upon by a number of horsemen with long spears and whomsoever the buffalo attacked gave it a spear thrust In this way 8 or 10 horsemen killed the buffalo. The Motisar's meaning was that Bhīm was killed in an unfair fight by a number of Gaja Singh's men. Gaja Singh was so incensed that he ordered all the lands to be taken out from Chaturā Motisar and prohibited the Cārans from giving alms to Chaturā. Chaturā in his distress came to pay his respects to Gaja Singh. As soon as he was ushered in the presence of the Mahārājā, the Mahārājā asked for his sword and flourished it over Chaturā's head, when Chaturā spoke the following verse :

"O, Gaja Singh ! on whose head do you furbish your sword ? At the sight of your sword the Turks fly away and the Hindus make a festival."

The verse so pleased Gaja Singh that he not only gave Chaturā his life but restored all his lands and privileges to him.


The Brāhmaṇas in Rājputāna were always taught to compose verses both in Sanskrit and in Vernaculars. Sanskrit verses always remained their monopoly, though they met with serious rivalry from other castes in the matter of Vernacular poetry. There is a proverb current in all Rājputāna:

[S. 10] "Versification flowed from the mouth of the Brāhmaṇas ; out of which some have been taken by Bhāṭs and some by Cārans."

There are several Bardic works in Sanskrit written by Brāhmaṇas. The Ajitodaya and the Abhayodaya in Marwar written by Jagajīvan in Sanskrit and Śatruśaḷya Caritra in Bundi in the same language are instances of their Bardic activity The Nāthapurāṇa written by Chimnirāmjī Brāhman giving the whole history of the Rahtores in 125,000 verses is an other instance of such activity. Chimnirāmjī's family is still in the enjoyment of the villages granted to him by Rājā Mān Singh of Jodhpur. Padmākara of Jaipur was a well-known Brāhmaṇ bard. His Jagatvinod gives a history of Jagatsinghjī of Jaipur. Once upon a time there was a combat in poetry between Padmākara and Bānkīdānjī Cāran in the presence of Rājā Mān Singh of Jodhpur and Jagat Singh of Jaipur. The subject was the praise of their respective patrons. Bānkīdān's verse was a Dohā :

" Garuda is the chief of birds, Laṅkā is the chief of forts, Meru is the chief of mountains, Braja is the chief of countries and CaCuṇḍāna is the chief of luxuries; so Rāhtore is the chief of the royal races."

Padmākara's verse was also a Dohā :

"When Raghunātha became king he founded Braja. He held a mountain on his finger, anointed himself with sandel paste, conquered Laṅkā and rode on Garuḍa."

Between these two verses Padmākar's was certainly superior. It was in praise of Jagat Singh who claimed his descent from Rām Candra. Bānkīdān compared the Rāhtore with the best things in the world but Padmākara said that these very best things were either created, founded or controlled by Rāma, the ancestor of the Kachhwas. Padmākara got the better in the combat. He got a handsome reward from Mān Singh, too, who turned Bānkīdān out of the country. Such combats were very common in olden days; in modern times, too, they are not altogether lost sight of.


Bhāṭs were however the most ancient and the most influential body of bards in Rājputāna. The centre of Cāran's influence is Kutch. Outside Kutch, the Cārans are most popular in Jodhpur, Bikanir and Sekhāvati. But the more you come towards the East the less you will find their influence. There are no Cārans in Malwa and in the British districts. But the Bhāṭs are everywhere. Even in Marwar they are still an influential body, and towards the East their influence grows greater and greater. The Cāran attaches himself to Rājputs alone but the Bhāṭ attaches himself to every caste. A large number of them have been forcibly converted to Muhammadanism or have voluntarily embraced Islam. But with the change of religion they have not changed their occupation. They sing the praises of Mussalman and Hindu rulers alike. The Bhāṭs seem to be the survival of the ancient race of Vandins, so well known in old Sanskrit Literature. How they helped intrigues at Court may be gathered from the verses uttered by the Vandins in Mudrā Rakṣasa, where but for the superior foresight of Cāṇakya they would have succeeded in their plot. The Bhāṭs claim their descent from these Vandins. Some Bhāṭs style themselves Brahma-Bhāṭs.1 They claim to be Brāhmaṇas. Others call themselves simply Bhāṭs and have no pretensions to high descent. There is a small section which call themselves Bhāṭ Cārans. Their number is small and their influence not much felt.

1 In the district of Cawnpore, U.P.. they call themselves Brahma-Bhāṭs.

The oldest Bhāṭ poet that we know of in Rājputāna is Chochu Bhāṭ who in the middle of the 13th century of the Vikram Era sang the glories of the Bagrāvat brothers. It is said that his book extends to 150,000 ślokas. There is a class of men called Bhopas [S. 11] who still sing the praises of Bagrāvats before Gujers in the villages. The story of the Bagrāvats is an interesting one. The word Bagrāvat means "Bigra Hua," that is, those who have become perverse. They are said to have been descended from the Cauhan Rājās of Ajmere by their connection with Benia women. The Bagrāvats were 24 brothers and a sister. The eldest was Netra Singha or Netsi and the second was Bhoj. They suddenly became very wealthy and spent all their money in wine, women and sensual enjoyments. Bhoj was the most celebrated of the 24 brothers. When a man lavishly spends his money in enjoyments he is compared to Bhoj Bagrāvat. Their sphere of influence extended from Ajmere to Bilāḍā in Jodhpur on one side and to Goth (on the R. M. Ry.) on the other side. Bhoj had a son named Deo, commonly called Deojī, who started a new sect called the Bhopās. The Bagrāvats had a settlement at the village of Harṣa near Bilāḍā where their temple and their embankments are still in existence. There is an inscription in the temple dated about 1230 V.S. There is a Dohā extant about them in the neighbourhood which runs as follows:

It means, the sister built a temple and the brother threw up an embankment. But when the temple was going to be submerged (owing to heavy rains) the embankment was cut open.

Both the temple and the embankment are conspicuous examples of the crude engineering skill of mediaeval Rājputāna.

Chochu Bhāṭ speaks of them in the following lines :

"O sons of tiger! (Bagrāvat) straightforwardness doesn't pay in the world ; but no one can defeat a man who is crooked by nature. For example, in the wood no one can cut a tree that is crooked."

Next to Chochu comes Kavi Cānd Bardai, the bard of King Pṛthvīrāj of Ajmere and Delhi. His Prithwīrājrasau is well known. Its authenticity has been doubted. Later on an appendix will be devoted on that subject. Cānd Bhāṭ's son Jhalla was a good poet and his family up to this day are well-known composers. The Hammir Rāsāu which celebrates the wars of Hammir Rāy Cauhān, the Rājā of Ranthāmbor, with Alāuddīn Khillijī was, as declared by Bhāṭs, the composition of a Bhāṭ named Vīr Chand, who was a descendant of Cānd, in the 14th century of the Vikram Era. It is also divided into Cantos traditionally called "Samayas." Hammir's tenacity of purpose is celebrated in the following dohā :

"The union of the lioness, good man's word and the plantain tree fructify but only once. The marriage-oil for women and pertinacity of Hammir know of no second time."

The Diṅgal Bhāṣā which has now been to a very great extent monopolised by Cārans is said to have originated with the son of this poet. He was the first to compose 24 songs in this language.

A Bhāṭ named Gopa or Gopī was a constant companion of Cuṇḍā, the first Rahtore king of Mandore. His work 'Rahtore Jasodīpikā' is to be found in the village [S. 12] of Kuri, Pargana Bilāḍā, a quotation from which is given here. It contains the names of all the sons of Cuṇḍā--

Riamala Rao Ra, Chato Harehand Satangara,
Raya Guna Ranadhira, Bhujabal Bhim,
Anankara, Kano, Arakamal,
Bat Runo Arjana, Sesh Malla,
Bija Pal, Laklumbo Dalabhanjana,
Sivaram, Ram De,
Gopa, Vana, Bachu, Jai Jasa, Bagla, Chande, Rav,
Chaturanana, Ekekasu, and Agala.

Another Bhāṭ named Hardān of Bājrā in Pargana Bilāḍa, wrote the history of Yaśovanta Singh I. It has been presented to the Society by Paṇḍit Nānu Rām, a living desceendant of Cānd Bardai. It is very nearly complete. It is written in the Diṅgal language of the 17th century. It gives the history of Yaśovanta from his installation to the Rāj Gādī to his death. There is a good deal of prose in this work and like the work of a true Bhāṭ it is divided into Samayas like the Prithwīrājrasau. Hardān did not go beyond Yaśovanta, but his son continued the history to the end of the struggle between Aurangzib and Ajit Singh for the possession of the Jodhpur Rāj.

Another Bhāṭ Buddha wrote a work entitled Yaśovanta Jośa-Candrikā which treats of Yaśovanta II. of Jodhpur in the middle of the 19th century.

Rao Bagji another Bhāṭ has written a history of Taktsinghī, Mahārājā of Jodhpur, in the second quarter of the 19th century. The name of the work is Takt Vinoda.

The Bhāṭs are termed Rāos. They are often addressed as Rāojī. They were often ewarded like Cārans with Lākh Pasāvs, grants of lands, gold ornaments for the leg and other signs of royal favour.

But the rivalry between the Bhāṭs and the Cārans is one of the most enjoyable things in the oral literature of Rājputāna. The Cārans would say--

"Bhāṭ, barley broth and sheep belong to everybody. But the Cāran is a clever fellow: he attaches himself to the owners of forts."

They would also say

"A Cāran speaks to the Rājput of four things common sense, learning, enlightenment of the heart and good conduct at home."

The Bhāṭ would on the other hand reply

"O, poor fellow, 'kula' or 'Cāran' and 'Chula' or 'hearth,' you have forgotten the door of the potter (because the Cārans originally begged their food from potters or Kumars who are called Prajāpati) ; in the day you tend the flock of asses and at night you cut jokes."

"iliyā (a kind of worm) is the enemy of flour, hearth is the enemy of cakes of cow-dung, crows make water impure and the Cārans spoil poetry."

The Rājputs often composed verses and even Bardic verses. Those of Rājā Māna are excellent. But they are not much known, they are to be found on loose sheets of paper in the Pustaka prakāśa Library in the fort of Jodhpur. Some of the Bikanir Rājās [S. 18] were good poets Ajit Singh and his son Abhay Singh composed very touching Bardic verses. It is well known how Ajit was troubled all through his life by Aurangzeb, who at first tried to kill him and then conquered his State and made him roam over the desert as a celā to a fakir. When Ajit heard that his enemy Aurang was dead, he burst into poetry.

"The news, never dreamt of, has come. The burning of the heart has been quenched. The Newsmen have said that Aurang Shah is dead.""

[Quelle: Shastri, Hara Prasad <1853-1931>: Preliminary report on the operation in search of mss. of bardic chronicles . --Calcutta : Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1913. -- 51 S.  ; 34 cm. -- S. 7 - 13]

2.2. Die Sprache der Barden Rājasthāns


It will be apparent from this report that most of the bards are men without letters. Some, as the Ḍāḍhis and Ḍhulis, belong to a very low stratum of Society. Their education, if they had any, did not go beyond the very elementary stage. They are not expected to write except in their mother tongue, viz. the dialect of the locality in which they were born; and the isolated conditions of the various states of the Rājputāna, favoured the growth of local dialects, and during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries their growth was luxuriant. The language of the older bardic poetry, therefore, is entirely dialectic.

Among the literate bards, however, such as Brāhmaṇas and Bhāṭs, the western Hindi called Brajabhāṣā, and Sanskrit, exercised an immense influence. An example may be given in the case of modern Pṛthvīrājarāsau, which if not written, was at least recast in the 16th century. Some long pieces in it have been given a Sanskrit look, by adding an anusvāra at the end of each word. Brajabhāṣā, again, written by men who had long lost touch with that part of the country, is expected to be unidiomatic and ungrammatical. But, as with our wits and our watches, every writer thought his own language to represent the correct idiom, and the idiom of others to be wrong and ungrammatical. Sūrajmal, the writer of Vaṃśabhāskara, thinks that Tulasidāsa, Suradāsa and others, not knowing the correct form of words, have written in incorrect language! He thinks, therefore, that his language is in the purest form. His idea of the bardic language is likely to have great weight as his voluminous work is held in high respect all over Rājputāna. He was a Cāraṇa by birth, and a linguist by education. The language in which his great work is written is called ṣaḍ-bhāṣā, that is, a correct combination of six different dialects. In the 12th Mayūkha of the first Rāsi of his work, he attempts to enumerate the six languages, but unfortunately, he gives the names of only five : Sanskrit, Prakrit, Brajabhāṣā, Apabhraṃśa and Paiśāci; what the 6th is I am unable to gather from his book, it may be Marubhāṣā. Brajabhāṣā he describes as full of Vibhaktis or declensional and conjugational paradigms, but Apabhraṃśa, he says, is without these paradigms. I am not sure whether Sūrajmal is right in his idea of Apabhraṃśa languages. In the same chapter, he says that he has often drawn from the languages of the "Yavana" and of the English, when describing the relation between Bundirāja on one side and Moghals or English on the other. He has drawn upon Śaurasenī and Māgadhī dictionaries too, but the number of words used is so small that it may be compared to a prahara in a year.

He says that Piṅgala is the "upanāma" or " another name" of the Brajabhāṣā which is spoken in the territories stretching from Delhi to Gwalior, and Dingal is the upanāma of Marubhāṣā. In giving his genealogy he often gives his ancestors the credit of being proficient both in Piṅgala and Diṅgala. In the 12th Mayūkha of the first Rāsi, Sūrajmal gives a number of conventional rules of his own, which guides him throughout the work in spelling, in grammar and in prosody. So one may say that Sūrajmal created a language of his own in writing his great bardic work.

But Sūrajmal's Vaṃśabhāskara is regarded in many quarters as pure Diṅgala and in others as pure Piṅgala. The "Old Light" (Purāṇī Roṣṇī, i.e. those who have not received modern enlightenment) at Jaipur regards it as Diṅgala but the same light at Jodhpur regards it as pure Piṅgala. And from the description of the language given above, the Jodhpur people seem to be in the right. The author himself says, that his language is a combination of six languages in which Marubhāṣā otherwise called Diṅgala plays but a small part.

In Sanskrit the first writer on Prosody is Piṅgalanāga. From him the art of [S. 15] Prosody is often called Piṅgala. There is a Prakrit work on Prosody written evidently long after Piṅgala, which goes by the name of Prākrita Piṅgala. There are reasons to believe that this work was written in Rājputāna, and in the 14th century. I think that the influence of this work has something to do with the popularity of the word Piṅgala in that country. The words Piṅgala and Diṅgala have nothing to do with the language or dialect. Piṅgala means all the various Chandas which the dialects of Western India are capable of, while Diṅgala means only one Chanda called Gīta or Gīticchanda which consists of four Dohās generally. I am told that there are a few other Chandas in Diṅgala but they are of very rare occurrence. Diṅgala is always Gīta and Gīta is always Diflgala. There is little of Diṅgala outside Marudeśa, so Marubhāṣā is the basis of Diṅgala poetry. But as the literate bards of Rājputāna are in the habit of drawing words from various languages and dialects, which are known to them, Diṅgala has an extensive lexicography. The Hambīranāmamālā is the shortest and most elementary. It is learnt by rote by every aspirant of poetic fame. The Diṅgala Koṣa (of which a copy has been acquired for the Government of India) by Murārdāna, the adopted son of Sūrajmal, is a much larger work. It is reported that a Diṅgala Koṣa with hundred thousand words has been compiled in recent times, and that a copy of it is with Kṛṣṇa Singha of Sāhāpurā. But I have not been able to get even a glance at it. There are certain grammatical peculiarities of the language in which the Diṅgala poetry is written, such for instance as Didho for Datta and Kidho for Kṛta, which I believe the bards have retained from an older form of Prākṛta. The simple Marubhāṣā in which the " Ai ananda prakasa" and "Āi Ugra Prakāśa" are written, appears on the first sight to be very different from Diṅgala poetry. But if the few grammatical and the large number of lexicographical peculiarities are eliminated, the language of both appears to be the same. There is a peculiar habit of the bards to change and corrupt Sanskrit, prakrit and other borrowed words to suit their idea of rhyme and rhythm. The Diṅgala poets are very fond of Varansagai, viz. the repetition of the same consonant at regulated intervals in the same line. The poets are prepared to sacrifice spelling, grammar, rhyme, rhythm, reason and common sense for Varansagai. As the old writers of aphoristic Sūtras were more delighted by shortening a sūtra by even half a syllable than by the birth of a son, so in modern times the Cāraṇas would be more delighted by a single line with Varan Sagai than by the birth of a son.

As regards the extent of corruption, it may be stated that the word Dagara has been changed into Diṅgala to rhyme with Piṅgala. So Diṅgala is not a language, not even a dialect as some would allege , but it is a style of poetry peculiar to the Cāraṇas and Rājputs, and is more suited for heroic poetry than for describing love.

I have the high authority of Mahāmahopādhyāya Morārdānji in support of the above theory. Quoting a verse from Ālā Cāran, the protector of Cuṇḍā, he showed to me that in the 14th century the Marubhāṣā was actually called Dagar and the verse is given here :

From this it is clear that the language of Jaṅgaladesa, that is Marudesa or Marwar, the Jaṅgala of the ancient Kurujaṅgala, was called Dagala."

[Quelle: Shastri, Hara Prasad <1853-1931>: Preliminary report on the operation in search of mss. of bardic chronicles . --Calcutta : Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1913. -- 51 S.  ; 34 cm. -- S. 14f.]

2.3. Der Lohn der Barden in Rājasthān


Whoever composed poetry or songs made his living by it. Among the lower orders, people beg by singing. There are customary gifts from different classes of men for their bards. Lands are often given by rich people to their bards. The Baraves get a fee for registering the birth of a child and singing the praise of the father. At marriages the various Mānganiya or begging castes claim a gift. They were often exorbitant in their demand and extortionate in realizing it. It is said that the great crime of infanticide, which tarnished the fair fame of Rājputāna for centuries, was due to the extortionate demands of the mendicant castes. The Rajputs, who thought that they would not be able to meet the demands of these castes and therefore would be condemned in songs on the marriage of their daughters, took the precaution of killing their daughters as soon as they were born. The crime has been to a great extent put a stop to by the exertions of the Hitakarī Sabhā founded by Col. Walter, which has fixed the demand according to the income of the donor and has made arrangements for the division of the gift amongst the mendicant castes in certain proportion. This has to a great extent smoothed the way of marriages among Rājputs. Every one pays his mite for the support of his bard. So unlike to many other places in the world poetry pays in Rājputāna. A poet is never obliged to starve.

The reward of poetry is not only a miserly living but often ample in Rājputāna. In the Jodhpur State the Cāraṇs alone enjoy the revenues of 380 villages, their income being 3 lacs of rupees. In every Rājput State villages are given for the support of Bardic people. This is the luck of only the highly placed bards who can approach Princes and Potentates. But ordinary bards often get largesses in money and in kind. On auspicious occasions rich people give a tyāg or gift to the bards. Gifts to Brāhmaṇas are called Dakṣiṇās and gifts to bards are called tyāg. One bard is appointed chief and he distributes the tyāg among other bards according to merit. The Rāo Rājā of Bundi grants a tyāg of Rs. 1,000 on the Dasera day to bards, not residing at Bundi. Bards come from all parts of Rājputāna to receive a share of the tyāg. Last year Rupees 1,000 were distributed among 146 persons, some of them coming from distant corners of Jaipur, Udaipur and Malwa. An old and apparently respectable and learned bard was given something like Rs. 10. He resented, and said that he came from a distance, the expenses of his journey would amount to that sum. The distributor of the tyāg had to make special arrangement for him.

The system of giving Lakh-Pasāv is another source of encouragement to ready poetry and ready wit. The word Lakh-Pasāv means the gift of a lakh of rupees, which is never given in cash but always in kind : elephants, horses, camels, jewellery, conveyances, villages, lands, grain, etc. The total value of such gifts varies in worth generally from 30,000 to 70,000 rupees, but it is always taken as a Lakh-Pasāv. Mahāmahopādhyāya Kavirājā Murārdān has received three Lakh-Pasāvs from the Rājs of Jodhpur; Briddhicānd, a scion of the Cānd family, is said to have received one Lakh-Pasāv from the Mahārāṇā of Udaipur and another from the Mahārājā of Bikānir. Murārdān's grandfather Bānkidān got two Lakh-Pasāvs from Mahārājā Mān Singh of Jodhpore alone, but he was thrice banished for his abusive verses addressed to the Court.

Begging is no shame to the people of Bardic castes. They can beg from any one and every one, but many well-to-do bards confine their begging only to a few persons. But sometimes Rājās and Mahārājās and Ṭhākur Sāhebs give them much wealth and extort a promise from them not to beg from any other person than himself. The Hindi phrase for this is Ayācaka kar diyā. If once he is made [S. 17] Ayācaka he cannot go to beg alms in marriages or śrādhs or to get a share in a tyāg, even if a Lakh-Pasāv is offered to him by a second person he has to refuse it. Rājās, Mahārājās and grandees take a pride in making their bards Ayācaka, and the bards, too, consider it to be extremely honourable to them. Mahāmahopādhyāya Murārdān of Jodhpur has been made an Ayācaka by the Durbar of Jodhpur. He was offered a Lakh-Pasāv at Udaipur but had to refuse it politely.

Formerly, a bard that was made Ayācaka thought it his duty to sing the praise of the donor and this he had constantly to do from the top of the gate of the Fort of the donor. As gates are called pols, these bards were called Polpātras, in vernacular polpāt. He is supposed to be constantly singing the praise of the donor from the top of the gate. The above account will show how bardic poetry is encouraged by the Rājputs. There are records of even higher rewards. Here is a verse taken from a MS. in the possession of Paṇḍit Nānurām and corrected from other MSS.

"Rājā Mānsingh of Rewah gave ten lakhs of rupees to Haranāth for a single stanza and Haranāth gave one lakh to Kavi Kalaṅka. Rājā Vīrvara gave six crores to Keśava for a stanza in kavit metre. Sivājī gave 52 elephants to Bhuṣan with entreaties. Khān Khāna gave 27 lakhs to Gang. I Khub Chand expecting double as much came to Gambhīr Singh of Idar, but he deceived me."

The above was said by Kavi Khub Cānd who went to get a reward from Gambhīra Singh, Rājā of Idar, who gave him hopes but at last dismissed him with insults heaped upon him. So the poet here enumerates the extraordinary gifts made to poets by Rājās of old and condemns Gambhīra Singh's action. The stories of the extraordinary gifts may be interesting, so I have collected them here.

Haranāth the receiver of ten lakhs of rupees from Mānsingh was the son of Narhara Kavi of Asni Gopalpur on the Ganges; Narhara had great influence in Akbar's Court and amassed an immense sum of money. He lived at Asni Gopalpur because that was given to him by Akbar ; but his son Haranāth gave away all his father's wealth. His circumstances became very much straitened, so he went to Rewah to beg from the Rājā. At the meeting with the Rājā he stretched out his right hand to the Rājā and stretched his left hand behind him. The Rājā asked him why did he stretch his left hand in that way. The poet then read the following stanza in Savaiya metre :

''Up to this date misery (Vipat) was my companion and we lived in great ove and affection. With misery on my head I come here to Baghelkhand. The friend who was with me is now becoming alone as I am meeting Rājā Mān, so, O Misery! do not meet me any more."

While Haranāth was carrying his gift of ten lakhs from the palace, the blind poet Kalaṅka met him on the road, and knowing him to be very munificent, uttered the following verse :

[S. 18] "Two people got gifts; one was Hari (in his dwarf incarnation) and the other Harnāth. On receiving the gift Hari raised his leg aloft, but Haranāth raised his hand [in the attitude of making a gift]." On hearing this Haranath gave Kalanka a lakh of rupees out of the ten.

The fact of the gift of six crores is this. Pravīṇā Rāy was a dancing girl and was a great favourite of the Rājā of Orcha. The fame of her beauty reached Akbars ears and he at once demanded that she should be sent to Delhi. The Rājā unable to bear her separation came to Delhi disguised as her servant. Somehow Akbar came to know this and made him a prisoner, demanding six crores as his ransom. Keśava (one of the greatest Hindi poets) the Court-poet of the Rājā came to Delhi and read a Savaiya before Birbal :

"The creator had to create the elements, the serpent, the gods, the nongods and others for the protection and maintenance of the world. But he has now become free from anxiety by creating you Vīrabal and giving you the administration of the world."

This pleased Vīrabal so much that he set the Rājā of Orcha free, thus giving six crores for a single verse.

The story of Bhūṣāṇ Kavi and Sivājī is well known. Sivājī gave one elephant for each of the fifty-two verses uttered by Bhūṣāṇ.

The following verses brought Ganga 27 lacs of rupees from Khān Khāna :

"O Nawab Khān Khāna, hearing the sound of your Niśāna, the rulers of the country fly away. Their queens roam in the forest leaving their capitals. There they meet antelopes, lions, elephants and monkeys, but receive kind treatment from them all, because the elephants think them to be Śacī, the lions Gaurī, the antelopes the Moon, and the monkeys Jānakī."

Above all these largesses, better than wealth and better than all earthly possessions is the love and affection which Kings and Potentates often bore for their bards. They often were their friends, philosophers and guides. They often recorded their feelings for their bards in touching lines. Here is the tribute paid by Gumān Singh of Mewar :

[S. 19] The purport of this is: If there were no Cāraṇs acting like drivers who would keep the Kṣattriya elephants in their proper paths ?

More touching than this and giving an expression to deeper feelinge is the verse written by Rājā Abhay Singh of Jodhpur,. the conqueror of Ahmedabad, at the death of Mukunda Dāsa Kavi.

"O Mukunda, son of Keśodās, in order to meet a friend like you my heart is burning.""

[Quelle: Shastri, Hara Prasad <1853-1931>: Preliminary report on the operation in search of mss. of bardic chronicles . --Calcutta : Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1913. -- 51 S.  ; 34 cm. -- S. 15 - 19.]

3. Einzelne Barden- und Genealogen-Kasten

Abb.: Zur Orientierung des Gebietsbezeichnungen im Folgenden: Karte von Brittish-India, 1909
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia, Public domain]

3.1. Bhāṭ

Zu den Bhāṭ siehe:

Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hira Lāl <1867-1934>: Bhāt (1916). -- (Quellenkunde zur indischen Geschichte bis 1858 / Alois Payer ; 10. Mündliche Quellen, 1.). -- -- http://www.payer.de/quellenkunde/quellen101.htm

Bhāt / India Museum (1868). -- (Quellenkunde zur indischen Geschichte bis 1858 / Alois Payer ; 10. Mündliche Quellen, 2.). -- http://www.payer.de/quellenkunde/quellen102.htm

Ein Bericht von 1883 zeigt die Schwierigkeiten, definitive Aussagen im indischen Kastengewirr zu machen:

"The Bhāt (Caste No. 62) .

The Bhāt or Bhat as he is often called in the Panjāb is, like the Mirāsi, a bard and genealogist, or as some people call him panegyrist. But he is a bard of a very superior sort, and far removed above the level of the Mirāsi. He is par excellence genealogist of the Rājputs and Brāhmans, though he performs the same office for some Jāt tribes ; he is himself of admitted Brāhman origin ; and he is found in largest numbers in the eastern and sub-montane districts where Hindu Rājputs form the largest proportion of the population. The Hill State of Nāhan indeed returns Bhāts as forming 11,4 per cent, of its total population, but this seems hardly possible, though the entry in the original table is clear enough.

I have included under the head of Bhāt the following entries:

  • Chāran, 13 in the Hissār division;

  • Mādho, 217 in the Ambāla division ;

  • Jāga, 13 in the Jalandhār division ;

  • Rai, 202 in the Rāwalpindi, Multān, and Peshāwar divisions.

Rai is a mere honorific title for a Bhat. The other three entries are names of great Bhāt tribes ; and it appears that while the Jāga or Bhāt proper is the genealogist and historian, the Chāran and Birm Bhāts are bards and heralds and compose verses in honour of the ancestors of great men—so at least say Sherring and Elliott, both of whom give a good deal of information concerning the caste. The Jāga or Bhāt genealogist, to which class the great mass of our Bhāts belong, is a hereditary servant, each local clan having its own Bhāt who pays them periodical visits, writes up its genealogies to date, and receives his fees. At great weddings he attends and recites the history and praises of ancestors, and the genealogy of the bridegroom. But as he often lives too far off to be summoned to ordinary weddings, a Mirāsi or Dūm  [S. 234] is often retained in addition, who takes the place of the Bhāt on such occasions. The status of the Bhāt is high ; and in Rājputāna they are said to possess great influence. The Bhāt is almost always Hindu, even where his clients have become Mahomedans. A few are Sikhs, and still fewer Musalmans ; and it is doubtful whether these last are not really Mirāsis. There are said to be Musalman Bhāts in Siālkot who have migrated from the Jhang uplands and are much addicted to thieving ; but I much doubt whether they belong to the Bhāt caste. I have said that the Bhāts are of undoubted Brāhman origin, and this is true of the Jāga and Chāran, who are ordinarily called Bhāts! Whether it is true of the Mādho Bhāts also I am not so certain. The Mādhos would appear to be named after Mādho, the founder of the Mādhavi sect of minstrel mendicants ; and the Bhātra, who however claims Brāhman origin, is called Mādho in Rawalpindi. Besides the 217 persons mentioned above who returned their caste as Mādho, a very considerable number of those who have given their caste as Bhāts show Mādho as their tribe."

[Quelle: Ibbetson, Denzil <1847-1908>: Panjab castes : being a reprint of the chapter on "The races, castes and tribes of the people" in the Report on the census of the Panjab, published in 1883. -- Lahore : Government Printing, 1916. -- viii, 338 S. ; 26 cm. -- S. 231 - 234.]

3.2. Bhaṭrāzu


The Bhāṭs, Bhaṭrāzus, or Bhaṭrājus are described, in the Mysore Census Reports, 1891 and 1901, as musicians and ballad-reciters, who "speak Telugu, and are supposed to have come from the Northern Circars. They were originally attached to the courts of the Hindu princes as bards or professional [S. 224] troubadours, reciting ballads in poetry in glorification of the wondrous deeds of local princes and heroes. Hyder Ali, although not a Hindu, delighted to be constantly preceded by them, and they are still an appendage to the state of Hindu and Mussalman Chiefs. They have a wonderful faculty in speaking improvisatore, on any subject proposed to them, a declamation in measures, which may be considered as a sort of medium between blank verse and modulated verse. But their profession is that of chanting the exploits of former days in front of the troops while marshalling them for battle, and inciting them to emulate the glory of their ancestors. Now many of them are mendicants."

In the Madras Census Report, 1871, the Bhāt Rājahs are said to "wear the pavitra or sacred thread. They are the bards and minstrels, who sing the praises of the Kshatriya race, or indeed of great men in general, and especially of those who liberally reward the singers. They are a wandering class, gaining a living by attaching themselves to the establishments of great men, or in chanting the folklore of the people. They are mostly Vishnu worshippers, and in only one district is it reported that they worship village deities." In the Madras Census Report, 1891, the Bhaṭrāzus are summed up as being "a class of professional bards, spread all over the Telugu districts. They are the representatives of the Bhāt caste of other parts of India. They are called Rāzus, because they are supposed to be the offspring of a Kshatriya female by a Vaisya male. They are well versed in folklore, and in the family histories and legends of the ancient Rājahs. Under the old Hindu Rājahs the Bhaṭrāzus were employed as bards, eulogists, and reciters of family genealogy and tradition. Most of them are now cultivators, and only a few are ballad-reciters. [S. 225] They will eat with the Kāpus and Velamas. Their ceremonies of birth, death and marriage are more or less the same as those of the Kāpus. Rāzu is the general name of the caste."

The Bhaṭrāzus, Mr. W. Francis writes,1 "are also called Bhāts or Māgadas. They have two endogamous sub-divisions, called Vandi, Rāja or Telagānya, and Māgada, Kani or Agrahārekala. [Some Bhaṭrāzus maintain that Vandi and Māgada were individuals who officiated as heralds at the marriage of Siva.] Each of these is again split up into several exogamous septs or gotras, among which are Atreya, Bhāradwāja, Gautama, Kāsyapa and Kaundinya. All of these are Brāhmanical gotras, which goes to confirm the story in Manu that the caste is the offspring of a Vaisya father and a Kshatriya mother. Bhaṭrāzus nevertheless do not all wear the sacred thread now-a-days, or recite the gāyatrī.2 They employ Brāhman priests for their marriages, but Jangams and Sātānis for funerals, and in all these ceremonies they follow the lower or Purānic instead of the higher Vedic ritual. Widow marriage is strictly forbidden, but yet they eat fish, mutton and pork, though not beef. These contradictions are, however, common among Oriya castes, and the tradition is that the Bhaṭrāzus were a northern caste which was first invited south by King Pratāpa Rudra of the Kshatriya dynasty of Wārangal (1295-1323 A.D. ). After the downfall of that kingdom they seem to have become court bards and panegyrists under the Reddi and Velama feudal chiefs, who had by that time carved out for themselves small independent principalities in the Telugu country. As a class they were fairly educated in the Telugu [S. 266] literature, and even produced poets such as Rāmarāja Bhūshana, the author of the well-known Vasu-Charitram. Their usual title is Bhāṭ, sometimes with the affix Rāzu or Mūrti." Of the Bhaṭrāzus in the North Arcot district, Mr. H. A. Stuart states1 that "they now live by cultivation, and by singing the fabulous traditions current regarding the different Sūdra castes at their marriages and other ceremonies, having probably invented most of them. They profess to be Kshatriyas. But it is known that several are Musalmans or members of other castes, who, possessing an aptitude for extempore versification, were taken by Rājahs to sing their praises, and so called themselves Bhaṭturāzus. They resemble the Rāzus in their customs, but are said to bury their dead." In the Gazetteer of Anantapur, the Bhaṭrāzus are described as touring round the villages, making extempore verses in praise of the principal householders, and being rewarded by gifts of old clothes, grain, and money. It is stated in the Kurnool Manual that "the high-caste people (Kammas) are bound to pay the Batrājulu certain fees on marriage occasions. Some of the Batrajas have shotriems and ināms." Shotriem is land given as a gift for proficiency in the Vedas or learning, and inām is land given free of rent.

1 Madras Census Report, 1901.
Sanskrit hymn repeated a number of times during daily ablutions.
1 Manual of the North Arcot district.

In connection with the special attachment of the Bhaṭrāzus to the Velama, Kamma, and Kāpu castes, the following story is narrated. Once upon a time there was a man named Pillala Marri Bethāla Reddi, who had three sons, of whom two took to cultivation. The third son adopted a military life, and had seventy-four sons, all of whom became commanders. On one occasion, during [S. 227] the reign of Pratāpa Rudra, when they were staying at the fort of Wārangal, they quarrelled among themselves, and became very rebellious. On learning this, the king summoned them to his court. He issued orders that a sword should be tied across the gate. The commanders were reluctant to go under a sword, as it would be a sign of humiliation. Some of them ran against the sword, and killed themselves. A Bhaṭrāzu, who witnessed this, promised to help the remaining commanders to gain entrance without passing under the sword. He went to the king, and said that a Brāhman wished to pay him a visit. An order was accordingly issued that the sword should be removed. The services of the Bhaṭrāzu greatly pleased the commanders, and they came to regard the Bhaṭrāzus as their dependants, and treated them with consideration. Even at the present day, at a marriage among the Kāpus, Kammas, and Velamas, a Bhaṭrāzu is engaged. His duties are to assist the bridegroom in his wedding toilette, to paint sectarian marks on his forehead, and to remain as his personal attendant throughout the marriage ceremonies. He further sings stanzas from the Rāmāyana or Mahābhārata, and songs in praise of Brāhmans and the caste to which the bridal couple belong. The following was sung at a Kāpu wedding.

"Anna Vema Reddi piled up money like a mountain, and, with his brother Pinna Brahma Reddi, constructed agrahārams. Gone Buddha Reddi spent large sums of money for the reading of the Rāmāyana, and heard it with much interest. Panta Malla Reddi caused several tanks to be dug. You, their descendants, are all prosperous, and very charitable."

In the houses of Kammas, the following is recited.

"Of the seventy-seven sons, Bobbali Narasanna was a very brave man, and was told to go in search of the [S. 228] kamma (an ornament) without using abusive language. Those who ran away are Velamas, and those who secured it Kammas."

In their ceremonial observances, the Bhaṭrāzus closely follow the standard Telugu type. At marriages, the bridal couple sit on the dais on a plank of juvvi (Ficus Tsiela) wood. They have the Telugu Janappans as their disciples, and are the only non- Brāhman caste, except Jangams and Pandarāms, which performs the duties of guru or religious instructor. The badge of the Bhaṭrāzus at Conjeeveram is a silver stick.1

1 J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant. IV, 1875.

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Bhāto, Kani Rāzu, Kannāji Bhāt and Padiga Rāju appear as synonyms, and Annāji Bhāt as a sub-caste of Bhaṭrāzus."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K.: 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. 223 - 228]

3.3. Sānsia

"The Saṅsiyā stands in curious relationship to the Jāṭ tribe, each family of which has its Sasi genealogist. When a question arises in connection with pedigree it is said that the word of the Saṅsi is accepted in preference to that of the Mirāsi."

[Quelle: Baines, Jervoise Athelstane <1847 - >: Ethnography : castes and tribes / by Sir Athelstane Baines. -- Strassburg :  Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. ; 26 cm. -- (Encyclopaedia of Indo-Arian Research ; Vol. II, part 5). -- S. 109]



A small caste of wandering criminals of northern India, who live by begging and dealing in cattle. They  also steal and commit dacoities, house-breaking and thefts on railway trains. The name Sānsia is borne as well by the Uriya or Od masons of the Uriya country, but these are believed to be quite a distinct group from the criminal Sānsias of Central India and are noticed in another short article. Separate statistics of the two groups were not obtained at the census. The Sānsias are closely connected with the Berias, and say that their ancestors were two brothers Sains Mūl and Sānsi, and that the Berias are descended from the former and the Sānsias from the latter. They were the bards of the Jāt caste, and it was their custom to chronicle the names of the Jāts and their ancestors, and when they begged from Jāt families to recite their praises. The Sānsias, Colonel Sleeman states, had particular families (of the Jāts) allotted to them, from whom they had not only the privilege of begging, but received certain dues ; some had fifty, some a hundred houses appointed to them, and they received yearly from the head of each house one rupee and a quarter and one day's food. When the Jāts celebrated their marriages they were [S. 489]accustomed to invite the Sānsias, who as their minstrels recited the praises of the ancestors of the Jāts, tracing them up to the time of Punya Jāt; and for this they received presents, according to the means of the parties, of cows, ponies or buffaloes. Should any Jāt demur to paying the customary dues the Sānsias would dress up a cloth figure of his father and parade with it before the house, when the sum demanded was generally given ; for if the figure were fastened on a bamboo and placed over the house the family would lose caste and no one would smoke or drink water with them.1"

1 This article is based almost entirely on a description of the Sānsias contained in Colonel Sleeman's Report on the Badhak or Bagri Dacoifs (1849). Most of the material belongs to a report drawn up at Nagpur by Mr. C. Ramsay, Assistant Resident, in 1845.
1 Sleeman's Reprt on the Badhaks, p. 254"

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India / by R.V. Russell ... assisted by Rai Bahadur Hira Lāl ... Pub. under the orders of the Central Provinces Administration ... -- London : Macmillan, 1916. . -- 4 vol.  : Ill. ; 22 cm. -- vol. 1. -- S. 288f.]

"Sānsi (Caste No. 72).

The Sānsis are the vagrants of the centre of the Panjāb, as the Aheris are of its south eastern portions. They are most numerous in the Lahore and Amritsar divisions, and are also found in considerable numbers in Ludhiāna, Karnāl and Gujrāt. They trace their origin from Mārwār and Ajmer where they are still very numerous. They are essentially a wandering tribe, seldom or never settling for long in any one place. They are great hunters, catching and eating all sorts of wild animals, both clean and unclean, and eating carrion. They keep sheep, goats, pigs and donkeys, work in grass and straw and reeds, and beg ; and their women very commonly dance and sing and prostitute themselves. They have some curious connection with the Jāt tribes of the Central Panjāb, to most of whom they are the hereditary genealogists or bards ; and even in Rājputāna they commonly call themselves bhart or "bards." They are said also to act as genealogists to the [S. 278] Dogars of Firozpur, the Rājputs of Hushyārpur and Jālandhar, and the Sodhis of Anandpur. About 11 per cent are returned as Musalmans and a very few as Sikhs. The rest are Hindus, but they are of course outcasts. A slight sketch of their religion is given in section 396. They trace their descent from one Sāns Mal of Bhartpur whom they still revere as their Guru, and are said to worship his patron saint under the name of Malang Shāh. Their marriage ceremony is peculiar, the bride being covered by a basket on which the bridegroom sits while the nuptial rites are being performed. They are divided into two great tribes, Kālka and Mālka which do not intermarry. They have a dialect peculiar to themselves ; and their women are especially depraved.

The Sānsis are the most criminal class in the Panjāb ; and it will be seen from Abstract No. 97 on the next page that they are registered under the Act in nine districts. Still though the whole caste is probably open to suspicion of petty pilfering, they are by no means always professional thieves. The Panjāb Government wrote in 1881: "Their habits vary greatly in different localities. A generation ago they were not considered a criminal class at Lahore, where they kept up the genealogies of the Jāt land-holders and worked as agricultural labourers. In Gurdāspur on the other hand they are notorious as the worst of criminals." Where they are professional criminals they are determined and fearless, and commit burglary and highway robbery, though their gangs are seldom large. The thieving Sānsis are said to admit any caste to their fraternity on payment except Dhedhs and Mhangs ; and the man so admitted becomes to all intents and purposes a Sānsi."

[Quelle: Ibbetson, Denzil <1847-1908>: Panjab castes : being a reprint of the chapter on "The races, castes and tribes of the people" in the Report on the census of the Panjab, published in 1883. -- Lahore : Government Printing, 1916. -- viii, 338 S. ; 26 cm. -- S. 277f.]

3.4. Ḍūm-Mirāsi

"The Dūm and Mirāsi (Caste No. 25).

Under this head have been included both Dūm and Mirāsi, the former being the Hindu and Indian and the latter the Musalman and Arabic name, and the whole class being commonly called Dūm-Mirāsi by the people. It fact no one of my divisional offices separated the two entries, and the two words are used throughout the Province as absolutely synonymous. The Dūms, however, must be carefully distinguished from the Dom or Domra, the executioner and corpse-burner of Hindustan, and the type of all uncleanliness to a Hindu; as also from the Dūm of the Hill States, whom I have classed as Dūmna and not as Mirāsi, as I understand that the word Dūm is there applied to workers in bamboo. The class is distributed throughout the Province, but is most numerous in the Amritsar, Lahore, Rāwalpindi, and Multān divisions, and in Bahāwalpur and the other States which march with them. On the lower Indus many of them would seem to have returned themselves as Jāts—see Abstract No. 72,* page 224. The word Mirāsi is derived from the Arabic mirās or inheritance; and the Mirāsi is to the inferior agricultural cases and the outcast tribes what the Bhāt is to the Rājputs. Even Jāts employ Mirāsis, though the hereditary genealogist of many of the Jāt tribes is the Sānsi ; and, as just stated, Rājputs often employ Mirāsis in addition to Bhāts. But the Mirsi is more than a genealogist ; he is also a musician and minstrel ; and most of the men who play the musical instruments of the Panjāb are either Mirāsis, Jogis, or faqīrs. "The Dūm does not make a good servant, nor a fiddle-bow a good weapon."

The social position of the Mirāsi, as of all the minstrel castes, is exceedingly low, but he attends at weddings and on similar occasions to recite genealogies. Moreover there are grades even among Mirāsis. The outcast tribes have their Mirāsis who, though they do not eat with their clients and merely render them professional service, are considered impure by the Mirāsis of the higher castes. The Mirāsi is generally a hereditary servant like the Bhāt; and is notorious for his exactions, which he makes under the threat of lampooning the ancestors of him from whom he demands fees. "These four were not born on giving day ; the Mulla, the Bhāt, the Brāhman, and the Dūm." The Mirāsi is almost always a Musalman. The few Hindus returned from the hilly and sub-montane districts are very possibly Dūmnas returned as Dūms. I have included under the head of Mirāsi the following schedule entries

  • Dhādhi, 37 in Ambāla, 478 in Multān, and 77 in the [S. 235] Derajāt;

  • Khariāla, 371, and Sarnai, 3 in Jālandhar ;

  • Rabābi, 109 in Lahore.

Besides these numbers, the above terms, as well as Naqārchi, have all been included with Mirāsi in the offices of one or more divisions. The last three are simply words meaning players upon the flageolet, the flute, and the kettle drum. The Dhādhi appears only to sing and not to play any instrument, and in the Derajāt at least is said not to intermarry with the Dūm, so probably he should not have been included. The Khariāla is said to be a sort of Mirāsi, but I have no further information concerning him. The two largest tribes returned for Mirāsis seem to be the Chūnhar with 13.403, and the Kalet with 4,897 persons. The detailed tables of clans will, when published, give complete information on the subject."

[Quelle: Ibbetson, Denzil <1847-1908>: Panjab castes : being a reprint of the chapter on "The races, castes and tribes of the people" in the Report on the census of the Panjab, published in 1883. -- Lahore : Government Printing, 1916. -- viii, 338 S. ; 26 cm. -- S. 234f.]



A Muhamrnadan caste of singers, minstrels and genealogists, of which a few members are found In the Central Provinces. General Cunningham says that they are the bards and singers of the Meos or Mewātis at all their marriages and festivals.1 Mr. Crooke Is of opinion that they are undoubtedly an offshoot of the great Dom caste who are little better than sweepers.2 The word Mirāsi Is derived from the Arabic mirās, inheritance, and its signification is supposed to be that the Mirāsis are the hereditary bards and singers [S. 243] of the lower castes, as the Bhāt is of the Rājpūts. Mirās as a word may, however, be used of any hereditary right., as that of the village headman or Karnam, or even those of the village watchman or temple dancing-girl, all of whom may have a Mirāsi right to fees or perquisites or plots of land held as remuneration for service.1 The Mirāsis are also known as Pākhāwaji, from the pakhāwaj or timbrel which they play ; as Kawwāl or one who speaks fluently, that is a professional story-teller ; and as Kalāwant or one possessed of art or skill. The Mirāsis are most numerous in the Punjab, where they number a quarter of a million. Sir D. Ibbetson says of them :2 "The social position of the Mirāsi as of all minstrel castes is exceedingly low, but he attends at weddings and similar occasions to recite genealogies. Moreover there are grades even among Mirāsis. The outcaste tribes have their Mirāsis, who though they do not eat with their clients and merely render their professional services are considered impure by the Mirāsis of the higher castes. The Mirāsi is generally a hereditary servant like the Bhāt, and is notorious for his exactions, which he makes under the threat of lampooning the ancestors of him from whom he demands fees. The Mirāsi is almost always a Muhammadan." They are said to have been converted to Islam in response to the request of the poet Amir Khusru, who lived in the reign of Alā-ud-dīn Khiljī (A.D. 1295). The Mirāsi has two functions, the men being musicians, story tellers and genealogists, while the women dance and sing, but only before the ladies of the zenāna. Mr. Nesfield 3 says that they are sometimes regularly entertained as jesters to help these ladies to kill time and reconcile them to their domestic prisons. As they do not dance before men they are reputed to be chaste, as no woman who is not a prostitute will dance in the presence of men, though singing and playing are not equally condemned. The implements of the Mirāsis are generally the small drum (dholak) the cymbals and the gourd lute (kingri). 4

1 Archaeological Reports, vol. xx., p. 26
Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces, vol. iil. p. 496.
Baden Powells Land Systems of British India vol. iii. p. 116.
Punjab Ethnography p. 289.
Brief view, p. 43
Crooke loc cit."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India / by R.V. Russell ... assisted by Rai Bahadur Hira Lāl ... Pub. under the orders of the Central Provinces Administration ... -- London : Macmillan, 1916. . -- 4 vol.  : Ill. ; 22 cm. -- vol. 1. -- S. 242f.]

3.5. Gondhali

1891 haben Harry Arbuthnot Acworth und S. F. Shaligram auf die Barden Mahārāṣṭras, die Gondhali, und ihre Balladen, die Pāvāḍā (Povādā, Pawada) aufmerksam gemacht: Sie veröffentlichten eine Sammlung solcher Balladen. In einer Vers-Übersetzung solcher Balladen schreibt Acworth über die bardische Dichtung in Marathī:

"The second of the two special orders of poems just referred [S. xxxii] to, viz., the Pawadas or historic ballads, requires more detailed consideration on my part, for it is with these that I have almost exclusively dealt, both in the present volume and the collection of original Marathi ballads just referred to as having been published in 1891, and they introduce to us a class of poets totally distinct in character and attainments from those of which I have endeavoured to give some account above. The true Pawada is not a written poem at all. It is the song or ballad of the wandering bard of the Maharashtra called the Gondhali, which has been handed down by memory from one generation to another. The name of the original author is generally given at the end of each ballad, but it is often impossible to identify him. These Pawadas are, in fact, unwritten bardic poetry, and it has been to me for some years past a pleasurable, but both a toilsome and an expensive task to collect them, and when our collection of some sixty Pawadas was published by Mr. Shaligram and myself, it was a satisfaction to feel assured that so many at all events were rescued from the oblivion into which in the course of time, and that no long time, they would assuredly have fallen. The ballads of the Gondhalis are the only class of poetry which has universal currency among the Marathi peasantry, but in spite of the interest which they excite, modern circumstances are obviously growingly unfavourable to the popularity of the minstrels, and the advantages of civilisation will no doubt, before many years are over, be too much for these products of a time when the steam-engine and the high school were not.

Abb.: Göttin Bhāvanī von Tuljapur
[Bildquelle: Wikipedia, GNU FDLicense]

The Gondhalis derive their name from the word Gondhal, a particular dance performed in honour of Amba Bhowani. They call themselves the sons, and are the devotees of Bhowani, and wear round their necks a collar of yellow shells, called the Bhowani cowries. They are by caste [S. xxxiii] Marathas,* and do not differ greatly in dress and appearance from the ordinary Maratha. Their principal function is to perform the Gondhal in honour of Bhowani at the houses of those who invite them, and to sing songs, religious and historical. They are both bards and priests, and sometimes beg in the name of Bhowani, but as her chosen devotees they occupy a semi-sacred position among the lower orders, much as Brāhmans do amongst the higher castes, and as every Brāhman has the special religious privilege of demanding alms, so has every Gondhali.

* It must be borne in mind that Maratha is a caste cognomen as well as a national cognomen. The caste is the same as the Kunbi or cultivator caste. Shiwaji was a Maratha both by caste and race, but the Peshwas, though Marathas by race, were Chitpawan Brāhmans by caste.

It appears to have been towards the beginning of the 17th century A.D., when the cult of Amba Bhowani+ of Tuljapur had spread through the length and breadth of the Maharashtra, and the re-action against Mahomedan despotism was gathering and acquiring force, that the Gondhalis, as the bards of the goddess, began to rise into an unusual degree of popularity among the Marathas. The pulsation of the new national life which began to stir throughout the land was accompanied in the popular belief by the revolt of the Hindu Pantheon against the tyrannous deity of the Moslem. As in the Kali Yuga or iron age the goddesses exercise more power and energy than the gods, so it was the goddess of the Gondhalis, in particular, who was bracing her strength for the struggle, who by dream and vision, in difficulty and danger, was imparting faith and fulfilling hope. Her devotees, therefore, were everywhere eagerly welcomed and enthusiastically listened to, and from time to time her very spirit descended into one or other of them and endued [S. xxxiv] him with the power of prophecy and other miraculous gifts. Some of these are still exercised by them. For instance, a company of Gondhalis will at the present time offer to discover and announce by the aid of Bhowani the name of any member of any audience which may be assembled around them. The person who wishes to test them will go forward and whisper his name in the ear of the head Gondhali, who will then call a boy to stand before him at a reasonable distance, and will shake or move his own fingers to and fro, repeating 'Jai Amba Bhowani' (Victory to Amba Bhowani). The boy will then repeat the name which was disclosed to the head man. This achievement is spoken of by the Gondhalis as 'Dhak Ghalne' (ḍhāk ghālṇe), and does not differ much from the feat of thought-reading.

+ Readers of Meadows Taylor's beautiful novel 'Tara' do not need to be told who Amba Bhowani of Tuljapur is.

The peculiar function of the Gondhalis was the service of the goddess, but as her popularity was inseparably connected with the spirit of national independence, the Gondhalis added the character of national balladsingers to that which they had always possessed, and have continued in unbroken succession up to the present day to compose as well as repeat songs in the popular language on topics of public interest. In the 'tamashas' or 'lalitas,' dramatic representations much in favour 200 years ago, the Gondhalis had an important share. Their simple songs of the old mythological heroes of the country—Rama, Mulhari, and Vikram—were much valued, and when the name of a living chief was  introduced and the sacred drum (ḍaṃkā danka) beaten in his praise, the honour was highly esteemed.

The songs of the Gondhalis are of several kinds, but I have here only to do with those which relate to historical events. These are usually sung on demand at or towards the conclusion of an entertainment. The Sudra castes of the Deccan and even the Deshasta Brāhmans almost always summon a band of Gondhalis to assist at any important ceremony, such as marriage, the investiture with the sacred [S. xxxv] thread, the taking of a vow, and the like. The Gondhalis are luxuriously feasted, and the Gondhal commences in the evening before a large company. The leading Gondhali places a wooden stool in the centre of the apartment, and on it a cloth (bodice cloth coḷaravaṇa) with a few handfuls of rice. On the rice is placed a pot full of water, and in the mouth of the pot some mango leaves, on which again is laid a tray full of rice containing also an image (tak thak) of Bhowani. The owner of the house then worships the image, offering to it sandal paste, red lead, turmeric, flowers, fruit, and money, and burning incense before it. The head Gondhali then takes his station in front of the image, with one of his comrades on his right hand holding a lighted torch. The rest of the Gondhalis stand behind, playing the drum (Sambal saṃval), the lyre (tuntune tuṇtuṇe), and cymbals (Jhāñjh). The headman worships the torch, offering to it sandal paste and turmeric, and invokes the goddess in the words, 'O Bhowani of Tuljapur ! come to the Gondhal', and calls on other deities, whose names he repeats, to be present at the performance. He then sings a song in honour of Bhowani, the invariable preliminary, and afterwards will sing, and if necessary explain, various songs in honour of gods and heroes, and any historical ballads he may know, the latter probably by request. The performance will probably last till daybreak, enchaining the attention throughout, and it is not uncommonly interrupted by a performer becoming inspired with the divine afflatus and bursting forth in a strain of prophecy. Finally, a lamp is waved around the image, and the torch is extinguished in milk or ghee.

The most important domestic ceremony among the Gondhalis is the investiture of a son with the sacred collar, which, as I have said, is composed of cowries, and this ceremony is attended with special solemnities, all connected with the worship of the tutelary goddess Amba Bhowani. [S. xxxvi]

The Gondhalis have not resisted the race tendency to split up into castes. There are Brāhman Gondhals, Renukrai Gondhalis, Kuddumrai Gondhalis, Koombhar Gondhalis, and others. They continue popular throughout the Deccan, but it is inevitable that their popularity should be tending towards declension. With the passing away of Maratha power, with the monotony of peace in place of the changing panorama of war and discord, the pabulum which fed their poetic spirit has been removed, and their present productions —for here and there they still produce—are tame and artificial. The most modern ballad which I have come across was a song to the railway. In spite of the interest which the older ballads still command, it is obvious that the occupation of the Gondhalis is departing from them. They will be driven to take up other pursuits, as indeed they are already doing, and with the motive for preserving in their memories the ballads of their fathers, the ballads themselves will be forgotten and lost.

There is a large and rather confusing variety of metres in Marathi poetry, but all come under one or other of two groups, viz., those which depend upon syllabification, and those which depend upon the quantities of vowels. The former are called akṣaragaṇavṛtta and are all taken from Sanskrit forms. There are more than 80 varieties, and these are modifications of the eight principal classes, which are

The latter are called mātrāgaṇavṛtta and are peculiar to Marathi. The Shloka is a pure Sanskrit derivative, the Arya is partly [S. xxxvii] derived from Sanskrit, the Ovi, Pada, Saki, Dindi, Abhang, and Pawada are pure Marathi. But there is no blank verse in Marathi as I am told there is in Sanskrit. Rhyme is an essential element in Marathi poetry.

The Pawada is the most irregular of all rhythmic forms. It is nearly allied to the Pada. In the Pada the first line or lines are repeated at the end of each stanza or couplet, under the name of Dhruvapada or chorus. Each distich, ending in two strokes ||, is divided into two lines, generally of unequal length. The Pawada is much the same, the principal difference in the latter being the frequent alliterations and the excessive jingle of the rhymes. Sometimes, not content with making all the lines in a long stanza rhyme with each other, parts of the lines also are broken into rhyming fragments. In such case the metre is called katibandha, kadaka, or katao. But the versification is often very rude, and the authors not unfrequently slur over or omit words essential both to the syntax and the metre of their verse.

The following, which is the first stanza of the original of the ballad on the death of Afzul Khan (No. 1 in this collection), illustrates this. The words which ought to be in, but are omitted from the stanza, are placed in brackets.

* v. 'Marathi Ballads,' .Acworth and Shaligiam, Bombay, 1891, p. 3, note I. There will be found two distinct versions of the first stanza, one in the text, one in the note. The translation was made from the latter, which was the earlier obtained.

[S. xxxviii] An excellent sketch of Marathi prosody is contained in Mr. Gunpatrao Ragunath Navalkar's Marathi grammar, to which any one who is anxious to pursue the subject further is referred."

[Quelle: Acworth, Harry Arbuthnot <1849 - 1933>: Ballads of the Marathas rendered into English verse from the Marathi originals. -- London and New York : Longmans, 1894.  -- xxxviii, 129 S. ; 23 cm. -- S. xxxi - xxxviii. -- Online: http://www.archive.org/details/balladsofmaratha00acwo. -- Zugriff am 2008-04-14]

3.6. Thākur


About a hundred members of this caste are returned, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as belonging to a Bombay caste of genealogists and cultivators. It is recorded, in the Bombay Gazetteer, that "inferior in rank to Marathas, the Thākurs are idle and of unclean habits. Though some of them till and twist woollen threads for blankets, they live chiefly by begging and ballad singing. At times they perform plays representing events mentioned in the Purāns and Rāmāyan, and showing wooden puppets moved by strings."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K.: 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. 19.]

3.7. Padāl

"The Padāl, also named Pāthādi, Pardhān, and Desai, is a numerous class found in the same localities as the Rāj Gonds, to whom its members act as religious counsellors (Pradhāna). [S. 6.] They are, in fact, the bhats 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, named Kingri and Jantur (yantra). For their services they receive presents of cows or bullocks, cloth, food, and money. The birth or death either of a cat or dog in their family denies them ; and from this uncleanness they cannot be free till they have shaved off their moustache, purchased new household vessels, and regaled their caste fellows with a plentiful allowance of arrack. These have assumed the name of Rāj Pardhāns, to distinguish themselves from a subdivision of the same class, which is degraded to the rank of a half-caste; consisting of those who in the vicinity of Nagpore speak Marathi, play on wind instruments of brass, and spin cotton-thread, like the outcast Hindus."

[Quelle: Hislop, Stephen <1817-1863>: Papers relating to the aboriginal tribes of the Central Provinces, left in mss. by the late Revd. Stephen Hislop / edited, with notes and preface, by R. [Richard] Temple [1826 - 1902]. -- [Nagpore?], 1866. -- S. 5f.]

3.8. Pichigunta


The name Pichigunta means literally an assembly of beggars, who are described1 as being, in the Telugu country, a class of mendicants, who are herbalists, and physic people for fever, stomach-ache, and other ailments. They beat the village drums, relate stories and legends, and supply the place of a Herald's Office, as they have a reputation for being learned in family histories, and manufacture pedigrees and gotras (house names) for Kāpus, Kammas, Gollas, and others.

The Picchai or Pinchikuntar are described in the Salem Manual as "servants to the Kudiānavars or cultivators a name commonly assumed by Vellālas and Pallis. The story goes that a certain Vellāla had a hundred and two children, of whom only one was a female. Of the males, one was lame, and his hundred brothers made a rule that one would provide him with one kolagam of grain and one fanam (a coin) each year. They got him married to a Telugu woman of a different caste, and the musicians who attended the ceremony were paid nothing, the brothers alleging that, as the bridegroom was a cripple, the musicians should officiate from charitable motives. The descendants of this married pair, having no caste of their own, became known as Picchi or Pinchikuntars (beggars, or lame). They are treated as kudipinnai (inferior) by Vellālas, and to the present day receive their prescribed miras (fee) from the Vellāla descendants of the hundred brothers, to whom, on marriage and other festivals, they do service by relating the genealogies of such Vellālas as they are acquainted with. Some serve the Vellālas in the fields, and others live by begging."1

1 Manuals of Nellore and Kurnool.

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K.: 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. 195.]

Zu: 10.1. Bhāt / by R. V. Russel and Hira Lāl (1916)