Monday, January 17, 2011

Brahmanism in Bengal - 02 - Classification of Bengali Brahmins

Traditionally, Brahmins in Bengal are divided into the following classes/ sub-classes:

1. Radhiya
Lit., Brahmins of Radh or Western Bengal

1/a. Kulin - Families of High Lineage, who are further organized into:
1/a/1. 56 Villages
1/a/2. 36 mels
1/a/3. thaks - Phule, Vallabhi, Khardah, Sarvanandi
1/b. Vamsaja/ Bansaja - Fallen
1/c. Sudha Srotriya - Pure Vedic Scholars
1/d. Kashta Srotriya - Impure Vedic Scholar

2. Varendras/ Barendras
Lit.,Brahmins of Northern Bengal

2/a. Kulin - Families of High Lineage
2/b. Kap / Caap - Somewhat similar to Vamsaja

3. Vaidikas
Lit., Vedic Brahmins

3/a. Paschatya Vaidikas - Lit., Vedic Brahmins from areas to the West (of Bengal)
3/b. Dakshinatya Vaidikas - Lit., Vedic Brahmins from areas to the South (of Bengal)

4. Shakdwipis / Grahavipras
Brahmins of Shakadwipa in Central Asia

5. Madhya Sreni
Lit., Brahmins of the Midland Country (border of Orissa and Bengal) and a category of Radhiya Sreni

6. Sapta-Sati / Shatsati

Additionally, another class of Brahmins is supposed to exist - the Sapta-Sati/ shAtsatI who are the descendants of the original (probably sArsawata) Brahmins in Bengal, before the advent of Brahmins invited by King Adisur. However, they have been, over the ages, assimilated into the Radhi fold by inter-marriages. Please refer to the previous post to get an idea of the presence of Brahmins in Bengal before the colonization by Radhis and Varendras.

Each of these classes of Brahmins a traditional story of migration from some other part of India to Bengal and maintain/ used to maintain detailed genealogical records of every member of the clan. However such stories may or may not be historically verifiable all the time.

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