Saturday, September 29, 2012

Busting the Kulaji Myth of the lack of good Brahmins in Bengal

The Kulaji Myth
Myth is that there was a dearth of Veda-knowing Brahmins in Bengal in the time of Adishura.

Busting the Myth
 - Based on the epigraphical evidence as discussed earlier, it is difficult to believe that there was a dearth of Veda-knowing Brahmins in Bengal in the time of Adishura, even if we accept the earliest date proposed for him 732 C.E.
In the PaIa and Sena grants there are many Brahmins who, judged by their gotras, are to be regarded in all reasonableness as Sapta-satis. Their learning in the shAstras is evident from their description in the grants. They sometimes performed sacrifices and were readers of moral texts and religious books. The charge of impurity and ignorance of the shAstras laid against the sapta-shatis is, therefore, altogether unjustified and must be regarded as merely a propaganda.

 - Nor is it possible to accept the view that the Brahmins who settled in Bengal before the time of Adisura were only seven hundred in number and almost entirely vanished from Bengal (West Bengal and Islamic Bangladesh), whereas the descendants of five Brahmins multiplied to millions in course of a thousand or twelve hundred years.

- The doubt is increased by the complete absence of any reference to the story of the five Kanauj Brahmins or to Kulins in the large number of inscriptions later than the eighth century C.E., some of which record the history of important Brahmin families for several generations.

 - Again as discussed in a previous post, inter-province migration of Brahmins for varied reasons was  quite common and so it is no surprise that several Brahmin families did actually migrate from Madhyadesha to Bengal. This did not mean that the pre-exisiting Bengali Brahmins were inferior in any way.

As Shri Pramode Paul explains it: "The allegation that there were no pure Brahmins in Bengal is perhaps to be understood with references to the manner and way in which tribes or parts of eastern India have been mentioned in the Aitareya brAhmaNa, Aitareya AraNyaka and by baudhAyana. In the later Vedic period Bengal was inhabited by non-Aryan and nomadic tribes and people, and orthodox writers like baudhAyana did not deem it a proper place for Aryan habitation. There is no denying the fact that Bengal received her stock of Aryan population later than the Upper Gangetic countries. In discussing the Brahmin immigrations, the early spread of two manifestly non-Brahmanical religions Jainism and Buddhism and their gaining strong foot-holds should also be taken into consideration."

1. History of Bengal, Vol - I (ed Majumdar, Page 581 onwards)
2. Early History of Bengal from Earliest Times - Vol II, Promode Paul (Page 39 onwards)

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