Friday, September 28, 2012

Inter-province Migration of Brahmins in Medieval India

Migration of Brahmins from one province to another was quite common - be it voluntary or forced (especially to escape Muslim persecution) or as per royal decree.

Voluntary Migrations of Brahmins

 - Madhyadesha to other parts of India

According to baudhAyana and vashiShTha it was in Madhyadesha that the practice and tradition of the Aryas (cultured men) prevailed and the customs of this place were regarded with special veneration. According to Manu, Madhyadesha is the country which lies between Himavat and the Vindhya, to the west of prayAga and to the east of vinashana, where the sarasvatI disappears. It was here that the Brahmanical rituals and social institutions like the caste were developed and elaborated and hence it became "the model country for all ages" and for all Aryavarta.

Viewed in this light, the tradition of the kulashAstras seems to reflect some truth and the migration of the Brahmins from Madhyadesha and the honour shown to them are historically intelligible,if not a necessity of the Hindu society of ancient Bengal. One should therefore not attach too much importance to the fact that several Brahmin families did actually migrate from Madhyadesa to Bengal (West Bengal and Islamic Bangladesh), for Brahmin families from Madhyadesa are also found to have settled in Malava, Dakshina Kosala, Odra vishaya and in many other countries.

 - vAdanagara or Anandapura, ahichatra and sapAdalakShma were important centres of the nAgara Brahmins from where they migrated in course of time to different parts of India (including to Sylhet in present day Islamic Bangladesh).

- A good number of Brahmin families from Bengal (West Bengal and Islamic Bangladesh), well versed in the Vedas, settled in Orissa, Malava, and the Deccan, and received grants of lands from the ruling chiefs.
- There was a large settlement of Brahmins from Magadha in the Pandya kingdom in the Far South.

 - Mention may also be made of the existence of the lATa Brahmins in Bengal who were placed in charge of the temple of nanna-nArAyaNa built by mahAsAmantAdhipati nArAyaNavarman during the reign of Dharmapala

- Mention may be made of a kaushika gotra Brahmin who migrated from puNDRAvardhana to the rAShTrakUTa kingdom in the ninth century.

Kings bringing back Brahmins with them after a victorious expedition 

It is known from a southern India inscription, that biTTiga of the hArita gotra, a minister of the Hoysala king Narasimha I, descended from one of the fifty chief Brahmins whom Ganga kings brought from the agrahAra of Ahichatra in the north when he had gone there in course of a victorious expedition.

References:
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)

1 comment:

  1. Indeed the concept of bharata itself is a result of these Brahmin ( as well as other jatis, to a lesser extent) migrations. That's why all the enemies of Hinduism target Brahmins and banias, who largely bound India into one through their influences, while allowing maximum autonomy at local level.

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