Monday, October 1, 2012

Various Origin Stories of Rāḍhi and Vārendra Bengali Brahmins from Kulaji Texts

Presented below are various versions of the origin stories of the Rāḍhi and Vārendra Brahmins of Bengal. Please note that as always, by Bengal, I refer to West Bengal and Islamic Bangladesh.

Version 1
From History of Bengal - Vol I, Appendix 1, THE KULAJI OR GENEALOGICAL LITERATURE Pg 625 (ed R.C Majumder)

King AdishUra of Bengal requested the king of Kanauj (or kolA~ncha) to send him five Brahmins, versed in the Vedas and Vedic sacrifices, for there were no such Brahmins as in Bengal. As the latter refused, AdishUra declared war against him. To win an easy victory he decided to send to the battle seven hundred Brahmins of Bengal, seated on bulls, for an orthodox Brahmin, like the king of Kanauj, full of devotion to cows and Brahmins, would not kill them. The Brahmins of Bengal at first refused to ride on bulls as it violated the injunctions of the shAstras. But AdishUra promised to free them from guilt when they returned from their expedition. As expected the king of Kanauj desisted from fighting these Brahmin soldiers and sent the five Brahmins asked for by AdishUra.

These five Brahmins, equipped with bows and arrows came on horse·back to Bengal accompanied hy five attendants. AdishUra did not show proper respect to them on account of their military dress, whereupon the Brahmins threw the flower and herbs, with which they wanted to bless AdishUra, on a stump of wood, which immediately blossomed a living tree. AdisjUra, deeply impressed by this begged for their pardon and gave them a proper reception. The Brahmins performed a sacrifice and returned to Kanauj.

But their kinsmen at home treated them as degraded on account of journey to Bengal and asked them to perform penances. Thereupon the five Brahmins with their wives and servants, returned to Bengal, and AdishUra granted them five villages to live in.

Version 2
From Early History of Bengal from Earliest Times - Vol II, Social Condition, PPage 34 (Promode Paul)
AdishUra was the lord of paMchagauDa and vanquished many kings of different parts of India. He had a rival in vIrasiMha who is described in some books as king of Kanauj and in others, of Kashi. This king was not subdued by ordinary warfare. Therefore seven hundred armed Brahmanas of Bengal were sent on cows back by AdishUra to fight with him. There could not be any fighting without killing the cows and Brahmanas, which, as a pious and religious-minded man, VirasiMha could not do. Thus he was compelled to send five pure Sagnika Brahmans to Adisura in whom Bengal was lacking.
The kulatattvārNava supports this story but adds that AdishUra needed these Brahmins for the performance of a putreShTi sacrifice. The vārendra kulapa~Njika supplies the information that AdishUra brought the Brahmins from Kanauj for fulfilling the wishes of his wife Candramukhi, the daughter of the Kanauj king Candraketu, who wanted to perform a vrata by pure Brahmanas.

Version 3
From History of Bengal - Vol I, Appendix 1, THE KULAJI OR GENEALOGICAL LITERATURE Pg 626 (ed R.C Majumder)
The king of Kashi being asked by AdishUra to pay tribute refused to do so, and in reply tauntingly referred to AdishUra's dominions as bereft of Brahmins and Vedic sacrifices, whereupon AdishUra defeated him in a battle and brought the five Brahmins.

Split into rāḍhi and vārednra
(From History of Bengal - Vol I, Appendix 1, THE KULAJI OR GENEALOGICAL LITERATURE Pg 627 (ed R.C Majumder))

Version 1:
According to the version current among the rāḍhi Brahmins, the descendants of the five Brahmins, settled in Bengal by AdishUra, moved in course of time to various parts, either on account of internal dissensions or under royal orders. Ultimately they were definitely classified by vallAlasena into rāḍhi or vārendra according as they lived in rāḍhi or Varendra at that time.

Version 2:
The version of the vārendra Brahmins is quite different.
AdishUra, thought that if the Saptasati Brahmins of Rāḍha gave their daughters in marriage to the five Brahmins settled in gauDa, the latter would have no inducement to return to Kanauj. The Saptashatis, under royal command, married their daughters to these Brahmins who thereupon lived in Rāḍha. When they died, their sons (by previous marriages), who were still in Kanauj, performed their shrAddha ceremony, but the other Brahmins refused to take part in it. Humiliated at this they came to AdishUra with their family. Not liking to live with their stepbrothers in Rāḍha they settled in vārendra, and came to be known as vārendra, while the former were called rāḍhi Brahmins.

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