Friday, October 5, 2012

Various Origin Stories of vaidika Bengali Brahmins from Kulaji and Other Texts

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

dakShiNAtya vaidika origins:
The Vaidika Brahmins are divided into two classes, dAkshiNAtya and pAshchAtya. It is said that on account of Muhammadan invasions, the study of Vedas declined in Northern India, but continued to flourish in the South. Hence some Brahmins versed in the Vedas came from the South and were welcomed by the Brahmins of Bengal. They settled here and came to be known as dakShiNAtya vaidika.

pAshchAtya vaidika Brahmins origins
According to the traditions pAshchAtya vaidika Brahmins are of the Kanojia stock, their ancestors having, at the commencement of Mahomedan rule, migrated from their original habitat to Tirhoot, and subsequently from Tirhoot to Bengal. Most of the Vaidika immigrants were specially invited by one or other of the many Hindu Rajas, who ruled over the country as semi-independent chiefs, during almost the entire period of Moslem ascendancy.

Version 1:
The origin of the pAshchAtya vaidika Brahmins is described as follows in their Kulajis: shyAmalavarman (identitied with sAmalavarmana), king of gauDa, married the daughter of the king of Kanyakubja (or kAshi, according to some version), and being desirous of performing some Vedic rites brought five Brahmins from his father-in-Iaw's dominions as there was no Veda-knowing Brahmins in Bengal. After the performance of the rites, these Brahmins were granted villages and settled in Bengal (in 1079 C.E).

Version 2: By Raghavendra, has been quoted by N. Vasu.
According to this the Vaidika Brahmins were originally settled on·the Sarasvatl river. Having learnt by astrological calculations of the impending invasions by the Yavanas, they dispersed in different directions, and one Gangagati came to Bengal and settled in koTAlipADA. His patron was king Harivarman. Other Vaidika Brahmins followed Gangagati to Bengal and thus grew the Vaidika community.

Other specific stories:
The ancestor of the leading Vaidikas of Nadiya was a reader of the mahAbhArata who could recite it from memory, and was made to settle in Bengal by a Raja Kashinath, who was the ruler of the Nadiya district before it was given by the Emperor Jehangir to Bhava Nanda.

The founder of the Vaidika family of kotAlipAhAra was invited from Kanoj by a Hindu prince who ruled over the district of Bakergunge in the thirteenth century, and was led to celebrate at an immense cost a religious ceremony for avoiding an evil that was foreboded by the fall of a dead vulture on the roof of his palace. The lucky priest secured for himself, by way of remuneration for his services, a valuable zamindari.

References
1. History of Bengal - Vol I, Apendix 1, THE KULAJI OR GENEALOGICAL LITERATURE Pg 626 (ed R.C Majumder)
2. Early History of Bengal from Earliest Times - Vol II, Promode Paul (Page 39 onwards)
3. Hindu Castes and Sects (Jogendranath Bhattacharya) - Page 36 onwards

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Thanks for your time. Please feel free to leave your comments and do share this post with those who might find it useful.

Subhodeep

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Thank you very much for providing the reference books as well and also for researching on this topic. In the present society very few people are interested in these facts. There are books that can trace back the entire lines of Pashchatya Vedic brahmins, the last one printed in 1950's. Most of the families no longer maintain them and in age of internet any information not found in the net is lost to the younger generation. Thanks for making these information available to everyone.
    BR
    Anindita Bhattacharjee

    ReplyDelete