Barot are a caste of Gujarat, who were involved in profession as bards and especially as Vahivanchas – meaning traditional genealogists. They also additionally worked as Mythographers. They were also known by name of Bhatt.
Barot caste is also known as Brahmbhatt,Rao. Barots has very rich history in Ancient Indian politics. They were allotted with very high positions in King's court. Barots categorized as per their work in Ancient history. They worked as king's Adviser, Poet, Vahivanchas.
Traditionally, Vahivanchas came to the house of the person or family to whom a son was born, whose genealogy they were to maintain. The name of new born baby was then noted in their books and they were rewarded handsomely by the family headman. This reward was one of their sources of income besides the income they generated from their occupation as bard or singer for Kings and Royal families, Thakur, Darbar, by whom they were patronized. Many of them also used to get minor land grants as gifts from them. They were a respected Hindu community, a sub-cast of Brahmin origin.
Barot is a commonly found surname in Gujarat and to some extent in Rajasthan in India. This surname has its root in this occupation based caste of Barot. Barots are known as Vahivanchas, Bhaats, Brahmbhatts in Gujarat and as Barot and Balwa in Rajasthan. The Barot,Rao, Brahmbhatt,Inamdar,Jagirdar,Dashondi etc., are some of the Surnames belonging to this caste or community.
The another One of the famous Brahmbhatt (Barot/Bhatt) in History of India is Maheshdas Brahmbhatt. Very rare person knows that Maheshdas Brahmbhatt is known as Birbal - the Wazīr-e Azam or Grand Vizier or the adviser of the Mughal court in the administration of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Birbal was a poet and author, whose intelligence and wisdom led the Emperor Akbar to invite him to be a part of the royal court and to bestow upon him a new name - Birbal (Bir means Brain, Bal means Strong). Akbar also conferred on him the title of Raja.
At present, the traditional occupation (Vahivanchas or genealogists) of Barots or Bhatts is on verge of extinction. As the new generation of the casts/communities for whom they worked as Barots, no longer patronize them. Further, the young generation of Barots, also have got themselves involved in other occupation and businesses and higher studies.
However, many of these Barot / Bhaat / Brahmbhatt / Balwa families have the books known as Barot na chhopda, Bhatt na Chhopda or Balwa Pothy, which have centuries old documented records of various communities of India and Pakistan for whom they worked as Vahivanchas. These books are rare documented records, and need to be preserved.
- Shah, A. M.; Shroff, R. G. (1958), "The Vahīvancā Bāroṭs of Gujarat: A Caste of Genealogists and Mythographers", The Journal of American Folklore (American Folklore Society) 71 (Traditional India): 246–276, JSTOR 538561
- "People of India Gujarat Volume XXII Part One". Edited by R.B Lal, S.V Padmanabham and A Mohideen. Pages 137–140. Popular Prakashan.
- "Caste and Gender in and out of India". Rohit Barot
- "People of India Gujarat Volume XXII Part One". Edited by R.B Lal, S.V Padmanabham, and A Mohideen. Pages 137–140. Popular Prakashan.