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Bhat, Bhatt, Bhatta or Bhatra is a surname common in most parts of India. Meaning priest or scribe in Sanskrit, it is title given to learned Brahmins. A predominantly Hindu last name, it is found most commonly in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and in West Bengal (as Bhattācharya) and some parts of Karnataka.
The earliest reference of Bhatt can be found in Chandragupta Maurya's empire. In Mudrarakshasa, while describing different divisions in Chandragupta's army, a reference can be found to Bhatt-Bala. Here Bala means a division, hence Bhatt-Bala would mean a division composed of Bhatt.
Sikh Bhat also known as Bhatra, tradition and Sikh text states their ancestors came from Punjab, where the Raja Shivnabh and his kingdom became the original 16th century followers of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. The Raja's grandson Prince Baba Changa earned the title ‘Bhat Rai’ – the ‘Raja of Poets, and then settled himself and his followers all over India as missionaries to spread the word of Guru Nanak, where many northern Indians became Bhat Sikhs. The Bhats also contributed 123 compositions in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (pp.1389–1409), known as the "Bhata de Savaiyye". As Guru Nanak and Sikhism do not support the caste system, the Bhat people do not consider themselves as a caste in the typical sense due to the message of Guru Nanak, but a clan within Sikhism created by Guru Nanak which is not shackled by the caste system. The majority were from the northern Brahmin caste (Bhat clan),(Bhat (surname)) as the Prince Baba Changa shared the Brahmin heritage. The sangat also had many members from different areas of the Sikh caste spectrum, such as the Hindu Rajputs and Hindu Jats who joined due to Bhat Sikh missionary efforts. There hereditary occupations consisted of bards, poets, missionaries, astrologists, genealogists, salesmen. According to Nesfield as quoted in W. Crooke, The Tribes and Castes of the North Western India, 1896, Bhatts frequently visited the courts of princes and the camps of warriors, recited their praises in public, and kept records of their genealogies.
Notable Bhatt(a)s include:
- Chandi Prasad Bhatt
- Ela Bhatt, founder Self-Employed Women's Association of India (SEWA)
- Gokulbhai Bhatt
- Sanjiv Bhatt, Indian Police Service officer who exposed the alleged role of Narendra Modi in the Gujarat Riots of 2002
- Nanabhai Bhatt, film director, head of the Bhatt family
- Mahesh Bhatt, film director
- Pooja Bhatt, film director
- Rahul Bhatt, actor, fitness trainer
- Alia Bhatt, film actress
- Mukesh Bhatt, film producer
- Vishesh Bhatt, film director
- Vikram Bhatt, film director
- Pravin Bhatt, film screenwriter
- Chirantan Bhatt, Music director of Bollywood
- Bhavana Bhatt, film actor
- Neha Bhatt, Pahadi
- Prabhakar BhattPolitician and Journalist
- Hrishitaa Bhatt, film actress
- Vijay Bhatt, film director
- Balwantrai Bhatt, Hindustani classical music composer and vocalist
- Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (born 1952), exponent of Hindustani music
- Jyoti Bhatt, painter
- Puran Bhatt, puppeteer
- Mattias Bhatt, musician
- Kailash Chandra Bhatt,Bhatwari,Uttrakhand, musician,Singer
Sages, scholars and philosophers
- Bāṇabhaṭṭa, 7th century Sanskrit scholar
- Ānanda Bhaṭṭa, 16th century, Vedanta scholar
- Gopala Bhatta Goswami, 16th century, foremost disciples of the Vaishnava saint, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
- Jayanta Bhatta, 9th century, Kashmiri poet and philosopher of Nyaya school of Indian philosophy
- Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa, 8th century philosopher
- Kumārila Bhaṭṭa, 8th century, philosopher and Mimamsa scholar
- Prajna Bhatta, 16th century, historian
- Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami, 16th century, disciple of the Vaishnava saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
- Kamla Bhatt, writer, researcher
- Sachin Bhatt, writer, philosopher
- Aryabhata, astronomer, mathematician, pioneer of trigonometry
- Bhaṭṭotpala, 10th century astronomer
- Nautam Bhagwan Lall Bhatt, physicist
- DS Bhatt, cricketer
- Pramila Bhatt, cricketer
- Raju Bhatt (Gujarat cricketer)
- Raju Bhatt (Baroda cricketer)
- Rujul Bhatt, cricketer
- Subhash Bhatt, cricketer
The term Bhattaraka has been used in spirituality. In Jainism the term is used to mean priest.
There exists the deity Vaidyanatha Bhattarka, whose idol exists in the Pulindeshvara Temple of Orissa.
The Buddhist goddess Tara is also known as Bhattarika.
In the Bengal and Orissa, worship of another goddess Bhattarika exists. There is a festival in her name in Sasanga (near Badamba Tehsil of Cuttack), Orissa.
- Haqiqat Rah Muqam shivnabh raje ki page 624 [p.1248]khari
- P. 103 Tāntric art of Orissa By Jitāmitra Prasāda Siṃhadeba
- P.408 Land and people of Indian states and union territories: in 36 volumes. Orissa By S. C. Bhatt, Gopal K. Bhargava