Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu

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Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP)
Total population
India
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Marathi
Religion
Hinduism

Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP), is an ethno-religious community of South Asia. It is part of the broader Kayastha community.[1] Traditionally, the CKPs have been granted the upper caste status, which allowed them to study the Vedas and perform religious rites along with Brahmins.

Though they originated in North India, Central Asia and East Asia the CKPs are today concentrated primarily in western Maharashtra, southern Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh (Indore region).[2] They played an important role in the establishment and administration of the Maratha Empire.

Etymology and history[edit]

According to one theory, the "Chandraseniya" in the community's name refers to the mythological King Chandrasena of Haihaya, from whom the community claims descent. Chandrasena is said to be a descendant of Sahasrarjuna of the Lunar Dynasty.[3]:2 The "Kayastha" refers to the wider Kayastha community, of which CKPs are a subsection. According to another theory, the name Chandraseniya is a corruption of the word "Chandrashreniya", meaning from the valley of the Chenab River (also known as "Chandra"). This theory states that the word "Kayastha" originates from the term "Kaya Desha", an ancient name for the region around Ayodhya.[4] There are multiple theories about the meaning of the word "Prabhu" in the community's name: it may refer to the King Chandrasena ("Prabhu" means "Lord") or to the community's East Indian origin outside Maharashtra (derived from "Par-bhu" which means "from another land" or foreigner"; or a distortion of "Purva" or "Purab", the name for the east direction).[3]:5 The old documents of the community trace its origin near the present-day Awadh region.[3]:11–14 The CKP writers such as Prabodhankar Thackeray and T.V. Gupte mention that the community first migrated to other places to escape from the misrule of the king Mahapadma Nanda (450–362 BCE) of Magadha.[5] A section of them migrated to Kashmir and Nepal.[3] In the 14th century, the CKPs migrated to parts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, where most of them are currently found.

Like other Kayasthas, the CKPs were historically a literate caste, tied to scribal and administrative professions. Some CKP historians also claim a connection with the Gupta dynasty.[3] The ancestors of the present-day CKPs started migrating from North India to the Maval and Konkan regions, and assumed civil administrator positions there, after the 12th century CE. This process probably started during the Silhara rule.[3]:9 The CKP community became more prominent during the Maratha rule. Several of the Maratha King Shivaji's generals and ministers, such as Murarbaji Deshpande and Baji Prabhu Deshpande, were CKPs.[6]:112[3]:21 Balaji Avji, who hailed from this community was the secretary of Shivaji Maharaj, and was one of the major think-tanks of the Maratha Empire

The CKPs have traditionally placed themselves in the Kshatriya varna, next only to the Brahmins, and also followed the Brahmin rituals, like the sacred thread ceremony.[7] The other communities, at times, have contested their upper-caste status. In 1801-1802 CE (1858 Samvat), a Pune-based council of 626 Brahmins from Maharashtra, Karnataka and other areas made a formal declaration that the CKPs are twice-born (upper caste) people who are expected to follow the Kshatriya duties.[8] When the prominent Marathi historian VK Rajwade contested their claimed Kshatriya status in a 1916 essay, the CKP writer Prabodhankar Thackeray wrote a text outlining the identity of the CKP caste, and its contributions to the Maratha empire. In this text, Gramanyachya Sadhyant Itihas, he wrote that the CKPs "provided the cement" for Shivaji's swaraj (self-rule) "with their blood".[9]

Culture[edit]

The CKPs share many common rituals with the upper-caste communities and the study of Vedas and Sanskrit. The Sword and the Pen symbolised the tools of this community for centuries.

The mother tongue of most of the community is now Marathi, though in Gujarat they also communicate with their neighbours in Gujarati, and use the Gujarati script,[10] while those in Maharashtra speak English and Hindi with outsiders, and use the Devanagari script.[11]

The CKPs have traditionally been non-vegetarian, eating mutton, fish, poultry and eggs; their staple foods are Indian breads and rice.[10]

Surnames[edit]

Many surnames used by the CKP probably have their origins in the roles fulfilled by them during the period of the Maratha empire. Examples include that of "Dalvi" (army commander), and "Pradhan" (minister).[7]

Notable people[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ D. Shyam Babu; Ravindra S. Khare (2011). Caste in Life: Experiencing Inequalities. Pearson Education India. p. 165. ISBN 978-81-317-5439-9. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Susan Bayly (22 February 2001). Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age. Cambridge University Press. p. 414. ISBN 978-0-521-79842-6. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g TV Gupte (1904). Ethnographical notes on Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu. 
  4. ^ Pran Nath Chopra (1982). Religions and communities of India. Vision Books. p. 88. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Prabodhankar Thackeray. "Gramanyachya Sadhyant Itihas Arthat Nokarashiche Banda". In Pandharinatha Savanta. प्रबोधनकार ठाकरे समग्र वाण्मय (Prabodhanakara Thakare Samagra) Vanmaya Vol. 5 (in Marathi) (Maharashtra Rajya Sahitya Sanskriti Mandal). p. 45. 
  6. ^ Balkrishna Govind Gokhale (1988). Poona in the eighteenth century: an urban history. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Kumar Suresh Singh (2004). People of India: Maharashtra. Popular Prakashan. pp. 399–400. ISBN 978-81-7991-100-6. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Kali Prasad, ed. (1877). The Kayastha ethnology, an enquiry into the origin of the Chitraguptavansi and Chandrasenavansi Kayasthas. p. 19. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Prachi Deshpande (2007). Creative Pasts: Historical Memory And Identity in Western India, 1700-1960. Columbia University Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-231-12486-7. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Kumar Suresh Singh; Rajendra Behari Lal (2003). People of India: Gujarat. Popular Prakashan. pp. 283–. ISBN 978-81-7991-104-4. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh (2004). People of India: Maharashtra. Popular Prakashan. pp. 398–. ISBN 978-81-7991-100-6. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  12. ^ "Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East". South Asia Bulletin (University of California, Los Angeles) 16 (2): 116. 1996. Retrieved 15 November 2012.