|Populated States||West Bengal|
|Family names||Bhadra, Ghanty, Saha, Sadhu, Laha, Dey or De, Khan, Rudra, Datta, Dhar, Bhol, Nayek, Nag, Pal, Chandra, Mallik, Haldar, Bid, Mudi|
Gandhabaniks (Bengali: গন্ধবণিক) are a Bengali Hindu trading caste, who as their caste name suggests, traditionally used to trade in perfumes, incense and exotic spices. Chinese traveller Fa Hien referred to the Gandhabaniks as the Hindu businessmen of India. The Gandhabaniks trace their lineage to Chand Sadagar and Dhanapati Sadagar. In spring, the Gandhabaniks pay homage to Gandheshwari, the goddess of perfume.
According to the Brahmabaibarta Purana, Parashuram and Rudrajamala, the Gandhabaniks were born out of the union between an Ambastha male and Rajput female. According to another legend, a maid named Kubja used to supply flowers and sandalwood at the royal court of Kangsa at Mathura. Krishna met Kubja on the way, and transformed her into a beautiful maiden and married her. The offspring of the union is the father of the Gandhabaniks. According to yet another legend, during the marriage with Durga, Shiva created the Gandhabaniks to meet the need of perfumes and aromatics. The four of Gandhabaniks, namely the Desh, Shankha or Sangha, Abat or Aut and Santrish or Chhatrish were born out of his forehead, armpits, navel and feet respectively.
The lineage of the Gandhabaniks can be traced from the nine gotras namely Alimyan, Bharadwaj, Kashyap, Krishnatreya, Moudgalya, Nrisingha, Ram rishi, Sabarna and Sandilya. The Gandhabanik society is traditionally divided into four groups namely Desh, Sangha, Abat and Santrish. The family names of the Desh are Ghanty, Saha, Sadhu, Laha, Khan and Rudra. The family names of the Auts are Dutta, Dhar, Dhar and Nag. The Gandhabaniks, being traders, have traditionally settled along the urban centres in Bengal, mostly along the banks of Hooghly. In eastern Bengal they were mostly concentrated in the Dhaka-Vikrampur region and other urban localities. After the Partition, the Gandhabaniks from the eastern districts like Jessore and Faridpur, migrated to West Bengal.
The Gandhabaniks were initially Shaivas, later they became Shaktas. Their conversion of Shaivism and Shaktism is depicted in the story of Dhanapati Sadagar. Later, they turned towards Vaishnavism during reform movement of Chaitanya. However, titular deity Gandheshwari is still worshipped.
- Chand Sadagar
- Dhanapati Sadagar
- Srimanta Sadagar
- Shankha Datta
- Kalachand Gandhabanik, popular sweetmeat manufacturer of Dhaka.
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