|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2011)|
|Religions||Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism|
|Languages||Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu|
|Country||Primarily India, a significant population in UK, United States, Canada and Pakistan|
|Populated States||Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.|
|Family names||Kapoor, Chopra, Sehgal etc.|
|Subdivisions||Bari, Bunjahi and Sarin|
Khatris played an important role in India's transregional trade under the Mughal Empire. With the Mughal patronage, they adopted administrative and military roles outside the Punjab region as well. Scott Cameron Levi describes Khatris among the "most important merchant communities of early modern India."
Origin and varna status
The word "Khatri" is believed by some to be the Punjabi adaptation of Sanskrit word Kshatriya, used to describe the warriors in the traditional Hindu varna system. According to one theory, the word "Khatri" originates from the word Khsatri mentioned in Manu Smriti to denote a mixed caste of low-ritual status, born of the union of Kshatriya mothers and Shudra fathers. Dasrath Sharma also described Khatris as a mixed pratiloma caste of low ritual status, but he suggested that Khatris could be a mixed caste born of Kshatriya fathers and Brahmin mothers.
Thus, the Khatris have an ambiguous position in the varna system. Khatris claim that they were warriors who took to trade. The 19th-century Indians and the British administrators failed to agree whether the Khatri claim of Kshatriya status should be accepted, since the overwhelming majority of them were engaged in Vaishya (mercantile) occupations. There are Khatris that are found in other states of India and they follow different professions in each region. The Khatris of Gujrat and Rajasthan are said to belong to "Darji" (tailor) caste. K C S Varma notes that Francis Buchanan wrote in the early 19th century that "in Behar one-half of the Khatris are goldsmiths," and that another writer of the British era, Kitts, had recorded that "the Khatris are traders in Punjab, and silk-weavers, when we find them in Bombay." Benjamin Lewis Rice echoes a similar view about the Khatri caste in various regions of India.
According to Bichitra Natak, said to be the autobiography of the last Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, but whose authenticity is a matter of ongoing dispute, the Bedi sub-caste of the Khatris derives its lineage from Kush, the son of Rama in the Hindu mythology. The descendants of Kush, according to the disputed Bachitar Natak legend, learned the Vedas at Benares, and were thus called Bedis (Vedis). Similarly, according to the same legend, the Sodhi sub-caste claims descent from the Lav, the other son of Rama.
Relation with other Punjabi castes
Before independence, the Aroras did not constitute a sizeable population in the district. With the migration of the non-Muslim population from Pakistan to India in 1947, they settled here, though in small numbers. The Aroras were generally settled in West Punjab (Pakistan) and in the Firozepur District. Their representation in the eastern districts of the Punjab was not notable. According to Ibbetson, the Aroras are the Khatris of Ror (Rori Sukkur, Sindh, in Pakistan). Whatever be their origin, the fact is that they resemble Khatirs in certain traits. In certain respects, they are even superior to them. They are also divided into many groups and castes, Uchanda, Nichanda, etc., but in social life, these groups are of no importance. They intermarry in their groups like others. They also intermarry among Khatris. In the All-India meeting in 1936, held by the Khatris at Lahore (Pakistan), it was decided that the Aroras, Soods and Bhatias were Khatri for all intents and purposes. And, as such, they should be admitted to the Khatri stock. This interpretation did not find much favour then, but with the lapse of time, it has almost been accepted.
The region in which the Khatris originally lived was ruled by Hindu kings until 1013 AD. Khatris encountered hardships after the Muslim conquest of the region, but stubbornly clung to their heritage. Because of high levels of education and scholarship, they were able to survive even in difficult times.[page needed]
The Khatris subsequently rose as an important trading community, and played an important role in India's transregional trade under the Mughal Empire. With the patronage of Mughal nobles, the Khatris adopted administrative and military roles outside the Punjab region. According to a 19th-century Khatri legend, the Khatris followed the military professoin until the time of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Several Khatris were killed during the Aurangzeb's Deccan Campaign, and the emperor ordered their widows to be remarried. When the Khatris refused to obey this order, Aurangzeb terminated their military service, and directred them to be shopkeepers and brokers.
The Khatris are among the very few non-Brahmin communities that have traditionally studied the Vedas. Khatris were estimated to constitute 9% of the total population of Delhi in 2003.
Arya Samaji Khatris
Dayananda Saraswati was invited to Punjab by prominent individuals who also founded the Singh Sabha, to counter the missionaries. He established Arya Samaj in Lahore in 1877, a society and reform movement which was against casteism, rituals, and idol worship. The group promoted strict monotheism, which Swami Dayanand claimed was the essential message of the Vedas. Arya Samaj became popular among Punjabi Hindus, especially Khatris who were attracted to a similar message by the Sikh Gurus earlier. Arya Samaj inspired individuals like Swami Shraddhanand and institutions like the Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Schools System, started by Lala Hansraj Gupta.
All the ten Sikh Gurus were Khatris. Guru Nanak was a Bedi, Guru Angad was a Trehan, Guru Amar Das was a Bhalla, and the rest of the Gurus were Sodhis. During the lifetime of the Gurus, most of their major supporters and Sikhs were Khatris. A list of this is provided by Bhai Gurdas in Varan Bhai Gurdas, a contemporary of the Sikh Gurus.
Other Khatris influential in the history of Sikhism include:
- Bhai Daya Singh, the first of the Panj Pyare (the initial members of the Khalsa), belonged to the Sobti clan of the Khatris.
- Hari Singh Nalwa (1791–1837), the Commander-in-chief of the Khalsa army of the Sikh Empire.
- Ludhiana: Churamani, Nanda, Khullar, Jerath, Chopra and Vij/Vig
- Jagraon: Bahl, Kapoor, Mehra, Seth, Beri and Dhir
- Machhiwara and Bahlolpur: Batte, Sondhi and Karir with
- Raikot: Sehgal and Thapar
- Khanna, Ludhiana: Had and Cham
After the partition, the different Khatri castes have widely dispersed.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Khatri.|
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