|Regions with significant populations|
|Marwari, Mewari, Hindi|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Maheshwari are a clan that originates from Khandela, Rajasthan in northwestern India. They are a sub-group within the Marwari and Mewari community. The community is relatively small in population but found throughout India. Many of its members now have migrated abroad for jobs & business as well.
Raja Khadgalsen (rajput) was the ruler of Khandela, Rajasthan, India. He was blessed with two beautiful queens, Rani Suryakuvar and Rani Indrakuvar. However, the king did not have any children, thus no one to carry his name or kingdom. He performed many pujas, yagnas and much charity to help the poor, but to no avail. Finally one day he shared his sorrow with his spiritual advisor, Maharishi Yagyavalk. Maharishi Yagyavalk told him that he was cursed from his previous life and this was the reason he was still childless. Then the Maharishi explained to the king "In your previous life, you earned your living through killing and selling of animals flesh. Once you aimed your bow and arrow at a pregnant deer and killed her. As she died in pain, she placed a curse upon you saying, "You shall be childless!" However you felt guilty from this act and went to Pushkar where you took a bath in the pious pond, to wash off your sins. This religious act helped you become a king in this life. To recover from this past curse, there is one solution that I shall explain to you. Not too far from here in Bhashkar state, there is a Pipal tree, under which a Shivling is buried. You should get this Shivling out and make a beautiful temple for Lord Shiva, in which this Shivling must be embellished with respect and devotion." The king did exactly as he was told, in addition he recited the " Om, Namah Sivaya" shloka for two years. With this pious and religious act, Lord Shiva became happy and the king was blessed with a son, whom he named Sujansen.
Once the prince Sujansen was born, the spiritual advisor made his Kundali, to chart out his graha and nakhshatra. He shared the graha position findings with King Khadgalsen and said "Your son will be handsome, masculine, and powerful; however due to an unforeseen incident he will suffer from sorrow for a short while, but that will eventually result in a happy ending.
The Prince Sujansen was married to princess Chadravati, a daughter of King Yudhaveer. After this marriage, the King Khadgalsen handed over the kingdom to his son Sujansen, and moved to the forest for his retirement. One day King Sujansen went into the forest to hunt with his seventy-two soldiers as part of his routine. As the King and his soldiers were hunting, they got lost and became hungry. Soon, they sensed an aroma, as if someone was cooking good food, and they followed this aroma and reached a place where six rishis were performing yagna for Lord Shiva. Due to extreme hunger, the king and soldiers started eating prasad, drinking water from the nearby pond that was reserved for the yagna puja, and also started washing their stained bows and arrows in it. This broke the rishis' concentration, and they cursed the king and his seventy-two soldiers (umraos) to turn into stones.
Back in the kingdom, the queen and other 72 wives of soldiers were waiting for their husbands to return for months, and finally Queen Chandravati went to see Maharishi Jabali. The Rishi Jabali explained the situation in its entirety and suggested that she and all other 72 wives of soldiers should go to the temple near the pond and worship Lord Shiva for their husbands' lives. At this time, in mount Kailash, in the Himalayas Lord Shiva and his beautiful wife Parvati were residing. Lord Shiva told Parvati that he needs to visit Earth, some of his worshippers were performing yagana and he needs go and show his satisfaction towards the successful completion of yagna. Parvati, loves her husband dearly, and did not like to part from her husband. This time Parvati insisted that she also goes with Shiva to Earth. Lord Shiva said to Parvati, "Dear, you are very kind hearted, you will not be able to bear the pains of the people living on Earth. As always, you will ask me to take away all of their sorrows, so it is better you stay here till my return to Kailashparvath". Parvati insisted and said, "No, I must go with you". After a while, Lord Shiva said, "As you wish!" and they both started their journey to Earth where the rishis were performing the yagna.
As Lord Shiva and Parvati, reached the site, Parvati saw the queen and all other wives were crying for their husbands' stone figures. Lord Shiva explained the situation to Parvati. Parvati immediately said to Lord Shiva "You must give these husbands another life, because when I can not live without you even for a fraction of a second, how can you expect me to leave this place while these wives are so sorrowful in life without their husbands." Lord Shiva said "This is what I was afraid of when you decided to join me for this journey; in any case I must do so". At this point, Lord Shiva brought the king and the other seventy-two soldiers back to life, and told king Sujansen "Because you have performed sinful activities, taking away lives of God's creatures, and have misused your power, you have suffered from this incident. From now on, since I am giving all of you a second life, you will be known after my name as "Mahesh-waris". You will also stop your role of Kshatriya and play a new role of Vaishya, Vaishya Dharama, which is a role of non-violence. Sujansen to compensate for your violent tendency, from now on you will make a living through donations from your other seventy-two Vaishaya brothers and you will perform the task of documenting their family trees". At once, all came to life as if they were awakening from a long sleep.
However, the 72 former umraos were hesitant to accept their wives, since they all still belonged to the Kshatriya caste. At this point Parvati Mata said, "All of you take four parikramas around me, whoever are wife and husband; their gathbandhan will be joined auto-magically". At this, everyone did so, and they re-joined as husbands and wives. Due to this, four pheras (parikramas) are done outside during the Maheshwari weddings as a reminder of their origin. Lord Shiva gave this blessing to the new seventy-two Vaishyas on the 9th day of Jyestha, Shukla Paksh in the year 9 of Yudhisthira Sanvat. On this day, newly wed brides and grooms are appointed to do Lord Shiva and Parvati's puja so that they can also be blessed with children and live a happy and joyous life eternally. While the seventy-two soldiers were bathing in the pond, their bows and arrows were melted, and after this the pond was named "Loh-Garl". Due to the incident in this story, seventy-two new Maheshwari khanp (Last) names were created. After this an additional five Kshatriya last names were also added to the original seventy-two last names.
Maheshwaris are known as prominent members of the Marwari business community (Marwari Bania (caste)). The Marwaris are renowned all over India for having emerged in the nineteenth century as the most prominent group of migrant baniya (intermediary traders, or middlemen) for the British. The growth of this capitalist trader class in late nineteenth-century India was facilitated by the changing nature of the Indian colonial economy.
British economic expansion penetrated existing trading networks, and changing land settlement policies necessitated the payment of taxes in cash rather than in kind, resulting in greater commercialization of agriculture. Since there were no formal banks to provide credit at the time, Marwari traders were drawn to the countryside as moneylenders. There was an extensive system of hundi bills of exchange, which worked somewhat like our modern checking accounts. A hundi was a written order made by one person for payment to another for a certain sum. The exchange, honoring, and discounting of hundis rested on networks of trust, which created important transregional linkages as well as opportunities for the accumulation of wealth. As traders, many Marwaris amassed enough surplus capital to also become moneylenders, and as such facilitated British commercial expansion.
In becoming the conduits for colonial capitalism, the Marwaris migrated from their native Rajputana (then a series of princely states not under direct British rule) to places in British India, where they gained substantially from participation in trade, banking, and commerce.
Though the community has traditionally been mostly traders, since the 1930s some Marwari families have emerged as industrial giants. At present it is estimated that Marwaris control as much as sixty percent of Indian industry, forming an industrial presence easily exceeding that of the Parsis and Gujaratis, groups perceived as "more modern" than the Marwaris. The Monopolies Inquiry Commission of 1964 reported that ten of the largest thirty-seven industrial houses were held by Marwaris, and only two by Parsis. The wealth and assets of the Marwari Birla family may be on par with or even exceed that of the J. R. D. Tata family, who are leading Parsi industrialists. As of 1986, the Birlas, the Singhanias, the Modis, and the Bangurs (all Marwari business houses) accounted for a third of the total assets of the top ten business houses in India. 
The community was once sub-divided into six sections.
Didu Maheshwari in Didwana region (largest group), Paukar Maheshwari, Dhakad Maheshwari, Patwa Maheshwari, Medatwal Maheshwari, Tukawale Maheshwari
However, the community does not recognize any such difference now.
As far as religion is concerned the Maheshwaris namesake does indicate worship of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, however most Maheshwaris are Vaishnavas (so as a general rule, consumption of alcohol and meat is also forbidden). Various specific religious practices, rituals and festivals are also observed by this group.
Within the list of original khanps (72 + 5 later Kshatriya additions), there are also several subcastes of Maheshwari including the following:-
- Agal (Agar)
- gadiya (gadia)
Each sub-caste of Maheshwaries has a kul daivat or kul devta which usually refers to a Goddess who originated that sub-caste and is usually referred to as Mataji. If a Mataji of two sub-castes is the same, it means that the sub-castes are also the same- they just use different surnames. Marriages usually don't take place in such duplicate sub-castes.
Khap (Surname)/Gotra :-
Agiwal/Chandrans, Aagsud/Kaschyap, Ajmera/Manans, Asawa/Panchans, Attal/Gataumasya, Baheti/Silansh, Bajaj/Bhansali, Baladi/Loras, Baldwa/Balans, Bangad/Chudans, Bhandari/Kaushik, Bhansali/Bhansali, Bhattad/Bhattayans, Bhuradya/Achitrans, Bhutda/Attalans, Bidada/Gajans, Birla/Balans, Biyani/Balans, Boob/Musayas, Bung/Sandhans, Chandak/Chandrans, Chaparwal/Kaushik, Chitlangya/Chitlangya, Chechani/Sesans, Chokhda/Chandrans, Daad/Amrans, Daga/Rajhans, Darak/Haridrans, Dargad/Gowans, Devpura/Paras, Dhoopad/Sirses, Dhoot/fafdans, Gadaiya/Gaurans, Gagrani/Kaschyap, Gattani/Dhanans, Gilda/Gataumasya, Heda/Dhanans, Inani/Sasans, Jaju/Balansh, Jakhotiya/Seelans, Jhanwar/Manmans, Kabra/Aachitransh, Kacholya/Seelans, Kahalya/Kagayans, Kalani/Khalans, Kalantri/Kaschyap, Kaliya/Jhumrans, Kankani/Gataumasya, Karwa/Karwans, Kasat/Attlaans, Khatwar/Mugans, Ladda/Seelans, Lahoti/Kagans, Lakhotiya/Fafdans, Malpani/Bhatyas, Malu/Khalansi, Mandhanya/Jaislani, Mandvora/Vachans, Maniyar/Kaushik, Mantri/Kamlas, Modani/Sandans, Mundhra/Gowans, Nawal/Nandans, Nawandhar/Bugdalimb, Nolakha/Gawans, Nyati/Nanased, Pallod/Saadans, Partani/Partani, Porwal/Nanans, Randhad/Kaschyap, Rathi/Kapilans, Saboo/Saboo, Sarda/Thobdans, Sikchi/Kaschyap, Sodhani/Sodans, Somani/Liyans, Soni/Dhumrans, Tapdia/Peeplan, Tawri/Kaschyap, Toshniwal/Kaushik, Totla/Kapilansh, Thepade/Amrans.
Marriages are very flamboyant social affairs in this community as is the case in most Indian marriages. They marry within their own group, like other castes in Hindu and Muslim society. In Maheshwari marriages, a unique ceremony known as the Mama Phere (literally, "rounds around the groom in the lap of maternal uncle") takes place, in which the bride circumnavigates the groom in the lap of her maternal uncle as she would around a sacred yagna fire.
Maheshwari marriages are social events uniting various different people and subclans in this community.
In Maheshwari marriages, a unique ceremony known as the Mama Phere (literally, "rounds around the groom in the lap of maternal uncle") takes place, in which the bride circumnavigates the groom in the lap of her maternal uncle as she would around a sacred yagna fire.
Previously, people used to follow four khaps/sakhas, which means that the marriage cannot be fixed with a family having same sub-caste (surname) or if they share the subcaste with candidates maternal uncle and similar was true for parents khaps. But, nowadays some people follow restrictions for two khaps/sakhas, in such case guys and girls maternal uncles can be from same sub-caste.
This is a partial list of prominent Maheshwaris
- Panchanan Maheshwari - Father of Indian Embryology, Fellow of the royal society and Noble botanist who did India proud by placing it on the world botanical map.
- Palak Muchhal- Singer, social worker, hold Guinness Book of World Records and Limca Book of World Records for great achievements in social work.
- Ghanshyam Das Birla - Notable industrialist
- Kumar Mangalam Birla - An Indian industrialist, the Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group and billionaire
- Rahul Bajaj - An Indian businessman, politician and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Indian conglomerate Bajaj Group and billionaire
- Kishore Biyani - Chief executive officer (CEO) of Future Group,Managing Director of Pantaloon Retail and billionaire
- Brij Bhushan Kabra - Notable Indian musician
- Jugal Kishore Birla- industrialist, philanthropist and vocal supporter of Hindu philosophy.
- Ghanshyam Sarda-Notable industrialist
- Shivkissen Bhatter-was among the first Maheshwaris who, in 1918, ventured to start a jute mill
- Brajlal Biyani-an Indian independence activist and writer.
- Richa Pallod- Actress
- Renu Khator- President and Chancellor of University of Houston and the first Indian American to lead a major research university in the United States.
- Basant Kumar Birla-chairman of the Krishnarpan Charity Trust, BK Birla Institute of Engineering & Technology (BKBIET), and various educational trusts and institutes also a Notable industrialist.
- Aditya Vikram Birla-Notable industrialist
- Krishna Kumar Birla-Notable industrialist
- Kanika Maheshwari- Actress
- Bhawani Shankar Chowdhry-Pakistani ICT Professional and an electronics engineer.
- Kiran Maheshwari- Former member of 14th Lok Sabha, National Vice President BJP
- Suneet Maheshwari- MD & Chief Executive of L&T Infrastructure Finance Co Ltd.
- Anand Kabra- Indian fashion designer
- Ram Chandra Maheshwari- Indian politician
- Surajratan Fatehchand Damani-Notable industrialis
- Rajkumar Dhoot-politician
- Rajnikant Ajmera- Industrialist
- Poonam Jhawer - Actress.
- Darpan Inani- is a prolific blind Indian chess player from Vadodara. He is the second highest rated blind chess player in India with an ELO rating of 2041 as of Oct 2013.
- Sitaram Jajoo-politician
- Vikas Kalantri-actor
- Madhusudan Kela- Chief Investment Strategist at Reliance Capital
- Shankar Sarda- Journalist/editor.
- Vimal Mundada-politician
- Priyanshi Somani-mental calculator
- Sanjay Bangar-cricketer
- Kiku Sharda-comedian. Plays character of Palak in Comedy nights with Kapil
- Aarti Bajaj-Indian film editor
- People of India Uttar Pradesh Volume XLII Part Two edited by A Hasan & J C Das Manohar publications page 925
- Hardgrove, Anne. "The Marwaris in Calcutta". 1897-1997. Columbia University Press. Retrieved 3/12/2014.
- "Panchanan Maheshwari definition of Panchanan Maheshwari in the Free Online Encyclopedia.". encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2014-01-28.
- "About Samaj". themaheshwari.org. Retrieved 2014-01-28.