Nagar Brahmins

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This article is about the social caste. For the moth family, see Brahmaeidae. For similarly spelled words, see Nagar (disambiguation).
Nagar Brahmin
नागर ब्राह्मण
Jai Hatkesh logo.jpg
Varna Brahmin
Gotra See list below
Veda Based on the Surname
Kuladevta (male) Hatkeshwar
Kuladevi (female) Based on the Surname
Guru Thakurji
Nishan Kalam, Kadchhi, Barchhi
Religions Om.svg Hinduism
Languages Gujarati, Malvi, Hindi, English
Country India, USA, Canada
Populated States Gujarat, Rajasthan, New Jersey, Illinois, Ontario
Region Malwa, Mumbai, Kolkata
Ethnicity Indian
Migration to India Ancient Greece-Hindu Kush
Notable members Narsinh Mehta, see list below
Subdivisions Vadnagara, Visnagara, Prashnora, Sathodra, Chitroda, Krashnora
Nagar Brahmins in western India (c. 1855-1862).

Nagars are believed to be one of the oldest of the Brahmin groups found primarily in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Malwa and in states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar even as far as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh in the north, West Bengal in the east and Karnataka in the south.

"Hatkeshwar Mahadev Temple Vadnagar"

Origin[edit]

The oldest account of the Nagars is given in the Nagar Khand, a part of the Skanda Purana.[1] There are several theories regarding the origin of the Nagars. They all connect them with the Nags in one way or another, although they have no historical foundation. Later discoveries by historians throw light on their origin. Among these, three distinct pravaradhyay relating ancestry and Pravaras of these Brahmins discovered by Late Vallabhji Haridat Acharya, provide authentic information regarding the origin of Nagar Brahmins. One amongst these gives a list of 13 Sharmans used by the Nagar Brahmins 700 years ago. They are Datta, Gupta, Nand, Ghosh, Sharman, Das, Varman, Nagadatta, Trat, Bhut, Mitra, Dev and Bhav. This is further supported by the fact that three of these Sharmans - Mitra, Trat and Datta - are also found among the names of Brahmin grantees in the copper-plate grants of Valabhi Kings, who ruled North Gujarat during 509-766 AD. This also shows that the Nagars first appear in Gujarat during the reign of the Valabhi Kings in the 6th century AD. There is no doubt about the fact that these Sharmans are clan indicators, which are even now used by the Nagars during religious ceremonies. It may further be noted that out of these 13 Sharmans, at least 10 are found among the family names of the Bengali Kayasthas.[2]

The eminent historian D. R. Bhandarkar was the first to point out that the surnames used by the Nagar Brahmins in the recent past are amongst the surnames of Brahmins in whose favour the Kings made grants, as found in early inscriptions between the 6th and 8th centuries AD.[3] Dr. Bhandarkar has shown that the Sapadalaksha Brahmins were the same as the Nagar Brahmins, who were undoubtedly of Alpine origin. Alpine Aryans are believed to have entered India as part of Aryan immigration during the third millennium BC. It has been suggested that the Nagar Brahmins along with the present-day Bengali Kayasthas are amongst the purest forms of this type; they were originally the Brahmin priests of the Alpines, as evident from several early inscriptions, and that probably explains their comparative pure state till now.[4]

Among the early written sources, Nagars are also mentioned in the Skanda Purana, which contains some 81,000 slokas, or hymns.

Mythology[edit]

In mythology, the origin of Nagars is linked to the marriage of Lord Shiv to Uma. Lord Shiva created a sect of Brahmins to perform his marriage with Uma and asked these Brahmins to settle in the Hatkeshwar kshetra. Another tale depicting the origin of Nagars goes telling the story of a Brahmin boy Kratha who was once roaming about Nag Lok-Nag Tirth the abode of Nags (Serpents) and while roaming he happen into a confrontation with Rudamal - the Nag prince. Rudamal was killed in the confrontation. Enraged by the killing of his son, the Nag King vowed to destroy the entire community of the killer of his son and in the process invaded the town, which is believed to be the present day Vadnagar, where Kratha- the Brahmin boy, lived. Several of the Brahmin families living in the town were killed and several families fled the town. The fleeing Brahmin families took refuge with Trijat, a great saint and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Trijat advised the Brahmins to worship and please Lord Shiva, which they did. Lord Shiva, however, expressed his inability in destroying the Nags as they were also his devotees. He however, blessed the Brahmins with the powers with the help of which the Brahmins could nullify the poison of the Nags. The Brahmins returned to their town with the blessings of Lord Shiva and were called Nagars - Na-Gar, i.e. without any poison. (The Nagar community is therefore also revered as the most sacred among the Brahmins as they do not possess any poison in them in the form of any evils.) However, when the Brahmins returned to their town they had grown very old (vriddha) and therefore the town was known as Vriddha Nagar or the city of the old. The name later became Vadnagar. Incidentally, Lord Krishna was also referred to as Nag-Har since he destroyed Kaliya in the river Yamuna.

Another similar story says that the Brahmins of Chamatkarpur were frequently persecuted by the community of Naags. It is believed[by whom?] that a child widow named Bhattika was kidnapped by them. This led to a bitter fight between the Brahmins of Chamatkarpur and Naags. It happened during the reign of King Prabhanjna. A son was born in his house at an inauspicious time. At his request, the Brahmins of Chamatkarpur performed a sacrifice for “shanty” (peace) but all they got in return was an epidemic. The Brahmins came to learn from the fire god that some one among them was not pure. One Prabhavdatta wore the cap, went to the forest, practiced penance and propitiated Lord Shiv. The Brahmins of Chamatkarpur who were persecuted by Naag community sought shelter from Prabhavdatta, who had now the blessings of Lord Shiv. Lord Shiv gave them the Nagara Mantra by which the Naags could be subdued. The Brahmins of Chamatkarpur thereafter once again fought the Naags and defeated them. They accepted Prabhavdatta as their leader and since then Prabhavdatta is known as Bhartiyajna.

Manshankar Pitamberdas Mehta identifies Prabhanjna of Anarta country with the Kshatrapa ruler of Gujarat, King Rudradaman-II. He comes to the conclusion that the fight of the Vadnagara Nagar Brahmins with the Naag community took place in AD 347 and that Vadnagar was regained by the Nagars in AD 348. Hence the significance of the Samvat Year 404 corresponding to AD 348 is invariably referred to by the Vadnagar Nagar Brahmins in the Uptamani, which is read at the end of the Marriage ceremony. It is said[by whom?] that a man of a very low caste once impersonated a Nagar and married a Nagar girl. When the truth came to the knowledge of the girl, she burnt herself to death. After this incident, Prabhavdatta of Bhartiyajna, who had by then laid down special rules and regulations for the benefit of Nagars, declared that no one should have his daughter married without making proper enquiries and thus the custom of reading the Uptamani (the names of the leading members of the two families and other members of the community) came into existence - from Samvat year 404 or AD 348.

Classification[edit]

There are six major Nagar castes (Gnati) called Pshatnagar. They are:
Vadnagara Nagars (from Vadnagar)
Visnagara (from Visnagar)
Prashnora (from Kathiawad)
Sathodra from Sathod
Chitroda from Chitrod
Krashnora or Krishnora

Vadnagara Nagars are known as only Nagars, while other Nagar groups are known as Nagar Brahmins.

Surnames of Nagars/Nagar Brahmins[edit]

Some of the following surnames are also found in other communities.

Derived from geographical (village or city) names:
Anjaria, Antani, Avashia, Badheka, Baxi, Bhachech, Bhatt, Buch, Chhaya, Desai, Dhebar, Dholakia, Dhruva, Divetia, Ghoda, Hathi, Jhala, Joshipura, Kachhi, Kantharia, Kavishwar, Lakhia, Majumdar/Mazumdar, Mankad or Mankar, Munshi, Oza, Pandya, Parghi, Pattani, Trivedi, Unakar, Vachharajani, Vahia, Vasavada, Vaidya, Vaishnav, Veravala, Vora, Vyas, Yagnik

Derived from family ancestry:
Amin, Anantani, Antani, Bavani, Bhatt, Kikani, Majmundar, Maknani, Premapuri, Rana, Rindani, Savani, Vachharajani, Vaishnav, Vyas

Derived from titles awarded by Rajput and Muslim rulers:
These rulers ruled Gujarat for about eight centuries. Nagars were on prominent positions and were awarded many titles. These twenty surnames include names such as:
Amin, Baxi, Bhagat, Desai, Divan, Gharekhan, Janita, Jathhal, Jha, Kothari, Medh, Munshi, Parghi, Pota, Swadia

Derived from professional titles:
Most Nagars are professionals. Many surnames were derived from their professions. These names include:
Acharya, Bhatt, Buch, Diwanji or Divanji, Druv, Jikar, Mandloi, Mankad/Mankodi/Mankar, Mehta, Nanavati, Pandit, Pathak, Purohit, Upadhyay, Vaidya, Vyas

Other names:
Bhatt, Dave, Hathi, Hora, Jani, Kharod, Maharaja, Mankad/Mankodi/Mankar, Okhnis, Thakore, Vyas

There are several surnames used in various regions in Gujarat.
From Kachchh:
Jhala, Kachchhi, Maru, Oza

From Kathiawad:
Bhatt, Dholakia, Jha, Mankad Mankodi/Mankar, Nagar, Oza, Pancholi, Virani, Vyas

The following are surnames of Gujarati Nagar Brahmins:
Acharya, Bhatt, Derasari, Desai, Dixit, Dwivedi, Joshi, Joshipura, Mankad/Mankodi/Mankar, Naik/Nayak, Pandya, Pathak, Pattani, Raval, Shukla, Thakar, Tripathi, Trivedi, Vora, Vyas, Yagnik, Yodh

Famous Nagars[edit]

See also[edit]

Nagar Muslims

References[edit]

  1. ^ Research in Sociology: Abstracts of M.A. and Ph. D. Dissertations Completed in the Department of Sociology, University of Bombay, Concept Publishing Company, 1989, p. 100
  2. ^ R. E. Enthoven (1990). The Tribes and Castes of Bombay. Asian Educational Services. pp. 234–235. ISBN 978-81-206-0630-2. 
  3. ^ S. K. Sharma, U. Sharma (2005). Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Science, Education and Economy. North-East India. Volume 1. Mittal Publications. p. 182. ISBN 978-81-83-24035-2. 
  4. ^ S. K. Sharma, U. Sharma (2005). Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Science, Education and Economy. North-East India. Volume 1. Mittal Publications. pp. 48,176. ISBN 978-81-83-24035-2. 
   ^ http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/2834587#Famous_Nagar_Brahmins
   ^ http://www.dashora.ca/notes/nagar-history.htm

External links[edit]