Barot (caste)

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Barots in western India (c. 1855–1862)

Barot is an Indian caste native to Gujarat and Rajasthan. They traditionally worked as warriors, priests, genealogists and mythographers.[1]

Origin[edit]

The caste is known as Barot, Brahmbhatt, Inamdar, Bardai etc. They were usually involved in the court of the kings in the history. They generally belong to Gujarat and Rajasthan. Some accounts say that they were the generation of Sanjaya who took part in the conversation of Bhagawath Gita. They are known as brahm-Kshatriya. They belong to Kshatriyas that's why their gotras are Kshatriya gotra.The creator of famous story of Prithviraj Chauhan known as PrithvirajRaso, Chand Bardai was from this caste. Some theory mistakenly mixes them with vahivancha caste. According to one theory. Barot is known as brahmbhatts too.

Brahmbhatt Brahmins were superior to all Brahmins. Brahmbhatt is an Indian surname and subcaste traditionally related to the Brahmin caste. Brahmbhatt is derived from the Sanskrit roots "Brahm", meaning "Priest"[1], and "Bhatt", meaning "a brother,to grow"

[2] and possibly indicating the subcaste's position in both the Brahmin and Kshatriya varnas. Brahmbhatt (Devanāgarī ब्रह्मभट्ट) is an Indian surname representing Vedic/Indo-Aryan peoples, to be found mainly across West India and North India, in India. Primarily Warrior Brahmins, this classic social entity possesses the characteristics of Brahmin as well as Kshatriya as per the caste system prevalent in India. Although, they are basically considered to be Brahmins, regarded as Subhatts or Warrior Brahmins. More often they had been nobles and court advisers in kingdoms since Vedic times. In social hierarchy and ranks, the Brahma Bhatt / Brahmbhatt clan has further BrahBhatt at some places, Barot, Balwa, Badva, Bhatt Raja. whereas Brahma Bhatt is originally a distinct ethnic group of a higher rank. Primarily, they were found in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Kashmir, Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Later they are found to have concentrated in Rajasthan and more in Gujarat & Saurashtra regions.

As per mythological accounts and according to Hinduism, this identity has been said to have emerged as human embodiment out of a Yajna / Yagna performed by Brahma and they are even to date regarded as Saraswati Putra (descendents of mother Saraswati) in many parts of Gujarat. Other belief goes that Shiva created a branch for preserving order, and spread art, culture, spiritual knowledge in society, while at the same time protect and secure the society, either by knowledge and enlightenment (Shaastra) or by Astr (at battlegrounds). And as per those beliefs, Brahmabhatts are said to have originated from Devpuri or Alkapuri and Himalayas, traversing across Naimisaranya, Gangetic Belt and Indus & Saraswati territories of Vedic era. Their presence includes Nepal, Kashmir, Punjab, Kannauj, Magadh, Kashi, present day Bengal and Bangladesh, Rajputana, Malva, Surashtra (Saurashtra), Dwarika kingdoms, while spreading up to far West in Europe, primarily occupying present day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Rome, France and Germany under different definition and identity. The fact is Brahmabhatt or Barot often termed as Subhatt or Warrior Bhatts in Vedic times, are found all across Indian Subcontinent, Central Asia, and across Europe. Brahma Bhatts find references in Ramayana, Puranas, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, some Vedic references, many religious scriptures and imperial gazetteers.

Brahmabhatts or Barot migration and concentration in Gujarat At present, those who still have maintained their social, traditional and cultural identity, along with their orthodox constitution, are found in Gujarat, and they are popular as Brahmabhatt. Majority of Brahmabhatts would trace their immediate origin to Rajputana, North India and North West India, including present day Pakistan. Apparently, other title signified to Brahmabhatt in Gujarat is Barot and there are several stories behind them being called as Barot. Brahmabhatt or Barot have been present and have played a very crucial and critical part in the History of West, North-west and North India. Presently often referred with the land of Gujarat due to their high population, Brahmabhatts are found in this province since 7th Century; peculiarly since 11th and 12th Century during which several migrations took place from Rajputana towards Gujarat and Saurashtra. However, some old groups across Gujarat and Saurashtra claim to have been present in Surashtra and Dwarika Kingdom since the Mahabharat period.

Identity, Role and Functions They are often said to have natural - god gifted skills and courage to teach difficult subjects pertaining to spirituality, socialism, bravery, diplomacy, humanity, religion and cosmology to people in very understandable and simple form, at the same time, they can offer themselves readily at the battlegrounds, as and when needs be any. And thus, traditionally they are said to have characteristics and duties that of Brahmin and Kshatriya (Rajput), although they are more inclined to and known for their Kshatriya character and such traits. Strict followers and devout of Shakti (Goddess / Devi) they are generally Shaivites, these Brahma Bhatts were known for their dominant following to celibacy, vision, diplomacy, truth, justice, discipline, their promises, sacrifice and penance. Function and Profession Those in traditions of preaching, poetry and genealogy were sometimes alleged for exaggeration and fabrication of matter, however facts and truth still remained there in subtle form. Significantly, during feudal era, and after barbarian attacks and subsequent invasions, the emerging poor socio-economic picture of India prompted other tribes and castes too to indulge into the fields and profession of Brahma Bhatts, eventually picking up as and introducing themselves as Bhat/Bhatt/Brahmbhatt, which would result into literature and poetry of superficial and excessive nature. At the same time, growing population and political - vocational transitions may have attributed to this aspect where their main income source would remain their literature and available service sectors at subjected times. Primarily they were: Advisers & Nobles in kingdoms Court Poets & Poets Historians Litterateur Diplomats & Notary Warriors Preachers & Priests Story-tellers Artists & Folk Artists Singers / Bards Genealogists, etc. Overlooking ancient mythological accounts, some historical research works suggest that it is mentioned in ‘Shrimad Bhagwad Gita’ that kings (Kshatriyas/ warriors) of that time used to get their daughter to ‘Rishi’ (Brahmins) in order to serve or worship them. The mixed breed of Brahmins and Kshatriyas were called ‘Brahmbhatt’= Brahm (Kshatriya) + Bhatt (Brahmin). Thus, Brahmbhatt ‘Sanskar’ (knowledge) of Brahmin, due to the Brahmin father and ‘Rakt’ (Blood) of Kshatriya, due to Kshyatriya Mother. There are some examples like 1. Chavan Rishi, great Brahmin of his time, was made marry to a king’s daughter. 2. King Dushyant’s daughter was given to a rishi. Brahmbhatts were given due respect in society and were called ‘Deviputra’ (Son of God). They used to be in ‘Rajdarbar’ (committee of the king) as a poet or adviser of king. It remained in practice for a long time through feudal era that only Brahmbhatts had rights to speak against king or interfere in his talks of decisions. There is a saying in Gujarati ‘Raja no ghodo rokvano hakk fakta Barot nej’ it means, ‘Only Barot has right to stop horse of the King’. Brahmbhatts are very ready wit as, it is said, Goddess Saraswati is placed on their tongue and may be that’s the reason Brahmbhatts got surname of ‘Barot’= Bar (12) + Hoth (Lips), even Birbal was Barot. According to their role in the society and their talents, Brahmbhatts got different surnames like Barot, Dasondi, Sharma, Inamdar,etc.

Transformation, Social Highs and Lows During their another successive immigration from kingdoms of Rajputana to Gujarat, they were divided into different levels under their caste. And this is when and where the other castes with a little similar social/cultural orientation, such as Charan, Gadhvi, Vahivancha, Bhat/Bhaat, Bards, etc. who are found across Gujarat have inherited and followed some practices and profession which the Brahmabhatts would do once in a while, such as poetry, story-telling, writing, worship, etc. These phenomenons, along with genealogy became chief identity of other above groups of Charan, Gadhvi, Vahivancha, etc. and later, it became significant to have an official/principal Barot for eventual cross-breeding gave birth to many divisions and emergence of a high-to-low social chronology in this caste. During the reign of Gayekead in Gujarat, many Brahmbhatts got converted into Barot because ‘Baharvatiya’ (pirates of that time) were only leaving ‘Bawa (Sadhu/ Prophet), Baman (Brahmin) and Barot’ while raiding people. Baharvatiyas used to inform the person to be looted 24 hours in advance sending them ‘Jasachitthi’ (Raid-note). One of the writers mentions, the Grandfather of his Grandmother was sent this Jasachitthi by Mirkha, a very famous pirate of his time, but he (great maternal grandfather) was not looted as pirates came to know that he was Brahmbhatt (Barot). Eunuchs, even today, give due respect to Barot as they are known as Deviputra (Goddess's own child), and in history, a Barot used to drive the chariot of Goddess Bahuchara. Eunuchs believe in Goddess Bahuchara as she is their ‘Kud-devi’ (Progeny Goddess). So, now, if you come to India and have to face any eunuch just say that you are Barot, He/she will leave you.

Present circumstances[edit]

At present, the traditional occupation of Barots is on the verge of extinction as the new generation of the casts/communities for whom they worked as Barots, no longer patronize them. Further, the young generation of Barots, also have got involved in other occupation and businesses and higher studies.[2]

Barot is a commonly found surname in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Barot, Inamdar, are some of the surnames belonging to this caste or community.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shah, A. M.; Shroff, R. G. (1958), "The Vahīvancā Bāroṭs of Gujarat: A Caste of Genealogists and Mythographers", The Journal of American Folklore, American Folklore Society, 71 (Traditional India): 246–276 
  2. ^ People of India Gujarat Volume XXII Part One edited by R.B Lal, S.V Padmanabham & A Mohideen page 137 to 140 Popular Prakashan