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Bengali Brahmins

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A Bengali Brahmin priest

The Bengali Brahmins are Hindu Brahmins who traditionally reside in the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, currently comprising the Indian state of West Bengal and the country of Bangladesh. When the British left India in 1947, carving out separate nations, many Brahmins, whose original homes were in the newly created Islamic Republic of Pakistan, migrated en masse to be within the borders of the newly defined Republic of India, and continued to migrate for several decades thereafter to escape Islamist persecution.[1][2]

The Bengali Brahmins, along with Baidyas and Kayasthas, are regarded among the three traditional higher castes of Bengal.[3] In the colonial era, the Bhadraloks of Bengal were drawn from these three castes, who continue to maintain a collective hegemony in West Bengal.[4][5][6]


The earliest historically verifiable presence of Brahmins in Bengal can be ascertained from Dhanaidaha copper-plate inscription of Kumargupta 1 of the Gupta Year 113 (433 C.E.) which records the grant of land to a Brahmin named Varahasvamin of the Samavedi school.[citation needed]

Traditionally, Bengali Brahmins are divided into the following categories:[7][full citation needed]

  • Rādhi from Radh (region south-west of the Ganges)
  • Varendra, from Vārendra region (North-East) or Puṇḍra. Vārendra originally meant rain-maker magicians.
  • Vaidika (migrants, originally experts of Vedic knowledge)
    • Paschatya Vaidika (Vedic Brahmins from west of Bengal)
    • Dakshinatya Vaidika (Vedic Brahmins from south of Bengal)
  • Saptaśati

Traditional accounts

The different Brahmin communities of Bengal have their own traditional accounts of origin, which are generally found in various genealogical texts known as kulagranthas or kulapanjikas. Other details may also be obtained from court chronicles of various kings of Bengal. Important writers are Harimishra (13th century C.E), Edu Mishra (13th century C.E), Devivara Ghatak (15th century C.E), Dhruvananda Mishra (post 15th century C.E), Vachaspati Mishra, Rajendralal Mitra among others.[citation needed]

Radhi and Varendra

The traditional origin of both Radhi and Varendra Brahmins has been attributed to a king named Adi Sura who is said to have invited five Brahmins from Kolancha (as per Edu Mishra and Hari Mishra[8]) and/or from Kanyakubja (as per Bromley[9]), so that he could conduct a yajña, because he could not find Vedic experts locally.[9] These migrant brahmins were termed as Kulin Brahmins and were supposed to have nine gunas (favoured attributes).[9][10] Some traditional texts mention that Ādiśūra was ancestor of Ballāl Sena from maternal side and five Brahmins had been invited in 1077 C.E. Other texts like Varendrakulapanjika, Vachaspati Mishra's account and Edu Mishra's account attribute a date of 732 C.E for the migration. Additionally, other sources like Sambandhanirnaya, Kularnaba and others attribute various dates like 942 C.E, 932 C.E and others.[citation needed]

Historians have located a ruler named Ādiśūra ruling northern Bengal. But Ballāl Sena and his predecessors ruled over both Bengal and Mithila (i.e., North Bihar). It is unlikely that the Brahmins from Kānyakubja may have been invited to Mithila for performing a yajña, because Mithila was a strong base of Brahmins since Vedic age.[11] However some scholars have identified Ādiśūra with Jayanta, a vassal chief of the Gauda king around middle of 8th century C.E. and is also referred to as a contemporary of Jayapida (779 to 812 C.E) of Kashmir (grandson of Lalitaditya) in Kalhana's Rajatarangini.[citation needed]

Paschatya Vaidikas

Traditionally, they are believed to have migrated from Kanyakubja, the traditional origin of both Radhi and Varendra Brahmins, to Bengal during the medieval period.[12][13]

Dakshinatya Vaidikas

Traditionally it is believed that during his reign, Vijaya Sena (1097 − 1160 C.E), brought Brahmins from regions south of Bengal (most likely, Odisha), who integrated themselves with the varendra brahmins.[14]

Notable people


  1. ^ "Pakistan: The Ravaging of Golden Bengal". Time. 2 August 1971.
  2. ^ Das, S. (1990). Communal Violence in Twentieth Century Colonial Bengal: An Analytical Framework. Social Scientist, 18(6/7), 21. doi:10.2307/3517477
  3. ^ Bandyopadhyay, Sekhar (2004). Caste, Culture, and Hegemony: Social Dominance in Colonial Bengal. Sage Publications. p. 20. ISBN 81-7829-316-1.
  4. ^ Bandyopadhyay, Sekhar (2004). Caste, Culture, and Hegemony: Social Dominance in Colonial Bengal. Sage Publications. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-761-99849-5.
  5. ^ Chakrabarti, Sumit (2017). "Space of Deprivation: The 19th Century Bengali Kerani in the Bhadrolok Milieu of Calcutta". Asian Journal of Social Science. 45 (1/2): 56. ISSN 1568-4849.
  6. ^ Ghosh, Parimal (2016). What Happened to the Bhadralok?. Delhi: Primus Books. ISBN 9789384082994.
  7. ^ cf. Samaj Biplab ba Brahman Andolan, Dinabandhu Acharya Vedashastri
  8. ^ cf. Harimishra, कोलांचदेशतः पंचविपरा ज्ञानतपोयुताः। महाराजादिशूरेण समानीताः सपत्नीकाः॥
  9. ^ a b c Hopkins, Thomas J. (1989). "The Social and Religious Background for Transmission of Gaudiya Vaisnavism to the West". In Bromley, David G.; Shinn, Larry D. (eds.). Krishna consciousness in the West. Bucknell University Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0-8387-5144-2. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Reflections on Kulin Polygamy, p2" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  11. ^ cf. D.D. kosambi, p. 123.
  12. ^ "The Paschatya Vaidik Brahmans of West Bengal : a bio-anthropological study / Sikha Chatterjee".
  13. ^ "Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya [যোগেন্দ্রনাথ ভট্টাচার্য্য] über Brahmanen (1896)".
  14. ^ "Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya [যোগেন্দ্রনাথ ভট্টাচার্য্য] über Brahmanen (1896)".
  15. ^ Bhattacharya, "Raybaghini o Bhurishrestha Rajkahini"
  16. ^ Bhattacharya, "Raybaghini o Bhurishrestha Rajkahini"
  17. ^ Dutt, Ajanta (6 July 2016). "Book review 'A Nation in Making': Banerjea's nation-A man and his history". The Asian Age. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  18. ^ Khan, Fatima (8 April 2019). "Bankim Chandra — the man who wrote Vande Mataram, capturing colonial India's imagination". The Print. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  19. ^ a b "Kishore Kumar birthday: His favourite songs". India Today. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  20. ^ "Protocol to keep President Pranab off Puja customs". Hindustan Times. 11 October 2011. Archived from the original on 31 August 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  21. ^ Littrup, Lisbeth (28 October 2013). Identity In Asian Literature. Routledge. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-136-10426-8.


  • An Introduction to the Study of Indian History, by Damodar Dharmanand Kosāmbi, Popular Prakasan,35c Tadeo Road, Popular Press Building, Bombay-400034, First Edition: 1956, Revised Second Edition: 1975.
  • Atul Sur, Banglar Samajik Itihas (Bengali), Calcutta, 1976
  • NN Bhattacharyya, Bharatiya Jati Varna Pratha (Bengali), Calcutta, 1987
  • RC Majumdar, Vangiya Kulashastra (Bengali), 2nd ed, Calcutta, 1989.
  • Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath (1896). Hindu Castes and Sects: An Exposition of the Origin of the Hindu Caste System and the Bearing of the Sects toward Each Other and toward Other Religious Systems. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink. p. iii.
  • Dutta, K; Robinson, A (1995), Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-14030-4