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For the English name, see Butt (name).
For the Village Bhat, see Bhat, Daskroi.
Bhats in western India (c. 1855-1862).

Bhat (Hindustani: भट (Devanagari), بھٹ (Nastaleeq)), also spelled as Butt (Pahari: بٹ),[1][2][3] both of which are a shortened rendition of Bhatta, also spelled Bhatt, (Hindustani: भट्ट (Devanagari), بھٹٹ (Nastaleeq)),[4][2] is a common surname in India and Pakistan.


Historians state the surname is a distorted form of Bhatta, which originates from Sanskrit (भटट), meaning "scholar" according o the Brāhmaṇa.[5] While the original shortened rendition of "Bhatta" was "Bhat" or "Bhatt,"[4] many of the migrants to the Punjab region started spelling their surname as "But" or "Butt" which is the spelling of the clan used in the Pahari language.[3][6][7]


The earliest reference of Bhatt can be found in Chandragupta Maurya's empire. In Mudrarakshasa, while describing different divisions in Chandragupta's army, a reference can be found to Bhatt-Bala. Here Bala means a division, hence Bhatt-Bala would mean a division composed of Bhatt.

People named Bhat or Butt were said to be a clan of Brahmin descendants of intellectual Vedic and Dardic saints that inhabited the banks of the Saraswati River, which ran dry around 2000 BC. This forced the community to migrate to the Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent in search of "ultimate truth".[8]

Geographic distribution[edit]


The Bhatt of South India were said to be invited there King Pratapa Rudra of the Kshatriya dynasty of Warangal (1295 to 1323) After the fall of this dynasty, the Bhatraju became court bards and entertainers for a number of Vellama and Reddi chiefs who had carved out small principalities for themselves in the Telegu country. The Bhatraju are now a Telugu speaking community[9]


The surname is in use among some Konkani Christians who trace their ancestry to the Goud Saraswat Brahmins of Goa.[10]


Bhat, also spelled as Butt, is a Kashmiri surname, found among individuals native to the Kashmir Valley of India, as well as Kashmiri émigrés who have migrated to the Punjab,[1][11][12][13] a region divided between India and neighbouring Pakistan.[6] Kashmiris bearing the surname Bhat/Butt belong to the larger Bhat caste of Brahmins found in the rest of the India;[4][3][2] the surname is shared by both Hindus and Muslims.[14][15]


In the Punjab Province of British India, the Hindu Bhats of Hissar were "found [in] two sub-castes, Brahm and a few Raj."[16] The Muslim Bhats living in Hissar dated their conversion from Hinduism to Islam to the period of Alamgir's reign.[17] Some Muslim Bhats/Butts found in the Punjab migrated from Kashmir and Jammu during the 1878 famine,[7][6] and are Brahmin Hindu converts to Islam.[1][2][18]

In areas such as the Punjab region most of the Northern Hindu Saraswat Brahmins and some various other northern Hindu castes, such as Rajputs converted to the Sikh Bhat/Bhatra sangat during the missionary efforts of prince Changa Bhat Rai who earned the title "Bhat Rai", who was the grandson of Raja Shivnabh, a Hindu king who had met Guru Nanak and converted to Sikhism during the 16th century.[19] During the 14th to 16th century many Saraswat Brahmins were forced to lead unsettled lives due to religious oppression, unable to practice their hereditary profession as Hindu priests, artists, teachers, scribes, technicians class (varna). They used their academia in there unsettled life travelling as scribes, genealogies, bards and astrologists. In the 15th century the religion of Sikhism was born causing many to follow the word of Guru Nanak Dev. The Sikhs also share the Bhat heritage, and are known as the Bhat or Bhatra and Bhatta sangat and were amongst the first followers of Guru Nanak.[20] Even though Sikhism itself does not support separation by caste, the social system meant that the Bhatra followed a hereditary profession of travelling missionaries, scribes, genealogies, bards astrologists and itinerant salesman;[21] however it is not uncommon to see Bhats in other professions such as farming and retail.

A sizeable population of Bhatt Brahmins have made the peaceful hills of Himachal and Garhwal their home. Bhatts found in these states usually trace their origin from Gujrat and Sindh. During the Muslim political turmoil in North India, many of them left their ancestral homes and made Himalayas their home. Bhatt Brahmins are respected in Garhwali villages and act as priests, jyotishis and astrologers. They also played an important role in the court of Garhwali kings. In terms of physical appearance they share similarities with North Indians but have a distinct hazel eyes like Central Asians. Also their most characteristic facial feature is a long, beak like nose and broad forehead. They are usually tall and muscular with long limbs.


Bhat are also a caste in Sindh the famous Sindhi singer Barkat Bhat is a notable Bhat.


The term Bhattaraka has been used in spirituality. In Jainism the term is used to mean priest.

There exists the deity Vaidyanatha Bhattarka, whose idol exists in the Pulindeshvara Temple of Orissa.[22]

The Buddhist goddess Tara is also known as Bhattarika.

In the Bengal and Orissa, worship of another goddess Bhattarika exists. There is a festival in her name in Sasanga (near Badamba Tehsil of Cuttack), Orissa.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Journal of the Anthropological Survey of India. The Survey. 2003. Retrieved 10 January 2015. The But/Butt of Punjab were originally Brahmin migrants from Kashmir during 1878 famine. 
  2. ^ a b c d The quarterly journal of the Mythic society (Bangalore)., Volume 96. The Society. Retrieved 2010-12-02. Even today most common family name in Kashmir is Butt, a distortion of Bhatt, a Hindu surname common amongst the Brahmins in India. 
  3. ^ a b c "Madras journal of literature and science, Volume 4". Athenæum Press. Retrieved 2010-12-02. Bhatt (vulgarly Butt) is the distinctive name of a class of Bramins in the north; and in the south the same class bear the distinctive title of Pattar.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Madras_Literary_Society_and_Auxiliary_of_the_Royal_Asiatic_Society" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ a b c Saligram Bhatt. Kashmiri Scholars Contribution to Knowledge and World Peace. Retrieved 2010-12-02. Bhat {Bhatt} surnames are found in Uttaranchal, Northern Belt, Central and Western parts of the country and is a surname of sizeable Brahmins in Konkan, Maharashtra and Gujarat; where they had migrated in sizeable strength. Bhatta's who migrated to Gauda {Bengal} were called Acharaya's {Scholars} and thus Bhattacharaya's. In Nepal they became priests, ardent worshippers of Bhadrakali and spread Kali worship; mostly around Pashupatinath Temple. In Uttaranchal they became Purohit {Priestly} class, adopted surname Purohit, many changed profession but retained Bhatt surname. In northern plains, few became Bhatta's, many Bhatt's; in both cases Purohit {Priestly} class. In Central and Western parts, strict requirements of a Bhatta {Purohit} could not be sustained and to indicate their Brahmin roots they opted for surname only. Thus Bhatta and Purohit are surnames of the same category. Bhatta has a shortened version, Bhat {Bhatt}; referring to the same class of people. Surname Bhat {Bhatt} in Kas'mira can also be traced to short form of Bhatta. In Kas'mira, Bhatta honorific has been associated with many personalities, scholars of 9th and 10th centuries, scriptures and specific in many cases in 14th century and later.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Saligram_Bhatt" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ For definition of ब्राह्मण brāhmaṇa, with last syllable showing a Vedic accent, used as a noun as "m. (having to do with Brahman or divine knowledge), one learned in the Veda, theologian, priest, Brāhman, man of the first four castes"; and definition of ब्राह्मण brāhmaṇa, with only first syllable showing a Vedic accent, used as an adjective as "a. (i) belonging to a Brāhman, Brāhmanic", see: Macdonell 1924, p. 199.
  6. ^ a b c The Journal of the Anthropological Survey of India, Volume 52. The Survey. Retrieved 2010-12-02. The But/Butt of Punjab were originally Brahmin migrants from Kashmir during 1878 famine. 
  7. ^ a b P.K. Kaul. Pahāṛi and other tribal dialects of Jammu, Volume 1. Eastern Book Linkers. Retrieved 2010-12-02. The But/Butt of Punjab were originally Brahmin migrants from Kashmir during 1878 famine. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Bhatt pages 141 to 142 in The last wanderers : nomads and gypsies of India by Tejinder Singh Randhawa ISBN 0-944142-35-4
  10. ^ Sarasvati's Children: A History of the Mangalorean Christians, Alan Machado Prabhu, I.J.A. Publications, 1999, p. 137
  11. ^ Explore Kashmiri Pandits. Dharma Publications. Retrieved 2010-12-02. 
  12. ^ A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Nirmal Publishers and Distributors. Retrieved 2007-03-25. The most important Kashmiri element is in Indian Punjab and is found in the cities of Ludhiana and Amritsar, which still contain large colonies of weavers, employed in weaving carpets and finer fabrics. 
  13. ^ Kashmiris’ contribution to Ludhianvi culture. The Tribune. Retrieved 2007-03-25. In fact, the Ludhiana hosiery industry owes its origin to Kashmiris. According to the Ludhiana District Gazetteer, during a devastating famine in the 19th century a number of Kashmiris migrated to Ludhiana. They are known world over for their handicraft skills. They started weaving woollen fabric here. Slowly the trade got popular and Ludhiana started to be identified with hosiery only. 
  14. ^ Parvéz Dewân. Parvéz Dewân's Jammû, Kashmîr, and Ladâkh: Kashmîr. Manas Publications. Retrieved 2010-12-02. This is a surname shared by Hindus and Muslims. 
  15. ^ Sharma, Usha (1 January 2001). Political development in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Radha Publications. ISBN 9788174870629. Retrieved 11 January 2015. Surnames like 'Bhatt' and 'Pandit' are common to both Hindus and Muslims. 
  16. ^ Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province. Asian Educational Services. 1 December 1996. p. 99. ISBN 9788120605053. The organisation of the Hindu Bhats almost baffles description, so fluid are its intricacies. In Hissar are found two sub-castes, Brahm and a few Raj. The former are clients of the Mahajans, performing certain functions for them at weddings, &c.; they wear the janeo, avoid widow marriage and only eat food cooked by a Gaur Brahman, while the Raj are landholders and cultivators, receiving dues at Jat weddings. 
  17. ^ Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province. Asian Educational Services. 1 December 1996. p. 99. ISBN 9788120605053. The Muhammadan Bhats are even fewer in numbers than the Hindu, and far less elaborately organised. In Hissar they date their conversion to Alamgir's reign, and still continue to minister to Mahajans and other Hindus as well as to Mughals and Pirzadas, but Shaikhs only fee them at a daughters wedding; as do also oilmen and weavers who give them 8 annas. But they get fees on the birth of a son. 
  18. ^ Rose, H.A. (1 January 1997). Glossary Of The Tribes And Castes Of The Punjab And North-west Frontier Province, Vol. 2. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 479. ISBN 9788185297699. But (Bat), Pandits and Brahman proselytes. 
  19. ^ Haqiqat Rah Muqam shivnabh raje ki page 624 [p.1248]khari
  20. ^ HA Rose, Glossary of Tribes and Castes of the Punjab (Lahore 1883), quoted by Pradesh
  21. ^ HA Rose, Glossary of Tribes and Castes of the Punjab (Lahore 1883), quoted by Pradesh
  22. ^ P. 103 Tāntric art of Orissa By Jitāmitra Prasāda Siṃhadeba
  23. ^ P.408 Land and people of Indian states and union territories: in 36 volumes. Orissa By S. C. Bhatt, Gopal K. Bhargava