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Rani Rashmoni, born to a Mahishya family, founder of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple in Calcutta

Mahishya, also spelled Mahisya, is a Bengali Hindu agrarian caste.The Mahishya also known as Sadgop people.The name Sadgop is derived from the two Sanskrit words: 'Sad' means good and 'Gop' means milkman. They are believed to be the descendants of lord Krishna. The Sadgop are a land owning community. Agriculture is their traditional and primary occupation. It is believed that the Mahishyas are basically 'Haliya' Kaibartas or 'Chashi' (ploughmen) Kaibartas, who separated their identity from the Jaliya kaibartas and the Haldars who were used as plough mens in earlier times. The Mahishyas from Bengal and adjoining regions they formed the Mahishya mahasabha and pushed for their caste identity as forwards during the Raj. The Mahishyas included big zamindars to small landowners. They enjoyed support from the Raj due to their responsive duty as tax collectors and agricultral supervisions. [1][2] The Mahishyas do not enjoy any reservation benefits and are thus considered as a Forward caste group. They are traditionally found in the Indian states of West Bengal,Tripura and Odisha. Mahishyas are one of the predominant castes in West Bengal, especially in the southern districts of Howrah , Nadia,Murshidabad,Uttar Dinajpur,Dakshin Dinajpur,Purba Medinipur, Hooghly and North 24 Parganas. Some members are now employed in the business and service sectors as well.[citation needed],Nadia,Murshidabad,Uttar Dinajpur,Dakshin Dinajpur and North 24 Parganas where they are mostly congregated in Nadia district among the highest. They constitute more than 60% population in the state of West Bengal.

The titles they use are Sarkar, Roy, Majumdar, Maity, Sasmal, Das, Biswas which is a title entitled by Mughals as they looked in tax reforms in agricultural matters , Mallik, Khan etc.. Their mother tongue is Bengali and Odiya.


According to ancient texts like Manusmriti, the term Mahishya refers to one born to a Kshatriya father and a Vaishya mother, supposed to be engaged in the profession of music, astronomy or agriculture.[3][4] Some sources mention Vira Sena (or Adisura), founder of the Sen family, as a Mahishya.[citation needed] Sadgop have several gotras such as Sandilya, Kashyap, Bharadwaj, Moudgulya and Alambayas and the members of Nabashakha group. It is also believed by some historians that they have migrated from the Mahishmati region presently adjoining areas of Narmada basin.


Although many are still involved in traditional work in rural areas, within a generation Mahishyas gave up agriculture in large numbers in favour of engineering and skilled labour in the urbanised areas of Howrah and Kolkata. In Howrah, the Mahishyas are the most numerous and successful businesspeople. At the turn of the 20th century, much of the land and factories were owned by Kayasthas; but by 1967, the Mahisya community owned 67 percent of the engineering businesses in the district.[5]

Social stigma[edit]

Although the financial, social, and political success of Mahishyas is notable, they have often been stigmatised due to their agrarian roots. Mahishyas have not been averse to manual labour (often considered demeaning by higher castes);[5] for example, Birendranath Sasmal was refused the post of Chief Executive of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation by Chittaranjan Das on the grounds that his appointment would offend the Kayasthas of the city.[6] The job ultimately went to Subhas Chandra Bose.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Openshaw, Jeanne (2002). Seeking Bauls of Bengal. Cambridge University Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-52181-125-5. 
  2. ^ Sharma, Jayeeta (2011). Empire’s Garden: Assam and the Making of India. Duke University Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-82235-049-1. 
  3. ^ Agarwalla, Shyam. S. (1998). Religion and Caste Politics. Rawat Publications. p. 133. 
  4. ^ Kumar, Sangeet (2005). Changing Role of the Caste System: A Critique. Jaipur, India: Rawat Publications. p. 48. ISBN 8170338816. 
  5. ^ a b Lessinger, Johanna M. (1982). "The New Vaishyas". Economic Development and Cultural Change. 30 (4): 920–924. doi:10.1086/452603. 
  6. ^ Maity, Sachindra (1975). Freedom Movement in Midnapore. Calcutta: Firma, K.L.