Kalita (caste)

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The Kalita is a caste or a community of Hindus belonging to the state of Assam in North East India. They commonly claim to belong to the Kshatriya caste.[1] There is evidence of Kalita kingdom in very early times as well as during the 15th-16th century.[2]

Origin[edit]

According to "Purana Tradition", the Kalitas are considered as pure Aryans.[3] Though the Aryan descent theories endorse the arrival of the Kalitas "before the rise of the existing professional castes", the Kalitas generally claim to belong to the Kshatriya caste, and call themselves kulalupta,[1] kula meaning caste and lupta meaning gone ("degraded caste") in the context of the legend that the Kalitas "were Ksatriyas who fled from the wrath of Parasurama who was determined to exterminate the Ksatriyas. But this seems to be a bit of false etymology."[4]

The Kalitas in Assam are considered next only to the Brahmins in the caste-hierarchy.[5][6] According to the legends, they are "the non-Vedic Aryans" who are responsible for bringing Aryan culture to Assam. Having mingled with local population, they still preserve certain elements of Aryan culture even after localizing their culture to some extent.[6]

Dr. B.S. Guha has found similarities between some surnames of "Alpine Nagar Brahmins" of Gujarat with those of North East India, as referred in the Nidhanpur land grants of Kamarupa King Bhaskaravarman (6th century A.D.) such as "Datta, Dhara, Deva, Nandi, Sena, and Vasu, etc. and connects them with the Kalitas of Assam".[7] Again, historian Kanaklal Barua mentions these surnames while referring to the Nidhanpur inscription and says that these surnames "now belong almost exclusively to the Bengali Kayasthas".[8]

Social life[edit]

Mirroring the history of Assam, the Kalitas were peasants, though during the rule of the Ahom dynasty they also proved their might and capabilities as soldiers, generals, administrators, envoys, and judges.

The Ahom paik system surnames of Bora, Hazarika, Saikia, Kakoti, Barua, Rajkhowa, and Phukan can all be found amongst the Kalitas of Assam, which signify that they served the Ahom monarchy. Bora was the leader of 20 paiks (or foot soldiers), Saikia that of 100 paiks and Hazarika that of 1000 paiks. The Baruas led 3000 men, similar to the Rajkhowas. Phukans formed the uppermost layers of the Ahom military and judicio-administrative structure, subservient to the Ahom Borphukans and Borbaruas.[9] Phukans and Baruah are found in the Brahmins, Ahoms and Kalitas of Assam alike. Besides this, Bora, Baruah and Saikia are equally found in the Sutiya community while Hazarika, Rajkhowa are found amongst the Ahoms.Certain posts like "Boiragi" or envoys to neighbouring kingdoms such as the Jaintias (presently in Meghalaya), the Kacharis (Assam), and the Mughal Sultanate in Bengal, were given to Kalitas in preference to Ahoms.[10]

Kalitas also formed part of the revenue system under the Mughal-dominated areas in western Assam. Some of the notable Kalita surnames are Lahkar, Medhi, Baruah, Borah, Barman, Bordoloi, Bhuyan, Phukan, Chaliha, Chowdhury, Deka, Das, Dutta, Thakuria, Khataniar, Tahbildar, Kakoti etc. The Kalitas took an active part and supported the Ek Saraniya Naam Dharma propounded by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva after its appearance in Assam. In present-day Assam, the Kalitas are ubiquitous in every subdivision of Assam and one of its foremost groups, seen in all spheres of life and making their presence felt in the socio-cultural-literary-economic scene of the state.

Notable Kalitas[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Col Ved Prakash (2007). "Encyclopaedia of North-East India, Volume 1". India, Northeastern. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 150. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Pratap Chandra Choudhury (1988). "Assam-Bengal Relations from the Earliest Times to the Twelfth Century A.D". Assam (India). Spectrum Publications. pp. 193, 275. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Manilal Bose (1998). "Social and Cultural History of Ancient India". Hindu civilization. Concept Publishing Company. p. 29. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  4. ^ S. K. Sharma; U. Sharma, eds. (2005). Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Science, Education and Economy. North-East India. Volume 1. Mittal Publications. p. 93. ISBN 978-81-83-24035-2. 
  5. ^ Shiri Ram Bakshi; Sita Ram Sharma; S. Gajrani, eds. (1998). Contemporary Political Leadership in India: Sharad Pawar, the Maratha legacy. APH Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-81-76480-08-6. 
  6. ^ a b G.K. Ghosh (2008). Bamboo: The Wonderful Grass. APH Publishing. p. 184. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  7. ^ The great Indian corridor in the east by Phani Deka
  8. ^ S. K. Sharma; U. Sharma, eds. (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. 
  9. ^ A History of Assam by Sir Edward Gait, page 248–250
  10. ^ A History of Assam by Sir Edward Gait, page 124