Karan (caste)

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"Karn" redirects here. For the Marvel Comics character, see Karn (comics).
Religions Hinduism
Languages Oriya and Telugu[1]
Populated States Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana

Karan (also known as Karanam and Mohanty) is a caste found predominantly in Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. They fulfill same functions of Kayasthas elsewhere.[2]


The name Karan in Sanskrit means a doer. The derivation of Mohanty is obscure.[2]

Religion and culture[edit]

The Karans like the Kayasthas claim to have descended from Chitragupta. They are divided into two subcastes in Orissa viz. Jhadua and Utkal. Some of them identify as Brahminical gotras yet some seem to be totemistic in origin. They identify as Smarthas, Madhwas and observe holidays and sacraments like all other Hindus.[2]

Historical social hierarchy[edit]

The social status of the Karan is a contested issue. Surajit Sinha noted in 1993 that in surveys of Orissa communities, the Karan identify themselves as ranking second of nine communities (below only Kshatriya), while the Mahishya caste rank the Karan as fourth, and the Keora caste rank them as seventh, above only the Dhopa caste and Muslims.[3]

The 1932 Indian Caste Customs noted that some well-to-do members of the Chasa caste (reckoned "clean Shudras") are admitted to the Karan ("a twice-born caste") and assume the title of Mahanti. These social mobilities engendered the folk expressions "rising, rising to Mahanti, falling, falling to Chasa" and "he who has no caste calls himself Mahanti."[4] For this reason, many Karan eschew the term Mohanty as devalued by these transitions.[5]


  1. ^ Jaya Krishna Baral; Kumudini Patnaik (1 December 1990). Gender politics: a study of socio-economic condition and political participation of working women of Orissa. Discovery Publishing House. p. 30. ISBN 978-81-7141-103-0. 
  2. ^ a b c Russell, Lai, R.V., R.B.H. (1995). The tribes and castes of the central provinces of India, Volume 1. Asian Educational Services. pp. 343–345). ISBN 9788120608337. [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ Surajit Sinha (1 January 1993). Anthropology of Weaker Sections. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 98–. ISBN 978-81-7022-491-4. 
  4. ^ L.S.S. O'Malley (12 December 2013). Indian Caste Customs. Cambridge University Press. pp. 33–. ISBN 978-1-107-65740-3. 
  5. ^ L. E. B. Cobden-Ramsay (1910). Feudatory States of Orissa: Bengal District Gazetteers. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 63–. ISBN 978-81-7268-216-3.