Lau clan

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Lau (also spelled Lav) is one of the seven Mohyal clans of Punjab. They are one of the seven lineages constituting the Mohyal community, known for its martial tradition.[1]

Origin and history[edit]

Mythological roots[edit]

The Laus claim descent from Sage Vashishtha, who in Hindu mythology was the Raj Guru or Royal Priest of King Dashratha, the father of Lord Rama. Hence the gotra of the Laus is said to be Vashishtha. A section of Lau families have it recorded as Vats, believed to be a result of an adoption of a person from another Brahmin lineage into the clan at some point in the past.

Early history[edit]

In Mohyals' recorded history however, there is no mention of the Lau clan until around 1000 CE. According to Mohyals' own historians and their folklore, the clan came into prominence by establishing a dheri (fiefdom) at Bajwada near modern-day Kangra in Himachal Pradesh on the border with Hoshiarpur, Punjab. In the Middle Ages Bajwada was an important town, as reflected by the prominence of its mention in Mughal records.[2] Various Mohyal ballads, especially the Vishav Rai Niti, extol the feats and fierce swordsmanship of the early rulers of Bajwada especially Vishav Rai and Ballal Sen, and consist of verses that also glorify the damages inflicted by their armies on the Ghaznavid sultans, when the latter were on their way to or returning from raids of other Indian cities.

Many names of the Lau clan in Mohyal folklore and records closely match names from the Sena dynasty of Bengal, like Ballal Sen and Lau Sen. That, and the coinciding of the Lau clan's appearance in Punjab with the period when the Senas held territories North of Delhi, has led some historians to assert that the Laus descended from among the Senas[3] and are named after Lau Sen, consistent with the known phenomenon of a new clan or caste name coming into being with a notable ancestor. The name Lau Sen is famous in Bengali folklore as well,[4] and consistent with Mohyal tradition the Senas were also of Brahmin lineage but in a Kshatriya role.

An alternate theory based on oral tradition ascribes the Lau clan's origin to Lau Pal, who is also stated to be a ruler of Bajwada[5]

Later history[edit]

The Laus are said to have been uprooted twice from Bajwara, once by Rajput clans and once again with a heavy loss of life at the hands of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb as a punishment for refusing to support his campaigns against the Sikhs. The animosity with Mughals is however said to have subsided in succeeding generations, and one Sur Sen Lau of this clan is said to have held a high rank in the court of the Mughal King Mohammed Shah.[6] In today's times, most Laus carry the surname Mehta or Bakhshi, based on titles acquired under Mughal and Sikh rule.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Muhiyals - The Militant Brahmin Race of India by T.P. Russell Stracey, Lahore 1911
  2. ^ The Punjab under the Mughals, by Muhammad Akbar, Ripon Press, 1948 - Page 21
  3. ^ A Historical Review of Hindu India: 300 BC to 1200 AD, by Panchanana Raya, pages 11, 176
  4. ^ Temples and Legends of Bengal, by Pranab Chandra Roy Choudhury, Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, 1967
  5. ^ The History of Mohyals, by P.N. Bali, 1995 - Page 89
  6. ^ The History of Mohyals, by P.N. Bali, 1995 - Page 91