Sarak

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For other uses, see Sarak (disambiguation).
Sarak
সরাক
Statue of Adinath at Pakbirra Jain Shrine of Purulia 05.jpg
Lord Adinath at Pakbirra
Religions Jainism
Languages Bengali, Hindi
Populated states Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar

The Saraks (Bengali: সরাক) (from Sanskrit Śrāvaka) is a community in Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa . They have been followers of Jainism since ancient times, however were isolated and separated from the main body of the Jain community in western, northern and southern India. The governments of India and West Bengal both have classified Saraks under Other Backward Classes since 1994.[1]

History[edit]

Pakbirra Jain Temples, Purulia

The Saraks are an ancient community in Jharkhand and Bengal. British anthropologist Edward Tuite Dalton noted that according to the Bhumij tradition in Singhbhum district, the Saraks were early settlers in the region.[2] According to Santosh Kumar Kundu, the Saraks arrived from the north western region of India, presently in Uttar Pradesh. In the region between the rivers Barakar and Damodar, two democratic republics, Shikharbhum and Panchakot, flourished. Later they merged and came to be known as Shikharbhum, with the capital at Panchakot. According to Ramesh Chandra Majumder, the Jain scholar Bhadrabahu, the second Louhacharya and the author of Kalpa Sutra may have come from the Sarak community.[3] The Saraks were agriculturists and moneylenders having landed properties.

They have continued to remain vegetarian even though this practice is uncommon among other communities in the region. Saraks have Parshva as a favored patron and recite the Ṇamōkāra mantra. They revere both Hindu and some Jain idols.

The region is called Vajjabhumi in ancient texts because diamonds were once mined in the region.[4] The Tirthankara Mahavira visited this region according to the Kalpa Sūtra.The low profile ‘Sarak’ solely depends on agriculture for their livelihood. One can see numerous youngsters carrying axe in their hands who are unaware of the modernity of the progressive society. On the one hand where we feel highly responsible towards Indian values, there are ‘Sarak’, who are not even acquainted with education, technology and art. Peaceful and simple by nature, ‘Sarak’ people claim with proud that none of them have ever been to jail for committing any kind of crime. They are well accomplished in the art of arbitration and do not believe in any kind of violence. They do not even use words like, ‘kill’ or ‘cut’ in their daily conversation. They celebrate Jain festivals like Mahaveer Janam Kalyanak.

A group of Saraks from northern parts of Purulia district migrated to the Subarnarekha valley and established a small state by the name Ruam. There is a village existing by the same name in Musabani Block of East Singhbhum district very close the Uranium town of Jaduguda. They are the people who started mining of Copper ore for the first time in Singhbhum Shear Zone which is now famous for mining of precious metals such as Copper, Gold, Silver and Uranium. The Saraks of Ruam also mastered the art of smelting of copper. It is also evident that famous ancient port of Tamralipta ows its name to the copper mined and processed in the Sarak country of Ruam which was exported to the South East Asian kingdoms in a large scale.

Separation and rediscovery[edit]

7.5 feet statue of Shitalanatha, Purulia

The Saraks lost contact with Jains in the rest of India after its conquest by Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji. Contact with the Digambara Bundelkhand Jains was reestablished when the Parwars Manju Chaudhary (1720–1785) was appointed the governor of Cuttack by the Maratha Empire.

Saraks are concentrated in Purulia, Bankura and Burdwan district of West Bengal and Ranchi, Dumka and Giridih districts and Singhbhum region of Jharkhand. The Saraks belonging to most of Jharkhand and West Bengal are Bengali speakers while those living in historical Singhbhum region speak Singhbhumi Odia.

In 2009, more than 165 Sarak Jains living in parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar visited the ancient Jain pilgrimage center of Shravanabelagola. A special function to welcome the Sarak Jains was organised at Shravanabelagola.[5]

A social organization called, 'Sarak Samaj Unnayan Samity' is working for the welfare of sarak community. Its main goals include eradicating dowry system from the Sarak community.

Professions[edit]

Statue of Ambika at Pakbirra Purulia

In the past they were engaged in copper mining in the region.[6] Most Saraks are farmers engaged in rice cultivation. Some of them have shops related to agriculture. Many are well educated. There are some teachers, doctors and professors in this community. It has been found that in this region Sarak students are excellent in education.

List of villages[edit]

  1. Basudih
  2. Udaypur
  3. Dhadkidih
  4. Mohula
  5. Upardih
  6. Ichar
  7. Bagicha
  8. Jhapra
  9. Patharbandh
  10. Kanshibera
  11. Mongram
  12. Gobindapur
  13. Senera
  14. Khajra
  15. Antumajirdih
  16. Laragora
  17. Bhagabandh
  18. Gourangodih
  19. Metyalsahar
  20. Raghunathpur
  21. Nanduara
  22. Gobindapur
  23. Ekunja
  24. Beniasole
  25. Gosaidanga
  26. Nutandih
  27. Durmat
  28. Bathan
  29. Kanchkiyari
  30. Naragoria
  31. Ghutitora
  32. Kelahi
  33. Simlon
  34. Khajura
  35. Upar Khajura
  36. Layekdanga
  37. Senera
  38. Sikratanr
  39. Lachmanpur
  40. Jumduara
  41. Bero
  42. Puraton Bero
  43. Bagicha
  44. Kanthalbero
  45. Brindabanpur
  46. Kalapathar
  47. Panchmahali
  48. Upar Panchpahari
  49. Nama Panchpahari
  50. Biltora
  51. Dhanardanga
  52. Bangsagram
  53. Gobag
  54. Lachiya
  55. Janardandi
  56. Hetabahal
  57. Anthumajirdih
  58. Patharbandh
  59. Sarapdhar
  60. Talajuri
  61. Mohulkoka
  62. Indrabil
  63. Gourangdih
  64. Babirdih
  65. Rajra
  66. Murlu
  67. Radhamadhabpur
  68. Bodma
  69. Lalpur
  70. Metyalsahar
  71. Bhagabandh
  72. Kashibera
  73. Managram
  74. Barda
  75. Sundrabandh
  76. Paranpur
  77. Alkusa
  78. Fuliddi
  79. Choutala
  80. Mahula
  81. Palma
  82. Banbera
  83. Nimbayd
  84. Soyar
  85. Jhapra
  86. Jabarra
  87. Sankra
  88. Para Kelyahi
  89. Bagatbari
  90. Fusrabaid
  91. Asanbani
  92. Layara
  93. Ichhar
  94. Upardih
  95. Kamargora
  96. Khamarmahul
  97. Santaldih
  98. Balichasa
  99. Dhadkidi
  100. Tatogram
  101. Amchatar
  102. Bahara
  103. Darda
  104. Putlya
  105. Thakurdih
  106. Surulia
  107. Bathanbari
  108. Bhandarkuli
  109. Kantabani
  110. Lakhipur
  111. Churmi
  112. Mahal
  113. Bhajudi
  114. Choudhuri Bandh
  115. Shibbabuddi
  116. Asansole
  117. Gandharbadih
  118. Parbatpur
  119. Uparbandha
  120. Karmatanr
  121. Debogram
  122. Postabari
  123. Belut
  124. Belanga
  125. Kumardih
  126. Gosaidih
  127. Lachhmanpur
  128. Gangajalghati
  129. Kendrabona
  130. Bhuinphore
  131. Balikhun
  132. Rajamela
  133. Lachhmanpur
  134. Haribhanga
  135. Mallikdihi
  136. Bhaktabandh
  137. Chholabaid
  138. Deshuria
  139. Chururi
  140. Barkona
  141. Bajapathar
  142. Moulahir
  143. Sahebdanga
  144. Khagra
  145. Jirrah.
  146. Indrabil

See also[edit]

Pakbirra, Purulia Temples and Sculptures[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Government of West Bengal: List of Other Backward Classes". Govt. of West Bengal. Retrieved December 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ Ghosh, Binay (2010) [1957]. Pashchimbanger Samskriti [The Culture of West Bengal] (in Bengali). 1 (2nd ed.). Kolkata: Prakash Bhawan. pp. 447–449. 
  3. ^ Kundu, Santosh Kumar (2008). Bangali Hindu Jati Parichay [An Introduction of Bengali Hindu Castes] (in Bengali). Kolkata: Presidency Library. pp. 273–275. ISBN 978-81-89466-13-8. 
  4. ^ Historical Background (Archived 9 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine.)
  5. ^ "> News Updates". Www.Jainheritagecentres.Com. 2009-09-02. Retrieved 2012-05-19. 
  6. ^ Prof. V. Ball, 1868, Geological Survey of India