Sarak

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Sarak
সরাক
Statue of Adinath at Pakbirra Jain Shrine of Purulia 05.jpg
Lord Adinatha at Pakbirra
ReligionsHinduism, Jainism
LanguagesBengali, Hindi,Nagpuri
Populated statesJharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, odisa

The Saraks (Bengali: সরাক) (from Sanskrit Śrāvaka) is a community in Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa . They have been followers of some aspects of Jainism, such as vegetarianism, since ancient times, however were isolated and separated from the main body of the Jain community in western, northern and southern India and have been Hindu Bengalis ever since. The governments of India and West Bengal both have classified some of the Saraks under Other Backward Classes since 1994 but many of them have been in the General category from the beginning itself.[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 northwestern region of India, presently in Gujarat and 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. Many of their rituals and customs are similar to that of Brahmins. Though the mainstream Saraks are Bengali Hindus, yet they have a touch of Jainism.

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 one hand where we feel highly responsible towards Indian values, there were ‘Saraks’, who were 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 Durga Puja, other Hindu festivals as well as 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 owes 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. Educated Saraks speak fluent English.

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. Open-mindedness and good principles are the traits of this community. They are into Bengali Literature, Art, Music and Dance and are nowadays also enjoying western concepts of culture.

Professions[edit]

Statue of Ambika at Pakbirra Purulia

In the past they were engaged in copper mining in the region.[6] Most Saraks were farmers engaged in rice cultivation, dairy farm selling milk products. Some of them have shops related to agriculture. Many are well educated. There are many teachers, engineers, doctors, and professors in this community.

List of villages[edit]

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

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. 2 September 2009. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  6. ^ Prof. V. Ball, 1868, Geological Survey of India