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Sakaldwipiya Brahmins (or Bhojaka Brahmins or Maga Brahmins) is a class of Hindu Brahmin priests and Ayurveda teachers (acharyas) and practitioners, with significant concentrations of their populations occurring in Western and Northern India with Iranian roots. The name can also be spelled as Shakdvipi, Shakdwipi, Shakdweepi, Shakdvipiya, Shakdwipiya, Shakdweepiya, Shakadwipi, and Sakadwipi.

Origin myth[edit]

The Sakaldwipiya Brahmin community of India identify them selves as having Iranian roots, and assert that they inherit their by-name mragha from a group of priests who established themselves in India as the Mragha-Dias or Maga-Brahmins. The doctrinal basis for that assertion is found in Bhavishya Purana 133.[1]

Krishna's son Samba was afflicted with leprosy, which was cured after he worshiped Surya, Hinduism's god of the Sun. In response, he built a temple to Surya on the banks of the Chandrabhaga river, but no Brahmin could be found willing to take up the role of a temple priest, as they could not accept offerings made to gods. So Samba sought help of Gauramukha("white face"), the adviser of the Yadu chief, Ugrasena.:Gauramukha responded with a suggestion that Samba go to Shakdvipa (see note on Mahabharata 6:11, below)[2][3] and invite their priests to worship Surya. Further, asked Samba, "tell me, oh Brahmin, what are the antecedents of these worshipers of the Sun?" To which Gauramukha replied... "The first of the Brahmins amidst the Śakas was called Sujihva ("good tongue") [...] He had a daughter of the name Nikshubha, who so enamored Surya that she was impregnated by him. Thus she gave birth to Jarashabda who was the founding father of all the Maga-Ācārya. They are distinguished by the sacred girdle called the Avyanga that they wear around their waist." And so Samba called on Krishna to send him Garuda, on whose back he then flew to Shakadwipa. He collected the Maga-Ācārya ("Maga teacher"), brought them back to India and installed them as priests of his Surya temple.
Of the pious representatives of 18 families Samba invited to resettle in the city of Sambapura, eight were Mandagas, and their descendants became Shudras. The other 10 were Maga Brahmins, who married Bhoja vamsa women and so their descendants came to be known as Bhojakas.

As such, the Sakaldwipiya are one of only two Brahmin groups who are said to have originated outside India, even if about half their clan names (gotras) are the same as those of other Brahmins.

In epigraphy[edit]

The tale of the arrival of the Sakaldwipiyas appears to have been part of living tradition for many centuries. The Govindpur inscription of 1137-1138 refers to a maga family of Gaya, Bihar that was celebrated for its learning, Vedic scholarship and poetic faculty, and who descended from one of the original Samb invitees.[4][full citation needed]

Internal structures[edit]

The Bhojakas and sewaks are also historically associated with several Jain temples in Gujarat and Rajasthan, where they serve as priests and attendants.[5] Some of the Sakaldwipiya Brahmins of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are Ayurvedic physicians, some are priests in Rajput families, while yet others are landholders.[6]


  1. ^ Chand 1964, p. 4
  2. ^ The reference to the inhabitants of Śakadvīpa is, however, older than the Purāṇas, appearing first in Rigveda and subsequently in almost all veda & Mahabharata 6:11, where Sakadwipa is said to lie to the north-west (of ancient India). The region is mentioned again in 12:14 as a region to the east of the great Mount Meru. Consequently, the word 'Sakaldwipiya' (and variations) is presumed to reflect Śaka-, the people of a region beyond the Hindukush mountains.
  3. ^ Mitra 1962, pp. 612–615.
  4. ^ Sharma 1981, p. 330.
  5. ^ Cort 2001, p. ?.
  6. ^ Mitra 1962, p. 615.


  • Cort, John E. (2001), Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-513234-3 .
  • Chand, Tara (1964), Indo-Iranian relations, Tehran: Information Service of India, Embassy of India .
  • Mitra, Debala (1962), Foreign Elements In Indian Culture, The Cultural Heritage of India, II, Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute, pp. 612–615 .
  • Sharma, Jagdish Saran (1981), Encyclopaedia Indica, II (2nd ed.), New Delhi: Chand [full citation needed]