Kanj: Bhaishankar Nathuram Thaker stayed in the village and done for the betterment of people He was very loving to the people of the village Source: Abhi Thaker
|Current region||Gujarat (India), East Africa, United Kingdom, United States|
|Place of origin||Kashmir, India (later Gujarat) (Madhya Pradesh)|
|Members||founded by Kashiraj Thaker (11th century)|
|Distinctions||Prominent Political & Economic Advisors, Diwans to the Maharajas, Financiers and Treasurers to the Hindu Chaulukya kings, Delhi Sultanate, Mughal Empire, Maratha Empire & British Empire in Saurashtra & Patan, Gujarat (12th-19th centuries)|
|Traditions||Brahmins, Worshipers of the Hindu God Shiva|
|Estate||Former estates in large parts of Saurashtra, India (12th - 19th centuries)|
|Not to be confused with "Thakore", "Thakur", "Thakker", "Thakrar" etc.|
Thaker (Gujarati: ઠાકર, Hindustani pronunciation: [ˈt̪ʰaːkr]), is a family name referring to the descendants of Kashiraj Thaker, an 11th-century Kashmiri Brahmin who moved to the region of Saurashtra, Gujarat to spread and maintain Hinduism on the request of the Jayasimha Siddharaja (b. 1094), a Hindu Chaulukya king who ruled modern-day Gujarat until 1143. The family rose to prominence within Saurashtran nobility throughout the 12th-19th centuries as Diwans.
From 1297 to 1758 various Muslim rulers ruled Gujarat; during this time members of the Thaker family were appointed to lifelong hereditary positions as premier political and financial advisors to the rulers of Saurashtra from the Solanki Dynasty to the Mughal Empire; notably Emperor Akbar the Great. Following the change of power to the Maratha Empire who eventually accepted the paramountcy of the British Empire in 1819, members of the Thaker family, being well-versed in scripture, history, philosophy, ritual, politics, law, social precepts and morality, continued on in their positions as principal advisors or in executive offices as Diwans to the various Maharajas/Maharanas of the Princely States of British India in modern-day Gujarat, Western India. After the 11th century many Thaker family members became landowners of large portions of Saurashtra. Today, while many branches of the family remain in India, some bloodlines have spread internationally to, among others, East Africa, the United Kingdom and the United states.
Origins and background
Thaker is a Kashmiri Brahmin name and is not to be confused with "Thakore" or "Thakur"; an Indian feudal and colonial title in Hindi which came from other parts of India. Nor should it be confused with "Thakker" or "Thakrar"; surnames from the Lohana caste. Though Kashiraj Thaker originated from Kashmir, his descendants were born in Gujarat for many subsequent centuries and most Thakers consider themselves Gujarati.
Thaker family members are traditionally associated with Shaivism, the oldest sect of Hinduism; regarding Shiva as the supreme being. Historically, the favored religious scripture studied by the Thaker family was the Shiva Purana.
Due to scholastic tradition, the Thaker family maintains records and a family-tree of all Thaker lineage dating back to Kashiraj Thaker. Traditionally records were and are only made for male descendants of the family.
During the late 11th and early 12th centuries, Gujarat suffered severe violence between the Hindu forces and Muslim invaders. In this time, Brahmins who were tasked with upholding Hindu culture and teachings were often the victims of genocide. As a result, Brahmins from around India were invited to visit, and later settle in Gujarat to maintain Hinduism in the region. Kashiraj Thaker arrived in Saurashtra in the 12th century from Kashmir upon the request of Jayasimha Siddharaja, a Chaulukya king who ascended to the throne of Patan in 1096 at the age of 2, and ruled modern-day Gujarat till 1143. His descendants continued as members of the inner-circle of the Solanki dynasty till the dynasty's fall in 1244. Muslim rule began in Gujarat in 1297 with the victory of Ala-ud-din Khilji over Karandev II; the last Hindu ruler of Gujarat. Before 1298, Muslim people had only had occasional contact with this part of India, but, with the rise of the Delhi Sultanate in Gujarat it was not till the 14th century that the Thaker family members once again took prominent positions as chief advisor to the rulers in Saurashtra and Patan; maintaining prominence as landowners and financiers. Gujarat remained under the Delhi Sultanate till 1573 when Emperor Akbar annexed Gujarat; becoming a Mughal Subah. Mughal rule lasted some 185 years till 1758 when Momin Khan surrendered to the Maratha Empire.
While the cracks had started developed in the edifice of the Mughal empire in the mid-17th century, the Marathas were consolidating their power in the west; Chatrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, attacked Surat twice, first in 1664 and again in 1672. These attacks marked the entry of the Marathas into Gujarat. However, before the Marathas could solidify their presence all across the region, the Europeans made their presence felt, with the Portuguese leading, followed by the Dutch and the British.
In the 18th century, the Peshwas had established their sovereignty over Gujarat including Saurashtra and had successfully held the British at bay. They collected taxes and tributes through their representatives; the Thaker family members were active as Treasurers to the Peshwa Prime Ministers. Damaji Rao Gaekwad and Kadam Bande divided the Peshwa's territory between them, with Damaji establishing the sway of Gaekwad over Gujarat and making Barodara his capital; A branch of the Thaker family also settled in Baroda and has remained there to this day. While the Marathas had thus far kept the British from power, the ensuing internecine war among them was fully exploited by the British, who interfered in the affairs of both Gaekwads and the Peshwas to their advantage.
The British embarked upon their policy of "Subsidiary Alliance"; a policy allowing them to establish their paramountcy over one princely state after another. Anand Rao Gaekwad joined the Alliance in 1802 and surrendered Surat and adjoining territories to the English. In the garb of helping the Maratha, the British helped themselves, and gradually the Marathas' power in Gujarat came to an end in 1819; Gaekwad and other big and small rulers accepted the British Paramountcy.
The decline of the Maratha empire led to its division into numerous kingdoms, territories and city-states ruled by Indian rulers of various titles including among many others: Maharaja (“great king”), Badshah (“emperor”), and Nawab (“governor”). These territories were soon under the direct (dominion) or in-direct (princely state suzerainty) control of the British Raj. Suzerainty over 175 Princely States, some of the largest and most important, was exercised (in the name of the British Crown) by the central government of British India under the Viceroy; the remaining, approximately 500, states were dependents of the provincial governments of British India under a Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or Chief Commissioner. A clear distinction between "dominion" and "suzerainty" was supplied by the jurisdiction of the courts of law: the law of British India rested upon the laws passed by the British Parliament and the legislative powers those laws vested in the various governments of British India, both central and local; in contrast, the courts of the Princely States existed under the authority of the respective rulers of those states.
Despite the paramountcy of the British Raj, the princely states were still ruled individually by heirs of the Maratha Empire and other clans. As such the members of the Thaker family continued in their lifetime hereditary positions as treasurers, financiers and political advisors to the various Maharajas or Maharanas. Among these were the Jhala Rajputs; a clan that established their reign at Patdi in the 12th century after arriving from Sindh. After numerous Islamic invasions, the Jhalas moved their capital to Halwad and over the centuries established Dhrangadhra. They also became the rulers of, among others, the princely states of Wadhwan, Wankaner, Limbdi, Sayla, Lakhtar and Chuda.
In the 14th - 19th centuries other branches of the Thaker family became landowners, owning a significant portion of land in and around what is today Wadhwan City and other regions of Saurashtra. Post-independence, laws were passed stating that in the interests of distribution of wealth and social equality, ownership of farmland would transfer from large landlords to the farmers who worked the land itself. As a result, many landlords including branches of the Thaker family lost vast quantities of wealth overnight.
With the partition of India in 1947, the princely states of India, which had been left by the Indian Independence Act 1947 to choose whether to accede to India or Pakistan or to remain outside of them, were all incorporated into one or other of the new dominions. Gujarat, with its proximity to the partition line between Pakistan and India suffered massive violence between its Hindu and Muslim populations, and as a result some Gujaratis who had settled across the border, including members of the Thaker family, fled abroad; primarily to East Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. A large branch of the Thaker family however, still resides in Gujarat and other parts of India to this day.
Prominent Descendents of the Thaker lineage
- Pranjivan Vishwanath Thaker (circa 1860-1920), Diwan of Saurashtra, Gujarat the highest executive office under Rajput rule.
- Mahashankar Vishwanath Thaker (circa 1867-1902), Chief Treasurer of the princely state of Limbdi under Jhala Rajput rule.
- Dhirajlal Mahashankar Thaker (1897–1947), Paymaster General of the Port of Karachi; the largest wheat and cotton exporting port in British India prior to partition, currently the largest port in Pakistan.
- Amit Thaker (Hindi: अमित ठाकर) (born 1971), an Indian politician of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He is currently National President of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
- Bhavik Thaker (born 1982), all-round Cricket player for the Gujarat cricket team and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
- Dhirubhai Premshankar Thaker (born 1917), Chief Editor of the Gujarati Vishwakosh; Gujarat's first extensive encyclopedia in the Gujarati language with 25 volumes and over 23,000 articles, and winner of the 1994 Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak; the highest literary award in Gujarati literature.
- Madhusudan Vallabhdas Thaker (born 1942), popularly known by his pen name Madhu Rye, Gujarati playwright, novelist and short story writer.
- List of Indian princely states: for a list of Indian princely states at the time of Indian Independence.
- Gujarat Tourism - Ahmedabad History Archived 2010-01-03 at the Wayback Machine.
- Encyclopædia Britannica - Khalji Dynasty
- Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra; Pusalker, A. D.; Majumdar, A. K., eds. (1960). The History and Culture of the Indian People. VI: The Delhi Sultanate. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 19.
In the latter half of 1298, Ala-ud-din sent an expedition under Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan to Gujarat ... After establishing Muslim authority in Gujarat, the victorious generals ...
- Imperial Gazetteer of India vol. IV 1907, p. 60
- Cohen, Saul B. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998) p. 829
- WorldStatesmen.Org - Indian Princely States K-W
- Revised Statute from The UK Statute Law Database: Indian Independence Act 1947 (c.30) at opsi.gov.uk
- OneIndia News - 'Amit Thaker takes over as BJP Yuva Chief'
- Rediff News Online - 'Thaker's ton takes Gujarat to 291 for 5'
- Bhavik Thaker - CricInfo.com
- Gujarati encyclopedia ready after 25-year effort