Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Great Brahminical Diaspora-1

Compared to Dalits or tribals, our social scientists today are less likely to pursue or discuss the 10th century phenomena of post Muslim invasion Brahminical diaspora in India . Is it because in post Mandal India, it is a politically incorrect subject to take up associated with the Manuvadi caste system created by the upper castes ? I dont know .
However, as I have studied it ( primarily to trace my own family roots), I find that in state after state, this diaspora has impacted not merely Brahmins' group and individual identities, but also all the branches of traditional learning systems in India.
A period of intense confusion hit north India when Muslim invasions began in 1018. It especially impacted temple towns from Delhi to Bihar which had been the strongholds of Brahmins and traditional learning for several centuries.
As things fell apart, temples were looted and priests forced to flee or were killed, Brahmins sought refuge in various smaller kingdoms that now arose : Maukharis in Kannauj, Pals in West Bengal, Mankhed in central India, Gahdwars and Kalchuries in the eastern, Tripuri region ( Kashi+ Kosala+ Champaran) etc.
This is where you begin to see a bifurcation of learning between Brahmins who studied Sanskrit language and literature, and those who specialized in various branches of the 4 Vedas.
The new kings many of whom had dubious credentials as intellectuals, sought to attrcat talented learned minds by offering the displaced Brahmin clans, judicious gifts of land in their area and appinting them to various cabinet committees and sub committees.
With this new identity tags begin to be applied. Once upon a time all Brahmins were identifiable by their Gotra ( the cowsheds they shared) and village names . Then (when Gotras became too diverse and large), by the well known Rishis in their Gotra ( Pravar). After their relocation they begin to be identified by the exact branch of Vedas pursued by their clan and the principality ( not a specific village) they had sought shelter in . Hence the new hash tags like Sam Vedadhyayee ( those specialising in the Saam Veda) Yajurvedadhyayee ( specializing in Yajurveda studies) to Brahmin clans residing in Kanykubja ( those living in Kannauj region), Sarayupari ( those that lived on the other (western ) side of the river Sarayu. Sarswat ( those who moved to the area near the Saraswati river ( what is now Punjab and Rajasthan) and so on.

Next: in which Kashi or Varanasi plays the smart card.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home