Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Great Brahmin Diaspora--3

A 12th century metal plate announcing a grant of land by King Govind Chandra to one Gunchandra Brahmin shows, that by now the Brahmins, settled in prosperous and safe principalities, were acquring multiple identities . They were getting to be identified along with their Gotra and Pravar, also by the name of the specific village they belonged to. Thus Shri Gunchandra, the reipient of the King's bounty,  is referred to as the grandson of one Bhatt Brahmin Gangu, son of Rilhe Bhatt who were denizens of Kawad village. This trend of identifying Brahmins by the areas they had settled in with the help of kings that sought to court intellectual excellence, continues all through the following centuries. Thus subsequent works refer to Nagar (urban?) Brahmins who had settled in Gujarat, Raut Brahmins who perhaps were once upon a time members of some ruling clan ( Rajputra). 
By the 13th century Brahmin clans were being identified by the specific branches of learning they specialised in. Thus Dwivedi, also referred to as Dube (signifying those who have studied 2 Vedas), Dikshit( those who have taken religious vows, Deeksha), Trivedi ( those who have studied 3 Vedas), Chaturvedi, also referred to as Chaube, ( those who have studied4 Vedas), Misra ( those who have studied miscellaneous subjects), Shukla or Sukul( those who have specialized in Shukla Samhitas),  are all identified by their specific educational qualifications. 
This is also the period when the word ‘Pandit’ is began to be used for the first time ( in a Daan Patra given by the Gahrwal king Jaichandra), as an honorofic prefix for Brahmin names. The word comes from Sanskrit Pragya ( meaning intelligence).
Kalhan’s ‘Raj Tarangini’ (12th century) that gives a comprehensive list of the clans that ruled over Kashmir, also lists 10 major areas where Brahmins lived in India during his life time. Vindhya mountain being the generally accepted divider of northern plains from the south, Kalhana uses it as the marker.
Five of the areas Kalhana  lists, are in the north of the Vindhya mountains, and another 5 in the south . The verse runs:
सारस्वता: कान्यकुब्जा: गौडा: उत्कल मैथिला:,पंचगौडा: इति ख्याता: विंद्यस्योत्तरवासिन:|
कर्णाटकाश्च तैलंगा; द्राविडा: महाराष्ट्रका:, गुर्जराश्चेति पंचैव द्राविडा: विंध्यदक्षिणे ||
(To the north of the Vindhyas live Brahmins that reside near the river Sarasvati (Sarasvtah in Punjab), others live in Kanykubj ( present day Kannauj) area. Three areas in the north east where Brahmins live are : Gauda ( Bengal), Utkal (Odisha) and Mithila ( Kashi, Kosala and northern Bihar). These are called Panch (5) Gaudas.
To the south of the Vindhyas Brahmins live in 5 regions: Karnataka, Tailanga(Telangana), Dravida (Tamilnadu and Kerala), Maharashtra, and Gujarat. These are known as (another) Panch Dravid ( southern) Gaudas.



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