BRAHMINS OF KUMAONThis is a featured page

Brahmins(Or the Priest Community) of Kumaon Hills


The Brahmins (Priest Community) of Kumaon are the descendants of the Vedic Aryan priests who migrated from the plains.A large number of Vedic Brahmins migrated, along with the Rajputs, from Rajasthan and Gujarat. Similarly a large number of Brahmins also migrated from Maharastra / Karnatak region. In a number of cases the Brahmins who came to visit the religious places in Kumaon, decided to settle there for good. Like in case of Rajputs, they started naming their settlements/ surnames after the name of their places of origin.

The reasons for migration are lost but common practices remain: the manner of the thread ceremony for instance, in which the Vedas are read for three days, and the anointed Brahmin asks for bhiksha (alms), gets his hair tonsured and ears pierced. The Brahmins were in charge of imparting knowledge to people, prayer and rituals.

Later Brahmins from Kumaon migrated to Nepal and Garhwal Hills. For example the all Joshi's from Garwhal Hills ascribe their origin to Kumaon; some from Joshiyana village near Hawalbagh, others from Jhijar, Galli and Joshikhola in Almora.

Some scholars have argued that the Bhumihar Brahmins of Eastern U.P. and in the state of Bihar, Mohyal Brahmins in the state of Punjab, Namboothiri Brahmins in Kerela, Havyak Brahmins of Karnataka, Anavil Brahmins of Gujarat, and Kumaoni Brahmins of Uttarakhand share the same lineage and are similar to Chitpawans in custom, tradition, practices, temperament and hold Bhagvan Parshuram in high esteem. The records of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati in "Brahmarshi Vansha Vistar" and Acharya Chatursen Shastri in "Vayam Rakshamah" points towards the same origin, by taking help of all ancient texts as well as prevailing customary practices and temperament of these illustrious Brahmins.

The prominent Brahmins clans of Kumaon are :-

  • Joshi's.
  • Pant's.
  • Pande's.
  • Tiwari's.

The important sub division of these clans are :-

  1. Joshi's

  • Galli
  • Dania.
  • Shela Khola.
  • Jhijar.
  • China Khan.
  • Gangoli Haat.

2. Pant's

  • Uprara.
  • Jajyut.
  • Chitai.
  • Chitgal.
  • Kalsela.
  • Barset.
  • Khantoli
  • Khunt.

3. Pande's

  • Pande Khola.
  • Bairti.
  • Paan.
  • Khoont.
  • Chakata.
  • Patia

4. Tiwari's

  • Tiunara.
  • Chaunsar.
  • Dubkia

I may have missed out some, and if some one can correct the above information, it will be welcome. I will see if I get details of the places they come from and their Gotras. I am also adding a smsll section on Brahmins of India, just to bring them up date on these detals , which most of us gloss over otherwise.

THE DIVISION OF BRAHMINS

Brahmin communities in India are traditionally divided into two regional groups: Pancha-Gauda Brahmins and Pancha-Dravida Brahmins. The classification of Brahmin, the Highest Varna on the basis of Region is debatable however the duties of a Brahmin are defined in the Vedas.

Pancha-Gauda

Those from Uttarapatha (Aryavarta) (northern and eastern India.)

Saraswata

  • Saraswat Brahmins
  • Kashmiri Pandits
  • Mohyal Brahmins
  • Dhima Brahmins
  • Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins
  • Gouda Saraswat Brahmins
  • Shakdwipi Brahmins

Kanyakubja

  • Kanyakubja Brahmins
  • Saryupareen Brahmins

Gaur

  • Khandelwal Brahmins
  • Kota Brahmins
  • Dadhich Brahmin
  • Gaur Brahmin
  • Tyagi Brahmin
  • Sanadhya Brahmins

Utkal

  • Utkala Brahmins

Purvi

  • Bhumihar Brahmins
  • Maithili Brahmins
  • Kulin Brahmins
  • Bengali Brahmins
  • Bardai Brahmins

Pancha-Dravida

Those from Dakshinapatha (South India, including Gujarat).

Gujarat

  • Nagar Brahmins
  • Bardai Brahmins
  • Girinarayan Brahmins
  • Shrimali Brahmins
  • Khedaval
  • Anavil Brahmin
  • Awadhich Brahmins

Maharashtra

Karnataka

  • Kannada Brahmins
    • Daivajna Brahmins
    • Hoysala Karnataka Brahmins
    • Badaganadu Brahmins
    • Babburu Kamme Brahmins
    • Ulucha Kamme Brahmins
    • Niyogi Brahmins
    • Madhva Brahmins
    • Vaishnava Brahmins
    • Sri Vaishnava or Hebbar Sri Vaishnava or Mysore Iyengars
  • Mysore Iyers
  • Mulukanadu Brahmins
  • Sankethi Brahmins
  • Sarawat Brahmins, totally different from Gowda Saraswat Brahmins and one of the smallest groups of Brahmins in terms of population.
  • Gauda Saraswat Brahmins (Generally considered Pancha-Gauda)
  • Tuluva Brahmins
    • Shivalli Brahmins
    • Sthanika Brahmins
    • Koteshwara Brahmins
    • Padia Brahmins
    • Saklapuri Brahmins
    • Kandavara Brahmins
    • Koota Brahmins
    • Havyaka Brahmins
    • Maratha Brahmins
    • [[Karhade Brahmin]s]

Andhra Pradesh

  • Telugu Brahmins
  • Niyogi Brahmins
  • Vaidiki Brahmins

Dravida (Tamil Nadu and Kerala)

  • Acharis
  • Iyers
  • Iyengars (of Vadakalai and Thenkalai sects)
  • Namboothiri Brahmins
  • Pushpaka Brahmins (Ambalavasis)

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Given below are details of some of the Brahmins from North India

The Gaur Brahman.-

There has been much dispute about the position of the Gaur from which this section is names. Their traditional place of origin is Hariyana, and their present home is the portion of the North-West Provinces laying west of Aligarh and Mathra, and the part of the Punjab defined above; and they are separated from Bengal by other sections of the caste. General Cunningham suggests that Gaur is the old name of Gonda, while Sir George Campbell would make it another form of the word Ghaffar. The Gaur Brahmans are far more strict in all caste observances than the Sarsut Brahmans, from whose hands they will not eat bread, and upon whom they look down.

The Saraswat Brahman: -

These are the Brahman of the Punjab Proper, and take his name from the Saruswati which lies near his eastern boundary. He is said to be less grasping and quarrelsome with most of the stricter Hindu castes, such as Banyas, Khatris, suds, and Kayaths. He eats flesh in the hills, and perhaps in some parts of the plains also.

The Gujarati and Dakaut Brahmans:-

These men are scattered in small numbers all over the Province. The Gujarati Brahmans probably belong to the Gurjara section already mentioned. The Dakaut or Kakotra Brahmans are fortune-tellers and astrologers, and came from Northern Rajputana. They belong to the Panj Gaur group, of which they are sometimes, in Tajputana, which is their house, reckoned as a separate section.

The Pushkarna Brahmans:-

These group takes their name from the sacred lake of Pushkar or Pokhar near Ajmer, one section of them is said to have been originally Beldars or Ods who were raised to Brahminical rank as a reward for excavating the tank. They still worship the pickaxe. They are the hereditary Brahmans of the Rajputana Bhatias, and are stricter in caste matters than the Sarsut. They are found in some numbers in the western districts of the Punjab.

The Mahabrahman or Acharj:-

This is the Brahman who performs the funeral ceremonies. After the cremation he is scatted on the dead man�s bedstead and the sons lift him up, bedstead and all, and make obedience to him. He then receives the bedstead and all the wearing apparel of the dead man. He rides on a dondely, and is considered so impure that in many villages he is not allowed to come inside the gate.

The Muhial, Moyal or Mial Brahmans:-

This is a sub-section of the saraswat section, who are said to be so named from the seven Muhins or clans of which they consist. They are almost confined to the sub-mountain Salt-range Tract. They say that certain of their ancestors rose to high position under the Mughals, since when they have abandoned all performance of priestly functions or claim to a sacerdotal character, and cultivate land, but especially take service in the army or as clerks. They object to be called Brahmans, as the enlistment of Brahmans is said to be forbidden in our army. This is their own account; but in Hazara proper the Muhials perform priestly functions and receive alms and oblations just like other Brahmans. Another story derives their name from a place called Mava, now deserted.

Dharukra Brahmans:-

They are Caur Brahmans of the Dehli Territory who have taken to widow marriage, and with whom other Brahmans will not intermarry. They are much the same as the Dasa or Doghla Brahmans.

Chamarwa and Gurra Brahmans:-

These are the Brahmans who minister to the lower castes They are not recognized as Brahmans by the other classes; and though they wear the sacred thread it is perhaps possible that their claim to Brahman origin is unfounded. Yet on the whole it seems most probable that they are true Brahmans by descent, but have fallen from their high position. They are often called Chamarwa Sadhs.

The Pujaris and Bhojkis:-

Pujari means really nothing but an officiating priest at a temple or shrine, and in the majority of cases would be a Brahman or faqir. But the Pujaris of the shrines in the Kangra and Simla hills have grown into a distinct caste, composed originally, it is said, of a mixed collection of Nais, Brahmans, Rajputs, and Jogis, who all intermarries. Those of the great shrines, such as Jawalamukhi and Bawan, are called Bhojkis. They are all priests of Devi, and their name is said to be a corruption of Pujki. The Bhojkis are not Brahmans, though they are the hereditary priests of these celebrated temples. They all wear the sacred thread they intermarry among themselves alone.


(Source: The Himalayan Gazetteer Vol.III No.1 published in 1882 and reprint in 1998)




Gotra Of Joshi's Galli



There are 49 established Lead Hindu Gotras . All members of a particular Gotra are believed to possess certain common characteristics and traits.

The term Gotra was used in its present sense for the first time in the Brahmanas. It was systematised by about the 4th century BC to accommodate changed social rules and laws and by the time of the Sutras, it was a well-established system.

Gothras have their orgination to saptharshies who change with Manvanthara. We are in the seventh Manvanthara now.

Many of the seven sages have been repeated and replaced. In the first manvanthara theSaptharshiswere Marichi, Atri, Angrish Pulasthia,Pulaha Kratuand Vasishta. They are believed to be the " Mind-Born" sons of Brahma. (
Sanskrit word Manoja means "born of the mind''.
Theory of evolution says that humans evolved from monkeys. Hundu Sastras say that humans originated from Brahma Manoja - mind born sons of Brahma (the Saptharshis).


Sage Angrish is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Sages) and the Manasaputra (son born of the mind) of Brahma. He is one of the Projenitors of humankind

He is also mentioned in the other three Vedas. Sometimes he is reckoned as one of the Seven Great Sages, or saptarishis of the first Manvantara, with others being, Marichi, Atri, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, and Vashishtha.

Brahmas mind born daughter is Satrupa. Her daughter is Prasuti. Prasuti’s daughter Smriti was the wife of sageAngrish.

She had given birth to five daughters--- Sini, Vali, Kuhu, Raka and Anumati. Sage Brihaspati was his son.

Other accounts say that he married smrithy, the daughter of Daksha. In the Rigveda, Agni is sometimes referred to as Angiras or as a descendant ofAngrish(RV 1.1). In the Rigveda, Indra drives out cows from where they had been imprisoned by either a demon (Vala) or multiple demons (the Panis) and gifts them to the Angirasas (RV 3.31, 10.108 and a reference in 8.14). Mandala 6 of the Rigveda is attributed to a family of Angirasas.

Lord Buddha is said to be a descendant of SageAngrishin many Buddhist texts.




Joshi's of Galli are from Angrish Gotra and the most famous ancestor we have is Lord Buddha.



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