Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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No. 36. The Ghagrahati (Kotwalipara) Grant and Three other Copper-Plate Grants.
by F.E. Pargiter, M.A.
Journal & Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal
Vol. VII, p. 475-502

Babu Rakhal Das Banerji has published in this Journal (Vol. VI, No. 8 for 1910, p. 429) an interesting description and reading of a copper-plate grant, which is dated in the reign of a king named Samacaradeva, and which was found in mauza Ghagrahati in the south-west corner of the Faridpur district in 1908. Dr. Bloch brought the grant to the notice of Dr. Hoernle and me towards the end of that year, when I was at Dr. Hoernle’s request editing three copper-plate grants found in the same district some years previously; and we were informed that it would be published in the Indian Archaeological Report. A photograph of it was sent me by the kindness of a friend in 1909, and I read it then for the purpose of obtaining information that might elucidate the three earlier grants. My article on those grants was published in 1910.1 [Indian Antiquary, vol. XXXIX, 1910, p. 193.] The fourth grant has now been published in a fine copy and has been edited by Babu R.D. Banerji in this Journal as mentioned above2 [It has also bee published subsequently in the Rep. A.S.I. for 1907-8; see postscript.] – an event that I have awaited with much interest, as it enables me to comply with the Society’s desire that I should write a paper dealing with these grants. The three other grants are marked A, B and C in my article and will be cited by those marks in this paper. I may express my regret that this grant has been styled the “Kotwalipara Grant,” because Kotwalipara is some two or three miles distant from where it was found. It is better to name it the “Ghagrahati Grant,” because it was found in Ghagrahati, and presumably relates to land there as will appear further on.

I may begin by giving my reading and a translation of this fourth grant, because he has marked several words in his transcript as doubtful, and has not given us the benefit of a translation of it as he reads it. The plate published with his article and his reading of it have enabled me to correct my reading in three words, Pavittruko (1.5), caru (1.10) and krtya (1.16), and the plate has enabled me to reconsider three difficult words, vothya° (1.3), and samsimriya and bhavya° (1.13); but in all other respects the reading that I made two years ago has not needed alteration, because the photograph sent me was an excellent one. As he makes no reference to my article on the three other grants, it seems he had not seen it when he published his article on this fourth grant. I had the advantage of seeing the photograph of this grant before I published my article, and a comparison of all the grants is almost essential to an understanding of this grant.

It will be most convenient then, if I first give my reading of this grant with remarks explanatory of my reading, and a translation of the grant with notes explaining its meaning and object, and afterwards consider the validity of this grant with reference to the scrutiny which he has made of it, comparing throughout all matters in the four grants that bear upon and elucidate one another. I will give my transliteration of this grant in Roman characters, because they are more convenient than Devanagari letters, inasmuch as they permit of the words being separated and thus exhibited more clearly than is possible with the latter. Letters and marks enclosed in round brackets in the transcript are particulars, that have been omitted in the grant and should be added to make it correct.


First Side.

1. Svasty=Asyam=prthivyam=apratirathe Nrga-Nahusa-Yayaty-Amvarisa-sama-

2 dhrtau Maharaj-adhiraja-Sri-Samacaradeve prata-paty=etac-carana-karala-1 [Read kamala.]

3 yugal-aradhan-opatta-Navyavakasikayam suvarnna-vothy-adhikrt-antara-

4 nga Uparika-Jivadattas Tad-anumoditaka-Varaka-mandale visaya-

5 pati-Pavittruko Yato (‘)sya vyavaharatah Suprati-kasvamina jyesth-adhi-

6 karanika-Damuka-pramukham-adhikaranam=visaya-mahattara-Vatsa-

7 kunda-mahattara-Sucipalita-mahattara-Vihitaghosa-svarada(?)-

8 mahattara-Priyadatta2 [Read Priyadatta.] –mahattara-Janarddanakund-adayah anye ca

9 vahavah pradhana vyavaha(ri)nas=ca vijnapta3 [Read vijnapta.] Iccha-my=aham bhavata(m) prasa-

10 dac=cirovasanna4 [Read probably cir-avasanna.] –khila-bhu-khandalakam vali-caru-sattra-pravarttaniya5 [Read pravarttaniya.]

11 vrahman-opayogaya ca tamra-patti-krtya taqd=arhatha prasada(m) ka(r)ttu-

12 m=iti Yata enad=abhyarthanam=upalabhya Samth-oparilikhit-a6 [Or perhaps ° likhit-o.] ….7 [Some aksaras are obliterated here, probably two.]

Second Side.

13 nyair=vyavaharibhih samsmrtya Sa sata svapadair=justa rajno bhavy-artha-nisphala

14 vatsa bhogyi-krta bhumir=nrpasy-aiv-artha-dharm-ma-kr(t) Tad=asmai vrahmana(ya) dayatam1 [Read diyatam.] =i-

15 ty=avadhrtya karanika-Nayanaga-Kesav-adin=kula-varan=prakalpya prak=tamra-patti-

16 krtya2 [Krta- would make better grammar, but the meaning is clear.] ksettra-kulya-vapa-ttrayamm3 [Read ttrayam.]=apasya Vya-ghra-corako4 [Read corake.] yac=chesam tac=catuh-sima-

17 linga5 [Read linga-.] –nirddistam krtv-asya Supratikasvaminah tamra-patti-krtya pratipadita(m)

18 Sima-lingani c-attrah6 [Read c-attra.] Purvvasyam pisaca-parkkatti Daksinena Vidya-

19 dhara-jotika Pascimayam Candracampa-kota-kenah Uttarena7 [Read uttarena.] Go-

20 pendra-coraka8 [Read corako.] grama-sima c-eti // Bhavanti c-attra slokah Sastim=varsa-saha-

21 srani svarge modati bhumi-dah Aksepta c-anumanta ca9 [Read ca, or perhaps va.] tany=eva narake vaset /

22 Sva-da(t)tam=para-dattam=va yo hareta vasundha-ram sva-visthaya(m) krmi(r} bhutva pitrbhi(h)

23 saha pacyate // Samvatsa 10 4 Kartti di 1

Remarks on the reading of the Text.

I will now discuss the points in which my reading differs from Babu R.D. Banerji’s.

In the first place, this inscription makes no distinction between b and v, but has v in every case. He transcribes the v sometimes as b and sometimes as v; thus for instance, he transcribes the word vahavah (1.9) as bahavah as it should be in correct Sanskrit. It is always desirable that a transcript should be accurate, but apart from that, this point is of some importance. The use of the character for v in all cases (whether the proper sound should be b or whether it should be v in correct Sanskrit), even in the word vrahmana (11.11 and 14) shews that (subject to the qualification mentioned below) no distinction was ordinarily observed between these two letters, and that Sanskrit b’s and v’s were uniformly pronounced as b and written as v, in this part of the country when this inscription was composed. Hense it appears that two opposite changes had taken place, namely, the sound of v disappeared and was replaced by b, and the character for b disappeared and was replaced by that for v. These changes characterize Bengali at the present day, for it has not got the sound of v nor the character for b, and the sound of b is expressed by the character for v. This peculiarity then must be observed in transcribing this inscription; but this conclusion must be qualified by considering the value of the character for v when it is the last member of a compound consonant in a single word. I do not refer to cases, where v beginning a word follows a word ending in m and the two appear as mv in the plate, as in adhikaranamvisaya (1.6), because there the conclusion would not be affected. Where v is compounded with a labial or r, as in Amvarisa (1.1), purvvasyam (1.18) and samvatsa (1.23), it had no doubt the sound of b; but when compounded with a dental, as in krtva (1.17), or with a sibilant, as in svamin (11.5 and 17) and svapadair (I.13), it could hardly have been pronounced as b and had probably the sound of w as in Sanskrit, for it could not have then acquired the indistinct sound which it has now in such compounds in Bengali. Thus it appears that in no position did the character for v have the sound of v, but was always pronounced as b except in certain compounds where it had the sound of w probably.

The other grants differ in this respect. The character for b is used in grant A in labdha° (1.2), bappa (1.6) and Brahman-asya (1.8); and in grant B in Ambarisa (II. 1-2), brahmane (I. 11) and brahmana (I.20). In grant C very much has been destroyed by corrosion, yet perhaps b occurs in labdha° (1.2). The letter b was therefore distinguished in grants A and B, and perhaps in C; yet the above changes were developing then, because v is substituted for b in grant A in Amvarisa (I.1) and pravandhena (I.12); and in grant C in Amvarisa (I.1). They had become completely established at the time of this grant.

In the next place it may be mentioned that Babu R.D. Banerji does not always transcribe as double the letters that are doubled in the inscription, for instance, the words Pavittruko (I. 5), sattra (I. 10), ksettra and ttrayam (I. 16), and cattrah (I.18) appear in his transcript with the t single. In this connexion I may notice suvarnna in I. 3. He transcribes it as suvarna, but reads it really as suvarnda (p. 431), remarking there that da (that is, da) has two forms when occurring in the compound nda, namely, one form in suvarnda and mandale (I. 4), and the other in (Vatsa-)kunda (I.7) and Janarddana-kunda1 [He writes Janarddaka; probably a clerical error.] (I.8). This seems to me to be a mistake, for the d in the last three words is the same (though not exactly identical, because no two written letters are ever exactly alike, and even the n is not identical in those three words), whereas in the first word there are unmistakable traces of a second n written under the main n, so that the letter is really rnna. He rightly conjectures that this is what is meant (p. 434).

Some remarks may be made regarding the vowel signs in connexion with the word dhrtau (I.2), for that is the word as clearly shown in grants A and B. Babu R.D. Banerji writes it dhrtam, but there is a stroke to the left above the letter t, and as it is no part of dh or t it must be meant for a vowel mark, being written flat because there was hardly room to write it in its proper shape without running into the letter stya above it. The whole aksara then looks like to with a dot over it, and the dot is not, I think, anusvara but represents the third stroke which goes to form the vowel au, for the following reasons. There is much laxity in the way in which vowel marks are written in this plate. The sign which denotes a is written in various ways, and its chief modifications may be seen by comparing it in the words svadatam (I.22), ja in raja (I.2), sima (I.20), °opatta (I.3), kundadayah (I.8), purvvasyam (I.18), navya° (I.3), and varan (I.15); but in one instance dacciro° (I.10) it is reduced to what is practically a dot. There is a tendency, where a vowel sign consists of more than one stroke, to reduce one of the strokes to a dot. Accordingly the a stroke which constitutes part of the vowel sign o is reduced practically to a dot in Pavittruko (I. 5), corako (I. 16) and kota (I. 19). Similarly the curl of the vowel sign I is replaced by a dot in almost every case, as is clearly seen in Supratika (I. 5), sima (I. 20) and Kesavadin (I. 15). It would be quite in accordance with this tendency then to turn one of the three strokes of au into a dot, and especially in dhrtau since there was hardly room to make the middle stroke properly because of the closeness of the letter stya above it.

I will now notice the other differences between my reading and Babu R.D. Banerji’s line by line.

Line 1. He writes prthivyam pratirathe, but the text has prthivyam apartirathe clearly.

Line 3. He reads vasya°, but the vowel sign over v consists of two strokes and cannot be a. It seems to be meant for o, the stroke which should be turned to the left being turned here to the right, because there was hardly room to write it properly because of the closeness of the letter tye above it. The main part of the second aksara is th and not s, as will be seen by a comparison of th in prthivyam (I.1), artha (I.15), etc., with s in Sri (I.2), kasikayam (I. 3), etc. The word appears therefore to be vothya°. At the end of the line he has omitted ra.

Line 4. The letter ka between anumodita and Varaka is the termination of the former word. Many instances in which ka is added to verbal participles will be found in inscriptions, and Varaka is the province; see p. 487 below.

Line 5. He reads vyavaharatah, but the h has no vowel mark a and the word is vyavaharatah. It is however probably a mistake for vyavaharatah.

Line 7. He reads surada; the first letter however is not su which occurs in Sucipatita in this line, but is sva as is seen in svapadair (I. 13); though perhaps it may be intended for sca which we find in vyavaha(ri)nas-ca (I.9) and pascimayam (I.19). The second letter resembles ra, but appears to have two dots on its left which suggest that it may be some other consonant unfinished; and further it seems to have some indistinct vowel marks above it. The third letter is much blurred; so much as is clear suggests da, but it may be some other consonant and seems to have r or m written over it. I transcripbe it as svarada, but feel certain it is really something different, though I cannot suggest any emendation.

Line 8. Babu R.D. Banerji reads Priyadatta, but the d has the vowel a, and the word is really Priyadatta, though it should no doubt be Priyadatta. He reads kundadaya, but there is a visarga after it, and the reading is kundadayah.

Line 9. I agree with him that vyavahanas is a mistake for vyavaharinas. It is merely a clerical error such as is common in grants.

Line 10. The reading is not khandalaka but khandalakam, because there is an anusvara above and a little to the right of the k. He reads pravarttaniya, but the word written is pravarttaniya, for the n is dental and its vowel is I and not I as will be seen on comparing these vowels in other words. The word should be pravarttaniya.

Line 11. The reading is not brahmanopaya gayaca but vrahmanopayogaya ca, for the first y has clearly above it a leftward stroke which with the a stroke forms o, though its significance is somewhat marred in that it joins the bottom of the letter nna in the line above. He reads tad arham [ya]tha, but the words are tad arhatha, for the h has only a superscript r and not an anusvara in addition, and the th has no vowel a. Arhatha is the second person plural of the present tense of arh. He reads the last word as katra, but it is kattu. The difference between conjunct r and the vowel u is seen on comparing sattra (I. 10) with anumoditaka (I. 4) and catuh (I. 16), but the full curve of the u in kattu is marred because it is on the edge of the plate. The whole word (If we complete it by reading on into I. 12) is kattum iti, which is an error for karttum iti. There must be an infinitive here after the verb arhatha.

Line 12. The reading is not yata dhanad but yata enad, dh and e being much alike. Enad is the accusative case singular of etad in the neuter. He reads sam tho, but the word is samtho°, the sibilant being clearly s. This must be read with the following letters as samthoparilikhita°, that is, samtha + uparilikhita°. At the end of the line came some word, which began with a (so as to produce °likhita° by Sandhi), and had probably two aksaras which have been obliterated, and finished with nyair in I. 13.

Line 13. This is the most difficult of all the lines as Babu R.D. Banerji has noted. The first two aksaras are more than nya vya° as he reads, for the nya has vowel marks above it and the vya appears to have a superscript r. The reading must be nyair vya°; and nyair is the final syllable of the word which has become obliterated at the end of I. 12, and which is in the instrumental case plural agreeing with vyavaharibhih. Still if we read nya, it would be compounded with vyavaharibhih, and the meaning would be the same.

Next comes a difficult word which he reads as samantya, but the main portion of the second aksara in it is the same as the first, that is s in both cases. The third aksara is either tya or nya but has not enough strokes to be ntya. It appears to be tya if we compare it with tya at the beginning of line 15 and the shape of t in tac ca° (I. 16). These inferences combined give sasatya. It will be seen from the subsequent remarks on the grammatical construction of II. 13 and 14, that this word must be an indeclinable past participle, and the termination ya shews that the root must be a compound one. The only preposition possible in this word is sam. Now the right limb of the first s is continued above the top of the ltter into a small knob, which appears to represent anusvara; hence the first aksara is sam. In the middle of the second s is a thin perpendicular line which suggests that a compound consonant is intended, and if so, that can only be sm, and we may conjecture that the engraver erroneously incised only s instead of sm, and the mistake was corrected afterwards by inserting that middle line in order to make the character look as nearly like sm as was possible. Further under this sm there seem to be a faint trace as of the vowel r; but, whether that is real or not, there can be little doubt that the word intended was samsmrtya. In support of this rendering it may be pointed out that no other indeclinable past participle (as far as I am aware) can be suggested which will satisfy both the script and the sense of this passage.

The remainder of this line and the greater part of I. 14 contain many difficulties, and the key to unlock them is found in the fact that the words between samsmrtya (I. 13) and tad asmai (I. 14) compose a sloka.

He reads the first three aksaras of the sloka as sapati, but the last is ta, and the form of ti is seen in patti (II. 11, 15 and 17). The second dis not like any p in this inscription, for it has a bar along the whole of its top, whereas the general form of p is shown in the next word svapadair. This aksara must, it seems, be meant for sa, the middle horizontal bar of which has been carelessly blended with the wedge-shaped top and so gives the appearance of a continuous though not clean-cut line along the top. Something of such carelessness may be seen in visaya (I. 6) and especially in chesam (I. 16). I read these three aksaras then as sa sata, and in explanation of sata would suggest that it is an irregular instrumental case of the numeral sas, ‘six,’ declined in the singular after the analogy of the higher numerals. The correct instrumental sadbhih would suit the metre perfectly, but might have been beyond the learning of the person who composed this grant, for the Sanskrit contains many errors. This suggestion has its difficulties, yet in support of it I may add that no other reading of the second character yields any sense. I may also point out that a similar irregular formation occurs in grant A in anaih (I.22), which is probably meant for ebhih; and, as the correct word was apparently beyond the composer’s learning, he coined anaih from anena after the analogy of sivena and sivaih.

The next three words are clearly svapadair justa rajno. The remainder of this line consists of three words of which the last two are certainly artha-nisphala, though the last two aksaras are somewhat blurred. The first word which consists of two aksaras is difficult. The first letter is certainly a soft consonant (because rajnah has become rajno before it) and appears to be dh or bh with a faint indication of the vowel a. The second is a double consonant, but peculiar. Babu R.D. Banerji read it as rmma, but it is not like m and there is no a; yet if so taken it can only be rmma. It seems to me however to be vya; compare it with the v in °vartha (I. 14). The two aksaras would therefore be dharma as his reading would stand then, or bhavya as I take them. This word and the next then read dharmmartha or bhavy-artha. In favour of his reading it may be noted that dharmmartha (or rather dharmmartha, as it would have to be amended, and as he amends it) would correspond to arthadharmma in the second half of the sloka in I. 14; but against it are the arguments (1) that the first aksara has traces of a and the second has none, and (2) that there is no instance here in which m as the second member of a compound consonant is written incompletely as a subscribed character, for its right limb is always carried up to the top as in dharma and asmai (I. 14). On the other hand bhavy-artha satisfies the conditions, for it has a in the first aksara, and y as the second member of a compound consonant is sometimes written wholly as a subscript character; compare samsmrtya (I. 13), bhogyi (I. 14) and prakalpya (I. 15), in all which words he agrees that there is a subscript y; and further it is not necessary there should be precise parallelism regarding dharma and artha in lines 13 and 14. The reading therefore appears to be bhavy-artha-nisphala.

Lin 14. He reads the first six aksaras as icchato vya(?)-krta. The first is puzzling, but the others are tsa-bhogyi-krta, for the second has no c in it but is t with a subscript s; the third is bho, the rounded left limb being characteristic of bh as in bhavata(m) (I.9) vyavaharibhih (I. 13), etc.; and the fourth is gyi, as shewn by comparing g in nrga (I. 1), °yogaya (I. 11), naga (I. 15), etc., and the vowel I in Kesavadin (I. 15), sima (I. 20), etc. The first aksara is not I nor I, for it is different from I in icchami (I. 10), and neither of those vowels can with tsa form an intelligible word; and the word must be intelligible because it occurs in a sloka quoted. It resembles no particular letter, and the letters which it suggests, namely, p, l and s, produce no intelligible word. We must therefore see what word is possible in this sloka, which contrasts well-cultivated land with land infested by wild animals. Now there are only two letters which with tsa make a word, namely, ma and va. Matsa is inadmissible; it is a rare form of matsya and makes nonsense of this passage. Vatsa therefore is the only possible word, and it yields a good and striking meaning. It must be admitted that the character is not va not even ba, and I can only suggest that the engraver has bungled the letter. Bungled letters will be found in grant B; see my Article, p. 199.

The next word is bhumir and not bhumim, for there is no anusvara over the mi, and there is an r above the following nr. The succeeding words are nrpasyaivartha-dharmma-kr. Here the sloka ends, and the following words tad asmai, etc., introduce a new sentence. Kr cannot end a word, and it is obvious that the word intended is krt, and that the final t has been forgotten coming as it does in connexion with the following tad.

The sloka then stands thus: --

Sa sata svapadair justa rajno bhavy-artha-nisphala
Vatsa-bhogyi-krta bhumir nrpasyaivartha-dharma-krt.
where (as I conjecture) sata stands for an original sadbhih.

In the remainder of this line vrahmana is a mistake for vrahmanaya, and dayatam for diyatam. The declension of brahmana appears to have puzzled some of the local scholars, for in grant B the dative is brahmana in I. 20, as it is here, and brahmane in I. 11. This suggests that in ordinary parlance the final a had disappeared, and the word was pronounced Brahman and was sometimes treated as a base ending in an. The suggestion is supported by a converse process that we find, Sanskrit bases ending in in are treated sometimes as if they had a final a, thus grant A has svaminasya and adhyayinasya (I. 19) as genitives. Hence it seems a fair inference that the final Sanskrit a was generally dropped in the ordinary language, as it is at the present day.

Line 15. The reading is not kulacaran but kula-varan, the third letter being a v as in the preceding Kesavadin.

Line 16. The second word is not ksitra but ksettra, the vowel being an e. The third word is rightly read as kulya. The next words are vapa-ttrayamm apasya, the t being doubled with the r as is generally done here and in the other grants, and a superfluous anusvara being wrongly placed over the ya. The remaining letters are not vyaghracora koyacchi patacca bhuhsima but vyaghra-corako yac chesam tac catuh-sima-; the vowel over the cch is e and not I; the next letter is a badly formed sa and not pa, for p has no bar at the top of its right limb; and over this sa is an anusvara which is slightly displaced to the left because the aksara lpya in the preceding line prevents its being placed in its proper position. What he reads as bhu is tu formed rather carelessly, for the left limb has the curve that t always has in this inscription (see for instance the t in tac ca immediately preceding), whereas that limb in bh is always curved the other way (see remarks above on I. 14). His conjecture therefore about patacca (p. 434) is unnecessary.

Line 17. The reading is Supratika-svaminah, and not Supratika-svaminah, though this is probably a printer’s error.

Line 19. He reads jogika, but the word is jotika for the second letter has not the bar at the bottom of its left limb that g always has; and similarly his reading koga further on should be kota. He reads candravarmma, but there is no r over the last aksara, and the third aksara seems to be ca, for it is far more like the ca in the preceding candra and in cattrah and pisaca (I. 18) than the va in purvvasyam and Vidya (I. 18), etc. This word is in my opinion Candracampa. His reading uttarena, though correct Sanskrit, is not what the plate has, for it has uttarena plainly.

Line 20. The reading is not candra but cattra; it is the same word as cattrah in I. 18. His reading sasthi should be sasti, for the second aksara is st and not sth, the form of which is shown in visthaya(m) in I. 22.

Line 21. He reads va after canumanta, but it is ca like the ca in that word. It is no doubt a mistake for ca or perhaps va. The last word is vaset and not vaseta, for there is under the t a line which is evidently a virama. At the end the plate shows a single bar clearly, so that a double one has not to be supplied.

Line 22. The first word is not sva-dattam but sva-datam, as the t is not double; this is an error of course. His reading vasundharam should be vasundharam, for the s has not only its right limb extended downwards to denote u, as in Supratika (II. 5 and 17), but also a curve added thereto which makes the long u. This of course is another error. The reading is visthaya(m) and not vistaya(m); see remarks above on I. 20. He places a bar at the end of this line, but there is none in the original, and there can be none because the sloka does not end here.

Line 23. The reading is pacyate and not pacyati, the vowel mark being e rather than i. He reads samvat, but the third aksara is not a single t nor has it a virama, but it contains three well-marked downward strokes which can only denote a doubled t, as in pravarttaniya (I. 10), Jivadattas (I. 4), etc., or the consonants ts. The true reading therefore is either samvatta or samvatsa. The former is inadmissible, hence the word must be samvatsa, and in fact there are traces of lines at the bottom of the aksara which indicate that the word is samvatsa, short for samvatsare, the final syllable being omitted as in Kartti and di. This ts may be compared with ts in vatsa (I. 14).

The first numeral is not 30 as he reads it, but 10 as I take it and as Dr. Hoernle and Dr. Bloch also read it. It is formed like the letter la with a hook (like the vowel sign r) beneath it. The sign for 30, when made like la, has no hook beheath it; whereas the sign for 10 was sometimes made like la or la and then had the hook beneath it. The difference is clearly shown in Buhler’s Indische Paleographie, Table IX, where the various signs for 10 and 30 are given; and this sign for 10 is figured twice in col. xiii, once in col. xvi, and again in col. xix. Precisely the same sign occurs also at the end of grant C. The reading is therefore samvatsa(re) 10 4, that is 14. The word samvatsara shews that the year does not belong to any era, but means the regnal year of Samacaradeva. The date is given similarly in grants A and C.


Welfare! While the supreme king of great kings, Sri-Samacaradeva, who is without rival on this earth and who is equal in steadfastness to Nrga, Nahusa, Yayati and Ambarisa, is glowing in majesty, the Uparika Jivadatta is the privy minister appointed over the suvarna-vothya1 [See remarks, p. 487 below.] in New Avakasika, which he obtained through paying court to the pair of lotus-like feet of this monarch. Pavittruka is the lord of the district in Varaka province, which is caused to rejoice by that Uparika.

Whereas, according to this lord’s practice,2 [I read the emendation vyavaharatah; but vyavaharatah of the text would give the meaning “while he is conducting the business of government.”] Supratika-svamin informed the district government, wherein the oldest official Damuka is the chief, and the leading man of the district Vatsa-kunda, the leading man Suci-palita, the leading man Vihita-ghosa, and the local (?)3 [As regards svarada (?), see p. 488 below.] leading man Priya-datta, the leading man Janardana-kunda and other leading men, and many other principal men of business, thus—“I wish through your honours’ favour for a piece of waste land which has long lain neglected1 [According to the emendation circavasanna.]; and do ye deign to do me that as a favour, after making a copper-plate grant of it to me for my employment as a Brahman to be engaged in offering the bali, the caru, and sacrifices.”

Wherefore the men of business who are the above-mentioned ______________2 [I cannot suggest any word which will fit the blank where the letters are obliterated at the end of line 12. ] of Santha, having entertained this request, and having called to mind the verse—“That land, which is reveled in by the six kinds of wild beasts,3 [Perhaps tigers, leopards, hyenas, bears, wild boar and buffaloes. The verse is a general statement.] is unprofitable as regards the wealth that should accrue to the king: land, when made enjoyable by young animals,4 [The idea is that the land should be so safe that no danger could befall anything young.] produces wealth and righteousness indeed to the king;” and having decided, “hence let it be given to this Brahman”; and having constituted the karanikas Naya-naga, Kesava and others the arbitrators;5 [Or referees. This word kulavara is discussed in my article on the three other grants (p. 205).] and having put aside the three kulya-sowing-areas of cultivated land which have been previously granted away by a copper-plate;6 [This is the literal translation if we read krta instead of krtya at the beginning of I. 16; and if we retain krtya, the meaning is the same, though the construction is less elegant.] and having defined the four boundary-indications of the remaining land which is in the ‘Tiger’s char,’7 [This is the translation if we read corake in I. 16; but, if we retain corako, the translation is “the four boundary-indications of what is the remainder, namely, the ‘Tiger’s char’” – which does not say what it is the remainder of.] have bestowed it on this Supratika-svamin by executing a copper-plate grant.

And the boundary-indications are these. On the east, the goblin-haunted parkatti8 [The waved-leaf fig-tree, Ficus infectoria.] tree; on the south, Vidyadhara’s cultivating-tenure;9 [Jotika. This is not Sanskrit. It is obviously a word formed from jota, and I am inclined to read jota as equivalent to the modern word jot, “the land-tenure belong to a cultivating raiyat,” though the t’s are different. Some such meaning seems obviously required here. Jot, as it is written and pronounced in Bengali (though it is also written yot and pronounced jot), is a word of doubtful derivation. Some derive it from the Sanskrit root yu or yuj, though the connexion in meaning is difficult. The Bengali dictionary, Prakriti-bad Abhidhan, says it is a foreign word (Persian or such like), but this seems erroneous. It is probably an indigenous term; and as an indigenous t wavered between Sanskrit t and t (see Beames’ Comparative Grammar, vol. I, p. 219; Hoernle’s Grammar of the Gaudian languages, pp. 8-10) the original word might appear as jota when Sanskritized here or as jot in modern Bengali. Indeed I have heard the word jot pronounced with a t sound intermediate between t and t.] on the west, Candracampa’s hut-tent;10 [Kota means a ‘hut.’ There is no Sanskrit word kena, but there is a word kenika, a ‘tent,’ and it is an obvious formation from a simpler word such as kena. Kota-kena therefore means a ‘hut-like tent’ or ‘tent-like hut,’ such as is used to this day by low wandering castes.] on the north, Gopendra’s char and the boundary of the village.

And here apply the verses 1 [Plural, but only one verse is cited.] – “Whoever confiscates land that has been granted away by himself or granted away by another, he becoming a worm in his own2 [The more usual reading is sa or sva- instead of sva-. With sa the meaning is—“he becoming a worm in ordure”; and with sva- -- “he becoming a worm in a dog’s ordure.”] ordure rots along with his ancestors.”

In the regnal year 14; the first day of Karttika.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 2 of 2


The mandala or province was Varaka in all the grants, and in addition to what has been said about Varendra in my article (p. 209), I may mention that Varendra was sometimes regarded as a part of Gauda-desa, for at the end of the description of the Purana-sarvasva MSS., numbered 143-4 in Aufrecht’s Bodleian Catalogue, a notice of its author is inserted which hbegins thus (p. 87) – Gaude Srividite Varendra-visaye, etc.

The capital of the province was New Avakasika as mentioned in that article (p. 22), and it is this grant which makes it clear, because the references to it in grants B and C leave uncertain what is meant by the term. At this time Jivadatta was the Uparika and ruler of the province and resided in New Avakasika, being a successor of the Uparika Nagadeva mentioned in grants B and C, for I agree with Babu R.D. Banerji (as will be shown later) in placing this grant later than the three others. He conducted a special branch of the administration, for he is called “the antaranga appointed over the suvarna-vothya in New Avakasika.” Antar-anga means “an inner member” and appears to denote a member of the inner council of the king. Suvarna-vothya seems to me, not a place because it was in New Avakasika, but some branch of the administration, as will be seen on comparing the corresponding passages in grants B and C. In both of those the Uparika Nagadeva had the office of “chief warden of the gate,” an din C he had been also appointed principal minister of trade (pp. 201, 205). Suvarna means gold, but vothya is not Sanskrit and must be some Prakrit or indigenous term Sanskritized. I cannot explain it, and can only suggest that it may mean something like ‘exchequer,’ and, if so, that the Uparika had charge of the Revenues or Finances.

Within the Varaka province were a number of visayas or districts, and Pavitruka was the lord or governor (pati) of the district in which this grant was made, as Jajava was in grant A (p. 195). It appears that under him the local administration continued to be, as in grants B and C, conducted by a Board of officials, in which the chief was the oldest official named Damuka.

The mahattaras were the local leading men, as explained in my article (p. 213), and this title with the word vara added, that is mahattaravara, is I conjecture the term from which has been derived the word matabbar or matabar, the title now given in Chittagong and East Bengal to the headmen of a village (p. 213, note). The expression which I read tentatively as svarada in I. 7 seems to imply a distinction from the word visaya in I. 6. The latter word is prefixed to the three mahattaras Vatsakunda, Sucipalita and Vihitaghosa, while svarada (?) is prefixed to the mahattaras Priyadatta and Janardanakunda. If one may venture a conjecture on this apparent distinction, it may be suggested that perhaps there were two classes of leading men, visaya-mahattaras and svarada (?) – mahattaras, the latter having a more local status than the former.

This copper-plate was found, as stated by Mr. Stapleton in his Prefatory note to Babu R.D. Banerji’s article, in the mauza of Ghagrahati, which adjoins Pinjuri on the south-west and borders on the river Ghagar, in the south-west corner of the Faridpur district. Some interesting inferences may be drawn by studying the local allusions in this grant with the aid of the Revenue Survey map of this region (on the scale of one inch to a mile).

The names of most significance are Vyaghra-coraka and Gopendra-coraka. The word coraka in them is an interesting one. It is clearly not Sanskrit, for the Sanskrit word coraka means only “a thief; a kind of plant; a kind of perfume”; and none of those meanings are appropriate here. There can be no doubt that it is the Sanskritized form of the common Bengali word [x], which is well known in its Anglicized form ‘char’ or ‘chur,’ any ‘alluvial formation thrown up in or at the side of a river-bed.’ Such chars are common in all rivers of any importance, and vary in size and character from a mere spit of unproductive sand o an extensive deposit of rich and fertile soil. The rivers of Bengal have always carried down large quantities of silt, and have always shifted their beds, the silt being deposited and forming chars wherever the current is slack. These chars are so important a feature of the riverine tracts that they must have had a name from the earliest times, and there can be no doubt that in coraka we have the Sanskrit form of the then vernacular word for ‘char.’ Chars, if of considerable size, are named, and the two names mentioned in this inscription are such as might be given at the present day, namely, “the Tiger’s char” (in Bengali [x] or [x]) and “Gopendra’s char.” This “Tiger’s char” was a large one, because a previous grant of three “kulya-sowing” areas of cultivated land had been made out of it, and by this grant the remainder was given to Supratika-svamin. In the article on the other grants the meaning of a “kulya-sowing area” has been discussed, and reasons have been adduced for estimating it at about an acre or three standards bighas (pp. 214-6). Hence the “Tiger’s char” was more than thrice that size and presumably contained a good deal more than nine bighas. A char of this size could only be formed in a rather large river; hence this char and Gopendra’s char were on the side of a rather large river, which corresponded therefore to the modern Ghagar. The map shows no trace at present that the Ghagar was connected northwards with the Ganges, yet it may have been so in early times, because the configuration of the Ghagar and the other water-ways near it favours this view, and it is well-known that river-beds have been completely silted up and obliterated.

Samtha or Santha is not a Sanskrit word, and can only, it seems, be the name of the place where this grant was made. It is stated the land was given by the vyavaharins or men of business who (as I read the passage) belonged to Santha. This word vyavaharin deserves notice, for nothing is said about villagers, and it suggests that Santa was not an ordinary agricultural village, but was rather a business place. As the chars were alongside it, it was evidently in close proximity to the river Ghagar. Hence it seems a fair inference, that Santa was a trading centre for ships and boats, and that the vyavaharins were the local merchants. I do not find any name resembling Santa in the map, but, as this copper-plate was found in Ghagrahati, one may reasonably presume it was found in its original site and that Ghagrahati is the modern name of the old Sana. This is supported by some further considerations; hence it appears that this grant should property be called the Ghagrahati grant.

Ghagrahati means “the village (or locality) of the hat (mart) on the Ghagar,” and proves that there was once a hat or mart at this place, though it has apparently long ceased to exist; and the fact, that the village took its name from the hat and not the hat from the village, shows that a trading mart was first founded here on the Ghagar, and that the village grew up from it. This accords well with the predominance assigned to the vyavaharins in this grant. A mart so situated was well placed as a trade centre for all the south west portion of the (Faridpur) district. It was connected with the sea by the fine water-way in the R. Madhumati and the Haringhata estuary, and the small ships of those days could have reached it readily. Such ships penetrated further inland for they are referred to in grant A (I. 24-5, and p. 198, note).

The existing hats are situated more northward. The present Ghagarhat, “the hat on the Ghagar,” is some three miles to the north; and there are besides Pinjuri-hat about a mile to the north-east, and Parkuna-hat about four miles to the north. The noteworthy point here is that “the hat on the Ghagar” has been shifted northwards. It was originally in Ghagrahati as the name testifies, and although this mauza still retains its name, the hat which give it its name has been moved to the north. What was the reason for the removal? I venture to suggest the following explanation.

The map shows that all the country adjoining Ghagrahati on the south and south-west is now bil or “marsh.” It is not likely that the ancient hat on the Ghagar would have been placed in proximity to a marsh, when excellent sites were available a little further northward. Elsewhere1 [In my “Revenue History of the Sundarbans” and in an article on the Sundarbans in the Calcutta Review in or about 1889. I cannot give more precise references as those publications are not beside me.] I have adduced reasons to show that there have been local subsidences of the land in the northern middle portion f the Sundarban region, sufficient to turn land that was of ordinarily elevation into marsh, and it is highly probable that some such subsidence took place in the southern tract of the Ghagar, because a large area south and south-west of Ghagrahati is now marsh. It may be inferred therefore that, when the hat was established in Ghagrahati, all the country around it was of good elevation, and that when the land subsided, the hat with the same name Ghagra-hat was moved northwards to a better situation, while the village around the old site remained with the name Ghagrahati. If this explanation is valid, one can well understand that this copper-plate might have been abandoned, where it has been found, as being no longer of any value; and that it was really a Ghagrahati grant.

Further, from the considerations put forward in my article on the other grants (p. 209) and from what is known of the course of Sundarban forest reclamation,2 [See my “Revenue History of the Sundarbans.”] it is very probable that the Sundarban forest could not have been very far from this spot at the time of this grant; and this is supported by the pointed reference to wild beasts in lines 13 and 14. Hence it seems that Santha could hardly have been a town, but was presumably something like what Morelganj, which is further south, was 60 or 70 years ago.

Character of the Grant.

The place therefore being an outlying mart was not one where Brahmans of position would particularly choose to settle in. Supratika-svamin does not appear to have been a Brahman of position, for nothing is said about his lineage or attainments, such as we find in the other grants. In A the grantee Candra-svamin was of the lineage of Bharadvaja, was a Vajasaneya and studied the six Angas. In B and C the grantees Soma-svamin and Gomidatta-svamin were of the lineage of Kanva, were Vajasaneyas, are styled Lauhityas and are commended as virtuous. It appears from the tenor of this grant, that Supratika-svamin had come to this place and was willing, if he could get some land, to settle in it and perform religious rites. The matter was transacted between him and the vyavaharins who resided her. Nothing is said about the villagers taking any part in it. Information of the proposed transaction had to be given to the adhikarana and the mahattaras, as has been noticed in my article (p. 214), but it is stated clearly that it was the vyavaharins who accepted his proposal and gave him the land. The arrangement therefore was one entirely between him and them. There was no grantor who bought the land and bestowed it on a grantee as in the three other plates; but he asked for some land as a consideration for his undertaking as a Brahman to offer the bali, caru and sacrifices, and they accepted his proposal. It was no case of purchase, but a free gift by the vyavaharins on condition that he should perform priestly functions. The general terms used imply that he was to become priest to them generally, and that there was no other Brahman in the place. Here then we have an instance of the way in which Brahmans moved onwards and settled as priests in new places which had reached a position to need their services.

The arrangement was made with the cognizance of the adhikarana and in the presence of the mahattaras, and the seal of the adhikarana would have been affixed to this plate as it was to the other grants. The curved shape of the left-hand margin of the inscription in all the grants shows, that this plate was made to receive a round seal fastened on its front as the other grants still have, and that the triangular hole, which Babu R.D. Banerji comments on (p. 434), was made to enable the seal to be soldered through the hole on to the back of the plate. The fastening has decayed and the seal has been lost.

Supratika-svamin asked for a piece of waste land, and what was given him was the remainder of the “Tiger’s char.” As it was not bought from any one, but the vyavaharins gave it, it must have been the common property of the vyava-harins, if not of the whole village; and was therefore land somewhat similar to that in grant A, as explained in my article (p. 214). It was waste char and therefore land of recent formation; hence no reference was apparently necessary to the record-keeper as in the other grants (p. 213). As there was no purchase but the remainder of the char was given, it was unnecessary to measure the area as in those grants (p. 213). It was presumably covered with jungle in which tigers and other dangerous animals could lurk, for so much is implied by the citation of the verse, which contrasts the benefit that accrues to the king, when land is perfectly reclaimed, with what he loses when it is infested by wild beasts. It may also be inferred from that citation that the area was considerable, because the verse would not be significant, if the area was only a small patch insufficient to offer harbor to wild animals. It seems probable therefore that the remainder, which was given to Supratika-svamin, could hardly have been much less than what had been granted away previously.

Validity of the Grant.

Babu R.D. Banerji pronounces the grant spurious and bases his decision on three grounds, (1) that the forger betrayed himself by introducing archaic and obsolete letters in the script, (2) that the grant does not follow the formula of a regular grant as found in the majority of copper-plate inscriptions, and (3) that its purport is irregular, obscure, ambiguous and in parts unintelligible. I do not see the cogency of these grounds to his conclusion, and for the following reasons. He reads the date as the year 34 and, assigning it to the Harsa Era, equates it with A.D. 640-1; and the gist of his criticisms on its script is to place its real period in about the last quarter of the 7th century (p. 432), that is, only some 40 or 50 years later than its professed date. If a forger wanted to make the grant appear to be only 40 or 50 years older than it really was, it was surely unnecessary for him to introduce obsolete letters and endanger his object by rendering its purport uncertain. This remark touches his first and third grounds, and the second will be considered later. See also postscript.

The true date however is the 14th regnal year of the monarch Samacaradeva. As nothing is known of him, his regnal year is no clue towards fixing the date of the grant. We must therefore estimate its period on other grounds; but before attempting that, I must first consider whether the three grounds mentioned above are really sound.

Babu R.D. Banerji says (p. 432), “the characters used in this copper-plate inscription were collected from alphabets in use in three different centuries,” namely, the alphabets of (1) the 3rd and the first half of the 4th century, A.D., (2) the last half of the 5th century and the first half of the 6th century of North-Eastern India, and (3) the 6th century which came into general use in North-Eastern India in the early part of the 7th century. Now it is well known that old habits persist in out-of-the-way places long after they have disappeared from more important and progressive places. Hence we ought to expect that a document executed in this outlying region should show older styles of writing than would be found in contemporaneous inscriptions at Bodh Gaya and Ganjam with which he compares this grant. An interesting illustration of this divergence is found in grant C. In the body of that deed the letter s is always written in its eastern form, but on the Government seal attached thereto it has the western form. The western variety therefore had been introduced at head-quarters while the eastern variety was in general use among the people.

I will now consider the remarks which Babu R.D. Banerji makes regarding various letters in proof of his conclusion stated above.

The first letter he discusses is h (p. 430). When uncompounded h is always (except in one instance) written here in early western Gupta form shown by Buhler in his Indische Paleographie, Table IV, cols. viii to xviii, which prevailed from about A.D. 500 to 675, and even earlier in the later Brahmi alphabet: see his Table III. The one exception is in sahasrani (II. 20-21), which Babu R.D. Banerji has overlooked, and there h has the early eastern form of a hook turned to the left. It has this form also when compounded with m in vrahmana (II. 11 and 14). The early western shape is used in the Bodh Gaya inscription of Mahanaman which is dated in A.D. 588-9 (FGI. p. 274), and is found in this Faridpur district even earlier, for it occurs in grant A which belongs to about the year 531. Babu R.D. Banerji says—“In a previous number of the Journal I have tried to establish that the Eastern variety of the early Gupta alphabet was dying out in the early decades of the fifth century” (pp. 430-1); but that proposition must be revised in the light of the three grants edited by me. In grant A of 531 A.D. both forms of h are used, the eastern 9 times and the western 6 times, and it appears they were used indifferently, because both are used in the same words maharaja (I. 2), anugraha (II. 18 and 19) and Himasena (II. 23 and 25), and both occur in line 4 and again in I. 8. There hm appears in the eastern form (I. 8). In grant B, the date of which is 567 at the latest, only the western form is used throughout, even in hm (II. 9 and 20). But in grant C, which is some 20 years later, the eastern form is sued throughout and the western form does not appear at all in the portions that are legible. Those grants show clearly that the two forms were in use side by side in this region during the 6th century, and the eastern form at least a century and a half later than he estimates, and that even then the western form had attained no ascendancy over the eastern. The fact then that in this grant the western form is sued generally and the eastern once uncompounded and twice in hm is in full agreement with the other grants, and is no indication of falsity but rather a local characteristic of genuineness.

The next letter he notices is long I (p. 431). I have discussed its shape partially above (p. 479), and may here point out that it tended to vary considerably. Its various forms in grant A may be seen on comparing (to give only salient instances) Sila (I. 24), °padaniya° (I. 22), kriya (I. 8), vikriya (I. 11), sri (I. 2), grhitva (I. 8) and kirtti (I. 14). The copy of grant B on plate II does not show all details quite clearly, yet the shapes of I may be noticed in sima (I. 21) sri (I. 2), parkkrati (I. 21) and vikriya° (I. 14). Grant C is so badly corroded on its obverse that there is not the same opportunity of scrutinizing details, yet the form of I may be seen in vikkritam (I. 20), sila and sima (I. 23), sima (II. 22-3) and pratita (I. 19). There was a tendency to reduce the size of the inner curl of this vowel sign, and in these last two words and in vikriya° (grant B, I. 14) it has practically degenerated into a dot connected with the outer curve. To separate the dot and the curve would be a natural modification, as we find in this grant; and here the I sign always consists of a dot or small stroke, and a curve on its right, except in Supratika (I. 17) where their position is reversed. The form of I then in this grant is no indication that it is spurious.

His third point relates to initial I (p. 431). This occurs only once, in icchami (I. 9); and his reading of icchato (I. 14) is untenable as explained above (p. 483). The I in icchami consists of two dots, one above the other, and a perpendicular stroke on their right. There is nothing suspicious in this form, because it is used in the same word in grant A (I. 7). It occurs in inscriptions of the fourth and fifth centuries (see Buhler’s Table IV, cols. I and v), and persisted later in this outlying region.

His fourth point (p. 431), in so far as it is definite, relates to m and the bipartite y. The m’s in this grant are like those in grants B and C and are not open to distrust. I have discussed the forms of y in my article (pp. 206-7), and the form which it has in this plate is always of the third and latest style which has been figured there. The instances here present three stages in its formation. In the earliest of these the left perpendicular reaches the bottom horizontal stroke, as shown in the second y of Yayati (I. 1), visaya (I. 4) and °yogaya (I. 11); and this shape constitutes a connecting link with the second form figured in my article. The second stage is exhibited in pascimayam (I. 19), and the third in ttrayam and yac (I. 16). Similar stages may be traced in grant C in the words Kasikayam (I. 3), vikkriya° (I. 17) and yo (I. 24). This grant is therefore closely like C as regards bipartite y, and differs from it in no longer using the earlier form figured by me as the second. It thus appears that as regards both m and y there is no ground for suspicion in this grant. He adds – “The bipartite ya looks ill side by side with sa, ja and ha (when it occurs alone) in which no acute angle can be traced”; but my scrutiny of this grant does not support this statement, and letters like these in shape are found in grant C. I need not dilate on this statement.

He deals next with the letter la (p. 431). Its form here is the later western shape, and it is also found in Grant B, where for instance we may compare laddha° (I. 3), kale (I. 4), Gopala (I. 5), etc. The earlier western shape is more prevalent in grant C, in which the left limb of l is not carried to the top of the line, as we see in kula (I. 18), sila (I. 19), nalena (I. 19), lingani (I. 21), etc.; yet even there l occurs once in Dhruvilaty (I. 22) like l in this grant. In grant A all the forms of l are used indifferently; thus the eastern form appears in labdha° (I. 2), kala (I. 5), labhah (I. 13), abhilasa (I. 14), samkalpabhi (I. 14) and sila (I. 24); the earlier western form in Kula (I. 4); and a shape nearly approaching the later western form in mandale (I. 3), likhita (I. 20) and lingani (I. 23). It thus appears that both the eastern and the western forms of l were in use in this region in 531 the date of grant A, and, though the former does not occur in grants B and C, yet it may have lingered on in this remote locality, so that its use in this grant is no certain ground for disparagement.

The sixth point (p. 431) concerns the letter da (that is, da) and has been discussed above (p. 478).

Seventhly, Babu R.D. Banerji refers (p. 432) to the word parkkatti (I. 18). He objects to the form of the pa as peculiar, and says, it “does not resemble the remaining ones, which are usually rectangular in form, seldom showing an acute angle.” This p however has the same shape as that in pravarttaniya (I. 10), nrpasya (I. 14) and pisaca (I. 18); and p in several cases varies from the rectangular shape, in prasada (I. 11), pari° (I. 12), Supratika and patti (I. 17) and pitrbhi (I. 22). He adds, “the earliest occurrence of this form of pa is to be found in inscriptions of the seventh and eighth centuries A.D.;” but the acute-angled shape is found in the Bodh Gaya inscription of Mahanaman of 588-9 (FGI. p. 274), and is figured as earlier by Buhler in his Table IV, col. ix. Most stress however is laid on the second aksara rkka, which he says “consists of two looped kas and a superscript ra;” but the upper k is not looped as shown in the plate published with his article, and only the second is looped. Precisely this form of doubled k is found in the Bodh Gaya inscription of 588-9; and therefore his remark that “this form of ka becomes fairly common from the last quarter of the seventh century A.D. and afterwards” (p. 432) needs modification. There is nothing objectionable therefore in the forms of pa and rkka in this grant.

I have now considered all his criticisms on the script in this grant, and have shown that the features which he distrusts are to be found in other almost contemporaneous inscriptions which are genuine; so that as regards the script there is nothing suspicious in this grant.

In stating his second ground for discrediting this grant he points out that it differs from the formula found in the majority of copper-plate inscriptions (p. 432). I need not examine the formula, because he refers to grants in which the donor is a royal person; whereas this grant is, as explained above (p. 491), not a royal grant but a grant by the businessmen of Santha of a part of the common land of their village. Hence that formula can have no application here, and the procedure was quite different. What the formalities on such occasions were has been discussed in my article (p. 214) and noticed above (p. 491), and the same procedure was observed in this grant as in the three others. Hence his strictures on its form (p. 433) are misplaced.

One important point must be kept in mind in construing ancient grants. It is a fact well known to all Revenue Officers, that, when gifts of land were made in old times, they might be granted either subject to the land-tax due to the sovereign, or exempt therefrom; that is, they might be (in modern Revenue language) either ‘revenue-payng’ or ‘revenue-free.’ It was no doubt to guard the royal revenues from being endangered that the parties to a grant were required to give notice to the Government. Neither the king nor his high officials could attend every small grant such as these were, and it would seem that the mahattaras attended as representatives of the local administration at the transaction.

Babu R.D. Banerji points out that grants might be forged, and cites an instance mentioned in the Madhuban Plate of Harsa (Epig. Ind. VII, 155). Certainl grants were sometimes forged, but the particulars and circumstances of that case and this grant are altogether different. In that case the Brahman, who held the kuta-sasana, claimed a whole village under it. What he did was obviously this. He did not dispossess the inhabitants and cultivators of the village (for he could not cultivate the lands himself and certainly did not depopulate it) and they remained, but he imposed himself upon them as lord of the village. All that he would have claimed from them was the various taxes and dues payable by them and, as they were bound to pay those, he would not have interfered with their life and ways more than the sovereign’s own officers who levied those demands, unless he exacted more. The position of the villagers therefore remained unaffected, and the person who suffered was the king, because the whole, or at least a part, of the revenue might have been intercepted by the false grantee. It was therefore for the king to annul the false grant, and not for the villagers to contest it.

The particulars and circumstances of this grant however were altogether different, as has been already explained. It is incredible that a poor Brahman of no position, who wanted only a parcel of waste land for his personal occupation, could have foisted himself into this village by forging a copper-plate grant for a piece of char land as having been given to him by the business-men of the village. If he attempted such a fraud, he would have set the whole village up in arms against himself, and his claim would have been instantly disproved by the inhabitants and the mahattaras. Further, such a deed, if forged forty or fifty years after its alleged date to support a claim to this piece of land, would have been wholly futile, because it would have been refuted by the fact, which every villager would have known, that he had not been in possession of the land during those years. In fact, this grant was a natural agreement between the people and the Brahman for their mutual benefit, and its very pettiness shews it cannot be spurious. Moreover it is expressly said that the cultivation of waste land increases the king’s revenue.

Babu R.D. Banerji’s third ground deals with the meaning of this grant. He says the wording “is very ambiguous” (p. 433), and “The contents of lines 12 and 13 are quite unintelligible. Here and there words of Sanskritic origin are to be found mixed up with what seems to be unintelligible gibberish” (pp. 433-4). I venture to think that my reading and translation redeem the grant from this condemnation, and render it not only clear and intelligible but also remarkably vivid in its local references; and that they shew that the word tamrapatta is not open to the stricture which he passes on it (p. 434).

There are certainly some words which are not proper Sanskrit, but their use, so far from being suspicious, is only what might be expected when local conditions peculiar to this outlying region had to be put into Sanskrit dress. There could not be Sanskrit equivalents for every vernacular term, and the only course open was to Sanskritize those terms. Further, it would have been surprising, if a good scholar had been found in this remote spot, and suspicious if this petty grant had been drawn up in correct Sanskrit. The peculiar words here are vothya (I. 3), svarada ? (I. 7), sata (I. 13), coraka (II. 16 and 20), jotika and kena (I. 19). As regards svarada (?) no explanation can be attempted, because (as already mentioned, p. 480) it is doubtful what word was written; still a meaning has been suggested which seems possible. Kena has a corresponding secondary form in Sanskrit. For sata an explanation has been put forward which is based upon substantial grounds and is appropriate. Coraka is a vernacular word Sanskritized, and so I think is jotika, and probably vothya also and for these three words meaning have been suggested which are perfectly suitable.

Peculiar words are also found in the three other grants. Thus grant A has sadhanika1 [I have to thank Babu R.D. Banerji for pointing out that sadhanika occurs also in other grants in the forms Dausadhanika, Dausadhasadhanika, etc.] (II. 7, 15), sal (I. 19) and kseni (I. 25); B has karardaya (I. 5) and dandaka (I. 23) and probably the local title mridha Sanskritized (see my article, p. 202, note 18); C has apparently vyaparandya (I. 3); and apavinchya occurs in all of them (A, I. 16; B, I. 19; C, I. 19).

All the grounds on which Babu R.D. Banerji has pronounced this grant to be spurious have been examined, and it appears that the particulars which he considers open to distrust are not really suspicious, and that the grant has all the marks of genuineness in the character of its script, the form in which it is drawn up, and its purport. I am therefore of opinion that it is not spurious but perfectly genuine and valid.

Date of the Grant.

There are some data to enable us to fix approximately the period in which this grant was made and in which the king Samacaradeva reigned.

First, we have the shapes of the letters k, y and s, and the disappearance of the character for b.

The disappearance of this character, which is sued in grants A and B and perhaps in C, has been discussed above (p. 477) and shews that this grant must be later than A and B and probably later than C also.

The shape of y is in Dr. Hoernle’s opinion, as mentioned in my article (p. 207), an important criterion for determining the age of writings from the fifth to the seventh century A.D. Its shape in this grant is the third of the three kinds discussed in my article (p. 206) and is similar to that in grant C; but this grant is later than C, because (1) the second kind of y which appears in C does not occur here, and (2) the third form has almost reached its full development here.

In the body of all the other grants the letter s is written in the eastern form, but in the government seal attached to C it has the western form as already mentioned (p. 493). The corresponding seals on A and B are too much corroded to permit of its shape being ascertained. The people therefore used the eastern form, though the western had been introduced at head-quarters, and some time would be required before the latter would oust the former from general use. In this grant we have a later stage because only the western form is used.

On these three grounds therefore this grant is later than C, and the date of C is 586 at the latest and may be five or ten years earlier.

The first inscription in which the looped form of k was used in Eastern India is, I believe, the Bodh Gaya inscription of Mahanaman of 588-9 (FGI, p. 274), and some time must have elapsed before it reached this outlying region since it does not appear in the other grants.

These four considerations suggest that this grant must be later than 586 and 588-9 A.D. The question, how much later it was, depends on what may be considered a sufficient interval to permit of all these modifications establishing themselves in this remote locality. I do not think we can estimate a shorter period than some thirty years, and if so, this grant might be assigned to the latter part of the first quarter of the seventh century.

Next, we may consider the reference to the king Samacaradeva. Though nothing is known of him, there seems to be no good reason to doubt the genuineness of the name, because the grant is genuine; and even if it were spurious, no forger would be so foolish as to date it in the reign of a king who never existed, especially if (according to Babu R.D. Banerji’s arguments) it was fabricated no very long time after its professed date. The name moreover is a possible one, being analogous to the royal names Dharmaditya and Siladitya and personal names such as Gunadeva.

The description of Samacaradeva suggests certain inferences. The earlier emperor Dharmaditya in grant A, though styled only maharajadhiraja (I. 2), is yet alluded to as parama-bhattaraka (I. 13); and has in grant B both the former title and also battaraka (I. 2). In grant C Gopacandra, who may have been a descendant of the Guptas as suggested in my article (p. 208), received the same two titles, and he reigned in Bengal as an independent monarch after the dissolution of Dharmaditya’s empire. Here Samacaradeva is styled only maharajadhiraja. Further, it is stated in grant A that Sthanudatta was the maharaja of this province and was subordinate to the emperor Dharmaditya. In grant B, which was later in that emperor’s reign, the local maharaja had ceased to exist; but in grant C Gopacandra appears as the local monarch when the empire broke up. Similarly in this grant Samacaradeva is the local monarch, and no one is mentioned as his superior. Hence it appears that he was an independent king of Bengal.

Now Bengal was subject to Harsa in the second quarter of the seventh century, and Harsa, “when at the height of his power, exercised a certain amount of control as suzerain over the whole of Bengal, even as far east as the distant kingdom of Kamarupa, or Assam, and seems to have possessed full sovereign authority over western and central Bengal.” (V. Smith, History, 2nd ed., p. 366). But he could not have established his supremacy in this eastern region till some years after his accession and after he had subdued the rest of North India, that is, probably not until about 620 or even 625. The date might be even later, because he continued fighting for many years and was engaged in a campaign against Ganjam as late as 643 (ibid., p. 313). His empire lasted till his death in 646-7.1 [Mr. V. Smith tells me that this year is the correct date of Harsa’s death, and not 647-8.] After his decease it fell to pieces. “After his death the local Rajas no doubt asserted their independence” and very little is known concerning the history of Bengal for nearly a century (ibid., p. 366).

There were independent kings therefore in Bengal before Harsa extended his supremacy over it, and again after his death; and Samacaradeva must be placed either in the first quarter of the seventh century before Harsa’s conquest, or in the third or fourth century after his empire decayed. The latter alternative is not probable, because of the character of the script in this grant. It has been pointed out that this grant exhibits the eastern forms of certain letters, which, though ousted by the western forms generally, yet remained in use in this remote locality. They might have continued till the first quarter of that century as shewn above (p. 499), but could hardly have persisted about half a century longer (till the fourteenth year of a new king after the dissolution of the empire), because Harsa’s supremacy over Bengal would have facilitated the predominance of the western forms and hastened the disuse of the eastern forms. It may be reasonably inferred therefore, that Samacaradeva reigned in the first quarter of the seventh century.

There is another consideration which supports this inference. The king of Pundravardhana, that is Bengal, whose kingdom was more or less subject to Harsa, belonged to the Brahman caste, as Mr. V. Smith says (History, p. 329)2 [Mr. V.Smith tells me he is unable at present to cite the authority for this statement. Possibly therefore an argument may not be based confidently on it, yet the existence of a Samacaradeva, king of Bengal or Pundravardhana, probably at this very time, suggests that the dynasty did belong to the Brahman caste.] now this (Faridpur) district would have appertained to Pundravardhana, and the termination deva in names often designated Brahmans. In the name Samacaradeva deva is not a separate word or title as it often is in royal appellations, but forms a real compound with samacara. Hence it seems probable that Samacaradeva was a Brahman, and was a king of the Pundravardhana dynasty which was reigning when Harsa conquered Bengal.

The conclusions then which seem fairly established are, (1) that this grant was later than C which was executed in the year 586 (at the latest), an d(2) that it was prior to Harsa’s subjugation of Bengal, which may be assigned to about the years 620-5, or perhaps later. These conclusions coupled with the inference drawn from the script, that the grant belongs probably to the latter part of the first quarter of the seventh century, lead me to assign it to about the years 615-20 A.D. Between the two dates 586 (at the latest) and 620-5 there is room for two or three independent kings in Bengal after the death of Gopacandra, whose nineteenth year was the former of those dates; and it seems probable that Samacaradeva was one of them, possibly the immediate predecessor of the Pundravardhana king who was Harsa’s vassal, and that the commencement of his reign may be placed approximately in the years 601-5 A.D.

Names in the Grants.

Some interesting conclusions may apparently be drawn from the names mentioned in all these grants.

The names of the mahattaras in this inscription do not appear to be genuine compound words in which the component parts depend on one another, such as Dharmaditya, Sthanudatta and Kulacandra in grant A (II. 2-4), but seem to consist merely of two separate words in juxtaposition. Hence we may with full propriety write them as Vatsa Kunda, Suci Palita, Vihita Ghosa, Priya Datta and Janardana Kunda; and perhaps Jiva Datta may be so treated. Hence it appears that in these names we have four of the caste-surnames which are common in Bengal now, namely, Kunda (modern Kundu), Palit, Ghosh and Datt. A caste-name karanika is mentioned (I. 15). Karanika is not classical Sanskrit, but is evidently a word formed from karana which was the name of a mixed caste that had the occupation of writing, accounts, etc. (Dicty.); hence karanika apparently meant a member of this caste. This caste was presumably either the same as, or closely akin to, the kayastha caste. The position of senior member of the Board was in grants B and C held by the then oldest kayastha named Naya Sena. As this grant is later than those, it is worthy of note that, whereas the modern name kayastha is mentioned in grants B and C, the name used in this later grant is karanika, a title which is not used now. Where a person’s caste is mentioned, the surname is sometimes omitted, as in the case of the karanikas, for, while one is named Naya Naga (Nag is another modern surname), the other is called simply Kesava (I. 15). It seems a fair inference that the second parts of these names were established as caste-surnames at the time of this inscription.

But in the other grants this feature is not so clear. Many persons are mentioned in A, but none can be resolved into a clear personal name and surname except Vi[na]ya Sena and Hima Sena. Sen is a well-known caste-surname in Bengal now. In grant B few names are mentioned, and there is not much scope for scrutiny, yet two can be resolved, Naya Sena and Soma Ghosa. Grant C is so much corroded that, though apparently many names were mentioned, few can be deciphered now; yet two are divisible, the same Naya Sena and Visaya Kunda (?). This grant therefore shows a greater development of the caste-surname than the three earlier grants, and if that method of naming was fairly prevalent in this outlying district, it was presumably in more general vogue in the central part of the province. It seems therefore probable that the use of caste-surnames, which is universal at the present day in Bengal, was becoming generally adopted in the early part of the seventh century.


After this article was in the press another reading of this Ghagrahati grant was published in the Report of the Archaeological Survey of India for 1907-8, p. 255. It is by the late Dr. T. Bloch, and he pronounced the grant to be a forgery, although it appears from his article that a great deal of the inscription baffled him; for instance, he says (p. 256) – “The grammar of the inscription, especially the syntax, is in such a bad state of confusion, that it would be impossible to attempt anything like a connected and literal translation of the text.” Accordingly, while offering a transliteration of the text, he has not attempted a translation. All or nearly all his criticisms will be found practically answered in this my article. I cannot extend this article, already long, by further discussions, but a comparison of his and my articles will remove all the difficulties that he found. My article on the three other grants was published last year, and he would no doubt have entirely revised his article if he had lived to see that.

I will only add as a general remark that it is hardly sound to pronounce anything that is hardly sound to pronounce anything that is not readily intelligible to be a forgery because even forgeries are meant to be quite intelligible, otherwise they would fail in their object.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Fri May 07, 2021 4:46 am

A Forged Copper-Plate Inscription From Eastern Bengal.
by Theodor Bloch
Archaeological Survey of India Annual Report
P. 255

This inscription is written on both sides of a single sheet of copper, measuring 8” by 4-3/4”. The plate has no raised rims, and bears, on its left-hand side, clear indications of having been soldered on to a seal. Nothing is known to me about the exact find spot of the plate, beyond the vague fact, that it came from Eastern Bengal. When I saw it in July, 1908, it was with some Bengali gentleman in Calcutta; however, I understand, that it has since been returned to its owner.

The main point of interest attaching to the inscription on this plate, is the fact that it proves to be an ancient legal forgery, made with the object of claiming the ownership of certain landed property, which, by a previous copper-plate, had been given to certain persons. This fact becomes evident both from paleographical and grammatical reasons. To begin with paleography, the inscription, at first sight, conveys the impression of being written in the alphabet current in North-Eastern India from 600 to 800 A.D. approximately. There are, perhaps, even a few letters that would carry us a little further back, especially such forms as the letter ha in the end of 1.20 (sahasrani), and in its combined form, in the group hma, in 11.11 and 14 (vrahmana-). This form of ha may generally be taken as a test letter proving that any form of writing, in which it occurs, belongs to the 4th or 5th century A.D.1 [See A.S.R. 1903-4, p. 102.] and I believe, there can be no possible doubt about the spuriousness of any inscription, which exhibits, by the side of the ancient Gupta ha, such late forms, as the tu of 1.10 (catu-), and the la of 1.12 (alam) and (lopari-). This last letter la is particularly instructive, as its younger form occurs only twice, in one and the same line, while in the many other places where la has been employed we find forms varying but slightly from the ordinary la of the North-Eastern variety of the Indian Alphabet during the Gupta time. Evidently, the writer had become absent-minded for a moment, and forgot his part as a clever forger, which, otherwise, he has not played badly up to the end. The tu, which he wrote in 1.10, likewise, shows that he was generally accustomed to write this letter in a way which somewhat resembles the modern Bengali form of tu.2 [It may be seen e.g. in 1.15 of the Deopara Inscription of Vijayasena, chatur-jjaladhi=; see Ep. Ind. Vol. I, p. 309, and plate.]

The grammar of the inscription, especially the syntax, is in such a bad state of confusion, that it would be impossible to attempt anything like a connected and literal translation of the text.
Thus, in the beginning, in 1.2, we find the loc. sing. of the present participle, pratapati, connected with the name of the king, Samacaradeve. Evidently this phrase was intended to mean, ‘while Samacaradeva was reigning,’ but pra-tap- is never used in that sense, and the writer of the inscription clearly blundered, perhaps from such phrases as prathivipatau ‘while Samacaradeva was lord of the earth.’ Following close upon this wrongly employed phrase, we read in 11.3 and 4 suvarna-visyadhikrt-antaranga, an epithet, referring to the uparika Jivadatta (1.4). We may well imagine that the writer had in his mind an expression meaning that Jivadatta gained the affection (antaranga, lit. heart) of the people by magnificent gifts of gold (suvarna-visranana), but here as well as in all the following lines of the inscription, it is altogether hopeless to attempt any corrections.

The inscription purports to record a grant of land made during the reign of the Maharajadhiraja, the illustrious Samacaradeva (1.2), by the uparika1 [This term still requires explanation. I only find the Marathi word upari explained by Molesworth as ‘a tenant or farmer, having no right of occupancy, as opp. to thalakari, a landed proprieter’; but this modern term does not appear to help us much further.] Jivadatta (1.4). The grant was made in supersession of a previous one, by which a portion of the land had already been given to certain persons, whose names are not mentioned (11.15ff. prak-tamrapatti-krta-ksettra-kulyavapa-ttvayam-apasya). The recipient of the present grant appears to have been a certain Supratikasvamin (11.5 and 17). The land was situated in the district (mandala) of Kavaraka (1.4).

So far, at least, it appears to me possible to grasp the general meaning of the inscription. But, here again, grave doubts arise in regard to its genuineness. First of all, a name like that of the grantee Supratikasvamin, seems to me an extremely dubious form of an Indian proper name. Likewise, the king’s name Samacaradeva (1.2), meaning ‘His Highness, Decency,’ is certainly very surprising, and I can only imagine, that it might have been employed as a biruda, one of those secondary titles often borne by Indian princes. The case of two of the proper names of mahattaras, mentioned in 11.7 and 8, is still more suspicious. Are we really to believe, that such words as Vatsakunda and Janarddanakunda can ever have been employed as personal proper names? In Sanskrit kunda means ‘a pond,’ and any name, formed with this word, certainly can only be taken as a local, but never as a personal name. Nevertheless, I believe, we are able to understand how the forger came to introduce these two names into the inscription. For it seems very reasonable to assume that he actually found them mentioned in an ancient, genuine grant, which he used for his forgery; but failing to understand them properly, he committed himself to the grave error of treating two local names as personal proper names.

I have already given it as my opinion, that the grant has been forged with the help of and in accordance with another genuine grant, dating approximately from the 7th or 8th century A.D. We may well imagine, that the forger used a genuine document, or a draft of a genuine document, which he found in the Record Office (aksapatala) of one of the States of Eastern Bengal. This genuine document, moreover, does not appear to have been lost to us altogether. In the Indian Antiquary for 1892, page 45, Dr. Hoernle mentions a copper-plate from the Faridpur District in Eastern Bengal, which, as he informs us, had just been sent to him for decipherment. As far as I know, this plate has never been edited completely, and I have at present only the initial lines, published by Dr. Hoernle, to go on with. However, they agree so closely with the opening lines of our present inscription, that I have not the slightest hesitation in looking upon the Faridpur inscription as the genuine archetypes of the present, forged copy.1
[Dr. Hoernle’s Faridpur Grant, according to his transcription (lc.), reads as follows: Svasty-asyam-prthivyam=apratirathe / Nrga-Naghusa-Yayaty-Ambarisa-Samdhrta (sic. !) –Maharajadhi-raja-Sri-Dharmmaditya-bhattaraka-rajye / tad-anumodan-alabdh-aspade (nadhyana P) Kasikayam mahapratihar- oparika-Nagadevasy-addhyasana-kale. With regard to the word put by Dr. Hoernle into brackets, compare 11.2 and 3 of the present inscription: etac-carana-karala (read: kamala)-yugal-aradhan-opatta-navya-vakasikayam. Dr. Hoernle’s reading probably has to be corrected accordingly. Read also sama-dhrtau for sama-dhrta-in the beginning of Dr. Hoernle’s transcript.]

It is possible to assume, that Samacaradeva, the name of the king in the forged inscription, may have been a biruda, or second name, borne by Dharmaditya, the king, mentioned in the opening lines of Dr. Hoernle’s inscription from Faridpur. For I feel rather reluctant to believe that Samacaradeva could be a mere invention. Allowing, as we certainly do, a great state of confusion for any Record Office in Eastern Bengal at the time when the forgery was made, we must, nevertheless, keep in mind that the forgery was made with the object of proving that an entire plot of land was rightly claimed by certain persons, who, hitherto, has been enjoying the possession of only a part of it. At least, the words prak-tamrapatti-krta-ksettra-kulyavapa-ttrayam-apasya, in 11.15-16, uncertain and doubtful though their exact meaning remains to me, were still probably intended for the purpose above mentioned. The case of the present inscription, thus, appears to be the reverse of that of the Madhuban copper-plate inscription of Harsavardhana of Kanauj.2 [Ep. Ind. Vol. I, p. 73.] Here we observe the king, the famous Harsavardhana, issuing a grant of land, in order to set aside a previous forged grant,3 [The term kutasasana, ‘a forged grant,’ is of some interest. Sanskrit kuta, of course, means ‘deceit,’ but as its original meaning is ‘horn,’ it came to be employed in the wider sense of ‘forgery’ evidently, because it was a common thing in ancient India, to sell any carving, made of horn, as ivory. I may mention in this connection, that we learn from one of the inscriptions on the gateways of the Sanchi Stupa, that the stone carving of a certain portion of it was done by the ivory-workers of Vidisa, the modern Bhilsa, a town close to Sanchi; see Ep. Ind. Vol. II, page 378, No. 200 Vedisakehi damta-karaehs rupakamnam katam.] by which the village of Somakundaka had been enjoyed by a Brahman, called Vamarathya. The proprietary right to the said village was transferred by Harsavardhana to the Brahmans Vatasvamin and Sivadevasvamin. But, while the Madhuban plate of Harsavardhana contains a genuine grant, made in order to set aside a kutasasana or forged grant, we have in our plate from Eastern Bengal clearly a katasasana, prepared with the object of proving certain claims to some landed property, which could only be substantiated by means of a forgery. And from the fact, referred to above, that this forged copper-plate from Eastern Bengal bears clear indications of having been soldered on to a seal, we may well conjecture, that this seal actually was a genuine seal, to which the forged plate had been attached in the same manner, as the spurious Gaya plate of Samudragupta actually still bears a genuine seal of one of the Gupta kings attached to it.4 [ See Fleet, Gupta Inscriptions pp. 254-257 and Plate XXXVI.]

In regard to the time, when the present forgery was made, the forms of the letters la and tu, mentioned above, on page 255, seem to carry us back to a comparatively late period, perhaps not earlier than the 11th or 12th century A.D., but I feel rather reluctant to allow too wide a margin for this, as the forger’s work appears to me too clever to be anything that we might call fairly modern.

I now edit the inscription from photographs and impressions prepared from the original copper-plate.


(1) Svasty=Asyam=prthivyam-apratirathe Nrga-Naghusa-Yayaty-Amvarisa-sama-

(2) dhrto (tau)1 [The last aksara looks almost like tam.] Maharajadhiraja-sri-Samacaradeve pratapaty=etac-carana-karala-2 [Read kamala.—The preceding word pratapati is the loc. sing. of the present participle of pra-tap, ‘while he was shining’.]

(3) yugal-aradhan-opatta-navy-avakasi-kayam suvarna-visyadhikrt-antara-

(4) nga uparika-Jivadattas-tad-anumodita-Kavaraka-mandale visaya-

(5) pati-Pavittrako yato=sya vyavaharatah Supratikasvamina jyesth-adhi-

(6) karanika-Damuka-pramukha-sadhikarana-svisaya-mahattara-Vatsa-

(7) kunda-mahattara-Suvipalita3 [This should be either Suvipalita or Srivipalita.] –mahattara-Vihitagsasuida-

(8) mahattara-Priyadasa-mahattara-Janaradanakunda-adayah anye cha

(9) vahavah pradhana vyavaha [ri*] nas-cha vijnaptaderacchasyaham bhavata prasa-4 [As the writer miscalculated the space on the plate, half of the last aksara, sa, has been written above the line.]

(10) dac=cirovasanna-khela-bhu-khandala-kamval [e] catu5 [This letter looks almost like u. Evidently the forger was used to write tu in a similar way as it is written in modern Bengali, viz [x]] h-si*]m[a*]- ntra (nta)-pracanta m niya-

(11) vrahmanopayogaya ca tamrapattikrtya tad=aham sa –prasada-kattra-m=iti yatadhanadaty-alam nasupalatya-saml-oparilikhita-


(13) nye vyavaharibhih samanyasagatas=ca padijnamhrarajnaidha svamsam niraksala-

(14) [ i]cchatogyikrtabhumindam pasyai carthadhamyam krtadasyai vrahman-adayatami

(15) vyavadhrtya karanika-Nayanaga-Kesav-adin=kulacaran=prakalpya prak-tamrapatti-

(16) krta-ksettra-kulyavapa-ttrayam=apasya vyaghra-corakair=yacchepatac-catuh-sima-

(17) lingabhir=d=distam krtv=asya Supratikasvaminah tamrapatti-krtya pratipadita[m*]

(18) simalingani c=attar / Purvvasya[m*] pisacapakkamtti daksinena vidya-

(19) dharajaigika pascimayam candra-campakogakenah uttarena (na) Go-

(20) pendracoraka-grama-sima c=eti / Bhavanti c=attar slokah Sastim=varsa=saha-

(21) srani svarge modati bhumidah aksepta c=anumanta ca1 [read ca.] tany=eva narake vaset 1

(22) Sva-da[t*]tam=para-dattam=va vo hareta vasundharam sva2 [read sa.] visthaya-[m*]krmi[r*]=bhutva pitrbhih

(23) saha pacyate / Samvat 10 4 Kartti di r /



T. Bloch
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Naga people
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/7/21

Naga people
Total population: 2.8 millions+(approx)
Regions with significant populations
India 2.7 millions+[1]
Nagaland 1,700,000
Manipur 700,000
Arunachal Pradesh 200,000
Assam 40,000 - 80,000
Meghalaya 3,000
Mizoram 1,000
Myanmar 300,000[2]
Naga SAZ 120,000+[3]
Sagaing Division NA
Kachin State NA
Languages: Naga, Northern Naga, Southern Naga, Nagamese Creole, English
Religion: Christianity (majority); Theravada Buddhism; Animism; Heraka
Related ethnic groups: Meiteis, East Asians, Singphos, Tamans†, etc

Nagas[4] are various ethnic groups native to the northeastern India and northwestern Myanmar. The groups have similar cultures and traditions, and form the majority of population in the Indian state of Nagaland and Naga Self-Administered Zone of Myanmar; with significant populations in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in India; Sagaing Division and Kachin State in Myanmar.

The Nagas are divided into various Naga ethnic groups whose numbers and population are unclear. They each speak distinct Naga languages often unintelligible to the others.


The present day Naga people have been called by many names, like 'Noga' by Assamese[5] 'Hao' by Manipuri[6] and 'Chin' by Burmese.[7] However, over time 'Naga' became the commonly accepted nomenclature. According to the Burma Gazetteer, the term 'Naga' is of doubtful origin and is used to describe hill tribes that occupy the country between the Chin in the south and Kachin (Singpho) in the Northeast.[8]


Main article: List of Naga languages

The Naga languages are either classified under the Kuki-Chin-Naga languages or the Sal languages.

Nagas have more language diversity than any other ethnic group or states in India. Naga people speak over 89 different languages and dialects, mostly unintelligible with each other. However, there are many similarities in between different languages spoken by them. The diversity of languages and traditions of the Nagas results most likely from the multiple cultural absorptions that occurred during their successive migrations. According to legend, before settling in the region, these groups moved over vast zones, and in the process, some clans were absorbed into one or more other groups. Therefore, until recent times, absorptions were a source of many interclan conflicts.[9]

In 1967, the Nagaland Assembly proclaimed English as the official language of Nagaland and it is the medium for education in Nagaland. Other than English, Nagamese, a creole language form of the Assamese language, is a widely spoken language. Every community has its own mother tongue but communicates with other communities in either Nagamese or English. However, English is the predominant spoken and written language in Nagaland.[citation needed]



The Naga people love colour as is evident in the shawls designed and woven by women, and in the headgear that both sexes design. Clothing patterns are traditional to each group, and the cloths are woven by the women. They use beads in variety, profusion and complexity in their jewelry, along with a wide range of materials including glass, shell, stone, teeth or tusk, claws, horns, metal, bone, wood, seeds, hair, and fibre.[10]

According to Dr. Verrier Elwin, these groups made all the goods they used, as was once common in many traditional societies: "they have made their own cloth, their own hats and rain-coats; they have prepared their own medicines, their own cooking-vessels, their own substitutes for crockery.".[11] Craftwork includes the making of baskets, weaving of cloth, wood carving, pottery, metalwork, jewellery-making and bead-work.

Weaving of colorful woolen and cotton shawls is a central activity for women of all Nagas. One of the common features of Naga shawls is that three pieces are woven separately and stitched together. Weaving is an intricate and time consuming work and each shawl takes at least a few days to complete. Designs for shawls and wraparound garments (commonly called mekhala) are different for men and women.

Ancestral Naga Beads, Courtesy Wovensouls Collection

Among many groups the design of the shawl denotes the social status of the wearer. Some of the more known shawls include Tsungkotepsu and Rongsu of the Aos; Sutam, Ethasu, Longpensu of the Lothas; Supong of the Sangtams, Rongkhim and Tsungrem Khim of the Yimchungers; and the Angami Lohe shawls with thick embroidered animal motifs.

Naga jewelry is an equally important part of identity, with the entire tribe wearing similar bead jewelry.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce has filed an application seeking registration of traditional Naga shawls made in Nagaland with the Geographical Registry of India for Geographical Indication.[12]


Smoked pork with akhuni, a fermented soybean product

Main article: Naga cuisine

Naga cuisine is characterized by smoked and fermented foods.

Folk song and dances

Main article: Music of Nagaland

Folk songs and dances are essential ingredients of the traditional Naga culture. The oral tradition is kept alive through the media of folk tales and songs. Naga folk songs are both romantic and historical, with songs narrating entire stories of famous ancestors and incidents. Seasonal songs describe activities done in a particular agricultural cycle. The early Western missionaries opposed the use of folk songs by Naga Christians as they were perceived to be associated with spirit worship, war, and immorality. As a result, translated versions of Western hymns were introduced, leading to the slow disappearance of indigenous music from the Naga hills.[13]

Folk dances of the Nagas are mostly performed in groups in synchronized fashion, by both men and women, depending on the type of dance. Dances are usually performed at festivals and religious occasions. War dances are performed mostly by men and are athletic and martial in style. All dances are accompanied by songs and war cries by the dancers. Indigenous musical instruments made and used by the people are bamboo mouth organs, cup violins, bamboo flutes, trumpets, drums made of cattle skin, and log drums.[14]


The various Naga groups have their own distinct festivals. To promote inter-group interaction, the Government of Nagaland has organized the annual Hornbill Festival since 2000. Another inter-tribe festival is Lui Ngai Ni. The group-specific festivals include:[15]

hornbill festival

Festival / Ethnic group / Time / Major center

Chiithuni festival / Mao / January (7) / Mao Gate
Sekrenyi / Angami / February / Kohima
Chavan kumhrin / Anal Naga / October (23) / Chandel
Ngada / Rengma N/ ovember (last week) / Kohima
Luira Phanit / Tangkhul Naga / February/March / Ukhrul
Chagaa, Gaan-Ngai, Hega n'gi, Mlei-Ngyi / Zeliangrong Communities - (Liangmei, Rongmei, and Zeme) / December (last week), 10 March for Melei-Ngyi / Tamenglong-Cachar, Jalukie
Sükhrünyie, Tsükhenyie / Chakhesang / January & March/April / Phek
Yemshi / Pochury / September/October / Phek
Moatsü / Ao / May (first week) / Mokokchung
Aoleang / Konyak / April (first week) / Mon
Monyu / Phom / April (first week) / Longleng
Miu / Khiamniungan / May (second week) / Tuensang
Naknyu Lem / Chang / July (second week) / Tuensang
Metemneo / Yimchunger / August (second week) / Tuensang
Amongmong / Sangtam / September (first week) / Tuensang
Tokhu Emong / Lotha / November (first week) / Wokha
Tuluni / Sumi / July / Zunheboto
Thounii Festival / Poumai Naga / January (18th to 22nd) / Senapati

Naga identity

Main article: List of Naga ethnic groups

The word Naga originated as an exonym.[16] Today, it covers a number of ethnic groups that reside in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh states of India, and also in Myanmar.

A Naga tribesman

Before the arrival of the British, the term "Naga" was used by Assamese to refer to certain isolated ethnic groups. The British adopted this term for a number of ethnic groups in the surrounding area, based on loose linguistic and cultural associations. The number of groups classified as "Naga" increased significantly in the 20th century: as of December 2015, 89 groups are classified as Naga by the various sources. This expansion in the "Naga" identity has been due to a number of factors including the quest for upward mobility in the society of Nagaland, and the desire to establish a common purpose of resistance against dominance by other groups. In this way, the "Naga" identity has not always been fixed.[17]

The Kuki people of Nagaland have been classified as "Naga" in the past, but today are generally considered a non-Naga. The Kuki have had good relations with the Naga in the past, but since the 1990s, conflicts have risen, especially in Manipur.

Nagas in India

Several Naga tribes are listed as scheduled tribes in 6 Indian States i.e. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Mizoram and Nagaland[18]

Nagas in Myanmar

Nagas in Myanmar are mostly found in Sagaing Division and Kachin state. The Naga territory in Myanmar is marked by Kabaw valley in the south bordering to the Chin state, the Kachin on the north and the Burmese on the east.[19]

The Major Naga ethnic groups in Myanmar are:

1. Konyak

The Konyaks are one of the major Naga[1] ethnic groups. In Nagaland, they inhabit the Mon District—also known as 'The Land of The Anghs'. The Anghs/Wangs are their traditional chiefs whom they hold in high esteem. Facial tattoos were earned for taking an enemy's head.[2]

Other unique traditional practices that set the Konyaks apart are: gunsmithing, iron-smelting, brass-works, and gunpowder-making. They are also adept in making 'janglaü' (machetes) and wooden sculptures.


Aoleng, a festival celebrated in the first week of April (1-6) to welcome the spring and also to invoke the Almighty's (Kahwang) blessing upon the land before seed-sowing, is the biggest festival of the Konyaks. Another festival, 'Lao Ong Mo', is the traditional harvest festival celebrated in the months of August/September.

A chief of Konyak tribe in his traditional outfit

A ceremonial basket of the Konyak tribe with a skull and two human heads carved from wood. This basket is a status symbol.


The Konyaks are the largest of the Naga tribes. They are found in Tirap, Longding, and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh; Sibsagar District of Assam; and also in Myanmar. They are known in Arunachal Pradesh as the Wanchos ('Wancho' is a synonymous term for 'Konyak'). Ethnically, culturally, and linguistically the Noctes and Tangsa of the same neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh, are also closely related to the Konyaks. The Konyaks were the last among the Naga tribes to accept Christianity. In the past, they were infamous for attacking nearby villages, often resulting in killings and decapitation of the heads of opposing warriors. The decapitated heads were taken as trophies and usually hung in the 'baan' (a communal house). The number of hunted heads indicated the power of a warrior. The headhunting expeditions were often driven by certain beliefs, such as code of honour and principles of loyalty and sacrifice.

The tribal members maintain a very disciplined community life with strict adherence to duties and responsibilities assigned to each of them.


The Konyak language belongs to the Northern Naga sub branch of the Sal subfamily of Sino-Tibetan.

-- Konyak Naga, by Wikipedia

2. Lainong
3. Makury
4. Nokko (Khiamniungan)
5. Para
6. Somra Tangkhul

Tangkhul Naga elder in a ceremonial dress

The Tangkhuls are a major ethnic group living in the Indo-Burma border area occupying the Ukhrul and Kamjong district in Manipur, India and the Somra tract hills, Layshi township, Homalin township and Tamu Township in Burma. Despite this international border, many Tangkhul have continued to regard themselves as "one nation".[2] Tangkhuls living in Burma are also known as Hogo Naga/Eastern Tangkhul/Somra Tangkhul. Also Kokak Naga and Akyaung Ari Naga are included tribally within Tangkhul Naga tribe but their language are quite distinct. The Tangkhul (Somra/Hogo) language in Myanmar is very different from Tangkhul (Ukhrul) spoken in India. The villages in the north like Jessami, kuingai, Soraphung and Chingjaroi (swimai) have quite a different culture than the main Tangkhul group but have more cultural ties with that of the Chakhesang (Jessami and Soraphung) poumai (chingjaroi )tribes.


The Tangkhuls, as with other tribes on the hills, came to Manipur, Nagaland, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh from Myanmar entering their present habitats in successive waves of immigration. The Tangkhuls came together with the Angamis, Chakhesangs, Zeliangrongs, Maos, Poumais, Marams and Thangals because all of them have references to their dispersal from Makhel, a Mao village in Senapati district. They had also erected megaliths at Makhel in memory of their having dispersed from there to various directions.

In course of time every Tangkhul village became a small republic like the Greek city states. Every village had an unwritten constitution made up of age-old conventions and traditions. The Tangkhul villages were self-sufficient except for salt, and self-governing units ruled by hereditary or elected chief assisted by a Council of Elders. The chief was a judge, administrator and commander rolled into one.

Hunphun was the headquarters of the Tangkhul Long (Tangkhul Assembly). The Tangkhul annual fair locally known as "Leih Khangapha" used to be held at Somsai in Ukhrul.

The boundary of Manipur and Burma (Myanmar)was laid down by an agreement signed between the British authorities (East India Company) and Burma on 9 January 1834 on the river bank of Nighthee (Chindwin). The Article No.4 (iii) of this agreement relates to the Tangkhul country. "Fourth (iii) - On the north, the line of boundary will begin at the foot of the same hills at the northern extremity of the Kabaw Valley and pass due north up to the first range of hills, east of that upon which stand the villages of Chortor (Choithar), Noongbee (Nungbi), Nonghar (Lunghar), of the tribe called by the Munepooriis (Manipuris) Loohooppa (Tangkhul), and by the Burmahs Lagwensoung, now tributary of Manipoor." As a result of this boundary demarcation without the knowledge let alone consent of the Tangkhuls, many Tangkhul villages situated in the Somrah hills, Layshi township, Tamu township and Homalin township are included under Burma. Later, when India and Burma attained national independence, the Tangkhuls found themselves belonging to two different countries.


Main article: Tangkhul language

The Tangkhul tribe has hundreds of regional dialects. Each village has its own dialect including Khangoi, Khunggoi, Kupome, Phadang, Roudei and Ukhrul. Ukhrul Tangkhul is the literary standard and is used as a lingua franca with most Tangkhul speaking it as a second language. Also Hogo Naga or Eastern Tangkhul or Somra Tangkhul in Burma speak the Somra dialect. Some northern villages (Chingjaroi, Jessami, Soraphung) in Tangkhul area have language more closely related to the Angami-pochuri language group.

A slightly modified English alphabet is used. Tangkhul Language is included in the CBSE syllabus and is the first Tribal language from North East India to be included in the CBSE syllabus.


Literacy rate in first language

Because of the diversity in dialects and lack of a standardized language, it is difficult to gauge the literacy level. However, if the knowledge of Tangkhul is taken as an indicator, most young Tangkhuls are losing their grasp of the language, often preferring to use the English language to describe more complex ideas. There are some important factors that contribute to the standardization of English language as the primary medium of learning and communication. Firstly, there are various concrete and abstracts objects and ideas which cannot be termed in Tangkhul language, simply because unlike the English language it does not have a rich vocabulary. Secondly, the emergence of western education, which rapidly change and uplift the live and standard of Tangkhuls led the people to neglect learning the language and hence became a secondary subject. Thirdly, the idea of globalization captures the attention of the people to neglect their own language and culture...

Tangkhul Villages

There are approximately 380 Tangkhul villages in India and 50 Tangkhul villages in Myanmar. The villages in the west include Hongman, Aheng, Champhung, Changta, Hoome, Kachai, Lamlang, Leisan, Maichon, Ngainga, Phalee, Ringui, Roudei (TM Kasom), Seikhor, Shokvao, Sinakeithei, Sirarakhong, Somdal, Taloi, Tanrui, Teinem, Theiva, Tora, Zingshong etc. And villages in the north include Pui, Huishu, Halang, Chingai, Chingjaroi, Jessami, Kalhang, Khamasom, Kharasom, Kuirei, Longpi, Lunghar, Ngahui, Marem, Phungcham, Paorei, Peh, Sihai, New Tusom, Varangai, Razai, etc. And villages in the middle frontier are Choithar (Ruithar), Hatha, Hungpung, Hunphun, Khangkhui, Langdang, Lungshang, Nungshong, Pharung, Phungcham, Ramva, Shangshak, Shangzing, Shirui, Tashar. Villages in the east includes Alang, Apong, Bungpa, Chahong, Chamu, Chatric, Chungka, Grihang, Godah, Hangao, Kachouphung, Kanpat, Kalhang, Kuirei, Khambi, Khayang, Khamasom, Khunthak, Koso, Kumram, Langkhe, Langli, Leishi, Longpi, Loushing, Maileng, Maku, Mapum, Ningchao, Ningthi, Nongman, Khonglo, Nungou, Patbung, Pheishat, Phungtha, Phange, Pushing, Ramphoi, Ramsophung, Roni, Ronshak, Sampui,Sehai, Shakok, Shingcha, Siyang, Skipe, Sorathen, Shungri (Sorde), Sorpung, Yedah, Zingsui, Hangou Kaphung (H.kaphung) etc. Villages in the south include Bohoram, Chadong, Island, Irong Kongleiram, Joyland (Muirei), Kankoi, Keihao, Kaprang, Kashung, Kasom, Laikoiching( Bongso), Lairam, Lamlai, Leingaching, Leiyaram, Lishamlok, Lambakhul, Litan, Lungpha, Lungtoram, Manthouram, Mapao, Maryland, Mawai, Nambashi, New Canaan, Ngarumphung, Nongdam, Nungthar, Poirou, Riha, Saman, Sailent, Sharkaphung, Marou, Shingta, Shingkap, Tamaram, Tangkhul Hungdung, Itham, Thoyee, Wunghon, Zingshao,Yeasom, Irong, etc.


The culture of Tangkhul revolves around traditional beliefs and custom, exercises being passed down, and ancient tools and materials, like spears, swords, shields, bows, axes and spades. Culturally, the Tangkhuls share close affinities with the Meiteis of the Imphal Valley.

The Tangkhuls are fond of singing, dancing and festivities. For every season, there is a festival that lasts almost a week. Luira phanit, the seed sowing festival is the major festival. The Tangkhuls are an egalitarian society. There is no caste or classes in the society. Every person is equal in the society and the society follows patriarchal system.

The life and art of the Tangkhul are attractive and captivating. Their different clothing, utensils, architecture, monumental erections and memorial set-ups depict their dexterity in art, which also speak of their sense of beauty and fitnesse...

Music and dance

Tangkhuls are music lovers and their songs are soft and melodious. Apart from encoding into the music the varied seasonal and cultural ideas and philosophies, music is a medium wherein historical events are also related in the lyrics. In as much as religious fervor is incorporated and composed in the songs, the romantic nature of the people also finds its expressions in the music. There are various varieties of songs, some are mood special, some are festival/seasonal specials. These folk songs and folklores can be taught and sung by anybody, anytime, but there are also some specific musical expressive melodies of every region or area. People are restricted from singing certain songs outside of particular seasons or occasions. Some festivals have ceased since the introduction of Christianity to the region.

These folk songs and folklores can be played or accompanied by musical instruments. Some of the musical instruments are tingteila (violin), tala (trumpet), pung (drum), mazo (woman's mouth-piece), sipa (flute), and kaha ngashingkhon (bamboo pipe).

Corresponding to the rhythmic composition of the songs, the dances of the Tangkhuls are also rhythmic and these are eventful and vigorous. There are also some special occasional dances, like the Kathi Mahon, a dance for the dead; Laa Khanganui, a virgin dance during Luira Festival; and Rai Pheichak, a war dance. Rewben Mashangva, a member of the Tangkhul community, is instrumental in popularising the music of the community to the world. The majority of the youth know how to play the guitar and other musical instruments. However, Western culture has been blamed for the declining popularity of some ancestral songs.

History of Christianity among Tangkhuls

Christianity is the major religion of the Tangkhul Nagas. Tangkhuls were the first community in Manipur to become Christians. Christianity was first brought to the Tangkhul people by Rev. William Pettigrew in 1896.[5] The first christian church of Manipur, Phungyo Baptist Church was set up among the Tangkhuls in Ukhrul. The story goes that the chief of Hunphun, Raihao, had stories about his great grandfather dreaming that a white missionary would come to Ukhrul. Because of this, when Rev. Pettigrew showed up, Raihao allowed him to live among them and work as a missionary. When the chief was converted, the whole villagers converted as well, and Christianity has remained a prominent religion among Tangkhul Nagas to this day. The New Testament was translated into the local language in 1924.[5] Also Tangkhuls (Hogo/Somra) in Burma follow the religion of Animism, Buddhism and Christianity.

-- Tangkhul Naga, by Wikipedia

7. Tangshang

Tangsa man

The Tangsa or Tangshang Naga in India and Myanmar (Burma), is a Naga tribe native to Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh, parts of Tinsukia District of Assam, in north-eastern India, and across the border in Sagaing Region, parts of Kachin State, Myanmar (Burma). The Tangshang in Myanmar were formerly known as Rangpang, Pangmi, and Heimi/Haimi. Tangshang/Tangsa is the largest Naga sub-tribe having an approximate population of 450,000 (India and Myanmar). Their language is called Naga-Tase in The Ethnologue and Tase Naga in the ISO code (ISO639-3:nst). They are a scheduled group under the Indian Constitution (where they are listed under ‘other Naga tribes’) and there are many sub-groups within Tangsa on both sides of the border.


The Tangshang in Myanmar as well as the Tangsa in India regard themselves as a Naga tribe. They are well-built and of medium-stature. Today Tangsa people live in the Patkai mountains, on the border of India and Burma, and some live in the plains areas on the Indian side of the border. Many Tangsa tell of migrations from what is now Mongolia, through the South-West China Province of Yunan into Burma. Tangsa traditions suggest that they settled in the existing region from the beginning of the 13th century. It is believed that in their native place in China and Burma they were known as ‘Muwa’ and ‘Hawa’ respectively. The term ‘Hawa’ (also pronounced ‘Hewe’ or ‘Hiwi’) is used by many Tangsa to refer to the whole group of Tangsa. The term Tangsa is derived from ‘Tang’ (high land) and ‘Sa’ (son) and means 'people of the high land'...

About 70 different subtribes have been identified;[1][2][3] Within India, the most recently arrived Tangsa are known as Pangwa...


The Tangsa's habitation along the Myanmar border resulted in cultural influence from neighbouring groups across the border and the adoption of Burmese dress among many tribal members.[4]

Traditionally, the Tangsa kept long hair in both sexes, which is tied into a bun and covered with a piece of cloth, known in some Tangsa varieties as the Khu-pak / Khu-phop. The menfolk traditionally used to wear a long and narrow piece of cloth called lamsam / lengti that barely covers the hip and pelvis region. ... On the other hand, the costume of the womenfolk traditionally used to be a piece of cloth wrapped around the chest and a similar piece of cloth wrapped around the waist extending just below the knees...


Traditionally Tangsa people practiced shifting cultivation (known as Jhwum in Assamese). Nowadays those Tangsa in the plains area of India practice wet rice cultivation. In the traditional agriculture, using simple manual tools, the Tangsa raise crops that include paddy, millet, maize and arum, and vegetables. Tangsa people make scanty use of milk and milk products, although milk tea is now served in many Tangsa houses. Traditional meals consist of a wide variety of recipes. But, staple foods are boiled or steamed rice, vegetables boiled with herbs and spices (stew) and boiled or roasted fish or meat. Snacks include boiled or roasted arum or topiaca. Traditional drinks include smoked tea (phalap) and rice beer (called ju, kham or che).[5]

Owing to the climate and terrain, the Tangsa live in stilt houses, which are divided into many rooms. Like the Nocte, the Tangsa traditionally had separate dormitories for men, known in Longchang Tangsa as Looppong for the males and Likpya for the female.

Traditionally, the Tangsa believed in a joint family system, and property is equally divided between all family members. A tribal council, known as Khaphua (Longchang), Khaphong (Muklom) was administered by a Lungwang (chief), who sees to the daily affairs of the Tangsa group.


Nowadays Tangsa follow a variety of religions. Traditionally their beliefs were animistic. One example of the animistic beliefs still practised is the Wihu Kuh festival held in some parts of Assam on 5 January each year. This involves sacrifice of chickens, pigs or buffaloes and prayers and songs to the female earth spirit, Wihu.

This group believe in a supreme being that created all existence, locally known as Rangkhothak / Rangwa / Rangfrah, although belief in other deities and spirits is maintained as well. Many followers of Rangfrah celebrate an annual festival called Mol or Kuh-a-Mol (around April/May), which asks for a bumper crop. Animal sacrifice, in particular the sacrifice of 'Wak' (pigs) and 'Maan' (cows), is practised. At funerals a similar ceremony is undertaken and a feast between villagers is held by the bereaved family. After dusk, man and women start dancing together rhythmically with the accompanying drums and gongs.

Some Tangsas, particularly the Tikhak and Yongkuk in India and many Donghi in Myanmar, have come under the influence of Theravada Buddhism,[6] and have converted.[7] There are Buddhist temples in many Tikhak and Yongkuk villages.

Most of the Tangsas, including most of the Pangwa Tangsas, and nearly all of the Tangshang in Myanmar, have accepted Christianity.[8] Probably the most widespread Christian denomination in both Myanmar and India is Baptist. Tangsa Baptist Churches' Association with its headquarters at Nongtham under Kharsang sub-division is the largest Baptist Association working among the Tangsas with more than 100 churches affiliated to it[5], but there are also large numbers of Presbyterians in India, and perhaps smaller numbers of Catholics, Church of Christ and Congregationalists.

Out of a total of 20,962 Tangsa (proper) living in Arunachal Pradesh, 6,228 are Animist (29.71%) and 5,030 are Hindu (24.00%). Most of the remaining are Christian (44%), with a Buddhist minority of close to 3%. There are another 8,576 Tangsa residing in Arunachal, belonging to fringe Tangsa groups such as Mossang, Tikhak and Longchang. The Mossang, Rongrang, Morang, Yougli, Sanke, Longphi, Haisa, and Chamchang (Kimsing) tribes are mostly Christian. Most of the Longchang and Langkai are Rangfrahites, while the Tikhaks are evenly divided into Christians and Buddhists. Taisen is majority Buddhist. The Moglum Tangsa are evenly divided between Rangfrah, Animists and Christians. The Namsang Tangsa are two-thirds Animist, with the remaining one-third Hindu.[9]

-- Tangsa Naga, by Wikipedia

8. Anal Naga

The Anāl are some of the oldest settlers of the present day Manipur. They belong to the Naga tribe native to Manipur state in North-East India and part of Myanmar. They are listed as a Scheduled Tribe, in accordance with The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Amendment) Act, 1976 Indian Constitution.[2][3] The Anāl tribe is one of the 'sixty six Naga tribes' of the Naga ancestral homeland.[4] The members of this tribe are found both in India and Myanmar. In India, they are situated in the States of Manipur and Nagaland but mostly concentrated in the former. In the State of Manipur, the Anāl Naga population concentrated in Chandel [5] and a few Anāl villages are located in its neighbouring districts, Churachandpur district has about three villages and Thoubal district has one or two.[6]

The Anāls in Myanmar live in the Sagaing sub-division. The Anāl population in this part has been dwindling. At present, there are three Anāl villages, 'Nga Kala, Napalun and Haika'. Formerly the Anāls had no problem to move or visit Anāl areas now in Myanmar and vice versa.[7] However, with the demarcation of boundaries, they came under two distinct units and the consequent restriction imposed on the movement of the people of both sides, the Anāls had to stop such free movement between them. Consequently, there has not been any interaction between the members of the same tribe now existing under two different countries. The Anāl community is one of the oldest inhabitants of the hill areas in Manipur state. The archaeological findings at Chakpikarong also point it. According to Census of India, the Anāl population was 94,242 and 1991 census placed as 82,693.[8]

The Anāl Naga is recognized as a tribe in Manipur since 1951. This recognition of Anāl tribe was done by Rochunga Pudaite[9] who met the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in Delhi in 1951 and requested him to give Scheduled Tribe recognition to the Hmar tribe of Northeast India by wearing a traditional Hmar attire. The PM then asked him if he knew of the existence other tribes which had not been included in the list. Rochunga then added the tribes of Anāl, Kom, Paite, Vaiphei, Ralte, Chothe and others, thus paving way for their recognition. However, it was only after the Scheduled Tribes Reorganisation in 1956 that all the aforementioned tribes were recognised by the Manipur government. Therefore, Anāl Naga is one of 33 tribes in Manipur.[10] The Anāl Language falls under Tibeto-Burman languages family.[11] Referred to them as one of the "Naga" tribes of Manipur and recognised as part of the List of Naga tribes by the state government of Manipur.[12]


The Anāl tribe is one of the oldest indigenous tribes in the state of Manipur in Northeast India.[13] Chakpikarong is a land of the Anāls since the time the earliest settlers occupied the hill country of Manipur. The Anāls settled both in India and Myanmar, their settlements crossed the Indo-Myanmar border. In India, the members of the tribe are found in the state of Manipur, mainly in Chandel district and a few villages in Churachandpur district and Thoubal district. There are hundred and forty one villages in Chandel district. The neighbouring districts, Churachanpur district has three Anāl villages, namely Kolen, Dutejol and Warkhu, and the Thoubal district has one Anāl village- Moirankhom. Under the Myanmar administrative unit, there are three Anāl villages namely, Ngakala, Napaleen and Haika. According to the census report of 2001, the total Anāl population in India ais 21,242. The Anāl population in Myanmar is not known because many of them are assimilated to the major community. Originally, the Anāls were animistic but are now largely Christian.[14] However, Christianity became a religion for the Anāls only after India's independence. Today, more than 95 per cent of Anāls are Christians and are concentrated in Chandel of Manipur.[15] One of the positive impacts of Christianity among the Anāls is education.

The Anāls are amongst the indigenous of Manipur. The history of Moirang (a Meitei kingdom) and the Anāl traditional songs and tales suggests an existence in the presence of inhabited areas since the beginning of the 1st century AD or much earlier.[13] The Anāl cultural and traditional relationship with the Meitei brethren dates backs to 33 AD, and the Meitei King Wangbarel (Pakhangba) married an Anāl woman belonging to the Wanglum clan of Anāl Khullen.


In the words of Horam,[16] in ‘Naga Polity, "it can be said that the Nagas at first live in stone caves or in the womb of the earth".[17] YL. Roland Shemmi also writes,"Angami, Lotha, Rengam belief that they came out from the earth hole. Tangkhul Naga came out from earth hole at Hundung. Ao tribe believes that they were the first to come out of underground cave". Thus cave theory as an epicenter of their origin is common among many tribes and all the Nagas tribe shared this theory. Anāl legend states that the Anāl, together with the other Pakan tribes, originated in Mongolia. They lived in a cave guarded by a man-eating tiger. Two Anāls, Hanshu and Hantha, killed the tiger with the help of birds from the sky. After the tiger's death, the tribes left the cave, traveling through China, Tibet, and numerous other areas before settling in Manipur.[18]:1515–6 The Anāls are divided into two groups based on who they believe they are descended from, Hanshu and Hantha .[19]:119–120

Ethnic identity

The political relationship between the Nagas and the Kukis since the eve of British colonialism to post-British era has always been opposed to one another. The Anāls oral history says they were always at war with the Kukis. In Chakpikarong (The Anāls Naga habitation) Stone Age culture age has been explored and found the existence of this culture.[20] This shows the Anāl Naga tribe is one of the oldest tribes of Manipur state. The oral history of the Anāls says that Anāls were oppressed by the Kukis during the Kuki rebellion of 1917.[20]


The Anāls live in the Manipur region of Northeast India, which is surrounded by the Imphal valley to the north, Churachandpur district to the west, the Chin Hills to the south and Kabaw valley to the east. The area is very hilly, with thick jungles and many wild animals. According to the 2001 census, there are approximately 94,242 Anāls in Manipur.[21] In 1981 they were living in 95 villages.[19]:120 In 1981 they were living in 95 villages.[22][23]

Social life

In social practices, many of them are unique. One conspicuous trait is the division of tribe's clans into two distinct groups, viz., 'Mosum' and 'Murchal'. Such as marriage can occur between the members of these two blocks, if any intra-marriage prevails, it leads to ostracism of the concerned couple. The economy of Anāls is primarily based on crude agriculture.[6]

The Anāls' political system, since time immemorial, is democratic in nature and practice. This could be evinced by the election of village authority: the chief and his associates are elected by either voice vote or raise hand.[6][24]

The Anāl traditionally live in windowless wooden houses with thatched roofs, erected above ground level. The houses have two doors of different sizes and two rooms, a bedroom and a storeroom (Anal: zuhmun).[18]:1516

Anāl men traditionally wear a lungi (similar to a dhoti) and a simple shirt, called a pakan lungum; they also strap on a basket (Anal: vopum) for carrying dao and other tools.[18]:1516–7 Women wear undergarments, a skirt, blouse, and shawl, which cover them from their heads to their knees; they also carry a basket (Anal:Bowl).[18]:1516–7 Both sexes can wear jewellery, including rings, necklaces, and bracelets, as well as special long earrings made from insect wings.[18]:1517 Traditionally clothing is made by the women.[18]:1517

Anāl are traditionally monogamous, although cases of polygyny have been reported. In order to marry, an Anāl man must pay a bride price (Anal: jol min); after marriage, the wife moves to the husband's home. Divorce (Anal: ithin) is permitted among the Anāl, although a fine may be incurred.[19]:122

The Anāl are traditionally polytheistic, believing in a supreme creator named Asapavan, as well as a secondary deity named Wangparel and numerous spirits. The largest Anāl rite is called Akam, which is divided into six stages (Judong, Bhuthawsing, Hni, Sapia, Akapidam, and Dathu) and takes six years to complete. During the Akam, the Anāl sacrifice mithun and pigs and offer a feast to the community. Some Anāl have converted to Christianity.[18]:1517

Traditionally, Anāl men work as carpenters, particularly the manufacture of bamboo furniture, and in basketry. Women traditionally specialized in weaving and spinning cotton, which is grown locally. Due to modernization and competition from factory-produced goods, many traditional methods have been abandoned.[18]:1517–8 They are also farmers, harvesting rice, corn, soybeans, pumpkins, tomatoes, and gourds.[19]:125

The Anāl have many traditional musical instruments, including the khuwang (drum), sanamba (three-stringed fiddle), dolkhuwang (gong), pengkhul (trumpet), tilli (flageolet), rasem (a pipe instrument), and diengdong (xylophone)[18]:1517 They are good dancers and their traditional dances include the kamdam, which is performed by young people for the akam festival, and the ludam, which celebrated victorious headhunting.[25]

The Anāl are omnivores, eating fish, eggs, beef, pork, and other kinds of meat as well as fruits and vegetables.[19]:121 Although traditionally they do not drink milk, some families now drink it with tea. A form of rice beer, known as zupar or zuhrin, is also drunk.[19]:121

-- Anāl Naga, by Wikipedia

Some other minor Naga groups are Lamkang, Moyon, Koka, Longphuri, Paung Nyuan, etc
The townships which are inhabited by the Nagas are:

1. Homalin
2. Lahe with Tanbakwe sub-township
3. Layshi with Mowailut sub-township and Somra sub-township
4. Hkamti
5. Nanyun with Pangsau and Dunghi sub-township
6. Tamu of Sagaing Division and
7. Tanai of Kachin state

Anal and Moyon are mainly found in Tamu township on the south and a few Somra Nagas are also found in and around Tamu bordering to Layshi jurisdiction. Makury, Para and Somra tribes are mainly found in Layshi township. Makury Nagas and a few Somra Nagas are also found in Homalin township. Lahe is highly populated by Konyak, Nokko, Lainong and Makury tribes. Nanyun on the north is the home of Tangshang tribe which comprises more than 54 sub-dialect groups. Homlin township is highly populated by the considered lost tribes (Red Shans). But Kukis, Burmese, Chinese and Indians are also found there. Hkamti township is populated altogether by all the Naga tribes majority and with a number of Burmese, Shans, Chinese and Indians. Tanai in Kachin state of Myanmar is inhabited by the Tangshang Nagas among the Kachin people.


An Angami Naga girl in her traditional attire

An Ao Naga girl in her traditional attire

A Lotha Naga girl in her traditional attire

See also

• History of the Nagas
• List of Naga ethnic groups
• List of Naga languages
• List of Naga people


1. "Census of India". Census India. MHA, Govt ofIndia.
2. "Naga ethnic group Myanmar".
3. "Nagas of Myanmar".
4. "Nagas". Minority Rights Group. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
5. Grierson. Linguistic Survey of India Vol iii part ii. p. 194.
6. Hodson, TC (1911). The Naga tribes of Manipur. p. 9.
7. Upper Chindwin District vol A. Burma Gazetteer. p. 22.
8. Burma Gazetteer, Upper chindwin vol A. page 23. published 1913
9. Drouyer, Azevedo, Isabel, Drouyer, René, THE NAGAS -MEMORIES OF HEADHUNTERS vol.1, White Lotus, 2016, p. 7
10. Ao, Ayinla Shilu. Naga Tribal Adornment: Signatures of Status and Self (The Bead Society of Greater Washington. September 2003) ISBN 0-9725066-2-4
11. "Arts and crafts of the Nagas" Archived 19 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Nagaland, Retrieved 23 June 2009
12. "Naga shawls in for geographical registration",, 7 April 2008
13. Shikhu, Inato Yekheto. A Re-discovery and Re-building of Naga Cultural Values: An Analytical Approach with Special Reference to Maori as a Colonized and Minority Group of People in New Zealand (Daya Books, 2007), p. 210
14. Mongro, Kajen & Ao, A Lanunungsang. Naga Cultural Attires and Musical Instruments (Concept Publishing Company, 1999), ISBN 81-7022-793-3
15. "Tourism: General Information". Government of Nagaland. Archived from the original on 30 October 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
16. Christopher Moseley (6 December 2012). Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages. Routledge. pp. 572–. ISBN 978-1-135-79640-2. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
17. Arkotong Longkumer (4 May 2010). Reform, Identity and Narratives of Belonging: The Heraka Movement in Northeast India. Continuum. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-0-8264-3970-3. Retrieved 8 September2013.
18. ... tribes.pdf
19. ... otten-land

Further reading

• Drouyer, A. Isabel, Drouyer René, " THE NAGAS: MEMORIES OF HEADHUNTERS- Indo-Burmese Borderlands vol.1"; White Lotus, 2016, ISBN 978-2-9545112-2-1.
• Wettstein, Marion. 2014. Naga Textiles: Design, Technique, Meaning and Effect of a Local Craft Tradition in Northeast India. Arnoldsche, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-89790-419-4.
• von Stockhausen, Alban. 2014. Imag(in)ing the Nagas: The Pictorial Ethnography of Hans-Eberhard Kauffmann and Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf. Arnoldsche, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-89790-412-5.
• Shongzan, Mayaso, "A Portrait of the Tangkhul Nagas"; Exodus, 2013, ISBN 978-81-929139-0-2.
• Stirn, Aglaja & Peter van Ham. The Hidden world of the Naga: Living Traditions in Northeast India. London: Prestel.
• Oppitz, Michael, Thomas Kaiser, Alban von Stockhausen & Marion Wettstein. 2008. Naga Identities: Changing Local Cultures in the Northeast of India. Gent: Snoeck Publishers.
• Kunz, Richard & Vibha Joshi. 2008. Naga – A Forgotten Mountain Region Rediscovered. Basel: Merian.
• Singh, Waikhom Damodar (21 June 2002). "The Indo - Naga Ceasefire Agreement". Manipur Online (originally published in The Sangai Express). Archived from the original on 26 May 2005.
• Shimray, Atai, A.S. - "Let freedom ring?: Story of Naga nationalism".


• Ben Doherty, Nagaland, Wild Dingo Press, Melbourne, 2018, ISBN 978-0-6480-6637-8.

External links

• Official site of Nagaland state government
• Photos of Nagas in Burma by Goto Osami
• Photos of Nagas by Pablo Bartholomew
• Article "Textile & Bead Art of Nagaland"
• National Geographic Why These Headhunters Converted to Christianity
• Naga National Council's Official site
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Akhāṛās: Warrior Ascetics
by Matthew Clark
Brill's Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online

The Hindi term akhāṛā means “wrestling arena,” from which akhāṛiyā derives, meaning “master fighter,” “skilled manoevrer,” or “strategist.” There is a network of akhāṛās throughout India, particularly in the north, where men train in wrestling and other methods of fighting. Akhāṛās specialize in various techniques of fitness and combat, which include the use of weights, clubs, and maces. The akhāṛās have a resident guru. The wrestlers’ patron deity is → Hanumān. This network of akhāṛās, which serves local men who typically train before or after work, is distinct from another network of akhāṛās pertaining to groups of (formerly) militant ascetics with particular religious and sectarian identities.

That religious ascetics would be inducted into fighting regiments is neither necessarily perverse – in the context of the history of traditional Hinduism – nor necessarily a radical break from a previous mode of life. There is an obvious similarity in the lifestyles of both soldiers and ascetics: both require rigorous self-discipline, enduring the hardships of lengthy travel and extended periods of camping; subsistence, sometimes, on meager rations; being subservient to a commander or guru; and enduring extended (or permanent) celibacy. In medieval India, asceticism, trade, and war were not incompatible.

Fighting ascetics are usually referred to as nāgās (deriving from the Hindi term naṅgā, “naked”). Nāgās are usually almost naked, except for a loincloth (laṅgoṭī/kaupīn), and besmear their bodies with ash known as bhasm or vibhūti (“supernatural powers,” “dignity”), the most sacred (or pure) form of which is made from the product of burnt and filtered cow dung. They keep a sacred fire (dhūnī), and some have experience of training in fighting and the use of basic weaponry, particularly the sword, mace, and dagger. Some members (particularly nāgās) of some akhāṛās smoke a great quantity of gāñjā (the buds of female cannabis plants) and caras (cannabis resin), mostly in chillums (Hind. cilam, clay pipe), and may also regularly eat bhāṅg (prepared cannabis leaves; see also → intoxicants). While some nāgās keep their hair short, many wear jaṭā (dreadlocks). In terms of appearance and lifestyle, nāgās are in many respects indistinguishable from South Asian Sufi faqīrs (Arab.; Hind. fakīr). Some nāgās practice rigorous austerities, such as maintaining an arm aloft (ūrdhvabāhu) or remaining standing (khaṛeśvarī) for many years (see also → sādhus); some practice yoga exercises.

Origins of the Akhāṛās

One of the earliest available (semihistorical) references to militant (or armed) ascetics (or yogīs) in the Indic world is in Bāṇabhatṭạ’s 7th-century romance Harṣacarita based on the life of King Harsạ, who ruled (606–648 CE) North India from Kanauj and Thanesar (Sthāṇvīśvara), near Kurukshetra (150 km northwest of Delhi). In the Harṣacarita appear two ascetics (Pātālasvāmin and Karṇatāla) who eventually become employed as personal guards to King Pusp̣abhūti, “elevated to a fortune beyond their wildest dreams . . . occupying the front rank in battle” (HCar. 3.130). In the Bṛhatkathāślokasaṃgraha (8th–10th cents.), there is a reference (18.202–207) to “mendicant mercenaries with strange weapons” who are described as shaven-headed → Pāśupatas who are protecting trade. There are a couple of references (see Sanderson, 2009, 261–262n616) in the Mayasaṃgraha (5.182) and the Piṅgalāmata (10.28–31), from the 9th to 12th centuries, to Śaiva maṭhas (monasteries) containing armories for the storage of weapons of war. In a frequently cited reference to fighting ascetics in the mid-16th-century Bījak of → Kabīr (Ramainī 69), scorn is poured on yogīs, siddhas (another name for yogīs), mahants (chiefs/superiors), and ascetics who resort to arms, keep women, and collect property and taxes. An entourage of (perhaps) three thousand, which included armed yogīs in service to a yogī king in conflict with a ruler in Gujarat, is described by Ludovico di Varthema of Bologna the early 16th century (see Winter Jones, 1863, 111–112) in what may be the first account by a European of a contingent of armed ascetics.

Another incident often referred to in accounts of the early history of akhāṛās is of a conflict reported at Thanesar. In 1567 the Mughal emperor Akbar (1542–1605) watched a battle between two groups of ascetics who had become disputatious concerning the right to collect alms from pilgrims who had gathered at an annual pilgrimage to Thanesar. The two groups, who numbered around three hundred and five hundred, are referred to, respectively, as “Purī” and “Kur” (or Gur) saṃnyāsīs by Abu al-Fazl, one of the court biographers of Akbar. The “Gurs” were in all probability “Giris” (Purī and Giri are two of the ten names of saṃnyāsīs: see below). The fighting ascetics were armed with stones, swords, and cakras (metal wheels that may be hurled at opponents). Akbar instructed his troops to assist the Purīs, who were the faction weaker in number, resulting in their victory. About a score of the combatants died.

The Sang-joe is also a great occasion of alms and charity, and the priests, especially the acolytes and disciples, go round at dawn to collect alms in the temple when the service is concluded. The people being more generously disposed at this season than at other times give quite liberally. I am sorry to say that this pious inclination on the part of the people is often abused by mischievous priests, who do not scruple to go, in violation of the rules, on a second or even third or fourth round of begging at one time. I was astonished to hear that the priests who are on duty to prevent such irregular practices are in many cases the very instigators, abetting the younger disciples in committing them. The ill-gotten proceeds go into the pockets of those unscrupulous ‘inspectors’ who, urged on by greed, even go to the extreme of thrashing the young disciples when they refuse to go on fraudulent errands of this particular description. Now and then the erratic doings of these lads come to the ears of the higher authorities, who summon them and inflict upon them a severe reprimand, together with the more smarting punishment of a flogging. The incorrigible disciples are not disconcerted in the least, being conscious that they have their protectors in the official inspectors, and of course they are immune from expulsion from the monastery.

These mischievous young people are in most cases warrior-priests. These warrior-priests, of whom an account has already been given, are easily distinguished from the rest by their peculiar appearance and especially by their way of dressing the hair. Sometimes their heads are shaved bald, but more often they leave ringlets at each temple, and consider that these locks of four or five inches long give them a smart appearance. This manner of hair-dressing is not approved by the Lama authorities, and when they take notice of the locks they ruthlessly pull them off, leaving the temples swollen and bloody. Painful as this treatment is, the warriors rather glory in it, and swagger about the streets to display the marks of their courage. They are, however, cautious to conceal their ‘smart’ hair-dressing from the notice of the authorities, so that when they present themselves in the monastery they either tuck their ringlets behind the ears or besmear their faces with lamp-black compounded with butter. When at first I saw such blackened faces I wondered what the blackening meant, but afterwards I was informed of the reason of the strange phenomenon and my wonder disappeared as I became accustomed to the sight.

I am sorry to say that the warrior-priests are not merely offensive in appearance; they are generally also guilty of far more grave offences, and the nights of the holy service are abused as occasions for indulging in fearful malpractices. They really seem to be the descendants of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah mentioned in the bible.

They are often quite particular in small affairs. They are afraid of killing tiny insects, are strict in not stepping over broken tiles of a monastery when they find them on the road, but walk round them to the right, and never to the left. And yet they, and even their superiors, commit grave sin without much remorse. Really they are straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

-- The Festival of Lights, Excerpt from Three Years in Tibet, by Ekai Kawaguchi

Some commentators follow J.N. Farquhar (1925), who reported, based on anecdotes, that Madhusūdanasarasvatī (1540–1647), the well-known → Vedānta philosopher, approached Akbar to seek advice on the protection of an order (to which he belonged) from harassment by armed Muslim faqīrs (notwithstanding the unreliability of this account, Madhusūdanasarasvatī did have a connection to Akbar’s court). According to J.N. Farquhar, Madhusūdanasarasvatī was advised by Rājā Birbal to initiate a large number of non-Brahmans into a militant order. Thus were many Ksạtriyas, Vaiśyas, and, says J.N. Farquhar, “multitudes of Śūdras at a later date” admitted into the order. It is said that half of the Bhāratīs (see below) refused to accept this and went to Sringeri to remain “pure.” The recruitment of nāgās into organized fighting units appears to have occurred around the time of Akbar’s reign, although it is unlikely to have been in response to attacks by Sufis. Nearly all of the recorded conflicts between bands of ascetics have been between factions of Hindus, in most instances between Vaisṇạva → Rāmānandī vairāgīs/bairāgī and Śaiva → Daśanāmī saṃnyāsīs (also known as gosāīṃs) at melās (festivals) over bathing priorities for particular akhāṛās. The Rāmānandīs and the Daśanāmīs are the largest of the 60 or so extant sādhu sects in India and Nepal, and also those with the greatest number of nāgās.

The evidence indicates that organized nāgā military activity originally flourished under state patronage. During the latter half of the 16th century and the early part of the 17th century, a number of bands of fighting ascetics formed into akhāṛās with sectarian names and identities. These armies were of mercenaries who often largely disbanded during cessations of conflict and during harvest times, when many of the men would return home to attend to agricultural duties. The formation of mercenary nāgā armies occurred largely in parallel with the constitution of a formal and distinct identity for many of the currently recognizable sects of sādhus, including the Rāmānandīs and Daśanāmīs.
Several commentators (e.g. Orr, 1940) have maintained that members of the Nāth sect (→ Nāth Sampradāya) have at times constituted elements of nāgā armies, but there seems to be no substantial evidence to support this assertion. It is most likely that observers mistakenly identified either Rāmānandīs or Daśanāmīs as Nāths.

Conflicts Involving Armies of Nāgās

From the late 16th century until the early decades of the 19th century, many prominent regional regents recruited bands of nāgās to fight in interregional struggles for power. The Mughal emperor Aurangzīb authorized in 1692/1693 five Rāmānandī commanders and their armies to move without hindrance. The British officer lieutenant-colonel Valentine Blacker included “gossyes” (i.e. gosāīṃs) in his account of the rise of infantry forces in India in the 1700s, comparing them in proficiency to Afghan and Jāt ̣Sikh khālsā troops (the Sikh order, or brotherhood, known as the khālsā, was, according to tradition, founded by Gurū Gobind Singh, and its troops were drawn almost entirely from the Jāt ̣ caste of northwestern cultivators). They were particularly renowned for their nocturnal guerilla operations: naked, sometimes slippery with oil, and dangerous with the dagger. The disposition of regents to employ nāgā armies may have also been partly due to their reputation for “supernatural” yogic abilities, and the consequent potential apprehension of adversaries, and to several historical legal statutes that either restricted or annulled the ability of states to prosecute them, being of religious orders, for crimes committed.

In 1763, Pṛthvī Nārāyaṇ Śāh, king of Gorkha and the founder of modern Nepal, was engaged in a campaign to extend his empire into the Kathmandu Valley. His chief advisor and strategist was a Nāth siddha named Bhagavantnāth, who used his influence to negotiate various matrimonial and military alliances between Gorkha and some of the other 45 kingdoms of western Nepal. During Pṛthvī Nārāyaṇ’s attack on the village of Saga, his Gorkhalese troops were confronted by five hundred nāgās – under the leadership of Gulābrām – who were fighting on behalf of one of his opponents, Jāyāprakāś Malla, king of Kathmandu. All the nāgās were slaughtered by the Ghorkalese army, though Gulābrām escaped.

During the 1780s, some seven hundred nāgās died in battle in another Himalayan province, Kumaon. A total of 1,400 nāgās had been enlisted, with the promise of substantial financial rewards, by King Mohan Cand in his unsuccessful attempt to recapture his seat in Almora, from which he had been deposed by his rival, Harsḍev Josị̄, king of the neighboring Himalayan province, Garhwal.

In the political history of North India, the most influential armies of nāgās were those commanded by three Daśanāmī gosāīṃs, Rājendragiri (d. 1753), and his two celās (disciples), the adopted brothers Umrāvgiri (b. 1734) and Anūpgiri (Himmat Bahādur; 1730–1804). These gosāīṃs had complex relationships with several wives, courtesans, and offspring, leading to lengthy legal disputes over inheritance and property. At the height of their careers, the gosāīṃs commanded armies of up to 20 thousand horse and foot soldiers. The movement and recruitment of troops were greatly facilitated by a network of weapon stocks and grain stores in the countryside. When on campaigns, most of which were in the Gangetic region, they carried equipment – including materials for mounting fortified buildings – on elephants and other pack animals and had camel-mounted guns. The army was equipped with excellent horses and state-of-the-art weapons, including musketry and artillery.

The gosāīṃs Rājendragiri, Umrāvgiri, and Anūpgiri, and their nāgā saṃnyāsī armies, fought on behalf of several North Indian regents who were the most important political actors in the region during the lifetimes of these gosāīṃs. Their mercenary approach to war resulted on several occasions in their changing sides to fight on behalf of former adversaries. The gosāīṃs’ patrons in the 18th century included Safdar Jang –- who was vazīr (chancellor) to the Mughal emperor Ahmad Shāh and ruler of the province of Awadh (the gosāīṃs began service with Safdar Jang in 1731) -– and his successor Shuja-ud-Daulah. (The Mughals also supported Rāmānandī nāgās at Ayodhya: Safdar Jang granted seven bīghās [approx. five-eights of an acre] of land at Hanumān Hill in Ayodhya to Abhay Rām Dās, the mahant of the Nirvāṇī anī [see below].) Other patrons of the gosāīṃs included the Maratha rulers Mahādjī Śiṃde and Alī Bahādur, the Mughal emperor Shāh Alam, the Jāt ̣ ruler Javāhir Singh, and the Persian Nāzaf Khān, who Anūpgiri joined in his campaign in 1776 in northern Rajasthan.

In league with the Afghans, the gosāīṃ nāgās also fought the Marathas. In the lead up to the Anglo-Maratha war, Anūpgiri and his forces also supported the East India Company, under Richard Wellesley. Campaigns were launched by the gosāīṃs against encroaching Afghans, and an unsuccessful attempt to capture Delhi was pursued in 1753, resulting in the death of Rājendragiri. In 1775 the gosāīṃs captured most of Bundelkhand from the Marathas. However, by 1803 the gosāīṃs were supporting the British in their (successful) campaign to conquer Bundelkhand. The gosāīṃs, in particular the Ānanda and Jūnā akhāṛās (see below), remained in service to the British for 17 months.

Beginning in 1743, numerous minor rebellions (which were eventually suppressed, by 1800) took place, in a period of famine, against the rule, trade monopolies, and taxation imposed by the East India Company in Bengal, which for most of that time was under the governorship of Warren Hastings. Peasants and marauding Sufi faqīrs and Daśanāmī gosāīṃs fought company troops in the Bengal region, with many casualties on all sides, in a series of military encounters. However, it was with the assistance of an army of gosāīṃs under Anūpgiri that the British were eventually able to capture Delhi and thereby extend their control over large parts of North India. However, after 1857 the company had no further use for the gosāīṃs and suppressed their military and banking activities. By this time, the saṃnyāsis, owing to their mercenary activities, had become the wealthiest bankers and largest landowners in North India. (Many of the akhāṛās still derive revenue from landholdings today.)

Since the effective curtailment of their military power by the British, the main public arenas for the display of the military organization of the akhāṛās is at melās, particularly at kumbh melās.

Becoming a Nāgā in an Akhāṛā

To become a sādhu not only entails renouncing one’s family name and former caste identity in a rite of renunciation (saṃnyāsa; see → āśrama and saṃnyāsa) but also results in acquiring a new identity and a new name as a member of a recognizable renunciate sect. The saṃnyāsa rite to become a Daśanāmī saṃnyāsī is performed in two stages: the first is the pañc guru saṃskār, when the initiate acquires five gurus, and the second initiation is the virajā homa (the rite of purification), which is usually performed at a kumbh melā, when the initiate performs his own funeral rites, thereby relieving any family member of future responsibility in that regard. Once initiated as a sādhu, the initiate may then perform a subsequent rite to become a nāgā in an akhāṛā (which in some akhāṛās entails the tendon in the penis being broken, to ensure celibacy). The processes of becoming a nāgā are similar for Rāmānandīs, the first initiation being the pañc saṃskār dīkṣā, which is almost identical to that performed by → Śrīvaisṇạvas (with whom the Rāmānandīs have a complex historical connection). A second ritual is required to become a tyāgī (see below), and a third ritual is traditionally required to become a nāgā, but in recent decades nāgās have been initiated without their first becoming tyāgī.

At kumbh melās one may see the camps of the 13 akhāṛās extant in South Asia. The Śaiva Nāths also have institutions in several places in India and Nepal but camp separately from the 13 akhāṛās and are not within the organization of akhārạ̄s pertaining to the other Śaiva and Vaisṇạva sects. Seven of the 13 akhāṛās are Śaiva Daśanāmī saṃnyāsī akhāṛās. Three akhāṛās of the 13 are of the Vaisṇava Rāmānandī Sampradāy, which are referred to as anīs (army corps) in Vaisṇava terminology, akhāṛā being a subdivision of an anī. The Dādūpanth (see → Dādū Dayāl) also has an akhāṛā, which has an affiliation with the Rāmānandīs.

The other three of the 13 akhāṛās are affiliated with the Sikh tradition. Two are Udāsī (“detached”; see also → sādhus), namely, the Baṛā (large) Pañcāyatī Udāsī Akhāṛā, and the Chotạ̄ (small) or Nayā (new) Pañcāyatī Udāsī Akhāṛā; the third of the Sikh-affiliated akhāṛās is the Nirmal Pañcāyatī Akhāṛā. Although historically involved in the Sikh movement, these three akhāṛās function as independent organizations. All 13 akhāṛās have administrative offices, particularly in the cities of Banaras, Prayag (Allahabad) and Haridwar (for the Daśanāmīs), Ayodhya (for the Rāmānandīs), and Punjab state (for the Udāsīs).

Overseeing the activities of all 13 akhāṛās is an organization, the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, which is based in Haridwar and meets to decide on practical and policy issues.

The Daśanāmī Saṃnyāsī Akhāṛās

Daśanāmī means “he who has [one of] ten names,” those initiate names being Giri (hill), Purī (town), Bhāratī (learning), Vana (or Ban: forest), Parvata (mountain), Araṇya (wilderness), Sāgara (ocean), Tīrtha (pilgrimage place), Āśrama (hermitage), and Sarasvatī (knowledge). The most common names are Giri, Purī, and Bhāratī.

The seven Daśanāmī akhāṛās are the Nirañjanī, Jūnā, Mahānirvāṇī, Ānanda, Āvāhan, Atạl, and Agni akhāṛās. The leading akhāṛās, in terms of members and property, are the Nirañjanī and Jūnā. The Jūnā has the largest number of nāgās and is believed to be the oldest of the akhāṛās. Members of the akhāṛās are also affiliated to one or another of 52 (or 51) maṛhīs, which are subdivisions of the akhāṛās. The system of maṛhī organization is further organized in a system of eight dāvās (section, claim). Within each akhāṛā, there is a hierarchy of authority – mahant, śrī mahant, and mahāmaṇḍaleśvara – and (nominally) at the apex there are the śaṅkarācāryas (see below). The mahāmaṇḍaleśvaras usually live in their own maṭhs or āśrams and generally have little practical involvement in the daily operation of the akhāṛā, except when they preside over initiation rituals and become involved in administrative issues. In all akhāṛās (including those of the Rāmānandīs, Udāsīs, and Nirmals), each of which has an administrative body (pañc or pañcāyat), there is usually a sabhāpati (president), and beneath mahants there is a hierarchy of other elected functionaries: kārbārīs (assistants), thānāpatis (property managers), sacivs (secretaries), pujārīs (who perform ritual worship), koṭvāls (guards), and koṭhārīs/bhaṇḍārīs (who manage daily supplies). The main venue for initiations, elections to positions within the akhāṛā, and administrative discussions is kumbh melās. The Daśanāmī akhāṛās administer up to a hundred institutions, including temples, maṭhs, and āśrams.

Each of the Daśanāmī akhāṛās has a tutelary deity, namely, Kārttikeya (Nirañjanī), Dattātreya (Jūnā), Kapil Muni (Mahānirvāṇī), Sūrya (Ānanda), Siddh Gaṇeś (Āvāhan), Ādi Gaṇeś (Atạl), and Gāyatrī (Agni). The nāgās of each Daśanāmī akhāṛā revere the bhālā, which is a five to seven-meter-long javelin engraved with the sign of the respective deity of the akhāṛā. It is carried at the front of the arrival (peśvāī) and “royal” bathing processions (śāhī snān) at melās by the chief mahant or by nāgās. The bhālā is usually kept at the headquarters of the akhāṛā that it represents, but during melās, it is planted in the ground near the temporary shrine of the tutelary deity, at the center of the akhāṛā’s camping area.

The members of six of the seven Daśanāmī akhāṛās, apart from the Agni akhāṛā, take one of the “ten names,” but members of the Agni akhāṛā take one of the four following names: Svarūpa, Prakāśa, Ānanda, or Caitanya. These are what are known as brahmacārī (orthodox Brahman undergoing religious studentship and chastity) names, which are the same four names given to members of the other main wing of the saṃnyāsīs, the daṇḍīs.

The saṃnyāsī akhāṛās, to which nāgās belong, function independently from other saṃnyāsī organizations, those pertaining to the other branches of the Daśanāmī order, comprising daṇḍīs and paramahaṃsas. Daṇḍīs are orthodox Brahmans and carry a stick (daṇḍa). They frequent their own maṭhs and āśrams and have no organizational connection to the akhāṛās. Their link to the akhāṛās is only in respect to their common belief in the foundation of their order by Śaṅkarācārya (→ Śaṅkara). Paramahaṃsas are affiliated with one or another of the akhāṛās but usually live independently in their own maṭhs.

The Daśanāmī saṃnyāsī order claims descent from the philosopher Śaṅkarācārya (fl. c. 700 CE), through four disciples who, according to tradition, were established in four monasteries ( pīṭhas) at four places in India (in the north, south, east, and west); the five incumbent śaṅkarācāryas – two in the south – claim descent from these disciples. However, the tradition of the founding of four monasteries most probably dates from no earlier than the late 16th century.

The founding of the Daśanāmī akhāṛās is difficult to discern. According to traditions among the Daśanāmīs – one of which is recorded in an influential account by J. Sarkar (1958), which has been reiterated with anomalies in several subsequent publications – the first akhāṛā to be founded was Āvāhan in 547 CE, followed by Atạl (646 CE), Mahānirvāṇī (749 CE), Ānanda (856 CE), Nirañjanī (904 CE), Agni (1136), and Jūnā (1156). (In other sources the founding year of the Agni akhāṛā is given as 1370.) However, J. Sarkar adds one thousand years to some of the founding dates, which produces many inconsistencies. Notwithstanding accounts stating a greater antiquity, it seems probable that it was during the latter decades of the 16th century and the early decades of the 17th century that the Daśanāmī saṃnyāsī akhāṛās first formed, a time when diverse lineages of both monastic and militant renunciates coalesced into a sect with a distinct identity, sectarian history, and founding guru, namely Śaṅkarācārya.

The Rāmānandī Akhāṛās

The Rāmānandī Sampradāy has both lay and sādhu communities, the latter comprising rasiks, tyāgīs, and nāgās, and is one of the four Vaisṇava Sampradāyas (catuḥ sampradāyas), the constitution of which has changed twice during the last four centuries. The catuḥ sampradāyas, which meet at kumbh melās, have an administrative body, the Akhil Bharatiya Khalsa, which oversees 412 sub-branches (known as khālsās).

The traditional dates (based on the Agastyasaṃhitā) of → Rāmānanda are 1299–1410, but it seems more probable that Rāmānanda flourished in the 15th century. While some sources maintain that Rāmānanda came to northern India from the south (where he had been a disciple of Rāghavānanda), Rāmānandīs claim that Prayag was his place of birth. The language of the texts attributed to Rāmānanda indicates a North Indian provenance. “Rāmānandī” as a term of self-designation was first used around 1730.

The Rāmānandīs, whose main deities are → Rām, Sītā (see → Draupadī and Sītā), and Hanumān, appear to have organized their military branches between 1650 and 1720.
There is a reference from 1734 at Galta (near Jaipur) to seven branches of the Rāmānandī Sampradāy, which seems to indicate the extant organization of seven Rāmānandī akhāṛās. It is most probable that the catuḥ sampradāyas were organized into systems of dvārs, anīs, and akhāṛās in two stages during four successive conferences, at Vrindavan (c. 1713), Brahmapuri (near Jaipur; c. 1726), Jaipur (1734), and Galta (1756). It was Bālānand who in the mid-18th century organized the army of nāgās (the rāmḍāl) for service to Mādhav Siṃh, regent of Jaipur. Among the Rāmānandīs, 52 dvārs (doors/gates) – which are essentially lineages – are assigned to places throughout India and mirror the 52 maṛhīs of the Daśanāmī saṃnyāsīs.

Rāmānandī tyāgīs (renunciates), who are the largest subsection of the Rāmānandīs, have a lifestyle and appearance that are almost identical to those of Daśanāmī nāgās. Rāmānandī tyāgīs are also referred to as vairāgīs (or bairāgis; without passion). While the tyāgīs are Rāmānandī ascetics, it is the Rāmānandī nāgās who are soldiers, who carry weapons, and who are given money by tyāgī mahants at melās to protect the order. Technically, only the nāgās are said to be in the akhāṛā. Unlike the tyāgīs, Rāmānandī nāgās wear stitched cloth and do not wear jaṭā. A Rāmānandī disciple (who usually receives the surname “Dās” during initiation) wishing to enter an akhāṛā has to pass through seven stages before he becomes a Vaisṇava nāgā (also known as nāgā atīt):

(1) yātrī (collects nīm [neem, bot. Azadirachta indica] sticks for his superiors and wanders alone or with the jamāt [fighting unit]);

(2) chorā (serves, draws water, and makes leaf-plates);

(3) bandagīdar (looks after food stores, serves food, and cleans nāgā atīt’s utensils);

(4) huṛdaṅg (cooks, offers food to the deity, calls “Harihar” [i.e Visṇụ-Śiva], carries the insignia and flag of the akhāṛā, and learns weaponry);

(5) mureṭhiya (worships the deities, supervises sevaks [servants], calls “jay” [“victory”], and has mastered weapons):

(6) nāgā (administers the akhāṛā, worships the deity, protects the order’s property, leads the jamāt, and prepares for the kumbh melā); and

(7) atīt (decides important issues and guides nāgās).

This process of becoming a nāgā takes 12 years, after which he may vote in the akhāṛā, as a member of the pañc (the organizational body). Vaisṇạva nāgās are organized in four divisions (selīs), according to where they were initiated: Haridvārī (at Haridwar), Ujjainīya (at Ujjain), Sāgarīya (at Ganga Sagar, near Calcutta), and Basantīya (at other places). The most important center for Rāmānandī nāgās is the Hanumāngaṛhi Temple in Ayodhya.

The three Rāmānandī anīs collectively have eight akhāṛās among them: two for the Digambar anī (Rām Digambar, Śyām Digambar), three for the Nirvāṇī anī (Nirvāṇī, Khākī, Nirālambī), and three for the Nirmohī anī (Nirmohī, Mahānirvāṇī, Santosị̄). The akhāṛās’ banners all display the sun (sūrya), an emblem of Visṇu.

The Dādūpanth Akhāṛā

The Dādūpanth also has an akhāṛā, which joins the (Rāmānandī) Nirmohī anī for bathing at kumbh melās. Toward the end of Akbar’s reign, Dādū (1544–1604), a cotton cleaner from Ahmadabad who was a nirguṇī bhakt (see → nirguṇa and saguṇa), organized a new sect of Rām devotees, the Dādūpanth, which comprises virakts (ascetics), vastradhārīs (householders), and nāgās (khākī [ash-clad] virakts). Dādūpanthī nāgās had a prominent role in the armies of various regents, particularly of Jodhpur and Jaipur, in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were employed as mercenaries from 1799 to 1938.

Dādūpanthī nāgās claim that they are descended from Sundardās, an early disciple of Dādū, and thus from the late 16th or early 17th century. Although the genealogy of the Dādūpanthī nāgās may have begun in the mid-17th century, at the earliest, firm records are only available from the second half of the 18th century. The nāgās were officially constituted in akhāṛās in 1756, but may have previously fought alongside Rāmānandīs. The organization of the nāgās into 11 akhāṛās, which are subsumed within seven jamāts, is attributed to Kevalrām and Hṛdayrām. Nearly all of the nāgās were of Rājpūt descent. By the late 18th century, the armed jamāts were numerically and politically dominant in the Dādūpanth.

Sikh-Affiliated Akhāṛās

The Sikh-affiliated akhāṛās, the Baṛā Udāsī, Chotạ̄ Udāsī, and Nirmal, revere and recite daily the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the Sikh text that occupies a central place in all Sikh gurdvārās. Also of importance to the Udāsīs are the Udāsī Bodh, composed in Braj in 1858 (but written in Gurmukhi), and the Mātrā (measure/discipline; attributed to Srī Cand), besides which they have their own version of the Gurbilās (early biography/hagiography of Gurū Gobind Singh) and Janamsākhīs (biographies/hagiographies of Gurū Nānak). Like the practice among Daśanāmīs and Rāmānandīs, five mahants preside over the first initiation, whereby the initiate gains a new surname, usually “Dās” or “Brahm.” The initiate should be detached, shunning women, gold, tobacco, and spirits – though, as among other renunciate sects, occasionally Udāsīs marry and live as householders. Unlike Khālsā Sikhs, Udāsīs may shave their beards and cut their hair.

The Udāsīs are closer to mainstream Sikh tradition than some of the other breakaway Sikh sects of the 17th century, such as Mīnā (founded by Pṛthi Cand, 1558–1618), Dhir Maliā (followers of Dhir Mal, 1627–1677), and Rām Rāiyā (followers of Har Rāi, 1630–1661, the seventh Sikh guru). Distinctive traits of the Udāsīs are their Advaita Vedānta (advait brahm) philosophy (through which they interpret Sikhism), keeping a dhūnī, and practicing Hatḥa Yoga (see → Yoga).

The tutelary deity of Udāsī akhāṛās is Candra Bhagvān (believed to be an incarnation of → Śiva), who was Śrī Cand (b. 1494), the eldest of the two sons of Gurū Nānak (1469–1539). After the death of Nānak, the leadership of the Sikhs passed to Gurū Aṅgad (a householder), and not to Gurū Nānak’s son Śrī Cand (a bachelor), who, according to Sikh tradition, founded the Udāsī order. Although Śrī Cand is not recognized within the Sikh gurū paramparā (succession of teachers), neither is he rejected. However, there is some historical evidence that Śrī Cand and his followers may have been rejected from the Sikh order. According to tradition, Śrī Cand lived past the age of one hundred, into the time of the sixth gurū of the Sikhs, Gurū Hargobind (1595–1644), which would mean that the Udāsī order was probably founded sometime between the end of the 16th century and the early 17th century. The gaddi (royal seat/sectarian leadership) of the Udāsīs passed from Śrī Cand to the soldier and householder Bābā Gurditā (1613–1638), who had four preaching disciples (masands), each of whom, according to tradition, founded in 1636 a dhūān (dhūnī), which are the four main divisions of the Udāsīs, namely, Bābā Hasan (1564–1660), Phūl Sāhib (or Mīān/Mīhān Sāhib), Almast (1553–1643), and Gondā/Goindā (or Bhagat Bhagvān); these four leaders are known as the ādi (original) udāsīs.

According to another account, however, Mīān Sāhib and Bhagvat Bhagvān (i.e. Bhagat Gir, who was a Daśanāmī) founded not dhūāns but missionary centers (bhakṣīṣes). According to tradition, six bhakṣīṣes were gifted by the Sikh gurūs, Hargobind, Har Rāi, Tegh Bahādur, and Gobind Singh (1666–1708), between around 1640 and 1700. The two most important bhakṣīṣes are those of Bhāī Pherū and Mīān Sāhib. Udāsī institutions, which have a tradition of education, generally function independently and are mostly in the Punjab region, though some are in eastern India; they comprise akhāṛās (which are larger institutions), devās (smaller institutions), and dharmśālās (rest houses for travelers and pilgrims). The head of an institution is referred to as śrī mahant.

The Baṛā Udāsī Akhāṛā was founded at Prayag in 1779 by Mahant Pṛtham Dās (1752–1831), with whose akhāṛā all four dhūāns are associated (some Udāsī institutions are not directly affiliated with the dhūāns). Some followers of Pṛtham Dās are naṅgā (i.e. nāgā); two subsects of naṅgā Udāsīs (the Nirbāṇ and the Nirañjanī) claim origins in the akhāṛā of Pṛtham Dās. They wear laṅgoṭī and besmear themselves with ashes.

The Chotạ̄ (or Nayā) Udāsī Akhārạ̄ was founded in 1840 by Mahant Santokh Dās and some followers of Bhāī Pherū (i.e. Saṅgat Sāhib), a disciple of Har Rāi. Gurū Gobind Singh is credited in some sources with the institution of the Nirmal order, of which the akhāṛā (whose headquarters is in Kankhal, near Haridwar) was officially founded in 1862 under the leadership of Mahitab Singh (1811–1871).

Between the 1790s and 1840s, the Udāsī and Nirmal orders received extensive state patronage, and by the end of the 19th century, their establishments had increased fivefold, to around 250.
In the early 1920s, during the Gurdwara Reform Movement, conflict arose between Udāsīs and Akālī Sikhs (Akālī – or Nihaṅg – Sikhs are a military sub-branch of the Sikh khālsā), resulting in a significant loss of influence for Udāsīs; though in recent decades, the Udāsīs have experienced a revival.


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Burghart, R., “Wandering Ascetics of the Ramanandi Sect,” HR 22/4, 1983, 361–390.

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Farquhar, J.N., “The Organisation of the Sannyasis of the Vedanta,” JRASGBI, 1925, 479–486.

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Dashanami Sampradaya [Order of Swamis] [Naga Sadhus akharas]
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Accessed: 5/7/21

Dashanami (IAST Daśanāmi Saṃpradāya "Tradition of Ten Names"), also known as the Order of Swamis,[1] is a Hindu monastic tradition of "single-staff renunciation" (ēka daṇḍi saṃnyāsī)[2][3][4] generally associated with the Vedanta tradition and organized in its present form by 5th-century BCE theologian Adi Shankara.

A swami, as the monk is called, is a renunciate who seeks to achieve spiritual union with the swa (Self). In formally renouncing the world, he or she generally wears ochre, saffron or orange-colored robes as a symbol of non-attachment to worldly desires, and may choose to roam independently or join an ashram or other spiritual organizations, typically in an ideal of selfless service.[1] Upon initiation, which can only be done by another existing Swami, the renunciate receives a new name (usually ending in ananda, meaning 'supreme bliss') and takes a title which formalizes his connection with one of the ten subdivisions of the Swami Order. A swami's name has a dual significance, representing the attainment of supreme bliss through some divine quality or state (i.e. love, wisdom, service, yoga), and through a harmony with the infinite vastness of nature, expressed in one of the ten subdivision names: Giri (mountain), Puri (tract), Bhāratī (land), Vana (forest), Āraṇya (forest), Sagara (sea), Āśrama (spiritual exertion), Sarasvatī (wisdom of nature), Tīrtha (place of pilgrimage), and Parvata (mountain). A swami is not necessarily a yogi, although many swamis can and do practice yoga as a means of spiritual liberation; experienced swamis may also take disciples.[1]

Dashanami Sannyāsins are associated mainly with the four maṭhas, established in four corners of India by Shankara himself; however, the association of the Dasanāmis with the Shankara maṭhas remained nominal.[web 1] The early swamis, elevated into the order as disciples of Shankara, were sannyāsins who embraced sannyas either after marriage or without getting married.

Single-staff renunciates are distinct in their practices from Shaiva trishuldhari or "trident-wielding renunciates" and Vaishnava traditions of Tridandi sannyāsis.[5][note 1][note 2] Any Hindu, irrespective of class, caste, age or gender can seek sannyāsa as an Ēkadaṇḍi renunciate in the Dasanāmi tradition.


Sannyasi, a Saiva mendicant - Tashrih al-aqvam'" (1825)


Ēkadandis were already known during what is sometimes referred to as "Golden Age of Hinduism" (ca. 320-650 CE[6])

Golden Age of Hinduism

See also Gupta rule and Gupta and Pallava period

The "Golden Age of Hinduism"[6] (ca. 320-650 CE[6]) flourished during the Gupta Empire[7] (320 to 550 CE) until the fall of the Harsha[7] (606 to 647 CE). During this period, power was centralized, along with a growth of long distance trade, standardization of legal procedures, and a general spread of literacy.[7] Mahayana Buddhism flourished, but orthodox Shrauta Hinduism was rejuvenated by the patronage of the Gupta dynasty.[8] The position of the Brahmans was reinforced[7] and the first Hindu temples emerged during the late Gupta age.[7] The Mahābhārata, which probably reached its final form by the early Gupta period (c. 4th century),[9] already mentions "ēkadaṇḍi" and "tridaṇḍi".[10]

Wandering Ēkadaṇḍi ascetics

Dandi Sanyasi, a Hindu ascetic, in Eastern Bengal in the 1860s

The Ēkadaṇḍis existed in the Tamil country during the south-Indian Pandyan dynasty (3rd century BCE - 16th century CE) and the South-Indian Pallava dynasty (2nd - 9th centuries CE). Being wandering monastics, they were not settled in the brahmadeyas or settlement areas for Brahmins. There existed tax free bhiksha-bogams for feeding the Ēkadaṇḍi ascetics in the ancient Tamil country.[11]

Ēkadaṇḍis and Tridandis were also active in Eastern India, and appear to have existed there during the North-Indian Gupta Empire (320 to 550 CE ).[12]

According to R. Tirumalai, "There appears to have been no sectarian segregation of the Shaiva (Ēkadaṇḍi) and Srivaishnava (Tridandi Sannyāsins)".[13]

Establishment of the Dasanami Sampradaya

See also: Sampradaya and Parampara

(Vidyashankara temple) at Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Shringeri

At the beginning of what is referred to as "Late classical Hinduism",[14] which lasted from 650 till 1100 CE,[14] Shankara established the Dasanami Sampradaya.

Late-Classical Hinduism

See also Late-Classical Age and Hinduism Middle Ages

After the end of the Gupta Empire and the collapse of the Harsha Empire, power became decentralized in India. Several larger kingdoms emerged, with "countless vassal states":[15] in the east the Pala Empire[15] (770-1125 CE[15]), in the west and north the Gurjara-Pratihara[15] (7th-10th century[15]), in the southwest the Rashtrakuta dynasty[15] (752-973[15]), in the Dekkhan the Chalukya dynasty[15] (7th-8th century[15]), and in the south the Pallava dynasty[15] (7th-9th century[15]) and the Chola dynasty[15] (9th century[15]).

The kingdoms were ruled via a feudal system. Smaller kingdoms were dependent on the protection of the larger kingdoms. "The great king was remote, was exalted and deified",[16] as reflected in the Tantric Mandala, which could also depict the king as the centre of the mandala.[17]

The disintegration of central power also lead to regionalization of religiosity, and religious rivalry.[18][note 3] Local cults and languages were enhanced, and the influence of "Brahmanic ritualistic Hinduism"[18] was diminished.[18] Rural and devotional movements arose, along with Shaivism, Vaisnavism, Bhakti and Tantra,[18] though "sectarian groupings were only at the beginning of their development".[18] Religious movements had to compete for recognition by the local lords.[18] Buddhism lost its position, and began to disappear in India.[18]


H.H. Jagadguru Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, The Shankaracharya of Puri

Shankara, himself considered to be an incarnation of Shiva,[web 1] established the Dashanami Sampradaya, organizing a section of the Ēkadaṇḍi monastics under an umbrella grouping of ten names.[web 1] Several other Hindu monastic and Ēkadaṇḍi traditions remained outside the organization of the Dasanāmis.[20][21][22]

Adi Shankara organized the Hindu monastics of these ten sects or names under four maṭhas or monasteries, with headquarters at Dvārakā in the west, Jagannathadham Puri in the east, Sringeri in the south and Badrikashrama in the north.[web 1] Each maṭha was headed by one of his four main disciples, who each continued the Vedanta Sampradaya.

Monastics of these ten orders differ in part in their beliefs and practices, and a section of them is not considered to be restricted to specific changes made by Shankara. While the Dasanāmis associated with the Shankara maṭhas follow the procedures enumerated by Adi Śankara, some of these orders remained partly or fully independent in their belief and practices; and outside the official control of the Shankara maṭhas.

The association of the Dasanāmis with the Smartha tradition or Advaita Vedānta is not all-embracing. One example is the Kriyā Yoga tradition that considers itself eclectic (see: Eclecticism), with ancient[web 2] unchangeable beliefs, and outside the ambit of differences in the understanding of Vedanta. Other examples are the Tantric Avadhūta Sampradāyas and Ekadaṇḍi sannyāsa traditions outside the control of the Shankara maṭhas[22] The Dasanāmis or Ēkadaṇḍis also founded, and continue to found or affiliate themselves with, maṭhas, ashrams and temples outside the control of the Shankara maṭhas.[web 2][web 3]

The Advaita Sampradāya is not a Shaiva sect,[web 1][23] despite the historical links with Shaivism:

Advaitins are non-sectarian, and they advocate worship of Siva and Visnu equally with that of the other deities of Hinduism, like Sakti, Ganapati and others.[web 1]

Nevertheless, contemporary Shankaracaryas have more influence among Saiva communities than among Vaisnava communities.[web 1] The greatest influence of the gurus of the Advaita tradition has been among followers of the Smartha tradition, who integrate the domestic Vedic ritual with devotional aspects of Hinduism.[web 1]

According to Nakamura, these maṭhas contributed to the influence of Shankara, which was "due to institutional factors".[24] The maṭhas which he built exist until today, and preserve the teachings and influence of Shankara, "while the writings of other scholars before him came to be forgotten with the passage of time".[25]

The table below gives an overview of the four Amnaya maṭhas founded by Adi Shankara, and their details.[web 4]

Shishya (lineage) / Direction / Maṭha / Mahāvākya / Veda / Sampradaya

Padmapāda / East / Govardhana Pīṭhaṃ / Prajñānam brahma (Consciousness is Brahman) / Rig Veda / Bhogavala
Sureśvara / South / Sringeri Śārada Pīṭhaṃ / Aham brahmāsmi (I am Brahman) / Yajur Veda / Bhūrivala
Hastāmalakācārya / West / Dvāraka Pīṭhaṃ / Tattvamasi (That thou art) / Sama Veda / Kitavala
Toṭakācārya / North / Jyotirmaṭha Pīṭhaṃ / Ayamātmā brahma (This Atman is Brahman) / Atharva Veda / Nandavala

Expansion of the Dasanāmi Sampradāya

According to the tradition in Kerala, after Shankara's samādhi at Vadakkunnathan Temple, his disciples founded four maṭhas in Thrissur, namely Naduvil Madhom, Thekke Madhom, Idayil Madhom and Vadakke Madhom.

According to Pandey, the ēkadaṇḍis or Dasanāmis had established monasteries in India and Nepal in the 13th and 14th century.[web 5]

Naga Sadhus akharas

Naga Sadhu performing ritual bath at Sangam during Prayagraj Ardh Kumbhmela 2007

In the 16th century, Madhusudana Saraswati of Bengal organised a section of the Naga (naked) tradition of armed sannyasis in order to protect Hindus from the tyranny of the Mughal rulers. These are also called Goswami, Gusain, Gussain, Gosain, Gossain, Gosine, Gosavi, Sannyāsi.

Warrior-ascetics could be found in Hinduism from at least the 1500s and as late as the 1700s,[26] although tradition attributes their creation to Sankaracharya[web 6]

Some examples of Akhara currently are the Juna Akhara of the Dashanami Naga, Niranjani Akhara, Anand Akhara, Atal Akhara, Awahan Akhara, Agni Akhara and Nirmal Panchayati Akhara at Allahabad.[web 7] Each akhara is divided into sub-branches and traditions. An example is the Dattatreya Akhara (Ujjain) of the naked sadhus of Juna Naga establishment.[web 8]

The naga sadhus generally remain in the ambit of non-violence presently, though some sections are also known to practice the sport of Indian wrestling. The Dasanāmi sannyāsins practice the Vedic and yogic Yama principles of ahimsā (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), aparigraha (non-covetousness) and brahmacārya (celibacy / moderation).

The naga sadhus are prominent at Kumbh mela, where the order in which they enter the water is fixed by tradition. After the Juna akhara, the Niranjani and Mahanirvani Akhara proceed to their bath. Ramakrishna Math Sevashram are almost the last in the procession.[27]



In the Indian religious and philosophical traditions, all knowledge is traced back to the gods and to the Rishis who primarily received the Vedas as revelations.

The current Acaryas, the heads of the maṭhas, trace their authority back to the four main disciples of Shankara,[web 9] and each of the heads of these four maṭhas takes the title of Shankaracharya ("the learned Shankara") after Adi Shankara.

The Advaita guru-paramparā (Lineage of Gurus in Non-dualism) begins with the mythological time of the Daiva-paramparā, followed by the vedic seers of the Ṛṣi-paramparā, and the Mānava-paramparā of historical times and personalities:[web 9][note 4]

• Nārāyaṇa
• Sada Shiva
• Padmabhuva (Brahmā)
• Vaśiṣṭha
• Śakti
• Parāśara
• Vyāsa[note 5]
• Śuka
• Gauḍapāda
• Govinda bhagavatpāda
• Śankara bhagavatpāda, and then Shankara's four disciples
o Padmapāda
o Hastāmalaka
o Toṭaka
o Vārtikakāra (Sureśvara) and others

Ten Names

Hindus who enter sannyāsa in the ēkadaṇḍi tradition take up one of the ten names associated with this Sampradaya: Giri, Puri, Bhāratī, Vana/Ban, Āraṇya, Sagara, Āśrama, Sarasvatī, Tīrtha, and Parvata.[web 11][web 1]

Standardised List of Dasanāmīs in Wikipedia

This section enumerates, in standardised manner, members of the Dasanāmī Order with articles in Wikipedia, listing each under his formal title and name, without the use of the honorifics[note 6] so cherished by fawning devotees and disciples. The word "swāmī" here is not an honorific. It is the title of an initiated member of the Dasanāmī Order. Entries are listed in standard form: TITLE (SWĀMĪ) + PERSONAL NAME + SUB-ORDER NAME. A few entries have the additional title (not honorific) of "Jagadguru Śankarācārya" which designates either one of the four supreme leaders of the order (somewhat similar to the position of Pope in Catholic Christianity). "Mahanta" is an administrative title designating an organizational position or office assigned to certain persons.

Name Notability
Swāmī Abhayānanda Puri French American initiate of Vivekānanda.
Swāmī Abhedānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.[1]
Swāmī Abhinavavidyā Tīrtha Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Śrngeri.
Swāmī Achalānanda Puri Disciple of Vivekānanda.
Swāmī Achyutananda Sarasvatī Gaudiya Vaisnava teacher.
Swāmī Adbhutānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Adidevānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Swāmī Advaitānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Agehānanda Bhāratī Austrian American intellectual and expert on Indian languages and phonology.[2][3][4]
Swāmī Agnivesha Sarasvatī Activist; reformer; interfaith dialog advocate.[5]
Swāmī Akhandānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Akhilānanda Puri Founder of Vedanta Society of Providence and Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Boston.
Swāmī Akshobhya Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Ānanda Tīrtha Preceptor of Dvaita.
Swāmī Ānandānanda Puri Gandhian activist.
Swāmī Ashokānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Swāmī Atmabodhendra Sarasvatī Pīthādhipati of Kamakoti Math, Kanchipuram.
Swāmī Ātmājñānānanda Puri American Ramakrishna monk.
Swāmī Ātmasthānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Name Notability
Swāmī Bhāratī Tīrtha Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Śrngeri.
Swāmī Bhāratīkrsna Tīrtha Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Puri and scholar of Indian mathematics. First Śankarācārya to visit the West. Authored Vedic Mathematics.
Swāmī Bhaskarānanda Sarasvatī Scholar and anchorite of Benāres.
Swāmī Bhūmānanda Tīrtha Social reformer. Teacher of Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata Purana.
Swāmī Bhuteshānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Bodhānanda Sarasvatī Disciple of Sivānanda.
Swāmī Bodhendra Sarasvatī Pīthādhipati of Kamakoti Math, Kanchipuram.
Swāmī Brahmānanda Sarasvatī Highly-respected Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Jyotirmāyā Pītha, Badrināth.
Name Notability
Swāmī Chandrachudhendra Sarasvatī Pīthādhipati of Kamakoti Math, Kanchipuram.
Swāmī Candrasekhara Bhāratī Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Śrngeri.
Swāmī Chandrasekharendra Sarasvatī Pīthādhipati of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Kanchipuram. Featured in Paul Brunton's A Search in Secret India.
Swāmī Chidānanda Sarasvatī Disciple of Svāmī Śivānanda Sarasvatī. President of Divine Life Society. Interfaith advocate and friend of Thích Nhất Hạnh.
Swāmī Chidānanda Sarasvatī Founder of temples in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the USA.
Swāmī Chidvilasānanda Sarasvatī Disciple and designated successor of Muktānanda. Sister of Nityānanda.[6]
Swāmī Chinmāyānanda Sarasvatī Hindu missionary. Disciple of Svāmī Śivānanda Sarasvatī and Svāmī Tapovanam Giri. Founder of Chinmaya Mission.[7]
Name Notability
Swāmī Dayānanda Sarasvatī Socio-religious reformer. Founder of the Arya Samaj.
Swāmī Dayānanda Sarasvatī Vedānt ācārya. Founder of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.[8]
Swāmī Dhanarāja Giri Advaita Vedānta ācārya. Founder of the highly-prestigious Kailash Ashram, Rishikesh.
Name Notability
Swāmī Gahanānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Gambhirānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Ganapati Sarasvatī Long-lived yogī of Benāres.[9][10]
Swāmī Ganeshānanda Sarasvatī Yoga teacher. Pupil and sannyās initiate of Swāmī Śivānanda Sarasvatī. Pupil of Swāmī Suraj Giri.
Swāmī Gangadharendra Sarasvatī Teacher of Advaita Vedānta.
Swāmī Ghanānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk who was active in Europe.
Swāmī Ghanānanda Sarasvatī Ghanaian disciple of Svāmī Krishnānanda Sarasvatī. Possibly the first Black African convert to Hinduism.
Swāmī Gītānanda Giri Indian Canadian physician. Yoga teacher; Mahanta of the Brighu Order; "Lion of Pondicherry".
Swāmī Gñānānanda Giri Long-lived yogī. Guru of French Catholic monastic Abhishiktānanda.
Name Notability
Swāmī Haridāsa Giri Disciple of Swāmī Gñānānanda Giri.
Swāmī Hariharānanda Āranya Noted Samkhya Yogī
Swāmī Hariharānanda Giri Kriyā Yoga teacher. Pupil of Śrījukteśvara, Bhupendranāth Sanyal, Yogānanda, Satyānanda, and Bijoy Krishna.[11]
Swāmī Hariharānanda Sarasvatī Respected Vedānt ācārya. Disciple of Svāmī Brahmānanda Sarasvatī. Met Yogānanda at the Kumbh Mela.
Name Notability
Swāmī Isvara Puri Dvaitavādin.
Name Notability
Swāmī Janakānanda Sarasvatī Danish disciple of Svāmī Satyānanda Sarasvatī; founder of Skandinavisk Yoga och Meditationsskola.
Swāmī Jaya Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Jaya Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Jayendra Sarasvatī Disciple of Svāmī Chandrasekharendra Sarasvatī. Pīthādhipati of Kamakoti Math, Kanchipuram.
Swāmī Jītātmānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Name Notability
Swāmī Kalyanānanda Puri Disciple of Vivekānanda.
Swāmī Kesavānanda Bhāratī Mahānta/Pīthādhipati of Edneer Math, Kasaragod district, Kerala.
Swāmī Kesavānanda Tīrtha Yogī of Vrindāban.
Swāmī Kirtidānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Swāmī Krishnānanda Sarasvatī Disciple of Śivānanda; General Secretary of Divine Life Society, 1963-2001.[12][13]
Swāmī Kriyānanda Giri American disciple of Yogānanda. Founder of Ananda World Brotherhood Colonies.
Swāmī Kṛṣṇacaitanya Bhāratī Vaisnava teacher and scholar of Bengal; regarded as an avatār in Bangla Vaisnavism. Called "Caitanya Mahaprabhu" by devotees.[14]
Name Notability
Swāmī Laksmanānanda Sarasvatī Humanitarian social relief worker of Orissa. assassinated by suspected Christian Maoists.
Swāmī Laksmīnārāyana Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Name Notability
Swāmī Madhavānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Madhavendra Puri Dvaitavādin. Disciple of Lakshmipati Tirtha.
Swāmī Madhusūdana Sarasvatī Teacher of Advaita Vedānta.
Swāmī Mahādevendra Sarasvatī Pīthādhipati of Kamakoti Math, Kanchipuram.
Swāminī Māyātitānanda Sarasvatī Ayurveda teacher.
Swāmī Muktānanda Sarasvatī Meditation teacher. Founded the SYDA (Siddha Yoga Dham) organization, with several ashrams and centers. Author.
Name Notability
Swāmī Narahari Tīrtha Dvaitavādin. Disciple of Swāmī Ānanda Tīrtha.
Swāmī Nārāyanānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk. Rāja yoga teacher in Denmark.
Swāmī Nigamānanda Sarasvatī Bhakta, gyānī, yogī, tantrika of Eastern India.
Swāmī Nikhilānanda Puri Ramakrishna monastic; Vedānta teacher in the USA.
Swāmī Nirañjanānanda Puri One of the six disciples of Rāmakrsna who were regarded as iśvarakoti.[15]
Swāmī Nirañjanānanda Sarasvatī Disciple of Satyānanda; head of Bihar School of Yoga.[16][17]
Swāmī Nirmalānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Nischayānanda Puri Disciple of Vivekānanda.
Swāmī Nrsimha Sarasvatī Sage of Mahārāshtra. Regarded as an incarnation of the legendary sage Dattātreya.
Name Notability
Swāmī Omānanda Puri Irish violinist, singer, theosophist, writer, poet, esoteric teacher and authority on Indian music.
Swāmī Omānanda Sarasvatī Educator.
Name Notability
Swāmī Padmanabha Tīrtha Dvaitavādin. Disciple of Swāmī Ānanda Tīrtha.
Swāmī Paramānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk. Vedānta teacher in the USA.
Swāmī Prabhavānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk. Vedānta teacher in the USA.
Swāmī Prakāshānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk; Vedānta teacher in the USA.
Swāmī Prakāshānanda Sarasvatī Rādhā-Krsna devotee, convict and fugitive in the USA. Disciple of Rādhā-Krsna bhakta Kripālu "Mahārāj."
Swāmī Prakāshānanda Sarasvatī Hindu teacher in Trinidad.
Swāmī Prameyānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Swami Pranavānanda Giri Founder of Bharat Sevashram Sangha.
Swāmī Pranavānanda Sarasvatī Disciple of Śivānanda; Yoga-Vedānta teacher, Divine Life Society, Malaysia.
Swāmī Premānanda Puri One of the six disciples of Rāmakrsna who were regarded as iśvarakoti.
Swāmī Purnaprajñā Tīrtha Preceptor of Dvaitavāda.
Swāmī Purushottamānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Name Notability
Swāmī Raghavendra Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Raghaveshwara Bhāratī Advaita Vedāntin. 36th Jagadguru of Sri Ramachandrapura Math, Hosanagara, Shimoga, Karnātaka.
Swāmī Raghuttama Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Rāma Bhāratī Yogī; founder of Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy, Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
Swāmī Rāma Tīrtha Teacher of "Practical Vedanta".
Swāmī Rāmakrishnānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Rāmakrsna Puri Temple priest, ascetic, mystic of Bengal. Regarded as an avatār (a "descent" or physical incarnation of God) by devotees.
Swāmī Rāmānanda Tīrtha Activist in Hyderābād.
Swāmī Ranganāthānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission and a great Vedantin.
Swāmī Rudrānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk in Fiji.
Swāmī Rudrānanda Sarasvatī American spiritual teacher.
Name Notability
Swāmī Saccidānanda Bhāratī Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Śrngeri.
Swāmī Saccidānanda Bhāratī Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Śrngeri.
Swāmī Saccidānandaśivābhinavanrsiṃha Bhāratī Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Śrngeri.
Swāmī Sadānanda Puri Disciple of Vivekānanda.
Swāmī Sadaśivendra Sarasvatī Scholar, yogī-siddha, poet, avadhūta; mentioned in Yogānanda's Autobiography of a Yogi.
Swāmī Sahajānanda Sarasvatī Indian nationalist.
Swāmī Sahajānanda Sarasvatī South African spiritual teacher. Disciple of Śivānanda.
Swāmī Samyamindra Tīrtha Mathadhipati of Kashi Math.
Swāmī Śaradānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna. Author of the Śrī Śrī Rāmakrsna Līlaprasanga, the lead biography of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Satchidānanda Sarasvatī Yoga teacher. Disciple of Śivānanda. Founder of Sivananda Ashram (Sri Lanka) and Satchidananda Ashrams (USA).
Swāmī Satcidānandendra Sarasvatī Vedānt ācārya.
Swāmī Satyānanda Giri Kriyā Yoga teacher. Disciple of Śrījukteśvara.
Swāmī Satyānanda Sarasvatī Disciple of Śivānanda; founder of Bihar School of Yoga.
Swāmī Satyanātha Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Satyapramoda Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Satyātmā Tīrtha 42nd pontiff of Uttaradi Matha.
Swāmī Shambhavānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Swāmī Shankarānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Shankarānanda Sarasvatī American disciple of Muktānanda.
Swāmī Shantānanda Sarasvatī Disciple of Śivānanda. Spiritual guide in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Swāmī Shivānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna and 2nd President of the Ramakrishna Order.[18]
Swāmī Shivom Tīrtha Siddhayoga teacher.
Swāmī Shraddhānanda Sarasvatī Hindu social activist. Assassinated by a Muslim.
Swāmī Shuddhānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Śivānanda Sarasvatī Founded Divine Life Society and Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy, Rishikesh; authored 200 books.
Swāmī Śivānanda Rādhā Sarasvatī Canadian yoga teacher. Disciple of Śivānanda.
Swāmī Smaranānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk. President of the Ramakrishna Order.[19]
Swāmī Śrījukteśvara Giri Kriyā Yoga adept. Astrologer. Disciple of Shyāmacharan Lahirī. Guru of Yogānanda.
Swāmī Subodhānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Sudhindra Tīrtha Mathadhipati of Kashi Math.
Swāmī Sukrathindra Tīrtha Mathadhipati of Kashi Math.
Swāmī Swahānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Swāmī Swarūpānanda Puri Disciple of Vivekānanda.
Swāmī Swarūpānanda Sarasvatī Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Jyotirmāyā and Dwarka Pītha.
Name Notability
Swāmī Tapasyānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Swāmī Tapovanam Giri Reclusive yogī of Uttar Kashi.[20]
Swami Tejomayananda Saraswati Current Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide.
Swāmī Trigunatitānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Turiyānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Tyagānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk. Hindu chaplain of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Name Notability
Swāmī Vadirāja Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Vasudevānanda Sarasvatī Wandering monk, spiritual teacher, author.
Swāmī Venkateśānanda Sarasvatī Disciple of Śivānanda; founder of Sivananda Ashrams in South Africa and Mauritius.
Swāmī Vidyānāthānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk and mathematician.
Swāmī Vidyāranya Tīrtha Jagadguru Śankarācārya of Śrngeri.
Swāmī Vidyātmānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk.
Swāmī Vijayendra Sarasvatī Disciple and designated successor of Jayendra Sarasvatī.
Swāmī Vijayendra Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Vijñānānanda Puri Disciple of Rāmakrsna.
Swāmī Vimalānanda Puri Disciple of Vivekānanda.
Swāmī Vipulānanda Puri Srī Lankān Ramakrishna monastic and Hindu revivalist.
Swāmī Virajānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Vireshwarānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Vishnu Tīrtha Siddhayoga teacher.
Swāmī Vishnudevānanda Sarasvatī Yogī. Peace activist. Most famous disciple of Svāmī Śivānanda Sarasvatī (the two of them are the most well-known members of the Sarasvati sub-order). Founder of the worldwide Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. Authored The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga. Airplane pilot.
Swāmī Vishuddhānanda Puri President of the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swāmī Vishwadevānanda Puri Teacher of Advaita Vedānta.
Swāmī Vivekānanda Puri Most famous of disciples of Ramakrishna (the two of them are the most well-known members of the Puri sub-order). Most famous figure at first Parliament of the World's Religions (Chicago, 1893). Organizer of the Ramakrishna Mission. One of the six disciples of Rāmakrsna who were regarded as iśvarakoti.
Swāmī Vyāsa Tīrtha Dvaitavādin.
Swāmī Vyāsachalamahādevendra Sarasvatī Pīthādhipati of Kamakoti Math, Kanchipuram.
Name Notability
Swāmī Yatīśwarānanda Puri Ramakrishna monk. Spiritual teacher and meditation instructor.
Swāmī Yogānanda Giri[29] Founder of Self-Realization Fellowship. Author of Autobiography of a Yogi.
Swāmī Yogānanda Giri Leading Hindu of Italy. Disciple of Gītānanda.
Swāmī Yogānanda Puri One of the six disciples of Rāmakrsna who were regarded as iśvarakoti.


1. The Tridandi sannyāsins continue to wear the sacred thread after renunciation, while Ekadandi sannyāsins do not.
2. Ek means "one", ekadandi means "of single staff", tridandi means "of three staffs".
3. This resembles the development of Chinese Chán during the An Lu-shan rebellion and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907–960/979), during which power became decentralized and new Chán-schools emerged.[19]
4. The following Sanskrit Verse among Smarthas provides the list of the early teachers of the Vedanta in their order:[web 10][28] "नारायणं पद्मभुवं वशिष्ठं शक्तिं च तत्पुत्रं पराशरं च व्यासं शुकं गौडपादं महान्तं गोविन्दयोगीन्द्रं अथास्य शिष्यम्
श्री शंकराचार्यं अथास्य पद्मपादं च हस्तामलकं च शिष्यम् तं तोटकं वार्त्तिककारमन्यान् अस्मद् गुरून् सन्ततमानतोऽस्मि
अद्वैत गुरु परंपरा स्तोत्रम्"
"nārāyanam padmabhuvam vasishtam saktim ca tat-putram parāśaram ca
vyāsam śukam gauḍapāda mahāntam govinda yogīndram athāsya śiṣyam
śri śankarācāryam athāsya padmapādam ca hastāmalakam ca śiṣyam
tam trotakam vārtikakāram-anyān asmad gurūn santatamānato’smi
The above advaita guru paramparā verse salute the prominent gurus of advaita, starting from Nārāyaṇathrough Adi Sankara and his disciples, up to the Acharyas of today.
5. the famous redactor of the vedas, he is also traditionally identified with Bādarāyaṇa, the composer of the Brahmasūtras
6. e.g.: śrī, shri, shrii, shree, śrī śrī, śrī śrī śrī, śrīla, śrīman, jī, jiew, joo, jiu, swāmījī, mahātma, mahārsi, mahāyogī, mahāsaya, mahārāj, mahārājjī, prabhu, prabhujī, mahāprabhu, gurudev, gurujī, guru mahārāj jī, sāheb, sāhebjī, bābā, bābājī, mā, māta, mātajī, bhagvan, prabhupāda, bhaktipāda. Aside from these, "Paramahamsa" is also one of the most abused honorifics. Many unfit characters want to claim it; many adoring disciples apply it to their guru. It was used by the ISKCON rtvik/guru-ācāryas. However, the case of Swāmī Yogānanda Giri is a unique one, since his appellation "Paramahansa" was not given to him by adoring disciples.


Written references

1. Yogananda, Paramhansa (1946). "Autobiography of a Yogi - Chpt 24: I Become a Monk of the Swami Order - pg 218".
2. Journal of the Oriental Institute (pp 301), by Oriental Institute (Vadodara, India).
3. Govind Sadashiv Ghurye, Indian Sadhus
4. Lalit Kishore Lal Srivastava, Advaitic Concept of Jīvanmukti
5. A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmi, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam
6. Michaels 2004, p. 40-41.
7. Michaels 2004, p. 40.
8. Nakamura 2004, p. 687.
9. Van Buitenen; The Mahabharata – 1; The Book of the Beginning. Introduction (Authorship and Date)
10. Swāmi Parmeshwarānand, Encyclopaedia of Śaivism, p.82
11. Shanmuga Velayutham Subramanian, Heritage of the Tamils: temple arts, p.154
12. Bhagwati Charan Verma, Socio-religious, Economic, Literary Condition of Bihar
13. R. Tirumalai, The Pandyan Townships : The Pandyan townships, their organisation and functioning
14. Michaels 2004, p. 41-43.
15. Michaels 2004, p. 41.
16. michaels 2004, p. 41.
17. White 2000, p. 25-28.
18. Michaels 2004, p. 42.
19. McRae 2003.
20. Karigoudar Ishwaran, Ascetic Culture
21. Wendy Sinclair-Brull, Female Ascetics
22. H.A. Rose, Ibbetson, Denzil Ibbetson Sir, and Maclagan, Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province, page 857
23. Nakamura 2004, p. 782-783.
24. Nakamura 2004, p. 680.
25. Nakamura 2004, p. 680-681.
26. A history of Dasnami Naga Sanyasis, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Sri Panchayati Akhara Mahanirvani, Allahabad, ... 20108p.pdf
27. Naga sadhus steal the show at Kumbh, Nandita Sengupta, TNN Feb 13, 2010://
28. Book: Shri Gowdapadacharya & Shri Kavale Math (A Commemoration volume). P. 38.
29. Known by honorific "Paramahansa."


1. Devasthananam, Sankara Acarya Biography: Monastic Tradition
2. Kalyanagiri
3. Prajnana Mission
4. "Adi Shankara's four Amnaya Peethams". Archived from the original on 26 June 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2006.
5. The maṭhas of Dasanami Sanyasis of Lalitpur, Kathmandu Valley
6. Nagas: Once were warriors. Gautam Siddharth, TNN Jan 15, 2013
7. Prem Panicker, Where did the Akharas come from?
8., Kumbh Melas in Haridwar and Ujjain
9. "The Advaita Vedânta Home Page — Advaita Parampara". 5 May 1999. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
11. The Dashanami Sampradaya- the Monastic Tradition


• McRae, John (2003), Seeing Through Zen. Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism, The University Press Group Ltd, ISBN 9780520237988
• Michaels, Axel (2004), Hinduism. Past and present, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press
• Nakamura, Hajime (2004), A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy. Part Two, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited

External links

• Sringeri Math
•, Danasami Sampradya- The monastic tradition
• Devasthanam, The Monastic Tradition


Fighting Ascetics, Excerpt from Traditional Military Practices in North India
©  Traditional Military Practices in North India, 2020

"... who from going quite naked, close shaved and well rubbed with oil are so slippery that no one can seize them while they force their way with a dagger pointed at both ends and held by the middle."

Back in the early 20th century, Ascetics were actively hired by the Maharajas to collect taxes. Trade of precious stones, corals, raw silk, gold and silver was concentrated in their hands. They guarded trade routes, which were related to pilgrims routes, controlled the trade from Tibet to South India. Activity of ascetics was comparable with activities of medieval European chivalric orders. James Todd, a British political agent in Rajasthan, in the early 19th century wrote as follows:

The Gosains who profess arms, partake of the character of the knights of St. John of Jerusalem. They live in monasteries scattered over the country, possess lands, and beg, or serve for pay when called upon...

We first heard of an Armed Ascetic in the treatise Mahabhasya, dated 2nd century B.C. This treatise describes a hermit as a wandering ascetic, wearing an animal skin and al all-metal spear. [A] biography of the ruler of Northern India of [the] 7th century describes two ascetics, [who] served in the personal guard of the ruler "taking first rows in battle."

Documented history of armed monastic orders started with a description of the battle between Shaiva ascetics and Yogis, which was observed by Akbar I The Great in Thanesar in 1567...

During the traditional celebrations of Kumbh Mela there were mass bloody clashes between various groups of ascetics for the right to perform the rite first.

Medieval Indian poet Kabir wrote as follows:

Oh, brother, never have I seen Yogi like these!...
When did Dattatreya attack his enemies?
When did Sukdeva lay a cannon?
Or Vasudeva wind a horn?
They who fight are of little wisdom;
Shall I call such ascetics or bowmen?

As mercenaries, ascetic soldiers served maharajas, common landowners, and the British too. Almost every Zamindar had a bodyguard detachment of ascetics... In the first half of [the] 20th century, ascetics still guarded the gate of the palace in Udaipur. In general, their role in the military life of India was quite comparable to that of Swiss mercenaries in Europe. Their strict command hierarchy, fortitude, devotion to death to their leaders, combined with excellent combat skills, especially melee, made them a coveted part of any military until the 19th century.

Ascetic and his wife, Tanjavur, 1805

The ascetic with a double-sided dagger made of antelope antlers, 1755.

Gosains in the Maratha camp, Rajasthan, 1809

High-ranking ascetic, 1660, British Library J.16, 2

A Battle between two rival groups of Sannyasis at Thanesar, Painted 1590-1595 @ Victoria and Albert Museum, London

High-ranking ascetic, 16th century

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The fighting ascetics in the Jaipur Army, 1900

Armed Ascetic, 1825

The tongs for fire "chimta". Sometimes it was sharpened and used in melee like a small sword.

The ascetic with a double-sided dagger


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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun May 09, 2021 4:08 am

Abhinav Bharat Society [Nitra Mela]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/29/21

[Helena Blavatsky] is reported to have been with the Italian patriots Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82) and Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72); the latter she apparently met in London in the year 1851. She claimed to have participated with volunteers at Garibaldi’s [1867] battle of Mentana (in an attempt to capture Rome) in the year 1867 (Cranston and Williams, p. 79).

Theosophy (in the early broad sense of teachings about this and the divine worlds) was known in Italy before the formation of the Theosophical Society. The Italian philosopher Antonio Rosmini Serbati (1797-1855), a Catholic priest, wrote a large work in eight volumes with the title Teosofia, published in 1859 after his death, and condemned by the Catholic Church. The first Theosophical Center was established in Milan (1890) by J. Murphy, helped by Alfredo Pioda, who also established the first Theosophical Center in Locarno (Switzerland) and commenced the magazine La Nuova Parola. The first Lodge and lending library was organized in Rome (1897) through the efforts of C. A. Lloyd and Decio Calvari, who was the secretary of the Italian Parliament. This Lodge translated and published several Theosophical books, among which were The Occult World and Esoteric Buddhism by Alfred P. SINNETT. At about the same time, Lodges were established at Genoa and Palermo through the efforts of the British Consul, Macbean Reginald Gambier. Later Isabel COOPER-OAKLEY helped to form Lodges in Florence, Milan, Naples, Rome, and Torino. The Italian Section of the Society was established on February 1, 1902, in the presence of Charles W. LEADBEATER, with Oliviero Boggiani as its first General Secretary. At Trieste, the first Lodge was established in 1908, after a visit by Annie BESANT, but a Theosophical center may have existed earlier and been visited by the famous explorer and British Consul at Trieste Richard Francis Burton (1821-90) who translated The Thousand Nights and a Night (1885-88), popularly known as The Arabian Nights, into English.

-- Theosophy in Italy, by Theosopedia

Abhinav Bharat Society (Young India Society) was a secret society founded by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and his brother Ganesh Damodar Savarkar in 1904.[1] Initially founded at Nasik as "Mitra Mela" when Vinayak Savarkar was still a student of Fergusson College at Pune, the society grew to include several hundred revolutionaries and political activists with branches in various parts of India, extending to London after Savarkar went to study law. It carried out a few assassinations of British officials, after which the Savarkar brothers were convicted and imprisoned. The society was formally disbanded in 1952.[2][3]


Vinayak Savarkar and Ganesh Savarkar started Mitra Mela, a revolutionary secret society in Nasik in 1899. It was one among several such melas (revolutionary societies) functioning in Maharashtra at that time, which believed in the overthrow of British rule through armed rebellion.[4] In 1904, in a meeting attended by 200 members from various towns in Maharashtra, Swantraveer Vinayak Savarkar renamed it Abhinav Bharat, taking after Giuseppe Mazzini's Young Italy.

In 1906, Vinayak Savarkar left to London to study law. In the same year, he compiled a volume called Mazzini Charitra, a translation of the Italian revolutionary Mazzini's writings with a 25-page introduction added.[5] The book was published in Maharashtra in June 1907 and the first edition of 2000 copies is said to have sold out within a month.[6] Mazzini's techniques of secret societies and guerilla warfare were fully embraced by Savarkar. He wrote regular newsletters to his compatriots in India as well as carrying out revolutionary propaganda in London.[7]


Savarkar's revolutionary thoughts led to the assassination of Lt. Col. William Curzon-Wyllie, the political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State for India, by Madanlal Dhingra on the evening of 1 July 1909, at a meeting of Indian students in the Imperial Institute in London. Dhingra was arrested and later tried and executed. A. M. T. Jackson, the district magistrate of Nasik, was assassinated in India by Anant Laxman Kanhare in 1909 in the historic "Nasik Conspiracy Case".[7][8]

The investigation into the Jackson assassination revealed the existence of the Abhinav Bharat Society and the role of the Savarkar brothers in leading it. Vinayak Savarkar was found to have dispatched twenty Browning pistols to India, one of which was used in the Jackson assassination. He was charged in the Jackson murder and sentenced to "transportation" for life. Savarkar was imprisoned in the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands in 1910.[7]


1. Jayapalan 2001, p. 21; Bapu 2013, p. 96
2. Jaffrelot 1996, p. 26
3. Teltumbde 2005, p. 212
4. Bapu 2013, pp. 95-96.
5. Sharma 2006, p. 157.
6. Joglekar 2006, p. 49.
7. Bapu 2013, p. 96.
8. "Nasik Conspiracy Case - 1910". Bombay High Court. Archived from the original on 9 April 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2015.


• Bapu, Prabhu (2013), Hindu Mahasabha in Colonial North India, 1915-1930: Constructing Nation and History, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-67165-1
• Jayapalan, N (2001), History Of India (from National Movement To Present Day), IV, New Delhi, India: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, ISBN 81-7156-928-5
• Jaffrelot, Christofer (1996), The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, ISBN 1-85065-301-1
• Sharma, Jyotirmaya (2006), Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism, Penguin Books India, ISBN 0143099639
• Teltumbde, Anand (2005), "Hindutva Agenda and Dalits", in Ram Puniyani (ed.), Religion, Power and Violence: Expression of Politics in Contemporary Times, SAGE, pp. 208–224, ISBN 0761933387
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun May 09, 2021 4:53 am

Bal Gangadhar Tilak [Keshav Gangadhar Tilak]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/23/21

Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Born: 23 July 1856, Ratnagiri district, Bombay State, British India (present-day Maharashtra, India)[1]
Died: 1 August 1920 (aged 64), Bombay, Bombay State, British India (present-day Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)
Nationality: Indian
Occupation: Author, politician, freedom fighter
Political party: Indian National Congress
Movement Indian Independence movement
Spouse(s): Satyabhamabai Tilak
Children 3[2]

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (or Lokmanya Tilak; 23 July 1856 – 1 August 1920), born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, was an Indian nationalist, teacher, and an independence activist. He was one third of the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate.[3]

Lal Bal Pal (Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Bipin Chandra Pal) were a triumvirate of assertive nationalists in British-ruled India in the early 20th century, from 1906 to 1918. They advocated the Swadeshi movement involving the boycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods in 1907 during the anti-Partition agitation in Bengal which began in 1905. Lala Lajpat Rai had a famous dialogue during Swadeshi movement:

"Soon You will enter to my special room and I'll squeeze you to the last drop"

The final years of the nineteenth century saw a radical sensibility emerge among some Indian intellectuals. This position burst onto the national all-India scene in 1905 with the Swadeshi movement - the term is usually rendered as "self reliance" or "self sufficiency"

Lal-Bal-Pal mobilised Indians across the country against the Bengal partition, and the demonstrations, strikes and boycotts of British goods that began in Bengal soon spread to other regions in a broader protest against the Raj.

The nationalist movement gradually faded with the arrest of its main leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak and retirement of Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh from active politics.[1] While Lala Lajpat Raisuffered from injuries, due to British police superintendent, James A. Scott, ordered the British Indian police to lathi (baton) charge and personally assaulted Rai; he died on 17 November 1928 with a heart attack.[5]

-- Lal Bal Pal, by Wikipedia

Tilak was the first leader of the Indian Independence Movement. The British colonial authorities called him "The father of the Indian unrest." He was also conferred with the title of "Lokmanya", which means "accepted by the people (as their leader)".[4] Mahatma Gandhi called him "The Maker of Modern India".[5]

Today, it will surprise many to know that under British rule, a saint had demanded Swaraj in the year 1876, much before Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was Swami Dayanand. He was the father of India’s Independence movement. If we study the history of India’s independence movement, we could know that most of the leaders, patriots and revolutionaries of that period who sacrificed their lives for freedom, were influenced by the personality and teachings of Swami Dayanand. Among the Indian revolutionaries, Shyamji Krishna Verma, Swami Shraddhanand and Lala Lajpat Rai were his disciples and ardent devotees. Even revolutionary patriots like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Gendalal Dixit, Swami Bhavani Dayal, Bhai Parmanand, Bhagat Singh, Ramprasad Bismil, Yashpal and Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi had imbibed patriotism from the Arya Samaj. Not only this, even Mahatma Gandhi was substantially influenced by Dayanand’s teachings and vision. The remarkable thing is that Mahatma Gandhi’s Guru Gopalakrishna Gokhale and Gokhale’s Guru Justice Govind Ranade were not only the ultimate disciples of Dayanand but also the distinguished office bearers of the Paropakarini Sabha founded by Dayanand.

-- The Saint who Declared Swaraj, by Rajendra Chaddha

Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj ("self-rule") and a strong radical in Indian consciousness. He is known for his quote in Marathi: "Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it!". He formed a close alliance with many Indian National Congress leaders including Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Early life

Tilak's birthplace

Keshav Gangadhar Tilak was born on 23 July 1856 in an Marathi Hindu Chitpavan Brahmin family in Ratnagiri, the headquarters of the Ratnagiri district of present-day Maharashtra (then Bombay Presidency).[1] His ancestral village was Chikhali. His father, Gangadhar Tilak was a school teacher and a Sanskrit scholar who died when Tilak was sixteen. In 1871 Tilak was married to Tapibai (Née Bal) when he was sixteen, a few months before his father's death. After marriage, her name was changed to Satyabhamabai. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in first class in Mathematics from Deccan College of Pune in 1877. He left his M.A. course of study midway to join the LL.B course instead, and in 1879 he obtained his LL.B degree from Government Law College .[6] After graduating, Tilak started teaching mathematics at a private school in Pune. Later, due to ideological differences with the colleagues in the new school, he withdrew and became a journalist. Tilak actively participated in public affairs. He stated: "Religion and practical life are not different. The real spirit is to make the country your family instead of working only for your own. The step beyond is to serve humanity and the next step is to serve God."[7]

Inspired by Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, he co-founded the New English school for secondary education in 1880 with a few of his college friends, including Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi and Vishnushastri Chiplunkar. Their goal was to improve the quality of education for India's youth. The success of the school led them to set up the Deccan Education Society in 1884 to create a new system of education that taught young Indians nationalist ideas through an emphasis on Indian culture.[8] The Society established the Fergusson College in 1885 for post-secondary studies. Tilak taught mathematics at Fergusson College. In 1890, Tilak left the Deccan Education Society for more openly political work.[9] He began a mass movement towards independence by an emphasis on a religious and cultural revival.[10]

Political career

Tilak had a long political career agitating for Indian autonomy from the British rule. Before Gandhi, he was the most widely known Indian political leader. Unlike his fellow Maharashtrian contemporary, Gokhale, Tilak was considered a radical Nationalist but a Social conservative. He was imprisoned on a number of occasions that included a long stint at Mandalay. At one stage in his political life he was called "the father of Indian unrest" by British author Sir Valentine Chirol.[11]

Indian National Congress

Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890.[12] He opposed its moderate attitude, especially towards the fight for self-government. He was one of the most-eminent radicals at the time.[13] In fact, it was the Swadeshi movement of 1905–1907 that resulted in the split within the Indian National Congress into the Moderates and the Extremists.[9]

During late 1896, a bubonic plague spread from Bombay to Pune, and by January 1897, it reached epidemic proportions. British troops were brought in to deal with the emergency and harsh measures were employed including forced entry into private houses, the examination of occupants, evacuation to hospitals and segregation camps, removing and destroying personal possessions, and preventing patients from entering or leaving the city. By the end of May, the epidemic was under control. They were widely regarded as acts of tyranny and oppression. Tilak took up this issue by publishing inflammatory articles in his paper Kesari (Kesari was written in Marathi, and "Maratha" was written in English), quoting the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, to say that no blame could be attached to anyone who killed an oppressor without any thought of reward. Following this, on 22 June 1897, Commissioner Rand and another British officer, Lt. Ayerst were shot and killed by the Chapekar brothers and their other associates. According to Barbara and Thomas R. Metcalf, Tilak "almost surely concealed the identities of the perpetrators".[14] Tilak was charged with incitement to murder and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. When he emerged from prison in present-day Mumbai, he was revered as a martyr and a national hero.[15] He adopted a new slogan coined by his associate Kaka Baptista: "Swaraj (self-rule) is my birthright and I shall have it."[16]

Following the Partition of Bengal, which was a strategy set out by Lord Curzon to weaken the nationalist movement, Tilak encouraged the Swadeshi movement and the Boycott movement.[17] The movement consisted of the boycott of foreign goods and also the social boycott of any Indian who used foreign goods. The Swadeshi movement consisted of the usage of natively produced goods. Once foreign goods were boycotted, there was a gap which had to be filled by the production of those goods in India itself. Tilak said that the Swadeshi and Boycott movements are two sides of the same coin.[18]

Lala Lajpat Rai of Punjab, Bal Gangadhar Tilak (middle) of Maharashtra, and Bipin Chandra Pal of Bengal, the triumvirate were popularly known as Lal Bal Pal, changed the political discourse of the Indian independence movement.

Tilak opposed the moderate views of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and was supported by fellow Indian nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. They were referred to as the "Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate". In 1907, the annual session of the Congress Party was held at Surat, Gujarat. Trouble broke out over the selection of the new president of the Congress between the moderate and the radical sections of the party. The party split into the radicals faction, led by Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai, and the moderate faction. Nationalists like Aurobindo Ghose, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai were Tilak supporters.[13][19]

When asked in Calcutta whether he envisioned a Maratha-type of government for independent India, Tilak answered that the Maratha-dominated governments of 17th and 18th centuries were outmoded in the 20th century, and he wanted a genuine federal system for Free India where everyone was an equal partner.[20] He added that only such a form of government would be able to safeguard India's freedom. He was the first Congress leader to suggest that Hindi written in the Devanagari script be accepted as the sole national language of India.[21]

Sedition Charges

During his lifetime among other political cases, Tilak had been tried for sedition charges in three times by British India Government—in 1897,[22] 1909,[23] and 1916.[24] In 1897, Tilak was sentenced to 18 months in prison for preaching disaffection against the Raj. In 1909, he was again charged with sedition and intensifying racial animosity between Indians and the British. The Bombay lawyer Muhammad Ali Jinnah appeared in Tilak's defence but he was sentenced to six years in prison in Burma in a controversial judgement.[25] In 1916 when for the third time Tilak was charged for sedition over his lectures on self-rule, Jinnah again was his lawyer and this time led him to acquittal in the case.[26][27]

Imprisonment in Mandalay

See also: Alipore bomb case

On 30 April 1908, two Bengali youths, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, threw a bomb on a carriage at Muzzafarpur, to kill the Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford of Calcutta fame, but erroneously killed two women traveling in it. While Chaki committed suicide when caught, Bose was hanged. Tilak, in his paper Kesari, defended the revolutionaries and called for immediate Swaraj or self-rule. The Government swiftly charged him with sedition. At the conclusion of the trial, a special jury convicted him by 7:2 majority. The judge, Dinshaw D. Davar gave him a six years jail sentence to be served in Mandalay, Burma and a fine of ₹1,000 (US$14).[28] On being asked by the judge whether he had anything to say, Tilak said:

All that I wish to say is that, in spite of the verdict of the jury, I still maintain that I am innocent. There are higher powers that rule the destinies of men and nations; and I think, it may be the will of Providence that the cause I represent may be benefited more by my suffering than by my pen and tongue.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah was his lawyer in the case.[27] Justice Davar's judgement came under stern criticism in press and was seen against impartiality of British justice system. Justice Davar himself previously had appeared for Tilak in his first sedition case in 1897.[25] In passing sentence, the judge indulged in some scathing strictures against Tilak's conduct. He threw off the judicial restraint which, to some extent, was observable in his charge to the jury. He condemned the articles as "seething with sedition", as preaching violence, speaking of murders with approval. "You hail the advent of the bomb in India as if something had come to India for its good. I say, such journalism is a curse to the country". Tilak was sent to Mandalay from 1908 to 1914.[29] While imprisoned, he continued to read and write, further developing his ideas on the Indian nationalist movement. While in the prison he wrote the Gita Rahasya.[30] Many copies of which were sold, and the money was donated for the Indian Independence movement.[31]

Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya, popularly also known as Gita Rahasya or Karmayog Shashtra, is a 1915 Marathi language book authored by Indian social reformer and independence activist Bal Gangadhar Tilak while he was in prison at Mandalay, Burma. It is the analysis of Karma yoga which finds its source in the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred book for Hindus. According to him, the real message behind the Bhagavad Gita is Nishkam Karmayoga (selfless action), rather than Karma Sanyasa (renouncing of actions), which had become the popular message of Gita after Adi Shankara. He took the Mimamsa rule of interpretation as the basis of building up his thesis.

This book consists of two parts. The first part is the philosophical exposition and the second part consists of the Gita, its translation and the commentary.

The book was written by Tilak in pencil with his own handwriting while being imprisoned at the Mandalay jail from 1908 to 1914. The more-than-400 pages of script was written in less than four months and is hence in itself considered as "remarkable achievement". Although the writing was completed in the early years of his term, the book was only published in 1915, when he returned to Poona. He defended the ethical obligation to the active principle or action, as long the action was selfless and without personal interest or motive.

In a speech on his, Gita Rahasya Tilak said "Various commentators have put as many interpretations on the book, and surely the writer or composer could not have written or composed the book for so many interpretations being put on it. He must have but one meaning and one purpose running through the book, and that I have tried to find out". He finds the message of the subservience of all yogas to Karmayoga or the yoga of action rather than the yoga of sole knowledge (jnanayoga) or of devotion (bhaktiyoga).

-- Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya, by Wikipedia

Life after Mandalay

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Tilak developed diabetes during his sentence in Mandalay prison. This and the general ordeal of prison life had mellowed him at his release on 16 June 1914. When World War I started in August of that year, Tilak cabled the King-Emperor George V of his support and turned his oratory to find new recruits for war efforts. He welcomed The Indian Councils Act, popularly known as Minto-Morley Reforms, which had been passed by British Parliament in May 1909, terming it as "a marked increase of confidence between the Rulers and the Ruled". It was his conviction that acts of violence actually diminished, rather than hastening, the pace of political reforms. He was eager for reconciliation with Congress and had abandoned his demand for direct action and settled for agitations "strictly by constitutional means" – a line that had long been advocated by his rival Gokhale.[32] Tilak reunited with his fellow nationalists and rejoined the Indian National Congress during the Lucknow pact 1916.[33]

Tilak tried to convince Mohandas Gandhi to leave the idea of Total non-violence ("Total Ahimsa") and try to get self-rule ("Swarajya") by all means.
Though Gandhi did not entirely concur with Tilak on the means to achieve self-rule and was steadfast in his advocacy of satyagraha, he appreciated Tilak's services to the country and his courage of conviction. After Tilak lost a civil suit against Valentine Chirol and incurred pecuniary loss, Gandhi even called upon Indians to contribute to the Tilak Purse Fund started with the objective of defraying the expenses incurred by Tilak.[34]

All India Home Rule League

Main article: All India Home Rule League

Tilak helped found the All India Home Rule League [Indian Home Rule Movement] in 1916–18, with G. S. Khaparde and Annie Besant. After years of trying to reunite the moderate and radical factions, he gave up and focused on the Home Rule League, which sought self-rule. Tilak travelled from village to village for support from farmers and locals to join the movement towards self-rule.[29] Tilak was impressed by the Russian Revolution, and expressed his admiration for Vladimir Lenin.[35] The league had 1400 members in April 1916, and by 1917 membership had grown to approximately 32,000. Tilak started his Home Rule League in Maharashtra, Central Provinces, and Karnataka and Berar region. Besant's League was active in the rest part of India.[36]

Thoughts and views

Religio-Political Views

Tilak sought to unite the Indian population for mass political action throughout his life. For this to happen, he believed there needed to be a comprehensive justification for anti-British pro-Hindu activism. For this end, he sought justification in the supposed original principles of the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita. He named this call to activism karma-yoga or the yoga of action.[37] In his interpretation, the Bhagavad Gita reveals this principle in the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna when Krishna exhorts Arjuna to fight his enemies (which in this case included many members of his family) because it is his duty. In Tilaks opinion, the Bhagavad Gita provided a strong justification of activism. However, this conflicted with the mainstream exegesis of the text at the time which was predominated by renunciate views and the idea of acts purely for God. This was represented by the two mainstream views at the time by Ramanuja and Adi Shankara. To find support for this philosophy, Tilak wrote his own interpretations of the relevant passages of the Gita and backed his views using Jnanadeva's commentary on the Gita, Ramanuja's critical commentary and his own translation of the Gita.[38] His main battle was against the renunciate views of the time which conflicted with worldly activism. To fight this, he went to extents to reinterpret words such as karma, dharma, yoga as well as the concept of renunciation itself. Because he found his rationalization on Hindu religious symbols and lines, he alienated many non-Hindus such as the Muslims who began to ally with the British for support.

Social views against women

Tilak was strongly opposed to liberal trends emerging in Pune such as women's rights and social reforms against untouchability.[39][40][41] Tilak vehemently opposed the establishment of the first Native girls High school (now called Huzurpaga) in Pune in 1885 and its curriculum using his newspapers, the Mahratta and Kesari.[40][42][43] Tilak was also opposed to intercaste marriage, particularly the match where an upper caste woman married a lower caste man.[43] In the case of Deshasthas, Chitpawans and Karhades, he encouraged these three Maharashtrian Brahmin groups to give up "caste exclusiveness" and intermarry.[a] Tilak officially opposed the age of consent bill which raised the age of marriage from ten to twelve for girls, however he was willing to sign a circular that increased age of marriage for girls to sixteen and twenty for boys. He fully supported social reforms but in his opinion self-rule took precedence over any social reform.[45][46] On the whole Tilak was not against social reforms. Though he was against the age of consent bill, he arranged his daughter's marriage at the age of fifteen. He also advocated widow marriages. He also congratulated Dhondo Keshav Karve when he married a widow after the death of their first wife. He was in the favour of social reforms but without the interference of British Government.[46]

Child bride Rukhmabai was married at the age of eleven but refused to go and live with her husband. The husband sued for restitution of conjugal rights, initially lost but appealed the decision. On 4 March 1887, Justice Farran, using interpretations of Hindu laws, ordered Rukhmabai to "go live with her husband or face six months of imprisonment". Tilak approved of this decision of the court and said that the court was following Hindu Dharmaśāstras. Rukhmabai responded that she would rather face imprisonment than obey the verdict. Her marriage was later dissolved by Queen Victoria. Later, she went on to receive her Doctor of Medicine degree from the London School of Medicine for Women.[47][48][49][50]

In 1890, when an eleven-year-old Phulamani Bai died while having sexual intercourse with her much older husband, the Parsi social reformer Behramji Malabari supported the Age of Consent Act, 1891 to raise the age of a girl's eligibility for marriage. Tilak opposed the Bill and said that the Parsis as well as the English had no jurisdiction over the (Hindu) religious matters. He blamed the girl for having "defective female organs" and questioned how the husband could be "persecuted diabolically for doing a harmless act". He called the girl one of those "dangerous freaks of nature".[41] Tilak did not have a progressive view when it came to gender relations. He did not believe that Hindu women should get a modern education. Rather, he had a more conservative view, believing that women were meant to be homemakers who had to subordinate themselves to the needs of their husbands and children.[9] Tilak refused to sign a petition for the abolition of untouchability in 1918, two years before his death, although he had spoken against it earlier in a meeting.[39]

Esteem for Swami Vivekananda

Tilak and Swami Vivekananda had great mutual respect and esteem for each other. They met accidentally while travelling by train in 1892 and Tilak had Vivekananda as a guest in his house. A person who was present there (Basukaka), heard that it was agreed between Vivekananda and Tilak that Tilak would work towards nationalism in the "political" arena, while Vivekananda would work for nationalism in the "religious" arena. When Vivekananda died at a young age, Tilak expressed great sorrow and paid tributes to him in the Kesari.[ b][c][d][e] Tilak said about Vivekananda:

"No Hindu, who, has the interests of Hinduism at his heart, could help feeling grieved over Vivekananda's samadhi. Vivekananda, in short, had taken the work of keeping the banner of Advaita philosophy forever flying among all the nations of the world and made them realize the true greatness of Hindu religion and of the Hindu people. He had hoped that he would crown his achievement with the fulfillment of this task by virtue of his learning, eloquence, enthusiasm and sincerity, just as he had laid a secure foundation for it; but with Swami's samadhi, these hopes have gone. Thousands of years ago, another saint, Shankaracharya, who, showed to the world the glory and greatness of Hinduism. At the fag of the 19th century, the second Shankaracharya is Vivekananda, who, showed to the world the glory of Hinduism. His work has yet to be completed. We have lost our glory, our independence, everything."[f]

Conflicts with Shahu over caste issues

Shahu, the ruler of the princely state of Kolhapur, had several conflicts with Tilak as the latter agreed with the Brahmins decision of Puranic rituals for the Marathas that were intended for Shudras. Tilak even suggested that the Marathas should be "content" with the Shudra status [the lowest ranked of the four varnas of the Hindu caste system and social order in India.] assigned to them by the Brahmins.

Group Photograph of a Maratha family in the late 19th century

The Maratha caste are a Marathi clan originally formed in the earlier centuries from the amalgamation of families from the peasant (Kunbi), shepherd (Dhangar), pastoral (Gawli), blacksmith (Lohar), Sutar (carpenter), Bhandari, Thakar and Koli castes in Maharashtra. Many of them took to military service in the 16th century for the Deccan sultanates or the Mughals. Later in the 17th and 18th centuries, they served in the armies of the Maratha empire, founded by Shivaji, a Maratha by caste. Many Marathas were granted hereditary fiefs by the Sultanates, and Moghuls and for their service.

According to the Maharashtrian historian B. R. Sunthankar, and scholars such as Rajendra Vora, the "Marathas" are a "middle-peasantry" caste which formed the bulk of the Maharashtrian society together with the other Kunbi peasant caste. Vora adds that the Maratha caste is the largest caste of India and dominate the power structure in Maharashtra because of their numerical strength, especially in the rural society.

According to Jeremy Black, British historian at the University of Exeter, "Maratha caste is a coalescence of peasants, shepherds, ironworkers, etc. as a result of serving in the military in the 17th and 18th century". They are dominant in rural areas and mainly constitute the landed peasantry. As of 2018, 80% of the members of the Maratha caste were farmers.

Marathas are subdivided into 96 different clans, known as the 96 Kuli Marathas or Shahānnau Kule. The general body of lists are often at great variance with each other.

The Maratha king Shivaji founded the Maratha empire that included warriors and other notables from Maratha and several other castes from Maharashtra. This empire was the dominant in India for much of 18th century.

-- Maratha (caste), by Wikipedia

Tilak's newspapers, as well as the press in Kolhapur, criticized Shahu for his caste prejudice and his unreasoned hostility towards Brahmins. These included serious allegations such as sexual assaults by Shahu against four Brahmin women. An English woman named Lady Minto was petitioned to help them. The agent of Shahu had blamed these allegations on the "troublesome brahmins". Tilak and another Brahmin suffered from the confiscation of estates by Shahu, the first during a quarrel between Shahu and the Shankaracharya of Sankareshwar and later in another issue.[g][h]

Social contributions

Further information: Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav and Kesari (newspaper)

Statue of Tilak near Supreme Court of Delhi

Tilak started two weeklies, Kesari ("The Lion") in Marathi and Mahratta in English (sometimes referred as 'Maratha' in Academic Study Books) in 1880–81 with Gopal Ganesh Agarkar as the first editor.[58] By this he was recognized as 'awakener of India', as Kesari later became a daily and continues publication to this day. In 1894, Tilak transformed the household worshipping of Ganesha into a grand public event (Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav). The celebrations consisted of several days of processions, music, and food. They were organized by the means of subscriptions by neighbourhood, caste, or occupation. Students often would celebrate Hindu and national glory and address political issues; including patronage of Swadeshi goods.[59] In 1895, Tilak founded the Shri Shivaji Fund Committee for the celebration of "Shiv Jayanti", the birth anniversary of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire. The project also had the objective of funding the reconstruction of the tomb (Samadhi) of Shivaji at Raigad Fort. For this second objective, Tilak established the Shri Shivaji Raigad Smarak Mandal along with Senapati Khanderao Dabhade II of Talegaon Dabhade, who became the founder President of the Mandal.

The events like the Ganapati festival and Shiv Jayanti were used by Tilak to build a national spirit beyond the circle of the educated elite in opposition to colonial rule. But it also exacerbated Hindu-Muslim differences. The festival organizers would urge Hindus to protect cows and boycott the Muharram celebrations organized by Shi'a Muslims, in which Hindus had formerly often participated. Thus, although the celebrations were meant to be a way to oppose colonial rule, they also contributed to religious tensions.[59] Contemporary Marathi Hindu nationalist parties like the Shiv Sena took up his reverence for Shivaji.[60] However, Indian Historian, Uma Chakravarti cites Professor Gordon Johnson and states "It is significant that even at the time when Tilak was making political use of Shivaji the question of conceding Kshatriya status to him as Maratha was resisted by the conservative Brahmins including Tilak. While Shivaji was a Brave man, all his bravery, it was argued, did not give him the right to a status that very nearly approached that of a Brahmin. Further, the fact that Shivaji worshiped the Brahmanas in no way altered social relations, 'since it was as a Shudra he did it – as a Shudra the servant, if not the slave, of the Brahmin'".[61]

The Deccan Education Society that Tilak founded with others in the 1880s still runs Institutions in Pune like the Fergusson College.

The Deccan Education Society is an organisation that runs 43 education establishments in Maharashtra, India. Its main branch is situated in Pune.

In 1880 Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Ganesh Agarkar established the New English School, one of the first native-run schools offering Western education in Pune. In 1884 they created the Deccan Education Society with Hon. Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Mahadev Ballal Namjoshi, V. S. Apte, V. B. Kelkar, M. S. Gole and N. K. Dharap

In 1885, the society established Fergusson College, named after the then Governor of Bombay presidency Sir James Fergusson. The college was initially operated out of Gadre Wada in Shaniwar peth area of Pune. At its inception, the college was the first indigenously run higher-education institution in Pune.
In its early years Tilak and Agharkar served as academic staff. Congress party leader, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and social reformer, Dhondo Keshav Karve were also life members of the society and taught at the college in the 1890s.

The society established many schools and colleges in Pune and other towns during following decades such as New English School of Satara in 1899. The society took over the Mawjee Madhavjee English School in Umbergaon in 1919, and the Dravid High School of Wai in 1934. In 1919, the society opened the Willingdon College in Sangli in order to satisfy demand for higher education in southern Maharashtra region. In 1939, the Society deceded to enter the field of secondary education for girls by starting the Ahilyadevi High School for Girls in the historic premises of the Holkar Wada in Pune. In 1943, the society started the Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce, for which the Brihan Maharashtra Sugar Syndicate Ltd. gave to the Society a donation of Rs. 2,00,000. Rulers of many Princely states such as Bhor and Sangli were patrons of the society.

-- Deccan Education Society, by Wikipedia

The Swadeshi movement started by Tilak at the beginning of the 20th century became part of the Independence movement until that goal was achieved in 1947. One can even say Swadeshi remained part of Indian Government policy until the 1990s when the Congress Government liberalised the economy.[62] Tilak said, "I regard India as my Motherland and my Goddess, the people in India are my kith and kin, and loyal and steadfast work for their political and social emancipation is my highest religion and duty".[63]


In 1903, Tilak wrote the book "The Arctic Home in the Vedas". In it, he argued that the Vedas could only have been composed in the Arctics, and the Aryan bards brought them south after the onset of the last ice age. He proposed a new way to determine the exact time of the Vedas.

In "The Orion", he tried to calculate the time of the Vedas by using the position of different Nakshatras.[64] The positions of the Nakshtras were described in different Vedas. Tilak wrote "Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya" in prison at Mandalay – the analysis of 'Karma Yoga' in the Bhagavad Gita, which is known to be a gift of the Vedas and the Upanishads.


Tilak's son, Shridhar campaigned for removal of untouchability in late 1920s with dalit leader, Dr. Ambedkar.[65] Both were leaders of the multi-caste Samata sangh.[66][67] Shridhar's son, Jayantrao Tilak (1921–2001) was editor of the Kesari newspaper for many years. Jayantrao was also a politician from the Congress party. He was a member of the Parliament of India representing Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament. He was also a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.[68]

Rohit Tilak, a descendant of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, is a Pune-based Congress party politician.[69] In 2017, a woman with whom he had an extra-marital affair accused him of rape and other crimes. He is currently out on bail in connection with these charges.[70][71]


On 28 July 1956, a portrait of B. G. Tilak is put in the Central Hall of Parliament House. The portrait of Tilak, painted by Gopal Deuskar, was unveiled by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.[72][73]

Tilak Smarak Ranga Mandir, a theatre auditorium in Pune is dedicated to him. In 2007, the Government of India released a coin to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Tilak.[74][75] The formal approval of the government of Burma was received for the construction of clafs-cum-lecture hall in the Mandalay prison as a memorial to Lokmanya Tilak. ₹35,000 (US$490) were given by the Indian Government and ₹7,500 (US$110) by the local Indian community in Burma.[76]

Several Indian films have been made on his life, including: the documentary films Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1951) and Lokmanya Tilak (1957) both by Vishram Bedekar, Lokmanya: Ek Yugpurush (2015) by Om Raut, and The Great Freedom Fighter Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak - Swaraj My Birthright (2018) by Vinay Dhumale.[77][78][79]


1. As early as 1881, in a few articles Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the resolute thinker and the enfant terrible of Indian politics, wrote comprehensive discourses on the need for united front by the Chitpavans, Deshasthas and the Karhades. Invoking the urgent necessity of this remarkable Brahmans combination, Tilak urged sincerely that these three groups of Brahmans should give up caste exclusiveness by encouraging inter sub-caste marriages and community dining."[44]
2. THE RELATIONS OF TILAK AND VIVEKANANDA The personal relations between Tilak and Swami Vivekananda (1863– 1902) were marked by great mutual regards and esteem. In 1892, Tilak was returning from Bombay to Poona and had occupied a seat in a second-class railway compartment. Some Gujaratis accompanied Swami Vivekananda who also came and sat in the same compartment. The Gujarati introduced the Swami to Tilak and requested the Swami to stay with the latter.[51]
3. 93. Among the Congressmen there was one exception and that was Bal Gangadhar Tilak, whose patriotism was marked by 'sacrifice, scholastic fervour and militancy.'94 Tilak a great scholar, was also a fearless patriot, who wanted to meet the challenge of British imperialism with passive resistance and boycott of British goods. This programme came to the forefront in 1905-7, some years after the death of Swami Vivekananda. It would be useless to speculate what Swamiji would have ...[52]
4. Here it will not be out of place to refer to Tilak's views of Swami Vivekananda whom he did not know intimately; but Swamiji's dynamic personality and powerful exposition of the Vedantic doctrine, could not fail to impress Tilak. When Swamiji's great soul sought eternal rest on 4 July 1902, Tilak, paying his tributes to him, wrote in his Kesari: "No Hindu who has the interest of Hinduism at his heart, can help feeling grieved over Swami Vivekananda's Samadhi"[53]
5. According to Basukaka, when Swamiji was living in Tilak's house as the latter's guest, Basukaka, who was present there, heard that it was agreed between Vivekananda and Tilak that Tilak would work for nationalism in the political field, while Vivekananda would work for nationalism in the religious field. Tilak and Vivekananda Now let us see what Tilak had himself to say about the meeting he had with Swamiji. Writing in the Vedanta Kesari (January •934), Tilak recalled the meeting.[54]
6. ... Vivekanand was another powerful influence in turning the thoughts of Tilak from western to eastern philosophy. No Hindu, he says, who, has the interests of Hinduism at his heart, could help to feel grieved over Vivekananda's samadhi. ...Vivekananda, in short, had taken the work of keeping the banner of Advaita philosophy forever flying among all the nations of the world and made them realize the true greatness of Hindu religion and of the Hindu people. He had hoped that he would crown his achievement with the fulfillment of this task by virtue of his learning, eloquence, enthusiasm, and sincerity, just as he had laid a secure foundation for it; but with Swami's samadhi, these hopes have gone. Thousands of years ago, another saint, Shankaracharya, showed to the world the glory and greatness of Hinduism. At the fag of the 19th century, the second Shankaracharya is Vivekananda, who, showed to the world the glory of Hinduism. His work has yet to be completed. We have lost our glory, our independence, everything.[55]
7. This connection with the British has tended to obscure an equally important significance in Shahu's exchanges with Tilak, especially in the dispute over the Vedokta, the right of Shahu's family and of other Marathas to use the Vedic rituals of the twice-born Kshatriya, rather than the puranic rituals and shudra status with which Tilak and conservative Brahman opinion held that the Marathas should be content.[56]
8. The anti-durbar pressin kolhapur aligned itself with Tilak's newspapers and reproved Shahu for his caste prejudice and his unreasoned hostility towards Brahmins. To the Bombay government, and to the Vicereine herself, the Brahmins in Kolhapur presented themselves as the victims of a ruthless persecution by the Maharaja. .....Both Natu and Tilak suffered from the durbar's confiscation of estates – first during the confiscation of estates in Kolhapur – the first during a quarrel between Shahu and the Shankaracharya of Sankareshwar. S ee, for example, Samarth, 8 August 1906, quoted in I. Copland, 'The Maharaja of Kolhapur', in Modern Asian studies, vol II, no 2(April 1973), 218. In 1906, the 'poor helpless women' of Kolhapur petitioned Lady Minto alleging that four Brahmin ladies had been forcibly seduced by the Maharaja and that the Political Agent had refused to act in the matter. Broadsheets were distributed maintaining 'no beautiful woman is immune from the violence of the Maharaja...and the Brahmins being special objects of hatred no Brahmin women can hope to escape this shameful fate'...But the agent blamed everything on the troublesome brahmins.[57]



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• Bhagwat, A.K.; Pradhan, G.P. (2015), Lokmanya Tilak – A Biography, Jaico Publishing House, ISBN 978-81-7992-846-2
• Bhuyan, P. R. (2003), Swami Vivekananda: Messiah of Resurgent India, ISBN 978-81-269-0234-7
• Brown, Donald Mackenzie (1970), The Nationalist Movement: Indian Political Thought from Ranade to Bhave, University of California Press, ISBN 9780520001831
• Cashman, Richard I. (1975), The myth of the Lokamanya : Tilak and mass politics in Maharashtra, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520024076
• Chakravarti, Uma (2013), Rewriting History: The Life and Times of Pandita Ramabai, Zubaan Books, ISBN 9789383074631
• Chandra, Sudhir (1996), "Rukhmabai: Debate over Woman's Right to Her Person", Economic and Political Weekly, 31 (44): 2937–2947, JSTOR 4404742
• Chaturvedi, R. P., Great Personalities, Upkar Prakashan
• Davis, Richard H. (2015), The Bhagavad Gita: A Biography, Princeton University Press, ISBN 9781400851973
• Edwardes, Michael (1961), A History of India, New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy
• Figueira, Dorothy M. (2002), Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority through Myths of Identity, State University of New York Press, ISBN 9780791455326
• Forbes, Geraldine Hancock (1999), Women in Modern India, 2, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521653770
• Gellner, David (2009), Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia, SAGE, ISBN 9789352802524
• Gokhale, Sandhya (2008), The Chitpavans: social ascendancy of a creative minority in Maharashtra, 1818–1918, Shubhi Publications, ISBN 978-81-8290-132-2
• Guha, Ramachandra (2011), Makers of Modern India, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
• Harvey, Mark (1986), "Secular as Sacred? – The Religio-Political Rationalization of B.G. Tilak", Modern Asian Studies, 20 (2): 321–331, doi:10.1017/s0026749x00000858, JSTOR 312578
• Inamdar, N. R. (1983), Political Thought and Leadership of Lokmanya Tilak, Concept Publishing Company
• Jaffrelot, Christophe (2005), Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability: Fighting the Indian Caste System, Columbia University Press, ISBN 9780231136020
• Jayapalan, N (2003), "8:Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920)", Indian Political Thinkers:Modern Indian Political Thought, Atlantic Publishers and Distributers, ISBN 81-7156-929-3
• Johnson, Gordon (2005), Provincial Politics and Indian Nationalism: Bombay and the Indian National Congress 1880–1915, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-61965-3
• Karve, D. D. (1961), "The Deccan Education Society", The Journal of Asian Studies, 20 (2): 205–212, doi:10.2307/2050484, JSTOR 2050484
• Lahiri, Shompa (2000), Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880–1930, ISBN 9780714649863
• Metcalf, Barbara D.; Metcalf, Thomas R. (2006), A Concise History of India(2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521682251
• Omvedt, Gail (1974), "Non-Brahmans and Nationalists in Poona", Economic and Political Weekly, 9 (6/8): 201–216, JSTOR 4363419
• Popplewell, Richard James (2018), Intelligence and Imperial Defence: British Intelligence and the Defence of the Indian Empire 1904-1924, Routledge, ISBN 9781135239336
• Rao, Anupama (2009), The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-25761-0
• Rao, M. V. S. Koteswara (2003), Communist parties and United Front experience in Kerala and West Bengal, Prajasakti Book House, ISBN 978-81-86317-37-2
• Rao, P.V. (2007), "Women's Education and the Nationalist Response in Western India: Part I-Basic Education", Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 14 (2), doi:10.1177/097152150701400206, S2CID 197651677
• Rao, P.V. (2008), "Women's Education and the Nationalist Response in Western India: Part II–Higher Education", Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 15 (1), doi:10.1177/097152150701500108, S2CID 143961063
• Rappaport, Helen (2003), Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 9781851093557
• Robert, Minor (1986), Modern Indian Interpreters of the Bhagavad Gita, State University of NY press, ISBN 0-88706-298-9
• Shepperdson, Mike; Simmons, Colin (1988), The Indian National Congress Party and Political Economy in India, 1885–1985, ISBN 9780566050763
• Singh, Vipu; Dhillon, Jasmine; Shanmugavel, Gita; Basu, Sucharita (2011), History And Civics, Pearson Education, ISBN 9788131763186
• Tahmankar, D. V. (1956), Lokamany Tilak: Father of Indian Unrest and Maker of Modern India (1st ed.), John Murray
• Tarique, Mohammad (2008), Modern Indian History, Tata McGraw-Hill Education, ISBN 978-0-07-066030-4
• Tilak, Bal Gangadhar (1988), Embree, Ainslie Thomas (ed.), Encyclopedia of Asian History, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons and Macmillan Publishing Company, ISBN 9780684186191
• Tilak, Bal Gangadhar (1893), Orion, or Researches into the Antiquities of the Vedas
• Varma, Vishwanath Prasad; Agarwa, Lakshmi Narain (1978), The Life and Philosophy of Lokamanya Tilak: With Excerpts from Original Sources
• Vohra, Ranbir (1997), The Making of India: A Historical Survey (Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, Inc)
• Wolpert, Stanley A. (1962), Tilak and Gokhale: revolution and reform in the making of modern India

External links

• Media from Wikimedia Commons
• Quotations from Wikiquote
• Texts from Wikisource
• Data from Wikidata
• "Tilak, Bal Gangadhar" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). 1922.
• Newspaper clippings about Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sun May 09, 2021 7:37 am

Young Italy
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/9/21

Giovine Italia
Formation: July 1831
Type: Conspiratorial organization
Purpose: Italian unification
Key people: Giuseppe Mazzini

Young Italy (Italian: La Giovine Italia) was a political movement for Italian youth (under age 40) founded in 1831 by Giuseppe Mazzini. After a few months of leaving Italy, in June 1831, Mazzini wrote a letter to King Charles Albert of Sardinia, in which he asked him to unite Italy and lead the nation. A month later, convinced that his demands did not reach the king, he founded the movement in Marseille. It would then spread out to other nations across Europe.[1] The movement's goal was to create a united Italian republic through promoting a general insurrection in the Italian reactionary states and in the lands occupied by the Austrian Empire. Mazzini's belief was that a popular uprising would create a unified Italy.[2] The slogan that defined the movement's aim was "Union, Strength, and Liberty". The phrase could be found in the tricolor Italian flag, which represented the country's unity.[3]


The Giovine Italia was founded in France, in July 1831 when Mazzini was in exile. Its members adopted nicknames taken from figures of the Italian Middle Ages. Every member of the brotherhood had to recite an Oath, where they would pledge to make Italy a united, free, independent, republican nation, where every man would be considered equal.[4] The movement garnered about 60,000 members around 1833.[5] On that same year, many of the members who were plotting a revolt in Savoy and Piedmont were arrested and executed by the Sardinian police. In Austria, having links with the movement was seen as treason. The crime was punishable by death.[6]

After another failed Mazzinian revolt in Piedmont and Savoy of the February 1834, the movement disappeared for some time, reappearing in 1838 in England. Further insurrections in Sicily, Abruzzi, Tuscany, Lombardy-Venetia, Romagna (1841 and 1845), Bologna (1843) failed. Also short-lived was the Roman Republic of 1848–49, which was crushed by a French Army called in to help by Pope Pius IX. That Pope was initially hailed by Mazzini as the most likely paladin of a liberal unification of Italy, but he turned into the leader of the reactionaries.

Similar movements were set up around Europe by Mazzini himself. La Giovine Italia became affiliated with the movement Giovine Europa (created in 1835), an internationally oriented association, together with similar movements such as Junges Deutschland, Młoda Polska, Young Turks and Giovine Svizzera. It also inspired Mlada Bosna, early-20th-century Serbian revolutionary movement in occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina.[7]

Mazzini's movement was basically evicted after a last failed revolt against Austria in Milan in 1853, crushing hopes of a democratic Italy in favor of the Piedmontese monarchy. It achieved national unification in 1860 under the leadership of Count Cavour.

The most famous member of Young Italy was Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807–1882). He joined the movement around 1833, after meeting Mazzini through social and political reforms back in Geneva. Additionally, he was part of a failed revolt led by Mazzini in Piedmont. As a consequence, he was sentenced to death. After learning his fate, Garibaldi fled to Marseilles.[8]

Later on, similar nationalist movements for youth appeared in Europe's colonies in various Asian and African countries from the mid 19th century to the period of decolonization in the late 20th century.[9]

See also

• Carbonari
• Unification of Italy
• Vincenzo Gioberti
• Giuseppe Garibaldi
• Attilio and Emilio Bandiera
• Carlo Pisacane
• Francesco Bentivegna
• Raffaello Carboni
• Young America Movement


1. Fabiani, Ulisse. "La Scuola per i 150 anni dell'Unità d'Italia – I movimenti, i valori, i libri". (in Italian). Retrieved 2018-12-06.
2. Enrico Dal Lago (2013). William Lloyd Garrison and Giuseppe Mazzini: Abolition, Democracy, and Radical Reform. LSU Press. pp. 57–63. ISBN 9780807152072.
3. "Italy 1848 – italian revolutionary developments". Retrieved 2018-12-06.
4. Mazzini, Giuseppe (1872). Joseph Mazzini: his life, writings, and political principles. New York: Hurd and Houghton. pp. 71–74. hdl:2027/hvd.32044082219429.
5. "Giuseppe Mazzini. Italian revolutionary". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
6. "Giuseppe Mazzini biography : Young Italy Risorgimento". Retrieved 2018-12-06.
7. Yonatan Eyal (2007). The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party, 1828–1861. Cambridge UP. p. 94. ISBN 9781139466691.
8. "Giuseppe Garibaldi". Retrieved 2018-12-06.
9. Fabrizio De Donno and Neelam Srivastava. "Colonial and Postcolonial Italy". Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies (2006) 8#3: 371–379.

Further reading

• Denis Mack Smith (2008). Mazzini. Yale UP. p. passim. ISBN 978-0300177121.

External links

• "Young Italy" . New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Mon May 10, 2021 10:37 am

Vedic priesthood [Hotar]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/10/21

1. Come, Agni, praised with song, to feast and sacrificial offering: sit
As Hotar on the holy grass!
2. O Agni, thou hast been ordained Hotar of every sacrifice,
By Gods, among the race of men.
3. Agni we choose as envoy, skilled performer of this holy rite,
Hotar, possessor of all wealth...
10. To him, who dealeth out all wealth, the sweet-toned Hotar-priest of men,
To him like the first vessels filled with savoury juice, to Agni let the lauds go forth....
7. Thou, Agni, art the homestead's Lord, our Hotar-priest at sacrifice.
Lord of all boons, thou art the Hotar, passing wise. Pay worship, and enjoy the good!...
1. Present oblations, make him splendid: set ye as Hotar in his place the Home's Lord, worshipped
With gifts and homage where they pour libations! Honour him meet for reverence in our houses....
2. To Agni, to the Hotar-priest offer your best, your lofty speech,
To him ordainer-like who bears the light of songs...
4. Anger not him who is our guest! He is the bright God Agni, praised by many a man,
God Hotar, skilled in sacrifice.
2. With offerings of our own we choose thee, Agni, as our Hotar priest,
Piercing and brightly shining-at your glad carouse-served with trimmed grass at sacrifice. Thou waxest great....
9. Agni I deem our Hotar-priest, munificent wealth-giver, Son of Strength, who, knoweth all that is, even as the Sage who, knoweth all...
4. Made pure by this man's urgent zeal and impulse, the God hath with his juice the Gods pervaded.
Pressed, singing, to the sieve he goes, as passes the Hotar to enclosures holding cattle....
1. Come, Agni, praised with song to feast and sacrificial offerings: sit
As Hotar on the holy grass!...
1. Agni we choose as envoy, skilled performer of this holy rite,
Hotar, possessor of all wealth....
3. Bring the Gods hither, Agni, born for him who trims the Sacred grass:
Thou art our Hotar, meet for praise!...
3. Agni, the Hotar-priest who fills the assembly full, waker of wisdom, chief controller of the thought--
Thee, yea, none other than thyself, doth man elect priest of the holy offering, great and small, alike...
1. Agni, well kindled bring the Gods for him who offers holy gifts;
And worship them, pure Hotar-priest!...
1. Made pure by this man's urgent zeal and impulse, the God hath with his juice the Gods pervaded.
Pressed, singing, to the sieve he goes, as passes the Hotar to enclosures holding cattle...
2. May Agni who is Hotar-priest among mankind accept our songs,
And worship the celestial folk!...
1. O Agni, thou hast been ordained Hotar of every sacrifice, By Gods, among the race of men.
So with sweet-sounding tongues for us sacrifice nobly in this rite:
Bring thou the Gods and worship them...
1. Immortal, Hotar-priest, and God, with wondrous power he leads the way,
Urging the congregations on....
2. The Gods made him the Hotar-priest of sacrifice, oblation-bearer, passing wise.
Agni gives wealth and valour to the worshipper, to man who offers up his gifts....

3. I pray to Agni -- may he hear! -- the Hotar with sweet tones, the Priest,
Wondrously splendid, rich in light...
1. Agni, come hither with thy fires; we choose thee as our Hotar; let
The proffered ladle filled with offerings balm thee, best of priests, to sit on sacred grass!...
1. Agni, inflamed with fuel, in my song I sing, pure bright, and stedfast set in front at sacrifice.
Wise Jatavedas we implore with prayers for grace, the Sage, the Hotar-priest, bounteous, and void of guile...
1. To him who dealeth out all wealth, the sweet-toned Hotar-priest of men,
To him, like the first vessels filled with savoury juice, to Agni let the lauds go forth!...
3. May he be our beloved King and excellent sweet-toned Hotar may
We with bright fires be dear to him...
3. Yea, Indra, like the Hotar-priest, will in the early morning drink,
At pleasure, of the milky juice...
1. Agni I deem our Hotar priest, munificent wealth-giver, Son of Strength, who knoweth all that is even as the Sage who knoweth all.
Lord of fair rites, a God with form erected turning to the Gods, he when the flame hath sprung forth from the holy oil, the offered fatness, longs for it as it grows bright.
2. We, sacrificing, call on the best worshipper thee eldest of Angirasas, singer! with hymns, thee, brilliant one! with singers' hymn;
Thee, wandering round, as 'twere the sky, thee who art Hotar-priest of men, whom, Bull with hair of flame, the people must observe, the people that he speed them on.

-- Hymns of the Samaveda, by Ralph T.H. Griffith

Priests of the Vedic religion are officiants of the yajna service. Yajna is an important part of Hinduism especially the Vedas.[1] Persons trained for the ritual and proficient in its practice, they were called ṛtvij ("regularly-sacrificing"). As members of a social class, they were generically known as vipra "sage" or kavi "seer". Specialization of roles attended the elaboration and development of the ritual corpus over time. Eventually a full complement of sixteen ṛtvijas became the custom for major ceremonies. The sixteen consisted of four chief priests and their assistants.

Chief priests

Further information: Yajna § Rituals

The older references uniformly indicate the hotṛ as the presiding priest, with perhaps only the adhvaryu as his assistant in the earliest times. The phrase "seven hotars" is found more than once in the Rigveda. Hymn 2.1.2 of Rigveda states it as follows,

तवाग्ने होत्रं तव पोत्रमृत्वियं तव नेष्ट्रं त्वमग्निदृतायतः । तव प्रशास्त्रं त्वमध्वरीयसि ब्रह्म चासि गृहपतिश्च नो दमे ॥२॥[2]

Thine is the Herald's task and Cleanser's duly timed; Leader art thou, and Kindler for the pious man. Thou art Director, thou the ministering Priest: thou art the Brahman, Lord and Master in our home.

— Rigveda 2.1.2[3]

HYMN I. Agni.

2 Thine is the Herald's task and Cleanser's duly timed; Leader art thou, and Kindler for the pious man.
Thou art Director, thou the ministering Priest: thou art the Brahman, Lord and Master in our home.

— Rigveda 2.1.2, The Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith

The above hymn enumerate the priests as the hotṛ, potṛ, neṣṭṛ, agnīdh, prashāstṛ (meaning the maitrāvaruna) and adhvaryu.

The hotṛ was the reciter of invocations and litanies. These could consist of single verses (ṛca), strophes (triples called tṛca or pairs called pragātha), or entire hymns (sukta), drawn from the ṛgveda. As each phase of the ritual required an invocation, the hotṛ had a leading or presiding role.
The adhvaryu was in charge of the physical details of the sacrifice (in particular the adhvara, a term for the Somayajna). According to Monier-Williams, the adhvaryu "had to measure the ground, to build the altar, to prepare the sacrificial vessels, to fetch wood and water, to light the fire, to bring the animal and immolate it," among other duties. Each action was accompanied by supplicative or benedictive formulas (yajus), drawn from the yajurveda. Over time, the role of the adhvaryu grew in importance, and many verses of the ṛgveda were incorporated, either intact or adapted, into the texts of the yajurveda.[4]
The udgātṛ was a chanter of hymns set to melodies (sāman) drawn from the sāmaveda. This was a specialized role in the major soma sacrifices: a characteristic function of the udgātṛ was to sing hymns in praise of the invigorating properties of soma pavamāna, the freshly pressed juice of the soma plant.
• The brahman was the reciter of hymns from the atharvaveda who was largely silent and observes the procedures and uses Atharvaveda mantras to 'heal' it when mistakes have been made.

The term Brahman in the above hymn 2.1.2 refers to deity Agni of hymn 2.1.1.[5]

The rgvedic Brahmanas, Aitareya and Kausitaki, specify seven hotrakas to recite shastras (litanies): hotṛ, brāhmanācchamsin, maitrāvaruna, potṛ, neṣṭṛ, agnīdh and acchāvāka. They also carry a legend to explain the origin of the offices of the subrahmanya and the grāvastut.


The requirements of the fully developed ritual were rigorous enough that only professional priests could perform them adequately. Thus, whereas in the earliest times, the true sacrificer, or intended beneficiary of the rite, might have been a direct participant, in Vedic times he was only a sponsor, the yajamāna, with the hotṛ or brahman taking his stead in the ritual. In this seconding lay the origins of the growing importance of the purohita (literally, "one who is placed in front"). It was not unusual for a purohita to be the hotṛ or brahman at a sacrifice for his master, besides conducting other more domestic (gṛhya) rituals for him also. In latter days, with the disappearance of Vedic ritual practice, purohita has become a generic term for "priest".


In the systematic expositions of the shrauta sutras,[6] which date to the fifth or sixth century BCE, the assistants are classified into four groups associated with each of the four chief priests, although the classifications are artificial and in some cases incorrect:

• With the hotṛ:
o the maitrāvaruna
o the acchāvāka
o the grāvastut (praising the Soma stones)
• With the udgātṛ:
o the prastotṛ (who chants the Prastâva)
o the pratihartṛ ("averter")
o the subrahmanya
• With the adhvaryu:
o the pratiprasthātṛ
o the neṣṭṛ
o the unnetṛ (who pours the Soma juice into the receptacles )
• With the brahman:
o the brāhmanācchamsin
o the agnīdh (priest who kindles the sacred fire)
o the potṛ ("purifier")

This last classification is incorrect, as the formal assistants of the brahman were actually assistants of the hotṛ and the adhvaryu.

Philological comparisons

Comparison with the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, a distinct religion with the same origins, shows the antiquity of terms for priests such as *atharwan (Vedic atharvan; cognate to Avestan āθrauuan / aθaurun) and *zhautar (Ved. hotar; Av. zaotar) "invoker, sacrificer". While *zhautar is well understood, the original meaning of *atharwan is unknown. The word atharvan appears in the Rig Veda (e.g., in RV 6.16.13 where Agni is said to have been churned by Atharvan from the mind of every poet). In the Younger Avesta, āθrauuan / aθaurun appears in a context that suggests "missionary," perhaps by metathesis from Indo-Iranian *arthavan "possessing purpose." However, a recent theory indicates that Proto Indo-Iranian *atharwan likely represents a substrate word from the unknown language of the BMAC civilization of Central Asia. It can be analyzed as BMAC *athar- plus the Indo-Iranian possessive suffix *-wan, in which case *atharwan would be "one who possesses *athar". Though the meaning of *athar is unknown, Pinault speculates that it meant "superior force" and connects it to the Tocharian word for "hero". In the Upanishads, atharvan appears for example in atharvāngiras, a compound of atharvan and angiras, either two eponymous rishis or their family names.

In present-day Indian Zoroastrian (Parsi) tradition the word athornan is used to distinguish the priesthood from the laity (the behdin). These subdivisions (in the historical Indian context, castes), and the terms used to describe them, are relatively recent developments specific to Indian Zoroastrians and although the words themselves are old, the meaning that they came to have for the Parsis are influenced by their centuries-long coexistence with Hinduism. It appears then that the Indian Zoroastrian priests re-adopted the older āθrauuan / aθaurun (in preference to the traditional, and very well attested derivative āsron) for its similarity to Hinduism's atharvan, which the Parsi priests then additionally assumed was derived from Avestan ātar "fire". This folk-etymology may "have been prompted by what is probably a mistaken assumption of the importance of fire in the ancient Indo-Iranian religion".[7]

The division of priestly functions among the Hotar, the Udgatar and the Adhvaryu has been compared to the Celtic priesthood as reported by Strabo, with the Druids as high priests, the Bards doing the chanting and the Vates performing the actual sacrifice.

See also

• Agnihotra
• Agnistoma
• Brahmin
• Namboothiri
• Śrāddha


1. DHARMI, SANATAN. "What is Hinduism??". Retrieved 2020-08-03.
2. Rigveda 2.1.2 (Sanskrit) Wikisource
3. Ralph T. H. Griffith (Translator), Rigveda 2.1.2 Wikisource
4. DHARMI, SANATAN. "What are Vedas?". Retrieved 2020-08-03.
5. Ralph T.H. Griffith (Translator), Rigveda 2.1.2 Wikisource
6. Shānkhāyana SS 13.4.1, Āsvalāyana SS 4.1.4-6.

External links

• The Turning-Point in a Living Tradition
• What are Vedas??
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