Poona Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu Social Club.

Ethnographical notes on Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu online

. (page 1 of 11)
Online LibraryPoona Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu Social ClubEthnographical notes on Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu → online text (page 1 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


SB ITS 251


( Cbandrascnipa Kapastba prabbu Community )



Cbanbraseni^a 1fca\>astba prabbu


" Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu
Social Club, Poona,



T. V. GUPTE, Chairman,


poona :





'T^HIS publication is intended to interest the Chandraseniya Ka
yasth Prabhu community only. It does not, therefore, pretend
to appeal to a rery wide circle, but at the same time, it must be men-
tioned here that it contains information that rendered some service
to Government in the inquiry of the ethnographic survey lately
conducted by the Government authorities in this part of the country.
Proceedings of the Chandraseniya Kayasth Prabhu gathering held
on the 21st of July, 1901, and the important correspondence between
the Provincial Superintendent of Census of the Bombay Presidency
and the Chandraseniya Kayasth Prabhu Club published in this little
book after Appendix No. 6, will give the reader an idea of the occa-
sion of bringing together these notes and the ways in which that work
was conducted by the institution with the help of the members of the
Prabhu Historical Society, a branch of the Poona Club to which the
inquiry was entrusted. The notes were required to be prepared in Eng-
lish chiefly, because they were to be examined, inspected, and recasted
by an intelligent European officer of Government. These notes cannot
be said to be sufficient for writing the general history of the caste
not even a sketch but they would give the reader an outline of the
system of Government in connection with the ethnographic survey,
and the attempts of the Cbandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu Social
t'lub, Poona, of systematically gathering the material from various
quarters and embodying the same in the form in which it appears in
the pages of this book.

The portion under the heading" Extracts from Bombay Gazetteer
and other Publications " appended to this bo3k at the end, is an
after-thought of the publisher. The publisher takes the liberty of

inserting this additional material, because some of the important
information was obtained by him after the notes were sent to the
Provincial Superintendent of Census and Ethnography (Bombay) by
the club, and some even after the book was put in print. It is hoped
that the additional information will be useful to Government as the
"supplementary information' and as the 'corroborative information 1 to an
abler writer of the Prabhu caste who will, in future, take up the work
of writing a full history of the caste either in English or in Marathi.
The publisher begs to write at the end of this book a few lines by
way of explanation about the arrangement of the book, the legitimate
inferences he is inclined to draw from the contents of the book, the
views of various writers on 'caste' and the conclusions to be drawn
from them, &c.. <vc.

The publisher takes this opportunity of expressing thanks
on behalf of the Chandraseniya Kayasth Prabhu Social Club, Poona,
to the members of the Prabhu community of Thana, Baroda, Indore,
Dewas, Maval and Poona without whose help it would have been
very difficult to supply the information to Government and publish
this book. The publisher is personally obliged to Shrimant Bal-
krishna Vithal Potnis for his kind help for months together in
preparing the notes.


Poona. June, 1904. PI:BUSITEU.


The enquiry about the ethnographic questions naturally
leads one to trace the history of ciste. " The Hindus like all
other civilized nations have passed through various stages
of development social, moral, religious, and intellectual.
The ideas and beliefs which are found in the oldest documents
r.re not the same as those which we come across in later
writings." The examination of the materials on the subject
is no doubt laborious; when we turn to the literature of anci-
ent times we find that there is hardly any ground to suppose
that caste system in its present form ever prevailed.
T ie general history of India and her people can be classified
under the following periods Vedic, Buddhistic, Puranic,
a:id historic periods. The literary records of these periods
would therefore be good guides to investigate the subject.

" It will be seen from the different texts that from a very
early period the Indian writers have propounded a great
variety of speculations regarding the origin of mankind, and
of the classes or castes into which they found their own
community divided. The most commonly received of these
explanations is the fable which represents the Brahmans,
Kshatriayas, Vaishyas and Shudras to have been separately
created from the head (mouth) the breast or arms, the thighs
and the feet of the creator. Of this mythical account no
trace is to be found in any of the hymns of the Rigweda,
except one in the Purasha Sukta (Page 7 Muir's Sanskrit
Texts, Volume I), This celebrated hymn is the oldest that
makes mention of the origin of mankind. The following is
the extract of the goth hymn of the loth book of Rigweda
Sainhita called Purusha Sukta ( hymn to Purusha ) that
gives the origin of the Hindu races. ^[^Tts^T 5^^T^5T|5T3P^T :
f<T: I ^ <T3*4$ft*f: q^n^ BfrS3fFTrT II (Brahman was his mouth, the


Rajanya was made his arms, the being (called) Vaishya,
lie was his thighs, the Shudra sprang from his feet).

Dr. Haug in his tract ' On the origin of Brahmanism' p. 4
thus remarks on this verse " Now according to this passage
which is the most ancient and authoritative we have on the
origin of Brahmanism and caste in general, the Brahman
has not come from the mouth of this primary being the
Purusha, but the mouth of the latter became the Brahmani-
cal caste, . e., was transformed into it. The passage has no
do ibt an allegorical sense. Mouth is the seat of speech.
The allegory thus points out that the Brahmans are teachers
and instructors of mankind. The arms are the seat of
strength. If the two arms of the Purusha are said to have
been made a Kshatriya (warrior,) that means, then, that the
Kshatriyas have to carry arms to defend the empire. That the
thighs of the Purusha weretransformed into the Vaishya, means
that as the lower parts of the body are the principal repository
of food taken, the Vaishya caste is destined to provide food
for the others. The creation of the Shudra from the feet of
the Purusha indicates that he is destined to be a servant to
the others, just as the foot serves the other parts of the body
as a firm support." (Page 14-15 of Mnir's Sanskrit texts,
Volume I.) Dr. J. Muir observes in his preface to Sanskrit
texts Volume I, " there are other passages in the texts
next, in chronological order to the hymns of the Rigweda
which differ more or less widely from the account of the
creation given in the Purusha Sukta, and therefore justify the
conclusion that in the Vedic age no uniform orthodox and
authoritative doctrine existed in regard to the origin of
castes " Passages from the Taittiriya Sanhita <frf[q qffai
Satapatha Brahman *T<*T^ snSFT the Taittiriya Brahman,
rjrfr4 ^TSFT the Vajaseniya Sanhita ^jffrfrq flf&rTT and the
Atharvan Veda srwit? give different theories of the
creation of the universe and mankind, e. g. Taittiriya,
Brahman, Ipfl4 awn" describes Vaishya, class produced


from Rigweda, Kshatriya from the Yajurveda and
Brahman from the Samaveda, Satapatha Brahman says that
Kshatriya was born from Brahma 33 existing in the form of
4 ngm 1 (fire) hence nothing is superior to the Kshatriya, there-
fore the Brahman sits below the Kshatriya at theRajasuya U5f-
q$ sacrifice. L,ater on Manu gives various theories about the
origin of castes and they are not in harmony with each other,
He first adheres to the theory of Pttrusha Sukta given above,
th^n he says mankind was created of the Brahma, a half of
whom was man and the oth^r half was woman. Next he
goes on describing that men were created from the ten Ma-
harshis ^p? whom he first ushered in the world desirous of
the creation of mankind. Vishnu,ft^J Vay u ^PT and Markandeya
Jtt%^q Purans give theories of creation and castes which are ir-
reconciliable. At one place men of all the four castes are said
to be offsprings of ^f, a female the daughter of ^r
the wife of ^^TT. At another place we find the four castes
represented as descendants of i^j^rf. Some declare the
distinction of classes to have arisen out of differences of
character and action, others describe mankind as the off-
spring of ^TFfa^ and JTTa^ir while another distinctly declares
that there was originally one caste. In this way the theories
of creation of mankind and its caste do not appear to be uni-
form in the sacred books "(Muir's Sanskrit Text, Vol. i) At this
period therefore the rigidity of rules of caste could not be
found. Brahman was a Brahman by knowledge of religion
and not by birth, according to Satpatha Brahman. According
to one passage inAiteerya I rahman^rt^ ^T5fr,the descendants
of a member of one caste might enter another by following
the profession of the latter. The priestly caste did not acquire
a monopoly of religious learning. They often came as
humble pupils to Kshbatriya kings to acquire religious and
divine knowledge " (Muir's Sanskrit texts, Volume I.) But
in course of time rules of caste became more rigid and the
real origin of the system was forgotten and the rule of dis-
tinction of castes by profession was followed by the rule of


the caste by birth and heredity. ^ v e also find the origin of
certain castes in the descriptions given about the conflicts
between the Brahinans and Kshatriyas for the ascendancy of
one over the othe r . A series of legendary illustrations
derived from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and Puranas
give an idea of the struggle which appears to have occurred
in the early ages of the Indian history between the Brahmins
and the Kshatriyas, after the former had begun to constitute
an exclusive sacerdotal class, but before their rights had
become accurately defined by long prescription and when
the memherp of the ruling class were still indisposed to
adnift.tjjeii pretensions, (preface ,by Dr. Muir) " The legends
of ..king -Vena, ^r Nahusha, ^^ Ninii -r^\ and the quarrels of
Vashistha ^i? and Vishwamitra ft^Jjrm are the best illus-
trations of this struggle between the two classes for supre-
macy. The legend of Bramhau Parasharam (the son of 3pT^f?T
Bramhan father, and %^T Kshatriya mother.^ killing the
Kshatriya king, Kartaveerya ( Sahasrajuna, ) ^Trfctt ( fffsn^O
evinces that the bitterness of the enmity between the two races
had reached its climax and we are told that Parasharam
exterminated the Kshatriya class twenty-one times. ^Dr. Muir's
Sanskrit Text). The poetic enthusiasm lost sight of the
improbability of extermination of a class a second time after
it was once exterminated. Dr. ^'U-ir when he draws his con-
clusions upon this conflict between the Brahmans and the
Kshatriyas, rightly observes " the legend of Parasharam as
related, is of course fabulous. Not to speak of the miraculous
powers which are ascribed to this hero, and the incredible
number of exterminations which he is said to have executed,
we cannot even suppose it probable that the Brahmans should
in general have been sufficiently powerful and warlike to
overcome the Kshatriyas by force of arms. But the legend
may have had some such foundations in fact. Before the
provinces of sacerdotal and military classes were accurately
defined, there may have been cases in which ambitious men
of the former successfully aspired to kingly dominion just as

scions of royal races became distinguished as priests and
sages. But even without this assumption the existence of
such legends is sufficiently explained by the position which
the Brahmans eventually occupied with the view of main-
taining their own ascendancy over the mind of the chiefs on
whose good will they were dependent and of securing for
themselves honour and profit, they would have an interest
in working upon the superstitious feelings of their contem-
poraries by fabricating stories of supernatural punishment
inflicted by their own forefathers on their royal oppressors,
as well as by painting in lively colours the prosperity of
those princes who were submissive to the spiritual order."
(pp. 478-479 Muir's Sanskrit Text.)

Such is the account of the various theories about the
origin of ' caste.' However, as we have been asked to give the
legends and popular beliefs about the origin of the Chandra
Seniya Kayastha Prabhus, we are required to turn to the
Purana which gives the origin of this caste. RenukaMahatmya
Adhyaya 47 (Chapter 47) in Sanhyadikhand, contained in the
Skandha Puran, chiefly relates the account of the Chandra-
vSeniya Kayastha Prabhus and connects the story with the
great fight of Brahman Parashram with the great and power-
ful king ^frffMf commonly known as HSWsnr It is a pity
that a complete manuscript of the H^rnj^'T Sanhyadrikhand
could not be procured in spite of the attempts made to pro-
cure it. In 1877 Mr. J. Jerson Da Cunha, member of the com-
mittee of management of the Bombay Branch of the Royal
Asiatic Society, published the text of HSTSftafe -after collecting
fourteen manuscripts from various parts of India. He observes
''some of the copies betray the attempt to alter and interpolate,
others to mutilate rather than to circumvent to which may be
added miscopyinK/'

Even this publication does not contain the whole of the
. It is said that the Kokanasthas carefully suppressed


or destroyed all copies of Sandhyadrikhaud where their
origin is mentioned and the respectable Brahmin of Wai was,
a few years ago, disgraced by Bajirao for having a copy
of it ( Grant Duff's History of the Marathas Page 9 foot
note ). The 47th chapter of Renuka Mahatamya t^rTFT^r
is however preserved in various documents and religious
books such as JWHT and the letter of the learned Brah-
mans of Benaras who gave their decision about the purity, &c.
of this caste on reference made to them by the Peshwa in the
year 1779 A. D. on the subject. The materials for the history
of the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus published by
Rao Saheb B. A. Gupte in i8Si also contains the several
passages from this missing Adhyaya (chapter.) A gentleman
of this community by name Mr. Amritrao Abajee Karnik,
late pleader in.Akola, after great labour secured a copy of
this Adhyaya from a 5[iit Dravidi Brahmaa at Hydrabad (Dec-
can), who had with him a complete cop}' of ^T?TT?k?t. Mr.
Karnik has incorporated this 47th chapter in his book' ^S^rfa
^nrejSP? WN^R *W (collection of the religious rights and
privileges of the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus specially
edited for the caste). We are thus able to make use of these
materials in giving account of the legends and the popular
traditions of the caste.

The questions have been answered as concisel}' as possi-
blet but by way of explanation we have given our obser-
vation upon each of the answers arrived at after gathering
information from various places and sources.






Gbanbrasent^a Ika^astba prabbu.

Question I. Write in English and Vernacular the
name of the caste with synonyms, if any, noting if any of
these are used only by outsiders.

Answer I- The name of this caste in full is " Chandra
seniya Kayastha Prabhu" "^tgrtffa ^TF4 ^H" commonly the
community is called "Chandraseniya Prabhu" "^r5%%pT ^H " or
* Prabhu' "3iH ' only. Sometimes people use the word
" Parbhu " "<T^j" in speaking about this caste, but that form
(5*3) is evidently a corrupt expression for the original
Sanskrit word Prabhu. In records such as Sanads and other
Royal Mandates and also in standard works such as "Rise of
the Maratha Power" by Justice Ranade, nothing but Prabhu
Sjg is written.


There are various theories about the origin of the name of the
caste. Information from different quarters received by this Institu-
tion gives various theories either based upon myth, legend, historical
observations, philological inferences, mere surmises, or in some cases
the frank mention of intentional perversion of facts by the rival
Brahman caste about this name or part of the name.

The final answer to this question as well as to all the others by
this Institution has been framed after trying to reconcile the different
versions by applying the test of authorities and discussion on the
point by the members of the Institution.

It will, however, be interesting to note some of the theories found
in the information which would throw some light upon the answer
to this question.

The name of the caste is " Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu. "
"^iaflqlq *ETW4 3Tg." Out of these three words there is no differ-
ence of opinion about the word " Chandraseniya " ^tjffrsfar. All
agree in saying that it means the descendants of the king "Chandra-
sena" ^tjf^ and his followers. Chandrasena ^tglfa was otherwise
called Soma Raja StTCnr who was the son of the Kshatriya king
" Chandrasena " ^5%Jf, himself the descendant of US*n4^ Sahas-
rarjuna of the Haiyaya *f^T family of the Lunar Kshatriya Dynasty.

The word " Kayastha " ^JT^^T when applied to this caste is
said to mean, firstly according to the mythological legend fully
narrated under question 6, resident in body. ^PT body and ^f.
resident in) because when Parashuram asked for the wife of Chandra-
sen who had taken refuge with the sage Dalabhya ?[T^*T he pro-
mised to give away the woman if the child in the womb be spared.
Note the words

Secondly, the word Kaystha ^n#*3T may mean resident in
Ayodhya ar^TT ( ^PT-Ayodhya and ^T resident.) SHJ^TTrST.
Anga 3TT means Ayodhya 3T^rtW and very likely Kayastha came to
be used as equivalent to Angastha, because 3T*T and ^T are inter-
changeable words. Compare " Deshastha " ^5R^T means resident in
Desh " Kokanastha " ^[3^^^ means resident in ^t^r. The
word Kayastha ^T^T^T when applied to 5HJ Prabhu may be said to
be used as an adjective. Kayastha Prabhu ^TP4 W3 Prabhu (king)
turned into a Kayastha (writer.) Note the words

TJfl^T q: ^JrT: | SfrB^p^^Tq-r^ %^^TT ff^ra ^rTT^II

Published in ^r. ^r. %. f . *rm. because the caste was compelled to
take up the pen and give up the sword upon which condition alone the

king Chandrasena's wife was allowed to remain alive with the
Kshatriya child in her womb, by Parashuram. Chitrugupta, the son
of the body of the God Brahmadeva, and therefore Brahma Kayastha
was the recorder in heaven of the good and evil of mortals. He
was Kayastha and the only writer and his profession was
ordained to be followed by the posthumous son. Note* from Mr. B.
A. Gupte of Indore.

In the Poona Volume of the Bombay Gazetteer the "Kayastha
Prabhus" FT*re2j sp=r are called"^ JT, Deviputra, but this is evidently a
mistake arising from a confused notion about the Kayasthas of
Bengal. The word " Kayastha Prabhu " is further translated as
*' Lords-in-waiting" which, is grammatically wrong, " m " does not
mean "near," it means "resident in or within." (Notes from Mr. B. A.
Gupte of Indore.)


It is here to be mentioned that the "Kayastha Prabhu" or more
properly " Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu" are quite different from
the 'Sankaraj Kayasthas' or the 'Vaishya Kayasthya' of Gujarath,
none of them being Prabhus.

The word Kayastha =1^4 as given in the Marathi into English
Dictionary by Mr. J. T. Molesworth, in the Edition of 1857, is des-
cribed under a mistaken notion and is therefore misleading. 3FPT^T
is the term used by him as showing the distinction between Pathare
Prabhu and Kayastha Prabhu. The origin of the caste is mentioned
there as of mixed blood which is evidently incorrect It is based on
a remark in "the work known as Jativivek. The author of Jativivek
has stated at the outset d & OT *fa ^r^RT^fr ^FT : *^t3^ : II 'rT^T ^ifr
^T^'STnTT ^nr= <jf repnrT^ 5 ll. The classes Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vit-
and Shudras are said to be natural born as described in the ( j^qwrh )
Purushasukta. The first three of these are twice born and their re-
ligious duties have been separately described. He further says ^p-%

*r^P-^riT : snrrSr*nsJ^r*nrr : " ^^ fl^H. *fa^iff*r ^iH*AR*fcw : HVII I. shal 1
speak of all those who were born of the (aforesaid) classes by
snH95t*T and 3^^ (by mixture of blood) and give their different
names and avocations. The description of the word Kayastha given


in Jativivek tallies with that given of Sankaraj Kayastha in Gaga-
bhatti and is not applicable to this caste (compare the exact wording
of srfmRfo under ^rqp4 with that of *TPTPTr under ^^C3f ^PT^)
The origin of Chandraseniya Kayastha Pmbhu, Chitra Gupta Kayas-
tha Prablm and Sankaraj Kayastha is however separately given
by Gaga Bhat. It is therefore beyond doubt that snfrfrat^ does
not speak of Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus, who are of pure
Kshatriya origin but only about the fl^sr ^J?TF4. This statement
is borne out by the fact that 3fff^r? was one of the authorities
referred to by the Bsnares Brahmans in giving their decisions to
the Peshawa of Poona which will be mentioned hereafter. This
mistake in Molesworth's Dictionary appears to have been made inad-
vertently because no reference was made to the older works like
fffnnNte of ^F5?5*FT which was written about 1000 years ago when
the writers were free from prejudice and malice. Mr. Molesworth
certainly did not care to know*of the existence of the Puranik Litex-
ature, and therefore only took for his authority snfrfft^ which is
in no way an authority upon the origin of this caste. Jf ilie com-
piler of the Dictionary had consulted the leaders of the "Chandra-
seniya Kayastha Prabhu Community," or had referred to all the
works on the subject he would have certainly given the correct
description of the word. On reference to the *f?iriwT of the
^55UT, TFTPTff, ^r*TF4 ST^TT, JlftHit and even 3ff[?rft?^, S?^Hi5[fi*
and other works the learned Brahmans of Benares wrote to the Pe-
shawa Darbar on the 8th day of the first fortnight of Shake 1701. i.e.,
1779 A. D., that the Prabhus are genuine Kshatriyas. This letter
was used by the Peshwa of the time in settling the disputes between
the Brahmans and this caste about tff^ ^jflfq^IT (the privileges
of conducting religious ceremonies with Vedic Mantras.) The dis-
pute was settled in favour of this caste on receiving this reply from
the learned Brahmins of Benares to whom the controversy was spe-
cially referred by the Peshwa Durbar under letter, dated the 10th
of the first fortnight Margarshirsha for opinion. This will be given
in extenso under remarks upon question No. 17.

^5 Prabhu From notes received about this word we find many
versions about its meaning :

Firstly Prabliu means king or superior, the common ancestor
or leader of this caste being king ''Chandrasena," otherwise called
Somaraja flT^USf, the son of Chandrasena ^rs^f. He had four sons
viz., Vishwanath, Mahadev, Blianu and Laxmidhar, out of these four
"Vishwanath was very learned, possessed of great many virtues and
so he was called Mahaprabhu (the great Lord) ^RfT^5. Since then
this caste is called l ^\ (Renuka Mahatmya ).

Secondly Purab in Hindustani 3*3 means East, (just as
from 3T3"H*2TT or j^M^rr. 3^ meaning eastern *T5RTT brother and
ut^TT mere Eastern.) In western part of India, Rajaputana, Gujarat
and Bombay all emigrants from Cawnpur side are called J^rif^TT or
^PT^TT eastern brothers. The Prabhus who have a tradition that they
came from Oudh might have been given the local name of Purab.
The modern term Bhayya is possibly as cynical as our "Aryan
brothers," the term introduced by western journalists and " cousins
across the channel" used by the British journalists. (Fate from
Mr. B. A. Gdpte of Indore.)

Thirdly This caste is sometimes called qT5 Prabhu (misspelt)
either by uneducated people who cannot pronounce the word correct-
ly and _ properly (just as qTtTNftf 1 ! Paratapsing for
Pratapsing. qplTH Parabhas for sprw Prabhas or ^TUFT or
for Wf^FT Paran qTFT for m*i Prana,) or by some Brahmins who
were jealous of the progress and success in politics, of the Prabhus
Notes from Mr. B. A. Gupte. Vide also Bombay Gazetteer, Thana Vol,

p<UJf. 87.

Fourthly qr^ Parbhu may simply mean a "foreigner" Par
TT * another' and Bhu ^ ' land.' as they are not natives of Maha-
rashtra in which country they possibly received this appellation.
It is also possible that they were first treated and called uit-landers

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryPoona Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu Social ClubEthnographical notes on Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu → online text (page 1 of 11)