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Do you know these facts about Bhumihar Brahmin?

Bhumihar or Babhan or Bhuin-har is a upper caste mainly found in the
Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand
region of Madhya Pradesh. The Bhumihars are classified in the Brahmin
varna of Hinduism but this claim has been contested by some. Bhumihars
have been land-owning Brahmins who came to own land in different
periods of History through land grants by kings or during the rule of
Brahmin kings.

According to M. A. Sherring some of the Bhumihars belong to the
Saryupareen Brahmin division of Kanyakubja Brahmins. In the 19th (held
at Prayag) and 20th (held at Lucknow) national convention of
Kanyakubja Brahmins by Kanyakubja Mahati Sabha, in 1926 and 1927
respectively, it reiterated Bhumihars to be Kanyakubja Brahmins and
appealed for unity among Kanyakubja Brahmins whose different branches
included Sanadhya, Pahadi, Jujhoutia, Saryupareen, Chattisgarhi,
Bhumihar and different Bengali Brahmins. Bhumihars have been the
traditional priests at Vishnupad Mandir in Gaya as Gayawar Pandas and
in the adjoining districts like Hazaribagh.The Kingdom of Kashi
belonged to Bhumihar Brahmins and big zamindari like Bettiah Raj,
Hathwa Raj and Tekari Raj belonged to them. Bhumihars were well
respected Brahmins in the courts of Dumraon Maharaj, King of Nepal and
Raj Darbhanga. The Bhumihar population of Uttar Pradesh had an average
literacy of less than 12% in 1911 Some Mohyal Brahmins migrated
eastward and became as some sub-divisions of Bhumihars, some of whom
are also descendants of HussainiBrahminss and mourn the death of Imam
Hussain. There is also a significant migrant population of Bhumihars
in Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and others.

Bhumihars are commonly called Babhans which is the Pali word for
Brahmins and is used to refer to Brahmins in Buddhist sources. In
recent times, Bhumihars have been in the forefront of casteist
violence in some places of Bihar state.
Origin and history
Mythology

The Bhumihars claim that when Parashurama destroyed the Kshatriya
race, and he set up in their place the descendants of Brahmins, who,
after a time, having mostly abandoned their priestly functions
(although some still perform), took to land-owning. They also claim
that Lord Parashurama was the first Bhumihar.
History

By the sixteenth century, Bhumihars known as karm kandi pandit
controlled vast stretches of territory, particularly in North Bihar.
In South Bihar, their most prominent representative was the Tekari
family, whose great estate in Gaya dates back to the early eighteenth
century. With the decline of Mughal Empire, in the area of south of
Avadh, in the fertile rive-rain rice growing areas of Benares,
Gorakhpur, Deoria, Ghazipur, Ballia and Bihar and on the fringes of
Bengal, it was the 'military' or Bhumihar Brahmins who strengthened
their sway. The distinctive 'caste' identity of Bhumihar Brahman
emerged largely through military service, and then confirmed by the
forms of continuous 'social spending' which defined a man and his kin
as superior and lordly. In 19th century, many of the Bhumihar Brahmins
were zamindars. Of the 67000 Hindus in the Bengal Army in 1842, 28000
were identified as Rajputs and 25000 as Brahmins, a category that
included Bhumihar Brahmins. The Brahmin presence in the Bengal Army
was reduced in the late nineteenth century because of their perceived
primary role as mutineers in the Mutiny of 1857, led by Mangal Pandey.
Now, a majority of them are farmers with some big land-holders.

Some Bhumihars had settled in Chandipur, Murshidabad during late
nineteenth and early twentieth century where they are at the top of
the social hierarchy. Before independence, it was the custom of the
Bhumihar Brahmins to stage an elaborate Kālī puja, during which annual
payments were made to servants and gifts of cloth were distributed to
dependents, both Hindu and Muslim.

M. A. Sherring in his book Hindu Tribes and Castes as Reproduced in
Benaras published in 1872, mentions, "Great important distinctions
subsist between the various tribes of Brahmins. Some are given to
learning, some to agriculture, some to politics and some to trades.
The Maharashtra Brahmin is very different being from the Bengali,
while the Kanaujia (Kanyakubja Brahmins) differs from both. Only those
Brahmins who perform all six duties are reckoned perfectly orthodox.
Some perform three of them, namely, the first, third and fifth and
omit the other three. Hence Brahmins are divided into two kinds, the
Shat-karmas and the tri-karmas or those who perform only three. The
Bhumihar Brahmins for instance are tri-karmas, and merely pay heed to
three duties. The Bhumihars, of whom many, though not all, belong to
the Saryupareen Brahmin division, are a large and influential body in
all that province (United Province)."

Bhumihars were referred to as "Military Brahmin" by Francis Buchanan
and as "Magadh Brahmin" by William Adam in 1883. William Crooke in his
book, Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, has
mentioned Bhuinhar as an important tribe of landowners and
agriculturists in eastern districts and that they are also known as
Babhan, Zamindar Brahman, Grihastha Brahman, or Pachchima or 'western'
Brahmans.

The Brahmins and Kshatriyas look down upon the Bhumihars whom they
claim to have descended from Brahmin men and Kshatriya women. Pandit
Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya says that according to legend prevalent
among Brahmins, the Bhumihars were non-Brahmin Hindus who were
conferred the status of Brahmins by a Raja who wanted more Brahmins in
his kingdom in order to celebrate religious festivals.Herbert Hope
Risley holds the view that Bhumihars are an offshoot of the Rajputs as
their clans and septs are closer to that of the Rajputs. A widely
prevalent belief is that they had descended from the Bhuyans, a tribe
which acquired land and claimed to be Brahmins.

Pandit Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya in his book Hindu Castes and Sects
published in 1896, went on to write about the origin of Bhumihar
Brahmins of Bihar and Banaras as: "The clue to the exact status of the
Bhumihar Brahmans is afforded by their very name. The word literally
means a landholder. In the language of the Indian feudal systems,
Bhoom is the name given to a kind of tenure similar to the Inams and
Jagirs of Mohammedan times. By a Bhoom, according to the Rajputana
Gazeteer, an hereditary, non-resumableand inalienable property in soil
was inseparably bound up with a revenue-free title. Bhoom was given as
a compensation for bloodshedin order to quell a feud, for
distinguished services in the field, for protection of a border or for
the watch and ward of the village. The meaning of the designation
Bhumihar being as stated above, the Bhumihar Brahmans are evidently
these Brahmans who held grants of land for secular service. Whoever
held a secular fief was Bhumihar. Where a Brahman held such a tenure,
he was called a Bhumihar Brahman....Bhumihar Brahmans are sometimes
called simply Bhumihars..." The Bhimihars are Brahmins who are also
great fighters and warlike.

In 1889, Pradhan Bhumihar Brahman Sabha was established at Patna "to
improve moral, social and educational reforms of the community." The
social reformation among Bhumihar Brahmins had two streams — one led
by Sir Ganesh Dutt, and the other by Swami Sahajanand
Saraswati.Bhumihars were officially recognized as Brahmins by the
government of British India in 1911 census (second all India census
report) of British India.

Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, a Bhumihar himself, wrote extensively on
Brahmin society and on the origin of Bhumihars. He stated that the
Bhumihars are among the superior Brahmins. Some Bhumihar Brahmins are
also known for their secular and unorthodox practices, where some of
them are also descendants of HussainiBrahminss. On the social scale,
although the Bhumihars are known to be Brahmins, on account of the
fact that they were cultivators they were not given the ritual status
of Brahmins.

Siyaram Tiwary, the former dean at Visva Bharati University, stated
that the Bhumihars are "landed Brahmins who stopped taking alms and
performing pujas and rituals", comparing them with Tyagis of Western
UP, Jamindar Bengali Brahmins, Niyogi Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh,
Nambudiri Brahmin of Kerala, Chitpavans of Maharashtra, Anavil Desais
of Gujarat and Mohyals of Punjab.Bhumihars are classified in the
Brahmin varna in Hinduism and hence use the designation Bhumihar
Brahmin, but some other communities dispute this claim.

Acharya Tarineesh Jha, himself a Maithil Brahmin scholar has attested
how from ancient times to modern all great Brahmin scholars like
Maithili Manishi Mahamahopadhyay Chitradhar Mishra, Mahamahopadhyay
Balkrishna Mishra; Saryupareen Brahmin scholars Mahamahopadhyay
Dwivedi, Mahamahopadhyay Shivkumar Shastri, Dr. Hazari Prasad Dwivedi;
Kanyakubja Brahmins scholars Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, Pandit
Laxminarayan Dixit Shastri, Pandit Venkatesh Narayan Tiwari and others
have mentioned about Bhumihar Brahmins as their fellow Brahmin
brothers.

They are also called Ajachak Brahmans, i.e., Brahmans who do not take
alms (jachak) in contrast to the ordinary Brahmans who are Jachaks or
almstakers but there are still some who traditionally take alms as in
Gaya and Hazaribagh. Like fellow Brahmans, they did not use to hold
the plough, but employed labourers for the purpose.
Social Organisation

The census returns give no less than four hundred and fifty-eight
sections: but here the territorial sections and the Brahminical gotras
are mixed up together. The most important local sections are the
Chaudhari, Gautama, and Kolaha in Banaras; the Gautama in Mirzapur;
the Bharadwaj, Bhriguvanshi, Dikshit, Donwar, Gautama, Kaushik,
Kinwar, Kistwar, Sakarwar, Sonwar in Ghazipur; Bhagata, Kinwar,
Benwar, of Ballia; the Baghochhiya, Baksaria, Gautama, Kaushik and
Sakarwar(Sankritya) of Gorakhpur; the Barasi, Birhariya and Kaushik of
Basti; and the Barwar, Bharadwaj, Bhriguvansh, Denwar, Gargbans,
Gautama, Purvar, Sakarwar, and Shandilya of Azamgarh. On the Jijhoutia
clan of Bhumihar Brahmins, William Crooke writes, "A branch of the
Kanaujia Brahmins (Kanyakubja Brahmins) who take their name from the
country of Jajakshuku, which is mentioned in the Madanpur
inscription."
Domestic ceremonies and Religious Beliefs

The Bhumihar Brahmins follow in every respect the standard Brahminical
rules. They are usually Shaivas and Shaktas. There are some Vaishnavas
as followers of Ramanujacharya in the Tirhut region of Bihar. Bhumihar
Brahmins, like all other Brahmins are endogamous, but marital
relations are known to exist since ancient times between Bhumihar
Brahmins and Maithil Brahmins in Tirhut and Mithila and between
Bhumihar Brahmins and Kanyakubja Brahmins in Bundelkhand region of
Madhya Pradesh where Jihoutia clan of Bhumihar Brahmins live. Bhumihar
Brahmin men of Purnea took to Maithil Brahmin wives in Purnea and
married their daughters to Bhumihar Brahmin/Babhan men.
Political and social movements

Bhumihars are considered a politically volatile community. Bhumihar
Brahmins in Champaran had revolted against indigo cultivation in 1914
(at Pipra) and 1916(Turkaulia) and Pandit Raj Kumar Shukla took
Mahatma Gandhi to Champaran and the Champaran Satyagraha began.

Although the Bhumihars have always constituted a very small proportion
of the Bihar population (around 2.8%), they wielded political strength
in pre-Mandal politics of Bihar. With the partition of Bihar, their
percentage has shot up to 6 percent and all political parties are
vying for their votes.
Caste-related violence
See also: Ranvir Sena and Naxalites

Bhumihars, have been involved in many caste-related conflicts .
However, it was in reply to the requests made by Yadav peasants in
1927, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati had started the Bihar Provincial
Kisan Sabha, which led to the largest peasant movement in the country.
Bhumihars also gave Bihar its first chief minister in Sri Krishna
Sinha who had himself led Dalit's entry into Baidyanath Dham
(Vaidyanath Temple, Deoghar).

Following independence, Naxalite groups began to originate in Bihar in
response to low wages and alleged illtreatment of Dalit peasants by
upper-caste landlords. Some Bhumihars and other upper-caste landlords
responded by starting private militias called Senas. These were
heavily funded and promoted by some Bhumihar landlords to fight
extremist Naxalite groups which supposedly represented low-caste
Bihari peasants. Hostilities began to intensify when in 1994, the
Ranvir Sena was founded in Belaur village to counter Naxal terrorism.
Since its formation, the Ranvir Sena has been held responsible for
murder, rape and burglary in Bihar. This outfit, along with the Maoist
Communist Centre, has been responsible for large-scale violence in
Bihar. Incidents of violence have been reported from the villages of
Belaur, Bara, Senari, Ekwari, Chandi, Nanaur, Narhi, Sarathau,
Haibaspur, Laxmanpur-Bathe, Shankarbigha, and Narayanpur.♫ 
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