Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gurjara Brahmins

Gurjara Brahmin is a geographical grouping of Brahmin communities found in Gujarat and Rajasthan. As a word of explanation, Brahmin communities in India are grouped geographically, into five North Indian provinces (hence called the Pancha Goud) and into five South Indian provinces (the Pancha Dravida). Intriguingly, while the Gurjara province was located in Western India, it is included in the Pancha Dravida primarily because the Brahmin communities in this grouping are strict about not eating meat, just like the Brahmins of Rajasthan and Gujarat today.

The Gurjara Brahmin grouping also has Brahmin clans from the North Indian group. A case in point being the Goud Gurjara, who are Goud Brahmins that settled down in Gurjara. The example of the Gurjara Brahmins again proves that Gurjara was the name of a province in ancient times, and certainly not the name of an "invading horde" of multiple communities! The map above shows the location of the twin provinces of Maru (Marwar) and Gurjar (Gujarat) as well as the main population centers of the pastoral Gujjars (in green) and those of the Gurjara Brahmins (in pink). Compare these to the map showing the Parihar Rajput settlements around the old bases of the Pratiharas.

The colonial historians tied themselves up in knots in these frantic efforts to connect the Gurjara province with a foreign pastoral tribe, then the latter with the warlike Rajputs, and linked further to minute communities of traders and craftsmen. The crowning foolishness on top of these colonial myths was the unexplained geographical separation of this hodge-podge of communities. They claimed that just as a warlike segment of the invading horde became Pratihara Rajputs, that horde also had a priestly class, which became known as Gurjara Brahmans who are today found in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra.

The obvious riposte to this assumption is the same as for the other Gujarat-based communities: If the Gurjara Brahmins are indeed "high priests" of the mythical gurjar race, why aren't they found co-inhabiting the main settlements of that tribe in Punjab??