Brahman: Kanaujia, Kanyakubja

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This article was written in 1916 when conditions were different. Even in
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From The Tribes And Castes Of The Central Provinces Of India

By R. V. Russell

Of The Indian Civil Service

Superintendent Of Ethnography, Central Provinces

Assisted By Rai Bahadur Hira Lal, Extra Assistant Commissioner

Macmillan And Co., Limited, London, 1916.

NOTE 1: The 'Central Provinces' have since been renamed Madhya Pradesh.

NOTE 2: While reading please keep in mind that all articles in this series have been scanned from the original book. Therefore, footnotes have got inserted into the main text of the article, interrupting the flow. Readers who spot these footnotes gone astray might like to shift them to their correct place.

Brahman: Kanaujia, Kanyakubja

This, the most im- portant division of the northern Brahmans, takes its name from the ancient city of Kanauj in the Farukhabad District on the Ganges, which was on two occasions the capital of India. The great king Harsha Vardhana, who ruled the whole of northern India in the seventh century, had his headquarters here, and when the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang stayed at Kanauj in A.D. 638 and 643 he f6und upwards of a hundred monasteries crowded by more than 10,000 Buddhist monks. " Hinduism flourished as well as Buddhism, and could show more than two hundred temples with thousands of wor- shippers. The city, which was strongly fortified, extended along the east bank of the Ganges for about four miles, and was adorned with lovely gardens and clear tanks. The inhabitants were well-to-do, including some families of great wealth ; they dressed in silk, and were skilled in learning and the arts." ^ When Mahmud of Ghazni appeared before Kanauj in A.D. 10 18 the number of temples is said to have risen to 10,000.

The Sultan destroyed the temples, but seems to have spared the city. Thereafter Kanauj declined in importance, though still the capital of a Rajput dynasty, and the final sack by Shihab-ud-Din in A.D. 1194 reduced it to desolation and insignificance for ever

The Kanaujia Brahmans include the principal body of the caste in Bengal and in the Hindi Districts of the Central Provinces. They are here divided into four sub- groups, the Kanaujia proper, Sarwaria, Jijhotia and Sanadhya, which are separately noticed. The Sarwarias are sometimes considered to rank a little higher than the proper Kanaujias. It is said that the two classes are the ' Early History oj India, 3rd ed. p. 376. - Ibidem, p. 385.


descendants of two brothers, Kanya and Kubja, of whom the former accepted a present from the divine king Rama of Ayodhya when he celebrated a sacrifice on his return from Ceylon, while the latter refused it. The Sarwarias are descended from Kubja who refused the present and therefore arc purer than the Kanaujias, whose ancestor, Kanya, accepted it. Kanya and Kubja are simply the two parts of Kanyakubja, the old name for Kanauj. It may be noted that Kanya means a maiden and also the constella- tion Virgo, while Kubja is a name of the planet Mars ; but it is not known whether the words in this sense are connected with the name of the city. The Kanaujia Brahmans of the Central Provinces practise hypergamy, as described in the general article on Brahman. Mr. Crooke states that in the United Provinces the children of a man's second wife can intermarry with those of his first wife, provided that they are not otherwise related or of the same section.

The practice of exchanging girls between families is also permitted there.^ In the Central Provinces the Kanaujias eat meat and sometimes plough with their own hands. The Chhattlsgarhi Kanaujias form a separate group, who have been long separated from their brethren elsewhere. As a consequence other Kanaujias will neither eat nor inter- marry with them. Similarly in Saugor those who have come recently from the United Provinces will not marry with the older settlers. A Kanaujia Brahman is very strict in the matter of taking food, and will scarcely eat it unless cooked by his own relations, according to the saying, ^ AtJi Kanaujia, nan chidJial or ' Eight Kanaujias will want nine places to cook their food.'

Kanyakubja Brahman

(From People of India/ National Series Volume VIII. Readers who wish to share additional information/ photographs may please send them as messages to the Facebook community, Indpaedia.com. All information used will be gratefully acknowledged in your name.)

Synonyms: Babaji, Kanaujia Brahman, Pandit [Bihar and/or Jharkhand] Maharaj, Pandit [Madhya Pradesh and/or Chhattisgarh]

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