Bania: Asathi

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This article was written in 1916 when conditions were different. Even in
1916 its contents related only to Central India and did not claim to be true
of all of India. It has been archived for its historical value as well as for
the insights it gives into British colonial writing about the various communities
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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.

Bania, Asathi

This subcaste numbers about 2500 persons in the Central Provinces, belonging principally to the Damoh and Jubbulpore Districts. They say that their original home was the Tikamgarh State in Bundelkhand. They do not rank very high, and are sometimes said to be the descendants of an Ahir who became a Bania. The great bulk are Hindus and a small minority Jains. It is told of the Asathis that they first bury their dead, in accord- ance presumably with a former practice, and then exhume and burn the bodies ; and there is a saying — Ardha jale, ardha gave Ji7ika 7iain Asathi parc^ or, '

He who is an Asathi is half buried and half burnt.* But this practice, if it ever really existed, has now been abandoned. Bania, Charnag-ri, Channag-ri, Samaiya.—The Char- nagris are a small Jain subcaste which numbered about 2500 1 Mr. Crooke's Tribes and Castes, art. Audhia.

persons in 191 i, residing princiimlly in the Damoh and Chhlndwara Districts. They are the followers of one Taran Svvami, who is said to have lived about five centuries aL^^o. He preached against the worship of the images of the Jain Tirthakars, and said that this should be abandoned and only the sacred books be revered. The chief sacred place of the sect is Malhargarh in Gwalior State ; here the tomb of their prophet is situated and there is also a large temple in which the Jain scriptures are enshrined. In the month of Phagun (February) a fair is held here, and Charnagris dance in the temples, holding lighted lamps in their hands.

Nowadays the Charnagris also visit the ordinary Jain temples when their own are not available. They are practically all derived from Parwar Banias, and formerly would sometimes give their daughters to Parwars in marriage, but this practice is said to have stopped. Like other Bania subcastes, they are divided into Bisa and Dasa, or twenty and ten sections, the Dasa being of irregular descent. Intermarriage between the two sections occasionally occurs, and the Dasa will take food from the Bisa section, but the latter do not reciprocate except at caste feasts.

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