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Utkala Brahmin

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Utkala Brahmin
उत्कल ब्राह्मण
Shri Shankaracharya of Puri.jpg
Priests from Utkala Brahmin community, during Yatra with Shankararcharya of Puri (center)
VarnaBrahmin
JātiUtkala
ReligionsHinduism
LanguagesOdia language
CountryIndia
Original stateOdisha
Populated statesOdisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh
RegionHinduism
Kingdom (original)Utkala Kingdom

Utkala Brahmin is also known as Utkal Brahmin (trans. priest from classical Utkal Rajya) is a Brahmin caste in India. Utkal Brahmins have their origins in the state of Odisha, but today they are scattered across India in dozens of jātis (castes) speaking many local languages. A high percentage of them speak English as higher education in India is mostly English medium.[1] The Utkala Brahmins are one of the five Pancha Gauda Brahmin communities that originally resided to the north of the Vindhyas, and represent around 12% of Odia population.[2][3]

Origin[edit | edit source]

Generally, they belong to Pancha Gauda communities who ascribe to the Brahmin varna. In the early Utkal Rajya, it was stated that the emperor lacked enough priests for the temple processions and advisory or accounting posts for the Khandayat landlords.[4] Hence, a lot of priests were requested from the areas of upper-Gangetic plains in North India to situate in the empire so they could fill the occupational vacancy. Along with that, the Gajapati emperor of 12th century, Gajapati Mukilenda Deva, anointed many tribals and people from lower castes (generally part of "untouchable" or Scheduled Castes) as priests and ordained them as Brahmins by investing them with the sacred thread through Upanayana ceremony, conducted by the contemporary Brahmins of that time.[5] Hence, this solved the vacancy problem, but such a large community had to prescribe to the cultural roots of the region so they could be considered legitimate by the general populace. Therefore, the Odia brahmins along with Brahmins of North India and newly ordained Brahmins from former Dalit and Adivasi castes took up many Odia customs and rituals in regards to marriage, daily processions, interactions, and surnames. As this transformation happened during the Utkal Rajya, hence this new community would be called the Utkala Brahmins or Utkal Brahmin.

Present Day[edit | edit source]

This community has spread across Odisha, generally situated in the coastal regions, where commerce, industry, educational facilities are centered. Generally, in the past, many of the Utkala Brahmin families were given lands by their respective feudal lords or Kings in order for their service, and with this, many became landlords. [4] However, with the end of feudalism, many of the Brahmin landlords, unlike the Khandayat landlords, sold off their lands, and moved to the cities. Hence, because of the assistance of wealth generated by the lands sold and also by unwarranted respect in the society, they could dominate the economic, media, and political sector like the other two castes, Khandayat and Karana. Also, in the British era, they have produced many luminaries who have been social reformers, freedom fighters, and civic professionals.

Divisions[edit | edit source]

Like the Khandayat, because of its large population, the Utkala Brahmin community is divided into various class, social, and religious strata. Though these divisions were very important in the previous eras, especially during medieval age in regards to temple authorities or social respect among other communities; today, these divisions have become generally blurred. Generally, the community is split into two major subcastes, Strotiya, and Asrotiya (Sevaka) Brahmins, along with their various subcaste within these two main divisions. [6][5]

Srotiya Utkala Brahmins[edit | edit source]

Brahmins in both these sub-classes are eligible to perform Vedic rites in temples and pujas and generally consisted of the Brahmin population in the ancient times. They used to not intermarry. The following are: 1) Dakshinatya Brahmins from regions nearby Puri[7] 2) Jaipuri Brahmins, who come from the Jajpur (Cuttack) area. [7]

Asrotiya Utkala Brahmins[edit | edit source]

The Asrotiya Brahmins, also known as Sevaka Brahmins, are divided into four sub-classes, as follows:

3) Debalaka (Deulia) Brahmins, who serve the Gods and Goddesses.[8] 4) Aranyaka Brahmins, also known as Panchadesi, Jhadua or Jharia Brahmins, who were the first settlers in Sambalpur. They marry among themselves, and other Utkal Brahmin immigrants to Western Orissa and Chhattisgarh refuse to intermarry with them.[9] 5) Paniyari (Panda) Brahmins, who are engaged in business and trade of agricultural produce. They also form the priestly class. Some are cooks in temples and even in private houses. They travel all around India, encouraging pilgrims to visit the temples of Lord Jagannath.[9] 6) Halua Brahmins, also known as Padhi or Pati or Balaramgotri, were mainly engaged in agriculture (i.e. farmers, agriculturalist, or Landlords). They became wealthy businessmen due to their agricultural pursuits, but have entirely lost their sacerdotal (priestly) character.

Customs[edit | edit source]

Utkala caste generally follows the patriarchal system in regards to social norms and follow customs and marriage rituals which are similar to both major communities, Karana and Khandayat. Despite the Utkala Brahmin community being formed as a mixture of various castes and sub-castes from different regions, that had happened in pre-medieval times, however today, this community is one of the most caste-conscious and endogamous In Odisha, in regards to marriage.[3] They are also known to follow a patrilineal gotra system like the Khandayat, with many having Sapta Rishi Brahmin gotras. However, many also have tribal/totemic ones, indicating their tribal origin. Also, marriage along the clan (sa-gotra) is generally forbidden[10][11]

All Utkala Brahmins are mandated to be invested with the sacred thread, also called Paita in Odia, through the Upanayana ceremony. This is different to Khandayat communities, as Khandayats consider it optional or only to be worn in special pujas or occasion such as marriage, and many of them do not keep it permanently.[citation needed]

Titles and surnames[edit | edit source]

Titles and Surnames include Rath, Acharya, Kar, Singh, Sabat, Pati, Patro, Mishra, Misra, Gahana, Mund, Padhy, Padhi, Pati, Mohapatra, Singha Mohapatra, Dash, Das, Diwedi, Trivedi, Tiwary, Purohit, Sarangi, Nanda, Mahanty, Ratha, Panda, Pattjoshi, Joshi, Khamari, Mahanti, Babu, Praharaj, Panigrahi, Tripathy, Muni, Upadhya, Dwivedi, Chaturvedi, Hota and Mavinkurve, Satapathy, and also very few of them ordained with Behera (descendants from Sambalpur and Kalahandi).[citation needed]


References[edit | edit source]

  1. Project, Joshua. "Brahmin Utkal in India". joshuaproject.net.
  2. James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. Rosen. pp. 490–491. ISBN 9780823931804.
  3. D. Shyam Babu and Ravindra S. Khare, ed. (2011). Caste in Life: Experiencing Inequalities. Pearson Education India. p. 168. ISBN 9788131754399.
  4. Pati, Biswamoy (19 December 2018). "Situating Social History: Orissa, 1800-1997". Orient Blackswan – via Google Books.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Chitnis, Krishnaji Nageshrao (19 December 1994). "Glimpses of Maratha Socio-economic History". Atlantic Publishers & Dist – via Google Books.
  6. "The Sampradaya Sun - Independent Vaisnava News - Feature Stories - January 2010". www.harekrsna.com.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bhattacharya, jogendra Nath (19 December 1896). "Hindu Castes And Sects" – via Internet Archive.
  8. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/118563/13/13_chapter%208.pdf
  9. 9.0 9.1 "The Sampradaya Sun - Independent Vaisnava News - Feature Stories - January 2010". www.harekrsna.com.
  10. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/119441/9/09_chapter%202.pdf
  11. https://cdn.s3waas.gov.in/s3496e05e1aea0a9c4655800e8a7b9ea28/uploads/2018/03/2018032995.pdf

See also[edit | edit source]


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