Who are Mehta and Khatris

Khatri - Khatri

Punjabi caste in the Indian subcontinent
Religions Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam
languages Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Kutchi, Gujarati, Sindhi
country Mainly India and Pakistan
region Punjab, Sindh, Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat

Khatri is a caste in northern India and Pakistan, mainly from the Punjab region. Khatris has provided many eminent personalities, including all Sikh Gurus. They have also provided key figures of war such as General Pran Nath Thapar, the fourth chief of the Indian army, and Hari Singh Nalwa, the commander in chief of the Khalsa army. Before India's independence, khatris were mainly located in western Punjab and their main castes were Bhallas, Bohars, Dhavan, Kapoor, Kakar, Khanna, Kochar, Mahenderu, Malhotra, Mehra, Sahai, Sahni, Sethi, Tandon, Ghai, Ghandhari. Maini, Puri, Kiran, Mehta, Handa, Saighal, Cham, Chotra, Kohli, Lakhi, Rihan, Bedi, Sodhi, Trihan and Aroras.


Historically, khatris have been teachers, civil administrators, scribes, bankers, accountants, merchants, traders, shopkeepers and silk weavers. According to Bichitra Natak it is said to be the autobiography of the last Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, the Bedi sub-caste of Der Khatris, derives its descent from Kush, the son of Rama (after the Hindu epic Ramayana ). According to the legend of Bachitar Natak, the descendants of Kush learned the Vedas in Benares and were therefore called Bedis (Vedis). Similarly, according to the same legend, the Sodhi subcaste claims to be descended from Lav, the other son of Rama.

According to ancient Greek sources: “The people who held the area between the Hydrastes (Ravi) and the Hyphasis (Beas) were the Khatriaioi , whose capital is Sangala ”. Sangala is used in Buddhist texts by Mahabharata and Pali mentioned as the capital of the Kingdom of Madra. JW McCrindle, the translator and writer, adds that the name has been used in slightly different forms in modern times, including the term Khatris and others, spread across a wide region in northwest India from Hindu Kush to Bengal and from Nepal to Gujarat.

After gaining patronage from the Mughal nobles, the khatris took on administrative and military roles outside the Punjab region. According to legend, they continued their military service in the 17th century until the time of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, when the death of many of their members during the Emperor's Deccan campaign led him to order the remarriage of their widows. The order was made for the widows of sympathy, but when the community leader Khatri refused to obey it, Aurangzeb ended her military service, saying that she should be a shopkeeper and broker.

This legend is probably fanciful: John McLane notes that a more likely explanation for their revised position was that a Sikh revolt against the Mughals in the early 18th century severely affected the khatri's tradability and forced them to take sides. Those primarily dependent on the Mughals went to considerable lengths to maintain that allegiance in the face of allegations that they actually favored "Jat Sikh supporters of rebel leader Banda". The result of their claims - which included helping the Mughals financially and shaving their beards - was that the Khatris became even more important to the Mughal rulers as administrators at various levels, particularly due to their financial management skills and ties to bankers.

Purnima Dhawan described that the Khatris together with the Jat community benefited significantly from the expansion of the Mughal empire, although both groups supported Guru Hargobind in his campaign for Sikh self-government in the Punjab plains.

Photo of a khatri man c. 1859-1869

During this period, the khatris played an important role in the national trade in India and were described by Scott Cameron Levi as one of the "most important trading communities of early modern India". Dale finds Khatris in Astrakhan, Russia in the late 17th century, and in the 1830s, the British Imperial Proconsul and former Governor of Bombay, Mountstuart Elphinstone, was informed that Khatris was still heavily involved in cross-regional trade in northwest India and that they maintained communities throughout Afghanistan and as far as Astrakhan. They often married Tatar native women and the children from these marriages were known as Agrijan. After George Campbells Ethnology of India in the middle of the 19th century were Khatris are the only Hindus known in Central Asia. In the 1830s, Khatris worked as governor in districts such as Bardhaman, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, and Hazara, albeit independently of Mughal rule.

Modern pictorial representation of a khatri king.

In 1998, Suresh Kumar described Khatris as a silk weaver. Khatris was also found to be involved in agriculture and the service sector. Banking, trade and commerce were considered "traditional professions of the Khatri in Rajasthan".

Origin and ritual status

According to the historian Baij Nath Puri, the khatris are an integral part of the ancient Kshatriya caste. Syan, HS, regards Khatris as purely Vedic descent who, like the Rajputs, claim the Kshatriya status of the Hindu Varna system. According to Scott C. Levi, khatris were considered to be kshatriyas, the second highest Varna in the Indian social hierarchy, among only the Brahmins, although they participated in professions similar to those of the Bania communities.

However, these claims are contested by most of the scholars who view castes in northern India, such as Khatri and Kayastha, as trading castes claiming higher status to match the educational and economic advancement they have made in the past. According to Anand Yang, the khatris in the Saran district in Bihar were included in the list of "Bania" along with agar whales and rastogis from Vaishya Varna.

Khatri's standards for literacy and caste status were so high in the early years of Sikhism that they dominated, according to WH McLeod. The author McLeod mentions the employment of khatris as soldiers by Mughal emperors, but notes that when the British arrived in India, it was mainly merchants and scribes who were involved in kshatriyas, a claim not granted by the British, but rather that of their ambiguous position illustrated on the large Varna scale of class differences. "

The word khatri in the Hindi language comes from the Sanskrit Kshatriya according to the Śabdasāgara lexicon of Shyamasundara Dasa. According to Dr. HH Wilson, Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University, the word Khatri is the Hindi word for the Sanskrit Kshatriya, the name of the 2nd pure tribe of the caste system. Purnima Dhavan sees the assertion in an amalgamation of phonetically similar words khatri and kshatriya . In the 19th century, British administrators disagreed on whether the khatri claim of Kshatriya status should be accepted, as the vast majority of them were more likely to go through with the occupation Vaishya (Trade) than with Kshatriya (Military) was busy. According to Dasharatha Sharma, the Khatris in Rajasthan claimed in the 20th century that they were "full-blooded Kshatriya who have perished on a social level".

Veena Talwar Oldenburg states that the "Khatri" is a miniature form of "Kshatriya", but notes that they were "arbitrarily thrown together with the" trading boxes "by the British". According to Oldenburg, the khatris were recognized as kshatriyas, but "professionally they were always much more diverse than their origins, as suggested by a warrior caste". The khatris served in Ranjit Singh's armed forces but were severely restricted by the British Raj, possibly "to prevent the kind of mutiny" experienced by the British during the 1857 uprising.

University of Mumbai historian Vijaya Gupchup explains that the Brahmins in Maharashtra showed resentment against the attempt by the Marathi Khatris or Koshti to rise from a ritually low status to Kshatriya by exploiting British neutrality towards castes. She quotes a translation from a Marathi publication that gave a Brahmanic opinion on this attempt:

"Everyone does what they want, sonars have become brahmin, Treemungalacharya was insulted by throwing cowdung at him in Pune, but he has no shame and still calls himself a brahmin. Likewise a Marathi Khatri or Koshti (weaver) who in Panchal at Other places than Bombay, call themselves Kshatriya in Bombay and say that their needles are the arrows and their thimbles are the scabbards. How surprising that these sonars and khatris, from which even Shudras take no water, have become brahmins and kshatriyas In short, day after day, higher castes disappear and lower castes flourish. "

In New Zealand, khatris from Gujarat and Rajasthan are said to have tailoring skills such as the "Darji" caste (tailor caste). In the case of Sikh Khatris, their Kshatriya claim reflects a contradicting attitude towards the traditional Hindu caste system. It's in Sikh texts like that Guru Granth Sahib obviously . who on the one hand rise above the paradigm of the Hindu caste and on the other hand try to portray the khatri gurus as a group of warrior-defenders of their faith, just like the Kshatriya-Varna.

Punjabi Khatris after independence

DL Sheth, the former director of the Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), listed the upper castes of India who formed the middle class and were traditionally "urban and professional" immediately after independence in 1947. This list included the Punjab Khatris, Kashmiri Pandits, Nagar Brahmins, and the South Indian Brahmins; Chitpawans and CKPs (Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus) from Maharashtra; Kayasthas from North India; the Probasi and the Bhadralok Bengalis; the parsis; and the upper crusts of the Muslim and Christian communities. According to PKVerma, "Education was a common thread connected to this Pan-Indian elite," and almost all members of these communities could read and write English and were educated beyond school.

Religious groups

Hindu khatris

The vast majority of the khatris are Hindus. Most of the Hindu Khatris emigrated to India after the partition and settled in urban areas across India. They made up an estimated 9% of the total population of Delhi in 2003.

The Bardhaman Raj was founded in 1657 by Sangam Rai Kapoor, a khatri from Kotli, Punjab

Sikh khatris

All ten Sikh Gurus were Khatris: Guru Nanak was a Bedi, Guru Angad was a Trehan, Guru Amar Das was a Bhalla and the rest were Sodhis.

During the Gurus' lifetime, most of their main supporters were khatris. A contemporary of the Sikh Gurus, Bhai Gurdas, provides a list of these in his Varan Bhai Gurdas . However, many of the more successful khatri traders opposed the restrictions imposed on the Khalsa movement by Guru Gobind Singh to end the concept of caste in Sikhism by removing traditional rituals and identities.

Gulaba Singh Khatri (1720-1759) was the ruler and founder of Dallewalia Misl, an 18th century state in the Jalandhar district

See also


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