Skip to main content

Imagine! Lord Ram, a Kshatriya, didn't have 'right' to convert tribals into Brahmins

Shukleshwar Mahadev temple in Anaval village
By Rajiv Shah
The other day, I was informally talking with a younger friend on caste situation in Gujarat. In order to explain how caste has taken shape, he told me his own example. “I am supposed to be Anavil Brahmin”, as he said this, I wondered where these Brahmins are placed in the Brahmin caste hierarchy, which is known to be pretty rigid, and has many sub-castes. 
This friend – whom I don’t want to name in order not to embarrass him (I know he does not believe in casteism in either traditional sense of the term) – said, “Well, I don’t think they are among the top of the caste ladder.” Then, he went to explain to be me the myth that is prevailing about the origin of the Anavils.
Pointing out that all Anavil Brahmins belong to a village called Anaval in the Mahuva taluka of Surat district of South Gujarat, he said, “We were all said to tribals. According to this story, when Lord Ram reached Gujarat after he was wandering around in forests during his 14 year long exile, he decided to offer meal to Brahmins in Anavil.”
“However”, this friend continued, “When the Lord found that they were all tribals in Anaval, in order to offer them meal, he converted them all into Brahmins. So we are all originally South Gujarat tribals turned into Brahmins by Lord Ram, if this story is to be believed.”
A few minutes later, this friend returned back to me to tell me with another anecdote. He said, according to this story, as Lord Ram found that there were “no Brahmins in Anaval village, he decided to import Brahmins from Benaras.”
So far off? I wondered. It would have taken several days for the messenger to reach Benaras, and another several days for them to come to Anaval. Interesting, indeed. “Yes, interesting”, he said, smiling, but continued. “They reached Anaval, accepted meal from the Lord. They stayed put, married tribal women, and we are all supposed to be their descendants.”
As I was interested in what all he said, I decided to look up on the web to find out what the myth is all about. Anaval is a large village, with a gram panchayat, and has a population of about 7,000 people and around 1,500 households.
My friend had already confirmed, Anavil Brahmins have been “bhumihars”, a landowning class of agriculturists, a job which Brahmins are not supposed perform – the site also stated confimed. But what surprised me was, Wikipedia, the popular site which is authored by individuals “citing” references, sought to deny that they were made Brahmins by Lord Ram.
Undermining a Lord’s power? I was taken aback. Wikipedia reads, “It is wrongly attributed that they were made Brahmins by Bhagwan Ram. Bhagwan Ram was Kshatriya by varna and was not allowed to perform any ritual as per varna system in those days. Even if he was seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, he had to rely on sage Vasishtha for rituals for himself and his kingdom so how come he could have performed ritual to convert Anavils to Brahmins?”
Now this was terribly interesting. Much against what the Hindutva propagandists that there was no casteism in ancient India, here were Wikepedia “authors” (I am sure they must be Anavils) emphatically stating that casteism existed thousands of years ago. Imagine! Casteism in those was so strong that even Lord Ram didn’t have the “right” to make anyone Brahmin, a higher caste than Kshatriya, to which the Lord belonged! Wow!
Be that as it may, the site continues, “The fact is Anavil Brahmins are originally from Bihar and they came to Surparka kingdom in Konkan region with Bhagwan Parahuram who is sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Anavil Brahmins are not performing any rituals the same way bhumihar Brahmins are not performing in different parts of India.”
This argument is based on the premise that they come from Parshubhumi – the land between Vapi and Tapi in Gujarat, and “dominate” in the Parshubhumi – Valsad, Navsari and Surat districts of the state, “where they have been significant land-owners and have an influential role in politics.”
A blogger site by one Anup Desai seeks to give more “details” on this. It says, “Based on my research with due diligence, I'm convinced to believe that Anavils are from ancient Surparka kingdom that existed from Narmada river to Raigad district of present day Maharashtra. That kingdom was established from Lord Parshuram.”
However, this site does not stop here. It goes so far as to say that “historically speaking, Anavils are Baloch tribe and that's the reason why they don't get united too often as traditionally they are fiercely independent due to their background and ancestry. Baloch tribe travelled from present day Baluchistan to Bhojpur in Bihar and from there it scattered into different directions in India.”
The blogger site considers present-day Anavils having the same “independent” trait of the Baluchs. It says, “I see even now that Anavils are very different in their thinking, and even culturally from other Gujarati castes. In fact, I was told many times that I am not like typical Gujarati and being an Anavil… It is very natural as Anavil's genes are not the same as other typical Gujarati castes.”

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as