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

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

Madhya Pradesh tops India's 145 instances of 'anti-Christian atrocities' this year

Counterview Desk  A report prepared by the Religious Liberty Commission the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), founded in 1951 as the national alliance of evangelical Christians of the Protestant denomination, in its just-released report, “Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India: Half Yearly Report 2021”, has said that an analysis of 145 cases of violence it has documented against Christians, mainly by non-state actors, “stems from an environment of targeted hate.”

Pro-corporate? New GoI circular 'blatant attempt' to control Adivasi lives, livelihoods

By Hemant Das*  The Indian Community Activists Network (ICAN) condemns the anti-forest dwellers circular jointly issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the (Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), Government of India (GoI) on July 6. 

Demolition drive: Why aren't high-end hotels, farmhouses treated same way as Khorigaon?

By Our Representative A public hearing, sponsored by the civil rights group National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to hear the affected citizens of Khorigaon, off Faridabad, Delhi NCR, has seen local people complaining how their houses are being demolished even as the entire area was converted into a prison through heavy police deployment.

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.

Meaningful? Punjab govt's debt waiver offer for agricultural workers, landless farmers

By Dr Gian Singh*    On July 14, 2021, the Punjab government announced that it would hold a state level function on August 20 to waive the debt of agricultural labourers and landless farmers(pure tenants) of Punjab to the tune of Rs 590 crore. Prior to the 2017 elections, the Congress party had promised in its election manifesto and public speeches that the Punjab government would waive all the institutional and non-institutional debt of farmers and agricultural labourers of Punjab.

Why no human rights mechanism in South Asia, but other regions in world have them?

Counteview Desk A civil rights group, Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), has floated an online petition  titled "Governments of South Asia: Time for the Establishment of a South Asian Human Rights Mechanism", stating that South Asian states should work towards the establishment of a regional mechanism for human rights at the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) SAARC level in order to create better conditions for peace in South Asia.

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk  Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.

Covid impact on menstrual cycles? Young girls 'relapsing' back to unhygienic old-cloth rags

By Dr Sudeshna Roy*  Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world in health and economic shock. Combating this public health crisis has diverted development resources earmarked for adolescents and the youth. India; having world’s second largest population; 1.38 crores as per UN mid-year 2020 estimation, also shelters the largest adolescents and young adult population, which at 243 million constitute 20% of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescent population.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".