Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu

Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu
Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP)
Regions with significant populations
Maharashtra, Indore, & Gujarat
Languages

Marathi

Religion

Hinduism

Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu or (Marathi: चांद्रसेनीय कायस्थ प्रभू), abbreviated CKP, is an ethno-religious community which is part of Kayastha. The mother tongue of this community is Marathi. Though the exact geographical population distribution is not available, the community is concentrated primarily in western Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, mostly Raigad, Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Kolhapur, Nashik, Nagpur, Dhar, Indore and Gujarat.

Contents

Origin

Kayastha is a caste community of Kshatriyas. The legend is that in ancient times some Kshatriya kings exploited their people. As a result, the Sage Parashurama waged war against them, decimating the group repeatedly. He instructed Kshatriya women who were pregnant at the time of his ultimate conquest to ensure their children concentrated on intellectual pursuits, and not on warfare. He said that since these children were residing ('sthit') in the 'Kaya' (body/womb) at the time of his conquest and thereby saved from his axe, they would be called 'Kayasthas' after birth. This story is mentioned in the 'Skanda-Purana'. It should be noted that according to the traditional Varnashram system, the Kshatriyas have two duties: to pursue knowledge and to serve as administrators. Parashuram guided the Kaysthas, a sub-caste of the Kshatriyas, to concentrate on intellectual pursuits rather than administration. The Kshatriya are defined by their motto, "Yuddh kale asi-jeevi, shanti-kale masi-jeevi" (To live by the sword during wars, and by ink during peace.) There are several sub-castes of Kayasthas.

History

As the Maratha empire expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries, the community spread to the then Maratha states of Baroda, Indore, Gwalior and Nagpur. Though the current location of this community is in Maharashtra or ex-Maratha states, the CKPs are believed to have migrated, centuries ago, from the Kashmir region. Along with the Aryans, one clan, called 'Haihayas', migrated to India. The best known king of this clan was Shastrarjun Kartivirya. During the cleansing of Kshatriyas by Bhargava Rama (Parshu Rama), the pregnant wife of 'Chandrasena', one of the sons of Kartivirya Arjun, survived. The present day CKP clan is the progeny of that son of 'Chandrasena'.

Ancient history

They migrated through the Khyber Pass from Sumer, where they belonged to cults devoted to Nanna, a lunar deity (like Chandra) associated with symbols of scholarship. It is generally agreed that the Kayasthas are the descendants of the king Chandrasen who was the Kshatriya king (warrior by profession), the son of Sahastrararjun of the Haiyaya family.

Medieval history

Chinese travellers mention Shaiv-Kayastha kings in Kashmir in 5th century. These kings used to talk in Sanskrit and one such king even composed a poem, ‘Rajatarangini’ describing Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. In the 7th and 8th century, Kayasthas ruled in Kashmir state but later shifted from Kashmir to northern and central India in the 10th century due to invading Islamic rulers. Sometime during the advent of Buddhism, the last CKP kingdom was lost and the community moved to Mandugadh where they held important positions in the court of the Parmars.

Migration from Kashmir to Sindh

CKPs continued administrating Sind-Multan-Kashmir kingdoms until Mohammed of Gazani defeated independent Muslim kingdoms of Sind-Multan-Kashmir in year 1027. Earlier, due to climatic changes with decrease in agriculture outputs & reduction in trade related activities, migration of communities upwards in Indus basin from Thatta on Arabian sea coast of Sind-Baluchistan where Indus river meets Arabian sea started towards Multan - Kashmir.

Migration from Sindh to West Narmada Valley

Mohammed of Gazani invaded the Indus valley in 1027, which caused the CKP community to emigrate eastward along the Indus river & embarked from Thatta in Sind-Baluchistan to eventually take up positions in Parmar’s court as it had CKPs already serving in his court.

Arrival in Maharashtra

In 1298, Allaudin Khilji attacked Mandavgarh & destroyed Parmar kingdom. CKPs who had lost their occupational jobs migrated through Narmada river to Daman, Kalyan, Chowl, Dabhol,Goa, Karwar in Konkan to settle in Chalukya-Solanki-Yadav governed towns. Few among these settlers around Daman-Kalyan took farming related activities along with administrative jobs to develop in separate community known as Somvanshiya Kshatriya Prabhu. After fall of Vasai in 1739 most came settled in Mumbai.

Period of Maratha Empire During Shivaji Maharaj’s period, this was the only community, who along with Deshasthas, held higher administration positions and positions alongside the Kshatriya Marathas in the army of Maratha Empire during Shivaji Maharaj’s time and later during 1st Bajirao Peshwa’s period.

In Peshwai

Before 1713, all the Peshwes (Prime Ministers) during the reign of the Maratha Empire were Deshasthas but from 1713 to 1803 Chatrapati appointed Chitpavan Peshwes. Particularly during the period 1750-1790, CKPs and Deshasthas faced a multitude of problems because of the pro-Chitpavan(and anti-CKP,anti-debra) attitude of Nanasaheb Peshwa. CKPs who by the mid-18th century had established themselves as professional administrators for the Angres at Alibaug, the Suvarnadurg clan in Malabar-Konkan coast, the Gaekwads in Gujarat, Bhonsales in Berar province, Ghorpades in Karnataka as well as for other Maratha chieftains from Dewas, Dhar, Indore, Kolhapur, Satara and Akkalkot found themselves at loggerheads with the Koknastha Brahmins for political and economical reasons because both communities were competing for the same posts. CKPs, who were favoured by both Hindu and Muslim rulers, were suppressed by vested interests in the Peshwa's durbar at Pune, particularly during rule of Nanasaheb Peshwa, Madhavrao Peshwa and Nana Phadanavis.

This was also the period of a Brahmanical revival in the Hindu religion when Brahmins ascended to the top of the Hindu caste hierarchy. CKPs, who as local administrators for the (Yavana) Muslim rulers prior to the Peshwa rule, had interaction socially with the Muslim and Buddhist rulers of the era and gradually adopted the social customs prevalent at that time, such as animal sacrifice, eating meat during religious functions, donation of money to bride as meher, worshipping fakirs or sufi saints and fasting, which was anathema to the Brahmins. Furthemore, the CKPs never had the sheer numbers to gain the favour of rulers. Chitpavan Kokanasta Brahmins who outnumbered CKPs, made several attempts to isolate the CKPs and suppress them further economically and politically, for example, by claiming that they did not have the right to perform the thread ceremony (munj).

CKPs found themselves always at loggerheads with peshwas starting from Balaji Vishvanath 1st Chitpavan peshwa who usurped powers from Tarabai faction with whom CKPs sided. The Prabhu community found themselves marginalized after Balaji Vishvanath became Peshwa. Aside from Sardar Gupte who was commander in chief of Raghunathrao and sworn enemy of Nana Phadanvis during his Attock operation no notable CKP ever served Peshwai & most joined rivals of Peshwas. This may have antagonised Peshwa administration further.

Occupations

The traditional occupations of CKPs were Sardar, Secretary of Empire (Chitnis), Chief Administrator (Deshpande), Chief of Army, Diplomats, other Administrative posts in the Maratha Empire; a small number of people also practiced Ayurvedic medicine. During the period of British Raj, CKPs in general, found employment in white collar professions such as office clerks, administrators, soldiers and teachers. In modern times, CKP occupations range from factory workers, clerks to doctors, lawyers, teachers, administrators, soldiers, IT professionals, engineers and Event Managers. CKP women are also going into higher education and as a result can be found in high ranking professions.

Social status

Being kayastha, they follow the customs and practices of Kshatriya varna, such as following Upanayana sanskaar like all 'Dwijas' (twice-borns). Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishya varnas are all 'Dwijas'. They are Vedadhikaris, which gives them the right to study Vedas. The right to teach Vedas is limited to Brahmins only. The sword and the pen symbolized the tools of this community for centuries.

See also

Bibliography

References


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