Maithil Brahmins ( Brāhamaṇas is the correct Sanskrit term) form part of ancient Vedic Brahmins. Maithil Brāhamaṇas are a part of Panch-gauda Pañchgauḍa , a group of highest-ranking castes among Brahmin, who still strive to follow rites and rituals according to ancient Hindu canons. Maithil Brahmin is a community of highly cohesive, and traditional Brahmins. They have a reputation for orthodoxy and interest in learning. Most of them live in and around Mithila, which is a portion of North Bihar. A large number of Mathil Brahmins migrated a few centuries back to adjoining areas of South-east Bihar & Jharkhand as well as to adjoining Terai regions of Nepal. Mithila was the name of capital of the ancient kingdom of legendary King Janak. Most of the Maithil Brahmins are Śāktas (worshippers of Śakti) and love Choora-dahi (Beaten rice – Curd), Sugar, Pickle, Mangoes and discussions and debate.Maithili is their mother tongue, though many use Angika (a south-eastern dialect of Maithili) as their mother tongue.
They have four hierarchically ordered divisions: Śrotiya, Yogya or Joga, Panjibaddha (Pāinj in Maithili) and Jayawāra or Jaibar (which can be divided into Grihastha and Vamśa according to some scholars). They have no further endogamous divisions but observe a complicated rules for marriage, each of these four divisions may take a wife from the group below it.They are organized into named patrilineal groupings, and the genealogical links within and between these groupings has been an essential feature of Maithil Brahman social life for centuries. A class of genealogists known as panjikaras maintain records of the lineages and marriage links between them for the higher ranking lineages.
অআই==Traditional Areas of Maithil Brāhamanas == The Mithila Khanda of Visnu purana defines the traditional boundaries of Mithila as the Kosi River in the East, Gandaki or Gandaka in the west, Himalaya in the North and Gangā (Ganges) in the south, measuring 24 yojanas (1 yojana measured 12.52 Kilometres in 550AD according to Panchsiddantika) east-west and 16 yojanas north-south. But now many districts south of Gangā are also included in Mithila by dint of being the region of Maithili language as well as the residence of Maithil Brāhamanas. Mithila is the traditional region associated with Maithil Brāhamanas, but a large number of Maithil Brāhamanas have been living in various parts of Madhya Pradesh (esp. Māndla region) and Chhattisagarh states for millennia. Few Maithil Brāhamanas also reside in uttarakhand garhwal region e.g. Uniyal Brāhamanas. In Uttarakhand, the most famous family of Maithil brahmins was of late Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, whose ancestors had migrated from Mangalvaani village, now Mangrauni, in Madhubani district of Mithila, and were honoured by the title Bahuguna due to scholarship in many disciplines, by the king of Garhwal. Maithil Brahmans have now migrated to all over the world.
Linguistic Survey Of India by George Grierson gives a map and details of regions and features of Maithili language, this region is now known as Mithila. Mithila region comprises following districts in India: Darbhanga, Saharsa, Bhagalpur, Purnea, Madhubani, Samastipur, Begusarai, Supaul, Madhepura, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Muzzafarpur, Khagaria, Katihar, Araria, Banka, Godda, Deoghar, Jamui, Munger and following districts in Nepal: Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusa, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rauthat, Bara, Parsa, etc.
Origin of Maithil Brāhamanas
Uttarakānda of Vālmiki Rāmāyana (Ramayana) gives a detailed story of the origin of Maithil Brāhamanas. The King Nimi started a great yajna in which he invited rishi Vasiṣṭha for performing this yajna. Vasiṣṭha accepted but was busy in another yajna for a long time and therefore could not come in time. In the meantime, King Nimi asked the rishi (sage) Gotama to perform the yajna. Many other rishis were also invited. When Vasiṣṭha came and saw that the yajna was over, he cursed Nimi to live without body. Nimi retorted with a similar curse. By the blessings of his father Brahma, Vasiṣṭha was reborn in a kumbha (pitcher). Bhrigu and other sages asked the disembodied king Nimi whether he wanted to get a body, but Nimi refused and said he wanted to live in the ‘pupils'(eyelids, Nimi) of people. Then Nimi’s body was churned and a man was created, who came to be called Videha because he was born of a father who had no body (deha), and was also called Maithil because he was produced by churning (manthana). All the present gotras of Maithils are said to start from the sages who participated in the great yajna of Nimi. Yajnayalkya lived in Mithila (according to Brihadaranyaka Upanishada) and proponents of India’s six philosophies also lived here, including Gotama (Nyaya), Kapil(Samkhya), etc. Buddhism was widespread here. Later Udyotkata, Kumarila Bhatta, Mandana Mishra, Prabhakara, Udayanacharya, Gangesh, Pakshadhara Mishra, etc reestablished the Vedic religion by defeating Buddhists in debates.
According to D.D. Kosāmbi, Śatpath Brāhmana tells that Māthava Videgha, led by his priest Gotama Rahugana, was the first king who originally lived in the land of Sarasvati crossed Sadānirā (supposed to be Gandaka) and founded a kingdom, where the people named videhas lived at the time of composition of Śatpath Brāhmana. Gotama Rahugana was a vedic rishi who composed many hymns of the first mandala of Rgveda. Most notable Rgvedic hymns of Gotama Rahugana are those that praise Sva-rājya, which was the State of Videgha, which later became Videha due to phonetic change. Māthava Videgha, therefore, must belong to the Rgvedic period and must have preceded the period of Śatpath Brāhmana by a considerable gap. Rgveda also mentions hymns by Kāśirāja Pratardana in tenth mandala. Hence, Mithilā and Kāśhi formed part of the region in which Rgvedic people lived. Descendandants of Gotama Rahugana were called Gautama. One such sage lived near Ahilya-sthāna during the age of Rāmāyana.
Migration to Agra
Akbar always had a deep respect towards the talents & knowledge of Phalit Jyotish,so he had invited, in his Darbar, the most talented & well-versed Maithil pandits from Bihar. These pandits lived happily & respectfully in the regime of Akbar, which continued and gradually decreased in Jahangir’s and then Shahjahan’s rule.In the meantime, these pandits were cut off from their basic origin, i.e., Bihar.Then afterwards in the reign of Aurangzeb these once respectful pandits were treated unrespectfully and were tortured. They were forced to accept Islam by Aurangzeb. Among them who dared to oppose this were brutally killed while all the others had to fled away to distant villages to save their lives. Since then they are living in Agra, Aligarh, Mathura & distant villages and started calling themselves “BRAJASTHA MAITHIL BRAHMAN” as a new identity.Even after so many years the fear of Aurangzeb is still there in the un-conscious mind of them.Due to this fear some of the Maithils have even changed their surname to “SHARMA,” a local Brahmin surname.Brajastha Maithil Brahmans have little connections with their own origin Bihar’s Maithil Brahmins.Even after changing their surname to “SHARMA” local brahmins too had little affinity with them. This migration information is also depicted in Akbar’s autobiography “EIN-E-AKBARI”.
Vedas and Shākhās of Maithil Brāhamins:
All Maithil brahmins of Śāṇḍilya gotra belong to Sāmveda (Chāndoga), and all remaining Maithil brahmins belong to Yajurveda (Vājasaneyi, Mādhyandina Shākhā). Other Śākhvs of Vedas in Maithil brahmins have vanished, but names of many villages, such as Riga for Rgveda, Jajuar for Yajurveda, Samaul for Samaveda, Athari for Atharvaveda, etc, still remind that once upon a time brahmins of all Śākhvs lived in Mithila. Organisation into gotras and mūlas : All Maithil Brāhamins are divided into organised (vyavasthita) and unorganised (avyavasthita) types. There are 7 gotras among organised and 12 gotras among unorganised Maithil Brāhamanas. There are 7 organised gotras based on 7 rishis and 34 (according to some 36) organised mūlas (mūla means root or origin), and a total of 19 gotras and 180 mūlas. On the basis of three criteria, namely purity of birth, conduct and learning, 20 mūlas were declared to be uttama (best), and 14 or 16 were deemed medium, both taken together were called organised mūlas. In the following table, among the organised mulas, best (uttama) mūlas have been indicated in regular typeface and medium (madhyama) mūlas in italics. Unorganised mūlas do not show such differentiation.
Table of 7 Organised Gotras
|Śāṇḍilya||Pravaras: Śāṇḍilya, Asit, Deval.Mūlas (organised): Sarisab, Paboli, Khandvālā, Gangoli(also called as Gangoulee),Sodarpur, Jajiwāl, Dighabaya (also called as Dighabe).
Mūlas (unorganised): Mahuā, Jamugām, Karion, Suari, Sajhuār, Marārh, Pandaul, Dahibhāt, Tilaimāhar, Simba-lābh, Simh-āshrama, Karahiyā, Telhanpur, Parisarā, Parsandā, Biranāma, Uttamapur, Kodariā, Chhatiman, Barebā, Machhwāl,Gangor, Mataur, Budhaur,Brahmapur, Ganguāl, Ghosiām, Chhatauni, Bhiguāl, Nanauti, Tapanpur, Hoiār, Ahpur shākhā of Vatsa-gotriya Chhattis Karmahā mūla.
|Kāśyapa||Pravaras: Kāshyap, Avatsār, Naidhruva.Mūlas (organised): Mānḍara, Dariharā, Khauār(Khauāl), Sakrārhi, Baliās, Satlakhā, Panduā, Bisaphi (often Oini too).
Mūlas (unorganised): Jagati, Pachāot, Katayi, Mālichh, Merandi, Bhaduāl, Budhwāl, Pakaliā, Pibhuā, Mauri, Janak bhuthari, Chhādan, Thariā, Dosati, Bharehā, Kusumāl, Narwāl, Lagudadah, dahulā, Surimahā, Dadhihare Mautaina.
|Pārāśara||Pravaras: Shakti, Vasiṣṭha, Pārāśara.Mūlas (organised): Naruon, Surgan.
Mūlas (unorganised): Sakuri, Suari, Sambuāl, Pihwāl, Nadām, Mahesāri, Sakarhol, Sauni, Tilapi, Barewā.
|Kātyāyana||Pravaras: Āngiras,Viṣṇu,Kātyāyana.Mūlas (organised):Kujauli , Kujiwar
Mūlas (unorganised): Nanauti, Ratigām, Jallaki.
|Bhārdvāja||Pravaras:Āngiras, Bārhspatya,Bhārdvāja.Mūlas (organised): Belauch, Ekharā.
Mūlas (unorganised): Deām, Kaligām, Bhuthari, Gorhār, Dam Katāir, Sauni, Dhanauli, Barebā.
|Vatsa||Pravaras: Bhārgava,Chyavana,Aurva, Āplavana,Jāmdagnya.Mūlas (organised): Arirhbare,Ghosaut, Tisaut, Karmahā, Budhwāl,Budhware bodhram, Baherārhi, Pāli, Hariamb, Alayi, Bambhaniam,Paliwar Hati, Tankwal, Jallaki Ujati, (often Phanandah & Shakona too).
Mūlas (unorganised): Tisuri, Rājorh, Jajuār, Pohaddi, Bhanwāl, Koiār, Karahiyā, Jalewar, Nanaur,usrauli Darhār, Marārh, Lāhi, Sauni, Mohari, Bandhwāl, Baruāli, Pandaul,Mangrauna, Barewā, Bhandāirsom, Tapanpur, Bithuār, Narwāl, Chitrapal, Jarhatiyā, Ratwāl, Brahmapurā, Sarauni.
|Sāvarṇa||Pravaras: Aurva, Chyavana, Bhārgava, Jāmdagnya, Āplavana.Mūlas (organised): Panichobh
Mūlas (unorganised): Sāndepur, Barebā, Nanaur, Merandi.
Table of 12 Unrganised Gotras
|Gārgya||Gārgya, Dhrta, Vaishampāyana, Kaushika, Māndā, Vyāthavarna.||Bashā, Basāmaya, Brahmapurā, Surauro, Budhaurā, Oriyā.|
|Kaushika||Kaushika, Atri, Jamadagni.||Nikuti.|
|Vishnuvriddha||Vishnuvriddha, Angirasa, Kutsa||Kauthue.|
|Krishnātreya||Krishnātreya, Aplavāna, Sārasvata.||Busawala, Sāndupadoli, Alhonā.|
|Gautama||Angirā, Vashishtha, Bārhaspatya.||Brahmapurā, Uttamapur, Koiāra, Budhaurā, Auribā, Karamā, Khandavalā, Panduā.|
|Maudagalya||Maudagalya, Angirasa, Bārhaspatya.||Ratwāl, Mālichha, Digho, Jallaki, Meni.|
|Vashishtha||Vashishtha, Atri, Sānkriti.||Nānpur, Pandauli, Barebā, Kothuā, Vrishti-waal.|
|Kaundinya||Astika, Kaushika, Kaundinya.||Kothuā, Naruon, Ekharā.|
|Upamanyu||Tripravara but names NA.||Ekharā.|
|Kapila||Tripravara but names NA.||Piparauna.|
|Alambukaksha||Three Pravaras, names NA.||Katayi, Brahmapura.|
|Tandi||Tripravara but names NA.||Parasandā, Katāya.|
Organisation into Grāma : Each Mūla was further sub-divided into several Grāmas. Literally, Grāma means village, but in present context it does not mean modern village, but original village. Each Maithil brahmin is expected to remember his/her Śākhā, Gotra, Pravaras, Mūla and Grāma. The last denotes the village of residence when this organisation was introduced. Last mention of such an organisation or reorganisation dates to cir. 1324 AD, just before Mithilā was conquered by Giasuddin Tughlaq’s army and the last independent Hindu king Harisinghdeva fled to Kāthamāndu. For instance, Śāṇḍilya gotra has 172 Śākhās dispersed in 132 original Grāmas ; these Śākhās were branches of a mūla, e.g., Gangoli mūla has 14 Śākhās distributed into 20 Grāmas.
Surnames Of Maithil Brahmins
- Jhā (the most common Surname of Maithil Brahmins)
- Rāi (also spelled as Roy, a small section of Maithil Brahmins originally from near Madhubani, Laheriasarai and Baghba Village of Saharsa, who were small Kings or Zamindars by virtue of their unusual combination of strengths, intellect and acumen and were given Royal titles of Roy, RaiBahadur or RaiSahab by the British. Many abandoned their titles and donated their riches during the fight for India’s Independence but were still referred to as Rai due to their several generations of royal lineage),
- Rājhans, including Canadian TV personality Mohit Rajhans
- Bhāradwaj (mostly those who use their Gotras as their Surnames)
- Shāndilya (mostly those who use their Gotras as their Surnames)
- Kashyap (mostly those who use their Gotras as their Surnames)
- Parāshar, (mostly those who use their Gotras as their Surnames)
- Jajwāre (rare surname, but one family with this surname is in existence in Toronto, Canada)
- Singh (Brahmins who were also Zamindars and preferred to associate themselves more with Kings than Vipra Brahmins. e.g., Maharaja Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga Raj, Singhs/Sinha of Banaili raj, etc. But use of this surname is more an exception than a widely accepted phenomenon.)
- Chaturvedi (A large portion of the Migrant Maithilli Brahmins have this Surname)
- Khān (a small section of Maithil Brahmins (originally from near Saharsa, i.e. from Bangaon and Parari Village of Sahara District, Bihar) who were small Kings or Zamindars by virtue of their unusual combination of strengths, intellect and acumen and were given Royal titles of Khan, KhanBahadur or KhanSahab during Akbar’s reign)
- In fact it was not in Akbar’s reign that Khan surname was adopted by these Brahmins. Both Bahadur and Khan are in fact Monglian words brought to India and Arab by Genghis (Changez). People (Muslims) started using the Khan surname as an acknowledgement to Genghis (Changez) Khan’s valour and similarly Lal Bahadur was derived from Ulan Batur the capital of Mongolia. So Bahadur and Khan was derived as a surname depicting the valour of Genghis (Changez) Khan. Thus few ruling Brahmins of Mithila adopted the Surname of Khan or Khan Bahadur. (Gurudutta/September-2010)
- Sharmā (a small section of Maithil Brahmins who were originally from Mithilanchal, Bihar, were highly respected by Akbar and were requested to relocate by Akbar to his kingdom near Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, during his reign. These Brahmins later flew away during Aurangzeb’s tyranny when he tried to force them to convert into Muslims and changed their surnames to Sharma)