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II

KHATİK

455

food together, but do not intermarry. They have the usual set of exogamous clans or septs, many of which are of a totemistic nature, being named after plants, animals or natural objects. In Jubbulpore, owing to their habit of keeping pigs and the dirty state of their dwellings, one of their divisions is named Lendha, which signifies the excrement of swine. Here the sept is called bān, while in Wardha it is known as kul or ādnām. Marriage within the sept is forbidden.

When arranging a match they consider it essential that the boy should be taller than the girl, but do not insist on his being older. A bride-price is sometimes paid, especially if the parents of the girl are poor, but the practice is considered derogatory. In such a case the father is thought to sell his daughter and he is called Bad or Bhānd. Marriages commonly take place on the fifth, , seventh or ninth day after the Holi festival, or on the festival of Badsāvitri, the third day of Baisākh (light fortnight). When the bridegroom leaves the house to set out for the wedding his mother or aunt waves a pestle and churning-stick round him, puts a piece of betel-vine in his mouth and gives him her breast to suck. He then steps on a little earthen lamp-saucer placed over an egg and breaks them, and leaves the house without looking back. These rites are common to many castes, but their exact significance is obscure. The pestle and churning-stick and egg may perhaps be emblems of fertility. At the wedding the fathers of the couple split some wood into shreds, and, placing it in a little pit with cotton, set a light to it. If it is all burnt up the ceremony has been properly performed, but if any is left, the people laugh and say that the corpses of the family's ancestors were not wholly consumed on the pyre. To effect a divorce the husband and wife break a stick in the presence of the caste panchāyat or committee, and if a divorced woman or one who has deserted her husband marries again, the first husband has to give a feast to the caste on the tenth day after the wedding ; this is perhaps in the nature of a funeral feast to signify that she is dead to him. The remarriage of widows is permitted. A girl who is seduced by a member of the caste, even though she may be delivered of a child, may be married

to him by the maimed rites used for widows. But she cannot take part in auspicious ceremonies, and her feet are not washed by married women like those of a proper bride. Even if a girl be seduced by an outsider, except a Hindu of the impure castes or a Muhammadan, she may be taken back into the community and her child will be recognised as a member of it. But they say that if a Khatīk keeps a woman of another caste he will be excommunicated until he has put her away, and his children will be known as Akre or bastard Khatīks, these being numerous in Berār. The caste burn or bury the dead as their means permit, and on the third day they place on the pyre some sugar, cakes, liquor, sweets and fruit for the use of the dead man's soul.

The occupation of the Khatīk is of course horrible to Hindu ideas, and the social position of the caste is very low. In some localities they are considered impure, and high-caste Hindus who do not eat meat will wash themselves if forced to touch a Khatīk. Elsewhere they rank just above the impure castes, but do not enter Hindu temples. These Khatīks slaughter sheep and goats and sell the flesh, but they do not cure the skins, which are generally exported to Madras. The Hindu Khatīks often refuse to slaughter animals themselves and employ a Muhammadan to do so by the rite of halāl. The blood is sometimes sold to Gonds, who cook and eat it mixed with grain. Other members of the caste are engaged in cultivation, or retail vegetables and grain.

1. Rājpūt Khatri.—A prominent mercantile caste of the Punjab, origin.

whose members to the number of about 5000 have settled in the Central Provinces and Berār, being distributed over most Districts. The Khatris claim to be derived from the Rājpūt caste, and say that their name is a corruption of Kshatriya. At the census of 1901 Sir Herbert Risley approved of their demand on the evidence laid before him by the leading representatives of the caste. This view is assented to by Mr. Crooke and Mr. Nesfield. In Gujarāt also the caste are known as Brahma-Kshatris, and their Rājpūt origin is considered probable, while their appearance

II

CAMPBELL'S ACCOUNT OF THE KHATRIS

457

bears out the claim to be derived either from the Aryans or some later immigrants from Central Asia : “They are a handsome fair-skinned class, some of them with blue or grey eyes, in make and appearance like Vānias (Banias), only larger and more vigorous.” 1 Mr. Crooke states that, “their women have a reputation for their beauty and fair complexion. The proverb runs, ‘A Khatri woman would be fair without fine clothes or ornaments,' and, 'Only an albino is fairer than a Khatri woman.'” 2 Their legend of origin is as follows: “When Parasurāma the Brāhman was slaying the Kshatriyas in revenge for the theft of the sacred cow Kāmdhenu and for the murder of his father, a pregnant Kshatriya woman took refuge in the hut of a Sāraswat Brāhman. When Parasurāma came up he asked the Brāhman who the woman was, and he said she was his daughter. Parasurāma then told him to eat with her in order to prove it, and the Brāhman ate out of the same leaf-plate as the woman. The child to whom she subsequently gave birth was the ancestor of the Khatris, and in memory of this Sāraswat Brāhmans will eat with Khatris to the present day.”

The Sāraswat Brāhman priests of the Khatris do as a matter of fact take katcha food or that cooked with water from them, and smoke from their huqqas, and this is another strong argument in favour of their origin either from Brāhmans or Rājpūts.

The classical account of the Khatris is that given in Sir George Campbell's Ethnology of India, and it may be reproduced here as in other descriptions of the caste:

“Trade is their main occupation; but in fact they have 2. Sir broader and more distinguishing features.

Besides mono

George

Campbell's polising the trade of the Punjab and the greater part of account Afghānistān, and doing a good deal beyond those limits, they are in the Punjab the chief civil administrators, and have almost all literate work in their hands. So far as the Sikhs have a priesthood, they are, moreover, the priests or gurus of the Sikhs.

Both Nānak and Govind were, and the Sodis and Bedis of the present day are, Khatris. Thus then they are in fact in the Punjab, so far as a more

of the °, Khatris.

* Bombay Gazetteer, Hindus of Gujarāt, pp. 55, 56.

2 Tribes and Castes, art. Khatri.

energetic race will permit them, all that Mahratta Brāhmins are in the Mahratta country, besides engrossing the trade which the Mahratta Brāhmins have not. They are not usually military in their character, but are quite capable of using the sword when necessary.

Diwan Sawan Mal, Governor of Multan, and his notorious successor Mülraj, and very many of Ranjīt Singh's chief functionaries were Khatris.

“Even under Mahomedan rulers in the west they have risen to high administrative posts. There is a record of a Khatri Diwān of Badakshān or Kurdāz; and, I believe, of a Khatri Governor of Peshāwar under the Afghans. The Emperor Akbar's famous minister, Todarmal, was a Khatri ; and a relative of that man of undoubted energy, the great commissariat contractor of Agra, Joti Pershād, lately informed me that he also is a Khatri. Altogether, there can be no doubt that these Khatris are one of the most acute, energetic and remarkable races in India, though in fact, except locally in the Punjab, they are not much known to Europeans. The Khatris are staunch Hindus, and it is somewhat singular that, while giving a religion and priests to the Sikhs, they themselves are comparatively seldom Sikhs. The Khatris are a very fine, fair, handsome race, and, as may be gathered from what I have already said, they are very generally educated.

“There is a large subordinate class of Khatris, somewhat lower, but of equal mercantile energy, called Rors or Roras. The proper Khatris of higher grade will often deny all connection with them, or at least only admit that they have some sort of bastard kindred with Khatris, but I think there can be no doubt that they are ethnologically the same, and they are certainly mixed up with Khatris in their avocations. I shall treat the whole kindred as generically Khatris.

Speaking of the Khatris then thus broadly, they have, as I have said, the whole trade of the Punjab and of most of Afghānistān. No village can get on without the Khatri who keeps the accounts, does the banking business, and buys and sells the grain. They seem, too, to get on with the people better than most traders and usurers of this kind. In Afghānistān, among a rough and alien people, the Khatris

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are as a rule confined to the position of humble dealers, shopkeepers and moneylenders; but in that capacity the Pathāns seem to look on them as a kind of valuable animal, and a Pathān will steal another man's Khatri, not only for the sake of ransom, as is frequently done on the frontier of Peshāwar and Hazāra, but also as he might steal a milchcow, or as Jews might, I dare say, be carried off in the Middle Ages with a view to render them profitable.

“I do not know the exact limits of Khatri occupation to the West, but certainly in all Eastern Afghānistān they seem to be just as much a part of the established community as they are in the Punjab. They find their way far into Central Asia, but the further they get the more depressed and humiliating is their position. In Turkistan, Vambéry speaks of them with great contempt, as yellow-faced Hindus of a cowardly and sneaking character. Under Turcoman rule they could hardly be otherwise. They are the only Hindus known in Central Asia. In the Punjab they are so numerous that they cannot all be rich and mercantile ; and many of them hold land, cultivate, take service, and follow various avocations."

The Khatris have a very complicated system of sub- 3. Higher divisions, which it is not necessary to detail here in view of and lower their small strength in the Province. As a rule they marry only one wife, though a second may be taken for the purpose of getting offspring. But parents are very reluctant to give their daughters to a man who is already married.

The remarriage of widows is forbidden and divorce also is not recognised, but an unfaithful wife may be turned out of the house and expelled from the caste. Though they practise monogamy, however, the Khatris place no restrictions on the keeping of concubines, and from the offspring of such women inferior branches of the caste have grown up.

In Gujarāt these are known as the Dasa and Pancha groups, and they may not eat or intermarry with proper Khatris. The name Khatri seems there to be restricted to these inferior groups, while the caste proper is called BrahmaKshatri. There is also a marked distinction in their occupation, for, while the Brahma-Kshatris are hereditary District

1 Bombay Gazetteer, Hindus of Gujarāt, p. 55.

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