History Bardai Brahmins
To know where our roots are can often explain the mysterious ways in which our elders explained deep relations. The following information has been translated from the Gujarati writings of Shri K. K. Shastri.
During the tenth century the Sompura Girnara-Bardai were living in Saurashtra, the western coast of the area now known as Gujarat. Audich Brahmins migrated to the area of Gujarat, the Modh and Nagar Brahmins were also present in Gujarat and Gugali Brahmans in Saurashtra.
The Girnara were mainly living in Girinagar, and from there they migrated to what is now called the Junagadh District. The Girnara were divided in four sects, around 16th century. One of the Girnara sects was known as the Bardai.
The Bardais lived around the Barda Hills and towards the western seashore region. Some Bardai also lived in the northern region known as Baradi region. Some 15 generations ago, the group that settled near the Barda Hills were called the Nani (small) Nat, while the Baradi settlers were called Moti (large) Nat. The Moti Nat never flourished, whereas the Nani Nat increased quickly.
Historically, no known effort has been made to find the roots of the Girnara-Bardai Brahmins. One of the puranas, the Skandpuran, has referred to these Brahmins as the Girinara Brahmins. The word Girinagar is very old. Girinagar is mentioned in a Shilalekh (inscribed on stone) by King Rudradama, 2nd century. The location of Girinagar, the city, fits the description of the area north of Junagadh, on the banks of the river Sonrekh. The city was damaged a few times by floods and eventually it was ruined. King Chakrapalit in 457, AD rebuilt the city of Girinagar. According to the Tamrapatra, an inscribed document, the Vallabhi Dynasty King Dhruvsen in 631 and Rashtrakut Dynasty King Jaybhat the 3rd in 706, donated villages within Girinagar. It proves that Girinagar was still in existence into the 8th century. It was early in the 13th century that two merchant brothers Tejpal and Vastupal developed Girinagar into Tejalpur, a more safe location. The tamrapatra also cites Brahmins of this era belonging to the Bhardwaj Gotra (lineage or tribe) and Vatsa Gkotra, along with few others inhabited Girinagar. Interestingly enough, the Bhardwaj and Vatsa Gotra have still survived. Jani Jetpura, Bhatt Singhajia, Pandya, Gidadia, Joshi Panichhada, Jani Vanavada, Joshi Divechia and Joshi Sompura are from Bhardwaj Gotra. The Thakar Kankashia and Bhatt Kotadia are from Vatsa Gotra. This short passage illustrates how the Bhardwaj and Vatsa Gotra are connected to Girinagar.
Historically, the first written evidence of a Bardai Brahmin of Bhardwaj Gotra is found in the 10th century, AD. Brahmin Damoder Adhvaryu of Bhardwaj Gotra was given Karligam as a charitable donation by Rana (King) Bhaskals of Ghumli. There is credible evidence that there was a village by the name of Karligam. Interestingly, the bridge that runs over the creek (Khadi) on the outskirts of Porbandar is called Karlibridge. It is these Bhardwaj Gotra Bardai Brahmans who made their living in Kolikhada, Adityana, Bokhira, Odader, Tukda and Gosa. The Bhogayatas are also in this group. Girnaras in the Madhavpur area such as Jani Vanavada, Joshi Divechia, and Joshi Sompura are also from the Bhardwaj Gotra; it is possible that this entire group could be related to Damodar Adhvaryu.
During the Charulak Kingdom, Shoor II, son of King Vahardas, and his younger brother Vahardas II were very powerful. They Conquered Dwarka, built large temples, gardens and established large charities. It is believed that they renovated the famous Jagat Barda area, located on West coast of Gujarat.
Temple of Dwarka
According to the history of Gujarat, King Shinhaditya, son of Varandas II, donated a farm with a well to a Brahmin named Bap Swami Darbhacharya, of Krashnatri Gotra who was from Elapad village. It is possible that the Elpad and Darbhachar villages were in Barda-Baradi area north of Dhank near Veravad in the Bhanvad Taluka, or in Lalpur area or Veraval in Jamjodhpur district. The Krashnatri Gotra encompasses the Pathak Chorwada, Purohit Madhavpura, Thakar Magrotara, Pandya Mavkia, Pandya Pajodaya, Thanki and Pundits. Amongst the Gimara Bardai Brahmins, the Thankis are in large numbers.
The Thankies are almost one third of the existing Bardai community. In 1942, Shri K. K. Shashtri visited Jaisalmer, in western Rajastan, to study some unpublished handwritten books. During this visit he came across some Pokerna Brahmins. He found some cultural similarities between them and the Thankies. If true, then Thanki ancestors may have come from the Sindh to western Saurashtra. There are Pathak Chorwada, Purohit Madhavpura, Thakar Nagrottara, Pandya Mavadia Pandya Pamedia, Thakar Padhiyar, Joshi Pamedia, Joshi Pibodia are all Krashnatri Gotra.
Bhardwaj Gotra Giranara Brahmins date to the 7th century while in Bardai Bhardwaj Gotra Brahmins date to 10th century. Interestingly, Joshi Panichhada are the Kul Gor - (Priest) of Girnara Brahmins. Why were they called Panichhada? They were very knowledgeable and left water and fertile land to assume the role of Gor (priest) to the whole of Brahmins. This must have happened when two groups were separated about 500 years ago.
Besides Bhardwaj and Krashnatri Gotra - Mehta Pashavalia-Bhatt, Kasaria-Joshi, Swasthania in Girnara and Acharya in Bardai are under Kashyap Gotra. Thakar Seria in Girnara and Bambhania in Bardai are of Garg Gotra Brahmins. Thus there are common Gotras in both Girnaras and in Bardais. Kotsa, KauravAlonaya, Sodam, Kosh, Sadilya, Vatsa and Bhagin Gotras are not known as Bardai Brahmins. Kodinya, Gautam Marich and Kaushik Gotras are not in Gimaras.
The Garg Gotra Brahmins who were living in Bamansha village, in Okha Mandal were known as Bambhania. They were the priest to the Aahirs. Some of these Aahirs were known as Bhatu-Bhatia as they lived in village named Bhatia. They spread as far as Kotda, Pashwali village area, also known as Ghed, on the banks of river Bhadar. One of these Bambhania family moved towards Mangrol. It is not known when Rajyagurus (Gautam Gotra) came to Okha Mandal area. They were the priest to small States (Rajya) and Rajputs in Aarambhada, a village in the area. Since they were Rajyagor they had Bambhania as their Gor (priest).
Modha - Jani (Kodinya Gotra) seems to have migrated from Modera, (north Gujarat). It is possible that they lived in Modhwada, in their early migration period.
In pre-historic period Saurashtra was occupied by Non-Aryans known as Kaul. King Manu assigned nine of his sons to rule its nine territories. Sharyati was asked to go to Saurashtra. It was Sharyati who established Kushsthali Nagar where present Dwarka is. This is mentioned in our Puranas. Subsequently, the Kauls defeated the fourth ruler and ruined Kushshtali. Thousands of years later, lord Krishna, tired of frequently fighting with King Jarasangh, left Mathura and came to this area and established Dwarvati Nagari (present Dwarka). When Yadvas came with lord Krishna they also brought some Aabhirs (Aahir - Aayar) in this area. According to Puranas, Gargacharya (decedents from the son of Sage Bhardwaj Rishi) came as their Gor (priest). These Aahirs were also known as Sorathias. These are the same group of people discussed in previous paragraph. During this period, Brahmins were living as one large clan. Any Brahmins who would migrate to different areas would automatically become part of the Brahmins of that area.
This is a small effort to learn about the roots of the Bardai Brahmins. Much more is yet to be learned. This article is prepared from Shri K. K. Shastrijis articles and presented by Shri Manu Joshi, (Willowbrook, USA)
Aabhaparo Magazine (Dec 2003)
About the Author
Keshavram Kashiram Shastri was born on 28 July 1905 at Mangarol in Junagadh district of Gujarat. He was the founding leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
He worked with Gujarat Vernacular Society and Gujarat Assembly in 1937. He joined L.D. Institute of Learning and Research in 1958. He also worked as an honorary lecturer of Gujarati at the B.J. Institute of Learning and Research. He was an associate professor of Sanskrit and Gujarati at the B.D. Women's College. He joined the Gujarat Research Society in 1961 as the honorary Regulator.He also was a "KULPATI" of Bharatiya Sanskar Dham. He was a mentor to the current Prime Minister of India- Narendra Modi.
A guide and patron to innumerable students, followers and VHP workers, Shastriji himself was an institution. Besides 240 books to his credit, he has written over 1500 research papers in Gujarati, Sanskrit, Hindi and English.
He was conferred Padma Shri decades back recognizing his talent and outstanding services to the Gujarati literature. He won gold medals from Gujarat Sahitya Sabha, Gujarat Itihas Parishad and Nadiyad Pushtmargiya Library and bronze medal from Gujarat Research Society.
He passed away on September 9, 2006 in Ahmedabad at the age of 101.