AUDICH SAHASTRA

Audich Sahastra Brahman :-

The Audichaya Sahastra Brahman has a wide distribution but their main concentration is in Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Kheda, Bharuch, Surendranagar, SabarKantha, and Panchemahal districts. According to historical records, they were brought to Gujarat by Mulraj Solanki the ruler of Anhilpur Patan. 'Audich' in Sanskrit means north. So the Brahmins invited by Mulraj from Northern India come to be known as 'Audichya Brahmans', they are also called 'Audichaya Sahastra Brahmin' (Sahastra means 1000) because there were more then 1000 families of Brahmins that were invited for pran pratishatha during the year 993 A.D.

Maharaj Mulraj Solanki came to throne of Patan in about 942 A.D. after killing his Mama (uncle) Samanth singh. He for the pran pratishatha of his palace called Rudra mahal had invited the Brahmins from north of India because the local Brahmins had boycotted him for killing his Mama (uncle) and coming on throne.

The 1000 families that had migrated from the North of India were donated with villages around Siddhpur and Patan. Those who lived nearby Siddhpur were called Brahmins of Siddhpur Sampradai and those who lived in and around Shihor were called as Brahmins of Shihori Sampradai, those who did not accept any donations and remained away from this group were known as Audich tolakia Brahmins and those who had taken donations were known as Audich Sahastra Brahmin.

Maharaj Mulraj Solanki gave us Chatrala village as gift and hence we are also known as Chatrala Vyas.

Thus, originally we are Sathapatha Brahman but, after migrating from north of India for the pran pratishatha of Rudra mahal we were known as Audich Sahastra Brahman.

The Audichaya Brahman families invited from different regions of Northern India consisted of 105 from Prayag Kshetra. 100 from the Ashram of Chavyan Rishi, 100 families from the bank of the river Saryau; 200 from Kannauj, 100 'Kashi Kshetra' 100 'Haridwar': 100 from 'Kurukshetra': 100 from 'Naimishaaranya'; and 132 from Pushkar Kshetra. Thus, a total of 1037 families of learned Brahmins were invited for participation in the Rudra Mahalaya and Rydra Yagna performed by Prince Mulraj Solanki. It is said that a group of 1000 Audichaya Brahman accepted the gifts offered by king Mulraj and their descendents are known as Audichaya Shastra Brahmins of the remaining group of 37 Brahmins. Mulraj and his ministers divided them into different groups according to their merit and their Vedic Knowledge.

The Audichya Brahmins have a number of 'Gotras'. The 'Gotras' are Vatsa, Bhargav, Dalabhya, Dron, Maunas, Gangayan, Sankratrutya, Sankruit, Panlastya, Mandakya, Shaunak, Bhardwaj, Kaudinya, Arti,Krushnatri, Swetatri, Chandratri, Gautam, Kutsas, Angiras, Vashishth, Upmanu, Udvah-Audvah, Parashas, Laugashi, Kashyap, Shandilya, Gabhil, Pipplad, Udalak, Audalals, Garga, Kaushik, and Hirnyagarbh.

There are more than sixty different 'ataks' (Surnames) among the Audichaya Brahmans. These atak names which are used as surnames are based on their profession and field of proficiency. The most common among them are Dave, Pandya, Thaker, Upadhhyaya, Trivedi, Jani, Pandit, Acharya, Raval, Joshi etc. Earlier there were only 16 Surnames but in course of time the number went up to 60. The Brahmans who studied and taught the Vedas to other Brahmans were known as Acharya. The Brahmans who study and teach the Vedas in different regions come to be known as Upadhyayas are also referred to as Ozas, Pundits, Pathaks and Pandas. The Brahmans serving Rajput Kings at the marriages of princes and princesses were call Purohits irrespective of their original surnames.

Brahmans residing in Panchal Pradesh were called 'Pancholi' while those who were well versed in Astrology are known as Joshis. Thakar Brahmans were those who gave up their original vocation to manage their villages. The Brahmans who possessed the knowledge of all the four Vedas were known as Chaturvedis, those who possessing the knowledge of three Vedas become Trivedis or Tripathis and those familiar only with two Vedas are called Dwivedi and Dave. The Brahmans doing clerical work were called Mehtas and those who were experts in making preparations of Yagna were called Yagnik. The Brahmans possessing knowledge of the Vedas were called Vyas.

The Audichaya Brahman practices Endogamy (marriage within one's own tribe or group as required by custom or law) at the community level and Exogamy (The custom of marrying outside the tribe, family, clan, or other social unit) at the gotra level. The community is characterized by and internal social hierarchy with those belonging to Siddhpur occupying the highest position, followed by those of the Zalawad region and below them are those belonging to the Sihor-kathiawad region. Formerly, these sections had commenced relations but did not exchange brides. Now these restrictions are not observed. But they follow sapinda and pravar exogamy.

Monogamy is the norm (The practice or condition of being married to only one person at a time). Widow marriage is prohibited. The girls are married off between 18 to 25 years and the marriage age for boy's ranges from 21-28 years. Dowry in the form of gift is given as 'streedhan' to the daughter. Junior sororate is in practice. Marriage alliances are largely settled by negotiations. The symbols of marriage for women include the wearing of 'mangalsutra', toerings and the bindi on the forehead. The rule of residence is partrilocal though neuronal is also present. Divorce is customarily not permissible, but one can get divorce through low courts. Reason for divorce includes bareness, maladjustment and chronic sickness. In case of divorce, children usually become the liability of the father.

The Audichya Brahmins as their name shows are northerners and must be considered to have migrated to Gujarat from the North. In 1891 they numbered, in Gujarat just a few thousand more than 200 thousand Forming 36 per cent of the total Brahmins of Gujarat. According to the Gazetteer (Ibid, pp.2-3) Brahmins of Gujarat totaled, in 1891, 570 thousand and had fifty-three named divisions, though eighty-four were mentioned of which seventy were traceable. In the Census Report of Mumbai of 1911 (p. 240) the number of divisions among the Brahmins of Gujarat is recorded as ninety-three. Their main fission is associated with the reign of the Gujarat King Mulraj (A.D. 961-996).

Some Audichya Brahmins were drafted by him to help him carry out a sacrifice. On the completion of the sacrifice the King offered them inducement to stop in his dominions. Only one thousand Brahmins are believed to have accepted the offer, the rest forming toil (band) refused to reside. But they, too, were later persuaded to stay on by the offer of further benefits. The first setters naturally come to be known as Sahasra and the latter ones as Tolakia. Strangely, how ever, the Sahasras are looked upon as superior in social rank. The Sahastras have among them two sub-division which are purely geographical i.e., Sihoras and Sidhpurias name after the respective towns. Ten other sub-castes or castes are mentioned as having originated with the Audich Brahmins (Desai, p. 4).

Among the registered Charity Trusts listed in the Charity Commissioner's Directory mentioned above not only Audichya Sahastra (1162, 1427) and Audichya Sahastra of Sidhpur (1239) figure but also Dandhavya Audichya Brahmin (291) and Ghangoli Audichya (438) occur. Some people also write Avadich instead of Audichya. Many audichya Brahmin families have migrated to Rajasthan in search of jobs and other lively hood. Udaipur, Jaipur and Kota, the former princely states in Rajasthan were preferred places outside Gujarat. In Udaipur, the area called as Baiji Raj Ki Brahmpuri, more popularly known as Chhoti Brahmpuri has a large concentration of Audichya Brahmins.They include Yagnik [Jani],Dave, Vyas, Dixit, Shukla and Mehta families. Formerly most of them were engaged in temple services. Only few families particularly members of Yagnik family were in state service. The community is proud of having freedom fighters also as its member's viz. Shri Manoharlal Ganpatlal Yagnik and shri Ichchha Shankar sharma.