Brahmanhave 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 Gujaratby Mulraj Solankithe ruler of Anhilpur Patanbetween 960 and 955 A.D. ‘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’.
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, Bhargava, Dalabhya, Dron, Maunas, Gangayan, Sankratrutya, Sankruit, Panlastya, Mandakya, Shaunak, Bhardwaj, Kaudinya, Artio,Krushnatri, Swetatri, Chandratri, Gautam, Kutsas, Anfiras, Vashishtha, Upmanu, Udvah-Audvah, Parashas, Laugashi, Kashyap, Shandilya, Gabhil, Pipplad, Udalak, Audalals, Garga, Kaushik, and Hirnyagarbha. 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 familier 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. One can understand that the community self perception of its status is on a pride in occupying the biggest position in the varna hierarchy.
The Audichya Brahaman are pure vegetarians. The use rice, wheat, bajra (Millet) and Jowar and their staple food. They take a wide variety of pulses of which tuvar is most popular. All locally available vegetables including roots and tubers find a place in their diet which also includes milk and its products. On festive and ceremonial occasions a variety of sweets, ladwa, dudh pak (rice boiled in milk) suo, pure farsan (fried preparations) are prepared. They keep away from
alcohol, some smoke bidi or cigarettes.
The Audichaya Brahman practices endogamy at the community level and exogamy 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. Widow marriage is prohibited. The girls are married off between 18 to 25 years and the marriage age for boys ranges from 21-28 years. Dowry in the form of gift are 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 neolocal is also present. Divorce is customarily not permissible, but one can get divorce through low courts. Reason for divorce include barenness, maladjustment and chronic sickness. In case of divorce, children usually becomes the liability of the father.
The Audich Brahmins as their name shows are northerners and must be considered to have migrated toGujarat from the North. In 1891 they numbered, in Gujarat just a few thousand more than 200 thousandForming 36 per cent of the total Brahmins of Gujarat. According to the Gazetteer (Ibid, pp.2-3) Brahmins of Gujarat totalled, 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 Bombay 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 Audich 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 a 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, howere, the Sahasras are looked upon as superior in social rank. The Sahasras 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 Audichy Sahasra (1162, 1427) and Audichya Sahasra of Sidhpur (1239 ) figure but also Dandhavya Audichya Brahmin (291) and Ghangoli Audichya (438) occur.
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