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By Anshuman Shekhar(Bharthu,Jehanabad,Bihar)

Bhumihar
Castes of India
Bhumihar

Classification Caste/Brahmin
Subdivisions five main clans
Significant populations in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra and Nepal
Languages Hindi, Bhojpuri and Magahi
Religions Hinduism
Bhumihar Brahmins also known popularly as Bhumihars is a Hindu Brahmin Caste who have traditionally resided in fertile regions of Indo-Gangetic plains of North India, in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.


Etymology
The word Bhumihar consists of two Sanskrit words, bhoomi, meaning "land" and har, meaning 'capturer'.

It is generally believed that they are called Bhumihars because they are agriculturists but there may be slight variation in the meaning of the word 'Bhumi', which generally means land. Take the example of district names as Singhbhum, Manbhum, Birbhum or Dhalbhum. These are all administrative units at present and were also revenue units during the British and Mughal periods.


Traditions
They perform their religious ceremonies in the same manner as other Brahmins do, but as they also practice secular occupations like the Laukik Brahmans of Southern India, they are not entitled to accept religious gifts or to minister to anyone as priest. They are said to be 'trikarmi' brahmins, that is they do not go to beg alms at the doors of nonbrahmins but instances of Bhumihar Brahmins engaging in priestly practices is not uncommon. The usual surnames of the Bhumihar Brahmins are same as those of other Brahmins of Northern India. Being a warrior Brahmin by caste, many of them have Kshatriya surnames like Singh too. They differ from other Brahmins in these aspects:

Bhumihar Brahmins are addicted to agriculture, a pursuit considered to be undermining the diginity of pure or orthodox Brahmins.
They have accepted and adopted in their chief families the secular titles of Raja, Maharaja and so forth distinctions which high brahmins eschew.
The Bhumihar Brahmin only perform a half of the prescribed Brahminical duties. They give alms, but do not receive them; they offer sacrifices to their idols, but do not perform the duties and offices of the priesthood; they read the scared writings, but do not teach them.

Mentions by Historians
Mr Crook

Mr Crook in his book, The Tribes and castes of UP and Oudh: Part II, page 64, has written: Bhumihar (Sanskrit Bhumi, 'land' and Kara(har), 'maker'): An important tribe and landowners and agriculturists in eastern districts. They are also known as Babhan, Zamindar Brahmin, Grihastha Brahman or Pachchima (Western) Brahmin.

Sir Elliot

According to Sir Elliot's supplemental glossary, there are five divisions of the Kamkoobj Brahmins. They are Kamkoobj proper, Sunadh, Surwaria, Jijhotia and Bhoinhar.

Mr William Oldham

Mr William Oldham in his book North Western Provinces Historical And Statical Memoir, has categorically mentioned that Bhoinhars, both by themselves and by ethnologists, are believed to be the descendants of Brahmins, who on becoming cultivators and landholders gave up their priestly functions.

Pundit Yogendra Bhattacharya

Pundit Yogendra Bhattacharya in his book Hindu Castes and Set, writes that Bhumihar Brahmin literally means landholder. The Bhumihar Brahmins are evidently those Bhrahmins who held grants of land for secular services. Any Brahmin who held a secular fief was a Bhumihar.


Mythology
In the context of mythological perspective, Bhumihar Brahmins identify themselves with Bhagwan Parashurama, who was a Brahmin and who is believed to have killed all the Kshatriyas from the earth 21 times. The descendants and associates of Parshuram are called Bhumihar brahmins in Eastern U.P. and Bihar, Goud Brahmins in U.P. and Rajasthan, Chitpawan Brahmins in Maharashtra, Anavil Brahmins in Gujarat, Havyak Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh, Namboothiri Brahmins(The Namboothiris' own mythology holds that Parashuraaman created the land (of Kerala) and bestowed it upon them. Thus their reverence of Parashuram shows that these two brahmin castes might be sharing the same lineage. The legend of Parasurama also exists amongst Brahmins of all India and he is worshipped in UP. Hence it has to be seen as a myth not exlusive to Namboothiris and Kerala alone. However, this myth also exist in an old Chera lore about King Velkezu Kuttavan. According to this myth, the king flings his spear into the sea to claim land from it. This lore must have modified later in Malayalam language by the Namboothiris as part of their campaign to establish themselves in Kerala. In the Namboothiri version, Parashuraaman uses his Parashu (Axe), to create new land for the Brahmins.) of Kerela Mohyals in the Punjab region and their variants are found with different names all across the Indian sub-continent.


Present
The Bhumihars are or were predominantly farmers. Some are owners of vast quantities of land but many are small farmers too. Presently, the majority of Bhumihars have been reduced to the status of peasants with the fall of zamindars and elite class.

Marriage of people in this community, like most of other social groups of India, is restricted to their own subcaste. In fact, it is one of the five most endogamous castes of India (Allele frequencies for STR loci of the Powerplex 16 multiplex system in five endogamous populations of India). English education was adopted very late by Bhumihar Brahmins because they have been very orthodox Brahmins alongwith being well off from the rest. There had been some exceptions to this but nowadays they are doing very well in all walks of life.


Bhumihar Brahmin clans
Usually Bhumihar clans are known by the original place from which they come. For example Bhumihars from Dighwa went to Barahiya and settled there and known as Dighwait Bhumihars, similarly, Eksaria Bhumihars belongs to Eksaar village in Balia but spresed over complete Saran district of Bihar. But there are others like Jijhoutiya Bhumihar Brahmins who reside in Eastern U.P. and the region of Jhansi. Chitponia Bhumihar of Navada are form Maharastra. In fact at times they are considered as a separate Brahmin sub-caste altogether. Swami Sahajanand Saraswati was from this clan of Bhumihar Brahmins. Then there are others like Bhriguvansh, claiming lineage from Maharishi Bhrigu as the name suggests. There are around two to three dozen such clans. Drona Ticar (Domkatar colloquially) is another Bhumihar clan.

Maharaja Of Hathwa Mahraja of Bettiah Raja of Amawan Raja of Tekari Zamindar of Chainpur, Sheohar, Pandooi The Village Eksar from where the origination of Eksaria started is situated near Parsagarh, Ekma, Dt. Saran and not in Ballia. The First clan of Eksaria Bhumihar Brahmins was Jaganath Dixit, who mirated probably from Indraprasth or from Hastinapur in the year 1551A.D. and became mantra guru of Nepal Mahraj. The eksaria migrated to Parsa garh and subsequently to Chainpur, Bagaura, Chittauli etc


Famous Bhumihars
Shaheed Mangal Pandey [Misra, Amaresh, Mangal Pandey: True Story of an Indian Revolutionary, 2005, Rupa & Co. publisher, Delhi]
Kashi Naresh : Banaras Maharaja
Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan
Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Social worker, saint
Ramdhari Singh Dinkar Poet
Sri Krishna Sinha First chief minister of Bihar
Shri Basawon Singh (Sinha), Great Nationalist, Trade Unionist and First Leader of Opposition in Bihar; earlier active with HSRA (Hindustan Socialist Republican Army) and later joined Congress Socialist Party. The government of India issued a commemorative stamp on him on 23/03/2000.
Abhayanand, among the leading administrators and social workers of Bihar.
Yogendra Shukla, among the greatest nationalist the country has produced and who also served in the Cellular Jail, Andamans(Kalapani), among the founders of HSRA (Hindustan Socialist Republican Army)
Baikuntha Shukla, great nationalist who was hanged for murdering Phanindrananth Ghosh who had become a government approver which led to hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. He was a nephew of Yogendra Shukla.
Ganga Sharan Singh, Littrateur and Nationalist.
Kishori Prassana Sinha (Singh), nationalist
Mithilesh Narayan Singh, Nationalist
Ram Nandan Mishra, Nationalist and Socialist leader who spent years in jail in British India.
Sham Nandan Mishra, Famous Congress Leader who was also in the ministry of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Digvijay Narayan Singh, Great Congress Leader and very close to Nehru-Gandhi family and Morarji Desai. Sir Mark Tully in his book "No Fullstops in India" has committed one whole chapter on him.
Sir Ganesh Dutt : Bihar First Education Minister.
Ram Dalayu Singh : First Speaker of Bihar Assembly.
Langet Singh : Rags to Riches : Philanthropist.
Ram Briksh Benipuri : Great writer from Muzaffarpur.
Kapildeo Singh : Socialist Leader.
Sheel Bhadra Yajee(1906-1996) the fiery freedom fighter from Bihar was associated with the non-violent and the violent form of freedom struggle. Yajee's participation in the freedom movement began in 1928 when, as a student, he attended the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress. He joined the Congress Socialist Party four years later and became involved in the Kisan movement. Later, he came in close touch with Subhas Chandra Bose, as well as Mahatma Gandhi. In 1939 he joined Subhas Chandra Bose to found the All India Forward Bloc. He was actively associated with the INA movement. Yajee raised his voice against caste prejudices and other social evils. He was a firm believer in the active participation of the peasants, workers and the middle classes in the struggle for the transformation of society. He authored several books like' A Glimpse of the Indian Labour Movement', 'Forward Bloc and Its Stand', 'Is Socialism a Necessity to India', and 'True Face of Monopolistic American Democracy'.The government of India issued a commemorative stamp on him on 28/01/2001.
Krishna Kant Singh, founder of Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), Patna
Sir C P N Singh : Governor of UP and first Ambassdor to NEPAL and later to Japan.*
Rai Hriday Narayan Singh: Native of Muzaffarpur. He was actively associated with development work during english rule.He was in the good book of Britons and enjoyed their support for his work.It was no one other than Mr. Narayan who made many roads and small bridges for the convenience of the local people.
Jagannath Singh: He was a freedom fighter and great grandson of Rai Hriday Narayan. His all the wealth was seized by the british government for his active participation in Indian freedom movement.
Prof G R Sharma: Native of Ghazipur and archeologist at Kausambi excavation

By Anshuman Shekhar