in the 1850s, Ram Lochan Bandyopadhyay's small piece of farmland in East Bengal
was swallowed up by the Padma river one raging monsoon. Starving and sick, he
drifted down the swollen waterways till he managed to find a kindly landowner in
the village of Paisagaon in Dhaka-Bikrampur district of what is today
Bangladesh. It was determined that the bedraggled refugee's family occupation
was the administration of rituals. The zamindar's village did not have too many
priests, and he wanted to provide for some settled ones on his lands. So Ram
Lochan got 10 bighas of land (about 500m x 500m, a quite considerable
windfall, resented locally in ways that were to come out a generation later),
tax-free (i.e. no revenue to be paid to the zamindar) on which he could raise a
homestead, farm, and keep up a small temple to the resident deities of the
village.) Ram Lochan raised a small hut of bamboo poles and coconut fibres, and
settled down therein with his wife and young son.
By the time this son, Kailash Chandra Bandyopadhyay, was 6 years old, Ram Lochan passed away. Without someone to manage the fields or the gods, Ram Lochan's widow was reduced to spinning and selling measures of sacred thread (a monopoly granted to brahmin widows) to provide for her and her son. One thinks of scenes from Pather Panchali; on market days, she would trek to the local 'haat' to sell her thread for three-to-a-paisa, and with the proceeds buy cotton which was her raw material (apart from her spindle and her elbows.) Apart from this, she also developed a strategy to get subsidized food. The other priests in the district would get rice and bananas as payment-in-kind for their services, often more than they could hope to reasonably consume.. Most householders would have these staples from their own fields, so there was not a local cash market for the base agricultural surplus. Ram Lochan's widow would wait by the creeks and rivulets as the pirogues were poled by, and pay a paisa or two in hard cash for the food the priests could not hope to consume, at some steep discount to the 'haat' price. My great-grandfather was thus raised on rice porridge with bananas.
One of the consequences of Ram Lochan's dislocation and untimely demise was that his son grew up with very little knowledge of his father's life. So the thread of generational memory was cut, we remember back upto Ram Lochan as a hazy picture reflected in the life of Kailash Chandra, but we do not know of about Ram Lochan's father, and grandfather, and great grandfather, except as ancestral names dutifully written and passed down.
Ram Lochan had passed on his love of books to little Kailash, who was easily the best student Pasiagaon had seen. At the time -- Bengal of East India Company just before the Sepoy Mutiny --students in 6th-grade appeared for Sanskritic scholarship examinations. Kailash excelled in these exams and secured a stipend, with which he learnt book-keeping, Persian jurisprudence (still applied in 'native' courts), and some degree of history. What he saw convinced him that the old order was dying, though he was not entirely able to come to terms with the new one. When William Jones, founder of the Asiatic Society, went around in Bengal in the 1770s it is said that children ran after his palanquin begging to be admitted into his 'English' school; English education, as it diffused through Bengal, found fertile ground. Within a hundred years there were even girls schools that taught English in Dhaka-Bikrampur. When, in the 1890s, the first English school was indeed opened in the district town of Kamarkhara, Kailash Chandra was very particular about making sure that his eldest son Sharadindu was enrolled there.
Kailash Chandra first spent a few years in the early 1880s trying to be a mukhtar -- or native court attorney -- with the power, then, to argue criminal cases (which was to be restricted to civil ones after administrative reforms following the demise of Company Bahadur and the gradual establishment of formal jurisprudence under the Imperial Crown of Victoria .) This endeavor was unsuccessful, and he returned to his village and started a pathshala or village school under the crossroad trees. While fulfilling, this was not too lucrative. Eventually, he found a position with a neighboring zamindar family -- the Sanyals -- as a serestadaar or accounts clerk. He seems to have settled into this position for about 15 years, from around 1890 to 1905, during which period, every day for seven days a week, except for flood or festivals, he walked 6 miles each way across fields to the Sanyals' 'seresta' and kept accounts of their landholdings and commercial transactions. He seems to have saved prudently. Apart from this, he read ancient texts.
grandfather Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, then, had the advantages of a philologist
father, a liberal education, and what was then a family novelty, steady parental
income. Early in his life, in 1905, Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal, the first of
the death knells for the East Bengali Hindus. This was to cause a growing rift
between my grandfather and his father. The young man wanted to move out of an
area he felt was becoming politically untenable. The old man would respond
saying that his father's and grandfather's funeral pyres were on the banks of
the Padma, he could not countenance abandoning them to the Muslims of the
district who were threatening to construct cow-slaughter abattoirs on all the
Hindu funerary sites. "We shall stay and we shall fight, and we shall see
[Some of this information has been cross-checked with US census records. For example, Benjamin, Apoline and Ernest Cael are found here .]
Around 1925, my grandfather moved to West Bengal and secured a position teaching Geography at the Railway School in Asansol. He instituted a subscription of National Geographic for the school, which enrolled sons and daughters of the employees of the Eastern Railway. For the children of track-layers, goods clerks, ticket-collectors and signalmen, the National Geographics must have been unbelievably foreign and an unspeakable luxury.
Those members of my grandfather's family who stayed behind -- brothers, uncles, in-laws -- perished in the riots following the partition into East Pakistan. My father, Samiran Bandyopadhyay, was born in Asansol in in 1934. Pre-partition, he last visited Paisagaon in 1944 as a 10-year-old on summer vacation. 65 years were to pass before he could go back, but in 2009 we did manage to rediscover Paisagaon. After a day of driving around Munshiganj district in Bangladesh, we finally found the ancestral village; and the first person we asked not only remembered the Banerjee clan, but was immediately also able to point out where their homestead had stood. Some of this journey can be seen here.
The historian will need to verify and validate. Rural India lacks birth certificates, marriage or death documents, so only some other sort of misfortune can generate an official record. In 1930, when my great-grandfather Kailash Chandra was in his 70s, his house in Paisagaon was attacked on Dec 18 by robbers who made away with Rs. 2145 in cash and (mostly) kind.
Constabulary were summoned. For months, the Sub-Inspector and his team who came across the river from Munshiganj would camp out in the courtyard of the ancestral house; soon, the burden of feeding them, answering their idiotic questions, running their errands, and keeping the young ladies of the household away from their lechery became so onerous that my great grandmother started feeling that the remedy was poorer than the affliction.
The needle of police suspicion centered on the swadeshis, who hitherto had robbed only the English merchants or those in close association with British power, but who were now beginning to go after softer targets. The perpetrators had covered their faces with rags, and seemed from their speech to be educated; the Sub-Inspector from Munshiganj therefore had no trouble applying his standard practice -- rounding up all the college-age young men from Paisagaon village or neighboring Tangibari, Vajrajogini, Bairak et al, and brutalizing them in custody till someone talked. This 'third degree' generated much ill-feeling towards my great-grandfather's household, and in any case the police-wallahs were eating them out of hearth and home; so a strategy was devised to take the entire family out for a pilgrimage -- my grandfather led the party and they were gone for many months in 1931, reaching as far away as Dwarka. One hears of witnesses having to move to the other end of the country for protection, this was a novel victim-protection-plan from rural Bengal.
However, the FIR did get my great-grandfather's name into the records, and you can see him mentioned in Appendix I of HW Hale's Political Trouble in India 1917-1937. This book is a curious compendium of Intelligence Bureau files on troublemakers in India. Its 1937 preface written by one J.M. Ewart, Director, Intelligence Bureau, states:
"In 1917 there was published, under the authority of the Home Department of the Government of India, a confidential publication entitled Political Trouble in India, 1907-1917, written by Mr. J.C. Ker of the Indian Civil Service, who had been Personal Assistant to the Director of Criminal Intelligence from 1907 to 1913. This book sets out to give a connected account of seditious and revolutionary activity in India between the years 1907 and 1917. The significance of the two dates deserves notice. The fact that the year 1907 was the fiftieth anniversary of the Indian Mutiny of 1857 was an important factor in developing discontent, which was prevalent at the time on account of political and economic circumstances, in several parts of India, along channels of criminal and revolutionary activity. The year 1917 marked the close of a phase when a period of widespread politico-criminal conspiracies had culminated in the combination of those activities with enemy intrigue during the early years of the great war and the crushing of those activities for the time being through the machinery o [sic] special war time legal enactments. [...] Twenty years have passed, during which political agitation in India, both constitutional and criminal, has continued and developed to an extent and in a manner which could hardly have been visualized even by the writer of the review of events down to 1917. [...] The growth and development of Communism and cognate revolutionary activities in and affecting India has been dealt with in a series of publications compiled and issued from the Government of India, Intelligence Bureau. [...] The present book consists of a narrative, which I anticipate will be of considerable value to a fairly wide circle of readers interested in the administration of India, and of appendices which are intended to assist those, mainly police officers, whose duties require them to make a detailed study of the whole or portions of the past history of terrorism."
In discussing 'Terrorism' in Bengal the book says:
Another important group in Dacca was that led by Jiban Lal Chatterji. This group had planned with the main Jugantar Party a rising for the 23rd of June. On that night three persons were arrested in Narayanganj with wirecutting instruments, and on the same night telegraph wires were actually cut in two places in the Munshiganj Sub-division. Members of this group took part in a dacoity on December 18, when twenty bhadralok youths, armed with ramdaos attacked a house in Paisagaon and stole property to the value of Rs. 2145.
18th December 1930 ... Dacca, Bengal ... Properties worth Rs. 2,145 were carried away from the house of Kailash Chandra Banarji, of Paisagaon, Tangibari.
As a robbery it was a fairly large -- in the top 10 listed for the year all across India . The police records list an incident on 12th October, when in Calcutta a 'dacoity with murder occurred at Armenian Street in the gadi of Manikchand Gopalchand, in which the culprits decamped with Rs. 2346'. A month later on 12th November, in Tangail, Rs. 15,000 was 'taken away from Jamadar and two durwans of Messrs. R. Sim and Co. of Elashin, while taking a cash remittance by road from Tangail to Company's Office'. With practice, the revolutionaries turned to easier prey . On 26th November we find Rs. 941 'carried away by dacoits from the house of Sarat Kumar Guha of Raghunathpur' in Barisal. The next day, in Jaraitola 'armed dacoity by some 16 bhadraloks looted cash and ornaments worth Rs 2,141' from another household. On 8th December, a bearer of the Intermediate College of Dacca was assaulted and his dak-bag robbed. On 12 January 1931, Rs. 22 was robbed from passengers at Nilganj Railway Station to help liberate the Motherland.
At a time when a school-master earned less than Rs 20 a
month, the Rs 2145 loss would be nearly a decade's income. In contemporary
terms, it is probably Rs 20 lakhs, or around half-a-million US dollars at PPP.
It was a tremendous tragedy to befall the family. My grandmother gnashed her
teeth against swadeshis to her dying day -- 'they were not
revolutionaries, they were dacoits', she'd say of Ananta
Singh and the Chittagong gangs (whose exploits were being serialized
in the Bengali features-magazine Amrita when I was small.) 'Give the student a
gun, and that will rot him' was another of her insights into the logic of power. My
poor grandmother, it must have seemed awful to her at time, especially
since she gave herself a lot of the blame.
During the Pujas, my grandfather and grandmother had returned to Paisagaon from Asansol, as had other members of the extended family. In those days, the family gold was customarily buried anonymously under the floor of the house, digging a shaft 6 feet deep and dropping a pot with gold ornaments in it. When the robbers descended on the house with their ramdaos, my grandmother moved a mat over the location of the trove and sat down on it, with my infant Third Uncle Nirad Baran Banerjee in her lap. About 3 hours into the robbery, during which the perpetrators had destroyed almost everything looking for the cache, the leader came up and snatched Third Uncle away from grandmother: 'Tell us where the gold is or we will bash this child's head in', was the threat. My grandmother thought for a moment of misleading them -- how much longer would it take for neighbors to hear something and come to help? -- but a reflexive glance at the mat underneath her gave the game away. The robbers dug up the spot where she'd been sitting, and found what they were looking for -- the life savings of Kailash Chandra. This is how my ancestors got into official historical records.
River, Robbers, and Riots -- that, my grandmother said, is your patrimony.
The Bandyopadhyay clan goes back a thousand years. Here is a link in this regard.
From a piece by H. H. Risley, CIE, on the Brahmins of Bengal from the 1901 Census of India:
The Bengal Brahmans are divided into five main sub-castes—Rarhi, Barendra, Vaidik, Saptasati, and Madhyasreni.
The Rarhi Brahmans derive their name from the Rarh, or the high-lying alluvial tract on the west bank of the river Bhagirathi. Their claim to be of comparatively pure Indo-Aryan descent is to some extent borne out by anthropometric enquiries. The current tradition is that early in the eleventh century A.D., Adisura or Adisvara, King of Bengal, finding the Brahmans then settled in Bengal too ignorant to perform for him certain Vedic ceremonies, applied to the Raja of Kanauj for priests thoroughly conversant with the sacred ritual of the Aryans. In answer to this request five Brahmans of Kanauj were sent to him—Bhatta Narayana of the Sandilya section of gotra; Daksha of the Kasyapa gotra ; Vedagarva or Vidagarbha of the Vatsa gotra, or, as other accounts say, from the family of Bhrigu; Chandra (or Chhandara, or Chhandor) of the Savarna gotra; and Sriharsa of the Bharadwaja gotra. They brought with them their wives, their sacred fire, and their sacrificial implements. It is said that Adisura was at first disposed to treat them with scanty respect, but he was soon compelled to acknowledge his mistake and to beg the Brahmans to forgive him. He then made over to them five populous villages, where they lived for a year. Meanwhile the king was so impressed with the superhuman virtue of Bhatta Narayana, who was a son of Kshitisa, King of Kanauj, that he offered him several more villages. The Brahman, however, declined to take these as a gift, but bought them, as the story goes, at a low price. They were annexed to the village already in Bhatta Narayana's possession, and the whole area was relieved from payment of revenue for twenty-four years. Thus tradition chronicles an early Hrahmottar grant, the first it may be of the long series of similar transactions which have played so important a part in the history of land tenures, in the development of castes, and in promoting the spread of orthodox Hinduism throughout 'Bengal. Adisura did what the Rajas of outlying tracts of country have constantly done since and are doing still. A local chief, far removed from the great centres of Brahmanical lore, somehow becomes aware of his ceremonial shortcomings. Probably, as is narrated of Adisura himself, a wandering Brahman brings home to him that his local ritual is not up to the orthodox standard. He sends for Brahmans, gives them grants of land near his own residence, and proceeds with their assistance to reform his ways on the model of the devout kings whom Brahmanical literature holds up as the ideal for a Raja to follow after. The Brahmans find for him a pedigree of respectable antiquity or provide him with a family legend, and in course of time he succeeds in getting himself recognised as a member of some branch of the great Rajput community.
Although the immigrant Brahmans brought their wives with them, tradition says that they contracted second marriages with the women of Bengal, and that their children by the latter were the ancestors of the Barendra Brahmans. The Barendra, on the other hand, claim to represent the offspring from the original Hindustani wives, and allege that the Rarhi Brahmans themselves spring from the mesalliance contracted in Bengal.
Bhatta Narayana's village - Bandya-gram - gave rise to the Bandyopadhyay (teachers from Bandya) clan. Vedagarva's line are the Gangopadhyays, Daksha's the Chattopadhyay, Sriharsa's the Mukhopadhyay. Roop Narayan Bandyopadhyay (c. 1350) of this clan is my direct ancestor according to tradition.
During the Aryan in-migration into the Saraswat brahmins built a culture along the banks of the river Saraswati. In the time of Parasurama, est. 400 BC, the river dried up due to desertification or disappeared underground. The Saraswat brahmins migrated to south, north and northwestern parts of the subcontinent. The Kashmiri Pandits remain in the north; those of the Saraswats that went to the east formed the Kanyakubja or Kanauji line, and from Kanauj they migrated to Gaud or Gour (Bengal). From Gour, small communities migrated to Orissa, northern Bihar (Mithila), and the South, including the Konkan. In the South, they are still recognized as the Gaudiya Saraswat Brahmins. Children are told that the Saraswats (re)learned eating fish, presumably forgotten during the disappearance of the Saraswati, on their detour through Bengal.
In time, the whole of the North Indian Brahmins came to be known after the part. From the Rājatarangini of Kalhaṇa, the Panch-Gauda and Panch-Dravida are two chief divisions of Brahmins:
कर्णाटकाश्च तैलङ्गा द्राविडा महाराष्ट्रकाः , गुर्जराश्चेति पञ्चैव द्राविडा विन्ध्यदक्षिणे ||
सारस्वताः कान्यकुब्जा गौडा उत्कलमैथिलाः, पञ्चगौडा इति ख्याता विन्ध्स्योत्तरवासिनः ||
(The-) Karnātakas, Tailangas, Dravidas, Mahārāshtrakās and Gurjaras; these five(-types who-) live south of Vindhya (- mountains) are (called-) "five Dravidas" (- brahmins); (whereas-) Sārasvatas, Kānyakubjas, Gaudas, Utkalas, and Maithilas, who live north of Vindhya (- mountains) are known as "five Gaudas" (-brahmins).
On my mother's side, the Biswas family recorded history also goes back a bit. Here is a Biswas Banghser Itihas (Biswas Family History) written by my grandfather. This traces our genealogy to the present day down from Basanta Ray, a clan leader of note in village Dhulia/Dhulya (probable coordinates circa 22° 34' North, 90° 33' East, SE of Barishal, now swallowed by the Padma river) who probably lived in the late 1500s, around the time of Kedar Rai (1540?-1603), one of the 12 Bara-Bhuiyans (local chieftains who armed themselves to resist the conquests of Bengal by the imperial Mughal armies usually led by Rajput proxies.) Records of the region have several mentions of Basanta Ray's clan-members as being given Gosthipati (Elder) titles by Kedar Rai. Descended from this line was Ramgopal Ray, a minor official in the employ of the Nawabs who subsequently ruled Bengal in Mughal viceregal capacity, who lived in the late 1600s.
Basanta Ray is fictionalized in Bou Thakuranir Hat, a historical novel by Rabindranath Tagore (published in 1883), as the liberal father-in-law of King Pratapaditya . Tagore develops Basanta Ray's character as a renaissance man, a sitar-playing pragmatic who decides against resisting Akbar's general Mansingh in order to protect his domains from a ruinous assymetric war. Pratapaditya decided this amounted to a hateful collaboration.
After 5 years of war, Pratapaditya was betrayed during peace talks and captured by treachery. With his death, southern Bangladesh became 'bereft of glory' (Yasho-hara, i.e. Jessore.) The imperial Mughal army sacked his domains, described by the historian Tapan Kumar Raychoudhury:
Plunder and rape appear as the concomitants of Mughal campaigns, and even a sensible man like Mirza Nathan boasts of his ruthless exploits. Udayaditya's (Pratapaditya's son) failure to satisfy this officer's lust for gold drew upon the head of the Jessore people a terrible vengeance. He threatened to show what is meant by looting, and true to his words, wrought such a havoc that he became an object of terror to the people of the country. Yet, to be sure, Mirza Nathan was more humane than his brother Murad who during a Jessore campaign bought as captives four thousand women, young and old, stripped of their clothing.
The pragmatists, like the families of Basanta Ray and Ramgopal, were absorbed in the Mughal, and subsequent Bengal Nawabs', state apparatus.
Rameshwar Ray (Ramchandra in some accounts), son of Ramgopal, was entrusted with the conveyance of revenue from many 'taluqs' to the treasury of Bengal. Rameshwar Ray's trustworthiness in this task earned him the Nawabi title of Bishwas/Biswas (Trust). He was also given the 'jagir' (along with one Kareem Khan) of Haria munsa in what is today Bangladesh (possibly Haria near Louhajang in Munshiganj District; 23° 30' 0" North, 90° 18' 0" East) according to Nawabi records.
Rameshwar's son was Yadavendra. Records dated year 1155 of the Bengali calendar (1748 CE) show the establishment of the mahaal (smallest unit of revenue assessment) of Mandra near village Haria by Raja Rajballav, who was one of the feudatories of Nawab of Bengal Ali Vardi Khan and later an officer in the army of his grandson Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula. (One of Siraj-ud-Daula's gripes against the Easy India Company was that they gave shelter to Krishnadas, son of Raja Rajballav, who had fled to Calcutta after embezzling government funds in Dhaka; this led in part to the Black Hole of Calcutta.) It is possible Mandra is today's Mauchha Mandra village near Louhajang in Munshiganj; 23° 29' 0" North, 90° 18' 0" East -- since it was supposed to be a mahaal carved out of the jagir of Haria.
Next, we find in the records the name Lokenath Biswas, nicknamed Titaram (c. 1765?), grandson of Rameshwar the Trusted as the revenue officer of this mahaal. Titaram's son was Vaidyanath (c. 1790?); his son Gourishankar (c. 1820?); his son Rasmohan (c. 1850?); his son Ramanimohan (c. 1880?), and thence his son my grandfather Rasamay (b. 1907) trace out the rest of this (patriarchial) genealogy.
(Not that the matriarchs were not formidable. In an age when women were not conventionally literate (though they all had a tremendous knowledge of the Indian classics along with a deep sense of dutiful morality this education imparted them) my mother's mother Susama, who I called Didibhai, the best cook of Bengali dishes the world has ever known, was an early graduate of Dhaka Morgan College. Shortly after she had been married, she went to live with her in-laws, and the Chief of that household was my grandfather's grandmother. My grandfather went off to Jabalpur, Delhi, Sindri on work setting up fertilizer factories, and, naturally, sent his pay home as money orders made out to Harasundari Devi. The old lady -- my great great grandmother -- would not only sign for the money order in a beautiful cursive English hand, but also write a homily in Bengali on the counterfoil that would go back to her grandson, never forgetting to slip the postman a little something for his household. Her quilts were said to be museum pieces.)
In the Biswas Banghser Itihas (Biswas Family History) written by my mother's father, there are the formulations of gain (village-headship) and maryada (prestige) -- concepts that were once tremendously important but became socially irrelevant in my grandfather's lifetime.
Again, from the 1901 Census of India:
By the middle of the eleventh century, when Ballal Sen, the second of the Sen kings of Bengal, instituted his famous enquiry into the personal endowments of the Rarhi Brahmans, their numbers seem to have increased greatly. They are represented as divided into 56 gains or headships of villages, which were reserved for them, and might not be encroached upon by Brahmans of other orders.
It is interesting to trace in Ballal Sen's enquiry the survival or reassertion of the principle referred to above as recognised in ancient times, that the Brahmanhood of the Brahman depends not merely on birth, but also upon personal endowments. It is a question of virtue, not a question of descent. Ballai Sen, of course, could not go so far as this. The time had long passed when a Kshatriya could transform himself into a Brahman by penance and self-denial. But the Sen monarch sought to reaffirm the ancient principle, so far as was then possible, by testing the qualifications of each Rarhi family for the priestly office, and classifying them, in the order of their virtue, according to the results of this examination. The following nine qualities were selected to serve as the touchstone of sacerdotal purity:—Achar; ceremonial purity; vinaya, discipline; vidya, learning; pratishtha, reputation for purity; tirthadarsana, zeal in pilgrimage; nishtha, piety; avritti, observance of legal marriages; tapa, ascetic self-devotion; dana, liberality.Tradition is silent concerning the precise method in which Ballal Sen carried out his somewhat inquisitorial measures. It seems, however, to be certain that some kind of enquiry into the nine characteristic Brahmanical qualities was held under his orders, and that the kul or social and ceremonial standing of each family was determined accordingly. Some say that twentytwo gains were raised to the highest distinction. Lakshmana Sen discarded fourteen gains on account of their misconduct, and they became gauna Kulins, an order which has now disappeared. Nineteen families belonging to the other eight gains were made Kulins. The other families of these eight gains were lost sight of. Thus two classes or grades of sacerdotal virtue were formed:—(1) the Kulin, being those who had observed the entire nine counsels of perfection; (2)the Srotriya, who, though regular students of the Vedas, had lost avritti by intermarrying with families of inferior birth. The Srotriya were again sub divided into Siddha or perfect, Sadhya or capable of attaining purity, and Kashta or difficult. The last-named group was also called Ari or enemy, because a Kulin marrying a daughter of that group was disgraced.
The relations of these three classes in respect of marriage were regulated by the principle Marriage, laid down in the Institutes of Manu for members of the three twice-born castes, a principle for which Sir Denzil Ibbetson has adopted the convenient and expressive name of hyper gamy. The rule was that a man of the Kulin class could marry a woman of his own class or of the two higher Srotriya classes; a Siddha Srotriya could marry in his own group or in the Sadhya Srotriya group; while the Sadhya and Kashta Srotriyas might take wives only within the limits of their own classes. Conversely women of the Sadhya Srotriya class could marry in their own class or the two classes above them; the Siddha Srotriya women in their own class or in the Kulin class; while Kulin women at one end of the scale and Kashta women at the other were restricted in their choice of husbands to the Kulin and Kashta groups. Unequal or irregular marriages involved loss of reputation and forfeiture of rank. On the other hand, the marriage of a girl into a good Kulin house conferred a sort of reflected honour on her own family, and in course of time this idea was developed into the doctrine known as kula-gotra, whereby the reputation of a family depended upon the character of the marriages made by its female members.
Many Kulin brahmin men thus got a license to go around marrying brahmin girls (often 'saving' hundreds of families from the ignominy of losing their Kulin status), in return for dowry. They would 'visit' each wife once every few years, and abandon the women once they were past reproductive age. The plight of the Brahmin girl, married off of an elderly Kulin, abandoned promptly, and left to the charity of relatives in old age, is shown in the character of the 'old aunt' Indir Thakrun in Pather Panchali. The section in the book which introduces the character of Indir Thakrun is titled "Ballali-balai" -- the Ballal-Millstone.
R1a is a major clade of human Y-chromosome lineages -- i.e. it is a grouping of modern men who have a shared male-line ancestor. R1a is common in many parts of Eurasia and is frequently discussed in human population genetics and genetic genealogy. One sub-clade (branch) of R1a, currently designated R1a1a, defined by the SNP mutation M17, is particularly common in a large region extending from South Asia and Southern Siberia to Central Europe and Scandinavia.
Genetically, 72% Bengali Brahmins have R1a1a, one of the highest concentrations in the world. About 48% of the Konkani Gaudiya Saraswat Brahmins do, too. But then, so do 69% of the Hindu Nepalese of the Terai, 67% Khatris from Sindh/Punjab, and 50% Manipuris (contrasted with 13% Sinhalese.) 65% of East Europeans have R1a1a, and the proportion decreases to about 20% in Scandinavia, and much lower in the northern part of Britain.
R1a1a is found in Western China and Eastern Siberia, in widely varying degrees, and this variation is possibly a consequence of population bottlenecks in isolated areas, as well as the movements of Sakas and Turco-Mongols in ancient times. High frequencies of R1a1a (50 to 70%) are found among the Ishkashimis, Khojand Tajiks, Kyrgyz, and in several peoples of Russia's Altai Republic.
Haplogroup R1a1a is found at elevated levels amongs Ashkenazi Jews (i.e. those originally from European Jewish communities), compared to Sephardic or Middle Eastern Jews. 52% Ashkenazi Levites have the haplogroup, but it is rare in Ashkenazi Cohanim (1.3%) and Israelites (4%).
Recent studies suggest that the R1a1a SNP is older amongst South Asians and is most likely to have originated in India, in some common ancestor of the Bengali Brahmins, Khatris, Terai-Hindus, and Manipuris, i.e. likely on the Indo-Gangetic plain. The pattern of genetics-based migration points at a corridor out of India at the dawn of the Neolithic age (12000 years ago), to an Ukrainian refuge in the last Ice Age (11000 years ago); from there, it spreads to the steppes of Central Asia, and then via the Caucasus to Eastern Europe (where, over centuries, it leaches into the Ashkenazim), Scandinavia and the UK, and also back into India (3000 years ago), this time bearing Indo-European cultural constructs like Aryanism and Brahminism. See here and here for more.
Based on the complexity of the genetic truth, future generations will discard the good customs, like Kulinism and caste, that have served to corrupt the world. Today the Brahman and his trouble, are ashes under Uricon.