Bhumihar’s History I
Pandit Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya says that according to legend constructed by some Brahmins other than Bhumihar Brahmins, the Bhumihars were non-Brahmin Hindus who were conferred the status of Brahmins by a Raja who wanted more Brahmins in his kingdom in order to celebrate religious festivals. Pandit Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya in his book Hindu Castes and Sects published in 1896, went on to write about the origin of Bhumihar Brahmins of Bihar and Banaras as: “The clue to the exact status of the Bhumihar Brahmans is afforded by their very name. The word literally means a landholder. In the language of the Indian feudal systems, Bhoom is the name given to a kind of tenure similar to the Inams and Jagirs of Mohammedan times. By a Bhoom, according to the Rajputana Gazeteer, an hereditary, non-resumableand inalienable property in soil was inseparably bound up with a revenue-free title. Bhoom was given as a compensation for bloodshedin order to quell a feud, for distinguished services in the field, for protection of a border or for the watch and ward of the village. The meaning of the designation Bhumihar being as stated above, the Bhumihar Brahmans are evidently these Brahmans who held grants of land for secular service. Whoever held a secular fief was Bhumihar. Where a Brahman held such a tenure, he was called a Bhumihar Brahman….Bhumihar Brahmans are sometimes called simply Bhumihars…”
Bhumihar or Babhan or Bhuin-har is a Brahmin community mainly found in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. Bhumihars are classified in the Brahmin varna of Hinduism but this claim has been contested by some. Bhumihars are landowning Brahmins who came to own land in different periods of History through land grants by kings or during the rule of Brahmin kings.
According to M. A. Sherring some of the Bhumihars belong to the Saryupareen Brahmin division of Kanyakubja Brahmins. In the 19th (held at Prayag) and 20th (held at Lucknow) national convention of Kanyakubja Brahmins by Kanyakubja Mahati Sabha, in 1926 and 1927 respectively, it reiterated Bhumihars to be Kanyakubja Brahmins and appealed for unity among Kanyakubja Brahmins whose different branches included Sanadhya, Pahadi, Jujhoutia, Saryupareen, Chattisgarhi, Bhumihar and different Bengali Brahmins. Bhumihars have been the traditional priests at Vishnupad Mandir in Gaya as Gayawar Pandas and in the adjoining districts like Hazaribagh. The Kingdom of Kashi belonged to Bhumihar Brahmins and big zamindari like Bettiah Raj, Hathwa Raj and Tekari Raj belonged to them. Bhumihars were well respected Brahmins in the courts of Dumraon Maharaj, King of Nepal and Raj Darbhanga. The Bhumihar population of Uttar Pradesh had an average literacy of less than 12% in 1911 Some Mohyal Brahmins migrated eastward and are believed to constitute some sub-divisions of Bhumihars, some of whom are also descendants of HussainiBrahminss and mourn the death of Imam Hussain. There is also a significant migrant population of Bhumihars in Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and others.
Bhumihars are commonly called Babhans which is the Pali word for Brahmins and is used to refer to Brahmins in Buddhist sources. In recent times, Bhumihars have been in the forefront of casteist violence in some places of Bihar state.
The Bhumihars claim that when Parashurama destroyed the Kshatriya race, and he set up in their place the descendants of Brahmins, who, after a time, having mostly abandoned their priestly functions (although some still perform), took to land-owning. They also claim that Lord Parashurama was the first Bhumihar.
Bhumihars, have been involved in many caste-related conflicts . However, it was in reply to the requests made by Yadav peasants in 1927, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati had started the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha, which led to the largest peasant movement in the country. Bhumihars also gave Bihar its first chief minister in Sri Krishna Singh who had himself led Dalit’s entry into Baidyanath Dham (Vaidyanath Temple, Deoghar).
Following independence, Naxalite groups began to originate in Bihar in response to low wages and alleged illtreatment of Dalit peasants by upper-caste landlords. Some Bhumihars and other upper-caste landlords responded by starting private militias called Senas. These were heavily funded and promoted by some Bhumihar landlords to fight extremist Naxalite groups which supposedly represented low-caste Bihari peasants. Hostilities began to intensify when in 1994, the Ranvir Sena was founded in Belaur village to counter Naxal terrorism. Since its formation, the Ranvir Sena has been held responsible for murder, rape and burglary in Bihar. This outfit, along with the Maoist Communist Centre, has been responsible for large-scale violence in Bihar. Incidents of violence have been reported from the villages of Belaur, Bara, Senari, Ekwari, Chandi, Nanaur, Narhi, Sarathau, Haibaspur, Laxmanpur-Bathe, Shankarbigha, and Narayanpur.