Hisotry ok Khatris
Origin of the word Khatri
Khatri word originated from Sanskrit word Kshatriya(Hindi: क्षत्रिय, kṣatriya from Sanskrit: क्षत्र, kṣatra). The Kshatriya are one of the four varnas of Hinduism, the other three being Brahmins, Vaishyas and Shudras.
ln Punjabi, as a rule the Sanskrit syllable 'ksha' is pronounced as 'kha'. Therefore 'raksha' becomes 'rakhia' 'kshama' khima and so on. Similarly the Kshatriya is transformed to Khatri when it entered the Land of Five Rivers. Therefore unquestionably 'Khatri' is the Punjabi form of the Sanskrit word 'Kshatriya'. Philologically 'kshatriya' appears to be connected with the Sanskrit word 'Kshetra' 'dominion' or 'country'.
Origins of the caste
The Khatris are a north Indian community that originated in the Potwar Plateau of Punjab. This region is historically connected with the composition of the Vedas and classics like the Mahabharata and Ashtadhyayi.
In the old varna (caste) system the Kshatriya were members of the Hindu military order who as administrators and rulers, were tasked with protecting Hindu Dharma, and serving humanity. In the course of time, however, as a result of economic and political exigencies, Khatris also expanded into mercantile occupations.
When Pakistan and India gained independence, most of the Khatris in what became Pakistan migrated to India. Today Khatris live in all regions of India, but are concentrated in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Most Khatris practice either Hinduism or Sikhism, some also follow Jainism and Islam. Khatris of all these faiths collectively form one community. In modern times, Khatri;s are playing a significant role in the Indian economy, serving as businessmen, civil and government administrators, military officials, actors, directors and many other areas.
For the most part, Khatris have been in the civil, government, and military administrators roles for centuries. Some subgroups of Khatris have gone into the merchant business as traders, and have participated in trade well beyond India's borders, for many centuries from Burma to Russia. At one time, the Khatris controlled a significant share of the trade in the central Asian region. The Hindu fire-temple of Baku, Azerbaijan, supported for centuries by Khatri merchants flourished until the middle of 19th century. The Hindu temples of Kabul built by the Khatris still exist.
Khatris continue to be the most educated group in modern Punjab. Their historical access to resources and education, has translated into wealth, influence and service to the society.
Many prominent historical figures have emerged from the Khatri. All ten Sikh Gurus were Khatri, belonging to the Bedi, Trehan, Bhalla and Sodhi subcastes. Raja Todar Mal was a Tandon Khatri who codified the revenue collection system as Revenue Minister for Akbar. Haqiqat Rai was a Puri Khatri whose martyrdom was celebrated on Basant Panchami in Lahore until independence. Hari Singh Nalwa, an Uppal Khatri, was a prominent general under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The father and son pair of the Diwans Sawan Mal and Mul Raj Chopra were successive governors of Multan under Ranjit Singh. The former instituted vast improvements in agriculture, while the latter was instrumental in leading the revolt against the British to prevent the annexation of the Sikh kingdom into the East India Company territory. Sadhu Singh Gulla fought against the British Empire in the 19th century.
Khatri Family Names
The language spoken by the Khatris vary from state to state. In Punjab, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, the Indo-Aryan language, Punjabi, is their first language and the Gurumukhi script is used to write it. However, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, they also speak Dogri and Bhadrawahi. Hindi is the primary language in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh and it is written in the Devanagari script. They speak Maithili in Bihar, Mewari or Marwari in Rajasthan, Pahari in Himachal Pradesh and Kacchi in Gujarat.
Most Khatri are also fluent in Hindi language and many speak fluent English.
Khatri Sub Divisions
There are several sub divisions in Khatris, which initially were Dhar Ghar, Char Ghar, Panch Jatiya, Chah Jatiya Khatris. Later as the occupations diversified, regions they lived in expanded the khatris diversified into several other groups which were Barah Ghar Khatris, Bavanjai Khatris (52), Arora Khatris, Bhatia Khatris, Dilwali Khatris, Sarin Khatris, Khukran Khatris, Lohane Khatris, Bahubal Khatris, Sood Khatris, Barhmakshatri Khatris, Agrawal Khatris
There is a story that the grouping was formed by the families of three administrators - Kapur Chand, Khan Chand and Mehar Chand who had come to work in Akbar’s court from Multan. But this story appears to be a fictional one since the Mehra, Khanna and Kapoor clans have pre-existed in India as a Kshatriya clan. It is more likely that the grouping was formed in Emperor Akbar’s time for marriages from three existing kshatriya family groups. These divisions are however historic, since the beginning in the nineteenth century, the community has progressively relaxed these divisions and considers all khatris as one group
The Dhai Ghar (also written as Dhaighar) Khatris originally consisted of three family groups of North India – Khanna, Kapur/Kapoor and Mehra/Malhotra. They were regarded as Kshatriyas of two and a half houses because a grouping of three is considered unlucky. Aurangzeb banished many Khatris from the Moghul military and administrative roles because of their non-cooperation and since that time many of the dhai ghar khatris adopted trading and business professions that many other khatris were already engaged in.
The Dhar Ghar Khatris were later expanded to form the char ghar khatris (Khatris of four houses) by including the Tandon clan or the Seth clan. The basis for the grouping appears to be suryavanshi roots rather than any other consideration. The group included other suryavanshi clans that they encountered in the regions they came to inhabit such as the Tandons and the Seths. These groupings were based on the belief that all of these clans are descendents of ancient suryavanshi kshatriya clans
Sahgal, Tandon, Soni along with the Chopra, Dhawan, Batta, Bandha, Kakar, Mahindru, Vohra, Wadhaun, and Wahi form the Barah-Ghar group of Khatris
Kukhran (also spelt Kukhrain) Khatris are a regional grouping of ten subcastes of Punjabi Khatris. They are offshoots of the Bunjai or the Bavanjai clan. Kukhrans are Aryan and Vedic peoples and have originally followed Hinduism, however a significant number adapted Sikhism during the 18th and 19th centuries. Common Kukhran names are Anand, Bhasin, Chadha, Chandok,Gadhok, Gadok, Kohli, Sabbarwal, Sahni, and Suri many of whom had migrated from present Pakistan to India during partition.
The Sarin (300 clans) Khatris are yet another offshoots of the Bavanjai. The Sarin Khatris include the Bedi and Sodhi clans, to which belonged the founders of the Sikh faith. It is a matter of immense proud for the Khatri community that the Sikh Gurus were all Khatris. Guru Nanak was a Bedi; Guru Angad Trehan; and Guru Amar Das Bhalla. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, Guru Ram Das, a Sodhi. All the subsequent Gurus came from the same family. Bichitra Natak names Rama’s sons Lava and Kush as ancestors of Sodhi and Bedi clans respectively.
The sessions of Akhil Bhartiya Khatri Mahasabha were held in Lucknow in 1916, 1936, 1952 and 1980. Lucknow Khatri Sabha was established in 1927 and publication Khatri Hitashi was started in 1936.