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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



This clan helped preserve Indian literature

by S. D. Sharma

A thorough study of literature reveals that Bhat is the Sanskritised form of Bhatta  -  a respectful term for a Brahaman and probably connect­ed with Bharti i.e., bearer or master. H.A. Rose (1883) opines that the Punjabi form of the word is Bhatt, but is commonly pronounced as Bhat in hilly areas and foothills. Bhat Brahamans comprise various gotras like Bhardwaj, Gautam, Kalia, Kapil, Lomas, Paulastya, Prashar, Agnihotri and Vashist. Various legs are recounted to explain their origin. According to one school of thought the Bhat Brahamans originated from Pushkarna and Saraswat Brahamans. The second school says that when Janmeja celebrated a sacrifice he summoned Gaur Brahmans and tricked one of them into accepting an offering of a diamond by concealing it in a beetle leaf. Another leg is that Lord Shiva was celebrating the marriage of his son, when a drop of sweat falling from his brows to the ground, led to the incarnation of the first Bhat Brahaman. Still another leg is that Brahama offered gifts to Brahamans, but they all refused it, until one of their sister’s son accepted it and he became a Bhat Brahaman.

Rose further states that marriage and birthday ceremonies throughout the country were performed by the celebrated scholars of this clan for amounts ranging from one taka to Re 1 around 1883. Mahabharta speaks of a band of Bhat Brahamans and eulogists marching in front of Yudhistra as he made his way from the field of Kurukshetra towards Hastinapur. According to Ibbetson (1881) Bhat Brahamans in the Punjab are genealogists. Sherring (1879) says that Bhat Brahamans cultivated the art of making up poetry on the spur of the moment at marriage festivals and other such occasions. Elliot (1877) and Saltor (1981) averred that Bhat is a title of honour given to a learned Brahaman. They are also called Bandinah, Nandiputrah and Vaitalikah.

The profession of the Bhat Brahamans has an interesting story behind it. The ancient literature of both Greece and India owes its preservation to the singers who recited poems in the households of chiefs and doubtlessly contributed, in some measures, to shape the masterpieces which they handed down. Their place was one of distinction. In the days when writing was unknown, the man who could remember many verses was held in high esteem by the chief who deped upon the memory of the Bhat Brahamans for the record of his ancestors and for the maintenance of the genealogy which established the purity of his descent.

Banabhat was a celebrated Sanskrit scholar and poet who lived in the 7th century. Kumarilla Bhat, a noted scholar and writer who lived in the 8th century, composed Umasvastis and Gandhahasti Mahabhasya and Nanniah, Errapragada and Tikkanna, the great trio or Kavi Traya of Telugu literature. The Dutangada of Subhat exhibits shadowplays of Mahanataka. Bhavadevabhat of the Savarna gotra of the kauthuma school of Samaveda, born in Siddhalagrama in Radha (Bengal) was the son of Govardhana and Samgoka and flourished in about 1100. He was a versatile genius and composed Dharamsastra. Vijnanessvara of Bhardwaj gotra was the son of Padmanabha Bhat Brahaman and pupil of Uttma. He wrote Mitakshara when King Vikrmarke (Vikrmadiyta) was ruling Kalayana. Mahima Bhat, Bhaskarbhat and Chintamanibhat were other renowned and celebrated scholars of their times.

King Nagbhat ruled on Buchkal (Rajasthan) in 815; King Dhruvbhat on Mount Abu in 1002; King Bhadarbhat on Gajaband (Malwa) in the 11th century and King Shiv Nabh on Sangladeep from 1509-1521. Bhat Brahamans probably belonged to Sangladeep. RC Temple (1962) identifies Sangladeep with Sankladeep or Srinkhladeep in the undivided Punjab, somewhere near Sialkot. This is the place where Guru Gorakhnath asked Puran Bhagat to go and get alms from the young and beautiful Queen Sundran sometime in 7th century (Rose, 1970).

Mrigind (1977) says Sangladeep is an island in Sri Lanka. PP Sinha (1980) while writing on the life and times of Tansen (originally Tnna Nisra) for his Ph.D degree established that he was a Bhat Brahaman. Kedar, Nal, Gaddadhar, Shribhat, Kumarmani, Baisal, Padhkar, Dialdas Lachhiram, Haridas, Gang and Narhari had been some poets of eminence belonging to this clan. Royal poet Chand Bardai and Birbal were the Chief Ministers of King Prithviraj Chauhan and Akbar the Great, respectively, and were Bhat Brahamans.

Guru Das Vashisht of Tibber (Gurdaspur) sacrificed his life in 1919 in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, while Chhotelal in 1912, Janardan Bakhatram in 1918, Ram Kali in 1918, Ram Krishan in 1930 and Shamrao in 1942, all Maharashtrian Bhat Bra­hamans, laid their lives for the freedom of India .  - (Source: The Tribune)

Source: Kashmir Sentinel 


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