Kashmiri Pandits (also known as Kashmiri Brahmins) are a community of Kashmiri Hindus. They are part of India’s larger Saraswat Brahmin community. They are members of the Pancha Gauda Brahmin community from the Kashmir Valley, a mountainous region in India’s union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. We will discuss about Kashmiri Pandits castes in brief.
Kashmiri Pandits lived in the Kashmir Valley before Muslim influence arrived. A large number converted to Islam as a result. They are Kashmir’s last remaining Hindu community. Kashmiri Pandits castes consists of further subcastes as discussed below.
Cultural Relations and History
The Rajataringini, India’s first recognisable historical narrative, written in the middle of the twelfth century by a Kashmiri Brahman named Kalhana, speaks of the valley’s mythic origins in a sacred lake.
Modern researchers’ discovery of marine fossils lends credence to the legends. According to the Rajataringini, early caste-based Hindu society was overlain but never completely displaced by Buddhist elements.
Hindu dynasties ruled until the early fourteenth century, when rulers and Sufi missionaries from Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Persia brought Islam to Kashmir. According to legend, only a few Brahman households survived the simultaneous processes of conversion and elimination.
These were the forefathers of today’s Pandits. Mughal Empire annexed Kashmir in the late 16th century. Many Indian cities now have localized communities of Kashmiri Pandits. According to estimates, there is one Kashmiri Pandit for every three people living in Kashmir.
The Nehru family was also descended from Kashmiri Pandits.
Subcastes of Kashmiri Pandits
Kashmiri Pandits castes consists of three subcastes. Guru/Bachabat or priests, Jotish or astrologers, and Karkun, who have historically been primarily employed by the government. Interdine and interteach all three subcastes, but only the Jotish and Karkun subcastes intermarry.
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