Kalita (caste)

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Kalita is an ethnic group or a caste of Hindus belonging to the state of Assam in North East India.[citation needed] They commonly claim to belong to the Kshatriya caste.[4] There is evidence of Kalita kingdom in very early times as well as during the 15th-16th century.[5] According to historians like S.L.Barua, Kalitas started migrating from North and East India to Assam during the 11th century rule of Dharmapal. [6]

Origin[edit]

According to "Purana Tradition", the Kalitas are considered as pure Aryans.[7] Though the Aryan descent theories endorse the arrival of the Kalitas "before the rise of the existing professional castes", the Kalitas generally claim to belong to the Kshatriya caste, and call themselves kulalupta,[4] kula meaning caste and lupta meaning gone ("lost caste") in the context of the legend that the Kalitas "were Ksatriyas who fled from the wrath of Parasurama who was determined to exterminate the Ksatriyas. But this seems to be a false etymology."[8]

The Kalitas in Assam are considered next only to the Brahmins in the caste-hierarchy.[9][10] According to the legends, they are "the non-Vedic Aryans" who are responsible for bringing Aryan culture to Assam. Having mingled with local population, they still preserve certain elements of Aryan culture even after localizing their culture to some extent.[10]

Dr. B.S. Guha has found similarities between some surnames of "Alpine Nagar Brahmins" of Gujarat with those of North East India, as referred in the Nidhanpur land grants of Kamarupa King Bhaskaravarman (6th century A.D.) such as Datta, Dhara, Deva, Nandi, Sena, and Vasu, etc. and connects them with the Kalitas of Assam.[11] Again, historian Kanaklal Barua mentions these surnames while referring to the Nidhanpur inscription and says that these surnames "now belong almost exclusively to the Bengali Kayasthas".[12]

Few scholars including K.R. Medhi, K.L. Barua, P.C. Choudhuri, M. Neog, B. K. Kakati made speculations by drawing the references of Greek records, words like Kakatiai, Kalaiai, Kaltis, Koudontai, Kudutai, Gurucharitis and few early religious literatures to establish the Kalitas through materials not based on ethnology or anthropology. Some even tried to relate Kalitas to Naraka-Bhagadatta.[11]

Social life[edit]

Mirroring the history of Assam, the Kalitas were peasants, though during the rule of the Ahom dynasty they also proved their might and capabilities as soldiers, generals, administrators, envoys, and judges.

The Ahom paik system surnames of Bora, Hazarika, Saikia, Kakoti, Borkakoty, Barua, Rajkhowa, and Phukan can all be found amongst the Kalitas of Assam, which signify that they served the Ahom monarchy. Bora was the leader of 20 paiks (or foot soldiers), Saikia that of 100 paiks and Hazarika that of 1000 paiks. The Baruas led 3000 men, similar to the Rajkhowas. Phukans formed the uppermost layers of the Ahom military and judicio-administrative structure, subservient to the Ahom Borphukans and Borbaruas.[13] Phukans and Baruah are found in the Brahmins, Ahoms and Kalitas of Assam alike. Besides this, Bora, Baruah and Saikia are equally found in the Sutiya community while Hazarika, Rajkhowa are found amongst the Ahoms.Certain posts like "Boiragi" or envoys to neighbouring kingdoms such as the Jaintias (presently in Meghalaya), the Kacharis (Assam), and the Mughal Sultanate in Bengal, were given to Kalitas in preference to Ahoms.[14]

Notable Kalitas[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "639 Identifier Documentation: aho – ISO 639-3". SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics). SIL International. Retrieved 29 June 2019. Ahom [aho]
  2. ^ "Population by Religious Communities". Census India – 2001. Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 1 July 2019. Census Data Finder/C Series/Population by Religious Communities
  3. ^ "Population by religion community – 2011". Census of India, 2011. The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 25 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b Col Ved Prakash (2007). "Encyclopaedia of North-East India, Volume 1". India, Northeastern. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 150. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  5. ^ Pratap Chandra Choudhury (1988). "Assam-Bengal Relations from the Earliest Times to the Twelfth Century A.D". Assam (India). Spectrum Publications. pp. 193, 275. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  6. ^ A Comprehensive History of Assam by S.L.Barua, page 15
  7. ^ Manilal Bose (1998). "Social and Cultural History of Ancient India". Hindu civilization. Concept Publishing Company. p. 29. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  8. ^ S. K. Sharma; U. Sharma, eds. (2005). Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Science, Education and Economy. North-East India. Volume 1. Mittal Publications. p. 93. ISBN 978-81-83-24035-2.
  9. ^ Shiri Ram Bakshi; Sita Ram Sharma; S. Gajrani, eds. (1998). Contemporary Political Leadership in India: Sharad Pawar, the Maratha legacy. APH Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 978-81-76480-08-6.
  10. ^ a b G.K. Ghosh (2008). Bamboo: The Wonderful Grass. APH Publishing. p. 184. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  11. ^ a b The great Indian corridor in the east by Phani Deka
  12. ^ S. K. Sharma; U. Sharma, eds. (2005). Discovery of North-East India: Geography, History, Culture, Religion, Politics, Sociology, Science, Education and Economy. North-East India. Volume 1. Mittal Publications. p. 182. ISBN 978-81-83-24035-2.
  13. ^ A History of Assam by Sir Edward Gait, page 248–250
  14. ^ A History of Assam by Sir Edward Gait, page 124

  • Baruah, Swarnalata (1985), A Comprehensive History of Assam, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.