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Rajopadhyaya (Nepali: राजोपाध्याय) is one of the five groups of Bramhan in Nepal.[1] Witzel (1986) identifies the following five groups of Bramhans in Nepal, viz.

  1. the Newārī-speaking Rājopādhyāya Bramhans
  2. the Nepāli-speaking Kumāī Bramhans,
  3. the Nepāli-speaking Pūrbe Bramhans
  4. the Newārī-Maithilī-speaking Maithil Bramhans
  5. the Bhaṭṭa Bramhans from South India

In Sanskrit, Rajopadhyaya literally means 'the royal teacher or guru' (Sanskrit: राज = royal + उपाध्याय = guru). They were the royal guru during the Malla era and even in Licchavi period. As a Brahman group, they are placed at top in Nepalese Caste System in Kathmandu Valley of Nepal based on Hinduism. They are especially concentrated in the core city area of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur.

Rajopadhyaya are an endogamous Brahman group, which still celebrates a strong matri-linear traditions. This is perhaps due to their closest link to the female-dominant tantra tradition, which they still adhere. Currently, they debate their identity into following of the three grounds:

  1. Newar: Many claim Rajopadhyayas are Newars first as they have been into this ethnic group for time immemorial.
  2. Brahmin: As any other Brahmin group mentioned above, Rajopadhyaya too claim they are only Brahmin first.
  3. Newar-Brahmin: Some claim Rajopadhyaya as Newar-Brahmin because of their Newari name as Dya (Bhaju) Brahman (alternatively: Dev Brahmin).


Almost all Rajopadhyaya Brahmans claim themselves Hindu or at least the Sanatan Dharm. They adhere mostly to the Shaiva and Shakta cult. Most Rajopadhyaya trace their origin from Kamarupa Kamakshya in Assam, India based on a manuscript found in Bhaktapur mentioning their descent from the Brahman-duo Allasa Raj and Ullasa Raj of 15-16th century.[2]

But they also relate closely to Newar Buddhism of the Vajrayana tradition. Among many Buddhism linkages of this group are: the consecration of a Buddhist vihar in Patan, the religious role in the chariot of Red Macchindranath, similar forms of tantric traditions etc.

Priesthood and preceptor[edit]

As royal guru or preceptor and a Brahmin group, Rajopadhyayas took priesthood at many temples, including the following:

The Rajopadhyaya are also the preceptor of different musical plays and instruments including the famed Kartik Nach of Lalitpur, 12-year Bhadrakali dance and so on.

Popular Rajopadhyaya Names[edit]

Some popular Rajopadhyaya names from history and popular culture include:

  • Sudarshan Brahmin (a mythical Brahmin to slain Changu Narayan)
  • Gaya Juju (Gayo Baje) of Sulimha, Patan [3]
  • Vishvanath Upadhyay of Valimha, Patan [4]
  • Sahasra Shivananda of Indrachowk [5]
  • Pundit Vamshi Dharananda Rajopadhyaya of Changu Narayan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Witzel, Michael. (1986). 'Agnihtora-Rituale in Nepal'. In Kölver, B. and Leinhard, S. (eds). Formen kulturellen Wandels und andere Beirtaege zur Erforschung des Himalaya. St. Augustin: VGH Wissenschaftsverlag. pp. 157 – 187
  2. ^ Toffin, Gerard. (1995). 'The Social Organization of Rajopadhyaya Brahmans of Nepal'. In Gellner, David & Quigley, Declan. (eds). Contested Hierarchies: A Collaborative Ethnography of Caste Among the Newars of Kathmandu Valley. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  3. ^ Śarmā, Nutandhar. (1999). "The Legends of Gayaḥbājyā of Pāṭan in the Kāṭhmāṇḍu Valley". Contributions to Nepalese Studies. Vol. 26, No. 2. (July 1999). Kirtipur: CNAS/TU. pp. 239-256.
  4. ^ Rajopadhyaya, Abhas D. (2017). 'Visvanath Upadhyay: Lalitpur ka Tantrik'. In Rajopadhyaya, Birajkaji. (ed.). Lumanti 1137. Lalitpur: Rajopadhyaya Samaj.
  5. ^ Rājopādhyāya, Dineshananda. Devatāharūko vaṃśāvalī. (Unpublished).

External links[edit]