Kayastha trace their genealogy from Lord Chitragupta. It is said that after Lord Brahma had created the four Varnas (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras), Yama (Dharamraj) requested Lord Brahma to help him record the deeds, both good and evil, of men and to administer justice.
According to the scriptures, Lord Brahma went into meditation for 11,000 years and when he opened his eyes he saw a man holding a pen and ink-pot in his hands, as well as a sword girdled to his waist. Lord Brahma spoke: “Thou hast been created from my body (Kaya); therefore, shall thy progeny be known as the Kayasthas. Thou hast been conceived in my mind (Chitra) and in secrecy (gupta); thy name shall also be Chitragupta. Brahma then enjoined him to dispense justice and punish those who violated the dharma. Thus, the Kayasthas were accorded a dual caste, Brahman/Kshatriya.
In the legends of Chitragupta as well as in the Vedas, he is referred to as the greatest King, while the rest are “Rajakas,” or little kings.
In the Garud Purana, Chitragupta is hailed as the first man to give the script.
“Chitragupta namastubhyam vedaksaradatre”
(Obeisance to Chitragupta, the giver of letters)
The Rig Veda mentions an invocation to be made to Chitragupta before offering sacrifice. There is also a special invocation to Chitragupta as Dharmraj (Lord of Justice) to be made at the performance of shradh or other rituals.
“Om tat purushaya vidmahe Chitragupta dhimahi tena lekha prachodayata.”
The priests also pay reverence to Shri Chitragupta :
“Yamam Dharmarajya Chitraguptaya vain namah.”‘
Lord Chitragupta is the Athi Devathai for Kethu, one of the Navagrahas, and those who worship Chitragupta, would be bestowed with prosperity. Also the evil effects of Kethu during its transit period would be mitigated.
Origin of Kayasthas
There are two known theories of the origin of Kayasthas as given in the Puranas and as it has come down in tradition from generation to generation.
THE FIRST THEORY – MYTHOLOGICAL & MOST ACCEPTED
The first theory is the orthodox one, and is hitherto accepted generally by all castes and communities in India, based as it is on the authority of no less than four Puranas —viz. Padma Puran (Srishti Khand,Patal Khand and Uttar Khand), Bhavishya Purana, Yama Samhita, Mahabharata and Brihad Parashar Smriti.
It is said that Brahma, the Creator, having established the four varnas — Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra — ordained Dharamraj ( also called Yamraj, the god of death) to keep record of the deeds — good and evil — of all life-forms born and yet to be born on the earth, in the heavens above and in the lands below. Dharamraj, however, complained, “O Lord, how can I alone keep record of the deeds of the beings born into 84 lakh yonis (life-forms) in the three worlds?”
Kayastha as described in the Puranas
Tagged with: Deities, Puranas, Two Wives
According to the Vedic scriptures, the souls of men after death receive rewards and punishments according to their sins and virtues, and hence it is believed that good and bad deeds of men are not destroyed. The souls of men after death go to Yamapuri which is presided over by the deities called Yamas who keep records of men?s actions and accordingly give them their dues. The principal Yama is called Yamaraja or Dharamaraja, that is, the ruler of Yamapuri or the King of Laws.
The Yama Samhita which is an extract from the 9th Chapter of Ahilya Kamdhenu, a work of Hindu Law, says that Dharamaraja complained to Lord Brahma about his difficulties in performing his most responsible duties of keeping records of the deeds of men and doing justice to them. Lord Brahma went into meditation. Shree Chitragupta sprang from his body and stood before him bearing an inkpot and a pen. The God Brahma (Creator) said: “Because you are sprung from my body (kaya), therefore you shall be called Kayastha and as you existed in my body unseen I give you the name of Chitragupta.” He then assumed charge of Yamapuri. Dharma Sharma married his daughter Irawati to Chitragupta and Manuji, son of Surya (the Sun) married his daughter Sudakhina to him.” Chitragupta had eight sons from the former and. four from the latter and these twelve sons became the progenitors of the twelve sub?divisions of the Chitraguptavansi Kayasthas, namely, Mathur, Gaur, Nigam, Ashthana, Kulshretha, Suryadwaja, Balmika Bhatnagar, Srivastava,Ambastha, Saksena and Karana.
In Padma Purana, Uttar Khanda, it says that Shree Chitragupta had twelve sons by two wives. They were all invested with the sacred thread and were married to Nagakanyas. They were the ancestors of the twelve sub?divisions of the Kayasthas.
The same legend with some slight difference is given inmost of the Puranas.
Padma Purana after stating the legend says: “Shree Chitragupta was placed near Dharamaraj to register the good and evil actions of all sentient beings,that he was possessed of supernatural wisdom and became the partaker of sacrifices offered to the gods and fire. It is for this reason that the twice?born always give him oblations from their food. As he sprang from the body of Lord Brahma he was called Kayastha of numerous gotras on the face of the earth.”
In Shristhi Khanda the same Purana says that the sacrificial rites and study of the Kayasthas should be of the Vedas and supporting scriptures and their occupation related to writing.
Bhavishya Purana states that God, the Creator, gave the name and duties of Chitragupta as follows:
Because you have sprung from my body, therefore, you shall be called Kayastha and shall be famous in the world by the name of Chitragupta. Oh my son, let your residence be always in the region of the god of justice for the purpose of determining the merits and demerits of men.
Vignana Tantra says the same thing.
The same is the enjoinment of Lord Brahma to Shree Chitragupta according to Brihat Brahma Khanda. He was named Kayastha having sprung from the body (kaya) of Lord Brahma. He was directed to perform all sanskars and to have writing as his profession.
Garuda Purana describes the imperial throne of Shree Chitragupta in Yamapuri holding his Court and dispensing justice according to the deeds of men and maintaining their record, in the following words:
(There Dharmaraja, Chitragupta, Sravana and others see all sins and virtues which remain concealed in the bodies of men).
Similarly, Apastamba Shakha of the Veda quoted in Shabda?Kalpadrum 2nd part, page 228, Shabda 20, under Kshatriya, states that Kayasthas are Kshatriyas. Chitragupta who reigns in heaven and his son Chaitrarath, who was light of the family, meritorious and of illustrious deads ruled on earth for a long time as King of Chitrakoot near Allahabad. Meru Tantra quoted in Shabda?Kalpadrum under the word ?Kshatriya? supports the same view.
The Mahabharata (Anusasan Parva, Chap. 130) recites the teaching of Shree Chitragupta requiring men to do virtuous and charitable acts and performing Yagya, saying that men are rewarded or punished according to their good or bad deeds
Brahma then closed his eyes, meditated for a while and lo and behold! there appeared a radiant figure with a quill-pen in one hand and an ink-pot in another. Brahma named him Chittagupta for he was conceived in his cognitive-self (chitta) and he was lying in Him, dormant and secret (gupta). He was born of Brahma’s body (kaya) and so the Lord decreed that his progenies be called Kayasthas. He was assigned to work as a minister, to write and record for Dharamraj. Thus, the fifth varna, the Kayastha, came into existence.
MENTION OF KAYASTHAS IN PURANS & VEDAS
Sanskrit texts of yore tell us that Chittagupta married Irawati and Nandini. The 12 Kayastha sub-castes are traced to his 12 sons, eight by Irawati and four by Nandini. Mathurs, Gaurs, Bhatnagars, Saxenas, Ambhasths, Nigams, Karns and Kulshreshths became the descendants of the eight sons by Irawati, whereas Srivastavas, Suryadhwajs, Asthanas and Valmiks became the descendants of the four sons by Nandini. As time passed, the name Chittagupta got transformed into Chitragupta.
Ancient Sanskrit texts dating back to the pre-Mughal period, though, have references to Kayasthas and Chitragupta. The Smriti of Yajnavalkya describes the Kayasthas as writers, scribes and village accountants. The Vishnu and Parashara Smritis have also similar references to them, describing them as magistrates, judges and chief executive officers.
In the Garud Puran, Chitragupta has been described as the giver of the script (Chitraguptaya namastubhyam veda aksharadatre — salutation to Chitragupta, the giver of the script). The Rig Veda enjoins a salutation to Chitragupta before offering sacrifice — Sri Chitraguptaya vai namah.
THE SECOND THEORY – KAYADESH OR WRITING CASTE
Residents of Kaya-Desh
The second theory or view may be deemed as the heterodox one. According to this the word Kayastha only meant residents of Kaya-desh or Madhya-desh, which was synonym to Ayodhia.
On this view it is possible to hazard a guess that the class or community of Kayasthas may have come into existence by the formation of something like a guild of all those people who, although drawn from educated members of more than one Dwij varanas, (viz. Brahmans, Kshattriyas and even possibly Vaishyas), took to and adopted government service or administration as their hereditary profession or calling from the earliest times in Hindu history.
They may have been or indeed were residents of different parts of India. The fact that by ancient custom inter-marriage and even inter-dining was strictly prohibited amongst the twelve sub-castes of the Kayasthas interse seems to lend some support to this view.
The 12 sub-castes of the Kayasthas are not only endogamous subdivisions, but they also have exogamous divisions based on als. An al would refer to a distinguished ancestor or the place of origin or it could refer to a characteristic acquired during migration. Members of the same al are prohibited to inter-marry and hence als perform the same function that gotras do in other castes. Mathurs are divided into 197 als, Bhatnagars into 95, Saxenas into 121, Nigams into 42 and Srivastavas into 43.
Some historians hold the view that during the reign of the Mughals, a number of Hindus who were were educated and endowed with sharp intellect attained administrative positions through rapid adaptation to the Persian language and culture of India’s new rulers. These influential Hindus got together and formed a new caste known as Kayastha.
Two other regional communities also lay claim to the name Kayastha. These are the Prabhu Kayasthas of Maharashtra and Bengali Kayasthas of West Bengal. They were also the ‘writing-castes’ in Maharashtra and Bengal, respectively, like the Chitragupta Kayasthas of North India.
Kayasthas worship ShreeChitraguptaji and on Bhai-Dooj, they celebrate Kalam-Dawaat Pooja (pen, ink-pot and sword worship), a ritual in which pens, papers and books are worshipped. This is the day when Shree Chitraguptji was created by Lord Bramha and Yamaraj got relieved of His duties and used this leave to visit His sister Devi Yamuna; hence the whole world celebrates Bhaiya dooj on this day and the Kayastha celebrate ShreeChitraguptajayanti, i.e. the ‘Birthday’ of their progenitor.
By worshipping Chitragupta who is their ancestor, kayasthas have the singular distinction of being the only “Ancestor-worshipping” sect of Hinduism.
Unlike most Baniya (Vaishya) or Brahmins, and like Kshatriyas, Kayasthas eat onions, garlic, meats like mutton and chicken, fish and eggs, though a large number are also vegetarians. Meat eating kayasthas do avoid beef as the cow is considered sacred for Hindus.
It is believed though not yet proved that Kayasthas of holy towns like Prayag, Mathura, Varanasi, etc. are purely vegetarians, while in other areas they may be mixed. It is said that Kayasthas started eating meat during the Muslim period when they socially mixed with the Muslims. It is also said that Kayasthas have the best eating sense, because amongst Hindus, Kayasthas add the largest varieties of food to their diet.
Of all the other castes in India, Kayasthas are the easiest to mingle with other castes. They did this when the Muslims came to India, and modern examples of this are Kayasthas outside India where they mingle with other castes more than they mingle among themselves. This cosmopolitan outlook distinguishes members of this caste, and along with the great emphasis on education, is to a large extent responsible for their success in changing times.