Data available now suggest that early settlers from , according to westerners , the migration of people from Africa/Central Asia was towards India and the earliest settlement was in Kashmir.
However I hold a different view and will be posting on the movement of Brahmins through History.
As of now I am providing information from the source listed towards the end of the post
Legend clescribes the sage Kashyapa as the leader of colonisers of the valley. He is said to have under gone severe penances, killed the water demon of Satisara, drained out the stagnant water, and finally established a colony of his followers. Kashyapa, aithough an eminent Vedic Rishi, is said to have belonged to a non-Aryan stock. Even legend describes him “the father of all creatures including Nagas and Pisachas.” The legend of Nilamata Purana describes in detail the stiff opposition and long controversy of Nagas and Pisachas to the Aryan immigrants. It would not be out of place to have a brief introduction with the Pisachas of yore who, if recent researches are any indication, might have been one among many of our ancestors.
Legend classifies them with fiends and evil spirits. The Vedas have placed them lower than the Rakshasas (Ogres), and amongst the most vile and noxious of beings. They are said to have been residing at cemeteries, devouring corpses and causing malignant diseases. Accounts differ as to their origin. The Brahmana and the Mahabharata say that they were created by Brahma, together with the Asuras and Rakshasas, from the stray drops of water which fell apart from the drops out of which gods, men, gandharvas etc., had been produced. According to Manu they sprang from the Prajapatis. In the Puranas they are represented as the offspring of Kashyapa by his wife Krodhavasa or Pisacha, or Kapisa.
The Nilamata describes them as friends of Daityas, dwelling in an Oasis, in the middle of the sea of sand. In Kashmir they lived under the leadership of Nikumba. As a result of Kashyapa’s curse on the Nagas, the Pisachas occupied the valley of Kashmir for six months each year. This account refers to the human character of the Pisachas.
As already pointed out that they were the ancestors of the Dards, there is nothing to disbelieve that they, finding the climate of the valley warmer than the in hospitable regions of the North and East, came down to occupy the valley of Kashmir for the winter months. Mr. Bamzi quotes a statement of Drew to substantiate the theory of seasonal migration. “Further East (of Padar) across the glaciers lies the inaccessible country of Zanskar where the people and cattle live indoor for six months out of the year, where trees are scarce and food is scarcer. Farthest east is Rupshu, the lowest point of which is 13,500 feet. In Rupshu live the nomad champas, who are able to work in an air of extraordinary rarity and complain bitterly of the heat of Leh.” And this is, perhaps, the only reason that they would leave the valley with the first sign of coming of Spring.
Although once held to be non-Aryan aboriginals, and usually assigned a home in the Vindhya regions, they are now believed to have been of Mongolian affinity. The Mahabharata refers to the north-west as their home; they are thought to have belonged to the region immediately, South of the Hindu Kush and may have been Scythians. They are described as reddish in appearance and as formidable opponents in war. The Rig-Veda records a prayer to Indra against them in the battle.
Their language Paisachi acquired fame through Gunadhya’s tale, Brihat Katha, and their Pisacha form of marriage was recognised in the later Aryan social system. Their skill in Surgery was such that this science was referred to in the Gopatha Brahmana as the Pisacha Veda.
Geographically the Brahmanas are divided into two groups (i) Panchagaudas residing the north of Vindhyas and (ii) Pancha Dravidas residing south of the Vindhyas. The Panchagaudas consist of Kanyakubja, Sarasvata, Gauda, Mithala and Utkala branches, whereas Pancha Dravidas consist of the Mahavashtriyan, Telgu, Dravida Karnataka and Malabar branches.
Kashmiri Pandits, with a few exceptions, belong to the category of Sarasvat Brahmans. There is also a Vaisya caste, but it is very small in number and is found only in some towns. However, classifying them as a Vaisya caste is disputed by many. They claim themselves to be the descendants of purest of Brahmanas. There is, according to Prof. Madan, some divergence of views regarding the Sarasvats of other parts of India and Kashmir being one single caste. Some of his infolmants claim that Kashmiri Brahmanas are distinct from others linking their caste to the goddess Sarasvati, while according to Mr Madan, Sarasvats as a whole derive their name from the river Sarasvati. He further refers to Jatimala where Sarasvats and Kashmiri Brahmans are mentioned separately, and at the same time refers to the Sarasvat Brahmans of Western coast claiming their descent from Kashmiri Brahmans. So far as the separate mention of Kashmiri and Sarasvat Brahmans is concerned it does not prove that the Kashmiri Brahmans belong to some non-Sarasvat caste. It is a matter of cross classification only. A Maharashtrian, a Gujrati or a Punjabi can belong to both the categories of Sarasvat and Maharashtrian, Gujrati or Punjabi Brahmans. Further modern scholars believe that Sarasvati river and the goddess Sarasvati are, in fact, only one entity, the latter having originated from the myth surrounded over the former. It may, therefore, be necessary to peep through the mist of myth and legend to find out their real identity and mutual relationship.
Kashmiri Brahmin Surnames;
1. Aram – Some of their ancestor had been employed to collect the taxes from the vegetable growers and in the due course of time the word Aram became their nickname. Rajatarangini has used the word Aramak for them.
2. Kral – There are many localities in Kashmir known by the word Kral viz., Kralpur, Kralgund in Kupwara district. In the city of Srinagar we have two Mohallas known as Kral Khud and Kralyar. The Pandits employed for collecting taxes from ‘Krals’ (potters) were nick named as Kral.
3. Gooru – A milk man and a cowherd is called Goor in Kashmiri. Pandits did neither of these jobs However, certain Pandits were employed as Patwaris to keep the accounts of their cattle heads and collect the Government taxes from them. In the course of time their original family names became obscure and were known as Gooru.
4. Bakaya – An officer of the rank of a Tehsildar was appointed in the time of Sikhs and Pathans to realise the outstanding taxes from the people. His descendants were nicknamed as Bakaya.
5. Manwati – Manwati used to be a standard weight in Kashmir. It was equal to two and a half seers. Government used to levy a tax of one Manwati of rice on the tenants and an official employed to collect this tax was known to people by the name of Manwat. His descendants also lost their original family name and the nickname Manwati became an irremovable attachment to their names.
6. Guzarwan – A Guzarwan was an Official-incharge of an excise check-post on the outskirts of a town. Every article coming to the town from outside was to be checked and tax at a previously fixed rate to be realised. A Guzarwan was also to check the smuggling and unauthorised entry of articles to the town. An official employed, thus to perform this duty became famous by the name of Guzarwan. His children, whatever their profession might have been, were also known by this name.
7. Bakshi – It is a common Punjabi surname. A Pandit employed as an Assistant to a Punjabi officer, having Bakshi his surname, was also known as Bakshi. Mr. Fauq says a Pandit employed as a clerk of the Army was known as Bakshi or Mir Bakshi.
8. Jawansher – Jawansher was a famous Afghan Governor of Kashmir. He had a Pandit as his Peshkar (Assistant) who became famous by the name of his master. Jawansher is the nickname of many families bearing different surnames.
9. Munshi – It is a common surname among many linguistic groups of India. K. M. Munshi was a Gujrati and a famous Indologist. Munshis exist in almost all the Hindi-speaking areas of India. Munshi means a clerk. Mr. Fauq says that a certain Pandit of Tikoo family was employed as a Munshi during the rule of Sikhs or Pathans. He was the most intelligent and efficient Munshi Kashmir had ever seen. Therefore, he became famous by his professional name and his children were also known by this name.
10. Misri – A Pandit employed in service of a trader who had come from the Egypt (Misr) was known by the nickname Misri. One more probability is that some Pandit had gone to Egypt and when he came back he was known by the name of the country he had visited. Some describe it to be the nickname of those Pandits whose ancestor was employed by a trader dealing in Michari Kandi.
11. Turki – A Pandit was employed as a clerk by a Turk trader and was nicknamed as Turki. Fauq mentions Pandit Tab Ram Turki to have been a famous poet who wrote ‘Jangnama of Sikhs.’ A ‘Turki’ friend has been re-nicknamed as ‘Istambol’. Perhaps, because, Istambole is the capital of Turkey.
12. Gandnoo – ‘Gandan dasta’ is kind of toy and a decoration piece and ‘Posha Gandun’ is the flower vase. A pandit manufacturing or selling these articles was nicknamed as Gandnoo.
13. Kuli – ‘Tarkuli Khan’ and ‘Noor Kulikhan’ were two Afghan chiefs during the rule of ‘Durani’ kings. Pandits employed by them as Government servants were known as Kuli.
14. Wazir – The Pandits employed in the service of Wazirs of Kashmir during Pathan and Mughal rule became gradually famous by the name of Wazir.
15. Ambardar – Ambar means a huge store. Land revenue was being realised in kind, instead of in cash, in the past. Naturally certain people were employed to look after these stores of levy rice. They were called Ambardar and their later generations also were identified by this name.
16. Chakbast – ‘Chak’ in Kashmiri is the name given to a large piece of land. Chakdari was a common £eature of Kashmir’s agrarian system. It was abolished after the end of Dogra regime in 1948. Before the passing of Agrarian laws large pieces of land would be given to influential zamindars as the ‘Chaks’ on a nominal rent. Therefore, the officers entrusted with the job of keeping a regular- account of these land holdings were known as ‘Chakbast.’ They were also known as Kanoongo.
17. Bhan – It is an ancient Kashmiri nickname given, perhaps, to those who sold the utensils. Bhan is the name of the Sun also but this name does not justify itself to be a source of a nickname or a family name. There is a locality, known as, ‘Bana Mohalla’, in Srinagar.
18. Langar or Langroo – Some of their ancestor must have been the manager of a Government kitchen. His descendants were, therefore, nicknamed Langar or Langroo.
19. Fotedar – It is an Arabic and Persian word and was used as a nickname for those Pandits who were entrusted with the duty of looking after the royal treasury, during the rule of Mughal kings.
20. Wattal – It is a very derogatory term and is used for a low caste tribe. It is also used for a person who indulges into very mean and lowly acts. It is presumed that some Pandit must have been appointed as an officer of Wattals, who himself was later on known by this very name. Fauq says that during Hindu rule many people swept the premises of temples, without any compensation, out of devotion to the presiding deity of the temple. They and their descendants were later nicknamed as Wattal. One more theory being forwarded is that the Pandits whose family name is Wattal are the descendants of some famous saint by the name of Wattal Nath.
21. Hakim – It is the family name of such families whose ancestors have been hereditary Hakims.
22. Waza – It literally means a cook. Mr. Fauq is of the view that it was a nickname given to the professional cooks. It may be true of the Muslim Wazas, of whom there is a separate Mohalla by the name of Wazapora in Srinagar. Among Hindus of Kashmir the profession of a Waza is by no means an honourable one. It is adopted only under compelling circumstances, and Waza or a Kandroo (baker) is never addressed by the name of his occupation. But the families known by the name of Waza never feel ashamed of this suffix to their name. It is argued that some of their ancestor was highly fond of good dishes and had gained sufficient knowledge of preparing palatable dishes for himself. He is said to have won the nickname of Waza which continued its company with his descendants, whether or not they had any knowledge of cookery.
23. Katwa – Mr. Fauq describes it to be a branch of professional cooks, who earned this nick name for being in habit of using small Patilis (utensils) for cooking.
24. Sultan – Their actual family name is ‘Koul’. Some of their ancestor was employed as a clerk with the Sultans of Kashmir and became famous by the name of his employers.
25. Nala – Mr. Fauq says that there is no family of this name in Srinagar. An ancestor of this family must have been a guard of some Nala (Rivulet). Their gotra is Dattatriya.
26. Nehru – It is a nickname which originated from a canal. Probably any ancestor of this family was Mir Munshi of canals (i.e., a supervisor or an overseer of canals). They originally belong to Koul family and are commonly nicknamed as Naroo. A Naroo in Kashmiri means a pipe. It is possible that any of their ancestor was as thin as a pipe and was, therefore, called Naroo, which in due course of time became Nehru. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru in his autobiography sees the genesis of the word Nehru under a different situation. He says, ‘we were Kashmiris. Over two hundred years ago, early in the eighteenth century, our ancestor came down from that mountain valley to seek fame and fortune in the rich plains below. Raj Koul was the name of that ancestor of ours and he had gained eminence as a Sanskrit and Persian scholar in Kashmir. He attracted the notice of Emperor Farrukhsair during the latter’s visit to Kashmir, and, probably at the Emperor’s insistance, the family migrated to Delhi about the year 1716. A Jagir with a house situated on the banks of a canal had been granted to Raj Koul and from the fact of this residence ‘Nehru’ (from Nahar, a canal) came to be attached to his name; this changed to Kaul Nehru; and in later years, Kaul dropped out, and we became simply Nehrus.’ The above statement of Pandit Nehru has been disputed by many on the grounds of historical facts as well as usage of language. Firstly, Farukhsair is never reported to have visited Kashmir. Aurangzeb was the last Mughal King to visit Kashmir. Secondly, Delhi was the home of Urdu language and literature. Naturally the adjectival form of Nahar (canal) would be Nahree and not Nehru. We see many people by the name of Lucknowee, Jullandaree, Ahmadabadi etc., but none with the name of Lucknowoo, Jullandaroo or Ahmadabadoo etc. Kashmir, however, has a tradition of using ‘oo’ instead of ‘ee’ viz., Kathjoo, Waloo, Chagtoo, Saproo, Wangoo, Ganjoo, etc. Therefore, it is almost certain that the ancestor of Nehrus who had gone from Kashmir had taken the nickname ‘Nehru’, from the valley itself, with him. Taking up of residence at a canal bank is only a coincidence.
27. Bazaz – Some ancestor of the family must have been a cloth merchant.
28. Taimani – It is presumed some Pandit must have been under the service of Taimini Pathans of Kabul and earned this nickname. Fauq believes it to be a word of Hindu or Buddhist origin and considers this family to be the followers of some Rishi or Muni. At the same time, it is suspected that some ancestor of this family might have been of black colour, and was called Tamini as the Tamun in Kashmiri means the carbon formed on the bottom of the utensils.
29. Mattu – It is derived from the Sanskrit word Math. Some of the ancestor of this family must have either been a founder or a manager of some Math.
30. Darbari – It means a courtier. Some ancestor of the family was a courtier of some Pathan or Sikh Governor’s court.
31. Bhandari – Some ancestor might have been the in-charge of some Governmental store (Bhandar).
32. Akhoon – During the Muslim rule a teacher was called Akhoon. Some elder member of this family was teaching Persian and Arabic to the pupils and was known by the name of his profession rather than by his family name.
33. Mirza – Some ancestor was in the service of a Mirza family.
34. Hashia – They were professionals engaged in putting margin on papers.
35. Nasti – It is nickname of a family whose ancestors sold the snuff. (Naswar).
36. Vani – A petty shopkeeper.
37. Hak – Growers of Hakh.
38. Kotha – It means a granary in Kashmiri. An official-in-charge of the Government granaries was given this nickname.
39. Kandhari – Some ancestor of this family was an employee of the traders from Kandhar.
40. Diwan – An officer in the Sikh Court.
41. Chagtu – An employee of Chagutais.
42. Hastwaloo – An employee of the Royal Court in-charge of elephants.
43. Durrani – Ahmad Shah on becoming an independent ruler of Afghanistan styled himself as Durri-Durran (pearl of the age). His successors were known as Durrani. In Kashmir this nickname was given to those Pandits who were the employees of Durrani Pathans.
44. Bamzai – Employees of Bamzai Pathans.
45. Jallali – Clerks employed by Jallali Shias were known as Jallali.
46. Chak – Employees of Chak Kings.
47. Zradchob – Traders of turmeric (Haldi) or their employees.
48. Khaibari – Khaibaris were influential chiefs of Kashmir. Their Pandit employees received this nickname.
49. Zalpuri – Employees of traders from Zablistan. It is often mispronounced out of Kashmir as Zalpari.
50. Khazanchi – Some ancestor must have been a Cashier.
51. Khar – It means an ass in Kashmiri. A Pandit employed to realise taxes from donkey drivers (Markaban).
52. Araz Begi – A person employed to read out petitions in the Sikh and Pathan Courts.
53. Hazari – A servant of Hazari Pathan’s got this nickname.
54. Lal – Some ancestor of this family was serving with a Punjabi Lala.
55. Karwani – Some elder member must have been selling Kara (i.e., Peanuts).
56. Nagari – A Pandit employed as an officer of the royal heralds during Mugal rule got this appellation.
57. Aoonth – This nickname was used for a family whose some elder member was employed in Government service, and entrusted with the duty of collecting taxes from camel drivers.
58. Kalapoosh – It was a kind of lady’s cap used by Pandit as well as Muslim woman to cover their skull over which traditional Tarang or Kasab (traditional headwear of women) would be used. A Pandit selling these Kalpushas or having at anytime used a Kalpush for himself, was nicknamed Kalpush.
59. Dral – A name given to those families whose ancestor was working as a broker. It’s Hindi equivalent is Dalal and is used as a surname by many families in Hindi-speaking areas of the country.
60. Nazir – Fauq states it having been a nickname of a person and his descendants, who was manager of a Government Kitchen. Nazir is also used for a clerk in the court. Pandit Jia Lal Nazir was an efficient teacher and historian.
61. Zaraboo – Those Pandits are called Zaraboo whose some ancestor was in-charge of a Government mint.
62. Ogra – It means watery rice, just like a Kheer. Fauq states that a Pandit was entrusted with the duty of distributing cooked rice to the hungry during a famine. Once he found the quantity of rice was less and the number of hungry people more. He ordered to get prepared a Wugra, and distributed among the needy. Thus Wugra became a part of his name. It is now written as Ogra.
63. Badam – An almond merchant must have been nicknamed as such.
64. Tufchi – An ancestor of this family was employed either as an officer of gunners or was himself a gunman during Muslim rule. Tufchi is a corrupted form of Top (a cannon).
65. Cheru – A few families of this name reside in Anantnag city. A common ancestor of these families is reported to have been trading into Charkha rods made of apricot wood. An apricot is a succulent orange pink fruit known as Cher in Kashmiri.
66. Khachoo – A Khoch in Kashmiri means a special kind of boat used for transporting the goods from one place to another. An ancestor of this family was employed to collect taxes from these special boatmen and was thus nicknamed as Khachoo.
67. Mirakhur – Some ancestor of this family was officer of the department entrusted with the duty of maintaining the Royal horses.
68. Shora – An ancestor of this family was either a Government officer in-charge of gunpowder makers, or was himself a trader of the explosive material. Shora in Kashmiri means gunpowder.
Religious/Official/Academic Epithet 1. Sahib – It is an honorific. Some elderly Pandit who had attained highest stage of spiritual perfection or was well-versed in the religious Scripture was out of reverence called as Sahib. There is a spring of sweet water known as Sahibi Spring near Chashma Shahi Sahib Koul was a great saint from this family.
2. Pir – Pir Pandit Padshah, during the reign of Shah Jahan, has been a famous saint of Kashmir. His miracles and spiritual attainments brought many people from different walks of life, under his banner. His desciples were known as Pir.
3. Sadhu – Some of the elder member of this family were as faultless and self-realising person as a real Sadhu. So they were known by the name of Sadhu. Another explanation is that some ancestor of this family had proved himself as an honest person under very conspiring and hostile circumstances. He won the public applause and was known as Saidh (the antonym of a thief).
4. Sedhu – Some ancestor of this family is reported to have been a Sidha Pursha (attained soul). Another version, of the events leading to this nomenclature, given is that head of this family was a simpleton and was, therefore, nicknamed as Sedhu. A few families of this name live in village Mattan of district Anantnag.
5. Sher – Fauq reports an elder of this family musthave killed a lion and was named Sher for his extra-ordinary valour. This guess does not seem to be correct, as is natural, such a brave person would have been called Sah (Kashmiri word for lion) and not a sher. Most probably this name must have originated from the continued association of the head of this family with some Sher Khan or Sher Singh, etc.
6. Shair – There must have been a distinguished poet among Kashmiri Pandits, who was better known by the word Shair than his real family name. Naturally the epithet became a part of the names of his progeny.
7. Zutshi – It is a corrupt form of the word Jyotshi. Zutshis are reported to have been distinguished astrologers and Sanskrit scholars.
8. Razdan – The census report of 1819 states that Razdan is a corrupted form of ancient Sanskrit epithet Rajanak. Stein is of the view that ‘the title Rajanak, meaning literaly “a king”, used to be given for services rendered to the King. The title has survived in the form of Razdan as a family name of very free occurrence among the Brahmans of Kashmir. It was borne by Rajanaka Ratanakara, the author of the Haravijaya (9th Century), and by many Kashmirian authors of note enumerated in the Vamsaprasasti which Anama Rajanaka (17th Century) has appended to his commentary on the Nisadhacarita. As the designation of certain high officials (Muhammadans), the term Rajanaka is often used by Srivara and in the fourth chron (also in the shortened form Rajana).’ R. S. Pandit states that the title Rajanaka was continued under Muhammadan rule and was conferred on Muslim officers.
9. Tikoo – It is said to have originated from the ‘Trika’. The members of this family were special devotees of the goddess ‘Tripura’. Fauq has given one more explanation stating that an ancestor of this family adopted a non-Brahman boy who was deemed to have become a Brahman by a Tika (a sacred mark on the forehead of a Brahman). He and his descendants were later nicknamed as Tiku.
10. Dhar – It is stated to be a pure gotra name. Dhar Bharadvaja is the name of their gotra. However, many scholars are of the view that Dhars are the descendants of Damras, the war lords and a troublesome non-Brahmanic tribe of ancient Kashmir.
Locality 1. Khan-Mushu – A village towards north-east of Srinagar is known as Khanmoh. Emigrants from this place, became known as Khanmush, in Srinagar.
2. Vichari – There is a sacred spring, at the outskirts of Srinagar, near Soura. It is said Lord Shiva had meditated for sometime here. This place is known as Vicharnag. The Pandits coming from this place to Srinagar were nicknamed Vichari.
3. Ishbari – Nickname of those Pandits who came to settle down from Ishabari, a village near Nishat garden.
4. Kathjoo – Pandit family residing at Kathleshwar in Tanki Pora (a mohalla of Srinagar) was nicknamed Kathjoo.
5. Sopori – Pandits of Srinagar, whose ancestors migrated from Sopore, or the descendants of Soya Pandit (founder of Sopore) were known as Sopori. Kashmiri Pandits of this nickname in plains have hanged the word Sopori into Shivpori.
6. Thussoo – Emigrants from a village Thus, in Kulgam Tehsil, to the Srinagar city became known by the name of their native village.
7. Zadoo – It is said that a certain family residing near a marshy land was called Zadoo (as Zadoo in Kashmiri means a wet and marshy land). They are mispronounced outside Kashmir a as Jadoo (a groom).
8. Zaboo – This name is also derived from a marshy and wet land.
9. Kakroo – The name to a family who came from a small village Kokargund, near Achhabal. There are a few families of Kakroos in Achhabal also.
10. Kar – This name is used for the Pandits who came from a village known as Karhama in Handwara Tehsil. Swami Krishan Joo Kar was an illustrious saint, produced by this family.
11. Pampori – Pandits of Pampore, irrespective of their family names, are known by the name of their locality.
12. Saproo – Dr. Iqbal, who was the worthy descendant of a Pandit family whose surname was Saproo, wrote to Mr. Fauq about the word Saproo as follows. He wrote that Mr. Dewan Tek Chand M.A., who was a Commissioner in Punjab, had a taste for linguistic research. He told Mr. Iqbal that the word Saproo had its genesis from the Ancient Iranian Kings ‘Shapur’. Saproos are those Iranians who had settled down in Kashmir much before the advent of Islam and because of their sharp intellect were absorbed soon with Brahmans of Kashmir. Dr. Iqbal has further written that his father used to say that ‘Saproos’ are the descendants of those Kashmiri Brahman families who were first to learn Persian and other Islamic studies, during the Muslim rule. Saproo means a person who is first to learn a new thing. This name was given to them out of contempt by other Brahmans. The latter analysis is nearer in the approach of a common Kashmiri and the former assertion needs full investigation.
13. Kanzroo – They are the descendants of the Pandits of Kanzar, a village near Tangmarg.
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