This clan helped preserve
by S. D. Sharma
A thorough study of
literature reveals that Bhat is the Sanskritised form of Bhatta -
a respectful term for a Brahaman and probably connected with Bharti
i.e., bearer or master. H.A. Rose (1883) opines that the Punjabi form of the
word is Bhatt, but is commonly pronounced as Bhat in hilly areas and foothills.
Bhat Brahamans comprise various gotras like Bhardwaj, Gautam, Kalia,
Kapil, Lomas, Paulastya, Prashar, Agnihotri and Vashist. Various legs are
recounted to explain their origin. According to one school of thought the Bhat
Brahamans originated from Pushkarna and Saraswat Brahamans. The second school
says that when Janmeja celebrated a sacrifice he summoned Gaur Brahmans and
tricked one of them into accepting an offering of a diamond by concealing it in
a beetle leaf. Another leg is that Lord Shiva was celebrating the marriage of
his son, when a drop of sweat falling from his brows to the ground, led to the
incarnation of the first Bhat Brahaman. Still another leg is that Brahama
offered gifts to Brahamans, but they all refused it, until one of their sister’s
son accepted it and he became a Bhat Brahaman.
Rose further states that
marriage and birthday ceremonies throughout the country were performed by the
celebrated scholars of this clan for amounts ranging from one taka to Re 1
around 1883. Mahabharta speaks of a band of Bhat Brahamans and eulogists
marching in front of Yudhistra as he made his way from the field of Kurukshetra
towards Hastinapur. According to Ibbetson (1881) Bhat Brahamans in the
Punjab are genealogists. Sherring (1879) says that Bhat Brahamans cultivated
the art of making up poetry on the spur of the moment at marriage festivals and
other such occasions. Elliot (1877) and Saltor (1981) averred that Bhat is a
title of honour given to a learned Brahaman. They are also called Bandinah,
Nandiputrah and Vaitalikah.
The profession of the Bhat
Brahamans has an interesting story behind it. The ancient literature of both
Greece and India owes its preservation to the singers who recited poems in the
households of chiefs and doubtlessly contributed, in some measures, to shape the
masterpieces which they handed down. Their place was one of distinction. In the
days when writing was unknown, the man who could remember many verses was held
in high esteem by the chief who deped upon the memory of the Bhat Brahamans for
the record of his ancestors and for the maintenance of the genealogy which
established the purity of his descent.
Banabhat was a celebrated
Sanskrit scholar and poet who lived in the 7th century. Kumarilla Bhat, a noted
scholar and writer who lived in the 8th century, composed Umasvastis
and Gandhahasti Mahabhasya and Nanniah, Errapragada
and Tikkanna, the great trio or Kavi Traya of Telugu
literature. The Dutangada of Subhat exhibits shadowplays of Mahanataka.
Bhavadevabhat of the Savarna gotra of the kauthuma
born in Siddhalagrama in
Radha (Bengal) was the son of Govardhana and Samgoka and flourished in about
1100. He was a versatile genius and composed Dharamsastra.
Vijnanessvara of Bhardwaj gotra was the son of Padmanabha Bhat Brahaman
and pupil of Uttma. He wrote Mitakshara when King Vikrmarke (Vikrmadiyta)
was ruling Kalayana. Mahima Bhat, Bhaskarbhat and Chintamanibhat were other
renowned and celebrated scholars of their times.
King Nagbhat ruled on Buchkal
(Rajasthan) in 815; King Dhruvbhat on Mount Abu in 1002; King Bhadarbhat on
Gajaband (Malwa) in the 11th century and King Shiv Nabh on Sangladeep from
1509-1521. Bhat Brahamans probably belonged to Sangladeep. RC Temple (1962)
identifies Sangladeep with Sankladeep or Srinkhladeep in the undivided
Punjab, somewhere near
Sialkot. This is the place
where Guru Gorakhnath asked Puran Bhagat to go and get alms from the young and
beautiful Queen Sundran sometime in 7th century (Rose, 1970).
Mrigind (1977) says
Sangladeep is an island in Sri Lanka. PP Sinha (1980) while writing on the life
and times of Tansen (originally Tnna Nisra) for his Ph.D degree established that
he was a Bhat Brahaman. Kedar, Nal, Gaddadhar, Shribhat, Kumarmani, Baisal,
Padhkar, Dialdas Lachhiram, Haridas, Gang and Narhari had been some poets of
eminence belonging to this clan. Royal poet Chand Bardai and Birbal were the
Chief Ministers of King Prithviraj Chauhan and Akbar the Great, respectively,
and were Bhat Brahamans.
Guru Das Vashisht of Tibber (Gurdaspur)
sacrificed his life in 1919 in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, while Chhotelal in
1912, Janardan Bakhatram in 1918, Ram Kali in 1918, Ram Krishan in 1930 and
Shamrao in 1942, all Maharashtrian Bhat Brahamans, laid their lives for the
freedom of India . - (Source: The Tribune)