Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dashora Brahmins

Historical Origins

The origins of Dashora Family are not well documented and there is little trustworthy information. Some of the stories that we have been told by different people at different times are described in the Myths and Legends page.
A very authentic attempt to depict the history of Dashoras is believed to be in the books by Nandlal Dashora. These books also include some References about other possible published material regarding Historical Origins of Dashora Community
All myths and word of mouth stories do indicate that our ancestors were traveling, engaging in religious preaching, discourses and discussions. They provided advice, spiritual guidance and medical expertise. They were frequently consulted by the Indian Royal Families. They served as Priests, Educators and Aurvedic "Doctors" (Vaidyas).
Popularly believed origin
The most generally accepted belief is that our ancestors were decedents of Nagar Brahmins. Around the 10th century they were living in the town of Visnagar near Junagadh in Gujarat Province of India and were advisers to the royalty. They fled Gujarat when Ghazni attacked Gujarat and the Somnath Temple around the year 1069. Like other Nagar Brahmins Dashoras worship Hatkeshwar Mahadev. The original Hatkeshwar Mahedev Temple is located in Vadnagar Gujarat. In more modern times a new Hatkeswar Temple was constructed in Udaipur and serves as worship center for Dashoras in Rajasthan.
Dashoras identify themselves as Prashnora Nagars. In the year 532 king of Mandsaur Yashodharman invited the Prashnora Nagars from Junagarh to participate and conduct a great Yagna Ceremony and then invited some of the priests to settle down. These Prashnora Nagrars and their descendents continued to live there and advise the Kings for next 800 years.
Dashora thus are most likely decedents of those residents of Vishnagar/ Junagarh who migrated to Mandsaur.
It is firmly believed that our ancestors were living in the region around Mandsaur in the 12th-13th century. Mandsaur was originally named Dashpur or Dashor. It is thus most widely implied that that the name Dashora signifies our roots from Dashpur. That is to say members of Dashpur Jati (Community).
In the year 1305 on the day of Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan) Festival on "Shravani Poornima" (day of full moon in the month of Shravan usually around month of August) an attack on Mandsaur by Ala-ud-din Khilji almost completely destroyed the community. Many women chose death by burning themselves rather than surrendering to the invaders. Please see page 2-3 and page 1-4 of a speech at a Dashora reunion in 1976 in Mandsaur which illustrates this view.
It is believed that the "Maha Sati Mata" Shrine in Mandsaur is a memorial to the women who became "Satis" during that invasion. This belief is also supported by the tradition that Dashoras show respect and worship the "Sati Matas" in all their religious ceremonies. Also as a reminder of this event Dashoras do not drink water from ShivnaRiver.
The men and women who survived the slaughter fled and settled in nearby regions in Rajasthan (towns of Udaipur, Chittor Saventa - Mewad and Marwad region) and Central India (Malwa region and towns of Garoth, Indore, Ujjain, Rampura, Bhanpura....) and Nimad. It is noteworthy that the Dashora Mahajan Community also worships the same Sati Mata Shrine and recollects the same incident. One of the likely speculations about the origin of the Dashora Mahajan community is that some of those who were not able to escape far during the attack decided to relinquish their Brahmin identity (by taking off the Jenaeu which was the symbol of being a Brahmin) and the Brahmin profession. This group joined the local business community. Recently it has been brought to our attention that there may be genealogical links between the two communities if one is able to go back in history before the Mandsaur event.
Another similar event happened in in our immediate family in Rampura where we have our Family Sati Mata Shrine. This event happened at the time of annual Dashhara Prayer Ceremonies. Many other Dashora Families have Sati Mata Shrines specific to their family origin in different places.
Present Day Dashora Population
Major concentration of of Dashoras is in the citys of Indore Madhya Pradesh. It is not clear when the Dashoras began to settle in Indore or the nearby Malwa Region. We were born there and we have tried to capture as many names of people originating from Indore area as we could recollect. We also acknowledge information received from those who have helped advance this project. Indore is relatively newer city. It is not fully known as to when Dashora Families actually stated living there.
The other major concentration is in the city of Udaipur Rajasthan. Nandlal Dashora's books trace the genealogy of (male) Dashoras settled in Udaipur and nearby areas for many generations to the present generation with great authenticity.
The main languages spoken by modern day Dashoras are Hindi and English. The Dashoras of Indore ancestry consider Malwi as their first language whereas those with Mewad ancestry use Mewadi / Marwadi dialects of Rajasthan as their first language. The Malwi language spoken by some of the Dashora families with Indore ancestry includes shades of Nimadi, Gujarati and Marathi depending upon their family migratory and professional history. Dashoras use Sanskrit as the language for religious ceremonies and worship and are followers of Shukla Yajurveda.
For generations Dashoras remained a closed community marrying only with other Dashoras. This resulted in many inter-marriages although cross-breading has been carefully avoided and rare. Only in the recent generations individuals started marrying outside the Dashora Community, The cross marriages happened first to other Nagar Brahmins then to other Brahmin communities and other Hindus. Even now relatively extremely few people have married to persons of other religions, faiths and cultures. However, now, in the 21st century members of the Extended Dashora Community are spread all over the globe.
To this generation, Dashoras have retained a sense of community. They support each other. Most of them are ethical, religious, peaceful, nonviolent, selfless, honest, simple living, middle class, dedicated hard working individuals engaged in a variety of white collar and intellectual professions. They are trust worthy and respected by the society around them. They believe in superiority of moral and spiritual values over material riches.
The facsimile of a book by Nandlal Dashora is as follows:

I Hope that above information would be useful for all Dashora 'NAGAR' Brahmins and future generations to come.
- Akhilesh S Joshi

(The above facts have been reproduced from for wider search about Dashora Brahmins without any intention of defaming to the owner of the above site OR any personal benefits).