Mohiyal the Militant Brahmins of Punjab
There is a saying that if you are to trace the house of the Mohyal in a Punjab village look for the crows sitting on the edge of the roof. lf you find a flight, just go ahead of the house it is likely to be of Mohyals. Traditionally the Mohyals have been known as the meat eaters or Jatt Brahmans of Punjab. They have a very very noble heritage behind them. They were the sovereigns of the Punjab before the advent of Muslims emperors. There are some who believe that even Porus who faced Alexander the great was a Mohyal. They are known as Brahmins but they never took to ritualism of Brahminism neither did they accepted alms or Puja daan. Like his earlier famous articles on Khatris and Jatts of Punjab, it is B.S.Goraya again who turns the pages of history and links them to date in his avowed series on the castes and tribes of the Punjab.
The Mohyal or the Mujhaal Brahmins of the Punjab is a community on which the Punjabis can take pride on. Unlike other Brahmins they did not perform the priestly services like performance of rituals for their clients. Historically, they are the rulers of ancient Punjab and Afghanistan who held sway up to Arabia and Persia. Fair complexioned with sturdy physique, tall these Brahmins today hold important Govt. and business posts. lnterestingly these secular Brahmins are revered both by Muslims, Sikhs and of course Hindus for their magnificent role in the hour f crises in lslam and Sikhism. Many of us might have read about the battle of Karbala where Hussain the son of Hazret Mohammed sahib's daughter Fatima's was martyred on Oct. 18, 680 AD by the forces of Yajid. On this occasion Rahib a Mohyal ruler fought on the side of Hassan and Hussain valiantly and defended the survivors until the enemy forces compelled him to retire towards lndia.
The Mohyals claim that it is for this reason they are respected by the Muslims also. The Mohyals claim that their community had been getting daughters even from the Pathans while the other Hindus were being looked down upon. Similarly when Guru Teg Bahadur the ninth Guru of Sikhs was martyred by the court of Aurangzeb along with his three companies in 1675 AD, both or his two companion Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Sati Das, Mohyal were Brahmins.
|FAMOUR MOHYALS OF FILM INDUSTRY SUNIL DUTT AND NARGIS DUTT|
ltis said when Mati Das was being sawed the Japuji of Guru Nanak was on his lips which stunned the courtiers. Bhai Sati Das was boiled alive. Bhai Mati Das's son Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was a brave Sikh in the army of Guru Gobind Singh who faced a fighter elephant single handedly. The present Governor of Punjab Mr. B.K.N. Chhiber and Bhai Mahavir ex M.P. are the descendants of Bhai Sati Das and Mati Das. The Mohyal or Munjhal are 'sarsut' Brahmins. About a 100 years ,ago they were confined to the Salt range (present Pakistan). Famous historians like Dr. Hari Ram Gupta identify the Shahi rulers ofi Punjab and Afghanistan with Mohyals. The Shahis with their capital at Nandana (present Sialkot in Pakistan) had given stiff resistance to Mehmud Gazanvi who invaded and plundered lndia 17 times. According to one source the Shahis held away from Laghman and Waziristan to Sirhand and from Kashmir to Multan at the close of 1Oth Century AD. Mohyal, the secular Brahmins, are quite conscious of their honourable and noble heritage and have their community history in the form of poetry called the 'Kabbits'. (This writer however could not lay his hands on any version of the Kabbits.)
Sikhism also owes a lot the Mohyals as at least two highly respected history sources of Sikhism written in 18th century belong to Mohyal Brahmins. Namely the Basanwalinama of Kesar Singh Chhibber and Rahitnama of Bhai Chaupa Singh. The Mohyal claim that they are the 'rajrishis' i.e. the saints with temporal pursuits as opposed to the other brahmins the 'Brahmrishis ' who led secluded life.
According to Mohyal legends centuries ago Punjab which had its boundaries much beyond Peshawar was ruled by Brahmins and Khatris and the present Mohyals are the descendants of ruler Brahmins of the Punjab. The Brahmin dynasty which ruled from Kabul was also Mohyalo ne, it is believed. ln 1911 AD the Mohails got their history translated into English under the title : ‘The History of the Mohyals’, the militant Brahman Race of lndia' by P.T. Russel Stracey in Lahore. According to these sources the Sarsut Brahmins with the following gotras or clan names are the Mohyals: Datt or Dutt, Vaid, Chhibber, Bali, Mohan, Lau, & Bhimwal, The Rai Sidh, Mohyal ruler, who helped Hussain at Karbala was of Datt gotra and it is an acknowledged fact that the Dutts were called the Pathans. There is a legend that when Rai Sidh Dutt returned from battle of Karbala after having lost all his seven sons he played chess with a Muslim Pir at Nandana (Sialkot) The stake in the game was losers head. The Pir had a reputation of victories and invariably accepted losers conversion to lslam in lieu of head . lt was miraculous that Rai Sidh Dutt won three heads of the Pir, his wives and the son of the Pir. But the 'Datta' or giver or the generous just forgave the Pir unconditionally. Duttas believe that they are the descendants of Dronacharya of Mahabharata fame. Asthuthama the son of Dronacharya settled in Arabia with a large following and that the Duttas are Asthutha of Asvathama. During the days of Mughal emperor Babur Rai Midh a descendant of Rai Sidh took the possession of area of Rajamin, around Pathankot which was under the protection of Babur, and made his capital at Paniarh (presently a prominent village 8 km from Gurdaspur). lnfuriated Babur despatched a force against the Dutta and virtually annihilated the whole Datt people at the battle of Paniar. lt is for this reason that on Datt would take a glass of water from Paniarh and pass a night there and never forget their defeat. It is said that Babur was impressed by the chivalry of the Datts. To the survivors of Dutts he assigned Kanjrur with the revenue of 15 villages (Kanjrur is in Sialkot Pakistan) and to other survivor assigned Zafarwal Dattan (again in Sialkot District). British historians remark that some Datts are still defined as Khans from the title of Alawal Khan which was bestowed on one of their predecessors who was though not converted to lslam.
This present writer is wonder struck to note a parallel legend in the Goraya Jatts of the Gurdaspur and Sialkot districts. Almost every village of Goraya gotra has a memorial erected in the name of Midh and they claim that Baba Midh was imprisoned by ; ' emperor Akbar. lmpressive mela in the memory Midh is held in the Goraya villages in the month of Katik (October). lt is surprising that the name of village of the present writer is Alawal pur, may be it is given after Alwal Khan.
The Mohyals and Sikhism :
During the interviews conducted by us a Mohyal when asked to comment upon the original home of these martial brahmins he said, "Gorhe di Kathi te rambe di muthi" i.e the saddle and the handle of the hoe are the two things the Mohyals, have ever remained struck to, which means fighting and cultivation was their main profession in the ages. On the other hand Sikhism denounce the concept of renounciation or withdrawal from society and life and it believes that man must participate in the natural processes of life. lt was for this region that the militant castes were attracted towards it. Nanak didn't believe in the theory of 'pap pun' i.e sin and good. Sikhism believes that the universe is a drama enacted by God himself in which an individual should participate. Guru advises his Sikhs that in this drama of God the Sikh should side with the forces of good opposing the villains of evil and should not have fear of death as the soul is immortal. During armed struggle or performance of noble cause 'sewa' if this body is lost the soul will straight away merge with the supreme soul and the man will be liberated from the circle of life and death. ln this way the Mohyals way of life was approved. Secondly the Sikhism did not particularly prohibited eating of meat which again suited the Mohyal habit.
It is believed that at one point of history the Mohyals had a state of Bhadrawatiwith the capital at place near the present Shahpur district (Pakistan). According to an English writer the remnants of the fortress are still traceable at Chak Qazi near the new Bhera. The legend has it that one King Dahr defeated one of the Sultans even at the time of Bahlol Lodhi, Gautam one of the descendents of Dahr faced the Lodhi emperor losing his army and himself. These upon Baba Piraga son of Gautama founded Kariala in the Chakwal tehsil of Jhelum (Pakistan).
According to some sources Baba Piraga wis the first Chhibber to fell at the feet of Gurtr Nanak with the result that future generations of the Chhibbers were intimately linked to the Sikhism. Chaupa Singh the tutor of Guru Gobind Singh, was the son of Bhai Perha son of Gautam. Chaupa Singh wrote the important Sikh code of conduct which is highly revered document.
According to another Sikh source there was one Pirage who was a Sikh of the Vlth Nanak and laid down his life in the battle of Ruhele in 1621 AD. Piraga's sister Sarsuti was married to Athu Ram of Kashmir. Her son Kirpa Ram was the teacher of Guru Gobind Singh who also laid down his life along with his brother Sanmukh Singh in the battle of Chamkaur where the Guru lost his two sons. They were again from the family of Bhai Mati Das and Sati Das the famous martyrs.
Dwarka Das and his son Dargah Mal were also from the same family who served the Vll and Vlll gurus. Dargah Mal's son Bhai Dharam Chand was care taker of Guru Gobind Singh's court while the house holds caretaker was Sahib Chand son of Bhai Mati Das Gurbaksh Singh son of Dharam Chand managed Golden Temple in the crises days (1727 AD)
Gurbaksh's son Kesar Singh Chhibberwrote Bansawalinama again a highly respected document in Sikhism. Kesar Singh's brother Sant Singh Chhibber was also a writer' who wrote Janam Sakhi Guru Nanak Shahib ki 'Kesar' s son Sewa Singh was also a poet and Sewa's two sons Mehar Singh and Sahai Singh were also poets. Mehar Singh taught Punjabi to English officers.
A close study of Sikh history reveals that Mohyals were not merely followers of Sikhism they were rather the leaders of the faith after the Gurus. Many of the Sikh campaigns of 18 to 19th century were led by the Mohyals. Maharaja Ranjit Singh's many generals were Mohyals. Today you talk to any Mohyal and if he is conscious about his family tree he will name his ancestors whose names end up in Singhs. That shows how all the Muhials were Sikhs some 100 years ago.
How the Mohyals drifted away from Sikhism
is a topic of deep interest. After the British had annexed Punjab with heavy casualities ever faced by them any where in lndia they became highly suspicious of the Sikhs .They knew that the Sikhs drew inspiration from the strugglesome history of them and thus became envious of the religion. On the other hand Swami Daya Nand had started reclaiming Hindus from other religions and he treated Sikhism a religion hostile to the faith of Vedas. Though initially the Rishi was not hostile to Sikhism and rather started his missionary activities from the platform of gurudwaras. Many Sikhs were attracted by the Rishi who in turn intensified further gathering of followers. Arya Samaj's influence had grown to an impressive numbers in the Punjab cities like Lahore , Rawalpindi etc. Later the Singh Sabha and Akali movement further drifted the Mohyals from Sikhism. Earlier the Mohyals took daughters in marriage from the martial races i.e Khatris and Afghans in some cases as culturally they were closer to them. Later a practice of giving and taking daughters from the other Brahmin gotras of the Sarsut class started which has now become common as a result of which the Mohyal characters in person are diluted and slowly the Mohyals are becoming and behaving like any other Sarsut Brahmin of Punjab.
ln Delhi many Mohyals are having close social interaction with the Gaur i.e U. P brand Brahmins. As a matter of fact the Mohyals themselves were earlier outcast as they ate meat while the other Sarsut Brahmins were highly opposed to it. Besides some Brahmin priests were ousted from the gurudwaras in the twenties during the Akali Movement and the Jatts become the unquestioned leaders of the faith. The Brahmins thus distanced themselves from the faith and were slowly absorbed in the mainstream. This had a direct impact on the Mohyal Sikh relations as well since the a Mohyals microscopic community in Brahmins are a surrounded by the ritualistic Brahmins everywhere.
|India’s liquor tycoon Brigadier Kapil Mohan, MD, Mohan Meakin Breweries Ltd. examining and testing his produce before it goes down the palate of millions of drunkards. Mr. Mohan is a Mohiyal Punjabi and unfortunately his produce is being consumed by more in the Punjab than any other state. So much so liquor consumption in Bathinda district is more that the whole of Uttar Pradesh state.|
The whole history of the Mohyals is thus linked with the golden heritage of this area. The Vaids claim descent from Rai Gorakh who was a courtier of Prithvi Raj Chauhan. On the Chauhan debacle at Thanesar Gorakh fled to Shimla hills. One of the Vaids obtained fiefdom at the hands of Jammu king when he rescued Hindu captives from the clutches of Timur. The Lau clan is closely associated with Bajwara of the Hoshiarpur region. Once Lau Ballar Sain and lnder Sain assisted Teimur who granted them the fief of Bajwara. The later Laus forefieted the fief as the Laus did not support Aurangzeb's feudals of the region. The Mohan Mohyals also found favour with Timur who invaded lndia 17 times to plunder its wealth. He appointed one of the Mohans as his Dewan. Under Babur also Harjas Mohan became his dewan. Mohammedan titles were then bestowed upon the Mohans but the Mohans retained their faith in those tough times. Another notable Mohan rose to the position of a dewan during the Mughal rule and helped the Datts to retain Ghuram from which they were dispossessed by the Jatts. Viram is now in the Arowal district of Pakistan. Having faced two consequent battles the Mohans were on the verge of extinction. interestingly on this occasion Sobha Ram Mohan married his own daughter in law and continued his race. The vahuti or bahu was from the Datt parents. Mamdot had been the capital of the Mohans which they obtained as a grant from Alauddin Khilji. ln the day of Aurangzeb the Mamdot Mohans were converted to lslam and the present Nawabs of Memdot are Mohans. During the Partition days one Nawab of Mamdot Mian Abdul Bari was in news more often than not. He might have become some minister after the freedom and formation of Pakistan. The Momdots had supported the Sikh armies during the English Sikh wars. Katas Raj temple where nowadays Hindus go for a pilgrimage was once in the possession of Balis and rather the whole credit for its eminence go to them. They yet have another pilgrimages places and that is incidentally in this part i.e at Malout Tarlok Nath's shrine. As compared to the other gotras the Bhirnwals are perhaps less numerous as we do not very often come across Balis, Chhibbers, Dutts,. The Bhimwals claim descent from Raja Nandan who held a fort in the Pindi Dadan Khan of Jhelum. Female infanticide was rather too common among the Mohyals. lts basic reason was that they being martial people had often to rush to places flee and at times face debacles whence the daughters were defiled by the Muslim invaders they often faced. The other reason was that the Mohyals never tolerated any giving away of daughters to other Brahmans from which the would accept 'daughters. The third reason was that there was a strict and tough dowry custom. What ever dowry a daughter received from her parents the same amount of gifts she must get as and when she visited her parents after the marriage. Thus the daughters were considered as dead for the parents after the marriage and they seldom visited parents.
After Partition the Mohyals have settled where ever their Khatri counterparts have. Having settled mostly in the majo rcities of north lndia today they are no longer engaged in the profession of agriculture and a few are joining the army now. They mostly are in government civil jobs or are petty business men. However a few of them have distinguished themselves in the business too. The Mohan Meakin group of Sahibabad near Delhi is perhaps lndia's pioneer liquor manufarcturer, there are accordingly some more Mohyal industrialists in, Ludhiana, Karnal and Jalandhar. ln the order of Mohyal population Delhi today leads, followed by Chandigrh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar…Z