charaka kaThas , kAnvas and atharvavedins of kAmarUpa desha

The earliest description of brAhman civilization in Eastern India ( kAmarUpa desha )   is tracedback in several purans ( kAlikA purAn , skanda purAn, kartoyA mahAtmaya ) and tantra granthas.( yoginI tantra , kAmakhya tantra , vArAhI tantra ). According to the tradition Lord ‘vAraha’ and goddess ‘bhumI’  had a son ‘ naraka'( bhAuma ). vAraha bhagavAn coronated  ‘ naraka’ for kingdom of kAmarUpa desha with prAgajyotishpura as capital. He was first to invite brAhmans to his kingdom i.e. Eastern India .Several brAhmans well versed in  vedas, tantras, puranas , shAstras, astrology and astronomy  were settled in kAmarUpa desha by him. By curse of sage vashisTha due to cause of  not honouring him, his kingdom got demolished. Although it’s kind of myth, yet ‘naraka-bhAuma’ have pseudo relation as founder ( mula purUsha ) with  bhAuma dynasty but no factual record of this. Afterward in copper inscriptions of  bhAuma dynasty /varman dynasty( descends of naraka- bhAuma  ) we find name,  gotra , shAkhA , pravara of these brAhmans who were settled in kAmarUpa desha. nidhanpur copper inscription by king bhAskara varma (600-650 CE ) was a renewal of  lost copper inscription of  land grant  (bhumI dAna) to 205 brAhmans by king bhutI varman ( 518-542 CE ) .From ‘nidhanpur copper’ inscription , we came to know that followers of five shAkhAs were settled in kAmarUpa desha namely .

1) Rigveda- brihavacha ( shAkal ) shAkhA

2) Shukla yajurveda-mAdhyandina shAkhA

3) krishna yajurveda –
1. taittirIya shAkhA (with Apastamba sutra)
2. charaka kaTha shAkhA

4) samaveda- chhAndoga shAkhA  ( kAuthuma )

The number of charaka kaThas was only six out of 205 brAhmans.That clearly show , kaThas were a minority shAkhA group. These seven brAhmans were

1) kushmAnda patra swAmIn ( 40/305 , vatsa gotra )
2) sAdhU swAmin
( 51/205 , pArasharya gotra  )
3) chandraprakAsha swAmIn
( 95/ 205 , samkrUtiyAyana gotra )
4) pramodasena swAmIn
( 120/205 , gargya gotra )
5) somasena swAmIn
(121/205 , gargya gotra )
6) ghoshsena swAmIn
(123/205 , gargya gotra )
7) Ishwara datta swAmIn
( 40/205 , vatsa gotra )

All these four gotras are mentioned in chAranIya pravarAdhyAya so no doubt they all were transmigrated  kaThas from kashmIra desha. .  Last three brAhman (except last ) mentioned were relatives or sagotras as there surname and gotras are identical.
All this land grants were made near the chandrapurI .And these brAhmans were settled in a colony called ‘ mayurshAmala .In the Agrahara mentioned above they lived for generations .When in course of time the original copper-plate was destroyed, the officers of the State proceeded to levy taxes on the lands. There upon the descendants of the grantees came to karanasuvarana and explained their case to jyesthabhadra, who was the officer-in-charge there.The new copperplate was issued by bhAsakara varmana  .
Interestingly not a single atharvavedin is mentioned in this inscription. Probably till 5th century not a single atharvavedin was present in
kAmarUpa desha .Later king bhAskara varma attempted to settled atharvavedins ( mostly nAgara brAhmans from guRjar desha , with paippalAda recension ) and kAnva shAkhAadhyAyins in  kAmarUpa desha . Later with the establishment of the bhAuma dynasty in Orissa many of the descendants of  the brAhmans to whom grants of land had been made, migrated there. ( that’s the reason why Utkala desha have preserved paippalAda and kAnva tradition ) Unfortunately the paippalAda and kAnva tradition got extinct in kAmarUpa desha but is preserved in utkala desha .

The’ neulpur grant ‘of subhakara deva ( about 7th century ) enlists names of  atharvavedins  in kAmarUpa desha, who were granted lands.


The list of gotra and pravara of this  brAhmans matches with that of nAgara brAhmans.( courtesy of a treaties named as  nAgara pushpAnjalI ).
pAninI , gaurIsrvasa ,vasisTha, sAndilya , paippalAyana, paippalAda , parAsharya, darbhya are most frequent gotras ( generally all with 3 pravaras )
among atharvavedins .
In the copper plate grant of king valavarma  of kAmarUpa there is reference to a sectionof Brahmins belonging to the kAnva shAkhA with the surname dhara and of kapila gotra. Another grant was made by  king ratnapAla to kAnvashAkhins of parAshara gotra and bhAradwAja gotra.
Several other copper grant plates mentions of kAnvashAkhins of kAshyapa, vishwAmitra gotra.


Due to effort of various kings different shAkhA brAhmans were settled  in kAmarUpa as they were living form of vedic dharama ( murta rUpa ) .For establishment and advancement of any kingdom ( dharma rAjya )  this living encyclopedias were must , they were the torch bearers of vedic dharma who propagated vedic dharma in north east.
Better to end with words of periyvA” ….. So long as the Brahmin possessed sattva-guna (the quality of goodness and purity) and so long as he kept the Vedic tradition going and lived a simple life, others recognized his value for society. They regarded him with affection and respect and paced their trust in him. They realised that if society was not afflicted by famine and disease (as in the case today), it was because the sound of the Vedas pervaded everywhere and the performance of Vedic recites created a healthy atmosphere around and brought its own blessings.  ”


1) yogini  tantra
2) kamakhyatantra
3) Social History of kamarupa ( volume 3 ) , Nagendranatha basu
4) Nagara pushpanjali
5) Brahmanopatti martanda  , Harikrishna sharma ( bombay edition )

Animesh’s blog