Sant Sri Sevalal Maharaj History Part 1

Historical background:
It is a known fact that Banjaras lived originaly in Rajasthan, mainly Mewad and Chithorgad areas. They were the followers of Prithviraj Chavan, a welknown name in history. After Prithviraj Chavan banjaras followed Rana Prathap of Chithorgad. They were supplying provisions and arms to the armies of these historical leaders. Some were in the army and fought for them. After the defeat of Rana Prathap, they became refugees and followed him to the forests and later migrated through Malwa to other places of India. It became difficult for their livelihood but they followed their trade business.

They were supplying arms and provisions to the Mughal rulers and later to Britishers. They used cows and bullocks for the transportation of provisions and arms and they were travelling from one place to another.
Thus they were leading nomadic tribal lives. It is but natural that they started living in the forest areas where facilities for water and grazing their cows and bullocks were available. That is why each family possessed large herds of cows and bullocks. Amongthe groups, the leader of the group (Naik) was having largest number of cows and bullocks. They migrated and settled to north, east and south. Such settlements are known as Thandas. The thanda is administered as follows: The head of the thanda is called as Nayak. Usually a Rathod (Ramavath, Karamathot or bannoth-bhukia) will be a Nayak of the thanda but a Pammar (Pawar) or a Chavan may also be a Nayak. The Nayak is assisted by an elderly person called Davo.
He is an adviser and guide to Nayak. Third person called as Karbhari who acts as a courier of instruction of Nayak. Any decisions pertaining to festivals, functions, marriages are decided by Nayak. Davo and Karbhari. This decision will be conveyed to people of thanda by Karbhari. He acts as a messenger. All these positions are hereditary in nature and run in the same family from generation to generation.
A thanda is named usually after the name of the Nayak (example: Rama Naikero thando or Rama Naik’s thanda) or if it is situated near a forest, then it is known as jhadivalo thando. (Jhadi means forest) or it will be named after the name of a revenue village, Alur thanda.
When there is a quarrel, dowry and marriage problems and land dispute the panchayath will be called. The Karbhari will announce and assemble the people of the thanda. Both parties will be heard and spot decisions will be taken. Some time, it may take 2-3 days. Once decision is taken it is binding on both parties Rarely they take the help of police or courts.
Among the groups moved towards the north, one group led by Lakhisa banjara was the prominent. It is said that he was possessing one lakh cows and bullocks. He was the richest person among the banjaras. He was supplying provisions and arms to the sikhs who were fighting the Mughals Lakhisa banjara and his group were supporting the sikhs. Many banjaras joined their army.

There used to be frequent battles between the armies of Sikhs led by their gurus and Mughals This group was staying near the capital of India (Delhi). It is stated that in one of the fiercest battles, the Sikh army was defeated and their guru Tej Bahadur was seriously wounded. The Sikh guru took shelter in the hut of Lakhisa Banjara. He died due to profuse bleeding. The soldiers of Mughul army were searching his body. Lakhisa Banjara fearing that soldiers might find the body and punish them in revenge and also in order to avoid the capture, hung the body in public place to instill fear among the others as it was the custom those days, set fire to his own hut and thus avoided the capture and humliation of the body of Sikh guru. Hence Lakhisa Banjara is respected by sikhs and banjaras alike. His name is mentioned in their scripts and in their Guru Granth Saheb.

Among the groups migrated towards south, Ramji Naik and his group was the largest Ramji Naik and his
group came and settled at a location known as Ramagundam or Ramji Naik’s Thanda near Gollaiadoddi with 360 families and 3755 catties. In addition they had horses, sheep and goats. They had settled here where facilities such as grass and water for grazing catties and vast areas for their settlement was available. How and when they came to this place is not known.

Note: There are four main gothras (sects) among banjaras. They are Rathod, Pammar (Pawar), Chavan and Jadhav. All these gothras or subdivisions of banjaras worship Radha and Mola as their rearing parents and offer ablution once a year on the Deepavali day by cooking sweet dishes (sweet pongal) and offerings by pouring ghee on the burning fire. continue.

Author: Dr N.Thakur Naik, MBBS, Ph.D.

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