Bahun the Nepali Brahmin - Top of the hierarchy of Hindu caste system


As a result of staying in Nepal, I heard various things about Bahun. I will introduce the Bahun of Nepal in detail. The contents are based on what I have heard and seen. some of the information might be inaccurate.
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It is Nepalese to say Bahun (Brahmin, Brahman). Bahun means the priest class of Hindu caste. It is the top.



What is Bahun


Bahun's face is characterized by long sharp nose and deeply depressed eyes.
The outline of the face is thin. Hair and eyes are black or brown.
They have the most Indo-Aryan-like appearance in Nepal.

Bahun is the Indo-aryan brahmin class name, ranked first in the Nepal caste system.
The caste system has been abolished, but they are still in the upper level of the administration of Nepal.
Bahun people also call their class "High Caste", "Upper Caste" or "Tagadhari". As Bahun is a priest class, only Bahun can become a Hindi monk (Pandit). In India it is sometimes pronounced as Brahmane.


Each area. The brown area is called Himal in the alpine area. The yellow area is called Pahad in the hilly area. The green area is called Terai in the plain area.

There are kinds in Brahmin in Nepal. It is classified according to whether the ancestor is the Pahad or the Terai origin.

The Pahad roots are called bahun, while the Terai roots are called Maithil. Maithil is culturally consistent with India. Appearance also differs.

Generally, Bahun is a designation that identifies Brahmin of Pahad, not including Brahmin of Maithil.
Therefore, the following sentence will be the content of Brahmin on the hilly side of Nepal.

2 kinds of Bahun?


Bahun has two groups called Kumai and Purbiya. This is a faction and not a rank.

Kumai Bahun

Kumai Bahun means brahmin from Kumaon (Uttarakhand) in India. However, it is not limited to kumaon origin. Beyond the border of the western part of Nepal is kumaon. In ancient times, when human beings were walking around the mountains of Nepal on foot, kumaon was like the farthest. And it was equivalent to meaning all the areas beyond the west from the Nepali regional border.
It is the origin of "Kumai Bahun" that Brahmin who roots northwest India entered from the west side of Nepal at a certain period of more than 1000 years ago.
Currently they live all over Nepal. The people of Kumai are brighter in skin color than "Purbiya Bahun". (The skin color of Bahun is usually dark.) Their skin is sunburned at the parts exposed from clothes such as the face and limbs, but the part of the skin hidden under the clothes is often not dark. Because their roots are in the northwest, their faces are often similar to the Brahmins of North India and Pakistani. It is a typical Aryan face.

Purbiya Bahun

Purbiya is the etymology of the word "East" in Nepali. It is Arya who had already entered the main area of ​​Nepal long before Kumai entered Nepal. Purbiya includes those who came from Darjeeling (formerly Nepal territory) in the eastern border area, and those coming from the south of Nepal. Their face is somewhat southward looking.

Once in the past, Nepalese did not eat dishes made by people of lower status than their status. Therefore, Kumai and Purbiya, who were fighting factions, sometimes did not try to receive each other's dishes.

hierarchies in Bahun society inside

There are two hierarchies in bahun society: Upadhyaya and Jaisi. (Jaisi is similar in pronunciation to Joshi of Newar, but it is different.)

Bahun 's class consists of two layers, Upadhata and Jaisi. Kumai Upadhyaya, Kumai Jaisi, Purbiya Upadhyaya, Purbiya Jaisi.
Upadhyaya is the 1st rank, Jaisi is the 2nd rank.

The type of Bahun was supposed to be understood by last name.

As mentioned above, Bahun is the name of the class. There is another surname. Let's see what kind of Different surnames they have.
Hereunder, the name list.

  • Kumai Bahun
    Awasthi, Upreti, Oja, Oli, Kharel, khakurel, Kadel, Kandel, shiwakoti, Sedhain, Thapalia, Chaulagain, Chataut, Tiwari, Tripathi, bhatt, Pathak, Panel, Panta, Pandey, Bista, Prasai, Bhetwal, Mainali, Mishra , Regmi, Lekhak, Lohani
  • Purbiya Bahun
    Acharya, Adhikari(*although most of the Adhikari are Chhetri), Aryal, Gautam, Khatiwada, khanal, Ghimire, Gyawali, kuinkel, Guragain, Koirala, Satyal, Sapkota, Sangraula, Sigdel, Sinkhada, Soti, Dakal, Dahal, Dhital, Timilsina, Tiwari, Devkota, Dhungana, Dhungel, Duwadi, Niraula, Neupane, Nepal, Banskota, Bhattarai, Parajuli, Baral, Panti, Pandit, Pyakurel, Pudasaini, Marhatta, Mishra, Mudbhari, Lamichhane, lamsal, Rijal, Rysal, Rimal, Luitel, Rupakheti, Regumi, Wagle
  • Jaisi (Names originally indicate Jaisi)
    Rijal, bhusal, Tiwari, Rimal

Names exists both in Kumai and Purbiya
Tiwari, regumi, mishra

Names that are also originally exist in Chhetri
Adhikari (usually they are chhetri, only few of them are brahmin), Lamicchane, Vist

Names that are also exist in Newar
Sharma, bhatt

People of Jaisi may also have remained the last names of Upadhyaya's father. A child with a father of Bahun married to Jaisi is using his father's name as it is.
In that case, he self-declares that he is Jaisi or was recognized within the local society.
Mishra and Upadaya are also the last names in Maithil of the Terai area. Also, you can see some common last names with Brahmin in central India.

Such as following
Sharma, Bhatt, Pathak, Acharya, Tiwari, Pandit

The last names of Brahmin in India and Brahmin in Nepal are not always consistent. For example Patel is Brahmin in India, but in Nepal it seems to be in the last name of Tarai's Chhetri. (Brahmin in India also has different surname by each province.)

Strictly detailed marriage rules

Discipline of Bahun society is the most severe in each class. Marriage is one of them.
Marriage with a different class is still hardly advanced yet. There was a detailed rule to protect the hierarchy of the caste system.
There is also a rule in the marriage between Bahun and Bahun.
There was almost no love marriage.
In Bahun's marriage, the pedigree called Gotra is regarded as important.


Bahun's wedding in rural area of hilly side.

For example, Pokhrel surname has two parties.
Pokhrel of Atreya Gotra can marry to Pokhrel of Bhardwaj.
Pokhrel of Atreya Gotra can not marry to Sharma of Atreya Gotra.

Gotra means pedigree. Pedigree is, in short, ancestor. In this case the ancestors are Hindu legendary saints.
In the caste system of Nepal, each class generall marries the same class as their own. marries the same class as yourself. But if Gotra is the same then they can not get married.

People can get married if Gotra is different even with the same surname.

For Bahun, marriage with a different class was regarded as a falling of a class.

The type

  • Upadhaya male and Chhetri female children become Khatri.
  • Upadhaya male and Thakuri female child becomes Hamal.
  • Upadhaya men and Vaishya female children become Chhetri.
  • Upadhaya male and Sudra female children become Sudra.

However, some people did not necessarily claimed the surname above.
As in many cases, they took over Bahun father's surname but the class has actually fallen to Chhetri.

As such, even if the last name is the same as Bahun, if the status is down to Chhetri, the middle name was Bahadur. The middle name was bahadur and if the last name was the same as Bahun, we knew that it was Jaisi or Chhetri. Currently this practice disappears, middle name is attached to everyone with every surnames.

Bahun's traditional life

Bahun is basically focusing on milk and vegetables for diet. For meat, Bahun only eat goat. recently Bahun who moved to the city changed to eat everything.

Bahun is a priest class, but not all of them are a priest. To become a priest, they must attend a specialized Hinduist school.
And the priests have to do vegetarianism completely. Normally, most of Bahun also lives in self-sufficiency in agriculture.

Originally Bahun society is a class with the most severe precepts.  Recently, rational Bahun has increased and it is casualized, but there are people who are keeping their life style in old-fashioned customs as before.

The following content is a life example of traditional Bahun.

Bahun takes water shower every morning and enters after washing the body even in the kitchen.
Also, they usually do not let others enter the kitchen.
The woman who became menstruation for the first time was forbidden to see the sun and father and brothers, and was isolated for a week in a special room.

They are forbidden to touch the people and furniture and life tools. This route is known as was the "Chhaupadi Pratha".

The new wife had to oil massage on her mother in law's leg every night, for the first year.
Women were urged to give birth to boys. And the woman was isolated from the kitchen for 18 days after giving birth.
It was normal to be requested to make a lot of children. So Nepal has many names for members of the family.

Women should not eat until the man finishes eating.
Before brightening in the morning, a woman was ordered to do stray work until dark at night.

About 30 years ago, in Bahun society, marriage was arranged at the age of 10 or less.

One day suddenly a small girl was arranged to a marriage, and had to leave her parents. It would be very painful to go far away from her parents and house work stats from the first day.

Marriage in the early teenage was common about 15 years ago. Recently still sometimes some women marry or give birth at 15 or 16 years old.

The harshest custom was the system called 'Sathi pratha".
In the Bahun society, when the husband died, his wife was forced to cremate with dead body of her husband. This tradition was filmed in Nepal in 2016 as a historical fact.
"Sathi pratha" was continued until banned by Nepali King of the 19th century.

Bahun's self-consciousness

Bahun has a self-consciousness as a high ranking of the caste system. Whether they are truly intellectual or knowledgeable is depending on each person, but they consider themselves an intellectual class.

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