Anavil Brahman

ETHNONYM: Grhastha Brahman

Anavil Brahmans are grhastha or "homeowner" Brahmans, which means they cannot perform priestly functions. They are traditionally landowners. There are also bhikshuka or mendicant priests among Anavil Brahmans. There seems to be a clear distinction between these two kinds of Anavil Brahmans, along with a certain amount of ambivalence that results from the contrast between the independence of the Anavil Brahmans as self-supporting landowners and the Village priest's "obligation" to beg.

The Anavil Brahmans have been large landowners for at least three centuries. It is not clear from historical sources when the Anavil Brahmans settled in Gujarat. In the nineteenth century some Anavil Brahmans left the central part of the state and moved to the sparsely populated hills in the east (Mahuva, Vyara) where they employed the aboriginal, tribal population of the area as laborers.

There are two types of agricultural land: irrigated and nonirrigated. In the southern part of the Surat District in Gujarat, the land is well irrigated, and hence this is the traditional rice-growing region. Another cultivated cash crop from the district is ginger, as well as various other spices. In the north cotton is the main cash crop.

Within the endogamous unit, the jati, are two distinguishable groups of unequal social status: the Desai descendants of tax farmers, and the non-Desai. Non-Desai farmers strive to marry their daughters to Desai men but at the cost of large dowries. Hypergamy is also practiced. This system permits a woman to marry a man of a higher but not a lower Social status than her own. Anavil Brahmans have a preference for patrilocality, patrilineal systems of inheritance, and Residence in joint family groups. Brahmanic ideals lead to a preference for dowry marriage. The laws of Manu distinguish eight different forms of marriage, of which four are actually variations of the dowry marriage; and it is these four that are theoretically recommended to Brahmans.


Marriot, McKim (1968). "Caste Ranking and Food Transactions: A Matrix Analysis." In Structure and Change in Indian Society, edited by Milton Singer and Bernard S. Cohn, 133—171. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Van der Veen, Klaas W. (1972). I Give Thee My Daughter. Assen: Van Gorcum & Comp. N.V.


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