Evolution Of Baidya Community Of Bengal - Its Origin And Development

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NOTE: This article is an outcome of research work. There is no intention  to harm the sentiment of any individual or community, knowingly or unknowingly. The Bengalis, who are really truth  seekers and ready to face the bitter truth, are only requested to go through  this article and others may kindly ignore it. The initial request came from my in laws who are Baidyas to find  out their origin.

Baidyas are classified as a high caste  Hindu community. They rank next to Brahmins but above Kayasthas of Bengal, with  respect to social structure. It is said that their ancestors were supposed to  be the practioners of medicine.

Invariably, Baidyas are found to be  Saktas and are worshippers of Godess Kalika. They are found to be very  progressive and dynamic community. Their adaptability and adoptability  qualities are supposed to be very good. As a result they accept and adopt new  things, new system under prevailing circumstances towards the benefit for the  society/community. On the other hand they are equally conservative and orthodox  which made them to preserve and practice old traditions.

Their principal places of settlement  before partition were Senhati, Chandam mahal, Dashpara, Puigram, karoria, Senoia,  Itna, Bhattapratap in Jessore, Poraghacha in Bikrampur, Dasora and Chandpratap  in Dacca.

The community is very well knit and  united. They are strong in cultural and social arena of Bengal. Their society  is known as “Baidya Samaj” and pays a good respect to its President. The most  prominent President was Raja Raj Ballbh of Raja Nagar on the south bank of the  Padma River.

During the period of Raja Ram Mohon Roy,  many of the Baidyas joined Brahma Samaj. Maharaja Kesav Chandra Sen credited as  one of the founder of “Brahmo Samaj” was most prominent Baidya personality.

The origin of this community is found to  be very controversial and as on date various stories are available and briefed  below:
  1) Their ancestor was born through a  Vaishya Mother and Brahman father. The profession was practice of medicine.
  2) Another story says, their mother was  a Brahmin woman, who was pregnented by Aswin Kumars of Khastriya race and was  classified as Sudra, since the mother belonged to a superior caste.
  3) According to Skanda Purana their  mother was a Vaishya woman by name Birbhadra and was pregenented by Galava  Muni. The child born became known as Dhanavantri. Since the child had no legal  father, he belonged to the family of his mother.

Primarily Baidyas are divided in to  three main groups /classes. These are:
  1) Siddha Baidya,
  2) Saddhya Baidya and
  3) Kastha Baidya.

The details of family titles coming  under the above groups are as under:
  1) Siddha Class: Dash/Das, Gupta and Sen
  2) Saddhya Class: Dutta, Duli, Dhar and  Kar.
  3) Kastha Class: Chandra, Kundu, Nag,  Nandi, Raja, Rakshit and Soma.

These names and divisions appeared to be  of Non-Vedic origin and found only in Tantric Literatures.

During the establishment of Vedic social  system in Bengal spearheaded by Sena Kings, Baidyas were divided into various  sub groups depending on their area of settlements and these sub groups are  Rarhi, Bangaja, Barendra and Pancha Koti.These groups are endogamous type.  Another type is called Hypergomous and known as Kulin, Bangsaja and Mallik.

Even though , there is no historical  base nor any logical foundation can be traced on these above stories, there are  a lot of hidden clues traceable which are very closely related, if an analysis  is done on socio religious development of Bengalis.

Historical  evidence and its analysis
  The last reformation took place during  the period of Maharaja Keshav Chandra Sen and at his instance many of the  Baidya community joined Brahma Samaj. However this was not very successful and got  rotten and merged with Vedic social system.

Prior to this, the major reformation and  probably most significant change was carried out during Sena period by Ballala  Sena and Laxman Sena. As a result of this the basic characteristic of Baidya  Groups, which was based on their quality instead of heredity, was changed and  new groups were formed according to their place of settlements irrespective of  quality.

During this period of decline of  Buddhism and growth of influence of Vedic system, the Baidyas were brought  under Vedic system and Gotra was introduced by Vedic Brahmins. These gotras are  named in the name of Vedic Rishis, who were residents of present Pakistan and  Afghanistan.

Prior to Vedic system, Bengalis were  divided in to various faiths like, Buddhism, Jainism, Nathism or Saivaism or  Koulaism or Nath-Koulaism, and Nath-Koula-Kula (or simply Kula ism), Ajeebakism  (Believers of destiny). All the faiths were found to be completely dominated by  Tantra, Mantra and Yantra (Popularly known as Tantra System). The last  development of this spiritual system was Yantra or Sakta system. Among Jains we  find Godess Padmavati, in Buddhism there are Goddesses Tara, Tarini , Chinna  masta etc, among Saivas we find Kalika , Chamunda, etc.

Vedic intellectuals were grouped under  the categories of Rishis, as Rishi, Maha-Rishi (Maharshi), Raja-Rishi  (Rajarsee), Deva-Rishi (Devarsee), and Brahma-Rishi (Brahmarsee), where as Non  Vedic intellectuals were classified as Muni, Siddha, Saddhya and Kastha. Also  among the Siddhas or Saddhyas there were people who used to practice medicine,  they were known as Raseshwar and Medicines generally used to be called as  ‘Siddhai medicine’.

It is already stated that their initial  groups are Siddha, Saddhya and Kastha indicates that they were Non Vedic.
  Besides, Baidyas are primarily Sakta,  which indicates closeness of Baidyas towards non Vedic religion Saktism or  Tantra.

Now let us study the developments of  Tantra, Mantra and Yantra (Kundalini Jagoran).

Tantra: It is a “Non-Vedic beliefs and practices that  emphasized the existence in man of divine powers that could be activated and  experienced by means of special spiritual procedures.” However, it was adapted  and adopted by Hinduism at a later stage.

It is subject which deals with ‘Tan’ or  body (the name tantra came from ‘Tan’ in Bengali) to become a spiritual person  “Siddha” of highest calibre.

Montra: It  deals with concentration of ‘Mon’ or mind (the name mantra derived from ‘Mon’).  Tantra and Montra together if worked out in a synergic way yield much more  better result in a short period of time.   The last stage of this spiritual process is Yontra.

Yontra: This  subject deals with the issue of “Yoni” also called as ‘Yoni Vidya’ or simply  ‘Yontra’. To go for this type of activities one has to become a perfect or  Siddha in ‘Tontra’ and ‘Montra’, or else off springs are bound to be created.  People who were successful and were perfect in Montra and Tontra were only  allowed to go in for Yontra type of meditation. As said, it is highly dangerous  because any failure may create problem and was kept highly secret for very long  time.

Gradually, in course of time it got  diluted and ultimately a lot of off springs were generated and since they were  fathered by Brahmins, through non Brahmin woman, they could not be made equal  to Brahmins in social and religious status and were placed below and the  identity of father remained ‘gupto’ or secret, for avoiding any embarrassment  and disgrace to father and his legal family.

In view of above, it appears that  Baidyas probably are outcome of Tantra Sadhana of intellectuals or Brahmins who  were not perfect in fulfilling the pre conditions to perform Yontra Sadhana.

There are many bitter truths and facts  and very difficult to accept.

However, I fell the best way to live is  accept the truth and proceed and there is no harm to accept and in fact will  highlight the mistakes so that the same can be prevented for a better future.

Once again, the work is not intended to  harm or to insult any individual or community. I repeat this due to its  sensitivity.