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.