The Utkala Kingdom was located in the eastern portion of the modern-day Indian state of Orissa. This kingdom was mentioned in the epic Mahabharata, with the names Utkala , Utpala , Odra Desha,Oddyana and Okkali.The name of Utkal is mentioned in the Puranas,Epics and different religious text book.According to Skanda Purana,the land of Utkala is the holy land in Bharata Varsha where Purusottama Kshetra is situated.It is mentioned in India’s national anthem, Jana Gana Mana.The Utkala Kingdom was also known as Kalinga,Dakshina Koshal,Kangoda,Odra Desha,Odra Vishaya,Dandabhukti,Odabadi,Yajanagar,Uddisa Subah etc. in different time period of.The boundary of Utkala region was from mouth of river Ganges in the north to river Godavari in the south and Amarkantak hills in the west to Bay of Bengal in the east.Surya Vamsi emperor of Orissa Gajapti Kapilendra Dev renamed his kingdom from Utkala to Orissa Rastra. Later British East India Company occupied parts of the state and renamed it as Orissa.On November 9, 2010 the name of the state was again changed to Orissa.
Utkala Brahmins,branch of Pancha-Gauda Brahmins are the farthest branch of the Panch-Gauda in the east, south of Maithils. Panch-Gauda and Panch-Dravida are two chief divisions of Brahmins, as per the śloka from Rājatarangini of Kalhaṇa / Kalhana:
कर्णाटकाश्च तैलङ्गा द्राविडा महाराष्ट्रकाः ।
गुर्जराश्चेति पञ्चैव द्राविडा विन्ध्यदक्षिणे ॥
सारस्वताः कान्यकुब्जा गौडा उत्कलमैथिलाः ।
पञ्चगौडा इति ख्याता विन्ध्स्योत्तरवासिनः ॥
Translation: The Karnātakas, Tailangas, Dravidas, Mahārāshtrakās and Gurjaras; these five types who live south of Vindhya mountains are called “five Dravidas” Brahmins.
The Sarasvatas, Kanyakubjas, Gaudas, Utkalas, and Maithils, who live north of Vindhya mountains are known as “five Gaudas” Brahmins. And a medieval Upapurana named Kapila Purana says
वर्षाणां भारत श्रेष्ठ देशानां उत्कल स्मृतः
उत्कलस्य समदेशोः देशोः नास्ति महीतले ॥
Early Migration Of Brahmins To Orissa
Keshari dynasty established massive Brahmin Bhatta-Agrahara and Bhatta-Grama around Jajpur and Vaitarani River tributary. Huen Tsang also wrote about massive Yajnas and the holy smoke coming from villages nearby Vaitarani River, when he visited the monasteries in Kalinga. Following 8th century many Brahmins from Hastigrama, Takari of Magadha and upper gangetic plain also migrated to coastal districts. Finally the Eastern Ganga dynasty brought more number of Brahmins from all over North India, esp Kannauj, Ujjain and Ahichatra. As Orissa or then Utkala grew to a effluent kingdom, many Brahmins of Godavari delta region also migrated to settle in Mahanadi basin. Still the Paippalada shakhins of Atharvaveda claim to belong to upper Mahanadi and Narmada basin, and migrated to Orissa during late 11th century.
Origin of Utkala Brahmins
In the phylogenetic tree, the Orissa Brahmins showed close affinity to populations of North India.They occupy 9% of the total Oriya speaking population of Orissa
The Sanskrit textBrāhmaṇotpatti-Mārtaṇḍa by Pt. Harikrishna Śāstri mentions according to which a king named Utkala invited Brahmins from Gangetic Valley for performing a yajna in Jagannath-Puri; when the yajna ended the invited Brahmins laid the foundation of the Lord Jagannath there and settled there for serving the Lord.
Another Sanskrit text mentions ślokas which say a king named Sudyumna was born of King Ila in the Ikṣvāku dynasty ; Sudyumna had three sons who founded independent kingdoms : one son Utkala founded the state Utkala with capital at Puri, another son Gaya founded Gayā in Bihar and third son Haritāśca went to south. The King Utkala Deva invited Brahmins from Gangetic velly and settlled them in his kingdom.
Brahminism seems to have flourished in Orissa under the Mathara rulers between the 4th and 5th century AD. The Sailodbhava rulers made arrangements for the study of Vedic wisdom and an Ashwamedha sacrifice was performed by King Madhav Varman in 7th century. In the time of Keshari rulers, Shaivism gained importance. In 9th century Utkalaadhipati Yajati Keshari, to preserve the sancity & purity of Brahminism, brought 10,000 Brahmins from gangetic valley and Kannauj and settled them in his capital Yajati Nagar or Yajna pura(modern day Jajpur).The Jajpur area was once famous for organising Somayajna, Shrauta karma. Its a famous site for the performance of ancestral rites,known as Nabhi Gaya.
Utkala Brahmins are responsible for priestly and related functions at the Jagannath Temple in Puri (also known as Jagannath Puri) and other temples in earstwhile Orissa rulers and their feudatories. Puri where famous Jagannath deity is installed and one of the four holiest religious place of Hindus.They are responsible for priestly functions of other religious places of the state of Orissa and of neighbouring states.
In 11th century AD Ganga Vamsi King Chodaganga Dev renovated the existing Jagannath temple at Puri.He established Brahmin villages around Puri which are known as “Sashan” and bestowed them with land and other endowments for living a dignified life and dedicated to ritualistic responsibility. Six categories of duties were assigned to them – study, teaching, performing,Yagna and help in organizing Yagna, donate andto receive the donation (Adhyayana, Adhyapana,Yajna, Yaajana, Dana and Pratigraha).
Several Brahmin villages established by the Surya Vamsi king of Orissa Gajapapati Kapilendra dev in 15th century A.D..Each village devoted to a hundred Brahmin families with adequate tax free land.
All the monarchs of Orissa and their feudatories have constructed temples, roads, ghats, tanks and established settlement for Brahmins with tax-free homestead land and agricultural holdings.
Mukti Mandap of Jagannath temple,the seat of Utkala Brahmin authority
Muktimandap or the platform for salvation is situated at the southern side of the Jagannath temple of Puri.Sankaracharya of Govardhana matha is the permanent president of Muktimandap. He is entitled to sit on Muktimandap on Asan or floormatwhich is not allowed to any other person.Ramachandara Dev, the first king of Bhoi Dynasty installed as Raja of Khurda is said to have renovated the Muktimandap with 16 pillars.He recognized 16 Brahmin villages(Known as Shohala Sasan Village) and the leader Brahmin of those villages seat in the Muktimandap.
The Brahmin Pundits in the Mukti Mandapa adjudicate intracaste and intravillage disputes and offer prescription (Vyabastha) containing purificatory advice (Prayaschita Vidhi) for different social sins.
Sub-castes among Utkala Brahmins
The Utkala Brahmins are of three classes
Sevayata/Purohita Brahmin or Sarua(:ସେବାୟତ/ସାରୁଆ।)(सेवायत/सारुआ)
Again there are sub-classes in these three classes:
1.”Shrautriya Brahmins”:The Brahmins following Shrauta tradition, have right to read and teach Vedas and hence are known as Vedic Brahmins or Namaskaraniya.They do Yajna,Yaajana,Adhyayana,Adhyapana,Daana,Pratigraha.They are also known as Kulina,Vaidika,Danua etc. They give more importance to Veda,daily upasana and agnihotra.Only These group of brahmins have right to conduct Yaagas and teach Vedas along with Daana,Pratigraha.
a)Kalinga Shrauta Brahmins:The Brahmins who have come from undivided regions of previous Dhenkanal,Sambalpur, Cuttack, Puri and Ganjam.They follow the samanta panjika or Sri Jagannath panjika.They stay south of Brahmani River,hence their name.
b)Jajpuria Shrauta Brahmins:the sub-class which has come from Jajpur and north orissa area.They follow Sri Viraja panjika.They stay north of Brahmani River.First settled in areas around Baitarani River.
These above two sub-classes are eligible to perform Shrauta rites,they abstain from doing temple services and they seldom intermarry with other brahmins.
2.”Sevayata Brahmins” or Saruaa:They are also known as Sevaka,Sarua,Purohita or Pushpalaka Brahmins,they follow the Karmakanda and sometimes act as priests for social as well for some temple functions. They give more importance to temple worship,and priesthood.They don’t have right to organise Yaaga,or take Daana(alms).They can read Veda and teach it.Some of them follow Agama also.The Sevayata(Ashrauta) section of Brahmins are divided into three sub-classes as follows:
a)Devalaka(Deyulia)Brahmins: Surnames Badapanda,Pujapanda etc.Their chief occupation is the service of the temple Gods and Goddesses.Many of them expertise in Vedic Karmakanda(rites for marriage,upanayan etc) as well as Agama(temple worship).Most of the Daitapati sevayatas of Jagannath Temple,Puri and Lingaraj Temple belong to this sub class.Most of the temple in Orissa have this sub class of Brahmins as chief priests.
b)Paniyari(Panda)Brahmins: Surnames majorly Panda.They also form the priestly section,for some rites and some do temple services. some of them are cooks in temples and even in private houses , and travel all around India for pilgrims to visit the temples of Jagannāth.Some of them are engaged in business and trade of Agricultural products.They have high percentage of population among all Oriya Brahmins.
c)Aranyaka(Jhadua)Brahmins:Also known as Panchadesi and Jhadua or Jharia.Literally meaning those inhabiting the hilly and forest areas of Western Orissa.Priestly section of Western Orissa.They were first settlers in Sambalpur, Sonepur. They marry among themselves, and later other Utkala Brahmins immigrants to Western Orissa & Chhattisgarh refuse to intermarry with them.Mostly they have sects like Raghunathia,Kanojia,Pujari etc.
3.”Halua Brahmins”:These are similar to Bhumihar in north India and Niyogis of Andhra Pradesh.They are also known as Balaramgotri or Mahasthana Brahmins.History says, These are the village leaders,administrators of brahmin ancestry so they were included themselves as a brahmin but they have not the brahmin characteristics. Generally with surname ‘Thakur’,’Grampradhan’,’Choudhury’,’Sahu’,’Samantray’,’Sabat’, ‘Dalbehera’.Once they enjoyed same status as above brahmins but later they accepted vocational jobs for livelihood and gave up their sacred duty of Shrauta and Smriti. These are engaged in agriculture or agriculture related business.Some of them are allowed to do Shraadh and associate in temples and religious functions.They are never allowed for any Vedic rites or Yajna.Most of them are business- oriented, also do cultivation of lands granted during Eastern Ganga dynasty but have entirely lost their sacerdital rites and living in and around South Orissa and Srikakulam district,Andhra Pradesh. For the purchase of the land many of them migrated to other country. There is also a significant migrant population of Haluas in Mauritius, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and others.
Russel noted one exceptional feature at Jagannātha Temple of Puri : “All castes now eat the rice cooked at the temple of Jagannath together without defilement, and friendships are cemented by eating of little of this rice together as sacred bond.”.
Shakha of Utkala Brahmins
The vaidika shakha may vary family to family in all of the above Shrotriyas and Sevayatas. Majority of them follow Kaanva Shakha(କାଣ୍ବ ଶାଖା) of Shukla Yajurveda or Kauthuma(କୌଥୁମ ଶାଖା) shakha of Samaveda.Whereas Brahmins belonging Shakala shakha of Rigveda and Paippalada shakha of Atharvaveda are less.It is thought that Rigveda Brahmins exist due to Govardhana matha of Adi Shankara.
The Paippalada Shakha of Atharvaveda in Orissa should be noted for its existence till now,although by few scholars.They trace their origin from Narmada basin,supposed that they migrated during Eastern Ganga Dynasty.Many Brahmins having surname Upadhyaya and Acharya have Paippalada shaakha as their family Shakha.
The sutra of different shakha people are
Rigveda:Ashwalayana Shrauta and Grihya Sutra(Shakal Shakha)
Shukla Yajurveda:Katyayana Shrauta and Paraskara Grihya(Kaanva Shakha)
Samaveda:Drahyayana Shrauta and Gobhilya grihya (Kauthuma Shakha)
Atharvaveda: Vaitana Shrauta and Kaushika grihya(Paippalada Shakha)
Gotra& Pravara parampara are followed in families of utkaliya Brahmins. During Vivaha, sandhyavandana and other ceremonies it is revered.Brahmins avoid marriages with family of same gotra and pravara.Different gotras trace to original seven Sapta Rishis,i.e.Atri, Bhrigu, Angiras, Kashyapa, Vashishta, Vishwamitra and Agastya
Gotra Related Pravaras
Bharadwaja: Angirasa, Baarhaspatya, Bharadwaja
Vatsa/Srivatsa: Bhargava, Chyavana, Apnavana/Apnuvat, Aurava, Jamadagnya
Kashyapa: Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Daivala
Shandilya (2 Variations)
Kasyapa, Daivala, Asitha
Gargyasa (2 Variations)
Angirasa, Sainya, Gaargya
Sankriti (2 Variations)
Kowndinya:Vashishta ,Maitraavaruna, Kowndinya
Paraasara:Vashishta , Saaktya, Paarasarya
Angirasa, Dhavya, Mowdgalya
Other gotras which are rare are Dalabhya, Uddalaka, Katyayana, Upamanyu, Yaska, Barhishena, etc.
Festivals of Utkala Brahmins
Almost all Sasan village follow a uniform pattern of religious practices.The main festival of the Sasan villages of Orissa are Sitala Sasthi i.e. the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva and the Champaka Dwadasi i.e. the marriage ceremony of Lord Gopinatha Krishna in month of Jyaistha.Maha Vishuva Sankranti, Nabanna,Chitalagi Amavasya,Jhulan Yatra, Devasnan purnima,Rahasa Yatra, Raja Parva, Rath Yatra, Durga Puja, Gamha Purnima or Upakarma, Janmashtami,Sudasha vrata, Deepavali,Savitri vrata,Manabasha Gurubar Laxmi Puja,Pousha Purnima, Samba Dashami, Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja,Dwitibahana Osha, Kumar Purnima, Prathamastami, Mahalaya Pitrupakshya,Bijaya Chaturdasi, Shivaratri, Dol Yatra,Ashokastami,Rama Navami,Jaulei Panchami, Rekha Panchami, etc.are observed in the villages throughout the yearwith utmost religious sanctity.On the day Gamha Purnima all the elderly persons of Sasan congregate and decide about the traditional share of the family called ‘Pali’ and ‘Hakara’ and resolve important problems of the Sasan villages. The ‘bali’ tradition or animal sacrifice still continues in many Sasan villages before the Village Goddess’Gramadevati’ during Durga Puja. Fire work or Bana are also associated with the festivities.
The “Sohala Sasana” or “Sixteen Brahmin Villages” around Puri are integreted in the Jagannath Temple culture in ritualistic way. On Pushyabhiseka or Debabhiseka day occurring onfullmoon day of ‘Pausa’ month or January,representatives of Sasan villages use to bless theGajapati king and worship Lord Jagannath. And on ‘Sunia’ day occurring in Bhadraba i.e.September, Sasan Brahmins use to congregate in the palace of the Gajapati king during thecelebration of commencement of the new Regnal Year.During sixteen days of Durga Puja the SasanBrahmins are associated with worshipping ofGoddess Bimala and other local Goddesses. OnRukmini vivaha or the Marriage ceremony ofLord Sri Krishna or Sri Jagannath, SasanBrahmins are also invited. On the 7th day of thedark fortnight of ‘Karttika’ month i.e. November,Sola Sasana Bhoga or a grand offering ofMahaprasada to Lord Jagannath is held in whichalmost Brahmins from every Sasan village take part.
The Oriya Brahmin Diet
It is of two types
Shrotriyas are still strict lacto vegetarians who abandon garlic, onion and some varieties of gourds and Masoor dal, apart from non vegeterian food.Some of the oriya bramhins are pesco vegetarians ,which shows the close influence of Shaktism. But Shakta Utkala bramhins don’t eat any kind of meat except fish(still chicken is conidered taboo by many) and sacrificial mutton.Some Utkala Brahmins authorise bali or sacrificial meat, which is offered to Devi,in Nuakhai and Durga Puja or any Yajna can be taken by all brahmins. Most of the Utkala Brahmins share the common foods which are present in Oriya cuisine,and show fondness to sweets and Pithas which are speciality of Orissa.
The Oriya Brahmin Surnames
The Utkala or Oriya Brahmin Surnames are Acharya, Dikshit (Dixit), Debta or Devata, Dash or Dash sharma, Mishra, Dhar, Sharma, Chaturvedi, Nath, Kar, Tripathy, Bhatt-Mishra, Nanda, Guru, Rajguru, Rayguru, Mahapatra, Bishi, Patra, Panigrahi, Mohapatra(all of them), Rath & Rath Sharma(belonging to Atreya gotra), Patri, Satapathy, Sadangi or Sarangi,Bahinipati,Thakur,Chaini(found mostly in Kalahandi and Sambalpur), Pati, Vedi, Dwivedi, Trivedi, Upadhyaya, Palo (Pala or Pal in Orissa not Bengal), Pattajoshi, Joshi, Nayak, Panda, BadaPanda, Barpanda, Muni, PujaPanda, Praharaj, Padhi, Pani, Paathi, Purohit, Pujari, Behera (found mostly in Kalahandi and Sambalpur), Sar, Sabat, Gantayat, Suara, Mahasuara, Garabadu, Sabata, Choudhury, Sahu, Dyansamantray, Nepak, Khadanga, Devasharma, Udgata, Hota, Otta, Bebarta,Mohanty.
According to Pundit Narayana Shiromani,(late 18th century) the gotra decides the surname.He mentions that Gautama gotra have surname DharaSharma, Bharadwaja gotra have KaraSharma, Kashyapa gotra people should keep Nanda or AnandaSharma, Atreya gotra people should keep RathSharma, Kaushika and Vatsa gotra have DashShrama.These above gotra Brahmins are considered as topmost among Utkal Brahmins.Rest all are Sharma or Devasharmas.
In certain areas Utkal Brahmin surnames are unique and are similar to the surnames of Vaishya,Kshatriya and Shudras.These surnames were given to the Brahmins either by Gajapati King or by his fuedotory kings as punishment or reward.In course of time this title became the surname, and the subsequent generations inherited it.E.g. Behera (found mostly in Kalahandi and Sambalpur,their surnames were changed from Mishra or Dash to Behera),Bahinipati,Senapati,Sabat,Pradhan,Swain,jena,Mohapatra,Mohanty etc.Some people with ‘Mohapatra’ title are Brahmins and others are Karanas or belong to lower castes.
During the reign of Gajapati empire the Utkal Brahmins were migrated to Purulia, Midnapore, Bankura & Hoogly districts of West Bengal as representative of the Gajapati King since those areas were under the monarch of Orissa.Their surnames are Singhamahapatra,Sinhamahapatra,Sanigrahi(transformed from Panigrahi),Panda,Pati,patra,Padhi,Pahari etc.
Notable Utkala Brahmins
Jayadeva:Famous Sanskrit scholar,poet of 10th century and author of Gitagovinda.
Govardhan Acharya:Sanskrit scholar of 12th century.He wrote Aryasaptasati a Sanskrit poem in 700 stanzas.
Udayan Acharya : Sanskrit scholar of 12th century.He wrote Bhavavibhavinitika in Sanskrit, the first commentary on the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva.
Vishwanath Kaviraj: Sanskrit scholar of 13th century.He wrote Sahitya Darpana an Alankara shashtra in sanskrit.
Jagannatha Dash:A great scholar of Sanskrit who translated the entire Bhagavata Purana to Oriya.He was bestowed the name Atibadi by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Classification of Brahmins
Dash (Oriya Surname)
Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa, India
^ cf. Kalhana’s Rajatarangini in reference for English version.
^ cfKapila Purana,Wikipedia.
^ cf.Forward Caste,Wikipedia.
^ A History of Brahmin Clans , page 155
^ Jāti-Bhāṣkara , page 101-102 ; these ślokas are also quoted in A History of Brahmin Clans , page 155
^ The Tribes and Castes of Central Provinces of India, page 400.
Kalhana’s Rajatarangini: A Chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir; 3 Volumes > M.A.Stein (translator),(Introduction by Mohammad Ishaq Khan),published by Saujanya Books at Srinagar,2007,(First Edition pub. in 1900),ISBN 81-8339-043-9 / 8183390439.
A History of Brahmin Clans (Brāhmaṇa Vaṃshõ kā Itihāsa) in Hindi, by Dorilāl Śarmā,published by Rāśtriya Brāhamana Mahāsabhā, Vimal Building, Jamirābād, Mitranagar, Masūdābād,Aligarh-1, 2nd ed-1998. (This Hindi book contains the most exhaustive list of Brahmana gotras and pravaras together their real and mythological histories).
Jāti-Bhāṣkara by Pt. Jwālā Prasād Misra, published by Khemaraj Shrikrishnadas, Bombay, (1914).
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Hindu Castes and Sects Jogendranath Bhattacharya; First Editions :Calcutta,1896); New Ed:New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publications, 1995.
Mayne’s “Treatise on Hindu Law and Usage,15th ed.,New Delhi: Bharat Law House, 2003.
Kane, Pandurang Vaman(1880 – 1972), “History of Dharmaśāstra ” (ancient and mediæval religious and civil law in India), Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 1962 – 1975.
Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies, by Abbe J. A. Dubois,English translation first published in 1816, Reprint. 1999(Third edition. Delhi, Low Price Pub.), 2 volumes, 741 p.,ISBN 81-7020-927-7.
(Manusmriti) :Translation by G. Bühler (1886). Sacred Books of the East: The Laws of Manu (Vol. XXV). Oxford. Available online as The Laws of Manu
History of India by Herman Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, Published 2004,Routledge,448 pages,ISBN 0-415-32920-5
Brāhmaṇotpatti-mārtaṇḍa by Harikṛṣṇa Śāstri, (Sanskrit), 1871
 migrant brahamana in north India by Swati Dutta
The complete reference to Brahmins: No material from this site has been borrowed for this article.
A Long List of Brahmin Castes and Sub-castes