Notable Brahmins and Their Contribution
It is a misconception that Brahmins were only priests. Fact is only a subset of Brahmins was involved in the priestly duties. Brahmins also took up various other professions since late Vedic ages like doctors, writers, poets, land owners, ministers, etc. Most of India was ruled by Brahmin Kings from 180 B.C. to 6th century A.D. Shungs who succeeded Mauryan kings were Bharadwaj gotriiya by father side and Kashayap from mother side. Saat-Vahans who dominated south India were Brahmins. The famous Gupta dynasty was a Brahmin dynasty. “Chandra Gupta Vikramaditya”, the most famous emperors of all times was a Brahmin. This Gupta Period is known as “Golden period of India”. This period is considered best not only in Indian history but in history of the whole world. Never a country was ever blessed with peace, literature, wealth, commerce, science, and also in military might. Aryabhatt, Varahmirih, Kalidas are few of the very famous personalities of this time whose contribution we still remember with pride. They were all Brahmins.
We will not here mention great ‘Rishis’ of ancient India who made contribution in many fields, including science, spiritual wisdom or the Smritis which were first codified laws (post Vedic period) in the history of the mankind and their clarity in administration of justice, dealing in all spheres of life surprises even today.
We will confine ourselves to Brahmin contributors starting from 19th century which is also known as ‘Renaissance’ of 19th century India.
- GREAT REVOLT OF 1957- Mangal Pandey who shot the first bullet, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Tatya Topey.
- SOCIO-RELIGIOUS REFORMERS - Raja Rammohan Rai called Father of modern India, Debendranath Tagore, Pratap Chandra Majumdar (reformers), Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar (scholar), Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Sri V Narayan Agnohotri, R G Bhandarkar, M G Ranade, Vishnu Shastri Chiplunkar, K T Teelang, C V Joshi, G G Agarkar, Gopal Hari Deshmukh and Vishnu Bhikaji - crusaded against irrationality and other evils present at that time in the Indian societies.
- Ramakrishna Paramhans spiritual saint who is more known by name of his disciple Swami Vivekanand who introduced principles of Hinduism to the world.
- First Hindu spiritual teacher to visit U S A was Mr. Joshi, followed by others like P C Majumdar. B B Nagarkar, Narsimhacharya, Swami Ramtirath and Dr S Radhakrishnan.
- Surinder Venkatesh Ketkar- First Indian to receive Doctorate from American University
- NOBLE LAURITES - Rabindra Nath Tagore, C V Raman, Amartya Sen
- FIRST TO CRITICISE BRITISH RULE - Bankim Chandra Chaterji, MG Ranade, Surendra Nath Banerji
- FIRST PRESIDENT OF INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS - Vyomesh Chandra Banerji
- One of most prominent leaders of Garam Dal and Naram Dal of then Congress party were Lokmanya Tilak and Gopal Krishan Gokhle.
- KRANTI AGAINST BRITISH RAJ - Vasudeo Vasant Phadke, Chapekar brothers,Vishnu Ganesh Pingale, Bhai Parmanad, Birendra Nath Chattopadhyay, Bagvati Charan Bohra, Chandra Shekhar Azad, and Durga Bhabhi
- NATIONALISTIC SLOGANS - “VANDE MATARAM”, “SWARAJ IS MY BIRTH RIGHT” and ‘SARFAROSHI KI TAMMANNA AB HAMAREY DIL ME HAI’ were written by Bankim, Tilak and Ram Prasad Bismil
- REVOLUTIONERY WOMEN WHO SUFFERED UNDER BRITISH RAJ - Bala Devi, Vimal Pratibha Devi, Kalpana Dutt, Suhasini Ganguli, The Mukerji sisters – Usha and parul.
- Sarojini Naidu, Kamla Nehru, Vijai luxmi Pandit- participated in Gandhian movement.
- FIRSTS IN INDIA –
- Satyendra Nath Tagore - First I C S Officer
- Rabindra Nath Tagore Nobel Prize
- Sarojini Naidu 1st Woman Congress President and governor of UP
- Chakravarti Rajgopalachari- 1st Governor General of India and 1st Bharat Ratna Award Winner
- Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru- 1st Prime minister
- Vjai luxmi Pandit 1st Woman Ambassador and Minister of State
- CD Deshmukh 1st Finance Minister to present General budget
- Ganeshvasudeo Malvankar 1st Speaker of Lok Sabha
- S Mukherji 1st Chief of Air Staff
- Vinoba Bhave 1st Roman Magasaysay Award winner
- Dr S Radhakrishnan 1st elected President of India
- Sucheta Kriplani, 1st Woman Chief Minister
- G Sankar Kurup 1st Janpith Award Winner
- Drba Banerji, 1st Woman Pilot of Indian Airlines
- Mihir Sen 1st to swim across English Cannel
- Udai Shankar 1st dancer to perform abroad
- Atal Bihari Vajpaye 1st Hindi Speaker at UNO
- Indira Gandhi 1st woman Prime minister of India
- Rakesh Sharma 1st Indian Astronaut
- Morarji Desai 1st Nishane-Pakistan winner
- Sushmita Sen 1st Miss Universe
- Saurav Ganguli 1st Cricketer in the world to win four consecutive “Man of the Match” awards in one day internationals
Present status of Brahmins in the society
Brahmins should have gained more respect in independent India. Although some of them have risen to highest political position in their own states and centre becoming President, Vice Presidents, Prime Minister or Chief election commissioners (as R K Trivedi and T N Sheshan),won literary and military awards and excelled in other fields, the status of Brahmins as a community has come under a cloud.
It is due to various political and religious moves to tarnish image of Brahmins, on public platform, in the media and in history books, and also to relegate their positive contribution to society in the background.
The decline in the position of Brahmins is as much due to changing social and political milieu, rise of heterodox cults and sects, and anti- Brahmin movements during last century.
This phenomenon is also due to the fact that majority of Brahmins are ignorant about their pristine heritage and their involvement in internal feuds. Moreover they also lack in knowledge and are no more a moral guide to society for which they were revered in past. This may be the reason that they are unable to face the onslaught of disinformation campaign against them and their scriptures.
Read Article: Different Types of Brahmins