Hussaini Brahmin/ Dutt

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Hussaini Brahmins/ Mohyal/ Dutt/ Datt/ Hindus in Iraq/ Hindus in Arabia/ Hindus and Muharram/ Hindus and Islam


The authors of this page are…

i) which, in turn, has mentioned ‘Internet and wikipedia’ as its sources.

ii) Justin Joseph, Pakistan Defence Forum, 25-04-2010 Pakistan Defence Forum; Brahmins Fought for Imam Hussain in the Battle of Karbala

iii) S.M.Masum, January 25, 2008 qatarliving

iv) Faizan Ahmad, Hindus participate in Muharram/ 21 Jan 2008, , TNN timesofindia

v) Rakesh Sharma, Brahmins Fought for Imam Hussain in the Battle of Karbala, Message of Peace

vi) Azadari India: Brahmins Fought for Imam Hussain in the Battle of Karbala Azadaar e Husain

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Who is a Dutt/ Datt ?

The Mohyals, of whom the Dutts are a sub-clan, are one of the four or five major martial-Brahmin clans of India. The other warrior Brahmin clans are Tyagi of Western UP-Haryana; Namboodri of Kerala; and Anavil/ Desai of Gujarat. The Bhoomihar of Bihar-Orissa-Eastern UP are normally accepted as the fifth clan). These five ruling Brahmin clans have not performed priestly duties in recorded history: certainly not since the time of Shri Parshuram (the warrior Brahmin mentioned in the Ramayan) and have only been military Generals, Inspectors General of Police, landlords and, often, sûbâdârs (Governors/ Chancellors) of provinces (soobâ: group of villages).

The Mohyals have seven sub-clans. The six other clans are Bhimwal, Bali, Lau, Vaid, Chhibber and Mohan.


Dutts are Saraswat

Gotra - Bhardwaj

The Dutts are descendants of Rishi Bharadwaj. Dutts/Dutts were classified as Martial Race in the British rule in India.

Descendants of Ashvathama

Interestingly, in the Preface of his famous historical novel, titled Karbala, published in 1924 from Lucknow, Munshi Prem Chand has stated that the Hindus, who fought and sacrificed their lives in the holy war of Karbala, are believed to be the descendants of Ashvathama. This clearly establishes their link with the Dutts who consider Ashvathama as an ancestor of their clan.

Porus: the earliest historical mention of the Dutts

King Porus, whom Alexander defeated, was from a warrior-Brahmin clan (as were the last Hindu Shahi kings of Afghanistan and Dahir/ Darius, the last Hindu king of Sindh). The seven Mohyal clans are seen as the descendants of these warrior-Brahmin clans.

Within them, the Dutts claim descent from Porus.

No Indian source has any details about King Porus either. We know of him mainly from Greek records. However, the Jammu Vanshawali (genealogical table or pedigree tree) is the first independent (non-Brahmin) coroboration of this fact. (Vanshawalis are not histories. They are lists of all members of a particular clan or rulers of a particular kingdom with a bit about where the first person of that clan came from.)

Invaders from Gandhara/ Takshashila and Sakal (Sialkot) certainly annexed Jammu a few generations before Alexander. These invaders were the Dutts. Jammu was part of the Dutts’ Gandhara/ Takshashila- based empire till Alexander’s invasion. The Dutts were perhaps a Persian people. They, in turn, were subject to Persia’s Achæmenians.

Charak and Billawaria, the foremost historians of Jammu (they are Rajput, not Dutt) write that ‘The seventh ruler of the dynasty, Ajay Sinh, seems to have settled at Jammu. He was related to Porus who has been named Raja Puru Sen in the Jammu genealogy. It also gives the name of the capital of Porus as Goti-pani, which no other source mentions. Ajay Sinh died while fighting against Alexander on [the] side of [Porus].’

(According to the film Alexander [2004] it was an arrow shot by a soldier of an Indian army—obviously Porus’ army—that hit Alexander and caused the wound to which he later succumbed.)

Hussaini Brahmins

The Dutts’ ancestors fought alongside Imam Hussein (RA) in the battle of Karbala (Iraq).

Their community still observes Muharram with Muslims to remember the sacrifices of their ancestors who fought with Imam Hussein in the Battle of Karbala.As per the Punjabi Brahmin immigrants, since the Karbala battle in 680 AD, this community of around 500- (or 1400-) members took the prefix of ‘hussaini’, and call themselves the Hussaini Brahmins.

Battle of Karbala

At the time of the war of Karbala (Oct. 680 AD). Rahab Sidh Dutt, a potentate of the Dutt sect, was a highly esteemed figure of Arabia due to his close relations with the family of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). In the holy war when no Muslim King came to help Imam Hussain (RA), Rahab fought on his side and sacrificed his seven sons (named Sahas Rai. Haras Rai, Sher Khan, Rai Pun, Ram Singh, Dharoo and Poroo) in the bloody war.

The events leading to the battle of Karbala: After the death of Mohammed (SAW), he was succeeded by the Righteous Caliphs Hz. Abu Bakr (RA), Hz Omar (RA) and Hz. Osman (RA). All three were related to him by marriage alliances.

Hz. Osman was assassinated.

After his death, Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA), whom was the son-in-law of Mohammed (he was also his first cousin), being married to the Prophet’s third daughter and his only surviving issue, Bibi Fatima Zahira (RA), became the 4th Righteous Caliph.

There was stiff opposition to Hz. Ali’s rule from Amir Moavia, a known protege of Hz. Osman. He fought with him a bitter war for 5 years and finally got him murdered in a mosque of Koofa, his mausoleum with a golden dome, stands in the nearby town of Najaf (Iraq).

After the assassination of Hz. Ali, Moavia grabbed the Caliphate and converted the Islamic state into a kingdom. After his death, his notorious son Yazid became the next ruler. However, the rightful claimants of the Caliphate were the descendants of Hazrat Ali, namely, Imam Hassan (RA) and Imam Hussain (RA). While Hassan abdicated his claim to the crown and later died of suspected poisoning, his younger brother Imam Hussain who was till then leading a secluded life in Medina, came out and challenged the usurper, Yazid ibn Muawjyah (the new caliph).. It was the war of attrition between the two which led to the bloodshed of Karbala (102 km south of Baghdad), on Oct. 10, 680 AD.

The Mohyals Brahmin/ Dutt family of Arabia: At the time to the Karbala, fourteen hundred (or at least five hundred!) Hussaini Brahmins lived in Baghdad alone

How did they reach Karbala?

An ancestor of Rahab named Sidh Viyog Datt was given the title of Sultan and made Arabia (old name Iraq) his home. He was a tough and tenacious fighter. He was also known as Mir Sidhani. He was a worshipper of Brahma. He was the son of the stalwart Sidh Jhoja (Vaj) who was a savant and saint and lived in Arabia (Iraq) around 600 AD.

(Who gave him the title Sultan? According to some historians, Imam Hussain, seeing Rahab dutt’s love for him, conferred upon him the title of Sultan. According to this version Rahab’s clan had adopted the name ‘Hussaini Brahmin’ well before the battle of and martyrdom at Karbala, signifying their close bond with Imam Hussain on the one hand and the fact that they were Hindu Brahmins on the other.)

Hazrat Ali had entrusted the public exchequer to the regiment of the valiant Dutts, at the time of the Battle of Camels fought near Basra. (This was much before the Karbala incident). Rahab Sidh Dutt, a Hindu Saraswat Brahmin (a potentate of Dutt sect ) had close relations with the family of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and was a highly respected figure in Arabia.

They were a part of the entourage of 200 men and women, including 72 members of Hussain’s family (40 on foot and 32 on horseback), when he left Medina and made an arduous trek to Karbala, where he had a large friendly following. He went to help people of Kufa who invited him to save them from the oppressor Caliphate. After 18 days, i.e. on the 2nd. day of Muharrum, Imam Hussain’s caravan reached Karbala, which is on the bank of river Euphrates and surrounded by a hostile desert. On the 7th day of Muharrum, all hell broke out when 30,000 strong army sent by Yazid from Mecca and other places, attacked them. 6,000 soldiers guarded the river bank to ensure that not a drop of water reached the Hussain’s thirsty innocents.

The battle of Karbala took place on the 10th day of Muharram in 680 AD in Karbala. On one side were supporters and relatives of Prophet’s grandson Hussain ibn Ali, while on the other side was a military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad Caliph.

Hussein, his friends and his family members were encircled and left without food and water for days. This battle eventually led to the great schism in Islam between the Sunnis and the Shias.

By sunset of 10th (Ashoor), a Friday, all were dead including his step brother Abbas (32), his son Ali Akbar (22), daughter Sakeena (4) and 6 months old infant Ali Asghar who was killed by an arrow while perched in his lap. Imam Hussain himself was slain with thirty three strokes of lances and swords by Shimr, the hatchet man of ignominious Yazid.

The ruffians of Yazid, as they ran carrying the smitten head of Hussain to the castle of Koofa, were chased by Rahab. He retrieved the holy man’s head, washed it reverentially and then carried it to Damascus. According to legend, he was overtaken by Yazid’s men during his ovenight shelter on the way.

According to Muslim historians [1], especially Shia historians: Yazid’s men demanded Hussain’s head from him: Sultan Rahab Dutt executed the head of one of his sons and offered to them. They shouted that it was not the Hussain’s head, then he beheaded his second son and they again yelled that it was not his. In this way Rahab executed the heads of his seven sons but did not part with the head of Imam Hussain. Later, after one year, it was buried in Karbala along with rest of his body.

(Other Muslim historians, especially Shia historians, say that Imam Hussain was alive when Yazid’s men came looking for him. Yazid’s men asked: ‘Where is Hussain?’ One of Rahab’s sons said, ‘I am Hussain.’ Yazid’s men beheaded him but soon discovered that they had killed the wrong person.

(They went back to the shelter and asked again: ‘Where is Hussain?’ Another of Rahab’s sons said, ‘I am Hussain.’ Yazid’s men beheaded him but again discovered that they had killed the wrong person.

(This went on till all seven of Rahab’s sons claimed to be Hussain. All seven of Rahab’s were beheaded while trying to become a buffer between Yazid’s men and the beloved Imam.

(The Dutts’ own oral histories [2] recount that the seven sons of Rahab died along with Imam Hussain on the bank of river Euphrates and surrounded by a hostile desert on the 10th Ashoor.

(Either way, all seven sons of Sultan Rahab Dutt lay down their lives for Imam Hussain.)

The intrepid Dutts rallied round Amir Mukhtar, the chief of the partisans of Imam Hussain, fought with extraordinary heroism and captured and razed the fort of Koofa, seat of Yazid’s governor, Obaidullah, the Butcher. After scoring a resounding victory on the battlefield, they beat the drums and yelled out that they had avenged the innocent blood of Hussain shed at Karbala.

The valiant dutts and shia disciples of Imam Hussein did not lay down their arms till they saw the end of Yazid who could rule just for 40 days.

There are more than a dozen ballads (kavits) composed centuries ago which vividly and with great passion describe the scenario of the historic event.

M J Akbar writes, 'Since then it has been forbidden for Muslims to try and convert the Dutts to their faith.' (However, that did not prevent the forcible conversion and killing of some Hussaini Brahmin chiefs even in Rajouri (India). The Hussaini Brahmins who got left behind in Pakistan seem to have become full-fledged Muslims. Inter alia, they perform the Haj.(See Hussaini Brahmin Ali, Hussaini Brahmin Rizwan etc.)

Migration to Afghanistan, India

A few centuries before the rise of Islam, the presence in Arabia of many Hindus, mostly Brahmins, has been recorded by the historian Sisir Kumar Mitra, in his book ‘The Vision of India’ page 183. These people observed Hindu religious customs, including the worship of Shiva and Makresha from which the name of Mecca is said to have been derived. The famous astrologer Yavanacharya was born of one such Brahmin family. It was from these Brahmins that the Arabs learnt the science of Mathematics, Astrology, Algebra and decimal notation which were first developed in India.

Rahab could have been the descendant of one such clan. However, now it was time for his descendants to go to the Indian sub-continent.

According to Rahab was overwhelmed with grief due to the slaughter of his 7 sons, and migrated to Afghanistan via Iran and Turkistan.

However, according to the Dutts’ own oral histories, handed down over the generations, Rahab, too, had was killed on the 10th Ashoor, but before Imam Hussain did. Indeed, Imam Hussain was so moved by the sacrifice of Rahab and his seven sons (all of who died before Imam Hussain did) that Imam Hussain chanted some prayers and blessings for the Dutts who had sacrificed themselves for him. Among these blessings was that all descendants of Rahab Dutt would have two natural lines running across the neck, left to right, at the Adam's apple, instead of the usual one.

Imam Hussain also gave the Dutts the power to get rid of the pock marks of those who had been afflicted by small pox merely by spitting on their faces.

Considering that all male Dutts had been killed, where was the question of there being any descendants of Rahab?

According to the Dutts’ own oral histories, the wife of one of the slain sons of Rahab was pregnant with a male child. He is the one who founded the present Dutt line. (This story has some similarilities with that of Hz. Zainul Abedin.)

Starting from Harya Bandar (modern Basra on the bank of river Tigris) with swords in hand and beating durms, they forced their way through Syria and Asia Minor and marching onwards captured Ghazni, Balkh and Bukhara. After annexing Kandhar, they converged on Sind and crossing the Sind at Attock they entered the Punjab.

Later descendants of Rahab had many clans (Kabilas) in modern day Afghanistan and NWFP. The clans were called Mohdaa.

Perhaps around the 10th century A.D. the Dutts returned to India to settle at Dina Nagar, District Sialkot (vide Bandobast Report of Gujarat by Mirza Azam Beg page 422 and folk songs) and some drifted to as far as the holy Pushkar in Rajasthan.

After coming to India the descendants of Rahab Dutt received grand welcome by the native Mohyals. Many eventually settled near Nankana Sahib in the district of Sheikhupura in present-day Pakistan.

Many direct descendants of Rahab Dutt use last names such as Dutt, Dutt, Sharma, Bharadwaj.

Pir Wahun and Shiv Dutt

Shiv Dutt - The chief of the Dutts.

Pir Wahun - a chess player

Peer [spiritual guide] Wahun was known for his knack of consistently winning the games [of chance]. According to a bet fixed by him, the loser would embrace Islam. In this way, he is said to have converted a large number of Hindus to the Muslim faith until he met his match in Shiv Dutt.

Shiv Dutt challenged the Peer to a game of chess and defeated him three times in a row, thereby claiming the faiths of the Peer’s wife and two sons as per the stakes. However out of sheer generousness, Shiv Dutt pardoned their life. When Wahun came to know that one of the ancestors of Shiv Dutt had sacrificed his 7 sons for the sake of Muhammad in the battle of Karbala, he took a solemn vow that in the future he would never convert any Hindu by coercion to Islam.

It was on this occasion that the Pir echoed the famous words: Wah Dutt Sultan, Hindu ka Dharam Musalman ka Iman/ Adha Hindu Adha Musalman (Hail, O King Dutt for Thou are endowed with the Dharma of the Hindu and the Iman of the Muslim Half Hindu, half Muslim).

[Whether or not the story of the Peer’s conversion-through-chess and being pardoned by Shiv Dutt is true—and liberal Dutts do not set much store by it—his famous couplet is passed down by every Dutt family to their children to this day. It is more likely that the Peer composed this verse impressed by Shiv Dutt’s narration of the sacrifice of Rahab Dutt and his sons.]

Shahr Banu

One of the wives of Imam Hussain, the Persian princess Shahr Banu, was the sister of Chandra Lekha or Mehr Banu, the wife of an Indian king called Chandragupta. When it became clear that Yazid was adamant on killing the Imam, the Imam’s son Ali ibn Hussain rushed off a letter to Chandragupta asking him for help against Yazid. When Chandragupta received the letter, he dispatched a large army to Iraq to assist the Imam. By the time they arrived, however, the Imam [and Rahab and his sons] had been slain.

In the town of Kufa, in present-day Iraq, they met with one Mukhtar Saqaffi, a disciple of the Imam, who arranged for them to stay in a special part of the town, which even today is known by the name of Dair-i-Hindiya or ‘the Indian quarter’.

Some Dutt Brahmins, under the leadership of one Bhurya Dutt, got together with Mukhtar Saqafi to avenge the death of the Imam. They stayed behind in Kufa, while the rest returned to India. Here they built up a community of their own, the Hussaini Brahmins, keeping alive the memory of their links with the Imam.

The Shias’ daily prayer

Ahmed Punjabi, a Muslim, recorded in Jang Nama, (pages 175-176), that it was ordained on the Shias to recite the name of Rahab in their daily prayer. At the time of the Karbala battle, fourteen hundred Hussaini Brahmins lived in Baghdad alone. (This, incidentally, is what the Dutts’ own oral histories tell them: that Imam Hussain had ordained thus, before achieving his own martyrdom.)

Karmu Mai Duttani

The lady warrior among Mohyals

Karmu Mai Duttani the lady warrior, shortly before the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1783–1839).

Jai Singh, a saraswat Brahmin, was the head of the Kanhaiya Misl in Amritsar. The Misls were later consolidated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh into the army of the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab, when he became the Maharja of the province after capturing Lahore in 1799. Jai Singh appointed Mai Karmo as the chief of the Katra branch of the Kanhaiya Misl. The intrepid lady held her court in the open, in a jostling market square in Amritsar which is known by her name till today: Karmo Ki Deod. She was a terror to local ruffians and used to administer justice without any fear or favour. She once took part in a battle wearing the coat of arms. The seal of her high office is believed to be still in the possession of her progeny.

Hindus participate in Muharram

A.D. 2008

MUZAFFARPUR: On the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar, Shia Muslims across the world spend the day in mourning to commemorate the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, his family and followers. Here, a group of Hindus participated in the Muharram procession with equal veneration.

They claim their lineage to Hussaini Brahmin sect. And, from this year, they have revived their centuries-old tradition of shedding tears in the memory of the martyrs of Karbala — which their ancestors used to do. Mostly Bhumihars, the group marched barefoot from Bara Imambara in Brahampur locality here beating their chest and chanting “Ya Hussain”.

They also carried a banner proclaiming their sentiments towards the Imam and his martyrdom. “Our ancestors also fought in support of Imam Hussain and sacrificed their lives in Karbala and we are equally pained at the historical martyrdom,” said Bhumihar Brahmin Mahasabha convenor Arun Kumar Sharma.

References in several books and records confirm that some Hindus did join Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, when he was through a bloody battle against Yezid at Karbala (in Iraq ) on October 10, 680 AD.

The sect, which was later named Hussaini Brahmin, had settled on the banks of river Euphrates . Subsequently, they [came] to India and assumed various titles like Datts, Mohiyals, Tyagis and many others. They also practised an intriguing blend of Islamic and Hindu traditions.

This was the first time in recent memory that the people claiming the lineage joined the Muharram rituals in this part of the country. The late Sunil Dutt, who belonged to Hussaini Brahmin sect, used to attend Muharram processions.

Asked why this practice remained discontinued for decades Sharma, a practising lawyer, said: “We can say this was the fault of our fathers and grandfathers [of the generations immediately preceding and following the partition of India in 1947] who did not teach us about this aspect of our historical and cultural heritage.”

Marching in the procession ahead of the band of young Shia youths injuring their chest and back with blades fixed to chains, small daggers or even razors, Upendra Prasad Shahi said, “The battle of Karbala was a war to save humanity and faith. We are proud that our ancestors, too, sacrificed their lives.”

Legend has it that Rahab Sidh Datt had fought on behalf of Imam Hussain in the battle of Karbala, sacrificing his seven sons in the process. Rahab was the leader of a small band of career-soldiers living near Baghdad at the time of the battle of Karbala . In his novel ” Karbala “, Munshi Prem Chand mentions about Hindus fighting for Imam Hussain and referred to them as descendants of Ashwastthama, son of Dronacharya [the greatest guru of the martial arts of his time, a Brahmin who taught Kshatriya princes].

The Hussaini Brahmin sect is today a rapidly vanishing community. The younger generation of the clan are said to be abandoning their ancestral heritage, some seeing it as embarrassingly deviant. “We should, rather, feel proud of this tradition,” said Sharma who has painstakingly pursued his caste people to help revive this heritage. “Before the advent of Islam, we had blood relations with the people of the Arab world,” Sharma claimed.

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