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Castes of IndiaKhatris Classification KshatriyaSubdivisions Aathghar, Barahghar, Bawanjahi, Charghar, Dhaighar, Kukhran, Sareen and others Significant populations in Punjab, Delhi, Punjaband SindhLanguages Hindi, Punjabi, Sindhiand UrduReligions Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism

Khatri (Punjabi: ਖੱਤਰੀ, Urdu: کھتری , khatrī) is the Punjabi adaptation of Sanskrit word Kshatriya (Hindi: क्षत्रिय, kşhatriya). The Kshatriya are the traditionally members of the Hindu military order. As administrators and rulers, Kshatriya were assigned with protecting Dharma, and serving humanity and the world. In course of time, however, as a result of economic and political exigencies, the Khatri also expanded into other occupations.

When Pakistan and India gained independence, most of the Khatris in what became Pakistan migrated to India. Today Khatris live in all regions of India, but are concentrated in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. While most Khatris are Hindu and Sikh, a smaller minority belong to other faiths.


Khatri Family Names

Main article: List of Khatri surnames on Wiktionary


Origin and Distribution

See also: Hinduism in Punjab, Indian caste system, and Potohar

The Khatris are a prominent Indian community that originated in the Potohar region of north-western Indian subcontinent. This region is of considerable historical significance in the development of the Indian culture since the composition of the Vedas and classics like the Mahabharata.

For the most part, Khatris have been in the civil, government, and military administrators roles for centuries.[1]. In the Indian Army, Khatris have won many honors and gallantary awards. Present chief of Indian Army, General Deepak Kapoor is Khatri and he took charge from another Khatri, General Joginder Jaswant Singh (Marwah) who took charge from another Khatri, General Nirmal Chander Vij. Khatris have sometimes expanded into trade and mercantile businesses, including architecture.

Punjabi Khatris were adversely affected by the partition of India, as it resulted in the loss of their traditional home regions. These Khatris migrated to India, where they were forced to start anew their lives. Despite losing their land, businesses, and all other material assets during the partition of India, Khatris earned the clout that they held in pre-partitioned India.

Prominent historical Khatris

Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh Panth, was born in the Bedi Khatri clan.

Many prominent historical figures have emerged from the Khatri. All ten Sikh Gurus were Khatri. The four gots of Sikh gurus existed at least since 15th century AD: Their history and racial features bring them close to the definition of 'Devas' as described in historical Indian texts. As also the names of most Khatris included the word 'dev', such as Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guruangad Dev ji etc. Thus modern 'Khatris' are that people which were called as 'Devas' or 'Devtas' in ancient times.

Raja "Porus" (Puru or Parvataraja or Purusshottum) was also a Khatri (Kukhrain or Sabharwal)[2] king and he with his army fought really bravely with "Alexander the Great" in the "battle of Hydaspes" in 326BCE and stopped him from moving any further in Punjab. He was the only king to be able to fight so bravely and stop Alexander in Punjab. This was the hardest fought battle for Alexander[3]. Kingdoms of Magadha, Kosala, Vatsa, Bimbisara, Ajatshatru, Udayana & Avanti were Khatri kingdoms[4]. Towns of Ujjayini(Malwa), Bhrigukachcha(Gujarat), Tamralipti(Ganga delta), Shravasti, Kaushambi, Ayodhaya(Uttar Pradesh), Champa, Vaishali, Pataliputra, Rajagriha and Pratisthana(Deccan) were ruled by Khatri rulers[5]. Raja Fateh Chand was a Maini Khatri chieftain of Bihar during the childhood of Guru Gobind Singh and being childless, he adopted the child, Gobind Rai as his son. Haqiqat Rai was a Puri Khatri whose martyrdom was celebrated on Basant Panchami in Lahore until independence. Hari Singh Nalwa [6], Maharaja Ranjit Singh's most feared general was an Uppal Khatri. The father and son pair of the Diwans Sawan Mal and Mul Raj Chopra were successive governors of Multan under Ranjit Singh. Sadhu Singh Gulla from the clan of Rame Shah Gulla & Shame Shah Gulla, Shah of Gujranwala - Sialkot fought against the British Empire in the 19th century. ( One of the most important character of famous Punjabi legend Raja Rasalu is minister Mahita Chopra[7], [8] Most scholars agree that Raja Rasalu ruled from Sialkot and lived sometime between 400 to 500 AD.[9] If it is true then Chopra name originated in that time.[10]

Khatris and Sun Worship

Raja Vanvihari Kapoor has written that major Khatri clans are named after Lord Sun.[11]The Sarasvat Brahmin clan of which some of these were yajamanas are also mentioned below.

  • Kripakar Kapur Priests: Pambu
  • Shankan Khanna Priests: Jhingana
  • Martanada Tandon Priests: Jhingana
  • Mitra Mehra Priests: Jetali
  • Shreshtha Seth
  • Dhavan Dhavan
  • Mahendra Mahindru
  • Bahukar Bahora (Vohra)
  • Chakravali Chaupada (Chopra)
  • Karalagni Kakkar Priests: Kumadiye
  • Surya Suri
  • Sahasrakar Sahgal Priests: Mohile

According to the Bhavishya Purana, Punjab indeed was an ancient center of Sun worship.


Sanatan Khatris

A majority of Khatris are Sanatan Hindus [12]. As noted in the introduction, the Khatri community have been positioned in roles of administration, rule and warfare within Punjab. The Khatris were the patrons ('yajamansas' or in Punjabi 'jajmani') of the Saraswat Brahmins. [13]. The Khatris are among the very few non-Brahmin communities that have traditionally studies the vedas[14] The Khatris, along with Aroras and Lohanas used to be engaged in trade in central asia[15] [16] . The Hindu temples of Kabul and the Hindu Fire Temple of Baku built and maintained by them still exist.

Arya Samaj Khatris

Swami Dayanand was invited to Punjab to counter the missionaries by prominent individuals who also founded the Singh Sabha. He established Arya Samaj in Lahore in 1877, which was against casteism, rituals, idol worship and promoted strict monotheism, which he claimed was the essential message of the Vedas. Arya Samaj became popular among Punjabi Hindus, especially Khatris [17]who were attracted to a similar message by the Sikh Gurus earlier [18]. Arya Samaj inspired individuals like Swami Shraddhanad and institutions like Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Schools System started by Lala Hansraj[19]. Lala Lajpat Rai is sometimes identified as a Khatri[20], his father was an Agrawal married to a Khatri wife [21].

Sikh Khatris

A portion of the Khatris are Sikh.[22] All the Ten Sikh Gurus were Khatris from the Sodhi and Bedi clans (which claim Surya Banshi Kshatriya descent) [23]. During the lifetime of the Gurus, most of their major supporters and Sikhs were Khatris. A list of this is provided by Bhai Gurdas in Varan Bhai Gurdas, a contemporary of the Sikh Gurus[24].

The martial development by the Sikh Gurus is well documented, with the first Guru (Guru Nanak), calling upon Sikhs to make a "ball of their head" to play the game of love. The second Guru (Guru Angad) encouraged physical activities of Sikhs by encouraging wrestling bouts and Kabaddi. The 6th Guru (Guru Hargobind) took up the sword and fought many battles against neighboring Rajputs and Mughals. The 9th Guru (Guru Teg Bahadhur) fought many battles with the 6th Guru and was an accompalished martial artist. The 10th Guru (Guru Gobind Singh), was proficient in the art of warfare as well as an accompalished swordsman, marksman and horse rider. The tenth Guru's maternal side of the family were accompalished warriors and fighters in their own right (Kirpal Chand), descended from Surya Banshi Kshatriya clans [25].

“ The sacred sections of the Khatris :-There are four sacred sections among the Khatris , whose position must be touched upon , These are the :-

Bedi (Guru Nanak) of the Dharman-Bunjahi or Chota -Sarin sub group .
Sodhi (Last seven Gurus) of the Chota Sarin sub-Group.
Trehan or Trihun (Guru Angad Dev) of the Bara-Sarin sub group
Bhalla (Guru Amar Das) of the Bara-Sarin sub group .
These four sections became sanctified by the births of the various Sikh Gurus to them [26]

Sahib Singh Bedi (1756-1834), Was tenth in direct descent from Guru Nanak, and much revered in Sikh times for his piety as well as for his martial prowess. He was born at Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur district. At the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's coronation at Lahore on April 11, 1801, Baba Sahib Singh Bedi placed the tilak or mark of sovereignty on Ranjit Singh's forehead anoiting him Maharaja of Punjab.

One more head of the family Baba Tikka Baba Harbhajan Singh Bedi is based in Chandigarh, India. Tikka Baba Harbhajan Singh Bedi is the 16th Descendent in the bloodline starting from Guru Nanak Dev Ji with two sons Tikka Surjinder Singh Bedi and Kunwar Arvinder Singh Bedi. Arvinder Singh Bedi is blessed with two sons Tikka Nain Noor Singh Bedi and Kunwar Gagandeep Singh Bedi making the 18th current bloodline starting from Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Bhai Daya Singh- [Sobti Clan] Was the "first" of the Panj Pyare
. In the historic divan in the Keshgarh Fort at Anandpur on 30 March 1699, Bhai Daya Singh was the first to rise at the Guru's call and offer his head.

Many Hindu Khatri families raised at least one Sikh son after the formation of the Khalsa in 1699. This resulted in Khatri clan names being present in both Hindu and Sikh communities worldwide.

See also: Hinduism and Sikh Panth

Jain Khatris

The number of Khatris who are Jain is very small. However one of the best known Jain munis in recent times, Acharya Atmaram (also known as Shri Vijayanandsuri [27]) (1841-1900) was a Kapoor Khatri, born at Lahra, Firozepur. [28].

Muslim Khatris

The Muslim Khatri (Urdu: کهتری ) are the Khatri converts to Islam. With the advent of Islam following invasions by Turkic tribes from Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province from the 11th century onwards, there were conversions of Hindus to the faith from among various Punjabi communities, including Khatris .Generally they retained their tribal, clan or caste affiliations as has been the norm in the region. Similarly, the Khatris who converted to Islam, continue to retain a strong social identity and are known as Punjabi Shaikhs.

Pakistan continues to have a prominent community of Khatris known as Punjabi Shaikhs as well as Khawaja Shaikhs. Some Muslim Khatris like the Sahgal family of Pakistan are examples of well-known and successful Muslim Khatris. They are also known as Qanungoh Shaikh , Khoja and Chiniotis .

Muslim Khatris of Kashmir

“ ' But there are still Khattris in Srinagar known as Bohras and engaged in trade , who are cut off from communion whith Khatris of the Punjab , and there are certain Musalman tribes who trace their origin to Khatri ancestors .[29]
“ ' Other Krams are believed to have sprung from Khatri origins , an ancient history mentions that the bearers of these names in Hindu times were military and warlike people .Among these Krams may be mentioned the Magres , Tantres , Dars , Dangars ,Rainas ,Rathor ,Thakurs ,and Naiks [30]

Khatri Organizations

The sessions of Akhil Bhartiya Khatri Mahasabha were held in Lucknow in 1916, 1936, 1952 and 1980. Lucknow Khatri Sabha was established in 1927 and publication Khatri Hitashi was started in 1936[31].

Divisions among the Khatris

Khatri gots have often been divided into three major groups; Baraghar, Bawanjahi, and Sarin.[32] These divisions were reported by Emperor Akbar's close adviser Abu'l Fazal in his book Ain-i-Akbari(compiled in 1590 AD).

There are several subdivisions within the Khatri clans. There are the Dhai Ghar (i.e. 2 1/2 houses -the number 3 being considered unlucky) grouping comprising of Kapur/Kapoor, Mehra/Mehrotra/Malhotra, and Khanna in order of their social status.[33] Along with the Seth clan these four subdivisions form the Char Ghar (4 houses) grouping.[34].

With the ((Bhandari)) Chopra, Dhawan, Mahendra, Sahgal, Talwar, Tandon, Vohra and Wadhawan sub castes, all 12 form the barah-jati grouping [35]. Another group is called Bavanjai (52)[36] . Other regional clan groupings include the Sarin and the Kukhrain.

Regionally Churamani, Nanda, Khullar, Jerath, Chopra and Vig were particularly connected with Ludhiana; Bahl, Kapoor, Mehra, Seth, Beri, Sencher and Dhir with Jagraon; Batte, Sondhi and Karir with Machhiwara and Bahlolpur; Sehgal and Thapar with Raikot; Gulla with Sahowala, Bhopalwala - Gujranwala - Sialkot and Had and Cham with Khanna[37]


Dr. Manmohan Singh with President of the United States George W. Bush

Kukhran (also spelt Khukhrain/Kukhrain) are a regional subcaste of Khatris [38] of nine clans of Punjab, originally from the town of Bhera in the Jech doab (Jhelum - Chenab interfluve) region of Sargodha district of Pakistani Punjab. A significant number adopted Sikhism during the 18th and 19th centuries. The nine Kukhran family names are Anand, Bhasin, Chadha, Chandok, Kohli, Sabharwal, Sahni/Sawhney, Sethi and Suri,. The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh is a Kukhran of the Kohli clan.

See Also

Distinguished Khatris

In addition to three Indian prime ministers, many distinguished soldiers, administrators, writers, businessmen and artists have been Khatri.

Main article: List of distinguished Khatris


  1. ^ As Kshatriyas
  2. ^ Khatri Encyclopedia
  3. ^
  4. ^ Khatri Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Khatri Encyclopedia
  6. ^ Stories from the Life of Hari Singh Nalwa by Dr. Vanit Nalwa
  7. ^ The Legends of the Panjab By Sir Richard Carnac Temple, Reprint of the 1884-1900 ed. published by Education Society's Press, Bombay, ISBN 0405101287
  8. ^ Four Legends of King Rasalu of Sialkot, The Folk-Lore Journal, 1883 Folklore Enterprises, Ltd, p. 129-151
  9. ^ The adventures of the Panjáb hero rájá Rasálu and other folk-tales of the Panjáb By Charles Swynnerton, Published 1884 Original from Oxford University
  10. ^ ibid
  11. ^ Jwalaprasad Mishra, Jati Bhaskar, 1914
  12. ^ M.A. Sherring, Hindu Castes and Tribes as represented in Banares, 1872.
  13. ^ Jwalaprasad Mishra, Jati Bhaskar, 1914
  14. ^ Hindu Tribes and Castes By Matthew Atmore Sherring, Published 1872 Trubner and co[1]p 277
  15. ^ Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India By R.V. Russell, R.B.H. Lal, Re-Published 1995, Asian Educational Services
  16. ^ The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and Its Trade, 1550-1900 By Scott Cameron Levi, Published 2002 BRILL
  17. ^ <Political Elite and Society in the Punjab, By Puri, Nina Published 1985 Vikas
  18. ^ Chowk: : The Amazing Khatris of Punjab
  19. ^ Mahatma Hansraj: Maker of the Modern Punjab By Sri Ram Sharma, Published 1941, Arya Pradeshik, Pratinidhi Sabha
  20. ^ A History of the Arya Samaj: An Account of Its Origin, Doctrines and ... By Lajpat Rai, Published 1967, Orient Longmans
  21. ^ Deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai and Sardar Ajit Singh By Ganda Singh, Published 1978, Dept. of Punjab, Historical Studies
  22. ^ Census of India, 1901 By India Census Commissioner, Sir Edward Albert Gait, Published 1903 Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India, Part 2 Tables, page 292. The Sikhs form 5.89% of the Khatris
  23. ^ Sri Dasam Granth Sahib
  24. ^ Vaaran Bhai Gurdas
  25. ^ Sri Dasam Granth Sahib
  26. ^ Denzil Ibbetson, Edward MacLagan, H.A. Rose "A Glossary of The Tribes & Casts of The Punjab & North-West Frontier Province", 1911 AD, Page 512, Vol II,
  27. ^ The Svetambar Murtipujak Jain Mendicant, by John E. Cort Man, 1991 Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.
  28. ^ Mangilal Bhutoria, Itihas ki Amar Bel- Oswal, Ppriyadarshi Prakashan, Calcutta, 1988
  29. ^ The Valley Of Kasmir by Walter R Lawrence Chapter XII Page 303
  30. ^ The Valley Of Kasmir by Walter R Lawrence Chapter XII Page 303
  31. ^ The Indian Historical Review By Indian Council of Historical Research, Published 1982 Vikas Pub. House
  32. ^ M.A. Sherring, Hindu Castes and Tribes as represented in Banares, 1872.
  33. ^ Punjab Revenue Castes and Religions of Punjab]
  34. ^ M.A. Sherring, Hindu Castes and Tribes as represented in Banares, 1872.
  35. ^ M.A. Sherring, Hindu Castes and Tribes as represented in Banares, 1872.
  36. ^ M.A. Sherring, Hindu Castes and Tribes as represented in Banares, 1872.
  37. ^ Punjab District Gazeeters
  38. ^ M.A. Sherring, Hindu Castes and Tribes as represented in Banares, 1872.
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Jwalaprasad Mishra, Jati Bhaskar, 1914.
  • M.A. Sherring, Hindu Castes and Tribes as represented in Banares, 1872.
  • Raja Vanvihari Kapur, The History of Khatris
  • The Khatris, a socio-historical study, Baij Nath Puri, M.N. Publishers, 1988.
  • Bhai Gurdas Ji, Varan Bhai Gurdas Ji, Vaar 8 - Pauri 10.
  • The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and Its Trade, 1550-1900 by Scott Cameron Levi.
  • Denzil Ibbetson, Edward MacLagan, H.A. Rose "A Glossary of The Tribes & Casts of The Punjab & North-West Frontier Province", 1911 AD, Page 501-526, Vol II,
  • Ibid, Page 537-538, Vol II.
  • Temple, R.C. "The Legends of The Panjab", 1884, Reprinted by Institute of Folk Heritage, Islamabd, 1981.
  • Khatris are Kshatri
  • Mahan Kosh by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha
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