Definitions

bhat_(tribe)

Bhat (tribe)

Bhat or Butt (Urdu: بھٹ) are people of Kashmiri Pandit origin, living predominantly in Kashmir and upper Punjab in Pakistan.

Origins

Butts were at one time Hindu Brahmins, which traditionally refers to people within the priestly caste of the Hindu caste system. The Sanskrit word denotes the poet, scholar, teacher, priest, caste, class or tribe, that Hindu tradition enjoins to live a life of learning, teaching and non-possessiveness. The name Butt is a distorted form of the word Bhat which originates from Sanskrit (भट) meaning "scholar".

Pre-Islamic History

Butts trace their origins back to Kashmiri Pandits (Hindi: कश्मीरी पण्डित) which refers to a person who belongs to a sect of Hindu Pandits who originated from the Kashmir region. They have the earliest recorded history in Kashmir and have also been mentioned in the Mahabharata. Butts were also said to be followers of Buddhism at various points in time related culturally to the great Gandhar and as a result there culture shows various influences from ancient Vedic, Greek and Kushan cultures. They have contributed greatly to Indian culture through excellence in Sanskrit, mathematics and science. Panini and Chanakya were of the Bhat tribe, ancestors of today's Butts. According to many Hindus, the scholarly work of Butts were "destroyed" during the advent of Islam in Kashmir and many Kashmiri Pandits were "forced to convert", although this claim has refused by many Muslims and Butts alike. In the late 13th century during the reign of Emperor Alamgir, many converted to Islam. Today, the majority of Butts are Muslim, although some still practice Hinduism.

Conversion to Islam

Kashmir has traditionally been the seat of both Hindu (Shaivism) and Buddhist (Sharda-Peetham) teachings, until the advent of Islam in the late 13th century where Islam became the dominant religion. There have been many disputes between Muslim and Hindu historians as to how Islam became the dominant religion. The quick conversion of the Kashmiris from Hindu/Buddhist faiths to Islam indicates that it could have been forceful in nature, however, disputed by some of the modern day Muslim historians. In late 13th century during the reign of Emperor Alamgir many Butts converted to Islam. Today, the majority of Butts are Muslim, although some still practice Hinduism. Money and land may have been another reason for the mass conversions. Similarly disincentives like Jaziya could also have forced many to take up the faith of the ruling class. Some may have converted voluntarily to Islam being impressed with the tenants of Islam.

Migration

Many Butts settled in upper Punjab are ancestors of Kashmiri immigrants who fled Kashmir after several years of severe drought in early 1800s. However, a vast majority were forced out of Kashmir into upper Punjab during the reign of Hira Singh Dogra and during the reign of Hari Singh. By 1931, Muslim agitation started against Hari Singh because his policies and reforms directly pinched Muslims. The Maharaja intended to exploit the Kashmir issue and was not willing for the state to accede unconditionally to either India or Pakistan. The situation deteriorated in October, 1947 when in Jammu Hindu and Sikh militants slaughtered thousands of Muslims. Almost the entire Muslim population of 500,000 was eliminated. 200,000 were murdered and the rest fled to Pakistan.

Family Structure

Like other Kashmiri families, the social structure is based on the extended family. However the wider kinship network of biraderi and how it impacts on relations and mobilization is equally important. The extended family is of fundamental importance as a unit of decision making and with respect to the relations of its members with wider society. The institution of biraderi – which means brotherhood in a relatively loose sense – provides a useful collective framework for promoting mutual well-being. This is achieved through help and co-operation in social, economic and political spheres and it reinforces a sense of belonging and collective self-assurance. The Mir family are a sub caste of Butts and are predominantly found in Kotli and Khuiratta, Azad Kashmir who fled the Kashmir Valley during the 1800 drought.

Geographical Distribution

Butts are originally from the Kashmir Valley currently located in Indian occupied Kashmir and are still found in the throughout the region including Azad Kashmir as well as upper Punjab. Today Butts are found primarily in upper Punjab and settled in Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Gujrat, Wazirabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Lahore. A large number of them are also found in Azad Kashmir.

Notable People

See also

References

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