Khanzada Caste: The Bisen

In this I will look at a community of Khanzadeh found in historic Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh. I will ask the reader to look at my article on the Ahbans which gives a historic background to the very interesting Khanzadeh.

The Bisen Khanzadeh are the Muslim branch of the Bisen Thakur caste. According to tribal traditions of the Bisen Thakurs, there ancestor was an individual by the name of Mayura Bhatta. He was said to have been a descendant of Jamadagni Rishi of the race of Bhrigu. According to Hindu legends, Jamadagni (or Jamdagni, Sanskrit: जमदग्नि) is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, current Manvantara. He is the father of Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu.

Tribal legends are vague as to the origin of Mayura Bhatta. Some say he came from Hastinapur and was the son of one Ashwathama; others that he was an emigrant from Maharashtra, He read Sanskrit for a while at Benares, and became a proficient in astrology. Quitting that city at last under a divine impulse he settled at Kakradih, a village located near Sikandarpur, of Azamgarh. The whole of that Pargana came gradually under his authority. His domestic arrangements illustrate a period when the bonds of caste, ae we know them, were unknown. He is said to have had three wives,- firsts a Brahman’ named Nagseni ; the second Surajprabha, a Surajbansi Rajput ;’ the third Heakumari, a Gautam Bhumihar. By his wife Surajprabha he had a son, Biswa or Bisen Sen, who was the ancestor of the Bisen Thakurs. Like most Awadh Thakurs, they have traditions that land was under the control of the Bhars, whom he expelled, and established Bisen control over what is now Barabanki and Faizabad regions of Awadh. After Biswa Sen established his kingdom, he went on a pilgrimage to the Himalaya, where he died. He was said to be followed by 79 kings who all bore the surname Sen. The two important Bisen Thakur states were that of Majhauli (currently in Deoria District of Uttar Pradesh) and Deorhi.

The history of the Bisen Khanzada starts with the taluqdar families of Usamanpur. I would once again ask the read to look at my article on the Ahbans, which gives some background as to the status of status of Taluqdars. The base of the family is the village of Usmanpur, located in the historic Sidhaur pargana, about a mile from the road that connects Bara Banki to Haidargarh. This Usmanpur estate was founded by one Koushal Singh (also known as Raja Khushhal Singh), who obtained an estate as a reward for military service against the Bhar tribe in the region under the Tughlaq Sultan in the 13th Century. Raja Koushal Singh was the younger brother of Bisen Raja of Manjhouli. The Rajah is said to have lacked an heir, and on a tour of his estate came across a Sufi by the name of Syed Ashraf Jahangir Samnani (his Shrine is located in Kichoucha Sharif, in Ambedkar Nagar District of UP.), who blessed him and told that you will have two sons but you have to give me the eldest of them. In this way Raja blessed with two sons Lakhan Singh and Bhikhan Singh. Keeping his promise Raja Koushal Singh gave his eldest son Lakhu Singh to the Syed, who converted him to Islam and gave him the name Lakhu Khan. Almost all the Bisen Khanzada trace their descent to Lakhu Khan. On his death, Raja Koushal Singh divided his kingdom into two equal parts and divided among his two sons.

An estate was confered upon Rajah Lakhu Khan by the Mughal Emperor Humayun (26 December 1530 to 17 May 1540 and 22 February 1555 to 27 January 1556). Raja Lakhu Khan then divided his estate into three Taluqas among his three sons, Lakhupur, Kothi and Usmanpur. Kothi going to Thakur Haibat Khan, Usmanpur to Thakur Ahmad Khan and Lakhupur to Thakur Dawood Khan.

The Usmanpur estates consisted of three villages located in three Mahals in Sidhaur and one mahal in Satrikh. The Rajahs of Usmanpur were considered the chiefs of the all the Bisen Khanzada. In addition to the Rajah of Usmanpur, prominent Bisen families are also found in Balrampur District, where the zamindars of Mahua and Burhapara were substantial landowners. Indeed the single largests number of Bisen Khanzada are found in that district, which was historically part of British Gonda.

The Bisen are found in the districts of Basti, Azamgarh, Sitapur, Faizabad, Barabanki, Sultanpur and Balrampur. They are generally Sunni, and speak Awadhi and Urdu.

Bisen Khanzada Population According to the 1901 Census of India

District Population
Gonda 2,463
Basti 2,084
Faizabad 1,765
Sitapur 1,292
Gorakphur 1,153
Bahraich 666
Barabanki 408
Azamgarh 346
Sultanpur 312
Rae Bareli 159
Unao 130
Other Districts 92
Total Population 10,870

 

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