Description of Major Muslim Communities in India: Muslim Bhumihar / Kamsar Pathan

In this post, I look another major Indian Muslim community, found mainly in eastern Uttar Pradesh and parts of north western Bihar. There preferred self-designation now is Kamsari Pathan, although history they were known as Muslim Babhan, or Muslim Bhumihar. The Kamsari are a community of rural Muslims, who are descended from the Hindu Bhumihar community.

To start off with, I will briefly discuss the origin of the Bhumihar community, from whom the Kamsar trace their descent. The Bhumihars claim Brahmin status, and are also referred to as Bhumihar Brahmin. In Bihar, they are also known as Babhan and they have also been called Bhuinhar. The word Bhumihar is itself of relatively recent origin, first used in the records of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in 1865. It derives from the word bhoomi (“land”), referring to the caste’s landowner status. The term Bhumihar Brahmin was adopted by the community in the late-19th century to emphasize their claim of belonging to the priestly Brahmin class. The alternate name “Babhan” has been described as a distorted colloquial term for “Brahmin. As with many castes in India, there are numerous myths regarding the origins of the Bhumihar community. One legend claims that their ancestors were Brahmins who were set up to take the place of the Kshatriyas slain by Parashurama but some non-Bhumihars have implied that they are the mixed-race offspring of Brahmin men and Kshatriya women. Other legends state that they are the offspring of a union between Rajput men and Brahmin women, or that they derive from Brahman-Buddhists who lost their high position in Hindu society.

With regards to Ghazipur District, the terms Bhumihar and Rajput are somewhat elastic, since the line of demarcation between these two communities is often extremely vague, both claiming a common origin in several instances, such as the case of the Kamsar Pathans. The Kamsar Pathans, who are found mainly in the Ghazipur District of eastern Uttar Pradesh. According to tribal traditions, they ancestor was a Kam Deo, a Sikarwar Rajput who came from the region of Agra. According to tribal traditions, Kam Deo served in force led by his brother Dham Deo, a leader of four thousand troops and fought alongside Rana Sanga of Mewar, who led a large Rajput alliance against the Mughal Emperor in the battle of Khanwa, a place near Agra in 1527. The Mughals were victorious and the Rajput army was scattered. Dham Deo and his elder brother Kam Deo came down to Ghazipur with their families and followers. The refuges are said to have settled in a territory between Karmnasha and Ganges in what is now Ghazipur district, Dham Deo and his followers settled in Gahmar, while Kam Deo settled in Zamania. Kam Deo’s descendants intermarried with other settled Bhumihars in the region, and founded the clan of Kinwar Bhumihars.
Subsequent to their arrival, both brothers and their followers entered into the service of Tikam Deo, the Cheru tribal chieftain of Birpur and eventually overthrew him, seizing his capital and occupying his estate At the time of the arrival of the refugees, the Cheru were said to be the rulers of most of Ghazipur. After a couple of generation, the community split into three main branches; after the founders Rajdhar Rai, Mukund Rai, and Pithaur Rai. Rajdhar Rai captured Birpur and one of his subdivisions settled in the Bara taluka of Zamania, and converted to Islam. There is however some dispute as to when the conversion to Islam. According to some traditions, the conversion occurred during the period of Lodhi rule over Ghazipur district, while others traditions point to a much later date during the rule of Sher Shah Suri. The first to convert to Islam was a Narhar Dev, later called Narhar Khan after his accepting of Islam.

The Kamsari are now mainly a community of peasant cultivators, but historically were in possession of most of the Bara of Ghazipur District. They speak Bhojpuri, although most also understand Urdu. The Kamsar now occupy a compact territory near the town of Bara, between the Ganges river and the Bihar state border. The most important settlement in Kamsar region of Dildarnagar Kamsar. Each of their settlement contains an informal caste council known as a panchayat, which enforces communal norms as well as resolving intra-community disputes. This region is also known as Kamsar-O-Bar, and the following villages Usia, Rakasaha, Tajpur Kurrah, Gorasara, Mania, Khajuri, Kusi, Bhaksi, Jaburna, Dewaitha, Fufuao, Bahuara, Saraila, Chitarkoni, Akhini come in the Bar sub region. Other then the Kamsar, there are several lineages of Muslim Bhumihar found in Munger and Muzaffarpur of Bihar, where they are called as Diwani Pathan.