Karana is a caste found predominantly in Odisha ,Bengal, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. They are generally considered high castes. They were generally appointed as Diwan or Bebarta of Royalties. They find mention in Manusmriti(Oldest Lawbook in the world) and are respresented as Vratya Ksyatriyas. They have the highest literacy caste-wise and are highly prosperous, usually are focus of jealousy due to aforementioned reasons. They represent around 5% of Odia people[1]


Late 18th century depiction by Frans Balthazar Solvyns of a scibe (munshi) which was the primary role of Karana

Late 18th century depiction by Frans Balthazar Solvyns of a scibe (munshi) which was the primary role of Karana
Religions Hinduism
Languages Odia], All Dialects of Odisha, English
Populated States Odisha
Related groups Kayasths

Origin[edit | edit source]

According to many historians, Karana was a recently formed caste. In classical Odisha ar. 600 AD, communities started crystalizing into Jatis and Varnas, hence the many communities of Odisha were divided into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras who lead the populace. It so happened that kings were sent to gurukul to learn and gain knowledge about Vedas .So, some Kshyatriyas would take up the profession of learning administrative works only, so as to help the reigning King or as to aid in their work. As they started contributing, they received landed property and wealth. North Indian Kayasth claim them to be offshoots of Chitragupta Maharaj , a Hindu Pantheon deity formed from Kaya i.e. Imagination of Bhagwan Brahma, whose descendants are called Kayasths today. The similarity in pronunciation of "Karna" subsect and "Karana" word has led to this theory by them. The Karanas worked exclusively as scribes in the duty of Kings and sometimes as Governer Generals and sometimes Jagirdars, thereby helping in their upward mobility. As the ruler of Land are claimed to be Kshyatriyas, hence the Karanas are also Kshyatriyas . In Odisha Karans are considered a well respected community. They have no connection either with Brahmans or Khandayats of Odisha.

Present Day[edit | edit source]

Despite such a minuscule number, in regards to overall Odia population, Karana caste is the most prominent and one of the most advanced communities in Odisha. Their literacy level is the highest among all communities in Odisha, and their representative power is highest when compared to their population strength. After the end of feudalism in India and Odisha, the weaker Khandayats lost lot of their political power due to seizure of land by the government. Hence, the other communities came in forefront in regards to political power and education due to the exposure to education and bias free society, especially during the mid 20th century. However, since then, as Karana were one of the most educated communities , they emerged as a single most powerful representative bloc in terms of politics and media. Post independence, the communities has produced many luminaries in Science, Art, Engineering, Politics and Film industry, and has a great impact on present Odia culture. [2]

Sher-e-Utkal Biju Pattnaik, arguably the greatest Odia person, freedom fighter, and statesmen since British Era and post independence. Former chief minister and founder of current party Biju Janata Dal

Customs[edit | edit source]

Karana generally follow the patriarchal system in regards to civic duties and follow customs and marriage rituals which are similar to Brahmin . They are also known to follow a gotra system similar to other Hindu communities. Also, marriage along the clan (sa-gotra) is generally forbidden. [3][4] They marry in the Ksyatriya-Riti, i.e. an act of winning the bride is performed during marriage.[5]

DIVISIONS[edit | edit source]

The Karanas are divided into Karanas and VaisyaKaranas. The first category is the normal Karanas, employed as Scribes and Governors. They are described in Manusmriti as Vratya Kshyatriyas( Manusmriti 10.22), which means they have lost their right of conducting Vedic customs like Yagnas on their own , but they can be open to agamic rituals and tantra sadhhanas. The second category is "considered" to be the product of Visya Father and Shudra Mother(YajnaValka Smriti). This should not be taken in literal sense but as a spiritual sense, which implies the VKs have qualities i.e Gunas of both Vaisya and Shudra. They are very hard working and have knack for finding irregularities in the otherwise smooth flow of work, both exclusive to Shudra and Vaisyas respectively. In general both divisions can't be differentiated as both are of equal standing. The only thing separates them is marriage rituals, one follows Kshyatria Riti and other follows Brahma or Prajapatya ritual, both are known to be followed by upper echelons of Hindu Society.

Titles[edit | edit source]

Titles and surname include Mohanty, Patnaik, Bohidar ,Das and many more. They consider Kayasth community of North as their counterpart and same is reciprocated by Kayasth community.

References[edit | edit source]

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