Khas

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Originally the Khas (खस) / Khasas or Khasiyas are the mountain dwellers living in the south shadow of the Himalayan range from Kashmir to Bhutan, but mostly in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nepal, North Bengal, Sikkim and Bhutan, (especially the parts of then Greater Nepal). This Indo-European Aryan tribe is believed to have settled a vast expanse of the western, central, and eastern Himalayas as early as the 2nd millennium B.C. They are supposed to be descendants of Kashi, an ikshvaku clan which rose to prominence following the rise of Buddhism.

The Khas are typically thought to be descendants of the ancient Kamboj people who being of European origin settled in India's North-west and then a branch of them migrated towards Bengal in the 1st millennium AD. It is believed that Kashmiri Pandits also belong to this sub-clan of the Kambojas.

In Nepal, the Khas were rice-growing settlers in the Karnali-Bheri basin of far western Nepal since prehistoric or early historic times. Then perhaps 2500 years ago, Khas peoples migrated eastward, bypassing the inhospitable Kham highlands to settle in the lower valleys of the Gandaki basin suited to rice cultivation. One notable extended family settled in Gorkha, a petty principality about halfway between Pokhara and Kathmandu. Then, in the late 1700s, a king named Prithvi Narayan Shah raised an army of Chettris, Gurungs, Magars and possibly other hill tribesmen and set out to conquer and consolidate dozens of petty principalities in the Himalayan foothills. Since Gorkha had replaced the original Khas homeland as the center of political and military initiative, Khas-kura was redubbed Gorkhali, i.e. language of the Gorkhas. Now it is as called Nepali, the national language of Nepal. Khasgar mountain currently the regions of Caspian sea of Russia was the place of origin of Khas. From Khasgar they migrated to Khasi region of present China. From khasi region they miograted to Khasmir(at present Kashmir of India)another sect migrated to Mansarowar and than to Karnali Pradesh and Gandak Pradesh of Nepal. In Nepal they are still called Khas. According to the 2001 Census of Nepal, Khas constitute about 40-45 percent of national population.

The Khas are also believed to have arrived from Tajikistan and share some physical traits with the Tajik population. Indo-European traits exhibited by many Khas include fair complexion, generally tall or medium stature with a long nose,glowing facade and brown hair . Modern Tajiks also exhibit some of these hallmark traits.

In Manusmriti, Bhagavata puran,Vishnu puran and Skanda puran Khas/khasa are described together with Kiratas, Chinas,Hunas,Abhirs,Yavanas and Pulindas i.e they were given same status.

According to Professor Dor Bahadur Bishta and professor Suryamani Adhikari,Matwali Chettris in Karnali region in far west Nepal are the proto-type Khas people.They share same surnames(e.g. Bohora,Thapa,Bishta etc.),language and physical features but drink alcohol,eat chicken and do not wear sacred thread.

Main sub castes of the Khas

Chhetri (Kshatriya)

Thakuri (Rajput)

Bahun (Brahmin)

Sanyasi

Kaami

Damai

Sharki

Gandharvha

Baadi

Main Title (Surname) of Khas

Saud or Saun or Samant Rana Thapa Mitra Chand Singh Malla Bohora Shah Silwal Khanal Parajuli Bajgain Ghimire Budathoki Dhakal Bhatta Neupane Joshi Bishta Giri Uphadyaya Pandey etc.

In Nepal, there are more than 300 surnames of Khas people. Most of the surnames of Bahun and Chhetri are similar. In the past Khas were also believed to have intermarried with Magar and Gurung. So Khas (Brahmin, Kshetri) and they have some same surnames.According to Professor Suryamani Adhikari(Tribhuvan University) Khas surnames indicate either post/position/profession held(e.g.Thapa= warrior ;Karki=revenue officer etc.)or the places of their origin in Karnali region in far west Nepal(e.g. Sinja= Sijapati,Devkot= Devkota etc.).Thapas or Bhudas were warriors in the historic Khas kingdom in Karnali region i.e. they meant posts which could be held by both Khas and Magar.

Some similar titles/surname between Khas and other ethnic groups.

Baral (Bahun,Chettri/Kshatryia and Magar)

Lamichhane (Bahun, Kshatriya and Gurung)

Budha (Magar and Kshatriya)

Thapa (Magar and Kshatriya)

Rana (Magar and Kshatriya)

Adhikari (Kshatriya and Bahun)


--- DinehChhetri

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