Introduction / History
Kehar Choudhary for City Council the placard read. Dhir posted them around the city for his father. It was a common chore for him, as many in Dhir's family were government administrators, landlords, businessmen, and military officials. High government posts and administrative positions are in their blood. For many centuries the Khatri class has been a Hindu military order who, as rulers, have been tasked with protecting Hindu Dharma. Dharma is considered to be natural moral law and includes things like caste law and religious obligations. At present the Khatris have continued to rule in the government but have also expanded into merchant occupations.
What Are Their Lives Like?
History has been cruel to many Khatri families; when Pakistan broke away from India at the time of partition, Khatris were forced to abandon ancient family lands and flee to India. Today they are scattered throughout India. They are one of India's most educated groups and are known for their wealth, influence, and charity.
Members of the Bania caste are among the wealthiest people in India and even the world. Today they are still involved with businesses and money lending. A Bania might be the proud owner of a giant business, a small one, or he might be working in a bank. He often owns the bank. Others work in government ministries or as lawyers, judges, teachers, scholars, stockbrokers or engineers.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Khatri Bania fathers teach their children business skills. From an early age children are drilled in math and detailed calculations with the end purpose of winning in money transactions. Bania parents often teach their children to "never give; always bargain and make money." This attitude can make them unpopular with other communities. Other castes often resent them because they lend much needed money at high interest rates. A pre-literate farmer might take a loan from a Bania only to find that a high percentage of his harvest will be taken away as interest. Customers often must put their farms or their gold up for collateral in case they cannot pay back their loans.
Floor painting and folk songs are a major part of the Bania's art and culture.
Nearly all Khatri Banias claim the Hindu religion, but as merchants they have chosen gods that reflect their profession. They worship the god of wealth, the god of good fortune and the god of money. The rupee (Indian currency) is sacred with the Bania, and they use old coins for religious ceremonies. Ganesh (the god who helps overcome obstacles) and Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) are among their favorites. Many are devoted to Vishnu and Shrinathji. Some are Jains, a reform movement of Hinduism.
What Are Their Needs?
Banias need a spiritual transformation that will bring them to the point where they want to follow the ways of Jesus and abandon the old ways that leave them spiritually empty.
Pray that the Khatri Banias will see that the only true wealth are the spiritual riches gained through a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pray that Christ's disciples will be called to work among them and share Christ in a culturally relevant way.
Pray for a disciple making movement to emerge among every Bania community, blessing them for eternity.
Pray for the Lord to give Khatri Bania leaders dreams and visions that will draw them to the King of kings.
Scripture Prayers for the Bania Khatri in India.
India Missions Association, Edited by Philipose Vaidyar, Copyrighted © Used with permission