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BEDI

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BEDI, a subcaste of the Khatris, Prakritized form of the Sanskrit kstriya which is one of the four caste groups into which the Hindu society is divided. The Khatris are mainly Hindus though there is among them a Sikh element which is small in number but important historically.There are no Muhammadans in the caste because a Khatri after conversion into Islam ceases to be a Khatri and becomes a Khoja. The Khatris are further divided into four subgroups Bahri, Khukhrain, Bunjahi and Sarin. Bahris have twelve castes, Khukhrain eight, Bunjahi fiftytwo and Sarins twenty.

In Sikhism, the Bedi caste became preeminent because of the birth into it of Guru Nanak, founder of the faith.Although the caste acquired sacred character which is enjoyed not only by the descendants of Guru Nanak but by all those born into this caste group, yet this inherited sanctity has not altered the social status of the people within the caste.A legend narrated in Bachitra Natak by Guru Gobind Singh refers to the Pauranic division of the Ksatriyas into three branchesSolar, Lunar and Agnikula (Fire race). According to this tradition, the Bedis belong to the Solar race and are descendants of Kusa, the twin brother of Lava and son of Lord Rama. Owing to a misunderstanding, the descendants of Kusa and Lava fought amongst themselves.

In this fight, the descendants of Kusa were defeated and they rehabilitated themselves at Kashi (Varanasi) where they studied the Vedas and thus came to be called Vedis: in Punjabi V often turns phonetically into a `b*. Vedis became Bedis.Bedis are mostly concentrated in Dera Baba Nanak, in Gurdaspur district, in the Punjab.Among Sikhs, the Bedi lineage continued after Guru Nanak through his younger son Baba Lakhmi Das. Lakhmi Das`s son Dharam Das settled down at Dera Baba Nanak. Two other important centres of Bedis in the Punjab were at Una, Hoshiarpur district, and Kallar, Rawalpindi district.

Two of the charismatic personalities of later period in the line were Sahib Singh Bedi (1756-1834), a contemporary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Baba Sir Khem Singh Bedi (1832-1905), one of the founders of the Singh Sabha movement in the seventies of the twentieth century.

References:

1. Rose, H.A., A G/ossary of the Castes and Tribes of the Punjab and North-West Province. Patiala, 1970
2. Nara, Ishar Singh, RajaJogi arthatJivan Itihas Sri Baba Sahib Singh ji Bedi. Delhi, n.d.
3. Sobha Ram, Bhai, Gur-bilas Baba Sahib Singh Bedi. Patiala, 1988

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