..In the age of the Śilāhāras Hindu society was divided theoretically into four castes, viz.
Brāhmana, Kshatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra, but in reality these had been subdivided into
innumerable sub-castes. In the caste system the Brāhmaṇa had an honoured place. He was
expected to lead a pious and restrained life, and to devote himself to learning and the performance of religious rites. His six duties laid down in the Smṛitis were to study the sacred texts and to
teach them to the higher castes, to perform religious rites for himself and others, and to
make gifts to and to receive them from others. A Brāhmaṇa’s life from morning to night was
strictly regulated. He was not to accumulate wealth, but was to content himself with provisions
sufficient for from one to twelve days. Nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, morality,
restraint of sense, charity, self-control, compassion and forgiveness were the virtues preached
in the Smṛitis for all members of the society, but expected especially of the Brāhmaṇas. The
ideal set before them was, indeed, a high one. It is no wonder that those who attained it
received high honour in society.
In selecting recipients for their grants the Śilāhāras took care to see that they were renowned for learning as well as for pious life. As Yājñavalkya says, one does not become worthy
for receiving a gift by mere learning or by mere austere life. He alone is a worthy recipient for
a gift who has both these and also character. Several recipients of gifts are described as Mahā-
Brāhmaṇas or even Parama-Brāhmaṇas (learned Brāhmaṇas), some of them being called
Kramavids (those who had mastered the krama-pāṭha of the Vēdas), Dvivēdins or Chaturvēdins.
They are described as always engaged in the six duties laid down for Brāhmaṇas and as proficient in the performance of religious rites. The names of such Brāhmaṇas are mentioned in
the honorific plural in some records to show them due reverence. They were invited from faroff places like Muñja-sthāna in Central India and Vārāṇasī in North India. Rudra-bhaṭṭōpādhyaya, the donee of the Panhāḷe plates, for instance, is described as Sōmayājī (who had
performed a Sōma sacrifice) and had realised Brahman. He was proficient in two Vēdas and
had sanctified himself by the darśana of and bathing in the sacred river Gaṅgā. In later
records such details about the donees are conspicuous by their absence.
It would be interesting to see how the Brāhmaṇas of the different Vēdic Śākhās were
geographically distributed. Among the donees of the Śilāhāra grants, the Ṛigvēdins preponderate. Most of them hailed from Karahāta (modern Karhāḍ in the Sātārā District).
some had already settled down in North Koṅkaṇ. Even now these Brāhmaṇas are found in
large numbers in that part of the country. In some later records of the Kolhapur District,
See न विद्यया केवलया तपसा वाऽपि पात्नता। यत्न वृत्तमिमे चोभे तद्धि पात्नं प्रकोर्तितम्॥Yājñnavalkya, I, 200.
No. 9, line 38 ; No. 10, line 27; No.13, line 60.
No. 23, line 67.
No. 6, lines 72-73 ; No. 48, line 40.
No. 23, line 69.
No. 48, line 39.
No. 9, lines 37-38.
No. 48, lines 39-41. It is noteworthy that some other Brāhmaṇa donees mentioned in the same grant
who were not so learned are referred to in the singular.
No. 15, line 62, Muñjasthāna may be identical Muñjapur, south of Rādhanpur in Gujarāt.
No. 23, line 67.
No. 14, lines 61, 104, 118 etc.
No. 14, line 61.