Agrawal: Wikis


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Hinduism · Jainism

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Agarwals[I] (Hindi: अगरवाल), also spelled Agrawals (Hindi: अग्रवाल), are a large and influential community in India. Traditionally, the Agrawals have been a trading community in northern India, though in modern times they follow other professions as well.[1]

The texts and legends of the Agrawal community trace the origin of Agarwals to the legendary Kshatriya king Agrasena of the Sun Dynasty who adopted Vanika dharma for the benefit of his people.[1][2] Literally, Agarwal means the people of Agroha, a city in ancient Kuru Panchala, near Hisar in Haryana region said to be founded by Agrasena.[3]

The majority of Agarwals belong to the Vaishnavite sect of Hinduism while the remaining 14% of them practice Jainism.[4]



The Agrawals claim descent from the legendary king Agrasena of AgreyaAgroha, near Hisar in Haryana. King Agrasen who was elder bother of Shoorsen and elder grand father of Balrama and shri Krishna of Mahabharata, desendent of King yayati of Khandavprastha. it was built after so many attacks faced from jarasandh of Magadh in mahabharat period.Agrohawas called as Agreya in its original period. King agrasen made it capital of his state while his younger bother Shursen including Balram and Shri Krishan decided to stay at Dwarka due to fear from Jarasandh King of Magadh.[5] Various legends about Agroha and Agrasena are found among the Agrawals. Noted Indian Hindi author Bharatendu Harishchandra (himself an Agrawal[6]) wrote Agarwalon ki Utpatti (The origin of Agrawals) in 1871[7], based on an account in the Mahalaksmi Vrat Katha manuscript.[8]. According to this account, Maharaja Agrasena was a Suryavanshi Kshatriya leader, born during the last stages of Dwapar Yuga. He was the eldest son of the King Ballabh of Pratapnagar. Agrasena fathered 18 children, from whom the Agrawal gotras came into being. Maharaja Agrasena was a peaceful king and did not like voilence, once while performing a yagna, the Rajguru asked Maharaja Agrasena to sacrifice a goat in order for the ceremony to be successfully completed. Agrasena did not wish to kill the innocent animal and refused to the killing of the animal. The Rajguru advised that since he was a Kshatriya king, it was his duty to perform the ritual and if he does not wish to proceed, he should give up Kshatriya caste and take up Vaishya caste (Known as Baniya in the modern days) since it was not possible to go up the ladder in the Hindu Caste system to become a Bhramin. According to another legend, the Hindu goddess Mahalakshmi urged Agrasena to give up the Kshatriya tradition, and take up the Vaishya tradition of business, for the sake of the prosperity of his people. She asked him to establish a new kingdom, and promised that she would bless his descendants with prosperity and wealth. Agrasena travelled all over India with his queen to select a place for a new kingdom, and finally established his kingdom at Agroha. According to Vachanakosha of Bulakhichand (1680 CE), Agar Rishi married a naga-kanya (nagavanshi girl) and had 18 children [9]. A similar account is given in 1885 Bombay Presidency Gazetteer, Rishi Agrasen married 17 naga-kanyas.[10].

Agrasena divided his kingdom amongst his 18 children, resulting in eighteen Agrawal gotras. Often, the number of gotras is stated to be seventeen and a half. According to one legend, Agrasena proceeded to conduct 18 mahayajnas ("Great yajnas"). When he was in the process of performing his eighteenth yajna, he was filled with compassion for the animal to be sacrificed. He put a stop to his eighteenth yajna announcing that no sacrifices will be made in his kingdom in the name of yajnas. Thus, the eighteenth yajna was not completed and Agrasena had only performed seventeen and a half yajnas. The sage Garga blessed him with seventeen and a half gotras.[11][12].

In the later part of his life, King Agrasena approved the succession of his eldest son Vibhu to the throne and took Vanaprastha ashram. According to legend, Agroha was a prosperous city and a hundred thousand traders lived in the city during its heyday. An insolvent community man as well as an immigrant wishing to settle in the city would be given a rupee and a brick by each inhabitant of the city. Thus, he would have a hundred thousand bricks to build a house for himself, and a hundred thousand rupees to start a new business. Gradually, the city of Agroha declined and was finally destroyed in a huge fire. The residents of Agroha i.e. the Agrawals moved out of Agroha and spread in other parts of India.


The Agrawal community traces it origins to Agreya Agroha, near Hisar in Haryana. King Agrasen who was elder bother of Shoorsen and elder grand father of Balrama and shri Krishna of Mahabarata, desendent of King yayati of Khandavprastha. it was built after so many attacks faced from jarasandh of Magadh in mahabharat period.The view is supported by historical evidence.

  • In Pradumna Charita of samvat 1411, the Agrawal poet Sadharu wrote "अगरवाल की मेरी जात, पुर आगरोए महि उतपात" ("My jāti is Agarwal, and I trace my roots to the city of Agroha).[13]

Agroye (Agra or Agr)wrongly assocaited with Agroha.

  • In his Padma Purana[14] of VS 1711, Muni Sabhachandra writes "अग्रोहे निकट प्रभु ठाढे जोग, करैं वन्दना सब ही लोग|| अग्रवाल श्रावक प्रतिबोध, त्रेपन क्रिया बताई सोध||", (When Lohacharya was near Agroha, he taught the 53 actions to the Agrawal shravakas).
  • In a Sanskrit inscription, the Agrawals are referred to as Agrotaka ("from Agroha"): "सं १३२९ चैत्र वुदी दशम्यां बुधवासरे अद्येह योगिनिपुरे समस्त राजावलि-समलन्कृत ग्यासदीन राज्ये अत्रस्थित अग्रोतक परम श्रावक जिनचरणकमल".[15]

Migration to Delhi

The Agrawal merchant Nattal Sahu, and the Agrawal poet Vibudh Shridhar lived during the reign of Tomara King Anangapal of Yoginipur (now Mehrauli, near Delhi).[16]. Vibudh Shridhar wrote Pasanahacariu in 1132 AD, which includes a historical account of Yoginipur (early Delhi near Mehrauli) then.

In 1354, Firuz Shah Tughluq had started the construction of a new city near Agroha, called Hisar-e-Feroza ("the fort of Firuz"). Most of the raw material for building the town was brought from Agroha.[17]. The town later came to be called Hisar. Hisar became a major center of the Agrawal community. Some Agrawals are also said to have moved to the Kotla Firoz Shah fort in Delhi, built by Firuz Shah Tughlaq.

Migration to Rajput kingdoms

सं १५१० वर्षे माघ सुदी ८ सोमे गोपाचल दुर्गे तोमर वंशान्वये राजा श्री डूंगरेन्द्र देव राज्य पवित्रमाने श्री काष्ठासंघ माथुरान्वये भट्टारक श्री गुणकीर्ति देवास्तत्पट्टे श्री मलयकीर्ति देवास्ततो भट्टारक गुणभद्रदेव पंडितवर्य रइघू तदाम्नाये अग्रोतवंशे वासिलगोत्रे सकेलहा भार्या निवारी तयोः पुत्र विजयष्ट शाह ... साधु श्री माल्हा पुत्र संघातिपति देउताय पुत्र संघातिपति करमसीह श्री चन्द्रप्रभु जिनबिंब महाकाय प्रतिष्ठापित प्रणमति ..शुभम् भवतु ..

Many Agrawals migrated to Rajasthan. They form large fraction of the merchant population of Shekhawati region. Along with Maheshwari, Khandelwal and Oswals, they form the Marwari bania community.

In the early 15th century, Agrawals flourished as a trader community, under the Tomaras of Gwalior[19]. According to several Sanskrit inscription at the Gwalior Fort in Gwalior District, several traders (Sanghavi Kamala Simha, Khela Brahmachari, Sandhadhip Namadas etc.) belonging to Agrotavansha (Agrawal clan) supported the sculptures and carving of idols at the place.[20][21]

Historian K.C. Jain comments:

Golden Age of the Jain Digambar Church in Gwalior under the Tomara rulers inspired by the Kashtha Bhattarakas and their Jaina Agrawal disciples who dominated the Court of father and son viz. Dungar Singh (1425-59)and Kirti Singh (1459-80) with the Poet-Laureate Raighu as their mouthpiece and spokesman, a centenarian author of as many as thirty books, big and small of which two dozen are reported to be extant today. Verify the advent of the Hisar-Firuza-based Jain Agrawals who functioned as the ministers and treasurers of the ruling family had turned the Rajput State of Gwalior into a Digambara Jain Centre par excellence representing the culture of the Agrawal multi-millionner shravakas as sponsored by them[19].

In 15th century, many Agrawals migrated to Amber kingdom (now Jaipur). In VS 1535, Agrawal Nenasi conducted a pratishtha ceremony at Sanganer[22]. A copy of Amarsen Chariu copied in VS 1577 at Sonipat was found at Amber, suggesting that Agrawals took sacred texts with them during this migration[23].

Migration to Eastern India

Later, during the Mughal rule, and during the British East India Company administration, some Agrawals migrated to Bihar and Calcutta, who became the major component of the Marwaris[24]. The family of Babu Shankarlal became zamindars at Arrah, which repaired temples at Masarh and built a new Jain temple in 1819 CE[25].

Agrawals under the Mughals

The Mughals were relatively liberal, and some Agrawals rose to prominent positions in this period. Sahu Todar was a supervisor of the royal mint at Agra, who had rebuilt the 514 Jain stupas at Mathura in 1573, during the rule of Akbar[26].

Sah Ranveer Singh was a royal treasurer during the rule of Akbar. He was awarded a jagir in western UP, where he established the town Saharanpur. His father as well as son and grandson had built several Jain temples[26], including the one at Kucha Sukhanand in Delhi.

In Delhi, in the walled city, many Agrawals were allocated lands on the north side of Chandni Chowk. in 1656, the Agrawals were permitted to have a temple in a tent in the Urdu Bazar, now known as Lal Mandir. Raja Harsukh Rai built the first temple with a shikhar (Naya Mandir) in Dharampura with imperial permission in 1807.

Lala Ratan Chand became the diwan of Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar (1713–1719) in 1712, and was given the title of Raja. He was associated with the Saiyid Brothers, who served as the king makers for several years, and became involved in the court intrigues. He was executed during the battle of Hasanpur by the order of the new emperor Muhammad Shah (1719–1748) in 1719. He became the founder of the Rajvanshi Agrawals[27].

Ramji Das Gurwala was a major banker who had both loaned and donated funds to Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar during the 1857 rebellion. He was later executed by the British. His family later founded Delhi Cloth Mills.

Another relocated and influential person was Lal Chand Modi who was MODY of Modikhana (In-charge of Treasury) of Muhammad Amir khan Amir of TONK, now in Rajasthan. His decendents later settled in Ajmer.

Agrawal Society in modern India

The Agarwals population was 2,718,390, according to the 1911 census of India. In 1936, Chowdhary Chhotu Ram, a minister in the Punjab Government made a law which cancelled all the debts of the villagers[28]. Many Agrawal traders were ruined and migrated to Delhi in search of a living. They settled in colonies like Kamla Nagar, Shakti Nagar and Model Basti. Their trade took place around the walled city areas of Chandni Chowk, Khari Baoli, Dariba Kalan, Nai Sarak, Naya Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar and Chowri Bazaar.

During modern times, many Agrawals were involved in the Indian Independence struggle like Lala Lajpat Rai. They also established major business houses like Dalmia - Sahu Jain, Birla, Poddar, Bajaj, Singhania, Goenkas of RPG Group, Lala Shri Ram of Delhi Cloth Mills etc. Bharatendu Harishchandra, a major literary figure, was also an Agrawal. The father of modern Lahore, Sir Ganga Ram was also an Agrawal.

Many of India's current notable businesspeople belong to the Agrawal community. These include Lakshmi Mittal of Arcelor Mittal steel, Subhash Chandra Goel of Zee TV, Sunil Mittal of Bharti Telecom, Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways, Naveen Jindal of Jindal Group, Sajjan Jindal of JSW Steel, Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Resources and Indu Jain of The Times Group.


The Agarwal community is divided into eighteen gotras, which are exogamous in nature. Sometimes, the number of gotras is stated as seventeen and a half (see the legend section)[29]

Gotra Original Gotra Lord Saint (Guru) Veda Branch Sutra
Airan/Aeron Aurva Indramal Atri/Aaurva Yajurveda Madhyadini/Madhuri Kaatyayni
Bansal Vatsya Virbhan Vishist/Vatsa Samaveda Kouthmi/Kauttham Gobhil
Bindal or Vindal Vishist Vrinddev Yavasya or Vashista Yajurveda Madhuri Kaatyayni
Dhoumya Vasudev Bhardwaj Kaatyayni Yajurveda Madhyadini or Madhuri
Dharan or Deran Dhanyas Dhavandev Bhekaar or Ghaumya Yajurveda Madhuri Kaatyayni
Garg or Gargeya Gargasya Pushpadev Gargacharya or Garg Yajurveda Madhuri Kaatyayni
Goyal, Goel Gomil Gendumal Gautam or Gobhil Yajurveda Madhuri Kaatyayni
Goyan, Goin, Goyanor or Gangal or Gol or Goenka Gautan Godhar Purohit or Gautam Yajurveda Madhyadini or Madhuri Kaatyayni
Jindal Gemino Jaitrasangh Bruhaspati or Jaimini Yajurveda Madhyadini or Madhuri Kaatyayni
Kansal Kaushik Manipal Kaushik Yajurveda Madhyadini or Madhuri Kaatyayni
Kuchhal, Kachal or Kuchchal Kashyap Karanchand Kush or Kashyap Samaveda Kosami or Kauttham Komaal
Madhukul/Mudgal Mudgal Madhavsen Aashvalayan/Mudgal Rigveda/Yajurveda Saalaya/Sakalya Aslayin
Mangal Maandav Amritsen Mudragal/Mandavya Rigveda/Yajurveda Sakalya Asusai
Mittal Maitreya Mantrapati Vishwamitra/Maitreya Yajurveda Madhyadini/Madhuri Kaatyayni
Naagil/Nangal/Nagal Naagend Narsev Kaudalya/Nagendra Samaveda Kouthmi/Kauttham Aslayin
Singhal/Singla Shandalya Sindhupati Shringi/Shandilya Samaveda Koyumi/Kauttham Gobhil
Tayal Taitireya Tarachand Saakal/Taitireya Yajurveda/Kri Madhyadini/Aausthambh Kaatyayni
Tingal/Tunghal Taandav Tambolkarna Shandilya/Tandya Yajurveda Madhyadini/Madhuri Kaatyayni


The surname Agrawal was derived by taking 'Agra' from Agrasena and 'wal' ('wal'originally being 'bal' was taken from the word Baalak meaning child). The word Agrawal effectively means Son of Agrasena. Many Agrawals have adopted their gotra name as their surname. Gupta is also a common surname adopted by several Agarwal families. In addition, many others use surnames linked with the place of their origin, for example Jhunjhunwala, Kedia, Gindodiya, Kalothia, Dokania, Lohia, Chamaria etc.[1]


According to the legend, the Agrawal community developed twenty rules of conduct. Those who followed all the twenty rules were called Bisa Agrawal, those who followed only ten rules were called Dassa Agrawals, those who followed only five were called Punja Agrawals and so on.[30] According to some sources, the dasa Agrawals are said to be the descendants of Agrawals through non-Agrawal wives.[1] .

In his book Agarwalon ki Utpatti, Bhartendu Harishchandra categorized Agrawals in four branches according to their places or inhabitation:[7][30]

  1. Marwaris
  2. Deswal
  3. Purabiye (Easterners)
  4. Pachihiye (Westerners)


The Agrawal community speaks Hindi, Marwari, Punjabi or related dialects. Many Agrawals have been notable Hindi authors like Bhartendu Harishchandra, Babu Gulabrai, Kaka Hathrasi (real name Prabhulal Garg) and in the field of Indology Professor Vasudev Sharan Agarwal (1904–1966) from Banaras Hindu University.

Some of the popular Hindi newspapers and publishing houses are run by Agrawals. These include The Times of India, Indian Express, Amar Ujala, Dainik Bhaskar, Ajj Ka Anand, Daily Jabalpur Janpaksh etc.[1]

Traditionally Agrawals are strictly vegetarian and a community not consuming alcohol, although some may have changed their life style in the modern times.


The 1911 Census of India by the British East India Company reported a total of 1,019,698 Agarwals, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in India.[31]

Distinguished Agrawals


I. ^  In Roman script, spellings include Agrawal, Agarwal, Agarwala, Aggarwal, Aggarwala and even Agrewal !

There is an ongoing debate on the question of half gotra, but according to ancient texts gotras carry the names of sages who performed yajnas. Because 17 and a half yajnas were performed by the sages hence we only have 17 and a half gotras. The eldest son named Vibhu was identified by Garg gotra.

After performing 17 yajnas the last one remained incomplete. During the 18th yajna King Agrasen put a stop to horse sacrifice. When Maharaja Agrasen saw the horse he gave up the ritual of sacrifice. The last gotra was only half a gotra because the last Yajna was not completed.

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b c d e Singh, Kumar Suresh; B. V. Bhanu (2004). People of India. Popular Prakashan (Mumbai), Anthropological Survey of India (Kolkata). p. 46. ISBN 8179911004. OCLC 58037479. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  2. ^ History of Ancient India - By J.P. Mittal
  3. ^ Speeches and Writings - Har Bilas Sarda
  4. ^ "Agarwālā." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 14 Jul. 2009
  5. ^ Another Ancient Tribe of the Panjab, by L. D. Barnett, Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London, 1940, p. 277-284
  6. ^ "Bhartendu Harish Chandra (1850-1885)". Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  7. ^ a b Bharatendu Harishchandra, Agrawalon ki Utpatti, 1871, reprinted in Hemant Sarma, Bharatendu Samgrah, Varanasi, Hindi Pracharak Samsthan, 1989.
  8. ^ The text from the manuscript is given in Satyaketu Vidyalankar, Agrwal Jati Ka Prachin Itihas, Masuri, Shri Sarasvati Sada, 1976
  9. ^ Kavivar Bulakhichand, Kasturchand Kasliwal, Jaipur, 1983
  10. ^ Bombay Presidency Gazetteer, 1885, page 262-263
  11. ^ ज्वालाप्रसाद मिश्र, जाति भास्कर, खेमराज श्रीकृष्णदास, १९१४.
  12. ^ "Agrawals". Shri Agrawal Samaj. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  13. ^ Dr. Kasturachand Kasliwal, Khandelwal Jain Samaj ka Vrihad Itihas, 1969, p. 49
  14. ^ Muni Sabhachandra aur Unaka Padmapurana, Kasturchanda Kasliwal, 1984
  15. ^ Parmananda Jain Shastri. Agrawalon ka Jain sanskriti mein yogadan. Anekanta Oct. 1966, p. 277-281
  16. ^ An Early Attestation of the Toponym hillī, by Richard J. Cohen, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1989, p. 513-519
  17. ^ The story of Hisar
  18. ^ Gopachal ke Jinamandir
  19. ^ a b Kashtha Sangha Bhattarakas of Gwalior and Agrawal Shravakas, Dr. K. C. Jain
  20. ^ "गोपाचल के जिन मन्दिर एवं प्रतिमाएँ" (in Hindi). Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  21. ^ रामजीत जैन, गोपाचल सिद्ध क्षेत्र, १९८७
  22. ^ Jain Inscriptions of Rajasthan, R.V. Somani, 1982
  23. ^ Amarasena Chariu, Dr. Kasturchand Jain Suman, 1990
  24. ^ Anne Hardgrove, Community and Public Culture: The Marwaris in Calcutta, New Delhi, Oxford University Press (2004) ISBN 0-19-566803-0
  25. ^ Report By Archaeological Survey of India, Alexander Cunningham
  26. ^ a b Jyotiprasad Jain, Pramukh Jain Etihasik Purush aur mahilayen, Bharatiya Jnanapitha, 1975
  27. ^ History of Origin of Some Clans in India, Mangal Sen Jindal, Pub. Sarup and Sons, 1992
  28. ^ Madhulika Shankar Singh. Not all about money: Aggarwals of Delhi. Daily Pioneer. October 05, 2002.
  29. ^ "Agrawal History". Agrawal Association of America. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  30. ^ a b "Evolution of Agrawal Samaj". Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  31. ^


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