The Maratha clan system (also referred to as Shahannava Kuli Marathas, 96 Kuli Marathas or 96K), refers to the network of 96 clans of families and essentially their surnames. The clans together form the Maratha caste of India. These Marathas primarily reside in the Indian state of Maharashtra, with smaller regional populations in other states.
The 96 clans that the Maratha caste is divided into were originally formed in the earlier centuries from the amalgamation of families from the peasant (Kunbi), shepherd (Dhangar), pastoral (Gavli), blacksmith (Lohar), carpenter (Sutar), Bhandari, Thakar castes in Maharashtra. The 96 kul(clans) and genealogies were fabricated after they gained political prominence. These clans were flexible enough that most of the Kunbi population got absorbed into these clans even in the 20th century.
Thus, due to the mainly peasant origin, the claim of the 96 clans to the Kshatriya ritual status in the Hindu Varna hierarchy is considered bogus. Jaffrelot calls such claims as attempts of "Kshatriyatisation", which he considers similar to Sanskritisation.
Kinship, Dieties and Totems Edit
In Maratha society, membership of a Kul or clan is acquired in a patrilineal manner. People belonging to a clan usually have a common surname, a common clan deity, and a common clan totem (Devak).  Various lists have been compiled, purporting to list the 96 "true Maratha" clans, but these lists vary greatly and are disputed. The list of ninety-six clans is divided into five ranked tiers, the highest of which contains the five primary Maratha clans.
Within a clan, ranking also depends on whether a man is progeny of proper marriage or a product of hypergamy. High ranking Maratha clans also historically held rights to hereditary estate or Watan.This included land grants, tax collection rights (revenue Patilki or policing (Police Patilki) of a village. Higher ranking clans held rights to larger estates or Jagirs. Clans with watan usually hold written genealogical records stretching back several generations.
See also Edit
- "Maratha (people)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2009.
- Stewart Gordon (16 September 1993). The Marathas 1600-1818. Cambridge University Press. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-0-521-26883-7.
Looking backward from ample material on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we know that Maratha as a category of caste represents the amalgamation of families from several castes - Kunbi, Lohar, Sutar, Bhandari, Thakar, and even Dhangars (shepherds) – which existed in the seventeenth century and, indeed, exist as castes in Maharashtra today. What differentiated, for example, "Maratha" from "Kunbi"? It was precisely the martial tradition, of which they were proud, and the rights (watans and inams) they gained from military service. It was these rights which differentiated them from the ordinary cultivator, ironworkers and tailors, especially at the local level
- Abraham Eraly (2000). Emperors of the Peacock Throne: The Saga of the Great Mughals. Penguin Books India. p. 435. ISBN 978-0-14-100143-2.
The early history of the marathas is obscure, but they were predominantly of the sudra(peasant) class, though later, after they gained a political role in the Deccan, they claimed to be Kshatriyas(warriors) and dressed themselves up with pedigrees of appropriate grandeur, with the Bhosles specifically claiming descent from the Sidodia's of Mewar. The fact however is that the marathas were not even a distinct caste, but essentially a status group, made up of individual families from different Maharashtrian castes..
- John Keay (12 April 2011). India: A History. Open Road + Grove/Atlantic. p. 565. ISBN 978-0-8021-9550-0.
marathas not being accounted as of kshatriya status, a bogus genealogy had to be fabricated
- Christophe Jaffrelot (2006). Dr Ambedkar and Untouchability: Analysing and Fighting Caste. Permanent Black. p. 39. ISBN 978-81-7824-156-2.
His theory, which is based on scant historical evidence , doubtless echoed this episode in Maharashtra's history,whereas in fact Shivaji, a Maratha-Kunbi, was a Shudra. Nevertheless, he had won power and so expected the Brahmins to confirm his new status by writing for him an adequate genealogy. This process recalls that of Sanskritisation, but sociologists refer to such emulation of Kshatriyas by Shudras as ' Kshatriyaisation ' and describe it as a variant of Sanskritisation.
- M. S. A. Rao (1989). Dominance and State Power in Modern India: Decline of a Social Order. Oxford University Press. p. XVI. ISBN 978-0-19-562098-6.
An indication that the Shudra varna of elite marathas remained unchanged was the maratha practice of hypergamy which permitted inter-marriage with rising peasant kunbi lineages, and created a hierarchy of maratha kuls, whose boundaries were flexible enough to incorporate, by the twentieth century, most of the kunbi population.
- John Vincent Ferreira (1965). Totemism in India. Oxford University Press. pp. 191, 202.
Together with the Marathas, the Maratha Kunbi belonged originally, says Enthoven, to the same caste; and both their exogamous kuls and exogamous devaks are identical with those of the Marathas. Enthoven opines that the totemic nature of their devak system suggests that they are largely of a non-Aryan origin. ... The Kunbi cultivators are also Marathas but of a somewhat inferior social standing. The Maratha claim to belong to the ancient 96 Kshatriya families has no foundation in fact and may have been adopted after the Marathas became with Shivaji a power to be reckoned with.
- Carter, A. T. (1973). "A Comparative Analysis of Systems of Kinship and Marriage in South Asia". Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 1973 (1973): 29–54. doi:10.2307/3031719. JSTOR 3031719. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
- Kathleen Kuiper, ed. (2010). The Culture of India. Rosen. p. 34. ISBN 9781615301492.
- Rosalind O'Hanlon (2002). Caste, Conflict and Ideology: Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 17–. ISBN 9780521523080. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- Louis Dumont (1980). Homo hierarchicus: the caste system and its implications. University of Chicago Press. p. 121. ISBN 9780226169637. Retrieved 13 May 2011.