- वैश्य जातियों की सूची
- वैश्य शासक
- वैश्य कवि और साहित्यकार
- वैश्य उद्योगपति
- वैश्य शहीद एवं क्रांतिकारी
- वैश्य राजनेता
- वैश्य संत और महापुरुष
- वैश्य समाज से सम्बंधित वेब साईट
- वैश्यों के बारे में कुछ लेख
- वैश्य समाज के तीर्थ स्थान , देवता व कुलदेविया
- वैश्य संस्थान, महाविद्यालय, धर्मशालाए
- वैश्य गौरव
- वैश्य खिलाड़ी
- वैश्य इतिहास
- वैश्य गाथा
- वैश्य कलाकार
- वैश्य पत्रकार
- वैश्य पत्र एवं पत्रिकाए
- वैश्य समाचार
- वैश्य प्रशासनिक अधिकारी-मंत्री-सामंत-सेनापति
- प्रमुख वैश्य व्यक्तित्व
- वैश्य जातियों के गोत्र, कुलदेवी, देवता
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Commerce and Wealth Aren’t Enough for India’s Banias!
Would you be satisfied with being third in a contest that had only four contenders? Most people wouldn’t find that to be very satisfactory, including the 25 million Hindu Banias, also known as the Vaishyas (pronounced vi-shia). Their status is surpassed by the priestly Brahmins and the warrior castes, known as the Kshatryas. The only group beneath them, before you get to those deemed too low to even be counted in the caste system, are the Shudras, who serve as unskilled workers.
Resentful and Resented
For some Banias, making money supersedes honesty. For this reason, they are resented, especially by farmers who depend on them for cash and goods during the times when they cannot make money by selling their produce. Traditionally, Bania lenders have loaned subsistence farmers seed and grain that sustained them until they could sell their harvests. Such farmers never had the educational background to understand their agreements with Bania lenders. Consequently, they would find out after the harvest that they had committed to paying 25-50 percent interest on their loans! The farmers have no choice but to do business with such people, and they resent it. In fairness to the Bania peoples, someone must make loans to farmers or there would not be a harvest at all. And the interest rates that they charge for cash today is not as harsh as the percentage of the harvest they required in past centuries. But no one can excuse tricking illiterate farmers out of half of their hard-earned harvest with such usury.
Ironically, the Banias resent those from the higher caste groups, the Brahmins and the Kshatryas. The Banias have the wealth, which usually leads to higher social status. But such status has traditionally been denied to them. Because of their wealth, Banias are often pressured by the more powerful Brahmins to give generously to alms, charities, and the building of new Hindu temples. One of the results of this pressure has been that Banias have been among the first caste groups to support anti-Brahman Hindu reform movements. During the rise of Buddhism, which began as a Hindu reform movement, it was the Banias who supported the more egalitarian religion. Likewise, they supported Jainism, and many are still part of this Hindu offshoot.
Not only have they been involved with religious reform, but the Banias are leaders in political reform. Their best-known reformer was Mahatma Gandhi, a Bania from India’s western state of Gujarat. He strived to end the Hindu caste system. Sixty years later, the caste system still exists, though it is weaker than it was in centuries past, partly because of his efforts.
Banias in Today’s News
Banias are among the key players in India’s economy. News articles seldom mention Banias by name, but they do cover issues concerning merchants and money-lenders in India’s growing economy.
Bania merchants are heavily involved with anything having to do with food commodities. They have been involved with the coffee and tea trades. A January 13, 2011 article in BBC News points out that there may be new opportunities for Indian coffee merchants as this nation of tea-drinkers begins to switch to coffee. Starbucks, the corporation that has gained the most from the ongoing coffee craze, is starting to make agreements to buy coffee from India’s Tata Coffee Company. This might be the year that Starbucks outlets start popping up all over India’s cities. This will affect the young and moneyed among India’s privileged castes. These people have more buying power than previous generations, and they are known to spend much of their time and money at coffee houses. Starbucks will profit from it, but so will Banias who invest in this emerging market.
On the more grim side, BBC News reported in February that food inflation is expected to run high in India this year. Though this will affect Bania grain merchants, it will have an even more serious effect on the poor who can barely afford food.
With wealth comes a degree of political power. Banias, many of whom hail from India’s prosperous state of Gujarat, are trying to gain as much political power as they can. A February 11, 2011 article in the New York Times describes the state of Gujarat as an “investment magnet,” partly because of the work of the chief minister, Narendra Modi, a man who started his political career with no economic background. He has directed his state in a foreign business friendly direction, and the investments are pouring in from all over the world. The Times notes that Gujarat’s domestic product is growing at an 11 percent annual rate, which is high even by recent Indian standards. In 2009, Gujarat attracted more planned investment than any other state in India.
There is some suspicion of Mr. Modi, however, since he is a Hindu nationalist. Before entering politics with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he was a volunteer for the Rashtiya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a violent Hindu organization that has been known to persecute Christians and Muslims. Soon after Mr. Modi took office, Gujarat erupted into sectarian riots that left more than 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims. Many Indians are suspicious that he might have had a role in these riots.
As a general rule, the Banias are strong supporters of Gujarat’s Hindu nationalist BJP Party, according to a December, 2006 article in the Hindu. At the time that article was written, another political party was trying to woo the Banias at a conference where 32 Bania subgroups were represented. From what we have seen since that time, it appears that Hindu nationalists like Mr. Modi are still very powerful in Gujarat where the BJP holds most of the political power.
Let’s Pray for the Banias!
Though there is a sizable Jain minority among the Bania groups, the vast majority of the caste are Hindu. Hindus tend to be very pragmatic about their worship habits, and the Banias are no exception. They worship the gods that they believe will give them good fortune, Ganesha, and Laxmi, the gods of good fortune and wealth. For all practical purposes, money is their god, and their spiritual life revolves around acquiring it. Pray that the Banias will become dissatisfied with the pursuit of wealth, and begin to seek spiritual truth and righteousness. Pray that they will seek the love, joy, and peace of personally knowing Jesus.
Social interactions and personal relationships among the Banias revolve around extended families and caste connections. This closed community environment presents a challenge to outsiders who wish to present them with the claims of Christ and His Word. Outsiders and Jesus Himself seem Western and foreign to them. Pray that the Father will send Bania leaders dreams and visions that will lead them to the One who is Lord of all. Pray that their lack of relationship with their gods will leave them yearning for a God who wants to relate to them as a loving father relates to his children.
Like the Patriarchs in the Old Testament, the Banias have strong family bonds. Pray for the Lord to penetrate Bania families, resulting in entire clans knowing and worshiping the Risen Savior. Pray that they will reach out to others to establish strong Christ-centered fellowships.
The number of Banias who follow Christ is very small, but as they grow, they can reach many others for the Savior. Pray for boldness and tact for Bania believers that will enable them to draw others to Him.
India’s economy is becoming much more powerful throughout the world. This situation will provide more power for Bania members, who are central to the Indian economy. Pray for the Lord to use this situation for His glory.
Typically Banias will listen to a gospel presentation and pay close attention when they understand that a relationship with Jesus will enrich their lives. But without the understanding of the holiness of God or a conviction of sin, Jesus simply becomes one more spiritual tool as a means to an end. Pray for conviction of sin and righteousness that will lead to true repentance.
How To Obtain More Prayer Materials: The harvest among the Banias has not yet begun. There is a need for ongoing, sustained prayer for them. If you would like more prayer materials, Pioneers has produced a prayer guide called Vaishaya Banias of India Prayer Guide.
Also, a video produced in 2006 about the Banias is available for free download at www.crfmedia.com
- See more at: http://www.globalprayerdigest.org/index.php/issue/commerce-and-wealth-arent-enough-for-indias-banias/#sthash.UxeBnXXL.dpuf