In the annals of history, tales of courage and devotion often stand as testaments to the human spirit. One such tale weaves through the lineage of Mohyal Brahmins, specifically the Dutt clan, who, as per Mohyal oral history, exhibited unwavering allegiance during the Battle of Karbala in 680 C.E. This lesser-known narrative centers around Rahab Sidh Dutt, also known as Rahib Sidh or Sidh Viyog Datt in certain accounts, a Mohyal Brahmin leader hailing from the Dutt lineage, who fought alongside Imam al-Husayn and made an indelible sacrifice.
According to this narrative, Rahab Sidh Dutt was at the forefront of a small band of career-soldiers situated near Baghdad during the tumultuous time of the Battle of Karbala. The legend places him in a location referred to as Dair-al-Hindiya, signifying “The Indian Quarter,” which resonates with a present-day Al-Hindiya. In a remarkable display of loyalty, Rahab Sidh Dutt and his sons joined the ranks of Imam al-Husayn’s forces, exemplifying a commitment that would resonate through generations.
The Hussaini Brahmin community, an offshoot of the Mohyal Brahmin group, traces its lineage to this narrative. Within this community, seven sub-clans – Bali, Bhimwal, Chhibber, Datt, Lau, Mohan, and Vaid – are woven together by a shared heritage and a tradition that echoes Rahab Sidh Dutt’s valor.
Despite their Hindu heritage, some members of the Mohyal community embraced non-Indic traditions. This distinctive characteristic led a subset of the Mohyal community to hold reverence for Islam, particularly for the third Imam, Hussain.
The legacy of Hussaini Brahmins can be traced to regions spanning India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. While a few families remain in parts of Iraq, the heart of this lineage beats in Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab, and Jammu in India; Sindh, Chakwal, and Lahore in Pakistan; and Kabul and South Afghanistan. A significant number of them uphold the observance of Muharram each year.
This legacy also extends to certain Bhumihar Brahmins in Bihar’s Muzzafarpur district, who claim ancestral ties to Hussaini Brahmins and actively participate in the annual Muharram observance.
The story of Rahab Singh Dutt’s journey to join Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) in the battle against the oppressive rule of caliph Yazeed is one of both tragedy and triumph. Despite knowing the battle’s one-sided nature, Dutt and his sons stood resolutely by Hussain’s side, driven by the pursuit of righteousness and justice.
Though the battle of Karbala ended in defeat, the legacy of Rahab Sidh Dutt and his descendants, the Hussaini Brahmins, stands as a testament to the enduring power of loyalty, sacrifice, and the indomitable human spirit. Their narrative, often overlooked, is a reminder that history is woven with threads of diverse tales, each offering lessons that transcend time.
Amidst the rich tapestry of cultures, an intriguing chapter unfolds in the legacy of the Hussaini Brahmins community, a unique blend of Saraswat Hindus who have embraced the rituals and traditions of the Shia sect of Muslims during the sacred month of Muharram.
Respecting the customs of the Shia Muslim community, Hussaini Brahmins actively partake in the poignant practices observed during Muharram. They pay their respects within the ‘Azakhan’, the sanctified space where Muharram azadari, or mourning ceremonies, are conducted. The community’s members display a profound familiarity with the recitation of Marsiya, Nauha, and Salaam – elegies that mourn the valiant martyrs of the Battle of Karbala.
These unique practices are rooted in the Hussaini Brahmins’ dedication to Imam Hussain, a belief handed down through generations. Born into Saraswat Hindu families, they inherit this tradition from their forebears, carrying the flame of reverence for Imam Hussain within their hearts.
The commemorative days of Muharram see the Hussaini Brahmins attending Majlis, solemn gatherings where they collectively remember the sacrifices made during the Battle of Karbala. With poignant eloquence, they recite elegies that serve as poetic expressions of mourning and tribute to the heroic martyrs.
Through their participation in these rituals, the Hussaini Brahmins weave a remarkable thread that binds diverse faiths and cultural practices. Their embracing of Shia traditions during Muharram underscores the intricate interplay of belief, heritage, and the universal human emotions that transcend religious boundaries. As they gather in the Azakhan and recite elegies, the Hussaini Brahmins epitomize the power of unity in diversity, paying homage to a shared heritage that resonates across centuries and continents.
Muḥarram, the initial month of the Islamic calendar, holds a distinguished position as one of the four sacred months when armed conflict is prohibited, ranking second only to Ramadan in holiness. Notably, the tenth day of Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura, carries profound significance for Muslims across both Shia and Sunni jurisprudences. On this solemn day, Shia Muslims commemorate the tragedy of Hazrat Imam Ḥussain ibn Alī (AS) and his family, mourning their sacrifices. For both Sunni and Shia communities, the suffering and martyrdom of Husayn have come to symbolize the unwavering pursuit of justice and truth against tyranny and falsehood. In observance, Shias refrain from joyful occasions, instead engaging in commemorative events marked by prayers, supplications, and acts of charity. While not a fast, some may choose to eat sparingly, and certain individuals abstain from food and drink until afternoon as a gesture of solidarity and remembrance. The poignant Ziyarat Ashura, a significant ziyarat book, is often read, especially within Shiʿism, on this day. Sunni participation involves lectures, processions, and acts of benevolence towards the less fortunate.
Some prominent personalities of the Hussaini Brahmin community are; actor Sunil Dutt, Urdu writers Kashmiri Lal Zakir, Sabir Dutt, and Nand Kishore Vikram.
The Husseini Brahmin Community website https://hussainibrahmin.tumblr.com/