The term ‘Vaishya’ is very comprehensive and covers several business communities such as the Agrawal, Maheshwari, Khandelwal, Oswal, Jaiswal, Poswal, Dasse and Mahajan. Of these, the Agrawal is by far the largest community. Hisar became a major center of the Agrawal community.
Etymology of Agrawal Community
The name Agrawal or Agarwal is derived from the Agragan state said to be founded by Maharaja Agrasen some 5000 years ago. The word ‘Agrawal’ literally means the "children of Agrasen" or the "people of Agroha", a city in ancient Kuru Panchala, near Hisar in Haryana region said to be founded by Agrasen.
History of Agrawal Community
In ancient times, Agragan was one of the numerous states or janapadas which were like the city states of Greece. The Mahabharata and the Buddhist and the Jain literature are the chief sources of information about them. The state comprised Fatehpur, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Nawalgarh, portions of Rajasthan in the west, Mahendragarh and the Hisar districts of Haryana in the south, some areas of Punjab in the north and the territory as far as Agra in the east. Agroha, which is now in ruins and forms part of the Hissar district of Haryana, was its capital.
The texts and legends of the Agrawal community trace the origin of Agrawals to the legendary King Agrasena of the Solar Dynasty who adopted Vanika dharma. Maharaja Agrasen is said to have lived up to the age of 193 and ruled for more than a hundred years. With the foreign invasions in India began the downfall and disintegration of the state. Agroha was devastated during Muhammad Shahabuddin Ghori's invasion in 1194 and it resulted in the flight of the Agrawals and their dispersal in the neighbouring areas of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Society and Religion of Agrawal Community
Most Agrawals follow Hinduism, although some are Jains. Agrasen attached great importance to family life and instituted 18 gotras and restricted people of the same gotra from inter-marrying, a custom which prevails even today. These gotras were derived from 18 leading families of Agrohas.
Profession of Agrawal Community
By and large being businessmen and traders, the Agrawals enjoy a fair share of representation in several other professions as well. If the community has produced numerous renowned businessmen and industrialists like the Dalmias, Modis, Singhanias, Srirams and Bajajs, it has also produced a number of distinguished jurists, educationists, scientists, engineers, politicians, doctors, philosophers, poets and scholars.