(Last Updated on : 29/01/2011)
The Khatris are a community of the Kshatriyas who were based in the Punjab. Most of them became traders and some established small kingdoms.
The Khatri tradition of doing business has continued since then. Punjabi businessmen are mostly Khatris, such as the Mahindras of Mahindra and Mahindra; the Thapars of the Karam Chand Thapar group; the Nandas of Escorts; the Kapoors of Atlas Cycle Industries and others.
They are divided into a certain number of 'gotras', each bearing the name of the rishi patriarch concerned. Each gotra also follows a particular sutra of a particular shakha or branch of one of the 4 Vedas. Thus the Kapoors belong to the Kaushik gotra and follow the Yajur Veda, their 'shakha' being Madhivandni and their sutra Katyayana. Some other gotras are Kashyapa, Bharadwaj, Kaushaliya, Angira, and others.
The Kshatriyas of the various gotras were subdivided into the Suryabansi, Sombansi (or Chandrabansi) and Agnibansi subjects, each having further gotras.
A large number of Khatris from Punjab revere Guru Nanak. In Uttar Pradesh they have become Vaishnavas though are Saivas in Varanasi. The Arya Samaj
has attracted many to its fold. In Agra, they have declared themselves to be Radhasoamis and a few venerate the Muslim saints buried at Jaleswar, Amroha, Bahraich, Ajmer and Fatehpur Sikri.
Despite the variety of their religious leanings, they have two basic religious convictions in common: a faith in the Vedas and Vedic rites and an intense devotion for Shakti (power) who is worshipped in every Khatri family under one of her many names- Barah, Chandika, Durga, Gauri, Rohani, Parbati, Jwala, Naina Devi, Jogmaya, Bindabasini and Kali.
The Sikh gurus were all Khatris. Guru Nanak
was a Khatri of the Vedi clan. The last six gurus, including Guru Govind Singh, were Khatris of the Sodhi clan.