(Last Updated on : 19/12/2009)
The term Charan describes a particular caste that is living in the states of Rajasthan
and Gujarat. It is said that the people belonging to Charan caste are highly sacred and revered as because of their huge literary sense, martyrdom, deep loyalty and bravery in war. Charans are also believed to be good poets as well as soldiers. There are several other surnames that are used to identify this caste and these names are - Kaviraj, Barhath and Gadhavi. Other major communities of the society including the Rajput kings consider the Charan caste as sacred and divine and women are loved and honoured as mother goddesses. As because the Charan women are adored as mother goddesses, the Charan men are considered as the 'son of goddesses'. People of this caste are highly respected and they are being trusted friends through the thick and thin of life. The status of this caste is so high in the society that it was considered as a matter of pride and prestige for the kings in the medieval era.
Charans (men or women) were always found with the Rajputs, in several places like Mewar
, and Marwar. They were also given huge grants by the kings and the landlords. A Rajputs regard for a person of Charan caste was considered as supreme and uppermost. For instance, in any procession, a Charan man would sit on an elephant and the king used to walk in the crowd. They are regarded as great warriors and at the same time, they were equally respected by the kings for their high literature taste, interest and love for poetry. 'Kaviraj' is the other term that is used to address the members of this caste. The usage of this term started because of their capability to compose poems instantly.
Literature and poems define the true identity of Charans. Charani literature is defined as a whole genre of literature. The Dingal language and Dingal literature exist mostly because of this particular caste. It is also stated that the modern Rajasthani literature actually started with Suryamal Misran's works. He was from the Charan caste. The Charani literature is sub divided into 13 genres and these are as follows -
Songs in praise of gods and goddesses (stavan)
Songs in praise of heroes, saints and patrons (birdavalo)
Descriptions of war (varanno)
Laments for dead warriors, patrons and friends (marasiya or vilap kavya)
Praise of natural beauty, seasonal beauty and festivals
Descriptions of weapons
Sayings about didactic and practical cleverness
Rebukes of wavering great kings and men who use their power for evil (upalambho)
Mockery of a standing treachery of heroism (thekadi)
Songs in praise of lions, horses, camels, and buffalo
Songs describing the anguish of people in times of famine and adversity
Some of the other popular classifications of Charani literature or Charani Sahitya include - Khyatas (chronicles), Raso (martial epics), Vartas and Vatas (stories), Doha-Chhand (verses), Veli - Veli Krishan Rukman ri. Another popular form of Charani literature is known as the charaj, which means song of mother's worship. Some other minor forms of Charani Sahitya comprise 'aaraniyu' and 'zilaniyu' that are also called as the songs of worship.
It can be said that the several genres and classifications of Charani literature aptly define the rich taste of the people belonging to Charan caste.