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'Nehru and the Nehru family did not belong to Kashmir, but belonged to Maharashtra'
Was Nehru descended from Maharastrian Brahmins? A few months ago a retired professor who used to teach in the Shia College in Lucknow passed away, but before Pandit B N Sharga died, he stirred up a controversy by making a statement and giving an interview to a newspaper that Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were Maharastrian Brahmins.

He also claimed that these families had settled down in Kashmir following a major slaughter of Kashmiri Pandits during the time of Aurangzeb that took place much before the publicized exodus of January 1990.

In an interview with a local fortnightly newspaper Lucknow Talk, Sharga who was supposed to be some sort of expert on Kashmiri Pandits and has left behind several books claimed that Nehru and the Nehru family did not belong to Kashmir, but belonged to Maharashtra. 

Nehru had a very close connection with Lucknow and it was at the Lucknow Railway station that he had first met Mahatma Gandhi. The spot has now been turned into a memorial. 

Several Kashmiri Pandit families lived and settled down in Uttar Pradesh in the towns of Allahabad and Lucknow, which were the happy hunting grounds of the Nehru family till the 1970s. Rajiv Gandhi as child lived in Lucknow and Indira Gandhi had a house near Hazratganj in the La Place colony where former Congress MP from Unnao, Annu Tandon lived a few years ago near the Park Inn Hotel.

Among those close to Nehru were the Chakbast family of the famous poet who now live near China Bazaar and the Bakshi family where the ninety three-year-old matriarch Swarup Kumari Bakshi still holds sway.

Dr Sharga also had a very revealing statement to make. In his book 'Sharga Puran' which traces the ancestry of Kashmiri Pandits, Dr Sharga claimed to have written this in great detail. 

Several mosques were built in Kashmir during the reign of Aurangzeb. It is at this time that he unleashed a reign of terror on his subjects who were not Muslims. During the reign of Aurangzeb it was seen that several thousands of Kashmiri Hindus were converted to Islam at the point of a sword.

In the end only 11 Brahmin families remained in the valley who took refuge in the forests to escape the wrath of the Mughal ruler. At this stage to increase their numbers the Kashmiris appealed to Marathi Brahmins for help and intermarried with several girls from the region of Maharashtra. At the same time several Marathi families were settled in Kashmir to increase the numbers of the Brahmins there claimed Sharga .

Sharga says that even from Uttarakhand region Brahmin girls were imported to Kashmir for their fair and good looks to be intermarried with the population there. It was similar to the crisis Brahmins faced in Bengal when they were divided into two groups.

The Barendra Brahmins and the Pravasi or Rad Brahmins, who came from Uttar Pradesh in Kannauj. The Bannerjis, the Chatterjis and the Mukherjees all came from this region and became fish eaters and non-vegetarians after settling down in Bengal.

In the case of Kashmir, the Joshis from Uttarakhand who settled there became part and parcel of Kashmir and later began to be known as Zutshis. He said that certain surnames can be traced to Uttarkhand like the Zutshis and the Shungloos who were originally imported from Uttarakhand.

Their descendants later adopted surnames like Zutshis, Shungloos and so on. All Kashmiri Pandits today are therefore Marathi Brahmins too. In fact Marathi Brahmins were extremely good looking and could account for the fact that some Kashmiri women are extremely good looking today, Sharga a confirmed bachelor was known to have said.

Similarly Dr Sharga claims that even the families like the Kauls, the Nehrus and the Shargas and many others all are Marathi Brahmins too.

However, Sharga has opened a new chapter in the debate regarding Kashmiri Pandits and the several exoduses of Kashmir Pandits that took place from the state. 
The rumours of girls being imported into Kashmir so that the Pandit boys could get married also bears credence since it is not possible for a Kashmiri Pandit to marry his cousin as it is looked upon as incest by the Hindu religion.

The question however remains that all the claims that Sharga made have not been borne out by any DNA testing and since the descendants of the Nehru family are still around then maybe some genetic research on them could shed light on whether Kashmiri Pandits are the descendants of Maharashtrian Pandits or not.

However history seems to favour Sharga's hypothesis. It may be recalled that the Ninth Guru of the Sikhs defied the might of the Mughal Empire and was martyred to save the Kashmiri Pandits who appealed to him for help. The Tenth Guru died fighting for their cause too. However the Kashmiri Pandits have never expressed their gratitude to the Sikhs.

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