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The Origin of Amils




Sindhi Hindus, who migrated to India immediately following partition of India in 1947 are generally regarded by others as a trading community. By and large most of Sindhi business people have been successful.

However within this species exists a tiny group which oddly is not as adept or skilled as traders like others but instead excel in the art of education and are culturally different. This group forms a distinct community by itself named Khudabadi or Hyderabadi Amils.

The origin of Amils as a Community is not authentically well established. There is no published history or treatise available. However it is generally believed that due to hardships and sufferings imposed under the regime of Emperor Aurangzeb many Hindus migrated to Sind from several parts of the country such as Punjab, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur in Rajputana etc. Some Hindus came from Kutch, also due to constant drought and famine.

From written sources collected by an eminent author (Bherumal Meharchand) in 1919, from newspapers, historical publications, personal interviews, it was found that most of the Amils then residing in Sind had come from nearby Multan and Unch in Punjab. A few Amils were Khatri Lohana, that is warriors by caste who embraced Sikhism while in Punjab. They migrated to Sind after Hindus came under persecution and evil influence when Aurangzeb became emperor.

Such persecutions and evil influence usually forces victimised people to flee the place of their residence. Many consider this as one of the major reasons for migration from Punjab and other places to Sind which was ruled by Talpurs also Muslims.

It may not be necessary that the ancestors of present day Amils migrated only because of Aurangzeb's persecution. This may have been the initial cause of migration to Sind that probably commenced from 1670. Thereafter some people went to Sind for the sake of service with Sind rulers or for business and settled down there. In the case of some it is certain that they went to Sind for the sake of service only.

Among migrant Hindus some were followers of Sikh Gurus. Some others were Devi disciples, Daya Pujaris and other faiths. Thus many different faiths, castes and cultures among Hindus collected in Sind. In Sind the then Muslim rulers welcomed Hindus, some of whom were educated and capable of handling government/ administrative tasks/offices, adroitly.

Diwan Adoomul who was swordsman and ancestor of Advanis was brought to Sind by Nur Mohammed Kalharo, so also he brought Diwan Gidumal for helping in governance/administration. It is recorded that full villages with Hindu families, left Punjab in the late 1600's or early 1700's and moved south along the Indus river to Sind. Many of them settled at the Kalharo capital city of Khudabad, on the left bank of the Indus river near Dadu.

Since ancient times, Hindus in India have remained divided into castes like Khatris, Lohanas etc. Castes actually denote the original professions followed by the families in which people were born. Those who migrated to Sind from various corners also belonged to different castes some of them were followers of Sikhism. Thus many different faiths, castes and cultures gathered in Sind. That is why we Amils have no single caste and are casteless. Those migrants who acquired education and became scholars were called as "Alim" or "Vidyawan". Those that after getting education put the education into action (the word for action being "amal") were called "Amils" And those Hindus that entered the Government service were called "Amils" and "Diwans". Whereas those Hindus that were in trade and commerce were called "Bhaibands". Thus the two classifications "Amils" and "Bhaibands" comes about. The migrant Hindus completely forgot their original ancestral professions and castes in their new lives in Sind.

Maharaj Prakash Bharadwaj in his publication "Sindhi International Yearbook" wherein he mentions about the Amils as under:

"Because of the close association with the ruling dynasty of the Mirs of Sind, many Sindhi Amil families came to be known as Diwans i.e. ministers. Later, presumably because of admission of several members of the Sindhi community to the subordinate civil service established by the British conquerors, they acquired the generic title of Amil-officer. Thus the community came to be recognized as Diwan-Hindu-Amil in contradistinction to traders and shopkeepers, who bore the well-established label of Bania".

The Amils, until they started migrating to Karachi, the new British capital, were circumscribed to Hyderabad (Sind). The Hindus of Upper Sind were referred to as Utradis-Northerners. They were generally village shopkeepers. Even in later years, when many Upper Sindhis become Government officers, lawyers, doctors and engineers, the nomenclature 'Utradi' persisted in the Amil parlance.

In a total population of ten million Sindhis, the Hindus were only one million against nine million Muslims. In this minority, the Amils were but a drop of some fifty thousand souls. Yet for many decades, they enjoyed social hegemony and practically monopolized their professions and government service. Marriage was strictly endogamous. Transgressions, rare though, they were more or less socially ostracised.

The banias, by practice of thrift and usury, gradually pulled up to be recognized as second rung behind the Amils. The Muslims, were except for a comparatively few, large landholders-Waderas, peasants; or in the cities, smiths, masons, potters and agricultural daily wage earners'.

Those Amils and Bhaibands either from original Khudabad near Dadu or New Khudabad near Halani were so proud of having been in the original capital of Talpurs in Khudabad, that after moving to Hyderabad called themselves as Khudabadi Amils and Khudabadi Bhaibands.

Immediately before the Britishers came to rule Sind in 1789 Hyderabad was it's capital and it's Muslim rulers were Talpurs. At that time Hyderabad which was a great educational and cultural centre was home to Amils and Bhaibands. Amils being educated were of great help to Talpurs in running the administration.

Later, Britishers shifted the capital of Sind to Karachi. With such a shifting and consequent reduction of employment and trading opportunities in Hyderabad both Amils and Bhaibands kept leaving Hyderabad. While some Bhaibands went abroad to do business, Amils particularly highly educated and professional among them went to Karachi which too turned into a great educational and cultural center.

Authored by Shri Doulat T. Punwaney, the only surviving member of the first Committee and Edited by Asha Idnani and Menka Shivdasani.



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