Introduction / History
The Banias originated over 5,000 years ago, and they are also called Vania or Mahajan. Their name is derived from Vaniji, which means "trader" in Sanskrit, an ancient South Asian language.
Where Are they Located?
Of the four major varnas (caste clusters), Banias are in the third one, the Vaishyas. This caste cluster has always been about trade, business, and money lending. They were usually traders of grain and spices throughout history.
Despite their high incomes, Barahseni Banias have only modest status in the Hindu caste pyramid. They resent the higher two varnas, the Brahmins and the Kshatryas, and thus Banias have often been leaders in caste reform movements. Mahatma Gandhi is one example, but there have been many others throughout India's long history.
Banias originated in the western Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, but today they live in just about all of India's northern states. The Barahseni Banias live mainly in central Uttar Pradesh. They have taken their skills to several other parts of the world where many of them are financially very successful.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Barahseni people, also known as Varshney, are well recognized as prestigious businessmen, bankers, prominent landowners, professionals, and civil service workers. They also are known to make generous contributions to charity.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Their Hindu heritage is connected to Akrura who is described as the commander in chief of the Varshney dynasty and a great devotee of Lord Krishna, an important Hindu god who is portrayed as youthful with supreme powers. There are almost no followers of Christ among these highly successful people.
What Are Their Needs?
Barahseni Banias need a spiritual transformation that will bring them to the point where they want to follow the ways of Jesus, and abandon the old ways that have left them spiritually empty and other castes economically devastated and resentful.
* Scripture Prayers for the Bania Barahseni in India.
Pray that the veil of deception will be lifted from the eyes of the Barahseni Banias and that they will see that the only true wealth is the spiritual riches gained through a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pray that Christ's disciples will be called to work among them and share Christ in a loving, culturally relevant way.
Pray for a disciple making movement to emerge among every Bania community.