Anavils - An Endangered Community

After Parsis, Anavils (Anavil Brahmins, અનાવિલ બ્રાહ્મણ ) are the fastest decreasing community. The total population of Anavils around the world does not exceed two lakhs figure and that is also fast reducing day by day. Days are not far, beyond a century or so, when they will have to be seen/found in records, photos, and videos. Why?

   - they get married too late,
   - many are dying unmarried,
   - they wait for the career to be settled before the first (and maybe the only) childbirth.

   The number of children per couple is either one or zero.
   It is certain that nothing can save this community from extinction - vanishing!
Let me try to introduce this community.

Mr. Klass W VanDer Veen - a Dutch scholar and Professor at Amsterdam University prepared a thesis on "Anavils" and wrote a book "I Give Thee My Daughter ". He concluded, "Anavils are smart, efficient, and clever but heavily disunited.”

British Government recognized Anavil as one with a sharp intellect and efficient administrator.

Ambelal G Desai (Valsad), Author of a book on Anavils of South Gujarat, who studied Anavilism extensively, said: “By and large, the people of this area – Anavils – are clever, frank, tolerant, quiet, luxury-loving and cheerful. They are not prone to quarrel readily and are not found wanting in doing whatever could be achieved lawfully.” (Anavils of South Gujarat was published in 1969 in Gujarati, and translated in English by Harish Desai and Hakumat Desai in 1995)

Captain Newport (1882) had personal and extensive contact with Anavils. He found Anavils as:
  1. Flattering and obedient
  2. On being questioned, they would hardly give a straight answer. They would either give the wrong answer prompted by selfish motives or feign ignorance.
  3. Best Farmers
  4. Smart and industrious
  5. Intelligent
The settlement report (1868) with the British says:
  1. They are known for their tact and quarrelsome nature.
  2. They are firmly insistent on getting their viewpoint accepted.
  3. They are fond of litigation and fight with unusual tenacity for a tree, a piece of land, or for a confiscated right. Only death can end their dispute.
  4. They cannot be won over by arguments or negotiations. 
I am adding my own impressions of Anavils being an Anavil one-self and staying amongst them for 64 years in two Hindi words: Aapvadai (Superiority complex) and Hamsachchai (My truth is the only truth).
  1. Superiority Complex: We (Anavils, that is) have inherited this virtue because of being “King" - the rulers. Each one of us considers him/herself "The Best" of all around and the most intelligent individual, whatever the real IQ level may be. This simple-looking virtue becomes bad to worse later when he/she progresses to consider all others inferior to him/her. The real problem starts here and because of this lack of respect for one another in particular and community, in general, cannot be expected. The unity amongst caste fellows is not to be dreamt of.
  2. My truth is the only truth: We are intelligent people and good administrators, but we dominate. Whatever one says is the only truth and it has to be followed by everyone. It is not optional nor there is any scope for correction or discussion. This nature has led to many poor relationships amongst each other and no fellow is available.
From Prime Minister, Physician, and Pleader to Peon – Anavils are everywhere!

We were living and belonging to South Gujarat (in India), from Kosamba in the north to Vapi towns within the south. 120 kilometers area between rivers Daman Ganga in the south to Kim in the north was inhabited in South Gujarat (India) by Anavils. Nowadays one can find an Anavil anywhere in any country in the world.

You can find Anavils anywhere, say:
Prime Minister of India, Morarji R Desai
Chief Justice of India, Dhirubhai Desai
Governor of the State (Andhra Pradesh), Khandubhai Desai
Managing Director of L & T, Anil M Naik
Physician to President of India, Dr Chhotubhai Naik
Pleader, Bhulabhai Desai
The list can never end until you fill all the important positions by Anavils. Let’s go deeper into history.

History of Anavils

The history of Anavils has deep roots. 5,000 years back, Anavils were brought to a village named Anaval  (then known as Anadipur) in South Gujarat from Ayodhya by Hanuman for doing Maha Yajña for Shri Rama who wanted to wash out the sin of killing King Ravana – a brahmin. They were Aryans migrated from Afghanistan.

According to the Court poet Bhukhan of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the population of Anaulla (now known as Anavils) were staying at Magadh around Bihar. The ruler Anavil named "Putrak" married to Naga Kanya "Patli" and they constructed the capital city of their state "Patli-Putrak". He said, the great Chanakya, also known as Kautilya, was Anavil.

After this great mission, these Brahmins labelled as Anavils became ruler of Kingdom Anaval. Anaval state had Vyara, Mahuva, Vansada and Chikhali talukas.

Buddhists took the Bhil community in hand to have a war with Anavils under the leadership of Vansia Bhil. The Anavil king lost this war. Around 1186 AD, the Anavil king Samandhar Vashi won the war against Vansia Bhil with the help of Rajput King of Paatan, Siddharaj Jaisinh. But he lost interest in Kingdom and gave it to Rajputs. King Digvirandrasinh was the last Rajput ruler of this state, later named as Vansada state.
Anavils were spread all around 300 villages of South Gujarat. I must tell about a few important ones with their relevant stories.
  • Anaval: Anaval is 60 km from Surat and Navsari having Shukleshwar Mahadev Temple on the bank of river Kaveri. It is considered to be the primary place of Anavil settlement in the region and Brahmins who resided here became famous as Anavil Brahmins (1932 Anaval Jagat). Anaval is our birth-place and Lord Rama had installed Lord Shukleshwar himself (1906  Vasanji Desai). Shri Kalidas (in Mukta Shastra) said Anaval was inhabited by Anavils and their marble decoration was comparable to Paris and Venice.
  • Surat: Majority of land was owned by Anavils. The credit for creation and growth of Surat city goes to Anavils. It was only Anavils, the active force in this District as it is in their names they formed different "Para" resided by a specific group of Anavils. Residents of Surat are using these names for described area till today.
  • Gandevi: "Desaiji Pedhi" of Anant Vashi is known for last 400 years. Their history is highly credit-worthy. I must tell you about the Sati Mata temple of Gandevi, situated on the bank of a pond at crossroads. The daughter of Gopalji Desai, Ichchhaben, had become "Sati" (dying on the cremation-fire of her husband). She was the first and the last Sati in Anavil community. In her memory, Desaiji family erected a temple. The people of faith go to pay obeisance to temple where a fare is held annually during festivals of Diwali.
  • Mamadev Temple of Puni: We can go on talking this and that, but I shall contain with this last story of Puni. An Anavil brother attacked robbers to protect his sister from being robbed. He attacked robbers successfully with the help of local youth but lost his own life in the pious duty of saving the sister and village from robbers. In his memory, the grateful people of Puni erected a temple "Mamadev Temple" seen till today.
Anavils are a dynamic community ready to change for better and in the process, they have had multiple resolutions for social reforms regarding marriage, engagement, dowry, thread ceremony, death and condolence. 1868 Resolution, 1924 Kaliawadi Resolution, 1929 Puni Resolution and 1931 Paria (Taluka: Olpad) Anavil Samaj Sudharak Mandal to name a few.

Gopi Naik Raso said, "The Anavil, instead of engaging himself in duties of a Brahmin, made politics dear and achieved bright success in it. He became the pillar of the state. Power and wealth were at his feet and he remained Ajachak (Non-acceptor) and a donor. Because of being non-acceptor and donor, he enjoyed a special position amongst the Brahmins. People respected him for his power and influence with the government. His generosity earned him the nickname of "Baadshah".

With all these details, who would like this great community to vanish? The attempts to save them has to start at earliest before it is too late. In addition to Anavils themselves, the NGO and Government machinery should be active to stop their decrease in number.
Timely marriage, early children (minimum two) and marriage among the same caste of Anavils are the minimum steps.
Who will do this?
Shall we start a commercial campaign to do all this?
Or shall we start preparing museum of Anavils to show the extinguished species of Anavils?
We cannot sit and relax...

The facts and statistics in this article are based on the book Anavils of South Gujarat written by Ambelal Gopalji Desai (in Gujarati) and translated in English by Harish Desai and Hakumat Desai (1995), published by Harshad K Desai.

Have a look at the brief survey I conducted on Facebook.

And the feedback I received.

Post a Comment


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Dr. Ashwinbhai.

      You are the first to rightly appreciate contents.
      No doubt many have responded on Facebook.


    2. Very nice story

  2. Great work. Informative content.

  3. After reading my article, author Harish Desai responded as follows:

    'Received your reflections weighing carefully in your mind after musing over my book - Anavils of South Gujarat. Many sincere thanks for the same.They are my treasured assets. I would reciprocate my views truthfully at the earliest in my ensuing letter to the best of my ability.'
    - Harish Desai, Samanvaya, Gulab House, opp.Panchayat House Jalalpore 396421

  4. This article has scared me! - the extinction part!

    I finally understand where the pride and the temperament comes from.

  5. Firstly, I didn't think I could find an article on our community but okay, here it is.
    Secondly, I think the current generation wouldn't really relate to it. Probably because we're unaware.

    Lastly, I liked it. It kind of damaged my ignorance and the best part is - I like how there is something on the internet that talks about us, in general.

    1. Thanks for writing your reply.
      I would have appreciated your introduction as well.
      Anyway, I am happy for systematic evakuation.

  6. Please let me know which kuldevi has dakhanas gotra. I will verymuch thankful if anyone know this

  7. Desai Community will never die ! Our DNA is very powerful , the community in bad time had meals once in a day , is far better today .If we leave Ego and Arogance ,we will make our existence felt by our sincerety , dedication and devotion to duty even if we will be few.This Community survived in between two legs of Parshuram who tried to kill all skshatriyas from earth ! We are the surviror of Parshuram's pespiration .powerty or any other thing cannot extinghuish us !

    1. Thanks for responce.
      Madhusudanbhai,I agree ..."if we can leaveour ego and arrogance.....", it is not easy as well!

  8. Desai Community will never die ! Our DNA is very powerful , the community in bad time had meals once in a day , is far better today .If we leave Ego and Arogance ,we will make our existence felt by our sincerety , dedication and devotion to duty even if we will be few.This Community survived in between two legs of Parshuram who tried to kill all skshatriyas from earth ! We are the surviror of Parshuram's perspiration .poverty or any other thing cannot extinghuish us !

  9. We should have to realise the ground situation. The fact is that we are going to past like parsis , no doubt it takes some time but reality is this.

  10. Rakesh Desai. vapi.Saturday, 18 March, 2017

    Thanks for such important information on our anavils.Anavils are like para is straight forward, honest, frank spoken, intelligent and brilliant. Please tell me "kuldevi" of anavil. Thanks.

  11. These are true and genuine.we should change.

  12. Nice Article Mr. Bharatbhai Desai.Please suggest our Kuldevi and Gotra in my area Palsana

    1. Thanks for response..
      I am sorry : I donot know about Kuldevi and gotra.
      Yes, I shall find out and inform.

    2. gardimata is kuldevi of palsana area.


  13. Being a Anavil makes me feel great pride. My description of a ANAVIL would be in 2 words "Brutally Frank". If we all can overcome our shortcomings we can go way ahead. Sharp analytical skills and great administration ability is our Forte.
    Jai Anavil

    1. Agreed...."BRUTALLY FRANK"....frank at any cost.
      We are progressing a lot, but to overcome inherited shortcomings looks difficult.

  14. Intrigued by comment that Chankya was an Anavil. We do engage in politics well and are balanced minded as well. We descended from Afghanistan? Fair skinned Anavils make me think we have some Mesopotamian genes in us, Iran- middle east - Portugese-Aryans?? Any genetic testings done?

    1. I agree with views expressed by you.
      Genetic testing is yet to be done.

    2. Bharatbhai, your article was informative as well as alarming as Anavils, like Paris are slowly reducing creating a threat of extinction of our community.

      According to me gollowing may also be the cause of such a situation:

      Girls are less in number as compared to boys resulting in many of our community boys not getting married.

      Instances of our community girls getting married outside our community.

      To avoid such situation, I feel leaders and honourable people of our community should hold some seminars or lectures for the younger generation and enlighten them on 'Endangered Species - Anavils"

  15. Bharatbhai, nice and informative article.

    I agree with you that Anavil community is on the verge of extinction if we fail to realize the roots and causes of such a situation.

    In my opinion the main reasons over and above statement you are:

    Marriages of Anavil girls in another communities.

    Generally the girls are quite educated as compared to boys.

    Lastly tI think the ratio of girls is less than the boys resulting in many of our community boys not getting married.

    Bipin Naik

    1. Bipinbhai,Thanks for replying.
      You have analysed the reasons very rightly.
      Every member of the community with concern must start acting!

  16. I find this topic very interesting, especially the extinction part as I believe that ‘Anavil’ culture and traits will never be extinct because I find in my travels across the world thatosy all south Gujarati communities try and replicate the 'Anavil’ ways even if they realise or not. The point is that ‘Anavil’s’ are a part of south Gujarat life and anyone who has roots from there will always have some kind of link to the ‘Desai’s from there.

  17. Hello...its Heli Mehul Naik from Kasbapar, Navsari.... It was a pleasure reading this blog... I am 13 years old but i want to recommend something to you... that Mr. Morarji Desai, our former Prime Minister, had an Intelligent and sharp minded P.A. and the thing is that he was too an Anavil Brahmin... His name is Mr. Raghunathji Naik....
    So, please add his name in this blog....As we are his family members...I humbly request you for this...

    1. Hello Heli,

      Thank you for providing this information. Can you provide more specific details about Mr. Raghunathji Naik? We will include it in the article above. You may comment here or also email directly Dr Bharat Desai at

      We're also publishing a dedicated article on Late Morarji Desai in Gujarati ( We may also include these details there.

      Many thanks,

    2. Hello.
      This is Heli Naik.
      I have received some information about Mr Raghunathji Naik for whom I told before.
      Raghunathji Naik was born in 1907.He was a very intelligent and small-minded person.He had a double graduation in BSc.He was a social reformer.He strongly believed in widow remarriage. But in his time, people opposed the idea of widow remarriage. So, to change the mindsets of other people, he himself took an initiative. He married to a widow himself. He was a broad-minded person. He was the PERSONAL ASSISTANT of Morarji Desai, our former PM. He was also a FREEDOM FIGHTER. He did a lot for our society. He established Navsari High School, Navsari in 1935. He also established VVPP Vidyalaya, Kasbapar, Navsari in 1965. He was a freedom fighter as well as a govt. employee because he was the PA of our former PM. So, he was eligible for double pension. But selflessly he gave up one pension and accepted only the pension of a freedom fighter. He was a healthy and fit person. But at the age of 87, he died in 1994 due to some biological cause.

    3. Thanks , Heli, for detailed information.
      I have stayed at Kasbapar during many vacations , because Kasbapar is my MOSAL...mother's birthplace. It was customery to stay at mosal during vacation.
      The first street is known as Zora falia, my mama Balvantrai N Naik and his family stays there.
      Yes, I know Raghunathji as a father of Dr Jyotiben also.
      Agreed, he dai great social services.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Nice anecdotal information. My maternal grandfather apparently used to be the founding editor of a publication called Anavil Pokar in Surat.

    In regards to the comment about preservation of the anavil population through in-breeding, I do not think it's a great idea. Rather, I would say it will do us good to get some gene pool variation to get rid of some of our not so great traits or customs.

  20. Enlightening content, Sir.

  21. Bharatbhai congratulation for the effort. I have also read many articles and books as much as possible but there is still new information coming to light. one thing if possible all Anavils can say which Gotra they belong to and if village vise we mark on the map ,one can have some idea of Brahman gotras settelment. Cetral Asia, Afganistan to Bali North of Australia Hindu Brahmins were setteled ,ruled and assisted to rule. These were the SHIV pujak.Villages with Shiv temples then-Ram, Dutt Hanuman temples followed later.
    So well traveled, settled in diffrent parts of the Earth also married to natives and adapted other cultures -civilization. they did stay in contact whith the group, some did not be able to stay in touch-lost the contact but where ever they stayed maintaind the tradition as much as one can adding the other inlfuences.
    I am trying to find out one Gotra - Kondinya-Kondilya who were the ruler of Kamboj-Funan-(part of todays Combodia, Thailand,Laos and Vietnam) The large Hindu Temple complex - Angkorwat and surrounding countries other Temples were built by the same ruler King . The DhoranPardi (upbhraunce of Dhronacharya- Dhron Pardi?) village, Taluka Kamrej, Jilla Surat; is settel by one Anavil from Kondinya-Kondilya gotra have approx ten generation known upwords and the currant generation -relatives are known to be living in Canada, USA ,Zambia, UK,India and Australia. There may be many more places-Unknown. TamraPatra-CopperPlate were written (not available today!) saying the land was given and were collecting Taxes of some surrounding villages.This was till Gayakwad State existed.
    So well travelled,setteled,married and adapted other culture. stayed in touch and visited as much as possible eventually some lost contact but the tradition and way of life was mantained, later changed by the influences of the places,cultures,civilizationsand also the invaders.
    only way to surch further is todays technoloies -Internet ,Facebook,Whatsapp-DNA tests can confirm the History.

  22. Do not promote casteism. First of all we are all humans. We are no different than any other human being in another part of the world. Yes, we do look different then them atleast. You can look at a person and say he/she has her roots in this part of the world. But you can keep an 'Anavil' and any other Indian side by side and it you cannot segregate them. Stop having the false sense of community based on caste. Live in harmony with everyone. Do not force your kids into marrying someone of the same caste. Let them marry (or not marry) whenever they want to and with whomever they want to. The new generation does not care about casteism and hence they are going to go more ahead than the previous generation. And parsis are a whole different community. They have their own religion, own lifestyle and they even look different. Nevertheless forcefully marrying people in their own community is still wrong.

    1. 1'. I would have loved to know you, because otherwise blind dialogue has no meaning.
      2, I liked your thinking and I appreciate the same.

    2. Totallly agree

  23. The article is well written but unfortunately I’ve to say it is poorly researched and lack facts.

    Bharatbhai, you mentioned about a book “Daxin Gujaratna Anavilo” by Ambelal Gooalji Desai why you still claimed that Anavils were converted into Brahimns by Bhagwan Ram.

    As per my research on the subject, that cannot be due true to many reasons. Some of them are -

    1) Bhagwan Ram was Kshatriya by varna and was not allowed to perform any ritual as per varna vyavastha. He had to rely on Bramhims to perform every ritual even if he was incarceration of Lord Vishnu.

    2) There are many Bhumihar brahmins in India who do not perform rituals. Swami Sahajanand in mid 20th century advocated the cause for Bhumihars. He himself was a Bhumihar brahmin from Bihar.

    3) There is Bhimihar brahmin in Bihar, Tyagi in Western UP, Mohyal in Punjab, Niyogi in Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Chitpavan in Maharashtra/Konkan, Iyer in Tamil Nadu, Namboodri in Kerala and Havyaka in Karnataka. They are also landowners and do not perform rituals “ayachak brahmins” like Anavils of Gujarat. They are all members of Akhil Bhartiya Bhumihar Sangh.

    4) History says that Anavils came from Bihar to South Gujarat with Lord Parshuram who is incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Parshrutama established Surparka kingdom in North region which is basically Vapi to Tapi region. In our legends, we have heard that Vapi to Tapi area is Parshuram bhoomi.

    5) If we go beyond Anavils relocating from Bihar (Bhojpur area of Aarah district if I exactly name the place) to South Gujarat, I trace Anavils to Baluchistan area. Of course, this claim needs more research and DNA testing to come to some definitive conclusion.

    My intention is not to discredit your great work however it is my humble attempt to bring an inaccuracy to your attention. i would appreciate My kind request to you to make a correction so that future Anavil youth isn’t misinformed and misguided of their great heritage.

    Thank you.

    1. Apologies- I realized that there are some grammatical errors but I did my best with limited time on a smart phone. Hope the readers will forgive me for that...

  24. Necessity of time to unite all ajachak brahmins for cooperate each other worldwide.

    1. Nice research & interesting comments mr Anup Desai. I think the different Anavil Gotra will reveal the movement of the different original ancestors of the Anavil Brahmin.

      I know of a maternal cousin who traced their family Gotra up to Bihar/Nepal border region & found many people of same gotra in Bihar Bhumihar Samaj even though all his family have always been in South Gujarat for generations. maybe 1000 years before the Bihar they were in NWFP & Afghan ? Basically all the peoples were moving about all over the place and still are, the only difference is they used to move in numbers in the older times & individually now. The tribes that called themselves Arya split up & spread out, always being careful to have a good mix of gotra in each
      group so that inter breeding didn’t occur.

  25. Happy to read again and again.happy to read undivided views about supremacy of anavils by non- anavil greats.At the same,it was disappointing to note that: we have inherited genes to believe that whatever we tell is always right.My perception is: they are jealous also.Now,they are disappearing as dynaceur.Reasons and remedies given are worth pondering.Great article by dr.bharat Desai which is presented in a simple ,analytic way.

  26. What is the surname naik means in anavil

    1. Naik means a leader, i think in any and all cases

  27. Very interesting history of Anavils! Never knew that our traces are from Bihar, Afghanistan (DNA to be tested as was mentioned by so many in the article) but what I read and understood was that, the Anavil history is bit confusing- i maybe wrong though. But great efforts of research by a few in here. If someone has the validated proofs, the blog can be registered officially on Google/Winklipedia, for the benefits of the future generations.
    Thank you!

  28. Karishma Desai, AhmedabadTuesday, 07 June, 2022

    Being a young Anavil, it was delightful to read about our history. With more awareness about feminism and equal rights, I have always wondered why our community has deep rooted male chauvinism and even a fragile ego to a certain extent. But it makes sense now that I am aware of a little bit of our history. But nevertheless, I am certainly proud of our culture and community. We are a community who have done away with the unnecessary traditions but still believes in keeping our roots alive.

    You have mentioned Anaval village and Shukleshwar. My great grandfather
    Jyotindrabhai Desai was the orincipal of GT High School in Mumbai and a substantial figure in setting up Jai Shukleshwar (our community magazine) as he went to each house and collected donations for setting it up.

    Anyway it was wonderful reading the article and knowing that even though very few, traces our community do exist on paper.

  29. Thank you for writing this article. I am a desai youth who wants to understand the roots of our community. Somewhere before I had read that we were bhils who were called to perform puja for lord rama? Can someone pls clarify that we were bhils or not?


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