Bhardwaj is a Punjabi Saraswat Brahmin surname belonging to one of the great rishis named Rishi Bharadwaja.
In India, Bhardwaj is an ancestor of Brahmin People belonging to the Bharadwaja gotra. Bharadwaja who is the great grand son of Lord Brahma is the root for his clan, Bhardwaj gotra( e.g.: Rajpurohit, Rajbhar, etc ). One of the sub categories of the gotra is Bhardwaja Shelly. The Bharadwaja Shelly gotra is derived from the Saraswat Brahmin clan with the families belonging this gotra mostly settled in Punjab and Haryana. This Brahmin lineage is the one that left the usual priestly occupation of Brahmins long ago to serve as soldiers, farmers, administrators in villages (Sarpanch) and government services.
According to the legend, Saraswat Brahmins are Central Asians who settled on the banks of the former Saraswati River that once flowed in northern India. Around 2000 BC, the river Saraswati started vanishing under ground and the people on its banks started migrating to other parts of India thus forming sub-communities. There are many sub-communities in Saraswats, including
1.Kutch Saraswats(found in Gujrat-Kutch, Mumbai) 2.Rajasthan Saraswats 3.Saraswat's from Uttarakhand 4.Saraswat's from Uttar Pradesh 5.Saraswat's from Konkan 6.Kashimri Saraswats 7.Punjabi Saraswats 8.Sind Saraswats
As per several renowned historians, the Saraswati-Sindhu river was existent in parts of Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh. Punjabi Saraswat Brahmins are one of the most influential communities in Punjab. Approximately 45% of Punjabi Brahmins belong to the Bharadwaja Gotra, a Saraswati Brahmin group which is the same as the one found in Kashmir.The other prominent Gotra in Punjab is Lakhanpal.In addition to main Saraswati gotras such as Bharadawaja and Vashistha, Punjab is also home to the small 'Mohyal' minority, a sub-community within Punjabi Saraswat Brahmins have traditionally been landlords, Dewans, Shahs, and Kings in Northern areas,being the descendants of Dronacharya and were warriors. Many of Brahmins in NWFP region were "Mohyals". The "Mohyals" were clans of Brahmins who lived independent of law of the land and were warriors, educators, law-makers in NWFP.
Saraswat Brahmins form a great proportion of the Vedic followers in Kashmir, called the Kashmiri Pandits. These Kashmiri Brahmins are thought to be the descendants of Kashyap and are Central Asians in origin. They were followers of the original Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, which gave rise to Vedic thought. Kashmiri Pandits identify their deity with the Goddess Saraswati, who has been mentioned in the Vedas as the Goddess of learning. The surname of "Pandit" is invariably a Saraswat Brahmin surname and a large number of them are the Kashmiri Pandits though some Saraswats with this surname are found in other parts of India as well. There are many Muslims in the Valley of Kashmir with surname of Pandit/Pandith as well, indicating that they are fairly more recent converts to Islam (from Hinduism). Many Kashmiri Muslims have still have kept their Brahmin surnames of Bhat, Dhar, Pandit, Raina, Kaul and Reshi.
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