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About Agarwal Community (Samaj)

Agrawals are a large and influential community in India. Traditionally, the Agrawals have been a trading community in northern India especially in Nepal, and western India, though in modern times they follow other professions as well. People from the Agrawal community are very successful entrepreneurs and have played a prominent role in India's economic development.

The texts and legends of the Agrawal community trace the origin of Agrawals to the legendary Kshatriya king Agrasena of the Sun Dynasty who adopted Vanika dharma for the benefit of his people. Literally, Agrawal means "children of Agrasena" "people of Agroha", a city in ancient Kuru Panchala, near Hisar in Haryana region said to be founded by Agrasena. The majority of Agrawals practice Hinduism while 14% of them practice Jainism.


The Agrawals claim descent from the legendary king Agrasena. Various legends about Agroha and Agrasena are found among the Agrawals. According to one version, Agrasena was a Chandravanshi Kshatriya king, who was the elder bother of Shurasena (the grandfather of Krishna). Due to repeated attacks from Jarasandha of Magadha, the two brothers had to migrate away from Mathura, the capital of the Surasena Kingdom. While Shurasena migrated to Dwarka, Agrasena stayed at Agroha or Agreya (near modern Hisar in Haryana).

According to another legend, Maharaja Agrasena was a Suryavanshi Kshatriya leader, born during the last stages of Dwapar Yuga. This version has been mentioned by the noted Indian Hindi author Bharatendu Harishchandra (himself an Agrawal) in his 1871 book Agarwalon ki Utpatti ("The origin of Agrawals"), which is based on an account given in the Mahalaksmi Vrat Katha manuscript. This version states that Agrasen was the eldest son of the King Ballabh of Pratapnagar.

Agrasena fathered 18 children, from whom the Agrawal gotras came into being. Maharaja Agrasena was a peaceful king and did not like violence, once while performing a yagna, the Rajguru asked Maharaja Agrasena to sacrifice a goat in order for the ceremony to be successfully completed. Agrasena did not wish to kill the innocent animal and refused to the killing of the animal. The Rajguru advised that since he was a Kshatriya king, it was his duty to perform the ritual and if he does not wish to proceed, he should give up Kshatriya caste and take up Vaishya caste (Known as Baniya in the modern days) since it was not possible to go up the ladder in the Hindu Caste system to become a Bhramin. According to another legend, the Hindu goddess Mahalakshmi urged Agrasena to give up the Kshatriya tradition, and take up the Vaishya tradition of business, for the sake of the prosperity of his people. She asked him to establish a new kingdom, and promised that she would bless his descendants with prosperity and wealth. Agrasena travelled all over India with his queen to select a place for a new kingdom, and finally established his kingdom at Agroha. According to Vachanakosha of Bulakhichand (1680 CE), Agar Rishi married a naga-kanya (nagavanshi girl) and had 18 children. A similar account is given in 1885 Bombay Presidency Gazetteer, Rishi Agrasen married 17 naga-kanyas.

Agrasena divided his kingdom amongst his 18 children, resulting in eighteen Agrawal gotras. Often, the number of gotras is stated to be seventeen and a half. According to one legend, Agrasena proceeded to conduct 18 mahayajnas ("Great yajnas"). When he was in the process of performing his eighteenth yajna, he was filled with compassion for the animal to be sacrificed. He put a stop to his eighteenth yajna announcing that no sacrifices will be made in his kingdom in the name of yajnas. Thus, the eighteenth yajna was not completed and Agrasena had only performed seventeen and a half yajnas. The sage Garga blessed him with seventeen and a half gotras.

In the later part of his life, King Agrasena approved the succession of his eldest son Vibhu to the throne and took Vanaprastha ashram. According to legend, Agroha was a prosperous city and a hundred thousand traders lived in the city during its heyday. An insolvent community man as well as an immigrant wishing to settle in the city would be given a rupee and a brick by each inhabitant of the city. Thus, he would have a hundred thousand bricks to build a house for himself, and a hundred thousand rupees to start a new business. Gradually, the city of Agroha declined and was finally destroyed in a huge fire. The residents of Agroha i.e. the Agrawals moved out of Agroha and spread in other parts of India.

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