Khas people

Regions with significant populations

Khas language and regional dialects (e.g; Doteli language) in Nepal

Kumaoni and Garhwali in Uttarakhand
Related ethnic groups
Pahari people, Kumaoni people, Garhwali people, Other Indo-Aryan peoples

Khas people (Nepali: खस) also called Khas Arya[nb 1] (Nepali: खस आर्य) are an Indo-Aryan[11] ethno-linguistic group native to the present-day Nepal as well as Kumaon, Garhwal and Himachal regions of North India and speak the Khas language (modern Nepali language). They were also known as 'Parbatiyas' and 'Paharis'. The term "Khas" has now become obsolete, as the Khas people have adopted other identities such as Chhetri and Bahun, because of the negative stereotypes associated with the term Khas.[12][13][14]

The hill 'Khas' tribe who are in large part associated with the Gorkhali invaders are addressed with the term Partyā or Parbaté meaning hill-dweller by Newars.[15] The tribal designation Khas refers to in some contexts only to the upper-class Khas group, i.e. the Bahun and the Chhetri, but in other contexts may also include the low status (generally untouchable) occupational Khas groups such as Kāmi (blacksmiths), Damāi (tailors), Sārki(shoemakers and leather workers).[15]


The Khas people are considered to be of Indo-European origin.[16] They are believed to have arrived in the western reaches of Nepal at the beginning of first-millennium B.C.[17] or middle of first-millennium A.D.[18] from the north-west. It is likely that they absorbed people from different ethnic groups during this immigration.[19] They have been connected to the Khasas mentioned in the ancient Hindu literature, as well as the medieval Khasa Malla kingdom.[20] In the initial phase, most Khas people became Brahmins and others became Kshatriyas.[18]

Until the 19th century, the Gorkhali referred to their country as Khasdes ("Khas country").[21] As they annexed the various neighbouring countries (such as Newar of the Newar people) to the Gorkha kingdom, the terms such as "Khas" and "Newar" ceased to be used as the names of countries. The 1854 legal code (Muluki Ain), promulgated by the Nepali Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana, himself a Khas,[22] no longer referred to "Khas" as a country, rather as a jāt (species or community) within the Gorkha kingdom.[23]

The Shah dynasty of the Gorkha Kingdom, as well as the succeeding Rana dynasty, spoke the Khas language (now called the Nepali language). However, they claimed to be Rajputs of western Indian origin, rather than the native Khas Kshatriyas.[24] Since outside Nepal, the Khas social status was seen as inferior to that of the Rajputs, the rulers started describing themselves as natives of the Hill country, rather than that of the Khas country. Most people, however, considered the terms Khas and Parbatiya (Pahari or Hill people) as synonymous.[21]

The Khas people originally referred to their language as Khas kurā ("Khas speech"), which was also known as Parbatiya ("language of the Hill country"). The Newar people used the term "Gorkhali" as a name for this language, as they identified it with the Gorkhali conquerors. The Gorkhalis themselves started using this term to refer to their language at a later stage.[25] In an attempt to disassociate himself with his Khas past, the Rana monarch Jung Bahadur decreed that the term Gorkhali be used instead of Khas kurā to describe the language. Meanwhile, the British Indian administrators had started using the term "Nepal" (after Newar) to refer to the Gorkha kingdom. In the 1930s, the Gorkha government also adopted this term to describe their country. Subsequently, the Khas language also came to be known as "Nepali language".[26]

Jung Bahadur also re-labeled the Khas jāt as Chhetri in present-day Nepal.[24] Originally, the Brahmin immigrants from the plains considered the Khas as low-caste because of the latter's neglect of high-caste taboos (such as alcohol abstinence).[27] The upper-class Khas people commissioned the Bahun (Brahmin) priests to initiate them into the high-caste Chhetri order and adopted high-caste manners. Other Khas families, which could not afford to (or did not care to) pay the Bahun priests also attempted to assume the Chhetri status but were not recognized as such by others. They are now called Matwali (alcohol-drinking) Chhetris.[14]

Because of the adoption of the "Chhetri" identity, the term Khas is rapidly becoming obsolete.[12] According to Dor Bahadur Bista (1991), "the Khas have vanished from the ethnographic map of Nepal".[14]



Modern day Khas people are referred as Khas Brahmin (commonly called as Khas Bahun) , Khas Rajput (commonly called as Khas Chhetri) and Khas Dalits.[28] Khas people are popularly referred in modern times as Khas Arya. As per the explanation of legal provisions of Constitution of Nepal, Khas Arya comprises Brahmin, Kshetri, Thakur and Sanyasi (Dashnami) community.[29] This legal provision excludes Khas Dalits.They are denied quota and reservations in civil services and other sectors due to their history of socio-political dominance in Nepal.[1][2] But they are allowed reservation in federal parliament and provincial legislature.[30] The European Union has been accused of direct interference, creating ethnic strife and negative discrimination towards Khas Arya due to their recommendation to remove the reservation for Khas Aryas.[31][30]

Khas of Nepal
Khas group Cast or surnames
Chhetri[32] Chhetri (Kshatriya), K.C., Karki, khulal, Bhandari, Khadka, Bisht, Bohora, Chauhan, Thapa, Khatri, Kunwar, Basnet / Basnyat, Gharti-Chhetri (G.C.), Khatri-Chhetri (K.C.), Silwal, Punwar / Panwar, Rawat/Raut, Rana, Ranabhat/Ranavat, Bogati, Budhathoki(B.c),jamwal, Baruwal, Katwal, Rawal, Rayamajhi, Pandey, Dangi (DC), Dahal , buda
Purniya Bahun Acharya, Adhikari, Baral, Banskota, Banstola, Bhandari, Bhattarai, Chaulagai, Chapagain, Dahal (Rupakheti), Devkota, Dhungel, Ghimire, Guragain, Humagain, Khanal, Koirala, Lamsal/Lamshal, Nepal, Pokharel, Poudel, Rijal, Sigdel, Sanjel, Subedi
Kumai Bahun Awasthi, Bhatta, Bhetwal, ,Chiluwal, Gyawali, Joshi, Kadel/Kandel, Kharel, Lohani, Mainali, Oli, Pandey, Paneru, Panta, Pathak, Prasai, Regmi, Sangraula, Sedhai, Shiwakoti/siwakoti, Simkhada, Sitaula, Thapaliya, Upreti
Bishwokarma Bika, Kami, Lohar, Sunar, Od, Chunanra, Parki, Tamata
Dalit Pariyar (Damai, Darjee, Suchikar, Nagarchee, Dholee, Hudke), Mijar (Sarki, Charmakar, Bhool), Gaine, Baadi
Thakuri Thakuri, Bam, Banshi, Barma, Chand , Dev, Hamal, Khand, Malla, Paal, Rathore, Raya, Samal, Sen, Shah, Shahi, Singh, Deuba.
Dashnami Sanyasi Giri, Puri, Bharathi, Ban, Tirtha, Parvat, Sagar, Saraswati, Aashram, Aranya


In Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand in India, too, the term Khas has become obsolete. The Khas (or Khasia) people of Kumaon adopted the self-designation Kumaoni Jiagahari Rajput, after being elevated to the Rajput status by the Chand kings. The term Khas is almost obsolete, and people resent being addressed as Khas because of the negative stereotypes associated with this term.[13]

Notable people



  1. 1 2 Khadka, Suman (25 Feb 2015). "Drawing caste lines". The Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  2. 1 2 "Khas Arya quota provision in civil services opposed". 10 November 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  3. "Nepal's election may at last bring stability". The Economist. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  4. "The Kathmandu Post -PM briefs international community". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  5. Times, Nepali. "Quotable quota". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  6. "Next Door Nepal: Another chink in the wall". 2 April 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  7. "Oli in balancing avatar". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  8. "Nepal seeks unity from its first local elections in 20 years". Nikkei Asian Review. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  9. "Lessons for India From Nepal's History of Banning Cow Slaughter - The Wire". The Wire. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  10. "What does high caste chauvinism look like?". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  11. Hagen & Thapa 1998, p. 114.
  12. 1 2 William Brook Northey & C. J. Morris 1928, p. 123.
  13. 1 2 K. S. Singh 2005, p. 851.
  14. 1 2 3 Dor Bahadur Bista 1991, p. 48.
  15. 1 2 Whelpton 2005, p. 31.
  16. Sharma 1999, p. 181.
  17. Dor Bahadur Bista 1991, p. 15.
  18. 1 2 Sharma 1999, p. 112.
  19. John T Hitchcock 1978, p. 113.
  20. John T Hitchcock 1978, pp. 112-119.
  21. 1 2 Richard Burghart 1984, p. 107.
  22. 1 2 Dor Bahadur Bista 1991, p. 37.
  23. Richard Burghart 1984, p. 117.
  24. 1 2 Richard Burghart 1984, p. 119.
  25. Richard Burghart 1984, p. 118.
  26. Richard Burghart 1984, pp. 118-119.
  27. Susan Thieme 2006, p. 83.
  28. John T Hitchcock 1978, pp. 116-119.
  30. 1 2
  32. Subba, Tanka Bahadur (1989). Dynamics of a hill society: Nepalis in Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas. Mittal Publications. ISBN 9788173041143. Some of the Chhetri clans are Adhikari, Baniya, Basnet, Bist, Bohra, Bura or Burathoki, Gharti, Karki, Khadka, Dhami, Khatri, Khulal, Mahat, Raut, Rana, Roka, Thapa, etc.
  33. 1 2 3 Pradhan 2012, p. 22.


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