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Religions Jainism
Languages Bengali, Hindi
Populated States Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar

The Saraks (Bengali: সরাক) (from Sanskrit Śrāvaka) is a community in Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa . They have been followers of Jainism since ancient times, however were isolated and separated from the main body of the Jain community in western, northern and southern India. The governments of India and West Bengal both have classified Saraks under Other Backward Classes since 1994.[1]


The Saraks are an ancient community in Jharkhand and Bengal. British anthropologist Edward Tuite Dalton noted that according to the Bhumij tradition in Singhbhum district, the Saraks were early settlers in the region.[2] According to Santosh Kumar Kundu, the Saraks arrived from the north western region of India, presently in Uttar Pradesh. In the region between the rivers Barakar and Damodar, two democratic republics, Shikharbhum and Panchakot, flourished. Later they merged and came to be known as Shikharbhum, with the capital at Panchakot. According to Ramesh Chandra Majumder, the Jain scholar Bhadrabahu, the second Louhacharya and the author of Kalpa Sutra may have come from the Sarak community.[3] The Saraks were agriculturists and moneylenders having landed properties.

They have continued to remain vegetarian even though this practice is uncommon among other communities in the region. Saraks have Parshva as a favored patron and recite the Ṇamōkāra mantra. They revere both Hidu and some Jain idols.

The region is called Vajjabhumi in ancient texts because diamonds were once mined in the region.[4] The Tirthankara Mahavira visited this region according to the Kalpa Sūtra.The low profile ‘Sarak’ solely depends on agriculture for their livelihood. One can see numerous youngsters carrying axe in their hands who are unaware of the modernity of the progressive society. On the one hand where we feel highly responsible towards Indian values, there are ‘Sarak’, who are not even acquainted with education, technology and art. Peaceful and simple by nature, ‘Sarak’ people claim with proud that none of them have ever been to jail for committing any kind of crime. They are well accomplished in the art of arbitration and do not believe in any kind of violence. They do not even use words like, ‘kill’ or ‘cut’ in their daily conversation. They celebrate Jain festivals like Mahaveer Janam Kalyanak.

A group of Saraks from northern parts of Purulia district migrated to the Subarnarekha valley and established a small state by the name Ruam. There is a village existing by the same name in Musabani Block of East Singhbhum district very close the Uranium town of Jaduguda. They are the people who started mining of Copper ore for the first time in Singhbhum Shear Zone which is now famous for mining of precious metals such as Copper, Gold, Silver and Uranium. The Saraks of Ruam also mastered the art of smelting of copper. It is also evident that famous ancient port of Tamralipta ows its name to the copper mined and processed in the Sarak country of Ruam which was exported to the South East Asian kingdoms in a large scale.

Separation and rediscovery

The Saraks lost contact with Jains in the rest of India after its conquest by Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji. Contact with the Digambara Bundelkhand Jains was reestablished when the Parwars Manju Chaudhary (1720–1785) was appointed the governor of Cuttack by the Maratha Empire.

Saraks are concentrated in Purulia district of West Bengal and Ranchi, Dumka and Giridih districts and Singhbhum region of Jharkhand. The Saraks belonging to most of Jharkhand and West Bengal are Bengali speakers while those living in historical Singhbhum region speak Singhbhumi Odia.

In 2009, more than 165 Sarak Jains living in parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar visited the ancient Jain pilgrimage center of Shravanabelagola. A special function to welcome the Sarak Jains was organised at Shravanabelagola.[5]

A social organization called, 'Sarak Samaj Unnayan Samity' is working for the welfare of sarak community. Its main goals include eradicating dowry system from the Sarak community.


In the past they were engaged in copper mining in the region.[6] Most Saraks are farmers engaged in rice cultivation. Some of them have shops related to agriculture. Many are well educated. There are some teachers, doctors and professors in this community. It has been found that in this region Sarak students are excellent in education.

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List of Sarak Villages

  1. Basudih
  2. Burnpur
  3. Rupnarayanpur
  4. Jamtara
  5. Salanpur
  6. Jamuria
  7. Udaypur
  8. Dhadkidih
  9. Upardih
  10. Ichar
  11. Bagicha
  12. Jhapra
  13. Patharbandh
  14. Kanshibera
  15. Mongram
  16. Gobindapur
  17. Senera
  18. Khajra
  19. Antumajirdih
  20. Laragora
  21. Bhagabandh
  22. Gourangodih
  23. Metyalsahar
  24. Raghunathpur
  25. Nanduara
  26. Gobindapur
  27. Ekunja
  28. Beniasole
  29. Gosaidanga
  30. Nutandih
  31. Durmat
  32. Bathan
  33. Kanchkiyari
  34. Naragoria
  35. Ghutitora
  36. Kelahi
  37. Simlon
  38. Khajura
  39. Upar Khajura
  40. Layekdanga
  41. Senera
  42. Sikratanr
  43. Lachmanpur
  44. Jumduara
  45. Bero
  46. Puraton Bero
  47. Bagicha
  48. Kanthalbero
  49. Brindabanpur
  50. Kalapathar
  51. Panchmahali
  52. Upar Panchpahari
  53. Nama Panchpahari
  54. Biltora
  55. Dhanardanga
  56. Bangsagram
  57. Gobag
  58. Lachiya
  59. Janardandi
  60. Hetabahal
  61. Anthumajirdih
  62. Patharbandh
  63. Sarapdhar
  64. Talajuri
  65. Mohulkoka
  66. Indrabil
  67. Gourangdih
  68. Babirdih
  69. Rajra
  70. Murlu
  71. Radhamadhabpur
  72. Bodma
  73. Lalpur
  74. Metyalsahar
  75. Bhagabandh
  76. Kashibera
  77. Managram
  78. Barda
  79. Sundrabandh
  80. Paranpur
  81. Alkusa
  82. Fuliddi
  83. Choutala
  84. Mahula
  85. Palma
  86. Banbera
  87. Nimbayd
  88. Soyar
  89. Jhapra
  90. Jabarra
  91. Sankra
  92. Para Kelyahi
  93. Bagatbari
  94. Fusrabaid
  95. Asanbani
  96. Layara
  97. Ichhar
  98. Upardih
  99. Kamargora
  100. Khamarmahul
  101. Santaldih
  102. Balichasa
  103. Udaypur
  104. Dhadkidi
  105. Tatogram
  106. Amchatar
  107. Bahara
  108. Darda
  109. Putlya
  110. Thakurdih
  111. Surulia
  112. Bathanbari
  113. Bhandarkuli
  114. Kantabani
  115. Lakhipur
  116. Churmi
  117. Mahal
  118. Bhajudi
  119. Choudhuri Bandh
  120. Shibbabuddi
  121. Asansole
  122. Gandharbadih
  123. Parbatpur
  124. Uparbandha
  125. Karmatanr
  126. Debogram
  127. Postabari
  128. Belut
  129. Belanga
  130. Kumardih
  131. Madhudih
  132. Nowadih
  133. Dewaltand
  134. Rugri
  135. Aagsia
  136. Chipri
  137. Tarai
  138. Tamar
  139. Norhi
  140. Bundu
  141. Pangura

See also


  1. "Government of West Bengal: List of Other Backward Classes". Govt. of West Bengal. Retrieved December 23, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Ghosh, Binay (2010) [1957]. Pashchimbanger Samskriti (in Bengali). 1 (2nd ed.). Kolkata: Prakash Bhawan. pp. 447–449. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Kundu, Santosh Kumar (2008). Bangali Hindu Jati Parichay (in Bengali). Kolkata: Presidency Library. pp. 273–275. ISBN 978-81-89466-13-8. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Historical Background (Archived December 9, 2009 at the Wayback Machine)
  5. "> News Updates". Www.Jainheritagecentres.Com. 2009-09-02. Retrieved 2012-05-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Prof. V. Ball, 1868, Geological Survey of India