The "Seed Man" and the
Every major patrilineage,
called mul by Maithil
Brahmans, was founded by an "apical ancestor," the viji
purusha, in the thirteenth century. These founding ancestors were settled in a particular village, which generally
was the name given to the mul. In some cases the viji purusha founded more than one mul if his sons and grandsons at a critical juncture had resettled
in a different village, as Brahmans sometimes did, when given land-gifts or called to a village as purohit to a major landowner.
The association of a mul with
a village, however, was critical.
The word mul literally means "roots of a tree." Roots are founded in the earth; territoriality
is implicit in the very concept. The viji purusha, or the "seed man" who founded the mul,
is a kind of eternal father of an eternal lineage, housed more or less permanently in a village.
The question is, is there
an eternal mother?
The King and the Genealogies
of Maithil Brahmans
In 1310, Raja Harisingh Deva
ordered the creation of written genealogies for all the superior castes of the kingdom. This event was known as panji
prabandha, the founding of the panji (genealogical) system.
Genealogists went to all the
principal castes to write down each family’s ancestors for the last six generations. These were the relatives who had
to be remembered in order to avoid incest. There were other reasons, as well: All the descendants from a common ancestor had
to observe certain ritual restrictions, such as death tabus.