Sahu is an Indian and Pakistani surname belonging to the Vaishya varna (Merchant Class) or Jat varna (Peasant Class)which is Padmashali caste who called as chettiyar in south India& north India respectively.
They derive their name Sahu, or sometimes pronounced Sao and Sah, from their ancestral family business of bankers and money lending: from the Hindi word SAHUKAR, meaning, in a sense, persons dealing with money. Sahu Vaishya also have traditional business of oilseeds and oil milling.
"Sahu" (Hindi साहु) belonging to the Jatt varna and Rajput (suryavanshi) varna of India, known as Sahu Vaishyas and Rajasthani's is a business varna among Hindus. People belonging to this community bear different surnames in different regions and states of India, such as. sahoo, Shahu,Jaiswal, Patel, Shah, Sahu c/Saw, Prasad, Gupta, Rathore,kalya Vaniyar, Gorai, Keshri, Samani, Sadhu-Khan, Das, Kubara/Kubera, Talakar, TeliLingayat, Gandla, Telikula, Modi, Devathilakula, Teli Rathod, Ganiga, Bahaldia, Gandhi, Malya, Teli. Marriages happen within this community irrespective of the family name or title. The Guptas, Modi, Rathore, Vaniyar and Das are however on the lowest peasant class in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Most Sahus live in Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Rajasthan Gujarat. Some of the community live in the state of Haryana also.Sahu's in Haryana are Jats and mainly agriculturalist.
There is a sizable community of Sahus living in Pakistan's South Punjab. They are mostly Seraiki speaking jats of South Punjab. Seraiki speaking sahus living in south Punjab mostly practice Islam as their religion. The Sahus of Pakistan are scattered in the districts of Multan, Khanewal, Rajan pur, Bahawalpur, Lodhran and Vehari. The majority of Sahus in Pakistan is attached with farming and are owner of small or big land holdings.
Although there has been misconception about the sahus/telis been categorized under OBC in most of the part in India, the Sahus in Chattisgarh are considered to be in general categories. The Madhya Pradesh government in consensus with the central government has marked sahus in M.P. (then Chattisgarh) as non OBC based on the prosperous nature of the community and have declined further certificates to sahus as OBC.
Majority of sahu are tradesmen and belong to highest profession in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Most sahus in Orissa and Chhatisgarh are farmers. Chattisgarh sahus are known for there rituals which are very much similar to the Brahmins and are also known as sub-Brahmins.
According to legend, once upon a time a holy soul named Maa Karmabai was born in a Sahu/Teli family. One day an elephant of the king of Narvargarh had an infection in his skin and the rajvaidya suggested that his life could only be saved by bathing in a pond of oil. The king instructed his people to fill the pond with oil in 3 days or else he would kill one of the tradesmen. But this was an impossible task. Karma Bai prayed and managed to fill the whole pond with oil with just a jar. When the king saw this he felt very guilty. From that day onwards Sahu families worship Ma Karma Bai.
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