(1) BANYAN, s. a. A Hindu trader, and especially of the Province of Guzerat, many of which class have for ages been settled in Arabian ports and known by this name; but the term is often applied by early travellers in Western India to persons of the Hindu religion generally. b. In Calcutta also it is (or perhaps rather was) specifically applied to the native brokers attached to houses of business, or to persons in the employment of a private gentleman doing analogous duties (now usually called sircar).

The word was adopted from Vaniya, a man of the trading caste (in Gujarati vaniyo), and that comes from Skt. vanij, ‘a merchant.’ The terminal nasal may be a Portuguese addition (as in palanquin, mandarin, Bassein), or it may be taken from the plural form vaniyan. It is probable, however, that the Portuguese found the word already in use by the Arab traders. Sidi’Ali, the Turkish Admiral, uses it in precisely the same form, applying it to the Hindus generally; and in the poem of Sassui and Panhu, the Sindian Romeo and Juliet, as given by Burton in his Sindh (p. 101), we have the form Waniyan. P. F. Vincenzo Maria, who is quoted below absurdly alleges that the Portuguese called these Hindus of Guzerat Bagnani, because they were always washing themselves “.… chiamati da Portughesi Bagnani, per la frequenza e superstitione, con quale si lauano piu volte il giorno” (251). See also Luillier below. The men of this class profess an extravagant respect for animal life; but after Stanley brought home Dr. Livingstone’s letters they became notorious as chief promoters of slave-trade in Eastern Africa. A. K. Forbes speaks of the mediæval Wanias at the Court of Anhilwara as “equally gallant in the field (with Rajputs), and wiser in council…already in profession puritans of peace, but not yet drained enough of their fiery Kshatri blood.”—(Ras Mala, i. 240; [ed. 1878, 184].)

Bunya is the form in which Vaiya appears in the Anglo-Indian use of Bengal, with a different shade of meaning, and generally indicating a grain-dealer.

1516.—“There are three qualíties of these Gentiles, that is to say, some are called Razbuts…others are called Banians, and are merchants and traders.”—Barbosa, 51.

1552.—“…Among whom came certain men who are called Baneanes of the same heathen of the Kingdom of Cambaia…coming on board the ship of Vasco da Gama, and seeing in his cabin a pictorial image of Our Lady, to which our people did reverence, they also made adoration with much more fervency.…”—Barros, Dec., I. liv. iv. cap. 6.

1555.—“We may mention that the inhabitants of Guzerat call the unbelievers Banyans, whilst the inhabitants of Hindustan call them Hinda”—Sidi’Ali Kapudan, in J. As., 1ère S. ix. 197–8.

1563.—“R. If the fruits were all as good as this (mango) it would be no such great matter in the Baneanes, as you tell me, not to eat flesh. And since I touch on this matter, tell me, prithee, who are these Baneanes…who do not eat flesh?…”—Garcia, f. 136.

1608.—“The Gouernour of the Towne of Gandeuee is a Bannyan, and one of those kind of people that obserue the Law of Pythagoras.”—Jones, in Purchas, i. 231.

[1610.—“Baneanes.” See quotation under BANKSHALL, a.]

1623.—“One of these races of Indians is that of those which call themselves Vanià, but who are called, somewhat corruptly by the Portuguese, and by all our other Franks, Banians; they are all, for the most part, traders and brokers.”—P. della Valle, i. 486–7; [and see i. 78 Hak. Soc.].

1630.—“A people presented themselves to mine eyes, cloathed in linnen garments, somewhat low descending, of a gesture and garbe, as I may say, maidenly and well nigh effeminate; of a countenance shy, and somewhat estranged; yet smiling out a glosed and bashful familiarity.… I asked what manner of people these were, so strangely notable, and notably strange. Reply was made that they were Banians.”—Lord, Preface.

1665.—“In trade these Banians are a thousand times worse than the Jews; more expert in all sorts of cunning tricks, and more maliciously mischievous in their revenge.”—Tavernier, E. T. ii. 58; [ed. Ball, i. 136, and see i. 91].

c. 1666.—“Aussi chacun a son Banian dans les Indes, et il y a des personnes de qualité qui leur confient tout ce qu’ils ont.…”—Thevenot, v. 166. This passage shows in anticipation the transition to the Calcutta use (b., below).

1672.—“The inhabitants are called Guizeratts and Benyans.”—Baldueus, 2.

“It is the custom to say that to make one Bagnan (so they call the Gentile Merchants) you need three Chinese, and to make one Chinese three Hebrews.”—P. F. Vincenzo di Maria, 114.

1673.—“The Banyan follows the Soldier, though as contrary in Humour as the Antipodes in the same Meridian are opposite to one another.… In Cases of Trade they are not so hide-bound, giving their Consciences more Scope, and boggle at no Villainy for an Emolument.”—Fryer, 193.

1677.—“In their letter to Ft. St. George, 15th March, the Court offer £20 reward to any of our servants or soldiers as shall be able to speak, write, and translate the Banian language, and to learn their arithmetic.”—In Madras Notes and Exts., No. I. p. 18.

1705.—“…ceux des premieres castes, comme les Baignans.”—Luillier, 106.

1813.—“…it will, I believe, be generally allowed by those who have dealt

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