Kayasthas are a prominent caste among Hindus in north India, having surnames like Shrivastava, Saxena, Sahai, Prasad, Verma, Sinha, Khare, Bose, Sen, Kotnis, Mathur, Bhatnagar, etc
Kayasthas are usually an educated class who are, and have been judges, lawyers, professors, doctors, bureaucrats, politicians, etc
In feudal society .Kayasthas were the scribes and record keepers, e.g. patwaris, kanungos, etc. Some of them rose to high positions in the Mughal Empire e.g. Raja Todar Mal.
In modern times they have distinguished themselves in various fields e.g. Swami Vivekanand, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was the first President of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, who was a Prime Minister, Justice J.S. Verma, who was a Chief Justice of India, Firaq Gorakhpuri and Munshi Premchand in literature, Dr. Kotnis who heroically sacrificed his life serving the Chinese people in their fight against the Japanese invaders, etc.
They have been very proficient in Persian and Urdu. Firaq Gorakhpuri ( whose real name was Raghupati Sahai ) was a foremost Urdu poet. Munshi Premchand, Neeraj and Mahadevi Verma are well known in Hindi literature.
Kayasthas are known to be very intelligent and clever, and the following story illustrates this :
In the reign of Wajid Ali Shah, the Nawab of Avadh, in the mid 19th century, there was an elderly Kayastha ( let us call him Shrivastava ) who was a clerk in charge of disbursing salaries to the Avadh state officials.
One day Shrivastava was walking on a road in Lucknow when from the other side came galloping on his horse an officer in the Nawab's army ( let us call him Sardar Mohammed Ali Khan ). On seeing the old clerk on his way the army officer took out his whip and gave the clerk one lash, which made the clerk fall down.
The clerk had noted the countenance of the army officer, and the next day when the army officer came to collect his monthly salary he saw that it was the same person who had given him a lash the previous day. So Shrivastava took out his record book and quickly made some alterations therein.
When the army officer came to the clerk's counter to collect his salary, Shrivastava asked him who he was. The officer replied that he was Sardar Mohammed Ali Khan. The clerk gazed at him, looked at his record,and then nodded his head,and said that he was not Sardar Mohammed Ali Khan. This made the army officer angry, and he insisted that he was indeed that person. The clerk then showed the army officer the record, where Sardar Mohammed Ali Khan was described as a person with one eye, one ear, his nose cut off, and 4 front teeth missing. He said that he will make payment only to the person with that description.
The result was that that the army officer had to go and get one eye plucked out, one ear and the nose cut off, and 4 front teeth extracted before he could get his salary !
The moral of the story is : don't mess with Kayasthas. If you do,they can do you enormous damage in retaliation without wielding a weapon.
There is another story of the Kayastha who was sentenced to count the waves, but I will not relate that for fear that some Kayastha may file a defamation case against me !
Markandey Katju is Former Chairman, Press Council of India and Former Judge, Supreme Court of India.. he posted this on his facebook wall.