The CKP Community
The Gupte family of Karjat traces its origin to Mahad a place in Raigadh district (earlier called Kolaba district) of Maharashtra state. Guptes belong to a community called Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP for short). This community's geographical origin is uncertain. The Kayastha community of Maharashtra is a relatively small community but there is a larger community called only 'Kayasthas' in the north of India. The origin of the CKP community is variously lodged in the eastern part of UP, Rajasthan or even Kashmir. It is not clear whether the Kayasthas of the north and those of Maharashtra originated from the same area - whatever that was.
Origin of the Gupte Name
The history of 17th century Marathas shows that members of the CKP community were active in Shivaji's time as commanders of Maratha forces. Among these were Murarbaji Deshpande, Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Sardar Potnis and others. During Shivaji's period the members of this community were also put in charge of forts and were designated as Gadkaris – “Gad” in Marathi means a fort. Some community members were also revenue collectors of the Marathas and were called Kulkarnis or Deshmukhs.
In this context, one of the members of our family had an interesting experience. Principal J.R. Gharpure, an authority on Hindu Law, and well steeped in the origin and history of the CKP community, was teaching a class of LLM students. Among them were two CKPs, one V.R. Gupte of our family and another Madhukar Potnis. In the course of the discussion, Principal Gharpure asked the two CKPs, "Do you know the origin of your family names?" Both replied in the negative. Then he explained that those CKPs who were placed in charge of the secret service in Shivaji’s time, were called Guptes - from the word “Gupt” meaning secret. And those in charge of the granaries were called Potnis, because grain was stored in gunny bags called “Pota” in Marathi. Thus, the family name Gupte may have originated in the profession of our forefathers, tracing the original founder of the Gupte clan to historical times. A well known scion of the Gupte clan who became quite famous was Rango Bapuji Gupte, who represented the Peshwas before the British Parliament. He went to England in the second decade of the 19th century after acquiring great mastery over the English language, not a very common occurrence in those days, and pleaded Peshwas’ case for over 15 years with consummate skill. Therein, perhaps, lies the root of the profession to which a horde of CKPs belong, at least six in the Gupte family of Karjat.
Gupte Family of Karjat
Reverting to the Gupte family of Karjat, it appears that in the mid-fifties of the 19th century two brothers from the original Gupte family of Mahad came to Karjat in search of a living and started acting as Goods Agents for the Great Indian Peninsular Railway which had started operating between Mumbai and Pune. Our direct ancestor was Pandurang Gupte who had a son, Anant. Anant had three sons, Yashwant (Bapu), Kashinath and Gajanan. Bapu’s father, Anant, died rather young at the age of 40-42 in or around 1897. At that time Bapu was barely 18 years of age and the responsibility of the family fell on Bapu's young shoulders. The family then consisted of Bapu, his two brothers and their mother Santubai. Kashinath moved away from Karjat and settled in Pune. Gajanan continued to reside in Karjat and his branch also grew up with that of Bapu until the early 1960s.
The First Generation
Not much is known about Anant since he died when Bapu was just about 18 years old. Some old documents in the Modi script recovered from our old Karjat house also throw no light on Anant's lifetime. Bapu got married in or around 1898 and his first wife died within a year of his marriage in the plague epidemic that raged frequently in Karjat. Bapu got married a second time to Chinubai Chitre of Poladpur who was named Rajasbai in her new family, and we know her as Mothi Ai. In all, they had 13 children between 1901 and 1930, of which two did not survive. In the absence of many details about Anant's lifetime, the narrative of the family history has necessarily to begin with Bapu. Hence, we will consider him to be the Pater Familias of the family as it exists today. His will be referred to as the first generation, that of his children as second and so on. On that basis the family is now in its fifth generation. The individual biographies of Bapu, Mothi Ai and senior members of the 2nd generation can be accessed through the family tree which is a part of the site. This overview is therefore limited in its contents.
The Second Generation
The second generation headed by Raghunath alias Bhau consisted of a total of 11 siblings, born over a period of 29 years from 1901 to 1930. The last three members of this generation – Nalini (Ranadive), Shashikant and Avinash – in terms of their ages, were really a part of the third generation. This phenomenon repeats in the third generation as well, since the eldest of this generation and the youngest are separated by as many as 25 years. This generational overlap is inevitable in a large family as ours. The Third and Later Generations
The most distinguishing feature of the Gupte family of Karjat is that its entire membership is highly educated, which has proved to be its strength. Based on this solid foundation, every generation made greater progress than its predecessor in material terms without the loss of the family's inherent culture. Education has bred a liberal outlook, tolerance, sophistication and vision among its members. The love and regard for each other in various branches and generations must be attributed to the bringing up of all the generations in an atmosphere devoid of any disaffection.
While the second generation and a majority of the third generation found their prosperity in India, the migration to far away places started with mid-level members of the third generation in the late 1960s and early 1970s. From then, the trend accelerated and it would not be incorrect to say that only a minority of members of the 4th generation is now based in India. The geographical dispersal of the family is mostly limited to USA, Canada, and UK with a few in the Middle East.
The march of the family from relatively humble beginnings to the present state is briefly catalogued in the address delivered at the family get together at Chiplun in Dec. 2004 and is a part of the Guptefamily site.