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7.4 Population of the three communities on time scale

Before discussing the population of these communities, it is necessary to understand the population growth of humans in India and world from the time when they started to evolve.

7.4.1 Population of world
According to research and genetic evidences, the present human population of the world is estimated to be descending from 1,000-10,000 breeding pairs of humans who lived in Africa around 70000 BC. By 8000 BC, the number is estimated to have grown approximately 15 million with the population migrating and settling in different parts of the world. By 1st AD, the number is estimated between 170 and 400 million. For the next 1650 years, it is estimated to be nearly stagnant due to heightened levels of clashes between different civilizations. By the 17th century, mortality rate went down considerably in certain regions of the world due to industrialization followed by advancement in medical science. As a result, the overall population of humans saw a rapid increase in its numbers and got doubled in just 150 years (1650-1804). With the spread of industrialization and revolution in medical sciences across the world in the coming period, the growth rate accelerated further. The population doubled in 123 years from 1804-1927 and then only in 48 years from 1927-1975, refer table 7.4.1. The trend is likely to remain same for the period of 1975-2025. It is expected that such rapid growth will continue for some more period before it moderates and finally recede.

Table 7.4.1 The world population on time scale [69]


Population Number

70000- 77000 BC (population bottleneck)

1000 – 10000 breeding pairs

8000 BC

5-15 million (50 lakh - 1.5 crore)

1 AD

170 – 400 million (17- 40 crore)

1000 AD

254 – 345 million (25.4 – 34.5 crore)

1650 AD

470 - 545 million (47 -54.5 crore)

1804 AD

1 billion (100 crore)

1927 AD

2 billion (200 crore)

1960 AD

3 billion (300 crore)

1975 AD

4 billion (400 crore)

1999 AD

6 billion (600 crore)

2006 AD

2011 AD

6.5 billion (650 crore)

7.0 billion (700 crore)

7.4.2 Population of humans in India over a period of time

India, one of the oldest civilizations of the world, saw flourishing of human culture from thousands of years due to favorable living conditions. The Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and various mythological works are good literary sources that reveal the values prevalent in ancient India. These works, however, do not help much in estimation of population number or its growth. Based on the descriptions of armies of Pandavas and Kaurvas in the epic Mahabharata, Krishnan in 1988 estimated the population of India between 29.6 and 39.4 million (2.96 – 3.94 crore) at the time of Mahabharata war.

7.4.2a Population around 300 BC [70]
The historical evidences suggest a substantial human population in India even prior to the Christian era. The facts can be gathered from the writings of foreign scholars who visited India during that period. According to Herodotus (490 BC), India was the most populous of all countries in the world. Alexander’s army that invaded India in 327-326 BC, found a large population here. One small kingdom was said to have 37 towns of over 5,000 inhabitants each. The first real empire of India under Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 BC) left records indicating the existence of a standing army of approximately 700,000 (7 lakh) men. To support such a large army, a substantial population had to be there. Based on the historical evidences, Kingsley Davis estimated the population of this period between 100 and 140 million (10 to 14 Crore). The estimate was confirmed by Pran Nath who after a painstaking survey of the literatures concluded that the population of India in 300 BC was between 100 and 140 million. If one considers 400 million as world population for that period, then the entire subcontinent (including Afghanistan) ruled by Chandragupta Maurya was home of minimum 25% of total human population of the world.

7.4.2b Population around 1600 AD [70]
In 1920, Moreland cited the contemporary accounts to show that in 15th and 16th centuries, Europeans were impressed by the density of settlements in India, both on the plains and the Deccans. Some European visitors considered the country to be overpopulated at that time. Their estimation indicates that India had cities with quarter to half a million in population. Taking into account the strength of the army in the south and the land under cultivation in Akbar’s empire for which a contemporary figure is available and making adjustments for areas about which little was known, Moreland concluded that the total population of India at that time was around 100 million. Other historians also estimated the population of that period and gave figures ranging from 110 to 140 million, refer Table 7.4.2b. These estimates are in agreement with the trend in world population numbers that showed stagnancy from 1st century AD to 1650 AD.

Table 7.4.2b Population figure of India by various historians


Population in million

Estimate Provided By

300 B.C

100 – 140

Pran Nath in 1929 AD

AD 1600

100  (10 crore)

125 (12.5 crore)

135 (13.5 crore)

110 (11 crore)

140 (14 crore)

Moreland in 1920 AD

Davis in 1951 AD

Das Gupta in 1972 AD

Datta in 1960 AD     

Durand in 1967 AD                                                                                                                               

AD 1750

125 (12.5 crore)

Davis in 1951 AD

AD 1800

207 (20.7 crore)

Mahalaonbis and Bhattacharya in 1976 AD

AD 1871

255 (25.5 crore)

Census of India, 1871

7.4.2c Growth of population in later years

The growth of population in India was recorded by census that happened every 10th year since 1881, refer Table 7.4.2c. The population growth of undivided Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states have been also recorded in table as these are home to the majority population of Maurya, Babhan and Mall - Sainthwar communities.

Table 7.4.2c Population growth from 1891-2011 AD

Census Year

Population in Million

Population in Crore

% Increase or decrease in every 10 year (India)

% Increase or decrease in every 10 year (Undivided Uttar Pradesh)

% Increase or decrease in every 10 year (Undivided Bihar) [71]













































































7.4.2d Analysis of the population growth in India
1. The population was nearly stagnant in the period of 300 BC - 1650 AD. It was estimated to be between 100 and 140 million.
2. For 1750 AD, the estimated population was around 125 million.
3. For 1800 AD, the estimated population was around 207 million, a huge jump of 65.6% from the population figure of 1750. It implied an average annual growth rate of 1.01% for 50 years.
4. The census of 1871 records 255 million populations in India. This gives an average annual growth rate of 0.3% for the period of 1800-1871.
5. Till 1921 AD, the population remained stagnant at 251 million. This has given negative average annual growth rate for 50 years.
6. From 1921 till 1951, the annual population growth rate was approximately 1.3 %.
7. From 1951 till 2001, the population grew at fastest rate and recorded average annual growth rate of more than 2.1 %.
8. From 2001 till 2011, the growth rate moderated and the average annual growth rate was recorded at 1.8%. 

The overall picture is that from the period of Mauryas till 1871 or till 1921, the population increased steadily becoming almost double in 2200 years. Although the average annual growth rate is minuscule, there must have been fluctuations due to peace time, war, natural calamity, epidemics etc. The effect of industrialization and advancement in medical sciences on population growth happened in the beginning of the 20th century and the number started increasing due to decreased mortality rates. In the next half of the 20th century, the number increased very rapidly and the period is referred as ‘population explosion in India’. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, refer Table 7.4.2c, the population recorded lower growth rates till 1971 compared to pan India level. The reason behind the lag was higher mortality rates compared to other states. As the benefits of medical sciences reached to the majority population of both states in the late 20th century, the regions showed a delayed population explosion compared to other states. In the beginning of the 21st century, the growth rate started moderating across India except the undivided Bihar. As Bihar started late on various human development index, the rapid growth was delayed and therefore its moderation too will be delayed. Overall from 1901 till 2011, the population of India grew by 5.07 times. In the same period, the population of undivided Bihar grew by 5.01 times from the base of 27.312 million in 1901 to 136.771 million in 2011. Undivided Uttar Pradesh, which remained a crucible of human civilization in India from the ancient times and thus becoming the most populous region, actually recorded lower cumulative population growth rate for the same period. Its population grew by 4.31 times from the base of 48.6 million in 1901 to 209.7 million in 2011; although the returns can be slightly on lower side due to migration and settlement of its population in other states after 1970s.

7.4.3 Population of the three communities over a period of time

The population of Mauryas, Mall-Sainthwars and Bhumihars are found in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It is fair to assume that these communities could have shown similar growth in population as that witnessed by states in the period of 1901 to 2011. On bigger time scale, the population of India before the Common Era is estimated to be nearly half of that recorded in the census of 1871 or 1921. Based on it, the population of the ancestors of the three communities can be given as half of the numbers recorded in the censuses of 1865 or 1921, refer Table 7.4.3

Table 7.4.3 Approximate population of communities around 300 BC and 2011 AD


300 BC (approx.)

1921 AD Census

2011 AD (approx 4.8 times from 1921)

Bhumihar Brahmin / Babhan



5,600,000 approx.

Murao and Koiri (including Mauryas)



1,100,000 approx.




590,000 approx.

Though it can be always argued that the population figure for the ancestors of three communities in the year 300 BC cannot be same as that estimated above due to various social, political and religious situations like migration, religious conversions, epidemic, war, peace etc., but the approximate population number arrived in such a way will help to understand the validity of certain myths and legends associated with the origin of three communities.


[69] Sharma, R. K. (2004). Demography and Population Problems, pp. 61-62. New Delhi: Atlantic
[70] Sahu, B. K. (2004). Aids and Population Education, pp. 133-136’ New Delhi: Sterling.
[71] Wadhva, C. D., Saxena, B. N. & Sharma, O. P. (2003). Populization Stabilization Through District Action Plans, p. 72. New Delhi: A. P. H.


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