Kulaji (from Sanskrit kulapavji) genealogical chronicle. Kulaji gives history of castes and their branches as well as description of their genealogical status and also many other social details. Marriages among the castes as well as the rites pertaining to different festivals are determined according to the kulaji. The kulajis, which contain the social history of ancient Bengal, were written to maintain discipline in society and purity of bloodlines. Their writers were known as ghataks or matchmakers. Kulajis in Bengal were written in both [Sanskrit|sanskrit]] and Bangla.
According to historians, kulaji literature developed in the 16th century. Rameshwar's Shivayan and bharatchandra's Annadamabgal indicate that, by the 18th century, casteism among the higher Hindu classes was firmly established with the help of these books. Most kulaji books were written during the 18th and the 19th centuries. During this period the earlier kulajis were also extensively revised and expanded.
The number of kulaji books is quite large. Most kulajis were written about the brahmans, kayasthas and vaidyas. Some famous kulaji books are Harimishra's Karika, Edumishra's Karika, Dhrubananda Mishra's Mahabangshabali, Nulo Panchanan's Gosthikatha, Vachaspati Mishra's Kularam, Varendrakulapavjika, Dhananjay's Kulapradip, Ramananda Sharma's Kuladipika, Mahesh's Nirdoskulapavjika, Sarbananda Mishra's Kulatattvarnav, Maladhar Ghatak's Daksinaradhiya, Dwija Bachaspati's Babgajakulaji, Bharat Mallik's Chandraprabha and Ratnaprabha and kashiram das's Varendra-Kayastha-Dhakuri. These books describe the different castes and the rise and expansion of their branches. They also describe the proper relationships regarding marital ties among the small sectional divisions as well as matters relating to food.
Kulaji books containing the histories of the higher caste families were essential for ghataks who arranged marriages. The ghataks used to maintain these books for generations. The kulajis written by the ghataks were not, however, always accurate as ghataks often revised them in order to serve their purpose. There are some exceptions, however. Bharat Mallik's Chandraprabha and Ratnaprabha are regarded as scholarly and of historical value.
The importance of kulaji books faded after the mid-twentieth century. Nevertheless, they are still of some value for the insight they provide into Indian society, eugenics, history and law. [Sambaru Chandra Mohanta]