The Khas (खस) are an ancient Indo-Aryan tribe who originated in Central Asia. They moved east before Christ and spread throughout Himalayan region from the Kashmir to Nepal.
(This article also includes ancient Khasa tribe, medival Khas Empire, and present day Khas Poeple of Nepal.)
It is said that the name 'khasa' is derived from the Persian words 'Koh' meaning mountain and 'Shah' meaning lords, thus combining to form 'Koh-shah' giving its ultimate meaning as 'Lord of the mountains'.
Origin of the names Kashgar, Kashi (Central Asia), Kashkara, Kashmir, Khashali, Kashatwar, Khashdhar (Shimla) etc are ultimately traced back to the same name 'Khasa'.
The Khasas along with other tribes like Kiratas, Sakas, Tusharas, Pulindas, Chinas etc are mentioned in ancient Hindu epic 'Mahabharata'. They fought from Kaurava side. They were described as as fierce prowess, the Mlecchas and the Mountaineers tribes.
उग्राश्च क्रूरकर्माणस्तुखारा यवनाः खशाः |
दार्वाभिसारा दरदाः शका रमठतङ्गणाः || (8,51,18)
अन्ध्रकाश्च पुलिन्दाश्च किराताश्चोग्रविक्रमाः |
म्लेच्छाश्च पार्वतीयाश्च सागरानूपवासिनः || (8,51,19)यवनाः किराता गान्धाराश्चीनाः शबरबर्बराः |
शकास्तुषाराः कह्वाश्च पह्लवाश्चान्ध्रमद्रकाः || (12,65,13)
ओड्राः पुलिन्दा रमठाः काचा म्लेच्छाश्च सर्वशः |
ब्रह्मक्षत्रप्रसूताश्च वैश्याः शूद्राश्च मानवाः || (12,65,14)
"In central Asia khas are still called 'kas'. They had had habitation in the river Dangala between Iran and Iraq. The place was known as Khusistan. They moved east before Christ. They had Khas empire by 12th century in western Nepal. Khas people were non vadic aryan as maintained in the Mahabharat. They used to worship cow, land, Masto (kuldeveta) and bhawani (goddess). Masto and Bhawani were the creation of Khas people."
**source: KR & TC Das Sharma, Globalization And Plantation Workers In North-East India)
In 12th century they formed a powerful Khas empire in present day western part of Nepal. On its height the empire also ruled many parts of present day Tibet, and northen India.
This was the place where the Nepali language and culture originated. The earliest examples of Devanagari script from the 13th Century were found here. These archaeological sites are located in Jumla, Surkhet and Dailekh districts.
In 14th century Khas Empire was disbanded into 22 (baaise) and 12 (half of chaubise) small principalities. But it was later unified by 'Gorkha Kingdom' (one among chubise kingdoms) during the unification of Nepal in 1744-1791.
The language of Khas people used to be known as 'Khas-kura'. Since Kingdom of Gorkha unified the whole Khas region and rest of Nepal, the language then known as 'Gorkhali'. Which was later termed as 'Nepali' as being the lingua franca of Nepal.
After the unification Khas people further moved eastward towards the eastern Nepal, north eastern India (including Sikkim, Darjeeling, Meghalaya, Assam etc), Bhutan all the way to Burma (Myanmar).
Today about 38% of population of Nepal are of Khas origin. A small minority lives in the Indian states of Uttranchal and north eastern India, Bhutan and Burma.
Khas races and surnames:-
Chhettri 16.6%: Chhetri (Kshatriya), K.C., Karki, Bhandari, Khadka, Bisht, Thapa, Khatri (KC), Kunwar / Rana, Basnet / Basnyat, Gharti-Chhetri (G.C.), Khatri-Chhetri (K.C.), Silwal, Bogati, Budhathoki, Baruwal, Katwal, Rawal, Rayamajhi, Pandey, Dangi (DC)
Bahun 12.2%: Acharya (आचार्य), Adhikari (अधिकारी), Baral (बराल), Banskota (बाँस्कोटा), Banstola (बाँस्तोला), Bhandari (भण्डारी), Bhattarai (भट्टराई), Chaulagai (चम्लागाईं), Chapagain (चापागाईं), Dahal (दाहाल), Devkota (देवकोटा), Dhungel (ढुंगेल), Ghimire (घिमिरे), Guragain (गुरागाईं), Humagain (हुमागाईं), Khanal (खनाल), Koirala (कोइराला), Lamsal/Lamshal (लम्साल), Nepal (नेपाल), Pokharel (पोखरेल), Poudel (पौडेल), Rijal (रिजाल), Sigdel (सिग्देल), Sanjel (संजेल)
Kumai Bahun: Awasthi (अवस्थी), Bhatta (भट्ट), Bhetwal (भेटुवाल), Bista (बिष्ट), Chiluwal (चिलुवाल), Gyawali (ज्ञवाली), Joshi (जोशी), Kadel/Kandel (कंडेल/कडेल), Kharel (खरेल), Lohani (लोहोनी), Mainali (मैनाली), Oli (ओली), Pandey (पाँडे/पाण्डे), Paneru (पनेरु), Panta (पन्त), Pathak (पाठक), Prasai (प्रसाईं), Regmi (रेग्मी), Sangraula (संग्रौला), Sedhai (सेढाई), Shiwakoti/siwakoti (शिवाकोटी), Simkhada (सिम्खडा), Sitaula (सिटौला), Thapaliya (थपलिया), Upreti (उप्रेती)
Thakuri 1.6%: Thakuri (ठकुरी), Bam (बम), Banshi (बंसी), Barma (बर्मा), Chand (चन्द), Chauhan (चौहान), Dev (देव), Hamal (हमाल), Khand (खाँड), Malla (मल्ल), Paal (पाल), Rathore (राठोर), Raya (राय), Samal (समाल), Sen (सेन), Shah (शाह), Shahi (शाही), Singh (सिंह).
Dashnami Sanyasi 0.86%: Giri (गिरी), Puri (पुरी), Bharathi (भारती), Ban (बन), Tirtha (तिर्थ), Parvat (पर्वत), Sagar (सागर), Saraswati (सरस्वती), Aashram (आश्रम), Aranya (आरन्य)
Notable Khas people:-
* All kings of previous Shah dynasty from the first King Prithvi Narayan Shah (1723-1775) to the last King Gyanendra Shah (b.1947)
* All prime ministers of Nepal (except one: Marich Man Shrestha 1942-2013) till now including Bhimsen Thapa (1775-1839), Jung Bahadur Rana (1816-1877), BP Koirala (1914-1982)
* All chief of Army staff of Nepal army till now (except one: Chattraman Gurung b.1952)
* Literature: Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Bhanu Bhakta Acharya
* Flims: Rajesh Hamal, Manisha Koirala, Hari Bansa Acharya