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Origin of the Rajputs in Rajasthan

The theories about the origin of Rajputs can be classified into certain categories. The most ancient theory is that they are the progeny of sun, moon and fire. The reference to solar and lunar dynasties is not traceable in the earliest Indian literature i.e. the Vedas (1500 to 1000 B.C.) and the Jatakas (3rd century B.C.) but can be traced back to Mahabharata (5th century B.C. to 2nd century B.C.), Bhagvatapurana (9th century A.d.), the Tamil Poem Purnanuru (6th century A.D.), the Sanskrit composition Navasahasanka of Padmagupta (11th century A.D.) and Rajasthani composition Prithviraja-raso of

Rajputs in Rajasthan

Chandravardayi (12th century A.D.). This shows that these theories are a concoction of 2nd century B.C. to claim superiority over the foreigners like Greeks, Parthians and Scythians or may be that theory of divine origin is a gift from the Achaemenians who claimed the right to rule by the grace of Ahur-Mazda or from Alexander the great who was hailed as son of Amon by the priest of the shrine of the. God Amon Ra (a sun god) in the Sahara desert.

The second theory is that the Rajputs belonged to a foreign stock. This theory was propounded by James Tod who was the greatest admirer of their virtues but could not believe that this heroic race of Rajputs could belong to India. He was followed by A.M.T. Jackson, J. Campbell, Baden Powell, Wiliam Crooke, D.R. Bhandarkar, P.C. Bagchi and following him, R.S. Sharma. Two Europeans have remained very discreet. J. Kennedy thought that Chauhans, Solankis and Gahlots had Indo-Scythic or Gujar origin, the Rajputs of Punjab were of Brahmana stock whereas Rajputs of Uttar Pradesh originated from Brahmanas, Bihars (aborigines) and Ahirs (foreign tribe of Abhiras) but thinks that majority of them were Aryanised Sudras. Vicent Smith Agreed with Crooke that fire-pit origin mentioned by Chandravardayi was a cover for purifying the foreigners as Rajputs but about the clans beyond Rajputana and Gujarat he is of the opinion that they sprang from aboriginal tribes like Gonds, Bhars, Kols etc. C.V. Vaidya thought them to be Vedic Kshatriyas because they fought for Vedic religion, believed in solar and lunar origin and the anthropometric measurements taken in 1901 substantiate their Aryan descent. G.H. Ojha accepted this theory and believed in the merger of Scythians, Kushanas, and Huns (among them the Huns were latest stock of the Aryans to arrive). Dasharatha Sharma believed that the warrior clans whether indigenous or foreign passed as Kshatriyas and they were the Rajputs of early medieval period. A.C. Banerjee thinks that by the time Rajputs came into field the ancient tradition of classification according to profession had broken down and that is why explanation had been given by courtier Brahmanas for their origin.

The present author (J.N. Asopa) has dealt with this issue in detail. He has traced the clan names of the Rajputs so also of others and has established that these nomenclatures are simply geographical and have nothing to do with mythical origins. For example he has connected Panwars with Pragvata or Pourorai of Ptolemy (2nd century A.D.), extending on both sides of the Aravalis near Abu; Chalukyas or Salukyas or Chalikis (6th century A.D.) with river Saiki coming out from Khondmals hills in Orissa; Gurjara (referred to in Pancfiatantra of 5th century A.D.) pratiharas Juzrs (referred to by Arabs in 7th century A.D.) with river Jozri flowing below Merta and Jodhpur in western Rajasthan; Chahamans (8th century A.D.) or Sambharia Chauhans with Sambhar lake in the center of Rajasthan; Guhilas (8th century A.D.) with the guhila (forest territory lying between river Guhia flowing below Sojat Road and river Mahi flowing near Galiakot; Gauds with ancient Gauda desa in Haryana Dahias or Dahimas with Dhadhimati – kshetra (referred to in an inscription of 289 probably of Gupta era=609 A.D.) in Nagour district of Rajashtan; Bhatis with Bhatiya desa (1000 A.D.) or Bhatinda in Punjab; Chapotkatas (8th century A.D.) or Chavadas with Bhinmal in south western Rajasthan; Chandellas with Chanderi in Madhya Pradeshy Kachhavas with eastern rann (Kachchha) of Chambal in Madhya Pradesh; Rathors with Lat between Narbada and Tapti in southern Gujarat and ; Kalachuris with Kalvun near Nasik in Maharashtra. He has traced the three big stocks of Aryans viz. Ikshvakus from laxartes (of the Greeks) now called Jexates in Central Asia, and Ailas from river Hi flowing much north of Jexartes in Central Asia, and Agnivanshis to the Agnikona or south – eastern corner of the Aryan land but lying in the north-west direction of India. On each one of them the author has made independent studies and then come out with a conclusion that Rajput is a corrupt from of the Vedic word rajaputra which has been used as a synonym of rajanya in Rigveda, Yajurvedic Kathaka Samhita, and Aitareya Brahmana of the Rigveda. In Purusha – sukta of Rigveda Rajanya is used for the generic class of warriors. It has been used in the same sense in Atharvaveda but Manu has used the word rajan in place of rajanya. The term rajan means endowed with kingdom whereas Rajanya means belongings to rajan. The word Kshatriya meant scion of one endowed with kingdom. But difference was made in Kshatriyas and rajanyas in Kaushitaki Upanishad (8th B.C.). It is said there that Soma (king) is eating the Kshatiyas and Vaishyas respectively with his two mouths, Brahmana and rajanya was used for the nobles and their scions whereas Kshatriya was in vogue for the warrior class in general. In the light of this Upanishadic reference the meaning of the three terms used separately at a time in Satapatha Brahamana becomes meaningful. There Rajputra, Rajnaya and Kshatraputra, these three terms are mentioned separately. The rajaputras (sons of the kings) were entitled to only quivers, and Kshatriyas were holding simply clubs. Thus as early as 1000 B.C. a difference was made between rajaputras, nganyas and Kshatriyas.

In Mahabharata (2nd century B.C.) the word rajaputra has been used for the nobles and warriors (Kshatriyas) at different places; the work Kshatra has been explained at two places in two places in two different ways by Sayana – in the commentary of Taittiriya Brahmana he has explained it as domain. By the time of Sayana the second meaning had become obsolete and the persons holding the land thought it to be a generic term for warriors and wore the new title of rajaputra to show their connection with the ruling class. This word has been continuously in use; Kautilya (4th century B.C.) in his Arthashastra has used it for sons of the king. Asvaghosha in Saundaranada. St Century A.D.) Has used it in the sense of nobles and so has done Kalidasa in his Malavikangnimitra (in 4th century A.D.) – Banabhatta (7th century A.D.) has used it for nobles in Harshacharita and for the scions of the nobles in Kadambari. It is in this sense that the word rajaputra or its corrupt form Rajput became current in early medieval period, i.e. 650 to 1200 A.D.

The rise of the Rajputs and the establishment of their Kingdoms is an important event in the History of India. After the fall of the Vardhana Dynasty, there was a prolonged absence of a strong central power and the centripetal tendencies dominated the political horizon. Many republics, nobles, foreign tribes like Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushans, Pahlavas, Huans, Kshatriyas and Brahmanas got involved in the process of caring small independent kingdoms. The one that proved victorious in this political gamble were the Rajputs – who captured power and politically dominated different parts of the country from the 7th – 12th century A.D. Hence this period is known as the rapt period in Indian History.

The word Rajput is derived from Sanskrit word ‘Rajputra’ which means the son of the King. Its extensive usage can be found in the ancient texts. References of Rajputra can be tracked back to the Rigveda, Yajurveda where it is used as a synonym for Rajan, Rajanya Kshatriya – those associated with chivalarous tasks, battles, defense and administration. This term is also used in Arthasastra of Chanakya, Dramas of Kalidas, Harshcharita and Kadambari of Banbhatt. Even Hieum – Tsang the Chinese traveler, who visited India at the time of Harsh Vardhana, refers to the Kings as Kshatriya and Rajputra.

These men of the ruling class came from different walks of life and different corners of India. For example Yuan – chwang (7th century A.D.) called Harsha Fishe (Vaishya). In Aryamanjushrimulakalpa (8th century. A.D.) He has been said to belong to Vaishya family. Yuan – chwang has not mentioned the word rajaputra because he was describing only the rajas and not their sons. He has mentioned their generic social milieu as he knew, for example Pulakesi of Deccan and Dhruvabhata of Gujarat have been called Kshatriyas. In Rajatarangini the word rajaputra has been used in the sense of land-owners but in the same chapter they have claimed their birth from the 36 clans of the Rajputs. It would lead one to the conclusion that by the end of the twelfth century A.D. the notion of thirty-six clans of the Rajputs had become well known and these lists varied according to the information of the author, his locale and time. There is one more title rauta, which is still later corrupt form of rajaputra. This was a title of the landlords and nobles but all of them were not rajaputras or Rajputs. In Chandella inscriptions we have Brahmanas and Kayasthas adored with this title. In Rajasthan of modern times we have Rivals among Khandelwal Vaishyas and also a community known as Ravats whose profession is to make plate of leaves (pattal) for dining purpose. It is only the Rajputs or scions of nobles who later became a caste and not all the landowners who got a title Rawat by grace. As all the landowners were not Rajputs, in the same way all the Kshatriyas were not Rajputs. All the rulers in ancient India were not Kshatriyas nor all the Kshatriyas were actually ruling. Visvarupa, the commentator of Yajnavalkya says it clearly that the title of dominion (rajya) does not belong to every Kshatriya. All the rulers were called rajans and their relatives were called mjaputras. Thus in actual application rajaputra and Kshatriyas did not always coincide. The ruling classes intermarried with rulers of foreign origin also. In ancient times Chandragupta Maurya had married the daughter of Seleucos Nikator. Saka Rudradaman married his daughter to a Satavahana prince and himself had won the hands of number of princesses in Svayamvaras. In the post-classical period Harichandra Pratihar of Mandor, who was a Brahmana, married a Kshatriya Bhadra whose sons passed as Rajputs. All this does not substantiate the theory of foreign origin.

The theory of the foreign origin of the Rajputs can be substantiated only on one basis i.e. that the Aryans in the hoary past came to India from Central Asia and as most of the Rajputs contain Aryan blood they are foreigners. The mixture of the aborigines cannot be denied on the basis of anthropology but no dynasty can be historically proved to have had developed from an aboriginal tribe into a Rajputs clan. The question arises: what was the historical milieu of all the Rajput clans? The source material for the same is not available. However, the present author has traced the origin of 15 clans about whom some source material is available. Though geographical basis of clan is common to all, in some cases even social milieu could be traced. He has traced the Paramaras, Chalukyas, Pratiharas and Chahamanas to Agney-Brahmanas; Guhilas and Chandellas are also traced to Brahmanical origin; Mauryas and Kalachur are traced to ancient Kshatriyas whereas the ancient social milieu of the Gaudas, Dahimas, Bhatis, Chavaras, Gahadvasa, Rathors and Kachhawa is said to be untraceable before their passing as Rajputs though their original home which is the cause of their name has been traced. The author in his support has brought to bear the evidence iiot only of ancient Indian writers but the contemporary authority of Arab scholar Ibn Khurdadha who was the author of Kitabul-Masalikwa-Mamulik (912 A.D.). He has differentiated between the ruling classes, Sabkurifa and Kshatriyas old known as Katarias. He said that Subkurifa (Arabic rendering of Sudshatriya) was the highest clan from which the rulers were selected. For Kataria he says that the people of this clan drank only three cups of wine. Their daughters could be married to these Katarias. It is quite clear that the ruling class as composed in the postclassical period distinguished themselves from the Kshatriyas who had lost their kingdoms long back. Though these two words were not coined by the Muslims as shone above yet Qanungo says that there is no epigraphically or literary evidence down to 1000 A.D. to indicate definitely the use of the word Rajput to denote a class or caste. He, however, says tat this word might have been in official use. A.K. Majumdar agreed with the view that Rajput has been derived from the term rajaputraka but was wavering in his using the word rajaputraka in the sense of Rajputs; Mt. Abut inscription (1230 A.D.), speaking of rajaputras of illustrious Rajputra clan; and Merutunga (1305 A.D.) describing 100 Rajputras of Paramara clan. To this list can be added Rajatarangini of Kalhana (1200 A.D.) and Chittor inscription of 1301 A.D. The Chittor inscription is a clear evidence of the fact that by the close of the fact that by the close of the 12th century the Rajput class has converted into a caste. In this inscription the donor, his father and grand-father all have been classed as Rajaputra and the ruling noble has been called Maharajakula in addition to being called a Rajaputra suggesting thereby that the first was the title and the second was a caste appellation. Kalhanaas Rajatarangini also describes the Rajaputras claiming origin from 36 royal clans.

We can thus conclude that Rajaputras were a class upto the classical period, and from Harsha’s time up to the time of Prithviraja Chauhan, besides two Kshatriyas clans of Mauryas and Kalachuris, many non-Kshatriya groups – six groups of Brahmans, one foreign tribe of Hunas and five non-descript people whose ancient social milieu is not known with certainty entered in to Rajput group and later became clans of this caste. This survey would lad one to the conclusion that Rajputs were a class up to the Rajput period in c. 1200 A.D. and became a caste only after the Turks entered the political field and refused to be Aryanised. For the first time a stumbling block came in the way of the Rajputization of the rules and the practice fell into abeyance and even the local Hindu rulers after that had to be content with power but could not be included among the Rajputs as the Chaturvarnya system received a great set back at the hands of the unbelieving Turks who had brought new society and religion with them.

History of the Solar and Lunar Origin

The Vedic literature did not have any conception of the clans originating from the sun or the moon. It is only after the foreign invasions of the Greeks, Parthians, Scythians and Kushanas, that the idea of divine origin originated in India. The story of Mahabharata was written and rewritten so many times before 2nd century A.D. that it could incorporate many foreign ideas – One such idea was to claim superiority on the basis of diving origin. The Greeks met with this idea in Egypt where Alexander the Great was hailed as son of Amon by the priest of the shrine of the god Amonra (a sun god) in the Sahara desert. The Kushanas learnt this practice from the Chinese and called themselves Daivaputra or son of the Divine, and Kanihka had the appellation Chentan which Sylvan Levi has accepted as a variant of Chand or Chandra. He further says that the tribal name Yue-chi also meant moon people. Thus the idea of belonging to sun or of divine origin was foreign to Indian tradition. We do not get this conception before the Mahabharata which was recast upto 2nd century A.D. The Buddhist Jatakas compiled in 3rd century B.C. do not have an inkling of this idea. The Puranas compiled in the classical period and re-edited up to the Rajput period are full of such conceptions. To explain this new phenomena the scholars have come for-ward with different theories.

Pargiter believed that the solar people belonged to the south and were Dravidians whereas the lunar belonged to, the north and inhabited Prayag on the conjunction of Ganga and Jammu. C.V. Vaidya has rejected this theory. He is of the opinion that they were two different hordes of the Aryans who entered India, one after another from an unknown country north of India. He says that the first horde came and settled in Sapta-sindhu and the present representative of their language are the people who speak Punjabi, rajasthani, western and eastern Pahadi and eastern Hindi. The second horde penetrated the earlier settlements and settled in the area of present western Hindi and spread up to Nepal in north – east, Kathiawar in south-west and Jubbulpur in the south. He considered the first stock to be dolichocephalic or long-headed and the second to be brachy cephalic or broad – headed. He comments that these two races were known as solar and lunar races to Mahabharata and later literature. Moreover he identifies the Bharatas of Manu Svayam – bhuva’s line with the Rigvedic Bharatas and says that in the epics Turvasas, the Anus, the Druhyus and Purus described in the Rigveda as belonging to the second horde. As the latter horde came in conflict with the first they were looked with abhorrence in the Rigvedic hymns and when they settled down blessings were invoked for them also.

To summarize the information given in his article, we can say that the brachyephaly of North – West Frontire is measurd to the extent of 76.8% and is aking to Pamir, that of Nepal comes to 82% and is akin to Tibet and of Chittagong in the Bangladesh comes to 77% and is akin to Malaya. The Mesocephaly of Gujarat and Maaaharashtra comes to 75% and is akin to Iran and this stretched to Bengal through the valleys of Narmada and Son. The Nordics whose cephalic index is below 75% continued to thin down from Kashmir to Bihar by intermixture with the Dravidian and sometimes the hyperdolichocephals known as Proto-Australoids and Austrics. The Dravidians were dolichocphals known like the Nordics but they had evolved out of hyper – dolichoelphals and extended from Kanya Kumari to Kamakhya in the east and from Cuttack to Kashmir following the Ganga Jamuana route towards west. The Proto – Australoids remained in the interior from river Godavari to the Khasi hills and their hyper-dolichocephaly was found reduced after they settled in the plains due to ecology. We are immediately concerned here only with the first two. C.V. Vaidya is of the opinion that the Nordics came to India first and were later known as of solar origin. The arguments given by him are as under. He says that the Bharatas of Manu Svayambhuva’s were called of solar race because in Rigveda Manu is called son of Vaivasvata or the sun. Then he says that on the basis of Nirukta, Bharata also means sun. We have certain difficulties in his identification. Firstly the mythological Bharata is nowhere mentioned as a scion of Manu Vaivasvata and it is the lkshvakus of Manu Vaivasvata’s line who are known belonging to the solar dynasty. Then we have no means to identify Manu Svayambhuva with Manu Vaivasvata – Second hypothesis given by C.V. Vaidya is that they ruled in the east, hence they were called the descendants of the sun. The third surmise of C.V. Vaidya is that they were so known because they followed the solar calendar. For lunar origin he has advanced the following arguments. Firstly, as opposed to the sons of the sun they were called sons of the moon. Secondly, they were called Soma-vamshis or of lunar stock. Thirdly, they were called so because they followed the lunar calendar.

P.L. Bhargava has given another argument. He says that the two words are simple translations of the names Vaivasvata and Soma. Ikshavakus, according to tradition, are in the progeny ofIkshavaku, son of Manu who was son of Vaivasvata which is one of the synonyms of sun and Ailas are in the progeny of Ila and Rishi Budha, son of Soma which is one of the synonyms of moon and thus the poetical translations have been taken to absurd limits. Translations of proper names were popular amount the authors of the Puranas e.g. in Vayu Parana Chandragupta alias Devagupta has been called Devarakshitta and Kumaragupta has been referred to as Guha which is an epithet of Kumara or Kartikeya. Thus the original names before us are Ikshvakus and Ailas. In our opinion they were simply geographical appellations. Ikshumati was the name of a river in Kurukshetra mentioned in Mahabharata and Harivamsha. In Ayodhyan – kanda of Ramayana there is a reference that reporters sent by Vasishtha from Ayodhya crossed the river Ganga at Hastinapur, crossed Panchala and Kurujangala territories and reached the pious and paternal river Ikshumati. This river is also referred to by Strabo. He quotes a tradition, probably preserved by Appolodorus that Menander crossed the Hypanis (Beas) and reached the Isamus (Ichchhumai = Ikshumati). It was a river between Beas and Jamuna. The same author mentions another river by the name of laxartes (Jaxartes) in Central Asia. As Central Asia is suggested as the original home of the Aryans by Maxmuller on the basis of philology we are of the opinion that this laxartes was the original Ikshumati and home of the Ikshavakus and when they settled in India between Beas and Sutlej they gave the same name to another river in India and the author of the Ramayana has called it their paternal river. In Sanskrit literature the latter river has been described under various names as Ikshumati, Ikshumalavi and Ikshenised transcription of Ikshvavarta i.e. the territory of Ikshu. After this Central Asian river Ikshu the horde living here was called Ikshavaku and he was son of Manu and grandson of Vaivasvata and the absurd translation of Vaivasvata as sun at the hands of the authors of the Puranas led to the theory of the solar origin. In the same way Ira is the name of a river in Punjab referred to in Mahabharta, Harivamsha and Vishnu Purana. By interchange of the vowels and 1 in Sanskrit it could also be pronounced as Ila. Its full name Iravati ultimately changed into Ravi. Then in Ramayana we have reference to a place Aila on Shatadru (Sutlej). Bharata in his journey from Kaikaya country crossed Shatadru at Aila. It would suggest that on the west of the Ikshuvakus on Ikshumati in Haryana there was the territory of the Ailas between the rivers. It indicates that the second horde followed the first in India after some time. In India they first fought their battles in this land and settled here. But like the first horde they had also come from Central Asia. In U.S.S.R. there as a river known as Hi which falls in the lake Balkash. Thus Ili seems to be the home of the second horde. C.V. Vaidya on the basis of the Puranas says that Pururava, king of the second stock, once ruled in Gandhamadana north of the Himalayas. Dowson in his Dictionary of Indian Mythology has identified Gandhamadana with Ilavritta i.e. the territory of Ila. It is an indication of the fact that the so-called moon people or Ailas hailed from Ilavritta or the territory of Ili. In historical period we have another argument for our support. The Yue-chi people were once living on the liver Tarim near Pamirs. When they were made to leave this territory by Wu-sun people a large number of them settled in the basin of Hi and a horde travelled towards India. Sylvan Levi says that the word Yue-chi in their language probably meant moon people. Moreover in Chinese rendering of Kalpana – mandikita of Kumaralata Kanishka has been called Chentan Kianicha. Sylvan Levi is of the opinion that this is a variant of Chanda or Chandra. Thus in Buddhist literature Kanbishka has been given an appellation Chandra and his forefather lived on Ili and in Brahmanic literature Soma – vamshis or the moon people have been called Ailas. It seems that Aila was a geographical appellation of the people living on Ili and later by some mythology they were connected with lady Ila who was formerly man and then because woman and had an intercourse with Rishi Budha, the son of Rishi Soma and their progeny after Soma was known as Soma – Vanshi and later translated as Chandra-vamshi or moon people. Thus we are of the opinion that they are two stocks of the beautiful white race, one inhabiting the Jexartes in the plains and another living near Pamir and then migration to Ili before coming to India. The first stock was probably dolichocephalic and the second was brachycephalic and with the fashion of adopting divine origin in first or second century A.D. one became solar race and another lunar.


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