Rajput History

(räj´poots) [Sanskrit,=son of a king], dominant people of Rajputana, an historic region now almost coextensive with the state of Rajasthan, NW India. The Rajputs are mainly Hindus (although there are some Muslim Rajputs) of the warrior caste; traditionally they have put great value on etiquette and the military virtues and take great pride in their ancestry. Of these exogamous clans, the major ones were Rathor, Kachchwaha, Chauhan, and Sisodiya. Their power in Rajputana grew in the 7th cent., but by 1616 all the major clans had submitted to the Mughals. With the decline of Mughal power in the early 18th cent., the Rajputs expanded through most of the plains of central India, but by the early 19th cent. they had been driven back by the Marathas, Sikhs, and British. Under the British, many of the Rajput princes maintained independent states within Rajputana, but they were gradually deprived of power after India attained independence in 1947.

See S. M. Rameshwar, Resurgent Rajasthan (1962); L. Minturn, The Rajputs of Kahlpur (1966); D. Sharma, Lectures on Rajput History and Culture (1970).

According to the Hindu Mythology, the Rajputs of Rajasthan were the descendants of the Kshatriyas or warriors of Vedic India. The emergence of the Rajput warrior clans was in the 6th and 7th centuries. Rajputs ancestry can be divided into two: the "solar" or suryavanshi-those descended from Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana, and the "lunar" or chandravanshi, who claimed descent from Krishana, the hero of the epic Mahabharata. Later a third clan was added, the agnikula or fire-born, said to have emerged from the flames of a sacrificial fire on Mt Abu. It has been accepted that the Rajputs were divided into thirty-six races and twenty-one kingdoms. The Rajput clans gave rise to dynasties like Sisodias of Mewar (Udaipur), the Kachwahas of Amber (Jaipur), the Rathors of Marwar (Jodhpur & Bikaner), the Harsa of Kota & Bundi, the Bhattis of Jaisalmer and the Chauhans of Ajmer.

Early History
Rajasthan is the north-western region of India, and has remain independent from the great empires. Buddhism failed to make substantial inroad here; the Mauryan empire (321-184 BC), whose most renowned emperor, Ashoka, Converted to Buddhism in 261 BC, had minimal impact in Rajasthan, However, there are Buddhist caves and stupas (Buddhist Shrines) at Jhalawar, in Southern Rajasthan.

Ancient Hindu scriptural epics make reference to sites in present-day Rajasthan. The Holy Pilgrimage site of Pushkar is mentioned in both the Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Emergence of the Rajputs

The fall of the Gupta Empire, which held dominance in northern India for nearly 300 years until the early 5th Century, was followed by a period of instability as various local chieftains sought to gain supremacy. Power rose and fell in northern India. Stability was only restored with the emergence of the Gurjara Partiharas, the earliest of the Rajput (from 'Rajputra', or Sons of Princes) dynasties which were later to hold the balance of power throughout Rajasthan.
Whatever their actual origins, the Rajputs have evolved a complexmythological genealogy. This ancestry can be divided into two main branches: the Suryavansa, or Race of the Sun (Solar Race), which claims direct descent from Rama; and the Induvansa, or Race of the Moon (Lunar race), which claims descent from Krishna, Later a third branch was added, the Agnikula, or 'Fire Born'. These people claim they were manifested from the flames of a sacrificial fire on Mt.Abu From these three Principal races emerged the 36 Rajput clans.
The Rajput clans gave rise to dynasties such as the Chauhans, Sisodias, Kachhwahas and Rathores. Chauhans of the Agnikula Race emerged in the 12th century and were renowned for their valour. Their territories included the Sapadalksha kingdom, which encompassed a vast area including present- day Jaipur, Ranthambhore, part of Mewar, the western portion of Bundi district, Ajmer Kishangarh and even, at one time, Delhi. Branches of the Chauhans also ruled territories know as Ananta (in present-day Shekhawati) and Saptasatabhumi.
The Sisodias of the Suryavansa Race, Originally from Gujarat, migrated to Rajasthan in the mid-7th Century and reigned over Mewar, which encompassed Udaipur and Chittorgarh.
The Kachhwahas, originally from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, travelled west in the 12th century. They built the massive fort at Amber, and later shifted the capital to Jaipur. Like the Sisodias, they belonged to the Suryavansa Race.
Also belonging to the Suryavansa Race, the Rathore (earlier known as Rastrakutas) traveled from Kanauj, in Uttar Pradesh. Initially they settled in Pali, south of present-day Jodhpur, but later moved to Mandore in 1381 and ruled over Marwar (Jodhpur). Later they started building the stunning Meherangarh (fort) at Jodhpur.
The Bhattis, who belong to the Induvansa Race, driven from their homeland in the Punjab by the Turks, installed themselves at Jaisalmer in 1156. They remained more of less entrenched in their desert Kingdom untill they were integrated into the state of Rajasthan following Independence

Rajputs of Pakistan

Almost 60% of the population of the Punjab comprises of Rajputs and Jats and the various branches of their race such as Awans, Khokhars, Ghakkars, Khattars, Janjuas, Arains, Gujjars, etc. though the Awans, Khokhars and Khattars claim common ancestry from Qutb Shah who is said to have come from Ghazni with Mahmud Ghaznavi, scholars hold the view that they were most probably converted by Qutb Shah during Mahmud Ghaznavi's reign and were not his descendents. This tendancy of claiming foreign origin by some of the local tribes is not uncommon. Even admittedly Rajput tribes of famous ancestry such as the Khokhar, have begun to follow the example of claiming connection with the Mughal conquerors of India or the Qureshi cousins of the Prophet.

A branch of the Wattu Rajputs of the Sutlej by an affection of peculiar sanctity, have in the course of a few generations become Bodeas and now deny their Rajput and claim Qureshi origin. There is a Kharral family lately settled in Bahawalpur who have begun to affect peculiar holiness and to marry only with each other and their next step will certainly be to claim Arab descent.

However, a significant number of Punjabi tribes are indeed descended from Afghan, Turkic, Arab, Mughal and Iranian Muslim invaders/migrants. Even those who are of local origins but claim foreign Muslim ancestory, might have partial ancestory derived from them. But all in all, the foreign Muslim ancestory element among Punjabis does not exceed more than 20% of their population.

According to Thomson, Awans are a Jat race and were converted to Islam by Mahmud Ghaznavi. In several districts of the Punjab they are registered as Jats. Mr. Thomson in his Jehlum Settlement report adduces many strong reasons in support of his conclusion that the Awans are a Jat race who came from passes west of D.I.Khan. Griffin also agrees to the local Muslim origin of Awans while Cunningham holds that Janjuas and Awans are descended from Anu and calls them Anwan. Another scholar Wilson is of the view that Awans are of indigenous Hindu/Buddhist/Pagan/Animist origin. In the genealogical tree of the Nawabs of Kalabagh, who are regarded heads of the Awans, there are found several native names such as Rai, Harkaran, etc.

As regards Gujjars, the well known scholar Cunningham thinks that they are descended from Scythian (Saka) and Yue-Chi (Kushan) tribes who invaded Pakistan in the first century BC and in the first century AD respectively. Other scholars believe that they are descended from a Central Asian Turkic people called Kazars. Since the tribe migrated from Caspian Sea which is called Bahr-e-Khizar it was named Khizar, Guzar, Gurjar, Gurjara or Gujjar. The name Hazara was given to the district by these Guzara tribes. The name Gujjar, according to another version, is derived from the words 'Gau' and 'Char' meaning cattle grazers.

Though Arains claim Iranian descent, they too are generally considered of Rajput origin, but Rajputs having Scythian-Kushan-Hun origins are indeed related to Iranians. According to the Punjab Gazetteer, the Arains of sahiwal District themselves pointed out that they are Surajbansi Rajputs originally settled around Delhi. Arains of Ghaggar Valley say that they were Rajputs living on the Panjnad near Multan. Mr. Pursr writes that they are usually supposed to be Muslim Kambohs. the Jullander Arains themselves say that they are descended from Rai Chajju of Ujjain. Kambohs claim descent from Raja Keran who was related to him.

Similarly, Ranghars and Meos are described to be of Rajput/Jat origin who were converted to Islam during the time of Qutbuddin Aibak. Kahutas are a mixed Mughal and Rajput tribe. Khattars are related to Awans and Jats.

Khokhars are sometimes returned as Jats and sometimes as Rajputs. Col. Davis notes that many of the social customs of the Khokhars of Shahpur denote Hindu origin. Eastern Punjab Khokhars themselves claim Jat-Rajput origin. Only some of the West Punjab Khokhars claim Arab origin.

Gen. Cunningham identifies the Ghakkars with Gangaridae of Dionysius and holds them to be descendents of Yueti or Tokhari Scythians (sakas).

In Pakistan, Rajput and Jat tribes are so mixed up that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other at many places and in several cases. Some of the Rajput tribes are probably of Jat origin and vice versa. In southwest Punjab the name Jat includes a most miscellaneous congries of tribes of all sorts. Its significance tends to be occupational: to denote a body of cultivators or agriculturists. Even tribes which bear well-known Rajput names are often classified as Jats in the Punjab. Anyway, the origin of both is the same as stated earlier.

Gen. Cunningham and Maj. Todd agree in considering the Jats of Indo-Scythian stock. Maj. Todd classifies Jats as one of the great Rajput tribes. They belong to one and thesame stock.... they have been, for many centuries, so blended and so intermingled into one people that it is practically impossible to distinguish them as separate wholes. At present distinction is social rather ethnic. The same tribe Rajput in one district and Jat in another according to the position in local tribes... During census many of the Jats entered, as third heading, the name of the Rajput tribe from which they claim to have sprung.

The Jats in ancient times inhabited the whole valley of the Indus down to Sind.... They now form a most numerous as well as the most important section of the agricultural population of Punjab.Beyond the Punjab, Jats are chiefly found in Sind where they form mass of the population.

The main (Muslim) Rajput tribes of the Punjab are: Bhatti, Punwar, Chauhan, Minhas, Tiwana, Noon, Chib, Gheba, Jodhra, Janjua, Sial and Wattu etc. While the important (Muslim) Jat tribes are: Bajwa, Chatta, Cheema, Randhawa, Ghammon, Buta, Kahlon, Gil, Sehota, Taror, Waraich, Summa, Wahla, Bhutta, Malhi, Sukhera, Alpials, Dahas, Langah, Ranghar, Meo, Awan, Khokhar, Ghakkar, etc. But some of these Rajput tribes are classified are Jats and vice versa.

Punjab has had its periods of prosperity and poverty in a regular cycle. Before the arrival of Muslims, Punjab along with the other regions/provinces of present day Pakistan was leading a separate existance from that of India, and kingdoms based in its territories or in the NWFP often ruled over most of northern India. Kushan, Saka, Bactrian and Hun Kingdoms with their capitals at Peshawar, Taxila and Sialkot respectively, ruled over large parts of northern India for centuries

Rajputs of Kashmir

As far as the pre-partition history is concerned during the Dogra rule; the leading Rajput tribes were the Jarrals in Rajouri, Chibs in Bimber, Mungrals in Kotli and Maliks in Darral.

Since 1947, Damaal Rajputs have been playing a major role in the local politics. Sardar Sikander Hayat Khan ( Damaal Rajput) has been selected as President and Prime Minister many times in Azad Kashmir. We also seen Raja Mumtaz Rathore lead as a Prime Minister for a short while.

Furthermore, some of leading politicians were from the Rajput families; Raja Farooq Haider (Khakhae), Malik Nawaz, Capt.Serferaz (Banse), Raja Zulkernain (Chib), Raja Nasar (Kakhreel), Raja Akram (Gakhar), Mirza Mushtaq Jarral, Raja Basi Jarral, Raja Sadeeq Jarral, Major Munsaf Dad Jarral, Mirza Zaffar Jarral, Mirza Shafique Jarral, Raja Tanveer Jarral, Raja Mujahid (Narma/ Jarral), Raja Naseer (Mungral) and Raja Mushtaq (gakhar).


Rajput Clans - Kashmir







Sol/ Khakhreel

Gakhar (Kayani)