Origin of the Rajputs
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Origin of the Rajputs
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 Mahahharata (5th century B.C. to 2nd century B.C.) and the Puranas
(9th century A.D.). the theory B.C. to 2nd century A.D.), Mahahharat,
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 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
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
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.
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 Brahmanas, 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.
Historicity of the Solar and
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
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
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
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.