Sunday, September 3, 2017

Rajput War-II and the extinction of Islamic influence from Ajmer

For centuries Ajmer had been hotly contested between Rajputs and Muslims. It's name, forts and landmarks like the Anasagar lake, are the legacy of Chauhan Rajputs. Islamic influence came with the Delhi Sultans and the Chisti Dargah, while for Rajputs the holy Hindu city of Pushkar next to it was an additional call to arms. Ajmer was liberated from Islamic occupation repeatedly by Chauhans of Ranthambhor, Sesodias of Mewar, and Rathores of Marwar.

Strategic importance of Ajmer

Despite its small size, the Mughals made Ajmer a full-fledged province on the lines of Bengal and Gujarat. The job of its subahdar was to watch over the movements of Rajput armies, forestall any union among the Rajput states, and to protect the Dargah. The mughals holding Ajmer did not have the resources to battle any Rajput kingdom on their own, and had to wait for armies coming from Delhi and Agra.

Ajmer was at the geographic center of Rajasthan and the starting point of every war against the Rajput kingdoms. For the war against Maharana Pratap, after the failure of the Haldighati campaign, Akbar moved to Ajmer. For the war against Amar Singh, Jehangir stayed in Ajmer for almost three years. Shah Jahan moved to Ajmer when Raj Singh fortified Chittor. For the Rajput War-I against Mewad and Marwad, Aurangzeb was at Ajmer for two years. The emperor's presence brought the whole weight of the court, high officers, and their ponderous armies.

Rajput War-II

Part I of the Rajput War had ended with the liberation of Jodhpur in 1708 by Ajit Singh and Durgadas Rathore. But part II commenced almost immediately when the Mughals under Bahadur Shah annexed the kingdom of Sawai Jai Singh. They had intended on giving it to his brother Bijai Singh, but on reaching Amber the mughals found that the people were all loyal to Jai Singh, so Amber was annexed to the empire and its name changed to Mominabad, a mosque was built and Sayyid Hussain Khan Barha was placed in charge (January 1708).

When this army had moved south, Jai Singh and Ajit Singh formed an alliance with Amar Singh of Mewar. Their joint forces liberated Jodhpur and Merta and marched to Amber. They defeated the Mughal army in the Battle of Sambhar on Nov 1708, and killed the commander Syed Hussain Khan. The two Rajput chiefs divided the ancient Sambhar district among themselves. In 1709 while Jai Singh liberated Amber, Ajit Singh attacked Ajmer and defeated the Mughal subahdar receiving 45,000 rupees, an elephant and two horses as tribute.

Ajit Singh and Jai Singh forged a larger coalition with small states and thikanas of the area in order to face the inevitable Mughal retaliation. The Jadon Rajputs of Karauli were aided in capturing Hindaun and attacking Syed Hidayatullah, who held Ranthambhore.

Ajit Singh encouraged the Kolis in Gujarat to plunder around Ahmedabad, and Jai Singh compelled the Mughal faujdar of Pur-mandal to retreat and take shelter at Ajmer. Seeing this opening of multiple fronts, the Mughals ultimately sued for peace in 1710. Bahadur Shah then went to pay respects at the Ajmer dargah, while the two victorious Rajas went for religious ceremonies and holy bath in Pushkar.

Bahadur Shah was the last mughal ruler to visit Ajmer. The most important condition of the peace treaty with the Rajputs was that their armies should march to Punjab and subdue the Sikh rising under Banda. However they refused to abide by the terms of this treaty and preferred to strengthen the defences of their capital cities. So the Mughals broke the peace by attacking Sambhar in 1711, only to be defeated once again by Ajit Singh.

In June 1711 the Mughals foolishly plundered a border village of Mewar, bringing in a new threat to Ajmer. 20,000 cavalry of Maharana Sangram Singh II came thundering down to Pur-Mandal. The mughals fled and at Bandanwara near Ajmer a battle took place in which Ranbaz Khan, Shairullah Khan and 2000 men were killed by the Rajputs of Mewar.

Rathore pressure extinguished Islamic influence from Ajmer

Ajit and Jai continued their alliance against Farrukhsiyar, he placated them by abolishing jaziya. To save Ajmer from their aggression he gave Jai Singh Malwa and Ajit Singh Multan. Jai Singh started planning a new and more secure capital from 1713 and did not consider it wise to provoke the mughals till its defences were completed. The Rathore ruler wanted the richer province of Gujarat as the price for sparing Ajmer, but this was not forthcoming, so he continued the war. In 1713 Ajit Singh captured villages in Ajmer that supplied food to the Ajmer dargah, and as a consequence the langar khana of the place was closed during Ramzan, to the consternation of Muslims around India.

Ajit Singh and his sons

In 1714 the Mughals invaded Marwad and compelled Ajit to make peace, but in return he was finally promised Gujarat. Ajit Singh instead of leaving for Gujarat, captured Bhimnal and Jalore. In 1718 Khan-i-Jahan Bahadur, Nazim of Ajmer, defeated and brought to court Churaman Jat and his nephew Rupa. Taking advantage of this, Ajit Singh again attacked Ajmer in 1721 and forbade cow-slaughter and the azaan from mosques. The new emperor Muhammad Shah sent an army to attack him, but a Rajput contingent under Abhay Singh passed unnoticed around Ajmer and sacked mughal territory within 16 miles of Delhi. Ultimately the invaders made terms with Raja Ajit Singh.

Ajmer was left in his charge while Gujarat was promised to be given to him later, on condition that Mughal administration under the emperor's authority continue. But this was not acceptable to the defiant Rathore. Ajit Singh killed the mughal faujdar sent to capture Sambhar. His son Abhay Singh looted Gujarat and adorned the spoils captured from the Mughals in Mehrangarh Fort. The sturdy Bakht Singh Rathore held Ajmer till his death in 1752.

The construction of Jaipur was completed in 1727, and from then Sawai Jai Singh started his expansive designs ending in the Battle of Gangwana in 1741. The Mughal fiefs of Ranthambhor and Narnol were seized by Jaipur. None of the Rajput kingdoms came to aid the mughals against Nadir Shah of Iran. Nadir had plans to visit Ajmer and attack Rajput kingdoms but ultimately left India after sending bombastic letters to them.

Thus the mughal anxiety in protecting Ajmer, and its holy dargah, from Rajput assaults, led to their losing control of Gujarat and Malwa. It only postponed the inevitable as the growing strength of Jaipur and Jodhpur caused the final extinction of Islamic influence from Ajmer.

The city never developed much of an Islamic culture, except in the small enclave around the dargah. In other provinces like Gujarat, Mughal officers had become Nawabs at Surat or Junagadh, but in Ajmer even this was not possible as local Thikanas stubbornly held on to their villages. Out of the 66 Thikanas in Ajmer, the great majority were held by Rathores with the title Thakur. Each had their little forts and armies, impossible to uproot without fighting, while the attacks of the bigger Rajput Kingdoms exhausted the military power of the Mughals sent to hold the city. हिंदी अनुवाद: राजपूत युद्ध- II और अजमेर से इस्लामी प्रभाव का विलुप्त होना

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ram Rajya Parishad failed in Gujarat

The Ram Rajya Parishad (RRP), which represented conservative Hindu interests, and got support in the princely areas of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, did not have similar success in Gujarat. The main force behind this party were landed and agrarian communities, principally Rajputs, but the party could not make a base in Saurasthra or Kutch which had a similar social structure. Some aristocrats and religious figures were given party tickets, and others supported as independents, but failed to win against the Congress.

In the national elections covering Gujarat and Saurashtra: Maharaj Himmatsinhji Dowlatsinhji lost as an independent in Sabarkantha, Goswami Krishnajiwanji Gokulnathji of the RRP lost in Ahmedabad, and Nanavati Venilal of the Hindu Mahasabha lost in Sorath. Even in the first state elections of Saurashtra the Congress won 55 out of 60 seats.

The main reason seems to be that in Gujarat the Congress itself represented conservative Hindu interests. They opposed the central leadership on many issues and had a strong base in both Gujarat and Saurashtra. This was reinforced by the liberation of Junagadh from the Nawab's misrule and the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple. Sardar Patel, along with Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar, NV Gadgil and KM Munshi went to Junagadh on 12 November 1947. The Rajput ruler of Nawanagar donated 1 lakh rupees for the temple reconstruction on the spot and a wider appeal for funds to the people of Saurashtra was made. The Digvijay gate at Somnath is named after this ruler: Digvijaysinhji of Nawanagar, who was also the first Chairman of the Somnath Trust.

Another factor that prevented a consolidation of landed Rajpoot interests in Saurashtra towards the Ram Rajya Parishad was the Kshatriya movement in neighboring Gujarat. The leaders of that movement felt that Congress was the best bet for the socio-economic uplift of the diverse tribes and communities under the Kshatriya umbrella. In Saurashtra the Rajputs already enjoyed social prominence and economic uplift was their demand, which would come if Saurashtra developed under its own leaders, and not as a neglected region of a bigger state. The Congress played its cards right by forming a separate Saurashtra state in 1948, making the Rajput ruler of Nawanagar its first Rajpramukh, and preserving Kutch state. The Kutch Rajput Sabha and the Saurashtra Girasdar Association therefore supported the Congress.

With the general public feeling supportive of Congress, it is surprising that the Ram Rajya Parishad even found candidates for elections. Dynamic leaders like Thakur Madan Singh and Maharaja Hanwant Singh powered the RRP in Rajasthan, but such a leader could not emerge in Saurashtra or Gujarat. As the intellectual and mercantile classes backed the Congress, funding for the RRP depended entirely on contributions by its members, which was doable in Rajasthan, with such a large membership but not in Saurashtra and Kutch.

In the absence of funding, party organization, or leaders, the RRP failed but at least a start was made and this later became a mass movement behind the Swatantra Party.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Rajput politics in Saurashtra and Gujarat

A photo on twitter during the Patel agitation in Gujarat early this year. The Hindi translation: Rajpoot ki najar na lage. The Rajput rulers in Gujarat were called Bapu (father) or Darbar (royal court) by their subjects and these terms became generic names of the Rajput community as a whole.

The photo shows the political rivalry between Patels and Rajputs which has been the main factor of Gujarat's modern political history. The term patel means village official, and they occupied the space just below the Rajputs in the villages. But this equation was destroyed by the 14th century Islamic invasions. The Gujarat region, from Amdavad down to Surat, was conquered and the Rajputs massacred by the Muslims. The descendants of the few survivors lost their Rajpoot status over time and became peasants and even landless labourers. For the Patels and other communities though, it was just a change of masters. At the village level they actually gained inasmuch as the Rajputs lost from the genocide of their leaders/employers.

In the Saurashtra region the Rajputs held on tenaciously. The Muslim rulers from the Gujarat region attacked them repeatedly, breaking temples, sacking cities, and slaughtering warrior Hindus. But each time the Muslims ultimately had to retreat back to Gujarat region which remained the core of their sultanate.

So in Saurashtra the dominance of Rajputs, as rulers and warriors, and the links that went down to the village level remained strong. In the Gujarat region these links were broken by the Islamic invasions. The descendants of the fallen Rajputs were called Thakore, Thakardas, Bariya in the Gujarat region but they had retained Rajput surnames. The Kshatriya movement in Gujarat region chose the name 'Kshatriya' to unify and uplift these communities but it could not extend into Saurashtra.

So in central and south Gujarat the main landowners were Patels while in Saurashtra it were Rajputs. There was a time when these two communities aligned their interests (opposition to land reforms) by supporting the Swatantra Party, but the Congress rallied back through the KHAM combination.

Ram Rajya Parishad vs Congress in Rajasthan

The Congress party in Rajasthan used all means to curb the rising tide of the Ram Rajya Parishad, including the government machinery at their disposal. After numerous arrests and raids, Thakur Madan Singh filed a petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India:

The petitioner has been detained under the orders of the District Magistrate, Sikar, 18th of December, 1955, under sec. 3 (1) read with sec. 3 (2) of the Preventive Detention Act, 1950 on the ground that it was necessary to detain him with a view to preventing him from acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. After his detention the grounds of his detention were served on him as required by sec. 7 of the Act. These grounds are contained in Annexure B and are 21 in number.

The petitioner presented this petition before this Court on the 6th of January, 1956. His claims are that he is one of the founder of 'Ram Rajya Parishad', a political body in opposition to the Congress and was an active worker and organiser of the said Party in Rajasthan. In the last general elections, in the year 1952, he took vigorous steps throughout the whole of Rajasthan in support of the candidates of Ram Rajya Parishad and it was mainly through his efforts that 28 candidates of the said party and many other independent candidates were elected to the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly and formed a strong opposition party within the said Assembly under the name Samyukta Dal.

He says that he is also the President of Bhooswami Sangh, a body representing the land holders of Rajasthan and that on account of his political activities which were and are of peaceful and non-violent nature, the petitioner has been an eye-sore of the Congress Ministry of Rajasthan in particular and the Congress leaders thereof in general.

The grounds of detention contained in Annexture B which for the sake of convenience are reproduced below: -
(1) In May, 1955, when Shri Madan Singh of Danta was President of the Rajasthan Bhooswami Sangh, he called the Annual session of the Sangh at his residence, namely, Danta House, situated in Jaipur. The session commenced on May 30, 1955 and lasted for five days During this period a number of meetings were held in which programmes and questions of policies were discussed. Object of the session was to organise and consolidate the Sangh. A large number of Bhooswamis and other volunteers were, accordingly summoned from various parts of Rajasthan and accommodated at Danta House and at other places in Jaipur. Funds were collected by Shri Madan Singh to finance the activities of the Sangh. Messing arrangements for the participants were made at the Danta House.

(2) In the aforesaid meetings, Shri Madan Singh took the most prominent part. The gist of the speeches delivered by him was to appeal to the jagirdars to lend support, both in men and money, to the Sangh and to incite them to defy law and disturb public peace and order, even by resorting to acts of violence.

(3) In the meetings on June 2 and 5, 1955, he advocate the creation of a religious State in Rajasthan as opposed to the secular State laid down in the Constitution of India, The Sukhadia Ministry was asked to quit within a period of three days and the audience was incited to open violence under the garb of Satyagrah.

(4) An agitation was, later on, organised at Jaipur under his guidance and supervision on which occasion a number of cyclostyled leaf-lets captioned 'ran Bheri' meaning 'call for battle' were prepared and distributed mostly at Danta House under his instructions. In Ran Bheri No. 2, an open challenge was throne to the Government in the following words - "these scoundrels of democracy have sucked the blood of the people and we shall never tolerate them sitting on the throne of Bhagwan Ram. " Most of the other Ran Bheris were also of a similarly provocative character defaming the Government and officials and preaching violence.

(5) On June 12, 1955, over 600 Rajputs assembled at Danta House from where an effigy of the Rajasthan Government was taken out and burnt on the main road near Chaupar Manak Chowk.

(6) As a result of the inflammatory speeches delivered by and incitement given to Bhooswamis to resort to violence, public order was disturbed and sec. 144 Cr. P. C. had to be promulgated on June 13, 1955 in Jaipur City.

(7) After the promulgation of sec. 144, a meeting was held in Danta House at about 4 p. m. the same day under the chairmanship of Sri Madan Singh. In his presidential speech he incited the jagirdars to violence and exhorted them to retain their jagirs with the help of their swords. It was also decided in the meeting that the order u/s 144 Cr. P. C. should be defied.

(8) As a result of the above, batches of Bhooswamis collected in Johari Bazar and shouted the following slogans on June 14, 1955.
Ek Dhakka Aur Do, Sukhadia Sarkar Tor Do;
One Two Three Four, Congress Haram Khor.
On the arrest of these batches by the Police, a meeting was again held at Danta House at about 8 15 p. m. which was attended by about 500 Bhooswamis. In this meeting also Sri Madan Singh exhorted the audience to be firm. His concluding remarks were that they had taken their jagirs by shedding their blood and would not part with them.

(9) It was no longer considered desirable to let things drift on and Sri Madan Singh was ordered to be detained under Preventive Detention Act by the then District Magistrate, Jaipur.

(10) Later on Sri Madansingh expressed a desire to call off the agitation and to advise his followers to represent their grievances to the Government in a constitutional manner. On this Sri Madansingh was released from detention. The agitation was given up; The Government responded by releasing all those who had been convicted and were confined in Jails, and by withdrawing the pending prosecutions against others. But soon afterwards, Sri Madansingh again started propaganda for defiance of the lawful orders of the Government, and has ever since been acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order which would be evident from the following

(11) Immediately after his release, a meeting (200) on behalf of the Bhooswami Sangh was held on July 21, 1955, at Danta House in which Sri Madansingh delivered a speech stating therein that the settlement had been achieved with the consent of the leaders of All India Kshatriya Mahasabha and other prominent workers. In case the Government does not fulfill the demands of the Sangh, the agitation should be started again from village to village, he said.

(12) A procession of Bhooswamis is was taken out on July 27,1952. from Danta House to Chaupar Manak Chowk where a public meeting was held in which Sri Madansingh accused the C. I. D. and Police for their misbehavior with the Satyagrahis and once more exhorted the audience to re-start the agitation vigorously from village to village in case the Government did not fulfil their demands.

(13) He presided over the meeting of the Working Committee of Bhooswami Sangh held at Danta House on August 5 and 6 at which discussions centered round the alleged given to them by the Government and the letter received from the Revenue Secretary asking them to intimate names of two Bhooswami Sangh representatives for the Committee appointed by the Government to settle their demands. They, however, decided not to do so as the composition of the Committee was not to their satisfaction.

(14) Not content with his anti law and order activities in Rajasthan, Sri Madan Singh visited Ratlam on 21st August, 1955, in connection with the Madhya Bharat Rajput Sewa Sangh Conference. He addressed the representatives and members of the Working Committee (300) the same day, wherein he stated that Satyagrah was the only panacea for their ills.

(15) Addressing a public meeting (2000) under the auspices of the District Bhooswami Sangh held at Sikar on 21st September, 1955, Sri Madansingh openly preached defiance of lawful orders and violence against the Government. Some relevant portions of this speech are given hereunder; ...Rajasthan ke Rajput ab chup nahi baithenge. Ham hamara manter padhenge. . . . . "

(16) Sri Madansingh directed the workers of the Sangh to collect funds and recruit volunteers for restarting the agitation in case the Government did not fulfil their demands. Workers have since been acting accordingly and establishing branches of Bhooswami Sangh at various places in Rajasthan.

(17) To train the volunteers of the Bhooswami Sangh for defiance of law and order, a Bhooswami Sangh and Kshatriya Yuwak Sangh camp was organised at Sirohi on October 23, 1955, which was also attended by Sri Madansingh. On October 25, six batches of volunteers (20 each) were imparted instructions in the method of staging a demonstration during an agitation. They were also given practical training in the method of firing with muzz loading guns and in the ways of counter-acting Lathi charges by the Police.

(18) Meetings of the jagirdars were held at Mitrapura and Bonli (Sawai Madhpur) on November 18 and 19 respectively wherein Sri Madansingh instigated the Jagirdars not to surrender their jagirs on any account and to dishonour the congressmen, when they visit their area in election campaigns.

(19) On November 1, 1955, Sri Madansingh while addressing a meeting of Bhooswami Sangh held at village Toda Bhim (Sawai Madhopur), criticised the bonafides of the present Government and appealed to the jagirdars not to hand over their jagirs to the Government at any cost and asked them to keep themselves in readiness for the Satyagrah which was to be launched shortly.

(20) On November 22, at Danta House, Jaipur, a camera meeting of Bhooswami Sangh was had in which it was decided that another Satyagarh should be launched. In this connection, Sri Madan Singh visited Sikar on the 2nd of December, 1955 and after meeting Colonel Hanuman Singh and other members of Bhooswami Sangh left for Jhunjhunu side.

(21) From a perusal of the above mentioned facts, it is evident that Sri Madan Singh is again acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. There is no doubt that the grounds Nos. 1 to 8 relate to the activities of the petitioner before his previous detention under the orders or J. S. Jhala, dated the 15th of June, 1955. However, it cannot be said that in coming to the conclusion that it was necessary to detain the petitioner u/s 3 of the Act, the District Magistrate was unjustified in taking those activities in to consideration among other activities of the petitioner after his release from detention under the said order.

The object of the Act is to prevent inter alia the disturbance of public order. It is not a punitive Act. If from the activities of a person beyond his jurisdiction an authority entitled to detain is satisfied that if that person is at large, he was likely to disturb the public order, that authority would be perfectly justified to detain that person specially when his one or two activities inside the authority's jurisdiction are such from which also an inference may be deduced that he might disturb the public order. This point too has therefore no substance and must be rejected. Points Nos. 4 and 3.- These points may be dealt with together. Under point No. 4,the argument is two fold: One of them is that) the grounds are irrelevant to the object of the impugned order, namely, the maintenance of public order and the other is that they are vague and are not sufficient to give the petitioner an earliest opportunity of making an effective representation against them. We have carefully gone through all the grounds given in Annexure B and noted herein under point No. 2.

We shall now deal with them one by one from the point of view of relevancy first and from the point of view of vagueness and otherwise thereafter. Ground No. 1 - It was argued by Mr. Chatterji that there is nothing in this ground to how that the petitioner did any act which was prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. From the ground, as it stands, the activities mentioned therein appeared to be innocuous but on a careful thought we have come to the conclusion that this ground is in effect introductory to ground No. 2. This has, therefore, to be read with ground No. 2 and if there is anything in ground No 2 which shows that it is relevant to the object of detention, the ground No. 1 cannot be rejected as being irrelevant to the object of the impugned order Ground No. 2.- In this ground it has been mentioned that the gist of the speeches delivered by the petitioner at the session of Bhooswami Sangh mentioned in ground No. 1 was to appeal to the jagirdars to lend support both in men and money to the Sangh and to incite them to defy law and disturb public peace and order even by re-storting to acts of violence. This ground cannot, therefore, be said to be altogether foreign to the object mentioned in the impugned order and ground No. l also which appears to be part and parcel of this ground cannot be rejected as irrelevant.

Ground No. 3.- This ground also shows that speeches were made at the meetings on 2nd and 5th June, 1955, at which the petitioner incited the audience to open violence under the grab of Satyagrah. This grounds too, has, therefore, relevancy to the object of the impugned order. Ground No, 4.- In this ground it is mentioned that cyclo-styled leaflets captioned 'Ran Bheri' were prepared under the guidance and supervision of the petitioner at Danta House and were distributed mostly at Danta House 'Ran Bheri' means 'call for battle. ' It is also stated that other 'Ran Bheries, were also distributed which preached violence. This ground too is therefore, relevant to the object of the impugned order.

Ground No. 5 - This ground shows that an effigy of the Rajasthan Government was taken out and burnt on the main road near Chaupar Manak Chowk by over 600 Rajputs assembled at Danta House, As the effigy is said to have been burnt on the main road near Chaupar Manak Chowk and hundreds of Rajputs were present there, it cannot be said that this ground was so convincingly irrelevant as being incapable of bringing about satisfaction in any rational person, which has been held to be the test of a completely irrelevant ground to the object of detention by the majority of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the case of State of Bombay vs. Atma Ram (4 ). Ground No. 6.- This ground also shows that inflammatory speeches delivered and incitement given to Bhooswamis to resort to violence led to the disturbance of public order on account of which sec. 144 Cr. P. C. had to be promulgated on the 13th of June, 1955. in the Jaipur City.

Applying the test laid down by their Lordships in the case of Atma Ram mentioned above in ground No. 5, we cannot say that this ground is altogether forcing to the object of detention. Ground No. 7.- In this ground also it has been stated that the petitioner incited the Jagirdars to violence and exhorted them to retain their jagirs with the help of their swords and it was decided in the meeting held in Danta House under the chairmanship of the petitioner that the order u/s 146 Cr. P. C. should be defined. The subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority from this ground that the petitioner was likely to disturb the public peace and order cannot be questioned. Ground No. 8.- This ground also mentions that the petitioner exhorted the audience to be firm and told them that they had taken their jagirs by shedding their blood and would not part with them. This ground cannot be said to be irrelevant to the object of the impugned order according to the test laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Atma Ram's case (4 ).

Ground No. 9.- This ground is in fact a statement of fact that the petitioner was ordered to be detained under the Act by the then District Magistrate, Jaipur. Strictly speaking it cannot be said to be a ground for his present detention. It has been mentioned simply to show what action the authority had to take on account of the activities of the petitioner mentioned in grounds Nos. 1 to 8. The validity of the order simply because this statement of fact has been introduced in between the activities which preceded and those which followed it cannot be held to be invalid. Ground No. 10.- This ground says that after his release from detention under the order of Sri Z. S. Jhala, the petitioner again started propaganda for defiance of the lawful orders of the Government and has ever since been acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. This opinion is based upon the grounds that follow and its relevancy or irrelevancy can be judged in the light of those grounds.
Danta Fort in the heart of Danta town, photo courtesy Danta Gram
Ground No. 11 - In this ground the only thing that has been said is that immediately after his release the petitioner addressed a meeting of the Bhooswami Sangh stating therein that the settlement had been achieved with the consent of the leader of All India Kshatriya Maha Sabha and other prominent workers and that in case the Government did not fulfil the demands of the Sangh the agitation should be started again from village to village The only allegation is that the petitioner said that the agitation should be started again from village to village in case the Government did not fulfil the demands of the Sangh. There is no trace in this ground that the agitation exhorted upon should be violent or such as might disturb the public order. The agitation may be constitutional as well as unconstitutional and peaceful as well as violent. Simply because the word agitation has been used, it cannot be said that there was incitement to disturb the maintenance of public order. This ground has, therefore, no relevancy to the object of detention.

Ground No 12 - In this ground too all that has been said is that a procession was taken out from Danta House to Chaupar Manak Chowk and a public meeting was held there in which the petitioner accused the C. I. D. and police for their misbehaviour with the Satyagrahis and once more exhorted the audience to restart the agitation vigorously from village to village in case the Government did not fulfil their demands. In this ground too no mention has been made as to what sort of agitation was insisted upon and, therefore, it cannot be said that this has relevancy to the object of the impugned order. Ground No. 13 - In this ground too the only thing that has been said is that the petitioner presided over a meeting of the working committee of Bhooswami Sangh on 5th and 6th August, 1955, wherein discussions centered round the alleged assurances given to them by the Government and the letter received by the Revenue Secretary asking them to intimate names of two Bhooswami Sangh representatives for the committee but it was decided not to send any representative as the composition of the committee was not to their satisfaction. The statements in this ground too also appear to be altogether innocuous and it has, there-force, no relevancy to the object of detention.

Ground No. 14.- In this ground also nothing has been shown which may be said to have relevancy to the object of the impugned order, The only thing said is that at a meeting of the working committee of Bhooswami Sangh at Ratlam, the petitioner said that Satyagrah was the only panacea for their ills. The word 'satyagrah' by itself cannot be taken to mean an activity calculated to disturb public order. Satyagrah literally speaking means adherence to truth and even as equivalent to civil disobedience it does not necessarily convey the idea that any incitement was given to violence or to cause disturbance of public order. It may be mentioned that in ground No. 3, the District Magistrate has said that the audience was incited to open violence under the garb of Satyagrah. There are no such words in this ground to show that incitement to violence was given under the garb of Satyagrah. It would, therefore, be taken that while preaching Satyagrah no such words were used on this occasion from which incitement to violence might be inferred. This ground is, therefore, not relevant to the object of detention.

Ground No. 15.- This ground cannot be said to be irrelevant. The petitioner has been credited with certain remarks which might be taken to imply that the members of his association were incited to commit dacoity if their means of livelihood were taken away from them. The petitioner also exhorted the audience not to obey the orders of the Tehsildar. Considering the audience before which the speech is alleged to have been made it cannot be said that it was altogether foreign to the object of detention. The petitioner is also alleged to have said that mere speeches would not suffice and those who deserve kicks could not be persuaded by mere words. From the short of audience before which these expressions are said to have been used, it cannot be said that no rational human being could consider them connected in some manner with the object of maintenance of public order. The ground cannot, therefore, be said to be irrelevant in the context of detention order. Ground No. 16.- There are no statements in this ground from which it might be said that this ground has any relevancy to the object of detention. Directing the workers of the Sangh to collect funds and recruit volunteers for restarting the agitation in case the Government did not fulfil their demands does not lead to the conclusion that any incitement was given to disturb public order. Compliance by the workers with the direction given in establishing branches of Bhooswami Sangh which has not been shown to have been declared unlawful as yet cannot be said to be an activity prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. The ground is, therefore, irrelevant.

Ground No. 17.- This ground shows that at a camp of Bhooswami and Kshatriya Yuwak Sangh at Sirohi, the petitioner was present. At that camp practical training was given to the volunteers in the matter of firing with muzzle loading guns and in the ways and means of counter acting lathi charges by the police. Mock schemes were conducted in which volunteers acted as Collector, Superintendent of Police etc. and a mock determination was conducted in a jungle nearby in which the mob was shown looting the soap of a Baniya, firing shots with a 12 bore gun at supposed S. P. and S. I. and pelting stones at the Police during a mock lathi charges. In this ground there are allegations from which the learned District Magistrate might very well have formed a subjective opinion that the petitioner was acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. This ground cannot be held to be irrelevant to the object of detention.

Ground No. 18.- In this ground it has been stated that the petitioner instigated the jagirdars not to surrender their jagirs on any account and this might be taken to incite the audience to resist the taking of jagirs at any cost. This ground may, therefore, be said to have some relevancy to the object of the impugned order. Ground No. 19.- This ground is also more or less the same as ground No. 18 and this may also be said to have some relevancy to the object of detention. Ground No. 20.- In this ground nothing has been said which would shows that the petitioner was likely to disturb the police order or instigated others to do so. The only thing that has been said is that at a meeting on the 22nd of November, 1955, at Danta House, it was decided that another Satyagarh should be launched as has been said above, simply asking to launch Satyagarh does not necessarily mean to give incitement to disturb public order. Another thing which has been said is that in this connection the petitioner visited Sikar on the 2nd of December, 1955, and after meeting Colonel Hanuman Singh and other members of Bhooswami Sangh left for Jhunjhunu. This act also on its face appears to be altogether innocuous. To our mind, this ground has no relevancy to the object of the impugned order.

Ground No. 21.- This ground only says that from a perusal of the above mentioned facts it was evident that the petitioner was again acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. As has been discussed above, some of the grounds cannot be said to be irrelevant to the object of the impugned order while others appear to be irrelevant. This ground by itself does not disclose any particular fact from which it may be said that it has relevancy or not to the object of the impugned order. We thus come to a finding that grounds Nos. 11 to 14, 16 and 20 of the grounds contained in Annexure B, as they stand, are such as cannot be said to be in any way relevant to the object of detention.

( 3. ) DEALING with the grounds from the point of view of vagueness, we need not take up the grounds one by one as, in our opinion, with the exception of the following grounds all other grounds are such as give sufficient particulars for the purpose of giving the detenu the earliest possible opportunity of making a representation against the impugned order under Art. 22 (5) of the Constitution read with sec. 7 of the Act. The grounds which we consider to be insufficient for the purpose of giving of such opportunity to the petitioner are as follows - Ground No. 3 - In this ground although the dates of the meetings have been given but it has not been said as to what was the language or the gist thereof from which it was concluded that the audience was incited to open violence under the garb of Satyagrah. Satyagrah by itself does not necessarily involve any violence. Some language must have been used advocating Satyagrah from; which the District Magistrate inferred that the audience was incited to open violence under the garb of Satyagrah. If the words or the gist thereof had been given in the ground, it may have been possible for the petitioner to represent that the language used was incapable of inciting the audience to open violence. By not giving the language or the gist thereof in this ground, the District Magistrate denied the petitioner an earliest opportunity of making an effective representation against this ground.

Ground No. 4 - In this ground nothing has been said as to on what dates the cyclostyled leaflets captioned Ran Behri were distributed. The only thing that has been said is that an agitation was organised at Jaipur under the guidance and supervision of the petitioner and on that account a number of cyclostyled leaflets captioned Ran Behri were prepared and distributed. The word 'later on' is very vague. If any dates had been mentioned, it would have been open to the petitioner to plead that on those dates he was not even present at Jaipur. There is still vaguer statement in this ground that "most of the other Ran Bheris were also of a similarly provocative character defaming the Government etc, etc." It does not disclose what was the number of Ran Bheris and what was contained in those Ran Bheris. Only the contents of Ran Bheri No. 2 have been given. So far as the other Ran Bheris are concerned, not even gist thereof has been given. The only thing that has been said is that they were of provocative character defaming the Government and officials and preaching violence. These expressions may be sufficient for the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority. But they are certainly not sufficient to give the detenu an earliest opportunity of making a representation against them. If the contents of these Ran Bheris or at least the gist thereof had been quoted as in the case of Ran Bheri No. 2, it might have been possible for the petitioner to show that there was no trace in them of any incitement to violence or to disturb public order. The petitioner was certainly denied an opportunity to make an effective representation against this ground by couching it in a vague language.

Ground No. l0 - In this ground it has been said that the petitioner after his release from detention in June, 1955, has ever since been acting in a manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order which would be evident from the following ground. The validity of this ground from the point of view of giving an earliest opportunity to the detenu for making a representation under Art. 22 (5) of the Constitution and sec. 7 of the Act depends upon the grounds that follow. In ground No. 11 to 15, particulars such as dates, the gist of the speech etc. had been given and, therefore, it cannot be said that the particulars were not sufficient for giving the petitioner an earliest opportunity of making an effective representation against the impugned order. In ground No. 16 no dates have been given. It has not been made clear at what places directions were given by the petitioner. It has not been shown in what places in Rajasthan, workers have since been acting according to the directions of the petitioner and establishing branches of Bhooswami Sangh. This ground too is vague to give the earliest opportunity to the petitioner of making an effective representation against the impugned order.

In grounds Nos. 17, 18, 19 and 20, dates have been, the places have also been given and the gists of the speeches wherever necessary have been given. Other sufficient particulars have also been given which might enable the petitioner to make an effective representation at the earliest possible moment against the impugned order. Grounds Nos. 2 and 5 to 8 also give sufficient particulars, viz. , dates, places and gist of the speeches. It has not been shown that in what way they were insufficient to give the petitioner an earliest opportunity of making an effective representation against the impugned order Ground No. 9 is simply a statement of fact showing that the petitioner was ordered to be detained under the Preventive Detention Act by the order of the District Magistrate, Jaipur. No representation could be made against this statement of fact. Thus to our mind it is only Grounds Nos. 3, 4 and 16 which can be said to be so vague as to deny the earliest possible opportunity to the petitioner of making an effective representation against the impugned order.

If the detention is based on such grounds, the detenu has certainly a right to be released.

Even if a single ground is irrelevant, the order cannot be sustained because it will not be possible for the Court to apply any objective test and to say whether the order would have been made only on the basis of the remaining grounds. Similarly if a single material ground is vague, the detenu is denied an opportunity of making an appropriate representation against it at the earliest possible moment and thus his constitutional right under Art. 22 (5) of the Constitution is infringed.

Their Lordships further observed that surely it is upto the detaining authority to make his meaning clear beyond doubt, without leaving the person detained to his own resource for interpreting the grounds. We must, therefore, hold that the ground mentioned in sub-para (e) of para 2 is vague in the sense explained above. Their Lordships further observed "we are of opinion that the constitutional requirement (sufficient to enable him to make a representation) which on being considered may give relief to him must be satisfied with respect to each of the grounds communicated to the person detained, subject of course to a claim of privilege under cl. 6) of Art. 22. "their Lordships were pleased to release the detenue in that case. It has not been shown to us that the particulars which have not been given in grounds Nos. 3,4 and 16 were with-held under a claim of privilege under Cl. (6) of Art. 22. ;

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bargujar Rajput history

From Gurjarabhoomi blog

Badgujar are an interesting clan of Rajputs. Their historic kingdoms and settlements were concentrated in northeast Rajasthan, western UP, and MP. As per their traditions, the Badgujar Rajputs are descended from Lava, the elder son of Bhagwan Rama who ruled over Ayodhya in the epic era. In later times they migrated eastward, settling in UP and Rajasthan, overcoming the previous rulers. They have five great branches: Sikarwar, Khadad, Lawtamia, Taparia, and Madadh.

Bargujar Rajpoots gave way to Chahamans and Kachhwahas in Jaipur and Alwar, and were crushed by the Islamic invaders in UP. At Machari in Alwar is an inscription dated Vikram Samvat 1439 (1382 CE), which names the Badgujara vansha, and mentions its rulers. As per their oral traditions, nearby Rajor was founded by their remote ancestor Raja Bagh Singh Bargujar in 145 CE. Anupshahar in UP was founded by Raja Anup Singh Bargujar, while Samthar and Kamalpur in MP became Badgujar princely states in more modern times.

In Jaipur and Alwar, many ancient Badgujar Rajputs became Thakurs under the Kachwahas, like Tahsin in Alwar and Deoti in Jaipur. The Badgujars have no presence in, or historic memory of, either Gurjara or Maru Bhoomi to the south and west. Both their oral traditions and recorded history place the Badgujar Rajputs in the lap of northern India.

Badgujar Rajputs and pastoral Gujjars

The colonial historians were delighted to find a Rajput clan with a name that sounded similar to the Gujjars. Adding to their theory of the mythical Gurjara invasion, they declared Badgujars as an "aristocratic branch" of this so called tribe. The clinching evidence was the presence of the Badgujar surname among the Gujjars.

This evidence has no meaning since the Bargujar surname is also found among other lower castes like Jats, Meenas, etc. and even among Muslims. The reason is that the Badgujar story is the same as that of other Rajput clans who fought the Islamic invaders to the death.

After losing their main leaders and a central rallying point, those living in villages had two choices: continue fighting in isolated pockets and risk certain death/captivity/conversion to Islam, or save themselves by giving up their Rajput status and taking up other professions. Hence the proliferation of Rajput surnames among lower castes. Some saved themselves by migrating elsewhere. So we find the Badgujar surname in faraway Maharashtra.

Like any other Rajput clan, the Badgujars have no special links to the pastoral Gujjars, no common customs or traditions. And lastly the Badgujars are absent in the main Gujjar population center of western Punjab.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Imperial Pratiharas as the first of the Rajput clans

The identity of the Rajput clans of Rajasthan and neighboring regions was forged by the fire and hammer of foreign invasions; whether of the Turk and Mughal invasion in medieval times, or of the Saka and Kushan invasions of the ancient era. The older clans dwindled away and new clans were born, and these took up the burden of fighting another set of invaders, the Huns of the 6th century and the Arabs of the 8th century. The limited impact of the Hun incursions and their aftermath are summed up by the historian KM Munshi: "The Hunas disappeared as they came. The Gupta Empire, grown very weak, was dissolved; the virile Maukharis emerged victorious. But with their rise began a new phase in Indian History. Kanauj emerged as the symbol of a new order. The Golden Prime of India became a thing of the past; the military superiority of Magadha disappeared. Out of the welter emerged a set of new dynasties: the Maukharis of Kannauj, the Pushpabhutis of Thaneswar, the Maitrakas of Vallabhi and the Chalukyas of Badami. The Pallavas of Kanchi alone among the old dynasties continued to flourish. In the west, the warrior clans of what is now Rajasthan, living in the region of Mount Abu, emerged from obscurity as a closely knit hierarchy with the Pratiharas at their head." It is in fighting the Arabs that this hierarchy of Rajput clans rose to prominence and continued to retain power in that part of India down to the 20th century.

The rise of the Arabs as a military power in the seventh century is the most significant factor of world history. At the height of their power, the Arabs captured Sindh in 712 CE and launched a major offensive into Western India around 725 CE. Some of the petty states in their path claimed victory against these foreigners, which can only mean that the Arabs could not capture their fortified towns, but prevailed in field-battles because their advance continued up to Ujjain. Here for the first time they were defeated by Nagabhatta of the Pratihara clan, so completely that they retreated out of western India altogether back to their refuge of Sindh.

In the Gwalior inscription of his descendants, Nagabhatta is represented as having "crushed the large armies of the powerful Mlechha king." Nagabhatta attained prominence with this victory; at the same time he took advantage of the Arab convulsion of the other petty states to immediately launch his own military campaign against them. He thus raised the Pratiharas to imperial status. Under his grandson Vatsaraja (783 CE) this imperial power spread into the Gangetic plains, and under Vatsaraja's son Nagabhatta II (815 CE) it is stated that "the kings of Sindhu, Andhra, Vidarbha and Kalinga succumbed to the power of Nagabhata as moths do unto fire." All this while the Rajput confederacy continued battling the Arabs, ultimately breaking their power in the late 9th century. A description of the military power of the Rajputs, is provided by the Arab merchant Sulaiman in 851 CE, when the Pratihara ruler was Bhoja: "This king maintains numerous forces, and no other Indian prince has so fine a cavalry. He is unfriendly to the Arabs, still he acknowledges that the king of Arabs is the greatest of kings. Among the princes of India there is no greater foe of the Muhammadan faith than he."

From contemporary literature the titles prevalent among the Rajputs were: baladhikrta (a military officer put in charge of a town), mahayudhapati (officer in charge of the arsenal), mahapratihara (chief of the palace guards), pilupati, asvapati and paikkadhipati (commanders of the elephant, horse and infantry forces). The kottapala was an officer in charge of a kotta or fort. Samantas were feudatory chieftains and nobility of the Pratiharas and other Rajput clans, Rajasthaniyas were viceroys, while Rajaputras were the royal princes, sons of the reigning kings of each clan. Other military and feudal titles were: Mahasamantadhipati, Mahasamanta, Mahamandalika, raja, rajakula (later known as Rawal), senani, Thakkura (the Thakur of later times) and Kanaka. The military camp for the Rajput armies was called skandhavara, and a description of the Rajput soldiers in the Yasastilaka champu is given as follows:

  1. They had dhotis coming up to knees.
  2. Their loins were girt with daggers mounted on the handles of buffalo horns.
  3. The close and dense growth of hair that covered their bodies, constituted as it were, armour for their entire body.
  4. They appeared to be three-headed on account of quivers on both the right and left sides of their heads.
  5. They surpassed even Krpa, Krpadharma, Karna, Arjuna, Drona, Drupada, Bhaga and Bhargava in shooting arrows swiftly, vigorously and accurately at distant objects.

What sets apart the Pratihara Empire from their contemporaries and predecessors is the sheer number, and near independent status, of their feudatory and allied clans. It is intriguing that some of these bigger clans claimed the same imperial status as the Pratiharas, by assuming the titles of Maharajadhiraja and Maharaja, and portrayed their relationship with the Pratiharas as an alliance in which they provided military aid in times of need. At other times they could field their armies in independent pursuits of power, and sometimes in contests against their overlord. The Pratiharas would not, or could not, suppress these alternate centers of power and this weakened their polity. On the other hand it gave a kind of stability to the region in that the fall of one clan to foreign invasion only gave an opportunity to another clan for filling the power vacuum and continuing the fight against that invader. The legacy of the contemporary Rashtrakutas and Palas is lost in the pages of history, but that of the Rajput clans has lasted thousands of years, right down to the 20th century.

These Rajput warriors were linked together as equals in the muster roll of 36 ruling clans (Chhattis Rajkul) which became the bedrock of Rajput identity in Rajasthan. The downside of this arrangement was that these warrior clans spent a great amount of time in internecine contests, stabilized on rare occasions by the rise of one power like the Pratiharas. Whenever such clan-confederacies emerged in Rajput history they projected their power into the Gangetic plains in the same manner as the Pratihara Rajputs had done: under the Chauhan Rajputs in the 12th century when Delhi and southern Punjab were captured, and then under the Sesodia Rajputs in the 16th century when the battle for the mastery of the Gangetic plains was fought at Khanua. At all other times these states, even those ruled by branches of the same clan, fought each other, as illustrated in the case of the rulers of Mandor, in west Rajasthan, who also belonged to the Pratihara clan. While the history of the Imperial Pratiharas is given in the Gwalior inscription of Bhoja, that of the Mandor Pratiharas is given in Jodhpur inscription of Bauka Pratihara. From these inscriptions it becomes clear that Mandor was the original kingdom of the Pratiharas, and younger members of the line established separate kingdoms in other parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. The senior line of Mandor had to submit to the junior line in the wake of the latter's victory over the Arabs, but reasserted their independence whenever the power of the Imperial Pratiharas was weakened. Both families constructed temples at the important religious center of Osian in west Rajasthan.

The town of Osian is built around the Sachiyamata hill, which is crowned by the Sachiyamata temple. The present construction dates to the 12th century and later, but the original temple is dated to the 8th century. Worship continues at this temple to this day, as it does at the Mahavira Jain temple, which was built by Vatsaraja of the Imperial Pratihara line. It is believed that of all the ancient temples at Osian, the Vishnu and Surya temples were constructed by the Imperial Pratiharas while the Saiva and Sakti temples were built by the Mandor Pratiharas. The latter increasingly after the 9th century when the Imperial line's power was centered more and more around Kannauj and Gwalior.

Links of the Pratihara with Brahmins, Bhandi, and Gurjara

Both the Imperial Pratiharas and the Mandor Pratiharas claimed the status of Suryavanshi Kshatriyas of the Ikshvaku clan of Sri Rama through his brother Lakshmana. The two differ marginally on how the term Pratihara originates with Lakshmana: inscriptions of the Imperial line claims that Lakshmana repelled the enemies under Meghanada, during the battle with Ravana, hence performing the duties of a pratihara (protector) while the Jodhpur inscription says that he performed this duty while guarding Sita. The term pratihar/pratihari originally was used for a palace guard or common soldier (its modern form in Hindi is prahri), but in the early medieval times the Mahapratihara had become the title of an important general. It is entirely conceivable that the Pratihara Rajputs had an ancestor who was such a general in some kingdom who later established his own rule, and his descendants carried on the clan name as Pratihara. Later they associated this title with the epic hero Lakshmana. In late medieval times the agnikula legend (warriors being created from a fire-pit by Brahmins at Mt Abu) was associated with four Rajput clans, including the Pratiharas, more as glorification than actual historicity. There are some other intriguing references in the old inscriptions:

Brahmin ancestry - The inscription of the Mandor Pratiharas states that their ancestor Harichandra was a Brahman who took up arms in the place of studying scriptures. Harichandra had two wives, a Brahmin woman (who is not given any title) from whom the Pratihara Bramins emerged, and a Kshatriya woman (who is given the title of queen) whose sons became Pratihara Rajputs. The inscription says, "those who were born of Queen Bhadra became drinkers of wine", which is a trait identified with the Rajputs. Each of her four sons are named individually, but the sons of the Brahmin wife are not even mentioned. And further no clan of Parihar Brahmins is mentioned in later history while Parihar Rajputs are still to be found. From the inscriptions of other Rajput clans it becomes clear that Brahmin status is additionally accorded to some of their rulers either because they gained proficiency in studying scriptures, or because as rulers they performed some religious functions. The Jodhpur inscription also says that the four sons of Harichandra built a large rampart round the fort of Mandavyapura (Mandor) which was gained by their own prowess. Forts cannot be built, or towns captured, without an existing army.

Bhati Rajputs link with the Pratiharas - Siluka, a ruler of the Mandor Pratihara line, is said to have defeated Bhattika Devaraj who was initially identified with Devaraja of the Imperial Pratihara line. But the reference to Bauka Pratihara's mother Padmini as belonging to the Bhati clan of Rajputs in that same inscription, suggests that Bhattika Devaraja was the ruler of the Bhati clan whose territories were in the Jaisalmer district, to the northwest of Mandor. Their old capital was Lodurva and after the initial battles, peace was made between the two clans by a matrimonial alliance. In the Gwalior inscription it is stated about Vatsaraja of the Imperial line that "with strong bows as his companion he forcibly wrested (hathad-agrahit) the empire (samrajyam), in battle from the famous Bhandi clan, hard to be overcome by reason of the rampart made of infuriated elephants." Some historians identify this Bhandi clan as the same as the Bhati Rajputs; this would explain why the Imperial Pratiharas wrested "the empire" from them as they were allied to the Mandor Pratiharas.

Gurjara province - The Rajasthani hill-station of Mt Abu was the geographical and spiritual center of a territory known in ancient times as Gurjara. This territory covered northern Gujarat and southwest Rajasthan, and it shared a cultural affinity with the neighboring region of Maru, covering western Rajasthan. In more modern times, Gurjara evolved into Gujarat, while Maru became Marwar. The domain of the Mandor Pratiharas covered both these regions and the temples built at Osian are categorized under the Maru-Gurjara style of architecture. The agnikula legend of later times also points to Mt Abu as the original home of the Pratiharas. This is why the Pratihara rulers are sometimes described as Gurjara, Gurjararaja, Gurjaranatha, in the records of their contemporaries. Another related principality of this era was Nandipuri in southern Gujarat, which was founded by Dadda, who is identified with the youngest son of Harichandra Pratihara. This family claims to have been born in the lineage of the kings of Gurjara (Gurjara nripa vamsa) but the clan name of Pratihara is missing from all their records. It is plausible that Gurjara was the original name of a clan based in Mt Abu, after whom the territory got its name, and which sent different branches south into Gujarat and north into Mandor. However no record of such a clan has been unearthed. And if the Pratiharas of Mandor were descended from such a clan, it is inexplicable that the name Gurjara as used in the sense of a clan, is completely missing from their records or those of the Imperial Pratiharas.

There are many more references to Gurjara as a province, than as a clan. The Kuvalayamala, was composed in Prakrit by Uddotana in 779 CE, at Jalor in Rajasthan at the same time as the Pratihara empire was being formed. It makes reference to the adjoining territories of Maru, Malava, Gurjar, Lata, Madhyadesa, Takka, and Sindhu. The 7th century Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang has spoken of a kingdom in Rajasthan as follows: "The king is of the Kshatriya caste. He is just twenty years old, He is distinguished for wisdom and he is courageous. He is a deep believer in the law of Buddha and highly honours men of distinguished ability." Hiuen Tsang named this kingdom ku-che-lo, which can be identified as Gurjara, with its capital at pi-lo-mo, usually identified with Bhinamalla near Mt Abu. In Bana's Harsha Charita it is said that in the 6th century Prabhakarvardhana of Thaneswar (in modern Haryana) fought the Hunas (lingering on in the Punjab and Kashmir), the king of Sindhu (modern Sindh), the king of Gurjara (Gujarat+SW Rajasthan), the lord of Gandhara (northwest), the ruler of Lata (southern Gujarat), and that of Malava (western Madhya Pradesh). Even in more modern times the word Gujar was being used in territorial sense, rather than tribal, in certain parts of India. For instance the 1879 Rajputana gazetteer reports that in Marwar the word Gujar is used to designate Gujarat. Meanwhile the 1883 Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency reports that in Maharashtra vani (traders) were named after the provinces of their origin; hence the word Gujar meant a Gujarat Vani while Marwari was used for a Marwar Vani. Apart from these references there are numerous communities still bearing the cognomen of Gurjar, pointing to its geographical origin, the most prominent of whom are the Gurjara Brahmins.

Parihar Rajput settlements around the old bases of the Pratiharas

The line of Imperial Pratiharas at Kannauj, which rose to power in the wake of the Arab invasion, was finally extinguished 300 years later during the Turk invasions of Mahmud of Ghazni. But the wider clan of Pratihara Rajputs, and their other bases like Mandor and Gwalior, continued to survive till a much later period. Over the centuries the clan name Pratihara evolved into Parihar and variants like Purihar and Padhiar. In Rajasthan the Parihar Rajputs have numerous sub-clans like Indha, Ramawat, Juda, Lulapota, Nadhat, and Sindhal, which is not surprising considering their long rule in Mandor. The above map shows how the population of Parihar Rajputs is located close to the major Pratihara strongholds.

Parihar Rajputs of Mandor - After a revival in the 10th century, the old line of Mandor Pratiharas saw a decline in their power, and became feudatory to the newer powers like the Paramars from Malwa, and later to the Chauhans of Nadol and Ajmer. The Mandor Pratihars were part of the Rajput confederacy under the Chauhans of Ajmer which was ended by the death of Prithviraja on the fatal field of Tarain in 1192. But it took another 100 years of constant warfare before the Delhi sultanate could project its power on Rajputana; in 1292 Mandor was conquered by Jalaluddin Khalji. The Parihar ruler and his family eluded captivity and found refuge in the neighboring Bhati Rajput kingdom of Jaisalmer. As per the 1879 Rajputana gazetteer, Purihar Rajputs were still to be found in that desert region. Mandor itself was under Muslim rule for the next 100 years; but it seems that only the city was occupied by the Turk governors and their soldiers while the remaining land was held by the Parihar Rajputs. The full story of this period is not before us; but we can assume that time and again the Parihars tried to overthrow the interlopers and were unsuccessful. At other times they paid land revenue and provided military service to the Turks.

What saved the Parihars from annihilation was the underlying strength of the Rajput clan system, described earlier, in that newer clans were always emerging to take on the mantle of resistance against the invaders. Guerrilla warfare by these Rajput clans led to the liberation of Rajputana in the late 14th century, while some nearby parts of India remained under the Turks. In the case of Mandor, the Rathor Rajputs had emerged from the district of Kher to become the dominant power in the Marwar region, and in 1382 they conquered Mandor from the Muslims. Mandor became the capital of the Rathor rulers until Jodhpur was established in the 15th century; the cenotaphs of their rulers are still to be found here. The Parihars were assimilated under the Rathors as feudatories and numbers of them are to be found in Jodhpur. Some of them joined in the Rathor expansion further north; Rao Bika the founder of Bikaner had a prominent general named Bela Parihar and not surprisingly Parihar Rajputs are to be found in that part of Rajasthan as well. Poorer members of this clan seemed to have joined the ranks of the other communities, such are the Parihar Meenas and Parihar Kolis. An interesting family of businessmen (seth), who were previously armourers, carry the clan name Parihar and trace their history to Mandore: Curious House.

The Parihar Rajputs in Marwar still had the numbers and resources to impact the polity centuries later. In the 17th century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb invaded the Rathor kingdom of Marwar and Jadunath Sarkar writes: "A strong force was sent into Marwar under Sarbuland Khan, and a fortnight later the emperor himself started for Ajmer to direct the conquest of the state. Anarchy and slaughter were let loose on the doomed province. The nationalist party was threatened by a host of enemies. The Parihars — the dispossessed ancient lords of the land and the hereditary enemies of the Rathor interlopers — tried to revive their historic kingdom of Gurjara-Pratihara by seizing Mandor, the ancient capital, 5 miles north of Jodhpur."

Ujjain - Another base for the Pratiharas was Ujjain. In the 11th century it came under the Parmara Rajputs but pockets of Parihar settlements still abound in the region spanning MP, Gujarat, and southeast Rajasthan. The 12th century Prithviraja Vijaya names Jaggadeva Pratihara as a general in the Solanki Rajput kingdom of Gujarat. In the 15th century the state of Umeta, situated due west of the city of Baroda, was established by a Padhiar Rajput named Jhanjarji.

Gwalior - the strategic fort of Gwalior contains some of the oldest records the Parihar Rajputs. But like Ujjain, it too fell to newer powers like the Chandellas and the Kacchapaghatas. In 1196 CE the latter clan were uprooted by the Turks of the Delhi sultanate. But once again the staying power of the Rajput clan confederacy was displayed when fifteen years later the Parihar Rajput chief Vigraha defeated the Muslims. His descendants held Gwalior for half a century and were only expelled by Sultan Balban in 1258. The Parihar Rajputs from Gwalior established important states in the adjoining regions that lasted till the modern era. One was Alipura in Bundelkhand and the other was Nagod, in Baghelkhand. Since Nagod has been a Parihar Rajput stronghold concurrently with Gwalior, it is depicted on the map along with the other Pratihara strongholds.

Nagod state is described in some detail by the Archaeological Survey of India (1874) covering Alexander Cunningham's tour of Central India: "Uchahara is a small town and railway station on the high road between Allahabad and Jabalpur, and six miles to the south-west of Bharhut. The town gives its name to the chiefship of a Parihar Raja, who is, however, better known now as the Raja of Nagod......From the late Minister of the Uchahara State, I learned that the Parihar chiefship was older than that of the Chandels of Mahoba, as well as that of the Baghels of Rewa......The great lake at Bilhari, called Lakshman Sagar, is said to have been made by Lakshman Sen Parihar; and the great fort of Singorgarh, still farther to the south, contains a pillar bearing the name of a Parihar Raja. The family has no ancient records, and vaguely claims to have come from Abu-Sikhar in the west (Mount Abu), more than thirty generations ago....The great ruined fortress of Singorgarh commands the Jabera pass leading through the hills between Jabalpur and Damoh and Saugor. It is true that the old fort is not of great size; but its name would appear to have been derived from a certain Gaj Singh Pratihar, according to an inscription of 8 lines which is recorded on a square stone which the hill is called Gaja-Singhadurggye. The monolith is called kirtti-stambha, or the 'pillar of fame.' It was set up in the Samvat year 1364, or AD 1307. The whole of this part of the country would appear to have belonged to the Parihars or Pratihars as we find was actually the case in A. D. 1307, when these monoliths were erected."

Kannauj - A large colony of Parihar Rajputs is to be found in the Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh, with the Raja of Malhajini at their head. The Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh similarly has Parihar settlers, no doubt originating from their ancestral base of Kannauj. Another colony of Parihar Rajputs is in the Hamirpur district; they call themselves descendants of the celebrated Parihar Raja, Jajhar Singh of Hamirpur, who settled there from Marwar.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Proto-Rajput history of the Bhati Rajputs

The Rajput period of Indian History is conventionally said to begin in the 7th century with powerful warrior clans like the Pratihara, Chahaman, Guhilputra, Solanki, and Parmar rising to power in Rajasthan and expanding beyond. These names are all found in the Chattis Rajkula, a muster roll of 36 royal clans, of whom the Pratiharas are counted as the first among Rajputs for building an empire and defeating the Arab invaders. After the Pratiharas, the Rajput identity spread across all of India, and ruling lineages in distant parts clamored to be counted as "Rajput" or as descended from Rajputs.

But there are some Rajput clans in the Chattis Rajkula whose period of greatness predates that of the Pratiharas; stretching farther back into the proto-Rajput period. The most interesting of these clans are the Bhati Rajputs. In medieval and modern times they were known as the ruling clan of Jaisalmer state in northwestern Rajasthan, but in more ancient times the extent of their power can be gauged from three facts:
  1. The Bhatis are mentioned in the inscriptions of the Pratiharas as ruling a vast territory
  2. Places named after Bhatis are found widely across Rajasthan and Punjab
  3. People with the surname Bhati, and variants like Bhatti or Bhatia, are found in the above regions among numerous communities and religions.
In the broad sweep of history, the oral traditions of the Bhati Rajputs may not count for much, but they are important for northwestern Rajasthan, and for southern Punjab and Multan, and to a lesser degree for Sindh and Gujarat. As far as these traditions are concerned, there is no dividing line between Rajput and Proto-Rajput, and there is no upper limit to the Proto-Rajput period, which merges seamlessly into the Vedic era to the Bhati Rajputs' parent clan: the Yadu.

Geographical spread of the Bhati Rajputs and proto-Rajputs

Working backwards through the lineage of the Rawals of Jaisalmer, whose history is well documented, the most important Bhati Rajput ruler appears to be Vijayaraja whose dates range from Bhatika Samvat 541 to 552 (1165-76 CE). Vijayaraja, nicknamed Lanja, married the daughter of Sidhraja Jaisimha, the Solanki Rajput ruler of Gujarat, and had some military achievement against the Turk invaders because he was given the title uttara disa bhada kiwad: guardian of the gate to the north. Since in that very period the Solanki Rajputs also won a great victory against the Turk invader Mohammad Ghori, it seems reasonable that the Bhati Rajputs under Vijayaraja helped in pushing the invader out, or raided and sacked their posts in Multan and Punjab.

More than a century earlier, Rawal Dusaj (1043 CE) carried out a trans-Indus raid, capturing horses and treasures from a Pathan chief. His father, Rawal Bachharaj is presumed to have died fighting Mahmud Ghaznavi, therefore this counter-attack by Dusaj shows the revival of the Bhati power. He was married to a Guhilot princess of Mewar.

Earlier in the 9th century, Rawal Devaraja Bhati, founded Derawar, captured Pugal, and defeated Muslim invaders from Multan. Devaraja is also credited with establishing Lodurva as the capital of his kingdom. This is the same Bhattika Devaraja mentioned as "ruler of Valla-mandala" in the inscription of Bauka Pratihara of Mandore. Early in his reign Devaraja came to conflict with Siluka Pratihara of Mandore but their war ended in an alliance cemented by marriage. The Jodhpur inscription of Pratihara Bauka dated 837 CE speaks of his mother, Padmini of the Bhatti family, as a Maharajani, which shows the importance of the family.

The father of Devaraja, named Vijayaraja I, is known as the founder of Bijnot fort, which was lost by the Bhatis and is now in the Bahawalpur region. Another important town Tanot, was made a capital by Devaraja's great-grandfather; Bhati Rao Kehar in the 8th century, and still contains the temple of Tanot Mata, revered by the people of Jaisalmer and famous for it place in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Kehar even named his son Rao Tano, who is remembered for defeating an invasion of Hussain Shah from Multan.

The great-grandfather of Kehar, Rao Bhati, has no inscription or known dates in his name but obviously had some great achievement because the clan is named after him; as is their royal era: the Bhatika Samvat. The town of Bhatinda in southern Punjab was founded by him, while his son established Bhatner (modern Hanumangarh) in northern Rajasthan. A third city, Bhatiya is stated to have been located near Multan. A calamity at the hands of foreign invaders, mlechchas who could have been Hunas, broke the kingdom into fiefdoms stretching across Rajasthan and Punjab.

Impact of Islamic invasions on the Bhatis

The Arab invaders were rendered powerless by the Rajput confederacy under the Imperial Pratiharas, of which the Bhatis were a part, but not so the later Ghaznavid and Ghorid invasions. The outlying minor Bhati fiefs in Punjab, Sindh, or Multan, are presumed to have fallen, based on the fate of Bhatiya, Bijnot, Uch, Bhatinda. The warriors among the defenders died fighting; those who could not fight, particularly in the distant villages, became lower castes and eventually converted to Islam. Some of the latter day Jat Sikh clans like Sidhu and Brar also trace their descent from the Bhati Rajputs.

Some other clans from the proto-Rajput period in this region, like the Johiyas, Langhas, Mohil, Samma, Chayal, are mentioned in the Bhati bardic history as either colluding with Arab and Turk invaders or failing to resist them. Consequently they did not get Rajput status and became lower castes and/or converted to Islam.

Rajput identity of the Bhatis only in Rajasthan

As the Rajput identity was formed in the course of the long resistance to the invaders, there were three conditions for getting this status:
  1. Resistance to invaders and maintaining independence
  2. Upholding of dharmic traditions
  3. Protection to Brahmins, cows, and temples
The Bhatis in Rajasthan, whether at Jaisalmer or lesser thikanas like Pugal, Bikampur, Varasalapura etc, upheld all three conditions and find place in the Chattis Rajkula. Jaisalmer was besieged for nearly a decade by the Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century, but the Bhati Rajputs refused to submit. When all resources finished they performed jauhar and sakha, leaving only blood and ashes for the invaders.

In the Hindu reconquista of Rajasthan, the Bhatis recovered Jaisalmer, but found a new enemy in the fellow Rajput Rathores who had become the dominant power of Western Rajasthan after driving out the Muslims. Besides Jaisalmer, the different Bhati fiefs like Pugal, Bikampur, Varasalapura etc, became part of the Rathore kingdoms.

Bhatis in Punjab, Multan, Haryana had long back lost their strongholds and warriors and were mostly agrarian. They did not fulfill all the above conditions, and hence they did not get Rajput status. Besides the Pratiharas and Rathores, there were other neighbours and rivals of the Bhatis. Some of these like the Parmars of Pugal, Sodhas of Sindh, Tomars of Pokhran, Sankhlas of Jungla, Khichi of Jalore, etc rose to proper Rajput status. Some others like Chanas or Varahas/Barahas disappeared into obscurity. Rawal Karan Singh (1288 CE) of Jaisalmer is said to have protected a Varaha chieftain by slaying in battle the Muslim governor of Nagaur.