social community of South Asia

Rajput is a community of India which claim descent from many rulers or kings. [1] Rajput are upper cast community.

Rajput with sword and shield, c. 1858

Origin change

According to V.A. Smith, Rajput is a mixed race. Rajputs have descended from the foreign invaders like Sakas, Kushans and Hunas. V.A. Smith states that Rajputs were born of various races and castes.[2]

According to Harbans Singh Bhatia, It would appear that Brahmans, Bhars, Ahirs, Jats, Gujars, and Huns have all contributed to the Rajput clans.[3]

Rajputs in Hindu Dharmashastras change

Ananya Vajpeyi discusses the Rajputs in the context of Hindu Sanskrit Dharmashastra texts and shows the dissonance between the meaning of Rajput in the practical political arena versus the literal meaning of rajaputa in Hindu religious texts and how both meanings could coexist.[4]

Vishvambhara Shastra states that :"An Ugra (Śūdra mother, Kshatriya father) makes a living by the arts of war. Skilled with the sword and bow, he is expert in combat. He stands apart among men as the mighty Rajput".[5]

Similar view is held by the Jatinirnayaprakaranama of Sudrakamalakara, an early 1600s Dharmaśāstra text written by Kamalakarabhatta (uncle of the notable Brahmin scholar Gaga Bhatt) for a rajaputa. Vajpeyi clarifies that although ugra literally means scary or fierce, in this context the medieval writers only used this term in the context of his qualities as a warrior. Seshasakrishna's Sudracarasiromani, a text that predates Sudrakamalakara also supports this definition for a rajaputa.[6]

Vajpeyi notes that Kamalakarabhatta makes a professional and religious distinction: a rajaputa may fight, however, he has to follow the duties similar to sudras or sudrasamana. She says Ugra or rajaputa is listed as one of the six types of a sankarajati(mixed caste) given in the text, whose father's varna is higher than that of the mother, and are thus an anulomajas or "one born in accordance with the natural flow". There are five other types of anulomajas unions given by Kamalakarabhatta. Thus, as per the medieval Brahminical Dharmashastras, Rajputs are a mixed jati.[6] In the practical political context, the word meaning edges towards Kshatriya although in Hindu religious texts rajaputa is closer to Shudra.[7]

Some emigrant Brahmins may have been involved in Rajputising tribes to the Rajput status.[6] Despite this, Vajpayi states that, periodically, Brahmins have characterized Rajput as self-seekers, and stated that they are not real Kshatriyas.[7] Other than establishing marital ties with already established Rajput families, constructing false genealogies and adopting titles such as "rana", Rajputising also involved starting the pretensions of rituals of twice-borns ( wearing sacred thread etc.).[8] However, one ritual that was not given much significance was the Abhisheka. When a clan leader was made king by the Mughal emperor, the Tika mark on the head of leader by the Muslim emperor confirmed his Royal status and the Hindu ritual of Abhisheka was only of secondary importance. Aurangzeb eventually stopped the custom of Tika and the custom was replaced by bowing or taslim to the Mughal emperor, who would return the salute. According to Vajpayi, this possibly implies that it was still up to the Mughal emperor to ultimately give or deny the Rajput status to the clan leader.[9]

The description of Rajputs in the Hindu Dharmashastras, self image that the Rajputs presented, and the Mughal view of the Rajputs was disparate. This incongruity, according to Vajpayi makes the Rajput identity Polyphonous.[7]

References change

  1. Chandra, Satish (2008). Social Change and Development in Medieval Indian History. Har-Anand Publications. ISBN 978-81-241-1386-8. Modern historians are more or less agreed that the Rajputs consisted of miscellaneous groups including shudras and tribals. Some were brahmans who took to warfare , and some were from tribes-indigenous or foreign.
  2. Experts, Disha. Indian History & Culture Compendium for IAS Prelims General Studies Paper 1 & State PSC Exams 4th Edition. Disha Publications. ISBN 978-93-90486-68-7. According V.A. Smith "Rajput is a mixed race". • Some Rajputs have descended from the foreign aggressors like Saka, Kushans and Huns. • V.A. Smith states that "Rajputs were born of various races and castes".
  3. Bhatia, Harbans Singh (1984). Political, Legal, and Military History of India. Deep & Deep Publications. It would appear that Brahmans, Bhars, Ahirs, Jats, Gujars, and Huns have all contributed to the Rajput clans.
  4. Ananya Vajpeyi 2005, pp. 257–258.
  5. Theodore Benke (2010). The Sudracarasiromani of Krsna Sesa: A 16th century manual of dharma for Sudras (Thesis). University of Pennsylvania. pp. 96, 97.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Ananya Vajpeyi 2005, pp. 257.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Ananya Vajpeyi 2005, pp. 258.
  8. Ananya Vajpeyi 2005, pp. 254.
  9. Ananya Vajpeyi 2005, pp. 251.

Other websites change

Origin of Rajputs