History of Rajputs

The Rajputs (from the Sanskrit tatpurusha compound "rājaputra", "son of a king") are a social group of northern India and Gujarat. In the Hindi and Gujarati languages, those belonging to the Kshatriya Varna of Hindus are generally referred to as "Rajputs". As a dominant martial and land-owning community of northern India, the Rajputs have had a chequered history.

Rajput origins

While it is widely recognized that no single origin for the rajputs can be authoritatively identified, various theories of origin have been put forward. All of them are informed by Hindu puranic legend. The rajput clan system and the traditional view of their origins is elaborated upon in Rajput clans while other hypotheses, ascribing to them a Scythian (Saka/Huna) origin, are detailed in Origin of Rajputs.

Because of the fluid social structure in early medieval India, a tribe could gain or lose in status based on political importance and occupation. Many tribes over the course of time became extinct because of war, or relocated to another location and changed their names. Traditionally, every rajput must belong to one of 36 specific clans. During the rule of the British, Lieutenant Colonel James Tod visited Rajasthan and attempted to write a definitive list of the 36 Rajput tribes. However, everyone that he spoke to gave him varying lists. It can thus be concluded that any caste or clan that had furnished warriors or was politically dominant in a particular region can justly call itself Rajput. James Tod uses this legend as a basis for speculating upon a scythian origin for the rajputs. He suggests that scythian tribes which invaded India in the 1st century AD and disappeared into the population soon afterwards were the forbears of present-day rajputs.

The rajputs first came into historical prominence around the 7th and 8th century BC; they emerge as a set of inter-marrying tribes located in central India and Rajasthan. They were allegedly migrants to India from Central Asia who mingled with the aboriginal tribes and were given Kshatriya, or warrior status by the priests. However, this view of Rajput descent from the Hepthalites or White Huns is disputed, and arises from the rise of Rajput ascendancy in the wake of the successful invasion by the Hepthalites into the Gupta Empire.

Harshavardhan (606-648 AD) of Kannauj was the first to use the term Rajputra. The term was used for the descendants of the Turkic-Shahi dynasty present in Kashmir in Rajatarangini of Kalhana. The 36 Rajput clans are first mentioned in the "Kumarpala Charita" of Jayasimha and then in the "Prithviraj Raso" of Chandbardai. The lists include classical clans like Ikshvaku, Soma,, and Yadu; well-known Rajput clans such as Bargujar, Paramara, Rever, Chauhan, Gaharwar,Chalukya, Rathore, Parihara and Chandela; as also lesser-known clans such as Silar (Shilahara), Chapotkat and Tank.

Today, with the aid of inscriptions and copperplates discovered, it is possible to trace the history of the royal clans with considerable certainty. However they were not available in 17-18th century when a number of chronicles (khyats) were compiled, often based on oral tradition. By this time, the Agni-kunda myth had been expanded to explain the origin of four of the major clan. James Tod wrote his influential book "The Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan" in 1829 and 1832 on the basis of these chronicles. Other authors have used some of his hypotheses, even though the texts discovered and read during the 20th century show that Todd's hypotheses are sometimes inaccurate.

"'Prithviraj III"'

Prithvi Raj Chauhan (1168-1192 CE; pronounced: [prɪ.t̪ʰvɪ.ˈraːdʒ tʃaʊ.ˈhaːn] ) Prithvi Raj Chauhan was a king of the Hindu Rajput Chauhan (Chahuwan) dynasty, who ruled a kingdom in northern India during the latter half of the 12th century.

Prithvi Raj Chauhan was the second last Hindu king to sit upon the throne of Delhi (the last Hindu king being Hemu). He succeeded to the throne in 1179 CE at the age of 11, and ruled from the twin capitals of Ajmer and Delhi. He controlled much of Rajasthan and Haryana, and unified the Rajputs against Muslim invasions. His elopement with Samyukta (Sanyogita), the daughter of Jai Chandra, the Gahadvala king of Kannauj, is a popular romantic tale in India, and is one of the subjects of the Prithviraj Raso, an epic poem composed by Prithviraj's court poet and friend, Chand Bardai.

Prithvi Raj fought and defeated the Afghan ruler Muhammad Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191 CE but was then immediately defeated at the Second Battle of Tarain in 1192 CE. After his defeat, India was open to invasion by the Mahmud Ghori, and Delhi came under the control of him. Qila Rai Pithora in Delhi, also known as Pithoragarh, is named after him

Early dynasties

The first Rajput kingdoms are attested to in the 6th century, and the Rajputs rose to prominence in the 9th and 10th centuries. The clans that descended from the solar and lunar lineage i.e. 'Suryavanshis' and 'Chandervanshis' rose to prominence first, followed by the four "Agnivanshi" clans, the Pratiharas (Parihars), Chauhans (Chahamanas), Solankis (Chaulukyas), and Paramaras.

The Pratiharas (Parihars) established the first Rajput kingdom in Mandore [http://www.justicekansingh.org/the_mandore.htm] Marwar in southwestern Rajasthan, with the Chauhans at Ajmer in central Rajasthan, the Solankis in Gujarat, the Paramaras in Malwa, the Rever's in Tarangagadh. The Rajput Rai Dynasty ruled Sind during the 6th and 7th centuries. Sind was conquered by an Arab Muslim army of the Califate, led by Muhammad bin Qasim, in the 8th century. Bin Qasim attacked Chittorgarh, and was defeated by Bappa Rawal Guhila. The Pratiharas rebuffed another Arab invasion in the ninth century. No further significant invasions occurred until the eleventh century. The Pratiharas later established themselves at Ujjain and ruled Malwa, and afterwards at Kanauj in the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, from which they ruled much of northern India, from Kathiawar in the west to Magadha in the east, in the ninth century. Clans claiming descent from the Solar and Lunar races, who were originally vassals of the other clans, later established independent states. The Guhilas (later called the Sisodias) established the state of Mewar (later Udaipur), under Bappa Rawal, who ruled at Chittorgarh, which was given in dowry to Bappa in 734 for his bravery. The Kachwaha clan came to rule Dhundhar, with their capital at Amber, and later Jaipur. The Chandela clan ruled Bundelkhand after the tenth century, occupying the fortress-city of Kalinjar and building the famous temple-city of Khajuraho.

The Tomars/ Tanwars established a state in present day Delhi,Haryana, and Eastern Punjab, rebuilding and founding in 736 A.D. the city of Dhiliki, ancient Inderprastha and modern day Delhi). Tomars/ Tanwars, being of Chandravanshi (Bharatvanshi) lineage, descended from Mahabharat's great hero, Arjun, through his son, Abhimanyu, and grandson, Prikshit. King Anangpal-I Tomar rebuilt Dhilika. Tomar/ Tanwar rule lasted at least until 1182 A.D when the then Tomar King Anangpal-II appointed Prithviraj, his daughter's son, as 'Caretaker'. King Anangpal-II Tomar,in the words of Lt. Col. Tod - quoting Chand Bardai- 'was justly entitled to be termed as the sovereign of Hindustan'. According to 'Jagas' of Tomars/ Tanwars, King Anangpal-II handed over the kingdom to Prithviraj when he went on a religious pilgrimage. However, Prithviraj refused to hand over the kingdom when King Anangpal-II returned from pilgrimage.

The Kachwahas, and Chandelas and the bargujars were originally vassals of the Pratihara kingdom. The inscriptions from this period mention frequent intermarriage among the ruling clans.the Bargujars originated as the vassals of the pratiharas and are of suryavansh lineage.

Rajput resistance to Muslim Attack

Rajput Kingdoms contended with the rising and expansionist empires of Central Asia, be they Arabs, Moghuls, Mongols Afghans, or other Turks. They earned their reputation by fighting these battles with a code of chivalrous conduct rooted in their strong adherence to tradition and (Hindu dharma). The Rajput Kingdoms held out against the Arab Caliphates and other Central Asian Empires for several centuries. A few Rajput Kings did convert to Islam, and eventually an alliance formed with the Mughals, which laid the foundations for the creation of the largest pre-colonial era empire in South Asia. The heroism and sacrifice displayed by the Rajputs is legendary in the chronicles of Indian history.

In the early 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni conquered the Hindu-Shahi kingdom in the Punjab, and his raids into northern India weakened the Pratihara kingdom, which was drastically reduced in size and came under the control of the Chandelas. Mahmud sacked temples across northern India, including the temple at Somnath in Gujarat, but his permanent conquests were limited to the Punjab, and Somnath was rebuilt after the raid. The early 11th century also saw the reign of the polymath king Bhoj, the Paramara ruler of Malwa.

The Rathores, as the Gahadvala dynasty, reestablished the kingdom of Kannauj, ruling the Ganges plain. The Rahevars, as the Rever dynasty, established the kingdom of Tarangagadh in 11th through the 12th century, and conquering Marwar in the 13th. The Rajputs fought each other in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Prithiviraj II, ruler of Delhi, crushed Muhammad of Ghor in 1191 at the First Battle of Tarain and Ghori was captured. After Ghori sued for his life he was let go despite strong resistance by Prithviraj's generals. Ghori managed to defeat Prithviraj the following year at the Second Battle of Tarain, and the attacks of Muhammad's armies brought down the Gahadvala kingdom of Kannauj in 1194. The Delhi Sultanate was founded by Qutb ud din Aybak, Muhammad of Ghor's successor, in first decade of the 13th century.

The Chauhans reestablished themselves at Ranthambore, led by Govinda, grandson of Prithviraj III. Jalore was ruled by another branch of Chauhans, the Songaras. Another branch of the Chauhans, the Hadas, established a kingdom in Hadoti in the mid-13th century.

Sultan Ala ud din Khilji (1296–1316) conquered Gujarat (1297) and Malwa (1305),captured fort of mandu and handed over to the songara chouhans, and captured the fortresses of Ranthambore (1301), Mewar's capital Chittorgarh (1303) and Jalor (1311) after long sieges with fierce resistance from their Rajput defenders. Mewar reestablished their supremacy within 50 years of the sack of Chittor under Maharana Hammir. Hammir defeated Muhammad Tughlaq and captured him. Tughlaq had to pay huge ransom and relinquish all of Mewar's lands. After this the Delhi Sultanate did not attack Chittor for a few hundred years. The Rajputs reestablished their independence, and Rajput states were established as far east as Bengal and north into the Punjab. The Tomaras established themselves at Gwalior, and the ruler Man Singh built the fortress which still stands there. Mewar emerged as the leading Rajput state, and Rana Kumbha expanded his kingdom at the expense of the sultanates of Malwa and Gujarat. The Delhi Sultanate recovered somewhat under the Lodhi dynasty, and Rana Sanga of Mewar convinced Babur to challenge Ibrahim Lodi for control of the Delhi Sultanate, hoping that the struggle between Muslim rivals would allow the Rajputs to reclaim Delhi. Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi at the First Battle of Panipat on April 21, 1526, and the Rana Sanga rallied a Rajput army to challenge Babur. Babur barely managed to defeat the Rajputs at the Battle of Khanua on March 16, 1527. The Rajput rulers agreed to pay tribute to Babur, but most retained control of their states, and struggles between Babur's successor Humayun and the Suri Dynasty for control of the Sultanate preoccupied the Muslims for several decades.

Mewar and the Mughals

Soon after his defeat in 1527 at The Battle of Khanwa, Rana Sanga died in 1528. Bahadur Shah of Gujrat became a powerful Sultan. He captured Raiseen in 1532 and defeated Mewar in 1533. He helped Tatar Khan to capture Bayana which was under Mughal occupation. Humayun sent Hindal and Askari to fight Tatar Khan. At the battle of Mandrail in 1534 Tatar Khan was defeated and killed. Raja of Amber Puranmal helped Mughals in this battle. He himself was killed in this battle. Now it became necessary for Humayun to crush the rising power of Bahadur Shah. When Bahadur Shah was engaged in besieging the fort of Chittor, Humayun started against him. Hearing the news Rani "Karmawati" widow of Rana Sanga sent Rakhi to Hymayun. Humayun is considered to have accepted the "Rakhi" but stopped at Sarang Pur in January 1535. Mewar was weakened due to constant struggles. After a long wait Rajputs had a last fight on March 8, 1535 and Rani Karmawati together with other women committed Jauhar the same day. Humayun now pursued Bahadur Shah. Later Bahadur Shah and Sher Shah Suri created many problems for Humayun and he lost the empire. Fortunately he regained the empire in July 1555. Soon after he died in January 1556. Akbar the son of Humayun tried to persuade Mewar to accept mughal sovereignty like other Rajputs. But Rana Udai Singh didn't accept it. Ultimately Akbar besieged the fort of Chittor in 1567. This time Rana Udai Singh acted tactfully and left the fort with his family. Jaimal Rathor of "Merta" and Fatah Singh of "Kelwa" were left to take care of the fort. On 23 February 1568, Akbar hit a Prominent Person with his gun who was looking after the repair work. The person was Jaimal Rathore. In the same night Rajput women committed Jauhar and Rajput men, led by the wounded Jaimal and Fatta (Fatah Singh), fought their last battle. Akbar entered the fort and at least 30,000 innocent people were killed. Later Akbar placed a statue of these two brave Rajput warriors on the gates of Agra Fort.

Akbar won the fort of Chittor but Rana Udai Singh was ruling mewar from another places. On March 3, 1572 Udai Singh died and his son Rana Pratap sat on throne at Gogunda. He vowed that he will liberate Mewar from Mughals and till then will not sleep on a bed, will not live in a palace, and will not have food in a plate (Thali). Akbar tried that Rana Pratap should have a treaty with him. But he did not succeed in it. Finally he sent an army under Raja Man Singh in 1576. Rana Pratap was defeated at the Battle of Haldighati in June 1576. Rana Pratap escaped from the battleand started guerrilla warfare with Mughals ultimately he was successful in liberating most of the Mewar except the fort of Chittor. Rana Pratap died on January 19, 1597 and Rana Amar Singh succeeded him. Akbar sent Salim in October 1603 to attack Mewar but he stopped at Fatehpur Sikri and sought permission from emperor to go to Allahabad and went there. In 1605 Salim sat on the throne and took the name of Jahangir.

Jahangir sent an army to attack Mewar in 1605 under his son Parvez. A battle was fought at Debari but was not decisive. Again in 1608 the Mughal emperor sent Mahabat Khan. In 1609 he was called back and Abdulla Khan was sent. Then Raja Basu was sent and then Mirza Ajij Koka was sent. But no conclusive victory could be achieved. Ultimately Jahangir himself arrived at Ajmer in 1613 and he appointed Shazada "Khurram" to fight against Mewar. Khurram devastated the areas of Mewar and cut the supplies to Rana. With the advice of the nobles and his crown prince "Karna" Rana sent a peace delegation to Khurram under Shubhkaran and Haridas. Khurram sought an approval of treaty from his father Jahangir at Ajmer. Jahangir issued a "Farman" (Order) to authorize the Khurram to agree a treaty with Rana Amar Singh. The treaty was agreed between Rana Amar Singh and prince "Khurram" in 1615 CE.1.Rana of Mewar accepted Mughal sovereignty.2.Mewar and the fort of Chittor was returned to Rana.3.The fort of Chittor could not be repaired or renovated by Rana.4.Rana of Mewar would not attend personally the Mughal court. Crown prince of Mewar will attend the court and give himself and his army for the Mughals.5.It was not necessary for Rana to establish marriage alliance with Mughals.

This treaty was respectable for both parties and ended the 88-year long enmity between Mewar and the Mughals.

Akbar's alliance with Rajputs

Humayun's successor Akbar consolidated control of the empire and sought to expand it by realising that wars with Rajputs will not allow him to quickly expand his domain in India so he used marriage as a diplomatic tactic to secure alliances. Kachwahas were the first to give a daughter to Akbar. This prompted Maharana Pratap to ban marriages between his loyal Rajputs with other Rajputs of Rajasthan. The Kachwaha rulers of Jaipur and Rathore rulers of Marwar became tributaries of the empire. The Sisodias of Mewar and their vassals, the Hadas of Bundi, continued to refuse Mughal hegemony, and Akbar invaded Mewar, capturing Chittorgarh in 1568 after a long siege. The Sesodias of Mewar moved the capital to the more defensible location of Udaipur and carried on fighting the Mughals. Akbar respected the martial prowess of the Rajputs, and he married a Rajput princess, and Rajput generals, particularly the Kachwahas of Jaipur, commanded some Mughal armies during the alliance.

Aurangzeb and Rajput rebellion

The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who was far less tolerant of Hinduism than his predecessors, placed a Muslim on the throne of Marwar when the childless Maharaja Jaswant Singh died. This enraged the Rathores, and when Ajit Singh, Jaswant Singh's son was born after his death Marwar nobles asked Aurangzeb to place Ajit on the throne. Aurangzeb refused and instead tried to have Ajit assassinated. Durgadas Rathore and others smuggled Ajit out of Delhi to Jaipur, thus starting the 30 year Rajput rebellion against Aurangzeb. This rebellion united the Rajput clans, and a triple-pronged alliance was formed by the states of Marwar, Mewar, and Jaipur. One of the conditions of this alliance was that the rulers of Jodhpur and Jaipur should regain the privilege of marriage with the ruling Sesodia dynasty of Mewar, on the understanding that the offspring of Sesodia princesses should succeed to the throne over any other offspring. This stipulation would lend itself to many future conflict

Maratha Domination and British Rule

The quarrels among the Rajputs led to their inviting the Marathas for help in their power struggles; this resulted in the subjection of all the Rajput states to the Marathas. Jodhpur was conquered by Sindhia, who levied a tribute of 60,000 rupees, and took from it the fort and town of Ajmer. Internecine disputes and succession wars disturbed the peace of the early years of the century, and the Rajput princes asked for British protection from the Marathas during the Third Anglo-Maratha War of 1817-1818. At the conclusion of this war in 1818, 18 states in the Rajputana region, of which 15 were ruled by Rajputs, became princely states of the British Raj, while the British took direct control of Ajmer, which became the province of Ajmer-Merwara. A number of other Rajput states in central India, including Rewa, Ajaigarh, Barwani, Chhatarpur, Datia, Orchha, and Ratlam, became princely states as well, and were placed under the authority of the Central India Agency.

Independent India

On India's independence in 1947, the native rules were given three choices, join one of the two states Indian or Pakistan, or remain independent. Rajput rulers of Rajputana and Central India acceded to newly-independent India; Rajputana was renamed Rajasthan and became an Indian state in 1950. The Maharajas were given special recognitions and an annual amount termed privy-purse was endowed them.

Many of the Rajput Maharajas entered politics and served India as elected representatives. In 1971, Indira Gandhi "de-recognized" the Maharajas and abolished the privy-purses. As a result, the Maharajas had to transform some of their palaces into hotels and tourist destinations. Today, the Maharajas still fulfill some of the ceremonial duties as recognized elders and private citizens in India.


* Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Several volumes published during the 20th century.
* A.K. Warder "An Introduction to Indian Historiography", Popular Prakashan 1972.
* Thakur Udaynarayan Singh , "Kshatriya Vamshavali" (in Hindi), Khemaraj Shrikrishnadas, 1989.
* Jwalaprasad Mishra, "Jati Bhaskara", 1914, Khemaraja Shrikrishnadas
* Col. James Tod, "Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan" Two volumes, published in 1829, 1832.
* [http://rajputana.htmlplanet.com/scy_raj/scy_raj1.html Scythic Origin of the Rajput Race by Mulchand Chauhan]

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