Rajputs: Eastern Plains

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This article is an extract from



Being a reprint of the chapter on
The Races, Castes and Tribes of
the People in the Report on the
Census of the Panjab published
in 1883 by the late Sir Denzil
Ibbetson, KCSI

Lahore :

Printed by the Superintendent, Government Printing, Punjab,

Indpaedia is an archive. It neither agrees nor disagrees
with the contents of this article.

Rajputs: Eastern Plains

The tribes which I shall first discuss are divided into two groups. All but the last four are almost confined to the Dehli territory, at least as Rajputs proper, and are roughly arranged in order from north to south down the Jamna valley, and then westwards through Rohtak and Hissar. The last four tribes carry on the series through Patiala, Firozpur, and Gujranwala, and connect the Rajputs of the Eastern with those of the Western Plains. The first group belongs chiefly to the great royal famihes of the Rajputs who, occupying the Dehli territory, have not as a rule superseded their old tribal designation by a local name, as has been so often the case in the west of the Panjab. The great majority of them are descend ants of the Tunwar and Chauhan dynasties of Dehli. Their local distribution is fairly well marked, the Tunwar lying to the north-west of the first group, and shutting off the Jat Tribes of the Central Plains from the Rajputs of the Dehli territory, their line being broken only, I beheve, by the Chauhan colony on the Ghaggar of the Hissar border. Next to them come the Chauhan, Mandahar, and Pundir of the Kurukshetr, and the Rawat, Gaurwa, Bargujar, and Jadu of Dehli and Gurgaon, followed by the Jatu, themselves Tunwar, and the Bagri of Hissar. The Punwar colony of Rohtak will be discussed with the Rcbputs of the Western Plains. The Jats who are shown in the Abstract on the next page are very largely if not wholly true Jats, who have returned a real Jat tribe and have been shown under that tribe among Jats, but have also entered the Rajput tribe from which they claim to be descended, and are thus entered under that head also. The Rjijput of these parts is a true Rajput. Living in the shadow o£ Dehli, the capital of his ancestral dynasties, he clings to the traditions of his caste. He cultivates largely, for little other occupation is left him ; but he cultivates badly, for his women are more or less strictly secluded and never work in the fields, while he considers it degrading to actually follow the plough, and will always employ hired ploughmen if he can possibly afford it . He is a great cattle-grazier and as great a cattle-thief. His tribal feeling is strong, and the beads of the village or local group of villages have great iafluence. He is proud, lazy, sometimes turbulent, But generally with something more of the gentleman about him than we find in the more rustic Jat. Abstract No. 79 on the opposite page* gives the distribution of these tribes.

The Rajput tribes of the Eastern Plains

The Tunwar (No.1)

Tho Tunwar, althougli a sub-division ofthe . jadubansi, in generally rcckone as one of tho 36 royal tribes of Rajputs. It furnished India with tho dynasty of Vikrainaditya, the beacon of later Hindu chronology, and Dehli with its last Indian rulers, Anangpal, the last Tunwar Raja, abdicating in favour of his Chauhan grandchild Pirthi Raj, in whose time the Musalmans conquered North western India. An early Anangpal Tunwar founded in 792 A.D. the city of Delhli on the ruins of the ancient Indrapat, and his dynasty ruled there for three and a half centuries. It is therefore natural that the Tunwar should bo found chiefly in the eastern districts of the Province. In Dehli itself, indeed, they are less numerous than might have been expected. But they are exceedingly numerous in Amhala, Hissar, and Sirsa. The name being a famous one, many Raj puts of various tribes which have no real connection with the Tunwar have returned it. Thus 1,200 men in Karnal are returned as Chauhan Tvinwar, who are probably Chauhans. So in Rawalpindi 1,939 men are shown as Bhatti Tunwar, though here the confusion is more excusable, being justined by origin though not by modern usage. The figures are of course shown twice over in each case. The figures for Tunwar Jats probably represent nothing more than traditional origin. Half the number are in Gurgaon, where there is a considerable settlement of Tunwar Rajputs.

The Tunwar are the westernmost of the great Rajput tribes of the Eastern Panjab. When ejected from Dehli they are said to have settled at Pundr in Karnal, on the Ambala border and once the seat of the Pundir, and thence to have spread both north and south. They now occupy Hariana or the greater part of the Hissar district, and stretch across Karnal and the south of Patiala into the west of the Ambala district, separating the Chauhan and other Rajputs who hold the Jamna districts to the cast of them from the great Jat tribes of the Malwa which he to their west. There is, however, a Chauhan colony to the north-west of them on the Lower ghaggar in the Hissar district and Patiala. The Jatu of Hariana are a Tunwar clan.

The Chauhan (No. 2) — The Chauhan is one of the Agnikula tribes and also one of the 36 royal famihes. Tod calls them the most valiant of the whole Rajput race, and to them belonged the last Hindu ruler of Hindustan. Before the seat of their power was moved to Dehli, Ajmer and Sambhar in Jaipur seem to have been their home. After their ejectment from Dehli they are said to have crossed the Jamna to Sambhal in Muradabad, and there still dwell the genealogists and bards of the Chauhan of the Nardak of Karnal and Ambala. This tract, the ancient Kuruk shetr or battle-field of the Kauravas and Paudavas, is still occupied very largely by Rajputs ; in the west by the Tunwar, themselves descendants of the Pandavas, but for the most part by the Chauhan whose central village is Jundla in Karnal, and who occupy all the country lying im mediately to the east of the Tunwar tract in Ambala and Karnal and the adjoining parts of Patiala, Nabha, and Jind, All this country was held by the Pundir Rajputs till the Chauhan came over from Sambhal under Rana Har Rai some 20 generations ago, probably in the time of Bahlol Lodi, and drove the Pundir across the Jamna. The Chauhan appear from our figuresto be numerous throughout the remaining districts of the Dehli and Hissar divisions and in Gujranwala, Firozpur, Rawalpindi, and Shahpur. But Chauhan being perhaps the most famous name in the Rajput annals, many people who have no title to it have shown themselves as Chauhan. In Karnal 1,520 Pundir, 850 Punw.ir, 1,200 Tunwar, 6,300 Mandahar, and some 900 of other tribes have shown themselves as Chauhan also. In Shahpur 6,700 persons are returned as Gondal Chauhan, and this accounts for the so-called Chauhans of this district. The Jat Chauhans, too, are probably for the most part Jat tribes of alleged Chauhan origin. Thus among the Jats, in Gujranwala 2,200 Chima and nearly 1,000 persons of other Jat tribes, in Firozpur 600 Joya and 200 Sidhu, and in Jahlam 2,000, and in Gibriit 650 Gondal, have returned themselves as Chauhan also, and so in many minor instances. All these figures are shown twice over. The Khichi and Varaich are also Chauhan clans numerous in the Panjab, and have perhaps sometimes returned themselves as Chauhan only. The Chauhan of the Dehli district have taken to widow-marriage, and are no longer recognised by their fellow Rajputs. The Chauhan of Gurgaon have, however, retained their pre-eminent position, and are connected with the Chauhan family of Nimrana, a small State now subject to Alwar.

The Mandahar (No. 3) — The Mandahar are almost confined to the Nardak of Karnal, Ambala and the neighbouriug portion of Patiala. They are said to have come from Ajudhia to Jind, driving the Chandel and Bra Rajputs who occupied the tract into the Siwaliks and across the Ghaggar respectively. They then fixed their capital at Kalayit in Patiala, with minor centres at Safidon in Jind and Asandh in Karnal. They he more or less between the Tunwar and Chauhan of the tract. But they have in more recent times spread down below the Chauhan into the Jamna riverain of the Karnal district, with Gharaunda as a local centre. They were settled in these parts before the advent of the Chauhan, and were chastised at Samana in Patiala by Firo; Shah. The Mandahar, Kandahar, Bargujar, Sankarwal, and Panibar Rajputs are said to be des fiended from Lavva, a sou of Ram Chandra, and therefore to be Solar Rajputs ; and in Karnal at least they do not intermarry. A few Mandabar are found cast of the Jamna in Saharanpur, bnt the tribe appears to be very local.

The Pundir (No. 4). — The Pundir would appear to belong to the Dahima royal race of which Tod says : —Seven centuries have swept away all recollection of a tribe who once afforded one of the proudest themes for the song of the barl.They were the most powerful vassals of the Chauhan of Dehli, and Pundir commanded the Lahore frontier under Pirthi Raj. The original seat of the Panjah Pundir was Thiinesar and the Kurukshetr of Karnal and Amhala, with local capitals at Pundri, Ramha, Hahri, and Pundrak ; but they uere dispossessed by the Chauhan under Rana Har Rai, and for the most part fled beyond the Jamua. They are, however, still found in the Indri pargannah of Karnal and the adjoining portion of Ambala.

The Rawat (No. 5) — The Rawat has been returned as a Jat tribe, as a Rajput tribe, and as a separate caste. I have shown the three sets of figures side by side in Abstract No. 79. The Rawat is found in the sub-montane districts, and down the whole length of the Jamna valley. It is very difficult to separate these people from the Rathis of the Kangra hills ; indeed they would appear to occupy much the same position in the submontane as the Rathis or even the Kanets do m the higher ranges. They are admittedly a clan of Chandel Rajputs ; but they are the lowest clan who are recognised as of Rajput stock, and barely if at all admitted to communion with the other Rajputs, while under no circumstances would even a Kathi marry a Rawat woman. They practise widow-marriage as a matter of course. There can, I think, be little doubt that the Chandel are of aboriginal stock, and probably the same as the Chandal of the hills of whom we hear so much ; and it is not impossible that these men became Chanals where they were conquered and despised outcasts, and Rajputs where they enjoyed political power. The Rawat is probably akin to the Rao sub-division of the Kanets, whom again it is most difficult to separate from the Rathis ; and the Chandel Rajputs also have a Rao section. In Dehli 1,075 persons have shown themselves as Rawat Gaure, and are included also under Gaurwa, the next heading.

The Rajput tribes of the Eastern Plains continued

The Gaurwa (No. 6) and Gaur I am not at all sure that these figures do not include some Gaur as well as Gaurwa Rajputs (see the last sentence supra) for the name was often spelt Gaura in the papers. The Gaur are that one of the 36 royal famihes to which belonged the Rajput Kings of Bengal. They are found in the central Jamna-Ganges dodh, and are fully described by Elliott and Sherring. In our tables we have 1,790 Rajputs returned as Gaur, mostly in Dehli and Gurgaon, and they are not shown in the Abstract. Gaurwa would seem to be apphed generally to any Rajputs who have lost rank by the practice of karewa. In Dehli however they form a distinct clan, both they and the Chauhan practising widow-marriage, but the two being looked upon as separate tribes. They are described by Mr. Maconachie as '• especially noisy and quarrelsome, but stm'dy in build, and clannish in disposition,while the Dehli Chauhan are said to be the best Rajput cultivators in the district, and otherwise decent and orderly.

The BargUjar ( No. 7) — The Bargujar are one of the 36 royal famihes, and the only one except the Gahlot which claims descent from Lawa son of Ram Chandra. The connection between the Mandahar and Bargujar has already been noticed under the head Mandahar. They are of course of Solar race. Their old capital was Rajor, the ruins of which are still to be seen in the south of Alwar, and they held much of Alwar and the neighbouring parts of Jaipur till dispossess ed by the Kachwaha. Their head-quarters are now at Anupshahr on the Ganges, but there is still a colony of them in Gurgaon on the Alwar border. Curiously enough, the Gurgaon Bargujar say that they came from Jalandhar about the middle of the both century ; and it is certain that they are not very old holders of their present capital of Solina, as the buildings of the Kambohs who held it before them are still to be seen there and are of comparatively recent date. Our figures for Gurgaon are certainly very far below the truth.

The Jadu (No. 8) — The Jadu or Jadubansi are of Lunar race, and are called by Tod the most illustrious of all the tribes of Ind.But the name has been almost overshadowed by Bhatti, the title of their dominant branch in modern times. Only 4,580 persons have returned themselves as .Tadu, and those chiefly in Dehli and the south of Patiala.

The Jatu (No. 9) — The Jatu are said to be a Tunwar clan who once held almost the whole of Hissar, and are still most numerous in that district and the neighbouring portions of Rohtak and Jind. In fact the Tduwar of Hariana are said to have been divided into three clans named after and descended from three brothers, Jatu, Raghu and Satraula, of which clans Jatu was by far the largest and most important, and once ruled from Bhiwani to Agroha. They are the hereditary enemies of the Punwar of Rohtak, and at length the sandhills of Mahm were fixed upon as the boundary between them, and are still known as Jatu Punwar ka daula or the Jatu-Punwar boundary. Of the Karual Jatu 500 have returned themselves as Chauhan also, and are included under both heads.

The Bagri (No. 10) — The word Bagri is apphed to any Hindu Rajput or Jat from the Bagar or prairies of Bikaner, which he to the south and west of Sirsa and llissar. They are most numer ous in the latter district, but are found also in some numbers under the heading of Jat in Sialkot and Patiala. The Gurdaspur Bagri are Salahria who have shown themselves also as Bagar or Bhagar by clan, and probaldy have no connection with the Bagri of hissar and its neighbourhood. Or it may be that the word is a misreading for Nagri, who claim to be Chauhan Rajputs who Migrated from delhi in the time of Ala-uddin Ghori,and who hold 17 villages in the Sialkot district.

TheRangar Raugai- ia a term, some what contemptuous, apphed in the eastern and south eastern districts to any Musalman Rajput; and I only notice it here hecause the Rangar are often, though wrongly, lull to be a Rajput tribe. I am told, however, that in Firozpur and Gurdaspur his Hindu brethren would also call him Rangar, which he would resent as only slightly less abusive than chotikat, a term of contempt apphed to those who have, on conversion to Islam, cut off the choti or Hindu scalplock. The Rangar or Musalman Rajputs bear the worst possible reputation for is apphed to any uncouth fellow .

The Baria (No. 11) — The Baria of Jalandhar are said to be Solar Rajputs, descended from Raja Karan of the Mahahharat. Their ancestor Mai ( ! ) came from Jal Kahra in Patiala about 500 years ago. Those of Sialkot, where they are found in small numbers, but considered to beJats, not Rajputs, say they are of Lunar Rajput descent. The tribe is practically confined to Patiala and Nabha, and the name of the ancestor Mai, if common to the tribe, looks as if they were not Rajputs at all, though it is unusual in the Sikh States for Jats to claim the title of Rajput. I have no further information regarding the tribe. There are Barhaiya Rajputs in the Azimgarh and Ghazipur neighbourhood.

The Atiras (No. 12) — This tribe is returned from Patiala only. I cannot find it mentioned in any of the authorities.

The Naipal (No. 13).— The Naipal are a clan of the great Bhatti tribe, who are found on the Satluj above firozpur-. They once held the river valley as far down as that town, but were driven higher up by the Dogars, and in their turn expelled the Gujars. Mr. Brandi-eth says of them :— They resemble very much in their habits the Dogars and Gujars, and are probably greater thieves than either. They appear almost independent under the Ahluwalia rulers and to have paid a small rent in kind only when the Kardar was strong enough to compel them to it, which was not often the case. They have lost more of their Hindu origin than either the Dogars or Gujars, and in their marriage connections they follow the Muhammadau law, near blood relations being permitted to enter into the marriage compact.All the Naipal have returned themselves as Bhatti as well, and it is possible that many of them have shown Bhatti only as their tribe, and are therefore not returned under the head Naipal.

The Rathor (No. 14) — The Rathor are one of the 36 royal races, and Solar Rajputs. Their old seat was Kanauj, but their more modern dynasties are to be found in Marwar and Bikaner. They are returned from many districts in thePanjab, but are nowhere numerous.

The Rajputs of the Western Plains — The next group of Rajput tribes that I shall discuss are those of the great Western Plains. I have already said much regarding the position of the Rajput in this part of the Panjab, and the difficulty of drawing any line between him and the Jat of the neighbourhood. Here the great Rajput tribes have spread up the river valleys as conquerors. Traditionally averse from manual labour and looking upon the touch of the plough handle as especially degrading, they have been wont to content themselves with holding the country as dominant tribes, pastm-ing their great herds in the broad grazing grounds of the west, fighting a good deal and plundering more, and leaving agriculture to the Arain, the Mahtam, the Kamboh, and such small folk. The old tradition is not for gotten ; but the rale of the Sikh, if it afforded ample opportunity for fighting, destroyed much of their influence, and the order and equal justice which have accompanied British rule have compelled all but the most wealthy to turn their attention, still in a half-hearted sort of way, to agriculture.

Abstract No. 80 on the next page'^ shows the distribution of these tribes.

They are roughly arranged according to locality. First come the royal races

Mr. Wilson notes that he has heard Rangar apphed to Hindu Rajputs. This is, I think unusual. The word is often spelt and pronounced Ranghar. of Punwar and Bhatti Who have held between them from time immemorial the comitrv of the lower Satluj and the deserts of Western Rajputana. They are the parent stocks whence most of the other tribes have sprung though as they have moved up the river valleys into the Panjab plains they have taken local tribal names which have almost superseded those of the original race.

Thus the figures for all these tribes are more or less imperfect, some having returned the local and some the original tribe only while others have shown both and are entered in both sets of figures. Next to these races follow the Wattu, Joya, Khichi, and Dhudhi^ who hold the Satluj valley somewhat in that order. They are followed by the Hiraj and Sial of the Chenab and Lower Jahlam, and these again by the tribes of the Upper Jahlam and the Shahpur bar. Of these last the Ranjhaj Gondal and Mekan would pro bably not be recognised as Rajputs by their neighbours the Tiwana Janjua, and the like. Last of all come five tribes who have already been considered under Jats. From what has already been said as to the confusion between Jat and Rajput in these parts it might be expected that many of these people will have been returned as Jats ; and in such cases the figures are shown side by side. But in the case of at any rate the Bhatti and Punwar , it does not follow that these men are not Jats ; for in many instances they have given their Jat tribe, and added to it the Rajput tribe from which they have a tradition of origin.

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