Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rajput Pageantry at the Delhi Durbar

Here are some image from the Delhi Durbar, 1911. These are taken from Mempes' book on the imperial visit and the coronation event. I will post some photographs from the Bourne and Shepherd collection from the Delhi Durbar, particularly those of ones of the Rajput chiefs who were present.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Clashes between the Rajputs and the Muslims in Kathiawar

The historical attacks by the Mohammedans on Kathiawar, and for that matter, on any part of India, are a study in the worst form of brutality, absolute apathy and savage massacre. The muslim zealots were bent not only on looting and defeating the Hindu enemy, but in the complete destruction of all places of Hundu worship, enslavement of young women and children and most brutal killings of the Rajput and other warriors who resisted them.
  • The first Mohammedan incursion into Kathiawar that is historically significant is probably the attack and resultant destruction of the kingdom of Vallabhi, which was then under the rule of the Maitraka dynasty. Although very little is known about this attack, we do know that it happened around the time of Bin Quasim's invasion on Sindh and his ouster of Raja Dahir, the powerful ruler of that region. The Arabs, after having gained Sindh, did not stop their depredations, but continued attacks on neighboring Rajput kingdoms of Rajputana, Kutch and Saurashtra. One such largescale attack was bravely repulsed by the combined efforts of Maitraka vassals, mainly the Vala and Chavda Rajputs. However, the lure of looting the prosperous city of Vallabhi must have been too great and a second, much more determined attack by the Muslims, resulted in the complete destruction of Vallabhi and the ruin of the grand center of Western India. We have very sketchy details of this incident, but it is definitely the first major defeat of a larger Hindu Kingdom of Kathiawar at the sword of the Muslims.
  • The second major attack came during the reign of Bhimdev-I Solanki of Anhilwar, and Ra Navghan-I of Vanasthali( 1025 AD) This was the quick predatory attack under Mahmud of Ghazni, who had set out to plunder Somnath and destry the sacred center for worship for all Hindus. Although the various Rajputs clans inhabiting Gujarat and Saurashtra at that time put on a brave defence, they were brutally slaughtered by the invading armies. One of the main causes of this defeat was the complete apathy and lack of any form of military or civic ethics displayed by the Musalman army, whose main goal was the looting and destruction of the Idol of Someshwar. The Hindu forces were mercilessly butchered by the zealots. The grand temple was destroyed, all its treasures were plundered and looted, and the Sacred Shiv Ling of Somnath was broken into pieces, which were carried away to Afghanistan, and used to build a pathway to a mosque in Ghazni, so that the Mussalmans could clean their feet on them before entering the mosque.
  • Mohamed of Ghor, during his series of incursions into the various Hindo states of Sindh, Rajputana and Gujarat, was faced with Bhimdev-II (Bhim Bholo), but his forces were routed and he faced a crushing defeat.
  • The attack on Bhimdev-II (Bhim Bholo) by Kutbuddin Aibak, the lieutenant of mohammad of Ghor, who had gained control of Delhi, Kanauj and Ajmer, by defeating Prithviraj and later, the Rathores, was the next major attack of the Muslims on Gujarat. Bhimdev was defeated, but the muslims were unable to maintain control of Anhilwar for long.
  • The third attack of the Mohammedans (1297 AD) came during the reign of the lecherous bigot, Ala-Ud-Din Khilji, the sultan of Delhi. Ala had sent a large army under the leadership of his general Alaf Khan, who first met with the forces of the Vaghela ruler, Karandev in Anhilwar, and after a pitched battle, defeated the Vaghela army. They next moved across Saurashtra, destroying and plundering in their wake and once again, destroyed the Sacred temple of Somnath. Alaf Khan was staunchly opposed by the Ra of Junagadh (Ra Mandlik) and the combined forces of the Gohil, Chudasama, Vala and Jadeja chieftains of Saurashtra and Kachchh, but the muslim forces managed to press through and greatly massacred the Rajput defenders.
  • To be continued...

Monday, March 16, 2009

My website on the Rajputs of Kathiawar (Saurashtra)

Ok, finally, I have had the time to set up an actual website on this particular subject of my interest. I hope to add information to this site periodically. However, I invite contributions from other scholars and experts in the field. I will definitely be looking for a lot of information once I start accounting for each of the Rajput clans that has settled or influenced the history of Kathiawar. Please take some time and visit this project site at http://www.yponder.com Any comments, feedback, changes and contributions are welcome.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The legend of Bappa

So if you have any knowledge of early Rajput history or any interest in the same, one name that keeps jumping out repeatedly, is that of the illustrious Bappa Rawal. There are different versions of this legend from Bappa having been the direct descendant of the line of the Vallabhi Maitraks, to him being the head of the Guhilot clan or Rajputs who took over Chittor from the Parmars. Different versions of the legend place him in different eras, from as early as late 6th century AD to as late as the 8th century AD. His haunts and exploits are also highly spread out. I have read references of him having grown up in the hillocks in the present day Bhavnagar district of Kathiawar, to him having taken Idar and later Chittor. Other historians/authors have depicted instances of his attacks all the way up to modern day Iraq. There is also a story, where he is supposed to have gone to the aid of the son of Raja Dahir of Sindh, and made battle with Bin Quasim, the general of the Caliph of Baghdad, after his first successful attack on India.

The Guhilots glorify him. The houses of Mewar, Pratapgarh, the Gohils of Bhavnagar, Palitana and Rajpipla, all accept him as their foremost progenitor. Stories about his brave exploits and his heroism abound, both in Rajasthan and Kathiawar. Images of his service to the Sage Harit, his guru, and his devotion to Eklingji and the Mother Goddess, have been preserved from centuries.

However, ironically, we do not find mention of this great historical figure in mainstream Indian history. It almost seems like modern historians have opted, either to completely ignore his existence and his prowess or to not deem it important enough in the greater history of India. There is also very little, if any mention of Bappa in any of the Muslim and Persian literature, although the local historians have touted his exploits to have reached the borders of Baghdad. Col. Todd (I do not consider him a historian, rather a dedicated and enamored bard), speaks of Bappa as having overpowered the modern day Afghanistan and being the progenitor also, of the Naushara Pathans, who were born to his muslim wives from his exploits in the North West.

Legends also talk about the struggle between his Rajput and Pathan issues, to perform his funeral rites based on Vedic or Islamic principles. He is supposed to have lived to a ripe old age, leaving behind a rich progeny and worthy successors.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The true definition of a Rajput or Rajputai

My grandmother once wrote a small verse for me when she signed a gift. It is probably one of the best and simplest descriptions of what Rajputai means, at least to me. The verse read "Tarni Tapi ne kariye Chai do, te che ruda Rajputo ni reet re!" The meaning is simple, "To stand firm in the heat of the desert sun, so that others may take relief from the heat in your shadow is the true characteristic of a Rajput!"

This simple, yet all inclusive and complete definition, probably explains everything that one needs to understand about true Rajput attributes or characteristics. We are not Rajputs merely by birth, but more so by our actions. We have been blessed by unique characteristics such as courage, generosity, piety, respect for women and elders, discipline, steadfastness, resolve, patriotism and service to the needy. Our heroes and heroines have, for centuries displayed, shining examples of such chivalrous and self-less behavior, and exemplified true Rajputai!

Book review" Vala ane Kathi Raj Vansho" By Shri Najbhai Harsurbhai Vala

I recently picked up a copy of " Vala ane Kathi Raj Vansho" by Shri Najbhai Harsurbhai Vala. In my research and gleanings in the history of Kathiawar, I was hoping to find some credible historical information in the book, however I was, as has happened multiple times in the past, sadly disappointed. Mr. Vala has stressed thoroughly and repeatedly in the book on the fact that the Rajput Vala clan is the same clan as the Kathi Vala clan. However, I find that his reasoning for the same, is very highly flawed and erroneous, especially when he bases many of his conclusions on very vague assumptions, random verses, citations from unreviewed or historically inaccurate publications etc. The book is no more than a collection of folklore (most of which has been twisted by personal prejudice and assumptions), with a highly unorganized and improbable historical timeline. As per my personal opinions about similar local publicatons such as "Rajput Vansh Sagar" by Mr. Ajitsinh Gohil, the authors do not seem to have a grounding in historical study and research, and have tried to publish whatever collection of information they could collect, without proper study, organization and research. Apart from this, what is worse and more irksome is the fact that the authors will easily refute historical facts due to personal prejudices, which is nothing short of sacrilege where the study of history is concerned. However, on the positive side, reading such material, I sincerely hope, will at least inspire aspiring historians and authors of the new generation to take up the cause and publish more scholarly information on the subject of the rich history of Saurashtra and Kathiawar.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

History of the Rajputs

I am very interested in the research on the Rajputs of Gujarat and Rajasthan. I have read and documented a lot about this topic, however, I would be very grateful if I could be pointed out to good resources in this area. I collect memoribilia on erstwhile Rajput states of India, and eventually, would love to collect concrete historical chronologies of the major states of Kathiawar, and also of the smaller, forgotten Garasia Rajputs, who maintained small fiefdoms under the umbrellas of their larger protectorates.

I would like to hear from experts and people who are interested in this topic and would like to help in this research.

In Saurashtra, I am familiar with the following lines of Rajputs settled since early times.

  • Jadeja: Originally, supposed to have migrated from the NW areas of Sindh, these Chandravanshi Rajputs first settled Kachchh and later branched to areas of Saurashtra, including Jamnagar, Rajkot, Morbi, Gondal, Bhaadva and some more smaller principalities.
  • Gohil: This clan migrated from the Jodhpur area (Khergarh), and are Guhilot Rajputs hailing from the line of Bappa Rawal. They shifted capitals frequently from Sejakpur, Ranpur, Umrala, Sihor, Ghogha and finally Bhavnagar. This group also branched to Rajpipla, Vallabipur, Palitana, Lathi and some other smaller Garas'.
  • Jhala: This legendary group of Rajputs, previously known as Makhwana, are also historically supposed to have migrated from the North Western part of India. They settled Patan, and later moved to Dhrangadhra. The erstwhile states of Wadhwan, Lakhtar, Limdi, Chuda, Sayla, Wankaner and some smaller sub groups.
  • Parmar: One line of this Sun-worshippers (Mandav Raiji), came in Saurashtra, and settled Muli in hostile surroundings.
  • Chudasama: This line of of Chandravanshi Rajputs, supposedly a sub-clan of the Raijadas, were historically settled in the grasslands and wastes of the Bhaal area. No major principalities of this group are significant. They are scattered over petty towns of Cher, Bhadiad, Dholera, Kadipur, Rojka etc in the Bhaal region. Another branch is settled around Morbi.
  • Raijada: A Chandravanshi line of Rajputs, have historically ruled in the area of the current district of Junagadh. However this line declined over time due to constant struggle with other Rajput and non-Rajput forces.
  • Jethva: Supposedly, the oldest line of Rajputs, having settled in the coastal areas of Western Gujarat, were primarily settled in Porbandar. They are presumed to have migrated to Saurashtra around the 8th or 9th centry A.D. There is some contention that they migrated from areas of Sindh, along with the Mer communities, when pressured by the first Arab incursion in the area under Bin Quasim.
  • Solanki: Although historically this line of Rajputs ruled all of Gujarat for the longest period, no major holdings remain in the Saurashtra area of this line, however some lines maintained small principalities in North and Central Gujarat.
  • Vaghela: Another group that held a major sway in Gujarat, and the last Rajput line to have ruled all of Gujarat independently. Karan Vaghela (Ghelo), was ousted by Allaudin Khilji. Small pockets of this line remain scattered in central and North Eastern Gujarat. After being ousted from Anhilwar, they moved to Madhya Pradesh to settle Baghelkhand.
  • Sarvaiya: I have little information about this group of Rajputs. They are also a branch of the Chandravanshi Raijada clan. They were principally settled in small towns around Talaja in the current district of Bhavnagar. They made strong alliances with the local chieftains of Bhavnagar, Palitana and Porbandar. Their chief towns include Datha, Hathasani, Chattrasa etc.
  • Wala: