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Rajput (from Sanskrit raja-putra, "son of a king") is a large multi-component cluster of castes, kin bodies, and local groups, sharing social status and ideology of genealogical descent originating from the Indian subcontinent. The term Rajput covers various patrilineal clans historically associated with warriorhood: several clans claim Rajput status, although not all claims are universally accepted. According to modern scholars, almost all Rajputs clans originated from peasant or pastoral communities.
The term "Rajput" acquired its present meaning only in the 16th century, although it is also anachronistically used to describe the earlier lineages that emerged in North India from the sixth century onwards. In the 11th century, the term "rajaputra" appeared as a non-hereditary designation for royal officials. Gradually, the Rajputs emerged as a social class comprising people from a variety of ethnic and geographical backgrounds. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the membership of this class became largely hereditary, although new claims to Rajput status continued to be made in the later centuries. Several Rajput-ruled kingdoms played a significant role in many regions of central and northern India until the 20th century.
The Rajput population and the former Rajput states are found in northern, western, central and eastern India as well as southern and eastern Pakistan. These areas include Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Eastern Punjab, Western Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Sindh.
The origin of the Rajputs has been a much-debated topic among historians. Modern historians agree that Rajputs consisted of mixing of various different social groups including Shudras and tribals.
British colonial-era writers characterised them as descendants of the foreign invaders such as the Scythians or the Hunas, and believed that the Agnikula myth was invented to conceal their foreign origin. According to this theory, the Rajputs originated when these invaders were assimilated into the Kshatriya category during the 6th or 7th century, following the collapse of the Gupta Empire. While many of these colonial writers propagated this foreign-origin theory in order to legitimise the colonial rule, the theory was also supported by some Indian scholars, such as D. R. Bhandarkar. Historian C. V. Vaidya, believed the Rajputs to be descendants of the ancient Vedic Aryan Kshatriyas. A third group of historians, which includes Jai Narayan Asopa, theorised that the Rajputs were Brahmins who became rulers.
However, recent research suggests that the Rajputs came from a variety of ethnic and geographical backgrounds as well as from various varnas including Shudras. Nearly all Rajputs clans originated from peasant or pastoral communities.
The root word "rajaputra" (literally "son of a king") first appears as a designation for royal officials in the 11th century Sanskrit inscriptions. According to some scholars, it was reserved for the immediate relatives of a king; others believe that it was used by a larger group of high-ranking men. The derivative word "rajput" meant 'horse soldier', 'trooper', 'headman of a village' or 'subordinate chief' before the 15th century. Individuals with whom the word "rajput" was associated before the 15th century were considered varna-samkara ("mixed caste origin") and inferior to Kshatriya. Over time, the term "Rajput" came to denote a hereditary political status, which was not necessarily very high: the term could denote a wide range of rank-holders, from an actual son of a king to the lowest-ranked landholder.
According to scholars, in medieval times "the political units of India were probably ruled most often by men of very low birth" and this "may be equally applicable for many clans of 'Rajputs' in northern India". Burton Stein explains that this process of allowing rulers, frequently of low social origin, a "clean" rank via social mobility in the Hindu Varna system serves as one of the explanations of the longevity of the unique Indian civilisation.
Gradually, the term Rajput came to denote a social class, which was formed when the various tribal and nomadic groups became landed aristocrats, and transformed into the ruling class. These groups assumed the title "Rajput" as part of their claim to higher social positions and ranks. The early medieval literature suggests that this newly formed Rajput class comprised people from multiple castes. Thus, the Rajput identity is not the result of a shared ancestry. Rather, it emerged when different social groups of medieval India sought to legitimise their newly acquired political power by claiming Kshatriya status. These groups started identifying as Rajput at different times, in different ways. Thus, modern scholars summarise that Rajputs were a "group of open status" since the eighth century, mostly illiterate warriors who claimed to be reincarnates of ancient Indian Kshatriyas - a claim that had no historical basis. Moreover, this unfounded Kshatriya status claim showed a sharp contrast to the classical varna of Kshatriyas as depicted in Hindu literature in which Kshatriyas are depicted as an educated and urbanite clan. Historian Thomas R. Metcalf mentions the opinion of Indian scholar K. M. Panikkar who also considers the famous Rajput dynasties of medieval India to have come from non-Kshatriya castes.
During the era of the Mughal empire, "Hypergamous marriage" with the combination of service in the state army was another way a tribal family could convert to Rajput. This process required a change in tradition, dressing, ending window remarriage, etc. Such marriage of a tribal family with an acknowledged but possibly poor Rajput family would ultimately enable the non-Rajput family to become Rajput. This marriage pattern also supports the fact that Rajput was an "open caste category" available to those who served the Mughals.
Rajput formation continued in the colonial era. Even in the 19th century, anyone from the "village landlord" to the "newly wealthy lower caste Shudra" could employ Brahmins to retrospectively fabricate a genealogy and within a couple of generations they would gain acceptance as Hindu Rajputs. This process would get mirrored by communities in north India. This process of origin of the Rajput community resulted in hypergamy as well as female infanticide that was common in Hindu Rajput clans. Scholars refer to this as "Rajputization", which, like Sanskritization was a mode for upward mobility but it differed from Sanskritization in other attributes like the method of worship, lifestyle, diet, social interaction, rules for women and marriage, etc. German historian Hermann Kulke has coined the term "Secondary Rajputization" for describing the process of members of a tribe trying to re-associate themselves with the former chief of their tribe who had already transformed himself into a Rajput via Rajputization and thus become Rajputs themselves.
Scholarly opinions differ on when the term Rajput acquired hereditary connotations and came to denote a clan-based community. Historian Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, based on his analysis of inscriptions (primarily from Rajasthan), believed that by the 12th century, the term "rajaputra" was associated with fortified settlements, kin-based landholding, and other features that later became indicative of the Rajput status. According to Chattopadhyaya, the title acquired "an element of heredity" from c. 1300. A later study by of 11th-14th century inscriptions from western and central India, by Michael B. Bednar, concludes that the designations such as "rajaputra", "thakkura" and "rauta" were not necessarily hereditary during this period.
Sociologists like Sarah Farris and Reinhard Bendix state that the original Kshatriyas in the northwest who existed until Mauryan times in tiny kingdoms were an extremely cultured, educated and intellectual group who were a threat to the intellectual monopoly of the Brahmins. According to Max Weber, ancient texts show they were not subordinate to the Brahmins in religious matters. These Kshatriyas were later undermined not only by the Brahmin priests of the time but were replaced by the emerging community of Rajputs, who were illiterate mercenaries who worked for Kings. Unlike the Kshatriyas, the Rajputs were generally illiterate hence their rise did not present a threat to intellectual monopoly of the Brahmins - and the Rajputs accepted the superiority of the educated Brahmin community.
During its formative stages, the Rajput class was quite assimilative and absorbed people from a wide range of lineages. However, by the late 16th century, it had become genealogically rigid, based on the ideas of blood purity. The membership of the Rajput class was now largely inherited rather than acquired through military achievements. A major factor behind this development was the consolidation of the Mughal Empire, whose rulers had great interest in genealogy. As the various Rajput chiefs became Mughal feduatories, they no longer engaged in major conflicts with each other. This decreased the possibility of achieving prestige through military action, and made hereditary prestige more important.
The word "Rajput" thus acquired its present-day meaning in the 16th century. During 16th and 17th centuries, the Rajput rulers and their bards (charans) sought to legitimise the Rajput socio-political status on the basis of descent and kinship. They fabricated genealogies linking the Rajput families to the ancient dynasties, and associated them with myths of origins that established their Kshatriya status. This led to the emergence of what Indologist Dirk Kolff calls the "Rajput Great Tradition", which accepted only hereditary claims to the Rajput identity, and fostered a notion of eliteness and exclusivity. The legendary epic poem Prithviraj Raso, which depicts warriors from several different Rajput clans as associates of Prithviraj Chauhan, fostered a sense of unity among these clans. The text thus contributed to the consolidation of the Rajput identity by offering these clans a shared history.
Despite these developments, migrant soldiers made new claims to the Rajput status until as late as the 19th century. In the 19th century, the colonial administrators of India re-imagined the Rajputs as similar to the Anglo-Saxon knights. They compiled the Rajput genealogies in the process of settling land disputes, surveying castes and tribes, and writing history. These genealogies became the basis of distinguishing between the "genuine" and the "spurious" Rajput clans.
Scholars also give recent examples of successful assimilations into the Rajput communities by communities not associated with warriorhood even as late as the early 20th century. William Rowe, discusses an example of a Shudra caste - the Noniyas (caste of salt makers)- from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. A large section of this caste that had "become" "Chauhan Rajputs" over three generations in the British Raj era. The more wealthy or advanced Noniyas started by forming the Sri Rajput Pacharni Sabha (Rajput Advancement Society) in 1898 and emulating the Rajput lifestyle. They also started wearing of Sacred thread. Rowe states that at a historic meeting of the caste in 1936, every child in this Noniya section knew about their Rajput heritage. Similarly, Donald Attwood and Baviskar give and example of a caste of shepherds who were formerly Shudras successfully changed their status to Rajput in the Raj era and started wearing the Sacred thread. They are now known as Sagar Rajputs. The scholars consider this example as a case among thousands.
Researchers give examples of the Rajputs of both divisions of present day Uttarakhand - Garhwal and Kumaon and show how they were formally Shudra or ritually low but had successfully assimilated into Rajput community at different times. These Rajputs of Kumaon had successfully attained Rajput identity during the reign of Chand Rajas, which ended in 1790. Similarly, these Rajputs of Garhwal were shown by Gerald Berreman to have a ritually low status until as late as the 20th century.
The Rajput kingdoms were disparate: loyalty to a clan was more important than allegiance to the wider Rajput social grouping, meaning that one clan would fight another. This and the internecine jostling for position that took place when a clan leader (raja) died meant that Rajput politics were fluid and prevented the formation of a coherent Rajput empire.
The first major Rajput kingdom was the Sisodia-ruled kingdom of Mewar. However, the term "Rajput" has also been used as an anachronistic designation for leading martial lineages of 11th and 12th centuries that confronted the Ghaznavid and Ghurid invaders such as the Pratiharas, the Chahamanas (of Shakambhari, Nadol and Jalor), the Tomaras, the Chaulukyas, the Paramaras, the Gahadavalas, and the Chandelas.Although the Rajput identity did not exist at this time, these lineages were classified as aristocratic Rajput clans in the later times.
In the 15th century, the Muslim sultans of Malwa and Gujarat put a joint effort to overcome the Mewar ruler Rana Kumbha but both the sultans were defeated. Subsequently, in 1518 the Rajput Mewar Kingdom under Rana Sanga achieved a major victory over Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi of Delhi Sultanate and afterwards Rana's influence extended up to the striking distance of Pilia Khar in Agra. Accordingly, Rana Sanga came to be the most distinguished indigenous contender for supremacy but was defeated by the Mughal invader Babur at Battle of Khanwa in 1527.
Legendary accounts state that from 1200 CE, many Rajput groups moved eastwards towards the Eastern Gangetic plains forming their own chieftaincies. These minor Rajput kingdoms were dotted all over the Gangetic plains in modern-day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. During this process, petty clashes occurred with the local population and in some cases, alliances were formed. Among these Rajput chieftaincies were the Bhojpur zamindars and the taluks of Awadh.
The immigration of Rajput clan chiefs into these parts of the Gangetic plains also contributed the agricultural appropriation of previously forested areas, especially in South Bihar. Some have linked this eastwards expansion with the onset of Ghurid invasion in the West.
After the mid-16th century, many Rajput rulers formed close relationships with the Mughal emperors and served them in different capacities. It was due to the support of the Rajputs that Akbar was able to lay the foundations of the Mughal empire in India. Some Rajput nobles gave away their daughters in marriage to Mughal emperors and princes for political motives. For example, Akbar accomplished 40 marriages for himself, his sons and grandsons, out of which 17 were Rajput-Mughal alliances. Akbar's successors as Mughal emperors, his son Jahangir and grandson Shah Jahan had Rajput mothers. The ruling Sisodia Rajput family of Mewar made it a point of honour not to engage in matrimonial relationships with Mughals and thus claimed to stand apart from those Rajput clans who did so.Once Mewar had submitted and alliance of Rajputs reached a measure of stability, matrimonial between leading Rajput states and Mughals became rare. Akbar's intimate involvement with the Rajputs had begun when he returned from a pilgrimage to the Chisti Sufi Shaykh at Sikri, west of Agra, in 1561. Many Rajput princesses were married to Akbar but still Rajput princess were allowed to maintain their religion.
Akbar's diplomatic policy regarding the Rajputs was later damaged by the intolerant rules introduced by his great-grandson Aurangzeb. A prominent example of these rules included the re-imposition of Jaziya, which had been abolished by Akbar. However, despite imposition of Jaziya Aurangzeb's army had a high proportion of Rajput officers in the upper ranks of the imperial army and they were all exempted from paying Jaziya. The Rajputs then revolted against the Mughal empire. Aurangzeb's conflicts with the Rajputs, which commenced in the early 1680s, henceforth became a contributing factor towards the downfall of the Mughal empire.
In the 18th century, the Rajputs came under influence of the Maratha empire. By the late 18th century, the Rajput rulers begin negotiations with the East India Company and by 1818 all the Rajput states had formed an alliance with the company.
The medieval bardic chronicles (kavya and masnavi) glorified the Rajput past, presenting warriorhood and honour as Rajput ideals. This later became the basis of the British reconstruction of the Rajput history and the nationalist interpretations of Rajputs' struggles with the Muslim invaders.James Tod, a British colonial official, was impressed by the military qualities of the Rajputs but is today considered to have been unusually enamoured of them. Although the group venerate him to this day, he is viewed by many historians since the late nineteenth century as being a not particularly reliable commentator. Jason Freitag, his only significant biographer, has said that Tod is "manifestly biased".
In reference to the role of the Rajput soldiers serving under the British banner, Captain A. H. Bingley wrote:
Rajputs have served in our ranks from Plassey to the present day (1899). They have taken part in almost every campaign undertaken by the Indian armies. Under Forde they defeated the French at Condore. Under Monro at Buxar they routed the forces of the Nawab of Oudh. Under Lake they took part in the brilliant series of victories which destroyed the power of the Marathas.
The Rajput practices of female infanticide and sati (widow immolation) were other matters of concern to the British. It was believed that the Rajputs were the primary adherents to these practices, which the British Raj considered savage and which provided the initial impetus for British ethnographic studies of the subcontinent that eventually manifested itself as a much wider exercise in social engineering.
On India's independence in 1947, the princely states, including those of the Rajput, were given three options: join either India or Pakistan, or remain independent. Rajput rulers of the 22 princely states of Rajputana acceded to newly independent India, amalgamated into the new state of Rajasthan in 1949-1950. Initially the maharajas were granted funding from the Privy purse in exchange for their acquiescence, but a series of land reforms over the following decades weakened their power, and their privy purse was cut off during Indira Gandhi's administration under the 1971 Constitution 26th Amendment Act. The estates, treasures, and practices of the old Rajput rulers now form a key part of Rajasthan's tourist trade and cultural memory.
There have been several cases of Sati (burning a widow alive) in India from 1943 to 1987. According to an Indian scholar, there are 28 cases since 1947. Although the widows were from several different communities, Rajput widows accounted for 19 cases. The most famous of these cases is of a Rajput woman named Roop Kanwar. 40,000 Rajputs gathered on the street of Jaipur in October 1987 for supporting her Sati. A pamphlet circulated on that day attacked independent and westernised women who opposed a woman's duty of worshipping her husband as demonstrated by the practice of Sati. This incident again affirmed the low status of women in the Rajput community and the leaders of this pro-sati movement gained in political terms.
The Rajputs, in states such as Madhya Pradesh are today considered to be a Forward Caste in India's system of positive discrimination. This means that they have no access to reservations here. But they are classified as an Other Backward Class by the National Commission for Backward Classes in the state of Karnataka. However, some Rajputs, as with other agricultural castes, demand reservations in Government jobs.
The term "Rajput" denotes a cluster of castes, clans, and lineages. It is a vaguely-defined term, and there is no universal consensus on which clans make up the Rajput community. In medieval Rajasthan (the historical Rajputana) and its neighbouring areas, the word Rajput came to be restricted to certain specific clans, based on patrilineal descent and intermarriages. On the other hand, the Rajput communities living in the region to the east of Rajasthan had a fluid and inclusive nature. The Rajputs of Rajasthan eventually refused to acknowledge the Rajput identity claimed by their eastern counterparts, such as the Bundelas. The Rajputs claim to be Kshatriyas or descendants of Kshatriyas, but their actual status varies greatly, ranging from princely lineages to common cultivators.
There are several major subdivisions of Rajputs, known as vansh or vamsha, the step below the super-division j?ti These vansh delineate claimed descent from various sources, and the Rajput are generally considered to be divided into three primary vansh:Suryavanshi denotes descent from the solar deity Surya, Chandravanshi (Somavanshi) from the lunar deity Chandra, and Agnivanshi from the fire deity Agni. The Agnivanshi clans include Parmar, Chaulukya (Solanki), Parihar and Chauhan.
Lesser-noted vansh include Udayvanshi, Rajvanshi, and Rishivanshi. The histories of the various vanshs were later recorded in documents known as vamsh?aval?is; André Wink counts these among the "status-legitimizing texts".
Beneath the vansh division are smaller and smaller subdivisions: kul, shakh ("branch"), khamp or khanp ("twig"), and nak ("twig tip"). Marriages within a kul are generally disallowed (with some flexibility for kul-mates of different gotra lineages). The kul serves as the primary identity for many of the Rajput clans, and each kul is protected by a family goddess, the kuldevi. Lindsey Harlan notes that in some cases, shakhs have become powerful enough to be functionally kuls in their own right.
The Bengal army of the East India Company recruited heavily from upper castes such as Brahmins and Rajputs. However,after the revolt of 1857 by the Bengal sepoys, the British Indian army shifted recruitment to the Punjab.
The Rajputs were designated as a Martial Race in the period of the British Raj. The ostensible reason for this system of classification was the belief that a 'martial race' was typically brave and well-built for fighting, but it was also considered politically subservient, intellectually inferior, lacking the initiative or leadership qualities to command large military formations, lacking nationalist attitude and was recruited from those who were uneducated as they were easier to control.
The Rajputs of Bihar were inventor of martial art form Pari Khanda, which includes heavy use of Swords and Shields.This exercise was later included in the folk dances of Bihar and Jharkhand like that of Chhau dance. On special occasions, a primary chief would break up a meeting of his vassal chiefs with khanda nariyal, the distribution of daggers and coconuts. Another affirmation of the Rajput's reverence for his sword was the Karga Shapna ("adoration of the sword") ritual, performed during the annual Navaratri festival, after which a Rajput is considered "free to indulge his passion for rapine and revenge". The Rajput of Rajasthan also offer a sacrifice of water buffalo or goat to their family Goddess ( Kuldevta) during Navaratri. The ritual requires slaying of the animal with a single stroke. In the past this ritual was considered a rite of passage for young Rajput men.
Rajput women could be incorporated into Mughal Harem and this defined the Mughals as overlords over the Rajput clans. The Sisodia clan of Mewar was an exception as they refused to send their women to the Mughal Harem which resulted in siege and mass suicide at Chittor.
Historically, members from the Rajput ruling clans of Rajasthan have also practised polygamy and also took many women they enslaved as concubines from the battles which they won. During numerous armed conflicts in India, women were taken captives, enslaved and even sold, for example, the capture and selling of Marwar's women by Jaipur's forces in the battle between Jaipur state and Jodhpur state in 1807. The enslaved women were referred to by different terms according to the conditions imposed on them, for example, a "domestic slave" was called davri; a dancer was called a patar; a "senior female slave-retainer in the women's quarters" was called badaran or vadaran; a concubine was called khavasin; and a woman who was "permitted to wear the veil" like Rajput queens was called a pardayat.
The term chakar was used for a person serving their "superior" and chakras contained complete families from specific "occupational groups" like Brahmin women, cooks, nurses, tailors, washer-women. For children born from the "illegitimate union" of Rajputs and their "inferiors", the terms like goli and darogi were used for females and gola and daroga were used for males. The "courtly chronicles" say that women who were perceived to be of "higher social rank" were assigned to the "harems of their conquerors with or without marriage". The chronicles from the Rajput courts have recorded that women from Rajput community had also faced such treatment by the Rajputs from the winning side of a battle. There are also a number of records between the late 16th to mid-19th century of the Rajputs immolating the queens, servants, and slaves of a king upon his death. Ramya Sreenivasan also gives and example of a Jain concubine who went from being a servant to a superior concubine called Paswan
According to Priyanka Khanna, with Marwar's royal Rajput households, the women who underwent concubinage also included women from the Gujar, Ahir, Jat, Mali, Kayastha, and Darji communities of that region. These castes of Marwar claimed Rajput descent based on the "census data of Marwar, 1861". However, the research by modern scholars on the forms of "slavery and servitude" imposed by ruling clans of Rajasthan's Rajputs between the 16th and early-19th centuries on the captured women faces hurdles because of the "sparse information", "uneven record-keeping", and "biased nature of historical records".Ravana Rajput community of today was one such slave community
The male children of such unions were identified by their father's names and in some cases as 'dhaibhai'(foster-brothers) and incorporated into the household. Examples are given where they helped their step-brothers in war campaigns. The female children of concubines and slaves got married to Rajput men in exchange for money or they ended up becoming dancing girls. The scarcity of available brides due to female infanticide led to the kidnapping of low caste women who were sold for marriage to the higher clan Rajputs. Since these "sales" were genuinely for the purpose of marriage, they were considered legal. The lower clans also faced scarcity of brides in which case they married women such as those from Gujar and Jat communities. Semi nomadic communities also married their daughters to Rajput bridegrooms for money in some cases.
Female Infanticide was practiced by Rajputs of low ritual status trying upward mobility as well as Rajputs of high ritual status. But there were instances where it was not practiced and instances where the mother tried to save the baby girl's life. According to the officials in the early Raj era, in Etawah(Uttar Pradesh), the Gahlot, Bamungors and Bais would kill their daughters if they were rich but profit from getting them married if they were poor.
The methods used of killing the female baby were drowning, strangulation, poisoning, "Asphyxia by drawing the umbilical cord over the baby's face to prevent respiration". Other ways were to leave the infant to die without food and if she survived the first few hours after birth, she was given poison. A common way to poison the baby during breastfeeding was by applying a preparation of poisonous plants like Datura, Madar or Poppy to the mother's breast.
Social activists in the early nineteenth century tried to stop these practices by quoting Hindu Shastras:
"to kill one woman is equal to one hundred brahmins, to kill one child is equal to one hundred women, while to kill one hundred children is an offence too heinous for comparison".
Infanticide has unintended consequences. The Rajput clans of lower ritual status married their daughters to Rajput men of higher ritual status who had lost females due to infanticide. Thus, the Rajputs of lower ritual status had to remain unmarried or resorted to other practices like marrying widows, levirate marriages(marrying brother's widow) as well as marrying low caste women such as Jats and Gujars or nomads. This resulted in widening the gap between Rajputs of low ritual status and Rajputs of high ritual status.
In the late 19th century, to curb the practice, the act VIII of 1870 was introduced. A magistrate suggested:
"Let every Rajput be thoroughly convinced that he will go to jail for ten years for every infant girl he murders, with as much certainty as he would feel about being hanged if he were to kill her when grown up, and the crime will be stamped out very effectually; but so long as the Government show any hesitation in dealing rigorously with criminals, so long will the Rajpoot think he has chance of impunity and will go on killing girls like before."
However, the practical application of the law faced hurdles. It was difficult to prove culpability as in some cases the Rajput men were employed at a distance although the baby girls could be killed at their connivance. In most cases, Rajput men were imprisoned only for a short time. Between 1888 and 1889, the proportion of girl children rose to 40%. However, the act was abolished in 1912 as punishments were unable to stop infanticide. A historian concludes that "the act, which only scraped the surface of the problem had been unable to civilize or bring about a social change in a cultural world devaluing girl children". In addition to Rajputs, it was observed that Jats and Ahirs also practiced infanticide.
Allen Fanger, an anthropologist from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania conducted research on certain Rajput groups in a region in Uttar pradesh (now in Uttarkhand) in the late 20th century. He studied the custom of selling their women for marriage among these Rajputs for a "brideprice". "Brideprice" is the price paid for the purchase of a bride by the groom's family to the bride's family(not the Bride herself). Joshi quotes in this context of "brideprice" among these Rajputs: "A woman is a chattel, who is purchased for one of the sons by the father of the family. The nature of the transaction is more the acquisition of a valuable article for the family than a contractual relationship between a man and a woman". Prior to the British rule in 1815, the husband had complete control over the wife and he as well as his heirs could sell her or her children as slaves.
"Bridewealth" is also discussed in north Indian Rajputs of 19th century India by the University of Toronto historian Malavika Kasturi. She states that Rajputs belonging to social groups where their women worked in the fields received Bridewealth from the groom's family. She adds that evidence shows that the assumption made by officials of the time that female infanticide among clans was a result of poverty and inability to pay dowry is incorrect.
Between 1790-1815, this sale of wives and widows was taxed and a duty was applied to their export. Fanger writes: "This right to sell a wife, a widow, or her children eventually ceased under the British, but the custom was not completely eliminated. Berremen has reported this kind of "traffic in women" in the nearby district of Garhwal, among the culturally similar Garhwali Rajputs (1963:74-75), and in the 1960s I found this practice still occurring in a village near Pakhura." The Thul-Jat, Rajput males could also take Rajput women as concubines, what was marriage for a Rajput was simply getting a concubine for a Thul-Jat. A Rajput woman sold for "brideprice" was allowed to marry another man as long as the original husband was reimbursed and could also "run off with another man" and legitimize the union with her lover by reimbursing the original husband. However, since the beginning of the 20th century, dowry trends had begun to replace "bridemoney".
These Rajput groups of Uttarkhanda today were formally classified Shudra but had successfully converted to Rajput status during the rule of Chand Rajas (that ended in 1790). Similarly, the Rajputs of Gharwal were originally of low ritual status and did not wear the sacred thread until the 20th century. However, as they had already successfully achieved the Rajput identity earlier, Fanger concludes that Sanskritization does not explain the change in trend from brideprice to dowry . According to him, opportunities to observe orthodox customs brought about this change in custom. Secondly, the contribution of the Rajput woman in agricultural labor decreased due to more male employment hence brideprice was not necessary. Thus brideprice marriages that were traditional and with little attention to any Brahmanical rituals slowly changed to dowry marriages in the 20th century, except for the poorer Rajputs. A Rajput man admitted to Fanger that although he had bought all his three wives he had given his daughter in marriage as "kanyadan" , without accepting money as it would mean he was selling her and added "we do not do this anymore".
The Indian Rajputs fought several times for the Mughals but needed drugs to enhance their spirit. They would take a double dose of opium before fighting. Muslim soldiers would also take opium. Mughals would give opium to their Rajput soldiers on a regular basis in the 17th century. During the British rule, Opium addiction was considered a serious demoralising vice of the Rajput community. Arabs brought opium to India in the 9th century. The Indian Council of Medical Research on "Pattern and Process of Drug and alcohol use in India" , states that opium gives a person enhanced physical strength and capacity. Studies of K.K.Ganguly, K. Sharma, and Krishnamachari, on opium usage also mention that the Rajputs would use opium for important ceremonies, relief from emotional distress, for increasing longevity and for enhancing sexual pleasure.
Alcoholism is considered a problem in the Rajput community of Rajasthan and hence Rajput women do not like their men drinking alcohol. It was reported in a 1983 study of alcoholism in India that it was customary for Rajput men (not all) in northern India to drink in groups. The women would at times be subjected to domestic violence such as beating after these men returned home from drinking.
By the late 19th century, there was a shift of focus among Rajputs from politics to a concern with kinship. Many Rajputs of Rajasthan are nostalgic about their past and keenly conscious of their genealogy, emphasising a Rajput ethos that is martial in spirit, with a fierce pride in lineage and tradition.
Rajput politics refers to the role played by the Rajput community in the electoral politics of India.[better source needed] In states such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttrakhand, Jammu, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat, the large populations of Rajputs gives them a decisive role.[better source needed]
The term Rajput painting refers to works of art created at the Rajput-ruled courts of Rajasthan, Central India, and the Punjab Hills. The term is also used to describe the style of these paintings, distinct from the Mughal painting style.
According to Ananda Coomaraswamy, Rajput painting symbolised the divide between Muslims and Hindus during Mughal rule. The styles of Mughal and Rajput painting are oppositional in character. He characterised Rajput painting as "popular, universal and mystic".
[In Maharashtra]The Lingayats, the Gujjars and the Rajputs are three other important castes which belong to the intermediate category. The lingayats who hail from north Karnataka are found primarily in south Maharashtra and Marthwada while Gujjars and Rajputs who migrated centuries ago from north India have settled in north Maharashtra districts.
Modern historians are more or less agreed that the Rajputs consisted of miscellaneous groups including shudras and tribals.
Paid employment in military service as Dirk H. A. Kolff has recently demonstrated, was an important means of livelihood for the peasants of certain areas of late medieval north India... In earlier centuries, says Kolff, "Rajput" was a more ascriptive term, referring to all kinds of Hindus who lived the life of the adventuring warrior, of whom most were of peasant origins.
Rajput: Pastoral, mobile warrior groups who achieved landed status in the medieval period claimed to be Kshatriyas and called themselves Rajputs.
...and it is very probable that the other fire-born Rajput clans like the Caulukyas, Paramaras, Cahamanas, as well as the Tomaras and others who in the eighth and ninth centuries were subordinate to the Gurjara-Pratiharas, were of similar pastoral origin, that is, that they originally belonged to the mobile, nomadic groups...
The term 'Rajput' before the fifteenth century meant 'horse soldier', 'trooper', 'headman of a village' or 'subordinate chief'. Moreover, individuals with whom the word was associated were generally considered to be products of varna-samkara of mixed caste origin, and thus inferior in rank to Kshatriyas.
When the rank of persons was in theory rigorously ascribed according to the purity of the birth-group, the political units of India were probably ruled most often by men of very low birth. This generalization applies to south indian warriors and may be equally applicable for many clans of Rajputs in northern India. The capacity of both ancient and medieval Indian society to ascribe to its actual rulers, frequently men of low social origins, a "clean" or "Kshatriya" rank may afford one of the explanations for the durability and longevity of the unique civilization of India.
In short, a process of development occurred which after several centuries culminated in the formation of new groups with the identity of 'Rajputs'. The predecessors of the Rajputs, from about the eighth century, rose to politico-military prominence as an open status group or estate of largely illiterate warriors who wished to consider themselves as the reincarnates of the ancient Indian Kshatriyas. The claim of Kshatriyas was, of course, historically completely unfounded. The Rajputs as well as other autochthonous Indian gentry groups who claimed Kshatriya status by way of putative Rajput descent, differed widely from the classical varna of Kshatriyas which, as depicted in literature, was made of aristocratic, urbanite and educated clans...
Eventually the position of the old Kshatriya nobility was undermined not only by the Brahmin priests but also by the rise of a warrior caste in northwest India. Most of the Rajputs were illiterate merceneries in the service of a King.
Weber however explained this downgrading of their status by the fact that they represented a threat to the cultural and intellectual monopoly of the Brahmans, as they[Kshatriyas] were also extremely cultured and educated in the art of administration. In about the eight century the Rajput thus began to perform the functions that had formerly belonged to the Kshatriya, assuming their social and economic position and substituting them as the new warrior class. Ancient illiterate merceneries, the Rajput did not represent a threat to the Brahmininc monopoly and were more inclined to accept the Brahmans' superiority, thus contributing to the so called Hindu restoration.
Since then every known royal family has come from a non - Kshatriya caste , including the famous Rajput dynasties of medieval India . Panikkar also points out that " the Shudras seem to have produced an unusually large number of royal families even in more recent times"
In their recent work on female infanticide, Bhatnagar, Dube and Bube(2005) distinguish between Rajputization and Sanksritization. Using M.N.Srinivas' and Milton Singer's approach to social mobility as idioms they identify Rajputization as one of the most dynamic modes of upward mobility. As an idiom of political power it 'signifies a highly mobile social process of claiming military-political power and the right to cultivate land as well as the right to rule. Rajputization is unparalleled in traditional Indian society for its inventiveness in ideologies of legitimation and self-invention. This was a claim that was used by persons of all castes all over north India ranging from peasants and lower-caste Sudras to warriors and tribal chiefs and even the local raja who had recently converted to Islam.
Rajputization discussed processes through which 'equalitarian, primitive, clan based tribal organization' adjusted itself to the centralized hierarchic, territorial oriented political developments in the course of state formation. This led a 'narrow lineage of single families' to disassociate itself from the main body of their tribe and claim Rajput origin. They not only adopted symbols and practices supposedly representative of the true Kshatriya, but also constructed genealogies that linked them to the primordial and legendary solar and lunar dynasties of kings. Further, it was pointed out that the caste of genealogists and mythographers variously known as Carans, Bhats, Vahivanca Barots, etc., prevalent in Gujarat, Rajasthan and other parts of north India actively provided their patron rulers with genealogies that linked local clans of these chiefs with regional clans and with the Kshatriyas of the Puranas and Mahabharata. Once a ruling group succeeded in establishing its claim to Rajput status, there followed a 'secondary Rajputization' when the tribes tried to 're-associate' with their formal tribal chiefs who had also transformed themselves into Hindu rajas and Rajput Kshatriyas.
As one example among thousands, a small caste living partly in the Nira Valley was formerly known as Shegar Dhangar and more recently as Sagar Rajput
Another example of castes' successful efforts to raise their sacred status to twice-born are the Sagar Rajputs of Poona district. Previously they were considered to be Dhangars--shepherds by occupation and Shudras by traditional varna. However, when their economic strength increased and they began to acquire land, they found a genealogist to trace their ancestry back to a leading officer in Shivaji's army, changed their names from Dhangars to Sagar Rajputs, and donned the sacred thread.
p.43[...]This research was partially funded by the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Research Committee and the Department of Anthropology and Sociology.[...][p.43]PakhuRa Rajputs, as nearly all of the Rajputs in rural Kumaon, formerly were known as Khas-Rajputs, Khasiya or Khasiya and probably had Sudra rank[...][p.44]In the case of dowry, the kin of the bride provide her with property "... as a type of pre-mortem inheritance..." (Goody 1973:1). [...]Brideprice, by contrast, is a transaction in which property passes from the kin of the groom to the kin of the bride. I want to emphasize the kin of the bride rather than the bride herself[...] [p.47]The Thuljats did not allow any remarriage of widows or divorced women. Thul-jat Rajput males, however, could take Rajput women as concubines or secondary wives. Presumably, these "marriages" were done according to Rajput customs. I might point out here that what was marriage for the Rajput may have been merely the acquisition of a concubine for the Thul-jat. [p.47,48][...]Joshi, a keen observer of Kumaoni social organization, remarked that among the Khasa (i.e., Rajputs), "A woman is a chattel, who is purchased for one of the sons by the father of the family. The nature of the transaction is more the acquisition of a valuable article for the family than a contractual relationship between a man and a woman" (1929: 108). Prior to British rule (from 1815), a husband acquired almost complete control over his wife and her offspring. Indeed, a husband or his heirs had the right to sell her and her children into slavery. During the period of Gurkha rule over Kumaon (1790-1815), a tax was levied on the sale of wives and widows, and a duty was placed on their export (Joshi 1929:110; Walton 1911:132-133). This right to sell a wife, a widow, or her children eventually ceased under the British, but the custom was not completely eliminated. Berremen has reported this kind of "traffic in women" in the nearby district of Garhwal, among the culturally similar Garhwali Rajputs(1963:74-75), and in the 1960s I found this practice still occurring in a village near Pakhura."[...][p51]' "Sanskritization is the process by which a 'low' Hindu caste... changes its customs, ritual, ideology, and way of life in the direction of a high... caste. Generally such changes are followed by a claim to a higher position in the caste hierarchy than that traditionally conceded to the claimant caste by the local community" (Srinivas 1966:6).' Sanwal (1976:43-44) reports that the Khasa were elevated from Sudra to Rajput status during the reign of the Chand rajas (which ended in 1790). Pauw (1896:12) and Berreman (1963:130) indicate that the Rajputs of Garhwal were without the sacred thread (a traditional high caste ritual marker) until the twentieth century. [...] First of all, the Khasa long ago had achieved Rajput status.* This is clear from the fact that they are generally acknowledged to be Rajputs rather than Khasa or Sudra. [...][p.54]Although the Rajputs of today were formerly classified as Khasa and Sudra, there is little evidence of a jati-wide social mobility movement. In fact, they long ago successfully achieved their current Rajput status and rank. nevertheless, opportunities to observe orthodox role models of Rajput and Hindu behavior have dramatically increased in the twentieth century and undoubtedly constitute an important consideration in the change of marriage customs.Cite journal requires
What nation on earth could have maintained the semblance of civilization, the spirit or the customs of their forefathers, during so many centuries of overwhelming depression, but one of such singular character as the Rajpoot.
The twenty-two princely states that were amalgamated in 1949 to form a political entity called Rajasthan ...
(continued list of OBC classes) 7.Rajput 120.Karnataka Rajput
The term Rajput denotes a cluster of castes that are accorded Kshatriya status in the varna system.
...the region's erstwhile ruling aristocracy, a cluster of clans and lineages bearing the label 'Rajput'.
Apart from their physique , the martial races were regarded as politically subservient or docile to authority
The Saturday review had made much the same argument a few years earlier in relation to the armies raised by Indian rulers in princely states. They lacked competent leadership and were uneven in quality. Commander in chief Roberts, one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the martial race theory, though poorly of the native troops as a body. Many regarded such troops as childish and simple. The British, claims, David Omissi, believe martial Indians to be stupid. Certainly, the policy of recruiting among those without access to much education gave the British more semblance of control over their recruits.
Dr . Jeffrey Greenhunt has observed that " The Martial Race Theory had an elegant symmetry. Indians who were intelligent and educated were defined as cowards, while those defined as brave were uneducated and backward. Besides their mercenary spirit was primarily due to their lack of nationalism.
Such hospitality is central to Rajputs , as it is to other martial castes of South Asia
Only the Sisodia clan of Mewar in southern Rajasthan proudly claiming pre-eminence among the Rajput clans, refused to send its women to the Mughal Harem, resulting in the siege and mass suicide at Chittor.
These slave communities were known by various names, such as Darogas, Chakars, Hazuris, Ravana- Rajputs, Chelas, Golas and Khawas.
If not, these children became dancing girls or were sold off to other Rajputs as wives.[...]Female infanticide had unintended consequences. [...]The scarcity of girls in many clans of higher status led to the kidnapping of women of lower castes, who were sold to high ranking clans for matrimonial purposes.[...]In some cases women from semi-nomadic communities were married to Rajput bridegrooms of this level in exchange for bride wealth
( iii )Amongst the Rajputs it was a common practice that a mother's breast was smeared with the preparation of 'dhatura ' or Mudar plant or the poppy . The infant drank the milk along with the poison
Many women do not like their husbands to drink much alcohol; they consider alcoholism a problem in their community particularly because Rajput drinking is sanctioned by tradition.
The British defined Rajputs as a group in part by their affinity for wild pork.
In the seventeenth century the. Mughals followed a practice of giving opium to the Rajput soldiers regularlyCite journal requires
Addiction to opium was one of the most demoralising features of Rajput society
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