- The Rajputs (meaning raja-putra or ‘son of a king’) are a warrior clan who claim to be the descendents of ruling Hindu warrior classes of north India. Their rule extended from the western, central, northern India to some parts of Pakistan.
- Rajputs rose to prominence during the 6th to 12th Century AD. Until the 20th Century AD, Rajputs ruled in the vast majority of the princely states of Rajasthan and Saurashtra.
- Rajputs had made war as their main occupation and had shown exemplary bravery at the time of crisis. However, they failed to connect the interests of masses with the interest of the ruling class. The most serious implication for India was that, the Indian society crumbled easily when the foreign invaders started to invade India from its north-west frontier.
- The period between the death of Harsha (AD 647) and the Muslim conquest of northern India is often described by the medieval historian as Rajput period, which, to an extent, is a misnomer. Though they did have an impact on the society but still they constituted only a fraction of the Indian society.
Origin of Rajputs
- The origin of Rajputs is a hotly debated topic among the historians. Two of the most famous theories are as follows:
- Some of the Rajputs trace their origin to the legendary Solar and Lunar dynasties. They claim to be lineal descendants of the Kshatriyas of Vedic fame. The term ‘Rajput’ seems to have been derived from the Sanskrit word Rajaputra. Bana uses the term to denote a high-born Kshatriya. The thirty-six royal Kshatriya clans of Rajputs have got mention in the sacred books, the Puranas and in the two great Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The three basic lineages of Rajputs are Suryavanshi, Chandravanshi and Agnivanshi. These points lead to the conclusion that the term Rajaputra or Rajput was known in early times.
- Angulika theory: The poet Chand Bardai in his poetical work ‘Prithviraj Raso’ has given a legend that the Rajputs of Parmar, Chauhan, Pratihara and Chalukya clans come from Vasistha’s sacrificial fire pit at Mount Abu. This is known as the theory of Agnikula origin. Some Rajputs firmly advocate even now their ‘Agnikula origin‘.
- The above given theories have mythical connotation. The following two theories have some factual validity:
- Various ethnology and traditions of Kshatriyas in Indian society point towards the Aryan origin of the Rajputs.
- The Asvamedha sacrifice, the practice of Sati, and the worship of Sun practiced by the Rajputs were well ingrained in the Hindu society. This theory of Kshatriya origin of Rajput clan has more acceptability now.
- There is also a group of historians who suggests that the Rajputs were descendants of the Sakas, Huns, Kushanas and the Gurjaras, who settled and followed Hinduism.
- Some of the historians have further suggested that the invasion of the Huns and other associate foreign tribes in the fifth and sixth centuries shook the Indian society in the North to its foundation. It brought about a rearrangement of castes and ruling families. When the equilibrium was reached, it was found that people belonging to many diverse races were lumped together, called as Rajputs. However, the theory of foreign origin of the Rajputs has less acceptability.
- Various ethnology and traditions of Kshatriyas in Indian society point towards the Aryan origin of the Rajputs.
Rajput States and Dynasties
- This dynasty ruled parts of Afghanistan and Punjab.
- Jayapala was its first Rajput king who succeeded the last Brahmin king Bhimdev. In 1001 AD, he was defeated by Mahmud of Ghazni after which he immolated himself.
- His successor Anand Pal also fought against Mahmud but he was also defeated in the Battle of Waihind in 1008.
- Its last king Bhimpala died in 1024. They ruled from 964 AD to 1026 AD.
- The Chauhans ruled between 956 and 1192 AD over the eastern parts of the present day’s Rajasthan with their capital at Ajmer and later extended their territory up to parts of modern-day Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
- This Rajput dynasty was founded by Simharaj, who is famously known as the founder of the city of Ajmer.
- Prithviraj Chauhan was considered as the greatest of all the Chauhan rulers. During his reign, the kingdom extended over Delhi, Ajmer, modern-day Rohilkhand, Kalinjar, Hansi, Kalpi, and Mahoba. He conquered Bhatinda (in Punjab) from Ghaznavid ruler of Punjab and defeated Muhammad of Ghori in the first battle of Tarain (1191). However, he was defeated in the second battle of Tarain, 1192.
Solanki Dynasty (Chalukya Dynasty of Gujarat)
- The Solankis established their rule over present day’s Indian state of Gujarat between 945 and 1297 AD.
- Their kingdom came into prominence during the reign of Mulraj. They ruled with their capital situated at Anhilwara.
- Upendra (Krishnaraja) was the founder of this dynasty.
- Bhoja was the most prominent ruler of this dynasty. He built the city of Bhojpur and established the Bhoj Shala which was a centre for Sanskrit studies. Malwa enjoyed a great level of political and cultural prestige under the Paramara rule.
- The Paramaras patronized Sanskrit poets and scholars. The great ruler, Bhoja was himself a renowned scholar.
- Most of the Paramara kings were Shaivites and they established many Shiva temples, although they also patronized Jain scholars.
- This Rajput dynasty was founded by Jayasakthi. They ruled the areas across Bundelkhand with Mahoba as their capital.
- The Chandelas are well known for their art and architecture, most notably for the temples at their cultural capital Khajuraho.
- The dynasty came to an end after Alauddin Khalji conquered Bundelkhand.
- This Rajput dynasty ruled the kingdom of Kannauj for around a hundred years, beginning in the late 11th Century AD.
- Jayachandra, the last powerful king of the dynasty who faced a Ghurid invasion led by Qutb al-Din Aibak. He was defeated and killed at the Battle of Chandawar in 1194 AD.
- They Ruled Bundelkhand from 16th Century AD onwards.
- Bundela Dynasty was a dominant force in the regions surrounding Orchha, which is located in Tikamgarh District of Madhya Pradesh.
- This dynasty was established by a Rajput king named Hemkaran around 1048 AD.
- The Bundela dynasty came to an end with the capture of Orchha, by the Mughals under the leadership of Aurangzeb.
- Tomara dynasty, one of the minor early medieval ruling houses of northern India. The family is known from scattered sources, and it is impossible to reconstruct its history in any detail. Puranic evidence (writings of the Puranas) gives its early location in the Himalayan region.
- According to bardic tradition, the dynasty was one of the 36 Rajput tribes. The history of the family spans the period between the reign of Anangapala, who founded the city of Delhi in the 11th Century AD, and the incorporation of Delhi within the Chauhan (Chahamana) kingdom in 1164.
- Although Delhi subsequently became decisively a part of the Chauhan kingdom, numismatic and comparatively late literary evidence indicates that Tomara kings such as Anangapala and Madanapala continued to rule as feudatories, presumably until the final conquest of Delhi by the Muslims in 1192-93.
Other Rajput States
- Parihara Dynasty of Kannauj:
- Conquered Kannauj in 816 AD, which remained its capital for about a century, declined in 10th century.
- Bargujar/Badgujar Dynasty of Rajgarh:
- One of the most ancient Suryavanshi Rajput tribes, the Badgurjars built numerous monuments, including the famous Neelkanth temple now in the Sariska Tiger Reserve, the Neelkanth Mahadev temple at Kalinjar, the Ambar Fort and many other palaces and forts at Alwar, Machari, Sawai Madhopur.
- Neelkanth, or Rajorgarh, was the capital of the Bargujar tribe. They were also called as the Great Gujjars.
- Chand Dynasty of Kumaon:
- They were the medieval Rajput ruling clan of the Kumaon region of the Uttarakhand.
- Jarrals of Kalanaur and Jammu & Kashmir:
- Raja Nakashima established the state Kalanaur and became the first king of Kalanaur . The Jarral dynasty ruled for 750 years. They belonged to the Chandravanshi clan.
- Katoch Dynasty of Kangra:
- Katochs are a Rajput clan of the Chandravanshi lineage. Their traditional area of residence was in the Trigarta Kingdom based at Jalandhar and at Kangra Fort.
- They ruled much of Himachal Pradesh and parts of Punjab.
- Pathanias of Nurpur:
- Ruled from 11th century to 1849 over parts of northern Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
- Sisodias of Mewar (Udaipur):
- An Indian Rajput clan from Suryavanshi clan who ruled the kingdom of Mewar in Rajasthan.
- Kachwahas of Jaipur:
- They ruled a number of kingdoms and princely states, such as Alwar, Ambar (Jaipur) and Maihar.
- Rathores of Marwar (Jodhpur & Bikaner):
- They ruled several states and claimed themselves to be descendants of the Suryavansha clan.
- Jadeja’s of Kutch:
- Considered to be a part of Chandravanshi lineage, Jadeja’s ruled the princely state of Kutch from 1540 to 1948.
- Hadas of Jhalawar, Kota & Bundi.
- Bhatis of Jaisalmer:
- They identify themselves as a Chandravanshi Kshatriya clan.
- Shekhawats of Shekhawati:
- The Shekhawat Rajputs ruled over the Shekhawati region for over 500 years.
- Dogra dynasty of Jammu and Kashmir.
Society under Rajputs
- The Rajputs were staunch followers of Hinduism.
- They also patronized Buddhism and Jainism.
- During their period the Bhakti Cult started.
- The Rajput Society was Feudal in its organizational setup.
- Each kingdom was divided into a large number of Jagirs held by the Jagirdars.
- Major literary works of this period
- Kalhana’s Rajatarangin – ‘River of Kings’
- Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam – Song of the cowherd
- Somadeva’s Kathasaritasagar
- Chand Bardai, the court poet of Prithviraj Chauhan, wrote Prithviraj Raso in which he refers to the military exploits of Prithviraj Chauhan.
- Bhaskara Charya wrote Siddhanta Shiromani, a book on astronomy.
- Rajasekhara – The court poet of Mahendrapala and Mahipala. His best known works were Karpuramanjari, Kavyamimamsa, and Balaramayana.
- Art and Architecture
- Mural paintings and Miniatures paintings were popular.
- Temples at Khajuraho
- Lingaraja Temple at Bhubaneshwar
- The Sun Temple at Konark
- The Dilwara Temple at Mount Abu
Limitations of Rajputs
- The Rajput society was feudal in its organizational set up. It was divided into various clans and states. Each states was ruled by one or more hereditary ruling house.
- They fought with each other and exhausted themselves in the process. Also, they lacked political vision and foresight and displayed lack of national consciousness. They preferred personal freedom over the political unity. There was no written law for the land and most of the Rajputs states was ruled on the basis of local customs and tradition.
- Moreover, the Rajputs was known for exemplary courage and chivalry. They were honest, generous and hospitable and kept their word. They carried their pride above anything and rejected the principle of deceit and treachery in the war. These principles worked when they fought with each other but these principles held no ground when fought hardy Muslim invaders.
- One of the disturbing features which developed in this period was the rigidity of caste system and formation of many subcaste. Brahmins and Kshatriyas continued to enjoy the highest position in the society. One of the major implication was that the masses were unable to connect with the ruling classes.
- All the above causes made it easy for the Muslim invaders and when they invaded India, the Indian society collapsed due of internal weakness.
Importance of Rajputs
- The importance of Rajputs can be gauged from the fact that the Rajputs were the main defenders of the Hindu religion and culture from the Muslim aggression. The bravery and courage at the time of adversity of Rajputs had inspired the generation and is still inspiring. They were great warriors and laid down their lives for the honour of their family, clan and their regional leaders.
- The Rajput women enjoyed considerable freedom and respect in the society. They were known for their chastity and devotion for their husband. To save their honour, they committed jauhar with pride.
10 Important Rajputa Kingdoms
Kingdoms Period Capital Founder Chauhan/Chahaman 700 – 1192 AD Delhi Vasudeva Pratihara/Parihar 730 – 1036 AD Avanti, Kannauj Nagabhatt I Pawar /Parmar 790- 1150 AD Ujjain, Dhar Seeak II ‘Sri Harsha Chauiukya/Solanki 942 – 1187 AD Anihalavada Mularaja I Rastrakuta 752 – 973 AD Malkhand/Manyakheta Dantidurga (Danti Verman II) Kalchuri/Haihaya 850 – 1211 AD Tripuri Kokkala I Gadhawal/Rathor 1090 – 1194 AD Kannauj Chandradeva Tomar 700 – 120z/ Dhillika – Guhilota/Sisodiya 800 – 1930 AD Chittor Bappa Rawatl, Hammir I
Some Important Points
- Eminent Jain scholar Hemchandra (1089-1172) got fame during the period of Solanki king Jaysimha Siddharaj. However, he adorned, the court of his successor Kumarapala, as an advisor.
- The greatest Pratihara king was Mihirbhoj (836-885 AD).
- Ruler of Ajmer, Prithviraj-lll, was commonly known as Prithviraj Chauhan.
- According to Hammir epic, Chauhan were a scion of ancestors ‘Chahman’ the son of Sun.
- Aalha-udal were related to Mahoba. They were commandant of Chandel king Parmardev (1165-1203 AD) who died during the battle with Prithviraj Chauhan.
- Anangpal Tomar Rajput (Tomar Dynasty), originally feudutories of the Gurjar-Pratiharas, founded the city of Dhillika (modern Delhi) in 736 AD.
- Dhangdev, also known as Dhanga, was a king of the Chandel dynasty of Jejakbhukti. Two magnificent temples of Khajuraho-vishwanath and Parshwanath were built in his rule. He built Kandariya Mahadev temple in 999 AD.
- Jejakbhukti was the ancient name of Bundelkhand.
- Queen of Govinda Chandra Gahadvala, Kumardevi was Buddhist. She constructed Dharma Chakra Jain vihar in Sarnath.