Uploaded by Smita.Mukerji

In the Interest of History – 2 Origin of Some Rajput Clans - I

In the Interest of History – II
Origin of Some Rajput Clans - 1
By Smita Mukerji
Another Twitter altercation later and a few shades wiser… that it is not possible to
gain any understanding, establish any truth in the raucous, fraught social media
A handle purporting to represent ‘Rajput pride’ recently pounced upon a tweet by
another person that spoke of possible Brahmin origin of the Sisōdiā Rajputs. I am
unaware of the background or motivation of the handle that made the initial claim
(both these handles are anonymous), but the barrage of negative commentation
and rancour that followed is nonplussing.
And like the usual me, that finds it irresistible to undeceive people on their
pretensions (especially the ones who throw these around obnoxiously as ‘expert
opinions’) I put my oar in! (I scold myself ever so often to desist, but there it is… )
This leaves me to sort out and put together my view on another controversy, which
though has been discussed exhaustively by historians within reams, they obviously
could not have anticipated that politically charged SM clamour would
unceremoniously unseat considered scholarly opinion, and boorishness and
braggadocio will take its place.
Since this controversy is longstanding and wide-ranging with a plethora of claims
and myths, I opted for a write-up rather than instant Twitter repartees.
The crux of this debate regarding the origins of the various clans of Rajputs is, what
is claimed by the respective clans themselves, since the actual origins are mostly
obscure and lie in the remote past. But it is important to recognise that these
claims have also changed over time. The view of ‘purity of blood’ became
hardened only in the recent past, as late as the 20th century, as caste delineations
became rigidified owing to British enumeration and employment policies, in
particular, community and caste identity as the basis for eligibility for government
and military service—the latter being one in which the Rajputs had a significant
It is amusing to see some (professed) Rajputs sustain affront at the suggestion that
the Guhilas or Guhilōts had Brahmin origins, as this appears to have been generally
known and proudly flaunted until the not so distant past. The general impression
today of the Guhilas being ‘Suryavanshi Rajputs’ was hardly the established idea
all along.
The three chief contentions regarding the origins of the Guhilas—and some other
prominent Rajput clans, which are all interconnected—that constitute this debate,
are: a) Brahmin origin, b) Kshatriya lineage, and c) foreign origin. There is also a
marginal view of them having had tribal beginnings who rose to prominence
subsequently. But the last of the three main views, contrary to what the ‘Rajput
club’ imagines, has been prevalent since the 16th century. It was not propounded
by the illustrious historian, ethnologist and political scientist, Devadatta
Ramakrishna Bhandarkar. It was not cooked up by British writers nor adopted
uncritically from them. Incidentally, the view that the Marāṭhā king Śivājī belonged
to Sisōdiā lineage also arises from legends of similar vintage or thereabouts, which
in turn is linked closely to the question of the origin of the Sisōdiās itself. But the
merits of that claim is a discussion for another day.
Bhandarkar merely collated the entire available evidence, literary, epigraphic and
traditional, a phenomenal body of work referred to by historians till date (which is
why I asked this person behind the Twitter handle to tell me which book of
Bhandarkar was he referring to in his diatribe against the venerable scholar,
because these are primarily lists and commentaries, not discursive and certainly
not polemical), and accepted two of the possibilities (#s 2 and 3) which, to him,
appeared most plausible.
It suffices to say, except #3, every one of these views (brāhmaña, kśatrīya or tribal
origin) remains a possibility, as the origin claimed in Rajput sources may not be the
actual origin at all.
Bhandarkar’s paper was at any rate on foreign elements within the Indian
population, not specifically on Rajputs. Even if the foreign origin view about some
of these Rajputs (based on an erroneous interpretation of what constituted the
term ‘Gurjara’ and ‘Gurjaradēśa’, and a highly speculative interpretation of the
agnikula legend1) has since been disproved and discarded, the speculation was not
entirely unfounded as there were definitely more than one not insignificant sources
since the medieval era itself which speak of these.2 It is moreover sufficiently borne
out from evidence that, even if not originated outside, there was admixture of
foreign blood in Rajputs, as indeed in many ‘castes’ of India, and he was equally
unsparing towards the Brahmin caste on account of the caste-purity delusion
nursed by them. His eminently sensible, scientific and sincerely constructive view,
which modern genetics proved in time, was:
“There is hardly a class or caste in India which has not a foreign strain in it.
There is an admixture of alien blood not only among the warrior classes—
the Rajputs and the Marathas—but also among the Brahmins who are
By this view the so-called Agnivaṁśī clans were foreigners admitted to the Hindu fold after undergoing a
rite of purgation by fire.
The 18th century ‘Ma'āsir-ul-Umāra’, of Samsam-ud-Daula Shah Nawaz Khan and Abdul Hai Khan,
mentions that ‘the Guhila dynasty was descended from the family of Noshirwan-i-Ādil, the emperor of
Iran.’ This is repeated in ‘Bisāt-ul-G̣anīm’ (1790) of Lakshminarayan Sufi Aurangabadi (‘Annals and
Antiquities of Rajasthan’ I, p. 275 ff – James Tod):
“They [Rāñās of Mēwāḍ] deduced their origin from Noshirwan-i-Ādil, who conquered many parts of
Hindustan. Noshirwan married the daughter of Keshar of Rum. His son by that wife was Noshizad, who
came with a large force to India. Later, he attacked his father in Iran, but was killed. His descendants
remained in India and were known as the Ranas of Mewar.”
These works only record an origin-myth prevailing from earlier times about the Sisōdiās. As early as the
16th century, Abu'l Fazl mentions the talk of the Sisōdiās having originated outside India, but brushes it
aside condescendingly. (“He is of the Ghelot clan and pretends a descent from Noshirwan the Just.” –
‘A'in-i-Aḳbari’ II, p. 35 (Jarett, tr.) This story was apparently related to Col. Tod as well by Jai Singh of
This shows that the talk of the Sisōdiā’s foreign origins was so widely prevalent as to have caught the
attention of Aḳbar’s official chronicler.
Tod, on the basis of the legend on Sisōdiā origins, said that not the male line of the Rāñās was of foreign
origin, but a former matriarch, Mahabanu, the fugitive daughter of Yezdegird of Persia who arrived in
India (another prevalent legend of the times) and married the ruler of Sauraśtra. She was according to him
Śubhāṇgana, the mother of Śiladitya. (The legend of Śubhāṇgana, in turn, we find recorded in ‘Upadēṣa
Prasāda’, an anthology of historical fragments in the Magahī dialect, which says that she was the daughter
of a Brahmin Dēvādit of Kairā in Gujarat.)
These legends may have been strengthened on the basis of the Āṭpur inscription of 977 CE, which
mentions a Huña princess, Haritadēvī, married to one of the Guhila scions, Allaṭa. (Epigraphia India, vol.
XXXIX, p. 191, verse 5)
under the happy delusion that they are free from all foreign element. If the
Brahmanas have not escaped this taint, as we have seen, and yet call
themselves Brahmanas, it excites the risibility of the antiquarian or the
ethnologist when he finds some Brahmana castes strenuously calling in
question the claims of certain warrior classes to style themselves
Kshatriyas. The grounds of this strenuous opposition stated by the
Brahmana castes, are that pure unmixed Vedic Aryan blood does not run
through the veins of those warrior classes. Yes, this is quite true; but it is
equally true that pure Vedic Aryan blood does not run through the veins
of the Brahmanas also. Looked at from the antiquarian or ethnological
point of view, the claims of either community to such purity are untenable
and absurd. As the chief thing valued by the members of the higher castes,
viz., purity of blood, the absence of any admixture of aboriginal or foreign
blood, has been proved to be hollow and non-consistent, the caste
jealousies and controversies, which cause immense mischief, are really
useless and meaningless. It is to be sincerely hoped that the knowledge
furnished by ethnology and the body of ancient inscriptions will spread
among the people, and open their eyes to the emptiness and ruthlessness
of the thing they are fighting for, and put an end to all caste animosities
and disputes, which are the bane of India.”3
To put it succinctly, ‘caste’—which is a misnomer for varñāśrama dharma—was
merely the calling by birth, with sufficient pliancy in the system to alter it according
to the aspirations of the various groups, including admitting foreign groups, which
is what Bhandarkar sought to show with the vast body of epigraphical evidences
marshalled by him. His view was purely that of an academic. He really had no axe
to grind in this. But unfortunately, this is not the same with caste demagoguery
which is beginning to rear its head in a disturbing manner through social media
discourse, especially through a whole lot of dubious handles.
Most of all, the prejudiced slurs directed at groups on the basis of regional identity
of these scholars, is dismaying. It is such demagogues who have propagandist
motives of the most harmful kind. Another contemporary writer, who was the
spearhead of the ‘Kshatriya origin’ view, Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya, was also a
Devadatta Ramakrishna Bhandarkar in ‘Foreign Elements in the Hindu Population’ Journal of Ancient
Indian History, vol. I, parts 1-2 (1967-68), p. 69
Maharashtrian. R. R. Halder was in support of this view. D. C. Ganguly was one of
the first writers to firmly refute the foreign origin theory as well as the idea that the
term Gurjara implied a tribe at all. So, the bile against Marathis and Bengalis, two
communities which pioneered Indian cultural nationalism, and committed
academicians from them whose contributions in documenting the civilisational
history of India is peerless, is as baseless as it is reprehensible. It is unfortunate that
the real Rajputs, unlike the ones likely hiding behind such anonymous handles, are
getting sucked into this vortex of regional animosity.
But getting back to history, I briefly analyse here some of these stories and
evidences regarding specifically the Brahmin origins of some prominent Rajput
clans. It may be mentioned at this point that the use of the general term ‘Rajput’,
given by Muslim chroniclers to these dynasties, is itself erroneous as no such
homogeneous class of ruling people existed.
The upsurge of the imperial dynasties of
Pratihāras, Paramāras and Ćaulukyas began
with the rise of Harićaṇdra (referred to as
‘Gurjaranṛpati’, or overlord of the Gurjaras), the
progenitor of the Mandōr Pratihāras, in ca. 550
CE. According to the Jōdhpur inscription of his
descendant Kakkuka, 837 CE (Epigraphia Indica,
vol. XVIII: 87ff) and the Ghaṭiyālā inscription,
861 CE (Epigraphia Indica, vol. IX: 277ff) of
Bāuka (r. 825–861 CE), Harićaṇdra, otherwise
called Rōhiladdhi, was a learned brāhmaña
well-versed in the Vēdas. His sons (Bhōgabhaṭa,
Kakka, Rajjila and Dadda) from his Kshatriya
wife Bhadrā, are said to have established the
kingdom of Maṇḋavyapura (Maddodāra or
Maṇḋōwar, the ancient capital of Marwāḍ) and
Mēdaṇtaka (Mēḍata).
Figure 1-2
Maṇdavyapura-durga: Fort build by the Mandor Pratihāras (Source: ASI, Jaipur Circle)
The Ghaṭiyālā inscription also tells us that Harīćaṇdra was the preceptor of the
Pratihāra family.
The former, dated 837 CE says that his dynasty was named after Lakśmaña who
served as door-keeper (pratihāra) to his brother Rama.4
The Jōdhpur inscription mentions that the Pratihāra Brahmins descended from
another wife, a Brahmin. (V. 8)
The Pratihāras of Ujjain in contrast proclaim themselves to be Kshatriyas. Vatsarāja, the grand nephew of
Nagabhaṭa-I, is mentioned as (ēkaḥ kśatrīya puṇgavēṣu – ‘foremost among the most distinguished
Kshatriyas’; and his son Nagabhaṭa is said to have ‘…performed the religious rites according to kśatrīya
families’ (kśātradharma vidhi vaddha bali prabaṇdaḥ).
(From: ‘Rajasthan Through the Ages’, Dr Dasharatha Sharma – Rajasthan State Archives)
The relation between the Pratihāras of Maṇḋavyapura and those of Ujjaina (who
later became the rulers of Kannauj) is not clearly established, but the commonality
of names occurring in both lines (Kakkuka, Nāgabhaṭa, Bhōja) suggest a close
relation. They likely had a common origin.
The Brahmin origin of the Pratihāras may be considered to constitute the most
conclusive proof that the Gurjaras were not foreigners, since it was though not
unusual for foreign groups to be admitted within the social order of India, the
yavanas or mlēććhas, as they were called, were mostly designated Śudras or, in
case they were warriors or military leaders, Kśatrīyas, but it was unheard of (and
impossible owing to the principles of varñāśrama dharma) for any class of
foreigners—or even Indians5—to have been made Brahmins.6
The legend of the agnikula sacrifice performed by the sage Vaśiṣṭha on Mount Ābū
is a recurring theme in Paramāra inscriptions narrating the story of the origin of
this clan of Rajputs.
The Navasāhasāṇka Ćarita (Figs.
7–8), composed 996-1000 CE, by
Vākpatirāja Muṇja and his
younger brother, Sindhurāja
Navasāhasāṇka, is the most
reliable source of Paramāra
Bhōjadēva, traces the origin of
the Paramāras to the ‘wise priest
of the House of Ikshvaku’, viz.
The composition is built on a
story of Vaśiṣṭha's ‘wish-fulfilling
cow’ which was stolen by
Viśwāmitra and its recovery by
Figs. 7–8
the warriors raised by Vaśiṣṭha in
his sacrifice, which, interestingly, makes an analogy with the legend of Kārtavīrya
Arjuna stealing Jamdagni's cow and the subsequent encounter with his son
Though in the Vedic period kśatrīyas were known to have become brāhmañas, in the subsequent period
this was not very common, and brāhmañas descending from kśatrīyas is unheard of in Purāñic accounts.
K. M. Munshi (‘The Imperial Gūrjaras’ in ‘The Glory that was Gūrjara Deśa’)
Paraśurāma. We find the same analogy of Paraśurāma's story in the ‘Hammirarāsō’
of Jōdharāja as well.
“There [on mount Arbudā] the wise house-priest of the Ikśvākus [Vaśiṣṭha]
made a sage's grove … the first of the judges of the Atharvana Songs
[Vaśiṣṭha] with holy sayings, threw an offering into the fire, which kindling
up with broad flames… Quickly a man sprang out of the fire, with bow and
crown and golden armour. … He received from the sage the fitting name of
Paramāra—Killer of the Enemy—and a ruler's power over the globe, before
whom all the parasols of all other kings were shut.”
The earliest epigraphic record that
mentioned the legend is the
Udaipur Praśasti (Fig. 9) of 1072 CE
(Epigraphia Indica, vol. I, p. 234)
which describes the birth of
reference to a brāhmaña:
Fig. 9
“An important point, which deserves attention is that there is a marked difference between the uses of
this term [dwija] in the official epigraphic records and the Smritis respectively, as in the former it has
invariably been used in a restricted or an orthodox sense, i.e. to denote only a Brahmana.” (‘Origin of the
Paramaras’, Dr K. N. Seth)
Among the examples cited by Seth is the Kanaswa Inscription of Sivagana, V.S. 795 (=A. D. 738), which
mentions Saṇkuka, a brāhmaña prince, taking as his lawful wife, Dēginī, also sprung from a brāhmaña
family, as: “Dēginī namatasy=āsīd=dharmma-patni dvij-ōdbhava”.
Similarly, the Jōdhpur Inscription of the Pratihāra Bāuka, V.S. 894 (=A.D. 837), names an illustrious
brāhmaña Harićaṇdra (vipraḥ Śrī Harićaṇdra) as their progenitor of his line, who married first the daughter
of a brāhmaña as: “tēna Śrī Harićaṇdrēna pariñītā dvijātmajā”. In contrast, his Kshatriya wife is mentioned
as: “dwitīya kśatrīyā bhadrā mahākulaguñānvitā” ([married] secondly the virtuous high-born Kshatriya lady
Bhadrā). (Please see transcription of inscription above in image 2).
Again, Harśarāja of the Guhilas of Dhavagarta (Dhōḍ), the ruler of Ćitrakūṭa (Ćittauḍ) is mentioned
in the inscription of his great-grandson as a dvija, i.e. Brahmana.
Whenever the first three higher castes were to be mentioned in any royal grant or inscription, they are not
referred to collectively by the use of the word ‘dwija’, but each of the three castes is denoted separately.
As in the Ghatiyala Pillar Inscription dated V.S. 918 (=A. D. 861) which tells us that Kakkuka, the favourite
son of the Pratihāra Kakka, constructed a market place and peopled it only with Brahmins, Kshatriyas and
हद्दं कृ त्िा गृहावर् ि । विप्र-िविग्-प्रकृ तीन ां गृहं गत्िा वियेर् ि ॥ श्रीमत्कक्कस्य
पुत्रेर्, सत्िविहारजाविना । ककुक्के न वस्िविं दत्िा स्िावपिोत्त्त्त्र महाजनः ॥”)
Vaisyas forming the ‘big folk’ (“विवित्रिीविसंपूर्ण
It may reasonably be presumed therefore that Upēṇdrāja mentioned here was a Brahmin and the
Fig. 10
It is also corroborated in
later accounts in Bhōja
‘Tilakamaṇjarī’ (Fig. 10) of
Dhanapāla (as it appears in
the ‘Prabaṇdha-ciṇtāmañi’
of Mērutuṇga):
“The Gurjaras on the Ābū mountain still remember the prowess of the king
Paramāra, who sprang out of the sacrificial fire pit of Vaśiṣṭha and
conquered Viśwāmitra.”
The Aćalēśvara temple inscription at Ābū (Fig. 11) repeats
this legend about their origin in the fire pit of Vaśiṣṭha’s
sacrifice. (Indian Antiquary, vol. XLIII, p. 193)
Figure 11
The legend originates in
Bhaviśya Purāña (Fig. 12),
genealogy back to Aśōka’s
time. It speaks of a
Kāṇyakubja Brahmin during
his reign who performed a
on the
Mountain to propitiate
Brahmā, whereby the power
of Vedic chants gave rise to
Figure 12
four Kshatriyas born out of
that sacrifice, among whom the follower of the Sāmavēda was the Pramāra or
Paramāra, who was the ruler of Avaṇtī (present day Mālawa).
expression ‘dvijavargaratnam’, applied to him in the Udaipur praśasti, may be taken to mean ‘a jewel
among brāhmañas’. (Seth)
This legend of their origin is emphatically stated in numerous Paramāra
inscriptions: Nāgpur praśasti of Naravarman (Epigraphia Indica, vol. II, p. 180);
Vasaṇtagaḍh Inscription of Pūrñapāla, 1042 CE (Indian Antiquary, vol. IX, p. 12);
Mount Ābū inscriptions nos. I and II (Epigraphia Indica, vol. VIII, p. 200), Arathūna
inscription of Paramāra Ćamuṇḋarāja (Epigraphia Indica, vol. XIV, p. 295),
Paṭṭanārāyaña inscription (Indian Antiquary, vol. 45, p. 77), Mount Ābū inscription
(Epigraphia Indica, vol. IX, p. 148), and others like the Pānāhēra, Doṇgaragrāma,
and the Jaināda inscriptions.
What is important is not whether the agnikula legend is true or not (no man can
possibly be born of fire) but that these Rajput clans claimed origin as per the
legend, invented stories to associate their lineage with it to show their ascendance
and glory, indication of a sensibility completely removed from what caste
chauvinists today display. Said Dasharatha Sharma:
“No serious student of history can, of course, believe that fire actually
produced warriors. But when one is ready to grant the existence of
lunar and solar kśatrīyas, the concept of an Agnikula race does not
necessarily appear weird and extraordinary and we could easily put the
Ćauhāns [or the Paramāras, Pratihāras and Ćaulukyas] among the fire-born
septs, if there were any historical warrant for it.” (emphasis added)
The legend also must be seen in the background of the Muslim invasions designed
to possibly rejuvenate and rally together the warrior classes, bind the warring clans
together, forge kinship and form alliances, to fight for their “dharma and culture”.8
But what the agnikula legend also indicates is a close relation between the four
clans of Rajputs named in it which becomes apparent as their origins are explored.
They all came from the warrior clans who started their career between 550 and 700
CE in Gurjaradēśa, the Gurjara country as described by the Chinese traveller
Xuanzang (Yuan Chwang or Hiuen Tsang), of which the pivot was the region of
‘The Paramaras’, by Pritpal Bhatia
Mount Ābū. The other thing is, even if the legend gives a fictional story it cannot
be dismissed in toto as it gives important clues on their likely origin.
The magnificent Bhōjēśwara temple built by Paramāra Bhōja, reigned ca. 1010–55 CE (Source: Wiki)
Historian Mahāmahōpādhyāya Gaurishankar Hirachand Ojha considers it as certain
that the Paramāras sprung from the Mount Ābū region.9 Importantly, the
Pāṭṭanārāyaña temple praśasti in Girwaḍ village in Sirōhī names Dhūmarāja (c.
800 CE) as the founder of the Paramāra line claiming his descent from the sage
Vaśiṣṭha.10 (िवसष्ठ-गोत्रोद्भि एष लोके ख्यािस्िदादौ परमारिश
ं ः) Ojha while rebutting the theory that
the Ćauhans, Sōlankīs and Pratihāras had foreign origins, by showing that the
agnikula legend belongs to a later period, also declares emphatically that until the
16th century these clans did not consider themselves as agnivaṁshi Rajputs and
का इविहास’, वजल्द पहली, by G. H. Ojha (पृ. १९१)
‘महु र्ोि नैर्सी री ख्याि’, vol. I, p. 234
परवनजणयेन मवु नः स्िगोत्रं परमारजाविम् । िस्मै ददाबुद्धिभरू रभाग्यं िं धौमराजं ि िकार नाम्ना ॥)
that at least until the time of Vākpati Muṇja the Paramāras referred to
themselves only as ‘brahma-kśatras’.11
Bhaṭṭa Halāyudha, the court poet of the Paramāra ruler Vākpati Muṇja II (c. 972990s CE), in his ‘Mṛtasaṇjīvani’ (a commentary on ‘Piṇgalasūtravṛttī’), without
making any mention to the sacrifice of Vaśiṣṭha, refers clearly to the
Paramāravaṁśa as ‘brahma-kśatra-kulīnaḥ’12 describing his patron as a ‘brahmakśatra’, descended from a Brahmin who had taken to arms (ब्रह्मक्षत्रकुलीनः
िलीनसामन्ििक्रनुििरर्ः । सकलसक
ु ृ िैकपञ्ु जः श्रीमान्मञ्ु जविरं जयवि ॥)
The debate on whether the Guhilas originated from a clan of Brahmins or from
Kshatriyas has been muddied by the insertion of the idea of their having originated
outside India. Having already put that contention behind us (please see
annotations under #s 2 and 18), let us look at the evidences from which the varña
of the Guhila progenitors may be inferred.
One of the traditions related to the origin of the Guhilas is narrated by Naiñasī, a
17th courtier of Yaśōwantsiṁha Rāṭhōḍ of Mārwāḍ (1629-1678 CE), in his ‘Khyāt’
according to which, the Sisōdiās in the earlier period were known as Gahilots,
whose forefather was a king who ruled in the Nāsik-Trayaṃbak region13, and
का इविहास’ वजल्द पहली, पृ. ७६)
Ojha (‘राजपूिाने
1) Ojha (‘राजपूिाने
का इविहास’ वजल्द पहली, पृ. ६६)
2) C. V. Vaidya attempted to explain this term as meaning, the Paramāras were “Kshatriyas who were
endowed with brāhma, i.e. who had kept up their connection with the Vedic Rishis”. This however is
untenable as by the time of Muṇja Vākpati-ll, i.e. the last decade of the tenth century CE, the Kshatriyas
had lost importance for their gōtras, if they had not forgotten them, a fact which is generally accepted
and acknowledged by Vaidya. (‘History of Medieval Hindu India’, vol. II, by C. V. Vaidya (p. 62)) Their
gōtras are not indicative of their progenitors but are that of their purōhitas, and sometimes with the
change of purōhitas, their gōtras too changed. The explanation fails in the face of this fact as it is
impossible to keep contact with the pravara hṛiṣīs if they did not retain their own gōtras. It is notable that
Paramāras all over India carry a single gōtra and pravara, i.e. Vaśiṣṭha, which is characteristic of the
Vaśiṣṭha gōtra (ब्राह्मर्भाइलाय िामानसुिाय िवशष्ठसगोत्राय । िावजमाघ्यंवदनशाखायैकििराय ॥)
(‘The Growth of the Paramara Power in Malwa’, Dr K. N. Seth)
The Tuzūk-i-Jahāṅgīri also makes an allusion to the Guhilas having their kingdom originally in the
Deccan. (Tuzūk-i-Jahāṅgīri I, Rogers and Beveridge, tr., p. 250) Abu’l Fazl points this place to be Berar
(A'in-i-Aḳbari, part II, p. 35 – Jarett, tr.)
who used to worship the Sun-god. The King’s son was born after his father got
killed in an enemy invasion in the course of which all the people of his kingdom
perished. His queen who had been away on a pilgrimage to Aṃbā in Nāgadā that
time, gave birth to a son fifteen days later and handed the child over to a Brahmin
by name Vijayaditya, with the promise that the child and his descendants would
follow Brahminical rites and rituals for ten generations to honour the calling of the
foster parents. Consequently, the Sisōdiās came to be known as Nāgadā Brahmins.
According to Naiñasī, this son of Vijayaditya was the Gahilot Somadatta, in whose
line were born Śilāditya and his progeny.14
A similar tradition on the Guhilas’ origin is described by Tod15, with some
variation.16 Two other literary sources, ‘Rājavilāsa Kāvya’17 (composed ca. 17th
century during the reign of Rāñā Rājasiṁha), and ‘Vīra Vinōd’, by Kavirāj
Śyāmaladāsa Dadhivāḍiyā (composed in the second half of the 19th century),
reiterate the Guhilas’ connection with the Valabhī kings 18 and suggest their
Khyāta-I (R. Dugada, tr.) pp. 10ff n.
‘Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan’, vol. I, by Col. James Tod (p. 266)
According to this version, the rulers of Mēwāḍ were from the Raghuvaṁśī section of the solar race
through Sumitra, Kañaksena and Śilāditya, the last Valabhī king of Gujarat, and ranked as the first of the
thirty-six Rajput tribes. Kañaksena is said to have come to Saurashtra from Lōha-Kōṭa or Lahore, and
dispossessing the Paramāra king found a city in 144 CE called Vīranagara. Four generations after him,
Vijayasēna founded Vidarbha and Vijayapura in Saurashtra while retaining his capital in Valabhī. His
descendant, Śiladitya, faced an invasion from barbarians, the date for which as given by Jain sources is 524
CE, during which Valabhī was destroyed and the king along with all his subjects were killed. His queen,
Puśpavatī who had gone on a pilgrimage to Aṃbā Bhavānī, survived, and a few days later gave birth to a
son in a cave in the Mālliā mountains where she had taken refuge, who thus came to be known as ‘Guha’
or ‘cave-born’. A Brahmin lady of Vīranagara called Kamalāvatī, reared this child, who subsequently
became the king of the Bhīls of this region. Nāgaditya, the eight in this line of kings, which came to be
known as Guhilas after Guha, was a despotic ruler and consequently overthrown and killed. His young son,
Bāpa, was removed by the descendants of Kamalāvatī, who became the hereditary priests of Guhilas, to
the safety of a place in a hilly region called Nāgīṇdra (modern Nāgadā near Udaipur). Growing up there
among nature, one day while tending cows, he met the sage Hārīta, who was a devotee of Ēkaliṇga
Mahādēva. He became a disciple of Hārīta and from him obtained a boon of invincibility. Thereafter, he
entered the service of his uncle, Mana, who was the Mori king of Ćittauḍ, whom he subsequently deposed
and “took Chittor from Mori and became himself the ‘mor’ (crown) of the land. He obtained by universal
consent the title of ‘Sun of the Hindus’ (Hindu-suraj), preceptor of princes (Raj Guru) and universal lord
(Chakrawartin).” And thus was laid the foundation of the Guhila dynasty of Mēwāḍ.
‘Rājpūtāne kā Itihāsa’, vol. I, by G. H. Ojha (p. 388)
Bhandarkar’s error sprung from this connection between the Mēwāḍ and Valabhī dynasties prevalent in
tradition, and in turn associating Valabhīs with the Maitrakas, and confusing Maitrakas, along with the
indigenous kśatrīya origins, though the name Śilāditya for the ruler after whose
death the Guhilas removed to Mēḍapāṭa (Mēwāḍ) does not figure in these.
Abu'l Fazl also records that the Rāñās of Mēwāḍ were known as Brahmins19 which
is consistent with Naiñasī‘s account:
“Having made his head quarters at Sisodā, the tribe is called Sisodiah, and
as a Brāhman, at the beginning of their history nurtured their house, they
are accounted as belonging to this caste.”
This implies that even in the lifetime of the most celebrated of the Mahārāñās of
Mēwāḍ, Pratāp Singh, it was commonly held that the Sisōdiās were of Brahmin
varña. He also narrates, among some other prevalent origin-lores about the
Sisōdiās, a somewhat different story (which we will not go into here) from the ones
narrated by Naiñasī and Tod.
These stories about the dynasty’s origin are as enchanting as they are numerous,
and therefore also unreliable, but at the same time largely form the basis of
common perceptions among people. Though tradition is an important source of
history, the real test of their truth is to be assessed against epigraphical and literary
sources authorised by the kings themselves.
Nāgara Brahmins—since many of the Nāgara Brahmins carry the last name ‘Mitra’, he took them to be
related—to be the same as the ‘Mihira’, ‘Meher’, or ‘Mēḍ’ people, a tribe of Kāṭhiawāḍ region said to be of
foreign origin. The mistake was on account of a misreading of a copperplate grant attributed to Bhaṭṭārka,
a military governor of the Guptas.
This confusion was compounded all the more as there is a Bhāṭṭa caste in Mēwāḍ, who have Ēkaliṇga as
their family deity, and claims relations to the Bhāṭṭas of Valabhī, and that they migrated from there to
Mēwāḍ along with the ancestors of the Rāñās. (The Fragmentary Second Slab of Kumbhalgarh Inscription,
V.S. 1517 and the Origin of the Guhilots in ‘Glories of Mewar’, by Dr G. N. Sharma)
There was another obvious flaw, that, even though Brahmins are known to have mixed with other
castes, no foreign group could possibly have been ever admitted into the brāhmaña varña. Further,
the Nāgara Brahmins of ‘Vaijavāpa’ gōtra, which we learn from Ēkaliṇga-mahātmya, was the Sisōdiā’s
gōtra, carried the lastname ‘Āditya’. But importantly, Bhandarkar later revised his view about the
Maitrakas. (“As the Nāgar Brāhmin origin of the Guhilas is not free from doubt, the question of their
ethnic affiliation with the Mers and the Huns does not arise at all. Dr. Bandarkar also admits that with
regard to this particular part of his thesis he is not on terra firma.” - ‘History of Mewar’, G. C.
Raychoudhuri, p. 229, n. 36)
‘Sūbāh-i-Ajmēr’ in Ā'īn-i-Aḳbari II, p. 269
The putative founder of the Guhila
chronologically roughly in the last
decades of the 6th century based on
the Sāṃbhaolī inscription of year
646 CE, by his great grandson
Śilāditya. This inscription refers to
Śiladitya as the joy of the ‘dēvas and
depending on interpretation—
‘dēvas, brāhmañas and the people’
(देि विजगरुु जनान्दो श्रीवशलावदत्यो). But whichever
interpretation is employed, the word
dwija here is clearly taken to mean a
His great grandson was Kālabhōja,
better known as Bāpa Rāwal20, who
is credited with establishing the
kingdom of Mēwāḍ.
However, from epigraphical records
it is borne out that it was not before
the time of Jaitrasiṁha (1213–1261
CE), as Ćalukyan power waned, that
Ćittauḍgaḍh Fort (Source: /Flickr)
the fort of Ćittauḍ came to be
occupied by the Guhilas and thereby their association and identification as the
legitimate rulers of Mēḍapāṭa.21 It is from this time we find that Guhila inscriptions
This too is not a settled question, as according to many historians, ‘Bāpa’ is an appellation for a father
figure, with many contradictory, intersecting and equally plausible bits of information from various
inscriptions about who Bāpa was. We go here with the assertion of Pt. Gaurishankar Ojha who identified
Kālabhōja with the Guhila progenitor, Bāpa Rāwal (‘उदयपुर
1) Ojha (‘उदयपरु
राज्य का इविहास’, पृ. १०२-१०४)
राज्य का इविहास’, पृ. ६६-६७)
2) G. C. Raychaudhuri (‘History of Mewar’, p. 31)
3) Dr Dasharatha Sharma (ed.) (‘Rajasthan Through The Ages’, vol. I, p. 240)
proclaim Śrī Bāpaka (instead of Guhadatta) as the earliest predecessor of the Guhila
dynasty.22 The Śṛngī Ṛṣī inscription of Mokāla, 1428 CE, refers to the Guhila
lineage as ‘Bāpajāvaṁśa’.
The forerunner of the Sisōdiā line of the Guhilas was Rāñā Hamīr (b. 1314 – d. 1378).
The Ēkaliṇga-mahātya, authored by Kānhā Vyās, under the aegis of Rāñā
Kuṃbhakarṇa, pronounces Vijayaditya, the traditionally acknowledged ancestor of
the Guhilas, as vipra 23 and mahīdēva24, (both words translated straightforwardly, mean
‘Brahmin’) and calls him ‘Nāgarakulanaṇdana’:
Triumphant are the God Śrī Ēkaliṇga gōtra and the family called
Vaijavāpa25 famed in the world, purifying the people on the whole of the
earth, and of magnificence.
Triumphant is the Brahmin (vipra) named Vijayaditya, the ornament of the
Nāgara family of Ānaṇdapura (Nāgarakulanaṇdana), a god on earth
(mahīdēva), and proficient in sacrificial and other rites. His son was the
best of the brāhmañas, Kēśava by name. His son was Nāga Raula and then,
‘A Study of the Origin Myths Situating the Guhilas in the History of Mewar (A.D. Seventh to Thirteenth
Centuries)’, by Nandini Sinha
This word may be interpreted to mean a ‘sage’, ‘virtuous’ or a ‘wise man’, but these are at best
alternative explanations without occasion for their use in the present context. Vipra certainly denotes a
person with these qualities but it is for all purposes used only for Brahmins (‘vipra-varña’, ‘vipra-kula’, etc.)
The word ‘vipraka’ denotes a petty or a contemptible Brahmin, and ‘vipratā’ the state of being a Brahmin.
Even if one must limit the term ‘vipra’ by its academic meaning to imply merely a wise or learned man,
used in conjunction with ‘kula’ (viprakula, or a family of viprāḥ) it can mean nothing but a Brahmin, since
there is no way the whole lineage of a king can be termed as ‘vipra’. Likewise, the word ‘mahīdēva’ used in
reference to Guhilots is combined with ‘kulōdbhava’ (mahīdēvakulōdbhava, or born of a family of
mahīdēvāḥ), which can only denote a Brahmin. (In the keenness to justify their episode the Kshatriya
origin lobby was clearly not thinking straight!)
Most of all, none of the scholars who preferred this interpretation could provide a single instance
from entire Sanskrit literature where vipra has been used to denote a non-Brahmin.
The suggestion of some of the ‘Kshatriya origin’ theorists that the word mahīdēvaḥ means a ‘king’ and
not a brāhmaña, is difficult to accept. Its use to denote the former is unknown in Sanskrit literature as well
as epigraphic records, which make a clear distinction between ‘mahīdēva’ (Brahmin) and ‘naradēva’ (king).
(Raychoudhuri, ob. cit.) An alternative word is mahīsura both of which are used as synonyms for the word
एकवलंगदेिेन् गोत्रं िैजिापह”ं
Bhōga Raula, Āśādhara, Śrī Dēva, Mahādēva, and after them the ornament
of Guhadatta, by whose name this race is still known in the world.
Triumph to Guhadatta, the delighter of the brāhmaña family of
Ānaṇdapura (Ānaṇdapuravinirgata viprakulānaṇdaḥ), and the founder of
the illustrious Guhila race, spoken of by the poets of yore.”26 (Emphasis
In his composition ‘Rasikapriya’, a commentary on Jaidēva’s ‘Gīta Gōviṇda’, the
erudite Rāñā Kuṃbhakarṇa himself refers to his forebear Bāpa as a Brahmin
(“dvijapuṇgava” or best among the dvijas) belonging to the Vaijavāpa gōtra.27
The Ēkaliṇga inscription of 1489 CE (Verse 12, Bhavnagar Inscriptions, p. 118) calls
Bappa a dvija.
The Āṭpur inscription of
Śaktikumāra (Fig. 13), 977
CE28 (Indian Antiquary, vol.
Figure 13
XXXIX 1910, p. 186-91)
names Guhadatta as the originator of the Guhila line (िभिः श्रीगवु हलिश
ं स्य) and in similar
terms as other epigraphs pronounces him to be a Brahmin, calling him not only
viprakulanaṇdana (son of a Brahmin family) that came from Ānaṇdapura, but also
mahīdēva (Brahmin). The same verse is repeated in the Kadmal inscription of
ु ं पुरािनै कवबविः, आनन्दपुर समागिा, वििकुलनन्दन महीदेि । जयवि श्री गुहदत्त, िभिः श्री गुवहल िंशस्य ॥
J.A.S.B. (1909), p. 173
In a paper contributed to Indian History Quarterly (‘Origin of the Guhilots: were they Nagar Brahmins?’,
IHQ Vol. XXVI No. 1 March 1950, pp. 263-276), M. L. Mathur commenting on the Āṭpur inscription concurs
with Ojha that the word mahīdēva in these inscriptions could well mean ‘king’, use of the word dēva for
king being common in Sanskrit dramas and epics. If it were to mean a Brahmin its use along with vipra
amounts to a “superfluous duplication”.
In an acute rebuttal to his rather glib surmises, Malati Sharma wrote (‘Origin of the Guhilots’, IHQ Vol.
XXVIII No. 1 March 1952, pp. 83-86) that there is no psychological inconsistency in regarding a Brahmin as
a source of delight to a Brahmin family. The words mahīdēva and dēva treated as synonyms by Mathur
amounts to a feint since they are not identical, and he was at liberty to quote even a single instance from
the vast body of Sanskrit works where the two words are used interchangeably to mean a king. In Sanskrit
and all affiliated languages, the word mahīdēva occurs only in reference to a Brahmin, as it is a yōgarūḍha
word. Even if mahīdēva is literally translated, the word means ‘a god on earth’ which would not render the
meaning of the sentence any different.
Vijayasiṁha, 1083 CE. These two are the first inscriptions that record a detailed
genealogy of the Nāgadā-Āhaḍ (Nāgahṛda) Guhila dynasty of Mēwāḍ.
The Ćittauḍgaḍh inscription of 1409 CE (Verses 9 to 11, Bhavnagar Inscriptions,
pp. 74ff) and the Mount Ābū inscription 1420 CE (Indian Antiquary, vol. XVI, pp.
347ff) refer to Bāpa Rawal as a Brahmin. While the first describes him as a ‘ vipra’,
the second specifically mentions him transforming from Brahminhood to
‘Kshatriya splendour’. The Ćātsu inscription of Bālāditya,29 986 CE (Epigraphia
Indica, vol. XII, p. 10) mentions their forefather, Bhartṛpaṭṭa, as a ‘brahmakśatrānvita’ (ब्राह्मक्षत्रावन्ििोऽवस्मन् सम्भिदसमे रामिल्ु यो विशल्यः । शौयाणढ्यो भिृणपट्टो ररपभ
ु ट विटप् इच्छे द के ली पिीयान्
॥) possessing the virtues of brāhma and kśātra, like of Rāma (here: Paraśurāma),
repeating the claim to fame of the Guhilas describing Bhartṛpaṭṭa as the slayer of
enemies like (Paraśu-)rāma.
This origin claim and lineage of the Guhilas making an analogy with Paraśurāma
appears as standard description in a number of epigraphs of successive Guhilas
since the 10th century. Historians who preferred the Kshatriya origin view of Guhila
Rajputs sought to refute the generally held view that the name denotes
Paraśurāma, saying that it could well stand for Rāma of the solar dynasty from
whom the Guhilas (began at some point to) claim their inheritance. However, the
Ćittauḍgaḍh inscription mentioned above removes every doubt about the identity
of the bespoken Rāma, as it mentions Śaktikumāra’s son, Aṁbaprasāda (993–1007
CE) to be the likeness of ‘Bhārgava Rāma’, the lord of the Bhṛgu family, the
destroyer of Kshatriyas’ (भृगुकुलपवतरििवित्प्तः क्षत्रसांह िक रि), making it amply clear that the
Rāma meant in Guhila inscriptions is Jāmdagnēya Rāma or Paraśurāma, and not Śrī
Rāmaćaṇdra of Raghuvaṁśa. It is mystifying that Pt. Ojha makes no mention of this
clear reference.
Another of the Ćittauḍgaḍh inscriptions, the Rasiyāki Ćhatri inscription of
Samarasiṁha, 1274 CE (Bhavnagar Inscriptions, pp. 74ff), calls Bāpa Rāwal a vipra
and states that he obtained, in the shape of an anklet, the splendour of a Kshatriya
(kśātra) from the ‘Brahma like sage’ Hārītarāśi, and in return gave up to the sage
his devotion and Brahminical lustre (brāhma or merit of Brahminhood) that he
S/o Bhaṭṭa s/o Guhila II s/o Harsha of the Guhilas of Dhoḍ (Ćitrakūṭa or Ćittauḍ)
obtained as a Brahmin. This interaction with the sage—which is also recorded in
the Mount-Ābū Aćalēśvara inscription of 1285 CE—is the means to legitimise
the Guhilas role as Kshatriyas30and they are subsequently referred to as
brahmakśatras (as opposed to the simple description of brāhmaña as for
Guhadutta). These are the first set of inscriptions that mention Śri Bāppaka or Bāpa
(Mahāraula Śrī Bāpa) as the founder of the House of Mēwāḍ and correspond to the
establishment of the Guhilas in Ćittauḍ.31
Some writers (Pt. Ojha, C. V. Vaidya. A. K. Vyas and M. L. Mathur) have strained to
explain away these references to the Guhila forebears (‘vipra’, ‘dwijapuṇgava’, and
squarely translate as ‘Brahmin’), and the
repeated use of the word ‘brahmakśatri’,
by preferring alternative or circuitous
interpretations32 Ojha also attempts to
Figure 12
1) ‘उदयपरु
2) “नागदा
राज्य का इविहास’, ििम खण्ड – रायबहादरु गौरीशक
ं र हीरािदं ओझा (पृ. १७६)
नगर के सम्बन्ध में हारीत ऋषि का वर्णन आता है षिन्होंने यहााँ घोर तपस्या की थी । इन्हीं की अनुकम्पा से बापा को राज्य
प्राप्त हुआ और क्षषियत्व की प्राप्ती हुई ।” (‘राजस्िान के इविहास के स्त्रोि’, डॉ. गोपीनाि शमाण)
हारीिावत्कल बप्पकोअवििलय व्याजेन लेभे महः ।
क्षात्रधं ािृवनभावििीयण मुनये ब्राह्मं स्िसेिाच््लाि् ॥
एिे अद्यावप महीभजु वक्षवििल ििश संभिू यः ।
शोभिं े सिु रामपु ात्तिपुष: क्षात्रावह धमाण इि ॥११॥ (विवि: वि.स.ं १३४२ माघ शक्ु ल १)
Nandini Sinha, ob. cit.
As ‘evidence’ in support of his case, that the word vipra does not necessarily mean a Brahmin by birth,
Mathur brought in Swāmī Dayānanda Sarasvatī's unorthodox views. But the fact is, Dayānanda considered
no one a Brahmin or Kshatriya at birth. He ignores the premise of Dayānanda's expansive work that lay in
the concepts of jāti brāhmaña, guña brāhmaña and karma brāhmaña, which renders the very basis of the
present debate infructuous. This exegesis has no bearing on the conventional and specific use of the
word in texts, epigraphy as well as common terms of reference, whereby it singularly denotes a
His statements are moreover contradictory as the same word as occurring in viprakulanaṇdano (वििकुलनन्दनो)
is interpreted by him as meaning a Brahmin. However instead of taking the word kulanaṇdana for what it
would usually imply (a scion or child of the family) Mathur chose to apply a literal interpretation,
contending that the line just points to Śiladitya being the ‘delighter of the Brahmin family’ that sprung
from Ānaṇdapura.
The terms ‘Raghukulanaṇdana’ and ‘Daśarathanaṇdana’ cannot be interpreted to mean merely a ‘delighter
of the Raghu family’ because then it could stand for anyone. It cannot be taken to mean anything but
explain these terms with the legend recorded by Naiñasī, that Guhadatta was
brought up by a Brahmin after his father’s death and therefore the first ten
generations from himself observed the rites prescribed for the sacerdotal order.
Hence, though they were really Kshatriyas in extraction, they were regarded as
Brahmins. But the tradition recorded by Naiñasī is very late without a single
evidence in the earlier sources and therefore of little probative value. Considering
it suggests the Deccan as the Guhilas' place of origin consistent with the Tuzūk (see
note# 13) it appears to have incorporated many later myths.
However, the clinching evidence which none of the earlier writers had access to
was found later: a manuscript with the complete text (copied 1670 CE) 33 of the
second of the Kuṃbhalgaḍh slabs (Fig. 14), an inscription of Rāñā
Kuṃbhakarña, installed in Māmadēva (Kuṃbhasvāmin) temple dated
November 3, 1460. The last section of the slab which contains the vaṁśa-varñana
(verses 106-111) puts the identity of Bāpa beyond any scope of doubt. It states:
“Bāpa, a highly learned Brahman from Ānaṇdapura34, left his home with his
trusty followers and came to Nāgada in the wild tract of Mēwāḍ. He served
Hārīta, who being pleased with him conferred upon him the dignity of a
Rāma, the most illustrious scion of the Raghu family and the son of Daśaratha respectively. The word
‘viprakulanaṇdana’ in the verse can hence only mean a son or an illustrious scion of the Brahmin family
from Ānaṇdapura. Why would, besides, a certain Brahmin family from Ānaṇdapura be so important
that even the king derived fame from its mention, except the consequence that he actually came
from that family?
M.S. entitled ‘Prashasti Sangraha’ of Saraswati Bhawan Library, pp. 73-74 (Dr. G. N. Sharma, ob. cit.)
This place, according to G. N. Sharma, is identified on the basis of ‘Amarakāvyavaṁśāvalī’ (वित्रकूटस्य
आनवन्दपुरनामकं पुरं पुरासीन्ह अधनु ा अरुर्ादावभधानः) as modern day Arnoḋa near Ćittauḍ. (ibid.)
This agrees with C. V. Vaidya’s view that Ānaṇdapura is to be identified with Nāgahṛda, modern Nāgadā
near Udaipur. He in turn cited the Ćittauḍgaḍh inscription of 1274 CE (इलाखण्ड अिवनभषू र्ः (verse 8) जीयद
आनन्दपुरम् िद् इह पुरं इलाखण्डसौन्दयणशोवभ) whereby ‘iha’ indicates that Ānaṇdapura was within Mēwāḍ. The verse
describes both Ānaṇdapura and Nāgahṛda as ornaments of Ilākhaṇḋa implying they were probably in the
same part of the country (अवस्ि नागहृदनम् सायं इह पट्टनम).
This view is further supported by the fact that Āhāḍa, ancient Āghāṭa, was known as Ānaṇdapura. (Asiatic
Researches, vol. II, p. 912)
Ibid. (हारीिरावशमवु नयुगिपादमद्यसेिाप्त
The Aćalēśwar and
mentioned earlier
describe the same
qualifying phrase
(विप्र विप्रतिप्रबोधमधुि तम्
introduces Bāpa in
a manner which
affords no ground
for doubting his
Brahmin. It explains
Ćhatris of Rajput kings in Āhāḍ, ancient Āghāṭa or Ānaṇdapura (Source: Varun Surana)
why the word ‘vipra’
is used consistently in all references to indicate his origin from a Brahmin line. 36 If
in some subsequent epigraphs Bāpa and his successors have been referred to as
Kshatriyas, it is owing to the status acquired by the grace of Hārītarāśi. The term
brahmakśatrī is therefore used for Bāppa’s successor, Bhartṛpaṭṭa II, in the Ćātsu
inscription, indicating they were Brahmins admitted to the orders of Kshatriyas.
The question of Rajputs' origin is too complicated to be settled within a short
simplistic conclusion, but the contents of the above inscription removes all room
for interpretation of the words dwija or vipra attempted by Dr Ojha.37 In the epic
age, the function of a Brahmin was both learning and war. Hence, while the term
dwija etymologically may mean Kshatriya, and likewise vipra may mean one who
sows virtue, it usually means a Brahmin and is used as such.38 In the quoted verses
G. N. Sharma, ob. cit.
Ibid. (See also Note# 7)
Interestingly, Dr M. L. Mathur himself translates the word dwija as Brahmin in the phrase ‘dwija-guru-jana’.
(IHQ Vol. XXIV, p. 274)
The word dwija occurs repeatedly in Guhila inscriptions itself to denote exclusively a Brahmin.
In a 688 CE copper plate grant of Bābhaṭa, of the Kiṣkindhā branch of Guhilas, two words, ‘dwijagaña’ and
Hārītarāśi himself is referred to as ‘dwijēndra’. “History of the late early and early
medieval times is full of examples39 of many Kshatriya dynasties which trace their
origins from Brahmans.”
The persistence of these writers to prove that the Guhilas descended from pure
Kshatriya line brushing aside the obvious epigraphical references to their Brahmin
origins, needs treatment at this point. One of its chief proponents, C. V. Vaidya, was
of the opinion that only the purest Kshatriya blood flows in the veins of the Rajputs.
This was the view of Pt. G. H. Ojha as well. But among Kshatriyas he also included
the Kuṣāñas, Śakas, Pahlavas and many other Aryan and non-Aryan groups who,
as per him, lost their claim to Kshatriyahood after losing contact with the
Brahmins.40 So instead of rejecting the foreign origin view he actually made a
compromise between the two extremities of Tod/Crooke41 and Vaidya. Ojha tried
to support his view about the pure Kshatriya descent of Rajputs quoting Manu’s
word, that the Pauṇdrakas, Ćolas, Draviḍas, Kaṃbōjas, Yavanas, Śakas, Paradas,
Pahlavas, Chīnas, Kirātas and Daradas were fallen Kshatriyas who sank to the
condition of śūdras as a consequence of omission of the sacred rites and remaining
away from the brāhmañas42. Needless to say, such supposititious claims go beyond
the sphere of valid historical testimony and reasoning.43 It is unimaginable that the
Chīnas or Śakas could ever have been originally ‘Brahminical Kshatriyas’! The
Mahābharata lists many of these tribes as non-Ayrans, and in the Mahābhāṣya, the
Śakas and Yavanas are named as Śūdras. Fact is, that many warrior clans from
‘dwijavasatiḥ’, occur in reference to Brahmins. It is used in the same sense (‘dwijajanasya’) in the 944 CE
Āhāḍ inscription of Bhartṛpaṭṭa. The 953 CE Sāranēśvara temple inscription of Allāṭa names one
Vasantarāja among the members of the temple committee, prefixed with dwija, to the exception of the
other members, which includes, among others, Allāṭa himself and his son Naravāhana. If the term were to
denote ‘twice-born’ in the sense of the Smṛtis, this would mean that all the other members of the
committee were Shudras, including the king and his son! An impossibility, to say the least.
Mirashi Vakataka Ins. Cave XVI at Ajanta, at Hyderabad, Arch Series No. 14, p. 10; Deopara Praśasti
Epigrahia Indica I. pp. 307ff; K. P. Jayaswal, JBORS, March-June 1923, pp. 180-183; Epig. Karnatika—
Kadambas, Vol. VII, p. 178
Rājpūtānē kā Itihāsa, part I, pp. 49ff
James Tod (1782-1835) and William Crooke (1848-1923), both held the view that the Rajputs were
descendants of the Central Asian Scythians.
Manusmṛti, X. 43-44
Dr Dasharatha Sharma, ob. cit.
among foreign groups were continually absorbed in the Hindu social order down
the ages. The Rajput lineages descended from Ilā and Ikśvākus too must have
continued (when other castes survived, the Kshatriyas need not have disappeared).
But, irrespective of the specific question of the Sisōdiās, the suggestion of pure
Kshatriya lineage of all Rajputs is by itself ridiculous.
We go over some of the arguments on which Pt. Ojha based his theory:
As one of the evidences he drew attention to was a gold coin 44 on which he read
the legend Śrī Voppa on one side and on the reverse, several symbols, among them
one which is taken to represent the Sun. Pt. Ojha attributed the coin to Bāpa and
further urged that the Sun is indicative of his solar lineage of the Epic and Purāñic
fame. But the reading of the legend on this coin as ‘Śrī Voppa’ is considered flawed
by experts.45 Moreover, none of the coins were found anywhere within the
limits of Mēwāḍ. Inferring a link to the Guhilas is tenuous at best, much farther to
their supposed Suryavaṁśī lineage from it. There is no evidence whatsoever that
the princes of Guhila family ever used gold for their coinage. Also, the appearance
of Sun on the coin of a particular ruler does not necessarily prove descent from the
solar family.
Ojha's second argument was based on the Ēkliṇgji Inscription of Naravahana, 971
CE, placed in the Lakulīśa temple (also known as ‘Nātha Praśasti’). He held that the
sages of the Lakulīśa-Pāśupāta sect (the ascetics of Ēkalinga, whose successors
officiate as the priests of the deity and act as preceptors of the Guhilas) have been
described therein as Raghuvaṁśakīrtipiśuñāḥ (the acclaimer of the fame of
Raghuvaṁśa from the Himālayas to Sētubaṇdha Rāmēśvara), which in fact must
Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (1927) p. 273 (pt. II); Numismatic Supplement XXIII, pp. 14-18;
Nāgarī Prachāriñī Patrikā I (1921) No. 3, pp. 241-285
The legend inscribed on a similar coin was read by Indologist and philologist A. F. Rudolf Hoernlé as ‘Śrī
Dhairyarāja’ and by Donum Burns as ‘Śrī Vigraha’. Acclaimed historian and antiquarian, Dr Anant Sadashiv
Altekar observed that it should read as ‘Dhōgarāja’ or ‘Dhopparāja’ or ‘Vopparāja’ or ‘Vōgharāja’.
(Raychaudhuri, ob. cit.)
To prove on the strength of this coin “that the Guhilots were solar Kṣatriyas ... decisiveness can be there
only if, (a) the reading of the legend on the coin be certain, (b) the interpretation of the symbol be right,
(c) the findspot and other indications favour its ascription to the Guhila dynasty of Mewār. The coin in
question fulfils none of these conditions.” (Malati Sharma, ob. cit.)
represent the glory of the Sisōdiā line of kings.46 Bhandarkar had edited this
inscription in Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Vol. XXII,
pp. 166ff) to read: “योवगनः सापानुग्रहभमू यो वहमवशला बन्धोज्ज्िलादावगरेरासेिो रघिु ंशकीविणवपशनु ावत्रव्रं िपः…” (in
which the phrase ‘रघिु ंशकीविणवपशनु ाि्’ ends with the fifth-case ending, which, in his mind,
could not be taken to qualify the word ‘योवगनः’ and therefore translated it to qualify
the word ‘आसेिो’). Bhandarkar left a note suggesting this emendation of the
word ‘वपशनु ावस्िव्र’ं with ‘वपशनु ावत्रव्र’ं , which Ojha and Vaidya both accepted47 but were
dissatisfied with his interpretation on the subject it predicated. The same epigraph
can be found in another publication, ‘Bhavnagar Inscriptions’ of Peter Peterson,
from which we get the reading ‘रघिु ंशकीविणवपशनु ात्तीव्रं’ (approximate to ‘रघिु ंशकीविणवपशनु ावत्रव्रं’),
which also ends with the fifth-case qualifying the word ‘आसेिो’. There can be no
doubt therefore that this is the correct reading which refers to the bridge in the
South (sētu) as the mark of glory of Śrī Rāmaćaṇdra of the Raghu family.48
Ascribing the fame of Raghukula to the Lakulīśa sages and through them
transposing it to the Sisōdiās is indeed a wide stretch!
Ojha (and Mathur, whose litany was a mere repetition of Ojha) put forth a third
argument based on the 977 CE Āṭpur inscription, which describes Naravāhana as
‘kśatrakśētraṁ’. The term was interpreted by him to mean ‘क्षवत्रयों का क्षेत्र’ or ‘क्षवत्रयों का
उत्पवत्तस्िान’, the provenance of the Kshatriyas. But this is again modification of the
exact word to suit a preset purpose. More precisely translated the word would
simply mean ‘the repository (kśētra) of marital prowess (kśātra)’ or the field of
action of Kshatriyas where the Guhilas distinguished themselves. The attribution to
a ‘place of origin’ is simply absent and forced by Ojha. The origin of Kshatriyas
moreover cannot be said to be localised to a specific place. He also cites the
Rājpūtānē kā Itihāsa, part I, p. 377
1) Ojha (Rājpūtāne kā Itihāsa, part I, 379 n.)
2) Vaidya (History of Mediaeval Hindu India, Being a History of India From 600 to 1200 A.D., vol. II, 333 n.)
1) Raychaudhuri ob. cit.
2) “Defining the setu as a proclaimer of the glory of Raghuvaṁśa is poetically apt and factually accurate,
for what could really be a greater monument to Rāma's glory than the Adam's bridge which he ... [caused
to be] constructed ... Regarding the descendants of Hārīta as kīrtipiśunas of the Raghuvaṁśins would not
only be less poetic, it would also involve an emendation much less justifiable. (One might add that the
word ‘kīrtipiśuna’ looks rather inappropriate for the family of an āćārya.)” (Malati Sharma, ob. cit.)
association of the Sun with Bāpa in this inscription to reinforce his view about the
origin from the solar lineage. But this too is a weak argument as the term used
therein is ‘Arkasama’ (meaning resplendent as the Sun), not as belonging to
Arkakula or Sūryavaṁśa or Saptāśvavaṁśa.
The earliest mentions of the Guhila rulers to their roots contain none of the claims
of prestigious origins but simple expressions like ‘Guhilānvaya’49,
‘svakulāṃbaraćaṇdramāḥ’50, without any reference to their varña. This is
sometimes pointed to as making the Brahmin origin of the Guhilas uncertain. But
by no means within the Hindu varñāśrama can non-Brahmins be made
Brahmins or claim Brahminhood for themselves or the descendants of
Kshatriyas become Brahmins or that they shift back-and-forth from Kshatriya
to Brahmin and then back to Kshatriya (clearly use of a lot of imagination to
reconcile epigraphic evidence with Naiñasī's lore! One however that is wholly
inconsistent with Shastraic injuctions as well as contemporary practice.) If the
Guhilas called themselves Brahmins in 977 CE, their forefathers would have to be
Brahmins too. Neither would the need arise for calling themselves brahmakśatrī
unless they at least in some part derived descent from Brahmins or were previously
Brahmins who took to arms and saw this status as a means to promulgate the new
vocation. In case of the Guhilas, unlike the Pratihāras, as there is no claim, neither
legendary nor factual, to have originated from a mix of the two castes, only the
latter explanation can possibly apply that they descended from Brahmins. And
within Guhila inscriptions we find clear references which explain this transition as
stemming from the benediction received from the Pāśupata sage Hārītarāśi.
Needless to say, there would be no reason to call themselves brahmakśatrīs had
they been pure Kshatriyas.
From 10th century onwards we find numerous inscriptions describing their origins
from an esteemed line of Brahmins, references to which we find right up till the
16th century. This indicates a coming to prominence of the family and the need to
proclaim their antecedents. Many of the subsequent epigraphs also describe them
Nāgadā inscription of Aparājita, of 661 CE (Epigraphia Indica, vol. IV, p. 31)
Used for Śilāditya in the Sāṃbhaolī inscription of 646 CE
as brahmakśhatrīs indicating they took to arms having belonged earlier to the
sacerdotal order.
It is not until the 13th century that we find references in some of the epigraphs in
which the Guhilas call themselves Kshatriyas, e.g., the Ćittauḍgaḍh inscription of
1278 CE51, in which the Guhilas (Guhilaputra Siṁha) are called Kshatriya, and the
1428 Śṛngī Ṛṣī inscription of Mokāla52, in which Kśētrasiṁha is described as ‘kśētra
Kśatrīyavaṁśamaṇḋanamañi’ or the jewel adorning the Kshatriya race. This
indicates a stage in their history when the Guhilas established themselves among
the class of rulers, which was in fact the case, as it was in this period that Jaitrasiṁha
(1213-1261 CE) captured Ćittauḍ fort and the family were catapulted from being
feudatories of the previous potentates (a later Mauryan dynasty) to the status of
rulers of Mēwāḍ.
But for finding a trace of solar lineage one must travel ahead to a much later period
in the time of Mokāla when we find the first fragmentary inscription53 which refers
to Saptāśvavaṁśa (i.e. the Solar line) of the Guhilas, the ‘head of the princes’. In the
Nādalāi Ādinātha temple inscription of Rāimala, of 1500 CE 54 we find the first
reference to the Guhila forebears Guhadatta, Bāpa and Khummāña as Sūryavaṁśī
kings (सयु णिंशीय महाराजावधराज श्री वशलावदत्यिंशे). As ruling families in the past are known to have
constructed elaborate genealogies to trace their line to legendary characters of
Puranic fame in order to assert the ascendancy of their house, this point needs no
elaboration. There are some sources which also hint at a connection with the lunar
lineage (in the Nādalāi inscription, one of the Guhilōt princes is called
‘mṛgāṇkavaṁśadyōtakāraka’; a later tradition linking the Guhilas to the Paurava
family—a lunar lineage according to some Purāñas—is recorded by some 17th
century writers like Thomas Roe and François Bernier).
J.A.S.B., LV Pt. I, p. 48
Epigraphia Indica, vol. XXIII, pp. 234-237
Annual Report of the Rajputana Museum, Ajmer, for the year 1931-32 , p. 4
Nāgarī Prachāriñī Patrikā I, p. 268
But the central point is: the Sisōdiās are not known to have ever abjured their
Brahmin roots. Rāñā Kuṃbhā had no hesitation in calling Bāpa a Brahmin in his
‘Rasikapriya’. The Guhilas' Brahmin origins was a fact both officially stated and
popularly known. It is noted in their inscriptions, from Āṭpur inscription, 977 CE
(वििकुलनन्दनो महीदेि), Ćātsu inscription, 986 CE (ब्रह्मक्षत्रावन्ििो ... भिृमहो), the 1274 CE Rasiyāki
Ćhatri inscription (यस्याः आगत्य वििः खपरु दवधमटीिेवदवनवक्षपायगु ो । बापाख्योिीिरागश्वरर्यगु मपु ासीि हारीि राशैः
॥) and Rāyamal inscription, 1488 CE (श्रीमेड़पाटभवु िनागह्यदेपरु े नूिाष्यो विजः); and recorded in
literary works (in Ēkaliṇga-mahātmyaṁ55, Naiñasī quoting a ćhappaya56 and stated
in Rañćhōḍa Bhaṭṭa's57 ‘Rājapraśasti’58.)
Aćalgaḍh Fort built by Rāña Kuṃbhakarña, wherein the Aćalēśvara Mahādēva temple is situated (Source: Mount Abu Tourism)
हारीिाप्पेगमत्स्िगण बाप्पो राजाबभिू ः ।
क्षात्रेर्कंसर्ा पृथ्िीं शशास सः विजोत्तम ॥ (‘Ēkaliṇga-mahātmya’, canto 10, vv. 12-13)
उत्पवत्त ब्रह्मवपर्(पार्ा) खत्री (क्षत्री) जाम्र्ं आनन्दपुरा वसर्ागार नयर आहोर बखार्ां” – नैर्सी री ख्याि
(“A brāhmaña is the first cause of extraction [of the Guhilōt], but [we] regard [him] as a kśatrīya. He is the
ornament of Ānaṇdapura, [and] his [capital] town, we say, was Āhōra.”)
A Brahmin from Telangana tasked by Mahārāñā Rāj Singh (1629-80 CE) to document his reign.
भििाष्यस्िस्याज्ञािः िसाहिः । अगस्त्य शस्त्यं िबभिू बाप्पः ॥” (‘Rājapraśasti Mahākāvyaṁ’–1676)
Apparently, the priestly function once exercised by the Mēwāḍ Rāñās’ ancestors
survived until recent times. We are told by Tod that “the Rāṇā of Mewar mingles
spiritual duties with those of royalty, and when he attends the temple of the
tutelary deities of his race he performs himself all the offices of the high priest for
the day. The Rāṇā is called ‘Ekaliṅga ka Dewān’.”59
Another 19th century work, Tarīḳh-i-Mālawā, by Munshi Karimuddin, makes a
reference to the Brahmin origin of the Guhilas.60 As late as the 20th century
Maulvi Abdul Farhati in the time of Rāñā Fateh Singh states in his ‘Tōhfāh-iRājasthān’ that the Rāñās of Mēwāḍ were originally Brahmins. Unfortunately, the
book was proscribed by the then Governor of Mēwāḍ, and the damage to the
second slab also appears part of a deliberate action of some people who did not
like to see that such record exists.61 This is the same kind of fanaticism pointed
out at the beginning of this article in suppressing the facts about the origin of
several of the Rajput clans in order to preserve the deliberately constructed
fiction of their caste purity. This is very similar to the bigotry with which Sikhs
attempt to forge separateness from Hinduism.
There are a million such notional spheres with which Indians identify themselves
and seek validation when they interact in the social media world, each with their
set of drivers and triggers, but few with a basis in genuine sources of knowledge.
What is truly missing among Indians (still!) is the bigger picture which few ever
We will look at some more fascinating stories of the origins of some of India’s
ruling dynasties in subsequent sections of this series.
‘Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan’, vol. I; published by Abalakanta Sen (p. 25n)
‘Lectures on Rajput History’, Anil Chandra Banerjee (pp. 24-26)
Dr G. N. Sharma (ob. cit.)