The Rajputs (from the Sanskrit ''rāja putra, "son of a king") are a social group of northern India and Gujarat. In the Hindi and Gujarati languages, those belonging to the Kshattriya caste of Hindus are generally referred to as "Rajputs"
The use of the term "rājaputra", precursor to "Rajput", is first found in the 7th century AD. Evidently, the use of the term "Rajput" originated in the areas that form the present-day states of Rajasthan (formerly named Rajputana) and Gujarat and spread only gradually to other Hindi-speaking areas; the Kshattriyas of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh still do not generally self-describe as rajputs. The association of this term with Rajasthan and Gujarat is definite; even in areas where the term is used widely, the people referred to as "Rajputs" tend to ascribe an origin in those areas to themselves.
Rajput dynasties played a very prominent role in the history of northern India. Furthermore, the rajputs developed an ethos of warlike chivalry that served as the benchmark, in past centuries, for other Indian communities as they ascended to regional dominance. This muscular ethos did not preclude patronage of the arts: distinctive forms of painting and architecture developed under the aegis of rajput courts, and classical music found support. Thus, the rajputs have contributed directly and indirectly to many facets of the Indian crasis; a detailment of some of these should be of interest to historians, sociologists, political scientists and Indologists among others.
The traditional occupations of the Rajput are war and agriculture. As many scholars have pointed out, these areas lend themselves uniquely to the ingress of groups that were formerly not affiliated with the community that previously dominated those professions. The gradual accomodation of the new entrants into the social and family circle of the traditional community is the essential quid pro quo of the Sanskritization that the aspirant community essays. This phenomenon of gradual inclusion has indubitably obtained in the case of the Rajputs, with certain Jat and Maratha dynasties being among the most recent to venture the claim of affiliation with the Rajput community. In view of this, to seek a single and common, definitive origin for every present-day rajput is widely recognised as being an exercise in futility. However, we present both the traditional view and certain scholarly speculations made by researchers on the origin of the Rajputs.
As Kshattriyas, the Rajputs regard themselves as being descended from the Vedic warrior class. Legend ascribe to the Rajputs an origin springing from certain Hindu deities; every rajput must eventually belong to one of three great lineages, being:
The origin of the Gurjars is uncertain. Many Gurjars claim descent from Suryavanshi Kshatriyas (Sun Dynasty) and connect themselves with the Hindu deity Rama. Historically, the Gurjars were Sun-worshipers and are described as devoted to the feet of the Sun-god (God Surya).Their copper-plate grants bear an emblem of the Sun and on their seals too, this symbol is depicted. Also the Gurjar title of honor is Mihir which means Sun. Ancient Sanskrit Poet Rajasekhara in his plays styled Gurjar rulers as Raghu-kula-tilaka (Ornament of the race of Raghu), Raghu-gramani (the leader of the Raghus)and so forth.
In Ramayana, it is described that a war was fought among demons and gods.Gurjars fought against demons under the leadership of King Dasharatha. There is also references of gurjar widows in Yoga Vasistha, whose husbands laid down their lives in the battlefield, having their heads tonsured as a mark of their bravement. In Mahabharata war also Gurjars fought and later on along with lord Krishna migrated from Mathura to Dwarka, Gujarat.
The Gurjar clan appeared in northern India about the time of the Huna invasions of northern India. Some scholars, such as V. A. Smith, believed that the Gurjars were foreign immigrants, possibly a branch of Hephthalites (“White Huns“). Mr. Devadatta Ramakrishna Bhandarkar (D. B. Bhandarkar) (1875–1950) believed that Gurjars came into India with the Hunas, and their name “Gujar” was sanskritized to “Gurjara” or “Gūrjara”. He also believed that several places in Central Asia, such as “Gurjistan”, are named after the Gujars and that the reminiscences of Gujar migration is preserved in these names. General Cunningham identified the Gurjars with Yuezhi or Tocharians.
General Cunningham and A. H. Bingley consider the Gurjars as descendants of Kushan/Yueh-chi or Tocharians of Indo-Scythian stock. In the past, Gurjars have also been hypothesized to be descended from the nomadic Khazar tribes, although the history of Khazars shows an entirely different politico-cultural ethos In Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, the British civil servant James M. Campbell identified Gujars with Khazars. Scott Cameron Levi, in his The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade, 1550-1900, mentions Kazar (Khazar, could also refer to Kassar) and Kujar (Gujar) as two different tribes with links to Central Asia.Some others claim that the Gurjar caste is related to the Chechens and the Georgians, and argue that Georgia was traditionally called “Gujaristan” (actually Gorjestan). However, there is little evidence for such claims. The word “Georgia” derived from the Arabic and Persian word Gurj, and not Gujjar or Gurjar.
A 2009 study conducted by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, under the supervision of Gujjar scholar Dr.Javaid Rahi, claimed that the word “Gujar” has a Central Asian Turkic origin, written in romanized Turkish as Göçer. Study claimed that according to the new research, the Gurjar race “remained one of the most vibrant identity of Central Asia in BC era and later ruled over many princely states in northern India for hundred of years”.
According to Scholars such as Baij Nath Puri, Mount Abu (ancient Arbuda Mountain) region of present day Rajasthan had been abode of the Gurjars during medieval period. The association of the Gurjars with the mountain is noticed in many inscriptions and epigraphs including Tilakamanjari of Dhanpala. These Gurjars migrated from Arbuda mountain region and as eatly as sixth century A.D, they set up one or more principalities in Rajasthan and Gujarat.Whole or a larger part of Rajasthan and Gujarat had been long known as Gurjaratra (country ruled or protected by the Gurjars) or Gurjarabhumi (land of the Gurjars) for centuries prior to Mughal period.
The sociologist G. S. Ghurye believes that the name Gujjar is derived from the principal profession followed by the tribe: cattle-breeding (the Sanskrit word for cow is gau and the old Hindi word for sheep is gadar)., though “Gujjar” has come from “Gurjar” which is a sanskrit word which according to Sanskrit Dictionary (Shakabada1181), has been explained thus: Gur+jar; ‘Gur’ means ‘enemy’ and ‘jar’ means ‘destroyer’. The word means “Destroyer of the enemy” The word “Gurjar” predicts the qualities of a warrior community.
The Gurjara-Pratihara kingdom and other contemporary kingdoms.
According to some historical accounts, the kingdom with capital at Bhinmal (or Srimal) was established by the Gurjars. A minor kingdom of Bharuch was the offshoot of this Kingdom. In 640-41 CE, the Chinese traveller Xuanzang (Hieun Tsang) described the kingdoms of Su-la-cha (identified with Saurashtra) and Kiu-che-lo (identified with Gurjara) in his writings. He stated that the Gurjaras ruled a rich and populous kingdom with capital at Bhinmal (Pilo-mo-lo). According to his expositor, M. Vivien de St. Martin, Su-la-cha represents the modern Gujarat, and Kiu-che-lo (Gurjjara), “the country of the Gujars”, represents the region between Anhilwara and the Indus River, i.e. Sindh region.
Vincent Smith believed that the Pratihara dynasty, which ruled a large kingdom in northern India from the 6th to the 11th centuries, and has been mentioned as “Gurjara-Pratiharas” in an inscription, was certainly of Gurjara origin. Smith also stated that there is possibility of other Agnikula Kshatriya clans being of same origin. Dr. K. Jamanadas also states that the Pratihara clan descended from the Gurjars, and this “raises a strong presumption that the other Rajput clans also are the descendants from the Gurjaras or the allied foreign immigrants”. D. B. Bhandarkar also believed that Pratiharas were a clan of Gurjars. In his book The Glory that was Gujardesh (1943), Gurjar writer K. M. Munshi stated that the Padhiyars, the Paramaras and the Solankis were imperial Gujjars.
According a number of scholars Chauhan was a prominent clan of Gurjars.
H. A. Rose and Denzil Ibbetson stated that there is no conclusive proof that the Agnikula Rajput clans are of Gurjara origin; they believed that there is possibility of the indigenous tribes adopting Gurjara names, when their founders were enfiefed by Gurjara rulers. Some other historians believe that although some sections of the Pratiharas (e.g. the one to which Mathanadeva belonged) were Gurjars by caste, the Pratiharas of Kannauj were not Gurjars and there was no Gurjara empire in Northern India in 8th and 9th century., though from the work of other historians it has been known that Kannauj was capital of Gurjara-Pratihara.
Chavdas, also known as Gurjar Chapas was also one of the ruling clans of Gurjars, who extended the power of the race in the south.
The pratiharas belonged to the same clan that of Gurjaras was proved by the “Rajor inscription”.From the phrase “Gurjara Pratiharanvayah” inscribed in the “Rajor inscription”. It is known that the Pratiharas belonged to the Gurjara clan.The Rashtrakuta records and the Arabian chronicles also identify the Pariharas with Gurjaras.Over the years, the Gurjars were assimilated mainly into the castes of Kshatriya varna, although some Gurjar groups (such as Gaur Gurjars of central India) are classified as Brahmins.During the Muslim rule, many of the Gurjars converted to Islam. With the rise of Islam, Muslim Gujjars no longer adhered to their Kshatriya or Brahmin classification but retained clan names as a form of tribal recognition.Places such as Gujranwala, Gujar Khan, Gujar Kot, Gujrat in Pakistan and the state of Gujarat in India are a testament to the Gurjar influence in the past. The name for the state of Gujarat has derived from “Gurjar”.