Hinduism: Details about 'Gurjara'
Gujar (also Gujjar, Gurjar, or Gurjara, the Sanskrit form found in some literature) is a member of a South Asian ethnic group mainly located in eastern Pakistan, Kashmir, Gujarat and northwestern India. Gurjars traditionally belonged to the Kshatriya caste, and formerly ruled the Gurjara-Pratihara Kingdom, which included much of northern India during the 8th and 9th centuries.
Gujjars are possibly the partial descendents of any number of Eurasian peoples, including the Scythians, Georgians, and Khazars of the Caspian Sea, who took part in the Scythian invasions of South Asia from the 5th century BCE to the 1st century CE or some other Turko-Iranian tribes that merged with local Indo-Aryan-speaking groups, mainly settling in the Gujarat, Punjab and Kashmir regions. These sun-worshipping and Buddhist tribes ruled kingdoms covering much of present-day Afghanistan, Punjab, NWFP, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana,Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka, Andra Pradesh and Orissa.
The Gujjars of today are mainly a combination of local South Asian peoples who have absorbed Central Asian elements over time. Many Gujjars are well represented in agriculture, the urban professions, civil service and officer class. They are now settled on large tracts of lands in India and Pakistan. They are known as very good farmers.
The majority of the Gujjars are found in what is today Pakistan - numbering 33 million, while India has the second largest Gujjar population - numbering 30 million. The Gujjars are characterized by their strong and large build. The majority of Gujjars today are Muslim, although there is also a significant Hindu and Sikh population of Gujjars who go with the title of Choudhary, Kasana, Bhadana, Patel. Gujars are sizeable in number in the disputed state of Kashmir, and can also be found as minorities in Afghanistan and Iran. They speak their mother tongues of Gujarati in India/Sindh (Pakistan) and Gujari/Gojri elsewhere in Pakistan - regardless of their religion or region. The Gurjars of Kashmir, Rajsthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and even Pakistan speak the same language, 'Gujari/Gojri', which is very similar to Marwari or Rajasthani, and Gujarati, of course.
The presence of the Gujjars in India is first attested after the 5th-century invasion of India by the Hunas (Huns). Dadda, the founder of Pratihara dynasty, established
a kingdom at Nandipur (Nandol) in the 7th century. Dadda III wrestled Broach from the ruling Maitraka dynasty of Gujarat. Like the other Rajput clans, the Gurjara-Pratiharas trace their origins to a lineage or race (vanshi), which they call the Great RaghuKul Vanshi, also called the Ram Chandra Vanshi. Some historians call them Suryavanshi, while some diffrentiate them as Agnivanshi.
With the decline of Buddhism in the 8th-10th centuries in parts of northwest India, and the rise of Brahmanism, Gurjars were mainly assimilated either into the Kshatriya or brahmins castes. The majority of Gujars fall into Kshatriya, evident from their sub-caste names of Chauhan and Kasana (kisan i.e.farmers). Gurjars in India also go with the surname Patel, most of them are resident of Gujarat. They, like in Pakistan, are farmers and land-owners similar to 'zamindar' and Choudhary, but in some quarters are viewed as from the more illiterate/backward castes. Rajputs are also actually Gujjars in essence . The Gurjars once ruled over a large area of Northern India under the name of the Gurjara-Pratihara kingdom. Muslim Arab conquests in the 8th century and the rise of Sufism in the 11th century predominantly influenced many Gujjars to convert to Islam. Islam rejects cast classifaction of humanbeings, and with the rise of Islam the Muslim Gujjars no longer adhered to the Kshatriya classifications, but retained their sub-clan names as a form of tribal recognition. Following the rise of Sikhism in the 16th century, many Hindu tribes in eastern Punjab became converted to the Sikh faith. Place names such as Gujaranwala, Gujar Kot, Gujar Khan and Gujrat in Pakistan and the state of Gujarat in India were named after the Gurjars. It is believed the Gurjars of Gujarat (India) settled there sometime in the 5th/6th century.
Dr. Huthi of Georgia paid a visit to India in 1967 and studied the Gujars living in northern India. He has stated that there are Georgian tribes among the Indian Gujars, because their accent, their dress, and their bullock carts resemble those of Georgians. Oral traditions of the tribe, and some archaeological evidence (particularly cultural and phonetic) suggest that the word Gujar is a derivation of Gurjara and sounds like "Gurjiya/Georgia" (Gurjiya or Gurjistan being the Persian name for Georgia) - indicating that the Gujar tribe is partially of Caucasian/Central Asian origin (Georgia-Chechnya etc). Dr. Huthi is of the view that they came to India when Timur held a reign of terror over them, and consequently they settled here. They came here to protect their lives and religion, and called themselves by the Persian word for "Georgian", "Gurjis". Later this word was presumably changed into "Gurjar" or "Gujjar" or "Gujur"(particularly in Afghanistan).
There is also a community of
Gurjars living in the coastal Konkan region of Maharashtra, inhabiting Pangre, Hasol, and other villages in Raipur District. Originally bearing the name Gurjar-Padhye, most now prefer to call themselves Gurjar. The community may have been living in Konkan region for at least three centuries, although this estimate may be inaccurate. These Gurjars belong to the Brahmin caste and are called the Karhade Brahmin. Their native language is Marathi. Gurjar-Padhyes may have been a group of Gurjars who migrated from northern India to settle down in the Konkan region, although it is difficult to explain why and how Gurjars in Konkan became Brahmins rather than Kshatriyas.
It appears that the Gujjar population was absorbed into the Hindu society and they belonged to the Varna of their profession. Dr Dashrath Sharma (Rajsthan Through the Ages, pp 105) ascribes the origin of the Solankis, Parmars, the Guhil/Gohils and the Chauhan (Rajput clans) to the Brahmins. However, we know from the works of other scholors that the Solanki and Parmar were actually descendants of the Gujjars who came to India from pre-Islamic Persia in large numbers. However, it is interesting to note that in Rajasthan there is a caste called Gurjar Brahmana which is considered a very high caste of Brahmins.
Timeline - Northern Indus Valley
Persians (600 BC) - Greeks (326 BC) - Mauryan Indians (323 BC) - Local Greeks (180 BC) - Parthians (90 BC) - Kushans (30 AD) - Sassanians (300 AD) - White Huns (455 AD) - Sassanian/Western GokTurk Alliance (565 AD) - Turki Shahi (600 AD) - Arab caliphates up to Multan (713 AD) - Hindu Shahi (870 AD) - Ghaznavids (1000 AD) - Ghorids (1192 AD).
There are currently about 900 subcastes or subtribes within the Gurjars. The more well-known of them are:
(Note: some subcastes maybe related to an ancient place of origin, a profession or both). Also see Indo-Greek Kingdom.
Many of these clans are also cross-listed as Rajput, Jat, and Khatri, especially Sodhi, Sial, Kashyap, Kakkar (Khakkar/Ghakkar), Rai, and Walia. Of course, Singh is a warrior-chieftain title common to Rajput, Jat, and Gujar tribes (all three being Kshatriya subgroups). It is not entirely clear in the case of many clans and surnames exactly which subdivision of Kshatriya they belong to. For much of Indian history, Rajput and Kshatriya have been synonymous, and later, Rajput came to denote only those Kshatriyas belonging to certain clans descended from rulers, therefore Rajputra (or sons of kings). Eventually, Scythian, Parthian Greek, and various other Central Asian tribal peoples (such as the Ephthalite or 'White' Huns and the Tokharis or Yueh-Chi) were absorbed into the Kshatriya caste, given their warlike nature, and thus became one of the subgroups or in many cases, assimilated completely into older Indo-Aryan clans. It is probable that Khatris, Rajputs, Jats, and Gujars, along with other Kshatriya subgroups, have varying degrees of both foreign and indigenous Indian stock. In many parts, it is largely due to familial tradition that some members of a certain clan dub themselves Rajput and others of the same clan, Jat, Gujar, or even Khatri. This is more so in the Punjab, where there was already a large indigenous Kshatriya population when the invading tribes arrived.
Famous Gujjars in history
For an explanation of ancient names of Central Asia (pre-Turko-Mongolian era.) see the 'Buddhist Records of the Western Countries,' written by Hsien-tsang (Xuanzang), circa 650 AD, taken from translations by Thomas Watters (1904) and Samuel Beal (1884),
Note the following ancient town names: