Rajputs

Rajput race

Before writing anything about the Sengar clan of Rajputs it is essential first to define what the word Rajput originally means. The word “Rajput” is derived from two Sanskrit words Raj (or Raja) which means sovereign or king- and Put (or Putra) which means sons or descendants. The term Rajput therefore signifies descendants of the royal family, Before the advent of the Mohammedan power in India, the rulers of Hindustan were mainly Rajputs and the various tribes and sects into which this grand race is subdivided are directly descended from one or other of the then ruling princes.

“The political importance of Rajputs in India is well-known. Their past history is a glorious one, and although it is long since they have been shorn of their ancient greatness, yet it cannot be said even now that they have no importance whatever.”[1] “If we compare the antiquity and illustrious descent of the dynasties which have ruled, and some which continue to rule, the small sovereignties of Rajasthan, which many a celebrity in Europe, superiority will often attach to the Rajputs. From the most remote periods, we can trace nothing ignoble, nor any vestige of vassal origin. Reduced in power, circumscribed in territory, compelled to yield much of their splendour and many of the dignities of birth, they have not abandoned an iota of the pride and high bearing arising from the knowledge of their illustrious and regal descent.”[2]

With the spread of the Muhammadan kingdom in India and consequent decay of Hindu power. The Rajputs gradually lost much of their ancestral holdings in the land, but in spite of their having suffered so much at the hands of Moslem invaders both as regards their power and independence; they still take a very high place among the landowners even at the present day. Though by the end of the 12th century the Mussulmans “held in different degrees of subjection, the whole of Hindustan proper except Malwa and some contiguous districts”[3] certain Rajput chiefs stall held out and never submitted to their authority as vassals, the chief among them being the Ranas of Udaipur and Mewar. “The Rana of Udaipur” says Poole “though he had lost Chitor, retained his pride. He never submitted, and his family, alone among the Rajput princely houses, forever disdained to marry its daughters with the great Moghals. The present lord of Udaipur still boasts of unpolluted Rajput blood.”[4] It will thus be nothing strange for us to observe that “the greatest of the Mohammadan rulers- not even Akbar or Allauddin – could break their power completely. The wrecks which they preserve still of their former greatness are not at all inconsiderable. The majority of the leading Hindu chiefs of India are still of their tribe. A great many of the Hindu landholders, big and small, in every part of India, are also of the same caste.”[5] The British Government has all along been alive to the respect enjoyed by the Rajput families since the ancient times, and has maintained their dignity as such by recognizing their titles and acknowledging them as hereditary.

“The Rajputs are fine, brave men, and retain the feudal instinct strongly developed. Pride of blood is their chief characteristic, and they are most punctilious on all points of etiquette. No race in India can boast of a finer feat of arms or brighter deeds of chivalry, and they form one of the main recruiting fields for the Indian Army of today. They consider any occupation other than of arms or government derogatory to their dignity, and consequently during the long period of peace which has followed the establishment of the British rule in India, they have been content to stay idle at home instead of taking up any of the other professions in which they might have come to the front. Looking upon all manual labour as humiliating, none but of the poorest class of Rajputs will himself hold the plough.”[6]

The Rajputs are divided into a large number of sects or clans which are connected with one another by their characteristics rules of inter marriage. “They practice, what Mr. Ibbetson calls, hyper gamy, by which he means the rule according to which a Rajput prefers to marry his daughter in a sect of higher rank than his own, while he takes a bride for his son from a sect of inferior social status.”[7]“The clans are of course the aristocracy of the country, and they hold land to a very large extent either as receiver of rent or cultivators. As united families of pure descent, as a landed nobility, and as the kinsmen of ruling chiefs, they are also the aristocracy of India.”[8]

[1] Vide Bhattacharya’s Hindu Castes and Sects, Page 132, 1896 Edition.

[2] Vide Todd’s Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Vol. I. Page 139, Popular Edition 1898.

[3] Vide U.P. Gazetteer, Vol. XI, Page 127, 1911 Edition

[4] Vide Lane Poole’s Mediaeval India Page 258, 1917 Edition

[5] Vide Bhattacharya’s Hindu Castes and Sect., Page 133, 1896 Edition.

[6] Vide Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 22. Page 865, 11th Edition

[7] Vide Crook’s Tribes and Caste of N.W.P., Vol. IV., Page 220. 1896 Edition.

[8] Vide Cyclopedia of India by S.G.E. Balfour, Vol. III., Page, 352, 1885 Edition.

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