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The term “Rajput” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Raja-Putra” that means son of a king. The word occurs in the Rigveda and Yajurveda where it is used as a synonym for Raja-nya or Kshatrita. However a distinction is made there between Raj-putras (Rajputs) and Kshatriya: Rajputs are Kshatriyas that are sons of a royal household. There is considerable amount of confusion and controversy among historians regarding the actual origin of Rajputs. Some believe Rajputs to be descendants of Vedic Aryans, some believe them to be of Indo-Scythian origin while others assign foreign origin to only some of the Rajput clans. The historians that assign Vedic Aryan origin to Rajputs divide them into dynasties: Solar and Lunar. The earliest reference to these dynasties is found in the Mahabharata and Puranas. These dynasties are believed to be two hordes of Aryans who came to India from Central Asia and followed the Solar and Lunar calendar respectively. The Solar Rajputs are believed to have arrived first and settled in the region that is now Haryana State of Republic of India. The Lunar Rajputs are believed to have arrived on the tracks of the Solar Rajputs and initially faced fierce resistance from them. These dynasties are supposed to have then spread all over northern India and all the present clans of Rajputs are descended from them.

Now let’s consider a fantastic myth regarding the origin of Rajputs put forth in Prithiviraja-raso (a ballad written by the court-poet of King Prithiviraja III in circa 1178 AD). According to these, four warriors namely. Parihara. Chaulukya, Parmara, and Chahuvana were created by rishis (Hindu holy men) out of a ceremonial pyre to fight demos. The clans headed by these warriors are eventually supposed to have expanded into thirty-six further clans of Rajputs. A number of historians assign Indo-Scythian origin to Rajputs although the reasons given for this are multifarious and sometimes contradictory. Scythians were people that lived on the other side of the Hindukush Mountains during the period of the Greco-Bactrian rule in India. Some proponents of this theory point to the affinity in the physical appearance and martial practices and poetry of the Rajputs and Scythians. Other proponents claim that the events of Prithiviraja-Raso are a metaphorical reference to the conversion (cleansing by fire) of a few tribes of Scythians to Hinduism. These tribes are supposed to have been recruited by Brahmans to fight other Indo-Scythian tribes that were harassing the Brahmans. The opponents of this theory point to the inherent contradiction in the claim that some Scythian tribes converted en masse to a different religion and took up arms against other Scythian tribes.

Finally, some proponents of this theory claim that the present day descendents of the Scythians in the west and the Rajputs India have similar sounding last names and must therefore be of the same origin. Some historians have combined the above two theories to claim that Rajputs are initially of Vedic Aryan origin but that some Indo-Scythian tribes have also become Rajputs. Despite the disagreements regarding the origin of Rajputs, there is a general consensus that the period from 6th century AD to 13th century AD is the period in which Rajputs flourished the most. He rise to power of the Rajputs coincided with the decline the Gupta Empire in late 5th; century AD. The various Rajput clans ruled over a geographical area that is presently Rajasthan, and parts of Punjab and Haryana, the northern States of Republic of India. The decline of the Rajputs began with the defeat in a decisive battle with the Turkish Sultan of Ghor.

Although the Rajputs persisted in their resistance of the Muslim invaders, the resistance was mostly fragmentary. The mughal Emperor Aurangzeb putting an end to centuries of Rajput rule finally conquered the last of Rajput kingdoms. Although the Rajputs were warriors who initially fought to preserve a polytheistic religion (Hinduism) from the influence of a monotheistic religion (Buddhism), a large proportion of Rajputs today practice monotheism in the form of Sikhism and Islam. They have spread all across the globe and are flourishing. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they have been prominently involved in politics economics and culture of northern Indo-Pak since the 7th century. A large number of books have been written regarding the origin, history and culture of the Rajputs. Some of these are listed below and the interested reader can refer to them for future details

References:

Origin of Rajputs by Jai Narayan Asopa, Bhartiya Publishing House, 1976
Origin of the Rajputs by R. B. Singh, Sahitya Sansar Parkashan, 1975
Caste, Tribes, and Culture of Rajputs edited by K. P. Bahadur. Ess Ess publications, 1978
Lectures on Rajputs History and Culture by Dashratha Sharma, Motilal Banarasidass, 1970
History and Study of the Jats by B. S. Dhillon, Beta publishers Inc., 1994
Jats, The Ancient rulers: A Clan Study by B. S. Dahiya, Sterling Publishers

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