Origin of the Jats
|Author of this article is Laxman Burdak लक्ष्मण बुरड़क|
Jats are commonly considered to be of Indo-Aryan stock in view of the similar ethnological, cultural, physical features, and common practices.
Dr Natthan Singh writes that Jats were the pure Aryans and their original homeland was Sapta Sindhu. On the basis of historical facts the Jats are reported to be present in India from 3102 BC.   They had to migrate from India on economic, social and political reasons for some period but they returned back to India. In the migration also they did not leave their language and cultural traditions. Due to this reason only Jats do not have linguistic or physical similarities with Huns and Scythians.  This view is also supported by Thakur Deshraj who writes that on the basis of ethnological, physical, cultural and linguistic standards Jats are pure Aryans who inhabited the areas on the banks of Ganga-Yamuna or Sarswati-Sindhu during Vedic civilization. 
Sir Herbert Risley declared the Rajput and the Jat to be the true representatives of the Vedic Aryans.  Risley has mentioned in 1901 census report that as per their physique Jats are pure Aryans.
Qanungo appeared to rely on Sir Risley's theory. Qanungo wrote, "The European pioneers of Indian antiquities and ethnology apparently started with the presumption that fine and energetic martial peoples like the Rajput and the Jat must have been comparatively newcomer from the north-west into India who overcame the effete descendants of the Vedic Aryans (Hindus). 
If popular tradition counts for anything, it points to the view that they (Jats) are an essentially Indo-Aryan (Hindus?) People who have migrated from the east to the west and not Indo-Scythian and No Hindu has been ever known to claim a Chinese origin, but the people of China 
The Jats has been declared by all eminent authorities, to pass successfully the combined test of the physical type and language of true Aryan.” 
Khushwant Singh (A well respected Indian Journalist) wrote,
"It is now generally accepted that the Jats who made the northern plains of India their home were of Aryan stock. The origin of the Jats has been exhaustively dealt with by K.R. Qanungo, who states emphatically that the Jats are of Aryan stock (Hindus) that came from Rajasthan into Punjab". 
Dr. Trump and Beams very strongly claimed a pure Indo-Aryan descent for Jats both in consideration of their physical type and language, which has been authoritatively pronounced as a pure dialect of Hindi, without slightest trace of Scythian.
C.V.Vaidya in History of Medieval Hindu India writes that-
“Lastly we have to speak about the Jats. Their ethnological characteristics also we have already seen, are clearly Aryans. They are fair tall high nosed and long headed. Does their history contradict of their being Aryans ? ….. They are the purest Aryans in India and belong to the first race of Aryans invaders according to our view the solar race of Aryans. …There is not a scrap of historical evidence even to suggest much less to prove such immigration there is neither foreign mention of their coming into India nor have they any tradition of their own sometime coming into India nor is there any historical India record stone inscription or other of their so coming, and we can only ascribe such theories to that unaccountable bias of the winds of many European and native scholars to assign a foreign and Scythic origin to every fine and energetic caste in India.” 
E.B.Havell writes based on physical features and the language that Ethnographic investigations show that the Indo Aryan type described in Hindu epic a tall fair complexioned long headed race with narrow prominent noses broad shoulders long arms thin waists like a lion and legs like a deer is how (as it was in the earliest) most confined to Kashmir the Punjab and Rajputana and represented by the Khattris, Jats and Rajputs. 
The Jat historian Thakur Deshraj refers to E.B.Havell as above and Mr. Nesfield who said that-
“If appearance goes for anything the Jat could not be Aryans.” He further refers to distribution of races of ‘North Western Provinces of India’ where it has been said that the arguments derived from language are strongly in favour of the pure Aryan origin of the Jats. If they were Scythian conquerors where there Scythian language gone to and how came it that they now speak and have for centuries spoken an Aryan language, a dialect of Hindi”. 
“Jat” approaches closely to that ascribed to the traditional Aryan colonies of India. The stature is mostly tall, complexion fair, eyes dark, hair on face plentiful, head long. Nose narrow and prominent but very long. 
Sir Alexander Cunningham, Former Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, considered the Jat people to be the Xanthii (a Scythian tribe) of Scythian stock who he considered very likely called the Zaths (Jats) of early Arab writers. He stated "their name is found in Northern India from the beginning of the Christian era." These people were considered by early Arab writers to have descended from Meds and Zaths. Sir Cunningham believes they "were in full possession of the valley of the Indus towards the end of the seventh century. Sir Alexander Cunningham held that the Rajputs belonged to the original Scythian stock, and the Jats to a late wave of immigrants from the north west, of Scythian race.
- World famous Jat scholar Professor B.S. Dhillon states Jat people are Indo-Scythians from historical evidence in History and study of the Jats and recent DNA genectic research studies have shown large amounts of Scythian and White Hun genes in Jats.
- Colonel Tod agreed in considering the Jats to be of Indo-Scythian Stock.
- Sir Alexander Cunningham, (Former Director-General of the Archeological Survey of India) wrote: The Xanthii (a Scythian tribe) are very probably the Zaths (Jats) of the early Arab writers. As the Zaths were in Sindh to the west of the Indus, this location agrees very well with what we know of the settlement of the Sakas (Scythians) on the Indian frontier.
- Sir John Marshall, (Former Director-General of the Archeological Survey of India) wrote: "These Scythian invaders came principally from the three great tribes of Massagetae (great Jats), Sacaraucae, and Dahae (still exists as a Jat clan of Punjab), whose home at the beginning of the second century B.C. was in the country between the Caspian sea (sea) and the Jaxartes river (Central Asia).
- Arthur Edward Barstow wrote: "Greeks of Bactria (partly modern Afghanistan), expelled by the hordes of Scythians, entered India in the second and first centuries BC and are said to have penetrated as far as Orissa (an Indian province in south-east). Meanwhile the Medii, Xanthii, Jatii, Getae and other Scythian races, were gradually working their way from the banks of the Oxus (River valley in Central Asia) into Southern Afghanistan and the pastoral highland about Quetta (a Pakistani city), whence they forced their way by the Bolan Pass, through the Sulaiman Mountains into India, settling in the Punjab about the beginning of the first century AD. It is from these Scythian immigrants that most of the Jat tribes are at any rate partly descended."
- A.H. Bingley wrote: "It is from these Scythian Immigrants that most of the Jat tribes are at any rate partly descended."
- Professor J. Pettigrew wrote: "Another view holds that the Jats came from Asia Minor and Armenia in the successive invasions during the period 600 B.C. to A.D. 600."
- Professor H.S. Willliams wrote: "The extent of the Scythian invasion has been variously estimated. Some scholars believe that they virtually supplanted the previous population of India (means Punjab), and there seems little doubt that by far the most numerous section of the Punjab population is of Scythian origin."
- Professor P.S. Gill wrote: "There is a general concensus of opinion that Jats, and with them Rajputs and Gujjars were foreigners who came from their original home, near the Oxus, Central Asia."
- Professor T. Sulimirski wrote: "The evidence of both the ancient authors and the archaeological remains point to a massive migration of Sacian (Sakas) & Massagetae (great Jats) tribes from the Syr Darya Delta (Central Asia) by the middle of the second century B.C. Some of the Syr Darya tribes; they also invaded North India.
- H.A Rose wrote: "Many of the Jat tribes of the Punjab have customs which apparently point to non-Aryan origin. Suffice it to say that both Sir Alexander Cunningham and James Tod agreed in considering the Jats to be of Indo-Scythian Stock. The former identified them with the Zanthi of Strabo (Greek Geographer of the ancient times) and the Jatii of Pliny (Roman writer) and Ptolemy (Another Greek Geographer of the ancient times); and held that they probably entered the Punjab from their home on the Oxus (in Central Asia) very shortly after the Meds or Mands (still exist as one of the Jat clans of the Punjab), who also were Indo-Scythians, and who moved into the Punjab about a century before Christ."
- Sir H.M. Elliot wrote: "These ignorant tribes (Jats) pointing to the remote Ghazni (Afghanistan) as their original seat, the very spot we know to have been occupied by the Yuechi, or, as Klaproth says, more correctly, Yuti, in the first centuries of our era, after the Sakas (a Scythian tribe) were repelled back from the frontiers of India, and left the country between India and Persia open for their occupation. The Jat tribes not doubt emigrated, no at all once, but at different times, and it is probable that those in the North-West are among the latest importations."
- I. Sara wrote: "Recent excavations in the Ukraine and Crimea. The finds points to the visible links of the Jat and Scythians."
- C.J. Daniell wrote: "Jats, who describe their ancestors as being immigrants from the west."
- Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff wrote: "My conclusion, therefore, is, that the Jats may be of Scythian descent."
- U.S. Mahil wrote: "Jat were called Scythians; because they were the inhabitants of the ancient country of Scythia. The Jats who invaded the Punjab and conquered India up to Benares were called Indo-Scythians."
- J.F. Hewitt wrote: "Further evidence both of the early history and origin of the race of Jats, or Getae, is given by the customs and geographical position of another tribe of the same stock, called the Massagetae, or great (massa) Getae."
- Sir George MacMunn (Sir and Lt. General) wrote: "Alexander came to India in his capacity as the holder of the Persian throne. From his camp near Kabul (Afghanistan), the Macedonian (Alexander) summoned those chiefs whom Skylax (Persian general) had conquered in the old time afore, to come and renew their homage to their ancient Persian overlord in the person of himself. Several obeyed his summons, others did not, and it has been surmised that those who did were later arrivals, of Jat or Scythian origin, outside the normal Aryan fold as later comers to India."
- S.M Latif wrote: "A considerable portion of the routed army of the Scythians settled in the Punjab, and a race of them, called Nomardy, inhabited the country on the west bank of the Indus (river). They are described as a nomadic tribe, living in wooden houses, after the old Scythian fashion, and settling where they found sufficient pasturage. A portion of these settlers, the descendants of Massagetae, were called Getes, from whom sprung the modern Jats."
- Dr. G Singh wrote: "The Jats of the Panjab, are Scythians in origin and came from Central Asia, whose one branch migrated as far south in Europe as Bulgaria. "
- N Singh wrote: "The Scythians appear to originate from Central Asia. They reached Punjab between 50 B.C. and A.D. 50. It seems probable that the Scythian ancestors of the Jats entered the Sindh valley (presently in Pakistan Kashmir) between 100 B.C. and A.D. 100."
Formation of Jat Sangha
The most acceptable theory about the origin of the word, 'Jat' is that it has originated from the Sanskrit language word “Gyat” . The Mahabharata mentions in chapter 25, shloka 26 that Lord Krishna founded a federation ‘Gana-sangha’ of the Andhak and Vrishni clans. This federation was known as ‘Gyati-sangh’. Over a period of time ‘Gyati’ became ‘Gyat’ and it changed to Jat.
Prior to Mahabharata War the kshatriyas were known by their vansha. Pandava vanshi were known as Pandavas, Gandhar Vanshi as Gandhars, Raghuvansha as Raghuvanshi etc. After Mahabharata War the population of kshatriyas came down due to large number of them killed in Mahabharata war. The kshatriyas became week as there was no uniting force. Krishna realized the dangers of this situation. He was a great politician, visionary personality and an expert planner. He knew very well the divisive approach of the various kshatriyas and that their attitude of enmity could not be resolved without bringing them under one umbrella of organization. He therefore united all the kshatriya clans under one organization which was known as Gyati Sangha which was accepted by all kshatriya. All democratic clans were included in this Sangha. 
The vansha of Krishna was also Jat. The idea of formation of federation or sangha was supported by Pandava vanshi Yudhisthira and his brothers. Large number of Mahabharata Period kshatriya clans are found in present day Jats. Pandava vanshi Jats are found in today’s Jat community in Gujaranwala city in Punjab. The then existing Rajavanshas such as Gandhara, Yadava, Sindhu, Naga, Lava, Kushama, Bandar (vanar), Nardeya etc. accepted the proposal of formation of the Jat Sangha and merged into this sangha. The Gandhar clan of Jats is found in Raghunathpura in district Badaun and Aligarh. The Yadava vanshi Jats are found in Dharmpur in district Badaun. Sindhu is a well known clan who gave names to the country Sindh and the Sindhu River. Sindhu Jats are found in Punjab and Haryana. The Naga clan Jats are found in villages Khudaganj and Rampuria in Badaun district. Lava and Kushama gotra are descendants of Rama’s son Lava and Kusha. Both these Jat gotras are found in Nagla Magola (नागला मगोला), Soniga Kheda (सोनिगा खेड़ा) district Badaun. Similarly Bandar or Vanar gotra (the gotra of Hanuman) is found in Punjab and Haryana. Nardeya gotra Jats are also found in Kant (कांट) district Muradabad. These are only few examples. There were large number of Jat gotra who accepted Jat Sangha are still found amongst Jats. 
The other prominent theory of the word's origins is that Jat came from the word Gaut tribal name of some Indo-Aryan tribes of Central Asia (such as those which later became Gauts/Goths and settled in Europe), which was written in 'Jattan Da Ithihas'. It has also been mentioned by Bhim Singh Dahiya.
According to the historian 'Ram Lal Hala' the word Jat is drived from word 'Yat'. There was a king named 'Yat' in Chandravanshi clan who was ancestor of Lord Krishna. The Jats are descendants of King Yat. 'Yat' later changed to 'Jat'.
Origin of Jats from Shiva's Locks
The mythological theory of Origin of Jats from Shiva's Locks was propounded by the author of Deva Samhita. Deva Samhita  is a collection of Sanskrit hymns by Gorakh Sinha during the early medieval period. Devasamhita records the theory of Origin of the Jats in the form of discussion between Shiva and Parvati expressed in shloka (verses) numbering from 12 - 17. Some relevant verses are given below.
Pārvatī asks Shiva, O Lord Bhutesha, knower of all religions, kindly narrate about the birth and exploits of the Jat race. Who is their father?, Who is their mother? Which race are they? When were they born? Having read the mind of Parvati, Shiva said, "O mother of the world, I may tell you honestly the origin and exploits of the Jats about whom none else has so far revealed anything to you. They are symbol of sacrifice, bravery and industry. They are, like gods, firm of determination and of all the kshatriyā, the Jats are the prime rulers of the earth. They are the progeny of the Virabhadra (Shiva's son) and gani, the daughter of Daksha, son of Brahma. The history of origin of Jats is extremely wonderful and their antiquity glorious. The Pundits of history did not record their annals lest it should injure and impair their false pride and of the vipras and gods.
- भगवन् सर्वं भूतेश सर्व धर्म विदांबरः।
- कृपया कथ्यतां नाथ जाटानां जन्म कर्मजम् ।।12।।
- Translation - Pārvatī asks Shiva, O Lord Bhutesha, knower of all religions, kindly narrate about the birth and exploits of the Jat race.
- का च माता पिता ह्वेषां का जाति वद किकुलं।
- कस्तिन काले शुभे जाता प्रश्नानेतान वद प्रभो ।|13।।
- Translation - Pārvatī asks Shiva, Who is their father?, Who is their mother? Which race are they? When were they born?
- श्रृणु देवि जगद्वन्दे सत्यमं सत्यमं वदामिते।
- जटानां जन्मकर्माणि यन्न पूर्व प्रकाशितं ।|14।।
- Translation - Having read the mind of Parvati, Shiva said, "O mother of the world, I may tell you honestly the origin and exploits of the Jats about whom none else has so far revealed anything to you.
- महाबला महावीर्या, महासत्य पराक्रमाः Mahābalā mahāvīryā, Mahāsatya parākramāḥ
- सर्वाग्रे क्षत्रिया जट्टा देवकल्पा दृढ़-व्रता: Sarvāgre kshatriyā jattā Devakalpā dridh-vratāḥ || 15 ||
- Translation - "Shiva said, They are symbol of sacrifice, bravery and industry. They are, like gods, firm of determination and of all the kshatriyā, the Jats are the prime rulers of the earth."
- श्रृष्टेरादौ महामाये वीर भद्रस्य शक्तित: Shrishterādau mahāmāye Virabhadrasya shaktitaḥ
- कन्यानां दक्षस्य गर्भे जाता जट्टा महेश्वरी Kanyānām Dakshasya garbhe jātā jattā maheshwarī. || 16 ||
- Translation – "Shiva said, In the beginning of the universe with the personification of the illusionary powers of Virabhadra and Daksha's daughter gani's womb originated the caste of Jats."
- गर्व खर्चोत्र विग्राणां देवानां च महेश्वरी Garva kharchotra vigrānam devānām cha maheshwarī
- विचित्रं विस्मयं सत्वं पौराण कै साङ्गीपितं Vichitram vismayam satvam Pauran kai sāngīpitam || 17 ||
- Translation - "Shiva said, The history of origin of Jats is extremely wonderful and their antiquity glorious. The Pundits of history did not record their annals, lest it should injure and impair their false pride and of the vipras and gods."
The two ethnologists, Russel and Hira Lal  give a different version of the above anecdote in the "Brahmanical legends of origin of the Jats", which is reproduced below:
- "The Jats relate the legend thus. On the occasion when Raja Daksha, father-in-law of Mahadeva (Shiva) was performing a great sacrifice, he invited all the gods to present except his son-in-law Mahadeva. The latter's wife, Parvati, was, however, very eager to go; so she asked Mahadeva to let her attend, even though she had not been invited. Mahadeva was unwilling to allow her, but finally consented. Daksha treated Parvati with great want of respect at the sacrifice, so she came home and told Mahadeva about her plight. When Mahadeva heard all this he was filled with wrath and untying his matted hair (jata) dashed it on the ground, whence two powerful beings arose from it. He sent them to destroy Daksha's sacrifice and they went and destroyed it. From these were descended the race of Jats, and they take their name from the matted locks (jata) of the Lord Shiva. Another saying of the Jats is that the ancestors of the Rajputs was from Kashyapa and that of the Jats from the Shiva. In the beginning these were the only two races in India." 
It is also mentioned that after the destruction of Daksha's sacrifice by Virabhadra and his Ganas, the followers of Shiva, the defeated gods sought Brahma and asked his counsel. Brahma advised the gods to make their peace with Shiva. Shiva accepted his advice and restored the burnt head of Daksha and the broken limbs were made whole. Then the devas thanked Shiva for his gentleness, and invited him to sacrifice. There Daksha looked on him with reverence, the rite was duly performed, and there also Vishnu appeared. A compromise was achieved between Vaishnavas and followers of Shiva.
The above theory was set afloat during the medieval age which is marked by ascendancy of powerful Rajput warriors. It was a period of unhealthy growth of blind superstitions, the decay and death of adventure in science and thought in practical life. It was a period during which "the fairy of the fortune of the Jats, particularly after Harsha Vardhana, had gone to sleep." The theory cast a spell on the mind of the simple Jat folk and soon became popular with them. They were taken by pious fraud that they were born from the highest bodily part (jata) of the highest god (Shiva) where as all others are born of the lower part of Brahma.
According to Y.P. Shastri,  the theory was propounded to win back the Jats, who had en mass embraced Buddhism, to Neo-Hinduism preached and propagated by Shankaracharya and his followers. This theory seemed to work wonders as there are no followers of Buddhism in Jats. Whereas Y.P. Shastri hints at religious purpose of the theory, Dr.A.B. Mukerjee, an ethno-geographer stresses its political and social purpose. According to him " at the end of the ancient period of Indian History great instability prevailed in the social structure of the people and great political changes were effected. The Rajputs became the rulers and Jats their subject, a fact very well borne out by historical data (Ibbetson:1916) consequently, the social status of the latter groups declined and they were regarded as of lowly ranks. Of course, after the fall of Harsha Vardhana of the Aulikar or Virk gotra, the political and social status of the Jats especially in Rajasthan, had declined to a great extent. Possibly to counteract the intolerable superiority assumed by the Rajputs, this theory might have been invented. 
Bhim Singh Dahiya points to yet another purpose of the theory. According to him "Something must have happened in the sixth or seventh century AD, during the course of the revival of orthodox Brahmanism, which made these people (Jats) persona non grata with the new orthodox. That is why when the Puranas were revised, their historical details and even their names were removed therefrom. It is perhaps to this state of affairs that the Deva Samhita refers when it records that " nobody has published the truth about the origin and activities of the Jat race." At another place he assumes that "the Jats were the first rulers in the vast central asian plains as per Deva Samhita." 
The theory is obviously figurative and its use is simply allegorical. The meaning it conveys is that there were so many Ganas of warrior tribes at the command of Virabhadra or Kartikeya, the son of Shiva, whose abode was the Sivalak mountain. The function of this mythological theory is to ensure a more honourable antiquity and status to the Jats in comparison with others, especially Brahmans like Kephart, Jewitt and Waddel count the Jats among the ruling races of prehistoric times in India.
According to Hukum Singh Panwar(Pauria), it may, however, be interesting to note that a Jat tribe, living in about 25 contiguous villages in Jind district of Haryana and about 5 villages in Nangloi block of Delhi , goes by its gotra name as Shivakhande or Sheokhand. of late this gotra has been Arabicised as Shokeen in Delhi villages. Yet the elders of Sheokhand Khap area take pride in the fact that they originally hail from the Dharans, whose kingdom was rather misnomered as "Gupta empire" in Indian history. Be that as it may, one thing is plausible about the Jats of Sheokhande clan. They must be the Sivas who fought against the Bharatas on the Jamuna River in one of the ten Rigvedic wars. They are identified by scholars with the Shivis  or the Sibis of the Usinara country in the north of Haridwar near the source of Ganges. The Sivas or Sibis became known as Shivakhande or Sheokhande from and after the Shivalaks, the abode of Lord Shiva, the highest deity of the Jats. Their descent from the Shivalak hills has provided good grounds to the author of Devasamhita to expound this theory.
Nomenclature of Jat
The nomenclature of the word Jat is variously spelt, in different periods, as Jit, Jat (pl. Jatān), Jat, finally Jāt. The sixth century Pali inscription (dated samvat 597-56 = 541 AD) mentions the race as Jit. Thus the term ‘Jit’ probably derives its nomenclature after the epithet of the founder of the tribe Jit Salindra.  According to James Tod, in Rajasthan and Punjab the tribe retained their ancient name Jit.  
The Persianized form of the ancient term Jit is Jat (जट) with short vowel and double short ‘t’. 
The jatt is generally referred by the Ghaznavid chronicler of the eleventh century (Gardezi, Alberuni, and Baihaqi);    in the history of Sind (Chachnama and Tarikh-i-Masumi); by the Delhi Sultanate’s chronicler’s Isami;  and by the 18th century mystic writer Shah Wali Allah in his political letters.  Thus, in the Indus Valley up to Saurashtra, the tribes are known as Jat.  The author of Majmulat-Tawarikh tends to believe that the Arabs called the Sindh people Jat.  In Sindhi dialect, the term is pronounced as ‘Yat’ and means ‘a camel-driver or breeder of camels’  While the author of Dabistan-i-Mazahib (c. 1665) states that ‘Jat’ in the language of Punjab (read Jataki) means ‘a villager, a rustic’ (dahistani, rusta’i).  
During Mughal period, phonetic and dialectic changes occurred, thus Deccan chronicler Firishta mentions them as ‘Jat (जट)’ with short vowel and hard ‘t’.  Finally the term gained the present day phonetic in Ain-i-Akbari, when Abul Fazl mentions the tribe as ‘Jāt’ with long vowel ‘a’ and hard ‘t’. It is said that the term derives from middle Indo-Aryan term 'Jata'.   In view of O’Brien in Jataki language the ‘Jat (जात)’ – the herdsmen and camel grazer is spelt with soft ‘t’, while the ‘Jat (जाट)’- the cultivator with hard ‘t’.  However, in present day the tribes, almost all the cultivators, are known as Jāt (जाट) especially in the Yamuna-Ganges Valley. 
In Arabanized form, the term is mentioned as Zat or Zutt (in Arabic 'J' changes for 'Z') by the Arab geographers.    Thus, the nomenclature of the tribe is of post-sanskrit Indian origin and belongs to the Indo-Aryan language. 
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