History and study of the Jats/Chapter 5

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History and study of the Jats

Prof. B.S. Dhillon ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026

Chapter 5: History and Study of the Jats following the Two Great Faiths of South Asia

History and Study of the Jats following the Two Great Faiths of South Asia

Majority of the Jats in South Asia follow the Hindu and Muslim faiths: their population in each of these two religions is at least 10 million. They have followed these two great religions of South Asia for centuries but have maintained their ancestral Jat characteristics. For example, Sir MacMunn [1] wrote in 1932, "enthusiastic support of the British Government and devoted and distinguished service in the World War (1) has been the reply of the modern Jat, whether Sikh, Hindu or Moslem in religion".

Today, most of the Hindu and Muslim Jats live in two separate countries: India and Pakistan, respectively. In India most of them reside in Haryana province and in Pakistan their main concentration is in Punjab. Many of the Muslim Jats living in Pakistan have same clan names as the Sikh Jats. For example, Bajwa, Randhawa and Cheema. Similarly many of the Hindu and Sikh Jat clan names are the same. One typical example is the clan name: Mann. These common clan names among the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh Jats are the important proof of their common ancestry or ethnic background.

The author has very little information on the history of the Jats belonging to the Muslim faith but it does not mean that their historical contributions are of less importance than that of other two groups. They were also in positions of power. For example, as recently as the 1940s, the Premier of the undivided Punjab was a Muslim Jat. In the field of folklore of the Punjab, the love stories [2] of the Hir-Ranjha and Mirza-Saiba are the shining examples of the Muslim Jat influence over the Punjab culture. Some material regarding the Jats following the Islam faith is available in the following documents:

• [[A. H. Bingley|Bingley, A.H.], History, Caste & Culture of Jats and Gujars, reprinted by Ess Ess Publications, New Delhi, India, 1978, first published in 1899. • Barstow, A.E., The Sikhs: An ethnology, reprinted by B.R. Publishing Corporation, Delhi, India, 1985, first published in 1932. • MacMunn, G., The Martial Races of India, reprinted by Mittal Publications, Delhi, India, 1979, first published in 1932. • Pradhan, M.C., The Political System of the Jats of Northern India, Oxford University Press, London, 1966. • Habib, I., Jatts (Jats) of Punjab and Sind, in Essays in Honour of Dr. Ganda Singh, Punjabi University Press, Patiala, Punjab, 1976, pp. 92-103. • Burton, R.F., Sindh and the Races that Inhabit the Valley of the Indus, reprinted by Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1975, first published in 1851, pp. 246-365, 411.

History and study of the Jats. By Professor B.S Dhillon. ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026. End of Page 77

Rose, H.A., Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province, 2 Vols., reprinted by the languages Dept., Patiala, Punjab, 1970, first published in 1883. Today, it is the followers of the Hindu faith who are simply known as Jats in comparison to their brethren who are called Jat Sikhs or Moslem Jats. They were an important power in the declining days of the Moghul empire in India [1]. The starting point of the Haryana Jat History may be taken as the end of the twelfth century when Jatwan, the leader of the Haryana Jats revolted against the authority of the day [3]. During the period from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, the Jats remained relatively quite. However, in the 1660s, the Jats revolted against the imperial authorities under the leadership of the Gokla Jat. Gokla was able to muster 20,000 warriors to battle against the forces of the reigning Emperor but was captured by the authorities and put to death in Agra (a city in India).

In 1686 Rajaram, son of Bhajja Singh, belonging to the Jat clan of Sinsinwar united his clan members and others, and provided them an able leadership. He constructed small forts at advantageous locations amidst the almost trackless jungles of the Jat country. Rajaram Jat was quite successful in closing the roads to the traffic and plundering the country side (This strategy is appeared to be in the Jat genes, for example, they practiced the same in Sind [3,4] and in Iraq [5]) and ultimately putting end to the imperial authority in Agra district. The success of Rajaram was shortlived and he was shot dead by the musketeer of the Mughal emperor hiding in a bush on July 4, 1688 [3]. Bhajja Singh, the father of Rajaram, assumed the leadership of the Jats after the death of his son. The Emperor appointed Bishun Singh Kachhwa, the king of Amber (Jaipur, Rajasthan) as the commander of Mathura (a city in North India) for patrolling the Jat areas. Bishun Singh was quite successful in putting down the Jat rebellion, keeping peace for some years [3].

After the death of Bhajja Singh, the leadership of the Jats was taken over by his other son, Churaman (1695-1722) younger brother of Rajaram. It may be said it was Churaman who built the Jat power, which became an important factor in the fate of northern India during the eighteenth century. In a short period, Churaman built his strength to 500 horsemen and 1000 infantry and also another Jat leader joined him with 100 horsemen [6]. Subsequently, Churaman commanded an army of 14,000 soldiers. He was very bold and daring and used to plunder royal trains carrying treasures and jewels [7]. One important example of the Jat plundering is that in 1707 Churaman and his followers plundered Bahadur Shah's (Moghul Emperor) camp during the battle of Jajau [8]. In 1722, Churaman, the chief of Bharatpur, was attacked by a Rajput chief of Jaipur (Rajasthan), known as Raja Jai Singh, under the order of the Mughal Emperor and ultimately, Churaman was succeeded by his other brother, Badan Singh for his services to the Rajput chief. It was Badan Singh who built the forts of Bharatpur and Waira [9]. It was not long when Badan Singh turned the table against the king of Jaipur with, the help of rebels of Mewat. In the end, the Jaipur Chief purchased peace on Badan Singh's terms [6]. Badan Singh, subsequently, passed the governing reigns to one of his sons named, Suraj Mal and lived the remainder of his life in seclusion and peace until his death in

History and study of the Jats. By Professor B.S Dhillon. ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026.End of Page 78

1760. Imad-us-Saadat [6] describes Suraj Mal "Though he wore the dress of a farmer but was the "Plato" of the Jat tribe".

In 1737, the Jats seized a significant portion of the Agra and Mauthra districts [8]. By the year 1764 Jats under the leadership of Suraj Mal made themselves the master of the valley of the Jamna river. In the same year, Suraj Mal, while on a hunting expedition near Delhi, was ambushed and killed by the enemy soldiers. At the time of the death, Jats possessed beside the original principality of Bharatpur, the following districts [3]:

1. Agra 2. Mathura 3. Gurgaon 4. Dholpur 5. Rohtak 6. Meerut 7. Aligarh 8. Farrukhnagar 9. Mainpuri 10.Mewat 11. Rewari 12. Hathras 13. Etah Suraj Mal's main millitary strength was composed of the following [3]:

• Over 25,000 infantry • 15,000 cavalry • 5,000 horses and 60 elephants for the warfare • Over 300 pieces of cannon

Jats built a magnificient tomb in the memory of Suraj Mal. In fact, General Sir Sleeman

[10] remarked, "The tomb of Suraj Mal, the great founder of the Jat power at Bharatpur, stands on the north-east extremity of this belt of rocks, about two miles from the town, and is an extremely handsome building, conceived in the very best taste, and executed in the very best style". Suraj Mal was succeeded by one of his sons, Jawahir Singh. Qanungo [3] wrote, "The unrealised dream of Suraj Mal build a powerful Jat confederacy extending from the Chambal to the Ravi river (Punjab) thus dominating the whole of the north India became an accomplished fact with the establishment of close ties between Jawahir Singh and the Sikhs (Sir Sleeman [10] remarked, "The Sikh is a military nation formed out of the Jats". It is to be noted that the Sikhs are mostly (over 70 percent), but not all, Jats), they jointly defeated Marathas (Hindus from Bombay area) under their chief Holkar and the successful resistance of the Sikh commonwealth against the Abdali (Afghan invader)".

History and study of the Jats. By Professor B.S Dhillon. ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026. End of Page 79

A note in Ref. [3] said, "Jawahir Singh kept a large and well disciplined army trained by European captains such as Somru and M. Rene Madac and in 1767 a famous French general joined his forces". Jawahir Singh was assassinated in 1768 in Agra and was succeeded by his infant son Keri Singh but Nawal Singh, the brother of Jawahir Singh acted as Regent. Nawal Singh died in 1775 and his brother Ranjit Singh succeeded him. In 1803, Ranjit Singh formed an alliance with the British and provided 5,000 troops [8]. However, in 1804, Ranjit Singh's Forces defeated the British force under the command of Colonel Monson. In fact, on this very episode Major Bingley [8] wrote, "All our efforts, however, to take Bharatpur by storm, proved fruitless and after the failure of these attempts with a loss of 380 killed and 1894 wounded, the seige degenerated into a mere blockade. The success of the Jats may be chiefly attributed to the failure of Lord Lake's first assault". This may have led General Sir Sleeman [10] to say "in the midst is the handsome tomb of Ranjit Singh, who defended Bharatpur so bravely against Lord Lake's army".

Eventually Ranjit Singh made peace with the British and died in 1805. After Ranjit Singh Bharatpur most Jats remained friendly towards the British. Others, formed band of robbers, and later became known as Pindaris [8]. These bands devastated Rajasthan and Central India from 1805 to 1816. The name of one celebrated leader of those bands was a Jat called Chitu. For a long time Chitu defied the powerful armies sent against him and his Jat followers. Eventually, Chitu was killed by a tiger in the jungle near Asirgarh [8]. Jats rebelled against the British rule in 1809 and 1824 which subsequently led to the raising of their fortifications of Bharatpur to the ground in 1825 by the British.

In the later years, Jats proved good and faithful soldiers for the British crown. For example, Lt. General Sir MacMunn [1] wrote, "Hindu Jat came to such a great fame in the World War 1, for one of their battalions to receive the title of "Royal". General MacMunn goes on to state, "The modern Jat likie the Jat Sikh is solid and unimaginative, but never forgets what he has once learnt. He is sturdy and independent in character and does not subscribe". Interestingly, on page 47 of his book Sir MacMunn

[1] quoted a statement concerning Jats, coming from some segment of the Indian society, during the British rule, "If you will become Fidei Defensor and general kicker of dust, against the British, then perhaps it will be possible to admit that the Jats were wrongfully and negligently regarded as having no Rajput (son of the rulers) status, and the matter can be put right". Sir Sleeman reports that Jats and Jat sikhs tended to intermarry. For example, he wrote, "The Raja's (King of Balamgarh) young sister had just been married to the son of the Jat chief (a Sikh and Sidhu Jat) of Nabha, who was accompanied in his matrimonial visit (barat -a group of guests attending the wedding from the bridegroom side) by the chief of Ladhaura, and the son of the Sikh chief (a Sidhu Jat) of Patiala".

History and study of the Jats. By Professor B.S Dhillon. ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026. End of Page 80

5.1 Jat/Rajput Relationship

According to Sir Ibbetson as quoted in Ref. [10] the distinction between Jat and Rajput (son of king) is social rather than ethnic. Jat practices widow marriage but the Rajput does not. Colonel Tod [11] said, "In all the ancient catalogues of the thirty-six royal races of India the Jit (Jat) has a place, though by none is he ever styled "Rajput". In fact, on page 69 of his book (Vol.1 ) he provides a table of the thirty-six royal races. According to the table Dahiya (Dahae) Jats, in particular, are listed separately as one of the thirty-six royal races of India.

On this very issue Tod [11] wrote, "Dahiya is an ancient tribe, whose residence was the banks of the Indus (river), near its confluence with the Sutlej (river in Punjab); although they retain a place amongst the thirty-six royal races, we have not the knowledge of any as now existing. They are mentioned in the annals of the Bhattis of Jessulmer (in Rajasthan province of India), and from name as well as locale, we may infer that they were the Dahae (Scythian Jats) of Alexander".

It is to be noted here that the Dahiyas are a well known Jat clan and the author [12] of an excellent book on Jats is himself a Dahiya.

Furthermore, Bingley [8] said they can still be found in Harayana province's districts of Rohtak, Karnal and Gurgaon in India. It appears that Col. Tod was not fully aware of all the existing Jat clans as his book was written in 1829.

With respect to Jat-Rajput connections Dahiya [12] said, "The change of Jats/Gujars into Rajput began after the seventh century A.D. because of the revival of orthodox Hinduism at the cost of egalitarian Buddhism. These people, mostly headed by royal houses, who were formally converted by the Brahmans (Hindu priests) by Agni (fire) stoma and other sacrifices, were called Rajputra (son of king) or new Rajputs are but formally Hindunised Jats and Gujars. Those who refused to accept the conditions and dictates of rigid Brahminical (Hindu priest's) order, were not formally converted and therefore, they remain, to this day, the same Jats, Gujars and Avars/Abirs (Ahirs) of Central Asia Scythians". He added, "at Mount Abu in Rajasthan province, India, and many of the newcomers were 'purified' by the fire. They were given the name Rajputra, meaning the royal princes or the sons of the kings which they already were".

Similar sentiments were also expressed by Col. Tod [11] and Captain Bingley [13], respectively, "The Agnicoonda (creation place of the fire born Rajputs) is still shown on the summit of (mount) Aboo, where the four races (of Rajputs) were created by the Brahmins to fight the battles of Achiles and polytheism, against the monotheistic Buddhists, represented as serpents or Takshacs" and "The Ancestors of the four agnicular or fire tribes of Rajputs are generally considereted to have been Scythians warriors who assisted Brahmans in their final struggles with the Buddhists and were admitted into the ranks of the "twice born" as reward for their services to Hinduism. Some sort of story being necessary to account for their origin the Brahmans bestowed upon them the title of "fireborn" to distinguish them from the original Rajput races".

History and study of the Jats. By Professor B.S Dhillon. ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026. End of Page 81

5.2 Books on Jats

There are three books in English which are concerning Jats: History, Caste & Culture of Jats and Gujars by Bingley [8], History of the Jats by Qanungo [3], and the Political System of the Jats of Northern India by Pradhan [14].

The book by Bingley first appeared in 1899 contains 128 pages and is divided into four chapters plus an appendix. Chapter 1 essentially traces the history and origin of the Jat people (this includes Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh Jats). Also, it presents a detailed history of the Jats of Bharatpur specifically and the surrounding areas. Chapter 2 provides classification and geographical distribution of Jats and Gujars (a people also related to Jats). Population and clan names of the Jats living in Hoshiarpur, Hissar, Rohtak, Karnal, Gurgaon, Bikaner, Jaipur, Saharnpur, Muzaffarnagar, meerut, Aligarh, Agra, Mathura, Bharatpur, and Dholpur districts of India are given. Chapter 3 covers religion, customs, and religious festivals of the Jats and Gujars. The characteristics of both Jats and Gujars are described in Chapter 4.

These include family life, dress, ornaments, the Jat village life, morality, personal habits, law of inheritance, and so on. The appendix is divided into two parts. Part 1 provides information on fairs and part 2 lists principal clan names of the Jats in an alphabetical order.

The second book on Jats alone in English was written by Professor K.R. Qanungo [3] in 1925. The book is composed of 205 pages and contains the following chapters and appendice:

• Chapter 1: Origin and Early History • Chapter 2: Jat History in Aurangzip's (Moghal emperor of India) Reign • Chapter 3: Expansion of the Jat Power • Chapter 4: Rajah (king Suraj Mal, an Ally of Nawab Safdar Jang • Chapter 5: Suraj Mal's Struggles with the Marathas (a Hindu people from Bombay Area) • Chapter 6: Ahmad Shah Durrani's campaign (Afghan invader of India) Against the Jats • Chapter 7: Suraj Mal's Great Disappointment • Chapter 8: Reign of Suraj Mal • Chapter 9: Legacy of Suraj Mal • Chapter 10: Maharaja (Great King) Sawai Jawahir Singh Bharatendra • Chapter 11: Reign of Rajah (king) Jawahir Singh • Chapter 12: Civil War • Chapter 13: Regency of Nawal Singh • Chapter 14: Decline of the House of Bharatpur • Chapter 15: Reign of Rajah (King) Ranjit Singh • Appendix (Chapter 8): Details of the Death of Suraj Mal

History and study of the Jats. By Professor B.S Dhillon. ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026. End of Page 82

• Appendix A: The Theory of the Indo-Scythians Origin of the Jats • Appendix B: The legend About the Yadu Tribe • Appendix C: The Jat Risings During Aurangzib's (Mughal Emperor of India) Reign The book on Jats by Professor Pradhan [14], appeared in 1666, is composed of 275 pages divided basically into eight chapters plus an Appendix. The titles of the chapters are Economic and Demographic Background (Chapter1), Shoron (Chapter 2), Kinship Organization (Chapter 3), History (Chapter 4), Political Structure 1 (Chapter 5), Political Structure 2 (Chapter 6), The Effects of Change (Chapter 7), and Conclusion (Chapter 8). This book contains materials from Professor Pradhan's Doctoral Dissertation concerning Jats, in fact, he clearly states on page xi of his book (14) "The present volume is an abridged and revised Ph.D. thesis submitted at the University of London in December, 1961 under the title Socio-political organization of the Jats of Meerut (a district in Uttar Pradesh province of Northern India) Division".

5.3 Principal Clans of the Jats

Jat people are composed of many clans [8] and some of those are Alawat, Badwar, Bahinwar, Bora, Chahil, Daghar, Dahia, Dalal, Deswali, Dhaliwal, Dhillon, Gabar, Gaur, Ghatwal, Golia, Haga, Hela, Henga, Hudah, Jakhar, Jhar, Kadian, Khokhar, Maini, Malik, Mann, Mor, Nain, Narwal, Palwal, Penwar, Phor, Phor, Ponwar, Pote, Puniya, Rana, Rathi, Rawat, Sahrawat, Sandhu, Sinsinwar, Tang, Tomar, Tonwar, Tur. Uthwal,

5.4 Important Political Figures of the Jats in Post-Independence India

The Jat Community has produced many important political figures in India. In fact, the politics of the Haryana state of India ever since its inception have been dominated by the Jats. One chief minister of the undivided Punjab, just after India became independent, was a Jat named Chhotu Ram. Other important political figures were Charan Singh (Prime Minister of India for a short Period), Devi Lal (deputy Prime Minister of India for a short period), Bansi Lal (Chief Minister of Haryana and Defense Minsiter of India), and so on.

History and study of the Jats. By Professor B.S Dhillon. ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026. End of Page 83

5.5 References:

Chapter 5 -History and Study of the Jats following the Two Great Faiths of South Asia [1]. MacMunn, G. (Sir and Lt. Gen.), The Martial Races of India, reprinted by Mittal Publications, Delhi, India, 1979, pp. 48-49, 277, first published in 1932.

[2]. Temple, R.C., Legends of the Punjab, London, 1893-1901.

[3]. Qanungo, K.R., History of the Jats, reprinted by Sunita Publications, Delhi, India, 1987, pp. 16, 90-91, 101, 111, first published in 1925.

[4]. Al Biladuri, in the History of India: As Told by its Own Historians, edited by Sir Elliot, H.M. and Professor Dowson, J., Vol. 1, reprinted by AMS Press, Inc., New York, 1966, pp. 119, 128, first published in 1867.

[5]. Sykes, P. (Sir and Brig. Gen.), A History of Persia, Macmillan & Co. Ltd., London, reprinted in 1958, first published in 1915, pp. 10-11 (Vol. 2).

[6]. Imad-us-Saadat (written in Persian around 1808), for more information see Qanungo, K.R., History of the Jats, reprinted by Sunita Publications, Delhi, India, 1987, pp. 24-25, 33-34, first published in 1925.).

[7]. Muntakhabu-L-Lubab by Khafi Khan, in the History of India: as Told by Its Own Historians, edited by Elliot, H.M., and Dowson, J., Vol. 7, reprinted by the AMS Press., New York, 1966, pp. 531-533, first published in 1877.

[8]. Bingley, A.H., History, Caste and Culture of the Jats and Gujars, reprinted by the Ess Ess Publications, New Delhi, India, 1978, pp. 16-17, 21, 23-28, first published in 1899.

[9]. Majmu-L-Akhbar by Harsukh Rai, in the History of India: as told by its Own Historians, edited by Elliot, H.M., and Dowson, J., Vol. VIII, reprinted by the AMS Press, Inc., New York, 1966, pp. 360-368, first published in 1877.

[10]. Sleeman, W.H. (Sir and Major General), Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official, reprinted by the Oxford University Press, Karachi, Pakistan, 1973, pp. 378-379, 476-477, first published in 1844. [11]. Tod, J. (Lt. Col.), Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, reprinted by the Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London, 1972, pp. 88, 69, 98, 76 (Vol. I), first published in 1829. [12]. Dahiya, B.S., Jats: The Ancient Rulers, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India, 1980, pp. xi (Introduction), 71, 101. [13]. Bingley, A.H.(Captain), Handbooks for the Indian Army: Sikhs, compiled under the orders of the Government of India, Printed at the Government Central Printing Office, Shimla, India, 1899, pp. 8-9. [14]. Pradhan, M.C., The Political System of the Jats of Northern india, Oxford University Press, London, 1966.

History and study of the Jats. By Professor B.S Dhillon. ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026. End of Page 84

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