History of the Jats:Dr Kanungo/The theory of the Indo-Scythian Origin of the Jats

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History of the Jats

Contribution to the History of Northern India (Upto the Death of Mirza Najaf Khan, 1782)

By Kalika Ranjan Qanungo. Edited and annotated by Vir Singh. Delhi, Originals, 2003, ISBN 81-7536-299-5.

Appendix A


The theory of the Indo-Scythian origin of the Jats

[Page 187] The Indo-Scythian theory, associated with the names, of some of the greatest scholars in the field of Indian History and Ethnology, has so long held the field and stifled doubt by the force of authority. V.A.Smith, the last learned champion of this theory,says "When the numerous Bala, Indo-Scythian, Gujar, and Huna -tribes of the 6th century horde settled, their princely houses were accepted as Rajput, while those who frankly took to agriculture became Jat."[1] Elsewhere he remarks, "There is reason for believing that the Jats entered India later than the Gujars, rather about the same time.[2] The following points may, 'however, be- urged against this theory :

  • (1) Col. Tod's inscriptional evidence of the existence of a Jit ruling dynasty as old as 409 AD.[3]
  • (2) The traditional enmity between the Rajput and the Jat [XXXI] makes it extremely doubtful that they had entered

1. J.R.A.S. 1899, p. 534.
2. Ibid, 1909, p. 63.
3. Crooke's edition of Rajasthan, i. 128, foot-note 1. The editor expresses a doubt "whether the Jat Kathida is the Jat or Gaetae of Cathay."
XXXI There was no traditional enmity of the Jats with the whole body of the Rajputs. It is the product of later Mughal Period, especially with the Kachhwah rulers of Amber, who were the mansabdars of Mughals and were ordered to suppress the rebellious Jat peasants. Secondly, the Jats of Agra province particularly Sinsinwar Jats and Kachhawahs were neighbours and the ambition of expanding their zamindaris became the cause of conflict. So, Kachhwahas cannot be taken for Rathors, Sisodias and other prominent Rajput clans. Zamindars and peasant conflict was natural in other regions also. - Ed


[Page 188] India - if they did it at all – at the same time as comrades, but had afterwards become divided into two hostile groups. Everywhere we find the earlier Jat occupant of the soil supplanted by the new Rajput immigrants. The Parmar displaced him in Malwa, and the Tanwar snatched away Delhi from him. [4] The Rathor wrested Bikaner and the Bhatti imposed his rule upon him at Jaisalmer.
  • (3) The Scythians who were very probably men with broad faces, and high cheek bones, sturdy and short in stature, are-little likely to have been the ancestors of a tall statured and long-headed people like the Jats.
  • (4) A great blunder committed by the enthusiastic exponents of the Indo-Scythian theory was to overlook the the line of migration of the people who who call themselves Jat today. The tradition[5] of almost all the Jat clans of the Punjab (even including an apparently extra-Indian people, the Babbar Jats of Dera Ghazi Khan), points to the east or south-east -Oudh, Rajasthan and the Central Provinces-as their original home. If popular tradition counts for anything, it points to the view that they are an essentially Indo-Aryan people who have migrated from the east to the west and Indo-Scythians who poured in from the Oxus Valley. Undoubtedly a certain section of the Jats migrated outside India along with the Bhattis and after several centuries were swept back from the borders of Persia to the east of the Indus. But they cannot be justly called foreign invaders on that account.

4. It is not unlikely that this famous city derives its name the Dhillon or Dhillhon Jats, who are still found in large numbers in Delhi district. Folk etymology connects the name Dhillon with dhila or lazy.
5. Only the Ghatwal, Kang and Malik Jats remember any connection with Gajni or Garh Gajni which, however, they persist in placing not in Afghanistan, but somewhere in the Deccan. (Rose's Punjab Glossary, ii. 56, 472; iii. 56). But Sir H.M. Elliot goes on saying "Almost all the Jats of N.W. Provinces who do not claim Rajput descent trace their origin from the far north-west, and some of them as the Ganthwaras point to Gajni or Garh Gajni apparently that in Afghanistan. Here without any knowledge of the learned discussions about the identity of the Jat and the ancient Gaetae we find traditionary legends of these tribes pointing to the remote Gajni as their original seat!!! .... " [Memoirs of the N. W, Provinces, 1. 132].

[Page 189] It is perhaps against the rule of historical evidence to identify the Jats with the Gaete, Yuti, Yetha or other Indo-Scythian people simply for the sake of the resemblance of sound between their names, in defiance of the evidence of philology and ethnology to the contrary. It is of little use to point out the place of the Jatas or Su-jatas in the great genealogical tree of the Yadu race, when doubt hangs upon the very origin of the Yadus themselves. Col. Tod made a rather desperate attempt to prove the common origin of the Tatars, the Chinese and the Aryan Kshatriyas of the Lunar race by a study of the comparative genealogical trees of these three races and the traditions of their origin [Crooke's ed. of Rajasthan, i. 71-72]. Wilson, who held the Purans to be not older than 1045 AD, also suspected that the Hayas and the Haihayas of the Hindus had some connection with the Hia, .... "who make a figure in the Chinese history .... It is not impossible, however, that we have confirmatory evidence of the Scythian origin of the Haihayas as Col. Tod supposed" [Wilson's Vishnu Puran, p. 418, foot note 20]. In short, it has been suspected by many European Orientalists that a Central Asian genealogy entered India with the Indo-Scythian races and was cleverly engrafted on the Indo-Aryan genealogical tree by the unscrupulous Hindu ethnologist, who dubbed the descendants of the barbarian invaders as Kshatriyas of the Lunar race.

Fictitious genealogies

Fictitious genealogies both of individuals and peoples are among the commonest phenomena in the history of all nations. But what is the motive behind this? First, a successful upstart or a little-esteemed tribe rising to importance which had no brilliant past - wants to create one of fanciful grandeur to serve as worthy back-ground of their bright present and brighter future. Secondly, people adapt their genealogy to their newly-adopted religion or to that of their more powerful and more civilized neighbours. Such is the case with the Muhammadan people outside Arabia. Many tribes of Afghanistan, who were idol-worshipping Buddhists as late as the time of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, are found to-day claiming descent from Khalid, a renowned contemporary of the Prophet [Dorn's trans. of the Makhzanni-Afaghana]. The Buddhistic Turks on their conversion to


[Page 190]

[Page 190] Islam made similar changes to suit the Arab tradition. It is notorious how Indian converts to Islam set up ludicrous claims to Shaikh or Sayyid origin. What Arabia was to the Muslim people outside it, that India had been before the birth of Christ to the Buddhistic people of the Middle and the far east. It is a known fact of history that China and Tartary received Buddhism from the-Indian missionaries. No Hindu has been ever known to claim a Chinese origin, but the people of China, as Sir William Jones[6] pointed out, claim a Hindu lineage.

Movement of Indian tribes into other parts of Asia

The exponents of the Indo-Scythian theory must, in all fairness, admit that if the Central Asian Gaete could somehow become the Aryan Jadu or Jat, by a reverse process the Indian Jadu might as well degenerate into the Gaete in Central Asia. From the time of the conquest of the Indus valley by Darius to the dissolution of the Maurya empire (cir. 600 B.C.-200 B.C.) Indian tribes streamed out in continuous flow into other parts of Asia, under various circumstances. Just as the English Government encourage the Gurkha and Sikh mercenaries to found colonies in different parts of the Indian empire, specially in Burma, and as the Russian Government a few centuries back established the hardy and warlike Tatar Cossacks on the Don and other exposed points of their empire, similarly, the Indian mercenaries or forced recruits who served the Persian empire from the day of Marathon and Thermopylae to that of Arbela - were perhaps settled on the coast of the Black sea where they became known as the Sindis and Kerketae. [7] Besides military service, commercial enterprise also possibly took the Indian people to different countries. The greatest impetus to this foreign migration was given by the extension of the Maurya empire to the Hindukush, and the subsequent spread of Buddhism through Central Asia and China. The rapid Indianization of Turkistan, attested by Fa-hian and other Chinese pilgrims who passed through that region to India, could not have been achieved by a handful of


6. See Rajasthan, i, 69, foot-note 1. W. Crooke remarks "the comparison of Mongol with Hindu tradition is of no value."
7. See Elliot's History, i. 518.

[Page 191] missionaries only but also perhaps by the Indian merchant and the Indian mercenary. As with the spread of Islam, the Arab was always a welcome emigrant among Muslim people, so had been the Indian in the newly converted Buddhistic countries. It can be legitimately inferred that those Central Asian Buddhistic kingdoms as well as the Greek principalities of the Middle East encouraged the migration of the Indian people into their own country in pursuit of a policy like that of Peter the Great of Russia, who recruited his official nobility from the Germans and encouraged the migration of artisans from the countries of Western Europe to westernise the Oriental Russia . And the lead in the foreign migration was given by the unorthodox and enterprising Yadus who rapidly multiplied, absorbing no doubt many outlandish elements from the Punjab tribes. That the race of Yadu migrated outside India is supported by the tradition of the Bhattis of Jaisalmer, who ruled Zabulistan till the advent of Islam in that country. In their foreign colonies only the aristocratic section of the Yadus, such as the Bhattis, perhaps Kept their blood unadulterated; but the rank and file freely inter-marrying with the alien races of Tartary had produced a people of Turkoman type speaking a Turkish language. Alberuni mentions a Turkish tribe with an unmistakeable Indian name Bhattavaryan. [8] Two other tribes of Central Asia who are supposed to be the ancestors of the Jats are the Dahae and Massagetae (Great Gate), on the eastern coast of the Caspian [Rajasthan, i. 55]. The Dahae are said to be the same people as the Dahas of the Vishnu Puran (Wilson, Vishnu Puran, p. 192, foot-note 100) and the modern Dahiya Jats.

This is a mere suggestion without any historical proof except the similarity of sound. On the same principle one may hold that the Dahae on the Caspian were a section of the Yadus,


8. "Leaving the ravine by which you enter Kashmir, and entering the plateau, then you have to march for two more days on your left the mountains of Bolor and Shamilan, Turkish tribes who are called Bhattavaryan. Their King has the title of Bhatta-Shah. Their towns are Gilgit, Aswira and Shiltas, and their language is Turkish. " (Eng. trans. Sachau, p. 207).

[Page 192] who bore in the time of Mahabharat the tribal name of Dashai, easily reducible to Dahai.[9]

We are told that the Jats were called Sus, Abars, and by many other names. The fact is not that the Jats adopted the name of Su-Sakas or Abhirs but that these latter people took the tribal designation of the former, their more esteemed superiors. Further we find "The Yuchi, established in Bactria and along the Jihoon, eventually bore the name of Jeta or Yetan, i.e., the Gaetes." [Histoire des Huns, i. 42]. What on earth could induce all these conquering tribes, the Saka, the Yuchi, the Hun, and other Turkish people to assume such designations as Yeta, Gaete, and Bhattavaryan? This leads one naturally to suspect that there must be some fascination, some great tradition of nobler blood and higher civilization associated with this name, having as much attraction for these Central Asian tribes as the proud name "Rajput" has for all the martial Hindu tribes of India. These descendants of the ancient Indo-Aryan colonists settled on the banks of the Oxus and the coast of the Black Sea stood in the same relation to Aryandom as the- descendants of the present generation of the Indian emigrants in the far off Fiji and in the wilderness of Africa will stand to ours after a century or two when their Indian nationality will hardly be recognisable owing to admixture of the blood, and religious and linguistic differences from their parent stock.


9. Dahiyas : In the Mahabharat Shri Krishna is often addressed as दाशार्ह i.e., descendant of Dasharha. Sisupal angrily designates him Dasharha, unworthy of the title of King (Sabha, chap. 39). In the list of people दाशार्ण (Dasharna) comes before कुकुर (Kukura ) : but this seems to be a mistake for Dasharha (Bhishma, chap. 8: also Bana Parva, chap. 183). Brihat Samhita of Baraha-mihira mentions दाशार्ण (Dasharna) as people inhabiting the south eastern (आग्नेय) quarter (S. Divedi's Sans text vol. x. p. 288), but in a following chapter this tribe is mentioned in the north west along with the Kakayas and Gandharas (ibid, p. 314). Though repetition is by no means unusual, the latter is perhaps a mistake for दाशार्ह.


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