Jarta (जर्त) Jarata (जरत) Jartika (जर्तिक) Jartrika (जर्त्रिक) Jarttika (जर्तिक) Jarita (जरित) or Garta (गर्त) is one of The Mahabharata Tribes, living in ancient time in the vicinity of Sakala and who are mentioned in the Karna Parva of the Mahabharata. (VIII.30.14)
Some historians have propounded theory of origin of Jats from Jartas, which is based on apparent similarity of sound of the words Jat, Jarta and Jartrika. This theory has been rejected by Jat historians like Hukum Singh Pawar (Pauria). He writes that just as the later Kushan-Saka-Jats were assimilated with the aboriginal Jats, so might have Jartas been absorbed into them. 
Ptolemy mentions the Zaratoi living in Jalandhar, where Pliny describes Geratae in the country of Amanda, identified with the Salt range in Punjab. As the name suggests Zaratoi and Geretae are undoubtedly the Jartas of the Indian text, who defeated the Hunas in India at a later date. These people are also identified with the Jats. If this identity is correct, as is firmly believed by some historians of the Jats, it does prove the presence of Jats in Punjab in the contemporary period of above cited Greek and Roman historians, and also of the Scythic invaders. 
Meaning of Jarta
Historian Atal Singh Khokhar , the author of the book on Jat history in Hindi - "Jāton kī Utpati evam Vistār (Jarta taranginī)" जाटों की उत्पत्ति एवं विस्तार (जर्त तरंगिणी), 2002, writes that those who produced food after irrigating the earth with water were known as Jats (Jarita).
Bhim Singh Dahiya  writes - In Unādivṛitti, Hemachandra says that the word Jat means king. This was so because the Jats were the first rulers in the vast central Asian plains as per Deva-Samhita. In a commentary on Unadi Sutra (V. 52), the meaning of the word Jarta is given as roma, i.e. hair. Durga Simha (7th century A.D.) says, "Jartah Dlrgharoma", i.e. the Jats have (or mean) long hair. This meaning has obviously been given because traditionally the Jats kept long hair on their heads and also had beards. That is why the word Jat came to be associated with Jatas (long hair) of Lord Shiva. In this context, the meaning of "Jāṭyah Jāṭṇarah). (जाट्य जाटणार:)" of Yashka becomes clear; it shows that Jatas (long hairs) were a special feature of the Jats. It is significant that in the Punjab, the flock of long hair is even today called Gutt as well as Jatt. Both these forms of Gutt and Jatt are used for naming these people also. Therefore, when the Mahabharta says that, "Sakāshtukhārah Kankāscha Romasha Sringṇonarāh", it correctly places the "long distant traveller" Jats on the high hills of Pamir. 42 The other names in this verse are those of various Jat clans, viz., Tukhar, Kang, etc. The word Romasha used here baffled Wilson, the commentator of Vishnu Purana and he thought that it may perhaps stand for the Greeks. It is not so. The word stands for the people with long hair, i.e., the Jats as explained above.
Bhim Singh Dahiya  further writes - The word Jat however, is not an Apabhransa of Jarta. Jarta itself is Sanskritised form of Jat, in the same manner in which the Central Asian Gujars were named Gurjara and Munda was made into Murunda. In both these cases the letter 'r' was added in the same manner in which it was added in Jarta.
Jarita in Rigveda
- असत सु मे जरितः साभिवेगो यत सुन्वते यजमनय शिक्षम |
- अनाशीर्दामहमस्मि परहन्ता सत्यध्व्र्तं वर्जिनायन्तमाभुम || Rigveda (X.27.1)
- asat su me jaritaḥ sābhivegho yat sunvate yajamanaya śikṣam |
- anāśīrdāmahamasmi prahantā satyadhvṛtaṃ vṛjināyantamābhum || Rigveda (X.27.1)
- अछिद्रा शर्म जरितः पुरूणि देवानछा दीद्यानः सुमेधाः |
- रथो न सस्निरभि वक्षि वाजमगने तवं रोदसीनः सुमेके || Rigveda (III.15.5)
- achidrā śarma jaritaḥ purūṇi devānachā dīdyānaḥ sumedhāḥ |
- ratho na sasnirabhi vakṣi vājamaghne tvaṃ rodasīnaḥ sumeke ||
- अयमस्मि जरितः पश्य मेह विश्वा जातान्यभ्यस्मि मह्ना |
- रतस्य मा परदिशो वर्धयन्त्यादर्दिरो भुवना दर्दरीमि || Rigveda (VIII.100.4)
- ayamasmi jaritaḥ paśya meha viśvā jātānyabhyasmi mahnā |
- ṛtasya mā pradiśo vardhayantyādardiro bhuvanā dardarīmi || Rigveda (VIII.100.4)
Jarta in Mahabharata
- śākalaṃ nāma nagaram āpagā nāma nimnagā
- jartikā nāma bāhlīkās teṣāṃ vṛttaṃ suninditam ...Mahabharata (VIII.30.14)
The Mahabharata contains several chapters, devoted to the description of the different tribes of the punjab and Sindh-the home of the Jat people within historic times. A people known as Jartikas is mentioned along with the Madrakas-both called Bahikas. The acrimonious reply of Karna to Shalya, king of Madrakas contains a graphic in Karna Parva Mahabharata through distorted picture of the habits and character of these people.  K R Qanungo mentions incidence from Mahabharata that there is a town named Sakala and river named Apaga where section of the Bahikas, known as the Jartikas, dwell. Their character is very repressible.He mentions about a Bahika who had to sojourn for a time in Kuru-jungal country sang the following song about the women of his country:
- "Though a Bahika, I am at present an exile in Kuru-jangal country; that tall and fair-complexioned wife of mine, dressed in her fine blanket certainly remenbers me when she retires to rest. Oh! when shall I go back to my country crossing again the Satadru (the Sutlej) and Iravati and see beautiful females of fair complexion, wearing stout bangles, dressed in blanket and skins, eye-sides coloured with dye of Manshila, forehead, cheek and chin painted wit collyrium (tatooing ?). When shall we eat under the pleasant shade of Shami, Peelu and Karir, loaves and balls of fried barley powder with waterless churned curd (kunjik), and gathering strength, take away the clothes of the wayfarers and beat them?" 
Ram Sarup Joon writes that ....There is a story in Karna Parva/Mahabharata Book VIII Chapter 23 of the Mahabharata that when Dron Acharya was killed in action, Karna was appointed Commander in Chief of Kaurava Army. He chose Raja Shalya of Sialkot as his charioteer. He was a Madrak Jat and a brother of Madri, mother of the Pandavas. When they were driving to the battle field Karan said, “0, Shalya, there is none equal to me in archery in the Pandava army. They will flee before my arrows”. Shalya was frank and said “No, my people don’t acknowledge your prowess with the bow and arrow as being superior to that of Arjuna.” Karan felt offended and remarked caustically’ “0 Shalya, what do you Jartikas living in the land of five rivers, know about archery and bravery. All your people, Arh, Gandhar, Darad, Chima, Tusar, Malhia, Madrak, Sindhaw, Reshtri, Kukat, Bahik and Kekay eat onion and garlic..... The gotras mentioned above are all Jats and are not found in any other community. However ungraceful the remark, it does prove the existence of Jats in that period and that people of Punjab were called Jatika or Jartika.
Guttika in Mahavansa
Mahavansa/Chapter 10 tells....Pandukabhaya's mother and he himself had been befriended by Abhaya, he did not slay the king Abhaya, his eldest uncle, but handed over the government to him for the night-time: he became the `Nagara-guttika' (Guardian of the City). From that time onward there were nagaraguttikas in the capital. Here Guttika is in the sense of Guardian.
Mahavansa/Chapter 21 mentions ....Two Damilas, Sena and Guttika, sons of a freighter who brought horses hither, conquered the king Süratissa (of Lanka), at the head of a great army and reigned both (together) twenty-two years justly. But when Asela had overpowered them, the son of Mutasiva, the ninth among his brothers, born of the same mother, he ruled for ten years onward from that time in Anuradhapura. A Damila of noble descent, named Elara, who came hither from the Chola-country to seize on the kingdom, ruled when he had overpowered king Asela, forty-four years, with even justice toward friend and foe, on occasions of disputes at law.
Theory of origin of Jats from Jarta
Theory of origin of Jats from Jartas is the theory prpoposed by some historians based on similarity of sound of Jat, Jarta and Jartrika. Campbell and Grierson  are the pioneer linguists who probably find the earliest notice of the Jats in the Jarttikas of the Sanskrit literature. Prof. Lassen  and Cunningham , also did not lag behind to identify them with the Jarttikas . But, perhaps, taking a cue from them, the chief exponent of the theory emerges C. V. Vaidya who asserted that the Jats are the Jarttikas or Jartas, living in ancient times in the vicinity of Sakala as mentioned in the Karna Parva of the Mahabharata. He wrote, 
- "Of the three communities i.e. the Marathas, Rajputs, and (Gujars) the Jats are the oldest. They are mentioned in the Mahabharat as Jartas. Their first mention is in the sentence ajay jarto hunan in the grammar of Chandra of the fifth century A.D. Their ethnological characteristics, i.e. their fair complexion, tall stature, high nose and long head, clearly show that they are Aryans. The innate sense of caste prejudice in India has greatly prevented the mixture of races and the Jats have preserved their blood almost uncontaminated. Though treated as Shudra by modem opinion owing to their being agriculturists and their practice of widow marriage, they are the purest Aryans in India and belong to the first race of Aryan invaders, according to our view, the Solar race of Aryans who originally settled in the Panjab". 
Dr. Siddhantashastree  and Dr. B.N. Puri  also connect the Jats with the Jartas or Jarttikas of the Epic . Bhim Singh Dahiya  concedes that Jat is as good a Prakrit form of the Sanskritised Jarta as Gujar is of Gurjara. Yet another historian of the Jats, Lt. Ram Swarup Joon  for whom they are the descendants of the Lunar race of Aryans, believes that all the twelve Bahika tribes, including the Jarttikas, though ungracefully depicted in the Karna Parva, do prove the existence of the Jats (Jarttikas) in the Punjab at the time of Mahabharata.
The Jats were known as DJats  in the ancient Arab world. The Encyclopaedia of Islam  also identifies them with the Jartas who were the Middle Indo-Aryans of post-Sanskritic Indian origin in the Punjab and Sindh. 
The staunchest adherent of the theory is perhaps Buddha Prakash. He not only harps on the tune of C.V. Vaidya, but also furnishes additional information regarding the Jarttika, the alleged ancestors of the Jats. He  writes,
- "It appears that the advent of the Jarttikas or Jartas, who are identical with the Iatii, who together with the Takhoroi, lived near the northern section of the Jaxartes around Taskend, according to Ptolemy, and whose modern descendants, called the Jats, are spread over the whole of the Panjab and mainly responsible for the outlandish features of the Madras, These Jartas were alien to Indian culture, as is manifest from the tone of denunciation, in which their habit of drinking wine, fermented from jaggery and rice, and eating beef with garlic in the form of rolls and chops, is referred to in the Mababharata. As a result of these tribal admixtures, the Madras suffered a setback in the estimation of the orthodox people". 
Buddha Prakash  continues further that:
- "in the beginning centuries of the first millennium B.C. the Jartas and Abhiras spread in the Panjab and caused a degeneration in the morals and manners of its people. In the post-Vedic period, the Jartas had moved into the Panjab and occupied the Madra capital Sakala... In the opinion of Rawlinson , they were identical with the Saka people called Jata or Gata. They were divided into two branches, the Massagetae (big Gata-Jata) and Thyssagetae (small Gata-Jata). Their western wing migrated into Europe and came to be known as Goth and eastern branch descended into India and was called Jarta. Their modern representatives are the Jats, who constitute the backbone of the people of the Panjab". 
Buddha Prakash  also says "a group of Scytho-Iranian tribes, viz. the Arjunayana, Virka, Yaudheya, Balhikas, etc. were penetrating into Punjab in that very period. The Balhikas are said to be offspring of the Pisachas, A variant of Balhika is Valhika in the Mahabharata and another is Vahika". 
Panini  uses the term Vahika for the whole of the Punjab up to the confines of Usinara. Katayana  derives Vahika from 'bahi' (outside) and considers the Vahika country outside the pale of Brahmanical society. The Epic Mahabharata also follows this etymology and all the people of this country were called Vahikas. These people are said to be offspring of two demons, Bahi and Heeka or Hika, residing in the Vipasa river and are denounced in the Mahabharata . 
Coming now to the contemporary evidence of the classical period during which the Mahabharata was mainly interpolated, we know that it is not deficient to thwart the claim of the authors of the Mahabharata and that of the later writers who propagated the flimsy picture of the Vahika tribes. General Chesney  informs us that "the Greeks were loud in praise of the Indians; never in all their eight years of constant warfare had they met with such skilled and gallant soldiers, who, moreover, surpassed in stature and bearing all the other races or Asia .... The Indian village community flourished even at the distant period, and in the brave and manly race which fought so stoutly under Poros twenty two centuries ago we may recognise all the fine qualities of the Panjabi agrarian people of the present day, the gallant who fought us in our turn so stubbornly, and now the most valuable component of the Indian empire, and the best soldiers of its Queen Empress'. This reference, undoubtedly, points to "the accursed" Ayudhajivi ganas of the Bahikadesa and their descendants, the Jats.
Qanungo rejecting the Jarta origin of Jats theory writes The above sketch brings vividly before us a picture of the Land of the Five Rivers and its people in the classic age. Its first impression almost leads one to suppose that these Jartrikas were the ancestors of the modern Jats. But on closer examination this identification of the two peoples proves most illusory. The above extract that the-Banikas were not created by Prajapati, clearly indicates the belief of the dwellers of the Vedic Aryandom that the outer nationalities originated from an ethnic stock or stocks that were quite different from the stock or stocks which they themselves originated.[RP. Chanda's Indo-Aryan Races, i. 42.] These people were apparently the ancestors of the speakers of what Grierson calls the modem Pishacha languages-the Kashmiris, the Dards, and the kafirs of the Hindukush. The later or outlandish Aryans were broad or medium headed and therefore were least likely to be the ancestors of the long headed Jat people. The fact that the Bahika women wore fine blankets and skins, perhaps shows that they were immigrants from colder countries. The tall, fair, debauched and filthy Women of kashmir are perhaps the truer representatives of the ancient Bahika females.
The Jats observe some, though not all the ten customary ceremonials of the Hindus. The Upanayana ceremony does not indeed take place at the usual time, but at the time of marriage. It is the custom for purohits to place on them at their marriages the janeo or sacred thread, removing it a few days after marriage. The Bahikas married within the same got [Vamsa], which the Jat does not. The Jats observe the same law of succession as that of the other Hindus, and in no case is the sister's son regarded as the lawful heir in preference to their own sons - a custom attributed to the Bahikas. No doubt the orthodox Hindus of Sindh stil1 contemptuously can the Jats of that province Baheka or aliens; but it is least likely that the name of one insignificant tribe Jartrika, not known for morality, character, power or purity of conduct, should be adopted by millions of people, inhabiting the large stretch of country from Afghanistan to Malwa. besides no Jat tribe remembers any connection with Sakala; almost all of them believe their ancestors have been immigrants from the interior of India.
This suggested identification based on similarly sounding tribal names alone cannot therefore be accepted as valid source of the origin of the Jats.
External sources on Jartas
It is worth mentioning that some external sources also throw light on the Jartas, but they neither connect them with Jartikkas or Madras, nor do they denounce them. Pliny  the Elder, a Roman scholar (AD 23-79) places Garatae Jartas in the level country of Amanda near Taxila  Ptolemy  also refers to Zaratoi of Indo-Scythian in in Lower Indus, which to N L De  lies near Jalandhar. These sources establish the existence of the Jarta in Panjab and Sindh, but they do not speak adversely of them. Rather, the Bahikas are admired "for decorous behaviour and good ways of life ". Strabo  and Mgagasthenes  found them "simple and frugal,orderly in behaviour, observing self restraint in theft and not given to drinking except at sacrifices'. Diodorus  found them governed by laws in the highest degree salutary and their political system as one to admire; beauty was held among them in the highest estimation in preference to dowry etc." and "the inhabitants of these cities (Sangala or Sakala)" are generally held "in higher estimation than the rest of their countrymen". 
Theory of origin of Jats from Jarta rejected
Hukum Singh Pawar (Pauria) sums up the discussion on the theory: it may, in capsule, be remarked that the version of the Mahabharata, regarding the Jarttikas and their gloomy picture, cannot be considered reliable because of its more-than one redactions, revisions and interpolations at different times by different scholars with vested interests. The contention of scholars, who question the very existence of the Jarttikas and Sakala at the time of the Epic war, cannot be dismissed lightly and deserves further investigations. The evidence from other sources pertaining to the contemporary period, during which the Great Epic is believed to have been largely interpolated, not only does not support the calumny but, on the other hand, it forcefully contradicts the picture purporting to assassinate the character of the Vahika warrior tribes, the progenitors of the Jats. Modern scholars, who have burnt mid-night oil in making an intensive as well as extensive study of the Great Epic and of the position and status of women in the Heroic Age of Indian history, are not found wanting in rejecting the nefarious depiction of the Vahika women as absurd and preposterous. The purpose of the theory, instead of tracing the origin of the Jats, was threefold i.e. primarily to represent the Jats as outlanders (Vahikas or Bahikas) in the sense that they hailed from other adjoining countries whereas they are, being the purest Aryan, the autochthons in India; secondly to denounce them perpetually in popular estimation, by identifying them with the obnoxiously painted Jarttika or Jartas, as fallen and degenerated as depicted in the great epic; thirdly to denounce the ancestors of the present Jats for adopting Buddhism and for not submitting to the yoke of brahmanism which after its revival sought to impose on them in ancient period. A clever play upon words with similar sounds has been made to conceal the truth, which cannot be easily understood by common man. 
Even if we accept the identification of the modern Jats with the ancient Jarttikas or Jartas, we, as noticed above, find the life and character of the two people poles apart. In all probability the Jartas were followers of Zoroastara (Zaratushtra = Zarat + ushtra, Traraaporevala, 1951: 73f and Rahurkar, 1964: 130) who, as informed by Max Muller  , before their schism with the followers of Vedic religion, "were a colony from northern India and who were Ahura Worshippers". The coins of Kanishka  present besides others the Zoroastrian gods also. We have every reason to gather from it that some of the Zoroasstrians must also be in the Panjab and Sindh during his reign. Like the Sakas and Kushanas they must have been naturally denigrated by the champions of the Brahmanical faith. Just as the later Kushan-Saka-Jats were assimilated with the aboriginal Jats, so might have Jartas been absorbed into them. But we must remember that the Jarta admixture is something different from Jarta origin of the Jats. Hence, the theory is rejected as much a futile effort as the scaling of the height of the Everest by a blind with a raw cotton thread."