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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Zata is a variant of Jat.


Jat Gotras Namesake

Mention by Pliny

Pliny[2] mentions The nations of Scythia and the countries on the Eastern Ocean..... There are numerous islands throughout the whole of the Caspian sea: the only one that is well known is that of Tazata.14

14 Ansart suggests that this island is that now called Idak, one of the Ogurtchinski group.

Theory of Jat origin from Yazatas

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[3] write....Coming back to the Yazatas, alluded to above: they, too, were, as their very name suggests, the people directly or indirectly related with Yayats (or, according to Heeren182 the Jayats), the supposed descendents of Yajati. They were the people who upheld republicanism against monarchy. They were denounced in the Brahmanical literature

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as 'a-Yajnika', non-sacrificer, non-oblationist, 'a-Karnana', against animal food, and to crown all 'a-Brahmanic'. They were the descendents of the Aila Aryans (the Yayatas) With whom Brahmanism was originally not an institution183. They appeared as strong protestants on the scene with the emergence of the Brahmanical class and the imperial power of the Bharatas who enjoyed all the blessings and benedictions of the former.

In view of the propinquity between Yajata and Yazata, the respective hypocoristic (pet) names of the alleged descendens of Yayati and of the spiritual fore-runners and followers of Zarathushtra, it is convincingly plausible that the names were lectio difficilior for the either of the two. They were, in fact, one and the same people. The, Yazatas were undoubtedly those descendents or followers of Yayatas who had to migrate to Iran from the Sapta Sindhu at the time of the great Schism. Historians, who do not attach any great importance to the names are content to describe them merely as Schismatic Aryans.

Derivation of Jat from Yayati: It is eminently probable that the cumulative name, Yajata or Yazata, ensconces the semantic value of the term Jat. Philologically, since Y ana J are mutable, Yajata easily and undoubtedly becomes Jajata. If a word is prefixed with the same double consonant, the first the two consonants is eliminated in common parlance. Hence, Yayata will be naturally spoken as Yata or Jata and Yazata as Zata. In Prakrit these names are pronounced With hard 't'. This is exactly how the eminent sanskrit scholar, Shrinivasacharaya184 derives the word "Jat" from Yayati.

Since these are the class names applied to represent certain section of the ancient Aryans, they are written in English with capital J, G & Z. It is extremely interesting to note that the ancient Arabs, the next door neighbours of the Indians and Iranians, knew them as Az-Zat and later knew the Indians simply as zat or Zath, who were, obviously, the Jats. The Arabic version is a logical diminution of Yazata.

There is an obvious and serious objection against this derivation since the Rig-Veda does not know the Panchajatah, i.e. Yadu, Turvasu, Druhyu, Anu and Puru as the-progeny of Yayatil85, they cannot be called Yayata, or for that matter, Jat. Yayati is said to have been fathered on them by Sauti Ugrasharval86 who interpolated the Yayati Upakhyana in the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata187. The objection is very valid: to meet it, we must trace out the progenitors of the people

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called Yayata. This may enable us to solve the riddle which smogs the origin of the Jats. According to Yaskacharya (Niruktam, 10,46) and Monier-Williams (Skt.- Eng. Dic. pp. 636,868), the Purus, whose number was very large, were also known as Pururavas or Pauravas after their eponymous leader, Pururava (Puru + rava), which means one who talks or roars a great deal. Through their matrimonial alliances with one of their branches (the Iksvakus, who dwelt in the Oxus valley), Yadus, the Purus, Turvasus, then Anus, and lastly Druhyus sprang up in that chronological order. These people were, ethnically, known as Panchajatah (R.C. Jain, 1970, p. 92).

The Rig-Veda, too, knows them as Panchajna. They had their respective leaders (gramani), Gana, Samiti and Sabha. In the event of internal and external emergency, they formed their union or federation (sangha), and by virtue of it, they were known by their group name, Panchajatah. The three constitutional terms, i.e. Panchajna, Panchakshitinam and Panchajatah, mentioned in the Rig-Veda, denote respectively, according to R.C. Jain, the political, territorial and racial designations of these people (Ibid. ch. iv, pp. 70-92). The historians, armed with Paninian phrase "jata jhata samghate" (जट झट संघाते) which connotes "union or federation, hold that the confederating members would naturally have become known as Jata. In short, it may be said that these very five races, the so-called Panchajna, became and were called Jata, precisely speaking Panchajatah in plural during the Rig-Vedic period. After these people were declared by Sauti Ugrasharva as the progeny of Yayati in the Mahabharata, they became "notorious" as Yayata after their pseudo-eponymous father. This cumulative name (Yayzta) degenerated in the course of time or was transformed, as we have seen above, into Jata or Jat by some inquisitive scholars interested in the subject.

According to Sauti Ugrasharwa's interpolations in the Mahabharata, the Panchajatah were the progeny of Yayati, or alternatively, they were perhaps the legitimate products of the Pururavas-Iksvakus' matrimonial alliance. One thing, however, is certain, namely, that whatever the truth about their origin, these Panchajatah form a single entity, which probably led Kudaryavtsev to declare their descendents, the Jats, as a distinct Aryan stock. All the five of them have now been universally acclaimed as Aryan/Nordics. Calvin

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Kephart188 describes five branches of the Nordics in central Asia as Suebis (Sivis), Kimmerians (Chumuris), Getae (Jats or later Goths), Massagetae (maha Jats) and Sacae (Sakas or Scythians). These five branches fail to correspond exactly with the five races represented in Panchajatah, but they are, undoubtedly, identifiable with their later descendents who migrated to central Asian Steppes like their forefathers, as we have mentioned above. Jatah as a name in plural was current in Central Asia during the medieval age and it was especially used, as testified by history, by Changez Khan and Tamer Lane (Timur Ling) for the Jats of those countries. It reminds us not only of the Panchajatah but also of their later progeny highlighted by Kephart. But the most lamentable fact about them is that the orthodox writers contrived to cloud their origin.

In view of the above discussion we consider ourselves in a safe position to conclude with conviction that the five tribes i.e. Panchajatah of the Rig-Veda, with Sapta Sindhu as their original home, constitute the racial as well as the geographical "magazine" of the Jats. It should be remembered that the Yadus & Turvasus separated themselves from the Panchajatah and, along with their supposed maternal cousins and Uncles (Devayani's brothers and nephews), joined the Bharatas during the Dasarajna wars. They have maintained their separate identity as Yadus or Yadavas till to-day and are not called Jats.

182. Heeren. A.H.L.; op.cit., Vol. II, Delhi, 1988, p. 162.

183. Pargiter. op.cit .. pp. 305·6.

184. Shrimadacharya Shrinivasacharya, Jat Itihas, Alfa Print Press, 34 A, Sarcar Lane. Calcutta. 7. n.d. p. 15.

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185. Kedar. op, cit . P.2 , In all, there had been three Yayatis in Indian history. One was an anciet king of Odra country 'modem Orissa', (Visvakosa, q. by R Siddhantashatree. 1978: 230). The second was Yayati, the son of Nahusa, son of Saavarni Manu (Sayanabhasya, R.V., VSM, IV,p.231; q. by Rahurkar, 1964: 226-7). He was probably contemporary of Nabhanedhistha according to Sarvanukarman, (Sayana, Ibid). Neither of these two Yayatis is described as related to the Panchajna or Panchajatah. The third Yayati, the great grandson of Pururavas, was the seer of IX.101.4-6 and is also referred to in 1.31.17 and X.63.1. He is also stated to be a son of Nahusa. There was another Nahusa, an Asura son of Prabha, daughter of Svarbhanu, and Viprachitti as his father (Harivansa, 1.3.91-96). If he had a son named Yayati, is anybody's guess.

It is only the Yayati, the great grandson of Pururavas, who is represented as father of the Panchajana or Panchajata in the Puranas (Visnu, V.O.1-2; Bhag., IX.18.1-33 and Mbt.,I, Chs.70-80). Pargiter (1972: 295, fn.4) is, surprisingly, inclined to admit that this relationship of Yayati and the five tribes (Pannachajana or Panachajata) is already suggested in R. V.,I.7.9; VI.14.4; 46.7; IX.65.23 and X.45.6. It appears that since Yayati as well as the eponymous heads of Yadus, Turvasus, Druhyus, Anus and Purus belonged to and sprang from matrimonial alliances between the Pururavas and Iksvakus, the Puranakritas saught a happy marriage of convenience in affining them with Yayati and their relationship may not be purely fictional.

186. Kedar.lhid.

187. Vaidya. C.V.; The Mahabharata (A criticism), 1904, Bombay, pp. 23,167.

188. Kephart. op.cit.. pp. 232. 250f.

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