Rise of Rajputs was for suppressing Buddhism
This was the time when a new people i.e Rajputs were coming up on horizons, in North India, who were subsequently to dominate the history of India, for some centuries to come. Rise of Rajputs is too big a subject to be discussed here. It could form a subject matter of a separate work. Suffice it to say here that these people were made prominent by the Brahmins, for the specific purpose of suppressing Buddhism by use of force, from among the remnants of Hunas and other foreign hordes which had been broken down by the activities of kings like Baladitya and others.
The following account is mainly drawn from a school textbook, “History of India (Hindu period)” by Prof. L. Mukherjee, M.A., Mondal Brothers & Co. Pvt. Ltd. 54-8, College Street, Calcutta. 12. 26th edition., p 198 ff.
“It was a transition period marked by a new grouping of states due to Hun invasions”
“The series of invasions by the Huns and other associated foreign tribes in the fifth and sixth centuries shook the fabric of the Hindu society and brought a rearrangement of the caste system and of the ruling dynasties. The destructive effects of the Hun inroads were, to a certain extent, arrested by Harsha but as soon as his strong hand was removed, they manifested themselves in a regrouping of states. Hence the latter half of the seventh century, during which this new grouping of states took place, may be regarded as a period of transition from early to medieval India.
Rise of the Rajputs
“The most prominent feature of this transitional period is the rise of the Rajput Clans. Henceforth the Rajputs began to play a prominent part in the history of Northern and Western India. Almost all the kingdoms were ruled by families of Rajputs. Hence the period from the death of Harsha to the Muslim conquest of Hindustan may be called the Rajput period.
India split up into numerous states due to absence of a paramount power
“Another feature of this period is that during this long interval, India was not permanently occupied by any foreign people. The country was split up into a large number of states ruled by local Hindu rajahs, often at war with each other. There was no paramount power to unite together under one rule the various kingdoms each of which pursued its own course quite independently. Hence the history of this period lacks unity and cannot be conveniently presented as a continuous narrative.
The Rajput were mostly of foreign origin
“The term ‘Rajput’ does not occur in early Sanskrit literature nor do we hear of Rajput clans before the eighth century A.D. This proves that they were a later addition to the population of India. During the troubled times that followed the breakup of the Gupta Empire, many foreign races such as the Huns, the Gurjaras, etc. settled in the Punjab and Rajputana and became Hinduised in course of time. The upper ranks of these foreigners, whose main occupation was war, came to be known as Rajputs, while the humbler folks ranked low in social status and developed into inferior castes such as Gurjaras, Jats and others.
They were descended from Hinduised Gurjars and other foreign tribes
The division of the same class of people into different social grades was based not on birth but on occupation. Of the Hinduised descendants of the original invaders, those who belonged to ruling classes, with war and government as their chief business, came to be treated as Kshatriyas. The common people, on the other hand, took rank in castes of lower degree.
Some of the Rajput clans are descended from low caste native tribes raised to importance
Thus many of the most distinguished Rajput clans such as the Chauhans, the Pariharas, the Pawars (Paramaras), the Solankis (Chalukyas) are descended mainly from foreigners, called Scythians by Tod. While others are descended from indigenous tribes of inferior castes elevated to the rank of Kshatriyas. The Rashtrakutas of the Deccan, the Rathors of Rajputana, the Chandels of Bundelkhand are examples of the Rajput clans formed by the promotion of the indigenous tribes of inferior social status. Thus, the huge group of the Rajput clans include people of the most diverse descent.
The Rajputs not a race but a group of clans of distinct origin
“From what has been said it is clear that the word Rajput has no reference to race, meaning by that term common descent or blood relationship. The diverse origin of the Rajputs show that they were descended from distinct racial stocks. “The term denotes a tribe or clan of warlike habits, the members of which claimed aristocratic rank.” It is their warlike occupation coupled with their aristocratic rank that gave them a distinctive common feature and made the brahmins recognize them as Kshatriyas.”
Proof of foreign (Scythian) origin of Rajputs
The Rajputs according to Tod, are of Scythian origin. He includes under the designation of the Scythian, the nomad hordes of foreign tribes who swooped down upon India during fifth and sixth centuries A.D. Thus the term Scythian refers to the Huns and other associated tribes. Smith puts forward the following arguments to prove the foreign origin of Rajputs. :-
The Pratihara clan of Kanauj has been proved to be of Gurjara origin
“It is now clearly established that the Huns made their permanent settlements mainly in the Punjab and Rajputana. The Gurjaras, the most important of the Hun group of tribes established a powerful dynasty in Kanauj. It has now been definitely proved that Bhoja and other kings of the dynasty belonged to the Pratihara clan of the Gurjara tribe. Hence the famous Pratihara or Paramara clan of Rajputs was certainly descended from the Gurjara stock. The fact that one of the well known Rajput clans is undoubtedly of Gurjara stock raises a strong presumption that the other clans also are the descendants of the Gurjaras or the allied foreign immigrants.
Evidence of legend of fire pit at Mt. Abu
This presumption receives support from the familiar legend about the fire pit at Mount Abu in southern Rajputana. The legend appears in the Chand Raisa and other works. It groups together four Rajput clans into a brotherhood based on their common origin from a sacrificial fire pit at Mt. Abu. The clans mentioned are the Pawars (Paramaras), the Pariharas (Pratiharas), Chauhans and the Solankis or Chalukyas. They are all mentioned as being “Agnikula” or fire-born. The legend shows that the four clans mentioned are all related to one another and that they all arose in southern Rajputana. Now as the Pariharas are undoubted of foreign origin their allied tribes are also similarly descended from foreign sources.
Prof. Mukherji makes a note, which is now more or less an accepted view that:
“The fact seems to be that when a foreign clan or a tribe became Hinduised those ruling families were recognized as Kshatriyas while the rank and file lost their tribal character and developed into an Indian caste of inferior rank.”
Dr. Ambedkar has observed:
“One view is that they are foreigners, remnants of the Huns who invaded India and established themselves in Rajputana and whom the Brahmins raised to the status of kshatriyas with the object of using them as means to suppress Buddhism in Central India by a special Ceremony before the sacred fire and who were therefore known as Agnikula kshatriyas….”
He has also given views of Vincent Smith, William Crooke and R.D Bhandarkar. A relevant portion is reproduced here. Vincent Smith observed:
“…These foreigners like their forerunners the Sakaa and the Ye-chi university yielded to the wonderful assimilative power of Hinduism and rapidly became Hinduised. Clans or Families which succeeded in winning chieftains were admitted readily into the frame of Hindu polity as Kshatriyas or Rajputs and there is no doubt that the pratiharas and many other famous Rajputs clans of the north were developed out of the barbarian hordes which poured into India during the fifth and sixth centuries. The rank and file of the strangers became Gujars and castes ranking lower than Rajputs in theirs precedence. Further to the south, Various indigenous or aboriginal tribes and clans underwent the same process of Hinduised social promotion in virtue of which Gonds, Bhars, Kharwars and so forth emerged as Chandels, Rathors, Gaharwars and other well known Rajputs clans duly equipped with pedigree reaching back to the sun and moon.”
William Crooke observed:
“… The group denoted by the name Kshatriaya or Rajput depended on status, rather than on descent, and it was, therefore, possible for foreigners to be introduced into these tribes without any violation of the prejudices of the caste, which was then only partially developed. But it was necessary to disguise this admission of foreigners under a convenient fiction. Hence, arose the legend, how, by a solemn act of purification or initiation under the superintendence of the ancient Vedic Rishis, the fire-born septs Known as Agnikula or fire born – viz., the Parmar, Parihar, Chalukya and Chauhan.”
Why was the word used to denote illegitimate children?
Though the word “Rajput” is supposed to be a corrupted form of the Sanskrit word ‘Raajaputra’ which means a “scion of the royal blood” and that the word occurs in the Puranas and also in the Harshcharita of Bana, Mahajan is honest enough to accept that the word, in earlier times and in some areas even now, had a disrespectful meaning, as he says:
“The word “Rajput” is used in certain parts of Rajasthan to denote the illegitimate sons of a Kshatriya chief or Jagirdar.” [Mahajan Vidya Dhar, “Ancient India”, Fifth Edition, Reprint 1972, Chand and Co., New Delhi. p. 550 ff.]
Mahajan does not explain why this is so. But the conclusion is obvious that they were not considered by the original residents to be respectable, to start with. This is because “Raaja” means royal but “Raj” means semen. The progeny of mixed marriages is even now called by that name in some parts.
Tod’s views about their Origin
There are many theories about the origin of the Rajputs.. Mahajan summarizes Tod’s views. [p.551] According to Tod, the Rajputs were the descendants of the Sakas, Hunas, Kushanas, Gurajaras, etc., who came to India and settled there. In course of time, they were merged into Hindu society. They married Indian wives and made India their home. They were admitted into the Hindu castes. The upper ranks of these foreigners formed a separate war-like class and began to call themselves Rajputs while the lower classes began to be known as Jats, Ahirs, etc. In support of his theory, Tod pointed out certain resemblances between the various settlers and the Rajputs. Those were horse-worship, Asvamedha sacrifice, bards, war chariots, the position of women, omens and auguries, love of strong fermented liquor, worship of arms, initiation of arms, etc.
Views of Tod were accepted by Europian Scholars
The view of Tod was accepted by European scholars. According to William Brooke,”Recent investigations have thrown much new light on the origin of the Rajputs. A wide gulf lies between the Vedic Kshatriya and the Rajput of medieval times which it is now impossible to bridge. Some clans, with the help of an accommodating bard, may be able to trace their lineage to the Kshatriyas of Buddhist times, who were recognized as one of the leading elements in Hindu society, and in their own estimation, stood even higher than the Brahmana. But it is now certain that the origin of many clans dates from the Saka or Kushana invasion, which began about the middle of the second century B.C. or more certainly, from that of the White Hunas who destroyed the Gupta Empire about 480 A.D. The Gurjara tribe connected with the latter people adopted Hinduism, and their leaders formed the main stock from which the higher Rajput families sprang. When these new claimants to princely honours accepted the faith and institutions of Brahmanism, the mythical would naturally be made to affiliate themselves to the heroes whose exploits are recorded in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Here arose the body of legend recorded in The Annals by which a fabulous origin from the Sun or Moon is ascribed to two great Rajput branches, a genealogy claimed by other princely families like the Incas of Peru or the Mikado of Japan.” [Quoted by Mahajan, p. 551]
Foreign origin not accepted by Brahmanic Scholars
The idea of foreign origin hurt the pride of Brahmanic scholars, like C. V. Vaidya and Gauri Shankar Ojha, who do not accept the theory of foreign origin. They believe that ethnology, tradition and probabilities all point to the conclusion that the Rajputs were pure Aryans and not the descendant of the foreigners.
Prof. Mahajan [p.551] summarizes their objections. According to Ojha, there is nothing striking in the similarities of the customs and manners of the sakas and Rajputs. The worship of the Sun prevailed in India from the Vedic times and the practice of sati existed before the coming of the Sakas as is proved by the Mahabharata. The practice of the Asvamedha sacrifice was not unknown. There is mention of such sacrifice in the epic. The worship of arms and horses is not a new thing. The ruling classes in India have always worshipped them.
It is also pointed out that the reading of the Puranas that after King Mahananda of the Sisunaga dynasty, Sudra kings will exercise sovereignty, is not correct. There is evidence to prove the existence of Kshatriya rulers even after the Nanda and Mauryan dynasties.
When Pushyamitra established his power after killing Brihadratha, the last Mauryan king, he performed the Asvamedha sacrifice and at one of those sacrifices Patanjali, the commentator Mahabhashya was also present. If Pushyamitra had been a Sudra, Patanjali would not have been present there.
In the Hathigumpha inscription of Kharvela, there is a mention of the Kshatriyas of Kausambi. The Yadava Kshatriyas ruled over Mathura and the adjoining country before the war of the mahabharata.
Certain inscription of the 9th and 10th centuries show that the then reigning Rajput families drew their descent from Ram of Suryavamsi or Solar clan and Krishna of Chandravamsi or lunar race. The former Rajput rulers of Bikaner, Mewar, and Jaipur claimed their descent from ‘Suryavamsi clan. Likewise, the princes of Jaisalmer and Cutch took pride in calling themselves the descendants of Chandrawamsi clan. All this must have some history basis.
From the above objections, these scholars seem to have missed the point. Pedigrees from Sun and Moon and Rama and Krishna are definitely creations of Bards. Nobody says Pushyamitra was a Shudra. He was a staunch Brahmin who murdered the Buddhist King and started the counter-revolution in ancient India, after which culture of yadnyas, which had gone into disrepute due to teachings of the Buddha, again started. That there were no Kshatriyas after Nandas was the arrogance of Brahmins to condemn and downgrade the Buddhist Kings like Asoka and deny them the status of Ksatriyas. Nobody doubts that horses were worshipped by Vedic Kings. We all know about the Rajmahishi, the principal queen, sleeping with the dead horse at the close of Horse-sacrifice. How does all that disprove Tod’s theory of foreign origin?
The theory of Agnikula origin of the Rajputs is given in Prithviraj Raso of Chand Bardai. According to this Theory, Parsuram, an incarnation of Vishnu, destroyed all the Kshatriyas. However, the Brahmanas felt the need of warrior class to defend them. They offered prayers to God at top of Mount Abu. A great Havan was performed for about 40 days. The prayers of the Brahmanas brought forth fruit. The form that Agnikund or fire pit, there sprang up four heroes and each one of them created a separate Rajput class. Thus came into existence the Chauhans, the Solankis or Chalukyas, the Parmaars and the Praiharas. This theory still finds credence among the Rajputs. Dr. D. R. Bhandarkar and others have found in this myth a confirmation of their theory of the foreign origin of the Rajputs. According to Edwards, the Agnikul myth represents a rite of purgation by fire, the scene of which was in Southern Rajputana whereby the impurity of foreigners was removed and they became fit to enter caste system. The fictitious character of the story is obvious. It represents a Brahamanical effort to find a lofty origin for the Kshatriya who stood very high in the social order and who gave them a lot of money in charity.
Views of Dr. V. A. Smith,
He believes that the Rajputs were a mixed race. Some of the Rajput clans were the descendants of foreigners like Hunas, Sakas and Kushanas and others belonged to the old Kshatriya tribes. In the beginning, these two groups were opposed to each other but in course of time they got mixed up with each other. To quote Smith, “Thus, the Kshatriya or Rajput group of castes at present essentially an occupational group composed of all clans, following the Hindu ritual, who actually undertook the work of Government; consequently, people of most of the great Rajput clans now in existence in spite of their hoary pedigrees are descended either from foreign immigrants or from indigenous races such as the Gonds and Bhars.” [Mahajan, p. 552]
Rajput Culture and Civilization
Mahajan summarizes their culture. [p.552] The Rajputs had high pride in their lofty pedigrees. Very soon, they developed into a proud and haughty aristocracy and claimed prerogatives and privileges over the general population and were very jealous to maintain them.
However, they had many outstanding virtues and a spirit of chivalry and lived up to it in spite of difficulties. Rajputs were generous and merciful even to enemies if the latter submitted and sought shelter. “A suppliant who had taken sanctuary by his hearth was sacred.” According to Tod, “High courage patriotism, loyalty, honour, hospitality and simplicity are qualities which must at once be conceded to them.”
Even when they were victorious they did not resort to the wholesale massacre of their enemies. They did not cause needless misery to the poor and innocent people. They offered the stiffest resistance to the foreign invaders but if they once submitted and took an oath of fidelity, they remained faithful to their word of honour and gave up allegiance only when they were themselves deserted by the foreign victors.
Veer V. D. Sawarkar, however, considers this as a demerit of Hindus, that they were showing compassion to others at unwanted times, in several places in his Marathi book, “Saha Soneri Pane” (Six golden Leaves in the Indian History), which he wrote as a rejoinder to Dr. Ambedkar’s remark that the History of Hindus is the History of Defeats.
Fighting was their duty
As they were created for the purpose of putting down the Buddhists by use of force and uphold the supremacy of Brahmins, it was natural that they be mentally prepared to keep themselves ready to fight anytime the Brahmanism needs their services. Prof. Mahajan explains:
“The whole of the life of a Rajput was devoted to war. On reaching puberty, a Rajput boy was initiated into knighthood by the ceremony of Kharg Bandha or binding of the sword. He was brought up on the stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. His ideal was Rama. When not fighting, a Rajput spent his time in hunting and hawking or in feats of arms. During his leisure time, he was entertained by his bards and dancing girls. He also spent his time in drinking opium water (Kusumba) with his retainers. According to Bernier, ‘If the Rajput is a brave man, he need never entertain an apprehension of being deserted by his followers; they only require to be well led, for their minds are made up to die in his presence rather than abandon him to his enemies. It is an interesting sight to see them on the eve of adieu one another as if certain of death.’ ” [Mahajan, p. 554]
“… The Rajputs loved war so passionately that they passed the night before the battle, listening to recitation from the Mahabharata, longing for the morning as a lonely wife longs for her husband. They asked: When will the night pass away; when will the morning come: the time of battle?” [Mahajan, p.554]
Why Rajputs failed
Their loyalty to the chief and the clan was very great. They spent their time in quarrelling with their neighbours and raiding their territories even for the most trivial reasons. It is stated that once a bloody battle was fought because of a Raja, when out hawking, picked up a particle which had fallen over the boundary of his neighbour. But that was the intention of their creators. Brahmins knew that if these people did not fight among themselves, they would be a burden to brahmins and a danger to their position in times to come. That was the reason only the selected few were made Rajputs, the rest remaining Jats, Ahirs and other commoners. Loyalty to Clan and not for the nation was the cause of their fall, as Mahajan explains:
“Although the Rajputs were strong and brave, they failed to accomplish much. That was partly due to their clannish patriotism. They cared only for their chiefs and the clans. They did not bother about the country as a whole. They were not able to combine together and defeat the foreign invaders. They kept on quarrelling among themselves. They fought separately against the foreign invaders and each one of them was defeated separately. They wasted all their time and energy in mutual bickerings and jealousies and no wonder they accomplished nothing. Had the Rajput learned to pool all their sources together? it would have been impossible for the Muslim invaders to defeat them. The history of India would have been different.” [Mahajan, p.554]
As is well known, the government of the Rajputs was of a feudal character. All Rajput kingdoms in Northern India were divided into a large number of jagirs held by the jagirdars, who were mostly of the same family as the Rajput chiefs. The strength and security of the State depended upon those jagirdars rendering financial assistance and military service to the king. They were bound to the king by ties of personal devotion and were supposed to prove their fidelity in times of difficulty or danger. Such a government was bound to be inefficient as it fostered individualism and stood in the way of to combination of all the political forces in the state for a common purpose. Since everything depended upon the personality of the king, everything was paralysed if the king happened to be a weak person. No wonder, feuds were a common feature. [Mahajan, p.554]
Life of a common man
It is to be noted that changes in the government at the centre did not affect the life of the people in the villages. The people continued to manage their affairs in their village councils undisturbed by bigger events. Revenue of the state was collected through the agency of Panchayats. The latter also administered civil and criminal justice. The headman of the village and the Patwari performed their usual functions of collecting land revenue and submitting the same to the Treasury.
Prof. Mahajan explains how caste system was made rigid and how Brahmins arranged for their dominance to be always maintained.:
“The caste system dominated the Rajput society. There were not only the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras but also many new sub-castes. In Rajput society, the Brabmanas occupied the first place and commanded the greatest respect. They claimed to have the monopoly of all knowledge, whether it was spiritual or secular. They acted as counselors and ministers of the Rajput Kings. … The Brahmanas were known as priests and philosophers. They enjoyed those privileges and facilities which were not enjoyed by others. for example, capital punishment was not awarded to Brahmanas. The Rajput rulers and soldiers came from the kshatriyas. The work of business and money-lending was done by the Vaishyas. The Sudras followed the profession of agriculture and artisans. They also served all the three higher castes. The untouchables lived outside the village or the town.” [Mahajan, p. 555]
Rigidity of Caste System
The rigidity of Caste system is the legacy of the Rajput period. All the severity and the degradation was brought about during this period. All those masses practicing Buddhist faith and following different vocations became castes. That is, they stopped marrying among themselves. How such castes were produced by imposition of endogamy on an exogamous group and how this was due to the feeling of imitation of Brahmins, was explained by Dr. Ambedkar long time back in 1919. About Rajput period, Prof. Mahajan observes:
“Caste system was not rigid at the beginning of the Rajput period … However, in the later Rajput period, the caste system become very rigid and in doing so the Brahmanas played the most important part. During this period a large number of new castes or sub-castes came into existence. … Many new occupational castes such as those of the carders, weavers, smiths, fishermen, brewers, oil men, cow-herds, carpenters, etc., came into existence. A new caste known as that of the Kayasthas also appeared. The main function of the Kayasthas was clerical. Probably the Kayasthas came from many castes.” [Mahajan, p. 555 ff.]
The role of a Bard
The importance of bards in Rajput period cannot be underestimated. The bard, the Bhat or Charan was an important feature of the court life of the Rajputs. He recited the heroic deeds of the ancestors of the Rajputs. He was an important and favoured person, He was the repository of the unwritten history of the clan. He was the undisputed authority on all genealogical matters. He was the registrar of the family’s births, deaths and marriages. His verdict was final in setting disputes about the division of ancestral property or of caste and consanguinity in the case of wedlock. The person of the bard was sacrosanct. He acted as a herald in war, and as a pledge for the fulfilment of contracts. If those contracts were broken the bard would commit “Traga” or religious suicide, and thereby bring the most terrible of curses upon the head of the offender.
The difficulty in deciding about the origin of Rajputs has been increased on account of the fact that the Brahamanas and these bards have given very lofty pedigrees to the Rajputs. The Rajputs claimed to be the lineal descendants of the Kshatriyas of the Vedic times. They traced their pedigrees from the Sun and the Moon and some of them believed in the theory of Agnikula.
Condition of women in Rajput times
Though we hear of “swayamwara” in Rajput times, which gives an impression of adult marriages, in reality, the age of marriage was growing earlier, as per tenets of Manu Smriti, and child marriages were rampant. This curse goes on even today, and many responsible leaders do not consider it as an evil practice. There were plenty of child widows and the remarriage of a widow was not allowed. The result was that young widows had to live a life of misery. The practice of polygamy was very common. The birth of a daughter was not liked by the Rajputs as it was felt that the father of a girl would have to show himself inferior at the time of her marriage. No wonder, many girls were killed at the time of their birth by or with the connivance of their own parents. The question of women education was unthinkable. The condition of an average woman was deteriorating. She was becoming more and more dependent on her husband or his male relatives.
The Brahmanic authors, poets and bards have not only glorified “Sati”, they have glorified the “Jauhar” also, which was a mass suicide in order to escape defilement at the hands of the victor of an alien faith. Women were made to believe that this was worse than death. This was most horrible method to preserve the caste, ever seen in India. There are examples in Rajput history when women entered fire to save their honour.
Conditions of upper classes
As of today, agriculture was the main profession of the people. While the poor toiled as free labour for constructions of temples and forts and palaces, for the construction of many irrigation works, reservoirs, tanks, wells and canals in time of famine, scarcity or drought, the condition of upper castes was very good. Mahajan explains:
“… Trade and commerce flourished during the Rajput period. Big cities were linked up with roads. The people were wealthy and prosperous. The fame of their riches invited the cupidity of the Muslim invaders.” [Mahajan p. 557]
“The upper classes lived in palatial buildings and enjoyed all kinds of comforts. They had even slaves. There were many festivals and fairs throughout the year. Music, dancing, drama, dice, hunting, chess, etc. were very favorite hobbies. Both men and women put on ornaments, they were fond of various kinds of dresses. … The upper classes did a lot of drinking. The use of opium and wine was common. The use of betel leaves was popular, …” [Mahajan, p.557]
Superstitions in Rajput period
About how caste system and brahmin supremacy was destroying the old Buddhist vitality and assimilative power, Mahajan observes:
“It has been stated that “the people were kept in ignorances, fed with unwholesome superstition and beguilded with gorgeous and never ending festivals.” The Hindus were losing their old assimilative power. They were losing their old vitality. The rigid caste system was making them unprogressive. The dominance of the Brahmanas, both in spiritual and secular matters was doing havoc.” [Mahajan, p.557]
Regional Languages flourished
The “Kalivarjya” had made its impact. The country was broken into regions and even a few miles constituted “par desh”, a foreign land. The language which originally was Prakrit with slight differences in dialect, spoken by masses throughout the country, got divided into regional languages. These were made stronger and stronger by regional feelings developed by brahmins by creating literature in these languages thus making them even more powerful, though at the same time taking care that their own language, i.e. Sanskrit, over which they retained the monopoly, remains same throughout India. Mahajan observes:
“It is to be noted that it was during the Rajput period that vernacular literature made progress. It is rightly contended that the foundation of the modern vernacular languages of India such as Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali were laid down in the Rajput period. Poetry was first developed in the vernacular literature of this period. Hemchandra Suri, a great Jain saint, made a great contribution towards our national literature.” [Mahajan, p. 559]
Obscene Art flourished
The Rajputs were great builders of temples, for the benefit of Brahmins. Though many are destroyed by Muslims, some are still surviving to show the skill, money and labour spent on creation of them. Unfortunately the later Rajput creations of art are the preservations of sexual obscenity.
“… The art critics divide the evolution of temple architecture in the Rajput period into two parts, The first part covered the period from 600 to 900 A.D. During the first period, there was a regular progress in the abundance of ornamentation in temple architecture. The originality of the ancient times was lost and the artisans relied on volume to give an expression of grandeur. Their tastes degenerated and we come across obscene figures. That was probably due to the influence of Tantrism on Hinduism. It has rightly been said that there is no beauty of original art in the architectural monuments of the age.” [Mahajan, p. 559]
Ranas of Mewar too
Also, some tribal chiefs were among those who became the Rajputs. Giving example of House of Mewar which played important role in political and military history of India for centuries to come, and gave heroes like Bapa Raval, Rana Sanga, and Rana Pratap, Stella Kramerish observes:
“Formerly they (Bhils) ruled over their own country. This was prior to the arrival or Rajputs. The Rajputs, the ‘sons of king’, invaded the country, subsequently Rajasthan in about sixth century A. D. They became Ksatriyas, the nobility par excellence of India. Some of these Rajput princes, including the most exalted of them, the Rana of Mewar, at the inception of their rule, had their foreheads marked with the blood of a Bhil. It was drawn from his thumb or big toe. This was an acknowledgement of the precedence of Bhils as rulers of the country”. [Stella Kramerish, “Selected writings of Stella Kramerish”, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1968, p. 90; fn:- Koppers, “Die Bhil”, p.14]
In Southern India, the rite performed for purification, convertion, and initiation into awarding Ksatriyahood was called “Hiranya-garbhs mahadana” and the king was designated as Hiranya- garbha-prasuta, i.e. “one who performed the sacred rite of hiranya-garbha which consists in the performer passing through an egg of gold which was afterwards distributed among the officiating priests”. [D. C. Sircar, ‘The Classical Age’, HCIP vol. III, p. 225]
The Hiranya garbha prasuta kings of South India belong to the following dynasties,
1. Ananda gotra connected with Chezarla
2. Vishnukundin connected with Srisaila
Andhra Desha – Ananda Kings
Pallavas of Kanchi conquered the heart of Andhra country around end of third century. The area around Guntur was freed from Pallavas by the dynasty of kings called “Ananda gotra”. Only three kings are known from inscriptions; they are 1. Kandra, 2. Attivarman, and 3. Damodarvarman. Different dates, from 290 to 630 A.D., have been ascribed to these kings by different scholars. King Kandara was founder of city of Kandarapura, identified with modern Chezarla in Guntur District.
Damodarvarman, who is regarded predecessor of Attivarman, was a devotee of Samyak Sambuddha. The Kapoteswara temple at Chezarla of fourth century was a originally a chaitya hall later converted into a brahmanic temple. He is described as son of king who performed Hiranyagarbha mahadana. Attivarman, the worshiper of Sambhu, performed this mahadana. [D. C. Sarkar, ‘Classical age’ p.202 ff.]
Vihnukundins – Srisailam
Their original home was Venukonda, 60 miles east of Srisaila hills, giving them the name. They were worshipers of god “Shriparvata Swamin”. Whether it is identified with Srisailam Mallikarjuna Siva can not be certain.
As a matter of fact, Sriparvata has been identified with a Buddhist site Nagarjun Konda. Whether it is identified with Srisailam or Nagarjun Konda, in either way it denotes Buddhist origin.
In his own charters, Madhava Varman I is credited with having performed Hiranygarbha mahadana. He was great patron of learning. He is referred to in the Arya Manjushri Mulkalpa as Madhava. [D. C. Sarkar, ‘Classical Age’, p. 208 ff.]
Shri K. R. Srinivasan has confirmed that what is now known as Anantasayangudi cave temple in Undavali was a temple of Vishnukundin times and originally a Buddhist temple which was converted to a Vishnu temple. [p. 33 and 81, ‘Temples of South India’]
Chalukyas of Badami
Imperial Chalukyas of Badami (Bijapur district) reigned over vast areas for about two centuries. They were indigenous people, claiming status of Ksatriyas. Hiuen Tsang refers to Pulakesin II as Ksatriya. The Badami inscription of Chalukya Vallebheswara, i.e Pulakesin I, of 543 A.D., represents the monarch as “Hiranya garbha prasuta”. So also do the records of his son Mangalesha’s times. [D. C. Sarkar, ‘Classical Age’, p. 227]
It is interesting to note that later inscriptions try to connect the dynasty to Manu or Moon and associates it with Ayodhya, though all such claims are myths. [Clas. Age, p. 229 ff.]
Swami Dharmatirtha observes:
“In the Deccan, the Buddhist Kings were superseded by a Rajput dynasty, the Chalukyas, who were protagonists of Brahmanism. The fourth king of this line Pulkesi I destroyed the monastery at Amaravati and abolished Buddhism in those parts. He performed Ashwamedha Yajna and other sacrifices; grants of lands were made to the brahmanas; temples were built; the worship of Siva in the terrible form of Kapaleswara was made popular.” [p. 115, Menace of Hindu Imperialism]
We know the Kalabharas, the Buddhist kings, had convulsed the affairs in Tamil country. They were defeated by Kondugan Pandya, (c. 590-620 A.D.) who is considered as the founder of Pandya dynasty. Huen Tsang says there were many Buddhist monasteries in ruins but only a few monks.
Arikesari Parankusha Marvarman (c.670-710) was the ruler under whom began the imperial career of Pandyas. He is identified with Kun Pandya who was converted from Jainism to Saivism by saint Sambandar who cruelly persecuted the Jains. According to the story, 8000 Jains were impaled on stakes. Chola queen had invited Saint Sambadar to Madura.
Marvarman Rajsimha I, was a powerful ruler, (c. 740-765) who defeated Chalukyas and married a Western Ganga princess. The famous Velvikudi grant of his son Nedunjadaiyan mentions that Rajsimha had made many mahadanas, gosahasras, hiranya-garbhas and tulabharas. [D. C. Sarkar, ‘Classical Age’, p.268]
Rashtrakutas – Dantidurga
Formerly a feudatory of Chalukya, Dantidurga was the founder of Rastrakuta dynasty, a strong, aggresive and militant supporter of Brahmanism. Cave XV at Ellora called Dasavtara, which has a long undated inscription of Dantidurga carved on its entrance, was originally a Buddhist Vihara, which was converted to Brrahmanic Temple, by chiseling out Buddhist images. [Yazdani G., ‘Early History of Deccan’, Oxford Univ. Press, 1960, p.731]
Dantidurga is reported, in a later record, to have performed Hiranyagarbha at Ujjayini in which “kings such as Gurjara lord and others were made door-keepers” [Altekar A. S., ‘The Age of Imperial Kanauj’, p.1, HCIP vol. IV, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan 1955]
Persecution of Buddhists was maximum during Rajput period
The persecution of Buddhists was started by the brahmins long time back. The authority of Brahmins over the masses was tremendous. Masses following Buddhist tenets was a great danger to Brahmin supremacy. They had tried to sabotage Buddhist sangha and Asoka had to drive away sixty thousands of fake bhikus. Real persecution of Buddhists had started at the time of Pushyamitra Shunga, who burnt monasteries and killed many monks.
Persecution by Mihirgula was so horrible, that he was declared by Brahmins to be an avatar of “Kalanki”, the tenth avatar of Vishnu, which now they say is yet to come. He built big temples for the benefit of Brahmins and wiped out all Buddhist monasteries.
All this had happened before the Brahmins brought in the Rajputs. But there was some life left in Buddhism, the religion of masses. This was wiped out during the Rajput period. this period was the “Dark Age” of India. Mentioning about this period, Swami Dharmateertha rightly observes:
“But so long as India had at least a glimmer of national life and freedom, she made incessant efforts to assert her self-respect and thwart Brahman tyranny and it was only when the country ultimately fell a victim into the hands of foreigners the Buddhism was crushed to death and Brahmanism spread its fangs over the prostrate people.
He quotes R. C. Dutt who says:
“For it was in the Dark Age that religious persecution began in India. Monasteries were demolished, monks were banished, and books were burnt: and wherever the Rajputs became rulers, Buddhist edifices went down and Hindu temples arose. By the end of the 10th century, Buddhism was practically stamped out from India, and the work of destruction was completed by the Muslims who succeeded the Rajputs as masters of India.” [Epochs of Indian History, by R. C. Dutt]
Swami Dharma Teertha further avers:
“So complete was the destruction that modern antiquarians and historians who have gathered Buddhist sacred books from all parts of Asia have not succeeded in gleaning any valuable text from India. [Swami Dharma Teertha, “The menace of Hindu Imperialism”, p.n.108 ]
Why did Brahmins need the Rajputs?
We find in the history of India, king after king came into power by brahmin help, but got disgusted by the tyranny of Brahmins and accepted Buddhism. Brahmins had to find another usurper or invader to replace him. They already had acquired legal and religious right to kill the unwanted king through Manu. Explaining how Brahmins frequently used Indian usurpers and even foreign invaders as an instrument of enforcement of Brahmanism over masses, Swami Dharma Teertha observes:
“… These unpatriotic and sometimes treacherous methods were also sought to be justified by the philosophy of Puranas. …” [Dharma Teertha, p. 111]
Chandragupta Maurya, came to power by the help of a clever Brahmin, Kautilya. They tried to invite Alexander to invade Magadha. Chandragupta’s empire grew but his grandson Asoka became devout Buddhist and all plans of Brahmins were foiled. So they brought in Pushyamitra and later Kanva kings. But another rising Indian people, the Satvahanas, who were patrons of Buddhism, foiled their designs. So Brahmins carved out a kingdom for Wema- Kadphises II, who worshipped Brahmanic gods. The next king Kanishka was initially under brahmanic influence but later on when he became enthusiastic patron of Sangha, he was killed by smothering to death in his bed by a pillow.
King of Kashmir Jayapira, who trusted Kayastha ministers, was killed. King Nahapana in Saurashtra was helped to revolt against Magadha. He helped Brahmins but later refused to become puppets of Brahmins and also patronized Buddhism along with Brahmanism.
After Kingdom of Magadha under Satvahanas broken down, Brahmins managed to bring Gupta reign, and thus started “a long period of Brahmanical supremacy, huge horse sacrifices, and the revival of Sanskrit” [Dharma Teertha, p.116]
During Gupta period Brahmins consolidated their gains, temple worship was started in place of Vedic religion, Puranas were edited and reedited, caste system, the “most deadly weapon of imperialistic domination ever invented by human brain” was started to “effectively divide them into groups and prevent their rising against their oppressors”, temple worship was started which was “another instrument in the scheme of priests to exploit the people”. They had to make some changes in their religion but as Swami Dharma Teertha observes:
“Brahmanism has never stood for any religious doctrine or faith. Its life and soul, then, as it is now, was the Caste System with the Brahmin as the highest sacredotal caste, and its vital interest was priestly exploitation.” These objects were achieved to a great extent before Gupta age. Then why did they need the Rajputs? Swami Dharma Teertha observes:
“Though all these things were accomplished in the Gupta period, there was yet no guarantee that Brahman predominance would be upheld by succeeding rulers, and without the king’s support, it could not be maintained. Repeated experience had shown that though new kings, in order to obtain Brahman cooperation to establish their power, often yielded to the wishes of the latter, no self-respecting ruler would long tolerate the yoke of Brahmanism. Indian kings almost invariably, encouraged Buddhism side by side with Brahmanism, even when they had been raised to power with the help of Brahmans. Brahmanism could therefore be permanently established only with the disappearance of Buddhism and also of all Indian rulers, Its security lay in the revival of a race of Kshatriya princes who would submit to the Brahmanas the highest caste and whose primary concern would be exploitation of the country the common platform on which priestly imperialism could join hands with foreign imperialism. It happened exactly like this. The Brahmans did not rest until they succeeded in handing over the nation to a new race of Kshatriyas, the Rajputs whom they raised to Kshatriya hood for the purpose and who in a few centuries enslaved the country first to debasing priest craft, and then to Mohammedan fanaticism. [Swami Dharma Teertha, p. 117]
Harshavardhana was a staunch supporter of Buddhism, along with Brahmanism. At the time of the visit of Huen Tsang, Brahmins tried to kill Harsha. As a result, five hundred Brahmins, it is said, were banished from the kingdom. This temporary setback did not deter the Brahmins. After the death of Harsha, Brahmins got their opportunity. As Havel expressed,:
“It was, therefore, to be expected that orthodox Brahmanism would seize the opportunity of Harsha’s death to reassert its political supremacy in Aryavrata.” [E.B.Havell, History of Aryan Rule in India, p. 217, Quoted by Dharma Teertha, p. 118]
Chinese mission who visited in response to Harsha’s complementary mission, was insulted by the minister of Harsha who had usurped the throne. This infuriated the Chinese leader and getting help from Tibet, he overran Magadha and the Brahman king of Assam helped Chinaman with large supplies of military equipment and cattle, thus finishing the mighty Buddhist kingdom of Harsha. This was the opportunity for the Brahmins to assert their dominance. Swami Dharma Teertha observes:
“The empire having been broken up, the Brahmans took the opportunity to invite foreign adventurers to support their cause. The Rajputs appear on the scene as the valiant protectors of Brahmanism. Historians do not know definitely the origin of the Rajputs, but all are agreed in believing that they were the descendants of some of the foreign invaders. That they were raised to power by the Brahmans is admitted in the legend of the Puranas. It says that they were the descendants of four warriors conjured into existence by the sage Vasishta from the sacrificial fire he kindled on Mount Abu. In plain language, they were a new people raised to Kshatriyahood by the Brahmans in order that they might reestablish Brahmanism in the land.
“Everywhere they favoured Puranic Hinduism, and the Brahmans rewarded them for their toil, and reorganized the new race as the Kshatriyas of modern time.” [Dutt R. C., ‘Later Hindu Civilization’, p.38]
“Whatever the origin of the Rajputs may be, there is no doubt that they were newcomers to the pale Hindu civilization and religion. Like all new converts they were fired with an excessive zeal to revive the religion they embraced. Brahmans worked on the zeal of this new race of Kshatriyas and the Chohan and the Rathore vindicated their claims to be regarded as Kshatriyas by established the supremacy, of the Brahmans.” [Dutt R. C., ‘Later Hindu Civilization’, p. 40, quoted by Dharma Teertha, p. 119]
Rajput age was a Dark Age for masses of India
Swami Dharma Teertha narrates the further story in these words:
“With the help of the Rajputs who became powerful in all parts of India, Brahmanism entered on a career of merciless extirpation of Buddhism, and with it of nationalism. The avenues of light and information were all closed, From the 8th to the 10th century an impenetrable darkness enveloped Northern India. History refuses to disclose the nature of the happenings of that terrible darkness. As in the Dark Age which followed the Mahabharata War, so under the cover of this frightful oblivion, Brahmanism did its work thoroughly monasteries were demolished, monks were banished or killed, books were burnt, Buddhism was stamped out; nationalism was crushed. The country fell into the hands of Rajput barons, soon to be followed by the Mohammedan invaders who completed the work of annihilation. Rajputana became a congeries of rival states, each with its own chief, war loving and constantly quarrelling with each other.” [Dharma Teertha, p.119]
“There could be hardly any doubt that Rajput rule was an undiluted military imperialism, a coalition of Kashtriya exploiters and insatiable Brahman priests, in which the people were fleeced to amass wealth for palaces and temples. In an incredibly short time huge temples requiring the labour of many thousands of workmen, generally slaves or prisoners, and involving fabulous expenditure, were built all over the country; the secret cells of temples were filled with gold and silver and other treasures beyond description. Hundreds of dancing girls with all the temptations of music and decoration served in the temples to complete the vices of priest craft. The kings surrounded themselves with all imaginable pomp, luxury and vice. Nobody cared for the people; we hear nothing of the people when the Mohammedan invaders made their incursion in to the big cities and temples for plunder of the accumulated treasures. The princes kept quarreling among themselves for wealth and women. The Brahmans were sunk deep in the temptations of the temple. We see Mohammedans marching through the country hundreds of miles without anybody opposing them, appearing before the gates of cities and temples, before the authorities got any information, and loaded with rich booty returning unmolested over vast tracts of inhabited area. There seemed to be no government in the land.
“The despotic nature of the regime could be noticed also in the employment by Rajput rulers of large bodies of Mohammedan mercenaries. It was so in Vijayanager too. another Brahman dominated empire. Both in North India and in Vijayanager, the presence of Mohammedan troops in the heart of the Hindu kingdoms, in the employed and confidence of their rules, facilitated the final success of the Mohammedans. What was worse, the soldiers of Islam were invited to invade India, and there were Rajput princes to help them in their conquest of the country. The four chief royal houses of North India were Delhi, Chittor, Kanouj and Gujrat. The last two kings sided with Mohammedans until they became undisputed masters of the situation. Raja Jaichand of Kanouj is said to have invited Shahabuddin to attack Prithvi Raj of Delhi. [Lala Sundar Dass, “Decline and fall of Hindu Empire”, p. 25] India fell betrayed by her own princes and priests who were no more interested in the unity, strength and prosperity of the Indian masses then the Mohammedan or the European conquerors.[ p.n.121 ]
The Ruling Class
Swami Dharma Teertha explains how the fate of any country usually depends on the character of its Ruling Class. Even in democratic countries, the rise and fall, the progress and decadence of the nation depends to a great extent on the ideals which animate the policy and conduct of this class. In India, this class is the Brahmins. Swami observes:
“From days immemorial, the Brahmans have been the undoubted aristocrats of India, the leaders of the people, the custodians of religious and secular learning, unrivaled politicians and administrators, and owners of wealth and power, besides being the trustees of the peoples conscience as priests. Probably no other class of persons in any society ever combined in themselves all these advantages so exclusively as the Brahmans. It is equally doubtful if any other aristocratic class has ever exercised their privileges to the detriment of the common people so unscrupulously and for so long a period as these Hindu priests.
“For an understanding of the causes which have brought India to her present condition no study is more important than that of the policy and doctrines of the Brahmans.” [Dharma Teertha, p. 122]
What did they do first?
Swami Dharma Teertha explains the activities of Brahmins after they captured the power. It was creation of shastras to suit newer conditions. He observes:
“One of the first signs of Brahmanical revival, as in the past, was the promulgation of new Shastras, Puranas and other religious literature alleged to be the works of ancient sages. The priests must have been conscious of the untenability of their doctrines and their own unworthiness to lay down rules for the good of society, for they wrote new works in the name of ancient authors and altered ancient works to suit their present contentions.
Brahmins were benefited by Muslim Conquest
There is a lot of propaganda, that Muslim period was a foreign rule over Indian masses, who were crushed under the foreign yoke. All this is a great and fake propaganda by the brahmanical scholars. Actually, it was this class who got the maximum benefits of Muslim raj. Here we have to remember that India has triple governance. Governance at the village and town level, second is regional level and topmost is national level. The local level governance is the actual governance. In India, it makes no difference, who ruled at the top, at the local levels it was the Brahmins who always ruled. And their rule was as per the Laws of caste. Swami Dharma Teertha observes:
“The disappearance of Buddhism and the passing of political power into the hands of the Mohammedans, though they meant the extermination of national life, was a triumph for Brahmanism. … in the period of national prostration and political chaos roughly from the eight to the twelfth century after Christ, there is a phenomenal revival, expansion and consolidation of the theocratic domination of the Brahmans. One prominent result of the invasion of India by the Mohammedans was that, so far as Hindu society was concerned, Brahmans became its undisputed leaders and lawgivers.
“After the overthrow of the Hindu princes by the Mohammedans, the Hindu princes and chiefs lost a good deal of their prestige, but the leadership of the Hindus instead of passing into the new political authority, namely Mohammedan rulers, passed almost entirely to the brahmans.” [Kelkar S. V., “An Essay on Hinduism, p. 149]
“There were no powerful Indian rulers to question their right to decide what should be or should not be the religion of the people, and by what principles their social life should be governed. When the Mohammedans had overcome all opposition and settled down as rulers unless some of them were fanatically inclined to make forcible conversions, they left the Hindus in the hands of their religious leaders and whenever they wanted to pacify them by quiet methods, they made use of Brahmans as their accredited representatives.
“Another great advantage was that, for the first time in history, all the peoples of India, of all sects and denominations, were brought under the supremacy of the Brahmans. Till then they had claimed to be priest of the three higher castes only and did not presume to speak for the Sudras and other Indian peoples except to keep them at a safe distance. The Mohammedans called all the non-Muslims inhabitants, without any discrimination, by the common name “Hindu”, which practically meant non-Muslims and nothing more. This simple fact contributed to the unification of India more than any other single event, but also, at the same time, condemned the dumb millions of the country to a perpetual subjection to their priestly exploiters. Indians became “Hindus,” their religion became Hinduism and Brahmans their masters.
“The word Hindu itself is a foreign one. The Hindus never used it in any Sanskrit writing, that is those which were written before the Mohammedan invasion.” [p. 22, An Essay on Hinduism, by Kelkar]
“When the Mohammedans came they called all people who were in India, but who did not belong to Mohammedan religion, Hindus…. All castes and creeds which did not acknowledge Mohammedan religion were Hindus.” [p.29, An Essay on Hinduism, by Kelkar.]
“Thus was the Indian people by an innocent accident of history, permanently subjected to a disastrous social and religious in the shaping of which they had no hand and could thereafter obtain no voice, but were entirely at the mercy of the Brahmans. Brahmanism became Hinduism, that is the religion of all who were not followers of the prophet of Mecca. Fortified thus in an unassailable position of sole religious authority, Brahmans commenced to establish their theocratic overlordship of all India.” [Swami Dharma Teertha, pp. 123 ff.]
Brahmanic methods of Conversion
H. H. Risley has given a vivid description of methods of social control and mimesis of Brahmins over the Indian masses, which deserved to be quoted in toto.:
“Brahmanism knows noting of open proselytism or forcible conversion and attains its end in a different and more subtle fashion, for which no precise analogue can be found in the physical world. It leaves existing aggregates very much as they were, and so far from welding them together, after the manner of Islam, into large cohesive aggregates, tends rather to create an indefinite number of fresh groups; but every tribe that passes within the charmed circle of Hinduism is inclined sooner or later to abandon its more primitive usages or to clothe them in some Brahmanical disguise. The strata, indeed, remain, or are multiplied; their relative positions are on the whole unaltered; only their fossils are metamorphosed into more advanced forms.
“One by one the ancient totems drop off, or are converted by a variety of ingenious devices into respectable personages of the standard mythology; the fetish gets a new name, and is promoted to the Hindu Pantheon in the guise of a special incarnation of one of the greater gods; the tribal chief sets up a family priest, starts a more or less romantic family legend, in course of time blossoms forth as a new variety of Rajput. His people follow his lead, and make haste to sacrifice their women at the shrine of social distinction. Infant marriage with all its attendant horrors is introduced; widows are forbidden to marry again and divorce, which plays a great and, on the whole, a useful part in tribal society, is summarily abolished. Throughout all these changes, which strike deep into the domestic life of people, the fiction is maintained that no real change has taken place, and everyone believes, or affects to believe, that things are with them as they have been since the beginning of time. It is curious to observe that the operation of these tendencies has been quickened, and the sphere of their action enlarged by the great expansion of railways which has taken place in India during the last few years.”
“The leading men of an aboriginal tribe, having somehow got on in the world and became independent landed proprietors manage to enroll themselves in one of the leading castes, They usually set up as Rajputs; their first step being to start a Brahman priest, who invents for them a mythical ancestor supplies them with a family miracle connected with the locality where their tribe are settled, and discovers that they belong to some hitherto unheard-of clan of the great Rajput community. In the early stages of their advancement, they generally find great difficulty in getting their daughters married, as they will not marry within their own tribe, and Rajputs of their adopted caste will of course not intermarry with them. But after a generation or two their persistency obtains its reward, and they intermarry, if not with pure Rajputs, at least with a superior order of manufactured Rajputs, whose promotion into the Brahmanical system dates far enough back for the steps by which it was gained to have been forgotten. Thus a real change of blood takes place; while in any case the tribal name is completely lost, and with it all possibility of accurately separating this class of people from the Hindus of purer bloods, and of assigning them to any particular non-Aryan tribe. They have absorbed in the fullest sense of the word, and henceforth pose, and are locally accepted, as high-caste Hindus. All stages of the process, family miracle and all can be illustrated by actual instances from the leading families in Chota Nagpur.
“A number of aborigines embrace the tenets of a Hindu religious sect, losing thereby their tribal name and becoming Vaishnabs, Ramayats, and the like. Whether there is any mixture of blood or not will depend upon local circumstances and the rules of the sect regarding intermarriage. Anyhow the identity of the converts as aborigines is usually, though not invariably, lost, and this also may, therefore, be regarded as a case of true absorption.”
“A whole tribe of aborigines, or a large section of a tribe, enrol themselves in the ranks of Hinduism under the style of a new caste, which though claiming an origin of remote antiquity, is readily distinguishable by its name from any of the standard and recognized castes. Thus the great majority of Koch inhabitants of Rungpore now invariably describe themselves as Rajbanshis or Bhanga Kshatriyas – a designation which enables them to represent themselves as an outlying branch of the Kshatriyas who fled to North-Eastern Bengal in order to escape from the wrath of Parasu-Rama. They claim descent from Raja Dashrath, father of Rama. They keep Brahmans, imitate the Brahmanical ritual in their marriage ceremony, and have begun to adopt the Brahmanical system of gotras. In respect of this last point they are now in a curious state of transition, as they have all hit upon the same gotra (Kasyapa), and thus habitually transgress the primary rule of the Brahmanical system, which absolutely prohibits marriage within the gotra. But for this defect in their connubial arrangements – a defect which will probably be corrected in a generation or two as they and their purohits rise in intelligence – there would be nothing in their customs to distinguish them from Aryan Hindus, although there has been no mixture of blood, and they remain thoroughly Koch under the name of Rajbanshi.
“A whole tribe of aborigines, or a section of a tribe, became gradually converted to Hinduism without, like the Rajbanshis abandoning their tribal designation. This is what is happening among the Bhumij of Western Bengal. Here a pure Dravidian race have lost their original language, and now speak only Bengali; they worship Hindu gods in addition to their own (tendency being to relegate the tribal gods to the women), and the more advanced among them employ Brahmans as family priests. They still retain a set of totemistic exogamous subdivisions closely resembling those of the Mundas and the Santals, but they are beginning to forget the totems which the names of the subdivisions denote, and the names themselves will probably soon be abandoned in favour of more aristocratic designations. The tribe will then have become a caste and will go on stripping itself of all customs likely to betray its true descent. The physical characteristics of its members will alone survive. After their transformation into a caste, the Bhumij will be more strictly endogamous than they were as a tribe, and even less likely to modify their physical type by intermarriage with other races.”
“There is every reason to suppose that the movement of which certain phases are roughly sketched above, has been going on for many centuries, and that, although at the present day its working can probably Foreigners were assimilated by Buddhist ideals and not the Brahmanic
Some brahmanic scholars try to glorify their religion by boasting that Sakas Kusanas Hunas and other foreigners have disappeared leaving no trace, whereas Brahmanism still persists. Dr. Ambedkar had mentioned that mere survival is not the evidence of greatness. The level of survival was very low. Whereas, Shri L. M. Joshi avers that the assimilation of foreigners into Indian society took place not because of Brahmanism but because of the tenets of Buddhism which preached equality, liberty and brotherhood in the following words:
“Another aspect of Buddhist contribution in ancient India lay in the area of social harmony and racial integration on a national scale, It was through Buddhist influence and teaching of social harmony and tolerance that foreign invaders such as the Greeks, Sakas, Pahlavas, Kusanas and Hunas who came to India and settled here in the course of centuries immediately preceding and following the Christian era, were assimilated by Indian society. This was a permanent contribution to social integration and national growth and it could not have been so easily accomplished in a strictly Brahmanical scheme of social gradation without the wholesome effects of the Buddhist disregard for varna- organization and respect for the liberty of the individual.”
Mindu Muslim Conflict would not have been there if Buddhism was alive at the time of Muslim invasion
Not only that but he laments that the assimilation of Muslims could not be done into Indian society, because of the feeling of the supremacy of their caste that was practiced by the Brahmins of those days. He further says:
“We are of the view that had Buddhism been a living force at the time of the Turkish invasions, the problems of Hindu- Muslim communal discord in medieval and modern India would not have taken such a strong turn as they did. Because of the revival of the traditional Brahmanical social scheme, reinforced with fresh religious injunctions, and because of the decline of Buddhism in India after the tenth century A.D., the mass of early medieval-early Islamic followers in India could not be assimilated and digested by Indian Society. Arnold J. Toynbee has rightly remarked that, “If either Buddhism or Jainism ha succeeded in captivating the Indic world, caste might have got rid of. As it turned out, however, the role of the universal church in the last chapter of Indic decline and fall was played by Hinduism, a parvenu archaistic syncretism of things new and old; and one of the old things to which Hinduism gave new lease was caste.” [A study of History, (abridged by D. C. Somervll) vol. I, New York, 1969, p. 350] [L. M. Joshi, “Aspects of Buddhism in Indian History”, 1973, Wheel Publication No. 195/196, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy (Sri Lanka), pp. 52 ff.]
Author – Dr. K. Jamanadas
Image Credit – Wikipedia