Jats - Encyclopedia

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JATS, or Juts, a people of north-western India, who numbered altogether more than 7 millions in 1901. They forma considerable proportion of the population in the Punjab, Rajputana and the adjoining districts of the United Provinces, and are also widely scattered through Sind and Baluchistan. Some writers have identified the Jats with the ancient Getae, and there is strong reason to believe them a degraded tribe of Rajputs, whose Scythic origin has also been maintained. Hindu legends point to a prehistoric occupation of the Indus valley by this people, and at the time of the Mahommedan conquest of Sind (712) they, with a cognate tribe called Meds, constituted the bulk of the population. They enlisted under the banner of Mahommed bin Kasim, but at a later date offered a vigorous resistance to the Arab invaders. In 836 they were overthrown by Amran, who imposed on them a tribute of dogs, and used their arms to vanquish the Meds. In 1025, however, they had gathered audacity, not only to invade Mansura, and compel the abjuration of the Mussulman amir, but to attack the victorious army of Mahmud, laden with the spoil of Somnath. Chastisement duly ensued: a formidable flotilla, collected at Multan, shattered in thousands the comparatively defenceless Jat boats on the Indus, and annihilated their national pretensions. It is not until the decay of the Mogul Empire that the Jats again appear in history. One branch of them, settled south of Agra, mainly by bold plundering raids founded two dynasties which still exist at Bharatpur and Dholpur. Another branch, settled north-west of Delhi,who adopted the Sikh religion, ultimately made themselves dominant throughout the Punjab (q.v.) under Ranjit Singh, and are now represented in their original home by the Phulkian houses of Patiala, Yind (q.v.) and Nabha. It is from this latter branch that the Sikh regiments of the Indian army are recruited. The Jats are mainly agriculturists and cattle breeders. In their settlements on the Ganges and Jumna, extending as far east as Bareilly, they are divided into two great clans, the Dhe and the Hele; while in the Punjab there are said to be one hundred different sections. Their religion varies with locality. In the Punjab they have largely embraced Sikh tenets, while in Sind and Baluchistan they are Mahommedans. In appearance they are not ill-favoured though extremely dark; they have good teeth, and large beards, sometimes stained with indigo. Their inferiority of social position, however, to some extent betrays itself in their aspect, and tends to be perpetuated by their intellectual apathy.

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