Rajput - Encyclopedia

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RAJPUT, a race of India, not confined to Rajputana, but spread over the N. of the country. According to the census of 1901 there were 9,712,156 Rajputs in all India, of whom only 620,229 lived in Rajputana. The great majority adhere to the Hindu religion, but 1,875,387 are entered as Mahommedans. The Rajputs form the fighting, landowning and ruling caste. They claim to be the modern representatives of the Kshatriyas of ancient tradition; but their early history is obscure, and recent research supports the view that they include descendants of more than one wave of immigrant invaders. Linguistic evidence supports tradition in proving that their unity was broken up by the Mahommedan conquest, for the inhabitants of the Himalayan valleys still speak a language akin to those of Rajputana proper, though separated from them by the wide Gangetic valley.

The Rajputs are fine, brave men, and retain the feudal instinct strongly developed. Pride of blood is their chief characteristic, and they are most punctilious on all points of etiquette. The tradition of common ancestry permits a poor Rajput yeoman to consider himself as well born as any powerful landholder of his clan, and superior to any high official of the professional classes. No race in India can boast of finer feats of arms or brighter deeds of chivalry, and they form one of the main recruiting fields for the Indian army of to-day. They consider any occupation other than that of arms or government derogatory to their dignity, and consequently during the long period of peace which has followed the establishment of the British rule in India they have been content to stay idle at home instead of taking up any of the other professions in which they might have come to the front. Those who are not zamindars have, therefore, rather dropped behind in the modern struggle for existence. As cultivators they are lazy and indifferent, and they prefer pastoral to agricultural pursuits. Looking upon all manual labour as humiliating, none but the poorest class of Rajput will himself hold the plough.

Within the limits of Rajputana the Rajputs form a vast body of kindred, and any Rajput can marry any Rajput woman who does not belong to his own clan. The most numerous of the clans is the Rahtor, to which the chiefs of Marwar, Bikanir and Kishangarh belong. Its strength in 1901 was 122,160. Next comes the Kachwaha clan, which is strong in Jaipur and Alwar, both chiefs belonging to its members. It numbers 100,186. The Chauhan follows with an aggregate of 86,460, among whom are the chiefs of Bundi, Kotah and Sirohi. The Jadu or Jadon, which includes in its ranks the chiefs of Karauli and Jaisalmer, numbers 74,666. The Sisodhyias, who include the ancient and illustrious house of Udaipur, number 51,366. The Ponwar clan, to which Vikramaditya, the celebrated king of Ujjain, from whom the Hindu Era is named, is said to have belonged, numbers 43,435. The Solanki and Parihar clans, once powerful, are now only 18,949 and 9448 respectively.

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