Gurjara(demonym) & Gujjar (caste): Differences between the two

The oldest usage of that name was by a dynasty called Gurjara dynasty (not to be confused with Gujjar caste) of Bharuch (580 CE - 738 CE) [https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurjaras_of_Lata]

Origin of Gurjara - The Land

Presumably, after migration of this family to Patan, Mehsana, Palanpur – this area of SouthEast Rajasthan & North Gujarat came to be known as Gurjara, which remained so between 6th century to 12th century, characterized by the belt comprising (Check Pic 1 in order from left to right) Patan, Bhinmal, Jalore, Mandore, Didwana, Rajore, and Bayana.

Hence the usage of Gurjara as a Toponymic term carried by local Brahmins, Jains, Banias & Rajputs whenever they migrated from this region.

The first mention of the term Gurjara referring to this region was in Jain monk Uddyotana Suri’s book Kuvalayamala Kaha in 778 AD who also gave an exhaustive insight into the geography of the region and description of the various communities in it. He mentions the Brahmins, Jains, Kshatriyas (Rajputs), Bhils but not any Gujjar caste.

Imperial Pratihars of Malwa become Gurjaresh

The Imperial Pratihars were rulers at first Bhinmal, then Avanti (present-day Malwa) & Kannauj ruling from their capital at Ujjain from 730 CE. The first ruler of this dynasty Nagabhata Pratihar of Bhinmal had conquered Gurjara which is evident from the
Gallaka inscription dated 795 CE which mentions that Nagabhata I as the one who had acquired victory over the “invincible Gurjaras” and obtained fame. Nagbhatt I ruled from Bhinmal. This is hard-hitting evidence that the Pratihars prior to it, were not even connected to the term “Gurjara”. The “invincible Gurjara” mentioned here, referred to Gurjara dynasty of Lata [1]. After defeating the Gurjara ruler ie Chapkota Rajputs of Annhilvada Patan, the Imperial Pratihars ruled from Bhinmal & then after shifting their capital to Ujjain ruled the region through their cadet branches. They never identified themselves with the term “Gurjara” in any of their inscriptions, yet where often called Gurjaranaresh (lord of Gurjara) in inscriptions of their Rashtrakut rivals.

Origin of Bargurjar Rajputs, a subclan of Imperial Pratihars


Pic 2 & Pic 3: The cadet branch of Pratihar Rajputs that stayed on in Bhinmal gradually became Deval Pratihar Rajputs while another splinter group that migrated out of Bhinmal to Rajor (near Alwar), became the first to use this Toponymic term to identify itself as “Gurjara-Pratihara”. As per Rajor inscription dated 960 AD, Manthandev Pratihar identified himself as “Gurjara-Pratihar”, who eventually became the progenitor of the Bargujar Rajputs, which as per all historians is another of Pratihar or Parihar Rajput subclans. The phrase "BarGujar" बड़ गुजर translates to Big Gurjar, underscoring their political superiority over all other Gurjara cognomen castes. Check Pictures 4 & 5 to see the Inscription details.


[2]

Gurjara & Gurjareshwara


Credits: Lost History from Twitter [3]

1 Sravana belagola epigraph says-

Ganga Dynasty Satyavakya Kongunivarman became known as Gurjara_Adhiraja by conquering northern areas for Rastrakuta King Krishna III.

Gurjara denoted geographic area consisting of parts of Rajasthan & Gujarat.

  1. Aihole Inscription of Pulakeshi II

Euhmz9tVoAI-hHM

Aihole inscription says Lata-Malava-Gurjarah thus differentiating the people by territory. Lata and Malava are both territorial names. Arab Gen. Junaid conquered in/around Rajasthan two important places - Bailman (Vallamandala) and Jurz (Gurjara).

3. Kuvalayamala Kaha by Udyotana Suri Jain monk, 8th century

IMG-20210315-WA0014 IMG-20210315-WA0013
*Research paper by Prof H J Manglani on Kuvalayamala Kaha

Kuvalayamala says Gurjaras, Latas, Saindhavas, Malavas, Maravas etc. That is, people identified by
territory. Also says Gurjaradesa is beautified by temples via disciples of Yaksadatta Gani.
Excerpt pg 282

4 Jagannatharya Temple Inscription mentions Rāṇ ā Sāṅgā’s victory over Muzaffar Shāh II.
*Credits: Gajendra Singh Suryavanshi [4]

Here the Gujarat Sultan is being called ‘Gurjareshwar’.

Again the term ‘Gurajara’ refers to a region not a caste.

5. Even King of princely state of Baroda “Pratap Rao Gaekwad” came to be known as GurjarNaresh just because he ruled that territory.

This fact proves Gurjara was a region and demonym; unlike Gujjar (a caste).
Source : history of rajanyas

6. Gurjar Sabha of 1914, chaired by Mohammad Ali Jinnah & attended by MK Gandhi

  1. Skandapuran on Gurjar Brahmins. (Courtesy: LostHistory on twitter)

#Skanda_Purāṇa mentions Pancha Dravida Brahmins divided into 5 sections:
Tailaṅgas, Karnāṭas, Drāviḍas, Madhyadeśaga
Gurjaras

द्राविडाश्चैव तैलङ्गाः कर्नाटा मध्यदेशगाः।
#गुर्जराः चैव पञ्चैते कथ्यन्ते पञ्चद्राविडाः॥
.

Undoubtedly, #Gurjara here denotes geographical connotation.

Other Sources

● Yuan Chwang visited India 630-644 AD. Mentions 72 countries in India including Ku-Che-Lo (Gurjara) with capital at Bhillamal and Kshatriya ruler.
● Bana describes Prabharakaravardhana as ‘troubler of sleep of Gurjara’. Referring to kshatriya ruler of that Kingdom as - Gurjara.

● - Rammo Gurjaradeso jehi kao deva-hara-chim.
● Yasastilaka-Champu of Somadeva Suri 959 AD describes armies of Dravida, Dakshinatya, Tirabhukta, Gauda, Uttarapatha and Gurjara. This classification again is territorial and not by tribe or clan.
Dravidas – people of far south
Dakshinatyas – of Deccan
Tirabhuktas –Turhut
Uttarapatha – West Punjab and Kashmir
Gauda – Bengal
Gurjaras – people of land ruled by Gurjara-Pratihara of Kannauj i.e. entire north defacto except Bengal,
Tirhut and Uttarapatha.
That’s Gujarat, Rajasthan, East Punjab and Gangetic belt up to Bihar.
● Connotation of term Gurjara contracted when Pratiharas imperial power declined. Per Hemachandra’s Mahaveercharita, Mularaja Chalukya onwards the contracted Kingdom was :
SwamyaKhyati Sma Saurashtra-Lata-Gurjara-Seemani|
Kramena nagaram bhavi Namnanahilpatakam|| Per Prabhachandra’s Prabhavakacharita pg 128 & Vividhatirthakalpa pg 27: Asti swastinidhih shriman desho Gurjara sangyakah Per Vinayachandra’s Kavyasiksa: Chaturasheeti deshah Gauda Kanyakubja Gurjara Sindhu ke kana. Per Kumarapal-Prabodha-Prabandha p 111: Karnate Gurjare Late Saurashtre Kachchha-Saindhave 1
Uchchayam chaiva Bhambheryam Marave Malave tatha 2.

This proves that even in old literature the term Gurjara was applied to a tract of geography. That is why its people i.e. the Pratiharas are called Gurjara-Pratiharas during 750-950 AD and their so is the adage to successors the Chaulukyas etc

Gurjara Brahmins - Shrimali, Gour, Pareek

IMG_20200727_212311

The Shrimali Brahmins & Pareek brahmins of Rajasthan and Gujarat were often called Gurjara-brahmins due to their origin here. In fact, one of the chief towns of ancient Gurjara was Bhinmal, which back in the day was famous as Shrimal. The Shrimali Brahmins are hence called so due to their origins in Shrimal / Bhinmal. Together with the Pareek, Gaur and Vyas Brahmins, the Shrimali brahmins are called the Gurjara-Brahmins, a term which has not been renounced until today. Check here: http://www.pareeksamaj.com/…/brahmin…/gurjar-gour-samaj.html

गुजरात के नेता व इतिहासकार साहित्यकार केएम मुंशी ब्राह्मण थे पर स्वयं को स्थानसूचक गुर्जर कहते थे।
विदेशों में भी गुर्जर सभा जैसे संगठनों का अर्थ गुजरात के नागरिकों का संगठन होना न कि उत्तर भारत के पशुपालक गुज्जरों का संगठन होना।

Gurjara Jains

Similarly, the Jains who migrated from this region became Gurjara Jains, as against Oswal Jains from Osian (near Jodhpur). Check here:
https://books.google.co.in/books…

Gurjar Suthar community

K M Munshi, Gurjar Sabha & modern Gujarat State

IMG_20200727_212318

After the 13th century, the word Gurjara lost its usage until it was picked up by 20th-century Statesmen like KM Munshi, a Vyas brahmin, who even established the Gurjara Sabha, of which both Jinnah and Gandhi were important speakers in 1915. The aim of it was to promote Gurjara Bhasha (not Gojri of Gujjar caste but Gujarati of Gurjar people ). The word regained its usage from there to refer to not just that specific region that was once called Gurjara, but for the entire region where Gurjara Bhasha or Gujarati was the dominant language.

It was hence the intellectual seeds sowed by K M Munshi, a Gurjara Vyas brahmin himself, in the early 20th century and the laborious work by Indulal Kanaialal Yagnik led Mahagujarat Movement which caused splitting of Bombay State, followed by the formation of Gujarat on 1 May 1960.

The Gujjar Jaati & it’s Origins

The region of Gurjara as opined by Uddyotana Suri has always been home to a large number of pastoral communities - the Rebaris, the Vanjaras, and Gaddiya Lohars. Airavat Singh opines that on drying up of the Sukri river in the 13th century a large number of pastoralists of this region who spread out to other parts like eastern Rajasthan, west UP, Himachal, Punjab, and J&K eventually becoming the Gujjar caste of today.

The mixed origins of the pastoral Gujjar caste of today is evident when one finds Rebari clans like Khatana, Rajput clans like Chauhan, Bania clans like Bansal, Khatri clans like Chopra and brahmin clans like Nagar in them.

Hence Gojri, the language unique to Gujjars and spoken by Gujjars across Himachal, J&K, and Pakistan has been unanimously classified as an East Rajasthani dialect by famous linguists like George Abraham Grierson, a classification that remains undisputed till today.
This would not have been possible if the Gujjars of all these regions did not have an East or Southeast Rajasthani origin. There is a substantial Gujjar population in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The 12th century Rajatarangini which deals with the history of Kashmir and the neighborhood mentions a number of tribes, like Dards, Khasas, Bhuttas, etc who are still found there, but no mention is made of a Gujjar tribe. This can only mean that they migrated to the western Himalayas in a very late Period.

Hence the historical term “Gurjara” was a geographical term and connotated a territorym Even it is continuosly used by people & organizations of Gujarat state as ethnonym & hence shouldn’t be conflated with any race/tribe as myth makers would want us to believe.


References



  1. EI, XLI, pp. 49-57 ; Shanta Rani Sharma, Origin & Rise of Imperial Pratihars of Rajasthan, p. 69 ↩︎

  2. F Kranz; Epigraphia Indica, III, p. 265 ↩︎

  3. Credits: Lost History from Twitter
    https://twitter.com/Lost_History1/status/1296703825466675201?s=08 ↩︎

  4. *Credits: Gajendra Singh Suryavanshi
    https://twitter.com/leo_gajendra/status/1317812219896233984?s=08 ↩︎

9 Likes

Would you consider Paliwal Brahmins from Pali to be Gurjara Brahmins? In the Jodhpur inscription, we are told that Harichandras (founder of the Mandore branch) children of his brahmin wife became the pratihara brahmanas. Is it possible that the Pratihara brahmins moved to Pali and hence, became known as the Paliwal brahmanas?

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Pali is part of Marwar or Marubhoomi ; True, the extent of Gurjara Bhoomi has often changed from its origins in Annhilvada Patan - Bhinmal (Shrimal) belt ,extending at times further north…but still we call this later entity “Maru-Gurjara” not simply “Gurjara”. Even Parihars of Mandore (Inda Parihars were the last rulers of Mandore) were never called Gurjara-Pratihars (Bargujar rajputs) unlike their counterparts who migrated from Bhinmal to Alwar.

Hence Paliwals are Brahmins of Marwar, unlike Shrimali Brahmins, Gurjar Gaur Brahmins and others who have origins in the original Gurjara ie Patan-Bhinmal belt.
This is like the difference between Gurjara Jains found predominantly in Gurjara and Oswals who have roots in Osian near Jodhpur.

It can be a healthy speculation indeed. Though Harichandra is called so , hinting at his knowledge of shastras and the reference to brahmin wife vanishes after that inscription. Nevertheless it can be a healthy speculation to start with, putting Mandore Parihars & Paliwals as civilizationally close entities.

4 Likes

Ah, so where did the actual Gurjara Pratiharas originate? The evidence points at Mandore and Ujjain as the former is where the first kingdom was established and the latter is where Nagabhata repulsed them. I honestly wouldn’t be suprised if Nagabhata himself was from Mandore and marched to Ujjain, raising every man to fight irrespective of caste, to confront Junaid, as he utterly routed them.

Yes. It should also be noted that the Pali area was ruled by a local brahmin governor who had the patronage of the neighboring Pratiharas and Chahamanas as long as they contributed to when time was right. (at least that is what a poem says). There are also Paliwal rajputs and Khsatriyas, however.

1 Like

We can only speculate. Dasrath Sharma rather puts Bhinmal (Gurjara) as the birth place of Parihars; however based on demography of Parihar Rajputs - Central India specially Ujjain Gwalior region seems a more likely origin since this tract has been dominated by Parihars till this day - having 2 princely states till end. All these are speculations . When we talk of Parihars , there are three broad sections: Mandore Parihars - Inda, Dewal, Bela ; Imperial/Malwa Parihars - Kalhans, Narauni etc and Gurjara Parihars - Bargujar & subclans like Madhadh, Sikarwar.
This is how the khaap /sub-lineages exist today. It is Unfortunate that Imperial Pratihars are conflated with Gurjara Pratihars; the latter was only subgroup of the former.

Yes, we are aware of Somwanshi subclan Palwar who take Pali as origin. They are found in Faizabad, Gorakhpur & Azamgarh region Palwar Rajputs of Purvanchal

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Nagabhata himself takes pride in defeating the Gurjaras. Also, who all took part in Nagabhatas alliance against Junayd? I would assume every young male (who is in fighting shape) from Mandor to Ujjain as it would make sense if Nagabhata had to recruit an army If Junayd took him by surprise.

The Gurjara has always been a demonym here. The Gurjara referred to inhabitants and rulers of Gurjara region. Here, the Gurjaras that Nagbhata defeated were Chavda rajputs of Annhilwada Patan. Even today, Mehsana - Patan - Kutch remain chief constituencies of Chawdas.

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Are their still Pratihara Brahmins alive? According to Dashratha Sharma, they still are their in the Jodhpur state

It is also possible that Pratihars family from which Nagabhata 1 came migrated from Gurjara region where the Pratiharas working as vassals of Chavdas and moved on to Ujjain and founded the Imperial Pratihar dynasty. It was not uncommon thing that time and Just because he came from the region of Gujara his dynasty is often confused with Gurjara Pratihara.

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