Origin of Gurjara Land, The Bargurjar Rajput, The Gurjar / Gurjar Caste, Gurjara-Brahmin and the modern Gujarat

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 of Avanti (present-day Malwa) ruling from their capital at Ujjain from 730 CE. The first ruler of this dynasty Nagabhata Pratihar 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. 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 of Malwa 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 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

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…

Origin of Gujar Caste

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.

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.


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 ↩︎

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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.

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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.

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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