Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Historians views on Gurjara

The approach of the British civil servants, amateur historians at best, who concocted the Gurjara invasion theory are well known. The views of Indian historians and other qualified historians are less well known.

Indian Historians on the term Gurjara

The early Indian Historians could not escape the established belief of the British rulers that the inhabitants of Western India were "more warlike and less Brahmanical" than the people of the interiors. DR Bhandarkar transcribed the inscriptions in the Gurjara territory along with AMT Jackson, and naturally followed the prevailing viewpoint. He went a step further and opined that apart from the Pratiharas, other Rajput clans like the Chauhans and Solankis were also of foreign origin but cited no evidence for this speculation. The nationalist historian RC Majumdar accepted the hypothesis of Gurjara being the name of an invading tribe, and of the Pratihara Rajputs emerging from it, but asserted that the other Rajput clans had an indigenous origin.

But in the defence of these Indian historians it must be said that the linguistic data on the pastoral Gujjars was then only being compiled, and the study on language development from Sanskrit to Prakrit to Apabharamsa was still in its infancy. The evidence of language contradicts the foreign tribal origin of the term Gurjara, but there were Indian historians even in that period who opposed this hypothesis on other rational grounds.

As far back as 1925, the historian CV Vaidya lashed out at the: "unaccountable tendency in antiquarians of India to assign foreign and Scythic origin to each and every forward people found in Indian history. Thus the Jats and even the Rajputs are assigned a foreign and a Scythic origin. If the Jats, the Gujars, and the Rajputs with their clearly Aryan features are foreigners and Scythians where are the Indo-Aryans, those people who spoke the Aryan Sanskrit or Vedic language....have they disappeared?"

Similarly Dashratha Sharma the Rajasthan historian asserted that Gurjara was the name of a province. In his well-researched book, Rajasthan through the Ages, Dasharatha Sharma said: "Gurjara was for centuries the name of the territory which included Bhinamala and Jalor; and as this was the original home of the Pratiharas, they continued, like the Karnatas of Mithila, to be known by the name of their home-land." Dashratha Sharma coined the term Proto-Rajput for the period starting from 400 CE in the Gujarat-Rajasthan region.

Another stalwart historian from Gujarat, KM Munshi, emphatically rejected the colonial myths on the term Gurjara: "there is no evidence to prove that the Gurjara Gaur Brahmanas, the Srimala Brahmanas, the Poravada and Osavala Kshatriyas, and the corresponding Vaisyas were of foreign extraction." Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi, 1887-1971, was a statesman, freedom fighter, and Gujarati author. A Gujarati Bhargava Brahmin, KM Munshi became secretary of Gurjar Sabha (Gujarati Literary Society), using the old name of Gujarat. Dr KM Munshi discovered linguistic affinities between the folksongs of Gujar milkmen found by him at Baisuran in Kashmir in 1945, and old Gujarati songs.

Another stand of Indian Historians is that the pastoral Gujjars are not mentioned in ancient literature, and only make their appearance during the Islamic invasions.

The theory of Gurjara being the name of a foreign tribe was contradicted on the lack of references in the historical texts, the many references to Gurjara being a province, the linguistic affinity of Gujari to Rajasthani, and the existence of various communities taking their cognomen Gurjara from the province.

From The Sculpture of Early Medieval Rajasthan by Cynthia Packert Atherton. The two branches of the Pratihara Rajput clan are designated from their place of origin, Mandor in Maru Bhoomi and Jalor in Gurjara Bhoomi.