Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chavada Rajputs of Saurashtra and Gurjara

It is interesting to note that the oldest inscriptions found in the small Gurjara region (southwest Rajasthan) covering Jalor, Bhinmal, and Mt. Abu, do not belong to the Pratihara Rajputs. An inscription of 625 CE states that Rajilla and his father Vajrabhata Satyasraya were rulers of Vasantgarh, and they paid tribute to the monarch Varmlata who reigned over Bhinmal, Chandravati and Mount Abu. Varmlata belonged to the proto-Rajput Chapotkata clan, Chapa for short, whose descendants are the Chavada Rajputs found in Gujarat.

The Jain text Nisithachurni, dated to 676 CE, states that the ruler of Bhinmal at that time was well known by the epithet Vyaghmurkh, with a mouth like a roaring tiger (sanskrit vyaghra). The Brahma Sapta Siddhanta, written in 628 CE also mentions king Vyaghramukha as reigning over Bhinmal, and states that he belonged to the Chapavamsa. Whether the Chavada Rajputs originated in Gurjara or in neighboring Kutch and Saurashtra is not clear, but some of their clan branches were linked as feudatories of the Maitrakas of Vallabhi and the Guhilputras of Mewar.

An inscription describes Dharanivaraha, a Chapa ruler in eastern Saurashtra in 914 CE, as fourth in descent from Vikramarka suggesting that they had been ruling for more than a century in that region. The Chapa/Chavada probably lost Bhinmal to the Pratiharas but went on to establish Anahilpataka as a new capital. The Chavada Rajputs were convulsed by the Arab invasions, and consequently gave way to new clans like the Pratiharas, Paramaras, and Solankis.

Absence of Chavada surname among pastoral Gujjars

As is commonly known, when a Rajput kingdom was seized by the Islamic invaders, the ruling clan was hunted to extinction. But those who could not fight, particularly in distant villages, would take up other professions to save themselves. This is how Rajput surnames came to be found among numerous agrarian and pastoral communities in northern India.

In the case of the Chavada Rajputs, their surname is found only among the agrarian Koli community of Gujarat, and the Mistri craftsmen of Kutch.

Even though the Chavada Rajputs originated and ruled over Gurjara, the absence of the Chavada surname among the pastoral Gujjars, suggests that this latter-day community did not exist in that region at that time. It also confirms that Gurjara was originally the name of a region, and only much later became a cognomen for numerous communities.