Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pastoral Gujjars not mentioned in ancient literature

While Gurjara as a territorial term finds ample mention in Indian literature, the numerous communities with the Gurjara cognomen naturally appear at a later date. But since foreign historians and some of their Indian followers persist in opposing the native historians views on Gurjara, and keep insisting that it was originally a tribal name, it would be useful to examine whether the pastoral Gujjars are mentioned in ancient literature? A mass movement of a nomadic tribe, whether it happened in the post-Maurya age, or in the post-Gupta age, surely could not have passed unnoticed?

The Natyashastra of Bharata, groups languages spoken in the post-Maurya age by country (Desi) and by profession (Vibhasha): of the former are listed Magadhi, Avanti, Prachya, Sauraseni, Ardhamagadhi, Balhika, and Dakshinatya. The Vibhasha, or corrupt forms of language are used by people like grass sellers, hunters, charcoal makers, goat traders, pastoral communities like Sabara and Abhira, hill tribes like Kiratas, forest dwelling Vanachara and Pulinda, and Chandalas. It even gives minute descriptions of the clothes worn by pastoral Abhira women: they have two Venis on their head covered with a deep blue cloth. Such a detailed text has no mention of the pastoral Gujjars.

Even the later texts continue to mention these tribes and professions but none of them mention the pastoral Gujjars. The Harshacharita composed by Banabhatta mentions Gurjara as a country but does not speak of any tribe, the Dasakumar Charita mentions several parts of India and their tribes, but not the pastoral Gujjars.

The 8th century Kuvalayamala Kaha, which gives the first detailed description of Gurjara Bhoomi, also has notes on other regions of India. It mentions 34 Janpads, 47 towns, 7 villages, 21 mountains, 8 rivers, and 2 seas of India. Naturally it mentions the numerous pastoral and forest-dwelling tribes like: the shabara, kirata, orda, gonda, pulinda, and bhilla (modern Bhils of Rajasthan). Therefore it is baffling that a pastoral tribe like the Gujjars, who in the concocted tale of the colonial historians, had "arrived" by this time and made settlements across vast parts of India.....are not even mentioned.

It would be stretching credulity to suppose that the author of Kuvalayamala Kaha, who lived in Gurjara bhoomi, would have knowledge of the Bhils but not of the pastoral Gujjars. The conclusion is inescapable that this pastoral tribe makes its appearance at a much later date. Other community traditions in Gurjara state that they migrated out from Bhinmal with the drying up of the Sukri River.

Therefore agrarian and pastoral people too would have left, first into the neighboring Mewar region, which was always greener and more fertile than both Gurjara and Maru. It is no coincidence that the earliest oral traditions of the Gujjars are traced to Mewar, and the Gujari language has more similarities to Mewari and Mewati, than it does to Gujarati or Marwari. It suggests a long period of Gujjar residence in northeastern Rajasthan, for their language to take its modern shape.