Tuesday, June 30, 2015

When Gurjara became Godwad....

The Godwad region was the historic border between the two powerful Rajput kingdoms of Mewar and Marwar, in the medieval era. Godwad (गोडवाड़) covers the districts of Jalore, Sirohi and Pali, and also includes the mountain of Abu and adjoining hills. The now seasonal Sukri River flows through the region. Both the territory and the river flowing through it correspond exactly with Gurjara Bhoomi, with the difference that the river was full flowing and the territory more fertile, as described in the Kuvalayamala Kaha, than it is today.

With the drying up of the Sukri River, the capital Bhinmal was abandoned, and there was an outward migration of many communities from Gurjara. But when did the name change to Godwad? A local organisation, Godwad Virasat, explores the history of the region and suggests that the founding of Chandravati at the base of Mt Abu by the Paramara Rajputs in the 10th century, is the starting point of the identity of Godwad.

The Raikas, a pastoral community which developed the local Nari breed of cattle, are divided into two groups. The Maru Raika in their original home of Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, and the Godwad Raika in Jalore, Sirohi, and Pali. So when the Raikas migrated to the region, the name Gurjara had fallen into disuse and Godwad had taken its place. While Gurjara was in use only for a couple of centuries, Godwad has persisted far longer, more than a millennium! But just as the origins of the name Gurjara are unknown, so too the origins of Godwad are not certain.

...and Anarta and Lata became Gujarat

In this same 10th century period, the historic region of Anarta took the name Gujarat. The change is noticed in the inscriptions of the Solanki Rajputs who ruled from the capital Anahilvada Patan, and of their neighbors and rivals like the Chahaman Rajputs. Patan itself had been founded earlier by the Chavada Rajputs, who originally ruled near Mt Abu. Did they give the name Gurjartra to their new home?

Gurjartra is mentioned in the later inscriptions of the Imperial Pratiharas as one of the territories ruled by them. But what is certain is that though the Pratihara Rajputs originated in Maru and Gurjara Bhoomi, they did not take these geographic names to their new homes of Ujjain, Gwalior, and Kannauj. Gujarat was the name given only to the area around Anahilvada Patan, ruled in succession by Chavadas, Solankis, and Vaghelas. When the Solanki Rajputs conquered Lata, the name Gujarat expanded to cover this region, and the usage of Lata vanished from history.