Thursday, January 3, 2008

Rajput - Then and Now

Some facts about Rajputs.
  • RAJPUT, an ancient race which is not confined to Rajputana but spread over the northern part of the country.
  • The Rajputs form the fighting, landowning and ruling caste.
  • According to an old census (1901) there were 9,712,156 Rajputs in all India, of whom only 620,229 lived in Rajputana.
Rajput patriotism is legendary, an ideal they embodied by choosing death before dishonour. Rajput warriors were often known to fight until the last man.
The Rajputs are fine, brave men, and retain the feudal instinct developed. Pride of blood is their chief characteristic, and they are most punctilious on all points of etiquette. The tradition of common ancestry permits a poor Rajput man consider himself as well born as any powerful landholder of his clan, and superior to any high official of the professional classes.

They consider any occupation other than that of arms or government derogatory to their dignity, and consequently during the long period of peace which has followed the establishment of the British rule in India they have been content to stay idle at home instead of taking up any of the other professions in which they might have come to the front.

Rahter than a King of an large state, a Rajput from a small village will be considered great, if he dies in the battle. They fight to die and let the enemy die. Unlike mughals and other rulers, they fight to die instead of winning. They don't attack on the back and the unarmed man. Unlike muslims, Rajputs never punished womens for the crime their men have commited.

Excerpts from the book "Religion and Rajput Women" tells us about the present conditions of the Rajputs :-

Although this characterization is based on a study of Rajput history only through the mid seventeenth century, the ideals described remain meaningful today. All the Rajputs no longer fight in Rajput armies but understand the ability and willingness to give their lives as a living heritage. One rajput nobleman, pointing to the respect he receives when he visits the villages once part of his forefather's estate, comments that respect is an enduring tribute to the sacrifices of royal blood that his family and ancestors made on villagers' behalf. Such sacrifices, he believes, have been an integral part of the Rajput way of life.

Rajput men and women share the ideals of sacrifice and giving, Rajput men have retained the saka women have retained the sati as a paramount source of inspiration in adapting to modern times and circumstances.

As members of the royal caste, Rajputs were accountable for the sustenance and prosperity of those whom they ruled. Thus Rajputs have traditionally been addressed by the honorific annadata , "giver of grain." The survival of the conception of the Rajput as benefactor is exemplified by the popular adage that whereas a Brahman approaches a Rajput with his palms up (seeking alms), a Rajput approaches a Brahman with his palms down (giving alms). Rajputs enjoy explaining that their dispositional tendency toward generosity made them fit to rule even over Brahmans, their superiors in terms of caste purity.

As one nobleman explained, the Rajput makes a better politician than the baniya (Mechant Caste) because Rajputs are not naturally motivated by a desire for personal profit; they strive for the welfare of those whom they govern. These days the Rajput legacy of patronage has been preserved in some minimal ways, perhaps the most visible of which is the continuing Rajput sponsorship of various traditional festivals and rituals.

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