OUR COMMUNITY'S CORE IDENTITY.
By Damji Rathod, UK
Thousands of years ago during Vedic times, Manu Rishi had divided mankind into four social categories or Varna as per oneâ€™s nature or Swabhav which is recorded in Manusmriti and was known as Varna Vyavastha or social set up. In this set-up all the four categories were equally important because they all supported each other for the full development of a healthy society. The first category consisting of those members of society who had their intellectual capacity and the inclination to learn all spiritual and scientific knowledge and then impart the same back to the society and this category was known as Brahmins or teachers. The second category known as Kshatriya was of those members of society who were good at organising institutions, administering affairs of the governments. Kshatriyaâ€™s duty was to protect the society from invaders, protect Dharma and culture of the society. This second category is therefore an important support system of the human society. The third category was created by those members of society who were good at trading, running industries, farming, agricultural related activities and thus generating wealth for themselves and for benefit of the whole society and they were known as Vaishyas. The fourth category was made up of the members of society who were good at manual work and would carry out the tasks given to them under strict supervision and they were known as Shudra. However with education, dedication many ignited their intellect and have moved up the ladder in the social hierarchy. Children born in poor backgrounds are known to have captured the top positions in the society with their sheer capabilities. Again learning different trades is an asset in itself. Shri Krishna was expert in 64 arts or trades. We have historical examples. We know that Rishi Valmiki was an uneducated tribal Shudra but became a Bramin in deeds and wrote the great epic Ramayan. Lord Ramâ€™s Guru Rishi Vishvamitra was a Kshatriya by birth but became a Bramin and a great Rishi. Both Bhagwan Buddh and Bhagwan Mahvir were Kshatriya kings but on their spiritual enlightenment there emerged great teachings of Bhudhism and Jainism.
It should therefore be appreciated that the classification of the human society into four Varnas was dependent on ones own capability rather than being born in a family of Brahmin or Shudra. Although to some extent it is also true that due to genetic and family environment it could be more than likely that a Brahminâ€™s child may have Brahmin characteristics and Kshatriyaâ€™s child may turn out to have Kshatriya characteristics. Vaishya or a businessmanâ€™s child may have in him the business or trading acumen.
Now talking about the roots of our community, we migrated from Rajasthan to Gujarat in western part of India and for centuries while we were in Rajasthan have been known as Kshatriyas and continued with the same core identity on our migration to Kutch and Halar and other areas of Saurashtra in Gujarat State of India but just added Gurjar reflecting geographical identity and registered our regional organisations as Shree Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj or Mandals. Over a passage of time many from villages in Kutch migrated to other states of India such as Bihar, Bengal and Maharashtra while from Halar region of Saurashtra some of our community members migrated to East Africa and most of them from there in the early sixties migrated to the United Kingdom. Some of our community members also came to the United Kingdom directly from India. Our settlement in Canada and USA from the United Kingdom occurred in eighties and recent migration of younger generation directly from India has increased our population outside India considerably. Some are employed in industries and others are having their own businesses while younger educated members of our community are professionals highly placed with multinational corporations. In these countries and back in India too, our occupations have changed and are continuously changing with higher education, training and experiences. Many members of our community are no longer engaged in construction industry nor are we engaged in farming activities in our adopted countries outside India. Our younger generation born and brought up here in the United Kingdom, Canada and USA with higher level of education are now managing affairs of businesses, industries, banks and financial institutions. Many are with firms of information technologies while some are doctors and in related health sectors in India and outside India. Our occupations have changed with changing times but our core identity as Gurjar Kshatriya has been retained at all times. For some useful information log on to these websites - www.shreegkg.com , www.sgks.co.uk , www.kadia.org and www.kadiasamaj.org and you will see none of them have removed our core identity of Kshatriya.
My belief that we are Gurjar Kshatriyas is based on my own personal views and at the same time on information gathered from our elders in our villages and as well as to a degree on a dialogue and factual history of our community available from our Barots. They normally keep the family records of Kshatriya communities. In olden times Barots have always accompanied the Kshatriyas in the battle fields also and boosted their morale. In peaceful times they have always kept our pride alive by reminding us of the contributions of our ancestors and of our rich cultural heritage. I therefore strongly believe that we are Kshatriyas belonging to different warrior tribes and we all have an inbuilt appropriate nature or Swabhav reflective of our position in the social fabric set-up. Our duty or dharma was to fight and protect our kingdoms, villages, culture and societies at all times. We were one of the Kshatriya communities in Rajasthan having land assets and many of us still have farmlands in our villages in Gujarat even if we are today engaged in various different occupations.
Many of us in Gujarat who have migrated from our villages to other places for better prospects got themselves engaged in building industry and have prospered economically. Over a period of time our community in villages degenerated considerably due to lack of education, weak financial base, superstitions, observing outdated customs and reluctance to adjust with the changing times. Our orthodox mindset for a long time did not allowed us to open up and see the world beyond. Rajputs in rural areas and in even urban areas of Rajasthan are also of the same mindset that has not changed with the time. The members of our community settled outside India have grabbed the opportunities which came across and have become financially stronger but have not been able to come out of old customs and traditions. I am convinced that our third generation is well-equipped for a big leap if they come out of clutches of the orthodox mindset.
Again looking at our migration, settlements pattern and our own communityâ€™s core identity, it is of interest to know that defeated or otherwise many families of our Kshatriya community migrated from Rajasthan southwards to Gujarat and settled in some 18 villages of Kutch and 36 villages of Halar region of Jamnagar district in Saurashtra. Many of our community members came and settled in some 142 villages of central and south west Saurashtra. From these villages many of our community members later moved to cities and towns such as Rajkot, Gondal, Jetpur, Junagadh, Amreli, Rajula and Dhari of Saurashtra. Many have moved to bigger cities of Gujarat such as Ahmedabad, Baroda, and Surat and to cities of other states of India in search of better life.
As I said above, our Kshatriya community from Rajasthan migrated to the northern regions of Gujarat as refugees and were settled by the local kings or rulers in Kutch and Saurashtra giving farming lands to work on and prosper. As farmers, we made our permanent settlements into self-sustainable villages in Kutch and Saurashtra. Thereafter a second wave of our community came to join their relatives in Kutch and Saurashtra but by then no farming land was available to them. They had to settle down assisted by our farming community and engage themselves in the construction industry which is always easily available and perhaps were good at back in Rajasthan in peaceful and creative periods. Probably therefore their descendents may now say they do not remember that they were ever farmers however do remember that they belong to the same community settled in Kutch, Halar and other regions of Saurashtra and have their roots there. We migrated from Rajasthan but permanently settled in Gujarat for centuries that is probably why we are now known as Gurjar Kshatriya.
Again back to our Swabhav or nature as Kshatritya, I would like to point out some of the in-built traditions, customs and way of our life that reminds us of our core Kshatriya identity.
We have never been dependent on other communities but other communities with special skills useful to our farming needs have been settled in our villages and we have provided them their livelihood. I will give you an example: In Halar we have 36 villages where we, as farmers, cultivate the land but for our requirement of earthen pots and utensils, we invited potter families and hence Prajapati families came and settled in our villages. Farmers required carts, other farming equipments and other household items made from timber and metal. Therefore carpenters and blacksmiths were invited and settled in our villages. We even encouraged few members from within our community to become carpenters and blacksmiths to serve our farmer families in our villages. Similarly a Brahmin for rituals and as a caretaker of the village temple (Pujari), Tailor (Darji), Barber (Vanand) and Shoemaker (Mochi) families were subsequently required and were invited and encouraged to settle within our social fabric. At the harvest time farmers rewarded them with more than enough food grains for the services these tradesmen provided them throughout the year. All the above tradesmen families were settled and maintained by our community in our villages and these families were called Vasvaya meaning who have been settled and maintained.
It should be remembered that these communities with different skills are not at all inferior but are complementary to each other for a healthy social fabric of the villages. They probably have evolved from the same Kshatriya Varna. When groups or tribes migrate to far away destinations there is always an inbuilt desire to be self supported and accordingly those members in families back home who have developed different skills are encouraged to join them too! Over a passage of time and probably with political or social influences, they picked up their occupational identities. That is why they were probably subdivided and are now known by certain Jati or Naat based on different trades their forefathers had picked up.
In our families a child is born and on 6th day, the Chhathi ceremony is conducted on the low stool (Bajoth) along with lighted Deep, Pen and ink-pot are placed. Pen and ink-pot signifies that the child is entitled to education. Statue of horse rider with a sword in his hand is also placed on the Bajoth. Horse rider with sword symbolises that the child is from Kshatriya family.
In our families when the young male Kshatriya is getting married, he is holding a sword in his right hand. Sword is Kshatriyaâ€™s weapon that is one of the symbolic statuses within our Indian social fabric as a warrior, protector and administrator of the community and the society.
All our families have historical records of some outstanding persons who died defending their villages and we remember them as our Shurapuras and have their Padias either in the public chowks of our villages or far out at boundaries of the villages. We have been preserving these symbolic stone Padias and recently we have now properly built around these Padias as places of worship.
As other Kshatriya communities, each families of our community have their Gotra named after one of the seven Rishis such as Gauttam, Kaushik and others. We also have our Kuldevis such as Chamunda Ma, Khodiar Ma and others attached to the families whom they worship and these symbolises our Kshatriya character.
The above are just few examples of the traditions and customs that are there which are normally in Kshatriya communities. Our surnames also suggest that our core identity is Kshatriya. However our communities in Saurashtra and Kutch regions of Gujarat State of modern India after their migration from Rajasthan some 400 years were mainly engaged in farming and over a passage of time many took up jobs in the construction industry and now have diversified into trading and industries. Accordingly we may now even qualify to be slotted in the Vaishya category because agriculture, construction, trading and running industries is Vaishya characteristics by nature or Swabhav.
At this juncture it would be of interest for the investigative young minds of our community both in India and in other countries to understand how we have evolved into what we are today retaining our core identity while changing our occupational identity as we moved along. During the Muslim invasions, their rule in India converted some and forced other Hindu communities to migrate in all directions from North India and especially some of the politically affected Rajputs and Kshatriya communities of Rajasthan also migrated southwards. Again it should be understood that the four categories or communities namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras are not from North India alone. They had always been there residing in other regions of India. As I said above, thousand years of Muslim rule over Bharatvarsh and their conversion activities resulted into converted Muslims in some of the regions of India. Bohra Muslims are the converted Muslims from Brahmin Community. Tribal Hindus who have been converted to Christianity have retained their Hindu names and surnames. Shia Khoja followers of Aga Khan are converted Muslims from Hindu Lohana community. Shia Khoja families still have their Hindu names attached to their old identity. But the same Hindu Lohana community in Gujarat is one of the Kshatriya communities worshipping Lord Ram. They are now a prominent Gujarati business community but I know in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania my Lohana friends identify themselves as Kshatriyas who are descendents of Luv, son of Lord Ram. Oswal Jains, a wealthy trading community of 52 villages in Halar region of Jamnagar district of Gujarat were originally one of the Kshatriya clans of Rajasthan. They have also migrated from the villages of Jamnagar to urban centres of India, East Africa, the United Kingdom, USA and other countries. Therefore it is no wonder with circumstances, migrations and time we have also evolved ourselves into what we are today with different occupations, professions and diluted Kshatriya character.
The Indian government after our independence in 1947 brought in programmes for the less fortunate sections of Indian societies namely schedule classes, backward classes and economical backward classes to educate them and thus improving their financial status. Reservation policies were introduced by the Government such as reserving seats for children of the weaker sections of the societies in the educational institutions, giving priorities in government jobs and positions. These policies required communities to prove that they could be slotted into these caste and class divisions. We should not get trapped into the caste and class divisions created by the politicians. I believe dividing Indians into castes and classes will prove very dangerous for India as a Nation.
Ours is definitely a proud and strong community with strong values and should come out successful through hard work and merits. Elders and leaders of our community must create still more conducive environment and Education Trusts with huge funds for all levels of education for the younger generation. Remember: â€œIf God were to humiliate a human being He would deny him or her knowledgeâ€.
However our Rishis, in their contribution to the development of the whole human race, and Shri Krishna the Jagadguru has said in Gita that oneâ€™s identity is known by oneâ€™s own personal dharma and nature and therefore oneâ€™s Jati or caste is not by birth but by oneâ€™s own actions. Therefore one should always strive for continuous self-development and change his mental status continuously. Over the last 2000 years, our societies in India have degenerated a lot and wrongly advocated caste system made India so weak in character and values that the Muslims could successfully enslave us for 1,000 years and could destroy our temples and build mosques over them. British ruled for 200 years, which destroyed our pride and souls all together and gave rise to current state of confusion.
I strongly abhor the present caste system in India which is based on birth and believe that there has to be a strong social and political will to remove these social divisions in the name Jatis and Gnatis. We must all work towards re-establishing the Vedic Varna Vyavastha based on oneâ€™s own personal Dharma or Swabhav and identify ourselves with our great Bharatiya culture. Shri Krishna had said that â€œPar Dharmo bhaya vahaâ€ meaning that otherâ€™s Dharma or way of life even if it is beneficial or convenient is dangerous and one should not adopt it. It is dangerous because it is against oneâ€™s own Swabhav and that is why it would be difficult to adjust and retain oneâ€™s genetic identity when adopting otherâ€™s way of life. If compelled to cross over then he or she will be under pressure to prove his new identity. This is exactly why we find that the converted Muslims or Christians in India and elsewhere are equally fanatic with fundamentalist mindset.
In modern times I believe that Indian communities identifying themselves in the name of Jati or Gnati is not relevant and my advice to the younger minds is that one should identify himself more with our time tested and rich Vedic culture and to our spiritual values. Our Indian communities outside and in India itself are now breaking up the Jati and Gnati barriers with inter-caste marriages. Younger generation from India and even some younger members of our community born and brought up in the United Kingdom, Canada and USA have found their soul mates in other communities and thus successful inter-racial marriages have occurred too! I am not advocating that our children should establish relationship outside our fold. Matrimonial relationship developed within our own community could be more secured, comfortable and desirable because we will have the same character and Swabhav for creating conducive environment for stronger community ties. However I see nothing wrong in inter-caste and inter-racial marriages if the couples have made a well thought choice, are compatible to each other, found the human values in each other and if their marriages succeed. In India the compatible inter-caste marriages among educated and open minded younger generation from north to south, east to west is a good trend and I believe it would make modern India more unified and stronger.
Inter-religion marriages between Hindus, Muslims and Christians are not desirable because of their different way of living, their nature or Swabhav would make it difficult to adjust each other and sacrifices made on their cultural values will be very painful. Marriages between communities of Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Budhist faiths are quite compatible because these faiths have developed out of the same vast womb of Vedic culture and we consider these as own our religions. In fact that is why the scientific analysis of human mind and putting mankind in four categories according to each individualâ€™s human nature or Swabhav and Swa-Dharma had been the best contribution our Rishis of Vedic times ever made to the human society.
We as Indians with thousands of years of social and scientific development behind us should be proud of our culture but at the same time be ready to understand the reasons why we are in the degenerated state and always looking to the west for all solutions of our lives. The main reason of our degeneration was the Mahabharat war which was fought some 5000 years back on a very huge scale. In this war many relatives of both Kauravs and Pandavs from Aryavrat (India) and other neighbouring countries were involved. As it happens in all wars, this war too brought destruction and death of all the able, intellectuals from all four Varnas. The society at the end of this war was left with its helpless widows, small children, old men and fractured social fabric beyond repair for a long time to come. It has taken us thousands of years to come out of this damage and thanks to the inbuilt intellect of its people and the economic and scientific development has made India to come out as a strong Nuclear Nation today.
If we want to re-establish the age old glory of Aryavrata or Bharat (India), we should take pride in our rich cultural heritage and build on from there. We should follow the ideals laid down by great souls of our land namely Shri Ram, Krishna, Bhagwan Budh, Bhagwan Mahavir, Adi Shankrachariya, Guru Nanak, Guru Govindsingh, Prithviraj Chauhan, Maharana Pratap, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, Sahajanand Swami, Shahid Bhagatsingh, Subhashchandra Bose, Jamsedji Tata, Dadabhai Navroji, Veer Savarkar, Kavivar Ravindranath Tagore, Jagdishchandra Bose, Swami Vivekanand, Maharshi Arvind Ghose, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shyama Prashad Mukherji, Deendayal Upadhyay, C V Raman, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Dr, Bhabha, G D Birla, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indiraben Gandhi, Dhirubhai Ambani, N R Narayan Murthy, Nandan M Ninekani. Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, Laxmi Mittal, Amartya Sen, Kalpna Chawla, Zubin Mehta, Satyajit Roy, Amitabh Bachan, Shahrukh Khan, the current President of India Dr. A.P.J. Kalaam and many others like them have given us our Bhartiya identity. It is unfortunate that once very much revered political Congress party which was instrumental in bringing independence to India has not lived to the high ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Instead his so called followers have also been in forefront corrupting our social fabric with financial scandals and have remained in power by creating social divide in the name of castes and religion.
We need to ask ourselves: â€œAre we as a community ready to break the artificially created divisions (none in Vedic times) in the name Jatis and Gnatis and join the efforts of nationalists to create a strong Indian identity and fight the anti-national and fanatic elements around us whether we are in India, the UK, Canada or USA?â€ As Kshatriyas or even as Vaishyas it is our Dharma to protect our Vedic culture and our Bhartiya identity wherever we are residing and carve out space for ourselves by proving ourselves in whatever occupations, professions, businesses or industries we are engaged in.
THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED BY :
Damjibhai Rathod- General Secretary,
Shri Gurjar Kshatriya Gnati Mandal,