MEENAS were rulers prior to the Kacchwaha Rajputs of Jaipur

  • By Dr Anil Aaniket
  • July 4, 2022
  • 3296 views
  • Briefly, know how the Kacchwahas took control of parts of the eastern Rajputana from the Meenas.

The royal majestic city of Jaipur or the iconic pink city was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1727 AD.1 Originally its name was 'Jainagar' and later it was named as Sawai Jaipur and finally to its current name that is Jaipur.2 Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II belonged to kachhwaha Rajput clan of Suryavanshi Kshatriyas.3 They claim their descent from the eldest son, of Sri Ram-whose life the great epic Ramayan celebrates, which is ‘Kush’. 4 According to Colonel Tod, from Kush they were named as ‘Kushwaha’ and later on it deteriorated as ‘Kachhwaha’. 5 This new city has worked as the new capital of Kachhwahas in the Dhundhar land or the country’. Hitherto, Amber enjoyed the status of the capital of Dhundhar country and witnessed many important historical events such as the battles of suzerainty for the control over Dhundhar lands. 

 

Meena tribe is considered as one of the oldest tribes of the world.6 This paper will not delve into the debate pertaining the issue of origin of Meena tribe or the Rajputs. This paper focuses only on the ‘Meena-Rajput conflict' and how the more ‘advanced’ clan came out victorious over the rather ‘traditional’ clan. It is a known fact that there are so many who are ready to write about the victorious but no one would come forward to pen down even a few words for the other side. 

 

Likewise, there are so many records available to trace the origin of a mainstream clan namely Rajputs, but to write about a tribe is an uphill task with no credit and no remuneration of any kind because these tribes live in remote areas and away from mainstream lifestyles in the lap of nature itself, without any greed for name and fame. So, in the present times we have no other option then to believe, whatever little is known about their earlier as well as the history which falls within this papers scope, from the myths and folklores etc. Though, Meenas do have genealogy writers namely ‘Jaga’, but these Vanshavalis also need thorough cross verification as well to use them as an authentic source of information.

 

As per the known historical accounts Dhundhar area was a part of ancient 'Matsya’ region and Meenas were the most famous and important inhabitants of this region.7 Being indigenous tribe their original home, extended from Ajmer to Jamuna, where Meenas erected Amber consecrated to ‘Amba' the universal mother.8 As per the 17th century accounts Dhundhar (Amber) territory consisted of Amber, Amarsar, Chatsu, Dausa, Mauzabad, Niwai and Lawain.9

 

Meenas were not only the simple inhabitants but also the ruler of this region as well. Though they were not very powerful and remained as a petty chieftain, each chief lived in their forts, and owed loose allegiance to the Meena ruler of Amber, who was the nominal head of the Meena clan at that time. During the 13th century as the powerful waves of Rajput colonisation started penetrating this region, the Meenas were forced out from their lands as well as kingship and reduced to subjection by kachhwaha Rajput clan.10

 

This phenomenon was not exclusive to Meena - Rajput struggle or to Rajasthan or India but whenever two different cultures collide, than the superior power or to say more advanced one - having complex socio-economic-political system and advanced technology etc. is bound to subjugate the other party who did not keep pace with the changing times. Indian history is full of such instances where superior powers in the form of invaders came and subdued the native powers. Those native powers who adapted according to the new changing scenario survived, but otherwise doomed to perish. Jadunath Sarkar gave example from world history perspective in his book 'History of Jaipur' about how the native ‘Gaele’ people of Scotland were ousted by the much more civilised ‘Saxons’, and how they are forced to the highlands away from their earlier home in plains.11

 

Staying with the central theme of Meena-Rajput struggle for suzerainty one can clearly understand that Meenas were primitive tribe and they maintained their simplistic lifestyle. Their socio-economic-political system was basic in nature. On the other hand, Kachhwaha Rajput clan belonged to the mainstream complex caste system, where Rajputs belong to the upper strata of the Hindu caste hierarchy, and worked in tandem with the other prominent group called Brahmans. With the help of such social order and help from the professional story tellers- the Bards, Rajput clans were able to write their genealogies which connected them to the mythical heroes. The available genealogies (Bhat Vanshavalis) connected the kachhwaha rulers to lord Brahma, they creator of the universe.

 

On the contrary, the early history, based on hard facts, of the Kachhwahas is still unknown and one has to believe on these Bhat Vanshavalis alone.12 Through these we came to know that Kachhwahas migrated from Ayodhya, their original home, to Rohtas in Bihar; from here one branch reached Narwar in Malwa and from here they occupied Gwalior. From here Kachhwaha reached Dausa around 1137 AD under Sodha Dev. Sodha Dev’s son was Dulha Rai, and from Dulha Rai the real history of Kachhwaha dynasty starts.13 Dulha Rai was the real conqueror of Dhundhar.14

 

The above description raises some pertinent questions in the common mind of the general reader, such as

 

i). If one cannot believe in recent genealogies, given the existing discrepancies, then how to believe in the genealogies who claim their origin from the creator of the universe i.e., Lord Brahma.  

ii). Narwar being place of origin is also contested by the historians as well.15

 

As Matsya janapada of ‘Solah Maha-Janapada’ era was a republic and the capital city of this mahajanapada was Viratnagar, which is nearby to the present Jaipur city, and Dhundhar was part of the ancient Matsya region.16 Likewise, Meenas of Dhundhar region believed in Federal system of the government and followed the principal of co-existence.17 There were many, though petty, Meena chieftains who lived in their own forts and owed very loose allegiance to the Meena ruler of Amber- who was the nominal head of the clan.18 At that time Jaipur city was parcelled out among five family groups of the ruling Meenas known as ‘Panch wara’ or the ‘Confederacy of Five’.19

 

These five were basically republics around the 11th century AD. Their names were – Khohgang (Khoh), Manchi, Amber, Getor and Jhotwara.20

Bust of Ambedkar in Palace of former rulers of Tripura, who are now a Scheduled Tribe.

To take control of east Rajputana Kachhwahas had to fight with the Badgujars and finally with the mighty Meenas.21 Enroute to Amber Dulha Rai encountered the Badgujars of Dausa, and subdued them partly with the marriage agreement and with some small amount of guile. By this victory Dausa became the first capital of Kachhwahas in Dhundhar land.22 The surrounding areas of Dausa were under the stronghold of Meenas of Bhandarej. Dulha Rai defeated the Meenas of Bhandarej and finally took control of Dausa.23

 

After Dausa, Dulha Rai gained Khoh and Manchi, but there are two different opinions on this. According to the first, Manchi was annexed first and then Khoh was taken, but as per the second Khoh was annexed first and later on Manchi was taken.24 Rawat Saraswat mentions Khoh as the first target among the ‘Panch wara’. Khoh was under the rule of ‘Chanda family’ of the Meenas and Aalann Singh (Ralann Singh) was the ruler of the Khoh then. Rawat Saraswat quotes Colonel Tod and gives story about how after the death of the Sodha Singh, his widow carried baby Dulha Rai somehow to Khoh and got job in the palace of Aalann Singh. Later on, Dulha Rai conspired, with ill will, against the king and attacked the unarmed Meenas on the occasion of Deepawali and gained control of Khoh.25

 

Manchi was under the rule of the ‘Sihra family’ of the Meenas and Rao Nathu was the ruler at that time.26 Manchi was the biggest and the most powerful thikana of the ‘Panch wara’.27 Dulha Rai failed in his first attempt on Manchi and got wounded badly, but got retrieved from the disaster by the miraculous grace of the Goddess ‘Jamwa Mata’ to finally emerge victorious. A temple was built by him for Jamwa Mata at Jamwa near Manchi. Manchi was renamed as Ramgarh to represent the Kachhwaha claim of descent from epic hero– Lord Ram.28

 

After Dulha Rai’s death his son Kakil succeeded him on the throne around 1070 AD. At that time Amber was ruled by the ‘Susaot family’ of Meenas and Rao Bhatto was the ruler. Kakil continued the expansionist policy of his father and gained control of Amber. Getor and Jhotwara were ruled by the ‘Nandla family’ of Meenas.29 According to Khayats these two were annexed by Dulha Rai himself but Colonel Tod gives credit for this to Kakil’s son Maidal.30

 

Pajvan was the great grandson of Kakil,31 and Pajvan’s son and successor Malesi consolidated the clan’s position in Dhundhar through judicious marriages.32 After Malesi next in succession came Bijaldev and Rajdev.33 Rajdev transferred Kachhwaha capital from Manchi to Amber.34 After Rajdev came Kilhan, Kuntal, Jannsi, Udaikaran, Chandrasen and Prithiviraj in the line of succession. The history of Dhundhar from the reign of Prithviraj (r. 1503-1527) is better known.35 After Prithviraj’s reign came Puranmal, Bhim Singh, Ratan Singh and for a brief period Ashkaran enjoyed the throne. 

 

It was Bharmal’s (r. 1548-1574) long reign which witnessed new political equations with the Mughal Empire and this mutual relationship catapulted the Khachhwahas to the centre stage of pan-India politics.36 Raja Bharmal was followed by Raja Bhagwant Das (1574-1589) and Raja Man Singh (1589 to 1614). 

 

Also read Rajput rulers of Amber from 1574 onwards And History of Jaipur . For detailed family tree of Rajput rulers of Amber click Here

 

Coming back again to the central theme of the paper, the power struggle between the Meenas and Kachhwahas started from the 11th century A.D. and continued till the 16th.37 The king of Naen Rao Badha was the last Meena ruler who was liquidated by Bharmal in 16th century.38

 

Although the Meenas were tough opponents but the overall system, which was primarily based on the tribal structure, crumbled against the more organised, systematic and the collective power of Kachhwaha Rajputs. Later on, they were forced to accept agriculture for livelihood.39

 

Prof. Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj argued that Meenas did not possess any system of proper state formation because they did not have any agricultural production and commercial activities, instead of this they were heavily focused on theft and dacoity alone. The Meenas followed the Federal form of government, which allowed them to survive thus far but in the testing times of more powerful and organised opponents’ simple systems were bound to be overthrown by new and advanced systems. Thus, the Kachhwaha Rajputs were able to defeat the Meenas. 

 

The Kachhawahas conquered these  Meena chiefs and reduced them to subjection. However, these chiefs were granted Jagirs 40 and rnjoyed a number of immunities and privileges.41 The teeka on the forehead of every new king of Amber at his coronation was done by the leader of the Meenas, with the blood drawn out of his big toe. Later on, when Mughals overshadowed every power in Rajputana, and agreed to anoint the new Kachhwaha king with their own hands with sandal paste, the earlier practice of teeka from the Meena headman was discontinued.42

 

Author Dr Anil  is Assistant Professor, Department of History and Indian Culture, University of Rajasthan.

 

References 

1. Ashim Kumar Roy in ‘History of Jaipur City’ mentions that on 29th November, 1727 – Posh Badi 1, Samvat 1784, he laid the foundation of a new capital. [AK Roy, History of Jaipur City, Manohar, New Delhi, 2006, P. 7]; Damodar Lal Garg mentions the date as 25th November, 1727. [Damodar Lal Garg, Jaipur Rajya ka Itihas, Anu Prakashan, Jaipur, 2010, P. 62]; Chandramani Singh mentions it as 18th November, 1727 (though she does not mention the actual event but describes about the taking place of a holy ritual ‘Sankalp Anushthan’). [Chandramani Singh, Jaipur Rajya ka Itihas, Rajasthani Granthagar, Jodhpur, 2008, P. 74]; Jadunath Sarkar mentions “The building of the city and its surrounding walls and gates were started with due propitiating rites (Sankalp) on 18th November, 1727”, Jadunath Sarkar, A History of Jaipur, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1984, P. 205]. 

 

2. Jadunath Sarkar, A History of Jaipur, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1984, P. 205

3. Chandramani Singh, Jaipur Rajya ka Itihas, Rajasthani Granthagar, Jodhpur, 2008, P. 9

4. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., P. 20

5. Jagdish Singh Gahlot, Kachhwaho ka Itihas, Unique Traders, Jaipur, 2004, P. 74

6. Laxmi Narayan Jharwal, Meena Jati aur Swatantrata ka Itihas, Kishan Cards and Printers, Jaipur, 2003, P. 1

7. Rawat Saraswat, Meena Itihas, Ajanta Printers, Jaipur, 1968, P. 121

8. Jaipur Past and Present, Souvenir, Department of History and Indian Culture, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, 1976, P. 47

9. Jaipur: History & Tradition, Department of History and Indian Culture, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, 1978, P. 5

10. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., PP. 10-11

11. Ibid, P. 10

12. Jagdish Singh Gahlot, op.cit., P. 22

13. Ibid, PP. 77-78

14. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., P. 22

15. Ibid, P. 22; Rima Hooja, A History of Rajasthan, Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2006, P. 389; Ram Pande, Caste and State Formation Rajasthan (700-1527AD), Shodak, Jaipur, 2013, P. 14

16. Rawat Saraswat, op.cit., P. 74

17. Ibid, P. 73

18. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., P. 11

19. Ibid, P. 23

20. Rawat Saraswat, op.cit., P. 75

21. Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj, Madhakalin Purvee Rajasthan me Meenao ka Krishak Varg me Rupantaran, Prof. GN Sharma Memorial Lecture, delivered at Rajasthan History Congress, 36th Session, 26-27 February, 2022, Jodhpur

22. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., P. 23

23. Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj, op.cit.

24. Rawat Saraswat, op.cit., P. 76

25. Ibid, P. 78

26. Ibid, P. 82

27. Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj, op.cit.

28. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., PP. 23-24

29. Ibid, P. 24

30. Rawat Saraswat, op.cit., P. 90

31. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., P. 25

32. Rima Hooja, op.cit., P. 396

33. Rawat Saraswat, op.cit., P. 97

34. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., P. 27

35. Rima Hooja, op.cit., PP. 396-397

36. Ibid, P. 483

37. Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj, op.cit.

38. Jaipur Past and Present, op.cit., P. 47

39. Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj, op.cit.

40. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., P. 11

41. Jaipur Past and Present, op.cit., P. 47

42. Jadunath Sarkar, op.cit., P. 12

 

Also read

1. Columnist, history and travel writer Monidipa Basu Ray wrote, “Alwar (earlier known as Ulwar), a city in Rajasthan, is believed to have been a part of the ancient Matsya mahajanapada that had its capital at Viratnagar (now Bairat). It is said that the Meenas were the first to settle in Alwar and build a mud fort and town, remnants of which are still seen scattered in the surrounding hills and below the present Alwar fort.” 

2. Jaipur part of Dhoondhar region of Rajasthan. Shekhawati consists of Churu, Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Khetri areas.

3. A preliminary note on the Meenas of Jaipur  

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