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Gurjar Pratihar Kingdom – Gurjar Pratihar Kingdom
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Gurjar or Gujjar (also transliterated as Gujar, Gurjara  and Gujjer ) is an ethnic agricultural and pastoral community of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Although traditionally they have been involved in agriculture, Gurjars are a large heterogeneous group that is internally differentiated in terms of culture, religion, occupation, and socio-economic status. The historical role of Gurjars has been quite diverse in society, at one end they have been founder of several kingdoms, dynasties, districts, cities, and towns, and at the other end, they are also nomads with no land of their own.[2][3]

Gurjars are linguistically and religiously diverse. Although they are able to speak the language of the region and country where they live, Gurjars have their own language, known as Gujari. They variously follow Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism.[9][10] The Hindu Gurjars are mostly found in Indian states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab Plains and Maharashtra. Muslim Gujjars are mostly found in Punjab, Pakistan where they make up 20% of the population, mainly concentrated in Northern Punjabi cities of Gujranwala, Gujrat, Gujar Khan, Jehlum and Lahore,[11] Afghanistan and Indian Himalayan regions such as Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Garhwal and Kumaon divisions of Uttarakhand.


The word Gurjar represents a caste and a tribe and a group in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, locally referred to as jati, zaat, qaum or biradari[16][17][18] The history of the word Gurjar can be confidently traced back to an ancient ethnic and tribal identity called Gurjara, which became prominent after the collapse of Gupta Empire. A literal or definitive meaning of the word Gurjara is not available in any of the historical references. The oldest reference to the word Gurjara is found in the book called Harshacharita (Harsha’s Deeds), a biography of king Harshavardhana written around 630 CE.[19] Banabhatta, the author of Harshacharita, mentions that Harsha’s father Prabhakravardhana (560-580 CE) was “a constant threat to the sleep of Gurjara”—apparently a reference to the Gurjara king or kingdom. Inscriptions from a collateral branch of Gurjaras, known as Gurjaras of Lata, claim that their family was ruling Bharakucha (Bharuch) as early as 450 CE from their capital at Nandipuri. Based on these early dates, it has been proposed by some authors that Gurjara identity might have been present in India as early as the 3rd century CE, but it became prominent only after the fall of Guptas.

It has been suggested by several historians that Gurjara was initially the name of a tribe or clan which later evolved into a geographical and ethnic identity following the establishment of a janapada (tribal kingdom) called ‘Gurjara’.[20] This understanding has introduced an element of ambiguity regarding ancient royal designations containing the word ‘gurjara’ such as gurjaraeshvara or gurjararaja, as now its debatable whether the kings bearing these epithets were tribal or ethnic Gurjaras.[21][22] {



Historians and anthropologists differ on the issue of Gurjar origin. According to this view, between 1 BCE and 1 CE, the ancient ancestors of Gurjars came in multiple waves of migration and they were initially accorded status as high-caste warriors in the Hindu fold in the North-Western regions (modern Rajasthan and Gujarat).

According to scholars such as Baij Nath Puri, the Mount Abu (ancient Arbuda Mountain) region of present-day Rajasthan had been an abode of the Gurjars during the medieval period.[25] The association of the Gurjars with the mountain is noticed in many inscriptions and epigraphs including Tilakamanjari of Dhanpala.[26][better source needed] These Gurjars migrated from the Arbuda mountain region and as early as in the 6th century A.D., they set up one or more principalities in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The whole or a larger part of Rajasthan and Gujarat had been long known as Gurjaratra (country ruled or protected by the Gurjars) or Gurjarabhumi (land of the Gurjars) for centuries prior to the Mughal period.[27]

In Sanskrit texts, the ethnonym has sometimes been interpreted as “destroyer of the enemy”: gur meaning “enemy” and ujjar meaning “destroyer”).[28][29]

In its survey of The People of India, the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) – a government-sponsored organisation – noted that

The Gurjars/Gujjars were no doubt a remarkable people spread from Kashmir to Gujarat and Maharashtra, who gave an identity to Gujarat, established kingdoms, entered the Kshatriya groups as the dominant lineage of Badgujar, and survive today as a pastoral and a tribal group with both Hindu and Muslim segments.

Irawati Karve, an indologist and historian, believed that the Gurjars position in society and the caste system generally varied from one linguistic area of India to another. In Maharashtra, Karve thought that they were probably absorbed by the Rajputs and Marathas but retained some of their distinct identity. She based her theories on analysis of clan names and tradition, noting that while most Rajputs claim their origins to lie in the mythological Chandravansh or Suryavansh dynasties, at least two of the communities in the region claimed instead to be descended from the Agnivansh.[30][a]

Medieval period

Babur, in context of revolt, wrote that Jats and Gurjars poured down from hills in vast numbers in order to carry off oxen and buffaloes and that they were guilty of severest oppression in the country.[31] Many Gurjars were converted to Islam at various times, dating back to Mahmud of Ghazni’s raid in Gujarat in 1026. Gurjars of Awadh and Meerut date their conversion to Tamerlane, when he sacked Delhi and forcibly converted them. By 1525, when Babur invaded India, he saw that the Gurjars of northern Punjab were already Muslims. Until the 1700s, conversions continued under Aurangzeb, who converted the Gurjars of Himachal Pradesh by force. Pathans and Balochis drove Gujar converts out of their land, forcing them into vagrancy.[32][33][34]

British rule

In the 18th century, several Gurjar chieftains and small kings were in power. During the reign of Rohilla Nawab Najib-ul-Daula, Rao Dargahi Singh Bhati, the Gurjar chieftain of Dadri possessed 133 villages at a fixed revenue of Rs. 29,000.[35] A fort in Parikshitgarh in Meerut district, also known as Qila Parikishatgarh, is ascribed to a Gurjar king Nain Singh Nagar.[36] Morena, Samthar, Dholpur, Saharanpur and Roorkee were also some of the places ruled by Gurjar Kings.[37][38][39]

Gurjar Sardars of Rajasthan from The People of India by Watson and Kayle, Vol 7, Page 345

During the revolt of 1857, the Gurjars of Chundrowli rose against the British, under the leadership of Damar Ram. The Gurjars of Shunkuri village, numbering around three thousand, joined the rebel sepoys. According to British records, the Gurjars plundered gunpowder and ammunition from the British and their allies.[40] In Delhi, the Metcalfe House was sacked by Gurjar villagers from whom the land was taken to erect the building.[41] The British records claim that the Gurjars carried out several political robberies. Twenty Gurjars were reported to have been beheaded by Rao Tula Ram for committing political dacoities in July 1857.[42] In September 1857, the British were able to enlist the support of many Gurjars at Meerut.[43] The colonial authors always used the code word “turbulent” for the castes who were generally hostile to British rule. They cited proverbs that appear to evaluate the caste in an unfavorable light. A British administrator, William Crooke, described that Gurjars seriously impeded the operations of the British Army before Delhi.[44] Reporter Meena Radhakrishna believe that the British classified the Gurjars along with others as “criminal tribes” because of their active participation in the revolt of 1857, and also because, they considered these tribes to be prone to criminality in the absence of legitimate means of livelihood.

Gurjars during the 19th century

Notable Gurjars

Gojri language & Literature

• Javaid Rahi is a known Gurjar researcher of India.He has authored 12 books in Gujari/ Gojri Urdu and English and edited more than 300 books/ magazines highlighting the history, culture, and literature related to indigenous communities such as Gurjar and Bakarwals.[88][89]

Constitutional Head

• Govind Singh Gurjar (9 March 1932 – 6 April 2009) was a Gujjar from Rajasthan who served as Lt. Governor of Puducherry in India.[90]

Padma Awardee

• Mian Bashir Ahmed Laaravi (born November 1923) is a politician and a Caliph of Islamic Sufi order (Naqshbandi, Majadadi, Larvi). He is the first Gurjar from Jammu and Kashmir who was awarded the Padma Bhushan (the third highest civilian award), by the government of India on 26 January 2008 for his contribution to the society.[91]

Armed forces

• Kirori Singh Bainsla, a retired officer of the Indian Army and leader of a Gurjar reservation movement in Rajasthan[92]

• Kamal Ram, the second-youngest Indian to receive Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration in the British Empire[93]

• Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, retired officer of the Indian Army who was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his actions at the Battle of Longewala.[94]

Indian independence movement

• Arjun Singh Gurjar, freedom fighter,Sirsa, Haryana.[95]

• Ram Chandra Vikal, freedom fighter, Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.[96]

• Kadam Singh, Raja of Parikshitgarh and Mawana, led Gurjar fight against the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.[97]


• Rajesh Pilot, Politician of the Indian National Congress party and represented the Dausa in Lok Sabha[98]

• Govind Singh Gurjar (9 March 1932 – 6 April 2009), Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry and six-time MLA from Nasirabad (Ajmer)[99]



1. ^ AnSI cites I. Karve’s Hindu Society – An Interpretation, page 64.[30]


  1. ^ AnSI cites I. Karve’s Hindu Society – An Interpretation, page 64.[30]
  2. ^ Vijaya Ramaswamy (5 July 2017). Migrations in Medieval and Early Colonial India. Taylor & Francis. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-351-55825-9. The heterogenous category that is variously called gujar/Gujjar/Gurjara..
  3. ^ Shail Mayaram (2 June 2007). “Caste, tribe, and the politics of reservation”. The Hindu. Retrieved 13 March 2019. The Gujjars, estimated to number 1.6 crore nationwide, are internally differentiated in terms of religion, occupation, and socio-economic status. Historically, they have comprised a hugely heterogeneous group ranging from the Gurjar-Pratihara rulers of north India to the Gujjar and Bakarwal nomads of Jammu and the Kashmir valley
  4. ^ Jean-Philippe Platteau (2010). Culture, Institutions, and Development: New Insights into an Old Debate. ISBN 9780203843338.
  5. ^ Chattopadhyaya 1994, p. 6 “we have noted that Gurjaratra or Gurjarabhumi was the base from whicu several lineages tracing descent from the Gurjaras emerged”
  6. ^ Shail Mayaram (2016). Vijay Ramaswamy (ed.). Migrations in medieval and Early Colondial India. Routledge. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-138-12192-8.
  7. ^ Chattopadhyaya 1994, p. 64. “documents dating from seventh century suggest a wide distribution of Gurjaras as a political power in western India”
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