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one of the great Rājpūt tribes, and extends his identification with the Getae to both races; but here General Cunningham differs, holding the Rājpūts to belong to the original Aryan stock, and the Jāts to a later wave of immigrants from the north-west, probably of Scythian race." It is highly probable that the Jāts may date their settlement in the Punjab from one of the three Scythian inroads mentioned by Mr. V. A. Smith, but I do not know that there is as yet considered to be adequate evidence to identify them with any particular one.
The following curious passage from the Mahābhārata would appear to refer to the Jāts : 2
“ An old and excellent Brāhman reviling the countries Bāhika and Madra in the dwelling of Dhritarāshtra, related facts long known, and thus described those nations. External to the Himāvan, and beyond the Ganges, beyond the Sārasvati and Yamuna rivers and Kurukshetra, between five rivers, and the Sindhu as the sixth, are situated the Bāhīkas, devoid of ritual or observance, and therefore to be shunned. Their figtree is named Govardhana (i.e. the place of cow-killing); their market-place is Subhadram (the place of vending liquor : at least so say the commentators), and these give titles to the doorway of the royal palace. A business of great importance compelled me to dwell amongst the Bāhīkas, and their customs are therefore well known to me. The chief city is called Shākāla, and the river Apaga. The people are also named Jarttikas; and their customs are shameful. They drink spirits made from sugar and grain, and eat meat seasoned with garlic; and live on flesh and wine : their women intoxicated appear in public places, with no other garb than garlands and perfumes, dancing and singing, and vociferating indecencies in tones more harsh than those of the camel or the ass; they indulge in promiscuous intercourse and are under no restraint. They clothe themselves in skins and blankets, and sound the cymbal and drum and conch, and cry aloud with hoarse voices: We will hasten to delight, in thick forests and in
1 Early History of India.
translated by Professor H. H. Wilson, and quoted in vol. i. pp. 260, 262 of Dr. J. Wilson's Indian Caste.
2 Mahābhārata, viii. 2026, et seq.,
THEORIES OF THE ORIGIN OF THE CASTE
pleasant places; we will feast and sport; and gathering on the highways spring upon the travellers, and spoil and scourge them !' In Shākāla, a female demon (a Rākshasi) on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight sings. aloud : ‘I will feast on the flesh of kine, and quaff the inebriating spirit attended by fair and graceful females. The Sūdra-like Bāhīkas have no institutes nor sacrifices ; and neither deities, manes, nor Brāhmans accept their offerings. They eat out of wooden or earthen plates, nor heed their being smeared with wine or viands, or licked by dogs, and they use equally in its various preparations the milk of ewes, of camels and of
Who that has drunk milk in the city Yugandhara can hope to enter Svarga ? Bāhi and Hīka were the names of two fiends in the Vipāsha river; the Bāhīkas are their descendants and not of the creation of Brahma. the Arattas are the name of the people and Bāhika of the waters. The Vedas are not known there, nor oblation, nor sacrifice, and the gods will not partake of their food. The Prasthalas (perhaps borderers), Madras, Gandharas, Arattas, Khashas, Vasas, Atisindhus (or those beyond the Indus), Sauviras, are all equally infamous. There one who is by birth a Brāhman, becomes a Kshatriya, or a Vaishya, or a Sūdra, or a Barber, and having been a barber becomes a Brāhman again. A virtuous woman was once violated by Aratta ruffians, and she cursed the race, and their women have ever since been unchaste. On this account their heirs are their sisters' children, not their own. All countries have their laws and gods: the Yavanas are wise, and preeminently brave; the Mlechchas observe their own ritual, but the Madrakas are worthless. Madra is the ordure of the earth : it is the region of inebriety, unchastity, robbery, and murder: fie on the Panchanada people! fie on the Aratta race!"
In the above account the country referred to is clearly the Punjab, from the mention of the five rivers and the Indus. The people are called Bāhīka or Jarttika, and would therefore seem to be the Jāts. And the account would appear to refer to a period when they were newly settled in the Punjab and had not come under Hindu influence. But at the same time the Aryans or Hindus had passed through
2. Sir D. Ibbetson's description of the caste.
the Punjab and were settled in Hindustān. And it would therefore seem to be a necessary inference that the Jāts were comparatively late immigrants, and were one of the tribes who invaded India between the second century B.C. and the fifth century A.D. as suggested above.
Sir D. Ibbetson held that the Jāts and Rājpūts must be, to some extent at least, of the same blood. Though the Jāts are represented in the Central Provinces only by a small body of immigrants it will be permissible to quote the following passages from his admirable and classical account of the caste : 1
“ It may be that the original Rājpūt and the original Jāt entered India at different periods in its history, though to my mind the term Rājpūt is an occupational rather than an ethnological expression. But if they do originally represent two separate waves of immigration, it is at least exceedingly probable, both from their almost identical physique and facial character and from the close communion which has always existed between them, that they belong to one and the same ethnic stock; while, whether this be so or not, it is almost certain that they have been for many centuries and still are so intermingled and so blended into one people that it is practically impossible to distinguish them as separate wholes. It is indeed more than probable that the process of fusion has not ended here, and that the people who thus in the main resulted from the blending of the Jāt and the Rājpūt, if these two were ever distinct, is by no means free from foreign elements.
"But whether Jāts and Rājpūts were or were not originally distinct, and whatever aboriginal elements may have been affiliated to their society, I think that the two now form a common stock, the distinction between Jāt and Rājpūt being social rather than ethnic. I believe that those families of that common stock whom the tide of fortune has raised to political importance have become Rājpūts almost by mere virtue of their rise ; and that their descendants have retained the title and its privileges on the condition, strictly enforced, of observing the rules by which the higher are distinguished from the lower castes in the Hindu scale of precedence; of
1 Ibidem, paras. 422-424.
3. Are the Jāts and Rājpūts distinct ?
THE POSITION OF THE JĀT IN THE PUNJAB
preserving their purity of blood by refusing to marry with families of inferior social rank, of rigidly abstaining from widow-marriage, and of refraining from degrading occupations. Those who transgressed these rules have fallen from their high position and ceased to be Rājpūts; while such families as, attaining a dominant position in their territory, began to affect social exclusiveness and to observe the rules, have become not only Rājas but also Rājpūts or sons of Rājas. For the last seven centuries at least the process
of elevation has been almost at a standstill. Under the Delhi Emperors king-making was practically impossible. Under the Sikhs the Rājpūt was overshadowed by the Jāt, who resented his assumption of superiority and his refusal to join him on equal terms in the ranks of the Khālsa, deliberately persecuted him wherever and whenever he had the power, and preferred his title of Jāt Sikh to that of the proudest Rājpūt. On the frontier the dominance of Pathāns and Biloches and the general prevalence of Muhammadan feelings and ideas placed recent Indian origin at a discount, and led the leading families who belonged to neither of these two races to claim connection not with the Kshatriyas of the Sanskrit classics but with the Mughal conquerors of India or the Qureshi cousins of the Prophet; in so much that even admittedly Rājpūt tribes of famous ancestry, such as the Khokha, have begun to follow the example. But in the hills, where Rājpūt dynasties, with genealogies perhaps more ancient and unbroken than can be shown by any other royal families in the world, retained their independence till yesterday, and where many of them still enjoy as great social authority as ever, the twin processes of degradation from and elevation to Rājpūt rank are still to be seen in operation. The Rāja is there the fountain not only of honour but also of caste, which is the same thing in India.
“ The Jāt is in every respect the most important of the 4. The Punjab peoples. In point of numbers he surpasses the position of Rājpūt, who comes next to him, in the proportion of nearly the Punjab. three to one; while the two together constitute twenty-seven per cent of the whole population of the Province. Politically he ruled the Punjab till the Khālsa yielded to our arms.
Ethnologically he is the peculiar and most prominent product of the plain of the five rivers. And from an economical and administrative point of view he is the husbandman, the peasant, the revenue-payer par excellence of the Province. His manners do not bear the impress of generations of wild freedom which marks the races of our frontier mountains. But he is more honest, more industrious, more sturdy, and no less manly than they. Sturdy independence indeed and patient, vigorous labour are his strongest characteristics. The Jāt is of all Punjab races the most impatient of tribal or communal control, and the one which asserts the freedom of the individual most strongly. In tracts where, as in Rohtak, the Jāt tribes have the field to themselves, and are compelled, in default of rival castes as enemies, to fall back upon each other for somebody to quarrel with, the tribal ties are strong. But as a rule a Jāt is a man who does what seems right in his own eyes and sometimes what seems wrong also, and will not be said nay by any man. I do not mean, however, that he is turbulent; as a rule he is very far from being so. He is independent and he is self-willed; but he is reasonable, peaceably inclined if left alone, and not difficult to manage. He is usually content to cultivate his fields and pay his revenue in peace and quietness if people will let him do so ; though when he does go wrong he takes to anything from gambling to murder, with perhaps a preference for stealing other people's wives and cattle. As usual the proverbial wisdom of the villages describes him very fairly though perhaps somewhat too severely : ‘The soil, fodder, clothes, hemp, grass-fibre, and silk, these six are best beaten ; and the seventh is the Jāt. ‘A Jāt, a Bhāt, a caterpillar, and a widow woman; these four are best hungry. If they eat their fill they do harm.' 'The Jāt, like a wound, is better when bound.' In agriculture the Jāt is pre-eminent. The market-gardening castes, the Arāin, the Māli, the Saini are perhaps more skilful cultivators on a small scale ; but they cannot rival the Jāt as landowners and yeoman cultivators. The Jāt calls himself zamīndār or 'husbandman' as often as Jāt, and his women and children alike work with him in the fields : 'The Jāt's baby has a plough-handle for a plaything.' 'The Jāt stood on his corn heap and said to the king's