« PreviousContinue »
doing the same. This is called karuna or sanctification. He then dips a new lingam into the holy water, and ties it round the child’s neck for a minute or two, afterwards handing it to the mother to be kept till the child is old enough to wear it. The dead are buried in a sitting posture, the lingam being placed in the palm of the hand. On the third day a clay image of Mahadeo is carried to the grave, and food and flowers are offered to it, as well as any intoxicants to which the deceased person may have been addicted. The following notice of the Jangams more than a century ago may be quoted from the Abbé Dubois, though the custom described does not, so far as is known, prevail at present, at least in the Central Provinces:1 “The gurus or priests of Siva, who are known in the Western Provinces by the name of Jangams, are for the most part celibates. They have a custom which is peculiar to themselves, and curious enough to be worth remarking. When a guru travels about his district he lodges with some member of the sect, and the members contend among themselves for the honour of receiving him. When he has selected the house he wishes to stay in, the master and all the other male inmates are obliged, out of respect for him, to leave it and go and stay elsewhere. The holy man remains there day and night with only the women of the house, whom he keeps to wait on him and cook for him, without creating any scandal or exciting the jealousy of the husbands. All the same, some scandal-mongers have remarked that the Jangams always take care to choose a house where the women are young.” The Jangams are not given to austerities, and go about well clad. '
1 Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies, 1897 ed. p. 118.
JAT LIST OF PARAGRAPHS 1. Theories of the origin of the 6. Brahmanical legend of origin.
caste. 7. The Jats in the Central Pro2. Sir D. Ibbetson's description of vinces.
the castle. 8. Marriage customs. 3. Are the /a/s and Rajputs dis- 9. Funeral rites.
£gzzc/ ? Io. The Paida ceremony. 4. The position of the /ă/ in the 1 1. Customs at birth.
Punjab. 12. Aeligion. 5. Social status of the /ats. I 3. Social customs.
Jāt."—The representative cultivating caste of the Punjab, I. Theories corresponding to the Kurmi of Hindustān, the Kunbi of the : of Deccan, and the Käpu of Telingāna. In the Central Pro- the caste. vinces Io,Ooo Jāts were returned in 191 I, of whom 5ooo belonged to Hoshangābād and the bulk of the remainder to Narsinghpur, Saugor and Jubbulpore. The origin of the Jät caste has been the subject of much discussion. Sir D. Ibbetson stated some of the theories as follows: ” “Suffice it to say that both General Cunningham and Major Tod agree in considering the Jäts to be of Indo-Scythian stock. The former identifies them with the Zanthii of Strabo and the Jatii of Pliny and Ptolemy; and holds that they probably entered the Punjab from their home on the Oxus very shortly after the Meds or Mands, who also were Indo-Scythians, and who moved into the Punjab about a century before Christ. . . . Major Tod classes the Jäts as
1 This article is partly based on in- Office. The correct pronunciation of formation contributed by Mr. Debendra the caste name is Jat, but in the Nāth Dutt, Pleader, Narsinghpur; Mr. Central Provinces it is always called Ganga Singh, Extra Assistant Com- Jät. missioner, Hoshangābād; and Mr. * Punjab Census Report (1881), para. Aduråm Chaudhri of the Gazetteer 421.
VOL. III - 225 Q
one of the great Rajpfit tribes, and extends his identification with the Getae to both races ; but here General Cunningham differs, holding the Rajpfits to belong to the original Aryan stock, and the Jats to a later wave of immigrants from the north-west, probably of Scythian race.” It is highly probable that the Jats may date their settlement in the Punjab from one of the three Scythian inroads mentioned by Mr. V. A. Smith,1 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 Mahabharata would appear to refer to the Jitts : 2
“An old and excellent Brahman reviling the countries Bahika and Madra in the dwelling of Dhritarashtra, related facts long known, and thus described those nations. External to the Himavan, and beyond the Ganges, beyond the Sarasvati and Yamuna rivers and Kurukshetra, between five rivers, and the Sindhu as the sixth, are situated the Bahikas, devoid of ritual or observance, and therefore to be shunned. Their figtree is named Govardhana (z'.e. the place of cow-killing) ; their market-place is Subhadram (the place of ven,ding 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 Bahikas, and their customs are therefore well known to me. The chief city is called Shakala, 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 2 Mahibhirata, viii. 2026, at seq., Dr. Wilson’s Indian Casta.
I! THEORIES OF THE ORIGIN OF TIJE CASTE 227
pleasant places ; we will feast and sport; and gathering on the highways spring upon the travellers, and spoil and scourge them!’ In Shakala, a female demon (a Rakshasi) 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 Sfidra-like Bahikas have no institutes nor sacrifices ; and neither deities, manes, nor Brahmans 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 asses. Who that has drunk milk in the city Yugandhara can hope to enter Svarga P Bahi and Hika were the names of two fiends in the Vipasha river; the Bahikas are their descendants and not of the creation of Brahma. Some say the Arattas are the name of the people and Bahika 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 Brahman, becomes a Kshatriya, or a Vaishya, or a Sfidra, or a Barber, and having been a barber becomes a Brahman again. A virtuous woman was once violated by Aratta rutfians, 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 Bahika or Jarttika, and would therefore seem to be the Jats. 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 Hindustan. And it would therefore seem to be a necessary inference that the Jats 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 Jats and Rajpfits must be, to some extent at least, of the same blood. Though the Jats 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 Rajpfit and the original Jat entered India at different periods in its history, though to my mind the term Rajpfit 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 Jat and the Rajpfit, if these two were ever distinct, is by no means free from foreign elements. . . .
“But whether Jats and Rajpfits 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 Jat and Rajpfit 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 Rajpfits 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
3. Are the Jats and Rajpfits distinct ?
1 Ibidem, paras. 422-424.