Page images


“The gurus

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 Mahādeo 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 : 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

are young." The Jangams are not given to austerities, and go about well clad.


1 Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies, 1897 ed. p. 118.



1. Theories of the origin of the

6. Brähmanical legend of origin. caste.

7. The Jāts in the Central Pro2. Sir D. Ibbetson's description of

vinces. the caste.

8. Marriage customs. 3. Are the Jāts and Rājputs dis 9. Funeral rites. tinct?

10. The Paida ceremony. 4. The position of the Jāt in the II. Customs at birth. Punjab.

12. Religion. 5. Social status of the Jāts.

13. Social customs. 14. Occupation.

of the


Jāt.' — The representative cultivating caste of the Punjab, 1. Theories corresponding to the Kurmi of Hindustān, the Kunbi of the

origin of Deccan, and the Kāpu of Telingāna. In the Central Pro- the caste. vinces 10,000 Jāts were returned in 1911, of whom 5000 belonged to Hoshangābād and the bulk of the remainder to Narsinghpur, Saugor and Jubbulpore. The origin of the Jāt 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 Jāts 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 Jāts 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

Jāt. missioner, Hoshangābād; and Mr. 2 Punjab Census Report (1881), para. Adurām Chaudhri of the Gazetteer 421. VOL. III 225



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 :

“An old and excellent Brāhman reviling the countries Bāhīka and Madra in the dwelling of Dhritarashtra, 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

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.,




Some say

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 asses. 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 Bāhīka 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 Bāhika 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

Ibidem, paras. 422-424.

3. Are the Jāts and Rājpūts distinct ?


« PreviousContinue »