The Maratha are an Indian caste of Marathi-speaking peasant-warriors. They established the Maratha Empire in 1674 and were the dominant power on the subcontinent for much of the following century before their downfall in 1818, they were champions of Hinduism in the face of the Islamic Mughal Empire. The term Maratha is used in three overlapping senses: within the Marathi-speaking region it refers to the single dominant Maratha caste or to the group of Maratha and Kunbi castes; the "Maratha group of castes" is a rural class of peasant cultivators and soldiers."According to the Maharashtrian historian, B. R. Sunthankar, scholars such as Rajendra Vora, the "Maratha caste" is a "caste of peasants" which formed the bulk of the Maharashtrian society together with the other Kunbi peasant caste. Vora adds that the Maratha caste is the largest caste of India and dominate the power structure in Maharashtra in the rural society. According to Jeremy Black, British historian at the University of Exeter, "Maratha caste is a coalescence of peasants, ironworkers, etc. as a result of serving in the military in the 17th and 18th century".
According to one scholar, Marathas are dominant in rural areas and constitute the landed peasantry. As of 2018, 80% of the members of the Maratha caste were farmers. Robert Vane Russell, an untrained ethnologist of the British Raj period, basing his research on Vedic literature, wrote that the Marathas are subdivided into 96 different clans, known as the 96 Kuli Marathas or Shahānnau Kule The general body of lists are at great variance with each other; the term "Maratha" referred to the speakers of the Marathi language. In the 17th century, it emerged as a designation for peasants from Deccan who served as soldiers in the armies of Muslim rulers and in the armies of Shivaji Maharaj, thus the term'Maratha' became a marker of an endogamous caste. A number of Maratha warriors, including Shivaji's father, Shahaji served in those Muslim armies. By the mid-1660s, Shivaji had established an independent Maratha kingdom. After Shivaji's death, Marathas defeated Aurangzeb in the war of 27 years, it was further expanded into a vast empire by the Maratha Confederacy including Peshwas, stretching from central India in the south, to Peshawar on the Afghanistan border in the north, with expeditions to Bengal in the east.
By the 19th century, the empire had become a confederacy of individual states controlled by Maratha chiefs such as Gaikwad's of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore, the Scindias of Gwalior, the Puars of Dhar and Dewas, Bhonsles of Nagpur. The Confederacy remained the pre-eminent power in India until their defeat by the British East India Company in the Third Anglo-Maratha War. By 19th century, the term Maratha had several interpretations in the British administrative records. In the Thane District Gazetteer of 1882, the term was used to denote elite layers within various castes: for example, "Maratha-Agri" within Agri caste, "Maratha-Koli" within Koli caste and so on. In the Pune District, the words Kunbi and Maratha had become synonymous, giving rise to the Maratha-Kunbi caste complex; the Pune District Gazetteer of 1882 divided the Kunbis into two classes: Marathas and other Kunbis. The 1901 census listed three groups within the Maratha-Kunbi caste complex: "Marathas proper", "Maratha Kunbis" and Konkan Maratha.
According to Steele, in the early 19th century, who were agriculturists and the Marathas who claimed Rajput descent and Kshatriya status - were distinguished by their customs related to widow remarriage. The Kunbis allowed it and the higher status Marathas prohibited it. However, there is no statistical evidence for this; as per academic scholars the Maratha population was more than 31% in Maharashtra and the Kunbi was 7%, whereas the upper castes - Brahmins and Prabhus were earlier only about 4% of the population although modern values show that the percentage of Brahmins in Maharashtra is now close to 10%. The Other Backward Class population was 27% while the population of the Mahars was 12%; the term Maratha came to denote an endogamous caste. From 1900 onwards, the Satyashodhak Samaj movement defined the Marathas as a broader social category of non-Brahmin groups; these non-Brahmins gained prominence in Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement. In independent India, these Marathas became the dominant political force in the newly-formed state of Maharashtra.
The caste hierarchy in Maharashtra is led by the Brahmins - Deshasthas, Karhades and the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus. The Maratha are ranked lower than the Pathare Prabhus, CKPs, Brahmins etc. in the caste hierarchy but are considered higher than the Kunbi, backward castes and castes that were considered ritually impure. Modern research has revealed that the Marathas and Kunbi have the same origin - although the two are treated as two different communities on a social level. Most the Kunbi origin of the Maratha has been explained in detail by Professor Richard Eaton from the University of Arizona and Professor Stewart Gordon; the Kunbis who served the Muslim rulers and over time adopted different customs like different dressing styles, started identifying as Maratha and caste boundaries solidified between them. In the nineteenth century, economic prosperity rather than marital service to the Muslims replaced the mobility into Maratha identity. Eaton gives an example of the Holkar family that belonged to the Dhangar caste but was given a Maratha or
Pratap Singh, Raja of Satara
Pratap Singh Bhosle was the Emperor of the Maratha Empire, Satara from 1808 to 1819 but the main control was under the hands of the ministers who had carved out their own kingdoms like the Bhosle of Nagpur, Shindes of Gwalior, Holkars of Indore and Gaekwads of Baroda. The power of peshwas was reduced after 1761, he was Mahraja of Satara until 1839. Pratap Singh was the eldest son of Shahu II of Satara, whom he succeeded, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhonsle, the founder of the Maratha Empire. Pratap Singh has build Pune-Satara Road, Build New Palace called Rajwada, used as a court last 150 years, In that Rajwada a school started around 1851, named Pratapsinh High School in which Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar learned till 4th standard,his date of birth 14th April 1891 record we can see in that school record, Pratapsinh started a Private Library in Satara town, in 1851 given to common public of Satara by his wife, The library now known as Nagar Vachanalaya and now renamed as Chhatrapati Pratap Sinh Maharaj Nagar Vachanalay Satara.
He built Satara-Medha-Mahabaleshwar Road. In Mahabaleshwar State. Rajpath 2 ways from Rajwada to Powai Naka were built by him, he started 2 schools for English, Persian and Sanskrit in satara. Modern Satara is his creation as Chh Shahu's RangMahal was burned in a fire, So Jal Mandir Palace he built a residence for him and his family where now Chh Udayan Raje Bhosale lives, he was dethroned and stripped of his powers and personal possessions in 1839. He was granted an allowance for his maintenance. Rango Bapuji Gupte a loyal Sardar to him fight a lot in legal battles up to London but invain to give justice to his beloved king, he was succeeded by his brother, Appa Saheb, under the title Shreemant Maharaj Shaji Raja Chhatrapati of Satara. Appa Saheb became known as Raja Shahaji. Naregal, Veena. "The Mutiny in Western India: The'Marginal' as Regional Dynamic". In Bates, Crispin. Mutiny at the Margins: New Perspectives on the Indian Uprising of 1857. 1. SAGE Publications India. Pp. 169–188. ISBN 978-8-13211-336-2
Peshwa Madhav Rao II was Peshwa of the Maratha Empire in India, from his infancy. He was known as Madhav Rao Narayan, he was the posthumous son of Narayanrao Peshwa, murdered in 1773 on the orders of Raghunathrao. Madhavrao was considered the legal heir, was installed as Peshwa by the Treaty of Salbai in 1782. Madhavrao was the Posthumous son of Peshwa Narayanrao by Gangabai. After Narayanrao's murder, Raghunathrao became Peshwa but was soon deposed by the courtiers and knights of the Maratha Empire, they instead installed Gangabai's new born son, Madhavrao II, as the Peshwa with the courtiers, led by Nana Fadnavis, as the Regents. Madhavrao was made Peshawa when he was 40 days old, his time in power was dominated by the political intrigues of Nana Phadnis. After the British loss in 1782 in the First Anglo-Maratha War, Mahadji Shinde got Madhvrao recognized as Peshwa by the British. However, all powers of the peshwa were in the hands of ministers like Nana Fadnavis, Mahadaji Shinde and others. In,1788 when Ghulam Qadir attacked Delhi, Mahadaji Shinde led the army of marathas to Delhi and saved the mughal emperor and his family.
In 1790, the Marathas won over rajput states in the Battle of Patan. After the death of Mahadaji Shinde In 1794, the Maratha power got concentrated in the hands of Nana Fadnavis. Madhavrao was fond of the out-doors and had a private collection of exotic animals such as lions and rhinoceros; the area where he hunted became the Peshwe park zoo in Pune. He was fond of his herd of trained dancing deer. Madhavrao committed suicide at the age of 21 by jumping off from the high walls of the Shaniwar Wada in Pune.. The cause of the suicide was that he could not endure the highhandedness of Nana Fadnavis. Just before his suicide, it is said that in ordering the execution of the despised police commissioner, Ghashiram Kotwal, Madhavrao was able to defy the wishes of Nana for the first time Nana Fadnavis Mahadaji Pant Guruji Mahadaji Scindia Narayan Rao Jayapalan, N.. History of India. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors Limited. P. 79. ISBN 9788171569281. Retrieved 2014-10-12. Maratha Empire Peshawe Family Peshwa Maratha emperors
The Holkar dynasty was a Maratha clan of Dhangar origin in India. The Holkars were generals under Peshwa Baji Rao I, becane Maharajas of Indore in Central India as an independent member of the Maratha Empire until 1818, their kingdom became a princely state under the protectorate of British India. The dynasty was founded with Malhar Rao, who joined the service of the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire in 1721, rose to the ranks of Subedar; the name of the dynasty was associated with the title of the ruler, known informally as Holkar Maharaja. Malhar Rao Holkar, a Maratha chief serving Peshwa Baji Rao, established the dynasty's rule over Indore. In the 1720s, he led Maratha armies in Malwa region, in 1733 was granted 9 parghanas in the vicinity of Indore by the Peshwa; the township of Indore had existed as an independent principality established by Nandlal Mandloi of Kampel, Nandlal Mandloi was won by the Maratha force and allowed them to camp across the Khan River. In 1734, Malhar Rao established a camp called Malharganj.
In 1747, he started the construction of the Rajwada. By the time of his death, he ruled much of Malwa, was acknowledged as one of the five independent rulers of the Maratha Confederacy, he was succeeded by his daughter-in-law. She was born in the Chaundi village in Maharashtra, she moved the capital to Maheshwar, south of Indore on the Narmada River. Rani Ahilyabai was a prolific patron of Hindu temples in Maheshwar and Indore, she built temples at sacred sites outside her kingdom, from Dwarka in Gujarat east to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple at Varanasi on the Ganges. The adopted son of Malhar Rao Haolkar, Tukoji Rao Holkar succeeded Rani Ahilyabai upon her death. Tukoji Rao had been a commander under Ahilyabai for her entire rule, his son Yashwantrao Holkar succeeded him upon his death. He tried to free the Delhi Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II from the British in the unsuccessful Second Anglo-Maratha War; the grateful Shah Alam gave him the title of Maharajadiraj Rajrajeshwar Alija Bahadur in honor of his bravery.
Attempts by Yashwantrao Holkar to unite the kings failed, he was approached to sign a peace treaty with the British. The Treaty of Rajghat, signed late December 1805, recognised him as a sovereign king. In 1811, the four-year-old Maharaja Malharrao Holkar II succeeded Yashwantrao Holkar, his mother, Maharani Tulsabai Holkar, looked after the administration. However, with the help of Pathans and the British, Dharama Kunwar and Balaram Seth plotted to imprison Tulsabai and Malharrao; when Tulsabai learnt about this, she appointed Tantia Jog. As a result, Gaffur Khan Pindari secretly signed a treaty with the British on 9 November 1817 and killed Tulsabai on 19 December 1817; the treaty was signed on 6 January 1818 at Mandsaur. Bhimabai Holkar did not accept the treaty, kept attacking the British by guerilla methods. Rani Lakshmibai of Jhanshi took inspiration from Bhimabai Holkar and fought against the British. At the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War, the Holkars lost much of their territory to the British and were incorporated into the British Raj as a princely state of the Central India Agency.
The capital was shifted from Bhanpura to Indore. Malharrao Holkar III entered Indore on 2 November 1818. Tantia Jog was appointed his Diwan; as the old palace was destroyed by the army of Daulat Rao Scindia, a new palace was constructed in its place. Malharrao III was succeeded by Martandrao Holkar, who formally ascended to the throne on 17 January 1834, but he was replaced by Harirao Holkar, nephew of Yashwantrao, who ascended to the throne on 17 April 1834. He adopted Khanderao Holkar on 2 July 1841 and died on 24 October 1843. Khanderao was formally installed as the ruler on 13 November 1843, but he died on 17 February 1844. Tukojirao Holkar II was installed on the throne on 27 June 1844. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, he was loyal to the British East India Company. In October 1872, he appointed T. Madhava Rao as the Diwan of Indore, he succeeded by his eldest son, Shivajirao. Yashwantrao Holkar II ruled Indore state until shortly after India's independence in 1947, when he acceded to the Indian Government.
Indore became a district of Madhya Bharat state, merged into Madhya Pradesh state in 1956. Malhar Rao Holkar I. Born 16 March 1693, died 20 May 1766 Male Rao Holkar. Born 1745, died 5 April 1767 Ahilya Bai Holkar. Born 1725, died 13 August 1795 Tukoji Rao Holkar I. Born 1723, died 15 August 1797 Kashi Rao Holkar Born before 1776, died 1808 Khande Rao Holkar Born in 1798, died 1807 Yashwant Rao Holkar I. Born 1776, died 27 October 1811 Malhar Rao Holkar II Born 1806, died 27 October 1833 Marthand Rao Holkar. Born 1830, died 2 June 1849 Hari Rao Holkar. Born 1795, died 24 October 1843 Khande Rao Holkar II. Born 1828, died 17 March 1844 Tukoji Rao Holkar II. Born 3 May 1835, died 17 June 1886 Shivaji Rao Holkar. Born 11 November 1859, died 13 October 1908 Tukoji Rao Holkar III. Born 26 November 1890, died 21 May 1978 Yashwant Ra
Balaji Vishwanath, better known as Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath, was the sixth Peshwa and the first of a series of hereditary Peshwas hailing from the Chitpavan Kokanastha Brahmin Hindu family who gained effective control of the Maratha Empire during the 18th century. Balaji Vishwanath assisted a young Maratha Emperor Shahu to consolidate his grip on a kingdom, racked by civil war and persistent attack by the Mughals under Aurangzeb, his son Bajirao became the peshwa. Balaji Vishwanath was born into a Konkanastha Brahmin family; the family hailed from the coastal Konkan region of present-day Maharashtra and were the hereditary Deshmukh for Shrivardhan under the Siddi of Janjira. He went out in search of employment to the upper regions of western ghats and worked as a mercenary trooper under various Maratha generals. According to Kincaid & Parasnis, Balaji Vishwanath entered the Maratha administration during the reign of Chhatrapati Sambhaji or the regency of his brother, Rajaram, he served as an accountant for the Maratha general, Dhanaji Jadhav, at Janjira.
Between 1699 and 1702, he served as the Sar-subhedar or head-administrator at Pune and from 1704 to 1707 as Sarsubedar of Daulatabad. By the time Dhanaji died, Balaji had proven himself as an able officer. Balaji fell out with Dhanaji's son and successor, Chandrarao Jadhav and went over to the newly released Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shahu who took note of his abilities and appointed Balaji as his assistant. Since the death of Chhatrapati Shivaji, his two sons Sambhaji and Rajaram continued the Maratha war against the Mughal Empire. Emperor Aurangzeb entered the Deccan in 1686. Aurangzeb spent the next 21 years in the Deccan in ceaseless warfare against the Marathas. Despite the cruel executions of Sambhaji and early death of Rajaram, Rajaram's widow Tarabai continued the resistance while Sambhaji's son Shahu was captured at a young age and held captive of the Mughals. Aurangzeb died at Ahmednagar in 1707 at the age of eighty-eight, with the Mughal armies exhausted and the treasury empty; the ensuing war of succession in the Mughal Empire resulted in accession of the aged Prince Mu'azzam, who ascended the Mughal throne under the title of Bahadur Shah In the intrigues following the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal governor of the Deccan released Shahu from captivity, hoping to keep the Marathas locked in an internecine struggle between the partisans of Shahu, Tarabai, the widow of Rajaram who governed in the name of her son Shivaji and denounced Shahu as an impostor substituted by the Mughals for the son of Sambhaji.
Tarabai sent the Maratha senapati Dhanaji Jadhav to attack Shahu. Balaji Vishwanath was despatched by Dhanaji Jadhav to meet secretly with Shahu and verify his bona fides. Balaji is believed to have persuaded his master to support the cause of Shahu. Dhanaji's forces met Shahu's at Khed, in Pune District. Instead of attacking Shahu, Dhanaji Jadhav declared him to be the rightful successor to the Maratha throne. Dhanaji's confidence in Balaji Vishwanath, aroused the jealousy of his son and successor, Chandrasen Jadhav. After death of Dhanaji Jadhav in June 1708, Shahu appointed Dhanaji's son Chandrasen Jadhav as Senapati, but the rivalry between Chandrasen and Balaji led the former to intrigue with Tarabai, while seeking an opportunity to eliminate Balaji. A dispute over the conduct of a junior officer in Balaji's employ led Chandrasen to attack Balaji, who fled to the fortress of Purandar. Chandrasen besieged Purandar whereupon Balaji fled again to Pandavgad whence he sent an emissary to plead for help from his sovereign.
Shahu had Balaji Vishwanath brought under escort to his capital Satara and asked Chandrasen to make the case against Balaji Vishwanath before him. Instead of obeying Shahu Chandrasen defected to the cause of Tarabai in April 1711. Haibatrao Nimbalkar, who Shahu had dispatched against Chandrasen defected to Tarabai, Shahu's fortunes were an at their lowest. Bereft of his experienced generals, Shahu turned to Balaji Vishwanath, who undertook to raise a new army in the cause of Shahu. For his efforts, Shahu He bestowed Balaji with the title of Senakarte or Organiser of Maratha armies. Balaji "next turned against Tarabai her own armoury of intrigue"; the fall of Tarabai at Kolhapur in 1712 was the outcome of a conspiracy hatched by Balaji Vishwanath in connivance with the disgruntled elements of Tarabai's court. Balaji Vishwanath induced Rajaram's other widow, Rajasbai to conduct a coup against Shivaji II, the son of Tarabai and install her own son, Sambhaji II, on the throne of Kolhapur; this brought the ruling house of Kolhapur under subordination of Shahu at that time.
Next Shahu turned to subdue the Angres. Tukoji Angre had commanded Chattrapati Shivaji's navy and was succeeded in 1690 by his son Kanhoji Angre. Kanhoji received from Tarabai Koli Admiral of the Maratha fleet. Kanhoji seized the opportunity of war between Tarabai and Shahu to free himself of the suzerainty of either. Instead, he captured the major trading center of Kalyan and the neighboring forts of Rajmachi and Lohgad. Shahu sent a large force under Chief Minister, Bahiroji Pingale. Kanhoji defeated Pingle and imprisoned him at Lohagad, started to advance towards Shahu's capital Satara. Shahu commanded Balaji again to raise another army to subdue Kanhoji. Balaji preferred the path of negotiation and was appointed as Shahu's plenipotentiary to negotiate with the admiral. Balaji and Kanhoji met at Lonavala; the newly appointed Peshwa appealed to the old sailor's patriotism for the Maratha cause. Angre agreed to become the Sarkhel of Shahu's navy with control of the
Scindia was a Hindu Maratha dynasty that ruled the Gwalior State. The Gwalior state was a part of the Maratha Confederacy in the 18th and 19th centuries, a princely state of the colonial British government during the 19th and the 20th centuries. After India's independence in 1947, the members of the Scindia family became politicians; the Scindia family of Kanherkhed served as shiledars under the Bahmani Sultanate. They served the Peshwa; the Scindia dynasty was founded by Ranoji Scindia, the son of Jankojirao Scindia, the Deshmukh of Kanherkhed, a village in Satara District, Maharashtra. Peshwa Baji Rao's career saw the strengthening of the Maratha Empire. Ranoji was in charge of the Maratha conquests in Malwa in 1726. Ranoji established his capital at Ujjain in 1731, his successors included Jayajirao, Dattajirao, Mahadji Shinde and Daulatrao Scindia. The Scindhia state of Gwalior became a major regional power in the latter half of the 18th century and figured prominently in the three Anglo-Maratha Wars.
They held sway over many of the Rajput states, conquered north India. After the defeat of the allied Maratha states by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War of 1818, Daulatrao Scindia was forced to accept local autonomy as a princely state within British India and to give up Ajmer to the British. After the death of Daulatrao, Maharani Baiza Bai ruled the empire, saving it from the British power, till the adopted child Jankoji Rao took over the charge. Jankoji died in 1843, his widow Tarabai Raje scindia maintained the position and adopted a child from close lineage named Jayajirao; the Scindia family ruled Gwalior until India's independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, when the Maharaja Jivajirao Scindia acceded to the Government of India. Gwalior was merged with a number of other princely states to become the new Indian state of Madhya Bharat. George Jivajirao served as the state's rajpramukh, or appointed governor, from 28 May 1948 to 31 October 1956, when Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh.
In 1962, Rajmata Vijayraje Scindia, the widow of Maharaja Jiwajirao, was elected to the Lok Sabha, beginning the family's career in electoral politics. She was first a member of the Congress Party, became an influential member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, her son Madhavrao Scindia was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1971 representing the Congress Party, served until his death in 2001. His son, Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Congress Party, was elected to the seat held by his father in 2004. Vijayaraje's daughters have supported the Bharatiya Janata Party. Vasundhara Raje Scindia contested and won five parliamentary elections from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Under the Vajpayee government from 1998 onwards, Vasundhara was in charge of several different ministries. In 2003 she led the Bharatiya Janata Party to its largest majority in Rajasthan, became the state's Chief Minister. In 2013 again, she led Bharatiya Janata Party to a thumpin win in the state of Rajasthan, winning over 160 out of the 200 seats in the assembly elections.
Her other daughter, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, contested assembly elections from Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh and won in 1998, 2003 and 2013 and lokshabha 2004,2009 from gwalior. Upon the BJP's win in the state, she became the state's Minister for Tourism and Youth Affairs. Vasundhara's son Dushyant Singh entered the Lok Sabha in 2004 from Rajasthan. In the course of their military service, the Shinde were bestowed numerous titles by the British Empire, which grew more elaborate with the passage of time: 1745: Shrimant Sardar Shinde Bahadur 1745–1787: Meherban Shrimant Sardar Shinde Bahadur 1787–1790: His Highness Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Sahib Subadar Shrimant Shinde Bahadur Maharaja Shinde of Gwalior 1790–1794: His Highness Ali Jah, Umdat ul-Umara, Farzand-i-Arjumand, Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Sahib Subadar Shrimant Shinde Bahadur, Mansur-i-Zaman, Naib ul-Istiqlal-i-Maharajadhiraj Sawai Madhav Rao Narayan, Maharaja Shinde of Gwalior 1794–1827: His Highness Ali Jah, Naib Vakil-i-Mutlaq, Amir ul-Umara, Mukhtar ul-Mulk, Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Shrimant Shinde Bahadur, Maharaja Shinde of Gwalior 1827–1845: His Highness Ali Jah, Umdat ul-Umara, Hisam us-Sultanat, Mukhtar ul-Mulk, Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Shrimant Shinde Bahadur, Mansur-i-Zaman, Maharaja Shinde of Gwalior 1845–1861: His Highness Ali Jah, Umdat ul-Umara, Hisam us-Sultanat, Mukhtar ul-Mulk, Azim ul-Iqtidar, Rafi-us-Shan, Wala Shikoh, Muhtasham-i-Dauran, Maharajadhiraj Maharaja Shrimant Shinde Bahadur, Mansur-i-Zaman 1861–1901: His Highness Ali Jah, Umdat ul-Umara, His
Rajput is a large multi-component cluster of castes, kin bodies, local groups, sharing social status and ideology of genealogical descent originating from the Indian subcontinent. The term Rajput covers various patrilineal clans associated with warriorhood: several clans claim Rajput status, although not all claims are universally accepted; the term "Rajput" acquired its present meaning only in the 16th century, although it is anachronistically used to describe the earlier lineages that emerged in northern India from 6th century onwards. In the 11th century, the term "rajaputra" appeared as a non-hereditary designation for royal officials; the Rajputs emerged as a social class comprising people from a variety of ethnic and geographical backgrounds. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the membership of this class became hereditary, although new claims to Rajput status continued to be made in the centuries. Several Rajput-ruled kingdoms played a significant role in many regions of central and northern India until the 20th century.
The Rajput population and the former Rajput states are found in north, west and east India. These areas include Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. In Pakistan they are found on the eastern parts of the country, Punjab and Dera Ismail Khan in K. P.. The origin of the Rajputs has been a much-debated topic among the historians. Colonial-era writers characterised them as descendants of the foreign invaders such as the Scythians or the Hunas, believed that the Agnikula myth was invented to conceal their foreign origin. According to this theory, the Rajputs originated when these invaders were assimilated into the Kshatriya category during the 6th or 7th century, following the collapse of the Gupta Empire. While many of these colonial writers propagated this foreign-origin theory in order to legitimise the colonial rule, the theory was supported by some Indian scholars, such as D. R. Bhandarkar; the Indian nationalist historians, such as C. V. Vaidya, believed the Rajputs to be descendants of the ancient Vedic Aryan Kshatriyas.
A third group of historians, which includes Jai Narayan Asopa, theorized that the Rajputs were Brahmins who became rulers. However, recent research suggests that the Rajputs came from a variety of ethnic and geographical backgrounds; the root word "rajaputra" first appears as a designation for royal officials in the 11th century Sanskrit inscriptions. According to some scholars, it was reserved for the immediate relatives of a king. Over time, the derivative term "Rajput" came to denote a hereditary political status, not very high: the term could denote a wide range of rank-holders, from an actual son of a king to the lowest-ranked landholder. Before the 15th century, the term "Rajput" was associated with people of mixed-caste origin, was therefore considered inferior in rank to "Kshatriya"; the term Rajput came to denote a social class, formed when the various tribal and nomadic groups became landed aristocrats, transformed into the ruling class. These groups ranks; the early medieval literature suggests that this newly formed Rajput class comprised people from multiple castes.
Thus, the Rajput identity is not the result of a shared ancestry. Rather, it emerged when different social groups of medieval India sought to legitimize their newly acquired political power by claiming Kshatriya status; these groups started identifying as Rajput in different ways. Scholarly opinions differ on when the term Rajput acquired hereditary connotations and came to denote a clan-based community. Historian Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya, based on his analysis of inscriptions, believed that by the 12th century, the term "rajaputra" was associated with fortified settlements, kin-based landholding, other features that became indicative of the Rajput status. According to Chattopadhyaya, the title acquired "an element of heredity" from c. 1300. A study by of 11th-14th century inscriptions from western and central India, by Michael B. Bednar, concludes that the designations such as "rajaputra", "thakkura" and "rauta" were not hereditary during this period. During its formative stages, the Rajput class was quite assimilative and absorbed people from a wide range of lineages.
However, by the late 16th century, it had become genealogically rigid, based on the ideas of blood purity. The membership of the Rajput class was now inherited rather than acquired through military achievements. A major factor behind this development was the consolidation of the Mughal Empire, whose rulers had great interest in genealogy; as the various Rajput chiefs became Mughal feduatories, they no longer engaged in major conflicts with each other. This decreased the possibility of achieving prestige through military action, made hereditary prestige more important; the word "Rajput" thus acquired its present-day meaning in the 16th century. During 16th and 17th centuries, the Rajput rulers and their bards sought to legitimize the Rajput socio-political status on the basis of descent and kinship, they fabricated genealogies linking the Rajput families to the ancient dynasties, associated them with myths of origins that established their Kshatriya status. This led to the emergence of what Indologist Dirk Kolff calls the "Rajput Great Tradition", which accepted only hereditary claims to the Rajput identity, fostered a notion of eliteness and exclusivity.
The legendary epic poem Prithvira