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Gujjars Of Kashmir by Dr Javaid Rahi

In the Himalayan regions, Gujjar is considered an important and historical tribe .This tribe has ruled over many princely states in northern India for hundred of years and left their imprints in the Himalayan ranges and inscribed them in such a way that they could not be destroyed even after thousand of years. The legacy of Gujjars is as old as their identity. Famous scholar Mohammed Yusuf Teing writes about Gujjars in his research thesis: ‘Gujjar Shinakhat Ka Safar’ as; “At some point of time, Gujjar was an educated, prosperous and dignified community. Their reference is not restricted to the books of Indian , Persian , Arabic and Chinese historian but are talked of as to belonging from Gurjistan to Central India

To trace the origin of Gujjar we have to interpret the word “Gujjar”. Till now the word Gujjar has been interpreted in a number of ways. First perspective has been forwarded by Prof. Abdul Gani Shashi after detailed study of Arabic and Persian history. According to him, Gujjars share with Baduo tribe of Arab, a common lifestyle, way of living and culture. It is believed that Gujjars along with Badu tribe are associated Khizir tribe, who left for Koh-e kaf during the era of Christ along with their, camels and other domestic animals. According to him, the word Khizir got changed to Garz to Garzar and with the passage of time this tribe came to be called as Gujjar.
Abdul Malik Chouhan in the book Taarekh-e-Shahan Gujjar at page number 49 has described the word Gujjar in a diffrent way .
In Islamic encyclopaedia .’ It has been said that why Gujjar community was spirited and courageous and they were known for their shrewdness i.e. despotism in the vicinity of Iran and had destroyed many empires and nations under their reign, that is why they were symbolised first of all by a wolf (Bhediya)locakly known as Gurj.Hence, this word get transformed from Gurj to Gurjur to Gurez and later on these people were called by the name of Gurj or Gujjar or Gurjar. Scholars of twentieth century have evolved the third perspective according to which thousands of years ago this community moved from a place called Georgia i.e. Georgia/Gurjistan to India via Afghanistan. Hence, because of belonging to Gurjistan, they were called as Gujjar. Anthropological surveys of India have authenticated this perspective .
Thefrourth perspective is that the History of Gujjars and Hindu manuscripts reveal that Gujjars were one of the communities who were devotee of lord Krishna. Gujjars took lord Krishna as their ideal and adopted their life style. For a long time they were known for preservation of cows and it is because of cows that some of the castes of Hindus were known as those owning cows. Similarly, Gaochar were called as Gaujar who later on become Gujjar. Another perspective is of Chowdhary Fayez Ahmed written in ‘Marat Gujjran Tareekh’ who consulted several scholars for verification. According to him, when Gujjars used to rule in India, their armies used to fight with Gurz i.e. Gada (weapon of lord Hanuman) which was their symbol, which later become Gurzar and then changed to Gurjar or Gujjar. It is in this context that Gujjar tribe came to be known. One more perspective also linked with Gurz. History reveals that these people considered cow as their protector and loved cow as their mother. Hence the weapon with which they used to fight was shaped as the head of cow, because of which people of other countries called them ‘Gau-sar’ which later on become Gujjar.
It has been said that Alexander (1) son who adopted the title of ‘Gausar’ which later on become Gurji and their children came to be called as Gujjar. But this perspective has not been verified by any other scholar. There are about half a dozen other Gujjar Histories written on Gujjars amongst which like Shahan-e-Gujjar, Gujjar Itihas, Gujjar aur Gujri Zaban, Tareekh-e-Gujran, Gujjar Tareekh aur Sakafat . It has been written in all these that the word Gujjar has been derived from Persian word ‘Gauzar’ which means body builder (pehalwan) or fighter. Because this community was famous for its moves and tactics in wars, that is why people called them Gauzor who later came to be called as Gujjars. This community is also called Gadjeen. There is a book of Hafiz Abdul Haq Sialkoti titled Tareekh-e-Gojran that verified this view.

Their is this view also that because of some issues, one community shifted from Grozni area of Russia and entered India after going through various ways. These people were called as Gurozar as they belonged to Grozni who later on become Gujjar. This view is authenticated by the presence of some castes in Gujjars based on the names of regions in Russia. E.g. Chichi Gujjars from Chechnya, Bajran Gujjar from Bajrania. The historical view related to Gujjars is very interesting. When Roman invaded Greece for the first time, the community which countered them was Gracia, located on the borders of Greece. Romans called them Grexie, Greece, Gruj which later on become Gurjar which eventually came to be called as Gujjar.


Colonel Tort argues that Gujjars are not descendants of Turkey or Arab. He links them to a huge empire. In “Rajasthan History” Col. Tort states that Gujjars are Greek and the World Gujjar or Garjar is of Greek origin. Page number 39 of Tareekh-e-Kokaz writes that Gujjars have come from Turkistan, and they are descendants of Noah. They are of the view that the word Gujjar is derived from ‘Garji’ who was descendant of Noah. Shri R.D Bhandari believes that Gujjar is an important community amongst the various Himalayan communities. History tells us that these nomadic people used to rule North India at some time. Gujjar entered India in fifth century A.D. along with Huns, and they are one of the communities of Central Asia. According to English scholar Kennedy, Gujjars used to worship Sun so they entered India from Iran. In a book titled ‘Harsh Chitra’ written in seventh century A.D., is written that king Harshavardan who was a Hun was given the title of ‘Garjar Praja Graha’ which mean that brave Gujjar who used to protect his community. Famous scholar Kanigam says that Gujjars are present in India even before Christ. Mr. V.A Smith is amongst those scholars who believe that Gujjars are locals. Rana Ali Hussan Chouhan writes in his history that the word Gujjar is derived from the word Gurjar or Garjar, which has been used by maharishi Valmiki in Ramayana. E.g. in Valmiki’s Ramayana, there is written, “Gato Dashrat swargyo gartaro” – which means king Dashrat who was brave amongst us kshatriyas, departed for heaven. A big chunk of scholars, agree that Gujjars actually have come from Georgia, which is located in Russia and is often called as Gurjistan. Till date whatever has been said or told about Gujjars cannot be verified logically till date. However, all scholars agree that this community had arrived in the Indian horizon in fifth to sixth century A.D. Expert anthropologist Dr. Cornik has said that through research it has been found that there is no major difference between the faces of Gujjars with that of ancient Indian communities. Gujjars have ruled over Gujarat, Bhopal, Kannauj, Ajmer etc. from fifth century to Fourteenth century A.D. Rajtarangni reveals that Gujjars used to rule over the states and surrounding areas of Kashmir Valley. History tells that with the decline of Gupt kingdom Gujjars started to arise. But they were limited to till North India. With reference to history of Rajasthan, it has been revealed that Gujjars had been the residents of J&K since third century A.D. to fifth century A.D. However, some scholars are of the view that Gujjars entered J&K in tenth or eleventh century.
Kashmiri Scholar Motilal Saqi has written in his thesis ‘Gujjar Pratihaar’ as, “Harishchandra and his three generations had ruled in between 550 A.D -640 A.D. After that kings of royal family had ruled till eight generations. Thus, North India was under the control of Gujjars for 300 years.” Great scholar Dr. Jamil Jalbi of Pakistan has written in his book ‘Urdu Adab ki Tareekh’ at page 79 in his first edition in this way, “One form of Urdu language is found in Gujarat which is called as Gojri or Gujarat dialect. History tells us that Gujjar community entered India as conquerors and divided its southern occupied areas into three parts: the biggest was called as Maharath, second as Gujrath and the third as Swarath. The conquerors from Turkey found it difficult to pronounce Gujrath so they modified it to Gujarat.”
One usually finds the proofs of presence and rule of Gujjars in Kashmir form the external aggressions. According to history, Mohd. Gaznavi attacked Kashmir twice but he failed both the times and many kingdoms came up in Kashmir from 1038 A.D to 1326 A.D. Tung Rai Gujjar was the commander in chief opposite Mohd. Gaznavi. This was the period when king Tarlochan Pal Khattana sought refuge to J&K. Sarvari Kasana writes in his essay, ‘Jammu Kashmir par Gujjron ki Hakumat’ about acceptance of Islam by Gujjars as, “in 1301, King Ranjan appointed Shah Mir Gujjar as his minister, who had already adopted Islam. Shah Mir sat on the throne of Kashmir as Wazir Shamsudin. The proof of his being a Gujjar can be traced in chapter Kashmir of’Ain-e-Akbari’.There is also written that Shah Mir considered himself as descendants of Pandavas. Four sons of Shah Shamsudin were rulers of Kashmir. One of them had ruled over Lohar Kot which is now known by the name of Loren in district Poonch. K.D Maini in ‘Tareekh Poonch” writes in eighteenth century that Poonch was ruled over by Sango Gujjar who was a brave king.
History tells us that Gujjars have ruled from Gujarat, Jodhpur, and Kathiawad to Baliya 641 century A.D. and during this time it was known as Gujjar Desh. Chawada and Solanki Gujjars have ruled over Deccan Gujarat from 610 A.D -942 A.D, while Gujjars ruled over here from 700 A.D-1573A.D. Central Institute of Indian language, Mysore have prepared a Grammar, in which is written that Gujjar left the plain areas after their decline and shifted to Himalayan regions. These people used to attack enemies while remaining hidden in hilly areas, but this trend could not last long and slowly they became the inhabitants of these areas. Many kings in J&K had enlisted Gujjars as criminal tribes, so that they can snatch power from them to prevent them from being autonomous. Different kings used to keep an eye over Gujjars who were there in their army. History tells us that in every period, each kingdom called rajputs and Sikhs and other Marshall communities from Punjab and settled them around Gujjar inhabited colonies, to protect themselves from attacks of Gujjars which they used to carry from hills to plain areas. Even today in whole of J&K where ever Gujjar colonies are located one can find some houses of Sikhs and Muslim Rajputs which verifies the policies of earlier kingdoms. During Dogra period and Sikh period, landed estates and sub divisions went to people, while Gujjars got only meadows. During Dogra rule Gujjars were not participative and they could not reach or acquire a high position in their administration in proportion to their population. As a result, the views of Dogra Rajput rulers were also not different from earlier rulers. However, later on, three to four Gujjars got access to the King’s council.