This article discusses the "Kanaujiya" Rathores of Marwar and lineages, thereof; Norman Ziegler had noted of 12 other similar branches ("shakhas") of Rathores — Sur, Shir, Kapaliya, Kherada, Abhepura, Jevamt, Vagula, Karaha, Parakra, Ahrao, Jalkheda, and Camdel. Scholarship about those branches are scarce to non-existent.
A section of historians however argue for a Rashtrakuta origin. Branches of Rashtrakutas had migrated to Western Rajasthan as early as late tenth century; multiple inscriptions of "Rathauras" have been located in and around Marwar dating from tenth to thirteenth century; the Rathores might have emerged from one of their branches.
Muhnot Nainsi, employed by the Rathores of Marwar, chronicled a bardic genealogical history of the Rajputs in western Rajasthan c. 1660; one of the oldest extant historical records of the region, the Khyata collated information from existing oral literature, genealogies and administrative sources in a chronological fashion.[page needed][b][c] Nainsi had noted of the Rathores to have originated from Kannauj before migrating to Marwar.
The first Rathore chieftain was Siho Setramot, grandson of the last Gahadavala king Jayachandra.[d] Then known as Raja Singhsen, Setramot abdicated the throne of Kanauj to become an ascetic but got embroiled in a royal rivalry and eventually married the daughter of a Gujarati ruler, who birthed him three sons. Asthan, the eldest, was raised at Paltan after Siho's death (at Kanauj) and he went on to establish the first Rathore polity in Pali (and few adjoining villages), after winning over the local Brahmins by defeating an oppressive king named Kanha Mer. Other contemporary sources claim the same descent and construct slightly variable narratives about migration from Kanauj: Setramot fled the Ghurid Sultanate to Marwar and established the first Rathore polity.
These claims of descent have been since deemed to be largely ahistorical.[e] Ziegler notes the theme of migrations to be common across Rajput genealogies; a construct, borrowed from literary cannon of other regions, in service of Rajputisation. Later genealogies of Rathores went as far as to derive origin from Gods of the Hindu pantheon — Indra, Narayana et al.[f]
Under Asthan's regime, and that of his successor-rulers, the Rathore territories significantly expanded courtesy confrontations and diplomatic negotiations with other pastoral groups; the primary base shifted multiple times.[g] Marital alliances with any warrior-group operating out of Thar were esp. favored and they were welcome to be inducted in the Rathore fold.[h] Multiple new Rathore branches seem to have split out in these spans.[i]
The precise accuracy of events which allegedly occurred across these spans is questionable and may not be relied upon except for a generic reconstruction.
Chunda, who was ninth in descent from Asthan, was gifted the territory of Mandor as a dowry by Eenda Rajputs, which became their new capital c. 1400.[page needed] This prompted a significant sociopolitical shift: the hitherto nomadic lifestyle frequented with cattle raids etc. would gradually give way to landed aristocracy.[j] His son Rinmal was assassinated in 1438; Marwar was annexed by Sisodiyas whilst other parts were captured by Delhi Sultanate.[k]
In 1453, Rao Jodha regained Marwar, and expanded his territories by entering into multiple matrimonial alliances with fellow Rajputs; the Jodhawat line was established with his consecration of a new capital at Jodhpur. Among his sons, Rao Bika found a new state in Bikaner in 1465; he and his successors would go on to expand territories therefrom, adopting similar tactics. This Bikawat branch became the new bearer of Rathore legacy, even bringing Gahdavala-time emblems and heirlooms from Marwar. Another of Jodha's sons Rao Varsingh found a new state at Merto in 1462, establishing the Mertiyo branch.
Rao Malde's regime (1532-1562) harbored another significant shift from clannish rule to monarchy; Malde forced his distant relatives, who conquered new territories, to submit to him or else be deprived of gains. Bikaner was raided, too. Large palaces were constructed and fortifications were committed to, in what signaled the effective end of pastoral lifestyle. By mid-sixteenth century, the Rathors had a firm hold over entire Rajasthan.
All these while, multiple matrimonial and military alliances with local Muslim Rajputs, neighboring Muslim rulers, and rulers of the Delhi Sultanate have been noted; Hindu-Muslim relations were largely fraternal.[l]
The situations deteriorated once Akbar was ordained as the Mughal Emperor, and Malde died. The Jodhawat Rathores lost much of their territory rapidly and were effectively subsumed. The Bikawat Rathores entered into friendly relations with the Mughals, led their armies, and were extensively patronaged to the extent of being allowed to control the Jodhpur Fort. In 1583, Uday Singh finally accepted Mughal suzerainty and in return, was granted part of a Pargana in Jodhpur; this would enable the Jodhawat Rathores to become all-weather allies of the Mughals though punctuated with discords.
This span of cohabitation led to the introduction of strict endogamy into Rathore folds and hypergamy with Mughals. It was also under the Mughals, that bardic genealogies were crafted to present themselves as worthy appointees of the Mughals and distinguish themselves from other "once-fraternal" communities, thereby staking a claim to power irrespective of temporal situations. Also, by this time, the nomadic memories were better suppressed and the Rathores had themselves rebranded as the elite "protectors" of local cattle-rearers; in a couple of centuries, figures from early Rathore polity would be deified.
During the 20th century the lower castes in India tried to uplift their social standing by adopting surnames of other castes. The Rajput clan name "Rathore" was adopted as a surname by the Teli community in 1931, who started calling themselves Rathore Vaishyas for caste upliftment. During the same period of British Raj, the Banjaras began styling themselves as Chauhan and Rathor Rajputs.
Dynasties and states
The various cadet branches of the Rathore clan gradually spread to encompass all of Marwar and later founded states in Central India and Gujarat. The Marwar Royal family is considered the head house of Rathores. At the time of India's independence in 1947, the princely states ruled by various branches of the Rathore clan included:
- Jodhpur (Marwar) in present-day Rajasthan, founded in 1226 by Rao Siha.
- Bikaner in present-day Rajasthan, founded in 1465 by Rao Bikaji (son of Rao Jodha).
- Kishangarh in present-day Rajasthan, founded in 1611 by Raja Kishan Singh.
- Idar in present-day Gujarat, founded in 1729 by Rao Anand Singh.
- Ratlam in present-day Madhya Pradesh, founded in 1651 by Maharaja Ratan Singh.
- Jhabua in present-day Madhya Pradesh, founded in 1584 by Raja Keshav Das.
- Sitamau in present-day Madhya Pradesh, founded 1701 by Raja Kesho Das.
- Sailana in present-day Madhya Pradesh, founded in 1730 by Raja Jai Singh.
- Alirajpur in present-day Madhya Pradesh, founded in 1437 by Raja Anand Deo.
- Alternative spellings include Rathor.
- Nainsi's was the Chief Revenue Officer of Jaswant Singh I, during the time of compilation and his' is the oldest Khyat of the region. Other written sources include the much formal "Marvar Ri Parganam Ri Vigat", compiled by Nainsi. Both does not record any entry later than 1666, his last year in service.
- It may not be assumed that prior to Nainsi, the literary worlds of Thar were barren. A vast corpus of literature — vamsavalis, bat, and pidhavali — were maintained and transmitted across centuries, prim. in oral forms, by specialists from lowers castes. Even the relatively newer forms of Khyat or Vigat were probably there for about a century before Nainsi.
- For context of production (and circulation), see section on history.
- An inscription in Bithoor commemorates the death of one Siho in 1273 CE, noting him to be the son of Set Kanwar; there is no mention of any Gahadavala descent. Rao Jaitsi ro Chhand, a Charan poetry composed about a century earlier in 1535 had started with Salkha as the first of Rathores.
- "Rathodam Ri Vamsavali", edited out of three undated manuscripts (prob. 18th c.), mentions the earliest ancestor of Rathores to be one Raja Rastevswar, a Suryavanshi Rajput in the Treta Yuga. He took birth from his father's spine ("ratho") and with the blessings of Rsi Gotam, established a sovereign state from Kannauj. Even Rama, from the Dyapara Yuga, is noted to be a Rathore!
- After Asthan, came in order — Raipal, Kanhadde, Jalhansi, Chhada, Teedo, Salkha, Malo, Chunda, and Rinmal. A fair share of internecine rivalry was present since Malo's ascension to the throne.
- Ziegler doubts that these rulers (till Raso/Chunda) were extrapolated from popular memory and incorporated into Rathore genealogy; very little exists in the form of historical evidence. David Henige also points out that Nainsi accommodates 10 kings within a span of 74 years, which is quite improbable unless plagued with telescoping.
- All of these branches — Sindhal, Uhar, Petar, Mulu etc. — reigned over different areas of Marwar.
- The earlier periods are referred to in Rajput histories as period of "Vikhau". Contemporary anxieties of caste-pollution and unstable hierarchy are projected back onto these spans.
- Ziegler notes that the chronicles become reasonably reliable since mid-fifteenth century and is supported by epigraphical evidence. There is a strong probability that Nainsi copied off some parts from much older sources without attribution. However, Nainsi did add anachronistic elements to his narratives.
- At the same time, desecration of temples, and forced conversions have been noted. Some fled Marwar to avoid Muslim subjugation.
- A. M. Shah (1998). The Family in India: Critical Essays. Orient Blackswan. pp. 112–. ISBN 978-81-250-1306-8.
- For a map of their territory see: Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 147, map XIV.4 (g). ISBN 0226742210.
- Kothiyal, Tanuja (2016). "Mobility, Polity, Territory". Nomadic Narratives: A History of Mobility and Identity in the Great Indian Desert. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139946186.
- Ziegler, Norman (1973). Action power and service in Rajasthani culture: a social history of the Rajputs of middle period Rajasthan (Thesis). University of Chicago.
- Ziegler, Norman P. (1976). "The Seventeenth Century Chronicles of Mārvāṛa: A Study in the Evolution and Use of Oral Traditions in Western India". History in Africa. 3: 127–153. doi:10.2307/3171564. ISSN 0361-5413. JSTOR 3171564.
- Bose, Melia Belli (1 January 2015). 3 A Deceptive Message of Resistance: Nostalgia and the Early Jodha Rathores' Renaissant Devals. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-30056-9.
- Saran, Richard D.; Ziegler, Norman P. (2001). Introduction to Translations. The Mertiyo Rathors of Merto, Rajasthan: Select Translations Bearing on the History of a Rajput Family, 1462–1660. 1. University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/mpub.19305. ISBN 978-0-89148-085-3. JSTOR 10.3998/mpub.19305.9.
- Saran, Richard Davis (1978). Conquest and Colonization: Rajputs and Vasis in Middle Period Marvar (Thesis). University of Michigan.
- Saran, Richard D.; Ziegler, Norman P. (2001). Rajpūt Social Organization: A Historical Perspective. The Mertiyo Rathors of Merto, Rajasthan: Select Translations Bearing on the History of a Rajput Family, 1462–1660. 1. University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/mpub.19305. ISBN 978-0-89148-085-3. JSTOR 10.3998/mpub.19305.12.
- Saran, Richard D.; Ziegler, Norman P. (2001). Succession Lists of the Major Rajpūt Ruling Families of Middle Period Rājasthān. The Mertiyo Rathors of Merto, Rajasthan: Select Translations Bearing on the History of a Rajput Family, 1462–1660. 1. University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/mpub.19305. ISBN 978-0-89148-085-3. JSTOR 10.3998/mpub.19305.13.
- Patil, Shankaragouda Hanamantagouda (2002). Community Dominance and Political Modernisation: The Lingayats. Mittal Publications. p. 88. ISBN 8170998670. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
- Rath, Saroj Kumar (2018). "Satyagraha and Social Justice in India". In Masaeli, Mahmoud; Prabhakar, Monica (eds.). India as a Model for Global Development. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 91. ISBN 9781527518568.
- Indian Princely Medals: A Record of the Orders, Decorations, and Medals by Tony McClenaghan, pg 179
- Dhananajaya Singh (1994). The House of Marwar. Lotus Collection, Roli Books. p. 13.
He was the head of the Rathore clan of Rajputs, a clan which besides Jodhpur had ruled over Bikaner, Kishengarh, Idar, Jhabhua, Sitamau, Sailana, Alirajpur and Ratlam, all States important enough to merit gun salutes in the British system of protocol. These nine Rathore States collectively brought to India territory not less than 60,000 square miles in area.
- Gopinath Sharma (1970). Rajasthan Studies. Agra, India: Lakshmi Narain Agarwal. p. 201. OCLC 137196.
- Jadunath Sarkar (1994). A History of Jaipur: C. 1503-1938. Orient Blackswan. ISBN 978-81-250-0333-5.
- Niyogi, Roma (1959). The History of the Gāhaḍavāla Dynasty. Oriental. OCLC 5386449.
- Richard Eaton (2019). India in the Persianate Age: 1000-1765. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 978-0-14-196655-7.
- Eugenia Vanina (2012). Medieval Indian Mindscapes: Space, Time, Society, Man. Primus Books. ISBN 978-93-80607-19-1.