Ahir

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Ahir
ReligionsHinduism
LanguagesHindi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Ahirwati, Haryanvi, Marathi, Gujarati
Populated StatesIndia, Pakistan,[1][2][3] Nepal
SubdivisionsYaduvanshi, Nandvanshi, and Gwalvanshi Ahirs
 
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Ahir
ReligionsHinduism
LanguagesHindi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Ahirwati, Haryanvi, Marathi, Gujarati
Populated StatesIndia, Pakistan,[1][2][3] Nepal
SubdivisionsYaduvanshi, Nandvanshi, and Gwalvanshi Ahirs

Ahir is an Indian ethnic group, some members of which identify as being of the Yadav community because they consider the two terms to be synonymous.[4] The Ahirs are variously described as a caste, a clan, a community, a race and a tribe. The major groups in the Ahir social structure are the Yaduvanshi, Nandvanshi, and Gwalvanshi. These various divisions represent different myths of origin.

The main and traditional occupation of Ahirs is cow-herding. They are found throughout India but are particularly concentrated in the northern areas. They are known by numerous other names, including Gavli[5] (in the Deccan) and Ghosi or Gaddi[6] (if converted to Islam).

Etymology[edit]

Gaṅga Ram Garg considers the Ahir to be a tribe descended from the ancient Abhira community, whose precise location in India is the subject of various theories based mostly on interpretations of old texts such as the Mahabharata and the writings of Ptolemy. He believes the word Ahir to be the Prakrit form of the Sanskrit word, Abhira, and he notes that the present term in the Bengali and Marathi languages is Abhir.[4]

Garg distinguishes a Brahmin community who use the Abhira name and are found in the present-day states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. That usage, he says, is because that division of Brahmins were priests to the Abhira tribe.[4]

History[edit]

Asirgarh Fort, built by King Asa Ahir in Madhya Pradesh

Early history[edit]

Theories regarding the origins of the ancient Abhira — the putative ancestors of the Ahirs — are varied for the same reasons as are the theories regarding their location; that is, there is a reliance on interpretation of linguistic and factual analysis of old texts that are known to be unreliable and ambiguous.[7] S. D. S. Yadava describes how this situation impacts on theories of origin for the modern Ahir community because

Their origin is shrouded in mystery and is immersed in controversy, with many theories, most of which link the Ahirs to a people known to the ancients as the Abhiras.[8]

Some, such as A. P. Karmakar, consider the Abhira to be a Proto-Dravidian tribe who migrated to India and point to the Puranas as evidence. Others, such as Sunil Kumar Bhattacharya, dismiss this theory as anachronistic and say that the Abhira are recorded as being in India in the 1st-century CE work, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. Bhattacharya considers the Abhira of old to be a race rather than a tribe.[7] Whether they were a race or a tribe, nomadic in tendency or displaced or part of a conquering wave, with origins in Indo-Scythia or Central Asia, Aryan or Dravidian — there is no academic consensus, and much in the differences of opinion relate to fundamental aspects of historiography, such as controversies regarding dating the writing of the Mahabharata and acceptance or otherwise of the Aryan invasion theory.[8] Similarly, there is no certainty regarding the occupational status of the Abhira, with ancient texts sometimes referring to them as pastoral and cowherders but at other times as robber tribes.[9]

Ancient Sanskrit scholars such as Pāṇini, Chanakya and Patanjli mentioned Abhiras as followers of Bhagawat sect of Hindu religion.[10][11][12]

As a martial race[edit]

The British rulers of India classified the Ahirs amongst the "martial races",[13] and they were recruited into the army from 1898.[14] In that year, the British raised four Ahir companies, two of which were in the 95th Russell's Infantry.[15]

Subdivisions[edit]

In many listings, Ahirs are divided into Yaduvanshi, Nandvanshi, and Gwalvanshi branches.[16]

Distribution[edit]

North India[edit]

For centuries the Ahirs were eclipsed as a political power in Haryana until the time of the Pratihara dynasty. In time they became independent rulers of Southwest Haryana. They are majority in the region around Behror, Alwar, Rewari, Narnaul, Mahendragarh, Gurgaon[17] and Jhajjar[18][19] which is therefore known as Ahirwal or the abode of Ahirs.

Ahir dominated areas in National Capital Region(NCR) includes Gurgaon, Noida, Manesar, Behror,[20] Neemrana,[21][page needed] Bawal, Dharuhera, Pataudi, Bhiwadi, Badshahpur, Kosli, Alwar and Rewari. This belt is also called Ahirwal. Delhi has 40 villages.[22] neighbouring Gurgaon has 106 villages [23][page needed] and Noida has around 30 villages.[24][25]

Thousands of Yadav villagers from Gurgaon and Manesar are millionaires today after selling their agricultural land to private builders and HUDA.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Rajasthan and Gujarat[edit]

Kachchh (Kutch) District, State of Gujarat

There are five main castes of Ahirs in Kutch: Prantharia, Mochhaya, Boricha, and Sorathia and Vagadia. These communities are mainly of farmers who once sold milk and ghee but who now have diversified their businesses because of the irregularity of rain. The other community is of Bharwads those of Saurashtra use Ahir[26] as a surname,[27] Bharwad consider themselves as Nandvanshi Ahirs.[26][28] Their mother tongue is Gujrati.

Rajasthan has 26 districts of which seven have Ahir Sabhas. These are Tonk, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Boondi, Kota, Jhalawara Sikar and Alwar.[29]

The Ahirs are also found in Gujrat, where inscriptions and grants mention their princes. Traditionally, they appear in frequent connection with the Yadava – in the Krishan legend. Some historians[who?] say they may be Turanian.[30][full citation needed]

Bundelkhand[edit]

Ahirs from Ahirwada and Bundelkhand also known as Dau sahab (Dau saab). Dau sahab means the powerful and mighty of all. Up to 1800 AD, ruling class among Ahirs in Bundelkhand use Rao as their title name which was replaced by the title Maate. Maate means Mother Goddess or Supreme authority of that region. zamindar having control over multiple villages known as Maate. In Bundelkhand both Chandravanshi Rajputs/Thakurs (Ahirs, Chandela, Bundela) and suryavanshi Rajputs/Thakurs has equal status. Ahirs of Jhansi and Bundelkhand either came from Rewari or Gurgaon. A town 22 km from Jhansi known as Niwari which is named analogous to the name Rewari of Haryana, since Niwari is in jhansi zone it is also an Ahir dominant region.,[31]

Culture[edit]

Diet[edit]

The anthropologist K. S. Singh noted that the Rajasthan Ahir are non-vegetarian, though cooking their vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods on separate hearths. Though they eat mutton, chicken, and fish, they do not eat beef or pork. Their staple is wheat, they eat millet in the winters, and rice on festive occasions. They drink alcohol, smoke biri and cigarettes, and chew betel.[32] In Maharashtra, however, Singh states that the Ahir there are largely vegetarian, also eating wheat as a staple along with pulses and tubers, and eschewed liquor.[33] Noor Mohammad noted in Uttar Pradesh that most Ahirs there were vegetarian, with some exceptions who engaged in fishing and poultry raising.[34] In Gujarat, Rash Bihari Lal states that local Ahirs were largely vegetarian, ate Bajra and Jowar wheat with the occasional rice, and that few drank alcohol, some smoked bidi, and some of the older generation smoked hookahs.[35] S. D. S. Yadava writes that Ahirs in Madhya Pradesh and some other areas eat meat, while those of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are mostly vegetarian.[36]

Dialects[edit]

Ahirwati is an Indo-Aryan language, classified as a Rajasthani language,[37] and is spoken in the Mahendragarh and Rewari districts of Haryana. According to historian Robert Vane Russell Ahirwati is language of Yaduvanshi Ahirs and spoken in Rohtak and Gurgaon districts of Punjab (now Haryana) and Delhi. This is akin to Mewati, one of the forms of Rajasthani or the language of Rajputana.[38]

Politics[edit]

The Ahirs were one of the more militant Hindu groups, including in the modern era. For example, in 1930, about 200 Ahirs marched towards the shrine of Trilochan and performed puja in response to Islamic tanzeem processions.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Adris Banerji (1970). Archaeological history of south-eastern Rajasthan. Prithvi Prakashan. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  2. ^ J. Hussain (1997). A history of the peoples of Pakistan: towards independence. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-577819-9. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Census Organization (Pakistan); Abdul Latif (1975). Population census of Pakistan, 1972: district census report. Manager of Publications. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Garg, Gaṅga Ram, ed. (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu world 1. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 113–114. ISBN 978-81-7022-374-0. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Nijjar, B. S. (2008). Origins and History of Jats and Other Allied Nomadic Tribes of India: 900 B.C.-1947 A.D. Atlantic Publishers & Dist,. p. 188. ISBN 9788126909087. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Nijjar, B. S. (2008). Origins and History of Jats and Other Allied Nomadic Tribes of India: 900 B.C.-1947 A.D. Atlantic Publishers & Dist,. p. 189. ISBN 9788126909087. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Bhattacharya, Sunil Kumar (1996). Krishna — Cult In Indian Art. M.D. Publications. p. 126. ISBN 9788175330016. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Yadava, S. D. S. (2006). Followers of Krishna: Yadavas of India. Lancer Publishers. p. 1. ISBN 9788170622161. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Malik, Aditya (1990). "The Puskara Mahatmya: A Short Report". In Bakker, Hans. The History of Sacred Places in India As Reflected in Traditional Literature. Leiden: BRILL and the International Association of Sanskrit Studies. p. 200. ISBN 9789004093188. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  10. ^ Śrīrāma Goyala (1986). A Religious History of Ancient India, Upto C. 1200 A.D.: Smarta, epic-Pauranika and Tantrika Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Kusumanjali Prakashan. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Haripriya Rangarajan; K. Venkatachalam; A. K. V. S. Reddy (1 January 2001). Jainism: art, architecture, literature & philosophy. Sharada Pub. House. ISBN 978-81-85616-77-3. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 
  12. ^ University of Calcutta. Dept. of Ancient Indian History and Culture (1986). Journal of ancient Indian history. D.C. Sircar. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 
  13. ^ Rajit K. Mazumder (2003). The Indian army and the making of Punjab. Orient Blackswan. pp. 105–. ISBN 978-81-7824-059-6. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  14. ^ Pinch, William R. (1996). Peasants and monks in British India. University of California Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-520-20061-6. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  15. ^ M. S. A. Rao (1 May 1979). Social movements and social transformation: a study of two backward classes movements in India. Macmillan. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  16. ^ People of India: Rajasthan - Google Books
  17. ^ Guru Nanak Dev University. Sociology Dept (1 January 2003). Guru Nanak journal of sociology. Sociology Dept., Guru Nanak Dev University. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  18. ^ Dip Chand Verma (1975). Haryana. National Book Trust, India. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  19. ^ Suresh K Sharma (1 February 2006). Haryana: Past and Present. Mittal Publications. pp. 40–. ISBN 978-81-8324-046-8. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  20. ^ Bhoopal Chandra Mehta (1 January 1994). Fertility behaviour of tribals in Rajasthan. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. pp. 4–. ISBN 978-81-85880-41-9. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  21. ^ Sukhvir Singh Gahlot; Banshi Dhar (1989). Castes and tribes of Rajasthan. Jain Brothers. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  22. ^ M. S. A. Rao (1973). "Urbanization and Social Change: A Study of a Rural Community on a Metropolitan Fringe". Economic Development and Cultural Change 22 (1): 170–172. JSTOR 1152898. 
  23. ^ M. H. Qureshi; Ashok Mathur (1985). A geo-economic evaluation for micro level planning: a case study of Gurgaon District. Centre for the Study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Concept Pub. Co. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  24. ^ No moral compass for village between two worlds – Times Of India. Timesofindia.indiatimes.com (2009-01-08). Retrieved on 2011-03-28.
  25. ^ The People's Paper. Tehelka (2006-12-16). Retrieved on 2011-03-28.
  26. ^ a b Sudipta Mitra (2005). Gir Forest and the saga of the Asiatic lion. Indus Publishing. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-81-7387-183-2. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  27. ^ P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen pages 194 to 199
  28. ^ Rash Bihari Lal; Anthropological Survey of India (2003). Gujarat. Popular Prakashan. pp. 194–. ISBN 978-81-7991-104-4. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  29. ^ M. S. A. Rao (1 May 1979). Social movements and social transformation: a study of two backward classes movements in India. Macmillan. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  30. ^ Asian review By Oriental Institute (Woking, Surrey), East India Association (London, England), Royal India, Pakistan, and Ceylon Society, p. 133
  31. ^ K. S. Singh (30 January 1998). Rajasthan. Popular Prakashan. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-81-7154-766-1. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  32. ^ People of India: Rajasthan - Google Books
  33. ^ People of India: Maharashtra - Google Books
  34. ^ New Dimensions in Agricultural ... - Google Books
  35. ^ Gujarat - Google Books
  36. ^ Followers of Krishna: Yadavas of India - Google Books
  37. ^ District History at gurgaon.gov.in
  38. ^ Robert Vane Russell (1916). The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India: pt. II. Descriptive articles on the principal castes and tribes of the Central Provinces. Macmillan and Co., limited. pp. 19–. Retrieved 3 January 2011. 
  39. ^ Nandini Gooptu, The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early Twentieth-Century India, p. 307

External links[edit]