Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Rajput Rule of India

The Rajput Rule of India

Chandramahal, Jaipur was built by Kachwaha Rajputs

Rajput kings are mainly remembered as warriors and as influential rulers. They also played an important role in the emergence of modern-day society in northern India. Rajput rulers were also prolific builders of beautiful palaces. Archaeological evidence and contemporary texts suggest that the Indian society had achieved significant prosperity during the Rajput rule. Most of the archaeological remains in several regions of the Indian subcontinent are from the Rajput period.

It was also a period of spread of literacy. Numerous inscriptions from this period have been found. A significant fraction of them are by people who were unaffiliated with the nobles, suggesting that education was spreading among the common people. The literature composed in this period is in Sanskrit and in Apabhramshas which constitutes a large segment of the classical Indian literature. The Paramara king Bhoj of Dhara was not only a patron of scholars, but was himself a distinguished and prolific scholar. His Samarangana-sutradhara deals with architecture and Raja-Martanda is a famous commentary on Yoga-sutra.

The intermarriage among the Rajput clans interlinked different regions of India, making it easier for the trade and scholarship to flow from one part of the country to another. Rajput kings were very secular in character and permitted all faiths to flourish in their domains. Rajputs practice Vedic, Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakti and occasionally Jain traditions; they supported Buddhists, Zoroastrians and Sufi traditions as well. The vast majority of Rajputs practice Hinduism. There are some Rajputs who follow the Sikh panth, and they often intermarry with Hindu Rajputs even today.

Cenotaphs of Kachwaha Rajputs of Alwar

Social hierarchy

Rajputs supported Brahmins as scholars and priests. However, Rajputs had their own family priests, known as the Purohits. Some scions of noble Rajput families would officiate themselves as priests in their Hindu temples. For example, the Sisodia kings of Mewar considered themselves as the regents of the Eklingji, a manifestation of Shiva, and serve as the high priest of the deity as well as ruler of the state.

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