Sources of the History of Hindu Rohillas

Back to the Index

1. Sources of the History of Hindu Rohillas:


          For years, the history of the Hindu Rohillas, found in the eastern districts of the Punjab and westerns district of Uttar Pradesh, continued to remain shrouded in mystery and even the educated members of the community failed to explain why they called themselves Rohillas. This was rather disquieting to most, since the “Rohillas” were universally known to be Muslims on having migrated from Afganistan.


          Consequent on a general awakening in the country some educated and enterprising members of the Rohilla community set up a Sabha  in Delhi and started in ernest the task of regenerating their community and enquiring  into its origin and its past. Under its  auspices a short history of the community was produced, but the author of the work “Rohilla Tank Mimansa” reached conclusions which were not convincing and failed to explain the term “Rohilla” attached to the community. This praiseworthy work of the Delhi Sabha did not satisfy the more thoughtful of the community with the result that efforts to trace their true history continued unabated with a singleless of purpose and persistence. Fortunately, a scholar of Uttar Pradesh, Thakur Paul Singh Rathor, wrote a tract entitled “84 Gotras” of the Rohillas, which was based on his unpublished work “Rohilla Vansh Pradeep” where- in  he advanced the view that the Hindu Rohillas were originally inhabitants of Roh Desh or the modern Afghanistan. The view, though plausible, was not substantiated by facts and authorities. But the way was shown and it remained for others to prove the fact.


           Time passed on and more and more researches in history brought many obscure and unknown facts to light. Enthusiastic members of the Rohilla community did not rest satisfied with what had been done in connection with their history.  They accordingly began to contact the Bhats of the Rajputs in Rajputana and their efforts soon bore fruits. One Shri Bhim Raj of Jaipur undertook to compile the history of the community and ultimately rendered a very valuable service to the community and  historical   research by publishing a book entitled “Rohila Kshatriya Jati Nirnaya.”


            In writing this book the author took help from the bardic records in his possession as also those of other bards. He advanced the view that the Rohillas were Kshatriyas descended from Sabahu bearing the Gotra “Chind”. He also wrote that the ancestors of the Rohillas had conquered Kabul, Kandhar and other lands where they had settled down in ancient times. A fort Karkot had been erected by them and later on a Prince of their clan-Megh Vahan came over to Kashmir where he distinguished himself as an apostle of non-violence. Then came to the throne of that country an other Prince Durlabh Vardhan, who laid the foundation of the Karkota dynasty of Kashmir. He was said to be of the Nag Race, and Bhim Raj is of the view that some of the Rohillas Ksatriyas are also descended from his clan. Moreover, Bhim Raj also describes some of the Rohillas to be of the Takshak Race known in ancient times as Chind or Chindaks. He also traces  their descent from the Yadvas and Gehlots settled down in Afghanistan.


             There is another book “Kshatriya Vartman” by Thakur Ajit Singh Parihar of Balaghat, Madya Pradesh, in which ,we find a mention of a clan called ‘Rohil’. Two verses by an unknown Hindi Poet have been given therein. They are reproduced


             (i)  “The Yadavas, Chandels, Jhala, Tomars and Koch Rohil Banafar belong to the Chandra Vansh” Page 97.

             (ii)  “Yadavas, Chandels, Jhala, Tomar and koh Randhel Banafar are from the Chandra Vansh” – Page 263.


      The verses above clearly refer to the existence of Rohilla and Randhel clans in India. Moreover, in the same book on page 250 it is mentioned that the clan “Rudra Randhel or Rohil” had its ancient home in Bans Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh) and was a sub-branch of the Katehar Clan. In this connection it would not be out of place to state that Bhim Raj also refers to a General of Prithvi Raj Chohan of Delhi as Mahas Karan of Randhel Vansh, sprung from Bharat, the brother of Shri Rama. Bhim Raj also asserts that the Hindu Rohillas after leaving Afghanistan settled down in Bans Bereilly and this is in accord with the statement of Ajit Singh that the homeof  the Rohillas was Bans Bareilly.


       The exploits of Alla and Udal of Mahoba are sung all over the western districts of Uttar Pradesh and eastern ones of the Punjab. We have a number of poems by L. Matru Mal Attar of Meerut in which we come across a reference to the brave Rohillas found in the region beyond the Ganges. They had fought side by side with alla and Udal, the brave warriors in the service of Raja Parmal of Mahoba, who was a contemporary of the famous Prithvi Raj Chohan of Delhi and who had been looked upon as upstarts and Kshatriyas of an inferior origin and against whom he had carried on a relentless war of extermination.


        There is another book by Pandit Jai Chand Vidhya ALankar “Bharat Bhumi Aur Use Ke Nivasi” on page 230 of which we read: “Afghanistan was also called “Roh” in the middle ages. It called “Lohit” two hundered years before the birth of Lord Christ. The inscription in Sanskrit of 1445 of  the Vikram Era refers to the Rohilla Rajputs who must have come from Afghanistan”. Besides this, we also read on page 1098 of another book “Bhartiya Itihas Ki Rup Rekha’ By the same author: “Lohit in my  view is Roh, i.e. Afghanistan, because later on we read about Balkh and the route to that place could alone be throught Roh. The inscription of 1445 if the Vikram Era sings of the achievements and fame of Rohilla Rajputs”.


        The above extracts from the works of a famous historian need no comments. They establish beyond doubt the fact that long before the advent of the Rohilla Afghans, there lived in India also Rohilla Rajputs.


         There is another article written by the writer quoted above. It is “Mandlik Kavya”, which appeared in the ‘Nagri Pracharni Patrika’ – Part III, Vol. 3, pages 335 to 369. On page 352, Pandit Jai Chand discusses the relations of the Rajas of Gujarat (Kathiawar) with the Muslim Sultans. He weites: ‘The poem refers to Khangar who defeated the Muslims, and carried out the repairs of the famous temple of somnath. Who were these Muslims?            


          There is an inscription in Veraval Pattan near Charvar on a Shiva Temple of 1445 of the Vikram Era in Sanskrit”. It is taken from Bridges Anti-quarian remains in the Bombay Presidency-page 183, Second Edition, 1897, Pages 250-251. “This  inscription gives an illuminating account of the migration of the Rajputs. In the beginning a reference has been made to one Lunig barn in Maru-Asthali or Marwar, i e. “Dosa Rohini Rahiladu” desh, who came to Saurashtra in the capacity of General of an Army. One Raj Singh was born in his family and was married with a Baghela girl. In this connection an account had been given in the inscription about  these Bagheles. There was one hero Khem Raj belonging to Karak Puri of Maru-Asthal who came to saurashtra. His daughter was married to Raj Singh. The grandson of this Khem Raj, Rohilla Maldeva, his wife, daughter, sons, brother and maternal uncles daughter etc., combined to erect the Shiva Temple in 1445 of the Vikram Era on which the inscription was engraved.      

             About the Baghela hero, the inscription states that he fought side by side with Khangar, when the proud King Mohammad encircled Rewat Gir and Juna Garh. So if the grandson of the Baghela hero was the contemporary of Rao Mokal Singh, his contemporary could only be Khangar, the grand father of Mokhal singh, His contemporary could only be Khangar, the grand father of Mokhal Singh and not any other of his ancestors. The Muslim invader could be only Mohammed Tughlak who invaded Girnar in 1406 of the Vikram Era.

            In the history “Tarikh Feroz Shahil” by Zia Uddin Barani, there is a mention of the capture of the fort of Khankar and imprisonment of Khanger. Historian Farista expresses the doubt regarding the capture of Girnar, and that no Muslim took Girnar before the time of Mohammad Bigara. It is probable that Mohd. Tughlak surrounded the Jungarh Fort and not Girnar, but the inscription refers to the encirclement of both Junagarh and Rewatgir Forts”.

            From the above it will be seen that the Rohilla Rajputs existed in Indiaand had matrimonial alliances with other Rajput tribes, as Rohilla Maldev of the inscription was the son of Raj Singh, a descendant of Rohilla General Lunig of Marwar and Bagela girl.

In his history of Rajputana Volume-1 Dr. Gauri Shankar Ojha refers to some inscriptions which throw a flood of light upon the Rohillas and their home in Marwar. We shall refer to them later.

           There is another writer, Sardar Jhanda Singh, who wrote a book entitled “ A History of Tak Kshatriya” in which he tried to trace the history of Tak Kshatriya from the earliest times and bring out the fact that the Taks, one of the 36 clans of the Rajputs were an ancient people who played an important role in the history of India. He describes their advent into India in the time of Mahabharat. Later on, their King Raja Ambhi aided Alxendar the great against Porus. They were the people who ruled over the Punjab when H. Tsang visited India. Shri Nag also gives in his book inscriptions found in Central Provinces & Berar (now Madhya Pradesh), throwing light on the history of Nag Vanshi Rajas, which is another name of the Taks. In these inscriptions the clan of the Nag Rajas has been called Chind or Chindaks. Rai Bhim Raj, the author of the “Rohilla Kshatriya Jati Nirnaya”, has described Rohillas as descendants from Sabahu, a descendant of Shatrugan.

              Shri Nag in his book already referred to has tried to bring out the fact that the Rohillas are a branch of the Taks. But his assertion of his not been proved in a conclusive way. The view that the two communities-Rohillas and Tanks or Taks may have come from the side of the North west and may have been closely connected appears to be more Plausible.

             A study of the works by General Cunningham and Dey on the ancient historical Geography of India leads us to the conclusion that in the Middle Ages Afghanistan was also called ‘Roh’. This is also supported by a mention of  ‘Roh’ in the T. Tsang’s Travels by waters.

            Manju Shri Mul Kalp also refers to the existence of Nag Vansh.

           In the history of Aroras, a caste found in the Punjab, by Hakim Raj Rup Kasur, we read on pages 128 and 129 a reference to ‘Relas’ or ‘Rohilla’.

            On page 128,it is stated : “The descendants of Data Ram call themselves with pride ‘Ralan’ or ‘Relas’. It is now a subcaste of the Aroras”.

             On  Page 129, it is mentioned : “Rele or Rela appears to be a branch of Relan caste which appears to be an abbreviation of the word Rohila.”

             Thus, among the Aroras, a trading and progressive community of the Punjab, who before the partion of the country, were mostly to be found in the NorthWestern districts of the Punjab, we have the Relas, Relans and Relas. It is also fact that some of the Rohilla Kshtriyas also called themselves Relas. It follows, therefore, that the Rohillas must have their original home in the regions situated in the NorthWest of India.

              Historical words like “Tod’s Annals of Rajasthans”, “Hindu Medieval India” by C.V.Vaidya, “Ancient India” by Majumdhar, “Raj Tarangi”, etc. , have been throughly gone through to write the history of our community about which very little was hither to known.