Matsya

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Ancient Kshatriya|caste_name= Matsya or Mina ( मीना or मीणा) |classification=Kshatriya Varna in Hinduism |subdivisions=Bhil Meena, Meo, Rajput or pardeshi community in Maharashtra. |populated_countries=India, |languages=Hindi, Mewari, Marwari, Dhundari, Harauti, Panjabi Eastern, Wagdi, Malvi, Garhwali, Bhili etc. |religions= 99.76% Hinduism, 0.08% Christianity, 0.02% Islam}}

Matsya, Meena, Meenoāt, Meenoat or Mina, ( मीना , मीणा ) ([[Tamil மீனா}}) is an ancient tribal community mainly found in Rajasthan (the land of kings[1]), India. The name Mina is derived from Meen,meaning 'fish' in Sanskrit,[2][3][4] and the Minas claim descent from the Matsya Avatar, or fish incarnation, of Vishnu.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

Meenas celebrate Meenesh Jayanti in the name of Vishnu on 3 Tithi of Chaitra Shukal paksha according to the Hindu calendar. The main reference of this belief is based on the scripture of the Matsya Purana[9] and Matsya Purana is the oldest of all the Indian Puranas.[14][15][16][17]

Originally Meenas were a ruling tribe, and were ruler of Matsya,i.e., Rajasthan or Matsya Union[18] but their slow downfall began with the assimilation with Scythian and was completed when the British government declared them a "Criminal Tribe". This very action was taken to support their alliance with Rajput kingdom then in Rajasthan, and Meenas were still in war with Rajputs, carrying out guerrilla attacks to retain their lost kingdoms.

As per Britannica, "the Minas are possibly of inner Asiatic origin, and tradition suggests that they migrated to India in the 7th century with the Rajputs. According to evidences and scholars, Meena tribe is one of the oldest tribal community of India,residing since 30,000 years. Around 7000 BCE, the first known Neolithic settlements appeared on the subcontinent in Mehrgarh.These gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation,[25] the first urban culture in South Asia;[26] it flourished during 2500–1900 BCE in western India.[27] Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Dholavira, and Kalibangan, and relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civilisation engaged robustly in crafts production.

During the period 2000–500 BCE, in terms of culture, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age. In the Vedic period, around the 5th century BCE, the chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas, in which Matsya janpad of Meena tribe established their kingdom in Rajasthan.


Geography

Members of the Meena community are found in the northern part of Rajasthan. Meenas share the Brij and Matsya Area of Rajasthan i.e. Sawai Madhopur, Dausa, Jaipur, Dholpur and Karauli districts in Jaipur and Bharatpur region (also the Bharatpur and Bayana districts) with other communities. They inhabit the area from JaipurSikar in Shekhawati region and Alwar in the northeast region of the state. They are also widely spread in Kota, Jhalawar and Bundi. Meenas are also found in north-western Madhya Pradesh i.e. Sheopur, Morena, Gwalior, Shivpuri, Guna, Sajapur, Bhopal etc. The Meenas community of Rajasthan, are an agricultural people. The problem of famine and drought is deeply related with the economy of Rajasthan. In spite of long period of economic development a durable water policy was not formulated in the state. A very high dependency upon agriculture,which is mostly rainfed,is the cause of low incomes.

The Meena kings were the early rulers of Rajasthan including Amber (early capital of Jaipur). The book "Culture and Integration of India Tribes" by R.S.Mann mentions that Meenas are considered as a Kshatriya caste equally as Rajputs, and having higher social status in the society. They are well integrated with other higher castes like Brahmins, Gurjaras etc. Brahmins perform all rituals from birth, marriage and death for Meenas like for any other higher Hindu caste.

History

Vedic Period

Meenas, Scythians and pure Bharmans

Matsya Avatar (Meena Avatar).

In the ancient times Rajasthan was ruled by a dynasty of Meenas which had the emblem of Fish like the Pandyan kingdom (Paravar, Karava, Karaiyar) of the south.[2][19] The name Mina is derived from Meen[2][3][4] and the Minas claim descent from the Matsya Avatar(Meena Avatar[20])of God.[5][6][7][8][9] Matsya Avatar(Mina Avatar) takes place to save the pious and the first man, Manu.[21][22][23] The capital of Matsyas was at Viratanagara (modern Bairat) which is said to have been named after its founder king Virata. Manu married Shraddha and had ten children including Ila and Ikshvaku, the progenitors of the Lunar Dynasty and Solar Dynasty respectively.[24][25]

Map of early Iron Age Vedic India after Witzel (1989). Realms or tribes are labelled black, Foreign tribes mentioned in early Vedic texts purple, Vedic shakhas in green. Rivers are labelled blue. Position of Matsya Kingdom

The Meena kingdom[11] ruled the west of the river Jamuna roughly corresponding to the modern Jaipur and Alwar (ruler) areas. The Meena kingdom (Fish kingdom) was called Matsya Kingdom in Sanskrit was mentioned in the Rig Veda.[5][26][27][28] Rigveda is the oldest of all the Vedas and was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent,roughly between 1700–1100 BC.[29][30][31][32][33]

Matsya or Meena (Sanskrit for fish) was the name of a Kshatriya tribe and the state of the Vedic civilization of India.[13][19][27][28] It lay to south of the kingdom of Kurus and west of the Yamuna which separated it from the kingdom of Panchalas. It roughly corresponded to former state of Jaipur in Rajasthan, and included the whole of Alwar with portions of Bharatpur.[34] The capital of Matsya was at Viratanagar (modern Bairat) which is said to have been named after its founder king Virata.[11] Meenas are brothers and kinsmen of Virata, the ruler of Virat Nagar. They ruled this area(near to Virat Nagar) till 11th century.[5][35] A branch of Matsya is also found in later days in Visakhapatnam region.Further, Mahabharata describes Abhira(Yadav) as forming one of the republics, Samsaptak Gunas, and as a friend of Matsyas(Meenas),[13] the ancient Indian Rulers.[36]

The most famous Matsya kingdom was the one under the rule of king Virata, the ally of the Pandavas.[37] Pandavas, while staying in the palace of Virata, witnessed a festival named after lord Brahma. Shiva considered to be the central deity in the Matsya Purana, Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Kurma purana, Skanda Purana, and Agni Purana. While the Shiva Purana is strongly sectarian in its focus on Shiva, others are not so clearly sectarian and include material about other deities as well, particularly Vishnu.[38] Matsya Kingdom was within the reach of Vedic religion. The Kauravas with the Panchalas, the Salwas, the Matsyas(Meenas), the Naimishas, the Koshalas, the Kasapaundras, the Kalingas, the Magadhas, and the Chedis who are all highly blessed, know what the eternal religion is.(8,45)[39] The Rig Veda mentions Pure Kshatriya tribes of ancient India which includes Bhāratas, Meenas, Puru, Anu, Kuru, Yadu, Ayu, Chedi, Mahīna, Śiva, Uśīnara, Druhyus, Gandhara, Ikshvaku, etc.[40][41] The Vedas do not mention Kshatriyas of either Suryavanshi, Chandravanshi, Nagavanshi, Agnivanshi or such Vanshas or lineages. The Puranas, of debatable dating, constructed such genealogies. According to Shrimad Bhagvad,in olden times,Meenas were the rulers of entire Bhārata.[42] Since ancient times,Meena Kshatriyas were the Protectors of Kshatriya values and Sanatana Dharma.[43]

Meena king Virata was the principal ally of the Pandavas. The Pandavas camped at Upaplavya a Meena city north to the capital Virata-puri. All the allies of Pandavas brought their armies to this city, before the Kurukshetra War. Meena army became ready to fight under the Matsya heroes viz king Virata, his brothers Satanika, Madirakhsya and Visalaksha all of them kings ruling other Matsya domanins, the military-general Suryadatta, Virata's eldest son Sakha Meena and Sweta, his another son. The Pandavas except Arjuna also was in the army of Virata. These heroes opposed the Trigarta army. (4-31,32,33). Virata's youngest son Uttara and Arjuna defended the Kaurava army (4-54 to 65). Both the Trigarta army and the Kaurava army were defeated and they fled to their respective kingdoms.[44] Virata, with his brothers like Satanika and sons like Sankha, Sweta, Uttara and Vabhru (5,57) battled in the Kurukshetra War on the side of the Pandavas. Virata was slain by Drona (7,184). Satyadhriti of the Matsyas, Madiraswa and Suryadatta have all been slain by Drona (8,6) Upaplavya was a city in the Meena Kingdom ruled by king Virata. It was the city where the Pandavas camped and planned their strategy for the Kurukshetra War.[45] Kichaka Kingdom was a part of the Matsya kingdom ruled by the Meenas rulers. Kichaka Kingdom was allied to King Virata. The Kichaka king, known by the name Kichaka was the commander-in-chief of the Meena-army under king Virata.[46] He was a Suta(Matsya Kshatriya and Brahmin alliance) (4,15). A hundred kings of the Meena race were mentioned at (2,8)[47]

Meengarh(Meena kingdom) was situated somewhere on the bank of river Indus. Here, there were some 152 states of Meenas. This is contemporary to the period of Indus Valley Civilization (2600 to 1800 bc). The Jaga-ke-pothi mentions that from these 152 states, originated 152 original gotras of Meenas.Matsya Kingdom(proper) & Kalibangan in Rajasthan was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization.[48] In 500 BC, Silver punch-marked coins [49] were minted as currency belonging to a period of intensive trade activity and urban development by the Mahajanapadas.[50][51] Matsya Kshatriyas performed great sacrifices at which many gifts were given to Brahmins, and Brahmins studied the Vedas with their branches.[52] The Meena Kingdom was known as “Matsya” as each of these Janapadas was named after the Kshatriya tribe (or the Kshatriya Jana) who had settled therein.[53] Merchant community flourished during Mahajanpadas. After the end of the Vedic period, the Mahajanapadas period in turn gave way to the Maurya Empire (from ca. 320 BC), the golden age of classical Sanskrit literature. Around 300 BC, the Meena Kingdom comes under Mauryan empire. The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC.[54][55]

At the time of Ashoka, Meena people seen an era of social harmony, religious transformation, and expansion of knowledge. The head of the provincial administration was the Kumara (royal prince), who governed the provinces as king's representative. The kumara was assisted by Mahamatyas and council of ministers. This organizational structure was reflected at the imperial level with the Emperor and his Mantriparishad (Council of Ministers). Farmers were freed of tax and crop collection burdens from regional kings, paying instead to a nationally administered and strict-but-fair system of taxation as advised by the principles in the Arthashastra. Although regimental in revenue collection, Maurya also sponsored many public works and waterways to enhance productivity, while internal trade in India expanded greatly due to newfound political unity and internal peace. Some of the most famous edicts of Asoka have been found at Bairat ( Rajasthan ). The Ashoka Lion capital or the Sarnath lion capital is known as the national symbol of India.

The Classical Age refers to the period when much of the Indian subcontinent including the Meena Kingdom was reunited under the Gupta Empire (c. 320–550 CE).[56][57] This period has been called the Golden Age of India[58] and was marked by extensive achievements in science, technology, Indian inventions and engineering, art, dialectic, Indian literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy that crystallized the elements of what is generally known as Culture of India.[59] The decimal system, including the concept of zero, was invented in India during this period.[60] The Gupta period marked a watershed of Indian culture: the Guptas performed Vedic sacrifices to legitimize their rule, but they also patronized Buddhism, which continued to provide an alternative to Brahmanical orthodoxy.

In the later days the Bhils and Meenas mixed with the Pardeshis (foreign people) who were Scythian, Hepthalite or other Central Asian clans. The Scythian mixed Meenas and Bhils remain as Rajput subclans, while the Meenas and Bhils who were displaced by the Scythian invaders and Muslims have mixed with the tribal Bhils and form the Bhil (tribal) Meenas.

Meenas of Rajasthan till date strongly follows Vedic culture. Meenas mainly worship Mahesh, Bhainroon (Shiva), Krishna as well as the Devies.[61] Meenas have better rights for women in many respects compared to many other Hindu casts.[61] Like remarriage of a widows and divorcees is a common practice and well accepted in their society. Such practice are part of Vedic civilization.

From Vedic period to the present, Meenas (Meenavar) have seen many ups and downs. In ancient period they were a ruling tribe of Rajasthan. Coming to medieval period they were cut off from their own land, to the interiors of mountain and forests. The oral history preserved in the traditional folktales and folklores of this tribe affirm the kingdom of Meena (Meendesha) with its capital at Amber. Col. James Tod has written that, Meena was a great community which ruled over large part of Rajasthan. During the 10th century AD, Meenas were totally routed out from Amber and Jaipur and thus deprived of their privileges.[62][63]

According to the book, "History of India" (by Prof. Mukherjee, M.A.) It was a transition period marked by a new grouping of states due to Hun invasions. The series of invasions by the Huns and other associated foreign tribes in the fifth and sixth centuries shook the fabric of the society and brought a rearrangement of the caste system and of the ruling dynasties. The Scythians and other northwestern invaders in Indian literature were described as barbarians,slaves.[64] Brihat-Katha-Manjari of Kshmendra informs us that king Vikramaditya had unburdened the sacred earth of the Barbarians like the Sakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Tusharas, Parasikas, Hunas etc. by annihilating these sinners.[65]Patanjali in his Mahabhasya regards the Sakas and Yavanas as pure Shudras.[66][67] Sakas (or Scythians), migrated into Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, Gandhara, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 6th century AD. The invasion of India by Scythian tribes from Central Asia, often referred to as the Indo-Scythian invasion. The Valmiki Ramayana also attests that the Sakas, Kambojas, Pahlavas and Yavanas fought together against the Vedic Hindu king Vishwamitra of Kanauj.[68] Some Asian Saka include bala etc.[69][70] The destructive effects of the Hun inroads were, to a certain extent, arrested by Harsha (Harshwardhan) but as soon as his strong hand was removed, they manifested themselves in a regrouping of states. Hence the latter half of seventh century, during which this new grouping of states took place, is regarded as a period of transition from early to medieval India. The most prominent feature of this transitional period is the rise of the Rajput Clans. The Thakurs were of Scythian origin and historians derive their name from Tukharian.The Scythian or Saka tribes were the last pre-Islamic migrants into India.[71] Many scythians were absorbed into the Rajput stock,and that the Rajputs of today possess a considerable Greek ancestry.[72] The 'Scythic Origin of the Rajput Race' proves that all the modern-day Rajputs, Thakurs, Gujjars are not Vedic Aryans but instead the descendants of Scythic immigrants.[72] Thus all `Hindus' are not Vedic Aryans. Phylogenetic evidence clearly indicates that the Rajput races are of Indo-Scythic descent. Main Descendants of the Scythians in India are Getae,Gurjars,[73]Thakur(Tokharian) and Rajputs.[72][74][75][76][77][78] The term 'Rajput' does not occur in early Sanskrit literature nor do we hear of Rajput clans before the tenth century A.D. This proves that they were a later addition to the population of India. According to Prof. Naidu, Rajput is a contemptuous term applied by the Aryans to the Rajput invaders. Over several centuries, the Rajputs exterminated the native populations of Bhils and Meenas, till they confined to the mountainous regions of Rajasthan. During the troubled times that followed the breakup of the Gupta Empire, many foreign races such as the Huns, the Gurjaras[79] etc. settled in the Punjab and Rajputana and became Hinduised in course of time. The Pratihara clan was descended from the Gurjars, and this raises a strong presumption that the other Rajput clans also are the descendants from the Gurjaras or the allied foreign immigrants.[80] The upper ranks of these foreigners, whose main occupation was war, came to be known as Gurjaras, while the humbler folks ranked low in social status and developed into inferior castes such as Ahir. Brahmins were clever enough to see that number of princes should be within limits. Brahmins knew that if these people did not fight among themselves, they would be burden to Brahmins and a danger to their position in times to come.

The people were kept in ignorances, fed with unwholesome superstition and beguiled with gorgeous and never ending festivals." The Hindus[81] were losing their old assimilative power. They were losing their old vitality. The rigid caste system was making them unprogressive. The dominance of the Brahmanas, both in spiritual and secular matters was doing havoc." (Mahajan: 1972: 557). Therefore, the division of the same class of people into different social grades was based not on birth but on occupation. Of the Hinduised descendants of the original invaders, those who belonged to ruling classes, with war and government as their chief business, came to be treated as Kshatriyas. The common people, on the other hand, given the rank of lower castes. Thus many of the most distinguished Gurjaras[82] clans such as the Chauhans, the Pariharas, the Pawars (Paramaras), the Solankis (Chalukyas) are descended mainly from foreigners, called Scythians by Tod. While others are descended from indigenous tribes elevated to the rank of Kshatriyas.[83]

The nations around Meena kingdom in 810 AD were the Bhoja (Gurjaras), Kuru, Avanti and the Kingdom of Pala king Dharamapala of Bengal.[84] The imperial Gujjars established their rule over North India with their capital at Bhinmal. The Meena rulers of Dhundhar entered into matrimonial alliances, and ultimately established friendly relations with the Imperial Gurjars. The son of the king Prathviraja of Delhi was married to the daughter of the king Alan Singh Chanda [5]. This also reveals the link between Chandas and Chauhan Gurjaras. Other interesting fact, Chauhan claim to be descended from Dhundhar[85] and historically before Kachwahas it was ruled by dynasty of Chanda Meenas (approximately till 10th c.).

Most of the major Rajput kingdoms were founded on the ‘blood of Bhils, Native Rulers, Meenas etc. During the exterminations that lasted for several centuries, the Native bhils, minas etc. were massacred and their towns destroyed, till they eventually only survived in the extreme hills of Rajasthan.Though the word "Rajput" is supposed to be a corrupted form of the Sanskrit word 'Raajaputra' which means a "scion of the royal blood" and that the word occurs in the Harshcharita of Bana, Mahajan is honest enough to accept that the word, in earlier times and in some areas even now, had an disrespectful meaning. [Mahajan: 1972: 550 ff.] The conclusion is obvious that they were not considered by the original residents or original kshatriyas(Gurjar, Meenas, Vedic kshatriya,Yadavas)[81] to be respectable, to start with. This is because "Raaja" means royal but "Raj" means semen. The progeny of mixed marriages is even now called by that name in some parts. The condition of woman was deteriorating. The question of women education was unthinkable. Obscene Art flourished during Rajput age. The originality of the ancient times was lost and the ancient culture degenerated. The country fell into the hands of Rajput barons, soon to be followed by the Mohammedan invaders who completed the work of annihilation. The combined army of Kachwaha Rajputs and Mughals defeated the powerful Meena Kings of Rajasthan by annihilating them.[86] Rajput age was a Dark Age for masses of India.[81] The Rajputs were created by priestly class to suppress the religion of Buddha is well known. But the permanent solution could have only come through a class who will not only be subservient to them, but also would be careless about the welfare of masses and join hands with them in exploiting them. The Muslim Rule was also a Brahmanic rule as far as the masses were concerned. According to the scholar John Keay, not until the Mughal period, which began in 1526 AD, did the word "Rajput" come to be used of a particular class or tribe.[87]

Hindu law as codified through acts passed between 1955 and 1956 were based on inegalitarian Victorian English patters of marriage and inheritance and on the customary practices of some the dominant communities in North-West India, among whom women's right have been seriously coded. The practices of the Nairs in Kerala, Meitei in Mainipur, Meenas in Rajasthan and Jains, which provide better rights to women in many respects, were presumed to be non-existent or non-Indian. Thus the Hindu codified law is in many ways a step backward for some communities.[61][88]

The book by Alfred Comyn Lyall[89] covers the early formations of Meena cast, their adventures, outlaws, outcast, and refugees generally. The book highlights on the fact of Meenas groups having Bharman and Scythian ancestors. Where most of the Meenas preserve the name of the higher clan or Cast from which founder emigrated and joined Meenas. Some names denote only the founder's original habitation, while other circle bears the names of notorious ancestors.

The semantic change from a tribal state into the Hindu state of jati-varna matrix saw the conversion and absorption of tribals into the Brahmin class, through adoption of the priestly occupation later.[90][91] However, the Bharmans who joined Meenas are the one who have from time to time been persuaded or forced by some wild chief or captain of the pure clans to officiated in a human sacrifice; and that, having thereby quite forfeited their pure cast, they become degraded, and were driven forth to minister into the tribes beyond the pale. This story must not hastily be set aside as improbable, for the tradition of human sacrifice was common then. Further to this, Alfred Comyn Lyall added,

"These Meena Levites appears to be collection of all kinds of waifs and cutting from upper religious caste, they may possible rise in respectability as their clients get on in the world; and one might almost hazard the speculation, though it will be received with horror in certain quarters, that they are something like a Brahmanic tribe in faint embryo"

During the years of invasion, several fresh groups of Meenas have been formed, under the stress of the frightful famine which desolated Rajputana in 1868. During the last millennium, food insecurity were rampant in mina dominated areas of Rajputana. As a consequence starving families were compelled to abandon scruples of caste and honesty, to steal cattle and to eat them. The earlier contributions of warriors and protectors of the state, jats, Bhils,and Meenas were neglected and lost in history.[92]

Ancient history

Map of the Matsya janapada.

At the time of great Epic Mahabharat was written there was a Janpad known as "Matsya Janpad". The city of this Janpad was "Virat Nagar", now known as "Bairath" and renamed as Virata Nagar again. The Pandavas got shelter there for one year. In the epic Mahabharata, Uttarm, the prince of Meena Kingdom and the son of King Virata, at whose court the Pandavas spent a year in concealment during their exile. He was the brother of Uttarā, who married Arjuna's son.[93] There are still places known as "Pandupol" near Virat Nagar. Abhimanyu the son of Arjun and great warrior married to daughter of King of Virat Nagar the princess was named Uttarā. After Abhimanyu died in battle of Kurukshetra, and all Pandav sons were killed by Ashwathama they were left without progeny. Uttarā was pregnant then. After Pandavas went to Himalaya, the son delivered by Uttarā was "Parikhishit" who inherited Pandavas and ruled India.[93] He was killed by "Takshak" a Naga or Nagvanshi Khastriya. His son Janmejay did a Yagya to finish all Nagas at "Nagdah" known as "Nagada" now in MP. King Virat and all his sons and brothers were killed at Kurukshetra in Mahabharat. Some of clan brothers ruled this area after him. Many historical evidence is recovered from this area all belonging to time of Lord Buddha. Meenas are the brothers and kinsmen of Virata, the ruler of Virat Nagar. They ruled this area (near to Virat Nagar) till 11 th century. Among their last Kingdoms Dhundhar was the biggest and later on the region was governed by the Kachwaha dynasty from the 11th century until after India's independence in 1947.

Rao Hammir the great king of Ranthambhor was from Meenas. Rao Hammir was grandson of great king Prithviraj Chauhan. As found in history, the later ruler (Kachwaha Rajputs and Mughals) destroyed the glorious past of Meenas.

Main Kingdoms of Meenas (in the Rajasthan)
S.No Name of the Kingdom Clan and name of the Meena Rulers
1. Khoh-Gong Chanda Agnivanshi (a branch of Chauhan) see Dhundhar,[43][94] Rāja Alansingh Meena
2. Maach Sira, Rājah RaoNattō Singh Meena
3. Gatoor & Jhotwada Nandla (also called Bad-Goti)
4. Amer (old city of Jaipur State) Soosawut/Susawat, Rājah Bhanu Singh Meena
5. Nayala jhirwal
6. Naen\Nahn Gomladu, Raja Bada Singh Meena or Prince Bada of Nahn
7. Ranthambore Taatu(a branch of Chauhan), Rāja Jauharsingh Meena
8. Bundi Ushara (Parihar Meenas or Pratihar), Rāja Jaita Singh Meena
9. Mawar Meena
10. ---- Nandla / Badgoti
11 Devbandah Dagal, Rājah Katarao Meena
12 Tehla (near Sariska Tiger Reserve) Bheemroth
13 Siroh Jakhiwal
14 Manota Devadwal / Davidwal
15 Boojh Saugun / Saugan
16 Thanagazi (Alwar District) Mewaal, Rao Shivasingh Meena
17 Sarjoli Mandor
18 Godwad ( Sirohi State) Godmina
19 Nareth Byadwal Meenas Dynasty

Main Forts build by Meena Kings

  1. Fort of Amaghar
  2. Fort of Hatrohi
  3. Fort of Khog
  4. Fort of Jamvaramghar
  5. Fort of Jalore
  6. Fort of Bhanwargarh(Baran)
  7. Fort of Ranthambore

Main Lakes and bawaries (to hold water from Rain) build by Meena Kings

  1. Jait Sagar, Rajasthan[95]
  2. Panna mina ki bawarie, Amer
  3. Meen Bhagwan bawarie,near Sariska,Alwar
  4. Bhuli bawarie,village Sarjoli
  5. Khogong bawarie, Jaipur

Main temples build by Meena Kings

  1. Dant Mata Temple (Sehra Meena's dynasty Goddess)
  2. Shiva Temple at Nayi ka Nath (Banskho), Jaipur
  3. Banki Mata Temple at Raysar, Jaipur (Byadwal Meena's Dynasty Goddess)
  4. Meen Bhagwan Mandir,Bassi,Jaipur
  5. Shiva Temple, Khogonw
  6. Bai Temple at Badi Chopad Jaipur

'NOTE: Important Book for the reference on above information is "Meena Cast and History of Freedom" by Shri. Lakshmi Nayaran Jharwal'

Medieval history and Conflict with the Mughals

The Meena King[96][97][98] Raja Ralun Singh also known as Alan Singh Chanda of Khogong[62][99] kind-heartedly adopted a stranded Rajput mother and her child who sought refuge in his realm. Later, the Meena king sent the child, Dhola Rae, to Delhi to represent the Meena kingdom. The Rajput, in gratitude for these favours, returned with Rajput conspirers and massacred the weaponless Meenas on Diwali while performing rituals i.e. Pitra Trapan, it is customary in the Meenas to be weaponless at the time of PitraTrapan, "filling the reservoirs in which the Meenas bathed with their dead bodies" [Tod.II.281] and thus conquered Khogong. This act of Kachwaha Rajputs was termed as most coward and shameful in history of Rajasthan.

Amber, India Fort view from Jaigarh

Though historian[100][101] Tod was fond of Rajputs and their history,[102] but this betrayal of Kachwaha Rajputs was termed as one of the most shameful and coward act in history of India by him. T.H. Henley,states in his Rulers of India and the Chiefs of Rajputana (1897) that the Kachwaha clan is believed to have settled in an early era at Rohtas in present-day Bihar, later the clan migrated to Rajasthan. Dhola Rae then subjugated the Sihra Gotra of Meenas at much later on known as Jamwa Ramgarh near Jaipur, and transferred his capital thence. Becoming the son-in-law of the prince of Ajmer, he died when battling 11,000 Meenas,most of whom he slew [Tod.II.282]. His son Maidul Rae "made a conquest of Amber from the Soosawut Meenas" by conspiracy whose King Raja Bhanu Singh Meena, was the head of the Meena confederation. He subdued the Nandla Meenas, annexing the Gatoor-Gatti district [Tod.II.282]. Hoondeo succeeded to the throne and "continued the warfare against the Meenas" [Tod.II.282]. Koontal, his successor, fought the Meenas "in which the Meenas were defeated with great slaughter, which secured his rule throughout Dhundhar" [Tod.II.282]. The Meenas were the original builders of Amber, which town they consecrated to Amba, the Mother Goddess, whom they knew as "Gatta Rani" or "Queen of the Pass" [Tod.II.282]. Amer was known in the medieval period as Dhundar (meaning attributed to a sacrificial mount in the western frontiers).

Describing the destruction of the Meena town of Naed, Tod wrote: "When this latter prince (Baharmull Kachwaha, a contemporary of Babur and Humayun) destroyed the Meena sovereignty of Naend, he levelled its half hundred gates, and erected the town of Lohan (now the residence of a Rajawat chief) on its ruins" [Tod.II.283]. The name of Meena ruler of Naen\Nahn was Raja Bada Meena, he was so rich that his wealth was compared to Akbar's empire in a local saying as "Rajah Bada ko Bijano, Akabar Ko Gharbaar" that mean Rajah Bada's manual fan was so precious that it was compared with Akbar's palace. An old historical[103] proverb records the power of Meena King and Rulers of Nahn, “There were fifty two strongholds, and fifty six gates belonging to the manly Meena, the Raja of Nahn.”

The Kachwaha Rajput ruler Bharmal of Amber always eyed on Nahn and attacked on it several times but could not succeeded against mighty and brave[62][104] Bada Meena. Akbar had asked Rao Bada to marry his daughter Shashivadini to Akbar, but being a true Meena Kshatriya royal blood, Shashivadini Meena refused the proposal. Later on Bharmal married his daughter Jodhabai to Akbar(Jalāl ud-Dīn Muhammad Akbar). Bharmal was made a noble of high rank in the imperial court, and subsequently his son Bhagwant Das and grandson Man Singh also rose to high ranks in the nobility.[105]

Meenas under Jalāl ud-Dīn Muhammad Akbar (Mughals).

Then the combined army of Akbar and Bharmal attacked Bada Meena and killed him damaging 52 kots and 56 gates. Bada's treasure was shared between Akbar and Bharmal. Bharmal kept his treasure in Jaigarh fort near Amber. With the aid of Kachwaha Rajputs, Mughals defeated the powerful Meena Kings of Rajasthan by annihilating them.[106] In the city of Lohan, thousands of elite Meena warriors were massacred by the combined armies of Mughals and Kachwaha Rajputs. Though numerous battles were fought earlier between the Meenas and the Kachwahas, it was the siege of Nahn that was the final, decisive battle that led to the complete downfall of the Meena civilisation and marked the beginning of the Mughal Empire in Rajasthan. According to Jagas, almost all of the natives were killed or wounded. Thus, the Meena dynasty came to end when thousands of warriors and civilians were killed in when a Imperial force led by the Mughals and Kachwahas defeated the Bada’s army. Akbar distributed the total loot that fell into the hands of his forces throughout the Mughal Empire.[107] Bharmal was first among the Rajputs to marry his daughter with a Mughal. Jodhabai was also the sister of Bhagwandas and the aunt of Man Singh I of Amber, who later became one the nine jewels (Navaratnas) in the court of Akbar.[108] Kyaranagar in Thanaghazi was another important city of Meenas, whose Ruler was Rao Mokalsingh Meena at the time of Akbar’s reign. The armies of Mughals and Kachwaha Rajputs plundered Kyaranagar and in its place founded Mohamadabad.[109] Being true patriot of country Meenas choose to die rather than to give up to mughal invaders. The Kachwaha Rajputs provided the Mughals some of their most distinguished generals. Bhagawant Das was a general of Mughal emperor Akbar, who awarded him a mansab (rank) of 5000 in 1585.[110] and conferred him the title of Amir-ul-Umra.[111] The Kachwaha Rajputs became the strongest allies of the Mughals, and the Rajput soldiers and generals fought for the Mughal army under Akbar, leading it in several campaigns including the conquest of Gujarat in 1572 [112] Raja Bhagwant Das (1575–1589) brought with him the secret of artillery production from Lahore (where he and his son Man Singh remained for many years as governor) to Amber in 1584, soon cannons began to be made at the foundry in Jaigarh Fort (including the world's largest cannon on wheels, the Jaivana[113]), much to the infuriation of the Mughals who kept the secret to themselves ever since they used it in the epic battles, against the Lodhis and the Rajputs. In 1589, Bhagwant Das was succeeded by Raja Man Singh I (1589–1614) (Akbar's Commander-in-Chief), who did much to further the establishment of Mughal rule over present Afghanistan, Kabul,and Rajputana in the west to Orissa and Cooch Behar in the east. From Kashmir in the north to southernmost parts of the Deccan, and also served them in other capacities, notably as governor of Kabul and Bengal. Man Singh’s monumental fortress in Kabul, was used as headquarters by subsequent Mughal governors. As governor of Bengal, Raja Man Singh made Rohtas, his ancestral domain in Bihar, his headquarters;[114] he rebuilt the fort and also built a new palace there. Jai Singh I (1622–1667), commonly known by the title 'Mirza Raja' conferred to him by (his cousin) Shah Jehan, was one of the most prominent Mughal generals during the reigns of Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb. An accomplished statesman, scholar and diplomat and a premier noble of the empire, he forced Shivaji to sign Treaty of Purandar (1665). As an emperor, Akbar solidified his rule by pursuing diplomacy with the powerful Rajput caste, and by marrying Rajput princesses.[115][116] The Meenas were treated by the Mughal invaders with the most merciless cruelty. Mewar Sisodia ruler Mahrana Pratap renounced all matrimonial alliances with Rajput rulers who had married into the Mughal dynasty, refusing such alliances even with the princes of Marwar and Amer until they agreed to sever ties with the Mughals.[117]

In the early medieval era, Rajasthan was ruled by a dynasty of Meenas which had the emblem of Eagle. Jaigarh Fort situated on the hill premonitory called the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) of the Aravalli hill ranges when it was ruled by Meenas, it overlooks the Amber Fort and the Moata Lake, near Amber in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.[118][119] The old and original fort of Amer dating from earlier Rajas or the Meena reign is what is known in the present day as Jaigarh fort, which is actually the main defensive structure, rather than the palace itself, although the two structures are interconnected by series of encompassing fortification. The hill that Jaigarh was built was called Chil Tila, when it was ruled by Meenas. Many of the ancient structures of the medieval period of the Meena Maharajas have been either destroyed or replaced. However, the Amer Fort and the palace complex within it are well preserved by the later rulers. In the ancient map of Nahari ka Naka (Jaipur), the inscriptions mentions that the white rocks at this region shows the traditions of the Meenas, in which the tigers came here to pay respect to the Meenas.[120] Later on the state is said to have been founded about eleventh century or 1097 by Dūlaha Rāya, who hailed from Gwalior; he and his Kachwaha kinsmen are said to have absorbed or driven out the local Meenas and Badgujar Rajput chiefs. In which the Meenas were to become a key ally of the Kachwahas.

According to the records of Jagas, in Bundi some eleven thousand Meenas were killed by foul play to acquire the throne of Bundi by the Rajputs. In Similar[121] manner some thirty-two sovereign states of Meenas were destroyed one by one by the Kachwaha Rajputs and others to subjugate them. There used to be lots of Meena People, but most of them were killed.[note 1] Losing their power, Meenas resolved to guerilla attacks to take revenge from the Rajputs. Then to settle peace with the Meenas, the Rajput rulers called for a common joint meeting in Ajmer. In the meeting it was mutually decided that Meenas will hold treasury of the state while their ruler will be amongst the Rajputs. With the advent of the Kachwaha Rajputs[43] and Mughals[122] into their territory, the Meenas were gradually sidelined and pushed deep into the forests. As a result, historical literature has completely bypassed the Meenas.

See also

Notes

  1. Meenas are the largest community group of north India after Jats and it is the largest tribe in Rajasthan.

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Extra References

  1. Brown, Mark. 'Crime, Liberalism and Empire : Governing the Mina Tribe of Northern India'. Social & Legal Studies, 13:2 (2004), 191-218. Publisher: Sage Publications. ISSN 09646639.
  2. Demography and health profile of the tribals: a study of M.P.|author=Dipak Kumar Adak|publisher=Anmol Publications PVT.

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