Why Bollywood’s Prithviraj is a myth: A Chauhan’s clarification on distortion of history

The article was first published here

The 12th century medieval Emperor Prithviraj Chauhan has been a favourite subject of myth-making and political trends for many centuries mainly due to the early draft of ‘Prithviraj Raso’ under the then Tomar Rajput dynasty of Gwalior. What has made matters worse is Bollywood’s Akshay Kumar starrer “Prithviraj” which has led to fancied claims by many communities, including the Gujjar caste organisations, about the ancestry of the Rajput king. As a history enthusiast and a Chauhan clansman, I felt it was my duty to clear any doubts and all the myths surrounding Prithviraj Chauhan.

Firstly, the ‘Prithviraj Raso’, which has been widely cited in relation to the Chauhan king since the early 19th century, is not an authentic source of history. Secondly, the mother of Prithviraj Chauhan was Karpuridevi, a Kalchuri Rajput from Chedi in Madhya Pradesh and not a Tomar Rajput princess from Delhi. This also busts another myth – that Delhi’s Anangpal Tomar II, who lived a century before him, was his grandfather as is widely claimed. There was no relation between the two. Chand Bardai, a Brahmin bard of the Gwalior Tomar dynasty had fallaciously implied this.

Thirdly, the most popular myth surrounding Prithviraj Chauhan is about his undying love for a maiden named ‘Sanyogita’. This is nothing but a fictional account and has nothing to do with the truth. Fourthly, Jaichand Gaharwar was ruler of Eastern Gangetic plains and his capital was Kashi, not Kannauj. All authentic historical records mention Jaichand as ‘Rai of Benaras’’ and not Kannauj Naresh. Fifthly, no historical literature states that Jaichand betrayed Prithviraj Chauhan or the fact that they were blood relatives. Most historians and writers well versed with Chauhan history, from Dasrath Sharma to Virendra Singh Rathore, state that even early Raso manuscripts never hinted at Jaichand’s alleged treachery. In fact, this allegation was first levied against the Gaharwar ruler as late as the ‘Ain-i-Akbari’, which was further normalised by the Brahmins due to Jaichand’s patronage of Buddhism. Sixthly, Prithviraj Chauhan fought Muhammad Ghori at most four times – which included two full-fledged battles while the other two were skirmishes.

Lastly, Akshay Kumar-starrer “Prithviraj’,’ which is based on Raso, does not reflect the Chauhan version of their own history. Bollywood reflects the political perception and prejudices of those castes, which dominate the film industry. Therefore, the film “Prithviraj” reflects the perception and aims of its Brahmin and Khatri makers. This is best exemplified by the title song “Hari Har ” written by Varun Grover, that compares the Rajput ruler to Ravana of Lanka, the asur king lionised by Brahmin caste organizations. Therefore, my humble request is that people should watch the film only for entertainment purposes. The Chauhan history, Prithviraj Chauhan’s life, or even the Rajput community’s views, none are reflected in this film in any way.

The parent Sambhar-Ajmer branch of Chauhan Rajputs is survived by the Chauhan Rajputs of Mainpuri, Etawah and parts of Haryana. Some other Chauhan branches of Sambhar-Ajmer are: Neemrana Chauhans of Alwar, Hada Chauhans of Kotah-Bundi and Khichi Chauhans. The Bachhgoti Chauhans of Awadh migrated from Mainpuri in the 14th century. Of these, the Neemrana chiefs and Mainpuri chiefs have the distinction of being heads of the Chauhan clan.

Thus, while the Chauhan name has been adopted by almost all castes, the original Chauhan clan is exclusively Rajput.

I am a Deora Chauhan hailing from the Sirohi district of Rajasthan that is famous for hill station Mount Abu. We are a cadet branch of Jalore Chauhans, who are identified as Sonagara Chauhans. They are predominantly found in Sanchore tehsil of Jalore. Both Sirohi and Jalore are neighboring districts. Our common ancestor Rao Lakha (Lakshman) Chauhan broke away from the Sakambhari Chauhan dynasty in 930 CE. He established a trading town called Nadol in South Marwar. Today Nadol is a small village in Pali district but houses the kuldevi of our clan. Apart from us, there have been almost 44 subclans of Chauhan Rajputs in this country, from Jalore to Katihar, as reflected even in the district gazetteers of the British era.

The only sub-clan with which the word ‘Gurjara’ is associated is the Nadol Jalore branch i.e. my sub-clan. In the 10th canto of verse 50 of Prithviraj Vijaya, the fort of Nadol Chauhans has been called the Gurjar fort. This does not imply that I am a Gujjar or my ancestors were Gujjars. The classical usage of ‘Gurjara’ as a regional identity predates its usage by the recent Gujjar caste. Some common evidences are: Gurjar Gaur Brahmins, Gurjar Jains, Gurjar Suthars, Gurjar Patidars and the Gurjar Sabha of 1915 that was presided over by Jinnah to welcome Gandhi.

Therefore, the Chauhan clan has no connection with Gujjars. In fact, British era Gazetteers of Karnal and Muzaffarnagar unambiguously highlight sanskritization of Mavi, Kalsan and Bagdawat gujjars, their appropriation of Chauhan name and the rationale given by them for the same.

Just as Chauhans, other clans – Tomars, Parmars, Pratihāra, Banaphar, Solanki or Chandel, Bhatis are exclusively Rajputs. Sanskritisation of different castes doesn’t make them Rajputs or members of those clans.

Lack of talent and ideas has forced Bollywood to make films around historical figures. This may be an easy option for Bollywood but it has grave repercussions. Due to lack of proper knowledge, some caste lobbies are out to foment social unrest. One must admire their clout and access to mainstream media, where they are repeatedly putting a question mark over the Rajput identity of Prithviraj Chauhan. In recent times, Left-leaning historians keen on social engineering, have also contributed to it. As pointed out by Kumar Chedi Singh in “Kshatriyas and would be Kshatriyas” in 1904, this is an organised crime and willful stoking of a civil war.

As Indians, we must strive for scientific progress and equality. However grabbing someone else’s identity and lived history through money and muscle is a mockery of democracy and our thriving civilization.

Written by A S Deora

क्षत्रिय सामाजिक, राजनीतिक और धार्मिक चेतना मंच।

Jai Ramdev ji | Jai Tejaji |JaiGogaji |Jai Jambho ji| Jai Dulla Bhati | Jai Banda Bahadur |

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