Natural Born Killers

December 17, 2008


Pride is to Rajputs what Manolo Blahniks are to Imelda Marcos. Their most prized possession.

Rajputs are a ruling caste of royal warriors and landowners. Their ancestral home is Rajasthan, formerly known as Rajputana. But you also find large communities of Rajputs in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. However, the largest concentration of them in a big city is probably in Jaipur, where I am lucky to live. I have a lot of Rajput friends and I never tire of asking them about their history. Dumbfounded by their utter confidence in their natural superiority, I have read a bit about their history, which is, indeed, pretty martial.

The Rajput warriors superiority on the battle field is still boasted about today by their great-great-great-grandsons, whose idea of re-enacting it usually involves an air rifle and a pigeon. Their ancestors did leave a mark as natural born warriors, but any contemporary western-educated historian would, I think, question their s0-called war-genius. It is commonly admitted that an exceptional warrior stands out by his intelligence of the battlefield and the clever use he makes of his troops and the equipment at his disposal. I am no historian, but I guess if we follow this criterion, Gengis Khan was probably the greatest warrior of all times, with Alexander, Cesar and Napoleon not far behind.

Now, the Rajput way to fight a war was quite different : they would wear their lucky saffron-colored tunics (because everyone knows luck plays a big role on the battle field), drink a gallon of bhang or any other opium-laced beverage and, stoned out of their heads, would throw themselves, on their galloping Marwari horses, against the enemy lines. They must have been a pretty scary sight. And they did some serious damage. They were extraordinarily reckless, an they were feared because they had no fear. But extraordinary warriors?

However, that doesn’t stop the Rajput community to constantly refer to their illustrious war skills. I even heard a man fight with his American business partner and tell him to lay off because he was “a Rajput, and (he) fought wars”. No kidding.

I was researching the other day about Chittorgarh, the biggest fort in Asia, located in southern Rajasthan. All the articles I read say that Chittorgarh is an impregnable fortress, the emblem of Rajput’s superiority and bravery at war. It has, they say, been sacked three times, but never defeated. I was confused. How can a fortress be sacked if it hasn’t been defeated first? Well, apparently, “defeat” doesn’t exist in Rajput vocabulary. Whenever Chittorgarh lost, instead of surrendering, they’d commit jauhar. Jauhar means mass-suicide. It is often mistaken with sati, the traditional self-immolation of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre. But jauhar is very different, mainly because it involves many, many more people. In the sixteenth century, when the Sultan of Gujarat took Chittorgarh, no less than 13,000 women and 32,000 men committed suicide. Putting it back in the context, the dwellers of the fort, had they surrendered, would no doubt have been raped, tortured, murdered. Quite understandably, they’d rather die.

However, this is not the point. What I found extraordinary is the fact that nowhere have I managed to read that Chittorgarh had been defeated. 45,000 people died of their own hands, but don’t worry proud Rajput, you did not lose.

Strangely, questioning their history is off-limits. It is actually quite funny. If I said what I just wrote to pretty much any Rajput, I swear he’d actually smash my head against the nearest wall.

I guess it is because their past is all they have. They aren’t a community known for their entrepreneurial skills, or academic prowess. They hardly is any Rajput in the bureaucracy, and they aren’t intellectuals either. They usually live off their family palace, which they have converted in a hotel.

Rajput dinner parties are, like everything in Rajasthan, segregated. Men on one side, women on the other. Rajput women’s favorite topic of conversation is, of course, who was, is, or will be getting married to whom. Saris come second, Louis Vuitton handbags, third. So like me you’ll probably think forget it, I can’t bear this, let’s talk to the guys. They might be a tidy bit wasted, but at least they are entertaining.

Well if you do get bored, here are a few tested lines who will never fail to spice up the table talk:

Is it true that Rajputs have actually never won a war?

Probable answers: a string of abuses and what the hell do I know about war, have you French people not lost to, ahem, you know, what was this German fellow’s name?

I think Indian men should all see a shrink.

Experienced reactions: they all choke on their lal maas, threatening to turn the dinner into a jauhar, and, once they have recovered, explain me at length how shrinks, you know, are doctors for mentally unstable people, which, I say, is precisely what I meant.

Since all the Rajput rulers gave their daughters away to marry Mughal princes and kings, does this mean you guys have Muslim cousins?

One man dies of an instant heart attack, three vomit and the last one plants his fork into my heart.


5 Responses to “Natural Born Killers”

  1. Arun Gangwar Says:

    You are right.Rajputs rarely won the war. They were not the warriors. They are the descent of Huns who invaded india.

    I have a website on rajasthan but that’s a travel site. Are you studying indian history or you have interest in it. I am a maratha, a warrior.
    I think i could help you in your findings.

    Arun Gangwar

  2. Hannah Says:

    darling girl am loving your blog.. and I HATE blogs. so true about the natural superiority, or rather assumed natural superiority. However not sure conversations starting “so you know my grandfather killed the last mongoose in chittagarh” are any more enlightening than the Louis Vuitton ones.
    Totally with you on the AA gill ashram by the way. say the word and I’m there. bloody genius idea

  3. vikram singh Says:

    Hey sweetie pie… thing is quite evident from ur blog…your extreme hatred and prejudice 4 the rajput community.”madam” either u are extremely naive or very clever.Your prejudice could be for various reasons i suppose….The fact of the matter is that you seem to be spending a lot of time with owners of heritage hotels in jaipur and it is a known fact that majority of these guys are snobbish as their ancestors were all under the British Raj’s influence and that seems to have been passed onto some of them as well! .But for you to paint the entire community in a negative light based on your evening drinking sessions or the dinners you have had with these so called kings/Aristocrats (who represent less than 0.1 percent of the RAJPUT COMMUNITY) in their palaces or decorated mansions is not the right thing to do and highly mischevious and provocative. My dear the real rajput does not live in the cities but in small desert hamlets and villages in rajasthan where u probably have not travelled much and slogs it out under the sun for a living without compromising on his dignity and principles. Kindly take into consideration the following factors before badmouthing or brandishing the entire rajput community:
    1.The Indian armed forces have maximum no. of recruits from rajasthan and most of them are Rajputs and Jats.
    2.Rajputs are the most decorated soldiers in India having won the maximum no. of gallantary awards.(Victoria Cross,PARAM VIR CHAKRA,MAHAVIR CHAKRA,VEER CHAKRA,SHAURYA CHAKRA ETC.)
    4.Prithviraj chauhan was the last hindu emperor of INDIA who defeated Mohammad ghouri not less than 17 times and who when he finally lost and was captured and blinded still managed to kill Ghouri(Its a long story and u may read history books or search the net 4 the entire incident) .I can cite umpteen no. of examples where rajput chivalry and bravery was unmatched and second to none .
    5.The shekhawat rulers captured Afghanistan and employed the Muslim Pathans in their army and trained them to fight and even ride a horse!
    6.The maratha ruler of gwalior Mahaji Scindia was beaten in the battle of Tunga by the Jaipur forces which comprised primarily of Shekhawats and rathores from marwar.Well it is a proven fact that SHIVAJI WAS A SISODIYA RAJPUT whose ancestors had migrated from Mewar region to present day Maharashtra.
    7.The president of India ,current chief of the Armed forces,captain of the indian cricket team are all rajputs.Rajputs are dominating Indian politics as well.There are a fair no. of M.L.A’S, MP’S,cHIEF Ministers who are of rajput heritage.The max. no. of selections in Indian administrative services is from the rajput community.Indian sports over the decades whether it is cricket,shooting,basketball,hockey etc have had a large no. of rajput representation and dominated by rajputs. You will find rajputs doing well in every field and i can quote thousands of examples…be it medicine,business,engineering,sports,politics,defenceetc.
    So sweetie pie Don’t just spend time in some non discript palace listening to made up stories of big game hunting, or Laal maas preparation or clay pigeon Shooting but go out to the villages and see the real rajput in “action” .

    DO excuse me in case you find my language a bit harsh or offensive.CHEERS!
    By the way No prizes for guessing that I AM A TRUE BLUE RAJPUT

    Warm regards,

  4. Gaurav Says:

    I agree to a lot of things you have said about the present day Rajputs. However, it is only one side of the whole story with a bigger part left missing. Feel free to not to take my advice but in case you decide to take it, please make sure that in future when you write another blog, you have complete knowledge of the subject you are talking about.

    To know more about Rajputs, you can go through the lives of Maharana Pratap, Rana Sanga, Rani Padmini, Panna Dhay, Chhatrapati Shiva Ji, Hamir Dev, Prithvi Raj Chauhan & many more. Also, Jauhar & first war of Chittorgarh have been mentioned in a derogatory manner as you has twisted the facts at some places while skipped them (intentionally, may be?) at some other places, apparently to support your ideas.

    You do have the right to express your personal opinion, but trying to degrade someone else without even actually knowing about them is not appreciable.


    P.S: I am not a Rajput.

  5. vikram jaswal Says:

    Your blog certainly gets ones attention. many communities in india have their rich historical past which they are proud of today e.g) the marathas, the sikhs, etc. So as a rajput even we are proud of rich history that no one can take away from us.
    Rajputs have lived and died in valour. Victory and defeat are two sides of a coin, even hitler lost, so we cannot be specific only to rajputs on this.

    Your blog confuses many points, seems you have not had good experiences with rajputs but that does not give you the right to speak against the entire community.

    As far as the enterpreneurial skills and excellence in fields other than combat are concerned, there are numerous examples of rajput successes.

    As a rajput if we carry a never say die attitude, excellence is not far away , be it battlefield or be it any other sphere of life. It is just that our daring way towards life that does create some unease among contemporaries.

    Jai Rajputana

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