Yadav (Sanskrit: यादव) is a Indian caste which is referred to in ancient Dharmic scriptures. They are among the few surviving ancient Aryan kshatriya clans known as panchjanya. Yadavas are the descendants of Royal born vedic kshatriya clan of Yadu (eldest son of Emperor Yayati).
Major Yadav clans
Major Yadav clans currently include:
Krishnauth (claiming direct lineage from Lord Shri Krishna)
Gaur (also called Goriya, and mentioned in the Mahabharatha)
Ahirs (variously called Ahira and Abhira) are divided into three clans called Khanap:
Nandavanshi (Descendants of Nanda}
Gwalvanshi (Descendants of Holy Gwals)
Behera,Pradhans in OrissaAccording to Dharmic mythology, Yadvas are the descendants of Yadu, the eldest son of king Yayatiwho was banished from ruling by his father because he refused to fulfill Yayati's wishes and became a rebel. Yadu and his descendants started ruling in places that are assumed to be referred to in the scriptures as Jambudvipa. Later on, the Yadus overthrew manyPuru rulers. Presently, they are known by many names. For example, 'Gope' means mystique stemming from Shiva (also called Gopeshwar or lord of mysticism) and emulated in Bhagavad Gita. Yaduvanshis are descendants of the ancient Yadavs. Scriptures referred to them as surasena too.
Abhira are assumed to be different from ancient Yadavas. Linkage is obscure and views vary from scholar to scholar. Term was used for cowherds initially but has been extended to include Yaduvanshi and Nandavanshis too by its corrupt version Ahir. Abhira means fearless and have got most ancient historical references dating back to theAbhira kingdom of the Saraswati Valley who spoke Abhiri till buddhist period.
The Ahirs have provided food for thought to anthropologist and historians for quite some time. Unlike the kumaonis, there is not regional link; they are to be found to be almost in all parts of the country. Besides their homeland, Haryana, One can meet the Ahirs in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Bihars, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujrat, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, And Kartnataka. There are many theories regarding their origin. Most of them linked the Ahirs being Prakrit from the Sanskrit word “Abhira”, meaning “Fearless”. The Greek writers Peripleus and Ptolemy have mentioned Abhira(considered by some scholars to be settlement of the Abhiras) as part of Indo-Scythia, which includes partially the whole region along the lower course of the Indus. By middle of the 2nd century before Christ, the Abhira country was overrun by Bactrian Greeks from the north. Thus driven, the Abhiras moves south and established many centers of influence. Some authorities are of the view of the Abhiras were dynamic race of nomadic cowherds from central of eastern Asia. Who swarmed in to India trought the Punjab the same time as the Sakas, the Parthians and Kushans in the 2nd or the 1st century before Christ. There are others who believe that the Ahirs are of gravidian origin and where well estblished in the conutry before the Aryans invasion.
While the origin of Abhiras or Ahirs is thus immersed in controversy, there is no doubt that there assimilatation with the Yadavas was complete by the 12th century. How this came about is not cleared but Ahirs from Haryana call themselves Yadavas or Yaduvanshis, tracing their line age to lord Krishna. It is likely that the name ‘Haryana’ is itself derived from the word Ahir. The Yadavas dominated the plains between the Satlej and Jamuna when the Epic battle of Mahabharata was fought at Kurukshetra, North West of Karnal. There hold over the region must have lasted many centuries after that battle till most of them pushed out of their homelands by waves of invaders from the north –west during the early years of Christian era.
This was, however, only a temporary set-back. In course of time we find the Yadavas coming in to their own, under different names, in the lands they move in to. The Yadava clans that setup their own kingdoms in Southern India include such famous names as the Mauryas, Shalivahanas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, the Yadav of Devagiri, Hoysalas and Halebidis of Karnataka. Then there were Palas of Bengal, the Chedi Yadavas Chhattisgarh and Bhattis of Jaisalmer. However the end of 14th century saw a general decline of Yadava power throughout India.
Settle in various part of India, the people of Abhira-Yadava origin have naturally adopted the language of rigion. All the same, link with their past can be discerned in many cases. Ahirwati, dialect spoken in Gurgaon, Mahendragarh and Rohtak districts of Haryana, is akin to Mewati, spoken in parts of Rajasthan.Malwi, the dialect.
Spoken in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh is also known as Ahiri. The dialect of the people of Khandesh (in Maharashtra) is called Ahirani. The Ahirs of Gujrat also retain a distinctive tongue of their own.
The Mahabharata is full of references to the Yadav’s prowess in war. That this prowess was theirs till long afterwards is borne out by the fact that they were able to carve out vast kingdoms for themselves and found powerful dynasties. The Alah-Udal ballads sing of Ahir bravery in the medieval age, and it is noteworthy that Shivaji’s mother was of Yadav descent. During the Mutiny (1857-58) Rao Tula Ram, an Ahir have enlisted in the Indian Army in large numbers since the earliest times.
Characteristics, Customs & Socio-Economic Conditions
Though the Ahirs are to be met in almost all parts of India, their recruitment in the Kumaon Regiment is mainly from the Gurgaon and Mahendragarh districts of Haryana, Alwar in Rajasthan and the plains of Uttar Pradesh. Sturdy, industrious and simple of nature, the Ahir from these areas makes a good soldier. Often he does not make an immediate impression, but his sterling qualities soon make their impact. The typical Ahir is long of limb, wiry, with dark eyes, black hair and a complexion that varies from whitish to dark-brown. The Ahirs from eastern U.P. and Bihar are somewhat darker than those from the western region and not as tall.
The Ahirs are mostly agriculturist and live in the village. They have strong family ties and live frugal lives. The joint family system is common among them. Though the Ahirs in Madhya Pradesh and certain other parts of the country eat meat, those from Haryana and U.P. are mostly vegetarian.
Sub-castes among the Ahirs number than a thousand, but there are three main divisios into which they fall: the yaduvanshis, the nandvanshis and the gwalvansgis. While the Yaduvanshis claim descent from the Yadav dynasty into which Lord Krishna was born, and the Nandvanshi to the clan to which His foster-father, Nandji, belonged, the Gwalvanshis are considered to be descendants of His childhood playmates—the gwalas or cowherds of Gokul and Vrindavan.
In marriage the Ahirs of Haryana, Rajasthan and western U.P. are strictly exogamous i.e. they do not marry into closely related gotras or septs. The gotra is, however, unknown among them in eastern U.P. but an Ahir will not marry into a family to which a sister has been given in marriage until three generations have elapsed. Marriage is usually early. The parents arrange it and the dowary system is in youge. As with most other Hindu communities, the gauna ceremony is performed with a suitable interval after the wedding.
Widow remarriage has been traditionally permitted. For economic reason and to keep family ties, levirate(marriage of the widow to the younger brother or cousin of the deceased) is encouraged such marriage do not entail elaborate ceremonial. All that happens is that the groom adorns the widow with bangles in the presence of elders. Ahir women are hardy. Besides their household chores, they work alongside their men in the fields. They, however, still observe purdah.
The social position of Ahir vis-à-vis other communities differ from district to district, depending essentially on their economic standing. In most districts they are grouped in the same class as jats, Gujars and Rors. The four castes inter-dine smoke together but do not intermarry.
The Krishna-cult is naturally strong among them, through the reformative efforts of the Arya Samaj have eroded its infulence to some ectent. They observe all Hindu festivals of Northern India, such as Holi, Janmashtmi, Dussehra and Diwali. Tijon ka Tiyohar, a monsoon festival, is great favorite of theirs; it is celebrated with much singing and festivity. In the U.P. the Ahirs also worship an ancestor, Birnath. He is said to have been killed by a tiger; his spirit is believed to protect their cattle while grazing in the jungle. The peacock is sacred to most Ahirs and they do not allow it to be shot in their villages.
Like all peasant communities, their music is simple, with a minimum of instruments. Raginis form the mainstay of Ahir villagers’ repertoire. Among their popular folk songs is the Lorik legend with is many versions.
The term Rajput originated in medieval India after Harsha’s death. There is no mention of this class in earlier writings. There was great confusion in India after Harsha died. It was during the period that hordes of foreign invaders were absorbed into Hindu society and a new grouping of states gradually emerged. Nearly all of them were ruled over by Rajput families or clans.
The epithet Rajput became synonymous with Kashtriya, sometimes replaced by the vernacular Chhattri, or by the Thakur. It came to denote ‘a tribe, clan, sept or caste of warlike habits, the members of which claimed aristocratic rank, and were treated by the Brahminsas representing the Kashtriyas of the old books’. Thus it is that large sections of the people in northern, central, and western India call themselves Rajputs. Garhwal too has them, so have the regions of Jammu and Himachal. Here we are, however, concerned mainly with the Rajputs of Utter Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan, from amongstwhome the Kumaon Regiment draws its recruit of his class.
There are thirty- six ‘royal’ clans of the Rajputs. Various theories exist about their origin. Many of them are no doubt descended from the foreign conquerors who supplanted the Greeks in North-West India, but many others are of indigenous origin. Colonel J.Tod, an authority on the history of Rajasthan, considers them to be of Scythic origin, According to Vincent A. Smith, the upper ranks of the invading hordes of Hunas(Huns). Gurjaras, Maitrakas, and rest became Rajput clans while the lower developed in to Hindu caste of less honorable social statussuch as Gurjars, Ahirs, Jats, and others. That would place the origin of some of the Rajputs clans in the fifth and sixth century after Christ.
We must also mention the three mythological or legendary divisions of the Rajputs; all Rajputs claim to belong to one of them. There are: the Suryavanshis i.e. those who are descended from the; the Chandravanshis i.e. those who are descended from the moon; the Agnikulas i.e. the fire-born. The Sesodhias, the Kachwahas and Rathores belong the Solar line. The Jadus, the Bhattis and the Tonwars belong to the lunar line. The Ponwars, the Chauhans, the Parihars and Solankis are Agnikul Rajputs.
Of the Rajputs enlisted in the Kumaon Regiment, the majority are from U.P. and that too from its western half, comprising the districts of Etawah, Kanpur, Unnao, Rai Bareilly, Etah, Mainpuri, Jalaun, Bandaun, Aligarh and Farukhabad, In Madhya Pradesh, the Rajputs are concentrated in Bhind, Morena, Gwalior and Rewa districts; and all these districts are represented in the Regiment. Haryanvi Rajputs mostly belong to the Gurgaon, Rohtak and Mahendragarh districts. While the Rajasthani Rajputs hail from the districts of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Udaipur, Bikaner, Ajmer and Jhunjunu.
Analysis of Yadav Vansh
Analysis of scriptural references of Abhira Kingdoms has tempted some scholars to conclude that it was merely a term used for Holy Yadava Kingdoms.
It is also suggested that Semetic biblical city or people called ophir is equivalent of Bharatya Abhira. On this basis, some scholars seek yadav and Jews connection. According to Stephen Knapp, theGreeks referred to the Jews as Judeos, or Jah deos or Yadavas, meaning people of Ya or descendants of Yadu, one of the sons of Yayati.
It is also regarded that the basis of the Kabbalah, the book of Jewish mystical concepts, as described in The Holy Kabbalah byArthur Edward Waite, is linked with Vedas. Yadavas were possessors of great mystical knowledge is confirmed in Bhagvad Gita itself which says same knowledge was given to Manu (first man on earth), Surya and Ikshavaku (ancestor of Lord Rama) at very ancient time. It is believed Abhira were the link between eastern and western religions. There are compelling proofs of both mauryan andGuptas being Abhirs.
The Kshatriya religion was propounded by Krishna, and no reference is found before him. We only find Rajnya as the term alternatively used for it (Bhagwad Gita is emaciated form of hidden knowledge—Gope—which has its root in Shiva). Later on, many Kshatriyas were made based on the philosophy of this religion as revealed in Bhagavad Gita.
According to Dharmic mythology, Jarasandh, Kamsa's father-in-law, and king of Magadha attacked Yadavas to avenge the killing of Kansa. Yadavas had to shift their capital from Mathura (central Aryavart) to Dwaraka (on the western coast of Aryavart) on the The Sindhu(Ocean in Sanskrit).
Ancient Yadava Kingdoms
Native kingdom of Vasudeva Krishna
Kingdom founded by Vasudeva Krishna
Kingdom of the Yadava king Kartavirya Arjuna
Kingdom of king Nala