GUJJARS

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» Himachal Pradesh
Location: Himachal Pradesh
Majority Inhabitants: Muslims



The Gujjars are identified by General Cunningham with the Kushan or Yachi or Tochari, a tribe of the Eastern Tartars. The origins of the Gujjars are still shrouded in mystery, but the majority of the scholars are of the view that these people migrated to India during the 6th century from central Asia. They are usually vegetarian.

The vast majority of Gujjars today are Muslim and are semi-nomadic, herding sheep, goats and buffalo. They migrate from the lowland plains in the winter to the upper reaches of the Himalaya during the summer.

THE ORIGINS OF THE GUJJARS
The vast majority of Gujjars today are Muslim and are semi-nomadic, herding sheep, goats and buffalo, Himachal PradeshIt can be said that the furthest point in history that relates to Gujjars goes clear back to the days of Ishmail and Isaac, that is if you speak to a Gujjar of Himachal Pradesh, India. They will tell you of their legend that they are descendents of Isaac. This alone is interesting in that Muslims, and the vast majority of Gujjars are Muslims, trace their descendents to Ishmail. However, the story is related in this way. Ishaque (Isaac) told his sons that the one who fed him kabobs from goat meat would succeed him as prophet. His son's, Ash and Yaqub, (Esau and Jacob) went their separate ways to find the goat meat for the kabobs.

While Ash went in to the forest in search for the goat Yaqub got some help from his mother who apparently had her own goats and helped her son prepare them. Having eaten the Kabobs prepared by Yaqub, Hazrat Ishaque blessed Yaqub and appointed him as his heir to the birthright. On his return, Ash found out that he had been cheated out of his birth right by Yaqub and his mother.

Disappointed he returned to the forest. Where he rested and soon fell asleep. Allah spoke to him in a dream. He said to worship him with a pure heart and to spend his life in the forest. If he did so, he would attain an even higher status than Yaqub. Ash did just this and he later became a great saint. It is in the lineage of Ash that the Gujjars (of Himachal Pradesh) trace their lineage and this is the reason that even today one can find the Gujjars in the forest where it is said they feel closer to God.

There is much confusion as to the origin of the Gujjar people. Most research goes around in circles. One author quotes another till no one know where the original source is anymore. W. Crooke, Castes and Tribes of North Western India, Vol. 2 seems to be a favorite as well. Vincient A. Smith, The Early History of India says that the Gujjars were early immigrants to the Indian Sub-continent. Possibly "allied in blood" to the Huns. The 'Huns' were divided into two main groups, the Red Huns and the White Huns. The Red Huns invaded Europe while the White Huns went down in to the Oxus Valley and attacked the Kishan Kingdom of Kabul and then poured into India.

Another theory is that the Gujjars are related to the Rajputs and that Mughal Emperor Aurangzed made an agreement that if the Rajput lost in the wars with the Mughals that they would have a portion of them convert to Islam. The Rajupts did lose and the group that converted became known as Gujjars.

The first reference to a separate Gujjar Kingdom is around 5th century AD. There is mention of a Gujjar Kingdom in Rajasthan with Bhilmal as the Capital. In his book "Geography of Jammu & Kashmir State" Majid Husain says that before their arrival in the sub-continent they were the inhabitants of Georgia (Gurjia) a territory situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the Soviet Union. They left that area and migrated through central Asia, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, crossed the Khyber Pass and entered the Indian Subcontinent.



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