Rajasthan has one of the most complex societies in the country with a rich spectrum of history, customs, folk literature, art and architecture. The present revised edition of this popular book not only updates data and statistics but also makes valuable changes and inputs for understanding the folk life of Rajasthan in the light of modem and progressive changes influencing the state. The book will not only be of use to the general reader, but also to the students of folk traditions of India, in general, and of Rajasthan, in particular.
DR. Ahuja, a product of F.C. College, Lahore, has been a distinguished journalist and writer for over four decades. As a special correspondent of the Hindustan Times, he was posted in Jaipur and traveled extensively in Rajasthan and studied its folklore. Recipient of several awards for excellence in journalism with rare distinction of receiving the “Long and Distinguished Service Journalist” award for covering both the houses of Parliament, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, for years, he has authored several books including Glorious Sikh Heritage in Delhi and Kashmir Problem. At present he is a freelance journalist, author, broadcaster, columnist and film and art critic.
Rajasthan is a land of splendor, heroism, sand dunes, deserts, beautiful Aravalli mountain ranges and lakes. Rough terrain and extreme climate have made the people of Rajasthan hardy. However, out of their hardiness has emerged color and an unrivalled earthy folklore. Lore of life and romance can be seen all over Rajasthan.
The first and second editions of this book were published in 1980 and 1995 respectively and were well- received. I was heartened to revise and expand both the editions to add a few more glimpses of Rajasthan to encourage the readers to see for themselves an unusual land, unique in the world and Indian to the core.
Rajasthan has several nomadic tribes as desert and rugged terrain made it difficult for people to stay for long at one place. The nomadic thrust created a wander lust and growth of a culture and superb folklore, which is full of references to gods and goddesses and local deities. Some of the ballads, couplets, sayings and folktales have also found place in the book. In this book, I have tried to describe the many splendotirs of Rajasthan in a capsule form as a life- size portrayal would have required several tones of paper.
The population of Rajasthan as elsewhere in the country is increasing. Some places are crowded yet others are desolate as before where nature’s interplay remains unimpeded. In this land bravery, chivalry and heroism have mingled with spiritualism, a rich folk tradition and even superstition. Some of its regions are still backward and winds of change are yet to blow and the people continue to live in a bygone era. The government has spent huge amounts of funds to improve the economic lot and social outlook of scheduled castes and tribes and to remove social stigmas by allotting agricultural land, giving loans, opening schools and hostels, providing medical facilities but the process of change seems to be slow.
The new third edition of the book seeks to update the facts and figures of population and literacy in the state, which now has the distinction of being the largest state in the Indian union, area wise, since Madhya Pradesh has lost some area after Chhattisgarh was carved out as a separate State.
I have included three new chapters—Historic Cities of Rajasthan, Religions of Rajasthan, and Scheduled Castes and Tribes, which constitute one-third population of the state. Undoubtedly, a wind of change has started blowing in the state with the spread of education, industrialization and maximum exploitation of mineral resources as a result of which Rajasthan is fast heading towards prosperity and modernity In the chapter on the Scheduled Castes and Tribes I have dealt especially to focus attention on various theories about the origin of tribes of Rajasthan.
My thanks are due to Mr. R.S. Bhatt, former Director of Public Relations and Information, Rajasthan Government, for continuously prompting me to undertake this onerous task and Mr. Ram Avtar, Additional Director, Public Relations, Rajasthan, for rendering all possible help to collect the inputs for compilation of the third edition of the book.
The Rajputs, literally “sons of kings”, originally entered
India from the north-west during the first millennium A.D.
when northern India fell under the domination of Muslim
Turks from 13th century onwards. The Rajputs were foremost
both in resisting the invaders and in preserving the surviving
traditions of classical Hindu culture. Many heroic legends
from Rajput folklore are recounted by James Told, the first
British political agent in Mewar (1818-22), who was also
author of a classic history, among them that of the plunder
of Chittor, the hilltop fortress of Mewar rulers by Alauddin
Khilji in 1303.
In India, palaces and religious shrines functioned as
repositories of art and folklore. Royal residences, in their
architecture wall paintings and decorative objects celebrated
the secular aspect of life while the temples, through their
multiple facts articulate religious beliefs. In the chequered
course of Indian history, palaces were the first to suffer
Here we may recall the story of birth of Rajasthani
miniature painting in about 1597-1 600 A.D. The origin of the
Rajasthan school of painting started in Mewar in the reign
of Amar Singh I (A.D. 1597-1622). His predecessor Rana
Pratap, the greatest hero of Rajasthan history, who defied the might of Mughal armies by retreating into almost inaccessible ravines of the Aravalli hills which run across Mewar. Though other Rajasthan states had made alliances with the Mughal emperor, Akbar and he had married a Rajput princess of Amber, the stubborn and proud Sisodia refused to bend before Mughal emperor. Rana Pratap died in A.D. 1597 and was succeeded by his son Amar Singh I, who created popular Mughal school to paint Gita Govinda.
Pushkar, in Rajasthan, is, of course, the premier site in India as far as the worship of Brahma is concerned. As a matter of fact, it is the only place associated with the worship of Brahma. An impressive amount of material is pulled in from text and floating myths for establishing what makes Pushkar a place of pilgrimage since centuries. The place is little like a kaleidoscope in which with one little jerk of the elbow a new pattern emerges each time. However, no one can doubt the folklore in this particular region that came down to us from the ancient time.
In a nutshell, Rajasthan below its golden sands, possesses the second largest mineral reserves in the country which also produces 42 varieties of major minerals and 23 other mineral varieties. The state is the second largest producer of glass and ceramic raw materials; apart from claiming to be a leading producer of feldspar, second largest producer of clay and second largest again of silica. It is further a store-house of 70% of the country’s non-ferrous metallic minerals and producing 90% of copper and zinc in the country The largest copper smelters in India are based in Rajasthan; and hence more dominant industries in the state are: Tourism, Gems and Jewels, Carpets, Handicrafts, Textile, Engineering (Metallurgy and mechanical products), non-metallic minerals (cement, marble, granite) and chemical industries.
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