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Guhilas between the 7th and 10th Centuries, Part-II

Three Guhila  royal families enjoyed agrarian base and semi-urban economic base.There are ample evidences of political and  territorial  integration under the Guhilas of Nagda-Ahad (Udaipur  region). — Prof. Nandini Kapur Sinha

 

In addition, the emergence of Dhavagartã as an exchange centre by the seventh century is evident from the grant of two shops situated in the marketplace, as well as some coins Proximity to Chittaurgarh, lying on the major trade route to Malwa and Gujarat, must have also contributed to the development of exchange networks at Dhavagartã The cults of Siva and Durgã, the latter representing a local goddess, Ghattavasini, appear to have been patronized in Dhavagartâ (ghammavasininãmasridurggadevyä...) by the local chiefs.

The most significant aspect of the economic process of state formation in the Guhila state of Nagda-Ahada is perhaps the foundation of new settlements in the peripheral areas. The Samoli inscription of the Guhila King Siladitya (AD 646) records the opening of a mine at a place called Aranyaküpagiri by a migrating community (mahajanas), headed by MahattaraJentaka.  It also records the building of a temple (devakula) of goddess Aranyavâsýni by Mahattara Jentaka at the command of the community (mahâjanas), Both the terms Aranyakûpagiri and Aranyavâsini indicate hilly and forested terrain. In the context of Mewar. hills and forest are the abode of the Bhils. The building of the temple of Aranyavâsini (goddess who dwells in the forest) also proves that this settlement was created in the country of the forest dwellers’ (Bhils in case of the Mewar hills). Although very close, Bhil territory was still peripheral to the core of the Nägda-Ahada state. The entire operation indicates the creation of a workshop-cum-manufacturing centre either in the copper belt around Ahada or at zinc-lead-silver concentrates at Zawar (south of Udaipur). It is important to note that Zawar mines came back into operation in the seventh century, precisely the period of the beginnings of local state formation in Mewar Such settlements seem to have mobilized both raw materials as well as manufactured items for the nearest nodes, Nägda or Ahada or both. Aranyakûpgiri itself seems to have emerged as an exchange centre during the period, for, the temple of Aranyavâsini is stated to have been thronged with wealthy people.

The foundation and operation of a mine which became the source of livelihood to many people presumes the creation of an agricultural pocket at Aranyaküpagiri necessitating some degree of deforestation. The very process of deforestation and agricultural activities changed the nature of tribal settlements in the core-area (Nagda-Ahada belt is surrounded by Bhil settlements in its north-western, south-western and southern sides) of the Nägda-Ahada principality. The territorial expansion of what came to be known as Rajput power was achieved, at least in certain areas, at the expense of the erstwhile tribal settlements. Hermann Kulke also points out in his study of Orissa that the rajäs (kings) needed tribal land for the gradual extension of peasant agriculture, which alone could yield sufficient crops for the maintenance of the court. Thus began the gradual process of transformation of few of the core-area Bhils (Bhils close to Nägdä-Ahada locality) from hunter gatherers to agriculturists in these tribal pockets. A part of the core area Bhils might have been mobilized as miners. This is evident from the discovery of charcoal retort dumps (smelting) at Zawar. Charcoal preparation has been one of the major economic pursuits of the majority of the Bhils in non-agricultural activities. 

Local Bhils were indispensable also for communications through Mewar hills. Hills and forests restrict the capacity of governments to move men and goods through their territories. The Bhils of the core area, once integrated, could be expected to facilitate communications throughout the Bhil country because they guarded the forests, caves, passes and hill routes. Such popular names of the Bhils as Vanaputras (the children of the forest), Mãirote (born of mountain), Goind (land the caves) and PälIndra (lord of the pass) indicate this.  A vast corpus of bardic literature from Mewar associates the Guhilas with the Bhils in the days of Guhila (Guha or Guhadatta), the founder of the Guhila dynasty of Mewar. Baleo and Dewa, Bhil chiefs of OghnaPanarwa and Undri respectively, are traditionally known to have put the tika of sovereignty (with the blood of Baleo’s thumb) on the forehead of BäppäRaval. Since then the Bhil chiefs have been putting tika of sovereignty on the forehead of each of the succeeding Guhilakings  The annals affiliate Guhadatta to the Bhils of Gujarat (Idar in north-east Gujarat). The Bhils are knownto have selected Guhadatta their leader with a tika of sovereignty Guhadatta is stated to have subsequently killed his benefactor, the Bhil chief Mändalika, and seized all power The legend signifies the military conquest of the Bhils by the Guhilas. It indicates that the transfer of power was not smooth.

The political process of incorporation of chiefs in the Nägda-Ahada kingdom is amply corroborated by the title of maharaja for the Guhila Commander-in-Chief Varahasimha. His father Siva did not bear any political title. The case of Varahasimha clearly shows that he was inducted into the military apparatus and conferred the title of maharaja That the process of political incorporation was gradual is evident from absence of any title for Siva, Varahasimha’s father. Here is an instance of incorporation into samanta circle and also being given the role of a military commander. Secondly, upward mobility of Varahasimha clearly indicates the processes of incorporation of chiefs through a system of ranking as well as distribution of roles and services Thirdly, there is no evidence to disprove that Varahasimha was a local chief. Hence, Varahasimha was a local chief who neither received any land grant from the Guhilas nor was brought from outside through land grants Since the lineage identity of Varahasimha is not revealed, it is difficult to ascertain his actual family identity. However, in the initial stage of the emergence of local monarchy, kinsmen of the Guhila royal family are likely to have been integrated and accommodated in the military apparatus of the local Guhila state. Our suggestion is further buttressed by later evidences of the Guhilas of Nagda-Ahada referring to the non Guhila Rajput families for the first time in the tenth century The way Guhilänvaya (the lineage of the Guhila) is eulogized in Varahasimha s record, this evidence possibly indicates that the Commander-in-Chief Varahasimha, belonged to a family of the Gubila lineage.

(Continued...)

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