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

It was the Guhilas of Nagda Ahad  (Udaipur,  Southern Rajasthan)  who transformed    themselves into the subregional power of Mewar by the tenth centuries. They had accomplished territorial, political, economic and ideological integration of Upper Banas Plain by then. — Prof. Nandini Kapur Sinha


While trying to consolidate their power, the Guhilas of Kiskindha were in the process of integrating the chiefs of this locality. Incorporation of chiefs into the administrative apparatus is evident from the Dungarpur plates of Bhavihita. These are addressed to the following classes of subordinate chiefs and functionaries: rajan (subordinate king), räjaputra (son of a rajan), rajasthaniya (viceroy), pratihâra (guard of the palace or capital), pramatr (officer-in-charge of measuring the king’s share of the grains), baladhikrta (commander of forces), caudroddharanika (police magistrate dealing with cases of theft), dandapâúika (head of a group of policemen), saulkika (collector of customs duties), prâtisaraka (gate keeper and collector of tolls), gamagamika (messenger), cata (chief of group of paiks), bhata (paik), and sevaka (attendant)” Dûtaka (messenger) of Dhulev plates of King Bhetti is SamantaBhavihita. Besides functionaries, the chiefs in the Kiskindha grants such as the ‘nrpa’, ‘nrpasuta’, ‘rajan’, and ‘rajasthaniya’, point towards incorporation of some local chiefs into a samanta circle (through distribution of ranks), and rest of them in the administrative hierarchy. One may assume that the chiefs addressed in the land-grant charters were of local origin, for, these land charters do not specify the chiefs by their place of origin or as land donees. Hence, the set of local Rajput chiefs seems to have consisted both of Guhila (royal kinsmen) and non-Guhila lineages.

The Guhila kings were addressing the entire circle of local samantas including administrative functionaries at the time of making land grants. Two important functions were being performed by the series of land grants made by the Kiþkindhã Guhilas. Firstly, the Guhila kings of Kiskindha introduced themselves as the sovereigns of Kiskindha to the various sections of rural population including chiefs and local notables. The royal standards and dues were going to be fixed by the Guhila kings of Kiskindha. Secondly, the long list of addresses indicate the Guhila. kings desired, and were in the process of, incorporating the chiefs. The point is further proved by one of the land grant charters of the Guhilas of Kiþkindhã which refers to the permission taken from a local samanta (SamantaBhartrvadda) before the Guhila king donated land ina locality called tambulikanivesa. It is natural that the Guhila kings acknowledged the chiefs of the locality of Kiþkindhã by their royal titles such as nrpa and rajan in the initial stage of state formation. It is equally important to mention that the Guhila kings of Kiskindha distinguished themselves at this stage, just like the Guhilas of Nägda-Ahada and Dhavagartâ, by referring to themselves as members in the royal lineage of Guhila-Guhilanaradhipavam se 16 and not simply as nrpa or naradhipa. When the Guhila kings of Kiþkindhã addressed locally important chiefs as ‘npa’ during the process of political incorporation, distinction for the royal dynasty was sought through the title of ‘guhilanaradhipavamse

The beginnings of royal patronage of local Úaivaâcâryas, through the construction of temples of Siva and grants for their maintenance in the Guhila kingdom of Kiþkindhã, can be traced back to this early phase of state formation. In the eighth century, King Kadachi’s Queen Vonnâ, at the instance of her preceptor, Kutukkâcârya, made a grant of 40 dramma coins to a temple of Siva. Finally, one more important factor that contributed towards the making of these local states in Mewar seems to have been warfare. I need not go into the physical descriptions of warfare in the seventh century records of Mewar to suggest that military operations also contributed to the process of territorial incorporation at the local levels. As noted, the Nägda-Ahada state had a military apparatus headed by Commander-in-Chief Varahasimha. It is equally significant that Baladhikrta (commander of forces) repeatedly figures in all the charters of the Guhilas of Kiþkindhã. Samoli inscription refers to the strength of Guhila king Siladitya of Nägda-Ahada against his enemies.” It may be important to point out that much later in the tenth century when a sub-regional state in Mewar under the Guhilas of Nägda-Ahada was trying to establish itself, there are very few actual inscriptional references to battles being fought between the Guhilas and their opponents.

The above section surveyed the spatial distribution of the Guhila royal families on the map of early medieval Mewar, between seventh and tenth centuries. Three centres of Guhila power were located within Mewar. All these ruling families claimed descent from Guhila. It is obvious that by the seventh century the lineage of Guhila had acquired a prestigious status in western IndiaA number of ruling families even outside Mewar, in other parts of Rajasthan, started claiming descent from the Guhila. Secondly, evidence from Kiskindha and Nagda-Ahadapoint to the beginnings of the political process of state formation, and integration of local chiefs into the emerging political structure. Thirdly, there is distinct evidence of increased agricultural activities as a foundation for these developments; at the same time, trade and commerce also appear to be getting more organized. Besides the Guhila ruling families, local notables and individual landholders characterized the rural society in Mewar in this period. Finally, the ideological dimension of state also appeared for the first time in the seventh century. The use of symbols of royalty such as titles of mahäräjä and naradhipa, and prasastis of the Guhila rulers testify to the formation of local states. The other important facet of ideological dimension, royal patronage of popular cults, also started in this period. (The tenth century in Rajasthan may be considered a crucial phase in the history of the Guhila dynasties as it witnessed the crystallization of a state apparatus among them. In order to highlight the integrating role of the Guhilas of Nägda-Ahada in the process of state formation in Mewar, it becomes necessary to make a brief survey of the more important of contemporary Guhila families. The comparison would bring out the contrasts in the history of different Guhila ruling families in the period. Contemporary with the Nägdä-AhadaGuhilas were the Guhilas of Chatsu (near Jaipur, Jaipur district), the Guhilas of Unstrã (north-west of Bagodiä, Jodhpur district), the Guhilas of Bâgodiã (north west of Pipar, Jodhpur district), the Guhilas of Nadol (Pali district) and the Guhilas of Mängrol (Saurashtra, Gujarat).

The Guhila dynasty that successfully transformed itself into a regional power by the thirteenth century. In this chapter, I will consider its changing material base, patronage of religious institutions and cults, genealogical structure and new political symbols, and administrative apparatus.

Finally the proliferation of branches of the Nägda-AhadaGuhila royal family, its impact on the contemporary principality of the Mewar hills and other centres of Guhila power beyond Mewar hills will be discussed to examine the role of Rajput kinship structure in a period of state formation and growth.

Author is a Ph D Programme Coordinator, SOITS, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi

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