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Pathans and Hindu Rajputs

Pathans and Hindu Rajputs
Ghoris - Image Courtesy: Mundigak (Representational Image)

This actually gave rise to the theory that Hindus had occupied the region called Afghanistan before the ‘foreigners’ took it over.

Khaled Ahmad

Both Pathans and Rajputs are warlike people. Their bravery and sense of honor are legendary. But are they also the same people? At least one person thought so.

A British doctor Henry Walter Bellew (1834-1892) thought in 1864 that most Pakhtun tribal names were actually Rajput names which had undergone changes over time. This actually gave rise to the theory that Hindus had occupied the region called Afghanistan before the ‘foreigners’ took it over.

As civil surgeon in Peshawar Bellew perfected his knowledge of the local languages. He was chief political officer in Kabul during the Second Afghan War. When he retired as India’s surgeon-general he was already an authority on oriental languages.

In a nutshell, Bellew’s thesis is that all Afghan tribal names can be traced to Greek and Rajput names, which posits the further possibility of a great Greek mixing with the ancient border tribes of India. Some of this survives in Punjab’s Jhang district today where local inhabitants are conscious of homophonous similarities between their names and the great Greek tribes.

Bellew looks at the zai and khel suffixes indicating Pakhtun bloodlines. He thinks that zai is from Persian zaadan (to give birth) which is the same as Sanskrit jan; and khel is clearly Sanskrit kul (family). The Hindu name Kuldip means lamp of the family. The Pakhtun use zai and khel interchangeably.

Bellew starts with the mythology of the origin of the Afghans – perhaps the most detailed story given anywhere. Then he goes to the great Greek historian Herodotus when he discusses the Greek-Bactrian tribes North of Afghanistan.

The Lydoi (Greek ‘y’ is actually ‘u’) are the Lodis, Maionoi are the Miyanis, Mysoi are the Afghan tribes taking Musa as prefix, Thynoi and Bithynoi are Tanis and Bitanis, the Karoi are Karo, Ionoi are Yunus, Doroi are Dor, and Aioloi are Ali.

It should be noted that wherever possible the Afghans will try to convert their pagan names to Muslim ones, as Isapzais have become Yusufzais. This also inclines them to trace themselves to Jewish roots. Bellew gives us the other dimension: all these Greek-sounding names are also Rajput, meaning that Greek intermixing was with the Rajput races when they lived in the region now occupied by the Afghans.

Bellew thinks prefix Suleman is derived from Rajput Solan which is today visible in Solanki. Daud, as it appears in Daudzai and Daudputra among Muslims, is actually Rajput Dadi or Dadika. Utmankhel or Utmanzai (to which the family of Wali Khan belongs) are mentioned by Herodotus as a Greek tribe Utoi. Utmanzais have sub-tribes like Baddo (Rajput Yaddo, the tribe of Krishna), Ballo is Rajput Bhalla khatri, Bura is Bora (Vohra) mercantile Rajput, a name taken by Bohras, the Ismailis of Gujrat, Mandal is the Jat tribe Mada, its version Mandanr, live along Jadun or Gadun tribes (of Hazara which is Sanskrit Abhisara), which names are variant of the Jadu Rajput tribe. These are Yadavas of India.

Gaduns established Gajni which is today Ghazni. The Afghan Batanis are ancient Bhattis, the elite of the Rajputs serving at the court as ministers. Mahmand actually means ‘the great Mand’. They are in Peshawar but their Rajput relatives are now found near Bombay. Pliny calls them Mandriani of Afghanistan; they are the Wends of Austria. A branch of them called the Bai-zai are located in Kohat which was an old Greek city.

The Suri Pakhtun were people brought from Syria by the son of Seleukus who ruled that part of Alexander’s eastern empire. The Afridis are mentioned by Herodotus as Aparytai brought to their present abode by Ghaznavi, but they came from the Afghan province of Maimana.

Similarly, the Orakzai are mentioned by Arrian as Arasakoi, and their rivals Bangash came originally from Ghazni. The Bangash are also called Bangak which relates to Bangat Chohan Rajputs. Their neighbors the Turis are the same as Tiwari Rajputs of India. Thus the story of Pakhtun tribes goes on.


Courtesy: Khyber.Org (Published on August 31 2009)


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