In this post, I will look at two tribes of Jats called the Bahirwal and Nagra. Both these tribes claim descent from the Chauhan Rajputs, and are found in northern Punjab, the Bahirwal in Gujrat and the Nagra in Sialkot and Gurdaspur. Briefly, the Chauhan are a clan of Agnivanshi Rajputs, whose kingdom was based in Ajmer in Rajasthan and over time they extended control over north west India, and conquered Delhi and its neighborhood in the 12th century. They suffered a set-back in 1192 when their leader, Prithviraj Chauhan, was defeated at the Second Battle of Tarain, but this did not signify their demise. The kingdom broke into the Satyapura and Devda branches after the invasion of Qutbu l-Din Aibak in 1197. In Punjab, several petty Chauhans ranas survived, many eventually marrying in Jat and Gujar families.
Chauhans, along with the Solankis, the Paramaras, and the Pariharas, call themselves agnikulas or fire-born tribes. According to the Agnikula legend, after the original Kshatriyas had been exterminated by Parashurama , the Brahmans found themselves in need of protection from the demons that were harassing them, and so they prayed and made a special sacrifice to the god Shiva for assistance. Then, through divine intercession, there emerged from the sacrificial fire the ancestors of the four Rajput clans known as the Fire Tribes, and they vanquished the demons.
I would ask the reader to look at my post on the Basra Jats, which gives some more background about the history of the Jats of the Gujrat, Sialkot . Jats are found all over this region and form the backbone of the agricultural community. They are divided into numerous clans and historically belonged to different religions. It was not uncommon to find in a village a few Jat families practicing Sikhism while others Islam. Along the border with the Jammu and Kashmir state, many Jats had remained Hindu, and many Hindu Nagra Jats are still found in the Jammu Region.
Map of Gujrat and Sialkot: Source Wikipedia
The Bhararwal are found mainly in Gujrat District, and are a clan of Chauhan Rajputs. There ancestor was an individual by the name of Merath, a Chauhan nobleman of Delhi, who had four sons, called called Nano, Barwala, Kharowala and Kano, who of whom were all non-Muslim. When Kano converted to Islam, he was outcasted by the rest of the tribe. The Punjabi word bahar wal, means an outsider, on the account of Kano being thrown out of the tribe. This conversion is said to have taken place during the rule of Mohammad Ghori, in 12th Century. Kano, with his family members left Delhi, and settled in Gujrat. Here he founded the town of Baharwal, which has remained the centre of the tribe. The Baharwal contracted marriages with the neighbouring Jats tribes, and as such became Jats.
According to tribal traditions, the clan claim descent from Nagra, who is said to be a Chauhan Rajput, and the tribe also claim a common origin with the Cheema. The ancestor of both tribes was Cheema, a Chauhan nobleman, who fled Delhi, after the defeat of Prithvi Raj Chauhan by Mohammad Ghori. Cheema is said to have sought refuge in Kangra, present day Himachal Pradesh. Chima’s son Chotu Mal settled in Amritsar, and founded a village along the Beas. His great-grandson, Dhol during the rule of Alauddin Khilji (rule 1296 to 1316) moved to Sialkot. He had four sons, Duggal, Mohtil, Nagra and Cheema, from whom descend these four Jat tribes. However, in another account, Nagra himself is said to have left Delhi during the rule of Alauddin Khilji (rule 1296 to 1316), and settled initially in Jalandhar, and them moved to Pasrur, near Sialkot. The Sikh Nagra consider the Sikh Cheema to be their collaterals, and as such these two clans do not intermarry.
There are a number of traditions as where the tribe got its name. According to one such tradition, their ancestor got the name nagra, because as a child he had no fear of snakes and even the most dangerous snakes were docile around him. The word nag means snake in Sanskrit, and the cult of snake worship was common among the tribes of the Jammu hills. The Nagyals of this region have similar traditions. The connection with snake worship suggests that the Nagra were clan of Dogras, who immigrated to the Punjab plains. There are still several villages of Hindu Nagra in the Jammu region, further confirming the liklyhood of a Dogra connection. However, according to another tradition, the Nagras get their name name from the town of Nagaur in Rajasthan. Overtime, nagaure, or people from Nagaur, was corrupted to Nagra. Some Nagra claim to have accepted Islam at the hands of Daud Bandagi Kirmani (1513-1575), a Muslim saint from Multan Province, who said to have converted a number Jat clans of the Bar region. He also appears in the origin stories of the Goraya and Tarar clans. Others claim to have converted during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The Sikh Nagra consider the Sikh Cheema to be their collaterals, and as such these two clans do not intermarry. After the partition of India in 1947, the Sikh Nagra of Sialkot District moved to India, while the Muslim Nagra undertook a similar migration from Gurdaspur District.
Distribution of the Nagras
They now have 17 villages in Pasrur and Daska tehsils of Sialkot District. Until partition, these Nagra villages had both Sikh and Muslim members. As already mentioned, there are several Hindu Nagras villages in Jammu such as Sai Kalan and Sai Lag. In neighbouring Gurdaspur district of Punjab, the Sikh Nagra are found in Metla and Warah, while Sikh Nagra of Jalandhar district, all claim to have come from Pasrur. There villages include Kohala, Jabowal and Nagra.
In Sialkot, the most important village is Kalekay Nagra, said to be founded by Kali Singh, who was supposed to have lived in the 18th Century. Other Nagra villages in Sialkot include Adamkay Nagra, Firuzke Nagra, Mattokey Nagra, Ralioke Nagra and Seheko Nagra. Many Nagras, like other Jat clans were settled in the Canal Colonies of Lyalpur and Montgomery in the 19th and early 20th Century. One such Nagra village in the canal colonies is Chak 351 GB Nagra in Toba Tek Singh District, another one is 24 JB , Lahorian Chak in Faisalabad District.