Barya/ Varyah and Taoni Rajput tribes of Punjab

This post will look at two Rajput tribes, who were found in what is now the Punjab state in India, namely the Varya (also spelt Braah, Brah, Baria, Warya, Waria, Warah) and Taoni. The Varya were much more widespread than the Taoni, but both tribes were centred mainly in what were the Phulkian States (Patiala and Nabha). These two tribes had much in common, both were largely Muslim by the beginning of the 20th Century, used the title Rana, and had seen their political power weakened by the rise of the Sikhs. Unlike some of tribes of Rajput status that I have looked earlier, in particular in the Pothohar region, the distinction between Rajput and Jat was very clear in the region inhabited by these two tribes.

The historical homeland of the tribes was the Puadh, (sometimes anglicized as Poadh or Powadh) region. This is a historic region in north India that comprises parts of present-day Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the U.T. of Chandigarh, India. It has the Sutlej river in its north and covers the regions immediately south of the Ghaggar river. In Haryana, the region includes Pinjore, Panchkula, Naraingarh, Kalka, Ambala and Yamunanagar districts. Other areas include Jagadhri, Kalesar, Pehowa, Gulha tehsil of Kaithal district and Fatehabad district. The people of the area are known as Puadhi and speak the Puadhi dialectof Punjabi. Among the Rajput tribes, the Varya and Taoni were pre-eminent in the Puadh region.

The Puadh region consists of the eastern districts of Punjab, the north-western portions of Haryana and the southernmost strip of Himachal Pradesh.

Map of the Puadh Region Source Wikepedia

Chhat and Makan

The Rajputs of the Puadh had an interesting institution, that of the Chhat and Makan. The author of the Hoshiarpur Gazetteer describes it as such:

The word chhat is explained as an abbreviation of chhatar makan, equivalent to taj or “ crown.” It may possibly be translated canopy. The canopy used to be one of the insignia of sovereign power. A chhat makan is a village which enjoys a pre-eminence over, or is held in special veneration by, the other villages of the brotherhood (biradari). It is generally called simply chhat. A makan is a village of lower grade than a chhat. The title of makan is earned for a village by some person’s performing a meritorious deed at a wedding or a funeral, and it is then said of it that ‘village so and so ia a makan, koi lallu panju gaon nahin — “it is not an ordinary village, but a famous place.” Tika is the title of the heir-apparent to a reigning prince. Hence it is applied to villages which are the seats of a prince’s rule It would appear that a chhat makan was originally a tika, a tika being a village which is the seat of a house still actually ruling or exercising authority in some way.

Baria / Varya

The Varya or Baria had a number of origin myths . They generally placed themselves within theSuryanvanshi division of the Rajputs. It seems that there original settlement was in Patiala. The name Baria / Varya is very likely  derived from Sanskritic: Varaha which means boar, which was very likely their totem. Another form of the name appears to be Warah, which is used by those of Jalandhar.

There is general agreement that the ancestor of the tribe was Binepal of Bhatinda, and had emigrated at a very distant past from Udaipur. The Varya are descendants of Warah, whose grandson Rājā Banni Pāl, is said to have founded Bhatinda, after conquering Bhatner and marrying the daughter of its Rajā. Banni Pāl’s son Udasi was defeated by a king of Delhi but received a jagir. His son Sundar had seven sons, of whom the eldest founded Badhar in Nabha. (Cf. Barian). Rai Kalu of Kakra near Bhawanigarhwas said to be the first Varya chief to have embraced Islam in the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar (October 1542[a]– 27 October 1605). Different groups of Varya them began to convert, but there still many Varya who are Hindu such as those of Bakhtri in what is now Sangrur District. In the Patiala State, the Varya, both Hindu and Muslim owned nearly 30 villages in the tehsils of Sunam, Bhawanigarh and Amargarh. At the beginning of the 20th Century, they were organized along chhats or villages of the first rank and makans or villages of the second rank, other villages being inferior to these in social status. The author of the Patiala Gazetteer wrote the following:

Barahs have 12 chhats and 24 makans, the chhats in this State being Samana, Talwandi, Kakra, Bhumsi, Jhal, Jhondan, in Nabha Baena, Badbar, Baragraon, in Jind Bazidpur, and in British territory Budlida and Moranda

According to another tradition, the tribe is descended from a Warah, whose grandson Rajah Banni Pal, who is said to have founded Bhatinda, after conquering Bhatner and marrying the daughter of the Raja. Banni Pal’s son Udasi was defeated by a Sultan of Delhi but latter received a jagir. His son Sundal had seven sons, of whom the eldest found Badhar in Nabha. Malwa Ithaas states that Raja Vineypal Variah, who was a descendant of Vikramaditya, built the fort of Bhim Garh, that evolved into the town of Bathinda on the banks of the Sutlej in 655 CE and established his rule. This rule contained property from Bhatner,Lahore, Sarhind, Mandlik, Licchabadi, Thanesar, Bhadhaur, Dango, Peshawar, and most of Punjab. This kingdom had two capitals, one at Batthinda and one at Lahore. It also states that Variah was a son of Varga, 26th generations down from Bikarmaditya. Variah’s descendants were Taskmas, Ajaypal, Abhaiypal, Vineypal, Lakhanpal, Rattanpal, Naiyapal, Nainpal, Vijaypal, , Jashpal, Satpal, Gunpal, and finally Gillpal whose descendants are the various Gill Clans in Punjab. According to Malwa Ithass the last Raja of this clan was Jayapal whose grandson was killed by Mahmud Ghaznavi in 1008 CE .During the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, most of the tribe converted to Islam.

In Jallandhar, the Varya had a tradition their ancestor Mal, a descendent of Raja Karan of the Mahabharat, came from Jal Kahra in Patiala in around 1500. While those of Sialkot, where they are found in small numbers and rank as Jats, not Rajputs, say they are of Chandravanshi descent. However, most Varya Rajputs consider themselves to be Rajputs of the Suryanvashi lineage. The Varya may be connected with the Barhaiya Rajputs in the Azamgarh and Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, who also connect themselves with Udaipur.

After the partition of Punjab in 1947, the Muslim Varya migrated to western Punjab, where they are found in districts such as Faisalabad and Sahiwal.

Population of Baria Rajputs According to the 1901 Census of India

District / States Muslim Hindu Total
Patiala State 11,168 306 11,474
Nabha State 4,498 33 4,531
Hissar 1,451 1,451
Ludhiana 1,433 1,433
Jalandhar 647 19 666
Malerkotla State 528 528
Ambala 389 49 438
Hoshiarpur 288 41 329
Firuzpur 286   286
Rohtak 265 265
Karnal 220 220
Lahore 141   141
Other Districts
366 19 285
Total Population 21,986  467 22,453

Taoni

The Taonis claim Chandravanshi descent from the legendary king of Punjab Uggar Sain, who is said to have migrated from Agroha in 6th Bikrami and settled  in Ambala. One of the descendent, Rai Amba, is said to have founded the city of Ambala. While the Patiala Taonis claim descent from Raja Gopal (7th in descent from Uggar Sain). Over time, two distinct Taonis principalities arose, one based in Ambala, the other in Banur.

There conversion to Islam is said to have occurred during the rule  Shahab-ud-din of Ghor (1149 – March 15, 1206). After the defeat of Prithvi Raj Chauhan at Tarain, Dhirpal, embraced Islam and took the name  Nawab Abdul-Karim. His tomb is said to be at Banur; which became an import Taoni centre. Prior to partition the Muslim Taonis were numerous in that tehsil and in  Patiala, Rajpura and Ghanaur all located within the Patiala State. While the Hindu Taonis held Bular (in tehsil Patiala), Lilru, Nagla and Khelan in Bathinda. The Toani are divided into twelve clans, said to be named after the sons· of Raja Gopal; vis., Dhirpali, Ambpali, Bhitiian, Motian, Rai Ghazi, Jaisi, Sarohd, Ajemal, Jhagal and Lagal, the last six holding the title of rai.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, they occupied the low hills and sub-montane in the north of Ambala district including the Kalsia State, and some of the adjoining Patiala territory. Prior to partition the Muslim Taonis in Patiala territory were numerous in that tehsil and in  Patiala, Rajpura and Ghanaur. While the Hindu Taonis held Bular (in tehsil Patiala), Lilru, Nagla and Khelan in tehsil Bathinda, and Dhakansu, Tepla, Banwari, Pabra and Dhamoli in  Rajpura. About their Chhats and makans, the author of the Phulkian States gazetteer wrote the following:

Socially they have 14 chhats and 24 makans, the chhats in this State – being Banur, Shamdo, Kauli,, Ghanaur, Patton, Khera Gujju, Suhron, Ajrawar, Chamaru, Manakpur and Jausla, and in British territory Kharar, Khanpur and Morinda,

The Bacchal clan of Jats, which occupies the same region like Taoni, are descended from Taoni Rajput from a Jat wife.

After partition in 1947, the Muslim Taonis moved to Pakistan. They are now found mainly in Sialkot and Okara districts, a few are also found in Mandi Bahauddin District. In Sialkot, they are found in Gondal (Radial) and also in Daburji Mallian villages. Some of the Taoni families are settled in Gujranwala (Buddha Goraya & Bhakhranwali) and Khanewal as well in Tehsil Samundri Chack no 47 GB.

Population of Taoni Rajputs according to the 1901 Census

District / States Muslim Hindu Total
Ambala 8,531 1,255 9,786
Patiala State 8,516 899 9,415
Karnal 752 76 828
Kalsia State 325 325
Ludhiana 209 10 219
Other Districts
 51 97 148
Total Population 18,384 2,337 20,711