Warraich/ Waraich Jat

In this post, I will look at the Warriach, the largest Muslim Jat clan according to the 1901 Census, and the second largest according to the 1911 Census, the last that tabulated the Jat clans. The Warraich  clan is concentrated in Gujrat and Mandi Bahaudin districts, in an area intermediate between the high  central plateau and the lowlands of the Chenab, both in the  Gujrat and the Phalia tehsils. Depending on the region, Warraich can also be pronounced as Baraich, Braich, Araich, and Varaich, depending on which Punjabi dialect is being used. They are also known as Chungh. In this post, I shall focus on the large Wariach community found in Gujrat and Mandi Bahaudin, where there customs were very similar to the other tribes such as the Gondal, in that they are a Muslim and followed a pastoral lifestyle. In East Punjab, the Wariach were and are largely Sikh, with a about 20% following Islam. The Muslim Wariach of Indian Punjab are now found scattered throughout Central Punjab in Pakistan.

Like most tribes, there are various theories as to the origin of the Warriach. According to Captain Hector McKenzie, the first British officer to administer Gujrat, the Warriach Jats were divided into two main tarafs, or sections, Abu and Jeo. His account of this division is as follows:

A Jat being killed in battle near Thanesar, his wife became a outcaste, took refuge in a tree, gave birth to a son and died. Raja Jaipal, when outhunting discovered the child, gave it protection. The tree under which it was found was a bargat: the most appropriate name for the child was therefore baraicha; the name of Waraitch was accordingly given to the boy. When he grew up to manhood, the Raja gave him his daughter in marriage,  and having no son was succeeded by him, and his descendants for three generations in his raj. Waraitch was a mighty man, worthy of his good  fortune. His descendants, therefore, continued to distinguish their family  by his name, Adversity came, then they fled to the Punjab, and settled  down as tillers of soil. Sixteen generations later, two men, named Abu and Jeo,  attained a pre-eminent position among the clans, and became Muslim, and  since their time there have been two tarafs or sub-divisions in the clan — one  composed of the descendants of Abu, and the other of Jeo

In another version, this time written by Captain Nisbet, author of the first Gazetteer of Gujranwala, which describes that Warraich was the son of one Mutta, who came  from Ghazni and settled in the Gujrat district, from where the tribe  spread to Gujranwala. While Captain Waterfield author of the second revised settlement report of Gujrat District gave a very different account. He wrote that the clan traces  its connection with Raja Karan of the Mahabharat. Twenty-seven generations, or 500 years previously, Warraich, the founder of the clan, came from the city of Kistah to Delhi,  and became an important courtier of the Sultan Jalal-ud-din Firoz Shah, and settled in the village of Taika, in the district of Hissar. He had five sons; among them, these three, Wadrah, Shahajrat and Tejrah, received permission of the Sultan to settle in Gujranwala. They called their village  Tarka Ladda. Gradually they expanded to control over 80 villages, and, crossing  the Chenab settled in Gujrat. Around the 1300s, in the time of Sultan Mahmud Tughlak (reign: 1394 – February 1413 CE), Jaits, a descendant of the eldest Wadrah, became famous. During one of the invasions of Amir Timur (9 April 1336 – 17–19 February 1405), he met Jaits in Multan, where he joined him with his family and dependents, and, coming to terms with Nawab Sayad Khan, one of the confidential followers of Taimur, attached himself to his army. They reached Kunjah, and there met and fought a local Raja called Jaspal, and defeated him, and took possession of the country. For his services it was made over to this Jaits, in order that he might colonise it and collect the revenue. On  the death of the Khokhar chieftain Malik Jasrat of Manawar by poison at the hand of his wife, the daughter of Mandeo, a Dogra chieftain, who the latter  descended from Jammu to take possession of the country. He was opposed by Jaits, but they came to terms, and agreed that the Tawi and Chenab should divide their territories; Jaits retaining the southern and western sides, Mandeo, the northern and eastern. Jaits remained in possession until his death, when his jagir was confiscated, and his son succeeded him ; about that time one- fourth of the area was cultivated, the rest was jungle. New villages were then founded by different members of the clan. Hariya and Gunia, two sons of Jaits, became the most powerful; Kardal and Hambo never acquired any position. From Hariya, descend the Jis Waraich, and from Gunia the Abu Waraitch. The Emperor Akbar is said to have formed the Waraitch into two tappas,  called after Abbo and Jis, who were given the position of chaudhry.

However, according to another British colonial historian Sir Lepel Griffin, the tribe migrated to Punjab during the reign of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna and settled in Gujrat, in present day Pakistan. In his“ Punjab Chiefs” (pages 410 — 11), Griffin gives two versions, — one substantially the same as that given by Mackenzie, the other an amplification of the  Ghazni story. In this version, however, it was not Warraich, but a  remote ancestor, named Shah, who was the first of the family to settle  in India. He is said to have accompanied Sultan Mahmud in his invasion of India in A. D. 1001, and to have been present at  the battle fought with Jaipal, the last Hindushahi ruler. Impressed with the fertility of the country around Gujrat, Shah settled near the  Gujar village of Kulachar, where for 350 years his family lived  in obscurity, until in the person of Waraitch, son of Mattu, it  rose to the surface, and expelling the Gujars expanded by  degrees to its present importance. This rise is said to have occurred during the rule of the Emperor Akbar.

According to the Epigraphica Indica, Volume I, page 29, a rock inscription at Chamak Harsati Balaghat mentions that “Bharhaich” Jats performed ten asvamedha yagnyas (Sanskrit “Horse sacrifice”) and, constructed ten ghats in Varanasi. Whether the reference to the current tribe is difficult to confirm. In terms of distribution, the complete absence of Wariach in Uttar Pradesh probably suggest that connecting the Wariach with the inscription would be incorrect.

According to a tribal tradition – Waraich, a Jat, had five sons who settled in the Chenab valley raising cattle. Three of brothers moved to Gujrat and the other two moved to Gujranwala. In or about the tenth century A.D. they moved down to the Jhelum River in large numbers and settled down there. Until the thirteenth century AD they continued to fight with Gujjar tribes. Today these Waraich occupy a very compact area comprising 360 villages in a region called Jatat. During the period of Feroz Shah Tughlaq, a certain Haria leader of these Waraich converted to Islam founding a village later called after him Hariawala. With the conversion to Islam, the Wariach of the Jhelum and Chenab valley converted to Islam. However, in the Gujranwala Bar, there remained several villages of Sikh Wariach until partition of Punjab in 1947.

In another tradition, Waraichs are the progeny of three brothers, Haria, Gunia and Kurtal, who were rulers of Bahraich principality (in what is now eastern Uttar Pradesh state of India). During Sher Shah Suri’s conquest of Bengal, they captured his treasure en-route to the province. It was believed that the Shah would not succeed in his campaign however to their surprise, Sher Shah conquered Bengal and established his rule over a large part of Northern India. Following their defeat these Waraichs left Bahraich and travelled westwards. They settled upon finding suitable grazing grounds on the banks of the Chenab river. This new home was on the lands previously used by Gujjars for grazing cattle. This settlement led to rivalry between the Waraich Jats and the established Gujjars. The Wariach eventually defeated the Gujars, and made themselves masters of Gujrat, in Punjabi a word meaning land of the Gujjars.

Both these traditions make reference to two facts, one that the centre of the tribe is Gujrat, and secondly, they original rulers of this region were the Gujjars.

They now occupy 141 villages in Gujrat (including Mandi Bahaudin district) and 84 villages in Gujranwala. By the 18th Century groups of Wariach had crossed the Jhelum and settled in the Pind Dadan Khan plain, while other groups moved settling in Sialkot and Gurdaspur. A significant number of this second group became Sikh.

Wariach Population According to the 1901

With regards to the Hindu Warraich, most were followers of the Sultani sect, and by the mid-twentieth century had converted to Sikhism. Today most Wariach are either Sikh or Muslim.

District / States

Muslim

Sikh

Hindu

Total

Gujrat 37,813  138  212 38,163
Gujranwala 8,106 1,537 1,425 11,068
Sialkot 4,368  468  678 5,514
Chenab Colony 3,703  616  215 4,534
Amritsar  492  1,893  32 2,417
Patiala State 11   631  1,653 2,300
Lahore 1,162 524  28 1,714
Gurdaspur 809  307  325 1,436
Malerkotla State 388 842 1,230
Ludhiana  98  109  616  823
Ambala  12  447  180  639
Jalandhar  33  165  272  470
Shahpur  443      443
Jhelum

 

 388      388
Rawalpindi  347      347
Firuzpur 180   105  18  303
Bahawalpur State  287      287
Nabha State    53  114  220
Multan  216      216
Montgomery  149   149
Karnal 26 57 21 104

Other Districts

 

 

Total

58,936 7,483 6,652 73,071