OBC Kings of India
How do experts assume that all Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishnavs face no marginalization and are well-off?
For years the media and politicians spoke about scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities. While they continue to do so, the new kid on the block is Other Backward Classes or OBC.
Chapter 18 verse 41 of Holy Gita refers to four varnas i.e. Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishnav and Sudra. So OBC!
Continuous references to OBC in the media compelled me to compile list of OBC (Other Backward Classes) Kings. It was difficult because OBC nomenclature did not exist then. In case of errors write back, to add to list write in with references.
Here are names of some OBC kings of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Central India and Uttar Pradesh.
1. Rajaraja 1 (985 to 1014)
An online search revealed Cholas belong to Muthariyara koli caste. According to a list of Backward Classes released by the state government Mutharaiyar (sr no 81) is included.
In Maharashtra, Koli caste are typically the fisher community and shown as OBC. Tanaji (battle of Sinhagadh) belonged to the Koli community.
2. His son Rajendra Chola (1012 to 1044)
Dr D Ravikumar wrote, “According to Anandarangap Pillai’s diary, during the 18th century CE, the right-hand castes, including the Pariahs, held high societal status. The Valangai-Idangai caste system, which was a horizontal caste system in contrast to the vertical caste system, had kept castes organised in Tamil Nadu from the Chola period until the 18th century. However, it suddenly disappeared in the 19th century, and numerous castes emerged rapidly.” New Indian Express
3. The King of Ramnad, Baskara Sethupathi (means protector of the bridge), who sponsored Swami Vivekananda’s trip to Chicago. He belongs to the Dakhini Hindu Maravar community.
4. Sundara Pandya (Pandyan King) who gold plated the Tirupati temple.
If present day Kallar, Mravar and Agamudaiyar are considered as descendants of the Pandyas, they are OBC as per the Central List of OBCs for Tamil Nadu.
1. Subedar Malharrao and Ahilyabai Holkar belonged to the Dhangar or Shepherd community. They are treated as OBC today but the community wants to be declared a Scheduled Tribe.
2. Gaikwads, the erstwhile rulers of Baroda – The surname means, “the one who opened the gate to save the holy cow.” Mrinal Ambedkar in an article ‘The Sudras rulers of India’ wrote, “founder Pilajirao Gaekwad was married to a lower caste woman and Sayaji’s family descended from the child of that marriage.”
Gaikwad surname means one can be Maratha or Scheduled Caste.
Who can forget the most famous Gaekwad in contemporary India, Rajnikant or Shivajirao Gaekwad. This site says he is a Kshatriya Maratha / Mahar.
Col Anil Athale wrote in The Legacy of Shivaji the Great, “MAHARS played the role of village guards and so found easy acceptance in the Shivaji army. They manned the intelligence gathering and communication and were called HARKARAY.”
Honestly, it is their skills that matter, not caste. Same way, did you know that ace music-director R D Burman belonged to the Scheduled Tribe (Tripura)?
3. Scindias or Shindes – got conflicting information. One says they are 96 Kuli Marathas. Another says they are OBC.
4. Kanhoji Angre – Maratha Naval Chief
Maratha navy in charge the brave Kanhoji Angre (1669-1729)was a Sankalp from Pune, meaning Dalit according to the book Kulabakar Angrey by Daboo, a book on the history of the Angres sponsored by the Angre family. But the word Dalit never existed in the 17th century, is a post 1990 construct. Just like the word Scheduled Caste was introduced in the Government of India Act 1935 by the British.
Rajasthan – Gurjars
1. The daughter-in-law of Vasundararaje Scindia (of the Royal family of Gwalior) is a Gurjar. Today, the Gurjar community, considered OBC, wishes to be included as ST.
The Gurjar-Pratihara dynasty produced a number of great kings. Forget the current controversy on whether Mihir Bhoja was a Rajput or Gurjar- a perfect example of how caste divides and creates tensions between Hindus. He was Bharatiya period.
The key Gurjar-Pratihara kings were Nagabhata I (730-756), Vatsaraja, Nagabhata II, Mihir Bhoja, Mahendrapala. Below are excerpts from an article that is based on Volume 4 of The History and Culture of Indian People published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan.
“Kulapati K M Munshi wrote that, “Under the Pratihaas, Kanauj reached the zenith of power, (815-940). Its rulers were called Gujaresvaras; in a later inscription, Gurjara-Pratiharas.” Kanauj or Kanyakubja continued to be the most influential centre of culture till 1018 A.D. when it was dethroned by Mahmud of Ghazni. Pg. x
Vatsaraja is said to have expanded his kingdom in the North and defeated the Lord of Gauda, perhaps the king of Bengal. The Jain Temple at Osian near Jodhpur was made by Vatsaraja in 783.
On the whole it can be said that Nagabhata II exercised his sway on the large part if not the whole of Rajputana and Kathiawar Peninsula. In the east his sway extended up to Gwalior and probably further east so as to include Kanauj and Kalanjara.
An Arab account of India composed in 851 and attributed to Sulaiman refers to the great power and resources of Mihir Bhoja. Among the princes of India, there is no greater foe of the Muslim faith than he.
Mahendrapala (885-908) maintained intact his father’s empire intact and added Karnal district of modern day Haryana, Nepalese terrain and Rajshahi district of Bengal.” Pg xxii
To see albums of three monuments made by Pratihara Kings.
1. Teli-ka-Mandir Gwalior Fort
2. Bateshwar Temples, Morena near Gwalior
3. Jain Mandir Osian ie near Jaipur
He defeated and killed the Ghaznavid general Ghazi Salar Masud in the battle of Bahraich. This decisive defeat led to a big pause in the Muslim conquest of Bharatvarsh, none dared to invade from 1033 to 1187 A.D.
Today, Raja Suheldev is claimed by the Rajbhars (OBC) and Pasi (SC).
What matters are Raja Suheldev’s achievements not caste!
The British and political parties have accentuated and hard-coded caste such that Bharatiyas argue over the European word caste.
Did the above kings of India suffer from any discrimination? Saying that the Legal system played a key role in addressing historical wrongs among marginalised communities is a simplistic way of evaluating. Social backwardness is caused by multiple reasons just like members of the supposedly three forward castes could be socially backward too.
When and why did caste become rigid?
Briefly, “In the 10th century, the castes were comparatively fluid. But then the fundamental values of Dharmasastras were changed to provide defensive ramparts in order to present a solid front to an aggressive alien culture and religion.” History and Culture of Indian People Volume 5 Post foreign invasions the caste system became rigid.
Did the British have a hand in creating the caste system as we see it today?
In his book Castes of Mind Nicholas Dirks said rather than a basic expression of Indian tradition, caste is a modern phenomenon- the product of a concrete historical encounter between India and British colonial rule. He made a powerful case that the colonial past continues to haunt the Indian present. “The British produced conditions that made caste the central symbol of Indian society.” Pg. 19
The British noted violence between left and right hand caste in Tamil Nadu in 1790 over colour of flag to be used in festivals. To avoid a dispute British said only St George flag would be used. Since temples were the centre of power then, they sought to control temples.
How the British took advantage of a complex caste system
Noted Gandhian Dharampalji wrote in Rediscovering India, “For the British, as perhaps for some others before them, caste has been a great obstacle, in fact, an unmitigated evil not because the British believed in casteless-ness or subscribed to a non-hierarchical system but because it stood in the way of their breaking Indian society, hindered the process of atomisation, and made the task of conquest and governance more difficult.”
J Sai Deepak wrote in India that is Bharat, “But I am suggesting that it was under the British that ‘caste’ became a single term capable of expressing, organizing and above all ‘systematising India’s diverse forms of social identity, community and organization.” Pg. 304
Dr N Padmanabhan wrote in Caste and Social Stratification of Medieval India (Calicut University), “The word ‘caste’ owes its origin to the Spanish word ‘casta’ which means ‘breed, race, strain or a complex of hereditary qualities’. The Portuguese applied this term to the classes of people in India known by the name of ‘jati’. The English word ‘caste’ is an adjustment of the original term.”
For the British caste stood in the way of their breaking Indian society. For the rulers and people of today it is about votes and reservations in government jobs/educational institutions.
What is the definition of Backward Classes?
Section 2 of the 1993 National Commission for Backward Classes Act defines “backward classes” as backward classes of citizens other than the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes as may be specified by the Central Government in the lists.” Today it includes Muslim and Christian groups too, where caste is supposed to be non-existent.
When did OBC become a vote-bank?
In August 1990, PM V P Singh said that the government had accepted the Mandal Commission report that recommended 27% reservations for OBC candidates at all levels of services.
Earlier, “In January 1953, the government had set up the First Backward Class Commission under the Chairman of social reformer Kaka Kalelkar. The commission submitted its report in March 1955, listing 2,399 backward castes or communities, with 837 of them classified as ‘most backwards’. The report was never implemented.”
Different states have classified OBC differently? It is assumed that their backwardness is due to caste and a centuries old phenomena.
How do experts assume that all Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishnavs face no marginalization and are well-off?
Do people realize that continuous divisions of Bharatiya society are weakening it and making it susceptible to undue external influence?
The solution is to make economic status the basis for government benefits. If an individual has money the rest will fall in place.
(The Author is founder of www.esamskriti.com, committed photographer, independent columnist, Chartered Accountant and Shiv Bhakt. This piece first appeared in eSamskriti)