The Lodhi (or Lodha, Lodh) is a community of agriculturalists, found in India. There are many in Madhya Pradesh, to where they had emigrated from Uttar Pradesh. The Lodhi are categorised as an Other Backward Class, but they claim Rajput ties and prefer to be known as "Lodhi-Rajput", but have no account of their origin or prevailing Rajput traditions.
Robert Vane Russell, an administrator of the British Raj, described several possible etymologies for Lodhi, including derivation from lod ("clod"), or lodh, a tree whose bark the Lodhi of Northern India gather to make dye. Russell also stated that Lodha was the original term, later corrupted to Lodhi in the Central Provinces. Another theory derives the name from the district of Ludhiana, supposing it the Lodhi homeland.
British sources described the Lodhi as "immigrants from the United Provinces", who spread from that area, and in doing so were able to raise their social status, becoming landholders and local rulers ranking only below the Brahmin, Rajput, and Bannia. Some of these large landholders gained the title of thakur, and some Lodhi families in Damoh and Sagar were labeled as rajas, diwans and lambardars by the Muslim Raja of Panna. These now-powerful Lodhi played a significant role in the 1842 Bundela rising.
In the 1857 Indian uprising, the Lodhi fought against the British in multiple areas of India. The Talukdar of Hindoria, a proprietor of Lodhis, "marched on the District headquarters and looted the treasury", while the Lodhi Thakur of Sharpura likewise routed the police of that area. Damoh District was in particularly disarray, with "nearly every Lodhi landholder" joining the uprising, save the Raja of Hatri.[page needed] The Ramgarh family of Mandla was stripped of its estates for taking up arms against the British, and a Gughri estate of some 97 villages was confiscated from its Lodhi owners and granted to a "Native" officer who fought for the British. In contrast, a Lodhi village in Narshingpur instead opposed the uprisers, who came to the village from Saugor,[page needed] as did the matchlockmen of Rao Surat Singh Lodhi of Imjhira, though the Rao's men were defeated by the rebels, who captured Imjhira.
20th century caste politics
Following the 1911 census of India, the Lodhi began to further organise politically, and prior to the 1921 census of India claimed the name Lodhi-Rajput at a conference in Fatehgarh. At the 1929 conference, the Akhil Bharatiya Lodhi-Kshatriya (Rajput) Mahasabha was drafted. The first part of the century also saw the publication of various books outlining Lodhi claims to the status of Rajput and Kshatriya, including the 1912 Maha Lodhi Vivechana and 1936 Lodhi Rajput Itihas.
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- Chauhan, Brij Raj (1980). Extending frontiers of sociological learning. Meerut University. Institute of Advanced Studies. Dept. of Sociology, Institute of Advanced Studies, Meerut University. p. 63.
The claim of a new caste name 'Lodhi-Rajput' was made at an All India conference, held at Fathegarh before 1921. The history of Lodhi organization is about 57 years old.
- Chauhan, Brij Raj (1980). Extending frontiers of sociological learning. Meerut University. Institute of Advanced Studies. Dept. of Sociology, Institute of Advanced Studies, Meerut University. p. 55.
- Narayan, Badri (2009). Fascinating Hindutva: Saffron Politics and Dalit Mobilisation. SAGE Publications. p. 25. ISBN 978-8-17829-906-8.
- Gupta, Charu (18 May 2007). "Dalit 'Viranganas' and Reinvention of 1857". Economic and Political Weekly 42 (19): 1742. JSTOR 4419579. (subscription required (. ))