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The Meena Tribe—whose name is also transliterated as Meenanda or Mina— found mainly in the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh regions of India, is believed to be the descendants of Matsya Tribe of Matsya Kingdom, which flourished in the 6th century B.C.
The Meena fall into the category of Scheduled Tribe. in the state of Rajasthan and majority of them is classified as to be Hindu., but in Madhya Pradesh Meena(Serial No. 21)is recognized as Scheduled Tribe inside Sironj Tehsil in Vidisha, while in other 44 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Meena has been placed in the category of Other Backward Classes
Meenas celebrate Meenesh Jayanti in the name of Vishnu on 3 Tithi of Chaitra Shukal paksha according to the Hindu calendar. The main reference of this belief is based on the scripture of the Matsya Purana.
According to studies it has been found that Meenas originally seems to have been an aboriginal or pre-Aryan tribe of Rajasthan. About the ethnic identity and origin of Meenas, they recognize their progeny from the ‘Meenaavatar’, the tenth fish incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Indus Valley Civilization also seems to bear a link in the history of this tribe. Meena or Matsya cast was among the Dravids of Mohenjodaro and Harappan Civilization who were driven out after the advent of the Aryans.
From Vedic period to the present, Meenas have seen many ups and downs. In ancient period they were a ruling tribe of Rajasthan. Coming to medieval period they were cut off from their own land, to the interiors of mountain and forests. The oral history preserved in the traditional folktales and folklores of this tribe affirm the kingdom of Meena (Mindesh) with its capital at Amber. Col. James Tod has written that, Meena was a great community which ruled over large part of Rajasthan. During the 10th century AD, Meenas were totally routed out from Amber and Jaipur and thus deprived of their privileges (Col. James Tod, Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan, Rupa & Co. New Delhi, 2002, vol.-II, p. 281-283).
Their name is derived from Meen, the Sanskrit word for fish, and the Meenas claim descent from the Matsya avatar, or fish incarnation, of Vishnu.
At the time of great Epic Mahabharat was written there was a Janpad known as "Matsya Janpad". The city of this Janpad was "Virat Nagar", now known as "Bairath" and renamed as Virata Nagar again. The Pandavas got shelter there for one year. There are still places known as "Pandupol" near Virat Nagar. Abhimanyu the son of Arjun and great warrior married to daughter of King of Virat Nagar the princess was named Uttarā. After Abhimanyu died in battle of Kurukshetra, and all Pandav sons were killed by Ashwathama they were left without progeny. Uttarā was pregnant then. After Pandavas went to Himalaya, the son delivered by Uttarā was "Parikhishit" who inherited Pandavas and ruled India. He was killed by "Takshak" a Naga or Nagvanshi Khastriya. His son Janmejay did a Yagya to finish all Nagas at "Nagdah" known as "Nagada" now in MP. King Virat and all his sons and brothers were killed at Kurukshetra in Mahabharat. Some of clan brothers ruled this area after him. Many historical evidence is recovered from this area all belonging to time of Lord Buddha. Meenas are considered the brother and kinsmen of Virata, the ruler of Virat Nagar. They ruled this area (near to Virat Nagar) till 11 th century. 
A Meena dynasty ruled Rajasthan in ancient times and their emblem was a fish, similar to that used by the Pandyan kingdom of the south.[page needed][page needed] It lay to south of the kingdom of Kurus and west of the Yamuna which separated it from the kingdom of Panchalas. It roughly corresponded to former state of Jaipur in Rajasthan, and included the whole of Alwar with portions of Bharatpur.[page needed]
The Meena Kingdom was known as “Matsya” as each of these Janapadas was named after the Kshatriya tribe (or the Kshatriya Jana) who had settled therein. Around 300 BC, the Meena kingdom succumbed to the rising Mauryan empire. The present day Meenas of Rajasthan still follow Vedic culture: they mainly worship Shiva, Hanuman and Krishna as well as the Devas.[page needed]
[[File:Ancient india.png|right|thumb|250px|Map of the Matsya janapad
Kyaranagar in Thanaghazi was an important city of Meenas, whose ruler was Rao Mokalsingh Meena at the time of Akbar’s reign. The armies of Mughals and Kachwaha Rajputs plundered Kyaranagar and in its place founded Mohamadabad.
Members of the Meena community are found in the northern part of Rajasthan. Meenas share the Brij and Matsya Area of Rajasthan i.e.Sawai Madhopur, Dausa, Jaipur, Dholpur and Karauli districts in Jaipur and Bharatpur region (also the Bharatpur and Bayana districts) with other communities. They inhabit the area from Jaipur–Sikar in Shekhawati region and Alwar in the northeast region of the state. They are also widely spread in Kota, Jhalawar and Bundi. Meenas are also found in north-western Madhya Pradesh i.e. Sheopur, Morena, Gwalior, Shivpuri, Guna, Sajapur, Bhopal etc.. The Meenas, community of Rajasthan, are an agricultural people occupying one of the most fertile regions of the state. The Meena kings were the early rulers of major parts of Rajasthan including Amber (early capital of Jaipur).
The book "Culture and Integration of India Tribes" by R.S.Mann mentions that Meenas are considered as a Kshatriya caste equally as Rajputs, and having higher social status in the society. They are well integrated with other higher castes like Rajputs, Brahmins etc. Brahmin perform all rituals from birth, marriage and death for Meenas like for any other higher Hindu caste.
Kingdoms of Meenas:
There were four major rajya (kingdoms) of Meena People. Each of these kingdoms had established their own territory and they were united under the command of Amber Rajya, kingdom of Amber. All the kingdoms of Meena People were united as a Meena Confederation under the command of Amber Rajya. These people were very civilized and cultural.
2. Khogong Meena Rajya: This rajya was ruled by Lalsot Meena People. Ralhansi was king of Khogong Rajya. Ralhansi was a great worshiper of Amba Devi. They used to rule Khogong Region few kilometers from Amber City or Region.
3. Nandala Meena Rajya: This Rajya was ruled by Nandala Meena People. They were the ruler of Gattore Gati Region.
4. Siroh Meena Rajya: The history of this rajya is almost vanished. This rajya (kingdom) was ruled by Siroh Meena People.
British colonial period
The system of colonial administration known as the British Raj came into existence in 1858, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857 which caused the government of Britain to decide that leaving colonial administration in the hands of the East India Company was a recipe for further discontent. In an attempt to create an orderly administration through a better understanding of the populace, the Raj authorities instituted various measures of classifying the people of India. One such measure was the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, under the provisions of which the Meenas were placed. The community remained stigmatised for many years, notably by influential officials of the Raj such as Herbert Hope Risley and Denzil Ibbetson, and were sometimes categorised as animists and as a hill tribe similar to the Bhils. The Meenas remained an officially-designated criminal tribe until 1952, three years after the Act had been repealed. Mark Brown has examined the impact and issues of the Meena community during British rule, and the change in their status from being a higher social group to a criminal tribe. He also mentioned the division in the Meenas as zamindar group and chowkidar Meenas.
Meenas have better rights for women in many respects compared to many other Hindu castes. Hindu law as codified through acts passed between 1955 and 1956 were based on inegalitarian Victorian English patters of marriage and inheritance and on the customary practices of some the dominant communities in North-West India, among whom women's right have been seriously coded. The practices of the Nairs in Kerala, Meitei in Mainipur, Meenas in Rajasthan and Jains, which provide better rights to women in many respects, were presumed to be non-existent or non-Indian. Thus the Hindu codified law is in many ways a step backward for some communities.[full citation needed]
The Meenas of the Karauli, Sawai Madhopur, Jaipur, Gangapur and Kota area are the most important cultivators for the last four hundred years. They expelled the Dhangars and Lodhis from a number of villages they occupied 500 years ago, and have retained their possession until now. In Karauli(Rajasthan),Kota,and Dausa Meenas, Gurjars and Jats smoke together. They live in complete harmony.[page needed]
The community was once sub-divided into:
- See also Mina (India) at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Rabindra Nath Pati, Jagannatha Dash (2002). "Tribal and Indigenous People of India: Problems and Prospects". Ethenology. APH Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 9788176483223. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Yüksel Sezgin (2011). "Human Rights and Legal Pluralism". Social Science › General. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 41. ISBN 9783643999054. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Mahendra Lal Patel (1997). "Awareness in Weaker Section: Perspective Development and Prospects". Economic development projects. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 35. ISBN 9788175330290. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
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