History and origin
The word nayak means a head of a regiment. This word is derived from the Sanskrit senanayaka, which means head of a regiment. The community trace their descent from the Vaghela Rajputs who converted to Islam in the 12th Century. They established a number of petty states in Saurashtra. The community have been Sunni Muslims for the last eight centuries, and are now fairly orthodox. They perceive themselves to be Muslim Rajputs.
The community are now found mainly in Saurashtra and the Banaskantha District. They are endogamous, but do intermarry with the Pathan, Malik and Molesalam Rajput community. The community are now mainly small to medium sized cultivators. They have a caste association, the Nayak Jamaat.
- People of India Gujarat, Volume XXI Part Two, edited by R.B Lal, P.B.S.V Padmanabham, G Krishnan & M Azeez Mohideen, pp. 1028-1032.