The word Chauhan is the vernacular form of the Sanskrit term Chahamana (IAST: Cāhamāna).[definition needed] Several Chauhan inscriptions name a legendary hero called Chahamana as their ancestor, but none of them state the period in which he lived.
The earliest extant inscription that describes the origin of the Chauhans is the 1119 CE Sevadi inscription of Ratnapala, a ruler of the Naddula Chahamana dynasty. According to this inscription, the ancestor of the Chahamanas was born from the eye of Indra.
The 1170 CE Bijolia rock inscription of the Shakambhari Chahamana king Someshvara states that his ancestor Samantaraja was born at Ahichchhatrapura (possibly modern Nagaur) in the gotra of sage Vatsa. The 1262 CE Sundha hill inscription of the Jalor Chahamana king Chachiga-deva states that the dynasty's ancestor Chahamana was "a source of joy" to the Vatsa. The 1320 Mount Abu (Achaleshwar temple) inscription of the Deora Chauhan ruler Lumbha states that Vatsa created the Chahamanas as a new lineage of warriors, after the solar dynasty and the lunar dynasty had ceased to exist.
The Ajmer inscription of the Shakambhari Chahamana ruler Vigraharaja IV (c. 1150–64 CE) claims that Chahamana belonged to the solar dynasty, descending from Ikshavaku and Rama. The 12th-century Prithviraja Vijaya mahakavya, composed by Prithviraja III's court poet Jayanaka, also claims a solar dynasty origin for the ruling dynasty. According to this text, Chahamana came to earth from Arkamandal (the orbit of the sun).
The 15th-century Hammira Mahakavya of Nayachandra Suri, which describes the life of the Ranthambore branch ruler Hammira, gives the following account: Once Brahma was wandering in search of an auspicious place to conduct a ritual sacrifice. He ultimately chose the place where a lotus from his hand fell; this place came to be known as Pushkara. Brahma wanted to protect his sacrificial ceremony against interference from danavas (miscreant beings). Therefore, he remembered the Sun, and a hero came into being from the sun's orb. This hero was Chohan, the ancestor of the Hammira's dynasty. The earliest extant recension of Prithviraj Raso of Chand Bardai, dated to 15th or 16th century, states that the first Chauhan king – Manikya Rai – was born from Brahma's sacrifice. The 16th-century Surjana-Charita, composed by the Bengali poet Chandra Shekhara under patronage of the Ranthambore ruler Rao Surjana, contains a similar account. It states that Brahma created the first Chahamana from the Sun's disc during a sacrificial ceremony at Pushkara.
Despite these earlier myths, it was the Agnivanshi (or Agnikula) myth that became most popular among the Chauhans and other Rajput clans. According to this myth, some of the Rajput clans originated from Agni, in a sacrificial fire pit. This legend was probably invented by the 10th-century Paramara court poet Padmagupta, whose Nava-sahasanka-charita mentions only the Paramaras as fire-born. The inclusion of Chauhans in the Agnivanshi myth can be traced back to the later recensions of Prithviraj Raso. In this version of the legend, once Vashistha and other great sages begin a major sacrificial ceremony on Mount Abu. The ritual was interrupted by miscreant daityas (demons). To get rid of these demons, Vashistha created progenitors of three Rajput dynasties from the sacrificial fire pit. These were Parihar (Pratiharas), Chaluk (Chaulukya or Solanki), and Parmar (Paramara). These heroes were unable to defeat the demons. So, the sages prayed again, and this time a fourth warrior appeared: Chahuvana (Chauhan). This fourth hero slayed the demons.
The earliest available copies of Prithviraj Raso do not mention the Agnivanshi legend. It is possible that the 16th-century bards came up with the legend to foster Rajput unity against the Mughal emperor Akbar. Adaptions of the Prithviraj Raso occur in several later works. The Hammira Raso (1728 CE) by Jodharaja, a court poet of prince Chandrabhana of Neemrana, states that once the Kshatriyas (warriors) became extinct. So, the great sages assembled at Mount Abu and created three heroes. When these three heroes could not defeat the demons, they created Chahuvanaji. A slight variation occurs in the writings of Surya Malla Mishrana, the court poet of Bundi. In this version, the various gods create the four heroes on Vashistha's request. According to the bardic tale of the Khichi clan of Chauhans, the Parwar (Paramara) was born from Shiva's essence; the Solankhi (Solanki) or Chaluk Rao (Chalukya) was born from Brahma's essence; the Pariyar (Parihar) was born from Devi's essence; and the Chahuvan (Chauhan) was born from Agni, the fire.
The Chauhans were historically a powerful group in the region now known as Rajasthan. For around 400 years from the 7th century CE their strength in Sambhar was a threat to the power-base of the Guhilots in the south-west of the area, as also was the strength of their fellow Agnivanshi clans. They suffered a set-back in 1192 when their leader, Prithviraj Chauhan, was defeated at the Second Battle of Tarain but this did not signify their demise. The kingdom broke into the Satyapura and Devda branches after the invasion of Qutbu l-Din Aibak in 1197. The 13th and 14th centuries saw the struggle between the Chauhan Rajputs and the Delhi Sultanate to control the strategic areas of Delhi, Punjab and Gujarat.
Dynasties and states
The ruling dynasties belonging to the Chauhan clan included:
- Chahamanas of Shakambhari (Chauhans of Ajmer)
- Chahamanas of Naddula (Chauhans of Nadol)
- Chahamanas of Lata
- Chahamanas of Dholpur
- Chahamanas of Partabgarh
- Chahamanas of Jalor (Chauhans of Jalore); branched off from the Chahamanas of Naddula
- Chauhan's of Raghogarh State; branched off from the Chahmanas of Shakamabhari and Gagron
- Chahamanas of Sirohi State; branched off from the Chahamanas of Naddula
- Chahamanas of Ranastambhapura (Chauhans of Ranthambore); branched off from the Chahamanas of Shakambhari
- Chauhan's of Bundi State branched off from the Chahmanas of Shakamabhari
- Chauhan's of Kota State; branched off from the Chahamanas of Shakamabhari (later Bundi)
- Chauhan's of Patna State; branched off from the Chuahans of Garh Sambhar (Mainpuri)
- Chauhan's of Tulsipur State
- Chuahans of Vav; branched off from the Chahmanas from Naddula
- Chauhan's of Dhami State; branched off from the Chahmanas from Delhi
- Chauhan's of Sambalpur State
- Chauhan's of Sonepur State
- Chauhan's of Changbhakar
- Chauhan's of Koriya
- Kulke, Hermann; Rothermund, Dietmar (2004). A History of India. Psychology Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-415-32919-4.
When Gurjara Pratiharas power declined after the sacking of Kannauj by the Rashtrakutas in the early tenth century many Rajput princes declared their independence and founded their own kingdoms, some of which grew to importance in the subsequent two centuries. The better known among those dynasties were the Chaulukyas or Solankis of Gujarat and Kathiawar, the Chahamanas (i.e. Chauhans) of eastern Rajasthan (Ajmer and Jodhpur)
- Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya (2006). Studying Early India: Archaeology, Texts and Historical Issues. Anthem. p. 116. ISBN 978-1-84331-132-4.
The period between seventh and twelfth century witnessed gradual rise of a number of new royal-lineages in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh which came to constitute a social-political category known as Rajputs. Some of the major lineages were Pratiharas of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and adjacent areas, The Guhilas and Chahamanas of Rajasthan
- Romila Thapar (2000). Cultural Pasts: Essays in Early Indian History. Oxford University Press. p. 792. ISBN 978-0-19-564050-2.
This is curious statement for the Chahamanas who were known to be one of the eminent Rajput family of early medieval period
- David Ludden (2013). India and South Asia: A Short History. Oneworld Publications. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-78074-108-6.
By contrast in Rajasthan, a single dominant warrior group evolved called Rajput (from Rajaputra-son of kings), they rarely engaged in farming, even to supervise farm labour because farming was literally benath them, farming was for their peasant subjects. In ninth century separate clans of Rajputs Cahamanas (Chauhans), Paramaras (Pawars), Guhilas (Sisodias), and Caulukyas (Solankis) were splitting off from Gurjara Pratihara clans
- Upinder Singh (1999). Ancient Delhi. Oxford University Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-19-564919-2.
The Tomaras ultimately met their destruction at the hand of another Rajput clan, the Chauhans or Chahamanas. Delhi was captured from the Tomaras by the Chauhan king Vigraharaja IV (the Visala Deva of the traditional bardic histories) in the middle of twelfth century
- Shail Mayaram (2003). Against history, against state : counterperspectives from the margins. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-231-12730-8. OCLC 52203150.
The Chauhans (Cahamanas) Rajputs had emerged in the later tenth century and established themselves as a paramount power, overthrowing the Tomar Rajputs. In 1151 the Tomar Rajput rulers (and original builders) of Delhi were overthrown by Visal Dev, the Chauhan ruler of Ajmer
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Delhi, Punjab and Gujarat were seen as strategic centres by the Sultans of Delhi. Throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, intense struggle to control these towns waged between the various sultans of Delhi and Rajput lineages like Chauhans.
- Sharma, Dasharatha : "Early Chauhan Dynasties" (1959) by S.Chand & Co. Page 14.
- Singh 1964, p. 105.
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- Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 21, p. 34.
- branched off from the Chahamanas of Naddula
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