The Rajput warriors are a noble caste that once ruled portions of India and Southeast Asia. Their reign dates back to the fall of the Gupta Empire sometime in the 5th or 6th century and lasted until 1947-1950 when the final Rajput princes joined their kingdoms with modern India after it achieved its Independence from British rule. They were given the option of joining Pakistan, India or remaining independent. Overwhelmingly they decided to unite with India. Rajput literally means the son of a king and they were born as nobles and trained to fight as soon as they were old enough to learn. They were mentally focused and well respected warriors by all who traveled in these regions. When the British occupied India, they recruited heavily among the Rajput because they admired the warrior culture that they felt could help them with the colonial army.
The Rajput had to defend their lands against many invaders over the centuries. Some of these powerful enemies were the Mongols and Arabs. Despite being outnumbered, they held their ground and repelled almost every invader that tried to conquer them by force. The region ruled by the Rajput was very fertile and productive and was very irresistible to its neighbors. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Islamic invaders constantly troubled the Hindu Rajput. The Rajput fought valiantly but often fought amongst their neighboring Rajput kingdoms as well. This inability to unite caused many problems towards the 1300’s and Islam began to spread throughout their lands. Eventually they allied with the Mughal Empire in the 1600's and remained loyal even after the British supplanted the Mughal power 200 years later.
They were a very zealous people and were willing to die for their families and their kingdoms. No matter how bad the odds are stacked against them, they would never surrender to an enemy they felt would violate their lands and their people.
During the siege of Chittor in the early 1300’s the Rajput warriors revealed their honor and devotion to protect their people from Islamic invaders. The Rajput was under siege in the fortress of Chittorgarh and there was no hope for victory against the powerful army that wished to not only take the city, but to keep the Queen Padmini for their ruler who was obsessed with her. The Rajput Queen would not allow her capture. Once the Rajput realized they would not be able to beat back the invaders, the Queen led all of the women and children to a burning pyre deep inside the fortress. The warrior princes followed after and watched as the women and children threw themselves into the fire so that they would not be violated by their enemies. The men then covered their foreheads with the ashes and rode out of the fortress to battle the invaders and die an honorable death. This act which was performed more than once was called Jauhar (the self-immolation act) and Sakra (fight to the death). The Rajput had a strong belief in their Hindu ways and were more willing to sacrifice themselves than let the Islamic invaders enslave or execute them.
The Rajput still exist in India today. There are many millions of them scattered around India. They are still honored for their heritage and status as landowners. Many of the old palaces have now become hotels and the warriors have now become landlords and businessmen.
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