RegionRajasthanHaryanaGujaratMadhya PradeshMaharashtraSindh[1]Balochistan[2]

Charan (IAST: Cāraṇ; Sanskrit: चारण; Gujarati: ચારણ; Sindhi: چارڻ; IPA: cɑːrəɳə) is a caste in South Asia natively residing in the Rajasthan and Gujarat states of India, as well as the Sindh and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan. Historically, Charans have been engaged in diverse occupations like bards, poets, historians, pastoralists, agriculturalists and also administrators, jagirdars and warriors and some even as traders.[3]

Historical roles and occupations

Poets and historians

Rajasthani & Gujarati literature from the early and medieval period, upto the 19th century, has been mainly composed by Charans. The relationship between Charans and Rajputs is deeprooted in history. As Charans used to partake in battles alongside Rajputs, they were witnesses not only to battles but also to many other occasions and episodes forming part of the contemporary Rajput life. The poems composed about such wars and incidents had two qualities: basic historical truth and vivid, realistic and pictorial descriptions, particularly of heroes, heroic deeds and battles.[4]

The Chāran poetry is mostly descriptive in style and can be categorized in two forms: narrative and stray. The narrative form of Charan poetry goes by various names viz., Rās, Rāsau, Rūpak, Prakās, Chhand, Vilās, Prabandh, Āyan, Sanvād, etc. These poems are also named after metres such as, Kavitt, Kundaliyā, Jhūlaņā, Nīsāṇī, Jhamāl and Veli etc. Poems of stray form also use a variety of such metres.[4] Written in Dingal, the various sources, known as bata (vata), khyata, vigata, pidhiavali, and vamsavali, form the most important body of primary data for the study of the medieval period.[5]

Although, for Charans, poetic composition and recitation was only a hereditary 'pastime', subordinate to the primary income producing occupations of military service, agriculture, and horse and cattle trading. Ambitious and talented boys, however, pursued traditional education from other learned Charans for comprehensive guidance. When accepted by them as students, they would receive training in the basics of poetic composition and narration as well as the specialized languages by precept and example, with emphasis on memorization and oral recitation. Students would in turn recite the compositions, constantly improving their style. Knowledge of languages such as Dingal, Sanskrit, Urdu, and Persian was also acquired with the aid of specialized masters. Thus, subjects studied included not only history and literature, but also religion, music, and astrology.[5][6]

Renowned Charan poets of the time were part of the royal courts, attaining the rank of Kaviraja or "court-laureate" and assuming positions of great influence.[5][6] Such learned Charans were exceptionally honoured by the rulers. The rulers bestowed awards whose value amounted to lakh(a hundred thousand) or krore(in million), hence these were termed as Lakh Pasav or Krore Pasav. These awards consisted of sasan lands, horses, elephants, and ornaments.[7]


As per their administrative and ritual positions, Charans were integral to numerous indigenous courts in the region including Rajputana, Saurashtra, Malwa, Kutch, Sindh, and Gujarat. They served various administrative and diplomatic functions, sometimes as leading state dignitaries.[8][9][10][11]

By nineteenth century, these formed major and minor bureaucratic lineages which played a significant role in the power struggle and the policy formation in the princely states. Recruitment to positions in the political bureaucracy in the nineteenth century states of Rajputana was based on the community and the recognized and established lineages. Charan as an indigenous community with traditions of literacy and service contributed significantly in the senior crown appointments. Persons belonging to such an administrative class, as a result of state service, were also granted jagirs and court honours.[12] During the medieval period, Charans along with Rajputs and Baniyas dominated the administration in princely states.[13] Charans enjoyed intimate relations with the rulers who placed high confidence in them; consequently, they came to play the role of mediators in most of the political matters in the medieval kingdoms prior to British rule.[14]

Some of the prominent Charan administrators holding positions such as of Diwan (Prime Minister) in 19th & 20th century were Kaviraja Shyamaldas of Mewar, Kaviraja Muraridan of Marwar, and Ramnathji Ratnu of Kishengarh.[12][15] The Ratnu family of Sikar formed one such bureaucratic lineage whose members were Diwans of Sikar, Idar, Kishengarh, and Jhalawad.[12][16][15]

Warriors and military role

Charans were an integral part of the military, administrative, political and social system of the medieval kingdoms.[17] Similar to the Rajputs, with whom they were often associated, Charans would consume meat, alcohol, and participate in martial activities.[18] They were known for their loyalty and were respected by the rulers for their skills in chivalry and sacrifice on the battlefield.[19][20]

Numerous Charans have fought in the battles of Mewar.[21] The roll of honour during the reigns of various rulers such as Sanga and Pratap contains the names of prominent Charans.[19] Karamsi Ashiya fought in the Battle of Maholi in favour of Udai Singh II against Banvir.[22] In the Battle of Haldighati, many of them fought for Mewar including Charans of Sonyana led by Jaisaji and Keshavji Sauda,[23] as well as Ramaji and Kanhaji Sandu, Govardhan and Abhaychand Boksha, Ramdas Dharmawat, etc.[24]

In the Khilji's invasion of Jalore in 1311 CE, Sahaj Pal Gadan died fighting valiantly alongside Kanhadadeva against Alauddin Khilji.[22] Kanhaji Arha slained Sanga, the Raja of Amber and founder of Sanganer, thus avenging the death of his friend Karamchand Naruka.[25] Hapaji Barhath of Marwar fought for the Mughals in the Battle of Ahmedabad, leading an army of one hundred elephants under his command.[26] Narupal Kavia was a commander in Man Singh's forces during the Mughal conquest of Orissa. During an ambush by Sultan Qatlu Khan's large army, he, Bika Rathor, and Mahesh Das made a last stand and sacrificed their lives while the rest of the imperial force fled.[27]

In the Gujarat region, Charans served in the army in large numbers. The Tumbel clan was especially prominent, with many of its members serving in the army of Jam Raval, the founder of Jamnagar State. Throughout history, the Jadeja rulers of Saurashtra sent troops under the leadership of Charans to fight on various occasions.[28]

In the famous Battle of Dharmat in 1658 CE, four renowned warriors - Khidiya Jagmal Dharmawat, Barhath Jasraj Venidasot, Bhimajal Misran, and Dharmaji Charan - valiantly fought on the side of Maharaja Jaswant Singh and Ratan Singh Rathore and perished.[29][30] When Durgadas planned the rescue of Ajit Singh, the Battle of Delhi saw Charan Samdan and Mishan Ratan become martyrs for their homeland in their fight against the Mughals. Charan Jogidas, Mishan Bharmal, Sarau, Asal Dhanu & Vithu Kanau were the chosen warriors who escorted Prince Akbar to Sambhaji's court.[31]

Chandidas Charan of Alwar faced off against Nawab Najaf Khan at Thana Gazi for a month halting his march to a standstill until Chandidas was called back to Alwar by Pratap Singh.[32] Bhupati Ram Charan was the General of the Hada army of Kota who made a strong stand in the Battle of Rajamahal.[33] Similarly, Kaviraja Bhairav Dan was the Commandant of the Army of Bikaner State in 19th-century.[34]

At many places in Gujarat, Charans had revolted against the British during the mutiny of 1857.[35] Kandas, the Charan Panchmahal chief, was a trusted ally of the Baroda Resident who sought Kandas' help to gain Charan support for the British. However, Kandas raised Bahadur Shah Zafar's banner, gathering Koli chiefs and retired sepoys from Panchmahal to come to mutineers' aid.[36][37]

Arbitrators and diplomats

Charans fulfilled the crucial role of diplomats, guarantors, and arbitrators in political negotiations and financial transactions.[38] No treaties between kings after a war or contracts between patrons and clients were considered valid without a Chāran acting as a guarantor.[39] Since the Charans were deemed sacrosanct and causing them harm was considered a sin, they were chosen as sureties whenever a legal guarantee was required. Therefore, important pacts, engagements, transfers, recovery of debts, transactions, and even the signing of treaties were always presided by a Charan. Records indicate, they also served as sureties for the collection of land revenue from the sixteenth century down to 1816.[40][41]

In the cases when these contracts were not honoured or when the Charans themselves were subjected to an injustice, they would wound, even immolate, or mutilate themselves, thus casting curse of the death of a Charan on the offender. The mark of the dagger, signifying the threat of self-sacrifice, served as their signature.[42]

Morever, they were the traditional arbitrators of conflicts between the various Rajput clans or branches. Rajput clans would send their families and children to the homes of Charans for safeguarding during times of violence.[43] The role of messengers and mediators was taken over by Charans in negotiations between hostile or warring groups.[44][45] They acted as emissaries in times of war.[46] Even the British called upon the Charans to mediate the Saurashtra peace agreements of the early nineteenth century.[40][47]

The British colonial intervention in the administration of the princely states, in time, brought decline in these functions of the Charans.[8] However, well into the colonial period, Charans continued to perform this long-standing functions of theirs, to serve as witnesses or guarantors in commercial transactions and financial contracts.[48] Prior to the Charans revolting during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, they were part of the `loyal’ Central Gujrat British network, acting as mediators between princes and the people, or princes and the British.[37]

Traders and merchants

They took advantage of their sacred position by assuming the occupation of carriers and traders as they were exempted from the payment of customs duties in Rajputana and the adjacent regions of Malwa and Gujarat in the pre-colonial period.[49]

Exercising their privilege to transport goods between various states with impunity and utilising the large wealth of cattle as pack animals, Charans were able to establish a "virtual monopoly of trade in North-Western India". Many Charans are said to have become wealthy merchants and money-lenders. Their caravans were considered to be insured against bandits.[50][51] In Rajasthan, the Kachhela Charans excelled as merchants.[52][53]

Utilizing their favourable position since they had "exemption from perpetual and harassing imposts...they gradually became chief carriers and traders". In Mallani, Charans were described as "large traders" possessing great privileges as a sacred race being exempted from local dues throughout Marwar.[54]

Charan traders took large caravans of bullocks north to Marwar and Hindustan, and east to Malwa through Gujarat. They traded in various commodities including ivory, coconuts, alum, and dry dates which they take from Kutch while bringing back corn and tobacco from Marwar & Hindustan. Ivory, brought from Africa to Mandvi in Gujarat, was bought by Charan traders in return for grain and coarse cloth. From there, they transported ivory to be sold in Marwar.[55]

By late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, they emerged as major suppliers of goods and weaponry to the warring armies of Mughal, Rajput, and other factions. They sold their goods in the markets ranging from Punjab to Maharashtra.[56]

The Salt-Trade in Marwar involved thousands of people & pack animals like oxen & camels. Charans along with Pushkarna Brahmins and Bhils were engaged in salt-trade and exempted from the payment of custom duties. Kachhela Charans from Sindhari used to collect salt from Talwara & sell in other parts of Marwar. Charans were seen as, “great traders...who...paid no dues and in troubled times when plunder was rife...although trading with thousands of rupees worth of property were never molested”.[54]

The Charan traders made their encampments as fortified settlements whenever a long hault was required, either due to the long journey or as safeguard against lawless bandits and periodical rains. Sometimes, these fortified settlements evolved as forts such as those of Bhainsrorgarh. Some of the Charan merchants were the privileged carriers of the Rajawaras (kingdoms) and thus had direct communication with the royal household. Their caravans also consisted of armies to safeguard their goods and encampments. Documents of princely states like Kota records the names of several Charans as the affluent merchants of the region with their huge caravans trading with markets in western India.[29]

The establishment of British hegemony in northwestern India and subsequent colonial intervention on trade practices such as monopoly on salt and introduction of railways affected overall trading patterns leading to irreversible decline of communities in transportation business including Charans, Lohanas, and Banjaras. As a result, some of them settled as traders and money-lenders while others took to agriculture.[54]

James Tod in the eighteenth century commented on the Kachhela Charans in Mewar who were traders by profession:

It was a novel and interesting scene: the manly persons of the Charans, clad in the flowing white robe, with the high loose folded turban inclined on one side, from which the mala, or chaplet, was gracefully suspended; the Naiks, or leaders, with their massive necklaces of gold, with the image of the pitresvaras (the ancestors) depending therefrom, gave the whole an air of opulence and dignity.[57][40]

Protectors of mercantile trade

The Charans held the reputation of defending the merchandise entrusted to their charge through sword and shield if necessary; or else, if outnumbered, by threatening to take, or even taking, their own life.[55]

Charans were described as "greatest carriers of goods" for delivery in important centres of Malpura, Pali, Sojat, Ajmer, and Bhilwara by acting as escorts(bailers).[58] Throughout Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Malwa (Madhya Pradesh), Charans acted as escorts and protectors of mercantile trade throughout the journey.[59][60] The route of the caravans was through Suigam(Gujarat), Sanchor, Bhinmal, Jalor to Pali.[61] The inviolability of a Charan along with their knowledge of the trade routes distinguished them as ideal caravan escorts.[51] Caravans of horses, camels and pack oxen carrying various commodities passed through desolate stretches of desert & forested hills which were always under threat of bandits & dacoits. Charans acted as the protectors & escorts. As caravan protectors, "sacred Charans" thwarted the attempts of bandits.[52][62]

If not strong enough to defend their convoy with sword and shield, they would threaten to kill themselves. Given the position of Charans in the socio-cultural system of the time, the wilful killing of a Charan was equivalent to equally abominable crime of killing a Brahmin. As such, if a Charan did commit suicide over any transgression of the caravans under his guardianship, the marauder-robbers responsible for the suicide were deemed to have "earned the sin of a Charan's death, with all its post-life connotations of hell-fire and damnation." Thus, under the safety of Charans, commodities were transported from one region to another.[63][64][54][55]

Horse trade

Horse trade was one of the prominent occupations of Charans.[65][66] Some Charan sub-groups like Kachhela Charans(from Kutch & Sindh) and Sorathia Charans(from Kathiawar) were historically engaged in horse breeding & trading.[67][68] The common connection of horses also led to bonds between Charans & the Kathi tribe. Some Kuchela Charans settled around Mallani (Barmer, Rajasthan) in western Rajasthan which was notable for its horse-breeding. Marwari horses from this area came to be known as Mallani horses. By the 18th century, most of the horse trade business in the Bikaner kingdom was controlled by Charans, besides Afghans. Charan horse dealers were considered to be very well networked. In another example of the clout of horse-trading Charans, a Charan from the Kachhela subgroup arrived at the court of Marwar ruler, Maharaja Takhat Singh, under the auspices of the sect leader of Nath Sampradaya, and marketed his horses, with 10 horses being directly purchased by the ruler himself.[69][52][70]

Social structure

Members of the caste are considered to be divine by a large section of society. Women of the caste are adored as mother goddesses by other major communities of this region including, Khatris and Rajputs.[71] For centuries, Charans were known for their reputation of preferring to die rather than break a promise.[72] Charan society is based on written genealogy. A Charan will consider all the other Charans as equal even if they do not know each other and have radically different economic or geographic status.[73] Charan men are also known as the sacrosanct guides of camel and pack oxen and caravans through Thar desert and as traders in horses, wool and salts, suppliers of food and weaponry to armies.[69]

Anil Chandra Banerjee, a professor of history, has said that

In them we have a combination of the traditional characteristics of the Brahmin and the Kshatriyas. Like the Brahmins, they adopted literary pursuits and accepted gifts. Like the Rajput, they worshipped Shakti and engaged in military activities. They stood at the front gate of the fort to receive the first blow of the sword.[74]

Banerjee's opinion is shared by another historian, G. N. Sharma, who said that

Charans exercise great respectability and influence in Rajasthan. The speciality of the caste is that it combines in its character the characteristics of Rajputs and Brahmans in an adequate manner.[75]

Clans and divisions

Based on regions inhabited and associated culture, there are multiple endogamous sections among the Charans such as Maru (Rajasthan & Sindh), Kachhela (Kutch), Sorath (Saurashtra), Parajia, Malwa (Madhya Pradesh), etc. Clans among Maru-Charans are Roharia, Detha, Ratnu, Ashiya, Mehru, Kiniya, Sauda, Arha, etc. Kachhelas are divided into 7 main exogamous clans: Nara, Chorada, Chunva, Avsura, Maru, Bati, and Tumbel.[76][77][78]



The word chāraṇa is believed to originate from the Sanskrit root cāra signifying 'motion'.[79] This derivation relates to the Charanas as being the literary persons, as poets and agents of devotion (bhakti) to the gods. As a root, cara may also imply their pastoral adaptation. As such, chāraṇa has been used to denote 'wanderer', 'eulogist of the gods', 'offspring of the goddess', etc. The meanings attributed to the name chāraṇa also reflect the various identities ascribed to the Charanas.[69]

Mythological Origins

The Charana beliefs of origin vary in details but are similar in major aspects on being a ganas of Shiva. The ancestor of the Charanas is represented as the creation of Shiva and Shakti (sometimes Sati, Parvati) to shepherd the celestial bull, Nandi. According to an origin legend, Shiva created the Charana who had to tend to four animals of incompatible kinds, namely a lion, a serpent, a cow and a goat. The lion attacked the cow and the serpent attacked the lion, but the Charana sacrificed flesh of his arm to pacify them and was thus able to keep them all safe. The legend is be understood allegorically, with the lion representing violence and Nandi, the bull of Shiva, symbolizing justice. So the Charana, being the guardian, will not allow force to triumph over justice.[76][51][80]

As a progression of the legend, the Charana marries the Nāga maiden, Āvaḍ (or Āveri), the daughter of Śeṣa Nāga, the chief of the Nāgas. From her, he gets two sons and a daughter. So, the divine Charanas are married to Nāga maidens, and Narā, either son or descendent of the first Charana descends to earth to become ancestor of the mortal Charanas.[76][80]

Other major narratives allude to their historical function as royal poets and historians. The Charanas were originally divine beings ranking with the Gandharvas and Vidyadharas. In time, like certain other divine classes, the Charanas settled on earth, and became the bards of kings. Multiple accounts describe the Charanas' transformation from celestial to human beings. These accounts concur that the divine predecessors of the Charanas resided in the Sumeru mountains alongside celestial beings. Due to overpopulation, the Charanas relocated to Earth, establishing their initial human abode in the Himalayas.[80]

Renowned 19th-century scholar, Suryamall in his text of history, Vaṃśa Bhāskara, details another narrative in which Āryamitra, last of the Sūtas and descendent of sage Lomaharshana, does a penance in Himalayas to please Lord Shiva and is rewarded by the epithet of the 'Chāraṇa' after he shepherds the celestial bull, Nandi. As a boon, Lord Shiva marries him with the Nāga maiden, Āvaḍ (Āvari), daughter of Vāsuki.[81][82][83]

The maternal ancestry of the Charanas from the Nāgas also factored into historical relationships with other communities. In regions of Gujarat, Charanas traditionally referred to the persons of Rajput, Ahir and Kathi communities as māmā (MoBr) and were in-turn called as bhāṇej (SiSo). This was ascribed to the Charana belief of these communities emerging from the Nāgas, i.e., the Ahirs are said to be descended from Ahi-nāga and Kathis from Karkotaka.[76][51]

As illustrated by the various narratives, the Charanas placed exalted importance on themselves and their origin.[76]

Emergence in Rajput polity

Charanas played a crucial role in Rajput society, occupying a position equivalent to Brahmins. As the Rajputs emerged as principal rulers of the region, they needed a value system and moral guidance that aligned with their warrior lifestyle. Charanas fulfilled this role, serving as historians, literary figures, and genealogists. They composed prose and poetry, including the famous khyātas and batās. Charanas enjoyed the freedom to express themselves and were considered immune from punishment, even when criticizing rulers. Considered avadhya, to harm or kill a Charan was considered a sin. They validated the ancestry of Rajput rulers and connected them with legendary Indian rulers of Hindu mythology, legitimizing their authority. In return for their services, Charanas received sasan or rent-free jagirs.[84]

The emergence of Charanas as a distinct caste mirrored the change in society, where Brahmins took a back seat. Rajputs, being a military people, required a different value system and religious practices and a 'new class of pandits' to legitimize their military actions and to encourage and inspire them for such activities. The conventional notions of salvation were replaced by the pursuit of a heroic death on the battlefield. The Rajputs did not adhere to brahminical norms, astrology, or literature, seeking a different type of education for their progeny.[84]

As the Rajputs formed a caste, they needed a caste to fulfill the roles Brahmins played under the Kshatriyas. Charanas took on these functions, developing a code of conduct known as rajputī or 'Rajput Dharma'. They were teachers, exponents of religion, and moral guides for the ruling class. Their teachings were captured in the verses of Charan literature, emphasizing principles such as valor, loyalty, warfare, and charity.[84]

In contemporary polity, Charanas held precedence over all other castes inclusive of the brahmin in the customary law of the land.[85] They were invited to the residences of Rajput chiefs and played a vital role in educating the younger generation about heroic values and traditions. Charanas were honored with high positions in the court, and the chief offered them the first palm of opium as a mark of respect. Rajputs prioritized castes that accompanied them in battle, and Charanas fulfilled this role, fighting alongside and making sacrifices.[84]

In conclusion, Charanas became the upholders of rajputi or rajput code of conduct, occupying a position in Rajput society similar to that of Brahmins under the Kshatriyas. Their importance and influence were rooted in their pivotal role in shaping the values, educating the youth, and supporting the military and political system of the Rajputs.[84]

Culture and ethos

Charans mainly worship various forms of Shakti and incarnations of Hinglaj. They greet one another with 'Jai Mataji Ki' (Victory to the Mother Goddess).[86] The women observed social customs such as purdah (women seclusion) and widow remarriage was forbidden.[87][88] Before Indian independence in 1947, a sacrifice of a male buffalo constituted a major part of the celebration of Navratri.[89] Such celebrations quite often used to be presided over by Charan women.[90]

Patronized groups

There are seven categories of people who are historically patronized by the Charans:[85]

  1. Kulguru Brahmins: The kulguru brahmins of the Charans come from Ujjain and travel from village to village and register the names of their hosts after receiving donations.[54]
  2. Purohits: Priests of Charans from Rajpurohit (Rajguru) community who also tie rakhi (rakshasutra) to the Charans.
  3. Rawals: The Rawal Brahmins record their genealogy and also present various swang (forms of dance).[91]
  4. Motisars: Motisars compose poems in honor of Charans.[92]
  5. Bhats (Ravaji): They are professional genealogists of the Charans. They also receive neg (gifts) on marriages. The genealogists of both the Charans and the Rathores of Marwar are from the 'Chandisa' sept of Bhats.
  6. 3 types of Dholis:
    1. Dhola
    2. Birampota
    3. Goyandpota
  7. Manganiyars: Hereditary professional folk-musicians.[93]

Opium usage

Charans used to enjoy consumption of opium (also known as Afeem or Amal in regional languages), practices which are also popular among the Rajputs of this region.[94] The usage of opium by Charans was considered necessary for important ceremonies & social gatherings. At weddings, the bride and the bridegroom would take opium together in the presence of their kinsmen. Other occasions where it was suitable to take opium were betrothals, weddings, the birth of a male child, parting of the beard, reconciliations, at visit of a son-in law, after a death, and on festivals such as 'Akhatij'.[95][96] In Saurashtra, during British rule, it was found that around a half of the total opium consumers were from Charan and Rajput communities.[97]

Contributions to Indian literature

A whole genre of literature is known as Charan literature.[98] The Dingal language and literature exist largely due to this caste.[31][99] Zaverchand Meghani divides Charani sahitya (literature) into thirteen subgenres:[98]

Other classifications of Charani sahitya are Khyatas (chronicles), Vartas and Vatas (stories), Raso (martial epics), Veli - Veli Krishan Rukman ri, Doha-Chhand (verses).[31][99]

See also


  1. ^ Commissioner, Pakistan Office of the Census (1962). Population Census of Pakistan, 1961: West Pakistan: 1.Karachi. 2.Lahore. 3.Gujranwala. 4.Rawalpindi. 5.Lyallpur. 6.Multan. 7.Quetta. 8.Peshawar. 9.Hyderabad. 10.Sukkur. 11.Bahawalpur. 12.Hazara. 13.Sialkot. 14.Sargodha. 15.Mianwali. 16.Jhang. 17.Loralai. 18.Sibi. 19.Jacobabad. 20.Campbellpur. 21.Gujrat. 22.Bannu. 23.Jhelum. 24.Tharparker. 25.Larkana. 26.Thatta. 27.Mekran. There are other castes of Hindus i.e., Brahmans, Lohanas, Khatries, Sutars, Charans, Sonaras, Kalals etc.
  2. ^ Kothiyal, Tanuja (14 March 2016). Nomadic Narratives: A History of Mobility and Identity in the Great Indian Desert. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-316-67389-8. Charan migratory history traces their movements between Baluchistan, Jaisalmer, Marwar, Gujarat and Kutch.
  3. ^ * Palriwala, Rajni (1993). "Economics and Patriliny: Consumption and Authority within the Household". Social Scientist. 21 (9/11): 47–73. doi:10.2307/3520426. ISSN 0970-0293. JSTOR 3520426. In Rajasthan, they were bards and 'literateurs', but also warriors and jagirdars, holders of land and power over men; the dependents of Rajputs, their equals and their teachers. On my initial visit and subsequently, I was assured of this fact vis-a-vis Panchwas and introduced to the thakurs, who in life-style, the practice of female seclusion, and various reference points they alluded to appeared as Rajputs. While other villagers insisted that Rajputs and Charans were all the same to them, the Charans, were not trying to pass themselves off as Rajputs, but indicating that they were as good as Rajputs if not ritually superior....most of the ex-landlord households, the Charans and one Pathan, remained in the middle and upper ranks of village society
    • Kapadia, Aparna (2022). "Imagining Region in Late Colonial India: Jhaverchand Meghani and the Construction of Saurashtra (1921–47)". The Journal of Asian Studies. 81 (3): 541–560. doi:10.1017/S0021911822000080. ISSN 0021-9118. S2CID 248169878. Movement was also integral to the work of the Charans, who emerged as the preservers of Rajput culture and served various administrative and diplomatic functions...Historically, violence was fundamental to Charans' preservation of their sacred and ethical authority. From about the thirteenth century, Charans had served various bureaucratic functions for their patrons, including as security for private or government transactions.
    • Paul, Kim (1 January 1993). "Negotiating sacred space: The Mandirand the Oran as contested sites". South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 16 (sup001): 49–60. doi:10.1080/00856409308723191. ISSN 0085-6401. In the past some Charans were agriculturalists, engaged in farming lands which were divided equally between male descendants of the lineage. Others were cowherds and caravan escorts....
    • Marcus, George E. (1983). Elites, Ethnographic Issues. University of New Mexico Press. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-8263-0658-6. Charans were court poets and historians, "bards"...Prominent Charan (caste of bards) dewans or senior court servants included Kaviraj (court poet) Shyamaldas at Udaipur and Kaviraj Murardan at Jodhpur.
    • Shah, P. R. (1982). Raj Marwar During British Paramountcy: A Study in Problems and Policies Up to 1923. Sharda Publishing House. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-7855-1985-0. The Charans constituted a body of faithful companions of the Rajputs. They composed poems in praise of the heroic deeds of the Rajputs, and thus inspired them with courage and fortitude. They also guarded the mansions of their patrons, gave protection to their women and children during emergency and also acted as tutors for the young ones. In return land gifts and honours were conferred upon them. The Charans, who could not devote themselves to intellectual pursuits, took to trade. They also protected merchants and travellers passing through desolate regions and forests.
    • Gupta, Saurabh (1 October 2015). Politics of Water Conservation: Delivering Development in Rural Rajasthan, India. Springer. p. 42. ISBN 978-3-319-21392-7. "Sharma (ibid) argues that the ex-Zamindars (or landlords) who own big landholdings even today are influential but those who do not retain it are not only less influential but have also slid down the scale of status hierarchy. The families most affected by this belong to the Rajputs, Jats, Charans and Brahmins (all traditionally powerful caste groups)
    • Matheson, Sylvia A. (1984). Rajasthan, Land of Kings. Vendome Press. ISBN 978-0-86565-046-6.
    • Hastings, James M. (2002). Poets, Sants, and Warriors: The Dadu Panth, Religious Change and Identity Formation in Jaipur State Circa 1562-1860 Ce. University of Wisconsin--Madison. p. 23. In Rajasthan, the Charans are a highly esteemed caste seen as occupying a social position slightly lower than that of Brahmins but above that of Rajputs, with whom they maintain a symbiotic relationship...Like Rajputs, with whom they often shared company, Charans would eat meat, drink liquor and engage in martial activities...Although, in a way, poetic composition and recitation was for them a "pastime" subordinate to the primary income producing occupations of military service, agriculture, and horse and cattle trading...
    • Jain, Pratibha; Śarmā, Saṅgītā (2004). Honour, Status & Polity. Rawat Publications. ISBN 978-81-7033-859-8. The Charans have also received applause and appreciation for their contribution as historians of medieval Rajasthan.
    • Vinay, Srivastava (2004). Methodology and Fieldwork. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-566727-1. They were the Rajputs' geneologists, historians, and teachers; sometimes they were leading state servants, sometimes guides and protectors of trade. Killing a Charan, like killing a brahmin, was a mortal sin. It was the duty of powerful Rajput patrons to support and honour...
  4. ^ a b Maheshwari, Hiralal (1980). History of Rajasthani Literature. Sahitya Akademi.
  5. ^ a b c Ziegler, Norman P. (1976). "The Seventeenth Century Chronicles of Mārvāṛa: A Study in the Evolution and Use of Oral Traditions in Western India". History in Africa. 3: 127–153. doi:10.2307/3171564. ISSN 0361-5413. JSTOR 3171564. S2CID 156943079.
  6. ^ a b Rao, Velcheru Narayana; Nārāyaṇarāvu, Vēlcēru; Shulman, David Dean; Subrahmanyam, Sanjay (2003). Textures of Time: Writing History in South India 1600-1800. Other Press. ISBN 978-1-59051-044-5.
  7. ^ Paul, Kim (1 January 1993). "Negotiating sacred space: The Mandirand the Oran as contested sites". South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 16 (sup001): 49–60. doi:10.1080/00856409308723191. ISSN 0085-6401. In the past some Charans were agriculturalists, engaged in farming lands which were divided equally between male descendants of the lineage. Others were cowherds and caravan escorts....
  8. ^ a b Kapadia, Aparna (2022). "Imagining Region in Late Colonial India: Jhaverchand Meghani and the Construction of Saurashtra (1921–47)". The Journal of Asian Studies. 81 (3): 541–560. doi:10.1017/S0021911822000080. ISSN 0021-9118. S2CID 248169878. Movement was also integral to the work of the Charans, who emerged as the preservers of Rajput culture and served various administrative and diplomatic functions...Historically, violence was fundamental to Charans' preservation of their sacred and ethical authority. From about the thirteenth century, Charans had served various bureaucratic functions for their patrons, including as security for private or government transactions.
  9. ^ "Development of social, religious and economic structure in medieval Rajasthan: A study with reference to conditions during 1201-1707 a.d | International Journal of Development Research (IJDR)". Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  10. ^ Vinay, Srivastava (2004). Methodology and Fieldwork. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-566727-1.
  11. ^ Mahārāṇā Pratāpa ke pramukha sahayogī (in Hindi). Rājasthānī Granthāgāra. 1997.
  12. ^ a b c Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber; Rudolph, Lloyd I. (1984). Essays on Rajputana: Reflections on History, Culture, and Administration. Concept Publishing Company. At the outer edge of qualification norms is standing in one of the respectable (usually twice-born) and traditionally literate castes or communities of Rajputana-such as Rajputs, Oswals, Maheshwaris, Kayasths, Charans, Brahmans, and Muslims....the bureaucratic lineages in and out of power, whether from within (mutsaddi, Rajput, Muslim, Charan etc.)...Prominent Charan Dewans or senior court servants included Kaviraj (court poet) Shyamaldas at Udaipur and Kaviraj Murardan at Jodhpur.
  13. ^ Bhasin, Veena (2005). Medical Anthropology, Tribals of Rajasthan. Kamala-Raj Enterprises. ISBN 978-81-85264-35-6. The states were divided into various categories of Jagirs. During medieval period, Rajputs, Charans and Baniyas dominated the princely states. The Rajputs had a dominant status either as central ruler or Jagirdar and Thikanedar though lower to the Brahmins in ritual hierarchy. Next to them in status were Baniyas, followed by clean artisans, peasants and service castes. Baniya, though in minority had skills to run the administration . The status of Brahmin was subordinate in administration; instead Charans were close to the Rajputs. Vidal ( 1997 ) portray a picture of society and kingship in Sirohi area of Rajasthan where bards appeared as the real ideologues
  14. ^ Bhati, N. S. (1979). Studies in Marwar History. Rajasthani Shodh Sansthan. The Charans acted as bards to the royal family but due to their intimate relations with the rulers they enjoyed their confidence and many times they acted as mediators in political affairs and enjoyed hereditry Jagir (Sasan) rights.
  15. ^ a b Marcus, George E. (1983). Elites, Ethnographic Issues. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-0658-6.
  16. ^ Śekhāvata, Raghunāthasiṃha (1998). Shekhawati Pradesh ka rajnitik itihas (in Hindi). Ṭhā. Mallūsiṃha Smr̥ti Granthāgāra. दीवानजी का बास तेजमालजी नामक रत्नू चारण को सीकर ठिकाने की ओर से 1500 बीघा भूमि चंदपुरा गांव की सीमा में दी । तेजमालजी के तीन पुत्र रामनाथ, बद्रीदान व स्योबक्सजी बताये जाते हैं । रामनाथ किशनगढ़ राज्य के दीवान बने, स्योबक्स जी झालावाड़ व बद्रीदान माधोसिंह सीकर के दीवान थे । बद्रीदान को माधोसिंह ने बोदलासी ( नेछवा के पास ) की छः हजार बीघा भूमि प्रदान की । इनके पुत्र कुमेरदानजी सीकर ठिकाने में दीवान थे । चंदपुरा आज दीवानजी का बास के नाम से जाना जाता है । बद्रीदान के वंशज दीवानजी का बास व बोदलासी दोनों जगह रहते हैं ।
  17. ^ Indica. Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture, St. Xavier's College. 2007.
  18. ^ Hastings, James M. (2002). Poets, Sants, and Warriors: The Dadu Panth, Religious Change and Identity Formation in Jaipur State Circa 1562-1860 Ce. University of Wisconsin--Madison. Like Rajputs, with whom they often shared company, Charans would eat meat, drink liquor and engage in martial activities.
  19. ^ a b Jain, Pratibha; Śarmā, Saṅgītā (2004). Honour, Status & Polity. Rawat Publications. ISBN 978-81-7033-859-8. Charans were known for their exemplary courage on the battlefield in Mewar . During Maharana Sanga's and Maharana Pratap's reigns, the roll of honour has names of prominent Charans.
  20. ^ Research, Rajasthan Institute of Historical (1968). Journal of the Rajasthan Institute of Historical Research. Charanas also used to fight in the battle fields along the kings. They were equally rich in the use of sword, pen and voice. These people had no concern with the religious sermons, and even then they enjoyed a great respect in the royal courts as well as in the society. They used to receive many big Jagirs from the kings! We can find several instances in the history of Rajasthan where the king himself carried their palnquin on his own shoulders.
  21. ^ Paliwal, D. L. (1970). Mewar Through the Ages. Sahitya Sansthan, Rajasthan Vidyapeeth. In between the social order of the Rajputs and the Brahmins there is a caste of the Charans which exercised a great respectability and influence in Mewar. As an equal partner in war and peace his place was enviable. Many a charans fought to their last in the decisive battles of Mewar.
  22. ^ a b Guptā, Mohanalāla (1995). Jālora kā rājanītika evaṃ sāṃskr̥tika itihāsa (in Hindi). Mātr̥chāyā Prakāśana.
  23. ^ Sharma, Gopi Nath (1974). Glories of Mewar. Shiva Lal Agarwala & Company.
  24. ^ Girase, Jaypalsingh (2 August 2020). Rashtragaurav Maharana Pratapsingh: Ek Aprajit Yoddha (in Hindi). Notion Press. ISBN 978-1-64919-952-2.
  25. ^ Agravāla, Govinda (1974). Cūrū Maṇḍala kā śodhapūrṇa itihāsa (in Hindi). Loka Saṃskr̥ti Śodha Saṃsthāna.
  26. ^ Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (1980). Studies in History. Sage.
  27. ^ Sarkar, Sir Jadunath (1943). The History of Bengal. University of Dacca. On 21st May, near sunset, he was suddenly surprised by the enemy in over whelming force; the careless and disordered imperialists after a little fight fled away; Bikā Rathor, Mahesh Das and Naru Chāran bravely sacrificed their lives, but could not stem the rout.
  28. ^ Singhji, Virbhadra (1994). The Rajputs of Saurashtra. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-81-7154-546-9.
  29. ^ a b Upadhyaya, Rashmi (2010). "The Position of Charans in Medieval Rajasthan" (PDF). Rajasthan History Congress. 26: 31–38 – via rajhisco.
  30. ^ Sinh, Raghubir (1950). Ratalāma kā prathama rājya, usakī sthāpanā evaṃ anta: īsā kī 17 vīṃ śatābdī (in Hindi). Rājakamala Prakāśana.
  31. ^ a b c Sharma, G. N. (1968). Social Life in Medieval Rajasthan. Agra: Lakshmi Narayan Agarwal Educational Publisher. pp. 94–96.
  32. ^ Nāgorī, Esa Ela (1982). Alavara Rājaya kā itihāsa, 1775-1857 (in Hindi). Cinmaya Prakāśana.
  33. ^ Gupta, Beni (1979). Maratha Penetration Into Rajasthan: Through the Mukandara Pass. Research.
  34. ^ Bayley, C. S. (2004). Chiefs and Leading Families in Rajputana. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-1066-8.
  35. ^ Bond, J. W.; Wright, Arnold (2006). Indian States: A Biographical, Historical, and Administrative Survey. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-1965-4.
  36. ^ Dharaiya, Ramanlal Kakalbhai (1970). Gujarat in 1857. Gujarat University.
  37. ^ a b "Gujarat in 1857 – When Hindus and Muslims fought together". 25 November 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  38. ^ Kapadia, Aparna (16 May 2018). Gujarat: The Long Fifteenth Century and the Making of a Region. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-15331-8. Charans accompanied these warriors in battles, sang of their glory in war, and, as late as the nineteenth century, served as guarantors and diplomats for their lieges on account of their sacred association with various forms of the mother goddess.
  39. ^ Basu, Helene (2005). "Practices of Praise and Social Constructions of Identity: The Bards of North-West India". Archives de sciences sociales des religions. 50 (130): 81–105. doi:10.4000/assr.2795. ISSN 0335-5985. JSTOR 30116669. S2CID 145362328. No contract between kings after a war, or between patrons and clients agreeing the terms whereby services be rendered, nor any other contract was considered valid without a Chāran guaranteeing on his own and/or the life of his family that the terms agreed upon would be fulfilled. They provided the same service for merchants and traders on their long treks through the desert up north, when they accompanied caravans for their protection against plundering bandits.
  40. ^ a b c Weinberger-Thomas, Catherine (1999). Ashes of Immortality: Widow-Burning in India. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-88568-1.
  41. ^ Schaflechner, Jürgen (2018). Hinglaj Devi: Identity, Change, and Solidification at a Hindu Temple in Pakistan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-085052-4. Charans were also warrantors for contracts, guaranteeing adherence to certain agreements between two parties with their lives.
  42. ^ Rao, Aparna; Casimir, Michael J. (2008). Nomadism in South Asia. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-569890-9. One of their functions was the witnessing and guaranteeing of important transactions. Their power of enforcement lay in the threat to kill themselves, if necessary, to bring supernatural forces to bear against the violator.
  43. ^ Singh, Sabita (27 May 2019). The Politics of Marriage in India: Gender and Alliance in Rajasthan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-909828-6. The Charans were also used by the rulers for political negotiations as is evident from the fact that in the case of enmity between Rathore Rao Rinmal of Sojat (son of Rao Chuda) and Bhattis, the Bhattis sent Charan Sandhayach to plead with Rinmal not to trouble them. He succeeded in his task, which led to the establishment of matrimonial alliance between the two sides....Also, the importance of the Charans in the social structure of Rajasthan can be assessed from the fact that the Ranis (queens), who had young children, but had resolved to commit sati, would hand over their children to the care of the Charans, indicating the kind of trust that they enjoyed. There are examples of handing over children to the Brahmins also, but these examples are far less than those of the Charans.
  44. ^ Chatterji, Anjali; Chatterjee, Anjali (2000). "Sectional President's Address: ASPECTS OF MEDIEVAL INDIAN SOCIETY: GLEANINGS FROM CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 61: 196–241. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44148098. Due to their intimate relation with rulers charans enjoyed their confidence and often they acted as mediators in political affairs and also enjoy hereditary Jagirs i.e., Sasan rights.
  45. ^ Saran, Richard; Ziegler, Norman P. (2001). The Mertiyo Rathors of Merto, Rajasthan: Select Translations Bearing on the History of a Rajput Family, 1462-1660, Volumes 1-2. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-03821-3. Caran Jhuto appears in this passage as a go-between. Carans in Rajasthan, because of their sacred status, often assumed this role in negotiations between hostile or warring groups.
  46. ^ Allen, Charles; Dwivedi, Sharada (1984). Lives of the Indian Princes. BPI Publishing. ISBN 978-81-86982-05-1. They also acted as intermediaries in negotiating marriages, in guaranteeing the settlement of debts and disputes and as emissaries in times of war.
  47. ^ "The Desert Frontier: A History of Travel and Nomadism". Sahapedia. Retrieved 14 July 2022. The Charans acted as arbitrators and guarantors in dealings and agreements between Rajputs, once again resorting to taga if one party did not keep his end of the bargain. Such glorification of death worked in a society dominated by a Rajput community that set great store by dying in the battlefield for Rajput men and by self-immolation for their women.
  48. ^ Snodgrass, Jeffrey G. (2004). "The Centre Cannot Hold: Tales of Hierarchy and Poetic Composition from Modern Rajasthan". The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 10 (2): 261–285. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9655.2004.00189.x. ISSN 1359-0987. JSTOR 3804151. Well into the colonial period, however, Charans continued to perform one of their other long-standing functions, which was to serve as witnesses or guarantors to commercial transactions and financial contracts. Some also carried on as providers of a related service, which was to act as guarantors of the security of caravans conveying goods in transit....Not least among these was the fact that the British might have seen royal bards – as arbitrators of disputes, witnesses to contracts and agreements, protectors of hostages, educators of kings and their offspring, composers of history, and indeed establishers of truth – as competitors of a kind and thus sought to eliminate them (Vidal 1997).
  49. ^ Vashishtha, Professor V.K. (2016). "Transformation in the Position of Charan Community in Rajputana States during Colonial Period" (PDF). Rajasthan History Congress. 31: 155–166 – via RAJHISCO.
  50. ^ Matheson, Sylvia A. (1984). Rajasthan, Land of Kings. Vendome Press. ISBN 978-0-86565-046-6.
  51. ^ a b c d "Living goddesses, past and present in North-west India, German Scholars on India – Global InCH- International Journal of Intangible Cultural Heritage". Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  52. ^ a b c Chandra, Yashaswini (22 January 2021). The Tale of the Horse: A History of India on Horseback. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-93-89109-92-4.
  53. ^ Choudhry, P. S. (1968). Rajasthan Between the Two World Wars, 1919-1939. Sri Ram Mehra. The Kachela Charans were traders . They were shrewd merchants and lighter dues were levied on them than on others.
  54. ^ a b c d e Kothiyal, Tanuja (14 March 2016). Nomadic Narratives: A History of Mobility and Identity in the Great Indian Desert. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-316-67389-8. The genealogists for Charans were Brahmins from Ujjain who periodically inscribed their genealogies in their accounts.
  55. ^ a b c Hooja, Rima (2006). A History of Rajasthan. Rupa & Company. ISBN 978-81-291-0890-6.
  56. ^ Bagchi, Amiya Kumar (2002). Capital and Labour Redefined: India and the Third World. Anthem Press. ISBN 978-1-84331-068-6.
  57. ^ Niyogi, Chandreyee (5 April 2006). Reorienting Orientalism. SAGE Publishing India. p. 78. ISBN 978-93-5280-548-8.
  58. ^ "Rajasthan, District Gazetteers: Pali". INDIAN CULTURE. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  59. ^ Sato (Professor.), Masanori (1997). Economy and Polity of Rajasthan: Study of Kota and Marwar, 17th-19th Centuries. Publication Scheme. ISBN 978-81-86782-14-9.
  60. ^ Bhargava, Hem Bala (2000). Royalty, Feudalism, and Gender: As Portrayed by Foreign Travellers. Rawat Publications. p. 192. ISBN 978-81-7033-616-7. Heber writes that not only in Rajputana but in the wilder districts of South-west more war-like Charans were found. In Gujarat and Malwa the merchants and travellers hired Charans to protect them through their journey.
  61. ^ "The Rajput States and the East India Company". INDIAN CULTURE. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
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  74. ^ Banerjee, Anil Chandra. (1983). Aspects of Rajput State and Society. pp. 124–125. OCLC 12236372.
  75. ^ Sharma, G. N. (1968). Social Life in Medieval Rajasthan. Agra: Lakshmi Narayan Agarwal Educational Publisher. p. 111.
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  78. ^ Choudhry, P. S. (1968). Rajasthan Between the Two World Wars, 1919-1939. Sri Ram Mehra. Charans are mentioned even in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Though some of them are found even in Gujrat and Kathiawar, yet it is Rajputana with which they are mainly associated and thus require a special mention. Like the Rajputs they claim a divine origin and were always treated with the greatest respect by Rajputs.
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  85. ^ a b Qanungo, Kalika Ranjan; Kānūnago, Kālikā Rañjana (1960). Studies in Rajput History. S. Chand. there are seven categories of persons and communities, who in their turn have a hereditary claim on the Charan's bounty, and are not allowed to beg of any other community. Besides their kula-guru family of Brahmans living in Ujjain till today, and the purohit (family priest), these are: the Rao Bhat of Chandisa sept of Marwar (who are the Bhats of the Charans as of the Rathors of Marwar); the Rawal Brahmans, the Goind-pota and the Viram-pota (Bhats singing with dhol?) and the Motisar community.
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  92. ^ Prabhākara, Manohara (1976). A Critical Study of Rajasthani Literature, with Exclusive Reference to the Contribution of Cāraṇas. Panchsheel Prakashan. Motisar is a caste which keeps the genealogies of Carans, sings their praises and begs money of them. The Motisars themselves are often good composers.
  93. ^ Neuman, Daniel M.; Chaudhuri, Shubha; Kothari, Komal (2005). Bards, Ballads and Boundaries: An Ethnographic Atlas of Music Traditions in West Rajasthan. Seagull. ISBN 978-1-905422-07-4.
  94. ^ Singh, Khushwant (1982). We Indians. Delhi: Orient Paperbacks. OCLC 10710940.
  95. ^ Shah, P. R. (1982). Raj Marwar During British Paramountcy: A Study in Problems and Policies Up to 1923. Sharda Publishing House. ISBN 978-0-7855-1985-0. Among Rajputs and Charans the bride and the bridegroom took opium together in the presence of their kinsmen.
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