While studying Indian History, one comes across the rulers of Imperial Pratihars & Chaulukyas (Solankis), Muslim rulers of Gujarat Sultanate, ruler of Southern Ganga Dynasty, Marathas etc, who had adopted the titles like Gurajareshvara, Gurjaresha, Gurjara-naresh, Gurjara-adhiraja, Gurjarabhupa, Gurajar-kshamapati and so on, ruling over Gurjaradesha.

In all these titles, used by Hindu & Muslim Kings, the word “Gurjara” undoubetedly denoted a geographical connotation. “Gurjara” denoted a geographic area consisting of roughly southern Rajasthan & northern Gujarat. KM Munshi noted that modern Gujarat has a part of Medieval Gurjaradesha included in it. Gurjara-bhumi of the Chaulukyas (940-1304), differed from the Gūrjaradesha, or Gurjaratra of the Imperial Pratiharas (c. 725-940) as also the Gurjara visited by Hiuen-Tsang (A.D. 641). Only one tract was common to all these entities before the fall of Anahilavada in A.D. 1299. Mount Abu and the ancient city of Bhillamala, certainly never lay outside their boundaries. Bhillamala, therefore, is the centre from which the shifting boundaries of the region in a particular period have to be determined.

We have clear references to the word “Gurjara”, signifying a territorial or geographical entity, as mentioned in various inscriptions and literary evidences at least from 7th century CE. Some of these evidences will be discussed in this article.

The foremost Myth which needs to be busted is: “Gurjara denotes Gujjar caste.”

a) Skanda Purāṇa (Sahyadri Khanda)

Here is a verse from Skanda Purāṇa which mentions Pancha-Dravida Brahmins divided into 5 sections. One of the divisions is called Gurjara Brahmins.

द्राविडाश्चैव तैलङ्गाः कर्नाटा मध्यदेशगाः। गुर्जराः चैव पञ्चैते कथ्यन्ते पञ्चद्राविडाः॥

Pancha-Dravida Brahmins divided into 5 sections:

  • Tailaṅgas
  • Karnāṭas
  • Drāviḍas
  • Madhyadeśagas
  • Gurjaras

Undoubtedly, Gurjaras and other four divisions denote geographical connotation and there is no Gujjar caste affiliation.

b) Tasgaon Plates of Yadava Krishna (1251 CE)

Tasgaon plates of Yadava Krishna mentions a Gurjara Brahmin named Shatananda of Krishna-atreya Kula. Again the term “Gurjara” doesn’t signify any caste here, but is a geographical connotation for a Brahmin living in Gurjaradesha.

c) Shravana Belagola epigraph (10th century CE)

Shravana Belagola epigraph states that Ganga Dynasty’s Satyavakya Kongunivarman became known as “Gurjara adhiraja” by conquering the northern region for Rashtrakuta King Krishna III. Till now, not even a single Historian thinks that the word “Gurjara” in this epigraph (used for Ganga Dynasty) has any racial connection with Gujjar caste.

d) Dohad Stone Inscription of Mahmud Begada (1488 CE) and Raj Vinod Mahakavya

In the very 1st verse of Dohad Stone Inscription, Mudaphar Patasaha i.e. Muzaffar-I is referred to as Shri Gurjaresha (“श्रीगूर्जरेशो नृपकुलतिलकः”). Similarly, Raj Vinod Mahakavya written by court poet of Mahmud Begada used the title of Shri Gurjjara-Kshamapati for Mudaphar i.e. Muzaffar-I (श्रीमान् साहिमुदप्फरस्समजनि श्रीगूर्ज्जरक्ष्मापति).

This is a conclusive evidence highlighting whomsoever ruled over Gurjara territory, whether Hindu or Muslim, adopted the titles like Gurjaresha, Gurjjara-Kshamapati etc. In this evidence, Muslim rulers of Gujarat Sultanate used such titles because they were the lord of Gurjaradesha at that time. They had nothing to do with Gujjar caste.

Having proved that the word “Gurjara” had no racial connotation, we shall proceed to see that the word “Gurjara” had been regularly used for centuries to denote  geographical region.

  • Arab writers

The Arab writers Sulaiman, Abu Zaid, Ibn Khurdadba, Al Baladhuri, Al Masudi, and Al Idrisi mention “Jurz” or “Juzr” (arabic corruption of Gurjara). Two of them, viz., Sulaiman and Al Masudi, visited India. Sulaiman and Abu Zaid report that Jurz is a State. Al Baladhuri makes it clear that Jurz is the name of a country.¹

  • Hiuen Tsang (7th century CE)

Hiuen Tsang mentioned the territory of Ku-che-lo (taken to be a transliteration of “Gurjara” country) of which the capital was Bhillamāla, and the ruler was a Kshatriya.²

  • Kuvalayamala of Uddyotana Suri (778 CE)

A territory known by the name “Gurjara” did exist and can be seen from the description “रम्मो गुजर-देसो जेहि कओ देवहरएहिं” which speaks of Sivachandra Gani’s visit to Bhillamāla and also of his disciple Yaksa datta Gani whose disciples beautified the Gurjaradesha with temples

  • Yashastilaka-Champu of Somadeva Suri (959 CE)

Yashastilaka-Champu of Somadeva Suri describes regiments of soldiers from different parts of India in the king’s army. Five regiments in all are described: the Deccan regiment; the Dramila regiment provided with litters; the North Indian regiment of cavalry; the Gurjara regiment (…इदं गौर्जरं बलम्) of archers; and the Tirhut regiment. The description, in here, is again done on geographical basis i.e. Dakshinatya, Dramila, Uttarapatha, Tirabhukta and Gurjara. Dasharatha Sharma noted that one can easily recognise in the description of Gurjara army, the traits of a Rajput warrior.

  • Daulatpura Plate of Bhojadeva-I (843 CE)

Daulatpura Plate of Bhojadeva-I mentions in lines 6-7: “Maharaja Bhojadeva issues these commands to all appointed to the several offices and to the inhabitants assembled at the agrahara village of Siva, which belongs to Dendvanaka vishya in the Gurjaratra country i.e. Gurjjarattra-bhumi.”

  • Ghatiyala Inscription (861 CE)

The 3rd verse in this inscription states that Kakkuka obtained great fame in the countries of Travani, Valla, Mada, amongst Aryas in Gurjjarattra and in Parvata in Lata country (… आर्येषु गुर्ज्जरत्त्रायां लटादेशे च पर्व्वते).

  • Prabhavaka Charita (13th century CE)

Prabhavaka Charita (13th century CE) is a Jaina text which clearly says that the word “Gurjara” represents a region “अस्ति स्वस्तिनिधिः श्रीमान् देशो गुर्जरसंज्ञया” i.e. the country (देशः) by the name Gurjara (गुर्जर), which is the abode (निधिः) of wealth and auspiciousness.”

  • Jaina Pustak Prashasti Sangraha

Palm leaf manuscript in Pattan, Jaina Pustak Prashasti Sangraha mentions “अथ अस्ति गुर्जरो देशो विख्यातो भुवनत्रये” i.e. there is a desha called Gurjara famous in three worlds.⁴

  • Prabandhakosha (14th century CE)

Prabandhakosha mentions “आमस्य भुक्तौ गुर्ज्जरादिदेशः” i.e. in the bhukti of Aama were deshas like Gurjara. Further it also mentions, “मालवीया राजानो गुर्ज्जरानागतः” i.e. whenever the kings of Malwa came to Gurjara country.⁵

  • Sambhaji’s Sanskrit letter (17th century CE)

Sambhaji’s Sanskrit letter mentions “गुर्जरदेशं प्रति प्रेष्येते” i.e. “to despatch into Gujarat.

  • Gurjara Prakashan (20th century)

Gurjara Prakashan (20th century) used to publish novels in Gujarati language. Gurjara word was used for geographical region to promote Gurjara-bhasha i.e. Gujarati. Gurjara Prakashan was not related to Gujjar caste. Infact, Gurjara here refers to the people of Gurjara country.

Dhumaketu’s novel on Mahamatya Chanakya was first published in 1955 by ‘Gurjara Prakashan’. Covering 38 chapters and ~300 pages, it is written in Gujarati language. It is the 4th book in the series with Empire at Magadh as the focal point.⁶

To sum up, the word “Gurjara” has been used continuously to denote geographical tract throughout Historical records. Infact, Gurjara appellation was used by successive dynasties (including Muslims) who ruled over Gurjaradesha.


[1] A Comprehensive History of India, Part – I, edited by Dr. RC Majumdar.

[2] Si-yu-ki, Buddhist records of the western worlds, by Samuel Beal.

[3] Rajasthan through Ages, Vol.-1, general editor Dr. Dasharatha Sharma.

[4] ibid, p.114 

[5] ibid p.117

[6] Article published in MyIndMakers: “Book Review of Dhumaketu’s Mahamatya Chanakya”, by Hiren Dave.(https://myind.net/Home/viewArticle/book-review-of-dhumaketus-mahamatya-chanakya)

Note: This article has special contributions from my friend K. Singh. I am thankful to him for his contributions.

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.