Accepted Paper:

Hostility or solidarity? Rajputs and Jats in the "Chavali" poems from the region of Shekhavati  


Aleksandra Turek (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate on the example of the “Chavali” poems from Shekhavati that regional works can serve not only a ludic purpose but to strengthen intercaste solidarity. The “Chavali” poems are works that commemorate the successful co-operation of Rajputs and Jats in Shekhavati.

Paper long abstract:

Local works transmitted on the outskirts of the mainstream literature can be a good source for reconstruction of a social reality of premodern India. Folk works usually codify local point of view that can vary from information given in official records. The "Chavali" poems are late 19th c. oral works from the Shekhavati region of Rajasthan, composed to commemorate the deeds of a local gang of dacoits. The poems can be analysed in a broader context as works that spread a message of intercaste co-operation in the region. The group of brigands marauding in the region consists of Rajput warriors, members of tribal Mina and of agricultural Jat community. The gang is led by Rajput Dungji and his nephew Javarji. All their ventures are, however,successful due to support of their Jat companion. The historical sources and scholarly works on Shekhavati relate a well-known fact about the traditional hostility between Rajputs and Jats, the two dominant communities in the region. The "Chavali"poems present quite the opposite image of relations between these two groups what will be demonstrated and analysed in the paper. The poems present the co-operation in the sphere of unlawfulness because in the milieu of dacoits, notwithstanding their traditional differences, both Dungji and Lotiya Jat became local heroes for Shekhavati folks. I will try to demonstrate in the paper that extrinsic works such as the "Chavali" poems gain popularity due to building a bridge between Rajputs and Jats, and thus they present heroes who act jointly and severally for the good of the poor.

Panel P24
Secular knowledge systems in early modern literary cultures