Military


Rajput Regiment

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, self-sufficiency, physical and moral resilience, orderliness and hard work, fighting tenacity, and above all, a sense of courage and loyalty were the characteristics attributed by the British to the Indian martial races. The martial race par excellence was the Rajputs. The association of the Rajputs with the British Indian army started in 1778, when the 3rd Battalion was raised as the 31st Regiment Bengal Native Infantry. In 1798 the 2nd Battalion, 16th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, the fore-runner of the present Second Battalion of the Rajput Regiment, was raised. By the Second World War the Rajput Regiment had companies of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. They were some of the finest fighting soldiers in the world, as most of them came from families who had supplied the Indian Army for centuries.

Rajputs [from rajputra, a sanskrit word meaning son of a king], are the dominant people of Rajputana, an historic region now almost coextensive with the state of Rajasthan in northwest India. The Rajputs form the fighting, landowning and ruling caste. The Rajputs are mainly Hindus of the warrior caste. Traditionally they have put great value on the military virtues and take great pride in their ancestry. They claim to be the modern representatives of the Kshatriyas of ancient tradition; but their early history is obscure. The tradition of common ancestry permits a poor Rajput yeoman to consider himself as well born as any powerful landholder of his clan, and superior to any high official of the professional classes. No race in India can boast of finer feats of arms or brighter deeds of chivalry, and they form one of the main recruiting fields for the Indian army.

The Rajputs of Rajasthan, constituted a warrior aristocracy divided into a number of prominent clans, each of which regarded a princely state as its traditional patrimony, whose ruler was the social head of clan besides being the political ruler. Of these exogamous clans, the major ones were Shekhawat, Rathore, Bhati, Kachchwaha, Chauhan, and Sisodiya. Their power in Rajputana grew in the 7th century, as the Rajputs expanded through most of the plains of central India. Under the British, many of the Rajput princes maintained independent states within Rajputana. They considered any occupation other than that of arms or government derogatory to their dignity, and consequently during the long period of peace which followed the establishment of the British rule in India, they were content to stay idle at home instead of taking up any of the other professions in which they might have come to the front. Looking upon all manual labour as humiliating, none but the poorest class of Rajput would himself hold the plough.

Although the Rajputs never constituted more than a tenth of the total population, they have commanded the heights of the polity and the society in Rajasthan for nearly a thousand years. The common Rajput was normally engaged in soldiering, agriculture and in certain cases, employment in the royal households. However all Rajputs trace their ancestry to the ruling clans of the country. Their way of life is refined and courteous as well as abrasive and dominating compared to other simple classes and castes of rural Rajasthan. As the Rajputs are devotees of Durga (Mother-goddess), their common form of greeting each other is Jai mata ji ki (victory and praise be of the mother Durga).

Major B. K. Pant, commander 2 Rajputs, was a fine example in courage displayed by the Indian soldier in the war with China in 1962. His company held fast against three waves of Chinese assaults and had suffered heavy casualties. Pant himself was wounded in the stomach and legs. Yet he continued to lead and inspire his men, exhorting them to fight till the end to the last man. The Chinese sensing that their obstacle in taking 2 Rajputs lay with Major Pant, brought a volley of machine gun fire on his position killing him instantly. His last words were "Men of the Rajput Regiment, you were born to die for your country. God has selected this small river for which you must die. Stand up and fight like true Rajputs." He died proudly shouting the Rajput battle-cry: "Bajrang Bali ki Jai." The Chinese completely wiped out the two regiments of the Rajputs and the Gorkhas. 2 Rajputs alone had 282 killed, 81 wounded and captured and 90 unwounded and captured out of their total strength of 513.

The affiliation between Navy ships and Army regiments was instituted in 1990 when the guided missile destroyer, "INS Rajput", was affiliated to the Rajput Regiment.



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