Ahir or Aheer is an Indian ethnic group, some members of which
identify as being of the
Yadav community because they consider the two
terms to be synonymous. The
Ahirs are variously described as a
caste, a clan, a community, a race and a tribe. They ruled over
different parts of India and Nepal.
The traditional occupation of
Ahirs is cow-herding and agriculture.
They are found throughout India but are particularly concentrated in
the northern areas. They are known by numerous other names, including
Gaoli, Ghosi in the north and Gaddi if converted to Islam.
Some in the
Bundelkhand region of
Uttar Pradesh are known as Dauwa.
2.1 Early history
2.3 Military involvements
2.4 Militant Hinduism
4.1 North India
4.2 Rajasthan and Gujarat
6 See also
8 External links and Sources
Gaṅga Ram Garg considers the
Ahir to be a tribe descended from the
Abhira community, whose precise location in India is the
subject of various theories based mostly on interpretations of old
texts such as the
Mahabharata and the writings of Ptolemy. He believes
Ahir to be the
Prakrit form of the
Sanskrit word, Abhira, and
he notes that the present term in the Bengali and Marathi languages is
Garg distinguishes a Brahmin community who use the
Abhira name and are
found in the present-day states of
Maharashtra and Gujarat. That
usage, he says, is because that division of Brahmins were priests to
Asirgarh Fort, built by King Asa
Ahir in Madhya Pradesh
Theories regarding the origins of the ancient Abhira — the
putative ancestors of the Ahirs — are varied for the same
reasons as are the theories regarding their location; that is, there
is a reliance on interpretation of linguistic and factual analysis of
old texts that are known to be unreliable and ambiguous. S. D. S.
Yadava describes how this situation impacts on theories of origin for
Ahir community because
Their origin is shrouded in mystery and is immersed in controversy,
with many theories, most of which link the
Ahirs to a people known to
the ancients as the Abhiras.
Some, such as A. P. Karmakar, consider the
Abhira to be a
Proto-Dravidian tribe who migrated to India and point to the Puranas
as evidence. Others, such as Sunil Kumar Bhattacharya, dismiss this
theory as anachronistic and say that the
Abhira are recorded as being
in India in the 1st-century CE work, the Periplus of the Erythraean
Sea. Bhattacharya considers the
Abhira of old to be a race rather than
a tribe. .
M. S. A. Rao and historians such as P.M Chandorkar and
T.Padmaja have stated that epigraphical and historical evidence exists
for equating the
Ahirs with the ancient
Whether they were a race or a tribe, nomadic in tendency or displaced
or part of a conquering wave, with origins in Indo-Scythia or Central
Asia, Aryan or Dravidian — there is no academic consensus, and
much in the differences of opinion relate to fundamental aspects of
historiography, such as controversies regarding dating the writing of
Mahabharata and acceptance or otherwise of the Aryan invasion
theory. Similarly, there is no certainty regarding the
occupational status of the Abhira, with ancient texts sometimes
referring to them as pastoral and cowherders but at other times as
Ahir chieftains include:
Hariyana or Ahirwal)
Ahir Ranas (Chudasama) of Junagadh
Ahir of Nasik
Ahir dynasty of Nepal
Ahir of Nimar
The British rulers of India classified the
Ahirs as an "agricultural
tribe" in the 1920s, which was at that time synonymous with being a
"martial race". They had been recruited into the army from
1898. In that year, the British raised four
Ahir companies, two of
which were in the 95th Russell's Infantry. The involvement of a
Ahirs from 13 Kumaon Regiment in a last stand at Rezang La
in 1962 during the
Sino-Indian War has been celebrated by Indian Army
& Govt. and in remembrance of their bravery the war point memorial
has been named as
Ahirs have been one of the more militant Hindu groups, including
in the modern era. For example, in 1930, about 200
towards the shrine of Trilochan and performed puja in response to
Islamic tanzeem processions. It was from the 1920s that some Ahirs
began to adopt the name of
Yadav and various mahasabhas were founded
by ideologues such as Rajit Singh. Several caste histories and
periodicals to trace a Kshatriya origin were written at the time,
notably by Mannanlal Abhimanyu. These were part of the jostling among
various castes for socio-economic status and ritual under the Raj and
they invoked support for a zealous, martial Hindu ethos.
Ahirs are divided into subdivisions such as Yaduvanshi,
Nandvanshi and Goalvanshi. They have more than 20 sub-castes.
For centuries the
Ahirs were eclipsed as a political power in Haryana
until the time of the Pratihara dynasty. In time,
they became independent rulers of southwest Haryana.
They are majority in the region around Behror, Alwar, Rewari, Narnaul,
Mahendragarh, Gurgaon and Jhajjar which is therefore known
Ahirwal or the abode of Ahirs.
Delhi has 40 villages. neighbouring
Gurgaon has 106 villages 
and Noida has around 12 villages.
Rajasthan and Gujarat
Kachchh (Kutch) District, State of Gujarat
There are five main castes of
Ahirs in Kutch: Pancholi, Paratharia,
Machhoya, Boricha, and Sorathia and Vagadia. These communities are
mainly of farmers who once sold milk and ghee but who now have
diversified their businesses because of the irregularity of rain. The
other community is the Bharwads, some of whom in Saurashtra use Ahir
as a surname and consider themselves to be
Kumar Suresh Singh noted that the Rajasthani Ahir
are non-vegetarian, though cooking their vegetarian and non-vegetarian
foods on separate hearths. Though they eat mutton, chicken, and fish,
they do not eat beef or pork. Their staple is wheat, they eat millet
in the winters, and rice on festive occasions. They drink alcohol,
smoke Beedis and cigarettes, and chew betel leaves. In
Maharashtra, however, Singh states that the
Ahir there are largely
vegetarian, also eating wheat as a staple along with pulses and
tubers, and eschewed liquor. Noor Mohammad noted in Uttar Pradesh
Ahirs there were vegetarian, with some exceptions who
engaged in fishing and raising poultry. In Gujarat, Rash Bihari
Lal states that the
Ahirs were largely vegetarian, ate Bajra and Jowar
wheat with occasional rice, and that few drank alcohol, some smoked
Beedis, and some of the older generation smoked hookahs.
The oral epic of Veer Lorik, a mythical
Ahir hero, had been sung by
folk singers in
North India for generations. Mulla Daud, a Sufi Muslim
retold the romantic story in writing in the 14th century. Other
Ahir folk traditions include those related to
Kajri and Biraha.
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External links and Sources
Maharashtra History at Maharashtra.gov.in
Imperial Gazetteer, on DSAL.UChicago.edu - here Kathiawar, listing
YouTube - Gujarati
Clans of the Ahirs
Shaikh of B