The Red Rajputs
The Path, May 1894
Brother Charles Johnston, F.T.S., formerly of the Dublin Lodge in Ireland, is a member of the Royal Academy of Science and retired from the British Civil Service of India. His interest in Indian questions of religion, philosophy, and ethnology is very great, and as his linguistic accomplishments are extensive, his studies in that field are of value. The Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Review for October, 1893, has an article 1 by him under the above title which Theosophists will do well to read if they can procure it.
Starting with the assertion of de Quatrefages that there are four principal color groups in the human family, of white, yellow, red, and black races, he adds this from the Mahabharata:
The color of the Brahmans is white; of the Kshatriyas red, of the Vaisyas yellow, of the Sudras black.
While Col. Tod has given much of what is called the history of the Rajputs, Johnston shows that although we have been in contact with Rajputana for over a hundred years, there as yet exists no material for an exact study of its ethnology; while the latter as an exact science is very young and was for a long time hampered by the old Mosaic traditions about Shem, Ham, and Japhet. He holds that the Rajputs are red in color, and also makes good argument on the point that in ancient times they as Kshatriyas or warriors were above the Brahmans so far as mystical and spiritual knowledge went. Quoting the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad thus, “This knowledge has never before dwelt in any Brahman,” he goes to point out that Krishna, the great King and Sage, was a Kshatriya, while next comes Buddha, admitted by the Hindus to be an Avatara, who was also a Kshatriya, all being held by him to be Rajputs. Krishna traced his doctrine from the Kshatriya Manu through a line of Rajarshis or Rajanya sages. This is in the Bhagavad Gita, where the last personage named in the line is Ikshvaku, of whose race was Buddha. Hence he ascribes the spirit of the Upanishads and of Buddhism to the mystical genius of the Rajanya race. The well-known characteristics of the Brahmans of not having missionaries should be remembered at this point. The reformers they have had have been mostly among themselves, as, for instance, the great Brahman Sankaracharya. If Johnston’s argument be right, then it is a very remarkable fact that the Gayatri, or that holy verse which is the “mother of the Vedas,” repeated every morning by thousands of Brahmans as they bathe in the Ganges, was composed by a Kshatriya and not by a Brahman. On this we have in the Upanishads these words: “The Brahman sat at the foot of the Kshatriya.” This upholds the spiritual dignity of the Rajanyas, who are the Kshatriyas and the Red Rajputs. And, as he shows, to this time the Ranas of Mewar “unite spiritual with royal authority and officiate as high priests in the temple of the guardian deity of their race.” We should not forget, either, that it is recorded respecting the proceedings after the death and cremation of the body of Buddha that the Moriyas of Pipphalivana, saying that Buddha was of their soldier caste, took away the embers to erect a cairn over them. 2 And the name to be applied to these is lohita, or red, which is also the name of the planet Mars, the fighter.
Johnston’s ethnological deduction is as follows: “That the Kshatriyas of ancient India are identical in ethnic characteristics with the Rajputs of today.” The Red Rajputs are the descendants of the solar race, a race of kings, of mystical men who not only could learn of mystic occultism but could also fight and rule, which is contrary to the regulation for the Brahman.
If we turn now to The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 378, there is most interesting and suggestive matter on this head, with names also, given doubtless with a purpose not divulged.
Quoting from the Vishnu-Purana (Bk. IV, ch. xxiv and iv), she says:
Two persons, Devapi, of the race of Kuru and Maru, of the family of Ikshvaku . . . continue alive throughout the whole Four Ages, residing at . . . Kalapa. They will return hither, in the beginning of the Krita age . . . Maru (Moru), the son of Shigra through the power of devotion (yoga) is still living . . . and will be the restorer of the Kshatriya race in the Solar dynasty.
Max Müller, it is said, translates Moru as Morya, of the Morya dynasty, evidently of the same race or family as those who came and took the embers from the cremation of Buddha. To take the embers, when read under the rules of Indian symbolism, is very much like “taking the essence of spiritual culture after all the rest is burned or purged away.” Another valuable article to read in connection with this is the Moryas and Koothoomi in Five Years of Theosophy, p. 483. All students of these extremely interesting points are indebted to Brother Johnston for his paper, all too short as it was.
1. For Johnston’s article, see here. [ED.]
2. See Mahaparinibbana Sutta, American Oriental Department, No. 14.