About six lakh Rod Marathas residing in 230 villages of Haryana trace their roots to Maratha soldiers who survived 3rd Battle of Panipat. Although, the community has mingled with the other communities of Haryana but still is preserving its identity
Dr. Ganesh Dutt Vats
Haryana is known for creating history and through its outstanding acts of valour and sacrifices. It has produced numerous martyrs to uphold the dignity, glory and liberty of the country. Whenever the country was invaded by foreign aggressors the Haryanvi soldiers fought fearlessly and fiercely to repulse the enemy and achieved glorious success in preserving the freedom and prosperity of the region. Their significant contribution to speedy growth of the country in almost every sphere of life is unforgettable and remarkable. The people of Haryana have shed their sweat and blood to multiply the agriculture production and are rightly considered the biggest producer of rice and wheat to the national food kitty.
After the 3rd battle of Panipat it was believed that on January 14, 1761 Maratha soldiers disappeared; what happened to them is still shrouded in mystery. Research conducted over eight years by Vasantrao More, a well known historian attached to Kolhapur University, and Virender Singh Varma , a former Haryana bureaucrat and president of the Haryana Jagriti Manch, have done pioneering work in this regard and through their intensive research and spending eight years have brought out startling and convincing revelations. Their research has uncovered evidence to prove that more than six lakh strong Rod community, spread wide across 230 villages around Panipat, has descended from the 500–odd Maratha soldiers who hid in jungles around Panipat being scattered by Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali’s forces. The team spent over Rs 15 lakh on the study and was funded mainly by the Manch, a Karnal-based NGO.
More than 50,000 Maratha soldiers were slain in the battle. Amongst those killed were Sadashivrao Bhau and Vishwasrao, Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao’s son, along with Maratha commanders Jankoji and Tukoji Scindia of the Gwalior royal family and Yashwantrao Pawar of the Dewas family. The gallant Muslim commander of the Maratha artillery, Ibrahim Khan Gardi, came in for a particularly gory end at the hands of the invading Afghans for aligning with Hindus in the battle.
Says Varma, who first started the investigation into the origin of the Rods a decade ago, “Right from the Maratha words in our Hindi dialect, the style of our old Havelis, our love for horses to our surnames and typical customs—they all prove that we are descendants of the lost Maratha soldiers of Panipat. The revelation has filled the entire community with nostalgia and pride.”
Adds More, author of The History of Rod Marathas of Panipat Battle, “Research to locate the lost Maratha soldiers of Panipat by the Peshwas and later by the scholars of Punjab university failed because none came across the Rod community. Over 80 per cent of Rod surnames match those of Marathas as do many customs and words in their dialect.”
Another eminent Maharashtra historian Jaisinghrao Pawar says: “The research done by More is outstanding. The conclusions he has drawn are based on an in-depth study of social, economic and cultural life of the Rods. It proves that Rods are indeed descendants of the lost Maratha survivors of Panipat.” The Rods have surnames like Pawar, Chavan, Bhosle, Sawant, Memane, Dudhane, Khokhre, Khasbare, Ghole, Dhabade, Bodle, Jhondhle, Shelar, Batane, to name a few. Many words in their language are typically Marathi. They call ‘puran poli’, a Maharashtrain sweet roti, poli. They refer to rupee as ‘hon’, which was what Chatrapati Shivaji’s currency was called. They stand out in Haryana for eating ‘dal’ and rice at night, a common practice for villagers in Maharashtra even today.
Joginder Singh from Karnal and Suresh Singh of village Jhondhle, two prominent citizens of their areas maintain that the roots of the Rods can undeniably be traced to the Marathas. Balbir Singh and Sultan Singh of village Barthal say, “We have no doubt that we are descendants of Panipat survivors. Till recently every Rod home had swords and spears and our love for horses was legendary.” In Haryana so many villages had till recently, a number of Maratha style Havelis. They have a richly carved rectangular wooden door beneath an arched entrance says a farmer Mangat Ram. The only difference between this gate and the gates of havelis in Maharashtra is that their version is made of black stone while we used wood and carved it.”
Who are Rod Marathas?
After the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan, the King of Delhi, in the Second Battle of Tarawadi in 1192, Muhammad Ghori returned Ghazni after installing his agent, Qutb al-Din Aibak on the throne of Delhi. But after the death of Ghori in 1206 Aibak declared himself as the independent ruler of Delhi. During those days the area between present Agra and Rajasthan was ruled by King Rod, the son of King Khangad. The King Rod migrated to Western Ghat of Maharashtra after Qutb al-Din Aibak pressurised the King to marry his daughter to him. Since they were weak before the large army of Aibak, the King preferred to migrate than marrying his daughter to the Muslim invader. Since King Rod migrated to Maharashtra on Rakshabandhan Day, his followers do not celebrate Rakshabandhan till today. Historians also say that the ancestors of Chhatrapati Shivaji also migrated to Maharashtra due to the atrocities of the Muslim invaders.
A simple, though by no means less conclusive, proof of the Maratha heritage of the Rods is the practice of saying, ‘Chhatrapati ki jai” (long live Chhatrapati) at the drop of a hat. Says Ramnath, a farmer, “Even when a child sneezed our mothers would say ‘Chhatrapati ki Jai.”
An overwhelming number of the Rods believe firmly that they are the descendants of the Maratha clan. Yet there are some voices that disagree with their view point and maintain their independent Rod identity. But the researches and historians have found satisfactory evidences to connect the Marathas in Maharashtra and Rod Marathas in Haryana.
Though, the community has made all efforts to preserve their identity and strictly followed the norms of not marrying outside their community, they have mingled in the other Haryanavi communites and also actively contributed in the development of Haryana. A good number of the youth from this community serve in Haryana Police as well as the Army. They are also in government jobs, especially the administrative services. They are basically farmers and participate in social activities also with full enthusiasm. Many sportspersons including Palkar Singh, Dalel Singh and Balwant Singh Kaul have represented India in Volleyball teams.