Khap

Khap (Hindi:खाप, IAST: khāpa) and Sarv Khap (सर्व खाप) was a system of social administration and organization in the republics of Northwestern states like Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in India since ancient times. Khap is a term for a social - political grouping and used in a geographical sense. Other parallel terms are Pal, Ganasangha, Janapada or republic.

For some reasons the political unit of Khap was defined as a group of 84 villages. This unit of measure is found as far back as the Saka migrations/invasions circa 500 BCE into the Indian subcontinent. The concept of Khap is quite ancient. Written references are found as far back as the Rig Vedic times circa 2500 BCE.

Historical back ground

The Indian social fabric was organized around the village unit, from time immemorial, as making shifted from nomadic to settled agricultural practices. Throughout the last few millennium the society of the Indian sub continent, was organized in various forms, tribal, village, monarchial or republican among the ancient Jats, as borne out by the ancient literature, Rig Veda etc, the mode of governing was that of a council of five, which in time was called a Panchayat. We find that the republican form of society existed from the most ancient times known to us. In various times the society coalesced around monarchial forms, but the republican societies did not die out, but maintained their existence with remarkable resilience. We find references to the republican sources in our ancient literature, some of the most ancient as being the Rig Veda. The dating of this work in now generally accepted to be in the circa 2500 BCE period. The forms of governing society are that of the `Sabha’(Hindi: सभा) or `samiti’ (Hindi: समिति) i.e. gathering/assembly. The Sabhapati, the president of the Sabha was elected. [1] · [2]

The term `Rajan, Rajanaya' has been taken to denote a monarchial system. A closer look shows the term was used at that time for the householder, the head of the household, and he would participate in the Sabha or assembly. In later times this took on a monarchial connotation, as Raja, Maharaja, a term familiar to most of us.

In the texts of Panini and later Buddhist texts we find references to 16 republics or Great Republics Janapadas, or Mahajanpadas' and the reference are to the period circa 600 BCE (conventional dating). We find references to names of republics like Mall, Licchavi, Sakya, Yaudheya, Agreya, and so on. We find Indian and Western sources referring to these republics e.g. in the invasion of Alexander (circa 325 BCE) where Alexander comes wars with the Malloi or Malli, Kshudrak, Paur, Puru, Kathi republics. We continue to find the republics referred to as the Yaudheyas, Malls etc are found dominating the Northern Indian landscape in what is now Punjab, Sindh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The Sarv Khap (or all Khap) Panchayat (council) represented all the Khaps. The individual Khaps would elect leaders who would send delegates, who would represent the Khaps at the Sarv Khap level. It was a political organization, composed of all the clans, communities, and castes in the region. The republics of the Yaudheyas who dominated this region from 600BCE to 400 CE preceded it. Their had their a similar system of governance, and their coins and seals are found in this whole region, Rohtak Haryana was one of the capitals and a major coin mint. [3]

After the fall of Kushan Empire northwest India was divided in to small republics. These small republics could not defend against invaders. So there were formed federations of republics knows as Ganasanghas. One such Ganasangha was on the banks of Sutlej River. Another Gansangha of Arjunayana was in the region between Agra and Bharatpur. Dr Budh Prakash says that the Yaudheyas are related with present Dahiya clan and Arjunayana Ganasanghas were the present Joon clans. Dr Natthan Singh">Dr Natthan Singh">[4]

Functioning of Khaps

The ancient kshatriyas have always organized themselves into clans or under Panchayat system; both typically Aryan. A clan was based on one large gotra or a number of closely related gotras under one elected leader whose word was law. Mutual quarrels of any intensity could be settled under his orders. In time of danger, the whole clan rallied under the banner of the leader.

The Panchayat system is territorial and highly democratic. Every village has its own Panchayat. Whenever there is a problem or dispute in the village, a gathering of the Panchayat is called for every member of the village has a right to attend, express his views and vote for or against a proposal. The maximum available people normally attend. There are no elected or nominated Panchayat officials. Nevertheless, some persons, by virtue of their wisdom and eloquence, are automatically accepted as Panches, (one of the five) and their views are heard and respected. While elders discuss a problem it is customary for younger people not to speak but sit and listen. All decisions are taken after open-hearing, full and voluntary expression of views and consensus vote. Even if one of the contending parties considers the Panchayat decision unfair it is accepted and complied with without question.

A number of villages grouped themselves into a Gohand (corresponding to the present Thana area); a number of Gohands formed a ‘Khap’ (covering an area equal to from a Tehsil to a District and a number of Khaps formed a 'Sarva Khap' embracing a full province or state. For example, there was a “Sarva Khap” each for Haryana and Malwa. At what level a Panchayat should gather depended upon the magnitude of the problem and the territory it involved. [5]

The right of attendance and expression was open to every one, whatever the level of the Panchayat. Generally, however, selected - representatives of the villages attended Panchayats of the 'Gohand' and higher level. Leaders were elected and appointed at 'Khap' and 'Sarva Khap' level that maintained records of decisions and had the authority to call an assembly.

Negotiations with kings were done - at 'Sarva Khap' level. Chaudhry Kabul Singh of Village Shoram, District Muzaffarnagar, whose ancestors were leaders of the Sarva Khaap Panchayat, holds some copper plates and papers bearing records of important negotiations.

The Khap and its divisions

One of the terms used to denote the republic was the `Khap'. Others were Pal, Janapada, and Ganasangha etc. The Khap consisted a unit of 84 villages. The individual villages were governed by an elected Council, which was known as the Panchayat. A unit of seven villages was called a Thamba and 12 Thambas would form the unit of 84 Villages. We also find Khaps of 12 and 24 villages. Their elected leaders would determine which units would be represented at the Khap level. These Khaps are found to be spread all the way from Northwest India down to Madhya Pradesh, Malwa, Rajasthan, Sindh, Multan, Punjab, Haryana, and modern Uttar Pradesh. [6]

Sarv Khap of Haryana

This region from Western Uttar Pradesh through Agra, Mathura, to the Sutlej River in the Punjab was known as Haryana, dominated by Jats, and it is of this region that we speak, when refer to the Sarv Khap of Haryana. The influence of the Sarv Khap extended to the Malwa province in Central India, Rajasthan and Sindh. With the ebb and flow of history, the boundaries also expanded and receded.

Criticism of the Khap system

Emerging since medieval times, the Khap system is much need of legal reform. In recent times, the Khap system has attracted criticism from groups, citing the stark prejudice that such groups hold against others. The intolerance and anti locution that follows the hate campaign against another group of perhaps lower caste position, lower financial position, as well as sexist attitudes have led to calls for reform min some tragic cases. Womens Organisation AIDWA has showed concern in some cases where the Khaps have initiated even threats of murder and violence to innocent couples who marry outside of the circle [1]

The role Sharv Khaps played in India

Some well known occasions, when armies and funds were marshaled under the aegis of Sarva Khaps, are: [5]

References

1. ^ J.P. Sharma, Republics in Ancient India, 1968, Leiden
2. ^ Steve Muhlberger, Democracy in Ancient India, Associate Professor of History, Nipissing University.
3. ^ Bibliography, Yuadheyoun ka Ithihasa
4. Dr Natthan Singh">Dr Natthan Singh">^ Dr Natthan Singh, Jat-Itihas, (Jat History), Jat Samaj Kalyan Parishad, F-13, Dr Rajendra Prasad Colony, Tansen marg, Gwalior, M.P, India 474 002 2004
5. ^ Ram Swarup Joon, History of the Jats, Rohtak, India (1938, 1967)
6. ^ Dr. Bal Kishan Dabas, The Political and Social History of the Jats, 2001 Sanjay Prakashan, New Delhi, ISBN 81-7453-045-2 Meeting held under the chairmanship of Sant Shanta Nand, the account recorded by Ramdas, the Recorder( Bhat) of the Panchayat Source: Shoram collection, Pothi No.1, P.7, quoted in note 33, of ` The Political and Social History of the Jats, Dr. Bal Kishan Dabas
7. ^ Ram Swarup Joon, History of the Jats, Rohtak, India (1938, 1967)
8. Dr Natthan Singh">Dr Natthan Singh">^ Dr Natthan Singh, Jat-Itihas, (Jat History), Jat Samaj Kalyan Parishad, F-13, Dr Rajendra Prasad Colony, Tansen marg, Gwalior, M.P, India 474 002 2004

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Haryana (Hindi: हरियाणा, Punjabi: ਹਰਿਆਣਾ, IPA: [hərɪjaːɳaː]) is a state in north India.
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The Janapadas are the major realms or kingdoms of Vedic (Iron Age) India, by the 6th century BC evolving into the sixteen classical Mahajanapadas .

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Sakas were the Scythians who lived in the eastern part of Central Asia. They are considered to be of north-eastern Iranian people by modern scholars.[1][2][3]
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    Yaudheya or Yaudheya Gana was an ancient tribal confederation who lived in the area between the Indus river and the Ganges river. They find mention in Panini's Ashtadhyayi and Ganapatha.
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