Ahir or Aheer is an ethnic[1] group in India. Most members of which identify as being of the Indian Yadav community because they consider the two terms to be synonymous.[2] The Ahirs are variously described as a caste, a clan, a community, a race and a tribe.

A statue of Rao Tularam Singh in Jhajjar
Populated statesIndia and Nepal
SubdivisionsYaduvanshi, Nandvanshi, and Gwalvanshi Ahir

The Yaduvanshi Ahir also spelled Yadubansis, Yadubans, Yadavanshi, Yadavamshi) claim descent from the ancient Yadava tribe of Krishna.[3] The Yaduvanshi trace their origin to Yadu.

The traditional occupation of Ahirs are pastoralism and agriculture. They are found throughout India but are particularly concentrated in the northern areas. They are known by numerous other names, including Gauli,[4] Ghosi, Gop, Rao Saab in the north.[5] Some in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh are known as Dauwa or Dau Saab.[6] In Gujarat, they are also known as Ahad and Aayar.[7]


Gaṅga Ram Garg considers the Ahir to be a tribe descended from the ancient 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 the word Ahir to be the Prakrit form of the Sanskrit word, Abhira meaning fearless, though later the word may have become a general term for Gopa or pastorlists, and he notes that the present term in the Bengali and Marathi languages is Abhir.[2]

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 the Abhira tribe.[2]

Ahirs in Gujarat came from the Sumra Dynasty and claim to be descended from the Yadava race of Lord Krishna.[7]


Early history

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.[8] S. D. S. Yadava describes how this situation impacts on theories of origin for the modern 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.[9]

Some, such as James Tod say Abhira are a scythian 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.[8] M. S. A. Rao and historians such as P. M. Chandorkar and T. Padmaja say that epigraphical and historical evidence exists for equating the Ahirs with the ancient Yadava tribe.[10][11][12]

In Padma-puranas and certain literary works Abhiras are mentioned as belonging to the race of Lord Krishna.[13][14] According to K. P. Jayaswal the abhiras of Gujarat are the same race as Rastrikas of Emperor Asoka and Yadavas of the Mahabharatha.[15][16]

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 the Mahabharata and acceptance or otherwise of the Aryan invasion theory.[9] 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 predatory tribes and rulers.[17]


Ahir Kingdoms included:

Military involvements

The British rulers of India classified the Ahirs of Punjab as "martial race" in the 1920s.[30] They had been recruited into the army from 1898.[31] In that year, the British raised four Ahir companies, two of which were in the 95th Russell's Infantry.[32] The involvement of a company of 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 Ahir Dham.[33][34]

During the 1965 India-Pakistan War, the 4 Kumaon Regiment, which is an Ahir company, played a key role. The Indian Army renamed Point 8667 to Yadav Hill in memory of the soldiers who were killed in capturing it from Pakistani forces.[35][36]

Karantikari Hinduism

The Ahirs have been one of the more Karantikari Hindu groups, including in the modern era. For example, in 1930, about 200 Ahirs marched towards the shrine of Trilochan and performed puja in response to Islamic tanzeem processions.[37] 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.[38]


Traditionally Ahirs are divided into subdivisions such as Yaduvanshi, Nandvanshi and Gwal (Gwalvanshi).[39] They have more than 20 sub-castes.[40]


North India

They are majority in the region around Behror, Alwar, Rewari, Narnaul, Mahendragarh, Gurgaon[41] and Jhajjar[42][43] which is therefore known as Ahirwal or the abode of Ahirs.[44]

Delhi has 40 villages. Till 1990s Ahirs used to be in major group most of North India and Nepal Madhesh, since then Muslim overtook them due to high birth rates.[45] Neighbouring Gurgaon has 106 villages[46] and Noida has around 12 villages.[47][48]



Anthropologist 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.[49] 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.[50] Noor Mohammad noted that in Uttar Pradesh that most Ahirs there were vegetarian, with some exceptions who engaged in fishing and raising poultry.[51] 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.[52]


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.[53] Other Ahir folk traditions include those related to Kajri and Biraha.[54]

See also


  1. edited by Patrick Hanks, Richard Coates, Peter McClure (2016). The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names. Dictionary. Oxford University. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-19-252747-9.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. Garg, Gaṅga Ram, ed. (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu world. 1. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 113–114. ISBN 978-81-7022-374-0.
  3. Sanjay Yadav (2011). The Environmental Crisis of Delhi: A Political Analysis. Worldwide Books. p. 52. ISBN 978-81-88054-03-9. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  4. Mehta, B. H. (1994). Gonds of the Central Indian Highlands. II. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. pp. 568–569.
  5. Lucia Michelutti (2002). "Sons of Krishna: the politics of Yadav community formation in a North Indian town" (PDF). PhD Thesis Social Anthropology. London School of Economics and Political Science University of London. pp. 94, 95.
  6. Jain, Ravindra K. (2002). Between History and Legend: Status and Power in Bundelkhand. Orient Blackswan. p. 30. ISBN 978-8-12502-194-0.
  7. Gujarat. Popular Prakashan. 2003. p. 46. ISBN 978-81-7991-104-4.
  8. Bhattacharya, Sunil Kumar (1996). Krishna – Cult in Indian Art. M.D. Publications. p. 126. ISBN 9788175330016.
  9. Yadava, S. D. S. (2006). Followers of Krishna: Yadavas of India. Lancer Publishers. p. 1. ISBN 9788170622161.
  10. Guha, Sumit (2006). Environment and Ethnicity in India, 1200–1991. University of Cambridge. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-521-02870-7.
  11. Rao, M. S. A. (1978). Social Movements in India. 1. Manohar. pp. 124, 197, 210.
  12. T., Padmaja (2001). Temples of Kr̥ṣṇa in South India: History, Art, and Traditions in Tamilnāḍu. Archaeology Dept., University of Mysore. pp. 25, 34. ISBN 978-8-170-17398-4.
  13. T, Padmaja (2002). Ay velirs and Krsna. University of Mysore. p. 34. ISBN 9788170173984.
  14. Garg, Dr Ganga Ram (1992). Encyclopedia of Hindu world. Concept Publishing. p. 113. ISBN 9788170223740.
  15. Mularaja solanki (1943). "The Glory that was Gūrjaradeśa, Volume 1". History. Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 30.
  16. K P Jayaswal. "Hindu Polity". History. Bangalore Print. p. 141.
  17. Malik, Aditya (1990). "The Puskara Mahatmya: A Short Report". In Bakker, Hans (ed.). The History of Sacred Places in India As Reflected in Traditional Literature. Leiden: BRILL and the International Association of Sanskrit Studies. p. 200. ISBN 9789004093188.
  18. Lucia Michelutti (2002). "Sons of Krishna: the politics of Yadav community formation in a North Indian town" (PDF). PhD Thesis Social Anthropology. London School of Economics and Political Science University of London. p. 83.
  19. Jalgaon district. "JALGAON HISTORY". Jalgaon District Administration Official Website. Jalgaon district Administration. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  20. Punam Yadav (2016). Social Transformation in Post-conflict Nepal: A Gender Perspective. Taylor & Francis. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-317-35389-8.
  21. S. Swayam (2006). Invisible people: pastoral life in proto-historic Gujarat, Volume 1464. John and Erica Hedges Ltd. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-84171-732-6.
  22. Sushil, Kumar; Kumar, Natesh, eds. (2003). Encyclopaedia of folklore and folktales of South Asia. 10. Anmol Publications. p. 2771. ISBN 978-81-261-1400-9.
  23. Harald Tambs-Lyche (2018). Transaction and Hierarchy: Elements for a Theory of Caste. Manohar. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-138-09546-5.
  24. Sree Padma (2018). Inventing and Reinventing the Goddess: Contemporary Iterations of Hindu. Lexington Books. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-7391-9001-2.
  25. Gujarat, India (Republic) Superintendent of Census Operations (1964). Junagadh. Director, Government Print. and Stationery, Gujarat State. p. 5.
  26. Sengupta, Hindol (31 August 2018). The Man Who Saved India. Penguin Random House India Private Limited. ISBN 9789353052003.
  27. The Indian Year Book. Bennett, Coleman & Company. 1924. p. 154.
  28. Survey of Industrial Development Potentialities in Pilot Project Areas. The Office. 1959. pp. xxvi.
  29. Lucia Michelutti (2002). "Sons of Krishna: the politics of Yadav community formation in a North Indian town" (PDF). PhD Thesis Social Anthropology. London School of Economics and Political Science University of London. p. 47.
  30. Mazumder, Rajit K. (2003). The Indian army and the making of Punjab. Orient Blackswan. p. 105. ISBN 978-81-7824-059-6.
  31. Pinch, William R. (1996). Peasants and monks in British India. University of California Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-520-20061-6.
  32. Rao, M. S. A. (1979). Social movements and social transformation: a study of two backward classes movements in India. Macmillan.
  33. Guruswamy, Mohan (20 November 2012). "Don't forget the heroes of Rezang La". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  34. "Nobody believed we had killed so many Chinese at Rezang La. Our commander called me crazy and warned that I could be court-martialled". The Indian Express. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  35. Singh, Jasbir (2010). Combat Diary: An illustrated history of operations conducted by 4th Kumaon. History. Lancer Books. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-935501-18-3.
  36. Roar of the Tiger: Illustrated History of Operations in Kashmir. VIJ BOOKS. 2010. p. 84. ISBN 9789382573586.
  37. Gooptu, Nandini (2001). The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early Twentieth-Century India. Cambridge University Press. p. 307. ISBN 978-0-521-44366-1. The Ahirs in particular who played an important role in militant Hinduism, retaliated strongly against the Tanzeem movement. In July,1930, about 200 Ahirs marched in procession to Trilochan, a sacred Hindu site and performed a religious ceremony in response to Tanzeem processions.
  38. Gooptu, Nandini (2001). The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early Twentieth-Century India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 205–210. ISBN 978-0-521-44366-1.
  39. Gupta, Dipankar (2004). Caste in question identity or hierarchy?. New Delhi: Sage Publications. pp. 49, 58. ISBN 978-8-13210-345-5.
  40. Patel, Mahendra Lal (1997). Awareness in Weaker Section: Perspective Development and Prospects. M. D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 33. ISBN 978-8-17533-029-0.
  41. Guru Nanak Dev University, Sociology Dept (2003). Guru Nanak Journal of Sociology. Sociology Department, Guru Nanak Dev University. pp. 5, 6.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  42. Verma, Dip Chand (1975). Haryana. National Book Trust, India.
  43. Sharma, Suresh K. (2006). Haryana: Past and Present. Mittal Publications. p. 40. ISBN 978-81-8324-046-8.
  44. The Vernacularisation of Democracy: Politics, Caste, and Religion in India. Routledge. 2008. pp. 41, 42. ISBN 978-0-415-46732-2.
  45. Rao, M. S. A. (1973). "Urbanization and Social Change: A Study of a Rural Community on a Metropolitan Fringe". Economic Development and Cultural Change. 22 (1): 170–172. doi:10.1086/450702. JSTOR 1152898.
  46. Qureshi, M. H.; Mathur, Ashok (1985). A geo-economic evaluation for micro level planning: a case study of Gurgaon District. Centre for the Study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Concept Pub. Co. pp. 38, 45, 48.
  47. "No moral compass for village between two worlds". The Times of India. 8 January 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  48. "I am CS". Tehelka. 16 December 2006. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  49. Singh, Kumar Suresh, ed. (1998). The People of India: Rajasthan. p. 44. ISBN 9788171547661.
  50. Singh, Kumar Suresh, ed. (2004). The People of India: Maharashtra. p. 58. ISBN 9788179911006.
  51. Mohammad, Noor (1992). New Dimensions in Agricultural ... p. 60. ISBN 9788170224037.
  52. Lal, Rash Bihari (2003). Gujarat. p. 46. ISBN 9788179911044.
  53. "Spectrum". The Sunday Tribune. 1 August 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  54. Koskoff, Ellen, ed. (2008). The Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: The Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia. Routledge. p. 1026. ISBN 978-0-415-97293-2.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.