June 23, 2024

– C.L. Verma R.A.S. Rtd.

Caste wise and professional wise Indian census,1891

In the year of 1891,  a caste wise and professional/occupational wise Indian census was conducted by the British India Government.  According to that Census  Lonia,  Agary,  Uppar, Rehgar (a result of  gradual changing in the pronunciation of the word “Raghu”) were prominent salt and lime producing castes or communities. Almost Rehgars (approx. Eighty thousand) were involved in salt and lime production in Rajasthan and Gujarat. From this census report, it also reveals that  Rehgars were excluded from untouchable castes. But this status is not questionable. Because  above census report was prepared by the people, belonging to Muslims and prominent Hindus, who were of stanch or fanatic mind. Thus it can’t be expected that they have prepared wrong report. That is, the steep social fall of the Raigar community is a latter event.

Actually, Rehgar is a separate community of the ancient Rajaputana and it is also a minority community  in comparison to the Chamar community of Rajasthan.  Even, as per the census report of 1891,  Rehgars were only in thousands (77,856), whereas the Chamars(traditional tanners, scavengers and leather workers of  Rajasthan, Punjab, Hariyana, Uttar pradesh, Bihar, Madhypradesh, Gujarat)  were  more than one crore .

It is also found that many traditional caste names have been replaced by Susanskrit  words(सुसंस्कृत शब्द).  For example, the word “Megh” had been created instead of  the word Balai(Bhambhi, Dhed, Chamar),  even before the 1891 A.D. and  when the census authorities contacted them,  at least one lac people of this community told themselves  Megh instead of Balai or Bhambhi or Dhed or Chamar.  But caste words, like  Bairwa, Jatav,  Meghwal etc. are not traced out in the above census report.  Actually, they are new caste names.  Whereas Rehgar(Raiger) is an extended form of the word Rag.

Rag is an ancient community, which has been described in the various books, even in the Mahabharat epic. As per these books, it has been also proved that  the  homeland of Rag(Ragar) Kshatriyas  was the north western Aryavart. But a group of their descendants (the ancestors of present  Raigars) was settled  in Rajputana and its adjacent land, situated in the south-east and  south and they has called Rehgar(Raigar/Regar/Regar/ Reghar).

Although some families of the Raigar community are inhabiting  in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra. But they or their closure forefathers have migrated from Rajputana(India).  For example, although at present so many Raigar families have been living in Delhi. But they are not domiciles of Delhi. If it were so, then Regar population would have been reported in The Census of Delhi District,1901. But  as per this report, no Raigar is being traced out in Delhi.

Some Raigars themselves degraded their social-status in the transition of the 19-20th century

Unfortunately, the some Raigars themselves degraded their social status, indulging into leather work, when a big social change, took place in some untouchable castes of Rajputana in the last of 19th century and in the early of 20th century  and consequently,  those traditional leather workers had withdrawn themselves  from all leather works.  Today, they look like as if, their forefathers were not leather workers. But due to that economical, social and  occupational reform, some groups of  Raigar families,  got setback economically and professionally.  Why? It is argued in details in a book written by the author himself.

It is also a fact that many Raigers  had come in a near contact to the Chamar community. But the genealogical deferences in Raigers and Chamars were still visible or alive. Clearly, the populations  of Rehgars and  Chamars  were reported 084,296(in thousands) and  7,04,403(In lacs) respectively in the Census of Rajputana, 1901. Whereas only 195 persons called themselves as “Meghwal”.  But  no new caste words, like Bairwa, Jatav, Mahavar, Raidas, Ravidasiya, Ramdasiya,  valmiki,  Jingar etc. are also traced out in this Census report, 1901 of Rajputana.

A partial portion of the Indian Census of India,1891  regarding Rehgar and Chamars

“The 1891 Indian Census of India was conducted by the British and covered India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma. [1]The Census Commissioner was Jervoise Athelstane Baines, who was later knighted for his work in India. Baines changed the classification from that which had been used in the 1881 census. His obituary in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society describes the changes as being “first the separation of caste from religion and, secondly, the substitution of the population subsisting by an occupation for that exercising it.” He wrote the resultant 300-page General Report, which had “a literary flavour and wide scholarship” rather than a mere analysis of the data.[2]

The ethnic distribution was as follows:

Class Group Caste Population
All Classes All Groups All Castes 286,912,000
Military& Aristocratic Rajput 29,393,870
Jat 10,424,346
Gujjar 6,688,733
Maratha 2,171,627
Babhan 3,324,095
Nair 1,222,674
Artisans Total 28,882,551
Goldsmiths Total 1,661,088
Sonar 1,178,795
Aksale 307,670
Thattan 56,044
Others 118,579
Blacksmiths Total 2,625,103
Lohar 1,869,273
 salt and lime Total 1,531,130
 (1) Lonia is also a Raiger Gotra Lonia 796,080
Uppar 267,715
Agri 241,336
Rehgar 77,856
Others 148,143
       ——-      ——–    ——– ———-
 Note: (2) Rehgar community is Hindu.  (3) Shorgar is a Muslim community  (4) Banjaras were  only salt sellers  (5) Red colored are already linked with another websites.
Untouchables Total 30,795,703
Leather Workers Total 14,003,100
Chamar 11,258,105
Mochi 961,133
Madiga 927,339
Sakilia 445,366
Bambhi 220,596
 Note: The  linking of this chamar word with the word Raigar is wrong and biased. Others 190,561
Watchmen Total 12,808,300
Dusadh 1,284,126
Ghawal 167,089
Pasi 1,378,314
Arakh 85,522
Dhanuk 883,278
Mehra 226,216
Mahar 2,960,568
Dhed 508,310
Holar 880,441
Mang 690,458
Berad 659,863
Ramosi 63,991
Mutrasa 296,743
Paraiya (Pariah) 2,210,988
Others 512,393
Scavengers Total 3,984,303
Mehtar 727,985
Chuhra 1,243,370
Megh 148,210
Bhuinmali 231,429
Bhuinhari 316,787
Dom (Dumna) 1,257,826
Others 58,696
     ——    ——–    ——    —–


[1]  Database: General report on the Census of India, 1891, Page 199

[2]  R.H.R.; S. de J. (January 1926). “Obituary: Sir Athelstane Baines, C.S.I.”. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society       (London: Royal Statistical Society) 89 (1): 182–184.(subscription required)”


 References considered by writer

(1)  The word Rehgar(Raiger) has been also misjudged  even, by some sociologists and etymologists (शब्द-संरचना के परिभाषाकर्त्ता ), belonging to so-called lower communities  and they have given wrong and biased definitions of this  word.

For example, In a book Encyclopaedia of Untouchables Ancient, Medieval and Modern  written by Dr. Raj Kumar, 2008, : Gyan Publishing House, Delhi, the word “Rehgar” is defined on pp. 380 as bellow :-

“This is true also of the  shoragar or saltpetre-makee, who is sometimes called Rehgar from reh or saline efflorescence. But the two terms applied to the same class of men, who indeed, now that the making of salt is prohibited in most parts of the….”

But this a wrong and biased definition. Because  both the Rehgar and  Shorgar are two different ethnic groups(castes). Where,  Shorgar is a Muslim community  and generally,  it is indulged in the fireworks and makes crackers.  Secondly,  both the syllables shor and gar, are two meaningful words of Persian language. where, shor is used for shora(saltpeter) and gar means worker. That is, Shorgar is a Persian(Irani) word. Whereas Rehgar(Raiger) is a Hindu community by its birth.

Although  in Hindi language,  Reh means saline soil. But syllables Reh and gar, seeing in the word Rehgar are neither  Hindi and Persian words respectively nor they have been come independently in this word from  Hindi literature. Because the word  Rehgar is a result of the changing pronunciation of the word “Raghu”, as bellow:

रघु  रघ    रग  रगर  रहगर   रेहगर   रैगर/रेगर

Raghu  Ragh   Rag  Ragar   Rahgar   Rehgar   Raiger/Raigar/Regar

Actually, all these are also ancient words.

That is, Dr. Rajkumar has  misinterpreted  that  the words  Rehgar and Shorgar are synonyms to each other. That is,  I think, he  had to define the word “Rehgar” correlating with the Raigar  Raghuvanshi Hindu community, without any bias.

Although in the medieval era Rehgars(Raigars/Raigers/Regars/Reghars) were not untouchable. But at present, Raigers have been included in the list of scheduled castes in Rajasthan, even then  in the above Encyclopaedia, the word Raiger is not defined, Why? Perhaps, it seems that he  have misunderstood the word Rehgar(Raiger) and he could not think that Raiger is neither a sub caste of Chamar nor this  word is a synonym of the word “Chamar”.

Also, no one has assumed genealogically that  Raiger/Regar/Raigar/Rehgar/Reghar community is  a sub caste of  Chamar. Actually, for any Hindu caste,To be a sub caste” and “to be categorised inare two different phenomenons. That is , the Raiger can be categorised in only that Raigers have indulged in the leather work for a short period. But it is wrong to say that Raiger is a subcaste of Chamar. Hence in the Indian Census of India, 1891, Rehgar means Raiger/Regar/Raigar/Rehgar/Reghar, a Hindu community.

(2)   The Census of Rajputana, 1901

(3)  The Indian Census of India, 1891

(4)The Census of Delhi District,1901


1901 Census of Delhi District
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This was the breakdown by caste, religion and community of the population of the Delhi District, now the state of Delhi, by the 1901 Census of India.[1]

Religion Caste or Tribe Population of Disrict Delhi

Hindus: 515,537

Agari                        2,135
Ahir                           13,969
Baiaragi                  4,371
Bania                       38,932
Banjara                   1,124
Barwala                  298
Bharbhuja             1,275
Bhat                         714
Brahmin                 65,434
Chamar                  65,738
Chirimar               123
Chura                     26,910
Dagi and Koli       1,280
Darzi                        391
Gaderia                  2,236
Ghai                         1,339
Ghosi                       315
Gosain                    941
Gujar                       50,761
Jaiswara                805
Jat                            77,571
Jhinwar                12,907
Jogi and Rawal   4,674
Julaha                    8,737
Kachhi                    1,333
Kalal                        666
Kayastha               4,438
Khatik                    2,494
Khatri                      6,069
Kori                          1,305
Kumhar                  13,788
Kurmi                      166
Lodha                      3,850
Mali                          12,886
Mallaah                  378
Maniar                    531
Maratha                 151
Nai                           10,021
Nat                           741
Pasi                         108
Penja                      112
Purbia                    440
Raj                           229
Rajput                    19,498
Rebari                    260
Gaderia                 2,236
Reya                       2,881
Ror                          651
Sadh                       194
Saini                       2,213
Sansiya                591
Sapera                  276
Saqailgar            177
Sonar                     4,544
Taga                        6,083
Tarkhan                 8,123
Teli                          1,674

others                    18,450

Note : Names of so called lower Hindu communities(Untouchables), in inhabiting in Delhi up to 1901 A.D. have been made bold


Muslims: 167,200

Arain                        1,948
Baloch                    1,243
Banjara                  307
Bharbhunja          122
Bhatiara                 396
Bhishti                    4,229
Chura                      231
Darzi                        328
Dhobi                      1,982
Faqir                        7,889
Gaddi                      153
Ghosi                       526
Gujar                       3,059
Jat Muslim            2,385
Julaha                    1,025
Kanchan                235
Kalal                        45
Kumhar                  330
Kunjra                     650
Lohar                       2,173
Mallaah                  134
Mali                          51
Maniar                    221
Meo                          8,262
Mirasi                      1,642
Mughal                   5,782
Nai                           1,300
Nat Muslim           302
Penja                       176
Qassab                    6,133
Pathan                    17,763
Raj                            10
Rajput Muslim     4,218
Rangrez                  1,032
Sayyid                     9,176
Shaikh                     71,464
Sonar                       77
Taga Muslim          2,690
Tarkhan                  1,239
Teli                            5,242

others                      1,030


Sikh                          294
Jat Sikh                  102
Kalal                        24
Khatri                      47
Tarkhan                  52
Others                     69
Jain                           7,726
Bania Jain              7,646
Lohar                        15

others                       65


Christian                  3,158

others                       115

Total:  689,030(Total Population of Delhi)


(5)  The  linking of this  Chamar word with  Raigar community  in the website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamar  is wrong and biased.  Because Rehgars(Raigers) have been not traditionally, indulged with leather work. Secondly, neither the word Raiger is synonym of the word Chamar nor the etymology of  an ancient word Raiger can be developed or established by the short periodical livelihood, done by some or more Raiger families.

Actually, it is found that after the Independence of India, somebody have tried how Raiger/Regar/Raigar community is to be bestowed with the word “Chamar”.  For this purpose all means have been used. For example,

(i)  Knowingly or  intentionally, the word Chamar has been replaced by the word Raigar or Raiger or Regar in various events, monuments, records, replicas or is being tried to replace as such.

(ii)  Some such websites are also found, in which the population of the Raiger community is added to the population of those groups of the Chamar community who have not replaced their traditional chamar caste name with Susanskrit  words(सुसंस्कृत शब्द).  But the populations of  those groups who have changed their caste names,  have been assigned with their new caste names, separately. It is a big bias.

(iii) Although the  ancestors of some jatav families  living in the eastern Rajasthan were Raigers, who had quitted the Raigar community and merged into newly developed Jatav Community. It is also a fact that those Raiger-Jatav families didn’t  come in the  Akhil Bharatiya Raiger Mahasabha Sammelan, 1943 , held in Dausa(Jaipur). That is, they had totally, alienated from the Raiger community, before the independence of India.  But on the basis of that social alienation and adopting a new caste name by those alienated Raiger families, it is wrong to say that the word Jatav is synonym of the word Raiger.

(iv) The words  Raidas, Ravidasi are also have been bestowed with Raigers  by general people. Whereas Akhil Bharatiya Raiger Mahasabha has never recognized that Jatav,  Raidas, Ravidasi are also synonyms of the word Raiger.

Thus the Raigar population should be rectified and from the Raiger Wikipedia words, like Jatav, Raidas, Ravidasiya should be removed. But instead of the word Jatiya  should be placed Raiger-Jatiya. Because so-called Jatiyas living in eastern Rajasthan does not belong to the Raiger/Regar community.

(6)  If traditionally, so-called chamars never tolerate to call them Chamar, then how Raigers are linking with the word Chamar. For example, R. P. Singh I. P. S.(rtd.) have took birth in the so-called community,  who has written  a book  Meghvansh Ek Singhavalokan(मेघवंश एक सिंहावलोकन). From the first line of the last para. pp 33 of this book,  he writes that:

……..”चमार”  शब्द  चमड़े  से  सम्बंधित    होकर  संस्कृत  भाषा  के  शब्द  “”  तथा  “मार”  की  संधि  से बना है संस्कृत मेंका अर्थऔरतथामारका अर्थमारनाहोता है अतःचमारका अर्थ हुआऔर मारो उस समय उन लोगों को भय होगा कि बाहुबल पर अधीन किया गया एक विकसित समाज उनको कहीं पहले ही नहींमार दे इसलिये मेघवंशी चँवरों कोऔर मारो( + मार) कहकरचमारकी संज्ञा दी गयी तथा इस समाज कोऔर मारो, और मारोकहते हुए बार बार पीटकर दब्बू बनाया गया। नीच गंदे कम् करवाये गये। उन्हें मरे हुए पशुओं चमड़े से जोड़कर घृणा का पात्र बनाया गया इसीचंवरसमाज से घृणा और ईर्ष्यावश थोपे गए चमड़े का कार्य करने के कारणचमारनाम को चंदे से जोड़ दिया गया  

He has also upgraded and highlighted all the caste words, belonging to the lower communities in the Para. “APNI BAAT(अपनी बात )” of his book.  But he misinterpreted the etymology of the word Raiger(रैगर).  Whereas the word Raiger/Raigar/Regar is a changing form of the word Raghu. That is, if  Shri R. P. Singhji  is  not tolerating  that he and his caste fellows would have been called Chamar or leather workers.  Then, why he degraded only Raigers and why the etymology of the word Raiger has been misinterpreted by him? If it is a practice to veil the word Chamar under the word Raiger/Raigar/Regar, then it  is an unsocial act.  Actually, a bised, unlawful and  wrong  practice is being conducted against palm-full(अंजली भर) Raigers, should be stopped.

(7) www.peoplegroups.org/Explore/groupdetails.aspx?peid=48214 is an example of a such website, in which the population of the Raigar Community is merged in the population of that group of Chamar community, whose members are still calling themselves  Chamar.  But the population of Bairwa, Meghwal, Balai, Bhambhi, Dhed, Megh, Meghwar, Airwal,  communities is excluded. whereas  genealogically, Raiger is an independent and separate community.

(8) The Census of Rajputana, 1901