– 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It is also found that many traditional caste names have been replaced by Susanskrit words(सुसंस्कृत शब्द).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. 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.
The ethnic distribution was as follows:
|All Classes||All Groups||All Castes||286,912,000|
|salt and lime||Total||1,531,130|
|(1) Lonia is also a Raiger Gotra||Lonia||796,080|
|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.|
|Note: The linking of this chamar word with the word Raigar is wrong and biased.||Others||190,561|
 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 in” are 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.
Religion Caste or Tribe Population of Disrict Delhi
Dagi and Koli 1,280
Jogi and Rawal 4,674
Note : Names of so called lower Hindu communities(Untouchables), in inhabiting in Delhi up to 1901 A.D. have been made bold
Jat Muslim 2,385
Nat Muslim 302
Rajput Muslim 4,218
Taga Muslim 2,690
Jat Sikh 102
Bania Jain 7,646
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 न होकर संस्कृत भाषा के शब्द “च” तथा “मार” की संधि से बना है । संस्कृत में “च” का अर्थ “और” तथा “मार” का अर्थ “मारना” होता है । अतः “चमार” का अर्थ हुआ “और मारो”। उस समय उन लोगों को भय होगा कि बाहुबल पर अधीन किया गया एक विकसित समाज उनको कहीं पहले ही नहीं “मार दे” । इसलिये मेघवंशी चँवरों को “और मारो(च + मार) कहकर “चमार” की संज्ञा दी गयी तथा इस समाज को “और मारो, और मारो” कहते हुए बार बार पीटकर दब्बू बनाया गया। नीच व गंदे कम् करवाये गये। उन्हें मरे हुए पशुओं व चमड़े से जोड़कर घृणा का पात्र बनाया गया । इसी “चंवर” समाज से घृणा और ईर्ष्यावश थोपे गए चमड़े का कार्य करने के कारण “चमार’ नाम 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