[Note - this article strictly applies to Saini (Yaduvanshi) community of Punjab and parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. For describing the history and ethnography of Mali community found in Rajasthan, UP and other states, which started using surname "Saini" only in 20th century, a separate wikipedia entry is recommended. ]
Sainis of Punjab and contiguous region trace their origin to a sub tribe of the Yaduvanshi kshatriyas who were further a sub division Chandravanshi or Lunar Dynasty kshatriyas. In this sense they also share their with origin with Bhati Rajputs of Rajputana, Jadeja Rajputs of Gujrat and Seuna Yadavas of Devgiri in South India. Though it may appear strange how such culturally and geographically diverse groups could possibly have common origin, one has to keep in mind that the descendants of Yadu were a huge warrior clan distributed and diversified in many tribes and sub tribes. After a common origin in Mathura, each Yadava tribe set on their own journey meeting varied fortunes as they chalked their unique destinies along a path of history that is at least three thousand years old.
Visnu Purana records the migration of some of the Yadava descendants and kinsmen of Lord Krishna from Mathura to Dwarka and from Dwarka to Punjab with the help of Prince Arjuna. These descendants and kinsmen of Lord Krishna are also referred in Puranic literature as Shaursaini or Shoorseni after Shoorsena (also spelt Sursena) who was paternal grandfather of Krishna and maternal grandfather of legendary Pandava warriors of Kuru clan. Saini appears to be etymologically derived from this Puranic and Mahabharta term and seems to be an abbreviated version of it.
The area around Mathura was also named "Shaursena" or Surasena in ancient time after this prominent Yadu clan chieftain. This suggests that Shoorsena , the claimed mythico-historical founder of Saini clan, must have had enough influence to have the entire principality, or Janapada, named after him. Note: A later name of Surasena was also Sinsini.
The etymology and origin of the term can be broken down as follows:
In the Mahabharta, Sage Vyasa clearly identifies Krishna as Shoorseni :
Foremost among all the Shoorsenis , the powerful one, Krishna, residing at Dwaraka, will rule and protect the whole earth after vanquishing all her lords, conversant as he will be with the science of polity.
It is noteworthy that Ved Vyasa identifies Krishna as Shoorseni even though he was to be in Dvarka which was far away from Shaursena, or Shoorseni Pradesh, the janapada . This signifies that Ved Vyasa is referring to a dynasty and a clan, not merely to a geographical region. It is the migration of some of the members of this very clan to Punjab that Visnu Purana records in section 5.
Devi Bhagvat Purana describes Kunti as the princess of Shoorseni Pradesh:
"....while the names of Pandus wives were , Kunti, the princess of Shoorseni Pradesh..."
Srimad Bhagvat Purana identifies Shoorsena as the chief of Yadu dynasty:
"...Formerly, Shoorsena (Surasena), the chief of the Yadu dynasty, had gone to live in the city of Mathura. There he enjoyed the places known as Mathura and Shoorsena (Surasena)..."
Srimad Bhagvat Purana identifies descendants of Shoorsena as a distinct Yadava clan and Krishna's kinsmen:
"... Assisted by the descendants of Bhoja, Vrsni, Andhaka, Madhu, Shoorsena, Dasarha, Kuru, Srnjaya and Pandu, Lord Krsna performed various activities..."
Yudhisthra identifies Shoorsena as his grandfather, and Krishna's father, Vasudeva, as his maternal uncle in Srimad Bhavat Purana :
"...Is my respectable grandfather Shoorsena in a happy mood? And are my maternal uncle Vasudeva and his younger brothers all doing well?..."
Unschooled in the complex historical and mythological texts of India, colonial ethnographer Denzil Ibbetson theorized the following about the origin of the term "Saini" :
Saini, writes Ibbetson, would apprear to be only a subdivision of Malis and it is probable that they are a Mali tribe: some of the higher tribes of the same (Saini) caste will not intermarry with them (Mali). In Jullundhur the Sainis are said to claim Rajput origin, but Purser says that, according to their own account, they were originally Malis and lived principally in the Muttra district. When Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India their ancestors came into Jullundur and settled down there, as they found the land suitable for cultivation. They did such wonders with it that they were called Rasaini, fr. Rasai 'skill' whence 'Saini'. They do more market gardening than the Jats or even than the Arains and this in addition to , not in place of, ordinary farming...The Sainis probably rank little higher than Malis as they more often own land or even whole villages and are less generally mere market gardners than Malis...
Some other contemporary authors, taking a cue from this confusing account, have attempted to theorize similarly. . Apart from not being clearly able to club Sainis with Malis and Arains , colonial theories, and all their later derivatives in the foregoing citations, have severe limitations in the fact that the colonial ethnographical works of Ibbetson et al are thorougly devoid of any scholarly citations and references from historical texts and appear to be generally based on unreliable hearsay and subjective opinions of the contemporary authors and informants, not all of whom could be assumed to have been free from ignorance and malice toward other communities. Ibbetson's ethnographical work does not even qualify as a secondary source (or even a tertiary source) by the accepted standards of historiography. It is noteworthy that Ibbetson , Purser and Rose et al were not qualified anthropologists and historians and their work lacked citations and academic rigour needed for peer-reviewed or equivalent academic journals.
From Ibbetson's own disputed account it is clearly evident that Sainis claimed to be Rajputs from Mathura and did not intermarry with Malis . This account is corroborated by Amir Khusro's account which carries more weight. Unlike Ibbetson's works, Amir Khusro's work is a primary source of history.
There is a well-documented and authenticated evidence from Turk historical annals about a Saini General of 14th century who led a Sisodia Rajput force at Ranthanbore against the Khilji army. Amir Khusro, the noted poet-scholar in the court of Allaudin Khilji, records the presence of a very senior Saini General in the Sisodia Rajput army of Rana Hamir . Describing the 14th century battle between Turks and Rajputs, Amir Khusro writes the following about this daring and highly ranked Saini General:
The rai was in affright, and sent for Gurdan Saini, who was the most experienced warrior amongst the 40,000 rawats under the rai, and had seen many fights among the Hindus. "Sometimes he had gone with the advance to Malwa ; sometimes he had gone plundering in Gujarat." The Saini took 10,000 rawats with him from Jhain, and advanced against the Turks, and, after a severe action, he was slain...
This is a textual slam dunk against Ibbetson's speculation about the probable Mali origin of Sainis. This account, which clearly appears to have come from a hostile Turk source , is very significant . First of all it clearly authenticates that Sainis had been a warrior tribe even in the medieval times. Secondly it testifies to the fact that Sainis had a social status at par with Rajputs of Rajputana . This account fits well with the claim of Rajput or Yaduvanshi origin of Sainis of Punjab , a claim which even Ibbetson reluctantly acknowledges. The present day Mali community of Rajasthan, and elsewhere outside Punjab, started using surname "Saini" much later in 20th century . Given the place of Malis in the social structure of Rajputana, it would have been impossible for anyone deemed to be of that origin to gain such elevation in a medieval Rajput force of Sisodia feudals when the caste dogmas were at their peak.
According to Ibbetson's own account, Sainis sometimes owned the entire villages in Punjab.. All this evidence indicates that Sainis had a formidable quasi-feudal status in Punjab even in the British India and before. The Chaudhary of Saini villages was always a Saini and Sainis were super-ordindate to every other caste and community in these villages.
Ibbetson's account does not reference Puranic sources. which provide a more compelling theory for the origin of the term 'Saini'. One thing Ibbetson's account does very well on is providing the evidence that his informant had distinct recollection of the origin of his community in Mathura, which falls in a principality originally known as Shaursena or Surasena. It would appear that if both Ibbetson and his informant had been aware of the ancient name of the region where Mathura is located, they would have been able to easily connect the term, 'Saini' with 'Shaursaini', rather than offering an unnecessary spin around the term 'Rasaini' which leaves a lot more to be explained . The term 'Saini' appears to be an abbreviated version of the term 'Shaursaini' which is used in Mahabharta and Puranas to describe the Yadava clan Krishna was born in. The term 'Saini', based on both phonetics and the geographical location of Mathura, appears to have more uncanny resemblance with the Mahabharta term 'Shaursaini' than any other term that can be imagined . Incidentally, Seuna Yadavas of Maharashtra and Karnataka also claim their descent from the Mathura region of the ancient Shaursena, whence Sainis also claim their descent. According to the Visnu Purana account cited in an ensuing section of this article, Arjuna settled some of the Yadava families in Punjab, implying that there were most likely other Yadavas from the submerged city of Dwaraka who dispersed away in other parts of the country.
It appears neither Ibbetson nor his informant were properly trained in the textual sources of ancient Indian history and mythology to make these irrisistible connections and to carry out a deeper and more informed analysis.
Ibbetson's non-primary and non-secondary source account hints that Sainis migrated to Punjab due to Ghazni's attack on Mathura. But Ibbetson insinuates in the ensuing text that Sainis were probably Malis even in Mathura. Apart from its orgin from a non-primary or non-original textual source , this view is rendered untenable by a serious logical and factual contradiction inherent in it.
For Sainis to be targeted by Mahmud of Ghazni, they would have to be a Rajput tribe. Based on strong historical evidence, it would be highly unusual for an invading Turk army to target a Mali tribe which had no history of combat. Quite to the contrary of Ibbetson's theory, there have been recorded instances in Rajputana where Rajputs escaped the Turk and Moghul genocides by claiming to be Malis. This view confirms the fact that had Sainis been deemed to be a Mali tribe by invading Turks they would have had no cause to flee Mathura as Ibbetson's anecdotal account suggests. For Sainis to be caught in the crosshairs of Ghazni's army, they would necessarily have to be a Rajput tribe which was a threat to Turks in some way.
According to Puranic sources, the Yadava kashatriya tribes in the Shaursena principality had to be relocated to the port city of Dwarka in Gujrat due to frequent invasions by Kalyavana and Jarasandha. There they ruled for sometime under the leadership of Lord Krishna and participated in the Mahabharta war from there. But according to the same Puranic legend , the Yadava kshatriyas in Dwaraka became intoxicated with the power and acted in such manner that caused them to be cursed by the by sages.
Visnu Purana records the aftermath of this event as follows:
....As soon as Krishna died, the parijata tree and the assembly hall named Sudharma returned to heaven. The kali era began. And the city of Dvaraka was swallowed up by the sea, with the exception of Krishna’s own dwelling.
Arjuna settled some of the Yadavas in Punjab. But when he was taking the Yadava women with him, the party was set upon by a band of dacoits. Arjuna tried to repel the dacoits but found that he had lost all his powers. His strength had left him with Krishna’s death.
The above passage from Visnu Purana provides the vital clue about history of Sainis. It can be acutally regarded as the slam dunk evidence of Yaduvanshi origin of Sainis of Punjab.
Apart from Bhati , Bhatias and Saini clans in Punjab there is no other community which claims to be of Yadava origin. It can be ruled out that the above reference from Visnu Purana could easily apply to Bhatis as they appear on the historical scene much later as a distinct version of Yaduvanshis. Visnu Purana or any other epical source contains no reference whatsoever to the existence of a Bhati clan among Yaduvanshis. So Bhatis, if their claim of being Yaduvanshi is historically accuate, were probably a much later offshoot from some textually unaccounted for Yadava tribe, which may or may not have included Shoorsaini tribe of Yadavas. The mercantile community of Bhatias further claim their origin from Bhati Rajputs who took to commerce. So it can be ruled out that their existence could be older than Bhati Rajputs who do not appear on historical scene until 9th or 10th century CE.
It is not difficult to conclude that based on textual evidence that the Saini tribe of Punjab best fits the description of the Puranic Shoorsaini Yadavas who, according to section 5 of Visnu Purana, migrated to Punjab from Dwarka. This is because Visnu Purana and Mahabharta distinctly acknowledge the existence of Shoorsaini or Shoorseni Yadavas as Krisna's kinsmen, as opposed to anything remotely familiar with the term 'Bhati. It is the movement of Krishna's immediate kinsmen, Shoorsainis, to Punjab that is referred in the section 5 of Visnu Purana. It appears implausible that Shoorsaini tribe of Yadavas vanished for at least couple of thousand years and later reappeared suddenly on the scene as Bhatis around 9th or 10th century CE . On the other hand the relation of Saini tribe with the Puranic Shoorsaini Yadavas, based on both phonetics, geography and textual evidence, appears to be much more organic and historically plausible. Bhatis, based on all the extant textual evidence, would apprear to be much later offshoot of Yaduvanshis to claim any direct continuity from Shoorsaini Yadavas whose migration to Punjab is recorded in Visnu Purana.
It is would appear from the way the Sainis are populated and distributed in Punjab, they probably settled down there as part of mass migration after their kingdom was supposedly destroyed in Dwarka. . In Hoshiarpur , Ropar and Gurdaspur districts there are villages that are entirely populated with Sainis, with a Saini Chaudhary or a lambardar. Living in largely self-governing villages , they do not seem to have been subordinate to any other caste in their villages, including any other tribes claming Rajput origin.
Agriculture and armed forces have been their major professions. Agriculture in Punjab has always been regarded as one of the most respectable professions from the time immemorial with all major forward communities, including Brahmins, proudly participating in it.
So it appears that after losing their kingdom , Sainis entered Punjab with Prince Arjuna's help and settled down as farmers and noblemen in self-governing and autonomous villages. Prince Arjuna shared maternal bloodline with Yadavs, whose sub tribe Sainis of Punjab claim to be. His mother Kunti was the daughter of Yadava chieftain Sursena, the claimed founding father of Saini sub tribe of Yaduvanshi kshatriyas.
After settling down in agriculture, Sainis continued to show their martial instincts whenever opportunities arose. They also actively aided Guru Gobind Singh's army and joined his army in good numbers. Some of the Saini dominated districts in Punjab were (and still are) the most fertile ground for army recruitment during British and Independent India. Sainis can be found among all ranks of Indian Army , from the level of sepoys to generals. Scores of Saini soldiers also fought as part of Indian National Army (INA) under the illustrious freedom fighter Subash Chandra Bose .
Like any other Kshatryia tribe, Sainis of Punjab have always been a meat-eating community. Even Hindu Sainis commonly use "Singh" as part of their names. Liquor consumption , another typical Kashatriya trait, had always been prevalent among them. Most non-Kashatriya communities in India tend to be vegetarian. From socio-antrhopological standpoint these traits also give vital clue about their martial origin.
As per ancient Hindu texts, agriculture is permissible to Kshatriyas under special circumstances in the absence of opportunities in the military and feudal apparatus of a righteous Aryan king. Indeed, the service in the army of an unrighteous, or a 'Yavana', or a 'Maleccha', king was the biggest imaginable anathema for a concentious and observant vedic kshatriya in ancient India. A vedic kshatriya was not a mercenary soldier but a defender of faith and righteous order (dharma). All other kshatriya origin Hindu tribes in Punjab , like Minhas, Janjua, Salahri, etc, in the absence of opportunities in the armies of observant vedic kings turned to agriculture in some way.
Describing the tough economic condition for largely Hindu Rajputs of Punjabi plains , colonial administrator , J.A.L. Montgomery wrote:
By the pressure of circumstances, they are overcoming their aversion to agriculture, and even Jaswáls and Dadwáls are now to be found who have taken to the plough, and I have seen a Náru Rajput spade in hand, and drawers tucked up, turning up the soil of his field which had become covered by sand, a laborious process called sirna.
For the full seven hundred years in the history of Punjab, there was no non-Muslim king until Banda Bahadur stormed Sarhind in middle of the 18th century. In this period high feudal positions were only available to Hindu groups who either converted to Islam or had become Muslim collaborators. It is not surprising that most of the kshatriyas tribes that were able to maintain their Rajput status in the Punjab plains had converted to Islam. This included Janjuas, Chauhans, Jaswals, Minhas, etc in large numbers who had predominantly converted to Islam to maintain their social status. These tribes may have been able to retain their Rajput status in a convoluted way after conversion to Islam but by vedic canon they had degenerated to the Malechha level and thus had lost their kshatriya status in entirety. In the plains of Punjab there were hardly any Hindu Rajputs left, and those who were still in the Hindu fold had turned largely to agriculture and other occupations to subsist, rather than to curry favor with Muslim rulers who extracted Jizya from the Hindu subjects in order to create financial hardship for them to remain in the faith of their ancestors.
According to The Punjab Alienation of Land Act of 1900 , all Rajput tribes in Punjab were notified as agriculural tribes.
The condition of Muslim Rajputs was much superior to Hindu Rajputs in Punjabi plains. By converting to Islam and becoming collaborators of Turkish military and administrative machine in Punjab, they had managed to retain all of their pre-Islamic pomp and glory. They owned most of the land in Punjab while the Hindu Rajputs sank deeper into poverty and turned to agriculture and other occupations to survive with some sense of dignity, rather than converting to Islam or becoming collaborators of Muslim monarchs who were openly hostile to all Hindu interests. Only Pahari Rajputs escaped this economic and cultural degeneration in some way as they were insulated by the rugged terrain of the mountains. Hindu Rajput of Punjabi plains had no where to turn to except farming to retain some semblance of dignity. Rajputs of Rajputana saved their kingdoms by entering unequal matrimonial alliances with non-Hindu Moghuls. These alliances were treated with contempt by self-respecting Rajputs like Maharana Pratap and they chose poverty over the more convenient and tempting prospect of collaboration with the non-Hindu expansionist military machine.
Until the British started giving them opportunities once again in army, Hindu Rajputs subsisted entirely by agriculture. Describing the impoverished state of Hindu Rajputs in Punjab in the late 19th and early 20th century and their dependence on agriculture, writes Mazumdar:
"In the northern part of Shakargarh tahsil in Gurdaspur district, the bulk of the population comprised of Hindu Rajputs trying to make a living on bare and arid land...Access to military income allowed these Rajputs of to cope with the disadvantages of adverse soil and weather conditions."
It is understandable, being devout Hindus mostly, Sainis turned largely to agriculture in preference to serving the Muslim masters , or converting to Islam , until they saw a ray of hope again in the sixth Sikh Master, Guru Har Gobind.
According to Sikh historical tradition, Guru Hargobind extensively toured the region that now falls in the present day Hoshiarpur and Ropar districts to put together a Sikh army to fight the religiously intolerant Mogul empire. All of these areas, which had a predominantly Saini population along with Jats , Kambojs and Labanas, responded with great enthusiasm to Guru's call for soldiers. After this period, all of the rekindled Saini militant prowess was totally allied with and absorbed in the Sikh forces, which were to be formally institutionalized into the Khalsa Order by tenth Sikh Master , Guru Gobind Singh. The impact of Sikh military ideal on Saini villages could be gauged from the fact that one of the volunteers for "Panj Pyaras" , Sahab Chand , later Sahab Singh, was a barber from the village Nangal Shahidan. The village Nangal Shahidan in Hoshiarpur district was historically always entirely owned by Saini Chaudhries of Mangar got, with a handful other castes in the village. Many Saini warriors were martyred from this village as part of the Khalsa army , earning the title of "Shahidan" or "Martyrs" for the village . Nihang cantonment of Harian Belan is also surrounded by Saini villages. Traditionally, Nihangs have drawn good number of recruits from Saini community of the region.
The martial race theory propagated by British colonialists has been a very controversial subject and has rightfully been disregarded as an instrument of recruitment policy for armed forces by Government of India since the independence. It was based on the now challenged assumption that there were communities India that were naturally warlike 'races' which possessed qualities such as courage, loyalty, self sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness and fighting tenacity and were hard-working and skilled in military tactics. Further it was the assumption that these 'martial races' tended to be hunting or agricultural cultures from hilly or mountainous regions with a history of conflict, whether internally or with external groups, who were considered better capable of enduring hardship than the inhabitants of the hot, flat plains of the country who were thought to be unwarlike and unfit for military service.
Writes Mazumdar citing Frederick Roberts, British commander- in-chief in India (1885-1893):
" Roberts was one of the main proponents of this new policy.The main argument of the 'martial races theory' was that all natives were not equal in soldierly qualities. Some races were superior to others. 'It is not a question of efficiency' wrote Roberts, ' but of courage and physique: in these essentials sepoys of Lower India are wanting'. As he bluntly put it , ' no comparison can be made between the martial values of a regiment recruited amongst the Gurkhas of Nepal and the warlike races of nothern India, and those recruited from the effeminate peoples of the south."
British colonialists were obviously quite impressed by the physical attributes and fighting instincts of Sainis and accordingly listed them as a martial class along with other tribes such as Janjuas, Dogras, Pashtuns, Gurkhas, etc. . It is noteworthy that merchant castes such as Khatris and Aroras did not make it to this list. More significantly the Mali community beyond Jamna , referred in Ibbetson's controversial account , did not make it to this list either. Muslim Arains made it to this list only in 1925. This is another testimony to the fact that British officially regarded Sainis to be distinct from either of these communities.
According to a native account a village in the now Nawanshahr district of Punjab was composed of almost 80-90% Saini population in 1930s. As per the unverified anecdotal account almost 300 men out of the total population of 1800-2000 were enrolled in the British Indian Army and fought in different theatres of war across Europe, Africa and Asia during the World War II. If true, this would mean that every able bodied Saini man of the village was signed up for services in the armed forces. A large number of Saini volunteers , along with these Saini armymen, some of whom ended up POWs, eventually joined Indian National Army (INA) of Subash Chandra Bose and courted martyrdom and incarceration for the independence of their motherland.
Foremost among all the Shoorsenis (Sainis) , the powerful one, Krishna, residing at Dwaraka, will rule and protect the whole earth after vanquishing all her lords, conversant as he will be with the science of polity. |30px|30px| Ved Vyasa on Shoorseni Krishna
The story of epical Saini warriors has to begin with the mention of Lord Krishna and his elder brother Balrama. Krishna was warrior-statesman who gave Yadavas leadership at a very critical juncture. Krishna's and his brother Balrama's exploits as warriors, mentioned in various hagiographies, are too numerous and too popular to need any mention here.
Some critics trained in the Western scholastic traditions have doubted the existence of a historical Krishna but such commentaries are now clearly contradicted by archaeological evidence found in the recent underwater excavations in the Arabian sea which have revealed a submerged ancient city as described in Visnu Purana. This evidence along with myriads of sites and clans found all over India claiming association with Krishna indicate toward the distinct possibility of a historical Krishna.
Visnu Purana vividly describes in detail various military expeditions that Krisna led. Incidentally this text also gives clear proof that Shoorsaini Yadavas, whence Sainis of Punjab claim descent, moved to Dwarka and eventually some of them moved to Punjab after submersion of Dwarka into the sea.
Krishna defined the warrior-statesman and saint-soldier ideal not only for his kinsmen and descendants, distributed in diverse clans all over India now, which also include Sainis of Punjab, but also for the entire mankind. His military exploits and warrior spirit are even invoked in an anachronistic way in the Sikh tradition in the Chobis avatar section of Sri Dasam Granth.
In the Shaster Naam Mala section of Sri Dasam Granth, the names of Balrama and Krisna are invoked as follow to instill the warrior spirit.
ਹਲਧਰ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਬਖਾਨਿ ਕੈ ਅਨੁਜ ਉਚਰਿ ਅਰਿ ਭਾਖੁ ॥ ਸਕਲ ਨਾਮ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਬਾਨ ਕੇ ਚੀਨ ਚਤੁਰ ਚਿਤ ਰਾਖੁ ॥੧੪੧॥
हलधर शबद बखानि कै अनुज उचरि अरि भाखु ॥ सकल नाम स्री बान के चीन चतुर चित राखु ॥१४१॥
After speaking the word "Haldhar" (Balrama), then adding "Anuj" (Krishna) and afterwards saying "Ari" (Foe), the wise people know all the names of "Baan" (Arrow).
Satyaki is devoted to Krishna and his best friend Arjuna, with whom he trained under Drona in military arts. He was born in the line of Shini of the Vrishni clan, and was a son of Satyaka. He strongly and passionately favored the cause of the Pandavas over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War. Satyaki accompanied Krishna to the Kuru capital, with Krishna as the emissary of peace which was ridiculed and turned down by Duryodhana.
In the Kurukshetra war, Satyaki and Kritavarma were two important Yadava heroes who fought on the opposing sides. Satyaki fought on the side of the Pandavas, whereas Kritavarma joined the Kauravas. Satyaki was a valiant warrior and on one particular occasion, stunned Drona by allegedly breaking his bow for a successive 101 times. In the course of the fourteenth day of the conflict, Satyaki fights an intense battle with his archrival Bhurisravas with whom he has a long standing family feud. After a long and bloody battle, Satyaki begins to tire, and Bhurisravas batters him and drags him across the battlefield. Arjuna is warned by Lord Krishna of what is happening. Bhurisravas prepares to kill Satyaki, but he is rescued from death by Arjuna, who shoots an arrow cutting off Bhurisravas' arm.
Bhurisrava wails out that by striking him without warning, Arjuna had disgraced the honor between warriors. Arjuna rebukes him for attacking a defenseless Satyaki. He reiterates that protecting Satyaki's life at all costs was his responsibility as a friend and comrade in arms.
Satyaki emerges from his swoon, and swiftly decapitates his enemy. He is condemned for this rash act, but every soldier present realizes that the power of Krishna made Satyaki end Bhurisravas' life, which was going to happen anyway.
Satyaki and Kritavarma both survived the Kurukshetra conflict . Kritavarma is involved in the slaughter of the Panchalas and the sons of the Pandavas in the undeclared night attack with Kripacharya and Ashwatthama. 36 years after the war, the Yadavas, including Satyaki and Kritavarma are involved in a drunken brawl with Satyaki accusing Kritavarma of killing sleeping soldiers and Kritavarma citicizing Satyaki for his beheading of the unarmed Bhurisravas. In the ensuing melee, Satyaki, Kritavarma and the rest of the Yadavas are exterminated, as it was ordained by Gandhari's curse. Krishna desired to remove the Yadava clan from earth at the same time as his Avatara is fulfilled, so that the earth may be free of any possibly sinful and aggressive warriors, which was the wider purpose of the Kurukshetra war.
Satyaki, the grand son of Rajan Saini, ruled the Sura-Sen kingdom in the north-west of India. Rajan Saini founded Saini vansh, which is one of the eleven vanshas of Yadus and one of the tribes of the Yadavas. Sura-Sena Vansha
The rivalry came to the fore one last time on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where Sini's grandson, Satyaki, who was a peer and friend of Arjuna and a famed archer, clashed with Bhurisravas, Somadatta's son, who was on the Kaurava side, resulting in the slaying of Bhurisravas by Satyaki.
Noted historians Henry Miers Elliot and John Dowson on page 541 of their work "The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period" citing Ghurratu-L-Kamal , a work by Khalji dynasty's royal poet-scholar Amir Khusro, provide the following account of a distinguished Saini general in the Sisodia Rajput army of Rana Hamir that took on Alauddin Khilji's Turk army:
The rai was in affright, and sent for Gurdan Saini, who was the most experienced warrior amongst the 40,000 rawats under the rai, and had seen many fights among the Hindus. "Sometimes he had gone with the advance to Malwa ; sometimes he had gone plundering in Gujarat." The Saini took 10,000 rawats with him from Jhain, and advanced against the Turks, and, after a severe action, he was slain...
"Gurdan" appears to be an apabhransha or distortion of the name Govardhan which is a very common Hindu name. "Gurdan" name is also common among Sikhs of Punjab, although in the era of Gurdan Saini, Sikhism was not yet born.
The account of this Saini general who commanded a force of 10,000 Rajput fighters and achieved martyrdom almost reads like an unqualified eulogy even from a hostile Turk perspective.
Gurdan or Govardhan Saini could not have been an indegenous inhabitant of Rajputana and was most likely an immigrant from some Saini clan of Punjab or its contiguous region. This can be categorically stated due to a very obvious fact that until the the census of 1881 there was no such community as "Saini" outside Punjab (both British territory and feudatory states).
The present day Mali community of Rajasthan, and elsewhere outside Punjab, started using surname "Saini" much later in 20th century , perhaps taking advantage of , or perhaps being equally confused by, often contradictory and ambivalent ethnographic accounts of Sainis of Punjab that British created in their official annals. Given the social set up of Rajputana it would be nearly impossible for somebody from Mali, Jat , or other any other community subordinate to Rajputs in Rajputana's social heirarchy, to command such a high position in a premier Rajput force, comprising primarily of Sisodia feudals. Also, Mali community of Rajputana is not martial either by their own or any neutral third-party description.
Wheras Sainis of Punjab have always been martial and have never regarded themselves subordinate to any other caste or community in their areas. Their village title of Chaudhary was at par with the titles Rajput feudals held in the same region. This is testified by Ibbetson's own accounts, which are generally highly biased against Sainis, where he acknowledges that Sainis sometimes owned the entire villages in Punjab, confirming their feudal status.
Sardar Sangat Singh Saini was a distinguished and highly ranked General in Khalsa army under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It is said that the Maharaja was so impressed with his contributions in the military campaigns that he granted him a fief. The town Sangatpur in district Gurdaspur is named after this illustrious Saini General.
Incidentally, Gurdaspur is another area of Saini concentration in Punjab.
Mayya Singh was a Saini fighter from Naushahra in Amritsar district of the Punjab. Mayya Singh was an ace horseman and fought in the battle of Ramnagar on 22 November 1848 during the second Anglo-Sikh war. Although the battle of Ramnagar was inconclusive , the Sikh cavalry caused heavy damage to the British forces, which proved to be a great morale booster for the Sikhs.
Thereafter he joined volunteer corps of Bhai Maharaj Singh leader of the popular revolt against the British. He participated in the battles of Sa`dullapur and Gujrat. After the defeat of the Sikh forces, Mayya Singh was in Bhai Maharaj Singh`s train at at Sujoval near Balala. From the latter place he was sent to Lahore on a mission, and thus escaped arrest when Maharaj Singh and his companions were captured on the night of 28 and 29 December 1849. He, however, fell into the hands of the British soon afterwards.
It is not clear from the account available whether Mayya Singh was a commander or just an ordinary cavalryman. But given the fact that his contributions were significant enough for his account to have survived in the history texts, there is a strong possibilty that he held a significant rank in the Khalsa army.
Mayya Singh is among many other unsung Saini heroes who fought as part of the Khalsa armies since the time of the 6th Sikh Guru Hargobind. Mayya Singh is fortunate in the sense that his account survived while other Saini heroes just faded into oblivion after selfless service to their motherland. This could be due to two factors. First of them being poor record keeping by Saini community about their foremost men. This neglect continues even to this day. The second factor being the casteless character of the Khalsa order itself which downplayed caste identities.
Bhagat Nanuan was a reputed Saini of the 17th century. Throughout his life he rendered his valuable services to Sikh Guru. He enjoyed the privilege of having close relationship with 8th , 9th & 10th Sikh Gurus . At the time of 8th Guru's death in Delhi, he arranged the cremation & later carried Guru ji's bone urn to Kiratpur Sahib. From there, along with Guru's family members he reached Baba Bakala as indicated by the 8th guru. After the cremation ceremony of 9th guru, he remained in the company of his master on various teaching missions. At the time of the last voyage of Guru Tej Bahadur ji to Delhi, he accompanied the convoy. After the martydom of the Guru & Sikhs, he arranged their cremation. He sacrificed his life in the Battle of Chamkaur Sahib. His son, Darbar Singh laid down his life in the battle of Agampur and another son Gharbara Singh was killed in the battle of Muktsar. His great grandson Kavi Jai Singh Saini had the privilege of being 'Darbari Kavi' at the court of Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala.
Gulab Singh Saini was a close companion of Jat chief Nahar Singh of Ballabhgarh and laid down his life fighting the British in 1858. Raja Nahar Singh had also lost his life heroically in the process. Gulab Singh Saini was reported to be the commander of the native insurrection against the British during the mutiny.
Along with Mayya Singh, Gulab Singh was the second prominent Saini hero of the 1857 mutiny and before who fought the East India Company.
Saini , Jat and Ror communities around the area of Kurukshetra are reported to have put up a very brave resistance to the forces of East India Company during the mutiny.
The Awards List given below is not exhaustive. Not all Sainis use their clan or sub clan names and go by the last names such as 'Chaudhry', 'Singh', 'Kumar', etc. Since these names are shared by many other groups such as Sikhs, Jats, Dogras and Rajputs etc , it is not possible to isolate Sainis among them just by their last names. The following list pertains only to those decorated armymen and policemen who are confirmed to be Sainis. The actual list of decorated Saini army and police personnel might be much longer. More quality research is needed in this reference.
The following list only contains only those armymen and policemen who won have major wartime and peacetime awards. The list of Sainis in Indian Army is very large and needs no inclusion here. Army and police have traditionally been major sources of employment for Sainis. British had classified Sainis as a 'martial race'.
Wing Commander Krishan Kant Saini, Flight Lieutenant in 1962, had been operating in NEFA area since October, 1960. On 18th November, 1962, he , along with his co-pilot was evacuating seriously injured battle casualties in Walong area. He was instructed to land at a helipad close to the enemy line which was reported to be clear of enemy troops. When he was over the helipad, Chinese troops opened fire from many directions. His helicopter was hit at several places; the main reducter was damaged and oil from it gushed out in a thick spray which blinded him temporarily. His right ankle was also injured by a splinter and he was bleeding profusely. With great determination, presence of mind and skill, he dived the helicopter almost to ground level in order to avoid further damage from enemy fire. He thus saved the helicopter and the lives of his co-pilot and passengers. In spite of the damaged hydraulic system and the personal injury, he skillfully brought the aircraft back to base.
Flight Lieutenant Saini displayed courage, determination and professional skill of a high order.
On 13 April 1999, Major Singh fearlessly led his column from upfront, setting a personal example for his command to emulate. He made the supreme sacrifice of his life while fighting the Pakistani ISI sponsored proxy war and safe guarding the integrity of India. His mortal remains, draped in the tri-colour of the Indian flag, were sent to his village in (Mundi Kharar) Ropar (the vicinity of which Anandpur Sahib is located) on 14 April 1999 where he was cremated with honours reserved for the bravest.
Major Harminder had been wounded in the left arm but managed to engage three militants armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades in an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter in a remote north Kashmir village on April 13.
The 18 Grenadiers Major was shot through the temple by the third militant but not before he had gunned down two of them. Harminder led the commando platoon of his battalion in what has been described as a "dare-devil" operation in a congested locality of Sadurkotbala village in Manasbal.
Major Harminder Pal Singh was honoured with the Shaurya Chakra, for his exceptional gallantry and devotion to duty, posthumously.
Sergeant Uday Singh Taunque was born in Jaipur, India on 23rd April 1982. He stayed with his parents at various military stations till 1994. Then he moved to his paternal grand parents home in Chandigarh.There he enrolled in St Stephen's School. In 1995, Uday's parents and sister also moved to Chandigarh. Uday, on leaving school in Chandigarh in June 2000, left for the US with his father and sister and decided to join the US Army. Uday enlisted in the army on 28 August 2000 and on termination of initial training at Fort Knox was assigned to Charlie Company 1st Battalion, 34 Armor Regiment, based at Fort Riley, Kansas, USA.
Uday's unit was deployed to Iraq in September 2003. On, 1 December 2003, Uday was in the lead Humvee of his platoon as a gunner while out on reconnaissance in Habbaniyah, when the platoon came under fire. Uday was the first to fire back and kept the insurgents pinned down till such time reinforcements could arrive. However, in the continuing fire fight he was hit with a gunshot to his head, and could not survive and died on the way to the hospital. He had suffered grievous injury. This action had led to the capture of a number of terrorists and large cache of weapons. Uday was awarded with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery and ultimate sacrifice.
Uday's ashes are buried at The Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington (near Washington D.C.) Section 60 Gravesite No 8122. Also, a memorial for perpetuating his memory is established and will be completed shortly at his home in Chandigarh (1550, Sec 18-D). This courageous and brave boy has touched many hearts across two nations and not only brought honour to the family but to all who knew him and the army that he loved so dearly.
Gallantry medal is the most prestigious award for any police officer in the country. It is awarded for displaying conspicuous gallantry, courage and devotion to duty of very high order. The police officer keeps the duty before self in completing the task. This award is rare in itself as the action should match the risk involved on the occasion. The senior controlling officer assessing the task performed by the subordinate recommends to the head of the police department for award of gallantry medal.
CHAP. XIV. Descendants of Śini, of Anamitra, of Śwaphalka and Chitraka, of Andhaka. The children of Devaka and Ugrasena. The descendants of Bhajamána. Children of Śúra: his son Vasudeva: his daughter Prithá married to Páńd́u: her children Yudhisht́hira and his brothers; also Karńa by Áditya. The sons of Páńd́u by Mádrí. Husbands and children of Śúra's other daughters. Previous births of Śiśupála.
THE younger brother of Anamitra was Śini; his son was Satyaka; his son was Yuyudhána, also known by the name of Sátyaki; his son was Asanga; his son was Túni 1; his son was Yugandhara 2. These princes were termed Śaineyas
Mainly Punjab and contiguous regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
Though the majority of Saini's are technically Hindu, their religious practices are best described as a syncretism of Sanatani Vedic , Arya Samaj and Sikh traditions. Most Sainis are proud of their Vedic past and play willing hosts to learned Brahmin priests. At the same time, there is hardly a Hindu Saini who does not treat the Sikh Gurus with extreme reverence.
Some Hindu Sainis around Hoshiarpur region are also well versed in Vedic astrology. Unlike other farming and martial communities, converts to Islam amongst Sainis are generally unheard of.
With the rise of Sikhism in the fifteenth century, many Saini's adopted Sikhism. So, there is a substantial Sikh Saini population today in Punjab . The boundary lines between Hindu and Sikh Sainis are quite blurred as they freely inter-marry. Within one extended family both Hindus and Sikhs can be found.
Sainis were strictly endogamous until a few decades ago but had strict regulations to prevent inbreeding. Generally as a rule the marriage could not take place if:
a) even one of the four gots from boy's side was common with one of the four gots from girl's side . These four gots from each side were the gots of : 1) paternal grandfather 2) paternal grandmother 3) maternal grandfather & 4) maternal grandmother. Needless to say marriage between cousins was an impossibility ;
b) despite none of the above gots being common between both sides, both the families were from same village. In this case as per the ancient honour system, the boy and girl in question were to treat each other mutually as brother and sister .
Prior to 1950s, it was not possible for Saini bride and groom to see each other before the marriage. The marriage decision was strictly taken by elders of the both families. Bride and groom got to see each other only after the marriage. If the groom attempted to see his would-be wife stealthily, it would lead to breaking up of the betrothal by girl's family in most or all cases.
However since 1950s, this is no longer the case even for arranged marriages within the community.
Prior to The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 , it was not possible for a Saini man to divorce his wife. Divorce was non-existent and there was very strong community taboo and stigma against it. Other than the reason of infidelity, it was not possible for a Saini man to desert his wife without facing ostracism and inviting stigma for his whole family.
But if a Saini man repudiated his wife on the basis of infidelity or elopement, reconciliation was not possible again under any circumstances. The woman thus accused most certainly faced ostracism for the rest of her life. No other man from the community would marry a woman thus repudiated. However, there was intervention by village elders in all cases to prevent any woman from being wrongfully accused by malicious in-laws. The husband's family in such cases also did not escape some form of stigma. So situations like these would come to fore very rarely , only if there was a genuine grievance.
Present day situation
However, divorce is now a possibility among the present day Sainis and it does not attract the stigma and ostracism that it once did.
Historically, among Sainis widow remarriage was not a possibility like in any other community of ksyatriya or rajput origin. Although few instances may have existed among poor families but among the better known families this practice had no acceptance.
Levirate marriages not possible
Generally speaking, levirate marriage, or karewa , was not permisssible among Sainis, especially among the families of repute within the community, and the elder brother's wife had the same status as of one's own mother and younger brother's wife had the same status as of one's daughter. This relationship continued even after the death of the brother. After the death of a married male member the responsibility of taking care of his widow was collectively shared by the deceased's brothers or cousins (if there were no brothers who were alive). Owing to close-knit social fabric of Saini owned villages, the widow and her wards were also collectively taken care of by the larger community-based brotherhood (called Sharika in Punjabi) in the village.
Present day situation
Among present day Sainis the taboo against widow remarriage, especially if they are widowed at young age, has now dissolved or almost disappeared even in Punjab. However, in the village based communities there might still be some resistance left.
Traditionally, Sainis have been married through vedic ceremonies performed by brahmins of Sanatani tradition . However, in 20th century some Hindu families started opting for Arya Samaj based vedic ceremonies and Sikh Sainis started opting for Anand Karaj ritual.
A Sikh Saini is more likely to marry into a Hindu Saini family and vice versa than marrying a Sikh or Hindu of any other caste.
Although traditionally there have existed strict taboos within Sainis against marriage outside the community, and Sainis in general still prefer to marry within their own community, in the last few decades , however, inter-marriage of Sikh Sainis with Jat Sikhs and Hindu Sainis with Khatris and Aroras are not unheard of. But these inter-caste marriages, even though arranged in most cases, are exceptions rather than norm. Generally speaking, a city bred and educated Saini family is much more likely to accept a match from another community of similar standing than the ones living in rural areas. Among the diaspora Saini families, like among any other diaspora Punjabi families, inter-caste marriages are even more common.
There continues to exist a strong taboo against inter-marriage with Muslims and Christians among both Hindu and Sikh Sainis in Punjab and elsewhere.
However, there have been past and recent instances of inter-marriages of Sainis with Western men and women. Generally speaking, if a Saini boy or girl in the diaspora community marries a Westerner, they expect their spouse to convert to the Hindu or Sikh faith or at least insist that they be allowed to continue their faith after the marriage.
There have been instances of marriages between Saini emigrant men and Western women since the early 1900s, especially in the California region of United States. Recently , however, the trend has started in the reverse direction as well, i.e, Saini girls generally born and raised in West marrying Western men.
Late Ajit Saini was a very eminent journalist of Punjab and was associated with the Punjabi daily "Ajit" Not only his contributions to Punjabi press are remembered by the Punjabi intelligentsia but his contributions as a freedom fighter and Indian National Army (INA) vateran can never be forgotten. He was a close confidant and lieutenant of Subhas Chandra Bose. As Netaji's spokesman and media strategist , he controlled the wire service of INA and Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind or Provisional Government of Free India, more simply, Indian government in exile.
Freedom fighter , Ajit Saini, passed away on Dec 10, 2007 and his demise was widely condoled in Punjab. In a condolence message the Chief Minister said that Saini was a multi-faceted personality who served in the Indian National Army (INA) and made a significant contribution towards the Indian freedom struggle. As a noted Journalist and an eminent Columnist Ajit Saini through his prolific writings in the esteemed columns of regional and national newspapers proved to be instrumental in bringing social awakening amongst the down-trodden and unprivileged section of the society. In his death "a void has been created in the literary circles which was difficult to be filled", said Badal
Nek Chand, is an Indian self-taught artist. He is famous for building the Rock Garden of Chandigarh. Chandigarh, India, is an unlikely location for the world's largest folk-art environment. Chandigarh, a stark 20th-century utopian dream city, was designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. In the midst of this carefully planned, 1950s-style architecture lies The Rock Garden. The Rock Garden is a 40 acre garden comprising of meandering paths, courtyards, waterfalls, pavilions, theatres, plazas and thousands of sculptures created by self-tutored builder named Nek Chand Saini (b.1924). In the past few years, completing this monumental endeavour and guaranteeing its preservation has become an international effort involving many individuals and organizations.
Joginder Singh Saini was the 13th recipient of the coveted award. A respected coach of long standing and chief national coach , Saini was the fourth athletic coach behind O.M. Nambiar (1985), Ilyas Babar (1994) and Karan Singh (1995) to be honoured.
Baljit ("Baljeet") Singh Saini (born August 12, 1976 in Ropar, Punjab) is a field hockey defender and midfielder from India who made his international debut for the Men's National Team in 1995 during the Indira Gandhi Gold Cup. Singh Saini represented his native country at two consecutive Summer Olympics, starting in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, where India finished in eighth place. His older brother Balwinder Singh was also a field hockey international for India.
Born on October 10, 1938 at Shekupura (now in Pakistan), Nirmal Saini had a distinguished career in sports. She was Director of Sports for Women in the State Department. She earned an M.A. in Political Science from Punjab University in 1958, and joined the Government College of Physical Education, Patiala in 1959. She secured 710 out of 1000 marks to gain her diploma, proving that successful athletes can also be successful academicians. Nirmal also played excellent net-ball, badminton and throw-ball. She captained the Punjab volleyball team three times and was a member of the U.P. volleyball team that toured Ceylon in 1955. Four years later she led an Indian team to Ceylon, which won all the matches that they participated in.
Nirmal Saini took time off in the course of her busy Sports career to marry the famous "Flying Sikh" Milkha Singh , the most celebrated athlete of India. She is also the mother of world renowned golf player Jeev Milkha Singh. Note: Milkha Singh is not a Saini but from a Sikh Rathore Rajput family.
The erudite hockey Olympian, Rupa Saini belongs to a Faridkot-based family which has a rich tradition in sports, particularly in Indian hockey. At one time, the Saini sisters dominated women's hockey in India and this can be gauged from the fact that three of them- Rupa, Krishna and Prema- turned out for the country in a Test series against Japan in 1970. Rupa, at that time, was a 15-year- old pony tailed girl bristling with youthful exuberance. And it was this young and talented girl who went on to captain the Indian team in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
The list of Rupa Saini's achievement is long and impressive. She has donned the Indian colours in the 1974 France and 1978 Madrid World Cups, apart from earning nearly 200 Test caps both in India and abroad.She also played in the 1979 world championships held in Vancouver.
Taking a drive down the corridors of memory lane, Rupa reveals the crests and troughs she had to undergo in her illustrious career. She opined that one of the most happiest moments of her 19-year-long, effervescent career was when she got a chance to play alongside her two sisters -Krishna and Prema- in a five Test match series against Japan in 1970. These days Rupa, having earned a doctorate degree, is employed as a senior lecturer with the Government College of Physical Education in Patiala. She has also been appointed as a manager of the senior Indian team by the Indian Women Hockey Federation (IWHF).
Director - South Asia, Intel Asia Electronics. Avtar Saini joined Intel in April 1982 as a Product Engineer in the area of magnetic bubble memories. Through the 1980s he worked as a circuit designer on the Intel386, and a micro-architect/logic designer on the Intel486. In 1989, he was promoted to co-lead the Pentium processor design team where he managed the design and its ramp into volume production. In 1994, Saini was promoted as General Manager, Santa Clara Microprocessor Division where he managed Intel's next generation 64 byte architecture microprocessor. In May 1996, he moved to Folsom, California to head the Platform Components Division where he was responsible for the Chipset and Graphics solutions for the Intel Architecture platform. In September 1999, Saini was relocated to India as Director South Asia. He holds 7 patents for his work in microprocessor design.
Hard work and talent made this non-entity in his homeland rich and famous in foreign soil. Originally known as Jaswinder Singh and re-christened "Jessie Singh the billionaire" is now a big name in Silicon Valley in California, USA. He is the owner of BJS Electronics and deals in trading of computer peripherals. He now has three companies with a turnover of $246 million and is the second richest Punjabi in North America. He has the rare distinction of hosting a dinner attended, among others by the then US president Bill Clinton. He keeps in touch with his roots and occasionally visits Jalandhar where he has a house in Green Park.
Tarsame Singh, aka TAZ, the artist formerly known as Johnny Zee, established himself as a recording artist with the release of his debut album "Hit the Deck". He stormed the UK Asian Pop Charts for 36 weeks at number 1. The album went on to become one of the biggest selling Asian fusion release to date. Then came the album that broke all music barriers, Spirits of Rhythm with the hit track, Don't Break My Heart.
The latter half of 1999 saw TAZ release his first solo album entitled "Nasha" in the UK, causing a major storm on dance floors across Europe and the USA. To date the album has already gone gold... The new millennium sees TAZ as a solo artists, retaining the name of "Stereo Nation" starting to delve into new musical territory with Latin, R&B, Soul, Dance and Bollywood. TAZ's latest album entitled "Slave II Fusion"("Oh Laila'), released in December 2000. achieved sales exceeding 1.5 Million. As a consequence to this success, he was approached to record a track for the movie "TUM BIN" in which TAZ himself performed.
Due to popular demand TAZ returned to the UK to release his single "Laila" into the mainstream charts. The single entered the British Charts at number 44. The follow up album entitled "Taz-Mania" has surpassed the phenomenal success of the previous album. Having already recorded for the Film Industry, TAZ has just finished recording for the latest Hrithik Roshan film "Koi Mil Gaya" which has been deemed by the Indian Film Industry as the Bollywood Blockbuster Movie of the year!
Born and raised in Bilaspur a village near Hoshiarpur, a district in Punjab, India, Soni (Tejpal Singh Pabla) moved to Toronto, Canada in the mid 90s. Under the teachings of Mahesh Malwani, he studied music, which led him towards a recording contract with Planet Recordz, a well known South Asian Record Label in Canada. Soni released his debut album, Heeray Heeray, in 2002. In 2004, Soni teamed up with Sukshinder Shinda to create his second album, Gal Dil Di. He had also been featured on numerous albums with various producers. He was one of the most talented artists in Canada. His new album "Eternity (Naseebo)" is a tribute to Soni by his friends and Planet Recordz. This album features new songs which Soni had selected for his album. Some songs in this album also have the vocals of few well known Punjabi Singers.
Light-eyed and breath-takingly handsome Soni died untimely at the age of 30, while giving a stage performance in Brampton (Ontario, Canada) . Soni is missed by thousands of his fans in Canada, UK , Punjab and elsewhere .
A distinguished general of the Saini Army. His contribution in upliftment of Saini Community is being applauded by all. Took active part in the freedom movement launched by the patriots to liberate our country from the British rule. Known for his strong character, honest, simple and ever helpful attitude at his native village Sujjon in Nawansher district. His urge for knowledge and material well-being took him to seas to Philippines. Business acumen and hard work brought him abundant success and laurels. he became a successful, distinguished and respected businessman in Manila. His benevolent instinct prompted him to support his relations and other interested villagers to migrate to the Philippines for improving their sources of livelihood. Formed the Sarb Hind Saini Sabha. Arranged moral and material support for Azad Hind Fauz of Netaji during the vital years of the Indian Freedom movement. His efforts to extend a helping hand to the needy widows and poor school going children in the form of aid and scholarships consistent with the financial position of the trust, are praiseworthy.
Originally from Delhi, this man is known for his community service in Canada, his adopted land. He writes a regular Column on Hinduism for "Toronto Star", a national newspaper in Canada and also wrote two books on Hinduism that are very popular there. He has been a Social Activist in the Indian community for 30 years and won awards from all levels of government, in recognition of his contribution to society. His recent awards include Civic Award of Recognition for Volunteerism – City of Mississauga 2002 and Recognition Award for Community Service-Ethnic Press Council of Canada.
Sunny Dhoorh migrated to America from Punjab in the year 1988 after graduating in the Law course of Punjab University, Chandigarh. In India he worked as an advocate and when opportunity called Sunny migrated to the U.S. Henceforth there is no looking back for this hardworking and determined stalwart. The fruits of his labor ripened and now he is the proud owner of a about a dozen of convenient stores in the Michigan State, USA. This put him in the league of one of the most prominent and leading businessman of the state.
He is also a spokesperson for the Indian community in the state. He is a contender in politics and keep company with the Democratic Party, as is evident with his frequent association with the Governor and the former presidential candidate, Mr. John Kerry during his campaign. It is during this meetings that Sunny highlights the issues the Indian Community is facing. A regular donor to religious organizations and humanitarian causes. Sunny is proud to belong to the first Saini IAS family (Chaudhary Dasonda Singh) of Punjab.
S. Dilbagh Singh who was a famous personality from Doaba. After a distinguished service in the Indian Army , he retired as a Brigadier and became the Minister for Agriculture and Forest in the Punjab Govt. for some time. As a businessman he is beyond compare running his empire of transport trucks. He helped the community of the Sainis by being their spokesman and his contribution for the upliftment of the community will always be remembered. During his tenure, he initiated a series of measures to take Doaba in the forefront.
Angela is a multimedia journalist, working across television, radio and print.These days she is working full-time for BBC London News as a television video journalist and radio reporter. In the past few years, she has written for New Scientist, Nature Network, The Guardian, and New Statesman among others. Visit http://www.angelasaini.co.uk/
Colonial administration in Punjab employed local men of influence as Zaildars in respective areas to collect revenue. Zaildars enjoyed remuneration for their duties, life grants equal to one per cent, of the revenue of their zails from the assessment of any single village that they chose. In addition to these life inams, or grants, there were some safedposhi grants of a semi-hereditary nature enjoyed by some of the leading agricultural families. They were semi-hereditary because one of the conditions of the grant was that on the death of an incumbent, his successor should , if possible, be a member of the same family. If, however, there was no fit member of the same family, the grant could be awarded to some deserving lambardar of the same tribe, who was not already in the enjoyment of such a grant.
The following is the list of Saini Zaildars during 1880s in the present day Hoshiarpur district:
Note: This list is not exhaustive. More information is needed for Ropar , Jalandhar, and Gurdaspur districts, and also for Hoshiarpur, over different periods of time before 1947.
Jats are a dynamic and lively group of people and comprise the biggest ethnic group of Punjab. According to the 1881 census, Jats were thirty times as numerous as Sainis in the undivided Punjab. It goes without saying that, given such an overwhelming numerical advantage over any other community, Jat influence in Punjab is virtually irrisistible, especially since the advent of democracy. Due to close proximity of Jats and Sainis in the rural hinterland of Punjab , it is not unusual for Sainis, especially Sikh Sainis, to be mistaken for Jats.
Although a considerable linguistic and cultural osmosis has happened between Sainis and Jats owing to common farming background, common places of worship, and contribution to the same armies since the time of institution of Khalsa, the ethnic faultines between the two communities had been still quite well demarcated until last few years.
Karewa not a Saini custom
Unlike Jats , Sainis , even Sikh Sainis, have never practiced the custom of Karewa . Traditionally, this custom had no acceptance among Sainis and was proscribed, though some exceptions could have existed here and there among Sainis living in Jat dominated villages. It is also noteworthy that apart from Jats, some agricultural Rajput tribes had also adopted Karewa custom, probably under Jat influence, though it was nearly not as widespread among them as among Jats. Generally speaking, Karewa was not permisssible among Sainis, especially among the families of repute within the community, and the elder brother's wife , among Sainis, had the same status as of one's own mother and younger brother's wife had the same status as of one's daughter. This relationship continued even after the death of the brother. After the death of a married male member the responsibility of taking care of his widow was collectively shared by the deceased's brothers or cousins (if there were no brothers who were alive). Owing to close-knit social fabric of Saini owned villages, the widow and her wards were also collectively taken care of by the larger community-based brotherhood (called Sharika in Punjabi) in the village. Accordingly, a Saini widow never remarried as per the ancient vedic custom and her protection was the collective responsibility of the entire community.
Traditional Saini resistance to widow remarriage, especially with the deceased's brothers or near kinsmen, could be interpreted as conservative, outmoded, or even retrogressive , but social anthropologist, Bina Agarwal, concludes that Karewa custom was not without its economic underpinings . She writes:
"...Through such a union (locally called Karewa), the husband's kin retained control over the land in which the widow (in the absence of male lineal descendants) had a limited interest. Otherwise there was clear risk that such land will be lost to family"
Polyandry not permissible
Another cultural trait of Jat community which was never shared by Sainis was the practice of polyandry . Like Karewa, this custom also had absolutely no acceptance among both Hindu and Sikh Sainis alike. It is noteworthy that even among Jats, this custom was restricted to certain poor sections and was probably adopted in desperation by poor Jat families to prevent the fragmentation of the land holdings. Among Sainis, however, even the smaller size of land holdings was not a reason strong enough to break this centuries old religious and cultural taboo.
Farming not very essential to Saini self-concept
Farming was a preferred profession of Sainis in the absence of opportunities as soldiers but it was never as central to their character and self-concept as it was to Jats. If the service in army was not in the offing (which was the case for non-Muslim martial groups during seven hundred years of Muslim rule in Punjab), poor or small land owning Sainis simply drifted away to other professions or emigrated to other regions to survive than to adopt karewa or polyandry, both not in accordance with the ancient vedic moral code, to keep the land holdings viable. It must be pointed out that Jat land holdings in Punjab are generally larger than Saini land holdings, or of any other Punjabi group for that matter, and that polyandry and karewa customs, coupled with superlative numerical strength of Jats, may have contributed in this.
The above were reasons enough for Sainis and Jats not to cross over ethnic faultlines historically, despite sharing so much as part of the rural community life and as part of Khalsa brotherhood which generally transcended ethnic differences.
Jats and Sainis get along very well
Apart from not inter-marrying generally, Jats and Sainis, however, get along very well in all aspects of community life and are more likely to be part of each others trusted circle of friends and well-wishers than any person from a third community. In the Punjabi diaspora in USA and Canada, even inter-marriage between Saini Sikhs and Jat Sikhs is not now unheard of. Historically, Jats and Sainis have fought heroically like brothers against Moghuls, Afghans and then British.
Punjabi Khatris are a mercantile community who were largely concentrated in West Punjab before the partition of India. They are also said to have had kshatriya ancestors who later took to commerce. They are primarily said to be of Suryavanshi lineages although some Chandravanshi clans may have also merged with them over a period of time. Apart from Bhatias, who are technically not Khatris, but a similar mercantile community, none of the Khatri clans claim Yaduvanshi descent. They are different from Sainis in the sense that Sainis are exclusively Yaduvanshis and were largely based in the rural areas, and involved in agriculture. Khatris on the other hand were rarely involved in agriculture.
Khatri clan name 'Sahni' is sometimes mistaken for 'Saini'. Although both communities were strictly endogamous until a few decades ago, the inter-marriages between Sainis and Khatris are not now unheard of, especially in the bigger cities and Punjabi diaspora abroad.
Although all Sikhs gurus were from Khatri clans, Khatris were not listed by British as 'martial race'. Sainis on the other hand were regarded as 'martial' and were actively recruited in the British Indian army at all levels.
Another similarity between Khatris and Sainis is that both communities have a composite religious identity. Like Sainis of Punjab, Khatris are also split into Sanatani, Arya Samaji and Sikh affiliations. Like Sainis, within some Khatri extended families people of all of these religious persuasions can be found living in perfect concordance, although such mixed families are probably more common among Sainis. Before the advent of the bitter Singh Sabha-Arya Samaj polemic in Punjab, both Saini and Khatri families would devote atleast one son to Sikhism. However in recent times this composite religious identity has largely lost its ground to the puritans on both sides of the religious divide.
Ibbetson, the colonial ethnographer also confused Sainis with Arain or Raiens. Where Ibbetson's theory becomes problematic is when a comparison is made between gotras (or got in Punjabi) or subcastes of Punjabi Sainis with Arains (and also with Malis). Neither of these communities have common gotras or any other shared cultural traits except perhaps a limited commonality in farming practices.
Gots are an important links that can reveal about the ethnic faultlines as well as shared bloodlines of particular communities. For example, the "Bajwa" got among Jats is found all the way down from Pakistani Punjab to Rajasthan in India, which reveals that Muslim, Hindu and Sikh Jats scattered over such a vast region had common ancestory.
The Arains have only one known common got with Sainis. This appears to be "Gohir" which is similar to Saini got "Gahir" but if this standard is used Sainis have more common gotswith Rajputs than any other community. "Sulehri", "Badwal" , etc Saini gots are shared with communities calling themselves Rajputs. On the other hand, over sixty of Arain gots overlap with those of the Jats, and about twenty with those of the Rajputs. Some important Arain clans overlapping with the Rajputs are Siroha, Janjua, Chauhan, Bhatti, Bhutta (or Bhutto), Chachar, Indrai/Indhar, Joiya, Khokhar etc. This would make Arains also the kinsmen of Jats and Rajputs.
With regard to Malis, there is absolutely no commonality between Sainis and Malis where gots are concerned.
Ibbetson appears to have confused ethnic communities with occupational communities. Malis and Arains are occupational communities, while Sainis are a distinct ethnic community with a common origin at a specific geographic location and a specific time, with a unique historical narrative which gives distinctness to their identity.
Further this theory would also make Arains of Pakistan same as converts from the Mali community which is open to further dispute.
to be continued...
to be continued...
Mali community , south of Yamuna and beyond in the states of UP , MP, and Rajasthan, also started using the surname "Saini" in 20th century. However, this is not the same community as Yaduvanshi Sainis of Punjab This is testified by the fact that census of 1881 does not acknowledge of the existence of Saini community outside Punjab and, despite the insinuations of colonial writers like Ibbetson, records Sainis and Malis as separate communities. Sainis of Punjab historically have never inter-married with the Mali community, or with any community other than Sainis for that matter, and this taboo prevails even today generally. Apart from border districts of Haryana with neighboring UP , Delhi and Rajasthan, there have been little to no cultural or social exchange between Sainis and Malis, as both communities have distinct cultures and histories.
The Sainis of Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ropar and Gurdaspur districts , especially the aristocratic families among them, had historically intermarried only within these districts until recently. Haryanvi speaking Sainis of Haryana generally intermarry within Rohtak, Karnal and Kurukshetra districts only, though it is possible that some poor and less aware Saini families in the border districts of Haryana may have socially bonded with the Mali community in the sourthern border district of Haryana, neighbouring Rajasthan, Delhi, and UP, a little stronger, and due to the adoption of "Saini" surname by Mali community south of Yamuna in 20th century both may have become further confused with each other.
Owing also to this particular confusion, most Saini families in Punjab prefer to intermarry only within certain districts of Punjab and those of Haryana contiguous to Punjab. Sikh Sainis are even more unlikely to intermarry outside these handful of districts.
Differences acknowledged in colonial accounts
Even colonial census authorities, somewhat eager to club Sainis with Malis for the sake of getting easier handle on complex Saini history and ethnography, were forced to acknowledge this stark fact with the remark: "...that some of the higher tribes of the same class (Sainis) will not marry with them (Malis) .
The mistake colonial ethnographers seem to have made was to confuse occupational communities with ethnic communities. The engagement of Sainis in horticulture, in addition to wheat and rice farming, gave the 19th century colonial administrators , yet untrained in subcontinent's historical texts and scientific approach to social anthropology, the impression that Sainis were probably related with the Mali community in some way. But it does not appear that the colonial rulers were themselves entirely convinced with this conjecture as well because all of their accounts fall short of emphatically identifying Sainis as Malis. Instead the colonial accounts used diffuse and open-ended phraseology like "it would appear", "probably", etc wherever they attempted to hyphenate Sainis with Malis. But despite this ambivalence the colonial accounts do not fail to record that unlike Malis:
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