Source: In common use
Rajput derives of the Sanskrit raja-putra which means "son of a king". They are a group of north Indian clans or castes that were historically thought of as warrior castes. Their religion is mainly Hindu, but there are also Muslim Rajputs. They were once pastoral nomads.
One of the earliest depictions of Rajputs appears in the Codice Casanatense, held in the Casanata Library, Rome. It is thought to date from the 1540s. The text accompanying the illustration translates:
"These people are named rresbutos and inhabit the outback of the Kingdom of Cambay - they sustain themselves out of robbing and die from it. They are very brave men and great horsemen and bowmen; their law is that of gentiles"
Rajput page of the Codice Casanatense of circa 1540.
Fast forward to the 18th century:
"Those Raffpouts are Natives of Guzerat, and are all Gentlemen of the Sword, and are well trained in the Art of killing. They, like the Switz, employ their swords in the Service of those who give them best Pay. They seldom give or take Quarter, and when they go on an expedition, they carry their Wives and Children in Carts and Wagons along with them, and if they meet with a Repulse, their Wives will never suffer Cohabition till they can regain their lost Honour by some noble Exploit." 1
-Alexander Hamilton, 1723
"The Rajputs are the traditional fighting, landowning and ruling caste. They are proud of their war-like reputation and their ancestry and are still punctilious on points of etiquette. They worship the shield, the sword, the dagger and the horse. In former times the Rajputs were usually bhumias or jagirdars. The majority of them are cultivators now." 2
-Rajasthan District Gazetteers: Sirohi, 1967
Powerful Rajput families were in control of much of North India and beyond. There were the Rathores of Marwar with Jodhpur as their center of power. Branches of the Rathores also ruled over Bikaner, Ratlam, and other places. The Sisodia Rajputs ruled over the kingdom of Mewar with Udaipur as capital. The Chauhan Rajputs ruled over Bundi, Kota, Sirohi, and others. The Talpur dynasty in Sindh and the Ghurkas in Nepal are all descendants of older Rajput clans.
1. Captain Alexander Hamilton; A New Account of the East Indies. Being the Observations and Remarks of Capt. Alexander Hamilton. Edinburgh, John Mofman. 1727.
2. B.N. Dhoundiyal; Rajasthan District Gazetteers: Sirohi. Government Central Press, Jaipur. 1967.