Ahirs, Yadavs or Yadavas are to be met with throughout the country especially in
Haryana. They include the Abhiras or Ahirs of northern India, Raos of
Haryana, Gwallas of
Uttar Pradesh, Mandals of Bihar, Pradhans of Orissa,
Yadavs of Rajasthan, Ghoshals of Bengal, Gopas and Reddis of Andhra Pradesh and Wadeyars of Karnataka. High-caste Hindus often call them Sudras but the Yadavas call themselves Somavanshi Kshatriyas. The Yadava contribution to the composite culture of India is immense: the nomadic art forms, the Abhira language (Apabhramsa), the Raslila and certain ragas life Ahir-Bhairav, Abhirika, Gopixa, Kannadaguala and perhaps most of all, the Krishna cult.
Although the Ahirs and Yadavas form one group, the former (the Ahiras or Abhiras) are an important community of
numerically they constitute less than 10
% of the total population. Most of them live in the region around Rewari and Narnaul which is therefore known as Ahirwal or the abode of Ahirs. Their origin is controversial. Some historians hold that they were a powerful race of nomad cowherds from eastern or central Asia who entered India from the
Punjab in large hordes about the same time as the Sakas and the Yuehchis in 1st or 2nd century BC and gradually spread over large parts of northern, eastern and central India. Other views are that they came from Syria or Asia Minor about the beginning of the Christian era; were Dravidians; sprang from the Aayars of Tamil Nadu; lived in India long before the
Aryan invasion; were descendants of the Yadavas of the Lunar family of Pururavas Aila; and that their original habitat was the region between the Sutluj and the
Yamuna from where they migrated beyond Mathura in the east and beyond Gujarat and Maharashtra in the South.
The Ahirs of Mathura and Bajra regions were known to be peace loving cowherds whereas the Abhirs of
Haryana and Mahendergarh, who later on became to be called as Ahirs, were powerful and accomplished warriors. The generations from the kidnapped women or widows were known as Yaduvanshis. However, the ones with Abhir fathers became to be known as Yadavs. Out of these Yadavs, many have been categorized into backward classes whereas the rest of them are flourishing farmers in
Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
and Rajasthan states.
The name of
Haryana may have been derived from its ancient inhabitants: Abhirayana == Ahirayana == Hirayana == Haryana. The name ‘Abhira’ may stem from a-bhira—a, not; bhira, fear--- fearless The Ahir hold over
Haryana must have remained intact for centuries after the battle of the
Mahabharat. At the beginning of the Christian era the invading Scythians and Kushans forced most of them out of their land to lower
Rajasthan in the Arbuda (Aravali region). In Marubhumi (Marwar), Saurashtra and Maharashtra they served the local rulers and established their own Raj. Ishwar Sena, a great Ahir general, became master
of western Deccan in place of the famous Satavahanas. He took the title of Rajan and an era was named after him. His descendants continued to rule for nine generations. For centuries the Ahirs were eclipsed as a political power in
Haryana until the time of the Pratihera dynasty. In time they became independent rulers of south-western Haryana.
Rao Tula Ram was the most well known of the Ahir leaders. He fought against the British in the 1857 revolt. Many brave Ahir soldiers from
Haryana have made their mark in the various wars fought by the Indian Army and won medals. Among them are Brigadier R. S. Yadav MVC, Commodore B. B. Yadav MVC and Leading Seaman C. S. Yadav MVC.
Valor of Ahirs in 1962 India-China