9th century king Mihir Bhoj dragged into caste dispute in MP

Both Kshatriyas and Gurjars claim that Mihir Bhoj belonged to their caste with the dispute reaching Madhya Pradesh High Court in 2021

Madhya Pradesh High Court (photo: NH Library)
Madhya Pradesh High Court (photo: NH Library)


A dispute over the legacy of 9th century king Mihir Bhoj between the Kshatriya (Rajput) and Gurjar communities which started in northern India, has gradually started taking a larger shape for the last few years.

Both the Kshatriyas and Gurjars claim that Mihir Bhoj belonged to their community or caste and a dispute over this had reached the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 2021.

Although, the debate over Mihir Bhoj’s legacy was centuries old as reports suggest, a fresh controversy in Madhya Pradesh began after a life-size statue of the king was installed in Gwalior city in 2019.

The dispute escalated after the Gwalior Municipal Corporation (GMC) prefixed "Gurjar" with the inscription of Mihir Bhoj's name on a plinth of the life-size statue, which did not go down well with the people of Kshatrya community and they unanimously stood to oppose it.

On their part, the Gurjars argued that Mihir Bhoj belonged to the community and therefore the word "Gurjar" needed to be added with his name on all his statues across the country.

Upon receiving a bunch of petitions from both the communities, the Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court had appointed an expert committee to examine the issue and present its recommendation in 2021.

As the appointed committee is yet to submit its report, the matter is currently sub judice.

Fresh tension prevailed last week after some people attempted to remove the "Gurjar" prefix from Mihir Bhoj's statue, despite the area having been earmarked as prohibited due to back-to-back clashes between the two communities since the statue was installed.

The police claimed to have arrested two persons who attempted to erase the word.

The dispute over Mihir Bhoj’s legacy is also because the two communities have a sizeable population in the Gwalior-Chambal and Malwa-Nimar regions of the state and they have a strong hold over the local politics as well.

As the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh are just four months away, the dispute over Mihir Bhaj’s legacy has started to escalate again.

Whether Mihir Bhoj was a Kshatriya or Gurjar, different historians have their own opinions and views on this issue.

Sushil Dwivedi, a senior professor of history in Thakur Ranmat Singh Singh (TRS) College Rewa, said that although researchers have different views over the legacy of Mihir Bhoj, many historians have claimed that he belonged to the "Gurjar Pratihar" dynasty, which had established its kingdom in Kannauj (in what is now Uttar Pradesh) and Ujjain (in what is Madhya Pradesh)."

“Pratiharas were Kshatriyas and they ruled in Madhya Bharat’s Malwa-Nimar and part of (what is now) Uttar Pradesh. But, many writers mentioned Gurjar-Pratihar, and perhaps this is the reason a dispute started on Mihir Bhoj’s legacy. Nagabhata–1 was the founder of the Gurjar-Pratihar dynasty in Ujjain between 730BC to 760 BC," he said.

He also said hat some historians have also suggested that Gurjar-Pratihar dynasty had its origins in Gurjratra, a part of Rajputana in the present day Rajasthan.

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