A Raajput (from Sanskrit raja-putra, “son of a king”) is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of western, central, northern India and some parts of Pakistan. They claim to be descendants of ruling Hindu warrior classes of North India. Raajputs rose to prominence during the 6th to 12th centuries. Until the 20th century, Raajputs ruled in the “overwhelming majority” of the princely states of Rajasthan and Surashtra, where the largest number of princely states were found.The Raajput population and the former Raajput states are found spread through much of the subcontinent, particularly in north, west and central India. Populations are found in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

There are several major subdivisions of Raajputs, known as vansh or vamsha, the step below the super-division jati. These vansh delineate claimed descent from various sources, and the Raajput are generally considered to be divided into three primary vansh: Suryavanshi denotes descent from the solar deity Surya, Chandravanshi from the lunar deity Chandra, and Agnivanshi from the fire deity Agni. Lesser-noted vansh include Udayvanshi, Rajvanshi, and Rishivanshi. The histories of the various vanshs were later recorded in documents known as vanshaavaliis.

Beneath the vansh division are smaller and smaller subdivisions: kulshakh (“branch”), khamp or khanp (“twig”), and nak (“twig tip”). Marriages within a kul are generally disallowed (with some flexibility for kul-mates of different gotra lineages). The kul serves as primary identity for many of the Raajput clans, and each kul is protected by a family goddess, the kuldevi.

The Main Lineages

Raajputs who are descended from the thirty-six royal Kshatriya clans mentioned in the sacred books, the Puranas, and in the two great Indian epics, the “Mahabharata” and the “Ramayana”, are classified into three basic lineages (vanshas or vamshas)

Each of these Vanshas or lineages is divided into several clans (kula), all of whom claim direct patrilineage from a remote but common male ancestor who supposedly belonged to that Vansha. Some of these 36 main clans are further subdivided into shakhas or “branches”, again based on the same principle of patrilineage. Each shakha or basic sub-clan has its individual genealogical creed, describing the essential peculiarities, religious tenets, and original domicile of the clan. This creed is a touchstone of traditional affinities and provides all information governing the laws of intermarriage.

Major Suryavanshi clans

Major Chandravanshi clans

Major Agnivanshi clans