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Alha was a legendary Ahir[1][2][3][4] general of the Chandel king Paramardideva (also known as Parmal), who fought Prithviraj Chauhan in 1182 CE, immortalised in the Alha-Khand ballad. The Alha and Udal ballads sing of Ahir bravery in the medieval age.[5][6]

Origin[change | change source]

Alha and Udal were children of the Dasraj, a successful commander of the army of Chandel king Parmal. They belonged to the Ahir/Yadav community.[7][8][9]

According to Bhavishya Purana, a text with several interpolated sections that cannot be reliably dated, Alha's mother, Devaki, was a member of the Ahir caste.[10]

Folklore[change | change source]

Alha is an oral epic, the story is also found in a number of medieval manuscripts of the Prithviraj Raso and the Bhavishya Purana. There is also a belief that the story was originally written by Jagnik, bard of Mahoba, but no manuscript has yet been found.[11]

H.A. Rose wrote in his book, "Some Indian Folklore in the Lay of Alha":

The lay of Alha (Alhakhand) is one of those indian poems which are mainly of values for the light they caste on IndianIndian ideas. While not altogether historically worthless, in that it uses historical men, and perhaps women too as its Dramatis personae, it is patently a tendencious compilation, inculcating inter alia the proper way to behave to Jogis. But, its dominating theme is burning social question of the status to be allowed to the Banaphar (Ahir) family as Kshatriya.[12]

References[change | change source]

  1. Survavanshi, Bhagwansingh (1962). Abhiras Their History And Culture (in Unknown). The continuity of Abhira settlements of the Sindhu and the Sarasvati cannot be traced today. The absence of these settlements in the Puranic records shows that the Abhiras abandoned these places sometimes before the compilation of the Puranas. The Abhiras after being migrated from these regions moved towards east and south-east and settled in U.P. and Madhya Pradesh. Some of them got settled possibly on the bank of the hilly river which is called Sindhu today. This Sindhu emerges from the spurs of the Vindhyas, 10 miles to the north of Sironj and passing through the whole hilly track, falls into the river Yamuna near Jalaun. The Ahirs (Abhiras) occupy a prominent status there. The Ahir legends found throughout the ravines of this Sindhu throw light on the unrecorded history of the Abhiras. The famous balled Alhakhanda even in its modern form, though projected to reveal the glorious feats of the heroes Alha and Udala, yet could not refrain to acknowledge the turbulence of the people of Sindhu and Betwa who offered them many ferocious battles. The whole bed of the river Sindhu has thus stored numerous legends of strong Ahir-rule over the area. A tributary of the river Sindhu is called Ahirpat or Airavati, which meets Sindhu to the 15 miles south-{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  2. Archaeological Survey of India: Reports 1862-1884. Governement Press. 1885. The first building mentioned is commonly called Alha-ka Baitka, after the famous warrior Alha , whose achievements are sung all over these parts , and the tale extant regarding the Ahir chiefs, Alha and Udal, with their master Parmal, are almost without number.
  3. Michelutti, Lucia (2020-11-29). The Vernacularisation of Democracy: Politics, Caste and Religion in India. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-000-08400-9. Ahir/Yadavs are the protagonists of two famous regional martial oral epics: the epic of Alha and Udal and of Lorik. These epics, in particular Alha, rethink the classical pan-Indian Mahabharata.
  4. Price, Pamela; Ruud, Arild Engelsen (2012-07-26). Power and Influence in India: Bosses, Lords and Captains. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-19798-7. The symbolic equation between physical strength and political capacity is continuously expressed by informants with the aid of metaphors, parables and mythic narratives. Local Yadavs emphasise that their ancestor Krishna was a skilful Wrestler and a democratic politician and that Yadav kings were also wrestlers or patrons of dangals (wrestling tournaments). Alha and Udal, the protagonists of a popular regional martial oral epic, are described as belonging to the Yadav caste and as being skilful wrestlers. Alha is often described as an incarnation of Balram, Krishna's brother, and Udal as an incarnationof Krishna. The wrestling ground of the Mahadev Ghat is said to be used in the night by these two heroes.
  5. Chopra, Pran Nath (1982). Religions and Communities of India. Vision Books. ISBN 978-0-391-02748-0. In the annals of Indian military history there is sufficient proof of Ahir bravery that is immortalised in the ballads of Alah and Udal of Bundel-khand.
  6. Praval, K. C. (1976). Valour Triumphs: A History of the Kumaon Regiment. Thomson Press (India).
  7. Kumar, Ashish. A Citygraphy of Panchpuri Haridwar. Clever Fox Publishing. Alha and Udal were children of the Dasraj, a successful commander of the army of Chandel king Parmal. They belonged to the Banaphar community, which has its origins in the Ahir/Yadav castes.
  8. Hiltebeitel, Alf (2009-02-15). Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics: Draupadi among Rajputs, Muslims, and Dalits. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-34055-5. Russell and Hira Lai [1916] 1993, 4:437 identify Banaphars as Yadavas, and thus of Lunar Dynasty origins.
  9. Crooke, William (1999). The Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-1210-5. The connection between the Banâphars and Ahirs is one cos which illustrate the mixed origin of many of the Rajput septs.
  10. Alf Hiltebeitel (2009). Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics: Draupadi among Rajputs, Muslims, and Dalits. University of Chicago Press. pp. 132–133. ISBN 9780226340555.
  11. Peter J. Claus, Sarah Diamond, Margaret Ann Mills (2003). South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka Special -Reference. Taylor & Francis. p. 12. ISBN 9780415939195.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. H. A. Rose (1925). "Some Indian Folklore in the Lay of Alha". Folklore. Folklore Enterprises, Ltd. 36 (1): 101–106. JSTOR 1256383.