Chhattisgarh, the land we originate from, a territory unfamiliar to many, is a splendid state. Known as the ‘Rice Bowl of Central India’, Chhattisgarh came into existence on the first day of November 2000. Initially a part of the biggest state in India, 19 Chhattisgarhi-speaking districts separated from Madhya Pradesh and it proved to be a very successful venture by the Indian Government. This separation has resulted in a boom for the economical, cultural, and industrial growth of the state and the country as a whole. Though relatively new, this state has been showing a colossal success in various fields. But the question that people generally skip is – ‘Why is it named so?’ Finding an answer to that question is a tough task. So, let me brief you on the etymology of Chhattisgarh. There are three popular theories behind the christening of this state. However, at the close, it is kept open to people’s interpretation of it as there have been no confirmed theories or research.
‘Chhattisgarh’ was used for the first time in an official document of the British government in 1795. The most popular and reasonable theory behind the name is known to many. The literal meaning of the name stands for 36 forts. Legend has it that the region, earlier located in the Dakshin Kosala region of the Medieval India, had thirty-six ancient castles sprawled in the expanse. It had thirty-six demesnes, namely, Ratanpur, Vijaypur, Kharound, Maro, Kautgarh, Nawagarh, Sondhi, Aukhar, Padarbhatta, Semriya, Champa, Lafa, Chhuri, Kenda, Matin, Aparora, Pendra, Kurkuti-kandri, Raipur, Patan, Simaga, Singarpur, Lavan, Omera, Durg, Saradha, Sirasa, Menhadi, Khallari, Sirpur, Figeswar, Rajim, Singhangarh, Suvarmar, Tenganagarh and Akaltara. It is a widespread notion that the name of the state is, thus, named as such. However, experts tend to disagree. There has not been any material evidence or the remains of thirty-six forts around the area contiguous to the state. The theory experts are more content with is that ‘Chhattisgarh’ is a distorted form of ‘Chedisgarh’, which means the ‘stronghold of the Chedis’. The Chedi kingdom was one of the many kingdoms that ruled India firstly by the Pauravas and later by the Yadavas. It fell roughly in the Bundelkhand division of Madhya Pradesh to the south of river Yamuna. As the land was ruled by the Chedis, it is believed to be their fortress or their ‘gadh’. Hence, the name Chedis’ Garh has been transformed into Chhattisgarh. Another prevalent theory suggests that the name, actually, is ‘Chhatis Ghar’. A British Chronicler, J.B. Beglar provides an interesting story explaining the origins of the name Chhattisgarh. It becomes very relevant in the context of contemporary caste consciousness and the caste configuration of the region. According to Beglar, “the real name is ‘Chhattisghar’ and not Chhattisgarh. There is a tradition saying that ages ago about the time of Jarasandha, whose oppressive policies had made lives of some families miserable, thirty-six families of oppressed emigrated southwards from Jarasandha’s kingdom and established themselves in country, which after them is called Chhattisgarh”. Though it sounds the lame but this also has not been proven wrong by the researchers.
Therefore, it is kept open for people to interpret the reason behind the naming of our state. It is for us to decide. The most important thing, however, is to keep up the name of the state and to maintain its dignity in word and in spirit.
By- Sanskar Tiwari, A True Chhattisgarhiya
Edits- Ankita Vashishtha, A Lawyer by Day & Batman for Grammarville Citizens by Night.
Pictures- Sandeep Mishra, A Pacifistic Being & Shutterbug