Q1: What is Pratihāra?
Answer: The Sanskrit term "Pratihāra" refers to the fourth largest clan of the Kshatriyas (also popularly called Rajputs), who rather use vernacular Parihar or prakrit Padhiyar . From the 7th century, many members of this clan ruled different dynasties at different points. Of these the most notable were the Kannauj's Imperial Pratihāra , Mandore Pratihāra and Alwar's Gurjara-Pratihāra .
Q2: Are Parihar rajputs & Pratihāra kshatriyas the same?
Answer: From the 17th century, the word Rajput replaced the word Kshatriya with growth of vernacular literature. In a similar way, the sanskrit Pratihāra was replaced by the prakrit Padhiyar (still used in Rajasthan) and vernacular Parihar (used from Jammu to Bundelkhand). This happened with all Rajput clan-names too, Chahmana became Chauhan, Guhilot became Gahlot, Paundarik became Pundir, Yadav became Jadaun etc.
Q3. What explains the usage of Parihar or Padhiyar in non-Kshatriya castes?
Answer: Sanskritization is a common process, which has not just made almost all Rajput clans target of appropriation but also made other General castes targets of appropriation. This process was started by Arya Samaj with help of the Colonial government.
Q4. Are not Pratihāras gujjars?
Answer: No, no Pratihāra clansmen (living or dead) self-identified as gujjar. The Parihar or Padhiyar rajputs are predominantly found in cities ore regions ruled by various historical Pratihāra lineages - Mandore, Bhinmal, Malwa, Gwalior, Kannauj, Hamirpur, and Satna-Katni. None of them self-identify as gujjars.
On the contrary, the Gujjar community is yet to prove the living existence of gujjars of Pratihāra with pre-modern evidence which can include British-era caste-censuses, Persian records, Indian records.
Q5: Does not the commonly used term "Gurjara-Pratihāra" prove Gujjar caste-identity of Pratihāras?
Answer: NO, it does not. If we conclude as per this reasoning, should not the Gujjar-caste identity be extended to all historical and living communities that suffix Gurjara to their community-name. Eg, this is a website of Gurjar Jains. Similarly there are Gurjar Brahmins, Gurjar-Gaur Brahmins, Gurjar-Suthars. In fact, from the western Gangas to the Ahmedabad Sultans and Gaekwad dynasty of Baroda - all have been identified with that term. Is it possible, that they are all derived from the Gujjar-caste?
Q6. Since it is used as a suffix by many communities, what does the term "Gurjar" mean?
Answer: The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary by VS Apte, Page 464.
Vaman Shivram Apte (1858-1892) was an Indian lexicographer and a professor of Sanskrit at Pune's Fergusson College. He is best known for his compilation of a dictionary, The Student's English-Sanskrit Dictionary.
Based upon various Sanskrit dictionaries, Google also gives Gurjar = resident of Gujarat.
Q7. If Gurjara is a regional identity, why does the entire Pratihāra clan written as Gurjara-Pratihāra?
Answer: The fault lays in superficial treatment by some Historians.
The phrase "Gurjara-Pratihāra" was only used in two inscriptions by a Pratihāra cadet at Alwar, Mathandeva for his own family. This branch descended from Mathandeva Bargujar of Alwar is survived by th Badgujar rajputs who have affinity with the Neelkanth temple built by their own ancestor.
Other Pratihāra branches, including the Imperial Pratihāra dynasty of Kannauj, to which Emperor Mihirbhoj belonged, never self-identified as "Gurjara-Pratihāra".
This has been highlighted by all serious historians who have maintained expertise on the topic, including Dasarath Sharma, K M Munshi, C V Vaidya, G H Ojha & Shanta Rani Sharma.
Q8. Even if Pratihāras are Rajputs and not Gujjars, some RSS & Communist Historians still speculate that Pratihāra rajputs might be of Gujjar ancestry.
Answer: The Colonial and Communist historians repeat the same mistakes as point out in Q6 & Q7. First, they impose the Gurjara-Pratihāra identity of Alwar's branch onto the entire Pratihāra clan. Second, they ignore the historicity of the term "Gurjara" and its usage (especially as a suffix) by diverse castes and groups related to Gurjaradesa (north Gujarat & south Rajasthan) to make it an ethnonym. Third, they further equate it to the Gujjar caste to give their conclusions.
At least, no Pratihāra ruler identified as Gujar or confessed a Gujjar ancestry. If their ancestors were Gujjars, they might have proudly accepted it, after all what could be embarassing in that.
Q9. What do the Pratihāras say about their origins?
Answer: The Sagartal Inscription of Emperor Mihirbhoja Pratihāra found in Gwalior identifies them as descendants of Lakshmana and claims a Raghuvanshi kshatriya identity, just as the Raghuvanshis of Benaras and Kachhwaha rajputs. This is maintained by all Pratihāra lineages, including Mandore Pratihāras.
Whether one agrees with them or not, there is no sufficient reason to impose random theories based on wrong arguments done by the above-mentioned historians.
Q10. Since Pratihāras are a huge clan, who is their Head family?
Answer: The head Parihar family of the former Nagod state is taken as the Chief family of the Pratihāra clan. The former princely state of Nagod comprised of the current Satna and Katni districts of eastern Bundelkhand.