The Janjua (Punjabi ਜਨ੍ਜੁਅ, Urdu: جنجوعہ) (also spelt Janjuha, Janjuah) Rajputs are a branch of the ancient Pandava Dynasty. The Pandavas were a Chandravanshi Kuru branch of the ancient Vedic Aryans of India descending primarily from the legendary vedic King Pururava (also known as Puru) and lived in about the 14th century BC. "General Alexander Cunningham of India concluded the Janjua to be of Aryan origin" (Panjab Castes, Sir Denzil Ibbetson, Delhi 2002, p99). Arjuna, the famous Pandava Kshatriya hero of the Mahabharata epic is known as the most prominent father of this dynasty. Prince Arjun was the first cousin of the famed Hindu prince Lord Krishna and married Krishna's sister, Subhadra, to extend his dynasty. "It was Prince Arjun who carried out Krishna's funeral rites" (Arjuna in the Mahabhrata by Ruth Cecily Katz, University of South Carolina, 1989, back matter).
The apical ancestor of the Janjuas - Maharaja Janamejaya (until c. 1000 BC), King of Hastinapur [the capital of which was Indraprasta (modern day Delhi)] who was the great grandson of Arjuna Pandava (through his father Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu son of Arjuna). Maharaja Janamejaya was also known as the "Serpent Killer" after the famous mass revenge killing of all snakes and the "Nagas" people - people possibly of Tibetan origin who were rulers of a nearby state responsible for the assassination of his father Parikshit. His descendants were also known historically as the Pandavas and the Pauravas.
India's other name Bharat or Bharat-Varsh is actually named after a forefather of the Pandava dynasty, Bharat (until c. 1300BC). Bharat-Varsh means "Kingdom of Bharat" ("Recruiting, Drafting, and Enlisting (Military and Society, 1)"Peter Karsten, 1998, USA, p119). The Mahabharata epic is a narration which records a war between Bharat's later descendants the Pandavas and their cousins the Kauravas for the throne of Hastinapur. This epic is also believed to be the world's longest poem and Janamejaya was responsible for the retelling of it. The Pandavas were also known as Pauravas after another prominent ancestor Puru.
The Pauravas ruled Kekaya which was widely known as the Kingdom of the Puru/Pauravas Clan and it was Rai Por or more popularly known in the west as King Porus who fought Alexander the Great in 326 BC (in what is now Jhelum, Pakistan) in the famed Battle of the Hydaspes. It is said: “Unlike Darius, Porus fought aboard his elephant until the end..In victory Alexander treated Porus with the dignity reserved for a great warrior reinstating him a vassal king and sealing the bond of friendship” (The Horse in the Ancient World by Ann Hyland 2002 Sutton Publ.,p161). According to Arian, Alexander is said to have asked King Porus "How would you like me to treat you?" to which Porus famously replied "As a Raja (king)". The answer touched Alexander, who in return allowed the Raja of the Pauravas to retain his Kingdom (Alexander the Great - Nick McCarty, Carlton Books, 2004, p111). The "List of Indian monarchs" gives an account of the period of rule of the Bharata-Puru-Pandava-Pauravas-Janjua Shahi phase from approx 1600BC to 1026AD.
It must also be noted here that although the Janjuas are essentially Pandavas, the famous Jarral Rajput, a powerful Rajput dynasty who ruled Rajaur for well over 600 years were also Pandavas by origin through Nanak Rao, the brother of "Maharaja of the Kurus" Janamejaya. A known scion of the Pandava dynasty through Janamejaya became a very well known and recognised warrior king in his time. His name was Rai Janjua Paal. He was famous for his conquests and warlike temperament and was believed to be the last emperor of Hastinapur. He named his branch as Janjua henceforth and this name has remained in his dynasty. From about 964AD, the Janjua chief Parambhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Paramesvara Sri Jayapaladeva (Epithets known from the Bari Kot inscriptions) succeeded the Brahmin Hindu Shahi Emperor Bhimdev. The Janjua Shahiya emperors now ruled from Ghandar (Kandahar of Afghanistan) to the whole of Punjab in what was known as the second phase of the Hindu Shahiya or the Janjua Shahi Dynasty.
Famed ethnologists and Indo researchers Sir Alexander Cunningham (Coins of Medieval India Reprint. Varanasi:1967 p56,p62), Elliot and Dowson (The History of India as told by it's own historians [Indian repr.1962].vol.i, p.22,425-26) and Sachau (Alberuni's India London 1914, vol.ii, p393-94) led research into the origins of the Pala Hindu Shahiya, the second dynasty that succeeded the initial Brahmin Dev Shahiyas. Through independent research they concluded that the origins of Emperor Jayapala Shah was in fact in the Janjua Rajput. In 1973's Al-Biruni International Congress in Pakistan, Dr Hussain Khan presented a paper in called "An Interpretation of Al-Biruni's Account of the Hindu Shahiyas of Kabul" which also confirmed the same findings. Finally, the Janjuas own genealogy records the names of the Janjua Shahi Jayapala as well as the continued descendants of his House (Gazetteer of the Jhelum District, Lahore 1904, p93).
Jayapala was challenged by the armies of Sabuktigin and his son Sultan Mahmud towards the end of his reign as emperor. According to the Minháj ad-Dīn in his chronicle Tabaqát-i Násiri (Tabaqát-i Násiri, H. G. Raverty's trans., Vol.1, p.82), writes a testament to the political and powerful stature of Emperor Jayapala Shah, "Jayapála, who is the greatest of all the ráis (kings) of Hind..." Upon being captured after a fierce battle with Sultan Mahmud, Jayapala was ransomed and upon his release, "he ordered the construction of a funeral pyre. Mounting and setting it alight, he nobly perished in the flames" (The Last 2 Dynasties of the Sáhis Prof. Abdur Rehman, Delhi Renaissance publishing house. p147). Misra wrote:"Jaypala was perhaps the last Indian ruler to show such spirit of aggression, so sadly lacking in later Rajput kings" (R.G.Misra, Indian Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders Up to 1206 AD, Anu Books, repr.1992).
Jayapala's son, prince Anandapala who ascended the throne (in about March/April 1002AD) already proved an able warrior and General in leading many battles prior to his ascension. According to Adáb al-Harb (p.307-10) in about 990, "the arrogant but ambitious Raja of Lahore Bharat, having put his father in confinement, marched on the country of Jayapála with the intention of conquering the districts of Nandana, Jailum and Tákeshar." Jayapala instructed prince Anandapala to repel the opportunist Raja Bharat. Anandapala defeated Bharat and took him prisoner in the battle of Takeshar and marched on Lahore and captured the city and extended his father's kingdom yet further. During Anandpala's reign many losses were incurred on his kingdom by the Ghaznavids. During the battle of Chach between Sultan Mahmud and Anandapala, it is stated that "a body of 30,000 Gakhars fought alongside as soldiers for the Shahi Emperor and incurred huge losses for the Ghaznavids" (The Last 2 Dynasties of the Sahis Prof. Abdur Rehman, Delhi 1988,p152). It is also mentioned in the same text that "the Gakhars (or Khokhars) formed a very significant force in the armies of the Sáhis". Despite the heavy losses of the enemy, he eventually lost the battle and suffered much financial and territorial loss. This was Anandapala's last stand against Sultan Mahmud. Anandpala eventually signed a treaty with the Ghaznavid empire in 1010AD and shortly a year later died a peaceful death. R.C Majumdar (D.V. Potdar Commemoration Volume, Poona 1950, p.351) compared him ironically to his dynasty's ancient famous ancestor "Porus, who bravely opposed Alexander but later submitted and helped in subduing other Indian rulers." And Tahqíq Má li'l-Hind (p 351) finally revered Anandapala in his legacy as noble and courageous.
Tirlochanpála, the son of Anandapala, ascended the throne in about 1011AD. Inheriting a reduced kingdom, he immediately set about expanding his kingdom into the Siwalik Hills, the region of the Rai of Sharwa. His kingdom now extended from the River Indus to the upper Ganges valley. According to Al-Biruni, Tirlochanpála "was well inclined towards the Muslims" and was honourable in his loyalty to his father's peace treaty to the Ghaznavids. He later rebelled against Sultan Mahmud and was eventually assassinated by some of his own mutinous troops in 1021-22AD, an assassination which was believed to have been instigated by the Rai of Sharwa who became his arch-enemy due to Tirlochanpala's expansion into the Siwalik ranges (The Last 2 Dynasties of the Sahis Prof. Abdur Rehman, Delhi 1988,p166). Trilochanpala was romanticised in Punjabi folklore as the Last Punjabi ruler of Punjab.
Bhímapála, son of Tirlochanpala, succeeded his father in 1021-22AD. He was referred to by Utbí (vil.ii, p.151) as "Bhīm, the Fearless" due to his courage and valour. Considering his kingdom was at its lowest point, possibly only to the control of Nandana, he admirably earned the title of fearless from his enemy's own chronicle writer. He is known to have led the battle of Nandana personally and seriously wounding the Commander of the Ghaznavid army Muhammad bin Ibrahim at-Tāī. He ruled only five years after his father before meeting his death in 1026AD. Bhimpala's remaining descendants, Rudrapal and his brothers Diddápála and Anangapāla had settled in Kashmir and played a major role in the court of Kashmirian king Ananta (1028-63AD). According to the Rājtarahginī (vii, p.145), Rudrapal proved himself extravagant in personal valour by crushing the rebels of the king, as commander in chief of the Kashmiri royal army. Al-Biruni, despite living under Sultan Mahmud's grace, praises the house of Jayapala: “ We must say that in all their grandeur, they never slackened in the ardent desire of doing that which is good and right, that they were men of noble sentiment and noble bearing ”. In Kalhana in Rājtarahginī, writes of the Janjua Shahis: “Where is the Shahi dynasty with its ministers, its kings, and its great grandeur? ... The very name of the splendor of Shahi kings has vanished. What is not seen in dream, what even our imagination cannot conceive, that dynasty accomplished with ease ”.
Raja Dhrupet Dev Janjua ruled Mathura state in about 1150AD. Dhrupet Dev was also the ruler of the Mandu fort of the Siwalik hills. He was well known for being a Pandava descendant through Prince Arjun's great grandson Maharaja Janamejaya. Raja Dhrupet's rule of Mathura ended in 1195AD when Qutb-ud-din Aybak, the general of the Ghorid army, attacked Mathura and exiled the ruling royal family. According to Mohyal historians (Gulshan-e-Mohyali) Raja Dhrupet's younger brother Raja Shripat Dev, accompanied the exile back to the Siwalik hills. Shripat Dev later, "established his dominion at Katasraj (old name Namaksar) in Tehsil Pind Dadan Khan, Distt. Jhelum." The Mohyal commanders in chief of the Janjua army at this point were Rai Tirlok Nath Bali and Bam Dev Bhimwal (Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province by Horace Arthur Rose, 1990, p134). Regarding the Janjuas' descent from the Pandavas dynasty, the Bali and Bhimwal generals of Raja Dhrupet Dev of Mathura, recorded that the Janjua Raja Dhrupet Dev was the descendant of Emperor Janamejaya. "This reference was recorded in 1195AD" (Culture and Political History of Kashmir by Prithivi Nath Kaul Bamzai, MD Publ. Ltd., 1994, p637, p669, p670). Sir Lepel H Griffin K.C.S.I. had also recorded in the early 1900s "the Janjuas were Pandavas in origin" (Punjab Chiefs, L.H.Griffin, 1909 Lahore, p213).
Raja Dhrupet Dev was the father of a famous Janjua Chief Raja Ajmal Dev Janjua who embraced Islam in the 12th century and rose to become the next rising force of the Janjua Rajput. He followed the Islamic tradition of changing his name after conversion but was better known as Raja Mal Khan. He was among the first Muslim Rajputs recorded in Indian history. Raja Mal's conversion took place whilst he was in his teens and he inclined towards Islamic philosophy of the Sufis brought by the Dervishes of the Chistiya order, before the armies of Shahabudin Ghauri entered into the Indian Potohar Plateau. Raja Mal Khan migrated from Mandu fort in the Siwalik Hills to the Koh-i-Jud and settled at Rajgarh which he later renamed Mal-Kot (Malot). He re-conquered the Salt Ranges of Punjab to establish the dominion which his forefathers lost almost two centuries earlier to the Ghaznavids (Journal of Central Asia Vol. XIII. No.1, 1990,p.78). [Malot was originally called Shahghar or Rajghar - meaning home of the Shahis/Kings but was later changed to Malot (Mal-Kot) in recognition of its famous King, Raja Mal.]
The Tarikh-e-Alfi of the Ghorids mentions the rebellious behaviour of Raja Mal Khan towards the Delhi Sultanate. It records that a "Rai Mal" of the mountains between Lahore and Kabul excited a rebellion against them and intercepted communications between Lahore and Ghazni (Chronicles of Early Janjuas Dr Hussain Khan, iUniverse, 2003, p16). There is still today remnants of an ancient fort in Malot, Chakwal which was initially built by the Shahis and later rebuilt by Raja Mal Khan. It is also inscribed that the last Hindu Shahi prince Raja Mal embraced Islam at this place. Raja Mal Khan was also the first ruler to begin the mining of salt in the Salt Ranges of Kallar Kahar and in the Khewra Salt Mines of Punjab which is currently the world's second largest salt mine. Other Janjua descendants include Ranial/Dhamial Rajputs, Tanoli Rajputs (also spelt Tanaulis/ Tanawalis), Pulowal Rajputs, Hindwal Rajputs and Khakha Rajputs who are essentially the descendants of Raja Bhir, Raja Tanoli and Raja Khakha respectively. Raja Bhir, Tanoli, Khakha, Jodh and Kala are all sons of the famous Janjua chief, Raja Mal Khan Janjua. (for further details see www.chakri-rajgan.org )
The Janjua Rajputs are a prominent tribe of Punjab (both Pakistani and Indian Punjab). They have a history that spans centuries through various notable rulers, tribal chiefs, princes and kings since the time of the Mahabharat to the present age through Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan -General Asif Nawaz Khan Janjua. They were amongst the earliest Rajput converts to Islam and established their own Riyasats (kingdoms) during the 12th century which up until the early 19th century remained in their respective control. Janjuas rebelled against the Delhi Sultanate in the early 13th century and also later aided the Mughal conqueror Babur's route into India with other allied mountain tribes and served in the Mughal army in their conquests of India. Many forts within Punjab are still remnant of their royal past, such as the Kusak fort, Sohava fort, Girjaak fort in Makhiala Jhelum, Malot fort in Chakwal District, Nagi fort, Dalowal fort, Dhandot fort, Kath Saghral and Masral fort, Dhak Janjua fort, Akrand fort and many more. They have played a major part in Punjabi history in their regions through their alliances and rebellions with invaders and other mountainous warrior tribes.