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This article is about . For ,see Raja (disambiguation). A rajah translated means a king. A Raja (Sanskrit Template:IAST) is a king, or princely ruler from the Kshatriya / Rajput lineages. The title has a long history in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, being attested from the Rigveda.<ref>where it is more accurately translated as "tribal chief"; see for example the [[dasharajna|Template:IAST]], the "battle of ten rajas"</ref>

Sanskrit word Template:IAST in an n-stem, with nominative Template:IAST. It is cognate to Latin rēx, the Gaulish rīx etc. (originally denoting tribal chiefs or heads of small 'city states'), ultimately a vrddhi derivation from a PIE root *h₃reǵ- "to straighten, to order, to rule".

Rather common variants in Hindi, used for the same royal rank in (parts of) India include Rana, Rao, Raol, Rawal and Rawat. The female form, 'queen', mainly used for a Raja's wife, is Rani (sometimes spelled Ranee), from Sanskrit Template:IAST (compare Old Irish rígain).

Raja, the lower title Thakore and many variations, compounds and derivations including either of these were used in and around India by most Hindu and some Buddhist and Sikh rulers, while Muslims rather used Nawab or Sultan, and still is commonly used in India.

However in Pakistan, Raja is still by many Muslim Rajput tribes including Chibb,Minhas, Janjua, Ranial, Dhamial, Chauhan and Rathore clans as hereditary titles. The name Raja is a common given name to many Sikhs and Hindus.


Major Rajahs in India

As the theoretical hierarchy of princely titles did not reflect the true importance of the ruling houses' princely states, not even at the time of awarding of titles (e.g. raised purely to reward an incumbent's personal merit), the British introduced the alternative ranking by gun salute for the over hundred most important Indian (and some other) states, regardless of native princely titles (which they continued to award), but linking the Westers style His Highness to the higher classes of gun salutes.

As a result of massive title inflation, by the time of Indian independence only a relatively small numbers of rulers still 'merely' styled Rajah remained amongst the elite which had been awarded gun salutes, and only in the lower classes (21 guns were the highest, only odd numbers were used):

Hereditary salutes of 11-guns:

Hereditary salutes of 9-guns (11-guns personal):

Hereditary salutes of 9-guns:

  • The Rajah of Baraundha
  • The Rajah of Bhor
  • The Rajah of Chhota
  • The Rajah of [[Khilchipur]
  • The Rajah of Lambagraon
  • The Rajah of Maihar
  • The Rajah of Mudhol
  • The Rajah of Nagod
  • The Rajah of Sant
  • The Rajah of Shahpura

Personal salute of 9-guns: only The Rajah of Bashahr

raja bahadur of sahaspur bilari(raja ka sahaspur)


Rajas in the Malay world

The ruler of Perlis (a constitutive peninsular state of federal Malaysia, most colleagues are Sultans; he is one of the electors who designate one of their number as King every five years) is to this day title the Raja of Perlis.

In the Philippines, the Raja is also called Raha.

Compound and derived titles

A considerable number of princely styles, used by rulers, their families and/or even ennobled courtiers, include the title/root Raja:

  • Rao Raja, a juxtaposition of two equivalent titles, was used by the rulers of Bundi until they were awarded the higher title of Maharao Raja.
  • Raja Bahadur is a typical Mughal compound, as the adjective Bahadur 'valourous' always raises one rank in the imperial court protocol; in the specific hierarchy among the (en)noble(d) Hindu retainers at the court of the Muslim Nizam of Hyderabad, it was the equivalent of the rank Nawab for Muslim members of the retinue.
  • Maharaja and equivalent compound of variants on Raja with the prefix Maha- 'Great' (e.g. Maharana, Maharawal) mean 'Great King'; the word originally denoted a Raja who had conquered other Rajas, thus becoming a great ruler, but was soon adopted or awarded by the paramount ruler of India (Mughal or British) as a hollow style too, causing too massive title inflation and - devaluation to remain a truly high distinction.
  • Raja Perumal means 'godly king' - supposed to be the greatest title assigned to an Indian king. Legacy has it that kings with the title have time and time again defeated acts of denigration by Parama, the jealous warmonger.
  • Rajadhiraja means 'King of Kings'; again, through title devaluation this is less prestigious then the equivalents in most linguistic families.
  • Rajasaurus
  • in South India, the title of the Samraj (Hindu 'emperor') of Vijayanagar was Raya instead of (Maha)Raja.
  • A number of medieval rulers in Southeast Asia used variants such as the devotional titles Buddharaja and Devaraja or the geographically specific Lingaraja.
  • Uparaja (with its own variations and derivations; can mean viceroy or other high dynastic ranks).

Other uses

Like many titles, Raja often occurs in personal names (just as Latin Rex and English King in Western first - and family names), usually without noble or political significance. For example, Raja Bell or Paruvachi Raja. Besides that, Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, the late former Singapore politician was fondly known as Raja.


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See also

Punjabi Muslim tribes from Hindu Lineage

Baba Shadi Shaheed Kotli Azad Kashmir chibb chand

Sources and references