THE SCYTHIANS AND THE JUTTS (pp. 1-5) There is enough evidence to support the view that Jutus of Panjab are descendants of Asian Scythians. The Asian steppe, the original home of the Scythian is a large land mass extending from southern Siberia in the east to an area around the Black Sea in the west. Although clusters of trees may be found in this region it is mainly grassland suitable for nomadic way of life. This steppeland of Eurasia provides a vast grazing land. Herodotus, the Greek Historian, based on his personal observations and oral history narrated to him, wrote about the customs and traditions of the Scythians. During the 7 th century BC, Massagetac, who were dominant in the region north of the Oxus River, attacked the Scythians who decided to head west in search of better grazing lands. The Scythians did not leave any written record or cities, “ in the end these brutal warriors rode out of history as they entered it, without a word for they had no writing. All they left were footnotes in Greek history- and some of the finest gold art in the world. When the Scythians were forced to move west, they in their turn evicted the Cimmerians and forced them into Asia Minor . It seems that around 700 B.C., the Scythians were occupied the steepe of Southern Russia . The Russian Cossacks like the “Jutts” of Panjab are also of Scythian descent. “What men! They are real Scythians! Napoleon is said to have exclaimed at the sight of a thundering charge by Cossack cavalry, as his tattered forces fought end-less years after their barbaric domination of central Russia had been ended; the magnificent Scythian warriors of the Pontic Steppes lived on – as a byword for ferocity and daring. The Scythians had physical features suggesting their origin to be Indo-European rather than Turco-Mongoloid. They spoke some Indo-European language. Initially, their religion was Shamanism. The average Scythian was a superb horseman, tall and sturdy. In the course of time the Scythian tribes combined to form confederacies but they remained ruggedly individualistic; that is the reason no famous or strong kids emerged from among them. They generally did not admit other's authority or superiority and tried to maintain equality of status among them; that is one reason, their Indian descendants i.e. the Juttus of Panjab were not easily influenced by the Brahmanic Caste system of the Hindu society. They ate a wholesome diet of grain, meat, and milk. Since they were nomadic and were on the move most of the time, they hardly had any time for personal grooming. They had full beard and hair was considered a proud symbol of masculinity. Their dress consisted of long coats, boots wherein they tucked their trousers and wore tall pointed caps not unlike the modern day turbans. The Scythians considered owning a horse, a status symbol; the wealthy among them had many horses in their possession. The horse enabled them to launch swift and effective raids on the enemy, and also to take care of a larger herd, and cover long distances in the vast steppe grazing land. According to B.S. Mahal the Scythians “lived a life of rugged individualist, went about the steppe as he wished, made his own decisions, brooked nonsense from no one and more than that he held no man as his superior. Between him and his extended family they lived a life of isolation from other kindred nomads and for that reason alone he was to lack skills of interpersonal relationships. He was to owe allegiance to no outsider. But that is not to say that he were not to enter into alliances, called hordes, to wage territorial wars or raids to loot. However, these alliances were essentially makeshift and were to come and go.” It is interesting to note that the modern Jutts of Punjab have many traits and characteristics similar to the Scythians namely a streak of extreme independence which has its downside too. The Scythian left behind no texts. The information about Scythians is obtained by studying their archeologic burial sites (kurgans). Since they lived in close proximity of various domesticated animals, they had tattoos of animal shapes such as stags, oxen, sheep, etc on their body and wore them with pride. Mummified bodies recovered from kurgans and the artifacts found along with them shed light to their beliefs and customs. Being Shaman they believed that life was a transitory state and that the spirits could be called up later. The chiefs and tribal leaders were buried with elaborate ceremonies involving much dancing and singing. The dead were elaborately dressed and their important possessions such as weapons, gold, jewelry, utensils etc. were buried along with them as if to prepare them for an afterlife journey. Some of the chiefs had their horses also buried along with them. According to Herodotus, when a Scythian king died, his wives were buried along with him. The mounds were erected at the gravesite. In today's Panjab a small memorial is raised at the gravesite of an important elder and it is called Jathera which is venerated by the descendants of the deceased. According to Ainsworth the Scythians “looming on horseback 8 ft above the ground, screaming maniacally, capable of unleashing repetitive and deadly fights of triple-edged arrows, they must have seemed the very embodiment of horror to those who had to stand and fight them. Nor were such fears unwarranted, for Scythian warriors regularly beheaded their enemies and sometimes even skinned them whole. If an enemy were known personally, his skull might receive a special treatment: sawn through below the eyes, it would be cleaned and painstakingly fashioned into richly appointed drinking vessel. Not surprisingly, Scythian ceremonies especially royal funerals, were drenched in blood: sometimes these drinking vessels were filled with enemy blood, mixed wine and after arrowheads were dipped into it, the concoction was imbibed by the Scythian chieftain. It is interesting to note that these thundering, ferocious, illiterate horsemen were appreciating the beauty of beautifully carved golden objects such as breastplates, chalices, combs, scabbards, etc. They also love music and played the lyre. They danced with great vigor under the influence of marijuana. On such occasions, story telling, telling jokes and bragging about the past glory of the tribe was common. As Ainsworth says, “blood and gold, bestiality and beauty, myth and fact, these are the strands that bind the curious paradox of the lost Scythians” and he further asks, “ what forces conspired to infuse these barbarous nomads with a deep and clearly delightful appreciation of beautifully crafted gold?” The Scythians had great mobility which was essential for a nomadic people. They practically lived in the horse saddle. They carried their possessions in tents mounted on wagons carried by oxen. The conical tents were made of reeds and animal felt. Since they were occupying a very fertile grazing land, they had to use extreme measures to ward off other tribes; perhaps barbarity was a necessity for them. In 670 B.C., Partatua , the Scythian king subjugated the Assyrians. In 650 B.C. his son Madyes marched up to Egypt and extracted heavy tribune from the Egyptian Pharaoh. Darius the Great had a vast empire at this time but his northern frontier was insecure because of the presence of the Scythians in that region. In 514 B.C., Darius with a 700,000- man Persian force decided to subdue the masters of the Russian steppe. According to Ainsworth, “the Persian force was very neatly consumed in what must be considered one of the most remarkable examples of tactical wizardly in military history.” The Scythians did not allow Darius and his troops to ever surprise them; they retreated just over the horizon while practicing “scorch earth” policy. After two years of fruitless effort “ Darius challenged the courage of the phantoms he sought to destroy by sending on ahead a message in which he commanded the Scythians to fight or surrender.” Their succinct reply was: “Go weep.” This is probably the second most succinct reply in response to the demand of surrender in a battle; the most succinct was “nuts” sent by Americans to the Gernans' demand for surrender in the battle of the bulge during World War II. At last in 512 B.C. with his troops exhausted and his supply lines becoming dangerously thin, Darius withdrew, leaving the Scythians in control of Russian steppe. The Scythians defeated Zopyrion, one of Alexander's top generals in 330 B.C. Alexander during his foray into Panjab had recruited some Scythian mercenaries who remained behind after Alexander withdrew from Panjab. In 310 B.C., the Scythians defeated the Caucasians at Thatis River . By this time the Scythians were divided into the Royal Scythians (or Western Scythians ) who controlled the Russian Steppe and their eastern brothers. The Scythians like other nomads were wanderers with a love for open spaces. They led simple, healthy lives and were content to live in felt tents. They built no cities and left no monuments. But for their Kurgans, their history would never be known. In the end another nomadic people Sarmatians defeated the nomadic Scythian. The Sarmatians, like the Scythians and Parthians were excellent horsemen and gallant fighters. They occupied lands north of the Kirghiz steppe. Ethnically they were closely related to Scythians but they were politically better organized. In 310 B.C., the Scythians were thinly spread and tired because of their engagement with the Macedonians. At this critical time for the Scythians, the Sarmatians swooped down from the north and ousted the Scythians from steppe. Scythians dispersed helter skelter. Some of them joined the Greeks, others blended with the Persians. Some retreating Scythians tried to move east to the land of their ancestors in the eastern steppe. The Scythians scattered into various minor Asiatic kingdoms, and also into Chinese Turkestan. The Scythians eventually gave up their nomadic way of life, became more sedentary and adopted a settled way of life. Most of them turned to cultivation and became farmers in their newly adopted lands. The Indus is a gigantic river in which empty rivers like Kabul River and also Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej . Coming east from the cold and barren Sulaiman range, Indus valley presented a lush green sight; no wonder many newcomers to India , including the Scythians decided to settle this region. They either came through the Khyber Pass or via Baluchistan through the Bolan Pass. The main migration of Scythians into India occurred during 50 B.C. to A.D 50, although they have been trickling into Panjab since 4 th century B.C. After their arrival into India , they became Buddhist but eventually adopted the religion of their Aryan neighbors. Some Scythians tribes such as Medii, Xanthii, Jati and Getae entered India from southern Afghanistan through the Bolan Pass. It is from these Scythians immigrant, it seems that most of the Jutts of Panjab have descended. According to some authorities e.g. H.S. Pawar quoted by B.S. Mahal, migration to the Scythians also occurred westward up to the Scandavian and Baltic countries; no wonder gotras such as Mann. Gill. More, Dhillon, Virk, etc are found to be common in the countries of the west. The shift from pastoralism to agriculture occurred because their new found land was not suitable for grazing and a nomadic way of life. It seems fair to conclude that most of the Juttus of Panjab are the progeny of the steppe Scythians. Since the settlement of Jutts preceded Islam and Sikhims, the Juttus gotras are common among the Sikh Juttus, Muslims Juttus and Hindu Jaats of Panjab and Haryana. After settling in Panjab, the Scythians may have given up their nomadic ways but some of their characteristic are still present in the modern Jutts namely individualism, bravery, frankness and a kind of naiveté. As already mentioned some of the Jutts adopted Islam in the 7 th -8 th century AD; others accepted Sikhism in the 15 th century AD while the remaining melded into the majority Hindu community. Since the subject of our narrative P.S. Gill was a Jutt. It is easy to understand and appreciate his actions, thoughts and beliefs. P.S. Gill was first an Indian, then a Panjabi, then a Sikh and finally a Jutt. Later he became an American and a Californian. But always remember he was, to begin with, a Scythian. To understand P.S. Gill completely it will be necessary to briefly review the history of the Sikhs and its impact on the lives of Sikh Californians in the early twentieth century. It should be mentioned that Present is evanescent, and Future is unknown but the Past whether of individuals or nations or tribes is etched is stone. Even God cannot change the Past. Knowledge of the Past is important to understand the Present and plan for the future. While we speak, Present is already becoming past. Remember “Present” is “Past” of the “Future,” it is something to think about. Source: The life and times of Pakher Singh Gill : a Panjabi Californian in the early twentieth century / Nirmal S. Mann. Pittsburgh , Pa. : RoseDog Books, c2005.