The Lodhi (or Lodha) is a Hindu community of agriculturalists, found throughout India and Pakistan, primarily in Madhya Pradesh, having emigrated there from Uttar Pradesh. The Lodhi are categorised as an OBC (Other Backward Class), but they claim Rajput ties and prefer to be known as "Lodhi-Rajput".
British scholar Robert Vane Russell described several possible etymologies for Lodhi, including derivation from lod ("clod"), or lodh, a tree whose bark the Lodhi of Northern India gather to make dye. Russell also stated that Lodha was the original term, later corrupted to Lodhi in the Central Provinces. Another theory derives the name from the district of Ludhiana, supposing it the Lodhi homeland.
British sources described the Lodhi as "immigrants from the United Provinces", who spread from that area, and in doing so were able to raise their social status, becoming landholders and local rulers ranking only below the Brahmin, Rajput, and Bannia. Some of these large landholders gained the title of thakur, and some Lodhi families in Damoh and and Sagar were labeled as rajas, diwans and lambardars by the Muslim Raja of Panna. These now-powerful Lodhi played a significant role in the 1842 Bundela rising.
In the 1857 Indian uprising, the Lodhi fought against the British in multiple areas of India. The Talukdar of Hindoria, a proprietor of Lodhis, "marched on the District headquarters and looted the treasury", while the Lodhi Thakur of Sharpura likewise routed the police of that area. Damoh District was in particularly disarray, with "nearly every Lodhi landholder" joining the uprising, save the Raja of Hatri. The Ramgarh family of Mandla was stripped of its estates for taking up arms against the British, and a Gughri estate of some 97 villages was confiscated from its Lodhi owners and granted to a "Native" officer who fought for the British. In contrast, a Lodhi village in Narshingpur instead opposed the uprisers, who came to the village from Saugor, as did the matchlockmen of Rao Surat Singh Lodhi of Imjhira, though the Rao's men were defeated by the rebels, who captured Imjhira.
20th century caste politics
Following the 1911 census of India, the Lodhi began to further organise politically, and prior to the 1921 census of India claimed the name Lodhi-Rajput at a conference in Fatehgarh. At the 1929 conference, the Akhil Bharatiya Lodhi-Kshatriya (Rajput) Mahasabha was drafted. The first part of the century also saw the publication of various books outlining Lodhi claims to the status of Rajput and Kshatriya, including the 1912 Maha Lodhi Vivechana and 1936 Lodhi Rajput Itihas.