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When we consider that this description of the present state of the bhagwar system is only a representation of the ancient and general one which prevailed throughout the Indian territory, we shall feel that it forms a subject of contemplation which can scarcely be exceeded in interest. That this is the case, is proved by the experience of travellers, but particularly by the fact that it is found in operation in parts of India which are separated from each other by a distance of seven hundred miles. In every case, without exception, the property of a village consists exclusively of land and its produce, and there is a perfect equality of right in the whole population. Whatever is to be done for the common purposes, use, or benefit of the village, such as a building requiring repair, a tank to be dug or deepened, or should any act of hospitality or of charity to strangers, or of service to government, be required to be done,whatever, in short, is to be undertaken, is either suggested to the patells, who sometimes originate it, and who must likewise consult the community, and obtain, by a particular assessment, the sum necessary to accomplish the intended purpose. The work of this people being entirely agricultural, is very light, and the wants of the villages are capable of being adequately supplied by a very moderate portion of easy labour. Europeans who see their houses and villages, are apt to believe that these people are poor and wretched from the want of accommodations and cleanliness which is so evident in their habitations. But such deficiencies and apparent squalidness must have little influence in interfering with the comforts of a people who live so much in the fields and open air. The district of Broach, considered agriculturally, appears to be a level country, the soil of which is composed chiefly of black mould, and a considerable portion of it is called marwa, that is, fit for cultivation. Wherever marwa prevails, the fields are inclosed with strong hedges, which, with the noble trees that abound there, render the whole a close country. Crowds of birds, from the sparrow to the peacock, frequent these hedges and trees; game is very plentiful, and in no part of the continent are flocks of monkies more numerous. The villages in the marwa soil are always larger and more carefully built and adorned with trees, tanks, wells; and even this striking improvement extends to the human inhabitants, whose stature, condition, and clothing, at once announce the habitual possession of some peculiar and influential advantages.
In the collectorate pow under consideration there are tribes, chiefly Mahomedans, who are either warlike, plundering, religious, or mendicant. But one of these Mahomedan tribes called borahs, is celebrated for being most active, industrious, and skilful cultivators, as also for the simplicity and temperance of their lives. But the most numerous sect of the whole population, including Hindoos, Mahomedans, and various other tribes, are the Konbees, who are cultivators from origin as well as from caste. They form two distinct divisions, the leywa and the kurwa : they differ but slightly in habits and mode of life; but, though they will eat together, they never intermarry. They are as peaceable as they are industrious, and are doubtless the most valuable subjects of the state in this quarter. No Hindoos are more particular as to the simplicity of their food, or more rigid in abstinence from using anything as such that has had life; in this differing widely from the koonbees of the Dekhun ; neither will they knowingly occasion the death of any animal, or the meanest insect'; those that commit the greatest depredations on their crops being equally safe with the most harmless. The deer, monkeys, and birds that devour their grain are frighted away, but never killed. They conceive that the Creator intended a portion of the fruits of the earth for these creatures as well as for man, and that there is enough for all; besides that it would be only wanton cruelty to destroy them, as all their endeavours would not sensibly diminish the numbers or the evil. They are also perfect masters of all the circumstances which are favourable or adverse to the growth of each particular subject of cultivation, and there is not a season in which this knowledge is not applied: they are by no means averse to new experiments, provided they can be made without much trouble or expense; but they do not like to wait for a tardy result; and, in case of failure, they have neither enterprize nor capital to persist. Considering the general standard of intellect in the country, and the various obstacles to improvement in which their very condition is involved, they may be called good farmers : their processes, if not the best possible, are nearly the best that circumstances admit of. The koonbee heads of villages generally live in a very patriarchal way with their ryots: there is a great apparent equality, but still an active superintendence, and an undisputed superiority.
The konbees of the Kurwa tribe have some very peculiar customs. Every marriage in the caste is celebrated at one time, and there is a series of years, amounting to from ten to twelve, allowed to elapse between each period. Children of a year, and even of a month old, are often united on those days: many wives are thus left widows in childhood, and they cannot marry a second time. The bride and bridegroom must not be related to each other in any known degree: the former is expected to bring a marriage portion, and her parents to bear a share of the marriage expenses, which commonly surpass the means of the parties, and involve them in debt, which they are often many years in clearing off. The wife is not taken from the house of her parents till she has reached the age of puberty. Polygamy is allowed without limitation; but it is not often resorted to if the first marriage prove fruitful.
The koolees and rajpoots of the collectorate form a remarkable contrast by their industry and moral conduct, with the whole of the other members of their tribe scattered throughout Hindostan. The koolee stands low in the scale of Hindoo castes; in his eating he is not obliged to abstain from much more than the flesh of the cow, and may drink spirituous liquors; but amongst those of the
Broach collectorate, and indeed in most places where the koolees addict themselves to agriculture, the vice of drunkenness is altogether unknown. In this collectorate were likewise found the representatives of a variety of castes, the bhats for example. In many villages, a single bhat, with his family, is still maintained in the exercise of the original calling of the caste. He is the genealogist, poet, and story-teller of the village; it is his business to preserve the traditional history of the country, as well as of the interesting events of the place in which he resides; and he recites these memo rials in poetical language and measure, in the hours of leisure and recreation, much to the delight of his auditors. He used formerly, also, to be the security for the performance of engagements between the village and government, enforcing the faithful discharge of such obligations by the threat of shedding his own blood, and the readiness always shown to carry that threat into execution.
T'he dhers constitute another of the native castes found in the collectorate, the duties of its members being to carry the baggage of all travellers as far as the next village on the road, to be the village scavengers, to act as watchmen, to convey letters from the functionaries of their own village to the next, where the letters are expedited on to their destiny by other dhers. There is no instance known of money inclosed in those communications having been prevented from passing to the person to whom it was first directed. The dhers are often employed in spinning and weaving, and the cloth used by all the labouring class is manufactured by the dhers.
The caste whose members have the name of bunghee, are at the bottom of the Hindoo scale. Their chief duty is to remove filth of all sorts, and to show the road to travellers. The bunghee comes forth in the latter case with a bamboo-walking staff, five or six feet long, in his hand, and with this he dexterously removes briars, or any other obstacle accidentally placed in the traveller's way upon the road. There is another race called rebarees, or shepherds, whose way of life quite realises the most romantic descriptions of Arcadian pastoral simplicity. They are strictly shepherds; rear camels, sheep, and goats; never sell any of their flocks, but are content with the milk and wool of those animals. Of those castes in the Broach collectorate who do not pursue agriculture, the bunneeas are the most remarkable. They are shop-keepers in such places as have one or two shops, and which are generally very large villages ; but their most common occupation is that of money-broker, the patells, and other functionaries, being their principal customers
. Like all dealers in that most corrupting of commercial commodities, money, the bunneeas have taxed their ingenuity to evade the laws against extortion.
Our usury system has been brought to bear against their avarice, but it has fallen short of the mark, for they are in the habit of adding the interest at a certain period to the principal, and then taking a bond for the whole sum as the subject of a new transaction. Their systematic temperance and frugality have tended very considerably to promote the success of their desire for accumulation. In most of the large towns (where, by the way, the bunneeas usually have the loftiest, the most substantial, and elegant houses), they support splendid institutions for the maintenance of the aged, maimed, or diseased animals; they also provide ample funds for their infirm and needy fellow-creatures, and that too with a reserve, and a total freedom from ostentation, which demonstrates the disinterestedness of their generous bounty. The most serious items in the list of the necessary expenses of a bunneea, are those for the cost of weddings, feasting the caste on particular occasions, and in pilgrimages to the most celebrated of their religious edifices through Goojerat. The bunneeas are Hindoos, and amongst the infinite community which compose the members of that denomination, there is not a tribe or caste which is so particular and careful in the preservation of animal life of every degree, and their diet is regulated strictly on this sentiment of tenderness to the living creation.
But by far the most curious peculiarity of the villages of the Broach collectorate, is the civic establishment of public servants,not finely paid, sinecure creatures, in gold lace, and wielding brassshod staves—but practical, real working fellows, truly public coniveniences, instead of being general nuisances. For these men a piece of land is permanently set apart, though, in some instances, where the village is small, for example, they receive a defined stipend. The following is the name of each of the functionaries, together with a specification of his official duties, who compose a village establishment.
Tullatee, the village accountant.--He not only keeps the accounts for
government, but for the community, individually and collectively. He is as much the servant of the village as of government, and, by the original village constitution, was appointed and paid by the village.
Brahmins (of different descriptions), village priest, teacher, performer of ceremonies, &c.
Sootar, carpenter; Loohar, blacksmith.-- The services due by these to the community, are confined to the making up and repairing of agricultural implements. All other work, such as making or repairing carts or house-work, is paid for by the individual requiring it to be done.
Koombar, potter.--He not only supplies pottery, but, when travellers or others put up at the village, he brings them the required supply of water, which he does also to the patells or other public functionaries, when employed in the fields for common purposes.
Durjee, or Sooe, tailor.—He makes the clothes of the village community. There are more villages without than with one.
Dhobee, washerman.- He washes the men's clothes: he is not universal any more than the tailor.
Hudjani, or Walund, or Ghaeja, barber.--He not only shaves, cuts.nails, &c., but is the village surgeon: his wife, too, is commonly the midwife. He must prepare and carry a torch when required at night by travellers, or for village purposes.
Moochee, shoemaker.—He repairs the shoes of the community, and makes up what little leather-work is required in yoking the bullocks to the agricultural implements.
Kalpa, skinner and leather-dresser.-He prepares the leather from the hides of the cattle, sheep, and goats that die about the village.
Bunghee, scavenger and sweeper.-He removes filth of all descriptions, sweeps and watches in the kully, is ready at the call of all travellers to show the road as far as the next village. He carries letters and messages: he attends travellers on their putting up at the village, showing them where to encamp, going to fetch them whatever may be wanting, and to give information of the strangers? arrival: he is, in a surprising degree, intelligent and active, and always speaks Hindoostanee better than any other man in the village.
Koseea, water-drawer.--He draws the water from the village well, by means of a leather bag and a rope made of green hide, supplied at the village expense, the pair of bullocks used by the koseea being furnished in turn by the cultivators. The water drawn is chiefly for the use of the cattle, and falls into a large reservoir adjoining the well, from which they drink. Some of these wells and reservoirs are handsome structures.
Purbeea.--He takes his station under a tree on the high road, not perhaps near the village, but where best calculated for the
purpose. He has by him several pots of clean cool water, which he gives for drink to all passengers who ask for it. The purbeea is either a man or an elderly woman of high caste, so that the water may be inexceptionable to all. The good of this institution is much felt by travellers in the hot months.
Bharote, or Bhat.—He is not often met with as a village servant in this collectorate. Their study of standing security has here grown quite into disuse; and their public duties are those of genealogist, historian, poet, story-teller, reciter of proverbs and sayings, &c.
Wyd, or Vyd, physician. He administers to the village community, but is not universally on the village establishments.
Joshee, astrologer and astronomer.--He makes almanacks, assigns dates, duration of seasons, divisions and periods of the year; he names days for sowing or commencing different agricultural operations, and announces horoscopes.
Bhawaya, comedian.— These are only found on the establishment in a few villages, and they are all strollers.
Burtuneea, watehman. These are the village guard: they are for the most part koolees, almost all armed with bows and arrows, some with-swords and shields, but not one with fire-arms. Sums of money are often sent by them from the village to the collector's treasury at