B. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) Rice.

Mysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) online

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staple food of the Province pressed heavily on the poorer labouring classes .
Owing to want of fodder and scarcity of water, the loss among agricultural
stock was very great.

1876-7. — The year marked the commencement of a famine unparalleled
in the annals of the Province. Though there was a fair average rainfall
during June, the sowing season, it became capricious and most scanty as
the year advanced. The north-east monsoon wholly failed. In lieu of the
twelve to fifteen inches usual in September and October, one inch was
registered at Bangalore in the first sveck of .September, another inch after
an interval of two weeks, and again half an inch after a further interval of
four weeks. The result was that the dry crops died on the ground after
they were half or three-quarters grown ; and the tanks were deprived of
their water-supply, on which alone the spring paddy crops depended. The
failure of the north-east monsoon completed the destruction to the extent of
80 per cent, of kharif crops in all Districts. Tumkur District suffered the



heaviest loss, but was closely followed by liangalore and Chitaldroog.
Kolar and Kadur held an intermediate position. Hassan and Mysore
failed but slightly, and Shimoga was almost untouched. No measures of
relief would have been of avail to meet the grave crisis with which the
administration had to deal, had it not been for the ready means afforded by
the Madras Railway for importing grain into the country. From Bangalore
the grain thus imported was transported by bullock carts to every part of
the Province, as well as to certain portions of Bellary lying adjacent to the
Kolar and Tumkur Districts.

The subjoined table gives the market rates (lbs. per rupee), at which
rice (of the second sort) and ragi (the staple grain) were selling on the 31st
March 1877 in the several Districts as compared with the average prices
in the year 1873-4 : —











i 1873-4













1877 18
1873-4 74^





16 '




1877-S. — The year will be ever memorable in the annals of Mysore as
that in which the great famine, which had been growing in intensity since
the light monsoon of 1875, reached its height. Early in the season, good,
and almost general, rain fell. The prospect of a good monsoon and
plentiful harvest, though it could not bring material relief in easing prices,
afforded employment and encouraged drooping spirits. But the promise
was not fulfilled. June, July and August passed away without the rain
that was essential to the very life of the people. Distress increased rapidly
and in alarming proportions. Prices rose to such a pitch that in some
places in July only seven and eight pounds of grain were sold for a rupee :
indeed grave fears were entertained in Chitaldroog that it would soon be
impossible to get grain at all. In September there happily occurred a most
welcome change in the character of the season. The long-prayed for rain
came copiously. Prospects brightened, agriculture quickened, and prices
fell. The tanks, though sorely tried by the sudden and heavy fall of rain
after the long-continued drought had dried and cracked the soil of their
banks, filled and enabled extensive sowings to be made for the Vaisakh or
late paddy harvest. The rain, however, was too heavy for some crops, and
all anxiety was not yet at an end. Especially in the Nagar Division, where
javari is very extensively grown, the excessive moisture when the crops
were coming into ear caused the grain to rot and sprout as it stood. Field
upon field of the most promising and luxuriant corn were damaged beyond
all hope of recovery, and the necessity of continuing relief until another
harvest should relieve the pressure was soon recognized. The last month


of the year saw a new cause of great anxiety in vast flights of locusts,
an evil that appeared the greater as it was so entirely new and unexpected.
Less damage was done by them than the most sanguine could at their first
appearance have hoped for, and a good X'aisakh harvest ushered in return-
ing prosperity.

1878-9. — Most providentially the season was exceptionally favourable,
and though there were not wanting causes for serious anxiety, the crops,
particularly the rice and ragi crops, on which the agricultural prosperity of
the country mainly depends, were most bountiful. Although the rainfall
was slightly less than that gauged in 1S77 it was much more seasonably
distributed, and did not, as in the end of 1877, cause damage by copious
but untimely fall. A plentiful harvest soon effected a most welcome fall
in prices, especially in the prices of food-grains consumed by the people,
which were sold at rates within the reach of the poor. The population was
thus relieved from the stress of famine and enabled to return to ordinary
occupations and again be self-supporting. At the same time prices of
agricultural produce did not fall to the low level at which they used to
stand, and the agricultural classes reaped the double blessing of large
crops and good prices. Live stock, which had been greatly reduced during
the past few years, began to recover in numbers, and whether it was from
the rich and abundant pasture everywhere procurable, or from other
causes, is not known, but the fecundity of the cattle was most remark-

1879-80. — The rainfall in tracts other than the Malnad was less than
what was gauged in the year previous, but the crops in general throve well
notwithstanding. The cereals were all over the Province good, and in
some Districts ragi, ballar and horse-gram turned out remarkably well.
The only crops that suffered slightly were paddy in the Kolar and Hassan
Districts dependent on tank irrigation, and supari in the Malnad tracts,
where a very heavy fall of rain produced the rot disease. The prices of
agricultural produce fell in the year almost to the level at which they
generally stood prior to the famine.

18S0-1. — Just at the beginning of the ragi harvest, when but little was cut
and the bulk of this most important crop was all but ripe, a great part of
the State was visited by a storm of wind and rain of unusual severity,
which did \ery considerable damage to the crops, and was the cause,
moreover, of the breaching of a number of irrigation tanks. This was
perhaps the only untoward event in an otherwise exceptionally favourable
season, and but for that misfortune the harvest would have been singularly
bountiful in every part of the Province, except the Kolar District, which
alone did not participate fully in the plentiful and seasonably distributed
rainfall. As it was, however, the outturn of the har\est was well above the
average, and the prices of food-grains were low in proportion.

1S81-5. — In 1881 the rainfall was very poor, and the failure of- the
south-west monsoon gave room for apprehensions of distress, which, how-
ever, was happily averted by a good fall of rain in the latter part of the year.
In 1882 and 1883 the rainfall was fair, but again in 1S84 the south-west


monsoon was a failure more or less throughout the greater part of the
Districts of Tumkur, Chitaldroog, Bangalore, Kolar and Mysore. In the
Mysore District, except in a few taluqs, nearly the whole of the early crop
was lost ; the later and more important dry crop throughout the whole of
the affected area was in a precarious condition ; cattle began to suffer from
want of fodder, and prices showed a tendency to rise. The north-east
monsoon, however, proved favourable, and was sufficient to save a portion
of the standing crops, though insufficient to fill the tanks or to allow of
more than one-half of the usual amount of wet cultivation under them.
The dry crops in the north-eastern and eastern Districts yielded only a
harvest which \aried from a quarter to a half of the usual average. On
the whole, a harvest sufficient to avert immediate distress was secured. In
1885, ^83-in, the unfavourable conditions of the tirst half of 1884 repeated
themselves in a more aggravated form. The south-west monsoon began
very well in May and continued to promise fair during that month and
June. In July, however, it showed signs of failing, and as the season
advanced, the drought became greater and more general till about the end
of September. The rain which then fell was extremely scanty. The dry
crops began to wither from the long-continued drought. The early crops
were entirely lost in parts of Mysore, Chitaldroog and Tumkur. In parts
of Kolar and the Maiddn portions of Kadur the early rains were so scanty
as not to allow of sowings to the usual extent. The tanks everywhere were
empty, and no Kartik wet cultivation was carried on under them ; and even
in the Malnad the rains were insufficient for the paddy crops. In Maidin
taluqs the springs rapidly dried up, and much difficulty was experienced
as regards drinking water. Fodder for cattle became scarce. Prices began
to rise. At this crisis plentiful showers fell all over the Province and
dispelled all cause for anxiety.

1886-91. — The rainfall in 1886 was abundant and above the average.
In 1887 it was generally fair, but the south-west monsoon was a partial
failure in greater part of the Districts of Chitaldroog, Mysore and Hassan.
In 1888 the average rainfall was somewhat below the mark, and the Mysore
District suffered the most. The season of 1889 was one of general
prosperity. Good crops were harvested throughout the country, and
towards the end of the year, owing to the apprehended scarcity in some of
the neighbouring Districts of Madras, there was a large export of grains.
The rainfall in i8go was below the average. In the Hassan, Shimoga and
Kadur Districts the fall was scantier than in the previous year, while in the
Bangalore District it was unseasonable. In the Mysore District the mungdr
crop was saved by the early north-east monsoon, but in the Kolar District
there was a general failure of the Kartika crop. In Chitaldroog and Tum-
kur the fall was on the whole timely and fairly sufficient for agricultural

1 891-2. — Though a year of serious famine in most parts of Southern
India, in Mysore it was happily a year of only moderate agricultural
disturbance, though the unsatisfactory state of the usual monsoon seasons
gave cause for anxiety towards the latter part of the year. The Kar rains


as well as the south-west and north-east monsoon rains were almost every-
where below the average.

1892-3. — The year was one of agricultural prosperity. The rains were
seasonable, and the total quantity of rainfall in all the Districts was on the
whole greater than in the previous year, although in certain isolated tracts
of the Tumkur District and in Arsikere and Chanraypatna of the Hassan
District wet cultivation suffered slightly from insufficient and scanty rain.
In the Malnad taluqs the rains were excessive and slightly damaged the
supari crop. On the whole the good rainfall served to relieve the tension in
the market and to lower the prices of the principal food-grains, rice and
ragi in particular, in all the Districts.



Under the Early Hindu Knlers

Regarding the ancient forms of government some information may
be gathered from inscriptions, but not in much detail. The earliest
are the Edicts of Asoka discovered by me, in which we find the
Ayaputa or Prince in charge of a provincial government, assisted by
mahdmdtras. As Dr. Biihler remarks, " the position of a prince, sent
out as a viceroy, was probably not an independent one. The distrust
and the jealousy of the father and sovereign no doubt surrounded him
with high officials, possessing almost, if not quite, the same powers, in
order to watch, and, if necessary, to check him." The prince and the
mahdmdtras issue their orders to the mahamatras of Isila, which
possibly represents Sidda in Siddapura, where the inscriptions were
found. As to the functions of the mahamatras we have the following
statements in the seventh and eighth Pillar Edicts : — " I have also
appointed dhamma-mahamatras whose duty it is to occupy themselves
with all matters of charity, and their duties extend to men of all
creeds, whether ascetics or householders. . . The mahamatras will deal
with the various classes in accordance with their several requirements.
But the dhamma-mahamatras will occupy themselves both with those,
and with all others." They were, in short, high superintending officials,
whose duty it was to see that the King's orders and wishes were carried
out. The official formula, in addressing the subordinate authorities,
began by wishing them health, and went on to say " the Beloved of the
(lods (that is, the King) commands thus." The edicts were written
out by a lipikara or scribe, a representative no doubt of the army of
clerks attached to all public offices, and his making use in one place
of Kharoshti characters, which are met with only in the extreme north-
west of the Punjab, seems to imply that the office hands were liable to
transfer to very distantly removed stations.

The next inscriptions in point of date are those of Satakarni. He,
in making his grant, conveys his orders to the viahdvalabhavi rajjukam.
The rajjukas were officials who are frequently mentioned in Asoka's
edicts.^ Dr. Biihler has shown that rajjuka literally means " the holder

' In the 7lh and Sth I'illar Edicts he says : — "I have appointed numerous (officers)
over the people, each having his own jurisdiction, that they may spread abroad my
instructions, and develop (my wishes). I have also appointed rajjukas over hundreds


of the rope," 1 that is, his proper duty was the measurement of the fields
with a view to the revenue settlement. And it is curious to learn that
this title is represented by the modern sheristadar, a corruption of the
Persian sar-i rishia dcir, he who holds the end of the rope.- The
sheristadar is generally the chief native official in a Commissioner's or
Collector's office (and popularly supposed, in another sense, to be the
one who pulls the strings). In the taluqs of Mysore he is ne.\t to the
Amildar, having charge of the treasury and the revenue accounts.
From this we may perhaps infer the standing of the rajjukas, and trace
the identity of Indian executive appointments from the earliest to the
latest times.

Coming down to a later period we find the Maha Pradhdna,
Sarvadhikari, or prime minister at the head of affairs, under the Raja
or King, with whom was generally, when of sufficient age, associated
the Yuva Raja, or heir-apparent to the throne ; and a number of other
mantris or counsellors assisted in the deliberations of State. Many of
these were Maha Mandalesvara or high nobles, the hereditary chiefs of
principalities. The State was divided into several large provinces,
each placed under a governor, generally styled the Dandandyaka or
Danndyaka, who seems to have combined civil and military functions,
and in newly acquired territories was often a senddhipati, chamupati
or general. He exercised control over the sdinanta or feudatory
chiefs within his jurisdiction (the pdlegars of later times), whence he
had the title of Maha Sdmantddhipati. The title of Heggade or
Pergarle seems to have been sometimes borne by the provincial

For revenue matters tliere was a consideralile body of kariiams or
revenue accountants, who were no doubt chiefly Brahmans, as at
present. The excise appears to have been either farmed out, or
managed by an agent appointed by government, and is referred to
under the different heads of hej-junka or perjunka, that is the large
sunka, or custom dues on the chief articles of trade, and the kirukula^
or miscellaneous duties on articles in which the transactions were
small. There is often mention of another official under the name of
odda hyavahdri and odda rd^'ii/a, whose functions are not clear, but

of thousands of living loeings, and ihcy have been ordered l)y- n»e to instruct the
faithful." In the 4th Edict the Kin

Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 68 of 98)