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ofificers w'ho were not only quite incapable of executing their duties,
and indifferent to the fate of those under their control, but openly and
avowedly were subject to the orders of the debauched parasites and
prostitutes at court, who notoriously superintended and profited by the
sale of every situation under the government the emoluments of which
were worth their attention. Nay, more, these public ofificers were
themselves not infrequently in league with criminals ; and such was the
general and deep-rooted corruption, that men who could afford to
pay might commit all sorts of crimes with impunity. The capital
punishment of an opulent offender was a thing almost unheard of;
and it was thought to be an act of unparalleled disinterestedness on
the part of the Raja, when he was reported, in 1825 or 1826, to have
refused the offer of one lakh of rupees for the pardon of the supposed
leader of a gang which had committed some daring outrages. Com-
binations existed between public ofificers and gang robbers for purposes
of plunder, and there is too much reason to believe that, even after the

' The Raja requested to be allowed to liberate the prisoners in jail before deliver-
ing over the government in 1831.


assumption of the country, depredations did not wholly cease to be
committed under the protection of the public servants.

With respect to the jails, little regard was had to accommodation or
management, and there was no classification of prisoners ; whether
convicted, accused, or only suspected, they were all confined in the
same place ; and a special order from the Commissioners was necessary
to abolish a practice, which had generally obtained, of working them on
the high roads before trial.

It has appeared necessary to enter into this long recital of the former
laws and usages of Mysore, because an impression generally prevails
that they were distinguished for extraordinary lenity ; whereas, with the
exception of a short period during Purnaiya's administration, nothing
could exceed the corruption and capricious severity which per\-aded
the department of justice, as well as all other branches of the
administration ; and thus it happened that the people, having lost all
feeling of self-respect, and accustomed to consider punishment more as
the sign of the anger and impatience of their rulers than a just and
certain consequence of crime, were left in a state of demoralization,
and callous indifference to shame.

Police. — Under the Hindu rulers of Mysore, the duties of the police
were conducted by village servants, under the following denominations,
and these denominations were continued with little variation under the
government of Haidar Ali, Tipu Sultan, and Purnaiya. These servants
were paid either in inam lands, shares of grain from the ryots, or direct
from the Sarkar. Talvars, totis, nirgantis, and kdvalgars, the usual
village servants so called : kattabidi peons, watchmen on public pay :
Hale Faiki, ancient or common peons : lanblidars, holders of inam
lands called umbli, it was their duty to provide a constant succession
of watchmen, and they were held responsible to protect all property
within their limits : amargars, holders of inams called amar, which
they held for the performance of police duties : hul-gdval, selected
from the thirteen castes, they were entrusted with the charge of public
treasure : ankamala, watchmen of the Bedar caste : kalla Kormar,
thieves by profession, and found useful in detecting thieves. Also the
patels and shanbhogs. In the time of the Palegars, these watchmen
were held responsible for all robberies committed, whether in fields or
houses ; they traced robbers by the footsteps, and if unsuccessful,
themselves became responsible for all lost public property of moderate
amount, but not for private property.

The first blow struck at the power of the patels was in the reign of
Kanthirava Narasa Raja in 1654. That prince, attributing the
opposition he met with from his subjects to the turbulence of the


patcls, reduced their inams, and confiscated to his own use a great
part of their property. Their allowances were partially restored by
Chikka Deva Raja, who ascended the musnud in 1672, and he at the
same time regulated the rusums of the other Barabalutis. His son and
successor, Kanthirava Raja, however, sequestered the shares of the
patels, leaving the inams of other village servants as they were.

Under Haidar the effective state of the police can be much more
readily credited, as, indeed, it can be more easily accounted for; there
was then no separation of interests, and no clashing of jurisdictions.
His administration was as extensive as it was vigorous, and besides the
terror of his name, and the real sagacity of his character, it must be
remembered that his immense levies effectually drained the country of
all turbulent spirits, or, what is much the same, gave them employment
congenial to their tastes and a sure means of livelihood. Haidar took
no steps to restore to the patels their sequestered allowances ; but, by
continuing to the other Barabalutis their emoluments and privileges,
he ensured their services. The village walls and boundary hedges were
kept in repair ; and tranquillity was preserved by the presence of his
troops, who were everywhere distributed, and by the severity of his
punishment whenever it was disturbed.

Under Tipu Sultan, the police, though impaired by the reduction of
many of the patels, umblidars and amargars, and by the assessment
levied upon their inam lands, was still kept from utter ruin by the
presence of his troops under the Asofs, and the dread of his sanguinary
disposition. The Sultan's reductions, however, extended only partially
to Nagar, and not at all to Manjarabad, where his authority was never
sufficiently established to render such measures practicable ; and at one
period of his reign he appears to have had some intention of restoring
to the patels the inams of which they had been deprived. They were
accordingly summoned to his presence, inquiries were instituted for
that purpose, and sannads were actually issued to the taluq cutcherries
for delivery to them, but for some reasons which are not known,
probably the confusion of the affairs of his kingdom, nothing further
was done to replace them in their old position.

Under the administration of Purnaiya, the Kandachars selected from
the remains of Tipu's army w-ere employed in the police, and as the
country was well guarded from disturbance, by the vigilance of the
ruler and the presence of British garrisons, little opportunity was
afforded for the perpetration of those crimes which in India are almost
an invariable consequence of public disorder. But the ruin of the
patels was completed by Purnaiya in the year iSoo. Until the period
of his government, the patels' inams, though sequestered, were still


entered as such in the accounts of the Sivayi jama, or extra revenue ;
thus kept separate, it was easy to restore them to their original
possessors, who probably still had hopes from the clemency of some
future sovereign. Purnaiya, however, at once destroyed such expecta-
tions, by including the whole of these allowances under the general
revenue of the country. But Purnaiya did more. He reduced many
of this class whom Tipu had spared ; and as this final spoliation of the
patels was immediately followed by the establishment of sixty-three
charitable feeding-houses, the two measures were inseparably connected
in the public opinion.

The same state of things continued for some years under the Raja.
In the capital the police authority was aided by the Barr or infantry, a
large body of which was constantly stationed in the town for that
purpose. The police, however, began to decline with the other
branches of the administration, and the general prosperity of the

Under the Mysore Commission.

Noil- Regulation System, 1 831-1855.

On the British assumption, which took place on the 19th of October
1 83 1, the maintenance, as far as possible, of existing native institutions
was expressly enjoined. The task which lay before the Commission,
therefore, was not to inaugurate a new system of government, but to
reform flagrant abuses in the old, to liberate trade and commerce, to
secure the people, especially the agricultural classes, in their just rights
against the gross tyranny and shameful extortion of a host of un-
scrupulous officials in every department, to purify and regulate the
administration of justice, and to develope the resources of the countrj'.
But the treasury was saddled with heavy debts ; the subsidy and the
pay of troops and establishments were in arrears; hence fiscal regula-
tions and the emancipation of the land revenue were the most urgent
measures at first required.

The revenue system followed, as directed by Lord William Bentinck,
was the ryotwari, which appeared to be the only one adapted to the
wants and traditions of the people of Mysore. It was brought back as
far as possible to the state in which it was left by Purnaiya, but
liberalized in all its details and viligantly superintended in its working,
with higher views, however, than the mere swelling of a balance-sheet,
as was too much the case with that celebrated administrator. The
money rents were lowered in all cases where the authorities were
satisfied that they were fixed at too high a rate; and the payments were


made as easy as possible to the ryots, by abandoning the system of
exacting the kist before the crops were gathered, and receiving it
instead in five instalments, payable at periods fixed in the first instance
by the ryots themselves with reference to the times of harvest. This
had the effect of saving them from the grasp of the village usurers,
and they were also freed from the harassing periodical inspection of
their crops, and other vexatious interferences with their cultivation.
These changes were highly appreciated by the ryots themselves, but
were distasteful in the extreme to the money-lenders and lower class of
public servants.

In cases where the batayi system, or that of an equal division of the
crop between the Government and the husbandman, was found to be in
force, every effort consistent with the prescriptive right of the cultivator
was made to convert it into a money payment, and where it still
prevailed it was purified of its most vexatious characteristics. All the
preliminary authorized pilferings of the village servants were put an end
to ; the grain was divided in the most public manner ; the choice of
shares was left with the ryot, and the whole of the straw — in a cattle-
breeding country a very valuable portion of the crop — became his own
property. The result of these arrangements was, that the revenue was
collected without the least difficulty ; that applications for takkavi
(money advances from Government) became less numerous every day ;
and outstanding balances were all but unknown.

The following are detailed accounts of the revenue and judicial
systems in force during this period, and of the reformation of the
sayar ; compiled from a General Memorandum on Mysore, written in

La-nd Revenue. — It does not appear that a revenue survey of the
lands in Mysore was ever made prior to the capture of Seringapatam,
but one of the first steps adopted after that event by the Divan
Purnaiya was a general Paimayish or measurement of fields. The
execution of this work, however, was incomplete and irregular, and the
records of the measurement were not forthcoming in many of the
taluqs. Under the new administration no attempt at a general sur\-ey
had as yet been made. Assuming, however. Colonel INIackenzie's
estimate of a superficial area of 27,000 square miles to be correct, the
number of khandagas or khandis would be 1,306,800 : of these,
937,254 were calculated to be covered by mountains, rivers, nullahs,
tanks, roads, and wastes, leaving 369,546 of cultivable land, of which
about 284,276 khandis were under the plough.^

' This estimate corresponds with a total area of 17,280,000 acres ; 12,186,567 being
unculturable, and 5,093,433 culturable, with 3,965,896 cultivated. The estimated


The lands in every village were classed as kushki or dry, tari or wet,
and bdgdyat or garden. They were divided into khandagas (or khandis),
kolagas (or kudus), ballas, seers and poilis ; these being the names for
the measures or weights of seed required to sow a given space. But,
as these measures varied in each different locality, they were set aside
by Purnaiya, and a uniform measure, called the Krishnaraj khandi,
established in their room. This khandi, which was fixed at 160 seers,
was the standard followed by the European Superintendents in their
revenue settlements.

Each village had its Beriz, its Chedsal Janidhandi, and the Sthal
shist or Rivaz. The beriz was the amount of revenue fixed in ancient
times to be drawn from the village. The chedsal jamabandi was the
maximum amount derivable at some former period from the village,
and the rivaz was the ancient rate of assessment on each particular
field. The number and extent of each field and each particular of its
assessment were registered in the accounts of the shanbh6gs, but these
books had been greatly tampered with at various periods, and had to
be looked upon with great suspicion where they did not stand the test
of actual measurement. Every field had its own particular name, and
its boundaries were carefully marked.

Each village in Mysore, as in other parts of India, had its own agri-
cultural corporation. This establishment, which was called Barabalilti
in Mahratti, and Ayangadi in the language of the country, was com-
posed as already described (p. 574).

The patel or gauda was the head nian of the village, and his office was
hereditary. He had police authority to a certain limited extent ; he settled
caste disputes among the ryots, sometimes with, but generally without, the
aid of a panchdyat, and he was the usual channel of communication between
the Government and the village community. In some villages there were
government lands assigned to the patcls for their support, and in others
there were none. So also in particular districts there were patcls of great
consideration and influence, while in others they could hardly be said to
rise above the mass of cultivators. The former was generally observable
in places remote from the .seat of government or difficult of access from
other causes.

The shanbhog was the registrar or accountant, and in some cases of more
villages than one. With hardly an exception, they were of the Brahman
caste, and the office was hereditary. In some places they were in the
possession of lands rent free, in others they enjoyed them on a jc5di or light
assessment, and in some few places they had a fixed money allowance. In all

figures in 1875 were, a total area of 27,077^ square miles or 17,329,600 acres, of
which it appears that 8,923,579 were unculturable and 8,406,021 culturable : 5,585,015
of the latter being given out for cultivation, and 4,231,826 actually cultivated.



instances there were certain fixed fees payable to them in money or in kind

by the ryots.

The totis were the responsible watchmen of the village and its crops.
They were likewise required to act as guides to government officers and
travellers of any importance, and in the absence of the talAri had to perform
the duties of that official in addition to their own. They were remunerated
by lands held free of rent, or on a light assessment. In all disputes about
boundaries of villages or fields, the evidence of the toti was looked to as
most essential.

The taL-tri was the scout of the village. He traced robbers and thieves,
watched the movements of suspicious strangers, and was, in fact, the police
peon to the magistrate patel. He was remunerated by rent-free or j6di
lands. In certain villages there were no taldris, and in these cases his duties
were performed by the toti.

The nirganti regulated the supply of irrigating water to the wet lands of
the village, whether belonging to the ryots or to the Sarkar. He had to
economize the supply of water in every possible way, and in the season of
rains might be said to hold the safety-valves of the tanks and other
reservoirs in his hands. Many a day's supply of water was sometimes lost
by the timidity or apathy of an inefficient nirganti, and on the other hand
many a valuable dam was carried away by the rashness or ignorance of a
presumptuous one.

The remainder of the Bdrdbaluti, with a few rare exceptions, were
dependent for their support on the fees paid to them by the ryots for the
e.\ercise of their crafts, and on what they might earn from travellers.

There were many villages in which the full complement of the
Barabaluti was not to be found, the duties and functions of one member
being doubled up with those of another. In some others, again, the
number of the complement was much extended, and we find included
among them in the accounts — the schoolmaster who taught the children,
most likely in the exact same manner and on the selfsame spot that his
ancestor taught their ancestors twenty centuries ago ; the calendar
Brahman who calculated their innumerable festivals and anniversaries,
and the pujari who propitiated and worshipped the village idol. It was
very seldom that these individuals derived any support from Govern-
ment, but the ryots of course were glad to assist them in the same
way as they did the handicraftsmen.

Should any of these village servants who enjoyed government lands,
or were in the receipt of a money allowance, misconduct themselves
and be dismissed from their appointments, they were invariably
succeeded, unless the crime were flagrant, by some member of their
own family. In cases where there were two or more claimants for the
same ofifice, as, for instance, in an undivided Hindu family, they were
allowed to select from among themselves the individual whom they


considered fittest for the post, and it was his name alone that appeared
in the Sarkar accounts. In some instances they preferred to exercise
the duties in rotation, and where this was found to work harmoniously
the authorities never interfered. The civil courts could take no
cognizance of disputes for the right of succession to these offices, or for
shares in the lands and immunities attached to them. All such were
decided summarily by the Amildar, Superintendent, and Commissioner
in their Revenue capacities. The alienation, mortgage, or transfer in
any way of these lands was strictly prohibited.

In 1 850-1, it was calculated that there were 50,709 persons borne
on the accounts as Barabaliiti, who among them enjoyed land to the
annual value of K. pagodas 40,178 and received a money allowance of
10,531 ; being together K. pagodas 50,709 (Rs. 1,47,517).

The following is a description of the duties of the several Revenue
Officers, and of the principles observed in the Revenue Settle-
ments : —

The mungari or first rains commence about the middle of .Aj^ril, and
continue at intervals till the middle or end of June, by which time the
fields are ready to be sown. At this period the tanks should contain
two months, or even more, of the supply of water requisite for the
cultivation of the rice lands. Some time before the beginning of the
official year, which was the ist of July, the shanbh6g of the village
assembled the ryots, and inquired into the circumstances and plans of
each individual. After which he concluded the arrangement with them
for the kandayam and batayi lands they were to cultivate, and for the
revenue payable by each during the ensuing year.

It will thus be seen that the shanbhdg was the primary agent in
every arrangement between the ryot and the Sarkar. It was through
him that the revenue administration of his village was conducted, and
it was to him, and to his books, that the ryot and the Government
must alike look for the record of their respective rights. He kept a
register of all the cultivators in the village, and took an account of the
lands of such persons as had died, deserted, or become insolvent, and
used his best endeavours to induce others to cultivate in their room.
He had also to prepare a general annual account of all the kandayam
lands, setting forth both the cultivated and uncultivated portions, and
the reasons why the latter had not been tilled.

In the Chitaldroog and Ashtagram Divisions, the collections com-
menced in November; in Bangalore, in December; and in Nagar, in
January. Between these times and June, when the official year closed,
the ryot was required to pay to the shanbhog the five instalments into
which his kist had been divided. As each of these instalments was

T T 2


collected from the village, the shanbhog proceeded with it to the taluq
cutcherry, and paid over the money to the Amildar.

The shanbhog was also required to keep a detailed account of
demand, collection and balance of every individual in the village, and
when the crops of the lands cultivated under batayi tenure were reaped
and piled into heaps, he had to make arrangements for their security;
and, on receiving the orders of the Amildars, to see that they were
threshed, and the grain properly stored till the time arrived for its

At the season of cultivation, the shekdar made a tour of the villages
in his circle, and advised and directed the shanbhogs in their arrange-
ments. In the case of lands under tanks, he ascertained the portions
which were to be under sugar-cane and under rice, and should the
supply of water be insufificient to bring the whole of the Sarkar lands
under full wet cultivation, he arranged for the production of the most
remunerative dry crop on the portion which would remain wholly or
partially unirrigated. When the Amildar visited the hobli, the shekdar
was his main assistant in settling the jamabandi. He had to rely
upon him for the information which would enable him to form a true
judgment of the state and resources of the hobli, to bring concealed
cultivation to light, and to expose collusive arrangements with the ryots
and other frauds of the shanbhogs. When the crops under amani or
Sarkar management were matured, the shekdar had to see that the
shanbhogs took the proper steps for reaping and threshing and storing
them, and was held responsible for keeping the shanbhogs and other
village authorities of his hobli up to the proper mark of vigilance and
honesty in all these respects. Whenever there was a public market
within the limits of the hobli, the shekdar was required to prepare
regular prices current of the rates fetched on each day, and forward
them to the Amildar. He had also to secure all unclaimed property
found m the villages, and send it up with full particulars to the same

What the shekdar was to the shanbhogs of his hobli, the Amildar
in his revenue capacity was to the shekdars of his taluq. Every dispute
was referred to him, and whenever they related to kandayam lands, he
had the power of deciding them summarily, subject of course to an
appeal to the Superintendent and the Commissioner, whom also he
addressed direct if any extraordinary occurrence took place in his

The Amildar made a tour of the hoblis in the month of September,
to acsertain the condition of the inhabitants and the prospects of the
season, and to see that the shanbhogs and shekdars were exerting


themselves to bring the lands into cultivation. After having satisfied
himself on these points by personal observation, and looked narrowly
into all the other arrangements entered into by his subordinates, he
settled the kulvar jamdbandi, village by village, and furnished regular
ten days' , reports of the progress he had made. The whole of his
settlements were finished in November.

The Sarkar batayi lands of the Vaisakha fasal, or May crop, were
brought fully under cultivation in October and November, and by
February or March the Amildar was able to forward to the Super-
intendent an estimate of its probable out-turn. The crops were
threshed and heaped in May or June, and the Amildar had then to see
to the disposal of the Sarkar share. Sometimes they were put up to
public auction as they stood upon the fields uncut, but generally after
they were reaped and threshed. Should the sums bid be considered
inadequate, the grain was stored in the government granaries till prices

Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 76 of 98)