B. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) Rice.

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

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became more favourable. Exactly the same course was pursued with
the Kartik or November crop, which was planted in the mungdri or
first rains, and reaped in October or November.

One important duty of the Amildar was to inspect the bunds of the
tanks and the embankments of the water-courses in his taluq, and keep
the Superintendent constantly informed of their condition.

The duties of the Superintendent, who was at once Collector, Magis-
trate and Judge, were laborious in the extreme, and could only be
carried on by a man of a very clear head, active habits, and great
powers of mental and bodily endurance. The Superintendent generally
proceeded on his jamabandi circuit as soon after the month of Novem-
ber as was practicable : that is, as soon as the Amildars had concluded
their settlement of the taluqs. The pattas, which had been previously
prepared, of each cultivator's holding, according to the Amildar's
settlements, were then distributed to the ryots. The patta contained a
description of the land held by the ryot, and the amount of assessment
to be paid by him on each different plot of land, as well as any other
tax which he might have to pay. This was read over to each man as
he was called up to receive his patta, and he was asked if it was correct
Thus any discrepancy or false entry was instantly brought to notice,
and the matter was inquired into, the error being rectified, or the
doubts of the ryot satisfied, on the spot, and in the presence of all the
other ryots of the village. Thus each cultivator not only had an
account direct with the Sarkar, but he was brought face to face with the
European Superintendent for the purpose of assuring the latter that his
account was correct. In this patta were entered the kists or instal-
ments of the ryot as they were paid by him. Ordinarily, after the


pattas had been thus distributed by the Superintendent in person in
one year, the Amildars of those taluqs were instructed to distribute
them for one or two intervening years, and only such ryots as had
objections to make in regard to the assessment claims against them, or
who were applicants for remissions, were invited to assemble at the
Superintendent's circuit camp.

This system of distributing the pattas was a very salutary one ; it
brought every tax-payer, however trifling his amount might be, in
personal contact with the Superintendent, and as all were obliged to be
present to receive their pattas, an opportunity was thus offered to
everyone to seek redress for any grievance which he might not other-
wise have had inclination or courage to bring forward. This circum-
stance in itself was a check to oppression, and constituted perhaps the
chief advantage of the Ryotwar system, which strictly prevailed in

It was on these occasions of distributing the pattas that the subject
of remissions was taken up and inquired into, the Superintendent keep-
ing this entirely in his own hands. There was no strict principle laid
down upon which remissions were made ; each individual case was
taken up and decided on its own merits, the condition and means of
the applicant being the ruling causes. But, generally speaking, the
assessment was not levied on land which had not been turned up by
the plough, or purposely kept fallow for pasture, whenever it could be
shown that the ryot had not the means of cultivating it that year. The
truth or otherwise of such representations was readily ascertained, for
all the cultivators of the village were present to refer to, and the
applicants for such remissions were generally of the poorer classes.
The Superintendent decided upon the question at once, and everybody
saw that it was an act of his own, and not of any bribe-expecting
mediator. The consequences of such summary decision of remissions
were : first, a check upon unreasonable or false applications for such
remissions, because no corrupt trade was made in them ; and secondly,
that there were no outstanding balances (or very small ones) in the
collections at the end of the year, because those who could not possibly
pay up the full demand had been relieved of that difficulty.

On these jamabandi circuits, the Superintendent caused an examina-
tion to be made of the village accounts as kept by the shanbhogs,
which again were compared with those (and the abstracts made from
them) which were kept in the taluq cutcherries. The extent of batayi
lands cultivated was compared with that of former years, relatively also
to the current season and quantity of rain which had fallen. The
amount value of the produce of those lands was also compared with


that of former years relatively to the concurrent rates of prices. The
changes in the holdings of kanddyam lands were closely scrutinized, and
concealed cultivation sought out and brought to account.

The Superintendent confirmed or modified tenders made to the
Amildars for leases varying from one to five years, as well as the terms
upon which new land was taken up on kandayam. Leases for five years
were usually granted upon a fair advance, on the average of the previous
five years' produce being tendered. As a general rule, such leases of
villages were only given to respectable landholders of that same village.
New lands were granted upon the average rivaz or rate of the village, at
a progressive rate, generally of three years ; ^ for the first year, f for
the second, and the full rate for the third : if much expense and labour
were to be incurred in clearing, the progressive rate was extended to
four or even more years, nothing being charged for the first year.

On these circuits it was expected that all disputes, of whatever descrip-
tion, referable to the Superintendent would be finally decided ; and ten
days before the Superintendent arrived at a taluq, a proclamation was
published in that taluq informing the people that the Superintendent's
cutcherry would arrive there on such a day, and remain so many days ;
and inviting all persons having any complaints or representations to
make, to present themselves before him within that period; and
declaring that should they omit to do so their complaints would not be
attended to afterwards, unless good reason could be shown for their

A very important part of his duty was to inspect the works of irriga-
tion in his Division ; to see if the new works had been efficiently con-
structed, and the repairs properly executed, and to devise remedies for
defective works. He had also to look after the roads in his Division ;
in short, he was expected to see with his own eyes as much of every-
thing as possible.

Nagar. — Of the institutions of the Nagar country, which were some-
what different from those of other parts, Mr. Stokes, under date 1834,
gives an interesting account, from which the following extracts are
taken : —

In the Malnad, villages were almost unknown. The owner of each
estate had a large house on some eligible part of it, and his tenants,
labourers and slaves resided on their respective allotments. Each
village in the open country had its community, composed of gauda ;
talwar or watchman ; madiga, baraki or kulavadi, whose ofiice seems to
be the same with that of the toti, a term not used here ; sh;inbh6g
or accountant, whose charge, however, in Nagar generally included
several villages, or a whole magani ; kaiwadadavaru or handicraftsmen,


including the badagi or carpenter, kammar or smith, agasa or washer-
man, and hajam or barber ; the ayya or Jangam priest, who performed
the requisite ceremonies for the l.ingavant ryots, and was sometimes
also a schoolmaster ; and the pujari who officiated in the village temple.
There was also in every village an influential and generally rather old
ryot, known by the title of Hiriya Rayta, " the chief ryot," or Buddhi-
vanta, " the wise man," who was consulted on all occasions, and was
usually the spokesman when any representation had to be made to the
superior authorities. In the Malnad, two or three leading ryots or
Heggades in each magani, acted in behalf of the ryots of their shime
or district, in all transactions of a common interest, such as arranging
sales of areca-nut with the merchants, and the details of the settlement
and collection with the Sarkar officers ; and engagements signed by them
were held to be binding on those ryots. There were also in every
taluq a few leading men called Mukhyastar, generally landholders, who
took an active share in public proceedings, and were nearly always with
the Amildar. They exercised an important influence on the manage-
ment of the taluq, which was frequently directed to their own private
profit, by combining with the Sarkar servants to defraud the Govern-
ment ; but was also sometimes beneficial in checking oppression, and
protecting the interest of the ryots.

The Gaudas of villages and the Pete Shettis had a great many rights
and privileges, called mdjia mariydde, of which they were exceedingly
tenacious ; one not the least valued by them was the right of prece-
dence, exercised chiefly in receiving tambula or betel in public
assemblies in the order established by custom, any deviation from
which would be stoutly resisted as a grievous insult. The Pete Shetti
or headman and the tradesmen {vartakani) of the trading towns, who
were generally Banajigar, were always treated with great respect. The
Shettaru, as he was called in the plural number, had commonly a manya
or privilege of passing one or more bullock-loads of goods, daily, free of
custom duties. He also levied pasigi, which was a small quantity taken
in kind from all produce brought for sale to his market. The Shetti
Vartakaru constituted a sort of court of arbitration, which was the
favourite tribunal of all the trading community and of many others.

Slavery, chiefly however in the agrarian form, existed from time
immemorial, and to a great extent, in the Malnad. It was unknown
in Kadur, Tarikere, Chennagiri, Plarihar and Honnali, and was rare in
the intermediate taluqs. The population return showed, in the five
Malnad taluqs, 4,169 houses, containing 9,973 persons of the Holeyar
caste ; and it is computed that the whole of these were properly slaves,
though many had now escaped from the authority of their original


masters. Slaves were of two descriptions — hofin-dl (from hon, gold)
and manfi-dl (from man, earth), of which the former might, and the
latter might not, be transferred from the soil to which they were
attached. The term by which slaves were designated, dl, did not in its
original signification imply any notion of servitude. It merely meant a
person (man or woman\ and was applied equally to hired servants or
daily labourers. Certain limits, termed meitu, steps, were fixed, which
the slave must not pass without permission, on pain of being considered
a fugitive. When a slave ran away, his master searched for him, and
if successful applied to the Amildar of the taluq to compel his return.
The Native Government professed to comply with such applications,
but the interference of the Amildars was now prohibited. Masters had
been considered to possess the right of punishing idle or refractory
slaves by beating ; no express order was given on this point, but the
power is supposed to have been abrogated by the police regulations.
The ]\Ialnad landholders frequently complained of this alleged depar-
ture from the custom of the country, but it is clear that slavery had
been generally losing the support of the Government from the beginning
of the present century, and it was generally found, on inquiry, that
slaves whose return it was requested should be compelled, had left their
masters fifteen or twenty years.

The usual maintenance {jpaddi) of slaves in the Malnad was one
kolaga or six siddi of batta or rice in the husk, equivalent to a pakka
seer of rice, for each man, and five siddis for each woman, per diem,
which was doubled on the new and full moons and sometimes at the
feasts. An annual supply of clothes, consisting of one kambli valued
at half a rupee, to each man and woman ; one dhoti or waistband
worth half a fanam, one panche or coarse cloth five cubits long, and
costing about two annas, and one rumal costing a quarter of a rupee,
for each man ; one shire or cloth ten cubits long and costing a rupee
for each woman. On the occasion of marriages, the master of the man
had to purchase a wife for him, usually for 3 or 4 B. pagodas, from her
owner ; unless, which was most commonly done, he could give the
daughter of one of his slaves in return. This practice was called sattai
or barter. The expenses of the marriage were borne by the master of the
husband, and commonly amounted to six rupees and three khandaga
or 150 seers of rice ; the children belonged to the owner of the man.
When a slave, with the permission of his master, worked for another
person, that person must supply him with food and clothing as above
stated, and must besides pay a small annual sum, generally half a H.
pagoda to the master — this was called hcgal f>d

Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 77 of 98)