J. D. (John David) Rees.

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a Mongol, but his army was chiefly comprised of
Turks, and when he died, in 1227, he had overthrown
all the independent kingdoms of Tartary, and
taken Northern China, Khorassan, and Transoxiana.
Timour himself was a Turk though he revived the
Tartar, Mongol, or Mogul empire. He annexed Persia
and reduced Turkestan to obedience, but within one
hundred years from his death, in 1405, Persia and
Transoxiana were overrun by nomad Turkomans,
and his descendant, Babar, flying from the Uzbegs,
founded the Mogul Empire in India. Timour en-
tered the country in which his descendant was to
found the greatest of its Oriental dynasties by way
of Cabul, took Delhi, from which Mohammed Tugh-
lak had fled, and slaughtered 100,000 prisoners. He
cared little for the consolidation of his conquest,
and left it a prey to disorder. From 1414 the Sey-
yids ruled as lieutenants of Timour's dynasty, and
when the Lodis succeeded, in 1450, they held the
Punjaub and Delhi, other provinces having become
independent during the anarchy which followed upon
the invasion of Timour. Little indeed is known
of the course of events in India during the century
which preceded the accession of Babar, a period
remarkable in the world's history for the termina-
tion of the domination of the Moors in Spain (1491),
the discovery of America by Columbus (1492), the

16



EARLY HISTORY

arrival of the Portuguese in India by way of the
Cape of Good Hope, the accession of Henry VIII
in England, and the conquest of Mexico by Cortez.
The blight of the Mongol invasion had left India
completely cut off from participation in world poli-
tics and commerce, and there was little for such
chroniclers as existed to relate, beyond a tedious
procession of wars and rebellions. Babar, then
ruling in Cabul, invaded India during the reign of
Ibrahim Lodi, claiming the country as part of the
inheritance of Tamerlane. He destroyed Lahore in
1524; in 1526 defeated Ibraham on the fateful field
of Panipat, and, in the words of the historian Elphin-
stone, "founded a line of kings, under whom India
rose to the highest pitch of prosperity, and out of the
ruins of whose empire all the existing states in that
country are composed."

The latter statement is accurate, but. if the condi-
tion of the people, rather than the power and glory
of the ruler, be regarded as the test, exception must
be taken to Elphinstone's assertion that under the
Moguls India rose to the highest pitch of prosperity.
It would be foreign to the purpose of this little work
to describe the reigns of the great Moguls, a task
already performed by master hands. They governed
no doubt, as we do, through the agency of Hindoos,
in our case and in theirs alike, chiefly Brahmins, and
the best of them were tolerant and humane. In con-
temporary writings and speeches, constant reference
is made to the golden age of native Indian rule, and
though the Moguls were foreigners, as we are, they

17



INDIA

were Asiatics, and the existence of a solidarity of
sentiment, wanting in our case, may be admitted.
But by common consent Akbar was the best and
most tolerant of the emperors of this line, and no
subsequent ruler had so able a Hindoo minister as
Todar Mai. Yet it was Akbar who laid it down, as
the governing principle of revenue administration,
"that there shall be left for every man as much as
he requires for his own support till the next crop be
reaped, and for that of his family and for seed. Thus
much shall be left to him, what remains is the land-
tax. " Aurangzeb, who collected nothing south of the
Vindhya Mountains, in 1707 obtained 38,000,000
land revenue, and a total revenue of 80,000,000,
while the English collect but 84,000,000 total,
and under 20,000,000 land revenue from their im-
mensely larger territories. The accomplished Orient-
alist, Mr. Irvine, has just published a translation of
the "Storia do Mogor" by Niccolai Manucci, who
lived between 1653 and 1708 with Prince Dara
Shekoh and Aurangzeb. No better witness exists,
and Manucci tells us that every time a general won a
victory the heads of villagers were sent as booty to
Agra, and after twenty-four hours were deposited
along the highway in pillars built for the purpose,
each to accommodate a hundred heads. Aurang-
zeb was one of the ablest and most powerful of his
line, which produced many great men, but Manucci
sums up his reign by saying: "in no part of his
Empire was there any justice, no one thought of
anything but how to plunder, the revenue was col-

18



EARLY HISTORY

lected by violence, and no remissions were allowed
for loss of crops." In a subsequent chapter I will
endeavour to describe the land revenue system now
in force in India, but it is impossible to pass by
Elphinstone's statement, capable as it is of such
serious misconstruction, and refuted as it is by the
best contemporary witness. The Great Moguls gov-
erned the greater part of India for two hundred
years from 1526, and were nominal emperors till
the mutiny of 1857. Manucci in no way confirms
the popular belief that this was the golden age.
Indeed he says: "In these days everybody's thought
is to steal, and whatever happens it rarely reaches
the ears of the king, the orders coming from whom
his officers do not obey. Those who are the most
distant from the court suffer most. " He relates too
an anecdote of a Portuguese he knew, who preferred
death to becoming a Mohammedan, which throws an
interesting light on contemporary Christianity, and
adds: "It is now forty-eight years that I have been in
India, yet never have I seen a Mohammedan become
a Christian. I have seen on the Coromandel coast
and in Bengal a few Malabaris and Bengalis, poverty-
stricken Hindoos, become Christians, but it was
from compulsion of hunger, or to get married to
some Christian. Even then they never refrained
from Hindoo practices." As to the justice of the
Great Moguls, Aurangzeb, starting to wage war
against the Deccani kings of Bijapur and Golconda,
gave orders that eighty men should be bound and
beheaded in a kneeling position on either side of the

19



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route he would traverse; which slaughter of innocent
peasants was by way of sacrifice and prayer for
success in his enterprise. The founder of the Mogul
dynasty, Babar, fortunately bequeathed to posterity
the memoirs of his adventurous life written in the
Turkish language. His father was fifth in descent
from Tamerlane. He was, therefore, a Turk, though
his mother was a Mogul, a race of which he himself
speaks with contempt in his memoirs, but the Indians
use this generic term for a Mohammedan who enters
India from beyond Afghanistan. Babar, a brave,
simple, and pleasure-loving monarch, compelled all
the Mohammedan princes in India to acknowledge
his supremacy, and was fighting for the faith against
the Hindoos in the year 1534, which saw the victory
of the Protestant over the Roman Catholic religion
in England. He was defeated in Buxar by one of
his own lieutenants, the Governor of Behar and
Bengal, and was obliged in his flight to cross the
Ganges on an inflated skin. When he reached
Omerkote, with only seven attendants, his Queen
gave birth to the illustrious Akbar, the greatest of
all the great Moguls. The revolting Governor, Sher
Shah, built caravanserais, wells, and avenues from
Bengal to the Indus, and of his second son, who
succeeded him, it was said: "Empire is no man's
inheritance, but belongs to him who hath the longest
sword." The second son's sword was long enough
to enable the wearer to supplant his eldest brother,
but was not long enough to maintain his kingdom,
and the son and successor of Babar, Humayun, who

20



EARLY HISTORY

died just after his return to India, left his preca-
rious inheritance, including Bengal, to Akbar, then a
youth of thirteen years, whose minister, Bairam,
defeated the rebellious General Hemu in 1556 at
Panipat, on which field the fate of India has several
times been decided. Practically the whole of India
became more or less subject to Akbar, though this
statement could not have been made with any
approach to truth of any one of his predecessors.
The population of the conquered realms was made
up of the aborigines, of Scythians and Tartars, and
of the races who invaded the country from the
north and are commonly called Aryans. Buddhism
was the centripetal force which had to some extent
welded together this loose, amorphous mass, but in
the seventh century Brahminism had revived, and in
the ninth it had triumphed. In its present aspect
it represents the union of the Vedic faith of the orig-
inal Brahmins with Buddhism, and with the rude
and elementary superstitions of the aboriginal tribes.
Brahmin pantheism is capable of including every-
thing, and would before now probably have ab-
sorbed the Christian converts but for their rejection
of caste. To this day, the majority of the people of
India are animists animism being that form of
faith which used to be called fetichism, or the
worship of tangible and inanimate objects, in the
belief that they are possessed of some mysterious
power. South of the Vindhya range, the boundary
between Hindustan and the Deccan, were three
great Hindoo kingdoms, with their capitals, Mysore,



INDIA

Tanjore, and Madura. The Hindoo kingdom of
Vizayanagar lasted from 1118 till 1565, and disputed
the hegemony of the Deccan with the southern
Mohammedan kingdoms. In the reign of Moham-
med Tughlak, a contemporary of Richard II of
England and of Philip de Valois of France, the em-
pire of Delhi extended from the Himalayas and the
Indus on the north-west and north-east, to the sea on
the east and west, though much of Rajputana was
independent. Between 1489 and 1688 there were
five Mohammedan states in the Deccan, formed out
of the fragments of the Bahmani kingdom, with
their respective capitals: Bejapur, Golconda, Ahmed-
nugger, Elichpur, and Bedi; and the ruins of the first-
named city eloquently attest the greatness of the
former kingdom. They include masterpieces of Sara-
cenic architecture, and the largest dome in the world,
which covers an area of 18,000 square feet unin-
terrupted by supports. It was here that Ferishta
resided and completed his history, a valuable mine
for the later Indian historian, but one in which
writers of the anti-British school do not care to dig.
Besides the Hindoo and Mohammedan kingdoms, to
which brief reference has been made, there remained
the Rajput States which had never been conquered.
Insufficient as are the materials for writing Indian
history, there are, thanks to the Hakluyt Society,
publications which give some idea of the internal
state of the country in the fifteenth and the be-
ginning of the sixteenth centuries. The commercial
intercourse, which had been carried on between



EARLY HISTORY

India and Rome through the Red Sea, hardly sur-
vived the division of the Roman Empire into east
and west, when it was supplanted by trade with
Constantinople carried through Persia by caravan.
The Arab conquests next interrupted intercourse
between India and the Byzantine Empire, and in
the tenth century intercourse was reopened with
Venice through Egypt, and in the eleventh century
the republics of Genoa and Venice, consequent upon
the irruptions of the Turks into Syria and Palestine,
developed considerable commerce with India. This
trade subsequently became a Venetian monopoly,
till the close of the fifteenth century, when the Por-
tuguese in turn profited by the discovery of America
and the rounding of the Cape.

Nikitin, a Russian traveller of 1470, dwelt upon
the contrast between the brilliance of the court and
the poverty of the people in the Deccan. Babosa, a
Portuguese, in the beginning of the sixteenth cen-
tury, described the people of Gujerat as prosperous
and well-found. He speaks of the roofed and tiled
houses of the town, of the trade in cloth, of the silk
manufactures of Bombay, and of the dealings of the
west coast in cocoa and areca nuts, spices and drugs;
nor is his account of the Malabar coast, that fertile
and pleasant land, any less satisfactory.

It seems that the Mohammedan kings of the
time were accessible to their subjects, and personal
in their rule, though practically absolute authority
was delegated to governors of provinces. The army
was composed of levies, supplied fully equipped by

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INDIA

local chiefs, and by individual soldiers who served
for hire. The Hindoos had to pay the poll-tax, but
they were generally employed in the administration
and sometimes as generals. The Emperor Babar
in his memoirs says that the revenue officials, mer-
chants, and work-people were all Hindoos, and much
the same might be said at the present day, for
the actual government is generally in the hands of
Brahmins, who are supervised by a handful of civil
servants who form a corps d? elite. There can be no
doubt that the Mohammedan conquerors of India
soon lost their fierce proselytising zeal and intoler-
ance, and treated the Hindoos with leniency and
toleration. They coined silver and gold and Akbar
fixed the rupee at very much its present weight.
Before his day the Indian Mohammedans had
adopted the muslin robe and slippers which they now
wear, and their character as well as their costume
has changed, since they left the uplands of Central
Asia for the river plains of Hindustan, whence some
as a ruling class migrated to the "wide stony wolds
of the Deccan. " Akbar was cut off from the Afghan
base which his predecessors had possessed, and
partly on this account, and partly, no doubt, from
statesmanship, he determined to pursue a policy
of toleration and conciliation. The contemporary
chronicle known as the Akbarnama of Abul Fazl,
the eminent minister, throws an interesting light
upon the Emperor's methods of administration.
One day he came upon two bodies of Hindoos, who
were quarrelling about the possession of a sacred

24



EARLY HISTORY

bathing place. He first of all endeavoured to effect
a friendly settlement, and finding this impossible
told them to fight it out, and saw fair play. Had
this solution been adopted during the recent dis-
turbances in eastern Bengal, little would have been
heard of the Hindoo case, for the Mohammedans
would have easily settled all disputes in their own
favour. Akbar tried alternately violence and con-
ciliation in order to subjugate the Rajput States,
which was never completely effected. He took Gu-
jerat, recovered Bengal and Behar, annexed Cash-
mere, and tried, with indifferent success, to subdue
Afghanistan. This was the first war made by a
ruler of Hindustan against that country. Sind was
next subdued and Kandahar recovered, so that
the Mogul Empire now extended from Afghanistan
across the whole of India north of the Vindhya
Mountains, while the Deccan proved an insoluble
problem. Those breezy uplands bred heroines, and
Chand Bibi of Ahmednugger fired copper, silver, and
gold coins at the Moguls, when iron was exhausted,
and was firing away the Crown jewels when her
valorous soul was quenched, a worthy prototype
of the Ranee of Jhansi. Akbar returned to Agra
from this campaign in 1601 the year in which the
first East India Company was founded, and in which
the first English ships reached India and in 1605
he died. He dreamt of an eclectic religion, embra-
cing all that was best in all the chief faiths of his
own generation. Probably he was for the most part
sincere, possibly, like his contemporary, Henry IV

25



INDIA

of France, who thought Paris worth a Mass, his
religion was subservient to his policy of concilia-
tion. He discouraged suttee and child marriage, and
allowed Hindoo widows to marry again, thus antici-
pating some of the reforms effected by the English.
His religious system died with him. His revenue
system was borrowed from that of Sher Shah, the
Afghan king of Delhi, who died in 1545, a great
monarch, who said that his life was not long enough
to allow of his doing sufficient good to his people.
All the cultivable lands in the Empire were meas-
ured and divided into three classes according to
their fertility, the demand of the State being fixed
at one-third of the gross produce, as against a rough
general average of one-fourteenth which we get.
Settlements were thus effected which lasted for ten
years as against thirty of our present system, and
measurements and classifications were recorded in
the village accounts, just as they now are. Akbar's
Dewan was the famous Todar Mai, and his finance
minister the hardly less celebrated Abul Fazl. Sir
William Hunter concluded that the revenue collected
from a part of India by the Great Mogul ex-
ceeded that received by the British from their more
extended and far greater Empire, and it is prob-
able that the land-tax of the present day is, on
an average, less than a quarter of what was exacted
by Akbar. There were then no police except the
hereditary village watchmen, and the chief land-
owners were held responsible for the protection
of life and property. The rural watchmen usually

26



EARLY HISTORY

belonged to the robber class, but that was the case
until late in the nineteenth century in the extreme
south of India, where the system, now abandoned,
worked fairly well. The army consisted chiefly of
cavalry, and the troopers were men of the yeoman
class, who supplied their own horses and weapons.
This arrangement practically survives in the native
cavalry regiments to the present day. The infantry
of the line were paid six rupees a month, and, in
theory at any rate, all males capable of bearing arms
were liable to service. Akbar's successor, Jahangir,
regarded his wife as a colleague upon the throne, and
they reigned in a fashion not unlike that of Justin-
ian and Theodora, her name being engraved on the
coins with that of the Emperor. It was in this reign,
in the year 1616 that Sir Thomas Roe arrived as
ambassador of James I, who sent him in the hope
of obtaining more favourable terms for British trade
at Surat, and on the west coast of India, where silk,
spice, pepper, precious stones, and cotton were
bartered in exchange for knives and broadcloth.
When Jahangir died, in 1627, his dominions were
practically coterminous with those of Akbar, for his
endeavours to conquer the Deccan were fruitless.

His successor, Shah Jehan, a contemporary during
the long reign of Charles I and Cromwell, and of
Louis XIII and Louis XIV, conducted the usual
wars, with less than the usual unsuccess in the
Deccan, into which he introduced the revenue sys-
tem of Todar Mai. During the reign of Shah Jehan,
the Mogul Empire reached its zenith, but Elphin-

27



INDIA

stone, than whom no man was more competent to
form an opinion, considers that the condition of the
people must have been worse than in the most
badly governed state in modern Europe. It was
this emperor who rebuilt and adorned Delhi, con-
structing the Great Mosque, the palace, the little
Musjid, and the Taj Mahal. No sooner was Aurang-
zeb formally installed upon his throne, in the year of
the restoration of the Stuarts in England, than war
broke out between Bejapur and the; Mahrattas, who
were a race of cultivators living in the hills of Goa
and Surat, and the western extremity of the Deccan
plateau. Sivaji, the national hero, began life as
a brigand, and little was heard of the Mahrattas
till his day, though Ferishta records that as early
as 1485 the Mohammedan kings of the Deccan had
already enlisted these hardy hillmen in their service.
In 1648 Sivaji had acquired possession of several
fortresses belonging to Bejapur, as a result of his
wars with the ruler of which kingdom he was placed
in possession of considerable territory; and of Indian
chiefs he first realised that infantry was of greater
importance than cavalry. Aurangzeb had made
the fatal mistake of reducing the Mohammedan king-
doms of the Deccan instead of invoking their aid
against the rising strength of the Mahrattas. The
latter continued to grow in power, and soon the
states of Bejapur and Golconda commenced to pay
tribute to Sivaji, who presently arrogated to himself
the right to levy the famous chauth, or quarter of the
revenue, as the price of security against attacks by

28



EARLY HISTORY

his followers. Another false step taken by Aurang-
zeb was the revival of the obnoxious poll-tax levied
on Hindoos, and, departing from all the wise prece-
dents of his line, he forbade the entertainment of
Hindoos in the Government service. The reimposi-
tion of the tax on infidels and the revocation of the
Edict of Nantes were two events of equal import to
the Mogul and French monarchies. The interests
of the Rajputs now became identical with those of the
Mahrattas, and the latter bandits became champions
of the Hindoo religion and nationality. All Rajpu-
tana was in a blaze, and the star of Sivaji was ever
in the ascendant in the south, where the Moham-
medan kings of the Deccan called him in to aid them
to maintain their independence against Aurangzeb.
In 1683 the Emperor left Delhi, never to return
before his death in 1707, the intervening period being
spent in vain efforts to reduce the Deccan to submis-
sion. His last years were clouded by the intrigues
of his sons, as well as by the failure of his arms,
and when he died, in the eighty-ninth year of his
life, and the fiftieth of his reign, he said: "Every-
where I see nothing but God. I have committed
many crimes, and know not how I shall be pun-
ished. The death agony presses on one, I am going.
Come what may I have launched my vessel on the
waves. Farewell, farewell." Elphinstone says of
him that "he would indeed have been a good and
great king had he not had a heart cold, calculating,
and a stranger to all generous and ennobling im-
pulses." His land revenue reached thirty-eight and

29



INDIA

one-half million sterling, and his total income was
seventy -seven and one-half millions. The usual frat-
ricidal strife followed upon his death, and resulted
in the ultimate victory of Shah Alam, the eldest son,
whose Viceroy in the Deccan now openly paid chauth
to the Mahrattas. The new Emperor first offered
the Rajputs practical independence in return for
peace, and turned his own attention to the Sikhs.
This religious sect, afterwards so famous in Indian
history, was founded at the end of the fifteenth
century by Nanak, who recognised no distinction
of caste, but preached universal toleration, and the
unity of the Godhead. Since the death of the tol-
erant Akbar they had been persecuted, and in 1675
their Guru, or leader, created a religious and mili-
tary commonwealth, every member of which was a
soldier. None were allowed to shave, and each and
every one was bound to carry cold steel about
his person of which rule of conduct the quoit
in the turban is now the outward and visible sign.
The Sikhs respect the Brahmins, and forbid the
slaughter of cattle, but their resemblance to the orth-
odox Hindoo in other respects is small, and they
have acquired a very distinctive character. Farokh-
sir was a prince of no great merit, but he fought and
defeated the Sikhs, whose sectaries he treated with
the utmost barbarity. The Deccan in his reign had
now become almost independent under its Viceroys
or Nizams, who acknowledged the Mahratta sov-
ereignty, and duly paid their chauth or tribute. The
real governors of the Empire were the Seyyids, two

30



EARLY HISTORY

brothers who were king-makers, but when their
creature, the king, tired of them, the Nizam of the
Deccan became chief minister, while the power of
the Mahrattas passed into the hands of a family of
Brahmin village accountants in the Konkan. Bal-
aji Visvanath became their Peshwa or minister, and
he endeavoured to realise, as a regular tribute and
revenue, one-quarter of the revenue, as settled by
Todar Mai, of the Mogul Empire. During its
decline and fall, however, nothing like this amount
was collected, and Mogul revenue and Mahratta
chauth alike were levied by force and not according
to law. The different heads of account in one and
the same area were collected by different agencies,
in order to prevent any one authority from becom-
ing independent of the central power at Delhi, an
object which, none the less, the arrangement failed
to secure. One result, however, of this system was
of a permanent character, for the intricacy of the
accounts led to the universal use of Brahmin account-
ants, thereby increasing the ascendency of the caste,
always so powerful in India, to which the family
of the Peshwa belonged. To Balaji succeeded Baji


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