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are married, whereas in Northern India the greater part of them are
vowed to celibacy.



The greater number of Kabirpanthis in the Central Provinces are the
Pankas, Teh's, and Gandas, which classes have adopted the religion en
masse. But among other castes who have joined the fraternity are —
Brahmans (very few), Rajputs, Baniyas, Naus, Dhobis, and even Muham-
madans. The Brahmans and Rajputs are expelled from caste on their
conversion to Kabirism, and thenceforward occupy the same position
as is held by Hindu bairdgis ; and it is from them that the bhanddris
and mahants are mostly selected. The Kabirpanthis of the present
day recognise and retain caste distinctions as tenaciously as the most
orthodox Hindus, and all ceremonies are performed by Hindu priests
according to established ritual. Ordinarily, no Kabirpanthi of one
caste will eat food cooked by a member of another, and it is only
when they meet at Kawardha on some festive occasion that the
rule is somewhat relaxed. The different castes, of course, never
intermarry. In their social relations, habits, and superstitions, the
Kabirpanthis differ but slightly from the Satnamis.

The Kumbhipdthids are a small sect peculiar in the Central Provinces
to Sambalpur District and its attached Feudatory States, and number
only 913 members. Their religion, which is of quite modern origin,
appears to have sprung into existence in the Angiil and Dhenkanal
States of Orissa as recently as 1866. The name of the founder of the
religion is unknown, and its followers state that he is a formless spiritual
being, who resides in heaven. His chief disciple Gobind Das is dead ;
and another disciple Narsingh has erected a math or temple to his
memory in Banki. The sect has also another temple in Banki at
Malbahar. They have a religious book of predictions called Malika,
and are divided into three sects — the Kumbhipathia Gosains, the Kana-
pathia" Gosains, and Ashritas. The two former sects have renounced
the world, and the followers of the one do not eat with those of the
other. The third sect, the Ashritas, are not ascetics or celibates, nor
are they turned out of caste. They look up to the other two sects as
their gurus or spiritual guides, and follow their teaching. They bathe
in the early morning, and prostrate themselves before the sun at the
time of its rising and setting, never eating after sunset. Each sect has
a separate temple or place of prayer. They recognise the Bhagavat, one
of the Hindu religious books, but interpret it differently to the Hindus.
They do not acknowledge the images of the Hindu gods, arguing that as
no mortal has ever seen the Supreme Being, it is impossible to form his
image. Although believing in the existence of the thirty-three crores of
Hindu gods and goddesses, they do not worship or obey them, asserting
that it is not necessary to obey the servant, but only the master. Their
worship consists of prayer and praise to the immaterial Being, whom
they call Alekh.

The Ndnakpanthis are not numerous in the Central Provinces, and


are returned in the Census Report as a nonconformist sect of Hindus
rather than as a separate religion. They follow the doctrines of Nanak,
the founder of the Sikh religion, who taught the people that prayer
consisted in meditation on the Supreme Being, and that all external
forms of worship were sinful. Nam, Dan, and Sndn (the repetition of
the holy name, the giving of charity, and cleanliness of body), form the
essence of his teaching. Nanak, who taught his principles ioo years
after Kabir, respected the Vedas, and derived his tenets therefrom,
but did not recognise the Sastras. Whilst the aim of Kabir was
to leave one common religion for Hindus and Muhammadans alike,
that of Nanak was to popularize the teaching of the Vedas. Kabir
denounced the Hindu incarnations as impostors, whilst Nanak admitted
that they were inspired men. The essence of the two religions is the
same, with this difference, that Kabfr's faith claims to be a religion by
itself, whilst that of Nanak may be said to be an offshoot of the
Vedantic religion of the Hindus. The Nanakshahis are a devotee
order within the Nanakpanthi sect.

The Singhapanthis are followers of Singhaji, a local saint, himself a
Gauri or herdsman by caste, in whose name Hindu temples have been
erected in Hoshangabad and Nimar Districts, which are frequented by
people of all castes. They are returned in the Census among the

The Dham'is are a local sect found only in Damoh and Sagar
Districts, followers of Prannath, and known also as Parnamis, who
combine the reading of the Kuran with Hindu observances. They are
also included in the Census among the Hindus.

Hindu Castes. — Of the recognised Hindus castes, the upper classes
consist of Brahmans, 359,886 ; Rajputs, 240,985; Kayasths, 32,034;
Kalita or Kulta, a cognate caste to the Kalitas of Assam, peculiar to
Chutia Nagpur and the Chhatisgarh Division of the Central Provinces,
92,827 in number ; Baniyas or traders, 76,447. The lower Hindu castes,
exceeding 50,000 in number, are the following, arranged according to
number, and not according to social rank. Chamar, the most numerous
but one of the lowest castes in the Central Provinces, skinners, leather
dealers, agricultural labourers, etc., 760,101 in number, of whom about
one-half belong to the Satnami sect ; Kurmi, the principal agricultural
caste, 740,528; Teli, oil-pressers, cultivators, carters, etc., 632,934;
Ahir, cattle-rearers and dairymen, cultivators, and farm-servants, 509,526;
Mahar, weavers, day-labourers, village watchmen, grass-cutters, etc.,
322,016 ; Lodhi, landholders and cultivators, 265,147 ; Ganda, weavers,
cultivators, field labourers, etc., 250,133; Mehra, weavers, cultivators,
and village watchmen, 242,304; Gauri, herdsmen, 214,936; Marar,
gardeners and cultivators, 200,900; Dhimar, fishermen, silk rearers,
domestic servants, water-carriers, etc., 194,453; Kewat or Keut, the



great fishing caste, also labourers, 165,591 ; Kallar, spirit distillers and
sellers, 156,780; Panka, weavers, cultivators, field labourers, etc.,
141,726; Nai, barber, 131,614; Koshti, weavers, 129,559; Dhobi,
washermen, 119,936; Kachhi, cultivators, chiefly of garden crops and
sugar -cane, 116,677; Mali, gardeners, 115,821; Gauri, cattle
attendants, cartmen, cultivators, and field labourers, 110,363; Lohar,
iron-smiths, 109,370 ; Ponwar, agriculturists of Rajput descent, 106,086;
Kumbhar, potters, 89,201; Sonar, goldsmiths, 84,718; Barhai, car-
penters, 66.^6 ; Gujar, cultivators, 60,334 ; Gadaria, shepherds, 54,750 ;
Banjara, pack-bullock carriers and traders, 52,570.

Muhammadans. — Of the Muhammadan population in the Central
Provinces, 259,608, or 94*14 per cent, were recorded as of the Sunni
sect, and only 6772, or 2-46 per cent., as Shias, 166 as Wahabis, and 20
as Faraizis. General ignorance was found to prevail among the popula-
tion as to the distinction between the sects; and 9207 persons, or 3-47
per cent, of the total Muhammadan population, were returned simply
as Muhammadans, without specification of sect. The only Districts in
which the Shias exceeded 1000 in number are — Nimar, 1455 ; and
Xagpur, 1 141.

Jains numbered 45,911 in 1881 throughout the Central Provinces.
They are chiefly traders and commercial clerks from Rajputana. They
are most numerous in Sagar District, where they number 16,432.

Christian Sects. — The 11,973 Christians in the Central Provinces com-
prise—British-born Europeans, 2774; other Europeans and Americans,
1145; Eurasians, 1230; Native Christians, 5558; Indian Portuguese,
206; unspecified, 1060. As regards religious sects, the Roman
Catholics rank first, with 5833, of whom 4258 are natives; Church of
England, 3802, of whom 393 are natives; Presbyterians, 715, including
317 natives; Methodists, 100; 'Protestants,' ' Christians,' and ' others '
(not separately classified), 1523.

Distribution into Town and Country. — The population of the country
is almost entirely rural, the inhabitants of the 52 towns containing
upwards of 5000 inhabitants being only 697,644, or 6 per cent, of
the total, or a fraction higher than the urban population in Bengal.
The balance of 1,085,867, or 94 per cent., makes up the rural popula-
tion. The following is a list of the 52 largest towns, with their
population in 1881 : —

Karri pti,
Sagar, .
Burhanpur, .
Khandwa, .

98,299 Umrer,
75.705 Sambalpur, .
50.987 Garhakuta, .
44.416 Harda,
30.017 Bhandara,
24,948 Narsinghpur,
16, 137 Seoni, .
15,863 , Pauni, .
15. 142 Hinghanghat,

. 14,247

Damoh, .


• 13.9.19

M inward,

8 ; 2

II. 414

Khapa, .

. 11,203

Chhindwara, .


. 11,15°

( radarwara,


. 10,222




Warora, .



Sonpur, .








• 7775


• 5849

Khurai, .

• 537o


• 7469


. 5816

Khalmeswar, .

• 53i8


• 74H

Sehora, .

• 5736

Ashti, .

• 5245

Tumsar, .

. 7388


• 5685

Rehli, .

• 5230


. 7061


• 56i5


• 5180


. 7027

Armori, .

• 5584

Mohari, .

• 5142


. 6998

Dongargarh, .

• 5543

Deoli, .

• 5*26


. 6647

Mohpa, .

• 5515

Saoner, .

• 5023

Hatta, .

• 6325

Of the total number of 45,854 villages and towns in the Central
Provinces, including the Feudatory States, considerably more than one-
half, or 27,616, contain less than two hundred inhabitants; 13,488
have between two hundred and five hundred; 3764 between five
hundred and a thousand; 736 between one thousand and two thousand;
130 between two and three thousand ; 68 between three and five thou-
sand ; 36 between five and ten thousand ; 7 between ten and fifteen
thousand ; 3 between fifteen and twenty thousand ; 3 between twenty
and fifty thousand ; and 3 upwards of fifty thousand inhabitants.

Occupations. — Excluding the 15 Feudatory States, the Census Report
returned the male population of the British Districts according to
occupation in the following six groups : — (1) Professional class, including
civil and military officers, Government officials of every description,
and the learned professions, 107,411. (2) Domestic class, including
house servants, inn and lodging-house keepers, etc., 47,217. (3) Com-
mercial class, including merchants, traders, carriers, etc., 71,926.

(4) Agricultural and pastoral class, including gardeners, 2,210,021.

(5) Industrial class, including manufacturers and artisans, 610,068.

(6) Indefinite and non-productive, including male children, persons of
unspecified occupations, etc., 1,902,792.

Agriculture. — In the year 1882-83, the area under cultivation was
estimated at 15,516,800 acres, of which rice, wheat, and other food-
grains occupied 13,653,900 acres, or about 85 per cent, of the whole.
Cotton was grown on 1,612,687 acres, chiefly in Nagpur, Wardha,
Nimar, Narsinghpur, Chhindwara, and Sagar; and these six Districts,
with Raipur and Bilaspur, have also the largest area under oil-seeds.
The cultivation of tobacco is almost confined to Raipur.

Nearly every form of land tenure found in India exists in the Central
Provinces. Besides the estates of feudatory and of non-feudatory
chiefs, known as zaminddris, the succession to which follows the law
of primogeniture, what is termed the malguzdri tenure prevails most
widely. The estate, whether the property of one or many owners, is
managed by a single proprietor, and the land is chiefly held by cultiva-
tors whose rents are thrown into a common stock. The profits are
divided, or the losses made up, in proportion to the respective shares
of the different proprietors.

The total agricultural population of the British Districts of the Central


Provinces, male and female, amounted in 1881 to 3,778,040, or 38*40
per cent, of the whole j average cultivated and cultivable area, 9 acres
per head of the agricultural population. Landed proprietors numbered
93»993 > tenants with occupancy rights, 345,562 ; assistants in home
cultivation, 826,090; tenants at will, 1,133,699; agricultural labourers,
herdsmen, graziers, etc., 1,356,379. Total area of British Districts,
84,445 square miles, of which 64,121 square miles are assessed for
Government revenue or pay a light quit-rent, while 20,324 square miles
are revenue-free and unassessed. Total amount of Government assess-
ment, including local rates and cesses levied on land, ,£647,345, or
an average of 9|d. per cultivated acre. Total rental actually paid by
the cultivators, ^1,326,024, or an average of is. 9d. per cultivated
acre. These averages are, however, below the general rates paid for
Government {khdlsa) land, as they include the payments made by
the zambiddri estates, which are only nominal and of the nature of

Commerce and Manufactures. — The only important manufactures
consist of weaving, and smelting and working iron- ore. The tissue
work of Burhanpur, and the richly embroidered wearing apparel pro-
duced in parts of Nagpur and Bhandara, command an extensive sale
beyond the Province; and the excellence of the ores smelted near
Gadarwara deserves notice. The internal trade is conducted by means
of markets and fairs, the latter of which for the most part had a religious
origin and still retain a religious character. The chief external trade is
with Bombay westward. The principal imports consist of cotton piece-
goods, hardware, salt, cocoa-nuts, European liquors, tobacco, etc. ; and
the principal exports are raw cotton, grain, ghi, oil-seeds, and Indian
piece-goods. Next in importance is the trade with the North-Western
Provinces and Calcutta, the main imports being sugar from Mirzapur,
piece-goods, indigo, jute bags, European liquors, etc. ; and the exports,
cotton for the mills at Cawnpur, lac, iron, grain, etc. With the Central
India States a considerable traffic exists ; but with the Nizam's Dominions
and Berar, and other parts of India, the trade is comparatively small.
The Malwa opium, which passes through the Province for export to
China, now goes through Nimar to Bombay by rail without being
registered as in former years. Excluding this opium and other through
trade, the totals may be thus presented : — Imports, in 1882-83, I2 9>453
tons— value, ^£"3,134,785 ; exports, in 1882-83, 474,2ii tons— value,
^4, 195,874 ; total imports and exports, 603,664 tons — value,^, 330,659.

Means of Communication. — The want of good means of communica-
tion, especially important in a land-locked region, has greatly retarded
the progress of the Central Provinces. After the rains, the larger rivers
become navigable, but the rocky barriers which occur in their channels
restrict the use of this mode of transit. In 1882, the total length ot


water communication was returned at 1373 miles. The making of
roads, which may be said to date from the establishment of the British
power, is rendered difficult by the nature of the country ■ and, taught
by experience, the local engineering department has now laid down the
principle that black-soil roads should be constructed on the principles
applicable to a morass. In 1882, the total length of made roads
throughout the Province was returned at 2833 miles. Nagpur forms
the centre of the road system. From that city branch off — the northern
road, to Seoni and Jabalpur (Jubbulpore) ; the eastern line, by Bhandara
and Raipur, to Sambalpur ; the north-western, to Chhindwara ; and the
southern and south-western, to Chanda or Wardha. But besides these
roads, of which the first only can be called complete, numerous ancient
tracks wind over hills and across the rocky beds of streams, along which
the Banjaras drive their long trains of pack-bullocks. The Great
Indian Peninsula Railway enters the Central Provinces near Burhanpur,
and runs along the valley of the Narbada, passing Hoshangabad,
Narsinghpur, and Jabalpur, till it emerges from the north-east corner
of the Province, near Balihri. Starting from Bhusawal, a tributary
line connects Wardha and Nagpur with the main railway, sup-
plying communication with the coal-fields of Warora. A further
branch is being constructed from Nagpur to Chhatisgarh, the com-
pletion of which will open up the great granary of the Central
Provinces ; 146 miles of this line up to Rajhangaon were opened in
February 1883.

The following is a list of the different Chief Commissioners who
have administered the Central Provinces since their constitution into a
separate administration: — Colonel E. K. Elliott, nth December 1861 ;
Lieutenant-Colonel J. K. Spence (officiating), 27th February 1862;
Mr. R. Temple (officiating), 25th April 1862; Colonel E. K. Elliott,
18th December 1863; Mr. J. S. Campbell (officiating), 12th March
1864; Mr. R. Temple, 17th March 1864; Mr. J. S. Campbell
(officiating), 24th April 1865; Mr. R. Temple, 6th November 1867;
Mr. G. Campbell, 27th November 1867; Mr. J. H. Morris (officiating),
1 6th April 1868, confirmed 27th May 1870; Colonel R. H. Keatinge,
V.C., C.S.I, (officiating), 8th July 1870; Mr. J. H. Morris, C.ST.,
6th July 1872; Mr. C. Grant (officiating), nth April 1879; Mr. J. H.
Morris, 15th November 1879; Mr. W. B. Jones, C.S.I., 30th April
1883 ; and Mr. C. H. T. Crossthwaite (officiating), 1st April 1884.

Administration. — The administration is carried on by a Chief Com-
missioner, aided by a Secretary and a Junior Secretary, in direct sub-
ordination to the Government of India. The courts, civil and criminal,
are separately controlled by a chief judge, under the name of Judicial
Commissioner. The administrative staff consists of 4 Commissioners, 18
Deputy Commissioners, 13 Assistant Commissioners, ^ extra-Assistant


Commissioners, and 49 tahsild&rs or sub-Collectors, who are distributed
over 18 Districts, grouped into 4 Divisions. The police force, consist-
ing of 18 District Superintendents, 2 assistant District Superintendents,
38 inspectors, and 8037 petty officers and constables, is controlled by
an inspector-general ; but in its executive functions is subordinate to the
District authorities. Education, forest conservancy, and vaccination
have separate establishments, though they receive aid from the regular
civil staff. The medical staff is directly subordinate to the executive
authorities, though the heads of the Medical Department throughout
India exercise a general supervision. The Public Works Department
owns no subordination to any local authority but the Chief Commis-
sioner, to whom the provincial chief engineer is secretary in that branch
of the administration. In 1882-83, the imperial and provincial revenue
amounted to ,£1,227,000, of which ^669,421 was derived from land.
The income from local funds was ,£70,680. There are 61 muni-
cipalities, the total income of which during 1882-83 amounted to
^88,796, and their total expenditure to ;£i36,334- This, however,
includes a sum of ,£67,672 spent on waterworks, to meet the cost of
which, municipalities borrowed ^55>°°°- Together, they contained a
population of 697,271, and the incidence of municipal taxation averaged
2s. 6d. per head.

Education.— In 1883, there were altogether 1565 schools in the
Central Provinces, of which 1457 were devoted to primary education.
The scholars numbered 89,506, the average daily attendance being
67,397. Though 89 primary schools were devoted to girls, female
education progresses but slowly. The conception is in advance of the
people, and the difficulty of providing a suitable teaching staff forms a
practical obstacle.

Climate and Meteorology.— A hilly country, such as the Central Pro-
vinces, with a large surface of rock exposed, and having rapid drainage,
lying partly within the tropics at a considerable distance from the sea,
and separated from it on all sides by ranges of hills of great elevation,
would naturally have a hot and dry climate. The temperature is
to some extent modified by the general elevation of the country.
The south-west monsoon, which prevails from the end of June to the
beginning of September, usually brings with it an abundant rainfall,
and the wide tracts of forest, covering so large a portion of the area
of the Province, retards evaporation. But notwithstanding these
modifying influences, a climate still remains, of which a high tempera-
ture and a low degree of humidity are marked characteristics for nine
months in the year.

As regards temperature, in the hot months of April and May, Nag-
pur, which lies below the Satpuras in the Nagpur plain, exceeds both
Bengal and the Upper Provinces. In the rains, from June to September,



the temperature of Nagpur is nearly the same as that of Calcutta,
but is much lower than that of the Upper Provinces. In the cold
weather the temperatures of Nagpur and Calcutta again approach each
other, while that of the Northern Provinces remains much colder. The
Districts above the Satpuras have a temperature more nearly approaching
that of the North- Western Provinces, while the Satpura plateau Dis-
tricts have from their superior elevation a somewhat cooler climate.
As regards moisture of the atmosphere, in the spring and hot weather,
from February to May, Nagpur is far below both Bengal and the
Northern Provinces. In the rainy season, the moisture of Nagpur
exceeds that of Northern India, but is considerably below that of
Calcutta. After the rains have ceased, it again falls very rapidly to a
lower point than is obtained either in Calcutta or Northern India.
The mean annual rainfall of the Province is 45 inches, of which
41 inches fall in the monsoon season from June to October. This is
a much higher fall than occurs in the Upper Provinces; but owing
to the rapid drainage of the country, this heavy rainfall is fully required.
Any considerable diminution in the quantity occasions loss of the
crops and a scarcity of water in the hot weather. This does not often
happen, but in 1868 a mean deficiency of 15 inches was followed by
drought and famine in 1869. Th e arrival of the monsoon occurs with
great uniformity over the whole Province, usually before the 20th

^ The Central Provinces being within the tropics, the changes in the
direction of the wind, as the different seasons come round, are very
regular. The north-easterly wind sets in in October, and continues
steadily in this direction, or easterly, through November and the early
part of December ; in the latter part of that month it slackens, and
southerly winds are frequent ; the north-east wind, however, continues
the prevailing wind till the end of January or beginning of February.
In February and March the wind is variable, but southerly and south-
westerly winds are more frequent. In April, the prevailing wind is
north-west, and it continues from this direction until about the middle
of June, when the monsoon sets in, the general direction of which is
west and south-west. Westerly and north-westerly winds are the
strongest; the north-east and easterly winds are generally light. A
clear sky commonly accompanies the north-east and easterly winds,
and their comparative dryness is shown by the rapid decrease of the
relative humidity of the atmosphere in the month of November, when
these winds prevail with the greatest steadiness ; the wind from the
north-west is, however, the driest wind. South and south-westerly
winds bring clouds, and are commonly followed by electric disturbances
and showers. The currents of air that traverse Central India differ
considerably from those that prevail in the Ganges valley and Northern


India, particularly as regards the relative frequency of winds from the
south-east and east. In the Ganges valley and the North-Western
Provinces, south-east and easterly winds are frequent from March till
October. In this part of India, a south-easterly wind is rare at all
seasons ; north-easterly and easterly winds prevail in the cold weather,
but after February an easterly wind never blows except for a few
hours from some local atmospheric disturbance.

Chabramau.— Tahsil and town in Farukhabad District, North-
Western Provinces. — See Chhibramau.

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 38 of 56)