It is a fascinating, meticulously documented study unveiling, for the first time, the composition, traditions and predilections of the nobility in 18th century Marwar. Its bearings on polity and state craft, economic paradigms and Jagirdari system have been knit together to give a balanced and lucid account of this uncharted field.
Epitomizing a lifetime of Dr. Saxena’s research on Marwar history, the book vividly captures all different articulations of political, social and economic import from a whole body of archival and non-archival sources of an institution which could only be placed next to the ruler in the hierarchy of ruling classes at different capitals of Marwar.
Dr. R.K. Saxena retired as Asso. Professor of History from M.L.S. University, Udaipur. Other works of the author: Maratha Relations with the major states of Rajputana (1761-1818); Social Reforms: Infanticide and sati (A study of 8th century Rajasthan) (2nd edition); Amir Timur ki Atmakatha (Ed.) Tr. From Persian Into Hindi); Education and Social Amelioration of Women; Madhya Kahn Bharat; Madhya Kahn Itihas Ki Sansthayan; Tawarikh Qila Ranthamboare (Ed.) Yr. From Persian into Hindi; Sultanat Kalin Shasan Pranali (2’ Ed.); Mughal Kalin Shasan Pranali (4th Ed); Delhi Sultanat; Sultant Kalin Itihaskar va Itihas Lekhan; Mughal Kahn Ithihaskar va Itihas Lekhan (Co Author- Dr. 1..P.Mathur); The Army of the Rajputs (A study of 18th century;) Patna Bahi of Maharana Raj Singh 1713 VS.: The Assigment of Pattas (1656- 1800): Rajput Nobility (A Study of 18th century Rajputana); Madhya kalin Itihas ke Arthik Pehalu; Mewar Ki Patta Bahi; Peasant and the State (A Study of I 8tb century Rajputana). Four chapters on the Army of the Sultans, Mughals and Rajputs published in the project of Ministry of Human Resources in ‘The History of Science, Philosophy and Culture, Vol.X, Rajasthan ki Jagir Pratha; Karkhanas of the Mughal Zamindars, Apparatus of the Rathors, Vol.1 (A study of Marwar from 1707-1 800)Apparatus of Rathors Vol.1 (A study of Marwar from 1803-1 843)Adozen published re-search papers; Rathor Polity.
Political history formed the core of Rajasthan studies till the seventies of the last century when new dimensions were introduced by picking up the study of institutions, polity, peasant etc. -- all forming a group of uncharted field. Nobility-- the theme of the present undertaking- forms a veritable part of it.
The rulers, with all their grandiose pretentions, formed only a part --a formidable one-- of the entire machinery of administration. But it was not the where-with-all of it. The other part carried nobles (pattayats or sardars) or bureaucrats who were, if not equally, none the less essentially formed the core of the administrative machinery. Even the most despotic rulers, felt, and felt rightly, of a train of officers, nobles who formed a major part of it, for giving a shape to it. It is here that one feels the importance of the study of this class encompassing its composition, predilictions, traditions and a host of other things which are comparable with the ruler in terms of their profile and policies.
The canvas of study covers almost a century, generally, termed as a century of cultural failure equally applicable to the times and Rathors were no exception to it. Again one has to see if Rathors failed to respond to European challenges in terms of technology and if it had any impact on the nobles and the state. One thing is apparent that Rathors like French Bourbons neither learnt nor forgot anything. The result was largely written on the wall -- the bear-embrace of the East India Company.
This pathetic end of Rathor state could not be subscribed to make shift causes which are, generally, attached to such a crisis. An attempt will be made to study the entire fabric of state polity in which the nobles with their wooden inefficiencies had a decisive role. As such, it becomes obvious to study the nature and role of the nobility vis-a-vis the state. It would encompass not only the structural form of it but the institution of nobility in toto thereby having an impact on the entire edifice of the state.
The word pattayat or sardar has been invariably used to denote that segment of the society which carried assignments of Jagirs on any score excepting the grants. This was constituted of a group of individuals who formed part of the bureaucracy and were entrenched into the body- politic of the state. The English equivalent of ‘Noble’ seems to be an appropriate word reflecting all its ingredients.
Categorisation of nobles has been, classically, made under two broad headings- Bhaibund and Ganayats. The former comprised of those who were the progeny of Rinmal and Jodha. The latter were Rajputs other than Rathors who enjoyed the right of having matrimonial relations with the ruling house of Jodhpur.
It was further subjected to sub-classification on the basis of rank and seat in the Jodhpur durbar (court) on the score of tazim (honour) and kurab forming four categories. The last category (fifth) carried those who did not enjoy either of the privileges.
This classification, based on privileges, covered a very microscopic minority of the nobles which falls short of our parameters.
As such, we have, tentatively, attempted their placements on the score of jagirs (Rekh) which offers a reliable index of the size and composition of nobility for in its absence we fail to find any viable alternative which can be safely relied upon. For this purpose, we have accounted for every pattayar having a Jagir of rekh Rs. 1001 and above as to bring out a more comprehensive and distinct picture of this institution as a whole.
This assumption can be argued both ways for there were pattayats who were honoured without any rekh or very meagre one while there were others carrying a sizeable chunk but still carried no honours, distinctions etc.
The nature and composition of Marwar nobility has been attempted by a few distinguished scholars as a subsidiary to their thematic studies. But in the absence of putting archival records to its maximum advantage, it makes reading a poor one. It is imperative to find the pace of assignments under different rulers or the changes that were witnessed during subsequent rulers. It would be in the fitness of things if one can co-relate these fluctuations in the promotion or demotion of pattayats. One will have to examine if any reflections be traced in the political development from the ebb and flow of these assignments. Lastly the placing of clans and groups will have to be sorted out to give a wholesome picture of clan-dominance. When statistical presentation is carved out of it, it will present an altogether different picture, still unattempted. This statistical presentation has its own shortcomings and various qualifications are to be laid down when this is reduced for purposes of comparison. The one advantage that can be safely reaped out of it is that it can act as a deterrent on generalisations and lead to some further avenues of enquiry.
The Rathor nobility worked within the frame-work of patta dari system. This was an institution which was taken from the Mughal mansabdari system but still it differed in its contents partly because of the geo-political conditions, the snuggling of the Rathor state under the canopy of Mughal umbrella and their position as Mughal zamindars. Apart from it, it lacked the base issue of rank orientation of the Mughals wherein zat and sawar ranks with schedules for payment of each category has been amply provided. Here only in a very few cases this bifurcation of rekh between tan and tabindar has been attempted. It has been given in a consolidated form along with chakri obligations, if any.
Pattayats drew their salary or talab, generally, through Jagir assignments where they were entitled to collect rekh alone according to prevalent schedules unless otherwise provided for other taxes. Rekh was arbitrarily fixed as the Jagirs assigned to rulers were against Jama of the Mughal times. This Jama which was not revised right after Akbar had its own implications. The Rathor rulers reaping advantage out of it resorted to fresh assessment, called rekh, which favoured to augment their revenues and the consequent enhanced chakri obligations of the pattayats.
This created a host of problems more than it solved. There was a marked difference between rekh and hash (actual realisation of revenue) the latter almost a per cent of the former. This led to implications in terms of monthly schedules too.
The difficulties that Jagirdars faced in collecting revenue and running the administration needs a close study. One has also to examine the extent to which the raj succeeded in applying brakes on the Jagirdars.
Again the existence of Bhumias (Zamindars), whether as sub- chiefs or holders of superior rights was an equally decisive factor in the political frame-work of the times. The relations of the raj vis-a-vis this class were often at cross section which requires a thorough investigation. This class in collaboration with Jagirdars became recalcitrant whenever the man at the helm appeared to be a weakling. They not only conspired against the raj but even gainst each other whenever they smelt an unwanted rise of their co-sharer. This gave rise to intrigues and disputes of various intensities.
The period covered under study marks nearly a century which saw six rulers. It cannot be comprehended that an identical approach towards the nobles would serve as the golden rule for the parameters differed from one ruler to the other vis a vis the attitudes and approach of the nobles.
Nobility was not only Rathor-oriented but as a corollary stuffed with clan bearings too. An attempt would be made as to how clan orientation, naturally delivering clan rivalry, was effective in the doing and undoing of the policies adopted by the raj. It will be seen how the rulers were guided by the safety of the raj and their person intact by favouring one clan against the other with all the repercussions that accompanied it. This will be studied against the back-ground of the decline of Mughal paramountcy and the meddling approach of the Marathas and Pathans.
Lastly, one has to view the life-style of the nobles and their role in administration, their contribution in the economic uplift of their estates in particular and the raj in general. It is to be viewed as to how far they contributed towards toning up the administration by rising above clannish rivalries and secondly if they accelerated the economy by making capital investments or simply flauntered their resources recklessly. Again we will attempt to scrutinise their role in charity and welfare activities for the betterment of the ruled and how far they could help in giving the society healthier outlook.
Luckily, there is, practically, no dearth of source material preserved at Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner, and its district repository at Jodhpur. Patta bahis for the period abound at both the centres right from 1764-1858 V.S. giving a complete and comprehensive picture of the entire assignments. There is apparently a gap right from 1805 to 1812 V.5 for the records of the period were destroyed by Ram Singh. This gap has been plugged by Khampvar bahis, Mutaffarik bahis and Patta ri Khata bahis which record assignments right from 1808 to the end of our period of study. Here the references to transfers of Jagirs are so numerous that an attempt to list such references would extend to unmanageable proportions and still be incomplete. Again the Patta bahis, virtually, do not provide the demise of the nobles or the transfer of jagirs which makes the undertaking doubly difficult. One has to resort to five different headings of the bahis to get a full view of a noble for his doings and undoing’s.
These bahis have been supported by Ohada bahis and Oodiyat ri bahi which enumerates the placings of the bureaucrats, forming a part of nobility, in all details. The honours, distinctions and titles have been dealt in Haquiquat Khata bahis and sometimes in Haquiquat bahis too. The latter primarily gives a detailed account of siropaos granted to nobles. Again in Sanad and Khas Rukka bahis the duties, privileges, honours and the status of nobles has been provided which supplement our information of Haquiqat bahis. This has again been supplemented by Byab ri bahis giving information about the duties of a few important officers. Khas Parwana Rukka bahis, as the name suggests, give the Khas Rukkas addressed to the nobles on a number of scores while Arzi bahis provide the Arzis submitted by the nobles for favours.
Apart from these archival records, non-archival records comprising of Khyats, Vats etc. are available in good number at Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner, Rajasthan Sodh Sansthan, Choupasani and Oriental Research Institute Jodhpur, mainly comprising of Khyats.
Khyat-writing was common practice at all levels so much so that even some populous villages had khyat e.g. khyat Chandawas, khyat gram Soorpura, Khyat Bhakri etc. Thikanas invariably opted for it e.g. Mundiar thikana ri khyat which carries information on a number of scores. Not only this but the khyats of the rulers also abound in plenty. Maharaja Ajit Singhji ri khyat, Maharaja Bijay Singh ri khyat etc. Clan-wise khyats, generally of all the sub-clans of Rathors are available e.g. Champawaton ri khyat, Kumpawat Maheshdas Kantoliya ri khyat, Jaitawaton ri khyat etc. Among general khyats Marwar ri khyat, Ratharon ri khyat are worth mentioning. Again there are a number of Tawarikhs e.g. Pokran ri tawarikh, tawarikh Takhatpura etc.
This literature provides us information about various aspects of nobility. Apart from their political activities they give us crucial information about their charity and welfare activities, nature of pattas etc. which are not available elsewhere. They were mostly compiled during the latter half of the nineteenth century and as such they are to be used cautiously simply for the reason that the authors were always snuggling under the canopy of their benefactors. We can be nearer truth if they corroborate the information contained in the archival records but even then without it, we cannot downsize their importance.
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