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‘The Beautiful Tree-Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century’ by Dharampal – Chapter IX

In this series of articles, we are introducing the book ‘The Beautiful tree’ by Shri Dharampal, to readers old and new. Shri Dharampal was one of the leading intellectuals & writers of Independent Bharat, whose work was subsequently marginalised & suppressed by the left-leaning academic establishment. We are grateful to VoiceOfDharma.org for making this treasure trove of books/articles available for the common public.

Chapter IX

This brings us finally to an assessment of the content of the indigenous system of education. The long letter of the much-quoted A.D. Campbell, collector of Bellary, had been used a century earlier by London to establish that in Bharat reading and writing were acquired solely with a view to the transaction of business, that nothing whatever is learned except reading, and with the exception of the writing and a little arithmetic, the education of the great majority goes no farther.

The question of content is crucial. It is the evaluation of content that led to indigenous education being termed bad and hence to its dismissal; and, in Gandhiji’s phrase, to its uprooting. Yet it was not the mere reading and writing and a little arithmetic which was of any consequence in such a decision.

For, school education in contemporary England, except in the sphere of religious teaching, covered the same ground, and probably, much less thoroughly. As mentioned earlier, the average period of schooling in 1835 England was just about one year, and even in 1851, only two. Further, as stated by A.E. Dobbs, in some country schools, the writing was excluded for fear of evil consequences.

While the limitless British hunger for revenue so forcefully described by Campbell starved the Bharatiya system of the very resources which is required to survive, its cultural and religious content and structure provoked deliberate attempts aimed at its total extermination.

It was imperative to somehow uproot the Bharatiya indigenous system for the relatively undisturbed maintenance and continuance of British rule. It is the same imperative that decided Macaulay, Bentinck, etc., to deliberately neglect large-scale school education proposed by men like Adam till a viable system of Anglicised higher education had first been established in the country.

In 1813, this bold intention was publicly and powerfully expressed by William Wilberforce when he depicted Bharatiya as being deeply sunk, and by their religious superstitions fast bound, in the lowest depths of moral and social wretchedness.[90] T.B. Macaulay expressed similar views, merely using different imagery.

He commented that the totality of Bharatiya knowledge and scholarship did not even equal the contents of a single shelf of a good European library, and that all the historical information contained in books written in Sanskrit was less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgment used at preparatory schools in England.[91] To Macaulay, all Bharatiya knowledge, if not despicable, was at least absurd: absurd history, absurd metaphysics, absurd physics, absurd theology.

A little later, Karl Marx seems to have had similar impressions of Bharat despite his great study of British state papers and other extensive material relating to Bharat. Writing in the New York Daily Tribune on 25 June 1853, he shared the view of the perennial nature of Bharatiya misery, and approvingly quoted an ancient Bharatiya text which according to him placed the commencement of Bharatiya misery in an epoch even more remote than the Christian creation of the world.

According to him, Bharatiya life had always been undignified, stagnatory, vegetative, and passive, given to brutalizing worship of nature instead of man being the sovereign of nature as contemplated in contemporary European thought. And, thus Karl Marx concluded: Whatever may have been the crimes of England in Bharat, she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about what Marx so anxiously looked forward to Bharat’s westernization.

The complete denunciation and rejection of Bharatiya culture and civilization were, however, left to the powerful pen of James Mill. This he did in his monumental three-volume History of British Bharat, first published in 1817.

Thenceforth, Mill’s History became an essential reading and reference book for those entrusted with administering the British Bharatiya Empire. From the time of its publication till recently, History in fact provided the framework for the writing of most histories of Bharat. For this reason, the impact of his judgments on Bharat and its people should never be underestimated.

According to Mill, the same insincerity, mendacity, and perfidy; the same indifference to the feelings of others; the same prostitution and venality were the conspicuous characteristics of both the Hindoos and the Muslims. The Muslims, however, perfused, when possessed of wealth, and devoted to pleasure; the Hindoos almost always penurious and ascetic; and in truth, the Hindoo like the eunuch, excels in the qualities of a slave.

Furthermore, similar to the Chinese, the Hindoos were dissembling, treacherous, mendacious, to an excess that surpasses even the usual measure of uncultivated society. Both the Chinese and the Hindoos were disposed to excessive exaggeration with regard to everything relating to themselves. Both were cowardly and unfeeling. Both were in the highest degree conceited of themselves, and full of affected contempt for others. And, above all, both were in the physical sense, disgustingly unclean in their persons and houses.

Compared to the people of Bharat, according to Mill, the people of Europe even during the feudal ages, (and notwithstanding the vices of the Roman Church and the defects of the schoolmen), were superior in philosophy. Further, the Europeans were greatly superior, notwithstanding the defects of the feudal system, in the institutions of Government, and in-laws.

Even their poetry was beyond all comparison preferable to the poetry of the Hindoos. Mill felt that it was hardly necessary to assert that in the art of war the Hindoos have always been greatly inferior to the warlike nations of Europe.

The agriculture of the Europeans surpassed exceedingly that of the Hindoos, and in Bharat the roads were little better than paths, and the rivers without bridges; there was not one original treatise on medicine, considered as a science, and surgery was unknown among the Hindoos. Further still, compared with the slavish and dastardly spirit of the Hindoos, the Europeans were to be placed in an elevated rank with regard to manners and character, and their manliness and courage.

Where the Hindoos surpassed the Europeans was in delicate manufactures, particularly in spinning, weaving, and dyeing; in the fabrication of trinkets; and probably in the art of polishing and setting the precious stones; and more so in effeminate gentleness, and the winning arts of address.

However, in the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture the Hindoos in no way excelled Europeans. Further, the Hindoo loom, with all its appurtenances, is coarse and ill-fashioned, to a degree hardly less surprising than the fineness of the commodity which it is the instrument of producing.

The very dexterity in the use of their tools and implements became a point against the Bharatiya. For as James Mill proclaimed: A dexterity in the use of its own imperfect tools is a common attribute of rude society.

These reflections and judgments led to the obvious conclusion, and Mill wrote:

Our ancestors, however, though rough, were sincere; but under the glossing exterior of the Hindoo lies a general disposition to deceit and perfidy. In fine, it cannot be doubted that, upon the whole, the gothic nations, as soon as they became a settled people, exhibit the marks of a superior character and civilization to those of the Hindoos.[92]

As to James Mill, so also to Wilberforce, Macaulay, and Karl Marx and the thought and approaches they represented (for it is more as spokesmen of such thinking and approaches that they are important in the context of Bharat rather than as outstanding individuals), the manners, customs and civilization of Bharat were intrinsically barbarous.

And to each of them, Bharat could become civilized only by discarding its Bharatiyanness, and by adopting utility as the object of every pursuit[93]according to Mill; by embracing his peculiar brand of Christianity for Wilberforce; by becoming anglicized, according to Macaulay; and for Marx by becoming western.

Prior to them, for Henry Dundas, the man who governed Bharat from London for twenty long years, Bharatiya not only had to become subservient to British authority but also had to feel indebted to our beneficence and wisdom for advantages they are to receive; and, in like manner, feel solely indebted to our protection for the countenance and enjoyment of them[94]before they could even qualify for being considered as civilized.

Given such complete agreement on the nature of Bharatiya culture and institutions, it was inevitable that because of its crucial social and cultural role, Bharatiya education fared as it did. To speed up its demise, it not only had to be ridiculed and despised, but steps also had to be taken so that it was starved out of its resource base.

True, as far as the known record can tell, no direct dismantling or shutting up of each and every institution was resorted to, or any other more drastic physical measures taken to achieve this demise. Such steps were unnecessary; the reason being that the fiscal steps together with ridicule, performed the task far more effectively.

An official indication of what was to come was conveyed by London to the Madras Presidency when it acknowledged receipt of the information that a survey of indigenous education had been initiated there, much before the papers of the survey were actually sent to London. The London authorities expressed their appreciation of this initiative.

They also approved of the collectors having been cautioned against exciting any fears in the people that their freedom of choice in matters of education would be interfered with. However, this approval was followed by the observation: But it would be equally wrong to do anything to fortify them (i.e. the people of the Madras Presidency) in the absurd opinion that their own rude institutions of education are so perfect as not to admit of improvement.

The very expression of such a view in the most diplomatically and cautiously worded of official instructions was a clear signal. Operatively, it implied not only greater ridicule and denunciation of the Bharatiya system; but further, that any residual fiscal and state support still available to the educational institutions was no longer to be tolerated. Not surprisingly, the indigenous system was doomed to stagnate and die.

The neglect and deliberate uprooting of Bharatiya education, the measures which were employed to this end, and its replacement by an alien and rootless system whose products were so graphically described later by Ananda Coomaraswamy had several consequences for Bharat.

To begin with, it led to an obliteration of literacy and knowledge of such dimensions amongst the Bharatiya people that recent attempts at universal literacy and education have so far been unable to make an appreciable dent in it. Next, it destroyed the Bharatiya social balance in which, traditionally, persons from all sections of society appear to have been able to receive fairly competent schooling.

The pathshalas and madrassahs had enabled them to participate openly and appropriately and with dignity not only in the social and cultural life of their locality but, if they wished, ensured participation at the more extended levels.

It is this destruction along with similar damage in the economic sphere which led to great deterioration in the status and socio-economic conditions and personal dignity of those who are now known as the scheduled castes; and to only a slightly lesser extent to that of the vast peasant majority encompassed by the term backward castes. The recent movements embracing these sections, to a great extent, seem to be aimed at restoring this basic Bharatiya social balance.

And most importantly, till today it has kept most educated Bharatiya ignorant of the society they live in, the culture which sustains this society, and their fellow beings; and more tragically, yet, for over a century it has induced a lack of confidence, and loss of bearing amongst the people of Bharat in general.

What Bharat possessed in the sphere of education two centuries ago and the factors which led to its decay and replacement are indeed a part of history. Even if the former could be brought back to life, in the context of today, or of the immediate future, many aspects of it would no longer be apposite.

Yet what exists today has little relevance either. An understanding of what existed and of the processes which created the irrelevance Bharat is burdened with today, in time, could help generate what best suits Bharat’s requirements and the ethos of her people.


  1. See Annexures, especially A(i)-(xxx), C, and D(i), (iii)-(iv)h.
  2. A. E. Dobbs: Education and Social Movements 1700-1850, London, 1919, p.80, quoting Oxford Commission, 1852, Report, p.19.
  3. Ibid, p.83.
  4. Ibid, p.104, f.n.l. quoting 7 Henry IV, c.17.
  5. Ibid, p.105, quoting 34 & 35 Henry VIII, c.l. This statute dating to 1542-43 A.D., consisting of just one Article after a preamble read, …The Bible shall not be read in English in any church. No women or artificers, prentices, journeymen, serving men of the degree of yeomen or under, husbandmen, nor laborers, shall read the New Testament in English. Nothing shall be taught or maintained contrary to the King’s instructions. And if any spiritual person preaches, teach, or maintain anything contrary to the King’s instructions or determinations, made or to be made, and shall be thereof convicted, he shall for his first offense recant, for his second abjure and bear a fagot, and for his third shall be adjudged a heretic, and be burned and lose all his goods and chattels. The statute was entitled An Act for the Advancement of True Knowledge. This restriction, however, may have completely been lifted by the time the authorized version of the Bible (King James’s translation) was published in England in 1611.
  6. Ibid, p.104, f.n.3, quoting Strype, Cranmer, i.127
  7. Ibid, p.33, f.n.l.
  8. Ibid, p.139
  9. Ibid, p.139
  10. Ibid, p.140
  11. Ibid, p.158
  12. J.W. Adamson: A Short History of Education, Cambridge, 1919, p.243.
  13. Ibid, p.243
  14. See Annexure C: Alexander Walker, Note on Bharatiya Education; also Ibid, p.246
  15. House of Commons Papers, 1852-53, volume 79, p.718, for the number of schools and pupils in them in 1818 and 1851.
  16. Adamson: op.cit., 232
  17. Dobbs, op.cit., pp. 157-8 also f.n.1, p.158.
  18. Adamson: op.cit., p.266
  19. Ibid, p.226
  20. Ibid, p.226
  21. Writing to the second Earl Spencer on 21 August 1787 William Jones described a serpentine river which meets the Ganges opposite the celebrated University of Brahmans at Navadwipa, or Nuddea, as Rennel writes it. This is the third University of which I have been a member. The Letters of Sir William Jones, by G. Cannon. 2 volumes, 1970, p.754.
  22. The fourth British University, that of London was established in 1828.
  23. The above information is abstracted from The Historical Register of the University of Oxford 1220-1888, Oxford, 1888, mostly from pp.45-65.
  24. The foregoing four paragraphs are based on information supplied by the University of Oxford in November 1980 on request from the author.
  25. For instance according to her doctoral thesis presented in April 1980 at the Sorbonne, Paris, Gita Dharampal: Etude sur le role des missionaries europeens dans la formation premiers des idees sur lInde, an early eighteenth-century manuscript still has several copies extant. The manuscript is titled Traite de la Religion des Malabars, and its first copy was completed in 1709 by Tessier de Queraly, procurator of the Paris Foreign Mission in Pondicherry from 1699 to 1720, nominated Apostolic Vicar of Siam in 1727. Copies of this Ms. are to be found in the following archives: Paris (Bibliotheque Nationale 3 copies, Bibliotheque de LArsenal 1 copy, Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve 1 copy, Archives Nationales 1 copy); Chartres (Bibliotheque Municipale 1 copy, formerly belonging to Governor Benoit Dumas), London (Bharat Office Libr. 2 copies in Col Mackenzie’s and John Leyden’s collections respectively); Rome 1 copy (Biblioteca Casanatesa, containing Vatican collection). Published as La Religion Des Malabars, Immense, 1982.
  26. See the author’s Bharatiya Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century: Some Contemporary European Accounts. Other Bharat Press, 2000, for Prof John Playfair’s long article on Bharatiya astronomy, pp.48-93.
  27. Edinburgh University: Dc.177: letters from Adam Ferguson to John Macpherson, letter dated 9.4.1775.
  28. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Office: Melville Papers: GD 51/3/617/1-2, Prof A. Maconochie to Henry Dundas.
  29. Edinburgh: National Library of Scotland: Ms.546, Alex Abercomby forwarding a further memorandum from Prof Maconochie to Henry Dundas, March 1788. The memorandum was communicated to Lord Cornwallis by Henry Dundas on 7.4.1788.
  30. HANSARD: June 22, 1813; columns 832, 833.
  31. HANSARD: June 22 and July 1, 1813: Debate on Clause No.13 of the Bharat Charter Bill, titled in HANSARD as Propagation of Christianity in Bharat.
  32. Report on the state of Education in Bengal, 1835. p.6.
  33. House of Commons Papers, 1812-13, volume 7, evidence of Thomas Munro, p.127.
  34. House of Commons Papers, 1831-32, volume 9, p.468. Prendergast’s statement may be treated with some caution as it was made in the context of his stand that any expenditure on the opening of any schools by the British was undesirable. As a general impression of a senior British official, however, corroborated by similar observations relating to other parts of Bharat, its validity appears beyond doubt.
  35. See, for instance, the discussion on relative Bharatiya and British agricultural wages in the Edinburgh Review, volume 4, July 1804.
  36. Philip Hartog, Ibid, p.74.
  37. This, however, may have resulted more from a relatively easier  climate than from any physical and institutional arrangements.
  38. That is those belonging to the Brahman, Kshetriya, and Vaisya varnas, but excluding the Soodras and castes outside the four varna divisions.
  39. It may fairly be assumed that the term other castes used in the Madras Presidency survey in the main included those who today are categorized amongst the scheduled castes, and many of whom were better known as Panchamas some 70-80 years ago.
  40. Annexure A (viii)
  41. Given at Annexures B and C. Further, in the Public Despatch to Bengal from London dated 3 June 1814, it was observed: The mode of instruction that from time immemorial has been practiced under these masters has received the highest tributes of praise by its adoption in this country, under the direction of the Reverend Dr. Bell, formerly chaplain at Madras; and it has now become the mode by which education is conducted in our national establishments, from a conviction of the facility it affords in the acquisition of language by simplifying the process of instruction.
  42. Annexure A (xxii)
  43. Annexure A (xxiii)
  44. These surveys began to be made from 1812 onwards, and their main purpose was to find out what number of such medical men were in receipt of assignments of revenue. Some details of the castes of these practitioners may be found in Madras Board of Revenue Proceedings of 17 September 1821, and of 9 March 1837, and other proceedings referred to therein.
  45. Annexure A (xx) a.
  46. Annexure A (xi).
  47. Annexure A (x)
  48. Annexure A (xxvii).
  49. This observation of the Collector of Guntoor is corroborated by W. Adam wherein he mentions that at Nadia many scholars came from remote parts of Bharat especially from the South (W. Adam, p.78, 1941 edition)
  50. Annexure A (xix)
  51. Annexure A (xxiii)
  52. It may be mentioned that Persian schools (in all about 145 in the Presidency) were predominantly attended by Muslims, and only a few Hindoos seem to have attended them (North Arcot: Hindoos 2, Muslims 396). However, quite a number of Muslim girls were reported to be attending these schools.
  53. Annexure A (xx)
  54. Annexure A (xxviii)
  55. As in many other instances, it was unthinkable for the British that Bharat could have had a proportionately larger number receiving an education than those in England itself. Such views and judgments in fact were applied to every sphere and even the rights of the Bharatiya peasantry were tailored accordingly. On the rights of the cultivator of land in Bharat, the Fifth Report of the House of Commons stated: It was accordingly decided, that the occupants of land in Bharat could establish no more right, in respect to the soil, than tenantry upon an estate in England can establish a right to the land, by hereditary residence: and the meerassee of a village was therefore defined to be, a preference of cultivation derived from hereditary residence, but subject to the right of government as the superior lord of the soil, in what way it chooses, for the cultivation of its own lands. (House of Commons Papers, 1812, Volume VII, p.105)
  56. Annexures A (xx) and (xiv)
  57. While the caste-wise break up of the Madras Presidency school and college scholars has hitherto not been published, the separate figures for Hindoos and Muslims and those respectively divided into males and females were published as early as 1832 in the House of Commons Papers. Since then, it may be presumed that this data regarding the number of girls and boys in Malabar schools has been seen by a large number of scholars studying the question of education in Bharat in the early nineteenth century. Curiously, however, there does not seem to be even a passing reference to this Malabar data in any of the published works. It seems to have been overlooked by Sir Philip Hartog also.
  58. Adam’s Reports were first published in 1835, 1836, and 1838. The three, together with some omissions, and a 60-page rather depressing and patronizing introduction were published by Rev. J. Long from Calcutta in 1868. Still another edition of the whole (reintroducing the omissions made by Long and including Long’s own introduction) with a further new 42-page introduction by Anathnath Basu was published by the University of Calcutta, in 1941. It is this last edition that is used in the present work. The reports, while never sufficiently analyzed, have often been quoted in most works on the history of education in Bharat.
  59. W. Adam: Ibid, pp.6-7. Incidentally, the observation that every village had a school was nothing peculiar to Adam. As mentioned earlier, many others before him had made similar observations, including Thomas Munro in his evidence to a House of Commons committee. Munro had then observed that if civilization is to become an article of trade between England and Bharat, the former will gain by the import cargo. As symptomatic of this high state of Bharatiya civilization, he also referred to schools established in every village for teaching, reading, writing, and arithmetic. When Thomas Munro made this statement he already had had 30 years of intensive Bharatiya experience. (House of Commons Papers: 1812-13, Vol .7, p.131).
  60. See Bharatiya Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century: some contemporary European accounts, pp.143-63, for an account of this old method.
  61. This, as may be noticed, was quite a at variance with the Madras Presidency districts where Persian was not only studied little, but the students of it were mainly Muslims. Interestingly, Adam mentions (p.149) that amongst the Muslims when a child…is four years, four months, and four days old, he, or she is on that day usually admitted to the school.
  62. History of Indigenous Education in the Panjab since Annexation and in 1882 (Published 1883, Reprinted, Patiala, 1973).
  63. The idea of their being divinely ordained was really a much older English assumption. In A Brief Description of New York Formerly called New-Netherlands, published in 1670, referring to the indigenous people in that part of North America, Daniel Denton observes: It is to be admired, how strangely they have decreased by the Hand of God, since the English first settling of those parts; for since my time, where there were six towns, they are reduced to two small villages, and it hath been generally observed, that where the English come to settle, a Divine Hand makes way for them, by removing or cutting off the Bharatiya either by wars one with the other, or by some raging mortal Disease. (Reprint 1902 p.45)
  64. See letter of Dr. H. Scott to Sir Joseph Banks, President, Royal Society, London, dated 7.1.1790 in Bharatiya Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century, p.265.
  65. First published in New York Daily Tribune, August 8, 1853; also recently quoted by Iu.I. Semenov Socio-economic Formations and World History, in Soviet and Western Anthropology, edited by Ernest Gellner, 1980.
  66. Current Anthropology, Volume 7, No. 4, October 1966, pp.395-449, Estimating Aboriginal American Population, by Henry F. Dobyns.
  67. Writing as early as 1804, William Bentinck, the young Governor of the Madras Presidency, wrote to the President of the Board of Control, Lord Castlereagh, that we have rode the country too hard, and the consequence is that it is in the most lamentable poverty. (Nottingham University: Bentinck Papers: Pw Jb 722). In 1857-58 a military officer wrote to Governor-General Canning, it may be truly said that the revenue of Bharat has hitherto been levied at the point of the bayonet and considered this to be the major cause of the Mutiny. (Leeds: Canning Papers: Military Secretary’s Papers: Misc. No.289).
  68. International Affairs, London, November 1931, pp.721-739; also Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol.48, pp.193-206.
  69. See origins of the School of Oriental Studies, London Institution, by P.J. Hartog, C.I.E., M.A., 1917.
  70. A graphic image of the more privileged products of this British-initiated education was given by Ananda K Coomaraswamy as early as 1908. Coomaraswamy then wrote: Speak to the ordinary graduate of an Bharatiya University, or a student from Ceylon, of the ideals of the Mahabharata he will hasten to display his knowledge of Shakespeare; talk to him of religious philosophy you find that he is an atheist of the crude type common in Europe a generation ago, and that not only has he no religion, but is as lacking in philosophy as the average Englishman; talk to him of Bharatiya music he will produce a gramophone or a harmonium and inflict upon you one or both; talk to him of Bharatiya dress or jewelry he will tell you that they are uncivilized and barbaric; talk to him of Bharatiya art it is news to him that such a thing exists; ask him to translate for you a letter written in his own mother-tongue he does not know it. He is indeed a stranger in his own land. (Modern Review, Calcutta, vol 4, Oct. 1908 p.338).
  71. January 1932, pp.151-82.
  72. Also in House of Commons Papers: 1831-32, vol. 9, p.468.
  73. Clarendon Press, 1917, p.394.
  74. In Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1917, pp.815-25.
  75. Philip Hartog’s lectures were announced in the London Times, (March 1,4,6,1935) and two of them reported in it on March 2 and 5. On 2 March the Times reported that Sir Philip Hartog, submitted that under successive Governor Generals, from Warren Hastings to Lord Chelmsford, an educational policy was evolved as part of a general policy to govern Bharat in the interest of Bharat, and to develop her intellectual resources to the utmost for her own benefit. It is interesting, however, to note that the Times, while it gave fairly constant though brief notices to Gandhiji’s 1931 visit to England, and some of the public meetings he addressed and the celebration of his birthday, the meeting at Chatham House did not reach its pages. It was not only not reported the next day, October 21, 1931, but was also not announced along with various other notices of various other meetings, etc., on the morning of October 20. Possibly it was a convention not to report any meetings at Chatham House in newspapers.
  76. The Book of Lectures was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement under the caption Mr. Gandhi Refuted. Complimenting Hartog, the review stated: There are many deserved criticisms of past British administrators in this particular field, but other charges dissolve into thin air when exposed to the searching analysis Sir Philip Hartog has applied to a statement of Mr. Gandhi…Sir Philip took up the challenge at once…he shows how facts were distorted to fit an educational theory.
  77. The text of Hartog-Gandhi correspondence is given at Annexures F (i)-(xxv).
  78. The available material on the survey of indigenous education in the Presidency of Bombay has been brought out in a valuable book Survey of Indigenous Education in the Province of Bombay 1820-30 by R.V. Parulekar in 1951. This survey, however, appears to have covered only certain parts of the Bombay Presidency.
  79. Judging from their products, in a certain sense, this may apply even more to the writings on Bharat by most non-Bharatiya. Their writings on various aspects of Bharatiya society and polity will obviously be influenced, if not wholly conditioned, by their respective cultural and educational ethos. Even when some of the Alexander Walker in the early 19th century and Prof. Burton Stein today appear to understand Bharat better, it is not really for them to map out how Bharatiya should end up perceiving themselves or their own society. Such a task can legitimately only be undertaken by Bharat itself.
  80. Public Despatch to Bengal, 3 June 1814: We refer with particular satisfaction upon this occasion to that distinguished feature of internal polity which prevails in some parts of Bharat, and by which the instruction of the people is provided for by a certain charge upon the produce of the soil, and other endowments in favor of the village teachers, who are thereby rendered public servants of the community.
  81. The revenue records of all areas, especially of the years 1770-90 for the Bengal Presidency, and of 1801-20 for the Madras Presidency provide very extensive information regarding such assignments. The information regarding assignments for the purpose of carrying Ganga water to religious shrines is taken from Mafee Register for 1847 for the district of Hamirpur and Kalpi in the Uttar Pradesh State Archives at Allahabad.
  82. I.O.R. Factory Records: G/27/1, Supervisor Houghly to Murshedabad Council, 10.10.1770, p.88.
  83. In a note dated circa 1830.
  84. The total number of maths and temples in Tanjore at about this time was around 4,000.
  85. I.O.R. Factory Records: G/6/4. Proceedings of Burdwan Council on Beerbhoom, 24.5.1775.
  86. The problem of peasants deserting sirkar lands (i.e. lands paying revenue to government) because of the exorbitant rate of government assessment even in the 1820s was of such frequency that it was deliberated upon by Thomas Munro as Governor of Madras in November 1822. At that time Munro observed that it would be most satisfactory if the sirkar ryots were induced to give a voluntary preference to the sirkar land and felt that the rest of the village community paying revenue to the government should not allow a ryot to throw up sirkar land liable to adjustment merely that he may occupy Enam land which is liable to none. But if such inducement did not work Munro was of the view, that if necessary, measures for the protection of the rights of government may be directed more immediately to the Enamdars, either by taking their Enams or by resuming them. (Tamil Nadu state Archives: Board of Revenue Proceedings: volume 930, Proceedings 7.11.1822, pp.10292-96).
  87. For fairly detailed information on Malabar, see the voluminous Report of Commissioner Graeme, 16.7.1822 in TNSA: Revenue Consultations, especially volume 277A.
  88. Annexure A (xxi), Philip Hartog, who made much play of this reply, as mentioned earlier, used it to throw doubt on the educational data from the other districts. It is possible that because of his contrary concerns, he was not able to comprehend this report fully.
  89. Bellary was part of the Ceded Districts and was administered from 1800-7 by Thomas Munro. As mentioned earlier, it was here that Munro seemed outraged by the fact that 35% of the total cultivated land was still being assigned for various local purposes, and expressed his determination to reduce it to as low as 5% of the total revenue of the Ceded Districts. Munro at that time also advocated the imposition of an income-tax of about 15% on all those (revenue assignees, as well as merchants, artisans, labourers and the rest) who did not pay land revenue. The Madras Government accepted his recommendation and this tax, under various names, (Veesa buddy, Mohtarpha, etc.) was imposed not only in the Ceded Districts but also in many other districts of the Madras Presidency. It is this background of exhorbitant taxation and the cutting down of all expenses, even on the repair of irrigation sources that largely led to the conversion of Bellary and Cuddapah into the latter day arid and impoverished areas. Quite naturally, then, the educational returns from Bellary were low.
  90. Hansard: June 22, 1813.
  91. Minute on Bharatiya Education: March 1835.
  92. J.S. Mill, History of British Bharat 1817, vol. I, pp.344, 351-2, 466-7, 472, 646.
  93. Ibid, p.428.
  94. Revenue Despatch to Madras: 11.2.1801.

(Note: Minor edits have been made to the content to conform with HinduPost styleguide)

(Click here to read the previous article in the series)


Book: The Beautiful Tree

Author: Dharamapal

Originally published: 1983

Published by: Voice of India

Available on: Amazon, PDF

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