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of the deceased call on him to know why he is unhappy, that he has no reason to be so, as his family will be protected, &c. Every expedient is tried to get the crows to eat of the food; and, after waiting till night without success, a figure of a crow is formed by the priest, and if made to touch the offering, the party go home, but generally persuaded that the soul of their friend remains at large, and becomes a ghost or demon.
“ The community all implicitly believe in incantations, witchcraft, a modification of fatalism, and in the existence of ghosts and evil spirits. The male ghosts and evil spirits are termed keins, or joting ; and those of females handal.* Those of Brahmans, Mahomedans, and outcasts have different names; and the general term boot is applied to the whole. Their favourite haunts are large trees in lonely places, deserted buildings, and old wells. They are seen or heard making strange noises, especially at noon and midnight, and assume different shapes, often that of a deer, and suddenly becoming a very tall figure, or of a strange ox, or goat, mixing in the flock for a time and vanishing into air. † The evil spirits that possess them occasion madness and strange diseases; they haunt them in their sleep, destroy their families, and deprive them of every enjoyment. The incensed spirits are attempted to be appeased by ceremonies, and are cast out by a numerous set of impostors, who derive a handsome livelihood from their trade. One way of casting out devils is by the exorciser placing the person possessed with the evil spirit in front of an idol, seizing him by the lock of hair on his crown, and threatening him, or actually scourging him, till the demon says what offering or penance will satisfy ]
“ They have many holidays. Those of greatest interest are the Hooly, Dussera, Dewallee, and one in honour of their cattle. The holiday of the Hooly is said to be in celebration of the spring. The favourite dance is the tipree dance. Twenty, thirty, or more young men form a ring, each with a piece of seasoned wood, a foot in length, in his hand, which he strikes alternately with that of the person before and behind him, keeping time with it and his foot, while the circle moves round keeping time to a drum and shepherd's pipe of three or four sweet and plaintive notes.
* The Sept-Asira, Aija, or Jel doota, are seven water nymphs, who destroy or carry off handsome young men for their own enjoyment.
+ A ghost haunts an Indian fig-tree and well in a field near the Bungalow at Lony, and is occasionally seen in different shapes. It once carried a person, for presuming to bathe in the well, to the bottom, and drowned him, and has done other mischief; but if not disturbed, it is harmless. This ghost is ordinarily termed “ Peepree Bana," from the peepree-tree, near which it stays.
“During the moonlight throughout the year, in the fine weather, the Koombees are found sitting in the open air, and chanting songs in chorus, with the accompaniment of a drum and the chondkiu (a simple stringed instrument), and listening to stories.”—Transactions Bombay Literary Society.,
About fourteen years ago these people came under the dominion of the British. They are principally husbandmen, as their name imports.
The account from which the following extracts relative to this predatory race were taken, was written previous to the result of the Pindarie war about fourteen years ago. The description may be, however, considered equally applicable to them at the present day.
“ The name of Pindarie may be found in Indian history as early as the commencement of the last century; several bands of these freebooters followed the Maharatta armies in their early wars in Hindostan. They are divided into Durrahs, or tribes, commanded by Sirdars, or chiefs; people of every country, and of every religion, were indiscriminately enrolled in this heterogeneous community, and a horse and sword were deemed sufficient qualifications for admission. A common interest kept them united; the chiefs acquired wealth and renown in the Maharatta wars; they seized upon lands which they were afterwards tacitly permitted to retain, and transmitted, with their estates, the services of their adherents to their descendants.
“ In an association which is daily augmented by the admittance of strangers, it is natural to suppose that influence will not be confined to hereditary claims, and that men of superior genius and enterprise will ultimately rise to the chief command. This is accordingly found to have been
the case, and Seetoo, the most powerful of all the Pindarie leaders, was a few years ago a person of no consideration. It is only of late that these banditti have become really formidable, and they may now be looked upon as an independent power, which, if properly united under an able commander, would prove the most dangerous enemy that could arise to disturb the peace and prosperity of India.
“ The climate and the hardy habits of these plunderers render tents or baggage an unnecessary incumbrance; each person carries a few days' provisions for himself and for his horse, and they march for weeks together at the rate of thirty and forty miles a day, over roads and countries impassable for a regular army. They exhíbit a striking resemblance to the Cossacks, as well in their customs as in the activity of their movements. Their arms are the same, being a lance and a sword, which they use with admirable dexterity; their horses, like those of the Cossacks, are small, but extremely active: and they pillage, without distinction, friends as well as foes. They move in bodies seldom exceeding two or three thousand men, and hold a direct undeviating course until they reach their destination, when they at once divide into small parties, that they may with more facility plunder the country, and carry off a larger quantity of booty; destroying at the same time what they cannot remove. They are frequently guilty of the most inhuman barbarities, and their progress is generally marked by the smoking ruins of villages, the shrieks of women, and the groans of their mutilated husbands. At times they wallow in abundance, while at others they cannot procure the common necessaries of life; and their horses are trained to undergo tho same privations as their masters. Night, and the middle of the day, are dedicated to repose; and recent experience has shewn us that they may be surprised with effect at such hours. Fighting is not their object, they have seldom been known to resist the attack even of an inferior enemy; if pursued they make marches of extraordinary length, and if they should happen to be overtaken, they disperse, and re-assemble at an appointed rendezvous; or, if followed into their country, they immediately retire to their respective homes. Their wealth and their families are scattered over that mountainous tract of country which borders the
Nerbudda to the north. They find protection either in castles belonging to themselves, or from those powers with whom they are either openly or secretly connected. They can scarcely be said to present any point of attack, and the defeat or destruction of any particular chief, would only effect the ruin of an individual, without removing the evil of a system equally inveterate in its nature, and extensive in its influence.
The Pindaries may probably amount altogether to between thirty and forty thousand horses; but in a community so subject to constant fluctuations, it is impossible to form any accurate idea of their number, which must vary from day to day, according to the caprice of individuals and the condition of the adjoining countries. Throughout the greater part of the territories of the native powers in Central India, the husbandman is seldom permitted to reap the fruits of his labours; his fields are laid waste, his cottage reduced to ashes, and he has no alternative but that of joining the standard of some lawless chief. Thus the number of the Pindaries may be said to increase in the same ratio as the means of subsistence diminish; hunger goads them on to the work of destruction, and they rejoice in anticipation of the spoils of wealthy countries. Were they permitted to continue their merciless depredations without molestation, the peninsula of India would, in time, become a desert, and the few inhabitants that survived the general wreck, a band of savage and licentious robbers. The Pindaries are confined to a tract of waste land which has become the general rendezvous of every vagabond and outlaw, and whence they issue in desperate bands in search of the necessaries of life.
In 1814, they entered the province of Bahar, and threatened Bengal; and in the two following years invaded the British territories under Fort St. George. Passing with the rapidity of lightning through the country of the Nizam, they suddenly broke in upon the defenceless district of Guntoor, and in an instant spread themselves over the face of the country, every where committing the most shocking and wanton atrocities. In 1816 they returned with redoubled numbers, and extending themselves from the coast of the Concan to that of Orissa, threw the whole southern part of the peninsula into a state of alarm. They again passed without difficulty, and without opposition, through the dominions of our allies the Peishwah and the Nizam, carried fire and sword almost from one end to the other of the district of Ganjam, and returned home laden with the spoil and stained with the blood of our subjects.”—Origin of the Pindaries.
The result of these daring attacks on the British territories and those of our allies was the complete overthrow of these rapacious tribes; and, from our since extended control over central and western India, it may be hoped for ever. The people, however, are still the same, and the first native power in that part of India which might feel itself strong enough to defy us to the field, would not find the Pindarie slow in answering any signal of plunder that might be then displayed to him.
The country of the Goands (Goandwana) borders on that of the Bheels. Though not less savage these people appear to be somewhat less predatory than their neighbours. They are divided in various tribes, which, like others of the semi-barbarous races of Hindustan, can scarcely be considered as Hindus, as they eat every kind of flesh. “ They have many rude superstitions amongst them; and worship Banga, or Banca Deva, to whom they offer fowls, goats, fruit, rice, grain, spirits, and, in short, whatever the country affords. They distil a sort of spirituous liquor called handia, and are much addicted to intoxication. They are very expert in the chace, and kill game with bows and arrows: these also are their chief implements of war, in addition to the hatchet and sword. When they meditate any act of aggression, the chiefs of the villages, after fasting for a day, take in the evening two fowls, which they designate as their own and the op party. These are put into a hole near the idol, and left buried during the night. In the morning the fowls are taken from their sepulchre, and the fortune of the contest is foretold, according to the bird which has survived the night's inhumation. Should their own representative have perished, the hostile purpose is abandoned, or suspended.
“ All disputes amongst themselves are decided by the chiefs of the