Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

several reagistrate, the potail, oms of India. "the

ing to the same Titanic race. Saca-dwipa, the country of the Saca, has been placed near the fountains of the Oxus, in Bokhara ; but it perhaps denotes Sacastiana. Waving these geographical and etymological inquiries, the most curious and interesting subject of investigation that presents itself in connexion with these ancient annals, is the original seat and fountain, not of this race or that nation, but of the Rajpoot feudalism on the one hand, and of the Brahminical hierocracy on the other; both of them foreign from the primitive democracy of Hindoo society, which is still found existing among the Mahrattas. The interior constitution and condition of each township in the Mahratta countries, has, amid all the fluctuations of territorial boundaries and the transfers of political power, remained unchanged. And such, Colonel Wilks affirms to have been the primitive com'ponent parts of all the kingdoms of India. Each village is a little republic, with the potail, or mokuddum, at its head, who is at once magistrate, collector, and head farmer; answering, in several respects, to the Syrian sheikh. This system goes back as far, at least, as the age of Menu. India is a mass of such republics; and while the village remains entire under its potail, the passive natives give themselves little concern about the breaking up and division of kingdoms. Although Brahminism has been grafted upon this primitive social constitution, it appears to be not only quite distinct from it, but to have originated in a totally different state of society ; and its first seat in India, was, according to tradition, Cashmeer, where a dialect is spoken which comes nearest to the sacred language. The Brahminical faith has also been received by the martial Rajpoot tribes ; but their priests are the Charuns and Bhats (Bards), who, to the direction of their superstitious devotions, add the office of chroniclers of their fame. The Celtic Druidism and the Scandinavian feudalism exhibit the same marked opposition. But we must resist the temptation to pursue these seductive analogies. In the midst of Rajpootana, there is found a race distinct from the feudal tribes who have established their ascendancy in that region, and whom Col. Tod supposes to be the Getæ of European history ; ascribing to them a patriarchal simplicity of polity and a tenacious attachment to liberty. They are known under the names of Jits, Juts, or Jauts, and far surpassed in numbers, three centuries ago, any other tribe or race in India. It is a fact,' our Author adds,

that they now constitute a vast majority of the peasantry of ' western Rajwarra' (Rajpootana), "and perhaps of northern In

dia. The present Seik Rajah is a Jit; and the bulk of the population of the Punjaub, both proselytes to Islam, and followers of Nanuk, are also of this tribe.

• At what period these Jits established themselves in the Indian desert, we are entirely ignorant; but even at the time of the Rahtore invasion of these communities, their habits confirmed the tradition of their Scythic origin. They led chiefly a pastoral life, were guided, but not governed by the elders, and, with the exception of adoration to the universal mother (Bhavani), incarnate in the person of a youthful Jitni, they were utter aliens to the Hindu theocracy. In fact, the doctrines of the great Islamite saint, Sheikh Fureed, appear to have overturned the Pagan rites brought from the Jaxartes; and without any settled ideas on religion, the sits of the desert jumbled all their tenets together. The period of Rahtore domination over these patriarchal communities, was intermediate between Timoor's and Baber's invasion of India. The former, who was the founder of the Chagitai dynasty, boasts of the myriads of Jit souls he “ consigned to perdition," on the desert plains of India, as well as in Transoxiana: so we may conclude that successive migrations of this people from that “great store-house of nations” went to the lands east of the Indies. The extent of their possessions justifies this conclusion; for nearly the whole of the territory forming the boundaries of Bikaner was possessed by the six Jit cantons.'

p. 181. We must confess, however, that stronger evidence is requisite, than we find in these pages, to establish the identity of the Jauts of Moultan and Agra, with the Jits or Getes of Bikaneer, and again, the identity of the latter with the Yuti, alias “the Scythic "Yadu.' This is a labyrinth into which we dare not venture without a safer clew. One fact, incidentally mentioned, strikes us as important, not only as denoting a diversity of national origin, but as throwing some light upon the probable origin of the distinction made by Mohammedan writers between Hind and Sind*.

The natives of these regions' (bordering on the Garah) 'cannot pronounce the sibilant; so that the s is converted into h. As an example, the name Jahilmér becomes “the hill of fools," instead of “the hill of Jasil.” Sankra, in like manner, becomes Hankra.'-p. 187, note.

The Balooch tribes, who give name to Baloochistan, are supposed by Col. Tod to be of the Jit or Gete race; and he expresses his conviction, that the Afghans or Patans are descended from the Yadu or Jadoo race, the progenitors also of the Bhatti rajpoots of Jessulmeer. The word Yadu, converted into Yahudi, Jew, or confounded with it, may have given rise, he thinks, to the supposition, that the Afghans are of Jewish descent. “Whe

ther these Yadus are, or are not, Yuti, or Getes, remains to be proved.' In another place (p. 231), our Author seems disposed to make them the ancestors of the Jagatai Toorks. But these conjectures are supported by no historical or philological evidence;

* May not Sheba and Seba have been distinguished by a similar shibboleth ?

and furnish only hints for further investigation. It is but justice to the Author, to remark, that he offers his work only as a collection of materials for the future historian. We must now turn to what will be deemed the most entertaining portion of the volume; the Personal Narrative.

In January 1820, circumstances rendered it expedient that the Author should visit the principalities of Boondi and Kotah, which were placed under his political superintendence. These two principalities, named from their chief towns, comprise the region properly called Haravati (corrupted into Harowtee), or the country of the Hara rajpoots. The Chumbul, which intersects this territory, forms the mutual boundary. On the 29th of January, the Author broke up his head-quarters at Oodipoor, and traversing Mewar, reached, on the 13th of February, the Pathar or plateau of Central India, which forms the grand natural rampart of Mewar on the east.

As we approached it, the level line of its crest, so distinct from the pinnacled Aravulli, at once proclaimed it to be a table-land or rock of the secondary formation. Although its elevation is not above 400 feet from its western base, the transition is remarkable; and it presents from the summit one of the most diversified scenes, whether in a moral, political, or picturesque point of view, that I ever beheld. From this spot, the mind's eye embraces at once all the grand theatres of the history of Mewar. Upon our right lies Cheetore, the palladium of Hindooism; on the west, the gigantic Aravulli, enclosing the new capital, and the shelter of her heroes; here, at our feet, or within view, all the alienated lands now under the barbarian " Toork” or Mahratta, as Jawud, Jeerun, Neemuch, Neembaira, Kheyri, Ruttengurh. What associations, what aspirations, does this scene conjure up to one who feels as a Rajpoot for this fair land! The rich fat we have passed over,-a space of nearly seventy English miles from one table range to the other,-appears as a deep basin fertilized by numerous streams, fed by huge reservoirs in the mountains, and studded with towns, which once were populous, but are for the most part now in ruins, though the germ of incipient prosperity is just appearing. From this height, I condensed all my speculative ideas on a very favourite subject, the formation of a canal to unite the ancient and modern capitals of Méwar, by which her soil might be made to return a tenfold harvest, and famine be shut out for ever from her gates. My eye embraced the whole line of the Bairis, from its outlet at the Oodiságur, to its passage within a mile of Cheetore; and the benefit likely to accrue from such a work appeared incalculable. What new ideas would be opened to the Rajpoot, on seeing the trains of oxen which now creep slowly along with merchandize for the capital, exchanged for boats gliding along the canal ; and his fields, for many miles on each side, irrigated by lateral cuts, instead of the cranking Egyptian wheel, as it is called, but which is indigenous to India ! pp. 626, 7.

Surely the means for carrying so noble a project into execution

onkar, on the

The wholet sixty years, Sindia, th

ought not to be wanting. The summit of the Pat'har or Oopermal (upper-land) is a fertile, wooded, and well-watered tract, intersected by deep glens of romantic beauty; and as in old Greece, every fountain is consecrated to some local deity. Near one of these sacred spots, there is a projecting ledge of rock, called Giant's Bone, from which votaries of Sookhdeo ("the ease-giving

god’) take the warrior's leap,' which, if they survive, is to secure to them the object of their desire. There are many such * Leucotheas,' we are told, “in this region of romance.' That at Oonkar, on the Nerbudda, and that at Mount Girnar, are the most celebrated. The whole of the Pathar, to the west of the Chumbul, till within the last sixty years, belonged to Mewar; but the greater part has been seized by Sindia, the Mahratta chief, on mortgage for war contributions paid over and over • again. In this alpine region, the Author suffered severely from the mountain mists and the variations of the temperature. On one day, at day-break, the thermometer stood at 60'; only three days after, at 27° ; it then rose to 40° and 60°, and at mid-day, stood at 75° and 90°. He descended with the Bhamuni stream to Bhynsror, in the valley of the Chumbul, the description of which we must transcribe.

• The castle of Bhynsror is most romantically situated upon the extreme point of a ridge, on an almost isolated rib of the Pat'har from which we had descended. To the east, its abrupt cliff overhangs the placid expanse of the Chumbul, its height above which is 200 feet: the level of the river in the monsoon is marked at full 30 feet above its present elevation. The Bhamuni bounds Bhynsror on the west, and, by the rapidity of its fall, has completely scarped the rock, even to the angle of confluence, within which is placed a castle, to whose security a smaller intermediate stream not a little contributes. The river is never fordable, and its translucent, sea-green waters are now full 40 feet in depth. When, in the periodical rains, it accumulates at its source, and is fed, during its passage, by many minor streams from the Vindhya and this oberland, its velocity is overwhelming: it rises above the opposing bank, and laying under water the whole tract to the base of the table-land of Harouti, sweeps away in its irresistible course even the rocks. The channel cut in the rock is as clean as if performed with the chisel ; and standing on the summit of the cliff, which is from 300 to 700 feet in height, one discerns in imagination the marks of union. .... Although the stream is, of course, much below the level of its source, yet there is little doubt that the summit of this chasm (oopermál) is, as its name indicates, the highest land of Malwa. I say this after making myself acquainted with the general depression of Malwa to this point. Under Bhynsror, the current is never very gentle ; but both above and below, there are rapids, if not falls, of 30 to 50 feet in descent. ....

* Tradition has preserved the etymology of Bhynsror, and dates its erection from the second century of the era of Vicrama, though others make it antecedent to him. Be that as it may, it adds a fact of some

importance, viz., that the Charuns, or Bards, were then, as now, the privileged carriers of Rajwarra, and that this was one of their great lines of communication. Bhynsror, instead of being the work of some mighty conqueror, owes its existence to the joint efforts of Bhynsa Sah, the merchant, and Rora, a Charun and Brinjarri, to protect their tandas (caravans) from the lawless mountaineers, when compelled to make a long halt during the periodical rains. pp. 649–652.

Near the confines of Mewar and Boondi, several cairns of loose stones were passed, the memorials of rajpoots slain in defend. ing their cattle against the Meena banditti who dwelt amid the ravines of the Bunas, on the western declivity of the plateau.

or Who durst," said my guide, as we stopped at these tumuli, have passed the Pat' har eighteen months ago? They would have killed you for the cakes you had about you : now you may carry gold. These green fields would have been shared, perhaps reaped altogether by them ; but now, though there is no superfluity, there is play for the teeth,' and we can put our turban under our heads at night without the fear of missing it in the morning. Atul Raj! (May your sovereignty last for ever!)” This is the universal language of men who have never known peaceful days, who have been nurtured amidst the elements of discord and rapine, and who, consequently, can appreciate the change, albeit they were not mere spectators. p. 659.

It is a pleasing reflection, that the raj of Sir Company has put down the execrable system of marauding, which has desolated this fine district; nor can we understand the precise grounds upon which the Author wished the Rajpoots to be again put in uncontrolled possession of a country they proved themselves unable alike to rule or to defend. With these bandits of the Bunas, he subsequently made acquaintance; and we shall have occasion again to advert to them.

In pursuing his route to Kotah, the Author left the valley of the Chumbul, and ascended by a narrow pass nearly four miles in length, to the summit of another ridge *, covered with a majestic forest and almost impenetrable jungle. Among the trees are enumerated, the imli or tamarind-tree, the lofty semul or cotton-tree, the taindoo or ebony-tree, the dho, and the knarled sakoo, looking like a leper among its healthy brethren.' Many ruined hamlets were passed in the forest, but all were desolate; and the Bheels and their brethren of the forests, the wild 6 beasts,' are the only inhabitants of this region. By the way, our Author seems to have imbibed all the prejudices of a Rajpoot respecting the poor Bheels, 'the Gaels' or Celts of India, who,

passed eit breth of this prejudicese

on

their brether forest, but brethren." Smarled

* The Author speaks of re-ascending the third steppe of our miniature Alp.' He means, we presume, the third terrace or step, but the orthography would convey the idea of a bare savanna.

VOL. VIII. -N.S.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »