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to five; the Scooms are those whom, without being proprietors of ploughs, are considered to be at the head of a few or more labourers; and the lands of Nepaul proper are cultivated, almost without exception, by Newars ; those to the westward, as Noorkale, &c., by the Parbatty tribe, called Dherwara.
The Ryots or peasantry are distinguished also into Koohrya and Perjà. The former are those settled in Bertha proprietory, or other rent-free lands, and are not liable to be called on by government for any services, except the repair of roads, and attendance in the army upon particular occasions. The Perjàs, who occupy lands actually belonging to the Prince, though perhaps in the immediate possession of Jagheerdars, are, on the contrary, obliged to perform various services, both at the call of the Jagheerdar and of the Prince.
The great aboriginal stock of the inhabitants of the mountains, east of the river Kali, as in Nepaul, is Mongol. The fact is inscribed, in characters so plain, upon their faces, forms, and
languages, that we may well dispense with the superfluous and vain attempt to trace it historically in the meagre chronicles of barbarians.
But, from the twelfth century downwards, the tide of Mussulman conquest and bigotry continued to sweep multitudes of the Brahmins of the plains from Hindostan into the proximate hills, which now compose the western territories of the kingdom of Nepaul. There the Brahmins soon located themselves ; they found the natives illiterate, and without faith, but fierce and proud.
Their object was to make them converts to Hindooism, and so to confirm the fleeting influence derived from their learning and politeness. They saw that the barbarians had vacant minds, ready to receive their doctrines, but spirits not apt to stoop to degradation; and they acted accordingly. To the earliest and most distinguished of their converts they communicated, in defiance of the creed they taught, the lofty rank and honours of the Kshatriya order. But the Brahmins had sensual passions
to gratify, as well as ambition. They found the native females, even the most distinguished, nothing loath—but still of a temper, like that of the males, prompt to repel indignities.
These females would, indeed, welcome the polished Brahmins to their embraces ; but their offspring must not be stigmatised as the infamous progeny of a Brahmin, and a Mlechha must, on the contrary, be raised to eminence in the new order of things introduced by their fathers. To this progeny also, then, the Brahmins, in still greater defiance of their creed, communicated the rank of the second order of Hindooism; and from these two roots, mainly, sprang the now numerous, predominant, and extensively ramified tribe of the Khás, originally the name of a small clan of creedless barbarians, now the proud title of the Kshatriya, or military order of the kingdom of Nepaul. The offspring of original Khás females and of Brahmins, with the honours and rank of the second order of Hindooism, obtained the patronymic titles of the first order; and hence the key to the
anomalous nomenclature of so many stripes of the military tribes of Nepaul, is to be sought in the nomenclature of the sacred order.
It may be added, as remarkably illustrative of the lofty spirit of the Parbattiahs, that in spite of the yearly increasing sway of Hindooism in Nepaul, and of the various attempts of Brahmins in high places to procure the abolition of a custom so radically opposed to the creed both parties now profess, the Khás still insist that the fruit of commerce (marriage is out of the question), between their females and males of the sacred order shall be ranked as Kshatriyas, wear the thread, and assume the patronymic title.
The original Khás, thus favoured by it, became soon entirely devoted to the Brahminical system. The progress of Islam below, daily poured fresh refugees among them. They availed themselves of the superior knowledge of the strangers, to subdue the neighbouring tribes of aborigines, were successful beyond their hopes, and in such a career, continuing for
ages, gradually merged the greater part of their own habits, ideas, and language (but not physiognomy), in those of the Hindoos. The Khás language became a corrupt dialect of Hindee, retaining not many palpable traces (except to curious eyes), of primitive barbarism.
The Elthariahs are the descendants, more or less pure, of Rajpoots and other Kshatriyas of the plains, who sought refuge in these mountains from the Moslem, or merely military service, as adventurers. With fewer aims of policy and readier means in their bright swords, of requiting the protection afforded them than had the Brahmins, they had less motive to mix their proud blood with that of the vile aborigines than the Brahmins felt the impulse of, and they did mix it less. Hence, to this hour, they claim a vague superiority over the Khás, notwithstanding that the pressure of the great tide of events around them has, long since, confounded the two races in all essentials. Those among the Kshatriyas of the plains, who