2. Using the Past to Create the Future
Cultural “restoration” became an important shared project both for local inhabitants and for British administrators at the turn of the eighteenth century. For instance, key actors included Tamils concerned with explicating cultural identity for the region called Tondaimandalam (one of the five such cultural regions in the Tamil language area). For these Tamils, contestation around the nature of the sedentary base that rooted Tamil culture involved local vellalas, paraiyars, pallis, and Telugu peasant castes. Each of these contenders claimed a special (often “original”) site in the landscape and fashioned a cultural representation of the area that flowed from this construction. Each also sought ways to collaborate or interact with colonial representations to further these constructions. Similarly, in transforming itself from a trading company to a bureaucratic state, the English East India Company confronted several problems. One of these was the need to ensure a regular source of tax revenue; another was to create a local populace loyal to the Company’s government. Together, these interactions form another key epistemological moment in which the relations between a local population and a colonizing agent were worked out in a dialogic process. In this operation, “colonizing mechanisms,” whether formed as knowledge or as juridical institutions, were neither British nor local. Rather, these new formulations and the institutions that arose from them had no clear intellectual or cultural origin.
This chapter will examine a series of political, economic, and cultural interactions in the Jagir. Part of the interest inherent in these cultural negotiations is that they occurred at a point when both the state and the local population rapidly formulated views about each other. These interactions, many of which occurred between 1795 and 1820, were of great importance for the future of the area encompassed by the Jagir. But this knowledge also affected behavior and the creation of a series of negotiated institutions in what came to be called the Madras presidency, as well as in what came to be India generally. Ultimately, I will argue, it profoundly affected the regional cultural movement to define and identify Tamil Nadu, a movement linked not to the concerns and goals of the colonial state but to those right and left castes working to reshape Tamil cultural identity by sedentarizing and sacralizing it.
An assumption made by many scholars about the Indo-British administration on the subcontinent is that it had, almost from the beginning, the capacity to exploit the environment to its advantage through violence and cultural imposition. What is not stated in this formulation is that all of these elements—important in creating bureaucratic devices such as special educational and employment facilities—resulted from intense cultural negotiation that took place over a long period of time. Even devices such as the development of juridical mechanisms to coerce the population were heteroglot creations, not simple impositions by European conquerors. In the eighteenth century, the British were often not in a position of juridical strength but rather were forced continually to modify their expectations of local social and political structures in order to remain “in power” or “legitimate.” Negotiations took place in this and later contexts.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many attempts were made to identify the important aspects of the region’s history and former proprietary relations as a way to create a unitary state. Though this was in a sense a gradual affair, it came to be the main priority in the last decade of the eighteenth century and became even more important during the first two decades of the nineteenth century. A constant, gradual alteration in British expectations of the local population lay at the very basis of the transition in Company governmental style and behavior between 1795 and 1820.
British discontinuance of what were considered to be local cultural style and its expression through ritual exchanges took many forms. Starting in the 1780s, British officers of the Company abandoned the use of those behaviors associated with local culture considered to be unsophisticated. This, too, was not a wholly consistent process, for important projects were undertaken by the newly juridically dominant British that seemingly compelled them to adopt, at least momentarily, some local styles. (The way in which Lionel Place took on the attributes of an “Asiatic despot” in the 1790s provides one example of this.) However, throughout the archival record the predominant attitude that emerges underscores the need felt by administrators to be more financially accountable to developing institutions by discontinuing costly ritual relationships. One instance of this kind of change comes from the record of a successor of Place as collector named Greenway. In the discussions surrounding the reorganization of the policing strategies to be followed by the Company’s government, Greenway recommended pensioning off the old Palayakkar “watchers” and introducing a new system in which the new policemen would be paid directly by the state, not by each village as had been previous practice. This, wrote Greenway, would be undertaken “so as to render it perfectly efficient—to use a phrase recently adopted in modern language, the Police must be re-organized and it is necessary to do away with the present system.” Old ritual and local activities thus became “inefficient” and not in tune with the new bureaucratic requirements of the state. A direct relation was ultimately drawn between efficiency, the abandonment of rituals, and centralization.
The new emphasis marked a dramatic shift in the negotiating processes and relationships that had prevailed. During the previous century and a half, political relations had been based on the continual possibility of inversion, that is, of ritually taking the role of the other in order to extract a concession. Ritual activity included desertion, hunger strikes, confining an individual until that person gave you what you demanded, or depriving someone of food and supplies until he gave in and paid a debt. These inversions, which occurred often in eighteenth-century South India, rendered the body of an individual subject to public violence, as in the case of the Kallars in the Tamil area and the Bhats in the Gujarat region. After 1795, by contrast, the British increasingly tried to prevent those activities, no matter what the local individuals hoped or thought. Open violence by local populations and by the state was increasingly frowned on, while the voluntary use of violence on an individual’s body to force another person to pay a debt later became illegal. After 1795, the government tried to introduce a bureaucratic society and institutions based on the idea of perceived order and social irreversibility in an embedded interdependent society. This was a society in which an increasing division of labor and interdependence meant that individuals could not easily exchange places. Consequently, both the British rulers and the local individuals would remain in their hierarchical positions. The British rulers would not find themselves in a position of momentary weakness and the local subjects correspondingly would not occupy a position of temporary strength. Increasingly, it became important that the rulers should remain juridically strong and locals remain juridically weak. Therefore, as the state became more centralized, social relations gradually became less reversible and the body could be less openly violated. Individuals were increasingly imprisoned instead of being flogged and killed openly. This was an interdependent society in which inequalities certainly did not cease but in which interdependence restrained those who were juridically strong as well as those who were juridically weak.
A focus on this increasingly fixed relationship through the exercise of juridical processes has distracted scholars from other forms of negotiations that continued to enable local participants to play dominant roles. One of the important interactive strategies that evolved from these developments related less to the question of political irreversibility in the present than to ways to conceive both the past and the future. A utopian vision of the past and the future pursued by both the British and the local inhabitants became the basis for the interactive construction of a new political order. “Golden age” ideas from both Britain and the area around Madras helped to provide conceptions about the past in order to build the future.
The Construction of a Utopian Past and Future
It is true that the strategy of reversing places in a carnival, a desertion, or other temporary situation of status reversal—in which the agent of authority was momentarily in a juridically vulnerable position and the ordinarily helpless person or group was in a position of dominance—became unacceptable to the British after the 1790s. However, throughout this period, whether before the 1790s or later, a continued dialogic production of ideas and creation of knowledge characterized the cultural encounters among the British, the local population, and others. This became apparent at precisely the time when Place had to analyze the problems that he faced in the months after the “insurrection of the Mirasidars.” During this period, he sought answers to his questions from his local informants. From them he learned local cosmological ideas. In particular, he learned that, at least according to Sanskritic notions, cosmology divided the history of the world into four yugas that involved the gradual escalation in impiety, discontent, and immorality until the coming of the Dark Age or kali yuga. His information also was undoubtedly affected by Tamil cosmological ideas that involved periods of pervasive destructive deluges called ūḻis. The Sanskrit kāli yuga and the Tamil ūḻli are a Dark Age in which the local informants to whom Place talked situated Jagir society of the 1790s. To these local ideas, he added his own cosmological and urgent millennial notions and the need to reform both a degenerate British and a decadent local society.
According to the vision of local society that Place heard and wanted to believe, he lived in a dark and dissolute age. Place considered that philosophy and science in the Tamil area “were once in as flourishing a state in this country as any part of the world.” As a result of Muslim invasions, however, the arts were destroyed and culture in India became derivative. According to Place’s ideas, Muslim conquests in the fourteenth century extracted much wealth from the Tamil country. “Individual wealth,” said Place, “must have exceeded all bounds of calculation.…What an admirable form of government and happy race of people must have existed in those days to admit of so incredible a freedom from intestine broils.” In Place’s view, all the evidence demonstrated that in the fourteenth century the government and society of the Tamils were superior to anything in England at the time. The interactive aspect of these ideas is well exemplified by a text published officially in 1908 called Memoir on the Internal Revenue System of the Madras Presidency, written by Bundla Ramaswami Naidoo in 1820, shortly after Place’s time. In that memoir Ramaswami Naidoo noted:
Though the author noted in the next paragraph that the beginning of the kali yuga or Dark Age was a.d. 1817, most of the sources used in his memoir were either British accounts of local society or British translations of Sanskrit texts or other texts from the subcontinent. He believed that in many ways the culture of the subcontinent was more ancient and superior to British culture. At the same time, he participated in a cultural negotiation about the definition of local religious ideas and culture. In this account, we notice the elements that framed local knowledge about the past of the area, but these views were used in ways that make the origins of these ideas impossible to determine. They are already surrounded by an obscuring mist.
It is true, as all Europeans imagine, that we Indians, do not possess any recorded histories of our ancient civil and political matters but all that we have, are religious traits [tracts], mixed with political institutions, it must indeed be a matter of curiosity to the European world, as our books treat upon facts that occurred many thousand years before the Christian system of Chronology, under which, they believe that the world is aged only above five thousand years.
Both Place and Bundla Ramaswami Naidoo sought to come to terms with the same problem: the perceived decayed position of the contemporary local society and polity of the Jagir. They both induced this idea as a way to activate a profound competition between centrifugal local voices and centripetal unitary discourse.
In the 1790s, British employees of the Company and many others were able to see decay in every human being. One commentator described the behavior of these “decadent” people in Madras in a florid style. He wrote:
And it may well be supposed as I live in a fashionable, public part of the Black Town [in Madras] that I am seldom at a loss for objects of speculation. The abundant fineries in all their variegated modes, forms, colours displayed either by European ingenuity or native adoption demonstrate very plainly that the present is the age of improvement. Mercy! what a revolution. The Revolution in France is a Bagatelle compared to it. Ten years have not been elapsed, never to return, when scarce a dimpled Dubash of this proud Presidency permitted his unhallowed limbs the luxury of a palankeen. Hackeries were the sober conveyance of his sableness, with a pair of sow oxen, typical of the master’s habits, and no bad emblem of his temper. Hackeries! constructed on ancient principles and made for purposes very different from those of ostentation. From the wealthy, long-eared Armenian, to the slim and sable spright, his scribbler—from the jovial Country Captain who wrapt up his amphibious importance, bids defiance to all terrestrial being, to the humble attendant who lights his cheroots and presents his grog—from the Beetle-chewing Dubash who builds Choultries and endows Pagodas, to the swarthy menial who follows him—all—all! are altered [emphasis in original].
Like this illustration from an account in the Madras Courier of 1792, everywhere Place looked in the 1790s he believed himself confronted by the creations of the Muslim and European conquerors, who had, he felt, debased the moral character of the local people. Perhaps the most outstanding instance of such a debased creation, in Place’s view, was the Madras Dubash: “I know of no character more mischievous than what is understood by the term ‘Madras dubash.’…Ignorant to an extreme, even in their religious duties, they almost all keep, what they call a Shastry Bramin, to direct and keep them in remembrance of their daily exercises, these sorts of knowledge which should seem necessary to their vocation are supplied by cunning and the art of circumvention.” Place wanted to liberate the population of the Jagir from what he called “the shackles of Dubash Dominion, and restore it to something like its former happy state.”
More than even the Mirasidars, the Dubashi (the institution of the Dubashes) provided a site important in the production of knowledge. Dubashes “organized the commission from merchants when contracts were sealed [in the eighteenth century] for the supply of textiles and from tax farmers when offers for farms were accepted, organised presents from and to hinterland officials, disposed goods traded in by their employers and kept their private accounts.” This institution, therefore, necessarily emerged with an extensive network reaching the area outside Madras town and developed along with the trade generated by Company employees trading on their own accounts. The Dubashi engages our interest because it expressed the requirements of the new public and bureaucratic culture formed during the last quarter of the eighteenth century, a development illustrated by the famous “Hollond affair” in Madras. John Hollond and Edward J. Hollond were senior Company employees; John had been governor and Edward John had been acting president of the council for a brief period. Avatanam Papaiya, a tax and betel farmer, served as John Hollond’s Dubash. At one point, Company employee David Haliburton lodged a case against Avatanam Papaiya, and in 1790 the inquiry found that Papaiya had had an improper influence on both the Hollonds and the transactions of the Madras council. As a result, the Hollonds were suspended and Avatanam Papaiya punished. In another case, during a 1781 investigation into the dealings of Dubashes in Madras, the Dubashes, unwilling to be examined, refused to take the oath. They resisted, they said, because “if they were guilty of breach of confidence to their former masters no other person will employ them hereafter.” Both of these episodes illustrate the growing tension prompted by the increasing need to separate private and public life in the creation of a new civil society. In many ways, the episode between Place and the Mirasidars simply provides another illustration of that tension.
Dubashes thus stood simply as a symbol of British bewilderment and powerlessness in the face of an apparently inscrutable local system. In 1793, a member of the Madras Board of Revenue, C. N. White, wrote that Dubashes “seldom fail to avail themselves of their situation, to serve themselves and their connections at the expense of the Inhabitants and even without the least regard to the character of those who employ them [i.e., the British who should have been in control].” He was amazed at how many Company servants in the Madras area working in revenue matters had totally neglected learning any Indian languages to “save themselves from the disgrace of being constantly made the dupes of intriguing servants.” (This in contrast to Bengal, where they had made “considerable progress in languages.”) White suggested that British administrators were quite defenseless in dealing with their own colonial products, who were seen as totally amoral. White went on to say that learning Indian languages “must lead to a knowledge of the History and ancient customs of the people, who from what may be observed of them were in a state of improved civilization at as early a period as the inhabitants of any part of the Deccan or Hindustan, and while a great part of Europe was involved in ignorance and barbarity.”
Often the land itself was characterized in terms that allowed access to cultural answers from other eras. In another context, White described the Jagir “which formerly was and is still capable from its soil and situation of being rendered one of the most fertile spots in India, has within the last 10 or 12 years been the prey either of needy and rapacious renters, or of dishonest Dubashes and native revenue officers.” White, along with many other persons besides Place, believed that before the war of 1780 and particularly during the period of the Nawab Sadat Ali (d. 1732), the Jagir was in a “high state of improvement.” Before the 1780 war, said White in 1793, the Jagir contained “upwards of two thousand villages with rich and populous towns.” It also had “the finest soil and climate and contains between three and four thousand tanks…with many means of fertilization.” (We will see that a century later the Jagir came to be regarded as unproductive precisely because it was considered to have poor soils.)
White and other Company servants also believed that the town of Madras stripped this agrarian area of its wealth primarily to meet European colonial needs. In Place’s 1795 account of the Jagir, he complained bitterly that European requirements for mutton virtually drained the Jagir of its animal wealth as well as the manure produced by sheep and goats; many of the sheep required for the Madras markets were “table sheep,” which were invariably ewes with lambs. Lord Hobart, the governor of Madras, in 1797 also established a police committee in Madras to deal specifically with European needs. In this case, Hobart set up the committee to reduce the prices of “bread, fish, beef, veal, mutton, kid, pork, poultry, wild fowle, fruit, hire of palanqeen [a box-litter carried by men for travel] boys, coolies, carts, etc.” All these services and products constituted perceived necessities for the European residents of Madras. Europeans believed that the high prices that they paid resulted from “deliberate fraud and collusion” by artisans, “butlers,” and “compradores” who, according to Susan Neild-Basu, historian of Madras, “took advantage of the Europeans’ dependence upon their services.” These butlers demanded twice what they had received in the early 1780s, whereas “the necessaries of life to the poor are full as cheap now as they have been for many years past.” At the same time, the residents of Vepery and St. Thome in the western and southern reaches of Madras town complained particularly about the amildars and other revenue employees of Collector Place of the adjoining Jagir, who had been unwilling to “direct the dealers to supply the public at the reduced rates.” Place’s own tax employees had detained sheep on the Jagir roads leading to these city markets. This suggests that in this area as well, Place’s ideas about the devitalization of the Jagir by Madras enabled him to act to prevent it. At bottom he and others like him did not want people to move from the Jagir to Madras town. This was also part of a sedentarizing tendency. For the next three-quarters of a century, the British and others continued to attribute the decay of the Chingleput district to its proximity to Madras.
We cannot trace this appeal to former epochs to the thinking of Place alone. As we have seen, many other British administrators of the Company also created heteroglot knowledge using local ideas and considered it their mandate to restore both the Jagir and the subcontinent to what they perceived to be its “original” condition. In Bengal, during the 1770s, Warren Hastings employed the same tactics to retain what he considered to be the “indigenous” judicial system there. He encouraged Nathanial Halhed to translate the Mānava Dharmaśāstra or what is commonly called the Code of Manu. As has been pointed out, when Hastings “interfered” to reorganize the entire judicial system, he argued that “no essential change was made in the ancient constitution of the province. It was only brought back to its original principles.” Others have shown how this orientation toward the culture of the subcontinent began to change in the mid-1780s as the evangelicals illustrated the ways in which people of the subcontinent were depraved. Structurally, little difference existed between a utopianist position that appealed to the culture of former eras and the evangelical position, because both of them structured knowledge in order to look on contemporary society on the subcontinent as decayed. Both sought to formulate the future. Moreover, those with the utopian view simply perceived ideal and essentialized institutions on the subcontinent (which they also connected with British structures) and used them to change local society, while the evangelicals tried to create what they considered to be British cultural ideas against the background of what they said was a decayed subcontinent. Neither of these approaches, however, can be said to have been “British.” Their involvement with the local environment immediately produced interactions that provided an active role to local and other people who sought to “understand” these expositions.
In another British colonial context with many structural similarities to those under discussion, African village leaders in 1962 Northern Rhodesia noted that British officers did “not effectively communicate with villagers, who tell them what they think they want to hear.” Moreover, George Foster reported that one of the main preoccupations of the British officers was “standards.” In that environment, they invoked “standards” as a strategy to help make an effective boundary between British officers and Africans and to perpetuate a utopian land from a former epoch. Foster noted that he “never heard an African praised for work done. The usual evaluation of a performance was to explain to the African how he might have done the job better, and to mutter an aside to the visitor about ‘the difficulties in teaching these chaps standards’ [emphasis in original].” In the same context, Foster writes about the symbolic meaning of unrealistically high electrical standards in that environment. “All lamps and other appliances are grounded by a third wire, every lamp plug has a fuse, the socket into which it goes has another fuse, and the attempt to draw several lines from a single outlet, by means of multiple sockets, produces an electronic device suggestive of a minor satellite.” What this implies is that in Africa as well as in India, officers in the British administration had sought to create knowledge to convince themselves of the decayed condition of “indigenous institutions” unable to meet British normative and utopian “standards,” standards stated in a monologic and authoritative voice.
Even in 1816, Francis White Ellis, a British collector of Madras remarking on James Mill’s well-known History of India, wrote:
This excerpt suggests that in the cases of James Mill and the 1960s Northern Rhodesia described by Foster, the “standards” based on monologic and momentarily authoritative language were unstable. This resembles what Norbert Elias called “the civilizing process.” Elias has argued that “the concept of civilisation indicates quite clearly in its nineteenth-century usage that the process of civilization—or, more strictly speaking, a phase of this process—has been completed and forgotten.…To the upper and middle classes of their own [European] society, civilization appears as a firm possession.” Structurally speaking, the use made of texts by a group of people known as Orientalists to essentialize society in order to remove the discussion from the present to the past followed a similar strategy of forgetting the civilizing process. It removed the discussion from the everyday to the utopia of another era and place and was equated with the normative. In many ways, what Richard Fox calls “pejorative” or “negative” Orientalism was a way to forget the civilizing process in order to make room for other normative values and “standards.”
The abilities and the usefulness of this writer are neutralized by the supercilious contempt he invariably manifests towards everything for which he cannot find a criterion in his own mind, or which he cannot reconcile to some customary standard of thought.…He has subjected the Hindu system to a comparison with an abstract standard of his own erection, and as might have been expected, has condemned it as being found wanting.
One way to illustrate the creation of a utopian appeal to another time in South India is to look at interactive constructions of knowledge about Indian villages. Contrary to what both the British and local individuals claimed in their normative, utopian descriptions, other documentation of village society shows that local populations were mobile before the coming of the British, migrating in response to wars and epidemics as well as in searches for work, trade, and water. Some of the movement took place within highly spatially defined areas, as with the kaikolar or sengunthar weavers in Tamil society. We can also discern more movement among those lower in the ritual and economic hierarchy than was the case with those who had more investment in the land. Evidence prior to the desertion of the Jagir Mirasidars with their paraiyar Pannaiyals and Padiyals in 1795–97 points to many disputes among land controllers over mirasi rights when they returned to the Jagir following the war of 1780. This evidence suggests that every time land controllers had to leave the region due to war, famine, or the like great fights arose over mirasi and other rights following their return.
Thus, the constructions of the normative past denied both physical mobility and social contestation in an effort to illustrate a decayed present and to suggest the characteristics necessary for the future. Though it may have been true, for example, that land controllers and their Padiyals and Pannaiyals engaged in ritual activities on an annual basis to strengthen their bonds of commitment and dependence, there is much other data that shows tense agrarian relations between these agrarian paraiyar Padiyals and their vellala Mirasidars that were certainly not permanently fixed in a particular mode. Place wrote that the Padiyals of the Mirasidars at Uttiramerur, southwest of Madras, “had been defrauded by their masters of the hire which was due to them, while working on the tank; and from the injustice thus done to them many have deserted and others could not be prevailed upon to engage with them, on an adjustment of the previous year’s produce, every species of peculation also appeared to have been committed.” In Karanguli, south of Madras town, Place said that the “inhabitants [Mirasidars] had allowed their servants [Padiyals] to go away after the expiration of Fasli 1204 [tax year 1794–95] and neither entered into new engagements with them, nor procured substitutes till after the tank had filled.” Attempts to claim for the villages in the Jagir sedentary and benignant Mirasidar-Pannaiyal relations therefore face much evidence to the contrary. We may also look at the desertion and reoccupation of the Jagir villages as a constant process where old claims to a share of the grain and the right to build houses in the village site were continually fought over and negotiated. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Company officers such as Place and many local inhabitants sought to create for this uncertain situation the idea of a village society that always reconstituted itself into discrete villages without argument. It was essentially to fulfill this idea of an unchanging and peaceful village society that they collectively developed these normative and utopian ideas about rural communities on the subcontinent.
This construction of knowledge provided a way to create an embedded, organic solidarity for the future for which the society of the area needed to be sedentarized. Nor can we say that the creation was a willed activity. People at all levels of local society participated in creating an embedded, interdependent, and sedentarized village society of the future. To do this, they used locally available appeals to former epochs and places, ideas that were themselves altered by contact with similar notions from other sources. For, as we have seen, local writers conceived of amoral village behavior as a recent development. Place, in embracing ideas about a sedentarized village society, came in 1799 to believe that, though these Mirasidars were “absent for years from their lands, [they] did not fail to assert their claim to them.” When Place first took over the collectorship of the Jagir, for example, he found many of the villages lacking Mirasidars altogether, “the parents, children, and relations being extirpated.…The idea of permanent property [ownership] was such in the minds of the natives,” Place wrote, “that they declined cultivating any fields thus appropriated, unless under the meerassee tenure.”
Making Religion More Useful
One of the ways by which Place tried to reorder society in the Jagir was by revitalizing Hindu religious life there. This would, he felt, make the population happier and correspondingly more productive, useful, and cooperative with each other. He funded the ceremonies and festivals of Hindu temples in the Jagir to attract back the dispersed population. During his collectorship (1794–98), Place made a concerted attempt to revive the temple festivals at Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur to the west of Madras, and Peddapalayam to the north (now known by the Tamil equivalent of Periyapalayam). Initially, after reporting on the condition of the Jagir in October 1795, Place convinced the Board of Revenue to make an allotment of pagodas 15,000 for the repair of the temples there. In addition, a temple fund called the pagoda mērai was collected in small amounts from about fourteen hundred of the more than two thousand villages in the Jagir. During the revenue years July 1795 to July 1798, the average yearly income from that fund was pagodas 15,566, a sum that was supposed to be devoted to the religious festivals of both the great temples in such places as Kanchi and village temples.
Place spent most of his energies and much money on the Kanchi Vaishnava Varadaraja temple in the part of the town called Little Kanchi. He noted that it “had been robbed of its most ornamental Pillars and other sculptural work” by Muslims to build a mosque. If, he said, the mosque had not been in a state of ruin, “I should have thought it a commendable act of retributive justice to have restored them [the pillars] to their original place [by destroying the mosque].” (However, Place saw nothing wrong with taking parts of certain Hindu buildings for the purposes of constructing the dams for the artificial tanks of the Jagir.) Many of the associated buildings of the Varadaraja temple, he said, had also been pulled down when materials were used by Muslims to construct mosques in other parts of the town.
In many ways, the phrase “restored them to their original place” indicated Place’s view of the way to establish social and civil harmony in the Jagir. As he understood it, his mandate was to recreate the area in utopian terms so that it would flourish as it had in the past. He employed this mechanism to take advantage of the ideas regarding the past he had brought from England and mixed with local ideas. To that end, he sought to rebuild the Varadaraja temple and to participate in its principal festival in the Tamil month of Vaikāsi (mid-May to mid-June). His restorative sense was, quite naturally, a selective one informed by the British effort to achieve dominance and to establish an authoritative monologic definition of harmonious South Indian society in the future. This effort had many implications. For instance, Place’s notion of restoration did not include the restoration of the mosque in Kanchi but did involve the renovation of artificial reservoirs or tanks that would remind people of the British presence. Similarly, in this context, he condemned the brahmans for not being good agriculturalists because they would not touch the plough:
For Place, at any rate, the relationship between idleness and religion was part of contemporary societal decay. He appears to have wanted to revive temple-centered Hinduism in which brahmans would mainly function more as temple priests than as Mirasidars.
Those villages the meerasdars whereof are Bramins, are generally speaking, in the worst state of cultivation. Moreover, the religion of a Bramin forbids his tilling the ground. But he must do so by employing servants, his vocation is prayer and his subsistence otherwise so easily obtained…to make him indifferent about the cultivation of his lands. He is held in sacred reverence.…Multitudes are thus supported, and irretrievably consigned to idleness.
One of his main approaches to this goal was to physically reconstruct what he felt the Muslim invaders had demolished. Place noted that the Varadaraja temple in Kanchi had been used on many occasions by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan during the war of 1780. For instance, he wrote, the “central dome under which the sacred idol was deposited had almost to be rebuilt.” In addition, the fires that had been kindled in the interior had damaged many of the sections made out of granite and the floors had been torn up by Hyder’s armies when they were looking for the treasure they believed was hidden there. “In short the whole interior was nothing more than what had escaped the dilapidations of time and neglect or the ravages of a devastating Enemy.”
Place used these partially destroyed buildings to conjure up what he conceived to be the values of another time. The vestiges enabled Place to see local culture in clear and precise terms, to understand what were the “true standards of the past.” These ruins, therefore, still functioned as a “stupendous” monument to the “munificence and benevolent care of the antient Hindoo Governments of the favorite object upon which the Industry and wealth of the People had been bestowed and in which their happiness was materially interested.” We see, then, that both the existence and the psychic use of ruins—products of war, “disorder,” and “despotism”—were critical to the development of constructed knowledge and institutions about local rural society in the Jagir and elsewhere. The old ruins of the temples, waterways, artificial tanks, towns, and cities of the Jagir pointed to a future society viewed in a new and more socially interdependent light. To Place, the attention that he personally paid to the annual festival of the Varadaraja temple in the part of town called Little Kanchi was rewarded by the great crowds that visited it. He noted especially “the harmony that prevailed among a concourse of people incredible to those who have never seen it, I do not think less than 300,000.” The apparent “harmony” and sheer size of the temple crowds helped Place formulate his view of both the past and the more cooperative and interdependent future of Jagir society. This order he saw as a kind of restored vestige of a previously happy and untroubled political and social system. On the occasions when he participated in these temple festivals, he said that he did not withhold his support or practice any kind of economy “but made it a practice to go almost to the utmost length of profusion.” As a result, Place noted, he bestowed on the temples “jewels and plate” valued at pagodas 2,161 paid out of money from the temple fund.
Place looked on his role as collector as a mandate to serve as an example to the local society of the Jagir, illustrating how to behave cooperatively and harmoniously with each other. He aimed to create a new civil religion. He also appears to have looked on the revival of the temples as simply another way by which he could get the local population to be more productive. Thus, Place, with his new set of requirements, used heteroglot ideas about the Tamil past and local culture to demonstrate values from other times and other places to the local population. These values were neither European nor local, neither Western nor indigenous. Many of his ideas about how the local population had acted religiously emerged from what he chose to see and from ideas he derived from local informants. Nevertheless, his purpose in this construction was to see religion in a new way. He was, in effect, participating in the production of a new kind of knowledge about this religion that was later referred to as “Hinduism;” his formulation used religion to make people happy and effective persons. In this sense, Place played a part in a general social process carrying out an important historical function to express epistemically what was happening in a society.
In many ways, Place appears to have operated as he felt a Tamil king would act in regard to temples. He saw flourishing religious centers as critical for creating a compatible and productive population and did everything at his disposal to regenerate what he presumed to be the original condition of these temples, in order to physically and morally recreate a well-regulated kingdom where subjects would be more interdependent. Specifically, he believed that the conditions of these temples would be greatly enhanced if he put the finances, and with them the ceremonies, into some kind of order. In 1799, he wrote:
I considered the religious ceremonies of the Jaghire throughout a matter so intrinsically connected with the happiness of the people and the abuse of the funds appropriated for the support of Pagodas [temples] so much in need of reform that I gave general orders upon the subject to remedy the evils and neglect of which the Inhabitants almost universally complained.…I had frequent occasion to see that those who had the conduct of them [the religious ceremonies] required to be controuled in the expenditure of the funds with which they were also entrusted and although I cannot say that my orders produced all the effect intended I know that benefit so far resulted from them that the inhabitants took a more active part in those affairs.
As we saw earlier, although he was able to have the Dharmakarta (or, as Place called him, the church warden) replaced, he was unable to resolve the disputes between the Vadakalai and the Tengalai Sri Vaishnava brahmans over the use of the Varadarajaswami temple. This presented a great problem, for Place felt that substantial religious dissention was one of the main obstacles to be overcome in the Jagir. Indeed, part of his perception of religion in this “decayed” cultural environment was that it created strife. Nevertheless, he concluded:
Nothing is more difficult in any country than the adjustment of religious differences and nothing in this to which the best informed European can be more inadequate because they turn upon those intricacies in theological doctrines and forms which he cannot enter into [.] Yet it is these which create the greatest animosities between parties. In adjusting the disputes between the two sects of Bramins belonging to little Conjeevaram Pagoda [the Little Kanchi Vaishnava Varadaraja temple], who, however, besides a variety of trifles are distinguished by the use of separate forms of prayer.
Similarly, Place found that both the Varadaraja temple and the garden outside were in bad condition since, among other things, no gardener had been employed in many years. “But the one and the other [the temple and the gardens], however when I left the Jagheere, if they were the first were nevertheless magnificent monuments, worthy of the liberality of the Company’s Government.” All of this suggests that he believed that the money he spent (over pagodas 9,600), and particularly the money devoted to the eight gilt ornaments that stood five-and-a-half feet tall on the main dome of the Varadarajaswami temple, was wealth spent not only to establish the legitimacy of the Company but also to assure a sense of well-being among the people.
Place also repaired the temples at Karanguli, Peddapalayam, and Madurantakam because this would help bring back the dispersed population. Out of the total expense of repairing all of these temples (pagodas 12,366 from the pagoda merai or temple fund in addition to pagodas 15,000 authorized by the Company), more than pagodas 2,750 was spent on the Madurantakam temple itself. He also decided to set up rules for the “police for the correction of the various abuses that prevail in it [Kanchipuram] for the better preservation of property.” At the same time, he wanted to establish both a prison and an office for the collector there to preserve records, since the office of the collector in Kanchipuram “consists of a few sticks and coconut leaves, neither proof against a shower of rain, nor capable of withstanding the gusts of wind usual at this season.”
Place had said that he helped to revive the temple ceremonies in Little Kanchi and elsewhere both to draw people there and to put at rest “the minds of the people.” But he wanted to do more than state these goals; he also sought to introduce these ideas into written agreements between taxpayers and the Company. One example of such an insertion can be seen in the agreement or muchalka signed by the Mirasidars in 1796. Inscribed there was the condition that the Mirasidars themselves would do “the utmost to restore such ceremonies [at the temples] as have been stopped, so that we may pray to God to make us happy and prosperous in our village.” Access to the sacred was equated with wealth and pleasure. Place sought to invoke a new interactively constructed knowledge about the true function of religion. Indeed, he apparently was the first person to request thirty Hindu sepoys commanded by a Hindu officer to serve as an honor guard for the procession of the Varadarajaswami temple.
For Place’s purposes, then, restored religion could be equated with orderly society. That this construction was not universally shared by Company officers may be easily documented. Though the Kanchi Varadarajaswami temple crowds seemed “orderly” and full of harmony, for instance, there were episodes in which these same groups appeared “disorderly”; these seemingly “unruly” episodes would not form part of a utopianist vision as exemplifying the values of the past. For instance, Greenway, one of Place’s successors in the Jagir, reported in 1801 that as a result of a serious accident the costs of the “third day ceremony” at the Varadarajaswami temple in Little Kanchi had increased. He described the incident responsible for this increase:
The gates of the Pagoda [temple] had as usual been open from early in the morning and free ingress and egress permitted when the idol was brought out of the Pagoda [temple] and carried to a Muntapum [stone portico] in the inside of the walls. At sunrise there was a general motion towards the gate [with] a large concourse happening unfortunately at this moment to press in from either side of the gateway in order to prostrate themselves. There the guard which was stationed at the entrance was overpowered, and the two crowds meeting, thirty-one men, women and children were trampled underfoot, three of whom only were recovered, the rest were all suffocated and it therefore became necessary to purify the place before the idol could be brought out. As a result of the cost of the purification, which in this case came to pagodas 14, the Company had to pay a total of pagodas 313 for the third-day ceremonies, which included the cost of cleansing. Temple crowds could therefore be seen either as a sign of order or a source of disharmony and expense, depending on the use to which this signification was put.
Expressions of the New Religion
The Company decided in February 1818 to discontinue the financial support of the festivals in Kanchipuram and elsewhere. Nonetheless, the involvement of the Company’s government in the temples of the area continued for many years. Moreover, the effect of Place’s early interest in the Varadaraja temple became reflected in local practice in a way that even he could not have imagined. This heteroglot result demonstrates clearly the tension within the British view of the project of religious restoration.
John Kaye’s account of Christianity in India describes Place’s activities with hostility. Writing his story of Place’s behavior in the middle of the nineteenth century, Kaye sought specifically to demonstrate its effect on local practice in a period after which the Evangelicals had become an important force in state policy. In particular, Kaye’s criticism focused on appropriate behavior for a government servant. Kaye quoted Place’s argument from a report Place wrote about the need to support the temples in the Jagir:
Kaye said that Place proposed this policy “as tending to make better subjects, and more to conciliate the people. What he recommended to Government he did himself, as far as he could, by his own individual efforts [emphasis in original].” Kaye then went on to report what Alexander Duff, the famous missionary, had found when he went to Kanchipuram in 1849. Duff had said:
The management of the Church [Temple] Funds [Place had written] has heretofore been thought independent of the control of Government; for this strange reason, that it receives no advantage from them; but inasmuch as it has an essential interest in promoting the happiness of its subjects and as the natives of this country know none superior to the good conduct and regularity of their religious ceremonies, which are liable to neglect without the interposition of an efficient authority, such control and interference becomes indispensable. In a moral and political sense, whether to dispose them to the practice of virtue, or to promote good order and subordination by conciliating their affections in regard to this matter is, I think, incumbent.
“This,” wrote Kaye, “is commonly cited as the first instance in which the British Government took upon itself the office of dry nurse to Vishnu.” From his perspective, it was naturally inappropriate for the British administration to assist in these festivals.
Probably no one bearing the honoured name of ‘Christian,’ has left behind him so distinguished a reputation for his services in the cause of idolatry as Mr. Place. When visiting Conjevaram last year (1849), I found his name still cherished with traditionary reverence by the votaries of Brahmanism. The nomenclature which he had introduced was still in vogue. The native officers spoke of the pagoda [temple] as the ‘Established Church;’ of the temple revenues as the ‘church funds;’ of the Brahman keepers of the idol shrines as the ‘churchwardens.’ In the neighborhood of one of the great temples a spacious garden was pointed out as the ‘gift of Mr. Place to the god;’ within was shown a gorgeous head ornament, begemmed with diamonds and other jewels, worth a thousand pounds, which Mr. Place had presented to the great idol. During his collectorate, he was wont to send for all the dancing girls, musicians, and instruments, elephants and horses attached to the different temples in the surrounding districts, in order to celebrate the Conjevaram festival with the greatest pomp. Attending in person, his habit was to distribute clothes to the dancing girls, suitable offerings to the officiating Brahmans, and a lace garment of considerable value to the god.
This episode reveals perhaps more than any other the fact that almost every project undertaken by Place put certain behaviors and kinds of knowledge at risk while privileging others. Place found himself in the middle of a general process aimed at reformulating a variety of institutions and behaviors as part of the future by appealing to the values and behaviors for other social groups from other times and places. These behaviors and values were negotiated by “bazaar voices” whether local or other, thus demonstrating the effect of heteroglossia and Bakhtin’s Rabelaisian laughter. The project involved the formulation of religion not as dissension but as a source of happiness and cooperation.
Let us now look at another area in which similar kinds of negotiation occurred: the way the state sought to remove the use of violence from lower-level authorities in order to control it from the center.
Uses of Violence and the Construction of the Asiatic Despot
One way to illustrate how juridical power operated in the pre-British context is to look at the Palayakkars in the Jagir. Palayakkars or what the British called poligars were individuals, mostly of Telugu warrior subcastes by origin, who had been given the “watching” or “police” jobs in South India before the European arrival. They formed vestiges of what can be called the nayak system, part of a larger segmentary structure called the Vijayanagar kingdom centered in the Kannada-speaking area west of Madras. In the late eighteenth century, the Palayakkars in the Jagir were concentrated in the northwestern and more physically elevated third of the area. This followed the pattern of settlement of Telugus in the Tamil country, well documented by the British in the 1931 Census, which showed that the largest concentrations of Telugus in the Tamil region were located in the upland regions, away from the coast. Both before and after the defeated Vijayanagar kings settled at Chandragiri as local kings or rajas of that place (about seventy-five miles north of what was to become Madras), various Telugu chieftains established themselves in all parts of what was in the last decades of the eighteenth century called the Jagir. In 1672, Mughal forces under a general named Neknam Khan absorbed most of the Raja of Chandragiri’s territories but left him the town of Anagundi and a few villages. Before Anagundi became the capital, the two centers of this polity were Chandragiri in the Telugu upland country just to the north and lowland Chingleput farther to the south, where a fort of substance was built. In the middle of the seventeenth century, as opposed to the late eighteenth, Telugu-speaking Palayakkars resided in almost all parts of the Jagir, even the lowland areas.
Many of these areas, Palayakkar centers in the seventeenth century, had disappeared by the late eighteenth century. According to Place, in some villages in the lowland regions of Kanchipuram, Karankuli, Uttiramerur, and Poonamallee, the office of Palayakkar had been taken over by the more powerful village Tamil inhabitants who found ways to get the fees or privileges rightfully due to the Palayakkars. In fact, under both the preceding Mughal government and the government set up by the Nawab of Arcot from the 1740s onward, the Palayakkars’ villages were first taken over by the state and then a portion or all of them were regranted to them. During the Anglo-French wars, the Palayakkars operated in territories controlled by neither the French nor the British.
However, once the British took over the Jagir in 1783, each collector took the right of “watching” the villages away from the Palayakkars and then, as was the custom under previous polities, restored them. In 1794, when Lionel Place became collector, he decided to take over the grants to these Palayakkars and specifically not to restore some of them as had been customary. He did this, he said, because these Palayakkars had deserted the Jagir along with the Mirasidars to protest Place’s new tax demands on the area. However, Place took over the privileges or fees of the Palayakkars without authorization from the Board of Revenue, his superiors in Madras.
As we have seen, Place had two goals to be achieved by these actions. He wanted to increase the tax that went to the Company under his name. He also did not want any intervening political authority between himself and the villages. The Palayakkars immediately realized that these actions would alter the political arrangements dramatically regarding not only control over land but also control over the use of violence. That is, Place believed that the Palayakkars not only deprived the Company of a large amount of money but also were responsible for many disturbances and robberies. In April 1795, about six months after he was appointed, he wrote:
A casual circumstance which came to my knowledge some time ago respecting a robbery committed at Madras afforded me some arrangements for the better security of property which has been so frequently exposed to open violence and concealed attacks. By having fortunately succeeded in securing the principal accomplices of the robbery in question I was progressively led to the apprehension of others who had been convicted on various similar occasions until I have now in confinement 35 persons who have been guilty of this crime. He claimed to have traced a large network of persons whom he labeled as thieves and from whom he had recovered much stolen property. This, he said, had reduced the number of robberies both in the Jagir and elsewhere.
Place’s transactions with the Palayakkars related in part to the way in which public violence was used. As Thomas Munro wrote, “In cases of murder it was his [the Palayakkar’s] duty to produce the murderer and in cases of theft to produce both the thief and the property stolen.” Even before Place became collector, another British official in the Jagir, Richard Dighton, had been uncomfortable with the way in which the Palayakkars used public violence and torture to find thieves and stolen objects. He felt, however, that there was no option but to leave the entire enquiry about thieves in the hands of the Palayakkars,
Dighton categorized certain “tribes” as criminals by birth as a way to rationalize the continued use of torture and violence by the Palayakkars.
in whose borders the robbery may have been committed and who are by the custom of the country bound to make good to the party the property stolen and in order to indemnify themselves to discover what is become of the stolen property.…[But, he said, to find out who had stolen the goods,] the Polygar often employs methods which according to our ideas of criminal justice appear very harsh and cruel. However I cannot help thinking that unless the Polygar had the liberty of exercising these punishments he would be very unwilling to make restitution for the loss sustained. I have hitherto avoided giving any authority to the practice of such methods, but left them unnoticed with a determination not to interfere, unless I should receive information of any excessive cruelties being used or any greater punishment being inflicted than the nature of the crime deserved and in doing this I am actuated by a conviction, that were no such punishment allowed, there would be no safety of property in these districts, as there are a certain tribe of people who make thievery a profession and who would not be induced to give up the stolen goods by a simple confinement of their persons.
Place’s strategy regarding public violence moved beyond the construction of local knowledge to replication of local behavior. We have noted that, despite Place’s efforts to project both the past and some aspects of present society of the local area as harmonious, he also proposed himself as a constructed version of an Asiatic despot. In that way, he often used flogging both to inflict pain and to humiliate. Place’s conception of his authority emerged from the interaction of ideas he brought from England with Palayakkar behavior and other ideas of “Asiatic despotism” (themselves produced both on the subcontinent and elsewhere). In that persona or self-presentation, he felt that he should be able to punish and use violence against any villagers who sought to hide information about robberies or engaged in other activities that Place felt were “disorderly.”
One incident illustrating this “despotic behavior” occurred at a village named Numbal in present-day Saidapettai taluk (of what later became the Chingleput district). Numbal was one of two villages granted by the Nawab of Arcot in 1763 to Shamier Sultan, an Armenian merchant located in Madras. Though located within the Jagir, which had been granted to the Company, Numbal was considered by Shamier Sultan to be outside the Company’s authority. Therefore, when Place sought information about a group of thieves who had sheltered there, Shamier Sultan’s local employees sent back “an impertinent message and got together some of the Nabob’s Sepoys to set me at defiance.” Since it was possible that the Numbal villagers were connected with the robberies, it was, Place believed, quite appropriate for him to punish them for concealing the robbers. This incident is interesting, showing that Place felt that his own political function gave him the right to display the same license regarding public violence as did behavior of those very Palayakkars about whom Dighton had been so squeamish.
According to an account of the incident from the two sons of Shamier Sultan (named John and Nuzur Jacob Shamier), the difficulty started on 31 March 1798 when the Amil of Poonamallee (a Company tax-collecting employee and subordinate of Place) wrote a letter to the Amil of the “Shamiers of Numbel.” The Amil wrote that the “Rajshree Thooryavarkal” (Place) wanted Venkatarayan, Shamier Sultan’s Numbal amildar, and several others to go to Place’s kacceri or office. On 4 April 1798, the Shamiers wrote, Venkatarayan was about to depart when a group of sepoys and Dalayats or armed messengers with Place’s Amil from Poonamallee appeared “unexpectedly” at Numbal and asked Venkatarayan why he had not come to Place’s office. Next, the sons of Shamier Sultan reported, the Poonamallee Amil asked the whereabouts of the other four people whom Place sought. They found one of them, a man named Aiyakutti, and took him and Venkatarayan to a spot about three hundred yards away where Place had arrived with his Dubash in a grove of trees. Later, they went to Place’s office. When Venkatarayan and Aiyakutti were unwilling to provide information regarding the robbers who had been “plundering the district,” Venkatarayan was flogged with forty stripes and Aiyakutti with thirty. (In fact, Venkatarayan was given a “sentence” of forty-eight minus eight stripes with a cane, and Ayakutti thirty-six minus six. Apparently, the deduction in the flogging was a way to indicate Place’s “grace” or “mercy.” This was similar to the function of the “mercy” of the English king in granting pardons to people condemned to death in eighteenth-century England.) The sons of Shamier reported that for security reasons some sepoys “belonging to his Highness the Nabob” customarily remained in the village, apparently because it was still considered to be a village in the gift of the Nawab, even though the Nawab had himself granted the entire Jagir to the British. When two of these sepoys appeared in the crowd, Place had both of them flogged with twelve stripes of a cane simply for being there. Moreover, Place is reported to have said that unless the sepoys left the village he would have them shot. In due course, Place also had a declaration taken from Venkatarayan, whom he suspected of participating in the marauding, and fined him and Aiyakutti rupees 25. Place then confined them both in Kunnattur, an important weaving village in the present-day Saidapettai taluk on the southern bank of the large Chembirambakkam artificial irrigation tank.
Place was specifically reprimanded by his superiors for being too severe in flogging Aiyakutti and Venkatarayan at Numbal. Nevertheless, Place’s purposes are clear. He intended to take the use of violence away from the Palayakkars by reserving it to himself in his role as an efficient, centralizing monarch. In another attempt to contain all juridical power within his person, he also tried, as we have seen, to induce all Palayakkars to come to his kacceri or office, where they were forced to demonstrate the validity of the privileges they claimed. In another connection, two British merchants, Henry Sewell and Richard Woolf, whose local position was threatened by Place’s behavior in the 1790s, wrote that “we have no doubt that it has been and still is the desire of the Collector’s servants to have all Europeans removed from any possessions in the country with a view by that means of exercising a more despotic sway over the natives, unrestrained by the presence of those who might report their conduct in its proper light.”
Place wanted his own authority to be visible and symbolic. For instance, he complained that the way in which the committee of police from Madras town operated in “his” Jagir reduced the prestige and legitimacy of the Jagir collector. He pointed to the fact that when the police committee made a proclamation about fixing the prices of articles for the Madras market, they did so by “beat of Tom [Tamil “tamukku”] in front of my Amildar’s cutcherry [office] under the protection of a military force [and] to require the Buzar people to wait on them on the pain of a heavy fine.…The beating of a tom and levying of a fine…are privileges peculiarly belonging to a Collector in his own districts.” In the Jagir, particularly, Place felt that the collector’s authority should be paramount over “every description of people.” Place’s idea was that a collector’s authority should be more or less “despotic” and that the symbolic apparatus connected with the office should correspond with that notion. His behavior clearly drew on an amalgam of different forces that came from both England and the local environment, from books, from informants, and from examples set by other actors in this field of reference.
Another strategy aimed at removing the use of violence from the lower levels of the state structure involved jettisoning the idea of the Palayakkars altogether. This was suggested by a collector named Greenway, a successor of Place. He felt that most Palayakkars should be pensioned off and their fees devoted to the new police. He also believed that the whole conception of the system and the name should be changed; this process involved abolishing the name “Palayakkar” or “poligar.” To his way of thinking, the name “signified rather the leader of a banditti than an officer of police.” The goal of his strategy would be to “destroy all hope of the old system being revived.” He wanted to empty the signification of the Palayakkar in the face of the new signifiers—that is, British juridical control—and in its place insert the new definition of the state created by the Company. The negotiated behaviors and institutions related to the historical tasks in which Place and many others were involved, then, meant the removal of violence from lower levels and the use of the “Asiatic depot” model as part of that activity.
One way in which state officials participated in this emptying process involved the writing of texts; one such text was the official Chingleput Manual penned by Crole. Prior to the siege of Madras by the French commander Lally in January 1759, Crole, in the Chingleput Manual, had said:
Crole wrote that these Palayakkars lived by hunting “when plunder was not to be had.” When both the Nawab and the British began to withdraw their troops from “outlying stations,” the Palayakkars became more and more interested in plunder. Two of them in particular, Rangappa Nayak and Vartappa Nayak, “lived in two jungles, between which lay the fort of Tripassore [Tirupaccur].” At this point, wrote Crole, Vartappa Nayak and Rangappa Nayak became “regular pests” in the area around Tirupaccur and even began to plunder grain and cattle from the villages near Poonamallee soon after Ensign Crowley’s force withdrew. He also noted that four companies of sepoys under an Indian commander, Jemal Saheb, had to be used to subdue them. Ultimately, the Tirupaccur Palayakkars agreed to pay rupees 14,000 (about pagodas 421) as tribute to the Nawab of Arcot until the war of 1780.
The condition of the district was, in all corners, one of unrest and disorder. The vain-glorious boastings of the French regarding their approaching conquest of the whole of the English possessions, incited the small robber chiefs, or Poligars, who lived in the uncultivated tracts, covered with palmyras [palm trees] and scrub jungle with which the district abounded, to rear the head of insolent regard of authority.
After the retreat of French Commander Lally from Madras in 1759, the British took over Tirupaccur and Poonamallee. Crole said that neither of the Palayakkars expected such a turn of events:
But, wrote Crole, at that point the Company sought conciliation. Both of these men then submitted themselves to the British on the condition that they “place themselves and their forces at the disposal of the commanders of the two forts of Tripassore and Madras.” Crole, like Greenway, sought to empty the signification of “poligar” to perform a new and imperative historical task—the creation of a unified state with a sedentary population that was embedded and increasingly interdependent. To accomplish this goal, it was necessary to formulate the past in such a way as to create the future.
The English stronger than ever, chas[ed]…before them the foes who had seemed certain, a couple of months before, to swallow them up. They [the Palayakkars Rangappa Nayak and Vartappa Nayak] now quaked in anticipation of the vengeance, which seemed certain to overtake them for the robberies and barbarities, committed on the helpless villagers during the dark hours of the siege.
Another aspect of the interdependent society sought by Place and others was a self-regulating political economy. In particular, Place sought to invoke the ideas of Adam Smith to prevent state control over prices for the markets in Madras. In May 1798, he wrote to the committee of police:
He criticized the new arrangements made with fishermen in nearby villages, noting that “for the exclusive obligation they are under has been made an excuse for their demurring to supply my own table with the little I require, it therefore has all the operation of a monopoly.”
My practice founded upon a principle of sound policy has always been to leave the market free and unrestrained, to guard against imposition by forstalling, engrossing or monopolizing, but to leave the prices of all articles whatsoever to the natural course of demand, by which competition is excited, and they will at all times sell at the lowest possible rates.
Taken together, then, a variety of strategies shaped new behaviors to both create and express altered political circumstances. Instead of controlled prices to benefit Madras town, Place attempted to create a new kind of political economy in which the rituals and granting of temple honors would exercise a new signification to serve a new set of political requirements. The goal of religion would become less and less to confine the sacred to a given place or individual and more to dissipate the sacred among all individuals, thus making them useful, cooperative, productive citizens. Similarly, violence would no longer be in the hands of the Palayakkars but would be at the disposal of the state, which would gradually abandon its use to control its citizens. At the same time, Place wanted the market to operate invisibly so that the economy would regulate itself without state intervention. To use the words expressing the utopian views of the “native revenue officer” quoted in the Introduction, this would be a society in which rights would be mutually respected and breaches regulated without the “interference of Government.”
Creating New Ideas of Leadership and Sacrality
South Indian historiography is marked by pronounced debate regarding roles played by temples and by rulers of “the little kingdoms” of the region. This debate has attempted to uncover the source and power of new leadership and new conceptions regarding sacrality. Nicholas Dirks has argued the centrality of “the little kingdom” in contrast to the Appadurai-Breckenridge formulation in which, in Dirks’ words, “sovereignty is essentially procured in temples, where the deity is the paradigmatic sovereign. Further, [in this model] all endowments are equal at the level at which they are dependent on particular endowments for their status within the temple.”
In Dirks’ view, the Appadurai-Breckenridge analysis puts “too much stress on the autonomy of temples and temple honors.” Rather, says Dirks, “the kinds of honors that constituted authority in the old regime were those received as shares of worship in local temples as well as those granted as emblems and titles (pirutus) by kings.” Temple ceremony or puja was “a root metaphor for political relations.” Dirks concludes that, “like religion itself, the temple was reinvented in an attempt by the colonial state to appear as the protector of all that was good and inviolable in Indian culture and life force that had pulsed through them in the old regime.”
In contrast to these characterizations, I would argue that temples and religion were not reinvented by the colonial state but were produced dialogically by the British and local individuals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a way to redefine the sacred and to disaggregate it into all individuals. The example of Place’s relation with the Varadaraja temple in Kanchi provides evidence that a “new pulse” was being created through a new competition between local knowledges that involved persons from the area as well as the British. This invocation to create knowledge focused attention on temples, sacrality, and religion per se. Place and his local participants involved in the distribution of temple honors thus incited construction of a new kind of useful, productive religion. Indeed, the definition of what came to be Hinduism or the temple was not imposed or reinvented by the British or by the Indo-British “state.” The complicated process of redefining religion included not only activity around the temple itself but also the act of disconnecting the political from the religious and the related process of placing the monopoly of violence in the hands of the state. Given the complexity of the process, we cannot attribute these cultural products to Europeans or to the colonial state alone in a top-down fashion; we must include in that new productive process the many, many individuals from the whole subcontinent who participated.
The extent to which these dialogically produced religious and political mechanisms became important in South India has been wellarticulated recently in work by Mattison Mines and Vijayalakshmi Gourishankar. Mines and Gourishankar argue that individuality and leadership do exist in the South Asian and South Indian contexts. In their view, the South Indian “Periyār” or big man “lacks the characterizing values of liberty and equality [Louis] Dumont…associates with Western individualism, which concurs with the sense, if not the reality, of personal freedom and of individuals as equals.” Instead, leadership in South Asia refers to the “galactic” leadership idea of Stanley Tambiah, which includes “social identity marked by eminence, achieved identity associated with deliberate striving after positions that confer honor and establish a status of dominance, charisma, public recognition of the instrumental role played by unique persons in groups, and autonomy defined by responsibility for what one does.” Mines and Gourishankar note that while temporal sources of dominance such as land can be shared, temple honors cannot. The use of temple honors by these important persons, they say, explains “a great deal about the relationship between politics and religion…because they distinguish individuals [emphasis in original].”
Dirks has also argued, as Mines and Gourishankar note, that “colonial rule removed issues of [juridical] power from local political struggles, so that in a sense struggles over symbolic markers of status were all that was left to politics,” or “the hollow crown.” The evidence provided by the interaction of Place and the local population of Kanchipuram (along with the definition of individuality and leadership to which Mines and Gourishankar refer) indicates the development of a cultural formation of individuality based on the need for more and more interdependence in a new civil society. In this environment, there would not necessarily be more equality. Rather, as Stephen Mennell has written, “Interdependence does not mean equal interdependence: those who are less dependent on others than others are on them remain more [juridically] powerful. But the web of interdependence increasingly constrains all—the more powerful and the less powerful. And this has long-term effects on their feelings and behavior.” The previous relation of temporal power to religion in the distribution of temple honors was therefore put at risk by Place’s taking over the function of distributor of these honors. Place’s behavior represented a set of historical relationships that sought to reproduce traditional categories or gave them new significations relative to the new historical requirements. The significations privileged by this late eighteenth-century dialogism were selected to fill the specific need for a more interdependent and more restrained civil society.
Place, like many local persons, as well as Englishmen and other Europeans before and after him, sought to “take the role of the other” in order to innovate in this cultural realm. Place situated his actions, in granting temple honors to a large variety of individuals, at the Varadarajaswami temple in Kanchipuram on the basis of his understanding of the role of Tamil king or “Asiatic despot.” He also brought to this activity a strong sense that religion ought to make one prosperous, happy, and cooperative in a society that would run by itself. There is also much evidence that his ideas were put into operation with the assumption that exchange and obligation provided the motive forces necessary to run a political structure. We know, for instance, that when he was in the process of introducing his “new system” of tax assessment into the Jagir he was forced to employ a large number of unusual methods to attain his goal. One strategy we have already identified brought in tenants or Payirkkaris to take over as Mirasidars to cooperate with him.
This creation of special ties was repeated in hundreds of other contexts. For instance, Place obtained special rewards for his office staff in exchange for their loyalty. When the Board of Revenue resisted granting these benefits in March 1796, he wrote that though he sought the assistance of the government in punishing certain individuals such as the “artful, designing, and culpable part of the inhabitants let me not be deprived of the superior gratification of distributing rewards to the meritorious.” He also said that “with regard to my own servants [staff in the cacceri or office] I almost stand in the predicament of having professed my promise, under an expectation that they would receive their well earned reward, I have exercised a rigour over them which without it will leave an everlasting reproach upon me.” Their responsibilities, he felt, had increased enormously and they should be remunerated. Place, of course, sought to wean the tax officials away from a dependence on the Dubashes to make them more dependent on the Company. In many ways, he was seeking to create a staff that was gelded, that is, a group not subject to the pressures of a local kinship system who could then spend more effort on public service. But he also emphasized his reliance on his own staff when he told his “servants,” during the “distribution” of these monies to the amildars on 10 November 1796, that if they performed well they would continue to receive rewards from the Company in the future. The Board could well understand, then, he said, “what must be my situation, if whilst in charge of an important office, where my word should be inviolate, I were to disappoint those who have every claim to my approbation and appear to have deluded them into a dependence upon the assurances hereby given which I was neither sincere in making nor able to fulfill.” Equally, Place could argue that this investment by the Company produced loyal servants who could be relied on to work independently in the Company’s interest. By contrast, if he were forced to personally superintend his staff members, it would detract from his main assignment and the loss to the state, in fact, “might be much greater.” Essentially, Place argued that to increase revenue the government would have to pay more for its employees—for their labor and their loyalty. The Company was as dependent on these men as was Place.
To convince the government, Place referred to the service performed by his staff in increasing the tax collections in the Jagir:
Though Place succeeded in winning these rewards only for the office staff in charge of confidential documents, he still sustained his function as a distributor of royal rewards. His dependence on the loyalty of his staff and the interaction between them illustrates in many ways the processual nature of Place’s presumptions, as an individual who operated in a patrimonial or kingly environment (as opposed to one who was attached to a bureaucratic system). Place, despite his bureaucratic interest in accounting and fiscal responsibility, wanted to build a system in which he would be a king, making progresses through the district to receive petitions and give out rewards and honors in person to those of “his kingdom.” Place’s hopes for the revival of the Jagir were expressed in his desire to reward people who responded to his appeals to values that themselves were in the process of altering.
I am aware how little the necessities of Government at this Juncture admit of liberality or profusion, but with pleasure, I appeal to its candour to say how much greater they might have been, but for the opportune surplus which they received from the Jagheer, and how much they have therefore been relieved by an abundant and punctual revenue which the Jagheer was at no former period, even the most prosperous, thought capable of yielding.
The goal of ritual thus began changing to one focused more and more on usefulness and productivity. For instance, in May 1797, he requested permission to grant a reward to a person named Swami Mudali, “whose merits and assiduity in the repair of Madurantakam tank [reservoir] and several other works, I do not think have ever been equalled.” Here, it appears that Place was trying to formulate what was in fact a heteroglot conception of the past (the creation of ancient cities, waterworks, temples, roads) through a system of rewards to make people and their religion more productive and useful. Swami Mudali apparently was one of the people who responded to Place’s hopes and invocation.
Swami Mudali and hundreds of others who were a part of Place’s gift-giving and other ritual activities saw recognizable aspects of their own culture being enacted around them. Place could have no idea how he was being construed, or the extent to which previous meanings of Tamil or other local kingship came into doubt. These alterations did not emerge solely from Place’s actions, however; they resulted from a much larger process in which he played only a small part.
Therefore, like the Sankarachariyar (Mines and Gourishankar’s example), Place acted as an efficient administrator. To use the words of Mines and Gourishankar as applied to contemporary Tamil society, Place served as a “focal officeholder of a powerful organization” and was “a charismatic public leader who claims and uses a wide variety of symbols of kingship.” Like the Shankarachariyar, Place also set up special mechanisms to “fund the daily rituals of the temple and finance temple projects aimed at entertaining the public with grand and opulent displays.” But, at the same time, Place’s behavior and that of thousands of others who participated in his project put the previous meanings of the Tamil king in doubt. Although inequities remained, as the division of labor became more complex and an embedded society began to develop, people came gradually to be far more connected with one another. These increasingly powerful relationships tended to restrict the behavior of all elements of the population.
At the same time, it is problematic to relate these Tamil leaders, as Mines and Gourishankar have done, to David Shulman’s description of warrior-heroes of ancient Cangam or Sangam times, who often “achieve, in the compositions of their poets, a winning individuality conveyed by unique dramatic results.” In this development of the relationship of the individual to the sacred, we are seeking to describe a general process whose aspects are directly associated with contingent historical requirements. It is very important for us therefore not to collapse the historical dimension of the process in order to prescribe it. If we lose sight of the historical dimension, we invoke the same techniques as Place himself conjured up.
Place accomplished his tasks with the assistance of local Tamil and Sanskrit ideas about both cosmology and the presumed ethnography of the local territory. Like the Rabelaisian laughter of the marketplace, these actions came from no one in particular. Although they were aimed by individuals at particular audiences, taken together they constituted a construction independent of the specific contributions of these individuals. The actions, in turn, were immediately used and changed by their audiences to carry yet a further elaboration into the next interaction.
Making the Jagir into a Garden as a Way to Connect the British to the Future
Historians have argued that the only reason the British invested so much money and energy into artificially created reservoirs and other mechanisms for storing and using water, in an environment where water was particularly valuable, was simply to increase agricultural productivity. There is no question that this was indeed an important concern. Even Place had a clause inserted in agreements signed by land controllers to the effect that, “if our tank or tanks should undergo a compleat repair, then this muchilka [agreement] shall be void and we shall be ready to enter into a new settlement [tax assessment] for our said village according as the Circar may desire.” Though it is not possible to discount this fact, given the desire for a greater tax base, there is also evidence to show that the British pursued this strategy for other reasons as well. In a report on three subdivisions of the Jagir (Madurantakam, Tirupaccur, and Kanchipuram) written by Place in October 1795, he made a plea to build up the two towns of Madurantakam and Uttiramerur, about forty-five miles to the south and southwest, respectively, of Madras town. He was struck by the fact that the population of the Jagir was attracted by water. “For I can discover no other reason why they should formerly have contained such a number of Inhabitants as they plainly have done, being not more favorably situated than any other spots for any kind of trade.” Madurantakam in the mid-1790s, he believed, provided an example of the difficulties in inducing a population to return to an area without the attraction of water. “The tank [of Madurantakam],” he wrote, “broke many years antecedent to the War of 1780, [the Second Anglo-Mysore war].” Though Madurantakam was located on the “high southern road” from Madras, that alone did not appear to offer any great attraction to people. After all, he said, Madurantakam had in 1795 only 250 houses, whereas Place believed that the town had had “some thousands of houses before the War [of 1780].” Likewise, he believed that Uttiramerur toward the north and the west “seems to have been as extensive” as was Madurantakam since it bore vestiges of “much more opulence in the remains of numerous Pagodas [temples] and Chaultries [rest houses for pilgrims] but [now] contains very few more than 300 houses.”
Place plainly felt that there were several ways by which the population of these and other towns could be brought back, including the rebuilding of people’s houses for them, the reconstructing of their temples, and even more conclusively the repairing of the Jagir tanks or reservoirs. Place said that “if but some of the principal tanks are put into thorough repair, and a uniform system established, capable of yielding a much larger revenue than I have been attempting to settle, that in value it may be made to equal the richest spot in India of the same extent, and that the happiness of the people shall rise in a proportional degree.” The accounts of the Nawab of Arcot projected another part of this perception of the Jagir as the potential garden of the subcontinent when they characterized the Jagir as the choicest part of my country [emphasis in original] when he gave it to the Company. Place pursued the task of repairing the tanks in what could almost be described as a religious fervor. Irrigation became a cultural solution. Place devoted a total of pagodas 150,000 to repairing these artificial reservoirs, an amount that exceeded the entire yearly tax income from the Jagir in the early 1790s before he became collector. He felt that “when completed the Tanks will for many years be monument[s] of British Dominion in India and it would be a pity that the same spirit of liberality should not be extended to other objects [such as temples, roads, and the like], united to accomplish the same public benefit.” This activity aimed, therefore, partly to increase wealth but also to extend and communicate the sense of a commanding British presence in the environment.
Formulating the Agricultural Past of Tondaimandalam
If the British used efforts to reshape, repopulate, and rejuvenate the environment as a way to establish their firm connection with the Jagir (to naturalize and place themselves, as it were), various local actors asserted similar connections. Tamils regarded the region around Madras as the center of a cultural region called Toṇḍaimaṇḍalam, one of five such clusters in this language area. Further claims to the area were pressed by the Tondaimandala vellalas, who told British and other investigators that they were the original agricultural settlers in the region. They supported this claim by reference to considerable oral folk material. Other subcastes formed a substantial proportion of the population of the area. These included the paraiyars, who served generally as the Padiyals and Pannaiyals of the vellala Mirasidars, performing the tasks of plowing, transplanting, weeding, and harvesting the crops; the pallis, known as vanikula kshatriyas in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; and the Telugu peasant subcastes originally from the north. According to the 1871 census, in the British administrative area called Chingleput District—which also served as the center of the Tondai cultural area—by far the largest proportion of the inhabitants were vellalas. They amounted to 62 percent of the population, while the paraiyars were 24.3 percent, and the pallis 19 percent. Brahmans, who had palli (not paraiyar) Padiyals and Pannaiyals, were only 3.6 percent of the total.
Thus, local claims to dominance in the area required certain constructions of the past as well as manipulation of dialogically produced documentation techniques such as the census. Formulations of the past necessarily became interactive projects. For instance, from the last decade of the eighteenth century the British sought to document the relationship of these populations to the Tondai country. In the early years of the nineteenth century, Colonel Colin Mackenzie, originally a military engineer, gathered large collections of local oral materials. Some of those oral histories, “transcribed” by Mackenzie’s local assistants, illustrated the story or the “history” of the entry of the agriculturalist vellalas in- to the Tondai country and their battles with the local “forest people” called the kurumbar. In addition, the remains of what were conceived to be the mud forts of the kurumbar, coupled with the oral history, caught the attention of British officials in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Thus, documentary projects, although identified with the names of British administrators, were often dominated by local inhabitants and local physical evidence. A prime example of this is the collaboration between Shankarayya and Ellis. Of all the British responsible for helping to document the past of the Tamil region, perhaps Francis Whyte Ellis, who died of cholera in Ramnad in 1819, is the best known. During his tenure as collector of Madras, he tried to describe the land system of this Tamil cultural region. In 1814, he wrote an extended account of the proprietary system of this region that took the form of comments on the mirasi land controlling system still operating with some force in the Tondai region. Ellis’s account of the Tondai country, even more than that produced by Place, formed part of an intensely interactive formulation of local Tamil culture. One educated individual named Shankarayya was very important in this process, although he died before Ellis’s manuscript was published. It was Shankarayya’s answers to a series of questions on mirasi that formed the basis of the material on which Ellis wrote his comments (referred to in this discussion as the Appendix). Shankarayya had held many posts in the Company’s revenue and judicial departments and was assigned to both the northern and southern districts of what became the Madras presidency (the “northern districts” were the largely Telugu ones and “southern districts” largely Tamil). He then obtained an appointment as head of Fort St. George College.
Although Shankarayya’s specific answers provided a strong basis for Ellis’s construction of the Tondai past, even Ellis argued that these ideas arose from a diffuse authorship. By way of mounting a case to authenticate his work on mirasi, Ellis wrote:
Ellis could make these assertions, of course, because he could find additional evidence to support Shankarayya’s insights. An unusually able linguist, he could read Telugu, Tamil, Kanarese, Malayalam, Sanskrit (in Grantha script), Hebrew, and apparently some Arabic and Persian. This gave him access to a wide variety of written texts not available to most members of the British bureaucracy in Madras. Indeed, the importance of access to language for this project is underscored by one part of Ellis’s task in the Appendix, which was to provide a large glossary of words then in use by Tamils in connection with the tax-gathering process for the Company. The way in which this glossary was itself constructed from a great variety of languages as well as written and oral traditions illustrates how heteroglot were these conceptions.
The facts respecting Mi’ra’si and it’s privileges are not matters of speculation, they are known to every inhabitant of the country where they exist, who are brought up in the habitual exercise and observation of them;—the terms which express them they have received from the lips of their mothers, they have formed the prattling of their infancy, and they remain indelible in their minds and on their tongues.
Part of Ellis’s self-assignment—encouraged, later, by his superiors, the Board of Revenue and the governor and his council in Madras—involved discerning whether an individual who was a Mirasidar (a person who had a share in what was a coparcenary proprietary system) could alienate that share. That is, Ellis wanted to know whether mirasi constituted a kind of real property so that the British could in turn apply their own legal apparatus to these transactions. Also, Ellis sought to write a history of the Tondai country to show that it was possible to use Tamil literary sources (such as the Kānchi Purāṇam) to illustrate the origin of the land system and caste groups who created it. Within this latter task, one of his main goals was to identify with considerable precision not only the extent of the Tondai area but also the actual number of the inhabitants who lived there when it was first settled by agriculturalists (as compared with the late eighteenth century, when Place first gave it centrality by his descriptions). Ellis contended that, for instance:
Both Ellis and his superiors, the government of Madras and the Madras Board of Revenue, agreed to believe that it was possible to identify with extraordinary precision the exact boundaries of Tondaimandalam and the ancient subdivisions within it. Indeed, when the government of Madras published Ellis’s Appendix in 1818, the Appendix included the sentiments of the governor and his council regarding the possibility of precision noting, for instance, the fact that the map of the “country known to the Natives by the name of Tondamandalam…[had been prepared] under the directions of the Officer in charge of the Survey Department” of the Madras government. Information on this map had been contributed by a variety of sources. Ellis found that the indigenous predecessors of the vellalas and the British—the kurumbars—had a series of territorial subdivisions called kōạạams improved on by the agriculturalist vellalas who introduced other subdivisions called nātus (or, as it is written in English, “nadus”). The government of Madras noted that although Thomas Barnard’s 1770s map of the Jagir did not mention these kottams and nadus, Place’s 1799 report did so. Thus, although the subdivision had been bureaucratically documented rather late, the governor’s council argued the age-old authenticity of this spatial organization and asserted that for the Tamils living in the area in 1818 all these territorial subdivisions still had great contemporary meaning:
the extent and boundaries of the [Tondai] country thus settled, the number of the settlers and its variation in population and property in later times are to be traced, not by vague tradition only, as is too commonly conceived to be the case with respect to the remains of Indian History, but in writings of different periods, as substantially authentic, probably, though intermixed with undisguised fable, as the records of most other countries.
By reducing all his oral material and other received versions to governmentally approved texts with maps produced by the survey department, Ellis gave to much of the system a monologic quality and a rigidity that it had not had. Momentarily, the mirasi system had become involved in the production of a centripetal project to create an authoritative “knowledge.”
To the people, however, these divisions, in detail at least, are still well known and, as frequently instanced in the following pages, are always referred to in deeds drawn up according to the old form. It could be easy, therefore, by enquiry on the spot to ascertain if not the precise boundary, the relative situations and general extent, not only of every Cottam, but of every Na’du, throughout that part of the province which remains in possession of the original Tamil settlers, and they may, possibly be traced, even in those parts from which they have been expelled by the encroachments of their Telugu and Cannadiya neighbours.
The following outline of the centripetal project will illustrate how it worked. As noted, Ellis sought to show that the original agricultural settlers called the vellalas (supported by Chola kings from the south) had overcome a group of forest people called the kurumbar who built mud forts. These mud forts, he felt, were maintained by the Cholas long after they conquered the region, “for the sites of many, marked by high mounds and deep hollows…are still pointed out.”
From this original base of society, Ellis then attempted to show the extent of certain areas to the north (where Telugu was spoken) as the region where warrior groups had taken over from the Tamil vellalas. He also wanted to document the fact that there was still a substantial region in the lower Tondai area (a Tamil-speaking zone) in the hands of the descendants of the “original” agricultural settlers of the region. Though a population who were not vellalas held a “considerable portion of the whole mirasi right…the institutions of the ancient Tamil Government, notwithstanding the innovations of recent times, remain in a great degree in force.” He also found, for instance, that in 1797–98, when a survey was undertaken by Place, the proportion of the Mirasidars (coparceners) to the rest of the population had a ratio of 1 to 6.5, or were about 16.5 percent of the total population. By contrast, at the time of their first agricultural settlement, he claimed that the vellala Mirasidars had represented 20 percent of the entire population. He noted that, until the “termination of the Tamil government by the invading Telugus and Muslims[,] none but the Vellalar possessed or were qualified to possess landed property in the ground.” Moreover, as the proprietary system called kaniyatci (a Tamil word) or mirasi (a later Arabic term adopted into Urdu and Tamil) developed, not only was it impossible for any person except a vellala to have a share in the product of the land, but the right of even allowing a vellala to become a member (Mirasidar or Kaniyatcikkarar) of this coparcenary group could only be granted by vellalas. In this construction, then, Ellis interwove linguistic culture, region, conquest, and land-controlling systems together in a political project that could be linked directly to the polity that British officials and others wanted to create for the future. This helped to unite culture to land.
The concept of a cultural region played an important part in the project whose outline we are tracing. The Tamil countryside was considered to consist of five socio-emotive regions called tinais. Each of these tinais (mountains, forest or pasture, countryside, seashore, and wasteland) had its own character. In addition, the Tamil country consisted of five cultural regions called Tondainadu or Tondaimandalam, Cholanadu or Cholamandalam, Pandyanadu, Kongunadu, and Cheranadu. In his Appendix, Ellis proceeded to show by extracts from the Kuvattu Puranam the exact extent of what he conceived to be the Tondai country. This region, which Tamils identified with the present-day area encompassing the administrative divisions of South Arcot, North Arcot, and the Chingleput districts, he delineated as encompassing 16,645 square miles. Upper Tondai, largely located in what was then the “native state” of Mysore, contained 5,168 square miles. He concluded that “the best features of ancient polity are now obliterated” but that at the same time “enough remains…of former institutions to prove that they were the same as other countries, swayed originally by the sceptre of the Tamil Princes.” One of the ways he indicated the extent to which ancient practices still obtained was to point to the fact that the paraiyar laborers still possessed “their original mirasi offices,” which indicated that they were still part of an “original polity.” Furthermore, he noted that the pallis (who were also sometimes Padiyals and Pannaiyals of the brahman Mirasidars) and the kaikolar or sengunthar weavers “retain the Tamil language.” What is of interest for us is that the sengunthars were part of the left-caste division who had very broad spatial ideas, in contrast to the vellalas whose self-conception as a right caste was one of extreme localism. The sengunthars throughout the pre-European period considered the propagation of Tamil an almost sacred responsibility. We know that it was the sengunthars who were responsible for spreading a version of the famous Tamil epic by Kamban from the Tamil into the Malayalam area to the west. We will see in the Conclusion of this work that in the twentieth century the sengunthars as left subcastes (many associated with temples and the performing arts) came to play an important role in spreading Tamil as part of a large-scale political movement. Therefore, long before the British arrival, mechanisms both spatial and cultural were at work in the Tamil region to connect large areas through the spread of Tamil. This activity was an essential ingredient in uniting what was considered Tamil culture and territory. Moreover, the policy of reducing spatial mobility during the course of the nineteenth century ultimately aided in identifying and fixing the constituent elements or villages to a large spatial regime considered quintessentially Tamil. The project of cultural “restoration,” then, brought even greater benefits to the left and right castes who participated in the dialogic process than it did to British administrators.
Another essential aspect of the project was the recognition that members of the Tondaimandala vellala subcastes considered themselves to be the original agricultural settlers of the area. Moreover, even though various groups, the most important of whom were the brahmans, had deprived many vellala of their rights to the mirasi, in 1797–98 the vellalas still comprised 53 percent of the Mirasidars in the Jagir or 14,757 of the total population of about a quarter of a million persons, followed in proportion by the brahman Mirasidars at 20 percent and Mirasidars of all the other subcastes at 27 percent. According to Ellis, not only had the number of vellala villages in the Tondai country decreased over the years, but the total number of vellala proprietors themselves had decreased as well. Some of the other castes had acquired rights to the mirasi or joint proprietorship by initially securing positions as Payirkkaris or Payirkkudis, tenants who were considered to be “strangers” or “outsiders” by the Mirasidars. Ellis also stated that it was his intention to show that it was possible to derive information
not perhaps precisely accurate nor very extensive, but more considerably than is generally supposed to exist, thereby to establish that there remain the means to tracing the right of landed property…which is claimed and in part enjoyed by the cultivators of the soil in that part of Tondaimandalam still in the possession of the Tamil Aborigines [the Tondaimandala vellalas] to a more remote antiquity than can justly be attributed to the generality of human institutions now existing.
He therefore placed “Tamil indigenous institutions” in an antique light, an important characteristic of the authoritative and monologic reconstruction of the past. How Ellis established his line of argument regarding the migration of the vellalas and their extermination of the kurumbar suggests how perilous was this process. One kind of source used by Ellis may have been a collection of Sanskrit manuscripts found at Pondicherry on the coast south of Madras. These, Ellis tried to prove, were manuscript compositions by Roberto di Nobili, a seventeenth-century Jesuit missionary who created a group of materials under the title “Vedas.” Ellis’s biographer described these materials as joining together expositions of Jesuit religious doctrines with much legendary history in classical Sanskrit verse “with a view to palming them off on the natives of the Dekkan as the work of the Rishis and Munis, the inspired authors of their scriptures.” However, Ellis probably based the dating of the vellalar conquest of the Tondai country, among other things, on another “history” that related the kurumbar to the coming of St. Thomas (traditionally Thomas is considered to have arrived at Mylapore, south of Madras town). This latter manuscript is noted as having been translated from Latin by a certain ñāṉapirakāsa Piḷḷai. Describing Thomas being appointed to supervise the propagation of Christianity in the area where the kurumbar king, Kantappa Rāja, ruled, the story seeks to show how Thomas defeated local brahmans by doing miracles and converting many people to Christianity. Interestingly, although Ellis rejected the Jesuits’ use of textual materials from the area to legitimize their ideas, he nevertheless used Christian dating and archaicized these sources as a means for making Tamil cultural material ancient and therefore usable in the new historical setting. Moreover, the historical imperatives associated with his work on mirasi required that he archaicize his constructions in much the same way as he accused Nobili of doing.
It is significant in our delineation of this project to note that, in an environment of heteroglossia involving a number of different interpretations that could be put on the “pasts” of the region, Ellis had decided to place it not in the local or regional antique past of the Chola. Instead he placed it precisely at the time of Christ, a way of reckoning time that was not only Western but associated with the reckoning of those who had juridical power. This was his technique for appealing to the ideas of other times and other places, as well as for suggesting a development synchronized with the history of the West. In this, at least, Ellis’s British audience was significant; as we know, however, Hindus believed that simply reckoning things by Christian ideas was shallow by comparison with Hindu notions, whose era stretched back much farther into antiquity. In this new construction, placing vellala entrance into the Tondai area for Ellis proved to be the beginning of a “new age,” a new millennium that was related to the West and western culture generally. Ellis’s contribution, like that made by any novelist, operated in a heteroglot environment. This was an arena in which a number of local and relatively autonomous voices or interpretations from different epochs could be invoked and in which a large number of meanings could be employed for a unified text. Those elements addressing a British audience existed side-by-side and interacted with elements of great meaning to other actors involved in the project. At the same time, Ellis engaged in dialogic activity in which he dealt with elements of the past, the present, and the future simultaneously; these heterogenous elements were even contradictory in their nature. Not surprisingly, the results were not homogenous intellectual structures.
Ellis’s argument, then, emphasized that the proprietary institutions of the Tamil-speaking part of the subcontinent retained many usages that were more ancient than other areas of the world. Though this was a decision to privilege one interpretation over another, it played a part in a general discourse involving the Tondaimandala vellalas, the Payirkkari tenants, and the paraiyar and palli Pannaiyals and Padiyals, all of whom invested a great deal in these emerging interpretations. It was also a system in which Ellis sought to connect this part of the subcontinent with the rest of the world and to connect the present with the past. However, by proclaiming the great antiquity (at least in Christian terms) of these institutions, he was also speaking about the value of these institutions for a more interdependent future. Ellis obviously intended to demonstrate the great similarities between the political, social, and proprietary institutions of the Tamil country and those of Britain. In that sense, he was fulfilling his historical function. At the same time, Ellis simply formed part of a large authoring process, the product of which addressed far more than Ellis’s avowed goals for the Company.
It was clear that the British and others from the area used the spatial fixing of the vellalas in the Tondai region as a way to prescribe sedentary villages for the area even though earlier evidence suggested that villagers moved about a great deal. Indeed, the emphasis on sedentary society certainly predated Ellis and his work. Prior to Ellis’s account of the mirasi proprietary land system in 1814, Place had outlined many of the same facts and ideas, drawn from his own Tamil, Telugu, and other informants. In a large report written in late 1798 and early 1799, Place had noted that the Chola Raja collected the “whole of the Mudali tribe called the Vellalars who were sent to settle Tondaimandalam.” Place also wrote that the country had been divided into territorial domains called kottams, a reference to kurumbar policies. He quoted a story about the meaning of the term “kaniyatci,” the older Tamil term for mirasi. According to Place and his local informants, the story indicated that the Chola king from the south had fixed the affections of the vellalas on the soil of the Tondai country “so strongly” that they could not even harbor a wish to leave. Thus, Place could argue that the spatialization of the vellalas in the villages of the Tondai country had begun long before the British arrived. At the same time, Place participated in the expansion of the idea of “vellala,” arguing that a person was considered a vellala if he had ever possessed the mirasi or kaniyatci right.
In other Company documents of the late eighteenth century, considerable information emerged to indicate that Company servants knew much about vellala self-ascription as the original agricultural settlers of the area. One document composed by the Board of Revenue focused on the value of the vellalas as sedentarizing agents. In an analysis of mirasi rights of early 1796, the Madras Board of Revenue noted that the right to kaniyatci or mirasi was originally conferred “in compensation for clearing lands…to fix the people to their respective villages.” All of this helps us understand to some degree the attitude that the British had about the function of the mirasi system and the place that the British believed the vellalas had in the Jagir in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. What it also illustrates quite clearly is that vellala self-ascriptions contributed to the general process that characterized the society of the Tondai region as both unchanging and composed of certain villages whose populations hardly ever moved. To achieve this result, both the vellalas and the British appealed to “normative” descriptions of other places and other times. In contrast, evidence suggests that at the end of the eighteenth century only slightly more than half of the Mirasidars of the Jagir were vellalas. What is more important, we know that the population moved continually because of trade, war, famine, searches for sufficient water resources, and work. Similarly, the material surrounding the repopulation of the Tondai region after the departure of Hyder’s armies provides another vivid example of this movement. Thus, interactional formulations about the “eternal unchanging villages of the Tondai country” primarily related to what local individuals and the British believed and served as projections of future social and political requirements. On the basis of these interactions among Ellis, Place, many other English employees of the Company, and thousands of local individuals, a social utopia constructed from the past was used to invoke a future cooperative and interdependent civil society. These utopian visions of progress and history provided the foundation for the dialogic construction not only of land but also of the future political order.
The Interactive Production of the Mirasi System
According to Ellis, the number of shares in the produce of the Tondai villages, as represented by those in the Jagir, had remained the same for many millennia since the village itself was founded. Moreover, Ellis believed that in each mirasi village the Mirasidars had rights called maniyams. These maniyams belonged to the Mirasidars and could not be taxed by the state under any condition; they constituted private property. If they were confiscated from a Mirasidar, Ellis wrote, the result would be “nothing short of tyranny and oppression”; when these expressions of “exaggerated authority” occurred there would be no room for resistance.
Ellis especially sought to examine the effect of the introduction of the Permanent Settlement in 1800 and 1801 into the area called the Madras district, an area encompassing both the town and its rural hinterland. The Permanent Settlement was a tax assessment system introduced into the Chingleput district in 1802 that fixed the level of the land tax permanently and contracted for collection purposes with large land controllers (rather than with individual cultivators or proprietors). According to Ellis, the Permanent Settlement enabled Mirasidars to keep their maniyam lands free of any kind of state tax but also facilitated their ability to transfer these rights to any person by sale, a right they previously had lacked. Ellis also argued that under this settlement not only had the pasankarai villages become arutikarai—from “several possession” to “individual possession”—but also another major alteration had occurred in rural relations involving the abandonment of a process of periodical redistribution of land. Though lands were not held in common and were not redistributed any longer after the early years of the century, the Permanent Settlement nonetheless did not greatly alter the unified character of mirasi villages in the Chingleput district. Moreover, transfers of land for which grants and certificates had been issued were no longer transfers of mirasi but of specific geographically defined “portions of land.” The creation of rights attached to specific plots held permanently was bound to affect the mirasi system. Though no right had been directly affected by the issue of certificates, the fact is that the process, Ellis believed, “must progressively lead to the entire extinction of mirasi.”
Obviously, Ellis believed that great damage had been done already to the previously pristine Tamil proprietary system in the Tondai country. He also believed that every attempt had to be made to put the Mirasidars in charge of their villages so that their rights to tax-free land such as maniyams would not be abridged. To accomplish the state’s goal, the Mirasidars themselves would be given the right to grant certificates to occupancy tenants and tenants-at-will. He based all these ideas on the presumption that this was “the original system,” hallowed by virtue of its antiquity and its connection with one of the seats of Tamil culture in the Tondai country. In his comments on proprietary forms, Ellis made primary reference not to British divisions of the territory such as districts but to what he conceived to be Tamil cultural divisions such as Tondaimandalam and Cholamandalam (Tamil “Cōḻamaṇḍalam”). What this indicates is that his primary intention was to privilege what interactively had been constructed as “indigenous Tamil” cultural ideas of land control. Those who sought to “understand” these spatial ideas necessarily altered and recreated them. Both Bundla Ramaswami Naidu’s attempts to “understand” the Christian chronological system and Ellis’s attempt to “understand” the Tamil spatial system became active behaviors. Both attempts were directed at epistemic arenas that were tension-filled and highly contested. Each had to construct his statements on what was alien ground, against another apperceptive environment.
Since Ellis’s ideas became monologic dogma by the middle of the century, it is of some interest to examine the kind of opposition that developed to them. In the second decade of the nineteenth century, another tax assessment practice was introduced into Chingleput and other districts called the ryotwari system. The ryotwari system assessed each individual (ryot), who was held responsible for paying the taxes on a given piece of land, and put in motion a process of tax reassessment every thirty years. Moreover, several years after the ryotwari system had been introduced, the Madras government began altering the way in which taxes were to be collected in the Madras presidency. In a letter to the “President and members of the Board of Revenue” written in August 1814, the secretary of the Revenue Department noted:
Various collectors were then sent a set of questions on proprietary forms. According to our evidence, the only person who responded to these queries was Ellis himself. A. D. Campbell said in 1817 that Ellis’s comments on mirasi rights were in response to certain questions of mirasi posed by the Board of Revenue on 2 August 1814: “The information they contain [Campbell wrote] is generally so correct and important that they [the Board of Revenue] beg leave to recommend that the enclosures of Mr. Ellis’ letter be printed for the use of the service at large.” By September 1817, the Board of Revenue wrote to Ellis saying that they wanted to print two hundred copies of his answers to the questions on mirasi and asked him to supervise the entire operation.
In preparing a final reply to the letter from the Honourable the Court of Directors in the Revenue Department, dated the 16th of December, 1812, the Honourable the Governor in Council has found that the information before the Government on particular points concerning the practical introduction of the decennial village-lease settlement, the usage in former revenue settlement, and the nature of landed tenure, is less precise and complete than the Governor in Council and the Honourable Court would wish to possess. I have, therefore been instructed to frame the annexed queries, and to desire that they may be circulated for answers to the collectors of the several districts into which the decennial village-lease settlement has been introduced.
However, when the Court of Directors heard that Ellis’s Appendix on mirasi had been printed, it wrote back to Madras seeking to discount the importance that the Board had placed on Ellis’s interpretations:
The Court of Directors was calling for a more dialogic production of meaning about proprietary relations in the Tamil area, possibly so that they or Company employees could select and shape from these an authoritative (and momentarily monologic) statement.
We are surprised [that] the replies of Mr. Ellis [who had meanwhile died in 1819 in Ramnad] are the only replies we hear of on this occasion. The queries were general. It is expedient that a question of this sort would be decided, not upon one man’s opinions, but by a consideration of all the information which can be obtained.…We disapprove of this printing and circulating of Mr. Ellis’s opinions alone, upon the ground that it must, to a great degree, have the effect of imposing upon the service the opinions of Mr. Ellis as the authoritative conclusions of the Government. At that time, however, the Government were without those means of forming a conclusion which they themselves had called for, namely, the replies of the several collectors. That the opinions of Mr. Ellis happened to coincide with the preconceived opinions of the Board of Revenue was only an additional reason for caution on your part, in order that a question of this magnitude might be decided, not on authority only, but on deliberate inquiry and full information.
More vigorous than even that of the Court of Directors was the resistance voiced by Thomas Munro, who by 1824 was a person of considerable stature and authority. Munro wrote his minute on mirasi about three years after the protest from the Court of Directors, aware that he spoke against monologic formulations already strongly held by the Board of Revenue:
Munro’s remarks simply provided another element in the creation of the mirasi system.
The Board of Revenue seem to have considered the mirasidars of the village were granted on the original settlement [of the village]. They say that on the original establishment of every Tamil village, the hereditary right to all the lands was vested in all the occupants. They speak of this original settlement as a thing that was perfectly certain. But all this is assumed without the least proof, and is altogether incredible. The account given by Mr. Ellis is not more satisfactory. He supposes that the Carnatic was chiefly forest until Ananda Chuckravorti, sovereign of Canara, whose capital was Banawassi, settled three hundred thousand colonists, of whom one-fifth were vellalers, in Tondumandalam. This is evidently fabulous. No prince ever planted such a colony; no country could have supplied the drain. The number of deaths from casualties in such an undertaking would have been as great as that of the surviving colonists. New settlers brought from Canara and Banawassi would die very fast in the Carnatic, even now when it is cleared. We are not told how three hundred thousand colonists were to maintain themselves among jungles to be cleared away, when we know that, even at this day, such a population could not be maintained without the aid of numerous tanks and water courses for the cultivation of the lands, which would be otherwise very unproductive. It is much more likely that the mirassi tenure, with all its incidents, as described by Mr. Ellis, was the gradual growth of a country long peopled and cultivated than that it was created at once by a grant to a particular tribe of Hindu cultivator, Vellalers, on their first settling in Arcot [the Tondai country], and that province was then an uncultivated forest. It probably originated in local circumstances, and perhaps more in the great number of tanks and water-courses constructed at the public expense, than in any other.
However, in the quarter century that followed, the formulations made by Ellis came to be more and more usable as a way to conceive of the requirements of the future. In this period, the primary goal was to produce a population immobilized, who managed permanent villages. For instance, the example provided by many Parakkuḍis (tenants without the right to retain their leases from year to year) in the Baramahal to the southwest was contrary to the goal of sedentarization. In the Baramahal area of Tamil Nadu, Parakkudis moved around in the period right before the monsoon, “especially during the months of March and April, the period at which the ryots from motives of caprice, superstition, or other causes migrate from one village to another, and that at which they received their cowle [agreement] for the year from the renters.” Ellis’s ideas about the pasts of Tondaimandalam came to strengthen those resolves to build a sedentary rural structure in the Chingleput district in order to fix in place a relationship of tenant and a particular parcel of land, the tax potential of which could be firmly determined by the state. The past thus became important for building a more embedded and cooperative rural society for the future.
By mid-century, Ellis’s ideas came to be inscribed in the semiofficial dictionary of Indian revenue and judicial terms compiled by the famous Orientalist H. H. Wilson. For instance, under the entry “Tondaimandalam” is the comment that “Mr. Ellis supposes it to have derived its appellation from tondama’n, a prince so named, who conquered the country probably before the era of Christianity, and granted peculiar privileges to the first settlers.” In 1893, B. H. Baden-Powell in his Land Systems of British India said that “Sir T. Munro wrote a minute, in 1824, which does not exhibit his usual insight into facts. He there questions the Vellalar immigration of Chingleput, and makes other more questionable statements. No one now doubts the historical truth of the immigration.” In the same context, he calls the mirasi system “the old Dravidian form of village.” That the validity of Ellis’s views on mirasi were accurate, said Baden-Powell, was proved by “its absolute concordance with what is observed in other parts of Madras.” The definitiveness and monologic quality of Ellis’s ideas proved convincing not only to British administrators but to the local actors who had interacted with him. That is, Mirasidars, and later even those who argued the case of Dravidianism in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, depended on this construction of the past. Finally, it has even been accepted by a modern economic historian of the Tamil region (see Conclusion).
To summarize my analysis, then, we see that in the period between 1790 and 1820 a series of intensive interactions between local populations and the Company employees in the Jagir focused on formulations of the past. These interactions may be characterized as positive, creative activities that did not destroy local culture. They were not exercises in which local institutions were reinvented by the British. Rather, local and autonomous voices produced new, historically derived and functional knowledge. Though some of these formulations, such as that about the mirasi system, were not officially adopted as monologic “truth” until midcentury, we will see that it was embraced by the Mirasidars, Payirkkaris, and paraiyar and palli Pannaiyals much earlier. Finally, this knowledge about the Mirasidar system was useful as a way to create a more sedentary, interdependent society whose behavior gradually became more and more restrained by the growth of the division of labor and consequently by embeddedness. Embeddedness, in turn, helped to shape notions of a Tamil culture that was geographically rooted in a particular place and socially expressive of certain sedentary relationships.
1. Special Commission on Zamindari in the Jagire, 9 April 1802, BC, no. 2117, IOL. [BACK]
2. Public violence is illustrated in what are obviously somewhat hostile accounts of behavior among the group called the kallar in the southern part of the Tamil country. In these accounts, the kallars are called “colleries.” An account of 1817 says, “The women are inflexibly vindictive and furious on the least injury, even on suspicion, which prompts them to the most violent revenge without any regard to consequences. A horrible custom exists among the females of the Colleries when a quarrel or a discussion arises between them. The insulted woman brings her child to the house of the aggressor, and kills it at her door to avenge herself. Although her vengeance is attended with the most cruel barbarity, she immediately thereafter proceeds to a neighbouring village with all her goods etc. In this attempt she is opposed by her neighbours, which gives rise to clamour and outrage. The complaint is then carried to the head Amblacarar, who lays it before the elders of the village, and solicits their interference to terminate the quarrel. In the course of this investigation, if the husband finds that sufficient evidence has been brought against his wife, that she had given cause for provocation and aggression, then he proceeds unobserved by the assembly to his house, and brings one of his children, and in the presence of witness, kills his child at the door of the woman who had first killed her child at his. By this mode of proceeding he considers that he has saved himself much trouble and expense, which would have otherwise have devolved on him. This circumstance is soon brought to the notice of the tribunal, who proclaim that the offense committed is sufficiently avenged. But should this voluntary retribution of revenge not be executed by the convicted person, the tribunal is prorogued to a limited time, fifteen days generally. Before the expiration of that period one of the children of that convicted person must be killed. At the same time he is to bear all expenses for providing food, etc., for the assembly during those days.” Account of T. Turnbull (1817), quoted in Thurston, Tribes and Castes, 3:54–55. In the first Tamil novel Piratāpa Mutaliyār by Mayūram Vetanāyaka Piḷḷai (1879; reprint, Madras: Sakti Kariyālayam, 1957), the hero’s grandmother orders that when Piratapa, the hero, made a mistake in his lesson, the teacher should not beat Piratapa, his student, but should beat his own son, Kanakasabai. Should Kanakasabai not be not there when Piratapa made mistakes, the teacher should instead beat himself on the back (p. 6). [BACK]
3. An ūḻikāṟṟu is the “destructive wind that prevails at the end of the world.” Tamil Lexicon (Madras: University of Madras, 1982) 1:502; A. L. Basham, The Wonder that was India (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1954), 320–21. I would like to express my thanks to George Hart for useful discussions on this matter. [BACK]
4. Place, 1799 Report, para. 49. [BACK]
5. Place, 1799 Report, para. 66. [BACK]
6. Bundla Ramaswami Naidoo, Memoir of the Internal Revenue system of the Madras Presidency, Selections from the Records of the South Arcot District (Madras: Superintendent, Government Press, 1908), no. 11:5. The preface is dated 1 January 1820. The document is filled with many such observations. Bundla Ramaswami Naidoo was “the most prominent nineteenth-century member” of the Madras Bandla family. Beri Timmana, one of the seventeenth-century members of that family, served as a chief merchant of the Company. The family belonged to the Perike or Perikaver weaving caste. Neild-Basu, “Dubashes,” 5. [BACK]
7. Letter from “Observer,” Madras Observer, 26 April 1792, quoted in Neild-Basu, “Madras,” 175. She also notes that the use of carriages by Indians was a significant change. In the 1770s and the 1780s, with the exception of the family of the Nawab of Arcot, only one carriage was kept by an Indian in all of Madras. Ibid., 176n. [BACK]
8. Place, 1799 Report, para. 53. [BACK]
9. Place, 1799 Report, para. 280. Place resigned from the Board of Revenue three years later because he felt that the collectors such as Alexander Read and Thomas Munro, both military appointees, received treatment not accorded to that of the civilian appointees in the revenue line. At that time, he also reported a “crisis” to be overcome. Part of his irritation concerned the fact that the special commission, competing with the Board of Revenue in setting the terms of what came to be called the Permanent Settlement, left the Mirasidars of the Jagir unprotected. Place’s Minute, 7 October 1802, BC, vol. 150, IOL. [BACK]
10. S. Arasaratnam, “Trade and Political Dominion in South India, 1750–90: Changing British-Indian Relationships,” Modern Asian Studies 13, no. 1 (February 1979): 24. [BACK]
11. Love, Vestiges, 3:402. [BACK]
12. Arasaratnam, “Trade and Political Dominion,” 25. [BACK]
13. Minutes of Council, 7 December 1781, July–December 1781, PP, 240/53, quoted in Arasaratnam, “Trade and Political Dominion,” 24–25. [BACK]
14. Minute of C. N. White, 28 March 1793, BORP, vol. 27, TNSA. [BACK]
15. Minute of C. N. White, 15 March 1793, BORP, vol. 27, TNSA. [BACK]
16. Minute of C. N. White, 23 December 1793, BORP, vol. 88, TNSA. [BACK]
17. Place, 1795 Report, para. 25. [BACK]
18. Quoted in Love, Vestiges, 3:485. [BACK]
19. Committee of Police to Governor in Council 8 July 1786, PP, TNSA, quoted in Neild-Basu, “Madras,” 146. [BACK]
20. GOM to BOR, 24 February 1798, BC, no. 2109, IOL. [BACK]
21. See Crole, Chingleput, 66. “The presidency town close by [Madras] is at the bottom of the backwards nature of the district which is called the ‘most backward in the whole Presidency.’ The chief land owners, some holding government appointments, live in Madras, either wholly, or in great part, and the district is thus deprived of a capital of its own. Living there is costly, and expensive tastes are formed, for the gratification of which the farm or estate is rack rented, and the expenditure for its improvement, or even for its maintenance, curtailed. Little interest in good farming is shown by the rich and well to do, and the cultivation…is not advancing because it is left in the hands of the ignorant.” Later Crole argued, “The effect of [neglect] is disastrous for the land is generally too inferior to stand bad farming without resenting the neglect.” Crole also remarked against the carrying off of what were called by the British “brattis” (Tamil “viraạạikaḷ”)—dried cakes of cow dung used for fuel. Ibid. [BACK]
22. Hastings to Lord Mansfield, 25 August 1774, G. R. Gleig, Life of Warren Hastings 1:401, quoted in Eric Stokes, The English Utilitarians and India (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), 3. [BACK]
23. Peter Marshall, The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 42. [BACK]
24. George M. Foster, “Colonial Administration in Northern Rhodesia in 1962,” Human Organization 46, no. 4 (Winter 1987): 367. I am grateful to Elizabeth Colson for bringing this article to my attention. [BACK]
25. F. W. Ellis, “Lectures on Hindu Law,” Mss Eur. D. 31, Erskine Collection, IOL. I am indebted to Dharampal for leading me to this source. [BACK]
26. Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process, vol. 1 of The History of Manners, trans. Edmund Jephcott (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), 104. [BACK]
27. Fox, Gandhian Utopia, 93–95. [BACK]
28. See the account in Mattison Mines, The Merchant-Warriors: Textiles, Trade and Territory in South India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 70. [BACK]
29. See the account of the dispute over mirasi rights and the right to build in the village between the reddis and agamudaiyars in Viravorum, near Manimangalam, about sixteen miles southwest of Madras, in 1785. Eugene F. Irschick, “Peasant Survival Strategies and Rehearsals for Rebellion in Eighteenth-Century South India,” Peasant Studies 9, no. 4 (Summer 1982), 218–19. Many other instances emerged in the 1780s. [BACK]
30. Irschick, “Peasant Survival Strategies,” 237–38. [BACK]
31. Place to BOR, 28 January 1796, BC, no. 940, IOL; Place to BOR, 28 June 1796, BC, vol. 36, IOL. [BACK]
32. Place to BOR, 28 June 1796, BC, vol. 36, IOL. [BACK]
33. In the Jagir, the site of the village itself and that of the village temple was called the nattam. The Mirasidars believed that they could only build their houses in the nattam and nowhere else. Minute of the Board of Revenue, 5 January 1818, BOR, Misc., vol. 257A, TNSA. [BACK]
34. Place, 1799 Report, quoted in Select Committee on the East India Company: The Fifth Report on the Affairs of the East India Company (reprint, Madras: J. Higgenbotham, 1866), 2:43 (hereafter Fifth Report). [BACK]
35. President and Council and the Jaghire Committee to Collector, November 1784, CCR, vol. 441, 1784, TNSA. [BACK]
36. This discussion of Place’s policies toward the temples in the Jagir is based on Place, 1799 Report, paras. 450–61. [BACK]
37. Place, 1799 Report, para. 452. [BACK]
38. Visitors to the large Madurantakam tank in the southern part of what is today the Chengalpattu MGR district can attest to the strategies that Place employed in constructing the dam for that tank. See also the complaints of the Mirasidars who composed the Poonamallee Petition that Place forced villagers to use bricks and stones taken from temples to repair the Chembirambakkam tank just west of Poonamallee, in “Translation of a Petition from Poonamallee inhabitants to the Board of Revenue,” 23 November 1795, BORP, vol. 139A, TNSA. There is much evidence to show that the Company employees often used stones and bricks from temples to make fortifications during the defense of Madras against the French in the late 1740s. [BACK]
39. Place to BOR, 27 March 1796, BORP, vol. 168, TNSA. [BACK]
40. See the account of the estimation of the population of Varanasi as a dialogic activity to create the notion of size. Bernard S. Cohn, “The Census and Objectification in South Asia,” in Anthropologist Among the Historians, 234. [BACK]
41. These religious beliefs and practices were not referred to as Hinduism at this time. The expression “Hinduism” is a product of a wide-ranging construction about religious behaviors in South Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. [BACK]
42. Place, 1799 Report, para. 458. [BACK]
43. Place, 1799 Report, para. 460. [BACK]
44. Place to BOR, 15 May 1795, BORP, vol. 128, TNSA. It was typical at that time to have an office that was simply a thatched house. This was still true for the municipal office in Madurai in the 1970s. [BACK]
45. Place, 1799 Report. [BACK]
46. The context of the agreement itself was significant: “We will never enter our cultivation under false names, in order to take more than our proper Warum [share of the crop]—also we will not enter in the account Mauniams [tax-free lands], for which there are no Heirs, nor for Pagodas [temples] where there are no Ceremonies going on. But we will exert ourselves to the utmost in order to restore such ceremonies as have been stopped, so that we may pray to God to make us happy and prosperous in our village.” Place to BOR, 10 November 1796, BORP, vol. 168, TNSA. [BACK]
47. Place to Colonel David Baird, Officer commanding at Walajabad, 8 May 1797, MB, BORP, R. 285, vol. 63, IOL. [BACK]
48. Greenway to BOR, 17 July 1801, BC, no. 2113, IOL. In 1801, the festival began on 24 May. Of this figure, the preparation of the prasadam—the sweetmeat that is ceremonially offered to the deity and then redistributed to the devotees after it has been ceremonially eaten by the god or goddess—was only one of the costs (it used nineteen kalams of rice and almost thirty-five pollams of gingelly or sesame oil). Other important costs included fireworks costing pagodas 34, gold ornaments for the deity costing pagodas 14, and flowers costing pagodas 10. By far the most expensive items were the presents to the dancing girls, which cost pagodas 111, one third of the total third-day’s ceremony costs. [BACK]
49. Quoted in John William Kaye, Christianity in India: An historical narrative (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1859), 380. [BACK]
50. Ibid. [BACK]
51. “India and its Evangelization: a lecture delivered by Dr. Duff to the Young Men’s Christian Association” (Exeter Hall, December 1850), quoted in ibid., 380. [BACK]
52. Love, Vestiges, 1:72. [BACK]
53. During the wars between the French and the British from 1744 to 1760, these forts (Chingleput, Tiruppaccur, and Karanguli, among others) became some of the important reckoning points in placing the military actions of the English, the French, and their allies. Even afterward, in 1783, when the French were aiding Hyder Ali and later Tipu Sultan, the same ideas applied. For instance, Bussy, the French commander, and one of the few French military men who had had formal military training, said that he had certain news that the march of the British army on Cuddalore placed it between Chingleput and Karanguli, awaiting the appearance of Admiral Hughes at Madras. Bussy to Suffren, 2 May 1783, Feuilles Volantes no. 595, Fond Inde, Archives d’outre mer, Aix-en-Provence. [BACK]
54. “Historical account of the government of Chingleput Rajah,” translated from the Marathi into English in the early nineteenth century, in Mackenzie (General), vol. 9, IOL. [BACK]
55. Place, 1799 Report, para. 473; Place to BOR, 28 January 1796, BC, no. 940, IOL. [BACK]
56. Place to BOR, 11 January 1798, BC, no. 2109, IOL. In fact, Place focused his activity on relatively few of the total number of Palayakkars. He apparently also took away the “watching rights” in some of the villages belonging to Palayakkars with whom he was friendly, such as Rayalu Nayak. The Palayakkars from whom he took away privileges were Maddikayala Teppalraj, Kuppum Venkatachala Nayak, Damerla Venkatapati Nayak, Strirama Singama Nayak, Rayalu Nayak, Vadamaraja Tanappa Nayak, Rangappa Nayak, Anapambattu Harikrishna Raj, Nakka Venaktarama Nayak, Adavi, Venaktapati Raj, Kulur Venkata Raj, Itambi Subburoya Pillai (the only Tamil of the group), Mul Raj, and Madupakam Ramachandra Nayak. The total monetary amount that Place took away was pagodas 16,324-9-70 out of a total of pagodas 47,774-6-22. In terms of numbers of villages, Place took away privileges or benefits for “watching rights” in seventy-seven villages out of a total of 1,286. Greenway to Special Commission, 30 October 1801, SCPSP, vol. 3, IOL. [BACK]
57. Place to BOR, 6 April 1795, BORP, vol. 128, TNSA. [BACK]
58. Thomas Munro, writing as principal collector in the Ceded Districts, 10 April 1810, quoted in the Report of the Committee on Police, PCP, vol. 4, IOL. [BACK]
59. Richard Dighton to BOR, 16 February 1787, BORP, vol. 6, TNSA. [BACK]
60. Place to BOR, 29 July 1798, BC, no. 2110, IOL. [BACK]
61. John and Nuzur Jacob Shamier to Governor Harris, 7 April 1798, BC, no. 2110, IOL. The letter cadjan or a strip of palmyra palm leaf (Tamil “olai”) was placed in a holder made for the purpose, the style at the time. [BACK]
62. See Douglas Hay, “Property, Authority and the Criminal Law,” in Douglas Hay, Peter Linebaugh, John G. Rule, E. Thompson, Cal Winslow, eds., Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth Century England (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1975), 45–47. Place was castigated by the Board of Revenue for being unnecessarily severe in imposing these floggings. BOR to Place, 13 September 1798, BC, no. 2110, IOL. [BACK]
63. BOR to Place, 13 September 1798, BC, no. 2110, IOL. [BACK]
64. Woolf and Sewell to BOR, 16 December 1795, BC, no. 855, IOL. [BACK]
65. Place to BOR, 10 September 1798, BC, no. 2109, IOL. [BACK]
66. Greenway to Special Commission, 30 October 1801, SCPSP, vol. 3, IOL. [BACK]
67. Crole, Chingleput, 171–72. [BACK]
68. Place, 1795 Report, para. 86. [BACK]
69. Crole, Chingleput, 178–79. [BACK]
70. Place to Committee of Police, 4 May 1798, BC, no. 2109, IOL. [BACK]
71. Place to Committee of Police, 4 May 1798, BC, no. 2109, IOL. [BACK]
72. This formulation of society, the individual, and the sacred is derived from Durkheim and Goffman’s definition of the “individual’s personality…as one apportionment of the collective mana.” Erving Goffman, “The Nature of Deference and Demeanor,” in Interaction Ritual (New York: Pantheon Books, 1967), 47. Durkheim had also written that “the human personality is a sacred thing; one dare not violate it nor infringe its bounds, while at the same time the greatest good is in communion with others.” Emile Durkheim, “The Determination of Moral Facts,” 37, quoted in Goffman, “Deference and Demeanor,” 73. [BACK]
73. Dirks is directing his points to Arjun Appadurai, Worship and Conflict under Colonial Rule: A South Indian Case (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 71, and Carol Breckenridge, “From protector to litigant—changing relations between Hindu temples and the Raja of Ramnad,” in Burton Stein, ed., South Indian Temples (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1978); Dirks, Hollow Crown, 287–89. [BACK]
74. Ibid., 290. [BACK]
75. Mines and Gourishankar, “Leadership and Individuality,” 765. [BACK]
76. Mines and Gourishankar, “Leadership and Individuality,” 765. See also Stanley Tambiah, World Conqueror and World Renouncer: A Study of Buddhism and Polity in Thailand Against a Historical Background (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976). [BACK]
77. Ibid., 766. In addition to the work of Dirks, they refer to that of C. J. Fuller, Servants of the Goddess: The Priests of a South Indian Temple (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 46, in which he says that temple honors “are presented to particular persons, precisely to single them out.” [BACK]
78. Ibid. The citation is to Dirks, Hollow Crown, 261. [BACK]
79. Stephen Mennell, Norbert Elias: Civilization and the Human Self-Image (London: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 79. See also Norbert Elias, Power and Civility, vol. 2 of The Civilizing Process, trans. Edmund Jephcott (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), 107. I want to acknowledge many helpful discussions on these issues with Cecilia Van Hollen and particularly the insights that I have derived from her unpublished paper, “The Role of the Civil Society in Orientalist and Anti-Colonial Discourses: Women as Model Citizens” (Berkeley, 1991). [BACK]
80. In the struggle that developed between Place and the Board of Revenue on the one hand and the Mirasidars and Place on the other, the entire definition of the mirasi system came into question because (as was explained by the Board of Revenue twenty years later in 1818) Place “removed the Meerasidars from some of the finest villages, and conferred the meerassy of them…on the Pycarries [Payirkkaris or tenants], or even on strangers.” Minute of the Board of Revenue, 5 January 1818, BOR Misc., vol. 257A, TNSA. [BACK]
81. Place to BOR, 27 March 1796, included with the minute of the BOR on Badarnavisi, 30 June 1796, BORP, vol. 160, TNSA. [BACK]
82. Place to Board of Revenue, 25 July 1797, BORP, vol. 161, TNSA. The Board of Revenue wrote, “The consideration of the very great labour which is discoverable in the whole of the Collector’s proceedings, and of the successful reform which he has introduced by the realization of a very large revenue, convinces us that a donation of this kind granted to his principal confidential servants will be a judicial reward of positive merit.” Govt. to BOR, 3 June 1797, BORP, vol. 179, TNSA; see also BOR Minute, 31 July 1797, BORP, vol. 182, TNSA. [BACK]
83. Place to BOR, 3 May 1797, BORP, vol. 177, TNSA. [BACK]
84. Mines and Gourishankar, “Leadership and Individuality,” 770. [BACK]
85. Quoted in Mines and Gourishankar, “Leadership and Individuality,” 764n. [BACK]
86. Place to BOR, 10 November 1796, BORP, vol. 168, TNSA. [BACK]
87. Place, 1795 Report, para. 180. The following discussion of Madurantakam and Uttiramerur is based on this account in Place’s report. [BACK]
88. Place to the Board of Revenue, 27 March 1796, included with the Board’s note on Badarnavisi, 30 June 1796, BORP, vol. 160, TNSA. [BACK]
89. The Nawab also reported other encounters with Pigot in 1763. Nawab Muhammad Ali to Governor Du Pré, 26 November 1770, HMS, vol. 113, IOL. [BACK]
90. Place, 1795 Report, para. 180. [BACK]
91. Crole, Chingleput, 32. [BACK]
92. Toṇạaimāṉ cakkiravartti carittiram [History of Tondaiman Cakkiravartti], Mackenzie MSS R 8350, MOML; Nerumpūr kurumpar kōạạai kaipītu [Narrative account of the Kurumbar fort at Nerumbur], Mackenzie MSS R. 7754, MOML; Kurumpar carittiram [History of the Kurumbar], Mackenzie MSS R. 8189, MOML, translated into English in the early nineteenth century in another version in Mackenzie MSS Class 2, no. 21, IOL. [BACK]
93. Extract of letter from the secretary to government in the Revenue Department to the president and members of the Board of Revenue, 2 August 1814. F. W. Ellis, Replies to seventeen questions proposed by the Government of Fort St. George relative to Mirasi Right with two appendices elucidatory of the subject (Madras: Government Gazette Office, 1818), v. [BACK]
94. Ibid. [BACK]
95. F. W. Ellis, Appendix [to the] replies to the questions respecting meerasi Right (hereafter Appendix), 1814, BOR, Misc., vol. 233, TNSA. The following discussion of Ellis’s work is based primarily on this document. [BACK]
96. Letter of 17 April 1814 from the Government of Madras to the Board of Revenue in Ellis, Appendix, v. [BACK]
97. Ellis even computed what he believed to be “vellala villages,” “brahman villages,” and “other caste villages.” That is, he said that, of the area described by Place (the Jagir, the center of the Tondai country), there were 680 villages in which vellalas were Mirasidars, 256 in which the brahmans were Mirasidars, and 346 in which other castes were Mirasidars. [BACK]
98. The Chingleput district came later to be called the Chengelpattu district. At one time it was called the Chengai Anna district because “Chengai” is a shortened form for Chengelpattu. A former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, C. N. Annadurai (d. 1969) whose nickname was “Aṇṇa” or “elder brother,” was born in Kanchipuram, the headquarters of the district. [BACK]
99. Stuart Blackburn, Inside the Drama-House: The Rama Story as Shadow Puppet Play in Kerala, ch. 1 (forthcoming). It is not without interest that the performers of the Kambaramayanam call themselves simply Mudaliyars, not Sengunthars, a strategy that hides their ethnic origins. [BACK]
100. In Tamil, two kinds of Payirkkaris or tenants could be identified. The Ulkkudis had lived in a village for a considerable time; they could not be dispossessed and had the right of hereditary succession but did not have the right to mortgage or sell the land so long as they paid the stipulated rent to the Mirasidar. The second type, the Parakkudis, were migratory or nonresident tenants who had no proprietary rights. They could simply cultivate lands in the village for a stipulated term at will. Wilson, Glossary, 401, 531. [BACK]
101. Francis Ellis, “Account of a Discovery of a Modern Imitation of the Vedas, With Remarks on the Genuine Works,” Asiatic Researches or Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal for Enquiring into the History and Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences, and Literature, of Asia, 14 (1822): 1–59. Ellis says on p. 57 that Nobili, “who was looked upon by the Jesuits as the chief apostle of the Indians after Francois Xavier took incredible pains to acquire a knowledge of the religion, customs, and language of Madura, sufficient for the purposes of his ministry. But this was not all: for to stop the mouths of his opposers and particularly of those who treated his character of brachman as an imposture, he produced an old dirty parchment in which he had forged, in the ancient Indian characters a deed, shewing that the Brachmans of Rome were of much older date than those of India and that the Jesuits of Rome descended, in a direct line from the God BRAHMA. Nay, Father Jouvence a learned Jesuit, tells us, in the history of his order, something yet more remarkable; even that ROBERT DE NOBILI, when the authenticity of his smoky parchment was called in question by some Indian unbelievers, declared, upon oath, before the assembly of the Brachmans of Madura, that he (NOBILI) derived really and truly his origin from the god BRAH’MA. Is it not astonishing that this Reverend Father would acknowledge, is it not monstrous that he should applaud as a piece of pious ingenuity this detestable instance of perjury and fraud?” [BACK]
102. Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Clarendon University Press, 1917), 6:694. [BACK]
103. See “Mayilapūr kantapparācan caritam,” [History of Kandapparajan of Mylapur], Mackenzie MSS R. 8141, MOML. [BACK]
104. Place, 1799 Report, para. 59. “Mudali” is the shortened form of “Mudaliyar,” the surname of all Tondaimandala vellalas. [BACK]
105. In 1786, the Board of Revenue was presented with a petition by some “Kondakutty Vellarahs” from Kuvam and Mappedu in what is today the Tiruvallur taluk, saying that “in very old times this country being a wilderness, Tondamon the famous monarch, after whose name this part of the world still goes viz. Tondamandalam, sending for the inhabitants from the kingdom of Sera [Chola] promised them that if they would cut down the woods, turn them into fields and cultivate the country each at his disposal, and give him one sixth part of the product, he would let them have the remaining 5 parts and the rights of settling and mortgaging their property of lands and thus they having brought about the business, such rights were accordingly conferred upon them. Many centuries after the days of the said monarch, the different rulers of the country being of cruel disposition curtailed the inhabitants’ shares and put in practice many injustice[s] over them yet none of them ever think of so encroaching upon the usurping the inhabitants with their inheritance.…[The petitioners continued that the Nawab,] tho’ capable of doing any injustice over the inhabitants at his disposal, yet he being bound by the cord of justice, was obliged to take grounds he lately wanted from the inheritors of Chennappa Naicker’s Coopam not by violence but by their general consents and by paying them money for it.” The petition was an attempt to head off the takeover of property by the Company after the war of 1780 in the villages of Kottur, Mappedu, and Kuvum in order to regrant the land to a group of Christians under a Jesuit missionary named Padre Manente, who was part of the Mission du Carnate. [BACK]
106. Place, 1799 Report, paras. 62–63, 65. [BACK]
107. BOR minute, 25 January 1796, BORP, vol. 149, TNSA. [BACK]
108. Regarding population movements inspired by trade concerns, see D. H. A. Kolff, “Sannyasi Trader-Soldiers,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 8, no. 2 (June 1971): 211–18; C. A. Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 142–43.
For an account of flight in the face of war, see the description of the coming of the Maratha Bargirs into Bengal by Ganga Ram, The Maharashta Purana: An Eighteenth-Century Bengali Historical Text, trans. and ed. Edward Dimock and P. C. Gupta (Honolulu: East-West Center Press, 1965), 26–28
For an account of flight during the Bengal famine of 1769–70, see W. W. Hunter, The Annals of Rural Bengal (reprint, Calcutta: Indian Studies, 1965), 25
Regarding migrations motivated by work opportunities, see Brian Murton, “Key People in the Countryside: Decisionmakers in Interior Tamilnadu in the Late Eighteenth Century,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 10, no. 2 (June 1973): 177 [BACK]
109. Ellis to BOR, 20 April 1817, MCR, vol. 1021, TNSA. [BACK]
110. Ellis, Collector of Madras, to BOR, 25 June 1817, MCR, vol. 1022, TNSA. [BACK]
111. Ibid. [BACK]
112. Crole says that after the collapse of the Permanent Settlement, which began almost as soon as it was implemented in 1802 and continued until it was formally abolished in 1818, taxation in the area was “followed by the intermittent efforts of 15 or 20 officers [collectors] to make a survey and ryotwar settlement of the district which gradually reverted to Government, as one zemindar after another became insolvent.” Crole, Chingleput, 273. Though the Permanent Settlement was introduced into the Chingleput district in 1802, the ryotwari system was introduced into two areas of the district, Kanchipuram and Madurantakam, in the very next year. In 1817, the ryotwari system was introduced into the Manimangalam casba in 1817 and 1818 and at the same time Ellis introduced the ryotwari system into the village of Vayalur (in the present-day Kanchipuram taluk). [BACK]
113. Secretary of Revenue Dept. to the President and members of BOR, 2 August 1814, in C. P. Brown, ed., Three treatises on Mirasi Right…with the remarks made by the Hon’ble the Court of Directors (Madras: D. P. L. C. Connor, 1852), 1. [BACK]
114. A. D. Campbell, secretary to the Chief Secretary, 17 April 1817, MCR, vol. 1021, TNSA. Campbell was already a Telugu scholar and one of a large number of Campbell family members involved with India (including the governor of Madras in the 1780s), as well as the future author of a Telugu grammar and dictionary prepared for the use of students in Madras College. He also served as a secretary in the Revenue Department of government. [BACK]
115. BOR to Ellis, 18 September 1817, MCR, vol. 1022, TNSA. Ellis’s letter was dated 30 May 1816. [BACK]
116. Extract of Revenue Letter to Fort St. George, 2 January 1822, in Brown, Three treatises, 155. [BACK]
117. Minute by Sir Thomas Munro, Madras, 31 December 1824, in Brown, Three treatises. [BACK]
118. Graham to Alexander Read, 22 October 1794, Records of Fort St. George: The Baramahal Records, Management (Section 1; Madras, 1907), 223, quoted in Murton, “Key People,” 177. [BACK]
119. Wilson, Glossary, 524. [BACK]
120. B. H. Baden-Powell, The Land Systems of British India (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1892), 3:123–24n. [BACK]
121. Ibid., 124. [BACK]
122. Ibid., 122. [BACK]