Annals of Bikaner

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James Tod: Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume II,
Publisher: Madras: Higginbotham and Co. 1873.

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Annals of Bikaner

Abstract of Chapter I

[p.156]: Origin of the state of Bikaner — Beeka, the founder — Condition of the aboriginal Jits or Getes — The number and extensive diffusion of this Scythic race, still a majority of the peasantry in Western Rajpootana, and perhaps in Northern India — Their pursuits pastoral, their government patriarchal, their religion of a mixed kind — List of the Jit cantons of Bikaner at the irrup­tion of Beeka — Causes of the success of Beeka — Voluntary surrender of the supremacy of the Jit elders to Beeka — Conditions — Characteristic of the Getic people throughout India — Proofs — Invasion of the Johyas by Beeka and his Jit subjects — Account of the Johyas — Conquered by Beeka — He wrests Bhagore from the Bhattis, and founds Bikaner, the capital, A.D. 1489 — His uncle Kandul makes conquests to the north — Death of Beeka — His son Noonkurn succeeds — Makes conquests from the Bhattis — His son Jaet succeeds — Enlarges the power of Bikaner — Rae Sing succeeds — The Jits of Bikaner lose their liberties — The state rises to importance — Rae Sing's connection with Akber — His honours and power — The Johyas revolt and are exterminated— Traditions of Alexander the Great amongst the ruins of the Johyas — Examined — The Pooniah Jits vanquished by Ram Sing, the Raja's brother — Their subjection imperfect — Rae Sing's daughter weds prince Selim, afterwards Jehangir — Rae Sing succeeded by his son Kurrun — The three eldest sons of Kurrun fall in the imperial service — Anop Sing, the youngest, succeeds — Quells a rebellion in Cabul — His death uncertain — Suroop Sing succeeds — He is killed — Sujaun Sing, Zoorawur Sing, Guj Sing, and Raj Sing succeed — The latter poisoned by his brother by another mother, who usurps the throne, though opposed by the chiefs — He murders the rightful heir, his nephew — Civil war — Muster-roll of the chiefs — The usurper attacks Jodpoor — Present state of Bikaner — Account of Beedavati.

Bikaner holds a secondary rank amongst the principalities of Rajpootana. It is an offset of Marwar, its princes being scions of the house of Joda, who established themselves by conquest on the northern frontier of the parent slate ; and its position, in the heart of the desert, has contributed to the maintenance of their independence. It was in S. 1515 (A.D. 1459), the year in which Joda transferred the seat of government from Mundore to Jodpoor, that his son Beeka,

[p.157]: under the guidance of his uncle Kandul, led three hundred of the sons of Seoji to enlarge the boundaries of Rahtore dominion amidst the sands of Maroo. Beeka was stimulated to the attempt by the success of his brother Beeda, who had recently subjugated the territory inhabited by the Mohils for ages.

Such expeditions as that of Beeka, undertaken expressly for conquest, were almost uniformly successful. The invaders set out with a determination to slay or be slain ; and these forays had the additional stimulus of being on ' fated days,' when the warlike creed of the Rajpoots made the abstraction of territory from foe or friend a matter of religious duty.

Beeka, with his band of three hundred, fell upon the Sanklas of Jangloo, whom they massacred. This exploit brought them in contact with the Bhattis of Poogul, the chief of which gave his daughter in marriage to Beeka, who fixed his headquarters at Korumdesir, where he erected a castle, and gradually augmented his conquests from the neighbourhood.

Settlements of the Jats

Beeka now approximated to the settlements of the Jats or Getes, who had for ages been established in these arid abodes ; and as the lands they held form a considerable portion of the state of Bikaner, it may not be uninteresting to give a sketch of the condition of this singular people prior to the son of Joda establishing the feudal system of Rajwarra amongst their pastoral commonwealths.

Of this celebrated and widely-spread race, we have already given a succinct account.1 It appears to have been the most numerous as well as the most conspicuous of the tribes of ancient Asia, from the days of Tomyris and Cyrus to those of the present Jat prince of Lahore, whose successor, if he be endued with similar energy, may, on the reflux of popula­tion, find himself seated in their original haunts of Central Asia, to which they have already considerably advanced.2 In the fourth century, we find a Yuti or Jat kingdom established in the Punjab3 ; a but how much earlier this people colonised those regions we are ignorant. At every step made by Mahomedan power in India, it encountered the Jats. On their memorable defence of the passage of the Indus against Mahmood, and on the war of extirpation waged against them by Timoor, both in their primeval seats in Maver-ool-nehr, as well as east of the Sutlej, we have already enlarged ; while Baber, in his Commentaries, informs us that, in all his irruptions into India, he was assailed by multitudes of Jats4 during his progress through the Punjab, the peasantry

1. Vol.I. p. 96, History of the Rajpoot tribes—Article, Jats, or Getes.
2. Ranjeet has long been in possession of Peshawar, and entertained views on Cabul, the disorganised condition of which kingdom affords him a favourable opportunity of realising them.
3. See Inscription, vol. i. p. 621.
4. " On Friday the 14th (Dec. 29, A.D. 1525), of the first Rebi, we arrived at Sialkot. Every time that I have entered Hindustan, the Jats and Gujers have regularly poured down in prodigious numbers from their hills and wilds, in order to carry off oxen and buffaloes." The learned commentator draws a distinction between the Jat inhabitants of the Punjab and of India, which is not maintainable.

[p.158]: of which region, now proselytes to Islam, are chiefly of this tribe ; as well as the military retainers, who, as sectarian followers of Nanak, merge the name of Jat, into that of Sikh or 'disciple.' 1

In short, whether as Yuti, Getes, Jits, Juts, or Jats, this race far surpassed in numbers, three centuries ago, any other tribe or race in India ; and it is a fact that they now constitute a vast majority of the peasantry of western Rajwarra, and perhaps of northern India.

At what period these Jats established themselves in the Indian desert, we are, as has been already observed, entirely ignorant ; but even at the time of the Rahtore invasion of these communities, their habits confirmed the tradition of their Scythic origin. They led chiefly a pastoral life, were guided, but not governed by the elders, and with the exception of adoration to the ' universal mother ' (Bhavani), incarnate in the person of a youthful Jatni, they were utter aliens to the Hindu theocracy. In fact, the doctrines of the great Islamite saint, Shekh Fureed, appear to have overturned the pagan rites brought from the Jaxartes ; and without any settled ideas on religion, the Jits of the desert jumbled all their tenets together. They considered themselves, in short, as a distinct class, and, as a Punia Jat informed me, " their wuttun was far beyond the Five Rivers." Even in the name of one of the six communities (the Asiagh), on whose submission Beeka founded his new state, we have nearly the Asi, the chief of the four tribes from the Oxus and Jaxartes, who over­turned the Greek kingdom of Bactria.

The period of Rahtore domination over these patriarchal communities was intermediate between Timoor's and Baber's invasion of India. The former, who was the founder of the Chagitai dynasty, boasts of the myriads of Jit souls he " consigned to perdition " on the desert plains of India, as well as in Transoxiana. so we may conclude that successive migrations of this people from the great " storehouse of nations " went to the lands east of the Indus, and that the communities who elected Beeka as their sovereign, had been established therein for ages. The extent of their possessions justifies this conclusion ; for nearly the whole of the territory forming the boundaries of Bikaner was possessed by the six Jit cantons, namely—

1 " It is worthy of remark," says Colonel Pitman (who accompanied Mr. Elphinstone to Cabul), "that in the two first Doabehs (return of the embassy), we saw very few Sikhs, the Jat cultivators of the soil being in general Moosul-mauns, and in complete subjugation to the Sikhs "

[p.159]: though this last is by some termed a ramification of the Yadu-Bhatti : an affiliation by no means invalidating their claims to be considered of Jat or Yuti origin.1

Each canton bore the name of the community, and was subdivided into districts. Besides the six Jat cantons, there were three more simul­taneously wrested from Rajpoot proprietors ; namely, Bagaur, the Kharipatta, and Mohilla. The six Jat cantons constituted the central and northern, while those of the Rajpoots formed the western and southern frontiers.

Disposition of the Cantons at that period.
S.No. Name of canton No. of villages Districts
1. Punia 300 Bhadra, Ajitpura, Sidhmukh, Rajgarh, Dadrewa Sankhoo, etc.
2. Beniwal 150 Bhukarka, Sonri, Manoharpur,

Kooie, Bae, etc.

3. Johiya 600 Jaitpur, Kumana, Mahajan, Peepasar, Udasar, etc.
4. Asiagh 150 Rawatsar, Biramsar, Dandusar, Gandaisi.
5. Saran 300 Khejara, Phoag, Buchawas, Sawai Bari, Badnu, Sirsala , etc.
6. Godara 700 Shekhsar, Pundrasar, Gusainsar Bada, Gharsisar, Garibdesar, Rungaysar, Kaloo,


Total in the six Jat cantons 2200

S.No. Name of cantonment No. of villages Districts
7. Bagaur 300 Bikaner, Nalbari, Kelan, Rajasar Beekan, Satasar, Chhatargarh, Randheesar, Beetnokh, Bhavanipoor, Jaimalsar,etc.
8. Mohilla 140 Chhapar Churu (capital of Mohilla),Sandan, Harasar, Gopalpura Sujangarh, Charwas, Bidasar Sujangarh, Ladnoo, Malsisar, Khurbooza-ra-kote.
9. Kharipatta, or salt district 30
Grand Total 2670

With such rapidity were states formed in those times, that in a few years after Beeka left his paternal roof at Mundore, he was lord over 2670 villages, and by a title far stronger and more legitimate than that of conquest—the spontaneous election of the cantons. But although three centuries have scarcely passed since their amalgamation into a sovereignty, one-half of the villages cease to exist;

1 The Jats of the Agra province consider themselves illegitimate descendants of the Yadus of Bayana, and have a tradition that their wuttun is Kandahar.

[p.160]: nor are there now 1300 forming the raj of Soorut Sing, the present occupant and lineal descendant of Beeka.

The Jats and Johiyas of these regions, who extended over all the northern desert even to the Garah, led a pastoral life, their wealth consisting in their cattle, which they reared in great numbers, disposing of the super­fluity, and of the ghee (butter clarified) and wool, through the medium of Sarsote (Sarasvati) Brahmins (who, in these regions, devote themselves to traffic), receiving in return grain and other conveniences or necessaries of life.

Godaras reconcile with Rathores

A variety of causes conspired to facilitate the formation of the state of Bikaner, and the reduction of the ancient Scythic simplicity of the Jit communities to Rajpoot feudal sway ; and although the success of his brother Beeda over the Mohils in some degree paved the way, his bloodless conquest could never have happened but for the presence of a vice which has dissolved all the republics of the world. The jealousy of the Johyas and Godarras, the two most powerful of the six Jit cantons, was the immediate motive to the propitiation of the 'son of Joda' ; besides which, the communities found the band of Beeda, which had extirpated the ancient Mohils when living with them in amity, most troublesome neigh­bours. Further, they were desirous to place between them and the Bhattis of Jessulmer, a more powerful barrier ; and last, not least, they dreaded the hot valour and ' thirst for land ' which characterised Beeka's retainers, now contiguous to them at Jangloo. For these weighty reasons, at a meeting of the ' elders ' of the Godarras, it was resolved to conciliate the Rahtore.

Pandu was the patriarchal head of the Godarras ; his residence was at Shekhsir 1. The 'elder' of Roneah was next in rank and estimation to Pandu, in communities where equality was as absolute as the proprietary right to the lands which each individually held : that of pasture being common.

Conditions of Agreement with Godaras

Conditions of Agreement with Godaras: The elders of Shekhsir and Roneah were deputed to enter into terms with the Rajpoot prince, and to invest him with supremacy over their community, on the following conditions :—

  • First. To make common cause with them, against the Johyas and other cantons, with whom they were then at variance.
  • Second. To guard the western frontier against the irruption of the Bhattis.
  • Third. To hold the rights and privileges of the community inviolable.

On the fulfillment of these conditions, they relinquished to Beeka and his descendants the supreme power over the Godarras ; assigning to him, in perpetuity, the power to levy dhooa, or a ' hearth tax,' of

1. This town is named after the Islamite saint, Shekh Fureed of Pakputtun, who has a durgah here. He was greatly esteemed by the Jits, before the bona dea assumed the shape of a Jitni, to whom, under the title of Carani Mata, ' a ray of the mother,' all bend the head.

[p.161]: one rupee on each house in the canton, and a land tax of two rupees on each hundred beegas of cultivated land within their limits.

Apprehensive, however, that Beeka or his descendants might encroach upon their rights, they asked what security he could offer against such a contingency ? The Rajpoot chief replied that, in order to dissipate their fears on this head, as well as to perpetuate the remembrance of the supremacy thus voluntarily conferred, he would solemnly bind himself and his successors to receive the tika of inauguration from the hands of the descendants of the elders of Shekhsir and Roneah, and that the gadi should be deemed vacant until such rite was administered.

In this simple transfer of the allegiance of this pastoral people, we mark that instinctive love of liberty which accompanied the Gete in all places and all conditions of society, whether on the banks of the Oxus and the Jaxartes, or in the sandy desert of India ; and although his political independence is now annihilated, he is still ready even to shed his blood if his Rajpoot master dare to infringe his inalienable right to his bapota, his paternal acres.

It is seldom that so incontestable a title to supremacy can be asserted as that which the weakness and jealousies of the Godarras conferred upon Beeka, and it is a pleasing incident to find almost throughout India, in the observance of certain rites, the remembrance of the original compact which transferred the sovereign power from the lords of the soil to their Rajpoot conquerors.

Thus, in Mewar, the fact of the power conferred upon the Gehlote founder by the Bhil aborigines, is commemorated by a custom brought down to the present times. (See vol. i. p. 186.)

At Amber, the same is recorded in the important offices retained by the Meenas, the primitive inhabitants of that land.

Both Kotah and Boondi retain in their names the remembrance of the ancient lords of Harouti ; and Beeka's descendants preserve, in a twofold manner, the recollection of their bloodless conquest of the Jits. To this day, the descendant of Pandu applies the unguent of royalty to the forehead of the successors of Beeka ; on which occasion, the prince places 'the fine of relief' con­sisting of twenty-five pieces of gold, in the hand of the Jit.

Bikaner made the Capital of Rathores

Moreover, the spot which he selected for his capital, was the birthright of a Jit, who would only concede it for this purpose on the condition that his name should be linked in perpetuity with its surrender. Naira, or Nera, was the name of the proprietor, which Beeka added to his own, thus composing that of the future capital, Bikaner.

Besides this periodical recognition of the transfer of power, on all lapses of the crown, there are annual memorials of the rights of the Godarras, acknowledged not only by the prince, but by all his Rajpoot vassal-kin, quartered on the lands of the Jit; and although ' the sons of Beeka,' now multiplied over the country, do not much respect the ancient compact, they at least recognise, in the maintenance of these formulae, the origin of their power.

[p.162]: On the spring and autumnal 1 festivals of the Holi and Dewali, the heirs of the patriarchs of Shekhsir and Roneah give the tika to the prince and all his feudality.

The Jit of Roneah bears the silver cup and platter which holds the ampoule of the desert, while his compeer applies it to the prince's forehead. The Raja in return deposits a nuzzerana of a gold mohur, and five pieces of silver ; the chieftains, according to their rank, following his example. The gold is taken by the Shekhsir Jit, the silver by the elder of Roneah.

To resume our narrative : when the preliminaries were adjusted, by Beeka's swearing to maintain the rights of the community which thus surrendered their liberties to his keeping, they united their arms, and invaded the Johyas. This populous community, which extended over the northern region of the desert, even to the Sutlej, reckoned eleven hundred villages in their canton ; yet now, after the lapse of little more than three centuries, the very name of Johya is extinct. They appear to be the Jenjooheh of Baber, who, in his irruption into India, found them congregated with the 'Juds, about the cluster of hills in the first doabeh of the Punjab, called " the mountains of Joude " ; a position claimed by the Yadus or Jadoos in the very dawn of their history, and called Jaddoo ca dang, ' the Jaddoo hills.' This supports the assertion that the Johya is of Yadu race, while it does not invalidate its claims to Yuti or Jit descent, as will be further shown in the early portion of the annals of the Yadu-Bhaitis.2

The patriarchal head of the Johyas resided at Bhuropal; his name was Shere Sing. He mustered the strength of the canton, and for a long time withstood the continued efforts of the Rajpoots and the Godarras ; nor was it until ' treason had done its worst,' by the murder of their elder, and the consequent possession of Bhuropal, that the Johyas succumbed to Rahtore domination.

With this accession of power, Beeka carried his arms westward, and conquered Bhagore from the Bhattis. It was in this district, originally wrested by the Bhattis from the Jits, that Beeka founded his capital, Bikaner, on the 15th Bysak, S. 1545 (A.D. 1489), thirty years after his departure from the parental roof at Mundore.

Subjugation of Asiaghs, Beniwals, Sarans

When Beeka was thus firmly established, his uncle Kandul, to whose spirit of enterprise he was mainly indebted for success, departed with his immediate kin to the northward, with a view of settling in fresh conquests. He successively subjugated the communities of Asiagh, Beniwal, and Sarun, which cantons are mostly occupied by his descendants, styled " Kandulote Rahtores," at this day, and although they form an integral portion of the Bikaner state, they

1. Vide vol i. pp. 486, 512—for an account of these festivals.
2. I presented a work on this race, entitled The Book of the Johyas, (sent me by the prime minister of Jessulmer) to the Royal Asiatic Society. Having obtained it just before leaving Rajpootana, I never had leisure to examine it, or to pronounce on its value as an historical document ; but any work having reference to so singular a community can scarcely fail to furnish matter of interest.

[p.163]: evince, in their independent bearing to its chief, that their estates were " the gift of their own swords, not of his patents " ; and they pay but a reluctant and nominal obedience to his authority. When necessity or avarice imposes a demand for tribute, it is often met by a flat refusal, accompanied with such a comment as this: " Who made this Raja ? Was it not our common ancestor, Kandul ? Who is he, who presumes to levy tribute from us ? " Kandul's career of conquest was cut short by the emperor's lieutenant in Hissar ; he was slain in attempting this important fortress.

Beeka's descendants

Beeka died in S. 1551 (A.D. 1495), leaving two sons by the daughter of the Bhatti chief of Poogul, namely, Noonkurn,who succeeded, and Gursi, who founded Gursisir and Ursisir. The stock of the latter is numerous, and is distinguished by the epithet Gursote Beeka, whose principal fiefs are those of Gursisir and Garibdesir, each having twenty-four villages depending on them.1

Noonkurn made several conquests from the Bhattis, on the western frontier. He had four sons ; his eldest desiring a separate establishment in his lifetime, for the fief of Mahajin and one hundred and forty villages, renounced his right of primogeniture in favour of his brother Jaet, who succeeded in S. 1569.

His brothers had each appanages assigned to them, He had three sons, 1, Calian Sing ; 2, Seoji ; and 3, Aishpal.

Jaetsi reduced the district of Narnote from some independent Grasia chiefs, and settled it as the appanage of his second son, Seoji. It was Jaetsi also who compelled ' the sons of Beeda,' the first Rahtore colonists of this region, to acknowledge his supremacy by an annual tribute, besides certain taxes.

Calian Sing succeeded in S. 1603. He had three sons, 1, Rae Sing; 2, Ram Sing ; and 3, Pirthi Sing.

Rae Sing succeeded in S. 1630 (A.D. 1573). Until this reign, the Jits had, in a great degree, preserved their ancient privileges. Their mainten­ance was, however, found rather inconvenient, by the now superabundant Rajpoot population, and they were consequently dispossessed of all political authority. With the loss of independence their military spirit decayed, and they sunk into mere tillers of the earth.

Relations with Delhi Badshah

In this reign also Bikaner rose to importance amongst the principalities of the empire, and if the Jits parted with their liberties to the Rajpoot, the latter, in like manner, bartered his freedom to become a Satrap of Dehli. On his father's death, Rae Sing in person undertook the sacred duty of conveying his ashes to the Ganges. The illustrious Akber was then emperor of India. Rae Sing and the emperor had married sisters, princesses of Jessulmer. This connection

1. To the few who will peruse these annals of the desert tribes, it will be inter­esting to observe the development of families, and the maintenance, by such distinctive patronymics, of their origin. In the annals of this remote state, I shall not enter at any length into the history of their wars, which are, with a change of names and scene, all pretty much alike ; but confine myself, after a succinct and connected genealogical relation, to the manners of the people, the aspect, productions, and government of the country.

[p.164]: obtained for him, on his introduction to court by Raja Maun of Amber, the dignity of a leader of four thousand horse, the title of Raja, and the government of Hissar. Moreover, when Maldeo of Jodpoor incurred the displeasure of the king, and was dispossessed of the rich district of Nagore, it was given to Rae Sing. With these honours, and in­creased power as one of the king's lieutenants,he returned to his dominions, and sen this brother Ram Sing against Bhutnair, of which he made conquest. This town was the chief place of a district belonging to the Bhattis, originally Jits 1 of Yadu descent, but who assumed this name on becoming proselytes to the faith of Islam.

Ram Sing, at the same time, completely subjugated the Johyas, who, always troublesome, had recently attempted to regain their ancient independence. The Rajpoots carried fire and sword into this country, of which they made a desert. Ever since it has remained desolate : the very name of Johya is lost, though the vestiges of considerable towns bear testimony to a remote antiquity.

Traditions of Alexander the Great

Amidst these ruins of the Johyas, the name of Sekunder Roomi (Alexander the Great) has fixed itself, and the desert retains the tradition that the ruin called Rung-mahl, the ' painted palace,' near Dandoosir, was the capital of a prince of this region punished by a visitation of the Macedonian conqueror. History affords no evidence of Alexander's passage of the Garah, though the scene of his severest conflict was in that nook of the Punjab not remote from the lands of the Johyas. But though the chronicler of Alexander does not sanction our indulging in this specula­tion, the total darkness in which we appear doomed to remain with regard to Bactria and the petty Grecian kingdoms on the Indus, established by him, does not forbid our. surmise, that by some of these, perhaps the descendants of Python,-such a visitation might have happened.2 The same traditions assert that these regions were not always either arid or desolate, and the living chronicle alluded to in the note, repeated the stanza elsewhere given, which dated its deterioration from the drying up of the Hakra river, which came from the Punjab, and flowing through the heart of this country, emptied itself into the Indus between Rory Bekher and Ootch.

The affinity that this word (Hakra) has both to the Caggar, and Sankra 3 would lead to the conclusion of either being the stream referred to.

1. In the Annals of Jessulmer, the number of offsets from the Yadu-Bhatti tribe which assumed the name of Jit, will be seen ; an additional ground for asserting that the Scythic Yadu is in fact the Yuti.
2. My informant of this tradition was an old inhabitant of Dandoosir, and although seventy years of age, had never left the little district of his nativity until he was brought to me, as one of the most intelligent living records of the past.
3. The natives of these regions cannot pronounce the sibilant ; so that, as I have already stated, the s is converted into h. I gave as an example the name Jahilmir, which becomes ' the hill of fools,' instead of ' the hill of Jasil.' Sankra, in like manner becomes Hankra.

[p.165]: The former we know as being engulfed in the sands about the Heriana confines, while the Sankra is a stream which, though now dry, was used as a line of demarcation even in the time of Nadir Shah. It ran east­ward, parallel with the Indus, and by making it his boundary, Nadir added all the fertile valley of the Indus to his Persian kingdom. (See map.) The only date this legendary stanza assigns for the catastrophe is the reign of the Soda prince, Hamir.

Subjugation of Punias but Ram Singh killed

Ram Sing, having thus destroyed the power of future resistance in the Johyas, turned his arms against the Pooniah Jits, the last who preserved their ancient liberty. They were vanquished, and the Rajpoots were inducted into their most valuable possessions. But the conqueror paid the penalty of his life for the glory of colonising the lands of the Pooniahs. He was slain in their expiring effort to shake off the yoke of the stranger ; and though the Ramsingotes add to the numerical strength, and enlarge the territory of the heirs of Beeka, they, like the Kandulotes, little increase the power of the state, to which their obedience is nominal. Seedmook'h and Sankoo are the two chief places of the Ramsingotes.

Thus, with the subjugation of the Pooniahs, the political annihilation of the six Jit cantons of the desert was accomplished : they1 are now occupied in agriculture and their old pastoral pursuits, and are an in­dustrious tax-paying race under their indolent Rajpoot masters.

Raja Rae Sing and after

Raja Rae Sing led a gallant band of his Rahtores in all the wars of Akber. He was distinguished in the assault of Ahmedabad, slaying in single combat the governor, Mirza Mohamed Hussein. The emperor, who knew the value of such valorous subjects, strengthened the connection which already subsisted between the crown and the Rahtores, by obtaining for prince Selim (afterwards Jehangir) Rae Sing's daughter to wife. The unfortunate Purvez was the fruit of this marriage.

Rae Sing was succeeded by his only son, Kurrun, in S. 1688 (a.d. 1632). Kurrun held the ' munsub of two thousand,' and the government of Doulatabad, in his father's lifetime. Being a supporter of the just claims of Dara Sheko, a plot was laid by the general of his antagonist, with whom he served, to destroy him, but which he was enabled to defeat by the timely intelligence of the Hara prince of Boondi. He died at Bikaner, leaving four sons—i.Pudma Sing; 2, Kesuri Sing ; 3, Mohun Sing; and 4, Anop Sing.

This family furnishes another example of the prodigal sacrifice of Rajpoot blood in the imperial service. The two elder princes were slain in the storm of Beejipoor, and the tragical death of the third, Mohun Sing, in the Imperial camp, forms an episode in Ferishta's History of the Dekhan.1

:1. The young desert chieftain, like all his tribe, would find matter for quarrel in the wind blowing in his face. Having received what he deemed an insult from the brother-in-law of the Shazada, in a dispute regarding a fawn, he appealed to his sword, and a duel ensued even in the presence-chamber, in which young Mohun fell. The fracas was reported to his brother Pudma, at no distance from the scene. With the few retainers at hand, he rushed to the spot, and found his brother bathed in his blood. His antagonist, still hanging over his victim, when he saw the infuriated Rahtore enter, with sword and shield, prepared for dreadful vengeance, retreated behind one of the columns of the Aum Khas (Divan). But Pudma's sword reached him, and avenged his brother's death ; as the record says, "' he felled him to the earth, cleaving at the same place the pillar in twain." Taking up the dead body of his brother, and surrounded by his vassals, he re­paired to his quarter where he assembled all the Rajpoot princes serving with their contingents', as Jeipoor, Jodpoor, Harouti, and harangued them on the insult to their race in the murder of his brother. They all agreed to abandon the king's army, and retire to their own homes. A noble was sent to expostulate by Prince Moozzim ; but in vain. He urged that the prince not only forgave, but approved the summary vengeance taken by the Rahtore : they refused to listen, and in a body had retired more than twenty miles, when the prince in person joined them, and concessions and expostulations overcoming them, they returned to the camp. It was subsequent to this that the two elder brothers were slain. It is recorded of the surviving brother, that he slew an enormous lion in single combat. For this exploit, which thoroughly entitled him to the name he bore (Kesuri), ' the Lion,' he received an estate of twenty-five villages

[p.166]: Anop Sing succeeded in S. 1730 (A.D. 1674). For the services this family he had the castle and lands of Adoni conferred upon him, with ' the munsub of five thousand,' and the governments of Beejipoor and Arungabad. Anop Sing led his clans with the head of his race, the prince of Jodpoor, to quell a rebellion amongst the Afghans of Cabul, which having effected, he returned to the peninsula. Ferishta and the native annals are at variance on his death ; the former asserting that he died in the Dekhan, while the latter say that he left that country, disgusted with the imperial commander's interference about his ground of encampment, and that he died at Bikaner. He left two sons, Suroop Sing and Sujaun Sing.

Suroop, who succeeded in S. 1765 (a.d. 1709), did not long enjoy his honours, being killed in attempting to recover Adoni, which the emperor had resumed on his father's leaving the army.

Sujaun Sing, his successor, did nothing Zoorawur Sing became raja in S. 1793 (a.d. 1737)- The domestic incidents of this, as of the preceding reigns, are without interest.

Guj Sing succeeded in S. 1802 (a.d. 1746). Throughout a long reign of forty-one years, this prince carried on border strife with the Bhattis and the Khan of Bhawulpore. From the former he took Kajasir, Kailah, Kanair, Suttasir, Bunnipoora, Mootalai, and other villages of inferior note ; and from the Khan he recovered the important frontier castle of Anopgurh.

He laid waste, filling up the wells, a considerable tract of country west of the frontier post of Anopgurh, to prevent the incursions of the Daodpotras11

1. ' The children of David,' the designation of the tract and inhabitants subject to the state of Bhawulpore, from its founder, Daod Khan, a native of Seistan.

[p.167]: Raja Guj had some celebrity from the number of his offspring, having had sixty-one children, though all but six were the ' sons of Jove.' The legitimates were, Chuttur Sing, who died in infancy ; Raj Sing, who was poisoned by the mother of Soorut Sing, the reigning prince ; Soortan Sing and Ajib Sing, both of whom fled the paternal roof to escape the fate of their elder brother, and are now at Jeipoor ; Soorut Sing, Raja of Bikaner; and Siam Sing, who enjoys a small appanage in Bikaner.

Raj Sing succeeded his father, S. 1843 (a.d. 1787), but he enjoyed the dignity only thirteen days, being removed by a dose of poison by the mother 1 of Soorut Sing, the fifth son of Raja Guj. The crown thus nefariously obtained this worthy son of such a parent determined to maintain his authority by like means, and to leave no competitor to contest his claims. He has accordingly removed by death or exile all who stood between him and the ' gadi of Beeka.'

Raj Sing left two sons, Pertap Sing and Jey Sing. On the death of Raj Sing, the office of regent, a word of ominous import in these regions, was assumed by Soorut Sing, who, during eighteen months, conducted himself with great circumspection, and by condescension and gifts impressed the chiefs in his favour. At length he broke his plans to the chiefs of Mahajin and rom the king. He also obtained great renown for slaying a Habshi or Abyssinian chief, who commanded for one of the southern princes.

Bahaderan, whose acquiescence in his usurpation he secured by additions to their estates. The faithful Bukhtawar Sing, whose family during four generations had filled the office of dewan, discovered the scheme, though too late to counteract it, and the attempt was punished by imprison­ment. Prepared for the last step, the regent collected foreign troops from Batinda and other parts, sufficient to overcome all opposition. The infant prince was kept secluded, and at length the regent issued the warrant in her own name for the nobles to assemble at the capital. Except the two traitors enumerated, they to a man refused ; but instead of combining to oppose him, they indolently remained at their castles. Collecting all his troops,- the usurper passed to Nohur, where he enticed the chief of Bookurko to an interview, and lodged him in the fortress of Nohur. Thence he passed to Ajitpoora, which he plundered ; and advancing to Sankoo, he attacked it in form. Doorjun Sing defended himself with valour, and when reduced to extremity, committed suicide. His heir was put in fetters, and a fine of twelve thousand rupees was levied from the vassals of Sankoo. The commercial town of Chooui was next attacked ; it held out six months, when the confined chief of Bookurko, as the price of his own freedom, treacherously offered to put the tyrant in possession. He effected this, and a fine of nearly two lakhs of rupees (20,000 Pounds) was offered to spare the town from plunder.

By this act of severity, and the, means it furnished, Soorut returned to Bikaner, determined to remove the only bar between him and the crown, his prince and nephew. In this he found some difficulty,

1 She was the sister of the Jhulye chief, heir presumptive to the gadi of Jeipoor, on failure of lineal issue.

[p.168]: from the virtue and vigilance of his sister, who never lost sight of the infant. Frustrated in all attempts to circumvent her, and not daring to blazon the murder by open violence, he invited the needy Raja of Nirwar to make proposals for his sister's hand. In vain she urged her advanced period of life ; and in order to deter the suitor, that she had already been affianced to Rana Ursi of Mewar. All his scruples vanished at the dower of three lakhs, which the regent offered the impoverished scion of the famous Raja Nala.1 Her objections were overruled and she was forced to submit ; though she not only saw through her brother's anxiety for her removal, but boldly charged him with his nefarious intentions. He was not content with disavowing them, but at her desire gave her the most solemn assurances of the child's safety. Her departure was the signal of his death ; for not long after, he was found strangled, and it is said by the regent's own hands, having in vain endeavoured to obtain the offices of the Mahajin chieftain as the executioner of his sovereign.

Surat Singh

Thus, in one short year after the death of Raja Raj, the gadi of Beeka was dishonoured by being possessed by an assassin of his prince. In S. 1857 (a.d. 1801), the elder brothers of the usurper, Soortan Sing and Ajib Sing, who had found refuge in Jeipoor, repaired to Bhutnair and assembled the vassals of the disaffected nobles and Bhattis in order to dethrone the tyrant. But the recollection of his severities deterred some, while bribes kept back others, and the usurper did not hesitate to advance to meet his foes. The encounter, which took place at Beegore, was obstinate and bloody, and three thousand Bhattis alone fell. This signal victory con­firmed Soorut's usurpation. He erected a castle on the field of battle, which he called Futehgurh, ' the abode of victory.'

Flushed with this brilliant success, Soorut Sing determined to make his authority respected both at home and abroad. He invaded his turbulent countrymen, the Beedawuts, and levied fifty thousand rupees from their lands. Chooru, which had promised aid to the late confederacy, was once more invested and mulcted, and various other places were attacked ere they could join. But one solitary castle was successfully defended, that of Chhani, near Bahaderan. Here the usurper was foiled, and, after six months' fruitless siege, compelled to return to his capital.

Shortly after, he eagerly availed himself of an opportunity to punish the excesses of the Daodpotras, and to withdraw attention from himself, by kindling a popular war against these powerful and turbulent neighbours. The occasion was the Kerani chief of Tearoh demanding his aid against his liege lord, Bhawul Khan. As these border feuds are not extinguished even in these days of universal peace, it may not be uninteresting to see the feudal muster-roll of

1. The story of Nala and Dumyanti (or, Nul Dumun, as it is familiarly called in these regions) is well known in oriental literature. From Nal, the famed castle of Narwar is named, of which this suitor for the hand of the Bikaner princess was deprived by Sindia.

[p.169]: the desert chiefs on such occurrences, as well as the mode in which they carry on hostilities. It was very shortly before that victory had preponderated on the side of the Rahtores by a gallant coup-de-main of the lord marcher of Bikaner, who carried the castle of Mozgurh in a midnight assault. The hero on this occasion was not a Rahtore, but a Bhatti chief, in the service of Bikaner, named Hindu Sing, who gained 'immortality' by the style in which he scaled the walls, put Mahomed Maroop Kerani, the governor, and the garrison to the sword, and brought away captive to Bikaner the governor's wife, who was afterwards ransomed for five thousand rupees and four hundred camels.

The outlaw who sought sirna at Bikaner, on this occasion, was of the same tribe, Kerani, his name Khodabuksh ('gift of God'), chief of Tearoh, one of the principal fiefs of the Daodpotras. With all his retainers, to the amount of three hundred horse and five hundred foot, he threw himself on the protection of Soorut Sing, who assigned him twenty villages, and one hundred rupees daily for his support. The Keranis were the most powerful vassals of Bhawul Khan, who might have paid dear for the resumption of Tearoh, whose chief promised the Rajpoot nothing less than to extend his conquests to the Indus. Allured by this bait, the khir was proclaimed and the sons of Beeka assembled from all quarters.

S.No. Name chief of No. of Horse Foot. Guns
1. Abhye Sing Bookurko 300 2000
2. Rao Ram Sing Poogul 100 400
3. Hatti Sing Ranair 8 150
4. Kurrun Sing Suttasir 9 150
5. Anop Sing Jussaroh 40 250
6. Khet Sing Jemunsir 6 350
7. Bheni Sing Jangloo 9 250
8. Bhmom Sing Beetnoke 2 61

Feudal retainers . . 528 3611

S.No. No. of Horse Foot. Guns
1. Park under Muji Purihar - 21
2. Foreign Brigade [ Khas Paega, or household troop . 200
3. in the -! Camp of Gunga Sing 200 1500 4
4. Raja's service. Do. of Doorjun Sing . 60 600 4
5. (Anoka Sing .... I I.aori Sing J- 300
6. Sikh chieftains Auxiliary Levies. Bood Sing J 250
7. Sooltan Khan" ,, , a 1 1 t^i Afghans . . 400 I Ahmed Khan) b *

Total. 2188 5711 29

The command-in-chief of this brilliant array was conferred on jaitroh Matoh, son of the Dewan. On the 13th of Magh 1856 (spring of 1800) he broke ground, and the feudal levies fell in on

[p.170]: the march by Kunasir, Rajasir, Kaili,Ranair,'and Anopgurh, the last point of rendezvous. Thence he proceeded by Seogurh,1 Mozgurh, and Phoolra, all of which were taken after a few weeks' siege, and from the last they levied a lakh and a quarter of rupees, with other valuables, and nine guns. They advanced to Khyr-poor, within three miles of the Indus, when being joined by other re­fractory chiefs, Jaitroh marched direct on the capital, Bhawulpore, within a short distance of which he encamped preparatory to the attack. The Khan, however, by this delay, was enabled to detach the most considerable of his nobles from the Rajpoot standard : on which the Bikaner Dewan, satisfied with the honour of having insulted Bhawulpore, retreated with the spoils he had acquired. He was received by the usurper with contempt, and degraded for not fighting.

The Bhattis, smarting with the recollection of their degradation, two years after the battle of Beegore attempted the invasion of Bikaner, but were again repulsed with loss ; and these skirmishes continued until S. 1861 (a.d. 1805), when Raja Soorut attacked the Khan of the Bhattis in his capital, Bhutnair. It capitulated after a siege of six months, when Zabta Khan, with his garrison and effects, was permitted to retire to Rhania, since which this place has remained an appanage of Bikaner.

The coalition against Jodpoor was ruinous to Soorut, who supported the cause of the pretender, on which the usurper expended twenty-four lakhs of rupees, nearly five years' revenue of this desert region. On this occasion, he led all his troops in person against Jodpoor, and united in the siege, which they were however compelled to abandon with dishonour, and retrograde to their several abodes. In consequence of this, the usurper fell sick, and was at the last extremity ; nay, the ceremonies for the dead were actually commenced ; but he recovered, to the grief and misery of his subjects. To supply an exhausted treasury, his extortions know no bounds ; and having cherished the idea that he might compound his past sins by rites and gifts to the priests,he is surrounded by a group of avaricious Brahmins, who are "maintained in luxury at the expense of his subjects. His cruelty keeps pace with his avarice and his fears. The chief of Bookurko he put to death, notwithstanding his numerous services. Nahur Sing of Seedmookh, Gyan Sing and Goman Sing of Gundaili, amongst the chief feudatories of the state, shared the same fate. Chooru was invested a third time, and with its chief, fell into the tyrant's hands.

Incursions of Rath or Bhatti robbers and Jat defence

With this system of terror, his increasing superstition, and diminished attention to public duties, the country is annually deteriorating in popula­tion and wealth ; and as if they had not misery enough within, they have not had a single good season for years.2 Owing to the disobedience of the northern chiefs, and the continual

1. Its former name was Bullur, one of the most ancient cities of the desert, as is Phoolra, a Johya possession.
2. This account was drawn up in 1814.

[p.171]: incursions of the Rahts, or 'Bhatti robbers,' who sweep the land of cattle, and often cut and carry off entire crops, the peasant Jit, the ancient lord of the soil, is often left to the alternative of starvation or emigration. Many have consequently sought shelter in the British frontier territories, in Hansi and Heriana, where they are kindly received. Since the English have occupied Sirsah and the lands belonging to the Bhatti Bahader Khan, the misfortunes of the cultivators of the northern parts of Bikaner have been doubled by the inroads of a band left without resource. In some parts, the Jits combine to protect themselves against these inroads : every hamlet has its post of defence, a tower of earth, on which is perched a watchman and kettledrum, to beat the alarm, which is taken up from village to village, and when an enemy is discovered, all are in arms to defend their property. The unfortunate Jit is obliged to plough his fields under the load of shield and sang, or heavy iron lance ; so that, at no distant period, the whole of this region must become as desolate as the tracts once possessed by the Johyas.1

Such, at the end of three hundred and twenty-three years, is the change which a Rajpoot usurper has affected in the once comparatively populous communities of the Jits. From the founder, Beeka, to the present tyran­nical governor, there have been only eleven descents though thirteen reigns, giving an average of thirty years for the one, and twenty-five for the other : a fact which speaks forcibly for the general morality of the descendants of Beeka.


Before we enter on the physical aspect of the country, we must make mention of Beedavati, the lands of ' the sons of Beeda,' now an integral portion of Bikaner. It will be borne in mind that Beeda, the brother of Beeka, led the first Rajpoot colony from Mundore, in search of a fresh establishment. His first attempt was in the province of Godwar, then belonging to the Rana : but his reception there was so warm, that he moved northward, and was glad to take service with the chief of the Mohils. This ancient tribe is by some termed a branch of the Yadus- but is by others considered a separate race, and one of the ' thirty-six royal races' : all are agreed as to its antiquity. The residence of the Mohil chief was Chaupur, where, with the title of Thakoor, he ruled over one hundred and forty townships. Beeda deemed circumvention better than open force to effect his purposes ; and as, according to the Rajpoot maxim, in all attempts ' to obtain land,' success hallows the means, he put in train a scheme which, as it affords the least cause for suspicion, has often been used for this object. Beeda became the medium of a matrimonial arrangement between the Mohil chief and the prince of Marwar ; and as the rela­tion and natural guardian of the bride, he conveyed the nuptial train unsus­pected into the castle of the Mohils, whose chiefs were assembled

1. While putting this to the press, rumour says that the chiefs of Bikaner are in open rebellion, against the Raja, who has applied, but without success, to the British Government for support. This, if true, is as it should be

[p.172]: to honour the festivities. But instead of the Rahtore fair and her band of maidens, the valorous sons of Joda rushed sword in hand from the litters and covered vehicles, and treacherously cut off the best men of Mohilla. They kept possession of the inner fortress until tidings of their success brought rein­forcements from Jodpoor. For this aid, Beeda assigned to his father, Ladnoo and its twelve villages, now incorporated with Jodpoor. The son of Beeda, Tez Sing, laid the foundation of a new capital, which he called after his father, Beedasir. The community of the Beedawuts is the most powerful in Bikaner, whose prince is obliged-to be satisfied with almost nominal marks of supremacy, and to restrict his demands, which are else­where unlimited. The little region of the Mohillas, around the ancient capital Chaupur, is un extensive flat, flooded in the periodical rains from the surrounding teebas or 'sandhills,' the soil of which is excellent, even wheat being abundantly produced. This Oasis, as it is entitled to be termed, may be twenty-five miles (twelve cos) in extreme length, by about six in breadth. We cannot affirm that the entire Beedawut district of one hundred and forty villages, and to which is assigned a population of forty thousand to fifty thousand souls, one-third being Rahtores, ' the sons of Beeda ' is within this flat. It is subdivided into twelve fiefs, of which five are pre-eminent. Of the ancient possessors, the indigenous Mohils, there are not more than twenty families throughout the land of Mohilla ; the rest are chiefly Jit agriculturists and the mercantile castes.

We do the sons of Beeda no injustice when we style them a community of plunderers. Like the sons of Esau, " their hand is against every man " : and they are too powerful to fear retaliation. In former times they used to unite with the Larkhanis, another horde of robbers, and carry their raids into the most populous parts of Jeipoor. In these habits, however, they only partake of the character common to all who inhabit desert regions. What nature has denied them, they wrest from those to whom she has been more bountiful. But it is to the absence of good government more than to natural sterility, that we must attribute the moral obliquity of the Rajaputras, ' the offspring of regality,' spread over these extensive regions, who little discriminate between meum and tuum, in all that refers to their neighbours.

Abstract of Chapter II

[p.173]: Actual condition and capabilities of Bikaner — Causes of its deterioration — Extent — Population — Jits — Sarasvati Brahmins — Charuns — Mallis and Naes — Chooras and Thaoris — Rajpoots — Face of the country — Grain and vege­table productions — Implements of - husbandry — Water — Salt lakes — Local physiognomy — Mineral productions — Unctuous clay — Animal productions - Commerce and manufactures — Fairs — Government and revenues — The fisc — Dhooah, or hearth-tax — Anga, or capitation-tax — Sayer, or imposts— Pusaeti or plough-tax — Malbah, or ancient land-tax — Extraordinary and irregular resources—Feudal levies—Household troops.

Deterioration of desert after the Rajputs supplanted the Jats

This region is but little known to Europeans, by whom it has hitherto been supposed to be a perfect desert, unworthy of examination. Its present condition bears little comparison with what tradition reports it to have been in ancient times ; and its deterioration, within three centuries since the Rajpoots supplanted the Jits, almost warrants our belief of the asser­tion, that these deserts were once fertile and populous ; nay, that they are still capable (notwithstanding the reported continual increase of the sand) to maintain an abundant population, there is little room to doubt.

The princes of Bikaner used to take the field at the head of ten thousand of their kindred retainers ; and although they held extraordinary grants from the empire for the maintenance of these contingents, their ability to do so from their proper resources was undoubted.

To other causes than positive sterility must be attributed the wretched condition of this state. Exposed to the continual attacks of organised bands of robbers from with­out,subjected internally to the never-ending demands of a rapacious govern­ment, for which they have not a shadow of advantage in return, it would be strange if aught but progressive decay and wretchedness were the consequence. In three centuries, more than one-half of the villages, which either voluntarily or by force submitted to the rule of the founder, Beeka, are now without memorial of their existence, and the rest are gradually approximating to the same condition.

Commercial caravans, which passed through this state and enriched its treasury with the transit duties, have almost ceased to frequent it from the increasing insecurity of its territory. Besides the personal loss to the prince the country suffers from the deterioration of the commercial towns of Choorri, Rajgurh, and Rinnie, which, as entrepots, supplied the country with the productions of Sinde and the provinces to the westward, or those of Gangetic India. Nor is this confined to Bikaner ; the same cause affects Jessulmer, and-the more eastern principalities, whose misgovernment, equally with Bikaner, fosters the spirit of rapine : the Maldotes of Jessumler and the Larkhanis of Jeipoor are as notorious as the Beedawuts of Bikaner ; and to these may be added the Sahraes, Khosas, and Rajurs, in the more western desert, who, in their habits and principles, are as demoralised as the Bedouins of Arabia.

Extent—Population—Soil—Teebas or Sandhills

[p.174]: The line of greatest breadth of this state extends from Poogul to Rajgurh, and measures about one hundred and eighty miles ; while the length from north to south, between Bhutnair and Mahajin, is about one hundred and sixty miles : the area may not exceed twenty-two thousand miles. Formerly they reckoned two thousand seven hundred towns, villages, and hamlets scattered over this space, one-half of which are no longer in existence,

An estimate of the population of this arid region, without presenting some data, would be very unsatisfactory. The tract to the north-west of Jaetpoor is now perfectly desolate, and nearly so from that point to Bhutnair : to the north-east, the population is but scanty, which observa­tion also applies to the parts from the meridian of Bikaner to the Jessulmer frontier ; while internally, from these points, it is more uniform, and equals the northern parts of Marwar. From a census of the twelve prin­cipal towns, with an estimate, furnished by well-informed inhabitants, of the remainder, we may obtain a tolerably accurate approximation on this point :

S.No. Chief towns No. of houses
1. Bikaner 12,000
2. Nohur 2,500
3. Bahaderan 2,500
4. Rinnie 1,500
5. Rajgurh 3,000
6. Chooru 13,000
7. Mahajin 800
8. Jaetpoor 1,000
9. Beedasir 500
10. Ruttungurh 1,000
11. Daismookh 1,000
12. Senthal 50
13. 100 villages, each having 200 house 20,000
14. 100 villages, each having 150 house 15,000
15. 200 villages, each having 100 house 20,000
16. 800 hamlets each having 30 each 24,000
Total number of houses 107,850

Allowing five souls to each house, we have a total of 539,250 souls, giving an average of twenty-five to the square mile, which I cannot think exaggerated, and making the desert regions depending on Bikaner equal, in the density of population, the highlands of Scotland.

The aboriginal Jats

Of this population, full three-fourths are the aboriginal Jits ; the rest are their conquerors, descendants of Beeka, including the Sarsote

[p.175]: Brah­mins, Charuns, Bards, and a few of the debased classes, whose numbers, conjointly, are not one-tenth of the Rajpoots.

Jits, — The Jits are the most wealthy as well as the most numerous portion of the community. Many of the old Bhomia landlords, repre­sentatives of their ancient communal heads, are men of substance ; but their riches are of no use to them, and to avoid the rapacity of their govern­ment, they cover themselves with the cloak of poverty, which is thrown aside only on nuptial festivities. On these occasions they disinter their hoards, which are lavished with unbounded extravagance. They even block up the highways to collect visitors, whose numbers form the measure of the liberality and munificence of the donor of the fete.

Sarsote, Charuns, Mallis, Nats, Chooras, Thaoris, Rajpoots

Sarsote (properly Sarasvati) Brahmins are found in considerable numbers throughout this tract. They aver that they were masters of the country prior to the Jit colonists. They are a peaceable, industrious race, and without a single prejudice of ' the order': they eat meat, smoke tobacco, cultivate the soil, and trade even in the sacred kine, notwithstand­ing their descent from Singiricsha, son of Brahma.

Charuns.—The Charuns are the sacred order of these regions ; the warlike tribes esteem the heroic lays of the bard more than the homily of the Brahmin. The Charuns are throughout reverenced by the Rahtores, and hold lands, literally, on the tenure of ' an old song.' More will be said of them in the Annals of Jessulmer.

Mallis, Nats, gardeners and barbers, are important members of every Rajpoot family, and to be found in all the villages, of which they are invariably the cooks:

Chooras, Thaoris, are actually castes of robbers : the former, from the Lakhi Jungle ; the latter, from Mewar. Most of the chieftains have a few in their pay, entertained for the most desperate services. The Bahaderan chief has expelled all his Rajpoots, and retains only Chooras and Thaoris. The Chooras are highly esteemed for fidelity, and the barriers and portals throughout this tract are in their custody. They enjoy a very singular perquisite, which would go far to prove their being the aborigines of the country ; namely, a fee of four copper coins on every dead subject, when the funeral ceremonies are over.

Rajpoots.— The Rahtores of Bikaner are unchanged in their martial qualifications, bearing as high a reputation as any other class in India and whilst their brethren of Marwar, Amber, and Mewar have been for years groaning under the rapacious visitations of Mahrattas and Pat'hans, their distance and the difficulties of the country have saved them from such afflictions : though, in truth, they have had enough to endure at home, in the tyranny of their own lord. The Rahtores of the desert have fewer prejudices than their more eastern brethren ; they will eat food, without enquiring by whom it was dressed, and will drink either wine or water, without asking to whom the cup belonged. They would make the best

[p.176]: soldiers in the world if they would submit to discipline, as they are brave, hardy, easily satisfied, and very patient ; though, on the other hand, they have imbibed some qualities, since their migration to these regions, which could only be eradicated in the rising generation : especi­ally the inordinate use of opium, and smoking intoxicating herbs, in both which accomplishments ' the sons of Beeka ' are said to bear the palm from the rest of the Chalees rajcula, the thirty-six royal tribes of India. The piala, or ' cup,' is a favourite with every Rajpoot who can afford it, and is, as well as opium, a panacea for ennui, arising from the absence of all mental stimulants, in which they are more deficient, from the nature of the country, than most of their warlike countrymen.

Face of the country

The whole of this principality, with the exception of a few isolated spots, or oases, scattered here and there, consists more or less of sand. From the eastern to the western boundary, in the line of greatest breadth, it is one continuous plain of sand, though the teebas, or sand-hills, commence in the centre of the country, the principal chain limning in the direction of Jessulmer, and shooting forth subordinate branches in every direction ; or it might be more correct to designate this main ridge, originating in the tracts bordering the eastern valley of the Indus, as terminating its elevations about the heart of Bikaner. On the north-east quarter, from Rajgurh to Nohur and Raotsir, the soil is good, being black earth, slightly mixed with sand, and having water near enough to the surface for irrigation ; it produces wheat, gram, and even rice, in considerable quantities. The same soil exists from Bhutnair to the banks of the Garah. The whole of the Mohilla tract is a fertile oasis, the teebas just terminating their extreme offsets on its northern limit : being flooded in the periodical rains, wheat is abundantly produced.

But exclusive of such spots, which are " few and far between," we cannot describe the desert as a waste where " no salutary plant takes root, no verdure quickens ;" for though the poverty of the soil refuses to aid the germination of the more luxuriant grains, Providence has provided a countervailing good, in giving to those it can rear a richness and superiority unknown to more favoured regions. The bajra of the desert is far superior to any grown in the rich loam of Malwa, and its inhabitant retains an instinctive partiality, even when admitted to revel in the luxurious repasts of Mewar or Amber, for the bhawtis, or ' bajra cakes,' of his native sand-hills, and not more from association than from their intrinsic excellence. In a plentiful season, they save enough for two years' consumption. The grain requires not much water, though it is of the last importance that this little should be timely.

Besides bajra, we may mention moth and til ; the former a useful pulse both for men and cattle ; the other the oil-plant, used both for culinary purposes and burning. Wheat, gram, and barley, are produced in the favoured spots described, but in these are enumerated the staple products of Bikaner.

[p.177]: Cotton is grown in the tracts favourable for wheat. The plant is said to be septennial, even decennial, in these regions. As soon as the cotton is gathered, the shoots are all cut off, and the root alone left. Each succeeding year, the plant increases in strength, and at length attains a size unknown where it is more abundantly cultivated.

Nature has bountifully supplied many spontaneous vegetable products for the use of man, and excellent pasture for cattle. Gowar, Katchri, Kukree, all of the cucurbitaceous family, and water-melons of a gigantic size, are produced in great plenty. The latter is most valuaale ; for being cut in slices and dried in the sun, it is stored up for future use when vegetables are scarce, or in times of famine, on which they always calculate. It is also an article of commerce, and much admired even where vegetables are more abundant. The copious mucilage of the dried melon is extremely nourishing ; and deeming it valuable as an antiscorbutic in sea- voyages, the author sent some of it to Calcutta many years ago for experiment.1 Our Indian ships would find no difficulty in obtaining a plentiful supply of this article, as it can be cultivated to any extent, and thus be made to confer a double benefit, on our seamen and the inhabitants of those desert regions. The superior magnitude of the water-melons of the desert over those of interior India gives rise to much exaggeration, and it has been gravely asserted by traveller's in the sand teebas,2 where they are most abundant, that the mucilage of one is sufficient to allay the thirst both of a horse and his rider.

In these arid regions, where they depend entirely on the heavens for water, and where they calculate on a famine every seventh year, nothing that can administer to the wants of man is lust. The seeds of the wild grapes, as the bhuroot, buroo, herraro, sewun, are collected, and, mixed with bajra-flour, enter much into the food of the poorer classes. They also store up great quantities of the wild ber, khyr, and kharil berries ; and the long pods of the kaijra, astringent and bitter as they are, are dried and formed into a flour. Nothing is lost in these regions which can be converted into food.

Trees they have none indigenous (mangoes and tamarind are planted about the capital), but abundant shrubs, as the babool, and ever-green peeloo, the jhal, and others yielding berries. The Beedawuts, indeed, apply the term ' tree,' to the roeura, which sometimes attains the height of twenty feet, and is transported to all parts for house-building ; as likewise is the nima, so well known throughout India. The phok; is the most useful of all these, as with its twigs they frame a wicker-work to line their wells, and prevent the sand from falling in.

The ak, species of euphorbia, known in Hindustan as the madar,

1 I sent specimens to Mr. Moorcroft so far back as 1813, but never learned the result— See Article "On the Preservation of Food," Edin. Reriew, No. 45, p. 115.
2 Mr. Barrow, in his valuable work on Southern Africa, describes the water-melon as self-sown and abundant.

[p.178]: grows to an immense height and strength in the desert ; from its fibres they make the ropes in general use throughout these regions, and they are reckoned superior, both in substance and durability, to those formed of moonj (hemp), which is however cultivated in the lands of the Beedawuts.

Their agricultural implements are simple and suited to the soil. The plough is one of single yoke, either for the camel or ox : that with double yoke being seldom required, or chiefly by the mallis (gardeners'), when the soil is of some consistence. The drill is invariably used, and the grains are dropped singly into the ground, at some distance from each other, and each sends forth a dozen to twenty stalks. A bundle of bushes forms their harrow. The grain is trodden out by oxen ; and the mot'h (pulse), which is even more productive than the bajra, by camels.

Water.—This indispensable element is at an immense distance from the surface throughout the Indian desert, which, in this respect, as well as many others, differs very materially from that portion of the great African Desert in the same latitudes. Water at twenty feet, as found at Mourzook by Captain Lyon, is here unheard of, and the degree of cold experienced by him at Zuela, on the winter solstice, would have " burnt up " every natural and cultivated production of our Hindu Seharra. Captain Lyon describes the thermometer in lat. 26°, within 2° of zero of Reaumur. Majors Denham and Clapperton never mark it under 40° of Fahrenheit, and mention ice, which I never saw but once, the thermometer being 28° ; and then not only the mouths of our mushiks, or ' water-skins,' were frozen, but a small pond, protected from the wind (I heard, for I saw it not), exhibited a very thin pellicle of ice. When at 30° the cold was deemed intense by the inhabitants of Maroo in the tracts limiting the desert, and the useful ak, and other shrubs- were scorched and withered ; and in north lat. 25°, the thermometer being 28°, desolation and woe spread throughout the land. To use their own phrase, the crops of gram and other pulses were completely " burnt up, as if scorched by the lightnings of heaven " ; while the sun's meridian heat would raise it 50° more, or up to 80°, a degree of variability at least not recorded by Captain Lyon.

At Daisnokh, near the capital, the wells are more than two hundred cubits, or three hundred feet, in depth ; and it is rare that water fit for man is found at a less distance from the surface than sixty, in the tracts decidedly termed t'hul, or ' desert ' : though some of the flats, or oases, such as that of Mohilla, are exceptions, and abundance of brackish water, fit for cattle, is found throughout at half this depth, or about thirty feet. All the wells are lined with basket-work made of p'hok twigs, and the water is generally drawn up by hand-lines.1

1. Water is sold, in all the large towns, by the mallis, or ' gardeners,' who have the monopoly,of this article. Most families have large cisterns or reservoirs, called tonkas, which are filled in the rainy season. They are of masonry, with a small trap-door at the top, made to exclude the external air, and having a lock and key affixed. Some large tankas are established for the community, and I understand this water keeps sweet for eight and twelve months' consump­tion.

[p.179]: Sirr. or 'salt lakes.'— There are a few salt lakes, which, throughout the whole of the Indian desert, are termed sirr, though none are of the same consequence as those of Marwar. The largest is at the town of Sirr, so named after the lake, which is about six miles in circumference. There is another at Chaupur about two miles in length, and although each of them frequently contains a depth of four feet of water, this entirely evaporates in the hot winds, leaving a thick sheet of saline incrustation. The salt of both is deemed of inferior quality to that of the more southerly lakes.

Physiognomy of the country

There is little to vary the physiognomy of this region, and small occasion to boast either of its physical or moral beauties ; yet, strange to say, I have met with many whose love of country was stronger than their perceptions of abstract veracity, who would dwell on its perfections, and prefer a mess of rabri, or porridge made of bajra, to the greater delicacies of more civilised regions. To such, the teebas, or ' sand-ridges,' might be more important than the Himalaya, and their diminutive and scanty brushwood might eclipse the gigantic foliage of this huge barrier. Verdure itself may be abhorrent to eyes accustomed to behold only arid sands ; and a region without tofans or ' whirlwinds ' ; or armies of locusts rustling like a tempest, and casting long shadows on the lands, might be deemed by the prejudiced, deficient in the true sublime. Occasionally the sandstone formation rises above the surface, resembling a few low isolated hills ; and those who dwell on the boundaries of Nagore, if they have a love of more decided elevations than their native sand­-hills afford, may indulge in a distant view of the terminations of the Aravulli.

Mineral productions

The mineral productions of this country are scanty. They have excellent quarries of freestone in several parts, especially at Husairah, thirteen coss to the north-east of the capital, which yield a small revenue estimated at two thousand rupees annually. There are also copper mines at Beerumsir and Beedasir ; but the former does not repay the expense of working, and the latter,- having been worked for thirty years, is nearly exhausted.

An unctuous clay is excavated from a pit, near Kolat'h, in large quantities, and exported as an article of commerce, besides adding fifteen hundred rupees annually to the treasury. It is used chiefly to free the skin and hair from impurities, and the Cutchie ladies are said to eat it to improve their complexions.

Animal productions

The kine of the desert are highly esteemed ; as are the camels, especially those used for expedition

[p.180]: and the saddle, which bear a high price,1 and are considered superior to any in India. They are beautifully formed, and the head possesses much blood and symmetry. Sheep are reared in great abundance, and find no want of food in the excellent grasses and shrubs which abound. The p'hok, jowas, and other prickly scrubs, which are here indigenous, form the dainties of the camel in other regions. The Nilgae, or elk, and deer of every kind, are plentiful ; and the fox of the desert is a beautiful little animal. Jackals and hyaenas are not scarce, and even lions are by no means unknown in Bikaner.

Commerce and manufactures

Rajgurh was the great commercial mart of this country, and the point of rendezvous for caravans from all parts. The produce of the Punjab and Cashmere came formerly direct by Hansi-Hisar,— that of the eastern countries by Dehli, Rewari, Dadri, etc., consisting of silks, fine cloths, indigo, sugar, iron, tobacco, etc.; from Harouti and Malwa came opium, which supplied all the Rajpoot states ; from Sinde, via Jessulmer, and by caravans from Mooltan and Shikarpoor, dates, wheat, rice, loongees (silk vestments for women), fruits, etc. ; from Palli, the imports from maritime countries, as spices, tin, drugs, coco-nuts, elephants' teeth, etc. Much of this was for internal consumption, but the greater part a mere transit trade, which yielded considerable revenue.

Woollens. The wool of the sheep pastured in the desert is, however, the staple commodity both of manufacture and trade in this region. It is worked into every article of dress, both male and female, and worn by all, rich and poor. It is produced from the loom, of every texture and quality, from the coarse looie or ' blanket,' at three rupees per pair (six shillings), to thirty rupees. The quality of these last is very fine, of an intermediate texture between the shawl and camlet, and without any nap ; it is always bordered with a stripe of chocolate brown or red. Of this quality are the do-patis or ' scarfs ' for the ladies. Turbans are also manufactured of it, and though frequently from forty to sixty-one feet in length, such is the fineness of the web, that they are not bulky on the head.

From the milk of the sheep and goats as well as kine, ghee or ' clarified butter ' is made, and forms an important article of trade.

Manufactures in iron. The Bikaneris work well in iron, and have shops at the capital and all the large towns for the manufacture of sword blades, matchlocks, daggers, iron lances, etc. The sword-handles, which are often inlaid with variegated steel, or burnished, are in high request, and exported to various parts of India. They have also expert artists in ivory, though the articles arc chiefly such as are worn by females, as chooris, or ' bracelets.'

Coarse cotton cloths, for internal consumption, are made in consider­able quantities.

1. One thousand rupees have been given for one ; one hundred is the average value.

[p.181]: Fairs. Annual fairs were held, in the months of Kartik and Phalgoon, at the towns of Kolath and Gujnair, and frequented by the mer­chants of the adjacent countries. They were celebrated for cattle, chiefly the produce of the desert, camels, kine, and horses from Mooltan and the Lakhi Jungle, a breed now almost extinct. These fairs have lost all their celebrity : in fact, commerce in these regions is extinct.

Government revenues

The personal revenues of the Raja were derived from a variety of sources : from the Khalisa, or ' crown-lands ' imposts, taxes on agriculture, and that compendious item which makes up the deficiencies in all oriental budgets, dind, or 'contribution.' But with all these " appliances and means to boot," the civil list of this desert king seldom exceeded five lakhs of rupees, or about pounds 50,000 per annum. The lands of the feudality are more extensive proportionally in this region than in any other in Rajpootana, arising out of the original settlement, when the Beedawuts and Kandulotes, whose joint acquisitions exceeded those of Beeka, would not admit him to hold lands in their territory, and made but a slight pecuniary acknowledgment of his supremacy. The districts in which the crown-lands lie are Rajgurh, Rinnie, Nohur , Garib, Ruttengurh, Ranniah, and more recently Chooru.

The following are the items of the revenue :—I, Khalisa, or fiscal revenue ; 2, Dhooah ; 3, Angah ; 4, Town and transit duties ; 5, Pusdeti, or ' plough-tax ' ; 6, Malbah.

1. The fisc. Formerly this branch of revenue yielded two lakhs of rupees ; but with progressive superstition and prodigality, the raja has alienated almost two-thirds of the villages from which the revenue was drawn. These amounted to two hundred; now they do not exceed eighty, and their revenue is not more than one lakh of rupees. Soorut Sing is guided only by caprice ; his rewards are uniform, no matter what the service or the object, whether a Brahmin or a camel-driver. The Khalisa is the only source which he considers he has merely a life-interest in. To supply the deficiencies, he has direct recourse to the pockets of his subjects.

2. Dhooah may be rendered hearth-tax, though literally it is a smoke (dhooah) tax. All must eat ; food must be dressed ; and as they have neither chimneys nor glass windows on which to lay the tax, Soorut Sing's chancellor of the exchequer makes the smoke pay a transit duty ere it gets vent from the various orifices of the edifice. It only amounts to one rupee on each house or family, but would form an important item if not evaded by the powerful chiefs : still it yields a lakh of rupees. The town of Mahajin, which was settled on Ruttun Sing, son of Raja Noonkurn, on the resignation of his right of primogeniture and succession, enjoys exemption from this tax. It is less liable to fluctuation than other taxes, for if a village becomes half-deserted, those who remain are saddled with the whole. Dhooah is only known to the two western slates, Bikaner and Jessulmer.

[p.182]: 3. Angah. This is not a capitation but a body tax (from angah, the body), and was established by Raja Anop Sing. It might almost be termed a property-tax, since it embraced quadrupeds as well as bipeds of every sex and age, and was graduated according to age and sex in the human species, and according to utility in the brute. Each male adult was assessed one angah, fixed at four anas (about sixpence), and cows, oxen, buffaloes, were placed upon a level with the lord of the creation. Ten goats or sheep were estimated as one angah; but a camel was equivalent to four angahs, or one rupee, which Raja Guj Sing doubled. This tax, which is by far the most certain in a country, perhaps still more pastoral than agricultural, is most providently watched, and though it has under­gone many changes since it was originally imposed, it yet yields annually two lakhs of rupees.

4. Sayer, or ' imposts.' This branch is subject to much fluctuation, and has diminished greatly since the reign of Soorut Sing. The duties levied in the capital alone formerly exceeded what is collected throughout the whole of his dominions ; being once estimated at above two lakhs, and now under one. Of this amount, half is collected at Rajgurh, the chief commercial mart of Bikaner. The dread of the Rahts, who have cut off the communications with the Punjab, and the want of principle within, deter merchants from visiting this state, and the caravans from Mooltan, Bhawulpoor, and Shikarpoor, which passed through Bikaner to the eastern states, have nearly abandoned the route. The only duties of which he is certain are those on grain, of four rupees on every hundred maunds sold or exported, and which, according to the average sale price of these regions, may be about two per cent.

5. Pusaeti is a tax of five rupees on every plough used in agriculture. It was introduced by Raja Rae Sing, in commutation of the corn-tax, or levy in kind, which had long been established at one-fourth of the gross produce. The Jits were glad to compound, and get rid of the agents of corruption, by the substitution of the plough-tax. It formerly yielded two lakhs of rupees, but with decreasing agriculture has fallen, like every other source, to a little more than one-half, but still yields a lakh and a quarter.

6. Malbah is the name of the original tax which the Jit communities imposed upon themselves, when they submitted to the sway in perpetuity of Beeka and his successors. It is the land-tax1 of two rupees on each hundred beegas of land cultivated in Bikaner. It is now unproductive, not realising fifty thousand rupees, and it is said that a composition has been effected, by which it has been, or will be, relinquished : if so, Soorut Sing gives up the sole legitimate source of revenue he possesses.

1. Mal is the term for land which has no irrigation but from the heavens.


1.Khalisa, or fisc1 ..... Rs. : 00,000
2.Dhooah ...... 100,000
3.Angah ...... 200,000
4. Sayer, imposts2 Rs. 75,000
5. Pusaeti, plough-tax .... 125,000
6. Malbah, land-tax .... 50,000
Total .... 650,000

Besides this, the fullest amount arising to the prince from annual taxation, there are other items which occasionally replenish the treasure of Soorut Sing.

Dhatoie is a triennial tax of five rupees levied on each plough. It was instituted by Raja Zoorawur Sing. The whole country is liable to it, with the exception of fifty villages in Asiagati, and seventy of the Beniwals, conditionally exempted, to guard the borders. It is now frequently evaded by the feudal chieftains, and seldom yields a lakh of rupees.

In addition to these specific expedients, there are many arbitrary methods of increasing the " ways and means " to satisfy the necessities or avarice of the present ruler, and a train of dependent harpies, who prey upon the cultivating peasantry, or industrious trader. By such shifts, Soor'ut Sing has been known to double his fixed revenue

Dind, Khooshali. The terms Dind and Khooshali, though etymologically the antipodes of each other,—the first meaning a ' compulsory contri­bution,' the other a ' benevolence, or voluntary,' 3—have a similar inter­pretation in these regions, and make the subjects of those parts devoutly pray that their prince's house may be one rather of mourning than rejoic­ing, and that defeat rather than victory may be attendant on his arms.

The term dind is coeval with Hindu legislation. The bard Chund

1. Nohur district...84 villages' Revenue....Rs. 100,000
Rinnie .... 24 .... 10,000
Raniah ....44 .... 20,000
Jalluli ....1 .... 5,000
Total original Fiscal Lands ....135,000
since Rajgurh, Chooru, and other places recovered.
2 Impost Duties in old times, namely:— Town of
Noonkurn ....... Rs. 2,000
Rajgurh ........ RS. 10,000
Shekhsir ......... RS. 5,000
Capital—Bikaner .......... RS. 75,000
From Chooru and other towns .......... RS. 45,000
Total .......... RS. 137,000
3 Khoosh means ' happiness, pleasure, volition ' : ap ca khooshi, ' at your pleasure.'

[p.184]: describes it, and the chronicler of the life of the great Sidraj of Anhulwarra, " who expelled the seven Diddas," or ' great evils,' whose initial letter was d, enumerates dind as one of them, and places it with the Dholis and Dhakuns, or minstrels and witches, giving it precedence amongst the seven plagues which his ancestors and tyrant custom had inflicted on the subject. Unhappily, there is no Sidraj to legislate for Rajpootana ; and were there fourteen Diddas by which Soorut Sing could swell his budget, he would retain them all for the oppression of the impoverished Jits, who, if they could, would be happy to expel the letter's from amongst them. But it is from the chieftain, the merchant, and the banker, that the chief sums are realised ; though indirectly the poor peasant contributes his share. There are fourteen collectors of dind, one to every cheera or division, and these are furnished with arbitrary schedules according to the circumstances, actual or supposed, of each individual. So unlimited are these exactions, that the chief of Gundaili for two years offered the collector of his quarter ten thousand rupees if he would guarantee him against any further demand during even twelve months ; and being refused, he turned the collector out, shut the gates of his castle, and boldly bid his master defiance.

One of his expedients to levy a khooshali, or ' benevolence,' is worth relating: it was on the termination of his expedition against Bhutnair, which added this celebrated desert and castle to his territory, and in which he was attended by the entire feudal army of Bikaner. On his return, " flushed with conquest," he demanded from each house throughout his dominions the sum of ten rupees to cover the expenses of the war. If the tyrant-ridden subjects of Soorut Sing thus rejoice in his successes, how must they feel for his defeats ! To them both are alike ominous, when every artifice is welcomed, every villiany practised, to impoverish them. Oppression is at its height, and must work out its own cure.

Feudal levies.—The disposable force of all these feudal principalities must depend on the personal character of the Raja. If Soorut Sing were popular, and the national emergencies demanded the assemblage of the kher, or levie en masse, of the ' sons of Beeka,' he might bring ten thousand Rajpoots into the field, of whom twelve hundred might be good horse, besides the foreign troops and park ; but under present circumstances, and the rapid deterioration of every branch of society, it may be doubted whether one-half could be collected under his standard.

The household troops consist of a battalion of foreign infantry, of five hundred men with five guns, and three squadrons of horse, about two hundred and fifty in number ; all under foreign leaders. This is inde­pendent of the garrison of the capital, whose commandant is a Rajpoot of the Purihar tribe, who has twenty-five villages assigned for the payment of his troops.

1. This was written in 1813.

Schedule exhibiting the Fiefs of Bikanir.
S.No. Names of Chieftains. Clans. Places of Abode. Revenue. Retainers :Fool. Retainers :Horse. Remarks.
1. Beri Sal Beeko Mahajin 40,000 5,000 100 One hundred ant forty villages, attached to this fief settled on the heir

of Raja Noonkurn, who consequently forfeited the gadi,

2. Abhe Sing Benirote Bookurko 25,000 5,000 200 The first of chiefs ob Bikaner
3. Anop Sing Beeko Jessanoh 5,000 400 40 fiefs of Bikaner.
4. Paim Sing Beeko Baie 5,000 400 25
5. Chyn Sing Benirote Sawoh 20,000 2,000 300
6. Htmmut Sing Raot Raotsir 12,000 300
7. Seo Sing Benirote Chooru 25,000 2,000 200
8. Omed Sing/ Jaet Sing Bedasir Saondwa / Maynsir 50,000 10,000 2000 One hundred and forty koties (families, Ht. chambers) of this
9. Buhader ing Sooraj Mull Teandesir 1 Kattur Koot chore } 40,000 4,000 One hundred and forty koties (families, Ht. chambers) of this
10. 5here Sing Narnote Neernbaje 5,000 5OO 125
11. Davee -Sing Dmeid Sing 1 ioortan Sing j Kurrni Dan ) Seedmook Kurripoora { Ajeetpoora f Beahsir ) 20,000 5OO 400
12. Shere Sing Narnote Neernbaje 5,000 5OO 125
13. Soortan Sing Cuchwahp Nynawass 4,000 150 30 1 are held by foreign J nobles of the house
14. Puddum Sing Powar Jaetsisir 5,000 200 100 of AmWr, and tb1
15. Kishen Sing Beeko Hyadesir 5,000 200 50 1 ancient Pramara
16. Rao Sing Bhatti Poogul 1 6,000 1,500 40 The fief of Poogul
17. Sooltan Sing Do. Rajasir 1,500 200 SO was wrested from
18. Lulcteer Sing Do. Ranair 2,000 400 75 the Bhattis of Jes-
19. Kurnie Sing Do. Sutasir 1,100 200 9 sulmer.
20. Bhom Sing Do. Chuckurra 1,500 Go 4
21. Four Chieftains,2
22. 1. Bhonni Sing Bhatti Beetchnok 1,500 60 6
23. 2. Zalim Sing Do. Gurrtalah 1,10 40 4
24. 3. Sirdar Sing Do Soorjerah 800 30 2
25. 4. Kaet Sing Do. Rundisir 600 32 2


S.No. Names of Chieftains. Clans. Places of Abode. Revenue. Retainers :Fool. Retainers :Horse. Remarks.
26. Chund Sing Kurrumsaut Nokho n,000 ii50o 5OO Twenty-seven vil-
27. Sutti Dan - Roopawut Badilah 5,000 200 25 lages dependent on
28. Bhom Sing Bhatti Jangloo 2.500 400 9 this family from Jod-
29. fCaitsi Do. Jaminsir Saroonda 15,000 500 15
30. [ssree Sing Puddum Sing Mundilah 11,000 2,0 0 15° lages.
31. Bhatti Koodsoo 1,500 60 4
32. (Cullian Sing Do. Naineah 1,000 40 2
33. Total . . . 332.ioo 44.°72 5.4O2

If ever the whole feudal array of Bikaner amounted to this, it would assuredly be found difficult now, were the ban proclaimed, to assemble one-fourth of this number.

Foreign Troops,
.....Foot. Horse. Guns
Sooltan Khan ...-... 200... -
Anokha Sinjr. Sikh ...—... 250... -
Boodh Sing Dewarah — ...200... -
Doorjun Sing's Battalion... 700... 4... 4
Gunga Sing's Battalion 1,000 ... 25... 6

Total Foreigners 1,700 ...679...10

Park ..............................21 Total ...1,700... 679... 31

End of Chapter II

Abstract of Chapter III

[p.186]: Bhutnair, its origin and denomination. — Historical celebrity of the Jits of Bhutnair — Emigration of Bersi. — Succeeded by Bhiroo, — Embraces Islamism, — Rao Duleech — Hosein Khan, Hosein Mahmood, Emum Mahmood, and Buhader Khan — Zabta Khan, the present ruler. — Condition of the country, — Changes in its physical aspect. — Ruins of ancient buildings. — Promising scene for archaological inquiries. — Zoological and botanical curiosities. — List of the ancient towns, — Relics of the arrow-head character found in the Desert.

Bhatner, its origin and denomination

Bhutnair, which now forms an integral part of Bikaner, was anciently the chief abode of another Jit community, so powerful as

[p.187]: at one time to provoke the vengeance of kings, and at others to succour them when in distress. It is asserted that its name is in no way connected with the Bhattis who colonized it, but derived from the Bardai, or Bhat, of a powerful prince, to whom the lands were granted, and who, desirous to be the founder of a poetic dynasty, gave his professional title to the abode. In the annals of Jessulmer, it will be seen that there is another story accounting for the appellation, which recalls the founding of Carthage or Byrsa. Both legends are improbable ; and the Bhatti annals confirm what might have been assumed without suspicion, that to a colony of this race Bhutnair owes its name, though not its existence. The whole of the Northern part is called Nair in the ancient geographical nomenclature of Maroost'hali ; and when some of the Bhatti clans became proselytes to Islam, they changed the vowel a to u, to distinguish them from the parent stock, viz., Bhatti for Bhutti.

Historical celebrity of the Jats of Bhatner

We shall, however, furnish evidence by and bye, in the annals of the original race, that in all probability the Yadu-Bhatti is the original Yuti colony from Central Asia ; and that " the Jit prince of Salpoor," whose inscription is in the first volume of this work, was the predecessor of these very races.

Neither the tract depending on Bhutnair, nor that north of it to the Garah river, presented formerly the scene of absolute desolation they now exhibit, and I shall append a list of towns, to which a high antiquity is assigned, whose vestiges still remain, and from which something might perhaps be gleaned to confirm or overturn these deductions.

Bhutnair has attained great historical celebrity from its position, being in the route of invasion from Central Asia to India. It is more than probable that the Jits, who resisted the advance of Mahmood of Ghizni in a naval warfare on the Indus, had long before that period established themselves in the desert as well as in the Punjab ; and as we find them occupying a place amongst the thirty-six royal tribes, we may infer that they had political power many centuries before that conqueror. In A.D. 1205, only twelve years after the conquest of India by Shabudin, his successor, Kootub, was compelled to conduct the war in person against the Jits of the northern desert, to prevent their wresting the important post of Hansi from the empire ; and when the unfortunate and intrepid queen Rizzia, the worthy heiress of the great Feroz, was compelled to abandon her throne to an usurper, she sought and found protecion amongst the Jits, who, with their Scythic brethren, the Ghikers, assembled all their forces and marched, with their queen at their head, like Tomyris of old, to meet her foes. She was not destined to enjoy the same revenge, but gained a glorious death in the attempt to overturn the Salic law of India.1 Again, in A.D. 1397, whenTimoor invaded India, Bhutnair was attacked for " having distressed him exceedingly on his invasion of Mooltan," when he " in person

:1 I presented to Mr. Marsden a unique coin of this ill-fated queen

[p.188]: " scoured the country, and cut off a tribe of banditti called Jits." In short, the Bhuttis and Jits were so intermingled, that distinction was impossible. Leaving this point, therefore, to be adjusted in the annals of the Bhattis, we proceed to sketch the history of the colony which ruled Bhutnair when subjugated by the Rahtores.

It was shortly after Timoor's invasion, that a colony of Bhattis migrated from Marote and Phoolra, under their leader Bersi and assaulted and captured Bhutnair from a Mahomedan chief ; but whether one of Timoor's officers, or a dependent of Dehli, remains unknown though most probably the former. His name, Chigat Khan, almost renders this certain, and they must have made a proper name out of his tribe, Chagitai, of which he was a noble. This khan had conquered Bhutnair from the Jits, and had acquired a considerable territory, which the Bhatti colony took advantage of his return to invade and conquer. Sixteen generations have intervened since this event, which bringing it to the period of Timoor's invasion furnishes an additional reason for concluding the khan of Bhutnair to have been one of his nobles, whom he may have left entrusted with this important point of communication, should he meditate further intercourse with India.

Bersi ruled twenty-seven years, and was succeeded by his son Bhiroo, when the sons of Chigat Khan, obtaining aid from the Dehli monarch, invaded Bhutnair, and were twice repulsed with great loss. A third army succeeded; Bhutnair was invested and reduced to great straits, when Bhiroo hung out a flag of truce, and offered to accept any conditions which would not compromise his castle. Two were named : — to embrace Islamism, or seal his sincerity by giving his daughter to the king. He accepted the first alternative, and from that day, in order to distinguish these proselytes, they changed the name of Bhatti to Bhutti. Six chiefs intervened between Bhiroo and Rao Duleech, surnamed Hyat Khan, from whom Rae Sing of Bikaner wrested Bhutnair, and Futtehabad became the future residence of the Bhutti Khans. He was succeeded by Hosein Khan (the grandson of Hyat), who recaptured Bhutnair from Raja Sujawun Sing, and it was maintained during the time of Hosein Mahmood and Emam Mahmood, until Soorut Sing made the final conquest of it from Buhader Khan, father to the present titular head of the Bhuttis.1

Zabta Khan, who resides at Raniah, having about twenty-five villages dependent thereon.2 Raniah was founded by Rae Sing of Bikaner, and named after his queen (Rani), to whom it was assigned.

1 In S. 1857 (A,D. 1801), the celebrated George Thomas, for the earn of three lacs put the Bhuttis into the temporary possession of Bhutnair : but the succeeding year it was again taken from them by the Rahtores.
2 This memoir was written in 1813-14, and may contain many inaccuracies, from its very remote situation, and the difficulty of obtaining correct information.

[p.189]: It was taken by Emam Mahmood. The Bhutti Khan is now a robber by profession, and his revenues, which are said to have sometimes amounted to three lacs of rupees, are extorted by the point of bis lance. These depredations are carried to a frightful extent, and the poor Jits are kept eternally on the alert to defend their property. The proximity of the British territory preventing all incursions to the eastward, they are thrown back upon their original haunts, and make the whole of this northern region their prey. To this circumstance is attributed the desertion of these lands, which once reared cattle in abundance, and were highly valued. It is asserted that from the northern boundary of Bhutnair to the Garah, there are many tracts susceptible of high cultivation, having water near the surface, and many large spaces entirely free from thul, or ' sand-hills.'

To the drying up of the Hakra, or Caggar, many centuries ago, in conjunction with moral evils, is ascribed the existing desolation. According to tradition, this stream took a westerly direction, by Phoolra, where it is yet to be traced, and fell into the Indus below Ootch. The couplet recording its absorption by the sands of Nair, has already been given, in the time of Rao Hamir, prince of Dhat. If the next European traveller who may pass through the Indian desert will seek out the representative of the ancient Soda princes at Chore, near Amerkote, he may learn from their bard (if they retain such an appendage) the date of this prince, and that of so important an event in the physical and political history of their regions. The vestiges of large towns, now buried in the sands, confirm the truth of this tradition, and several of them claim a high antiquity : such as the Rung-mahel, already mentioned, west of Bhutnair, having subterranean apartments still in good preservation. An aged native of Dhandoosir (twenty-five miles south of Bhutnair) replied, to my inquiry as to the recollections attached to this place, that '"it belonged to a Powar prince who ruled once all " these regions, when Sekunder Roomi attacked them."

An excursion from Hansi Hissar, our western frontier, into these regions, would soon put the truth of such traditions to the test, as far as these reported ruins are concerned : though what might appear the remains of palaces of the Pramaras, the Johyas, and the Jits of ancient days, to the humble occupant of a hut in the desert, may only prove the foundations of some castellated building. But the same traditions are circulated with regard to the more western desert, where the same kind of vestiges is said to exist, and the annals make mention of capitals, the sites of which are now utterly unknown. Considering the safety, and comparative ease, with which such a journey can be made, one cannot imagine a more agreeable pursuit, than the prosecution of archaeological inquiries in the northern deserts of Rajpootana, where traditions abound, and where the existing manners, amongst such a diversity of tribes, would furnish ample materials for the portfolio, as well as for memoirs. Its productions, spontaneous or cultivated, though its botanical as well as zoological specimens may be limited, we &ow to be essentially different from

[p.190]: those of Gangetic India, and more likely to find a parallel in the natural productions and phenomena of the great African desert. The Bhuttis, the Khosas, tne Rajurs, the Sahrae, the Mangulias, the Sodas, and various other nomadic tribes, present a wide field for observation ; and the physiologist, when tired of the habits of man, may descend from the nobler animal to the lion, the wild ass, every kind of deer, the flocks of sheep which, fed on the succulent grasses. touch not water for six weeks together, while the various herbs, succulent plants and shrubs, salt lakes, natron beds, &c., would give abundant scope for commentary and useful comparison. He will discover no luxuries, and few signs of civilization ; the jhopra (hut) constructed of poles and twigs, coated inside with mud and covered with grass, being little better than the African's dwelling.

We shall conclude this imperfect sketch of Bikaner and the desert, with the names of several of their ancient towns, which may aid the search of the traveller in the regions on its northern border : — Abhore ; Bunjarra ca Nuggur ; Rung-Mahel ; Sodul, or Sorutgurh, Machotal ; Raati-bung ; Kali-bung ; Kaliansir ; Phoolra ; Marote ;. Tilwarra ; Gilwarra ; Bunni ; Manick-Khur ; Soor-sagur ; Bhameni - Kori walla; Kul-Dharani.

Some names in this list may be unimportant, but if two, or even- one, should be the means of eliciting some knowledge of the past, the record will not be useless.

Phoolra and Marote have still some importance : the first is very ancient, and enumerated amongst the ' No-koti Maroo-ca,' in the earliest periods of Pramara (vulg. Powar) dominion. I have no- doubt that inscriptions in the oramental nail-headed character belonging to the Jains will be found here, having obtained one fix>nu ? Lodorva in the desert, which has been a ruin for nine centuries.

Phoolra was the residence of Lakha Phoolani, a name well-known to those versed in the old traditions of the desert. He was cotemporary with Sid Had of Anhulwarra, and Udyadit of Dhar.

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