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6 THE VILLAGE COMMUNITY.
Lkcturk the same grounds to half of "old hoards and precious -_ minerals in the earth."1
The king is therefore clearly recognised as entitled to a share in the produce; he is bound to protect the husbandman, and the husbandman is bound to cultivate, in order that they may jointly have increase of the land. This would seem to indicate something less than an absolute or exclusive right to the soil in either. The share of the king is what we shall meet with in all our future enquiries as the land revenue or mal. The village as There is also mention in Menu of the village system.
referred to in ... .„
Menu. The lord or superintendent (adhipati) of a village (gram)
is spoken of,3 and he is to have the share of the king in food, drink, wood and other articles as his perquisite.3 Above him the superintendent of ten villages is to have the produce of two plough-lands (i.e., as much as can be tilled by two ploughs, each drawn by six bulls); the superintend-, ent of twenty villages to have the produce of five ploughlands ; the superintendent of one hundred villages, that of a small town; and of a thousand villages, that of a large town* Traces of these divisions are found in the Mouzah (or village), the Pergunnah, and the Circar.
The village as The village referred to in Menu was, we can hardly doubt,
inferred from ...
observation the well known village community, the constitution and
position of which are so important in the Hindoo land system; the village in fact is the key to that system. From the slight reference to it in Menu we have to pass by a long stride of centuries to what has been observed in such recent times
1 Chap. VIII, si. 39.
3 Chap. VII, si. 119.
4 Chap. VII, si. 118.
VITALITY OF THE VILLAGE COMMUNITIES. 7
as the period since the British rule. It is from such obser- Lecturk vations, with the aid of analogies from similar institutions — existing in modern times in other countries, that we have to construct the idea of the village community of Hindoo times. It cannot be considered a very satisfactory process, but it is the only method open to us; and when we come to consider the matter carefully, we find some of the difficulties, which appear most formidable, tend to disappear. For instance Hindoo society is by its very constitution profoundly conservative, and is therefore likely to have retained the characteristic features of its institutions in something like their primitive form. Again the village community is one of the least changeable of all its institutions: this is the reason that it has survived all the shocks of conquest and civil strife, and the fanaticism of proselytising rulers whose ideas were to a great degree repugnant to such institutions. And if the village communities had the strength to resist these influences, it is natural that they should be rendered more intensely conservative thereby, and should as it were crystallize in the shape in which they were found, and undergo little further change. As Lord Metcalfe LordMetcalfe'i
° description of
says :l "The village communities are little republics, having *• village
* ° ° commuuities.
nearly every thing that they want within themselves, and almost independent of any foreign relations. They seem to last where nothing else lasts. Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down; revolution succeeds to revolution; Hindoo, Patan, Mogul, Mahratta, Sikh, English, are all masters in 8 Lord Metcalpe's Description.
1 In his Minute of November 7th, 1830, in the Appendix No. 84 to the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the affairs of the East India Company, dated August lCth, 1832, cited in the Selections from Government Records, Vol. I, p. 446, aud in Elphinstoue's History of India, p. 68, Fifth Edn.
Lkcturk turn; but the village communities remain the same.1 In — times of trouble they arm and fortify themselves. An hostile army passes through the country; the village communities collect their cattle within their walls, and let the enemy pass unprovoked. If plunder and devastation be directed against themselves, and the force employed be irresistible, they flee to friendly villages at a distance; but when the storm haa passed over they return and resume their occupations. If a country remain for a series of years the scene of continued pillage and massacre, so that the villages cannot be inhabited, the scattered villagers nevertheless return whenever the power of peaceable possession revives. A generation may pass away but the succeeding generation will return. The sons will take the places of their fathers; the same site for the village, the same positions for the houses; the lands will be reoccupied by the descendants of those who were driven out when the village was depopulated; and it is not a trifling matter that will drive them out, for they will often maintain their post through times of disturbance and convulsion, and acquire strength to resist pillage and oppression with success." Even the cupidity of invaders would hesitate to attack the constitution of societies so tenacious of their organisation and yet so harmless. Consequently we have grounds for believing that the societies of this kind which have been observed and described furnish a safe basis for constructing an idea of the village communities as they existed in Hindoo times. Such commu- Such communities have been found in almost all parts of
nities found in
all parts of ~"
Illdi8' 1 See the Fifth Report of the Select Committee of the House of
Commons on the affairs of the East India Company with its appendices, Vol. IL, p. 575. I cite from the Madras Edition of 1866, and I shall in future cite it as the Fifth Keport.
THE VILLAGE LANDS. 9
India, preserving their ancient organisation in many Lecturk
respects. Those in the south of India, where Mahomedan
rule was less complete, are amongst the nearest to what is believed to be their ancient form.1 These communities have also been found in a flourishing condition in the Delhi territory,2 and in the North-Western Provinces generally :3 but Sir George Campbell considers the Punjab villages to be the most perfect specimens, and those of the south of India to be a comparatively decayed type.4
These communities inhabited the village homesteads, The village
which were collected together, and cultivated the village homesteads. lands, some of which were detached and at a considerable distance. There was also a certain amount of waste or uncultivated land included in the village lands.5 The waste is however considered by some to belong to the State,6 but probably the question is only a branch of the general controversy as to the proprietary right. It is sufficient for our present purpose that they were included within the village boundaries. In some cases part of the
1 Fifth Report, Vol. II, p. 86. The Report of the Select Committee of "the House of Lords (1830) in the evidence of Colonel Briggs, 4137.
* Selections from Government Records of the N. W. Provinces (Mr. Thomason's Despatches), Vol. I, 80, 86, 147, 447, 448. I shall refer to this work in future as Thomason's Selections. Select Committee of the House of Commons (1832), Mr. Fortescue's Evidence, 2230.
3 Directions for Revenue Officers in the N. W. Provinces (Calcutta, 1858), p. 8.
4 See his Essay on Indian Land Tenures in the Cobden Club Essays. 1st Series (Macmillan and Co., London, 1870), 2nd Edition, pp. 160. See Rustic Bengal by J. B. P. in the Calcutta Review for 1874.
* Land Tenure by a Civilian (Calcutta: Samuel Smith & Co., 1832), pp. 7,21. Fifth Report, Vol.11, 571. Orissa, by W. W. Hunter (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1872), Vol. II, p. 206. Thomason's Selections, 83, 84.
6 Colonel Briggs's Evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Lords (1830), 4137, 4110.
10 THE ORIGIN OF THE VILLAGE.
Lecturk village lands was separated from the rest by intervening land
—t~ of another village,1 and the villages were not always locally
compact, but their boundaries scarcely ever varied.2
A seif-govern- The Hindoo village community was a little republic or
tion. corporation3 which was almost self-governing. The Hindoo
village had a non-Aryan predecessor in Orissa in the Kandh
hamlet, but that wanted the corporate life of its successor,
and was merely a collection of families*
The cieve]0p. The Hindoo village appears to have grown out of the
^^ joint-family, the unit of Hindoo society. The Hindoo
race seems to have colonised as well as conquered the
country, and the joint-family with its developments to have
gradually formed a village.5 This is shown by the fact that
all these village communities preserve a tradition of descent
from a common ancestor who founded the village.6 This
would account for the corporate life and unity which the
Kandh hamlet lacked.
The same feature of common descent also characterised the agrarian communities of France in their primitive form.7 And we can follow the process of expansion from a family into a community in the Slave villages described by M. de Laveleye. Again new villages would probably be
1 Directions for Revenue Officers, 31.
2 Fifth Report, Vol. II, 571.
3 Ib., 575. Orissa, Vol. II, 206. Maine's VillageCommunities (London: Murray, 1871), 175. Directions for Revenue Officers, 50.
'Orissa, Vol. II, 208 to 210.
s Maine's Village Communities, 175. Campbell's Cobden Club Essay, 161. Fifth Report, Vol. II, 628. Evidence of Mr. Fortescue before the Select Committee of the House of Lords (1830), 509.
6 So at the present day villagers commonly describe their fellow villagers as brothers, although apparently not related in any way.
7 Revue des Deux Mondes, tome 101, pp. 54, 55.