Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Sena Dynasty

The Sena Dynasty came to power in Bengal and Bihar after the fall of the Pala Dynasty.

  • The founder of Sena dynasty was Samanta Sena who came from Karnataka in the Deccan and settled in the Radha reign of Bengal.
  • His son Hemanta Sena carved out a principality in Western Bengal during the weak rule of the Palas. He assumed the title `Maharajadhiraja’.
  • His son Vijaya Sena was the real founder of the independent Sena kingdom. He converted the small Sena kingdom into an empire by annexing North Bengal, East Bengal, Kalinga and parts of Assam. His empire extended from the Brahmaputra in the east to the Kosi-Gandak in the west, and from northern Bihar in the north to Kalinga in the south.
  • His son Vallava Sena (1158-79 A.D.) was more interested in the protection of the empire rather than its extension. A noted scholar in the Vedas, Smritis, and the Puranas, he wrote two books on the Hindu sacraments — ‘Danasagara’ and `Advutasagara’.
  • His son, Laksmana Sena ascended the throne at the age of sixty. During the reign of his grandfather Vijaya Sena he gave a good account of himself as a warrior. He assumed the titles of `Gaudeswara’, and `Parama Vaisnava’. The most notable event of his reign was the conquest of Bengal and Bihar by Turkish warrior Ikhtiyaruddin Muhammad Bin Bakthiyar Khalji, a lieutenant of Muhammad Ghuri.

According to Tabaqat-i-Nasiri’, Bakhtiyar Khilji entered Nabadwip, the capital of Bengal with only 17 or 18 horsemen in 1201 A.D. King Laksmana Sena was taken aback by this sudden attack and he fled by the back door to Vikrampur in East Bengal. He ruled there for four years. After him the Sena kingdom became weaker, and it came to an end in 1260.

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Pallava Dynasty

Pallava Dynasty

After the fall of the Satavahanas in the first half of the third century A.D., the Pallava Dynasty was founded to the south of the river Krishna with Kanchi as its capital. Historians are not unanimous on the question of the origin of the Pallavas, but most of the scholars think that they were indigenous people of the south.

1. The first great king of the Pallavas was Siva-Skandavarmana. He reigned in the third century A.D. His dominion included Kanchi, Andhra Pradesh and some surrounding districts. He performed horse sacrifice.

2. The accession of Simhavishnu (575-600 A.D.) to the throne of Kanchi marked the beginning of a new era of political ascendancy. He established his suzerainty over the territory from the Krishna to the Kaveri. The Pandya, Chera and Chola kings submitted to his authority. It is said that he sent an expedition against Ceylon.

3. Simhavishnu was succeeded by his son Mahendravarmana (600-630 A.D.). His reign marked the beginning of long drawn conflict between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas. He was defeated by the Chalukya King Pulakesin II, who occupied the Vengi Province of the Pallava dominions. Mahendravarmana was endowed with many qualities of head and heart. He was a poet and a musician. He was the author of a famous burlesque known as ‘Mattavilasa-Prahasana’ He was an expert musician. Because of his various qualities he was called ‘Bechitta chitta.

4. Narasimhavarmana I, (630-68 A.D.), son and successor of Mahendravarmana, was the greatest monarch of this dynasty. He assumed the title of Mahamalla’. He defeated Chalukya King Pulakesin II several times. He captured Chalukya capital Vatapi in 642 A.D. and assumed the title of `Vatapi Konda’. Pulakesin II fell fighting for the defense of his capital. Narasimhavarmana also subdued the Cholas, Pandyas, Keralas and the Kalabhras of the South. He sent two naval expeditions to Ceylon and installed Manavavarmana on the throne. He was a great patron of art and literature.

5. During the second half of the 8th century, the power of the Pallavas declined due to internal strife, and the continuous conflict with the Chalukyas—Cholas and the Ganges. In 891, Aditya, the Chola feudatory defeated the last Pallava King Aparajita. Thus the Pallava power was destroyed and the Cholas came to power in the Deccan.

Pala Dynasty

The Pala Empire was a very powerful kingdom during the period between 8th and 10th Century. King Gopala was the founder of Pala Dynasty.

After the death of King Sasanka in 637 A.D., Bengal presented a picture of utter confusion. A number of small states grew up in different parts of the country. There was no central power. Under these circumstances, Bengal suffered from foreign aggression and internal anarchy for more than a century. Pundit Taranath, the Tibetan monk has given a description of the situation. He writes that might was the right. This led to untold miseries of the people. This state of lawlessness has been described as `Matsyanyay’. Big fishes eat up small fishes. This is called the law of the fishes. When human beings behave like fishes, the strong oppress the weak; it is called `Matsyanyay’ or anarchy. `Arya-Manjusrimulakalpa’, a Buddhist text has satirically described this state of affairs as `Gauda-tantra’ or anarchical political system of Bengal.

  • To get rid of the anarchy the ruling chiefs of Bengal collectively elected Gopal, a feudatory chief, as the ruler of Bengal (750 A.D.). This led to the foundation of the Pala dynasty. His sole credit was the establishment of peace and order in Bengal.
  • He was succeeded by his son Dharmapala who annexed a large portion of northern India, and converted the small kingdom, inherited from his father, to an empire. He assumed the tithe Parameswara-Paramabhattaraka-Maharajadhiraja’. One Guajarati poet offered him the title `Uttarapatha Svamin’ (Lord of Uttrapatha).
  • His son Devapala (810-50 A.D.) extended the boundaries of the Pala kingdom. He defeated the Utkalas, the Huns, the Gurjaras, the Kamrupas and the Rastrakutas. His empire extended from Assam in the east to the border of Kashmir and the Punjab in the west, and from the Himalayas in the north to the Vindhyas in the south.
  • The last great king of this dynasty was Mahipala (988–1038 A.D.). The Pala Empire began to crumble after him.

Biography of Babur (Mughal Emperor)

Babur

In the Turkish language, Babur means “the lion” and Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, was in every sense as regal and powerful as a lion. Born in 1483 A.D. in the Timur-Chingiz Khan lineage, he lost his father, Omar Sheikh Mirza, at the age of 12 and became the ruler of the small kingdom of Farghana in Central Asia. Conspiring relations dethroned him and drove him out of the land. The internal troubles in Kabul in 1504 A.D. provided Babur the ideal opportunity to capture it and then he turned his eyes to Hindusthan.

The First Battle of Panipat (1526 A.D.):

Mughal Emperor Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the first battle or war of Panipat.

The Delhi Sultanate had hit its Nadir then. A despotic Ibrahim Lodi, the Afghan Sultan of Delhi, was very unpopular among close relations and resentful nobles. Daulat Khan Lodi, Punjab’s ruler, and Ibrahim Lodi’s uncle, Alam Khan Lodi, who was an aspirant to the Delhi throne, then invited Babur to invade India. Babur readily responded and in 1525 A.D., his troops entered Punjab and occupied Lahore. But Babur’s imperial plans were not much approved by those who had invited him and they sent Babur back to Kabul. In 1526 A.D. Babur returned, ousted Daniel Khali Lodi from Punjab and advanced towards Delhi. The same year, he defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi at the First Battle of Panipat near Delhi. A landmark India’s history, this battle finally ended the Lodi regime and Babur brought the vast area till Delhi and Agra under his control. Rushbrook Williams and Dr. K.K. Dutta call the First Battle of Panipat the first step towards starting Mughal imperialism in India.

The Battle of Khanwa:

Babur defeated Rana Sanga in the Battle of Khanwa.

Babur tactfully took on the spirited Rajputs. Rana Sangram Singh or Rana Sanga of Mewar was keen on establishing a Hindu empire on the debris of the Sultanate, He, in alliance with the Rajput kings of Marwar, Ambar, Chanderi, Gwalior and Ajmer joined hands with Mahmud Lodi, Ibrahim Lodi’s brother, and waged a war against Babur. Babur routed these combined forces on the battlefield of Khanwa in 1527 A.D. This victory nipped the dream of founding a Rajput Empire; Babur strengthened the Mughal domination in India and helped in its expansion. In 1528 A.D., Babur captured the invincible Rajput fortress of Chanderi.

The Battle of Gogra (Ghagra) in1529 A.D.:

The Afghans, still active in Bengal and Bihar, united under the leadership of Mahmud Lodi to form a strong anti-Babur front. Babur waged a war against them and conquered Allahabad, Varanasi and Ghazipur. Then in 1529 A.D. he faced the unified Afghan army near Patna at the confluence of Ganga and Gogra. At the Battle of Gogra the Afghan army was routed. This victory temporarily weakened the anti-Babur camp, strengthened the fledgling Mughal power and helped to set up the Mughal Empire from Kabul to Gogra and from the Himalayas to Gwalior. Babur died a year later, at the age of 47.

Achievements:

Within a short span of four years in India, Babur managed to consolidate the new dynasty by defeating three powerful enemies. Since he was busy fighting these four years, bringing about administrative, judicial or financial reforms was not possible for him.

Mansabdari System of Akbar

The Mansabdari System formed the foundation of military and civil administration of Mughal Empire. It was introduced by Akbar in line with the Persian tradition.

Mansabdari System compelled all senior post holders of the empire to bear civil as well as military responsibilities. `Mansab’ meant rank or status in the imperial service, and the rank holder was called `Mansabdar’. Each Mansabdar had to maintain a certain number of horses and troops and he got wages according to his rank. There were 33 levels of Mansabdars and they could keep troops ranging from 10 to 5,000 — it rose to 7,000 during Akbar’s regime. These troops were deployed by the emperor during wars who could appoint, promote, transfer and remove Mansabdars at will.

Mansabdari was not inherited, it had to be earned. Mansabdars either received wages or land or jagir (and hence also called Jagirdar) in lieu of wages. Under the watchful eyes of the emperor they could collect revenue of amounts equaling their wages. Jaigirs were not inherited either and Jagirdars could not retain a place for more than three-four years. Nor was their hold on land permanent though Zamindars owned their land and controlled it for generations. Bernier, the foreign traveler, called Mansabdars the pillars of the Mughal empire. They ensured safety and prosperity of the empire, enjoyed special powers and when rulers became weak, they functioned as autonomous heads. In this way, Mansabdars strengthened the empire but also fostered divisive forces.

The Faraizi Movement

Faraizi Movement

The Faraizi Movement occupies a significant place in the history of peasant revolts in India. It left a deep influence on the Muslims of Bengal and continued from 1818 to 1906. The movement drew strength from poor Muslim peasants.

Hazi Shariat Ullah:

The organizer of this movement, Hazi Shariat Ullah was born in a peasant family of Bahadurpur village in Faridpur district of modern Bangladesh in 1781. He travelled to Mecca to learn the Quran and Islamic theology. Here he came across the Wahabi ideals. He spent twenty years abroad to master Islamic scholarship and returned home in 1818. In 1820 he founded the Faraizi brotherhood as a religious reformer. In Arabic, Faraizi means one who acts upon the Islamic injunctions. Shariat Ullah announced that Islam was being defiled by various malpractices and suggested reform measures.

Though started as a religious movement, it soon became political in nature. Shariat Ullah termed British-ruled India a “Dar-ul-Harb” or a land of the enemy and felt it was not suitable for the habitation of pious Muslims. He said Allah did not discriminate among people by their economic or social status. To Him all was equal. He garnered public opinion against exploiting zamindars and indigo planters and very soon millions of poor Muslim farmers, artisans and jobless weavers became his disciples in Barisal, Mymensingh, Dhaka and Faridpur. It was an awakening for Bengali Muslims and they were bold enough to protest against the zamindar’s misrule.

Dudu Mian:

In 1837 Shariat Ullah died, leaving the reins of the rebellion to son Dudu Mian (1819-60), an able and a politically conscious organizer. He transformed the Faraizi movement from being socio-religious to socio-economic-political.

Dudu Mian asked his disciples to stay away from anti-Islam activities. Allah was the owner of the land, he said, adding that hence the zamindar had no right to collect taxes. He called upon his men to abstain from paying taxes to the zamindar, from farming indigo for the planters and from supporting the British. His disciples swelled in numbers. He used his organisational skills in dividing Bengal into several zones or halkas, each led by a Caliph. The Caliph organised the farmers, thwarted zamindars’ and indigo planters’ exploitation and raised funds for the forthcoming resistance. Dudu Mian’s headquarters were at Bahadurpur. He led his followers to raid treasuries and offices of zamindars and indigo planters.

Spread of Faraizi Rebellion:

Gradually the Faraizi movement spread from Dhaka and Faridpur to Bakarganj, Comilla, Mymensingh, Jessore, Khulna and large parts of South 24-Parganas. The zamindars and indigo planters joined hands with the government to stop Dudu Mian. Between 1838 and 1847 he was imprisoned at least four times but had to be released owing to lack of witness against him. When the Sepoy Mutiny broke out in 1857, he was imprisoned at Alipore Jail as a precautionary measure.

Dudu Mian died at his ancestral village of Bahadurpur in 1860. His son, Noah Mian, took up his task but his focus shifted from anti-British activities to religious reforms.

Conclusion:

Faraizi Movement weakened and eventually became a religious sect only. The Faraizi Movement was essentially an agrarian movement, though the demands were carefully dressed up in religious catchwords. Dudu Mian had invoked a new awareness among peasants by uniting them against zamindars and indigo planters. The movement failed because of lack of political education among its leaders, anti-Hindu attitudes, and religious narrow mindedness, forcible induction of people, extortion and lack of proper leadership.

History of Magadha Empire

History of Magadha Empire

The Magadha Empire was the most powerful Kingdom in Ancient India. It had powerful kings like Bimbisara, Ajatasatru, Dhana Nanda, Chandragupta Maurya, etc.

The Rise of Magadha Empire under Bimbisara:

While Avanti, Vatsa and Kosal were expanding their respective frontiers at the expense of their neighbours, the rise of Bimbisara of Haryanka Kula ascended the Magadhan throne Bimbisara in and about 543 or 545 B.C.

King Bimbisara probably overthrew Brihadratha from the throne of Magadha and assumed the title of `Srenika’ after his accession. Bimbisara was destined to initiate Magadha in the race for imperial supremacy.

Imperial Expansion

In carrying out his programme of imperial expansion, Bimbisara followed threefold policy:

  1. Conquest of immediate neighbours;
  2. Matrimonial alliances and
  3. Friendly relation with distant neighbours.

Matrimonial Policy

Bimbisara knew the art of augmenting his power by matrimonial alliances. He married Kosaladevi, the sister of king Prasenjit of Kosala and received the Kasi village as dowry. The transfer of Kasi village as a dowry to Bimbisara was a diplomatic step as the latter had already established his claim on it.

Bimbisara also married Chellana, the daughter of the Lichchhavi chief of Vaisali. He also got the hand of Vasavi, a princess of Videha in the north. He also married Khema, the daughter of the king of Madra in Central Punjab. According to Buddhist sources, Bimbisara had many other wives some of whom might have been princess of royal blood, besides these queens.

Results of matrimonial Policy:

The results of Bimbisara’s matrimonial policy were remarkable. It added glory to the ruling house of Magadha and brought for Magadha rich dowries of fortunes. These marriages paved the way for expanding matrimonial Policy of Magadha westward and north-ward. Bimbisara could count upon the friendly neutrality of his neighboring powers tied to him by marriage relation, during his war with the kingdom of Anga.

Policy of conquest:

After disarming the hostility of his neighbours by matrimonial alliances, Bimbisara led a campaign against the kingdom of Anga. He defeated its king Brahmadatta and annexed Anga country with its flourishing capital Champa to Magadha. Champa was a flourishing river port which controlled the trade over the Ganges. Ocean going vessels laden with merchandise sailed from Champa across the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. These vessels sailed up to South India, Burma and other countries of South-East Asia. The Champa merchants brought pearl and spices from South India in exchange of their goods. This extensive trade now came under the control of Magadha. Besides, the annexation of Kasi gave Magadha a trading foot-hold in the Kosalan kingdom. Goods from Magadha were sent by boats along the Ganges up to Kasi or Baranasi. These factors greatly contributed to Magadha power and prosperity.

Friendly relation with distant neighbours:

Master of aggressive imperialism as Bimbisara was, he was equally an adept in the art of peaceful diplomatic intercourse with distant neighbours like Taxila and Avanti. He received an embassy from Pukkusati, king of Taxila. Pukkusati sought his help against the enemies of Taxila. Bimbisara also established diplomatic friendship with Avanti. He sent his physician Jivaka for the treatment of Pradyota king of Avanti.

Consolidation of power:

Bimbisara consolidated his conquests by introducing good administrative machinery. Bimbisara received high praises from contemporary Buddhist writers for his administration. He exercised a rigid control of over high officers, He rewarded the efficient and dismissed the unworthy. The high officers were divided into three viz., executive, military and judicial. The penal laws of Magadha empire were severe. The villages enjoyed rural autonomy. Bimbisara’s kingdom included some republican tribes also. He is said to have built up a capital at Rajagriha. But some authorities attribute this credit to his son. Thus Bimbisara pushed Magadha in the path of incipient imperialism by acquiring a territory of about 300 leagues in extent. That is to say, Bimbisara’s kingdom comprised 80,000 villages. His capital was the ancient city of Girivrajapura. He left this kingdom as a legacy to his son Ajatasatru. Bimbisara was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha. While Bimbisara initiated Magadha in a career of political conquest, Buddha made a spiritual conquest of the people. Bimbisara himself was a devotee of Buddha.

Magadha Empire under Ajatasatru:

The power of the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha reached its highest watermark under Ajatasatru. He ascended the Magadhan throne in 493 B.C. Ajatasatru’s mother was the Lichchhavi princess Chellana. Ajatasatru was the greatest ruler of the Haryanka dynasty. He followed from the beginning a ceaseless policy of aggression against his neighbours. He started a war against king Prasenjit of Kosala, who had revoked the gift of the Kasi village made to Bimbisara. Legend ascribes the revocation to Ajatasatru’s assassination of his father Bimbisara. Perhaps Kosala was jealous of the growing power of Magadha and wanted to curb her trade by taking back Kasi. Ajatasatru was last to spare his maternal uncle Prasenjit for the revocation of Kasi. He declared war on Kosala which continued for some time. At last it was amicably settled by the restoration of the Kasi village to Magadha and marriage of Ajatasatru to Vajira Kumari, the daughter of Prasenjit.

Struggle with Vaisali:

Ajatasatru engaged himself in a protraced struggle with the Lichchhavis of
Vaisali. Though the Lichchhavis were his mother’s kinsmen and relations, yet, Ajatasatru did not hesitate to attack them. The causes of the struggle between Magadha and Lichchhavi are variously stated by Buddhist and Jaina sources.

According to Basham, the Buddhist and Jaina sources realised the great importance of the Magadha-Lichchhavi war and they fully recorded its details. The Buddhist sources refer to a quarrel between Magadha and the Lichchhavis over the possession of a gold mine and Lichchhavi chief Chetaka’s refusal to extradite Ajatasatru’s step-brother, Chetaka had given the latter political asylum. But Dr. Raychaudhury rightly points out that the most potent cause of the Magadha-Lichchhavi war was the common movement among the republican states against the rising imperialism of Magadha. The Jaina records state that 9 Lichchhavi chiefs, 9 Malla chiefs and 18 chiefs of Kasi-Kosala formed a confederacy against Magadha. Altogether 36 republican chiefs formed a confederacy under the Lichchhavi chief Chetaka. Chetaka, being a man of great political influence, had also mobilized the support of the kingdoms of Avanti, Vatsa and Sindhu-Sauvira. Kasi-Kosala also lent its support to the anti-Magadhan confederacy under Lichchhavi.

Ajatasatru made elaborate war preparations against the republics by constructing a fort at Patalagrama on the confluence of the Ganga and the Son, as a base for operation. As the old Magadha capital Rajagriha was deep inside Magadhan territory and was unsuitable for conducting campaigns against Lichchhavi, Ajatasatru used his new fort of Patalagrama as a base for operations. In order to weaken his enemy, Ajatasatru also employed Magadhan agents under his minister Vassakara for a period of three years to sow the seeds of dissension among the members of the Vrijjian confederacy. Thereafter Ajatasatru started military campaign against the Lichchhavis. The war continued at least for sixteen years from 484-468 B.C. In course of this protracted struggle Ajatasatru defeated the Lichchhavis and annexed the kingdom of Vaisali.

Dr. Basham has explained the significance of Magadhan success in the Lichchhavi war. Magadha aimed at establishing her mastery over the region lying to the north of Ganges. The conquest of Anga and Kosala had allowed Magadhan mastery over the southern Gangetic districts. The northern Gangetic districts were not only fertile but its annexation led to secured Magadhan hold on both the banks of the river. It ensured supreme ascendancy of Magadha.

Defence against other powers:

While Ajatasatru was engaged in such a deadly conflict with the Lichchhavis in Eastern India, king Pradyota of Avanti in Central India became jealous of his power and threatened his capital. But Ajatasatru was successful in preventing Avanti from attacking Magadha.

Thus Ajatasatru defeated Kosala, annexed Kasi, Vaisali and added 200 leagues of territory to his ancestral kingdom comprising 300 leagues. Ajatasatru like Bimbisara followed a policy of imperial expansion by extending Magadhan mastery over the Ganges. Three important events happened in Ajatasatru’s reign. However, he had no direct connection with them. They were:

  1. King Prasenjit of Kosala died after a revolt of his son Vidudabha against him.
  2. The destruction of Kapilavastu, the capital of the Sakya country by Vidudabha.
  3. The Mahaparinirvana of Buddha took place in the 8th year of Ajatasatru’s reign.

Ajatasatru himself died in 475 B.C. (According to Romila Thaper, the date is 461 B.C.). Ajatasatru shirked his earlier hostility towards Buddha. Perhaps latter’s sympathy for the Samghas or republican tribes led to this hostility. But later on Ajatasatru became a devotee of Buddha and the Bharhuta relies depict Ajatasatru’s offering of allegiance to Buddha.

The successor of Ajatasatru – Udayi:

The Puranas mention the name of Darsaka as the successor of Ajatasatru. But the majorities of the scholars reject the Puranic list and accept the Buddhist and Jaina lists. According to these lists Udayi or Udayabhadra ascended the throne of Magadha after Ajatasatru in 462 B.C. or 459 B.C.

Udayi constructed the city of Pataliputra round the fort of Patalagrama and it became the principal city of Magadha. In the reign of Udayi, there began a contest between Magadha and Avanti for mastery of Northern India. But Udayi did not live to see the fall of Avanti at the hands of Magadha. He left the struggle with Avanti as a legacy to the next Magadhan dynasty. Udayi had a predilection of Jainism. Jaina texts refer to Udayi’s creation of a great Jaina monastery of Pataliputra.

Udayi was succeeded by three weak kings of his house named Aniruddha, Munda and Nagadasaka. Probably they ruled up to 430 B.C. This Nagadasaka is indentified by some scholars with Darsaka mentioned in the Puranas. The Ceylonese chronicles and the Buddhist ‘Anguttara Nikaya’ agree on the names of the three successors of Udayi mentioned above. But they were inefficient rulers and according to the Ceylonese Chronicle all the three rulers were parricide. People became tired of their rule and taking advantage of their unpopularity, the Magadhan minister Sisunaga overthrew the Haryanka dynasty and ascended the Magadhan throne. This political revolution led to the rise, of Saisunaga dynasty in Magadha.

Magadha under Nanda Dynasty

Mahapadma Nanda was the founder of Nanda Empire. It is generally accepted that Mahapadma Nanda was of low caste. The Magadha Empire under Mahapadma Nanda and his son Dhana Nanda was immensely powerful. The Nanda Dynasty was succeeded by Maurya Dynasty.

Magadha under Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya, took the help of a Brahmin name Kautilya, to overthrew the Nanda Empire. The empire of Chandragupta consisted of almost the entire portion of present India and its neighbours.

Wahabi Movement

Wahabi Movement

The Beginning:

The actual name of the Wahabi Movement was Tarikh-i-Mumammadia or the Path shown by Prophet Muhammad. In the 18th century, Abdul Wahab (1703-87) started a reformist movement within Islam in Arabia and aimed at purging the faith of prevalent superstitions on the line prescribed by the Prophet. This new faith was called Wahabism and the sect Wahabi.

Wahabi means renaissance. In India, this movement took off in the early 19th century. With similar reformist objectives in mind, Waliullah (1703-87), the famous Muslim saint of Delhi and his son, Aziz, started this movement. So it originated as a religious movement, with the aim of purifying Islam.

Syed Ahmed:

Though Shah Waliullah started it, the actual founder of the Wahabi movement in India was Syed Ahmed (1786-1831) of Raibareilly in Uttar Pradesh. He came in touch with Aziz and 1820-21 onwards started preaching the ideals of Islamic reforms.

Syed Ahmed went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and became familiar with the Wahabi ideals there. Back home in 1822, he launched a reformist movement along Wahabi lines. Modern historians claim that he had no contact with Indian Wahabism and he evolved the main principles of the movement himself. In 1822, on his return from Mecca, he stayed at Patna.

His faith drew many Muslim disciples and his religious movement soon assumed political proportions. Syed Ahmed called British-occupied India Dar-ul-Harb and called upon his followers to launch a crusade against the British. He identified the British as the foremost enemy of India’s freedom and went about garnering Indian and foreign support to oust them. He tried to train an army in European war techniques. He set up a centre at Sitana in the north-west frontiers and consolidated his powers with Afghan support. Essentially anti-British, the movement eventually got embroiled in wars against the Sikhs of Punjab and Syed Ahmed lost his life at the Battle of Balakot against the Sikhs in 1831.

The extent of the movement:

The Wahabi Movement assumed widespread proportions in the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Bengal, Bihar, Meerat and Hyderabad. After occupying the Punjab (1849), the British engaged in a long-drawn struggle with the Wahabis. Wahabis from many parts of India gathered at Multan with a lot of funds and arms. The British, from 1850 to 1857, tried to capture Sitana 16 times and deployed 35,000 troops along north-western borders but failed each time. The Wahabis finally gave up in 1863 and many rebels were brutally killed, though the British had to struggle till 1885 to completely rout the Wahabis.

The nature of the movement:

Historians differ regarding the nature of the wahabi movement. Dr. Quemuddin Ahmed points out that it was a movement launched by both Hindus and Muslims and were non-communal in nature. It was a part of India’s freedom movement and the rebels aimed at ousting the British from India. William Hunter calls it a movement serving the interests of exploited peasants. Dr. R.C. Majumdar says though Hindus had joined it, it was not a nationalist movement free from communal feelings nor was it founded on achieving equal rights for the two communities. The rebels were driven by the goal of replacing British rule with Muslim rule. Yet, it must be said that the Wahabi Movement was nurtured by both poor Hindus and Muslims since both had a common enemy in the zamindar; it shook the foundation of the British government.

Titu Mir’s Revolt:

In Bengal, the Wahabi Movement found its leader in Mir Nishar Ali or Titu mir (1782-1831). Born in Haidarpur, Baduria, of 24 Parganas, he met Syed Ahmed during Haj pilgrimage at the age of 39 and embraced the Wahabi faith. He was a deft organizer and founded a big association of oppressed Muslims. Many persecuted Hindus joined his ranks.

Titu Mir started an intense movement in the 24 Parganas, Nadia, Jessore, Rajsahi, Dhaka and Malda. He declared end of British rule in extensive parts of Barasat and Basirhat and proclaimed himself as `Badshah’. He built a bamboo fortress at Narkelberia village, 10 km from Baduria, and set up his headquarters there. He started raising taxes from zamindars of Taki and Gobardanga; this is known in history as the Barasat Uprising. Naturally, local zamindars, indigo planters and the Company resented such measures and Lord William Bentinck sent troops against him. His bamboo fortress was destroyed. Titu Mir and some of his followers fought bravely and died as heroes in the battlefield (19 November 1831). The captured soldiers were hanged and many were imprisoned for long.

Raja Rammohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj

Raja Rammohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj

Raja Rammohan Roy was the founder of Brahmo Samaj. The contributions of Raja Rammohan Roy and his ‘Brahmo Samaj’ to the social reform movement of India is immense.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy is called ‘the first modern man of India’. In every sphere of modern life – literature, religion, education, science, social ethics and politics it was he who set the modern trend. He was very much critical of the idol worship, priest-craft and various abuses of the Hindu society. On the basis of monotheism of Vedanta, he founded the ‘Brahma Samaj’ (1830) which later became the focal point of the socio-religious movement of the Indians.

Rammohan Roy denounced the social abuses of the Hindu society like child marriage, polygamy, dowry system, kulinism, caste system, untouchability, infanticide or sacrifice of child at Gangasagar etc.

Rammohan carried on vigorous propaganda against these social abuses through newspaper. He made loud protest against the practice of ‘Sati’ or self-immolation of widows.

He sought to educate public opinion against this inhuman practices. In his essays and treatises he successfully established the fact that the practice of ‘Sati’ was not based on any injunction of the Hindu Shastras. Rammohan started agitation against the practice of ‘Sati’ at the risk of his life.

He had to face the strong opposition of the Orthodox Hindus. The public opinion against the practice of ‘Sati’ made things easy for Governor-General Lord Bentinck who abolished this infamous practice by enacting Regulation XVII in 1829. Rammohan also made serious effort to ensure social prestige for the womenfolk. He demanded right of the female to their ancestral property. The question of female education also engaged his attention.

After Rammohan Roy, the ‘Brahmo Samaj’ was led by able personalities like Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905 A.D.) and Keshab Chandra Sen (1838-1884 A.D.). After them Pandit Sivnath Shastri and Anandamohan Basu took the readership of the ‘Samaj’.

The Brahmo movement had left a deep impress upon the Hindu society. It played a vital role in liberalizing the Hindu Society. It had great contribution in the introduction of widow remarriage, inter-caste marriage, and spread of female education, abolition of early marriage of girls, polygamy, purdah system and untouchability.

It was due to the movement of the Brahmo Samaj that the government was compelled to enact Regulation III, prohibiting child-marriage and polygamy, and sanctioning widow-remarriage and inter-caste marriage. Under the influence of these liberal movements, the social evils of the Hindu society gradually disappeared. They also tried to improve the lot of the laborers and the common masses. Although the Brahmo movement was confined to the educated class only, its contribution to the national awakening was immense.

Methods of Irrigation in India

Methods of Irrigation in India

A common method of irrigation cannot be followed in all parts of India due to the variation in relief, depths of underground water, soil, temperature, rainfall etc. There are mainly 3 methods of irrigation in India. They are:

  1. Wells and tube-wells.
  2. Tanks, ponds and lakes and
  3. Canal Irrigation.

1. Wells and tube-wells:

38% of irrigation land uses wells and tube wells in India. By this method, wells are dug to reach the underground water level. Then the water is lifted up to the surface to be used for farming. If the underground water level is near the surface, the wells can be shallow. After the wells and tube wells are constructed the water is lifted by two methods:

  1. Common method is the Persian Wheel: Normally animals like cattle drag a rope to the surface at the end of which a bucket of water is lifted from the well to the surface. By the Persian wheel method, a wheel with many buckets around the circumference is pulled by a rope by an animal in such a manner that buckets of water rise from the well to the surface one by one.
  2. The other method of lifting water to the surface used today is by electric pumps or diesel pumps. In a short time large amounts of water can be lifted usually from deep wells or tube wells.

This type of irrigation is common in the plains of North India – Punjab, U.P., Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. Some wells are also seen in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc.

2. Irrigation from tanks, ponds and lakes:

15% of irrigation is provided from tanks, ponds, and lakes. In the plateau of South India impervious rocks do not allow rainwater to penetrate underground. As the relief is undulating rainwater can be easily stored in low-lying area. From such reservoirs of water in tanks, ponds and lakes, water can be used for irrigation by pumping. The main drawback of this method is the loss of water in summer due to high temperatures which does not provide irrigation when required most i.e. dry season.

This type of irrigation is seen in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu mainly. Such irrigation is also seen in West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Bihar etc.

3. Canals Irrigation:

Canal Irrigation is the most common method of irrigation providing water to 40% of the irrigated land in India. There are 2 types of canals:

Inundation Canal

inundation canal, which provides water to the fields only during the rainy season or flood times when excess water from the rivers in diverted through inundation canals to the fields. But this canal has less importance since in the dry summer season it cannot provide irrigation.

Inundation Canal Irrigation is common in the deltas of Mahanadi, Krishna Godavari and Kaveri.

Perennial Canal Irrigation

The second type of canal provides water to the fields throughout the year. Only when river have water throughout the year or dams are constructed across them reserving water, then water can be supplied continuously to the fields.

Perennial Canal Irrigation is found in:

  • Uttar Pradesh: Upper Ganga canal, Lower Ganga canal, East Jamuna canal, Agra canal and Sarada canal are all perennial canals,
  • Punjab: West Jamuna canal, Upper Bari Doab canal and Sirhind canal.
  • West Bengal: Midnapur canal, Eden canal, irrigational canals of Damodar, Mayurakshi and Kangsabati projects.
  • Tamil Nadu: Mettur canal and canals of the Kaveri delta.
  • Kerala: Malampuzha canal and Pamba canal.
  • Andhra Pradesh: Godavari delta canal and Krishna delta canal etc.