Categories Medieval India

Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: Agricultural production

Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: Agricultural production

  • The conquest of,Northern India by the Ghorids and the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate not only changed the existing political structure but also brought, economic change.
  • The conquerors came with fairly well-defined concepts and practices regarding tax collection and distribution, and system of coinage, etc.
    • But the existing systems could not be changed altogether immediately.
    • In the beginning, there were superimposed on the older systems, and modifications and changes were introduced by different Sultans up to the close of the 15th century.
  • Opinions :
    • Muhammad Habib:
      • The economic changes that occurred as a consequence of the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate created an organisation considerably superior to the one that had existed before.
      • He felt that the changes were drastic enough to deserve the designation of ‘Urban Revolution’ and ‘Rural Revolution‘.
    • D. Kosambi:
      • He recognized that ‘hidebound customs in the adaptation and transmission of new techniques’ were broken down by the ‘Islamic raiders’, but he regarded the changes no more than intensifying elements already present in Indian ‘feudalism’.

Distribution of revenue resources:

  • Unlike the previous rulers, the soldiers were paid their salaries in cash.
  • The regions that refused to pay land-tax or kharaj were known as mawas and were plundered or forced to pay through military raids.
    • Gradually a mechanism of simultaneous revenue collection and distribution had to be introduced.
  • Iqta and Khalisa:
    • The new rulers brought with them the iqta system that combined the two functions of revenue collection and distribution without immediately endangering the unity of political structure.
    • The iqta was a territorial assignment and its holder was called the muqti or the wali.
    • The classical definition of the iqta system has been given by Nizam-ul Mulk Tusi (Seljuq statesman) :
      • The iqta was a revenue assignment that the muqti held at the pleasure of Sultan.
      • The muqti was entitled to collect in proper manner the land tax and other taxes due to the Sultan, he had no further claims on the person, women and children, land or other possessions of the cultivators.
      • The muqti had certain obligations to the Sultan the chief being the maintenance of troops and furnishing them at call to the Sultan.
      • The iqta was a transferable charge and the transfers of iqtas were frequent.
    • Khalisa: The territory whose revenues were directly collected for the Sultan’s own treasury.
      • Its size seems to have expanded quite considerably under, Alauddin Khalji.
      • But the khalisa did not appear to consist of shifting territories scattered throughout he country.
      • In all probability, Delhi along with its surrounding district, including parts of Doab remained in khalisa.
      • In Iltutmish’s time, Tabarhinda (Bhatinda) too was in khalisa.
      • Under Alauddin Khalji, the. khelisa covered the whole of middle Doab and parts of Rohilkhand. But during the days of Feroz Tughluq, the khalisa perhaps had reduced considerably in size.
  • Different Sultans and Iqta:
    • Iltutmish (1210-36) is reported to have assigned in lieu of salaries “small iqtas” in the Doab to the soldiers of the Sultan’s army (hashm qalb).
    • Balban (1266-86) made a half-hearted attempt at their resumption without success.
    • It was Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316) who established firmly the practice of payment of salaries in cash to the soldiers.
    • A practice that was again altered by Feroz Tughluq who began to assign villages to soldiers in lieu of their salaries. These assignments were called wajh and the holders wajhdars, These assignments tended to be not only permanent but hereditary.
  • The Iqta System in operation:
    • In the early years of the foundation of the Sultanate, neither the revenue income of these assignments was known nor the size of the contingent of the assignee was fixed.
    • However, certain modifications and mild attempts at introducing central control to some-extent were made by Balban (1266-86) when he appointed a khwaja (accountant) with each muqti: this may imply that the Sultanate now was trying to find out the actual income of the iqta and muqti s expenditure.
    • The real intervention in the iqta administration came under Alauddin Khalji.
      • The central finance department (diwan-i wizarat) perhaps prepared some sort of an estimated revenue income from each iqta.
      • The audit was stringent, punishments severe, transfers frequent and enhancements (taufir) were often made in the estimated revenue iwme of theiqta on various pretexts.
    • Ghiyasuddin tughluq (1320-25) introduced some moderation.
      • The enhancements in the estimated revenue income by the central finance ministry was not to be more than 1/10 annually.
      • The muqtis were allowed to keep 1/10th to 1/20th in excess of their sanctioned salaries.
  • Land Grants :
    • The religious persons and institutions such as dargahs, mosques, madrasas and other dependents of the ruling class were maintained by making grants of revenue income. These revenue grants were called milk, idrar, and inam.
      • These grants were not generally resumed or transferred.
      • But the Sultan had the right to cancel them.
    • Alauddin Khalji is reputed to have cancelled almost all grants.
    • Ghiyasuddin too cancelled large number of grants.
    • However, Feroz Tughluq made a departure and not only returned all the previously resumed grants but also made new grants as well.
      • In spite of this generosity of the Sultan, according to the figures recorded by Afif, the total grants by the Sultan accounted only for about one-twentieth of the total jama (estimated revenue income).
    • Nobles, too, made revenue grants out of their own iqtas.
    • The Sultans made grants not only in the khalisa but also in the iqtas. These grants covered cultivated as well as cultivable areas not yet brought under plough.

 LAND REVENUE AND ITS EXTRACTION

  • Before arrival of Turks:
    • The traditional share of the produce payable by the peasants, according to the Dharamashastras, was one-sixth, but we hear of kings in south India demanding one-third, or two thirds of the produce. A Chola king who had authorised his feudatories to collect half of the produce.
  • There was hardly any change in the structure of rural society during the 13th century.
    • The early Turkish rulers depended on the Hindu chiefs to pay the land-revenue, leaving it to them to collect it from the peasants according to the existing practices.
    • The general approach of the Turkish ruling class is indicated by Barani:
      • According to Barani, Balban advised his son, Bughra Khan, not to charge so much land-revenue (kharaj) as to reduce the peasant to a state of poverty, nor so little that they become rebellious on account of excess of wealth.
      • In general, it was designed not to interfere with the existing village set up.
  • The Islamic land tax with which the new rulers of India were familiar was kharaj.
    • The kharaj was essentially a share in the produce of the land and not a rent on the land.
  • During the 13th century, the kharaj took the form of tribute.
    • This tribute was paid either by potentates surviving from the previous regime with whom sultanate emtered into some arrangement.
    • In recalcitrant areas (mawas) where such arrangement was not possible, tribute was extorted through plundering raids, mostly in form of cattle and slaves.
    • Before Alauddin Khalji no serious attempt was made to systematize the assessment and realization of kharaj.
  • The 14th century saw a number of new developments.
  • Agrarian Measures of Alauddin Khalji:
    • His attempt was to increase the revenue collection by enhancing the demand, introducing direct collection and cutting down the leakages to the intermediaries.
    • Alauddin Khalji raised the land-revenue demand to half in the upper Doab region upto Aligarh, and in some areas of Rajasthan and Malwa.
      • This area was made khalisa, i.e. the land-revenue collected there went directly to the Imperial treasury.
    • The land-revenue demand was based on the measurement of the area cultivated by each cultivator.
    • In cash or in kind? :
      • The demand was thus fixed in kind but realization appears to be mostly in cash.
      • Except in the area around Delhi, the cultivators were encouraged to pay land-revenue in cash.
      • Barani informs us that the revenue collectors were ordered to demand the revenue with such rigour that the peasants should be forced to sell their produce immediately.
      • Barani says that Alauddin Khalji brought the doab into khalisa and the tax (mahsul) from there was spent on paying the cash salaries to the soldiers.
    • Alauddin tried to ensure that the cultivators sold their grains to the banjaras while the crops were still standing in the field, i.e. without transporting them to their own stores so as to be sold later when more favourable prices might prevail.
      • However, this had to be modified in practice because many of the cultivators themselves brought their grains for sale in the local mandi. These could only have been the rich cultivators.
    • Alauddin’s agrarian measures amounted to a massive intervention in village affairs.
      • Thus, he tried to operate against the privileged sections in the villages—the khuts, muqaddams, and chaudhuris and, to some extent, the rich peasants who had surplus food-grains to sell.
      • The khuts and muqaddams were suspected of passing their burden on to the weaker sections, and not paying the ghari and charai taxes.
    • The attempt to take away all the inherited privileges of the khuts and muqaddams, or of the upper sections of the landed nobility and to appoint an army of amils, most of whom proved to be corrupt, to supervise revenue collection was not liable to succeed.
    • Alauddin’s revenue measures collapsed with his death.
    • The restoration of the privileges of the khuts and muqaddams implies that the state no longer tried to assess the land-revenue on the basis of the holdings, i.e. area cultivated by each individual, but assessed it as a lump sum, leaving the assessment of individuals to the khuts and muqaddams.
      • This was also a recognition of the economic and social power wielded by the khuts and muqaddams in the country-side.
  • Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq took the definite step of replacing the system of measurement by sharing in the khalisa areas.
    • This was considered a step towards providing relief to the cultivators because while under measurement the risk of cultivation of crops had to be largely borne by the cultivator, under sharing both the profit or loss were shared by the cultivator and the state.
    • Ghiyasuddin took another important step.
      • In the territories held by the holders of iqtas, i.e. outside the khalisa areas, he ordered that the revenue demand should not be raised on the basis of guess or computation, but “by degrees and gradually because the weight of sudden enhancement would ruin the country and bar the way to prosperity.
      • Perhaps, the traditional demand in the area outside the khalisa areas remained one -third as before.
  • Muhammad Tughlaq tried to revive Alauddin’s system and to extend it all over the empire.
    • His measures led to a serious peasant uprising in the doab.
    • The reason for this was that in assessing the land-revenue on individuals, not the actual yield but the artificially fixed standard yield was applied to the area under measurement.
    • Further, when converting the produce into cash, not the actual prices but official standard prices were applied.
    • There was also harshness in levying the tax on cattle and houses.
    • Thus, the actual incidence of land-revenue demand rose considerably, to half or even more.
    • Like Alauddin Khalji’s agrarian reforms, Muhammad Tughlaq’s measures were also designed to curtail the privileges of the more affluent sections in village society, especially the khuts and muqaddams.
      • But his measures also hurt the average cultivator.
      • This may explain why there was a serious uprising against his measures in the doab.
    • Muhammad Tughlaq then tried to reverse direction.
      • In the doab which was the directly administered area (khalisa), he tried to improve cultivation by changing the cropping pattern, replacing inferior crops by superior crops.
      • The main inducement for this was granting loans (sondhar) for digging wells, etc.
      • This policy could only have succeeded with the co-operation of the richer cultivators, and the khuts and muqaddams who had the largest land-holdings, as well as the means.
      • However, it failed because the officials appointed for the purpose had no knowledge of local conditions, and were only interested in enriching themselves.
  • Firuz Tughlaq’s rule is generally considered a period of rural prosperity.
    • Barani and Afif tells that as result of the Sultan’s orders, the provinces became cultivated, and tillage extended widely so that not a single village in the doab remained uncultivated. The canal system extended tillage in Haryana.
    • Firuz met with greater success by providing water to the peasants of Haryana by his canal system, levying an extra charge of 10 per cent, and leaving it to the peasants to cultivate what they wanted.
  • All in all, it would appear that the land-revenue under the Sultans, especially during the 14th century, remained heavy, hovering in the neighbourhood of half, and that there was a definite effort to reduce the power and privileges of the old intermediaries, the Rais, Rawats etc., with the khuts and muqaddams forging ahead.
    • This was the first time that such a high magnitude of land-revenue was assessed and collected from a large and highly fertile area for several decades.
    • Both the administrative methods adopted, and the centralisation of such large, liquid resources in the hands of the ruling class had important consequences, both for rural life and for the urban manufacturers, trade and commerce.
  • Rural society continued to be unequal, with imperial policies siphoning off a large share of the rural surplus.
    • However, there was some limited success to the efforts to improve the rural economy even though the benefit of these was reaped largely by the privileged sections in rural society.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

  • Sultanate period didn’t bring any radical change in the system of agriculture production.
    • But coming of some new technology seem to have helped irrigation.There was spread of some market crops such as indigo and grapes.
  • During 13-14th century Land-man ratio was very favourable.
    • The peasants had more land per head because of a much smaller population.
      • However, on account of social constraints, we hear of landless labourers and menials in the villages.
    • Forests were also much more extensive. Abundance of cultivable land was yet to be brought under plough and there was good pasturage facility for cattle.
    • This implies agriculture was extensive.
    • So, the control over bits of land was, therefore, not as important as on persons cultivating them.
    • Sufi Nizamuddin Aulia in 13th century found wayfarers travelling between Delhi and Badaun harassed by tigers.
    • Author of Masalik al Absar records that in India cattle were innumerable and their prices were low.
    • Atif: No village in Doab was without a cattle-pen (Kharaks).
    • Large area of even fertile land was covered by forests and grass land. Only by the end of Akbar’s reign (1605) the middle doab ws reported to be fully cultivated.
  • Crops and other Agricultural Produce :
    • Large number of crops grown by the peasants of the Delhi Sultanate. This has perhaps no parallel in other parts of the world except perhaps in South China.
    • Ibn Battutah, who travelled all over India, has left a detailed account of the food-grains and various other crops, fruits and flowers produced in the country.
      • Most of them are familiar to us, with rice and sugarcane being produced in the east and south, and wheat, oil-seeds etc, in the north.
      • Cotton was grown widely, as also barley, sesame and other inferior crops.
      • Ibn Battutah says that the soil was so fertile that it produced two crops a year—the familiar rabi (winter) and kharif (monsoon) crops. Rice was sown three times a year.
    • Thakkur Pheru
      • Was the mint-master at Delhi under Alauddin Khalji,
      • writing in c. 1290,lists some twenty-five crops grown under two harvests and gives also their yields.
      • While the yields cannot be comprehended owing to the uncertainty of the units used, one gets a fairly good idea of the crops raised.
      • Among food crops, he mentions, wheat, barley, paddy, millets – juar, moth etc. arid pulses (mash, mung lentils, etc,). For cash crops, sugarcane, cotton, oil-seeds, sesamurn,linseed, etc. are referred to.
    • Improved facilities of irrigation would have helped extend the area under rabi (winter) crops suck as Wheat, sugarcane etc.
    • Some of the crops were the basis of village industries, such as oil-processing, making jaggery, indigo, spinning and weaving etc.
    • Evident from Barani’s account: wine from sugarcane became widespread and a new rural industry emerged, at least around Delhi and in the Doab by the 14th century.
    • Indigo (Though Thakkur Pheru omits it) was also an important item of export to Persia.
      • Probably use of lime-mortar in the indigo-vats by providing as improved surface should have helped the manufacture of dye.
    • Potato, maize, red chillies and tobacco which were introduced during the 16th century are, of course, missing.
    • During the 14th century, under Muhammad bin Tughlaq and Firuz Tughlaq, there was a marked development of gardens.
      • Firuz Tughlaq is said to have built 1200 gardens in the neighbourhood and suburbs of Delhi, 80 on the Salora embankment, and 44 in Chittor.
      • These gardens led to the improvement of fruits, especially grapes.
      • Thus, wine, apparently grape -wine, used to come to Delhi from Meerut and Aligarh.
    • Dholpur, Gwaliyar and Jodhpur were the other places where improved methods of fruit cultivation and gardening were adopted.
      • Special attention was paid to the improvement of pomegranates at Jodhpur.
      • Sikandar Lodi declared that Persia could not produce pomegranates which were better than the Jodhpur variety in flavour.
      • However, the fruits produced in these orchards were meant mainly for the towns, and for the tables of the wealthy. They may, however, have produced some employment, and added to the avenues of trade.
    • From Ibn Battuta’s account, we get information on fruit growing:
      • It appears that technique of ‘grafting’ was not known by peasants.
      • Earlier grapes were grown only in the few places besides Delhi.
      • Muhammad Tughluq’s urged peasants to improve cropping by shifting from wheat to sugarcane to grapes.
      • Feroz Tughluq’s laying down of 1200 orchards in the vicinity of Delhi to grow seven varieties of grapes seems to have made them so abundant that, according to Afif, the prices of grapes fell.
    • The Indian peasants did not practise sericulture (rearing of silk-worm) at that time.
      • No true silk was produced. Only wild and semi-wild silks,namely, tasar, eri and muga were known.
      • Ma Huan, the Chinese navigator in 1432, makes the first reference to sericulture in Bengal.
  • Canal irrigation and Its Impact:
    • Agriculture was generally dependent upon natural irrigation, that is, rains and floods.So,tendency was to grow mostly single, rain-watered kharif (autumn) crop and coarse grains more.
    • Canal irrigation is described in our sources. The Delhi Sultans themselves got the canals cut for irrigation.
    • Ghiyasuddin Tughluq (1320-25) is reported to be the first Sultan to dig canals.
    • But the cutting of canals in a much bigger way was undertaken by Feroz Tughluq (1351-88). Feroz Tughluq cut two canals from the river Yamuna carrying them to Hissar.
        • one each from the Sutlej and the Ghaggar (joining Yamuna).
          • It was the biggest canal network in India till the 19th century.
      • Other smaller canals in Sindh and the Punjab are also mentioned.
        • one from the Kali river in the Doab joining the Yamuna near Delhi.
    • Canal irrigation helped greatly in the extension of cultivation in the eastern Punjab.
      • Now there was an emphasis on the cultivation of cash crops like sugarcane, etc. that required more water than other crops.
      • Afif says
        • A long stretch of land of about 80 krohs (200 miles) vast irrigated by the canal Rajabwah and Ulughkhani.
        • As a result of abundance water available, peasants in the eastern Punjab raised two harvests (kharif and rabi) where only one was possible earlier.
        • This led to new agricultural settlements along the banks of the canals. In the areas irrigated by the canals 52 such colonies sprang up.
        • Afif comments enthusiastically, “neither one village remained desolate nor one cubit of land uncultivated.”
  • Regarding implements, there was no change in them till the 19th century.
  • Most of the land was rain fed, though digging of wells and making of bunds (embankments) for storing water for irrigation were considered holy acts, and the state took an active part in building and preserving them.
  • Productivity of the soil:
    • It may have been higher because of more extensive manuring by cattle which were plentiful, as testified to by the fact that charai based on the number of animals was an important agricultural tax.
    • Also, banjaras had thousands of oxen for their journeys.

AGRARIAN RELATIONS

  • Agrarian relation underwent a significant change.
    • D Kosambi:
      • These change just intensified the elements already present in India ‘feudalism’.
    • Habib:
      • regard it as radical and so progressive in nature that these deserved the designation of rural revolution.
  • Minhaj Siraj designates the chiefs opposing the Ghorians and the early Delhi Sultans as rai and rana and their cavalry commanders as rawat.
    • From the epigraphic evidence from different parts of Northern India, the earlier feudal hierarchy of raja (rai), ranaka (rana) and rauta (rawat) is fairly well established.
  • In the early phase. the Sultans tended to enter into settlement with this defeated and subjugated rural aristocracy. Kharaj was largely the tribute imposed upon them.
  • It seems that even after the replacement of this tribute by vigorously assessed tax imposed on the peasants under Alauddin Khalji, the older rural aristocracy had some role to play in revenue collection.
    • Afif:
      • Ghazi Malik, the governor of Dipalpur when wanted to pressurize Rana Mal Bhatti, one of the rais (rajas) of the region went to his territory and demanded the full year’s revenue in cash at once; when the Rana failed to comply, Ghazi tortured the muqaddams and chaudhuris.
      • The incident suggests that though the members of subjugated aristocracy,wherever present, were at least till the early years of the 14th century, held responsible for collecting; and paying the land revenue.
    • Administration, to exercised the right to collect it directly through village headmen and Chaudhuris.
  • Peasants:
    • Peasant economy was not egalitarian :
      • Cultivation was based on individual peasant farming.
      • But The size of land cultivated by them greatly varied in size.
      • From Barani’s account it appears that at one extreme were the khots and muqaddams having large holdings and enjoying superior rights on ordinary peasants (raiyat); and at the other was the balahar,the village menial holding petty plot of land.
      • Below the peasant, there must have been a mass of landless laborers but their presence could only be discerned from the later sources. since we did not find any mention in contemporary accounts.
    • No proprietary right of peasant over the land he tilled. even on his produce there were claims of the superior classes.
    • Was they really free?:  peasant,though recognised a ‘free born at times was deprived of the freedom to leave the land at will or to change the domicile.
    • Afif says a village had 200-300 male members.
    • Barani says that each village had a patwari to keep accounts.
      • His bahi (account register) was scrutinized to discover every payment legal or illegal, made by the peasants to the revenue officials.
      • The patwari was not a government official but a village official. He was certainly not a creation of the Delhi sultanate.
    • The village community:
      • The presence of a village clerk for maintaining accounts may suggest that the village was an administrative unit outside the administrative system of Sultanate.
      • It seems that the village was collectively a tax paying unit other wise why a clerk to keep village account was needed.
      • The presence of patwari and the nature of his duties thus indicate existence of village community.
      • It seems that in spite of Alauddin Khalji’s efforts to assess the tax on individual peasant, in practice the village continues to remain the unit of land revenue payment.
      • Barani’s complain about the ‘burden of life falling on the poor’  further indicates that the village community was not an ideal institution but itself a machinery of exploitation.
    • Rural intermediaries : 
      • Rural aristocracy called khots, muqaddams and chaudhuris. They belonged to the highest stratum of the peasantry.
        • chaudhuris : Among these rural intermediaries the chaudhuri seseems to have emerged during the 14th century. He is no mentioned by Minhaj or any other source of the 13th century. It is during the middle of the 14th century that he makes his  appearance in Barani’s account.
          • Ibn Battuta  defines him as the ‘chief of a group of 100 villages’ he calls (sadi).
        • However, the usual term from the middle of the 14th century for a group of villages is par gana.  lrfan Habib suggests that the chaudhuri was in fact a successor.
          • Though much reduced in authority, of the head of the chaurasi (group of eighty – four villages) of Gujara-Pratiharas and Chalukyas.
      • From Barani’s account it appears that before  Alauddin Khalji’s agrarian measures they held revenue free lands.
        • As a class, the village headmen were prosperous.
        • Barani with malacious pleasure records that Alauddin Khalji imposed full land revenue upon them and withdrew the exempltiom  from house and grazing tax.
        • He prohibited them from levying any cesses of their own and thus he levelled them to the ordinary peasants.
      • However since the rural intermediaries were necessary for the system of land revenue realization. the stern measures against them were not to last longer.
      • Ghiyasuddin Tughluq introduced moderation.
        • The exemption from grazing as well as tax on their own cultivation was granted again.
        • But they were not allowed to impose any cess upon the peasantry.
      • They received further concessions under Feroz Tughluq and interestingly enough these concessions and a resulting affluence are very approvingly described by Barani.
      • From the time of Feroj Tughluq, all these intermediaries were given a blanket designation – Zamindar – a term coming much in vogue during Mughal period.

Agriculture technology during Sultanate:

Main technological devices related to agriculture :

  • Plough:
    • Miftah-ul Fuzala – a Persian lexicon compiled in about A.D. 1460 in Malwa – clearly shows the plough with an ironshare drawn by two yoked oxen.
    • During iron age, When Aryan settlement in the Gangetic plain, contributed to the development of the plough in the sense that while the entire frame earlier was of timber, the ploughshare/courter now was of iron. This metallic piece immensely klped in the tillage of comparatively harder soil.
      • Kalibangan (Rajasthan) – an Indus valley culture site -for the use of ‘ironless plough is well-known.
  • Sowing:
    • The method of broadcasting was known.
    • seed-drill: Barbosa ( one Portuguese,c. 1510)  mentions it in connection with the wet-cultivation of rice.
  • Harvesting, Threshing and Winnowing:
    • Harvesting with a sickle.
    • Threshing using Oxen.
    • Wind power
  • Irrigational Devices:
    • Rain water, Ponds and tanks.
    • Water of wells was the mostimportant controlled source for irrigation, especially in North India.
      • Almost all the irrigation devices were oriented towards drawing water from wells.
      • Wells were generally masonry ones with raised walls and enclosures platfroms. Kuchcha wells also existed, but these could not have been durable or strong enough for extensive water-lifting.
    • Broadly, there were five devices or techniques to raise water from wells:
      • Rope-bucket technique:  It was the most simple technique. water was drawn with rope and bucket by using hands without any mechanical aid.
        • Bucket was small in size, thus could not have adequately served to water large fields. But we cannot deny its use for irrigating small fields for crops, most probably vegetables that did not require much water.
      • The employment of pulleys (charkhi) combined to the rope-bucket contraption. Pulleys needed lesser amount of human energy and therefore comparatively large buckets could have been attached to the rope.
      • An improved method of the rope-bucket-pulley contraption was the employment of a pair of oxen to replace human-power.
        • In some areas of North India it ‘is still in operation known as charasa.
        • Of all the five methods, charasa was not a multi-purpose one, it was solely devised for irrigation – a fact which has not been realized till now.
    • The fourth technique was what is considered to be semi-mechanical as it worked on the First Class Lever principle.
      • A long rope is lashed to the fork of an upright beam or trunk of a tree.The bucket is fastened to a rope whose other end is tied to the one of the the swinging pole hovering over the well. The pole’s other end carries a ‘counterweight’, a little heavier than the bucket when filled with water.Thus, the fulcrum forms at the centre of the pole.
      • This contraption requires only a little effort on the part of the person operating it.
      • The device is known as shaduf in Egypt. It is called tula (balance) in Sanskrit, but in Bihar and Bengal it’s known as dhenkli or lat/latha
    • Saqiya or ‘Persian Wheel’ :
      • None of the four mechanism described above required wheels as their basic component.
      • This water-wheel could well claim to be called a water machine because of the employment of the gear system.
      • With gears we enter upon a very advanced stage in the technological sense: it has been surpassed only now by electric tube-wells.
      • Controversy about the origins of saqiya : did it exist in India earlier or was it a foreign importation through the agencyof the Turks ?  Let’s see it evolved :
        • 1st stage, Araghatta(or arahatta):In India, Its earliest form was one wheel with pitchers or pots of clay attached around the rim of the wheel It was called araghatta or arahatta in Sanskrit (noria in English, a corruption of Arabic naurah). It worked by human power only.
          • Its form itself forced,tt to bk set up over shallow water or open surfaces-stream, reservoir or even rivers where water would level up to its banks. Thus, its use over wells was absolutely out of question.
        • 2nd stage, Ghatiyantra (pot-machine): It was made to exploit over wells. This was done by releasing the earthen pots fitted around the rim of the wheel and, in its place, a chain or garland (mala) of pots was provided which was long enough to reach the water level of the well.
          • Words araghatta and arahatta was still in use.
          • This, too, was operated by human-power.
        • 3rd stage (final): three developments took place.
          • Addition of two more wheels;
          • Gear mechanism;
          • The use of animal power.
    • The confusion of some modern scholars in this controversy is to identify the two first stages of noria with saqiya. But as we saw the last phase was radically different in its conception and also in components.
      • A semantic blunder was committed when the same terms – araghatta and arahatta (modern rahat) — were used for the saqiya when the Muslims brought it in early medieval period.
      • In fact, there is no evidence of water,wheels being operated by animals in Ancient India
    • The five devices to raise water from wells described above can be put into two broad categories:
      • Intermittent or Discontinuous water-supply device, and
        • 1st four belong to this category.
        • All the 1st four devices are also operated by humans.
      • Continuous supply system.
        • the last one ; saqia.
        • It is also the only in which animal is employed.
  • There were many implements like shovel, pick-axe and scraper (khurpi), etc. that were used not only in agricultural processes but in gardening as well.

Leave a Reply