Jambudveep's Blog

December 14, 2010

How many Indians died in the genocides committed by the British Raj?

Filed under: British Misrule — Yogeshwar Shastri @ 8:48 pm
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In Memoriam: In memory of the countless millions of Indians who perished in the genocides conducted by their British tormentors. You shall not be forgotten.

Approximate Number of Indians Killed by the British

Cause of Deaths

Number of Deaths

Comments

British-made Famines

85 million (approximately)

Please see Appendix I for a detailed breakup with references. For an  explanatory article on the famines click here.
Epidemics induced by Famines

Information is being gathered

Anglo-Indian Wars[i]

Information is being gathered

Indians Killed fighting for the British

Information is being gathered

Freedom Fighters martyred by the British

Information is being gathered

A   short poem in memory of the dead:

You Shall not be Forgotten

Voices of the past call out to us,

“Remember us, Remember us!”


 

Each voice has a tale to tell,

Of English “humanity” and “justice”.


 

With a heavy heart I hear their tales of woe,

“Stabbed with an English bayonet was I!”

“I was raped and left to die!”

“Dying of hunger, I was left to rot,

While my crops provided fodder for the English horse!”

“Did you see my village?

The firangis burnt it down in 1857.”

“I sold myself to save my child.”

There is no end to the mountain of grief,

Which befell our people in times gone by.


 

“There is no justice in this world,” they say in a voice,

“But let not our memories wither away,

What is more   cruel than to be forgotten by one’s own?”

“Remember us, Remember us!”


 

“Your memory shall be kept alive!”I say to them,

“On our shoulders the burden rests,

For we shall not let your memory fade!”


 

A brief Note on the rationale behind conducting this count…

 

“How many Indians were killed off by the British Raj?”

This   deceptively simple question was asked by a gentleman in the Bharat Rakshak forum. This got me thinking, “Surely there has to be a tally of the number of Indians killed by the British?” After all haven’t other mass genocides like that of the Jews by Nazi Germany been documented? A simple internet search will give you   estimates on how many Jews died in the Holocaust.

So why isn’t there any information on the total number of Indians killed off by the British in their “civilising” wars, manmade famines etc? Why have the “eminent” historians who set our educational syllabuses from their ivory towers in JNU (Jawaharlal University, Delhi) not brought out a simple tally of the Indians killed due to British imperialism? Have they done anything other than being Congress cronies and apologists for the Islamic mob? There is no surprise on their studied silence on British atrocities in India. After   all some of the more “eminent” historians owe their   sustenance and publicity to their lords overseas.

For the British government it is imperative that only the so called “positive” aspects of their tyranny in India are highlighted. Who would   want to own up to being responsible for multiple genocides?

At the end of the Second World War, a completely shattered Germany was forced to publicly atone for its war crimes. But the British pulled out of India completely intact, hence there was no “pressure” on them to repent for their genocides in India. Additionally, British academics and historians have played a pivotal role in denying outright or defending the role of their ancestors in the genocide .For e.g. take  the case of our First war of Independence of 1857.It is only recently that the Indian viewpoint has begun to emerge (“Operation Red Lotus” is a book I would recommend). For more than 150 years after the event the British version dominated mainstream narration of history.

Similarly in the case of other “Made in Britain” disasters, such as the terrible famines which hit India from 1768 till 1943 CE ( the last one occurred only four years before they left India in 1947 CE), British academia and their “brown sahibs” in India continually try to deny the British role in the deaths of millions. Case in point is   the Wikipedia entry for “Famines in India”. The lowest estimate of deaths is usually presented as the true one and every effort is made to absolve the British of the blood on their hands. One wonders who is editing those entries and why aren’t our people turning out in force to tell our version of history?

But the body of evidence regarding the deliberate murder of millions in the “good” times of the British Raj continues to pile up. It is heartening to see more and more mainstream books coming out outlining in detail the racist and deliberate policies pursued by British which directly led to the genocide of millions of Indians.

I am neither   a historian nor anything of that sort. I try to live by two principles in life: “Truth” and “Justice”. As far as the telling of our history is concerned, none of these two principles is present. This is my humble attempt to keep the memories of those who have passed away alive.

I have made a start on this long journey of compiling the number of our dead from a variety of different sources. The task is mind numbing and very painful for me personally, but it must be done.

I have started off with populating the total number of Indians killed in British-Made famines. As I populate each section I will add an Appendix which gives a detail break up with references and a short note from me. Each of the other casualty figures will be populated as I gather more information.

वन्दे मातरम्


[i] I believe the term “Anglo-Indian” war has been coined by Parag Tope in his book “Operation Red Lotus” for the war of 1857.However I have appropriated it to cover all the wars from the beginning of East India Company till the final suppression of large scale resistance in 1858 CE.

December 12, 2010

Appendix I: Breakup of the Famine death Total, with a list of Good books on the subject

Filed under: British Misrule — Yogeshwar Shastri @ 8:53 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

1. Breakup of the Total  Deaths:

Name of Famine Time Span of  the Famine Areas Affected by the Famine

Maximum Estimate of Deaths

Intermediate Estimate of Deaths

Minimum Estimate of Deaths

Most likely Estimate of Deaths

Bengal Famine of 1770 1769-1772 

 

Bengal (east and west),Bihar,parts of Orissa and Jharkhand 

 

10 million[i] 10 million
Madras Famine of 1782 & Chalisa Famine 

 

1782-1783,
1783-1784 

 

Madras Famine affected areas surrounding Chennai and parts of Karnataka. Chalisa affected Uttar Pradesh,parts of Rajasthan,Delhi and Kashmir 

 

11 million[ii] 11 million
Doji Bara (Skull Famine) 

 

1791-1792 

 

Tamil Nadu, 

Maharashtra,

Andhra Pradesh,

Gujarat,Rajasthan

 

11 million[iii] 

 

11 million 

 

Famine in Bombay Presidency 

 

1802-1803 

 

Maharashtra 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known[iv] 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

Famine in Rajputana 

 

1803-1804 

 

Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan 

 

Low mortality but number of deaths not known[v] 

 

Low mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

Famine in Madras Presidency 

 

1805-1807 

 

Tamil Nadu? 

 

High mortality but number of deaths[vi] not known 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

Famine in Rajputana 

 

1812-1813 

 

Rajasthan 

 

2 million[vii] 

 

1.5 million[viii] 

 

2 million
Famine in Bombay Presidency of 1813 

 

1813-1814 

 

Maharashtra, Gujarat(not sure?) 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known[ix] 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

 

Famine in Madras Presidency

 

 

1823

 

 

Tamil Nadu?

 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known[x]

 

 

 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known

 

Guntur Famine/Famine in Madras Presidency 

 

1833-1834 

 

Modern day Guntur and related districts of Andhra Pradesh which formed the Northern part of Madras Presidency during British Rule 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

2 lakhs (this estimate is only for Guntur,many deaths in Nellore, Masalipatnam & Chennai not accounted for)[xi] 

 

2 lakhs (this estimate is only for Guntur,many deaths in Nellore, 

Masalipatnam & Chennai not accounted for)

 

Agra Famine of 1837-38 

 

1837-1838 

 

Uttar Pradesh,parts of Rajasthan,Delhi, 

parts of Madhya Pradesh,parts of Haryana

 

1 million[xii] 

 

8 lakhs 

 

1 million
Famine in Madras Presidency 

 

1854 

 

Tamil Nadu? 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known[xiii] 

 

High mortality but number of deaths not known 

 

Famine in Northern India 

 

1860-1861 

 

Uttar Pradesh,Punjab 

 

2 million[xiv] 

 

2 million 

 

Orissa Famine of 1866 

 

1865-1868 

 

Orissa,Parts of coastline of 

Tamil Nadu,

Andhra Pradesh,

parts of Bihar and Bengal

 

1.8 million[xv] 

 

1.8 million 

 

Rajputana famine of 1869 

 

1868-1870 

 

Rajasthan? 2.7 million[xvi] 

 

1.2 million[xvii] 2.7 million
Bihar Famine of 1873-74 

 

1873-1874 Bengal, Bihar ,Uttar Pradesh 

 

no recorded deaths[xviii] 

 

no recorded deaths 

 

Great Indian Famine of 1876-78 

 

1876-1879 

 

Tamil Nadu, 

Maharashtra,

Andhra Pradesh,

Rajasthan,

Uttar Pradesh,

Karnataka,

Haryana,

Madhya Pradesh

 

10.3 million[xix] 

 

8.2 million[xx] 

 

6.1 million[xxi] 

 

10.3 million
Famine of 1880 

 

1880 

 

Maharashtra, 

Andhra Pradesh (old Hyderabad state),Madhya Pradesh,Chattisgarh,

Uttar Pradesh

 

Famine was severe but number of deaths not known[xxii] 

 

Famine was severe but number of deaths not known 

 

 

Famine of 1884-1885

 

 

1884-1885

 

 

Punjab,Bengal,Bihar

,Jharkhand, parts of Karnataka

 

 

7.5 lakhs[xxiii]

 

 

 

 

7.5 lakhs

 

Madras Famine of 1888-1889 

 

1888-1889 

 

Orissa,parts of Bihar 

 

1.5 million[xxiv] 

 

1.5 million 

 

Famine of 1892 

 

1891-1892 

 

Old Madras presidency (not sure if coastal Andhra which used to be part of Madras presidency and parts of Karnataka were affected),Maharashtra,Rajasthan,Bengal, 

Upper Burma

 

1.62 million[xxv] 

 

1.62 million 

 

Famine of 1896-1897 

&

Famine of 1899-1902

 

1896- 1897   & 

1899-    1902

 

Uttar Pradesh,Tamil Nadu(?Old Madras Presidency),Bengal, 

Madhya Pradesh,

Chattisgarh,

Maharashtra,
Punjab,Gujarat,

Rajasthan,parts of Orissa,Sindh,

Karnataka

 

19 million[xxvi] 

 

8.4 million[xxvii] 

 

6.1million[xxviii] 

 

19 million
Famine of 1907-1908 

 

1907-1908 Uttar Pradesh,Uttarakhand 

 

3.2 million[xxix] 

 

2.1 million[xxx] 

 

3.2 million 

 

Bengal Famine of 1943 

 

1942-1944 

 

Bengal 

 

7 million[xxxi] 

 

3.5 million[xxxii] 

 

1.5 million[xxxiii] 

 

7 million 

 

Total Deaths 85 million (approx.)

Essential Reading:

Before we go any further, I would like to recommend a few books which are essential reading for every Indian, irrespective of whether you like history or not.

1.      Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World, Mike Davis, Verso Books.

The book has excellent research drawing on a variety of sources, both Indian and foreign to show the true nature of British rule in India. Gives detail explanations of the deliberate policy of maximising revenue while millions of Indians perished in the famines. Also explodes some myths of “progress” due to the British such as railways, telegraph etc. Get your hands on one and read from beginning till the end.

2.      “Famines and Land Assessments in India”, Romesh Chunder Dutt. Available for free download from : http://www.archive.org/stream/faminesandlanda00duttgoog

R C Dutt was a brilliant Bengali economic historian who had served for as a civil servant in the British government in India. His books lay bare the British policy of funnelling wealth and food out of India at the expense of millions of Indian lives.

3.      The Economic History of India Under Early British Rule. From the Rise of the British Power in 1757 to the Accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. Vol. I, Romesh Chunder Dutt.

The Economic History of India in the Victorian Age. From the Accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the Commencement of the Twentieth Century, Vol. II, Romesh Chunder Dutt.

The above two books are specifically focused on the economic loot of India from the time of East India Company (1757 CE onwards) till 1901-1902 CE.A must read to get an idea of the resources and wealth looted from India by the British.

4. Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Forgotten Indian Famine of World War II, Madhusree Mukherjee, 2010.

The above books   is about the terrible Bengal Famine of 1943 and presents evidence of British deliberately starving nearly 7 million Bengalis to death.

I believe the book is available at a very reasonable rate in India. We need to buy such books to encourage Indian authors to research and write the true version of our history.


References for Figures Listed in Table 1:

[i] Dutt, Romesh Chunder (1908). The economic history of India under early British rule, Pg 52

[ii] Grove, Richard H. (2007), “The Great El Nino of 1789–93 and its Global Consequences: Reconstructing an Extreme Climate Event in World Environmental History”, The Medieval History Journal 10 (1&2): 75–98

[iii] ibid

[iv] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.3

[v] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.4

[vi] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 :  Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.4

[vii] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127

[viii] RC Dutt.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.4

[ix] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.5

[x] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.5

[xi] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.6

[xii] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.6-7

[xiii] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.7

[xiv] Fieldhouse, David (1996), “For Richer, for Poorer?”, in Marshall, P. J., The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 400, pp. 132

[xv] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.127.
Reference 2 :  Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.9

[xvi] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128.

[xvii] Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.9

[xviii] Reference 1: Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128.
Reference 2 : Dutt,RC.Famines and Land Assessments in India,Pg.9

[xix] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128

[xx] A Maharatna, The Demography of Famine. quoted by Mike Davis,Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1.

[xxi] R Seavoy,Famine in Peasant Societies,New York 1986,quoted by Mike Davis,Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1.

[xxii] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128

[xxiii] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.128

[xxiv] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.129

[xxv] Digby,William.Prosperous British India,Pg.129

[xxvi] The Lancet 16 may 1901, quoted in Mike Davis.Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1

[xxvii] A Maharatna, The Demography of Famine. quoted by Mike Davis,Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1.

[xxviii] Cambridge Economic History of India,Cambridge 1983;quoted by by Mike Davis,Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 7,table P1.

[xxix] Maharatna quoted by Mike Davis,.Late Victorian Holocausts,El Nino Famines and Making of the Third World,pg 174

[xxx] Ibid

[xxxi] Bengal Tiger and British Lion: An Account of the Bengal Famine of 1943,Richard Stevenson,Pg.139

[xxxii] Famines in Bengal:1770-1943,K C Ghosh,pg.111

[xxxiii] Famine Inquiry Commision Report,1943.Pg.110

December 4, 2010

Did the British Civilise us? Part 1:Science and Technology in India

Filed under: British Misrule — Yogeshwar Shastri @ 10:28 am
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Did the British civilise us? The general impression carried by most British people is that they “civilised India”, whatever that means. Even the more intellectual amongst them carry this opinion. The thrust of the   education system in the United Kingdom is to disseminate the myth amongst the British public that the British Raj was some kind of a charitable organisation. The general thinking is, “We gave you railways, education, telegraph, your democracy and we didn’t even charge you for it!!” (The first two were set up primarily to make the economic loot of India easier and enable rapid movement of British troops to any part of British India, their “modern education” destroyed any kind of basic educational access for millions of Indians, while the last one is an outright lie: what was the whole point of the freedom struggle if the British gave us democracy!! In my eyes justifying British colonialism is like saying: “Tough luck you got raped, but   look at the bright side: now you know what sex feels like!!)

Confront any British on the atrocities committed by the British in India and all you are going to get a hostile look of disbelief. For in their mind    that is simply not possible: after all the British Empire was a force for good in the world!!

Or the more common reaction from those who are more aware of the destructive nature of British rule is along the lines of, “Grow up and stop ranting about the past!” .Sanctimonious advice free of cost!

But why blame the British for covering up their genocides, rapes and loot in India? This is after all expected behaviour from a hardened criminal. They will never acknowledge their crimes till somebody brings them to  book.

What should really cause us to hang our heads in shame is the utter failure of our “esteemed” historians to educate Indians in the real character of the British rule. Not that common Indians need educating in how bad British rule was. Thankfully civilisational memories are stronger than the machinations of corrupt academics and apologists of the British raj. Memories of the genocide committed by the British in the suppression of the war of independence of 1857 still linger on in the collective consciousness of Indian people.

More than the common people it is the English educated elite of India which needs to be “educated” in the history of India, whether that is of Islamic or British misrule. The statement by Dr. Manmohan Singh while accepting an honorary degree from his alma mater Oxford University in 2005 that, “Today, with the balance and perspective offered by the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it is possible for an Indian Prime Minister to assert that India’s experience with Britain had its beneficial consequences too[i]” is indicative of the mental colonisation of the Indian mind. I’m sure that the millions of perfectly avoidable deaths, the billions looted were some of the “beneficial consequences” our esteemed Prime minister had in mind when he made the statement .Physical freedom is relatively easy to obtain however becoming mentally free is another thing all together.

Coming back to our topic: How do we define the word “civilise”? A definition I picked up from the Cambridge online dictionary defines it   as: “to educate a society so that its culture becomes more developed”.

So when the British gained supremacy in India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were we a barbarous, primitive people who needed to be educated in the ways of modern society, science, technology, living etc? Were our educational institutions outdated and irrelevant? Was the administration system of the country a disorganised mess? Were we completely lacking in any kind of technological and scientific capability?

These and many more questions rose in my mind. And I found at least some of them answered in Shri Dharampal’s excellent books. This great son of mother India was not a professional historian but the research he did and the findings he presented in his books on the nature of Indian society in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is unmatched. His biography and quite a few of his books can be found on this site: http://www.samanvaya.com/dharampal/

As a first step I will post some of the information regarding indigenous science and technology I gleaned from Sri Dharampal’s book. Below I am posting some extracts from his book “Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century” (you can download the pdf version of the book here: Indian Science and Technology-Dharampal. As far as I am aware there are no copyright restrictions. However if there are please let me know and I will take it down ASAP).

Part I: Extracts from “Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century”

Sri Dharampal’s book has original reproductions of several observations made by British administrators, travellers etc about the science and technology of the Indian people. I am only posting these here to stimulate curiosity, for a fuller appreciation reading the book is highly recommended.

1. Inoculation against Smallpox in mid and late 18th century India:

The following passage from 1767 CE is a small fragment of an eye witness account to the process of inoculation against small pox carried out in India before the British supremacy. It describes how trained Brahmins from various major cities like Varanasi etc spread out once a year all over the country to inoculate   common people against small pox.

Inoculation is performed in Indostan by a particular tribe of Bramins, who are delegated annually for this service from the different Colleges of Bindoobund, Eleabas, Benares, & c. over all the distant provinces; dividing themselves into small parties, of three or four each, they plan their travelling circuits in such wise as to arrive at the places of their respective destination some weeks before the usual return of the disease; they arrive commonly in the Bengall provinces early in February, although they some years do not begin to inoculate before March, deferring it until they consider the state of the season, and acquire information of the state of the distemper.”[ii]

The writer of the manuscript further elaborates on the actual process of inoculation, “The inhabitants of Bengall, knowing the usual time when the inoculating Bramins annually return, observe strictly the regimen enjoined, whether they determine to be inoculated or not; this preparation consists only in abstaining for a month from fish, milk, and ghee (a kind of butter made generally of buffalo’s milk); the prohibition of fish respects only the native Portuguese and Mahomedans, who abound in every province of the empire. When the Bramins begin to inoculate, they pass from house to house and operate at the door, refusing to inoculate any who have not, on a strict scrutiny, duly observed the preparatory course enjoined them. It is no uncommon thing for them to ask the parents how many pocks they choose their children should have: Vanity, we should think, urged a question on a matter seemingly so uncertain in the issue; but true it is, that they hardly ever exceed, or are deficient, in the number required. They inoculate indifferently on any part, but if left to their choice, they prefer the outside of the arm, midway between the wrist and the elbow, for the males; and the same between the elbow and the shoulder for the females. Previous to the operation the Operator takes a piece of cloth in his hand, (which becomes his perquisite if the family is opulent) and with it gives a dry friction upon the part intended for inoculation, for the space of eight or ten minutes, then with a small instrument he wounds, by many slight touches, about the compass of a silver groat, just making the smallest appearance of blood, then opening a linen double rag (which he always keeps in a cloth round his waist) takes from thence a small pledget of cotton charged with the variolous matter, which he moistens with two or three drops of the Ganges Water, an applies it to the wound, fixing it on with a slight bandage, and ordering it to remain on for six hours without being moved, then the bandage to be taken off, and the pledget to remain until it falls off itself; sometimes (but rarely) he squeezes a drop from the pledget, upon the part, before he applies it; from the time he begins the dry friction, to tying the knot of the bandage, he never ceases reciting some portions of the worship appointed, by the Aughtorrah Bhade, to be paid to the female divinity before mentioned, nor quits the most solemn countenance all the while. The cotton, which he preserves in a double callico rag, is saturated with matter from the inoculated pustules of the preceding year, for they never inoculate with fresh matter, nor with matter from the disease caught in the natural way, however distinct and mild the species[iii].

The description given by the Brahmins about what causes the disease is a perfect description of the small pox virus.

They lay it down as a principle, that the immediate (or instant) cause of the smallpox exists in the mortal part of every human and animal form; that the mediate (or second) acting cause, which stirs up the first, and throws it into a state of fermentation, is multitudes of imperceptible animalculae floating in the atmosphere; that these are the cause of all epidemical diseases, but more particularly of the small pox; that they return at particular seasons in greater or lesser numbers; that these bodies, imperceptible as they are to the human organs of vision, imprison the most malignant tribes of the fallen angelic spirits: That these animalculae touch and adhere to everyhing, in greater or lesser proportions, according to the nature of the surfaces which they encounter; that they pass and repass in and out of the bodies of all animals in the act of respiration, without injury to themselves, or the bodies they pass through; that such is not the case with those that are taken in with the food, which, by mastication, and the digestive faculties of the stomach and intestines, are crushed and assimilated with the chyle, and conveyed into the blood, where, in a certain time, their malignant juices excite a fermentation peculiar to the immediate (or instant) cause, which ends in an eruption on the skin”[iv].

2. Observatory at Varanasi:

Another account describes the existence of a large observatory at Varanasi.

We entered this building, and went up a staircase to the top of a part of it, near to the river Ganges, that led to a large terrace, where, to my surprise and satisfaction, I saw a number of instruments yet remaining, in the greatest preservation, stupendously large, immoveable from the spot, and built of stone, some of them being upwards of twenty feet in height; and, although they are said to have been erected two hundred years ago, the graduations and divisions on the several arcs appeared as well cut, and as accurately divided, as if they had been the performance of a modern artist. The execution in the construction of these instruments exhibited a mathematical exactness in the fixing, bearing, and fitting of the several parts, in the necessary and sufficient supports to the very large stones that composed them, and in the joining and fastening each into the other by means of lead and iron.”

About the antiquity of the observatory the writer further observes, “This observatory at Benares is said to have been built by the order of the emperor Ackbar; for as this wise prince endeavoured to improve the arts, so he wished also to recover the sciences of Hindostan, and therefore directed that three such places should be erected; one at Delhi, another at Agra, and the third at Benares”[v].

This observatory is apparently still in existence in a very sorry state in Varanasi and is known as “Man Mandir”.

 

3. Process of making Ice:

A novel Indian method of making ice is described in a manuscript from 1775 CE. The writer further says that this method was used on a large scale to preserve sherbets etc.

The methods he pursued were as follows: on a large open plain, three or four excavations were made, each about thirty feet square and two deep; the bottoms of which were strewed about eight inches or a foot thick with sugar-cane, or the stems of the large Indian corn dried. Upon this bed were placed in rows, near to each other, a number of small, shallow, earthen pans, for containing the water intended to be frozen. These are unglazed, scarce a quarter of an inch thick, about an inch and a quarter in depth, and made of an earth so porous, that it was visible, from the exterior part of the pans, the water had penetrated the whole substance. Towards the dusk of the evening, they were filled with soft water, which had been boiled, and then left in the afore-related situation. The ice-makers attended the pits usually before the sun was above the horizon, and collected in baskets what was frozen, by pouring the whole contents of the pans into them, and thereby retaining the ice, which was daily conveyed to the grand receptacle or place of preservation, prepared generally on some high dry situation, by sinking a pit of fourteen or fifteen feet deep, lined first with straw, and then with a coarse kind of blanketing, where it is beat down with rammers, till at length its own accumulated cold again freezes and forms one solid mass. The mouth of the pit is well secured from the exterior air with straw and blankets, in the manner of the lining, and a thatched roof is thrown over the whole”[vi].

 

In addition to the above there are a lot of other British eye witness accounts of Indian astronomy, knowledge of the binomial theorem by Indians, paper manufacture, agricultural inventions such as the drill plough, manufacture of iron etc are detailed in the book. As Dharampal points out in his introduction, these accounts only list those everyday innovations which were useful to the British. All the accounts are clear that these activities were part of the everyday life of the people and not niche activities confined to isolated pockets.

As I said, reading the book is an absolute must for every right minded Indian. I will keep posting further extracts regarding administration, economics etc as I   read Sri Dharampal’s other books.


[ii] Dharampal, Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century, page 154.

[iii] Dharampal, Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century, page 156-157.

[iv] Dharampal, Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century, page 160-161.

[v] Dharampal, Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century,  pages 39-40.

[vi] Dharampal, Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century,  pages 171-172.

 

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