আনন্দমঠ (১৯৩৮)/Appendix

উইকিসংকলন থেকে



From Warren Hastings’ Letters in Gleig’s Memoirs.

 You will hear of great disturbances committed the Sinassies, wandering Fackeers, who annually infeet the province about this time of the year, in pilgrimages to Jaggernaut, going in bodies of 1,000, and sometimes even 10,000 men. An officer of reputation (Captain Thomas) lost his life in an unequal attack upon a party of these banditti, about 3,000 of them, near Rungpore, with a small party of Pergana sepoys, which has made them more talked of than they deserve. The revenue, however, has felt the effects of their ravages in the northern districts. The new establishment of sepoys which is now forming on the plan enjoined by the Court of Directors, and the distribution of them ordered for the internal protection of the provinces, will, I hope, effectually secure them hereafter from these incursions.—Hastings to Sir George Colebrooke—dated 2nd February 1773.-Gleig’s Memoirs, Vol. I. 282.

 Our own provinces have worn something of a warlike appearance this year, having been infested by a band of Senassies, who have defeated two small parties of Purgunnah sepoys (a rascally corps), and cut off the two officers who commanded them. One was Captain Thomas, whom you know. Four battalions of the brigade sepoys are now in pursuit of them, but they will not stand an engagement, and have neither camp equipage, nor even clothes, to retard their flight. Yet I hope we shall yet make an example some of them, as they are shut in by the rivers, which hey cannot pass when closely pursued.

 The history of this people is curious. They inhabit, or rather possess, the country lying south of the hills of Tibbet from Canbul to China. They go mostly naked. They have neither towns, houses, nor families, but rove continually from place to place, recruiting their numbers with the healthiest children they can steal in the countries through which they pass. Thus they are the stoutest and most active men in India. Many are merchants. They are all pilgrims, and held by all castes of Gentoos in great veneration. This infatuation prevents our obtaining any intelligence of their motions, or aid from the country against them, notwithstanding very rigid orders which have been published for these purposes, insomuch that they often appear in the heart of the province as if they dropped from heaven. They are hardy, bold, and enthusiastic to a degree surpassing credit. Snch are the Senassies, the gipsies of Hindostan.

 We have dissolved all the Purgunnah sepoys, and fixed stations of the brigade sepoys on our frontiers, which are to be employed only in the defence of the provinces, and to be relieved every three months. This, I hope, will secure the peace of the country against future irruptions, and as they are no longer to be employed in the collections, the people will be freed from the oppressions of our own plunderers.—Hastings to Josias Dupre.—9th March 1773.

 We have lately been much troubled here with herds of desperate adventurers called Senassies, who have over-run the province in great numbers, and committed great depredations. The particulars of these disturbances, and of our endeavours to repel them, you will find in our general letters and consultations, which will acquit the government of any degree of blame from such a calamity. At this time we have five battalions of sepoys in pursuit of them, and I have still hopes of exacting ample vengeance for the mischief they have done us, as they have no advantage over us, but in the speed with which they fly from us. A minute relation of these adventurers cannot amuse you, nor indeed are they of great moment; for which reason give me leave to drop this subject and lead you to one in which you cannot but be more interested, &c.—Hastings to Purling—dated 31st March 1773, para 4.—Gleig’s Memoirs of Hastings.— Vol. I. 294.

 In my last I mentioned that we had every reason to suppose the Senassie Fakiers had entirely evacuated the Company's possessions. Such were the advices I then received, and their usual progress made this highly probable; but it seems they were either disappointed in crossing the Burramputrah river, or they changed the intention, and returned in several bands of about 2000 or 3000 each; appearing unexpectedly in different parts of the Rungpoor and Dinagepoor provinces. For in spite of the strictest orders issued and the severest penalties threatened to the inhabitants, in case they fail in giving intelligence of the approach of the Senassies, they are so infatuated by superstition, as to be backward in giving the information, so that the banditti are sometimes advanced into the very heart of our provinces, before we know anything of their motions; as if they dropt from heaven to punish the inhabitants for their folly. One of these parties falling in with a small detachment commanded by Captain Edwards, an engagement ensued, wherein our sepoys gave way, and Captain Edwards lost his life in endeavouring to cross a nullah. This detachment was formed of the very worst of our Purgunnah sepoys, who seem to have behaved very ill. This success elated the Senassies, and I heard of their depredations from every quarter in those districts. Captain Stuwart, with the 19th battalion of sepoys, who was before employed against them, was vigilant in the pursuit, wherever he could hear of them, but to no purpose; they were gone before he could reach the places to which he was directed. I ordered another battalion from Burrampore to march immediately, to co-operate with Captain Stuwart, but to act separately; in order to have the better chance of falling in with them. At the same time I ordered another battalion to march from the Dinapoor station, through Tyroot, and by the northern frontier of the Purneah province, following the track which the Senassies usually took, in order to intercept them, in case they marched that way. This battalion, after acting against the Senassies, if occasion offered, was directed to pursue their march to Cooch Bahar, where they are to join Captain Jones, and assist in the reduction of that country.

 Several parties of the Senassies having entered into the Purneah province, burning and destroying many villages there, the collector applied to Captain Brooke, who was just arrived at Panity, near Rajahmahl with his new-raised battalion of light infantry. That officer immediately crossed the river, and entered upon measures against the Senassies; and had very near fallen in with a party of them, just as they were crossing the Cosa river, to escape out of that province; he arrived on the opposite bank before their rear had entirely crossed; but too late to do any execution among them.

 It is apparent now that the Sennassies are glad to escape as fast as they can out of the Company's possessions; but I am still in hopes that some of the many detachments now acting against them may fall in with some of their parties, and punish them exemplarily for their audacity.

 It is impossible, but that, on account of the various depredations which the Senassies have committed, the revenue must fall short in some of the Company's districts; as well from real as from pretended losses. The Board of Revenue, aware of this last consideration, have come to the resolution of admitting no pleas for a reduction of revenue, but such as are attended with circumstances of conviction, and by this means they hope to prevent, as much as in their power, all impositions on the Government, and to render the loss to the Company as inconsiderable as possible. Effectual means will be used, by stationing some small detachments at proper posts on our frontier, to prevent any future incursions from the Senassie Fakiers, or any other roving banditti; a measure, which only the extraordinary audacity of their last incursions hath manifested to be necessary. This will be effected without employing many troops; and I hope, that in no future time the revenues shall again suffer from this cause.—Hastings to Sir George Colebrooke—dated 31st March 1773.

 The Seniassies threatened us with the same disturbances at the beginning of this year as we experienced from them the last. But by being yearly provided to oppose them, and one or two severe checks which they received in their first attempts, we have kept the country clear of them. A party of horse which we employed in pursuit of them, has chiefly contributed to intimidate these ravagers, who seem to pay little regard to our sepoys, having so much the advantage of them in speed, on which they entirely rely for their safety. It is my intention to proceed more effectually against them by expelling them from their fixed residences which they have established in the north-eastern quarter of the province, and by making severe examples of the zemindars who have afforded them protection or assistance.—Hastings to Laurence Sulivan—20th March 1774.



From “The Annals of Rural Bengal.”

 ‘A set of lawless banditti,’ wrote the Council in 1773, ‘known under the name of Sanyasis or Faquirs, have long infested these countries; and, under pretence of religious pilgrimage, have been accustomed to traverse the chief part of Bengal, begging, stealing, and plundering wherever they go, and as it best suits their convenience to practise.’ In the years subsequent to the famine, their ranks were swollen by a crowd of starving peasants who had neither seed nor implements to recommence cultivation with, and the cold weather of 1772 brought them down upon the harvest fields of Lower Bengal, burning, plundering, ravaging, ‘in bodies of fifty thousand men.’ The collectors called out the military; but after a temporary success our Sepoys ‘were at length totally defeated, and Captain Thomas (their leader), with almost the whole party, cut off.’ It was not till the close of the winter that the Council could report to the Court of Directors, that a battalion, under an experienced commander, had acted successfully against them; and a month later we find that even this tardy intimation had been premature. On the 31st March 1773, Warren Hastings plainly acknowledges that the commander who had succeeded Captain Thomas ‘unhappily underwent the same fate;’ that four battalions of the army were then actively engaged against the banditti but that, in spite of the militia levies called from the landholders, their combined operations had been fruitless. The revenue could not be collected, the inhabitants made common cause with the marauders, and the whole rural administration was unhinged. Such incursions were annual episodes in what some have been pleased to represent as the still life of Bengal.—Hunter’s Annals of Rural Bengal, pp. 70-2.